Times 26704 – where Shakespeare meets the Muppets

Solving time : 10:17 and I was surprised to see that time putting me at the top of the Crossword Club leaderboard with the puzzle being live for five hours now. There’s a few obscure words, and one well-hidden “The Wind In The Willows” reference that might trip a few people up.

I got quite a few from wordplay alone – which is not so bad when it’s my day to write up the blog – I’d rather know the wordplay and look up the definition than have no clue on the wordplay.

I hope I’ve got all of this sorted out, but it’s after midnight here, so I won’t be able to make any changes until the early afternoon UK time, so check the comments if something looks awry.

Away we go…

1 CLAWBACK: got this from wordplay – CLAW(nipper), BACK(bet on),
but now I’ve looked up the definiton I think it’s a clever clue – ready referring to money,
and CLAWBACK meaning to recover money
5 BURSAR: BURR(throaty sound) containing SA(sex appeal)
8 DOR: ROD reversed for the beetle
9 ROCK BOTTOM: ROCK(discombobulate), BOTTOM(the weaver in A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
10 TOADFLAX: the demon driver is TOAD from The Wind in the Willows, then FAX(message) containing L(orry)
12 HOER: E(English), R(king) with HO(house) first
14 TORRIDNESS: I in RD between TOR(peak) and NESS(cape)
17 POWDER PUFF: D in POWER(govenrment), then PUFF(advertisement)
20 EDDA: E(eastern), DD(doctor of divinity), A
23 STAYED: sounds like STAID
24 ARMATURE: another one from wordplay – A, R(eforming),
25 PRUDENTIAL: P(lan), RUDE(simple), then an anagram of LATIN
26 LUM: L(left), U(university), M(married)
27 BEAKER: BEAK(magistrate) and R(right) containing E(European)
28 SHERATON: HER with SAT ON surrounding
1 CADETSHIP: (employe)D in an anagram of PASTICHE
2 ACREAGE: A CAGE contiaining RE(indeer)
3 BEREFT: BE REF(act as judge) then T(hough)
4 COCK-A-HOOP: COCK(raise) A HOOP(band)
5 BRONCHI: RON inside BCH(Bachelor of Surgery)
6 RETICENCE: ICE inside an anagram of CENTRE
13 RUDDY DUCK: RUDDY(bloomin’), DUCK(zero runs in cricket)
16 STATESMAN: STATES(avers), MAN(crew)
18 OCTUPLE: anagram of P(roblematic),TO,CLUE
19 RED DEER: RE(army corps) then DR surrounding DEE
21 DOUBLET: since SUTTON has a double T, but LUTON does not
22 JAILER: JAR(shock) surrounding ELI(priest) reversed

46 comments on “Times 26704 – where Shakespeare meets the Muppets”

  1. … double-D in this grid. A record?
    I was certain 6dn was going to be some kind of pasta!
    Liked the clue to OCTUPLE and enjoyed the several bits of lit.
  2. I think you mean 5d mctext (the one ending in I).

    I took about 25 mins to get all except TOADFLAX (I got the TOAD bit and the L but I never thought of fax) and BEREFT. Both were easy with the other one but with the missing crosser my mind was blank. Gave up and went out, then saw BEREFT. I had been convinced it started EAR. I was thinking EARASE (which isn’t a word but is HEAR CASE initially deprived).

    1. Indeed. The old eyesight ain’t what it used to be.

      Of which, our surgeon is strictly a BCh: Baccalaureus Chirurgiae.

      Edited at 2017-04-20 05:54 am (UTC)

  3. 10ac TOADFLAX my COD ‘Wind in the Willows’ noted

    and Shakespeare in 9ac ROCK BOTTOM my FOI

    LOI 5ac BURSAR

    WOD BRONCHI Time 38 minutes

  4. Like a breath of fresh air after yesterday’s pea-souper.

    EDDA and ARMATURE were difficult and made more so by having SINGLET instead of DOUBLET (was wondering when people stopped wearing singlets).

    COD to the unknown TOADFLAX, which seemed to emerge in a series of penny-dropping stages.

    Thanks setter and George.

  5. I never heard of CLAWBACK, couldn’t think of a nipper, so settled for ‘cashback’, which I’ve also never heard of. This made it all the harder to solve 2d, of course, so I didn’t: In a moment of desperation and the need to catch a train, I flung in ‘surface’, don’t ask why. Like Mctext, I was thinking of pasta for 5d; 5ac suggested GR to me, so I toyed with ‘gnocchi’, but cooler heads finally prevailed. I thought 20ac was a gimme; I BIFD, then parsed. Certainly a lot more enjoyable than yesterday’s.
  6. 13:31 … I got a bit stuck in the northwest, where I was sure ACREAGE was right but for a while couldn’t see anything but ‘cashback’ for 1 Across.

    Nice puzzle. I particularly like BEREFT — pithy.

    BCH as a surgeon is a new one on me. Does it stand for something or is it just a shortening of Bachelor?

      1. I missed that. Clearly my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, either. Not that it was that great to start with. Thanks. And yes, not one to cherish.
  7. 18.35, worrying throughout that I’d just been ripped off by a ticket agency, which I think slows one down. TOADFLAX my last one in too, as my mind couldn’t make the leap from demon driver to Toad, and I can’t remember the last time I used a fax.
    1. 13 August 2004 – Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации
  8. About 50 mins with croissant; 20 of them in the north west. TLS skills useful on Norse poems and Bottom, but let me down on Toad. I need to brush up on plants. Only ‘man’ to worry about was Ron and there I was more worried about surgeons. Liked Bereft and Doublet. Thanks blogger and setter.
  9. A bit of light relief after the punchy stuff we’ve had the last two days .. I will just record that I enjoyed the uncertainty of yesterday’s much more than the precision of today’s. I know I’m a bit odd.

    Edited at 2017-04-20 07:54 am (UTC)

  10. “Ready”=cash in crosswordese, non? So 1ac had to be ‘cashback’, natch. In it went without another thought… This meant I couldn’t get 2dn. Also, I had a blank at ARMATURE, and couldn’t think of Mr Toad, so my demon driver was a ‘tear’ (short for ‘tearaway’), and my plant was the incorrect ‘tearflax’. Which, imo, sounds just as likely, if not more so, than TOADFLAX.

    Bah humbug.

  11. Long time reader, first time poster here – inspired by a sub-20 minutes effort on yesterday’s puzzle, so I thought I’d start contributing and see if I can’t monitor some progress…
    Found this one significantly tougher than yesterday’s, with CLAWBACK, BEREFT and TOADFLAX holding me back for at least 10 minutes (couldn’t get BAR out of my head). FOI: DOR, COD: DOUBLET – always a sucker for a self-referential gimmick, me! Am I the only one to be reminded of the perilous drinking game ‘fuzzy duck’ with 13d? Many thanks, gl and setter.
    1. Probably not, but I was more interested in the similar game suggested at 4d. Not one for the children, perhaps.
  12. 12m. Not too hard, this, but I found I had to parse almost everything as I went through, and I really like puzzles like that.
    BRONCHI was the only real biff: BCH was new to me too.
    Thanks setter an George.
  13. A few left over at the end of my hour. I don’t think I can blame my ongoing headcold; TOADFLAX certainly wasn’t going to spring to my mind even at the healthiest of times, and I’d not heard of EDDA, nor “DD” for “divine”. Having pencilled in “epia” wasn’t helping me to get DOUBLET…

    I also missed the OCTUPLE and BEREFT, so no great honours here for me today. At least this was a test that told me I’m starting to remember some things: the LUM sprang immediately to mind and I knew who the weaver in question was this time around. Will have to note down BCH, DOR and a few others.

  14. No problem with this one

    Knew CLAWBACK because it used to be used in life assurance business when selling agents were paid large upfront commissions that had to be earned out of future premium payments. If the policy lapsed before the end of the payback period, the unearned commission was “clawed back”.

    1. Clawbacks exactly as you describe are still used in the medical insurance game; certainly I’ve had to track a few down to make the books balance in my time. Still didn’t help the answer spring to mind until quite late for me, but at least I recognised the word when it appeared.
    2. Clawbacks also pop up in the tax world so it was a write-in for me.

      Edited at 2017-04-20 10:51 am (UTC)

    3. ‘Clawback’ is also a familiar concept in the city these days, applied to bonuses. A case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, perhaps, but there will be another horse.
  15. I was going to put up a picture of my back hedge today even before the BCH got to work on Ron. It’s looking pretty good. I biffed BRONCHI as the only tubes I could think of, never having heard a surgeon so described. Took my time at 45 minutes but got the others without biffing, with LOIS the BEREFT, TOADFLAX crosser. POWDER PUFF was always used by football journalists to describe a non-functioning forward line such as my team’s at the moment, although perhaps it would be considered too offensive now, unlike the said forward line. COD ROCK BOTTOM. Thank you George and setter.
  16. Often in practice, the BCh is the other way around. Standard qualifications for a doctor, at least in the UK, include MB BS, MB ChB and MRCS LRCP with a slight element of ‘I look up to him but I look down on him’. Perhaps our resident surgeon can comment.
    Otherwise an enjoyable sub-30 solve. Thanks setter and George.

    Edited at 2017-04-20 09:23 am (UTC)

  17. 7m something, helped by the fact that I had to get the schools dressed and to school inside about the next 15 minutes as I started, so time was of the essence. I had CASHBACK in as a placeholder for 1ac which led to that and 2dn being the last ones in, with a sigh of relief. Quite liked 21dn, especially as a former Sutton resident…
  18. I think of this more as tropical than parching heat – the sort of thing we get in NYC in late August when you start thinking you really should have replaced that old air-conditioner. BCH unknown to me too and Kevin wasn’t the only one thinking of gnocchi except that they’re not tubular. 18.03
    1. Ditto re torridness. And it did occur to me that gnocchi aren’t tubular, but they begin with G, and that was good enough for me; until I realized that BURSAR actually fit the clue, while G ….R didn’t.
  19. Liked it, 25 minutes, last 5 over 10a and 3d, where at first I was looking for a demon not a plant. 10a gets CoD.
  20. I was undone by a faulty synaptic connection which merged Octo with Multiple and came out with OCTIPLE, when I failed to spot the anagram fodder. Otherwise all done in a sluggish 45:25. I started off quickly but started to struggle about half way through. I felt more at home with this puzzle than with yesterday’s, but still struggled, especially in the NW where CASHBACK held me up until I revisited the clue when 2d was unforthcoming with an S at the start, and the SE where EDDA and DOUBLET held me up. I didn’t see the parsing for DOUBLET until coming here. Didn’t know DOR as a beetle or BCh, but went with my instincts and a couple of shrugs. Once I’d thought of Fax for message, the plant rang a bell and I’d already been considering Toad as the driver from Hell. An interesting puzzle. Thanks setter and George.

    Edited at 2017-04-20 10:44 am (UTC)

  21. I am usually late responding as I have to drag my bones to get a physical paper. Would also be low on my the scoreboard if I submitted online. But I was very pleased to complete this in about an hour (watching Andy Murray doing his best for Scottish Independence in Monaco – on TV sadly not in Monaco). Thanks setter for parsing Doublet which was a guess. COD Toadflax just because it’s WITW. Toyed with BArsac/Barsak for finance manager before I saw the light. If you see a good finance manager shoot them before they go bad!
  22. 53 mins with an unusually slow Mr Toad appearing in the NW, which held things up not a jot. Only knew SHERATON as a hotel
  23. Like galspray I couldn’t get beyond singlet for some time despite thinking to myself that doesn’t make sense when Sutton contains double T. D’oh! There seems to be a Luton theme developing this week. Interesting to see whether it makes another appearance tomorrow.
  24. 15 mins. I got off to a good start when I saw CLAWBACK immediately, and I then entered CADETSHIP, DOR, HOER and COCK-A-HOOP. However, I slowed up after that and had to go back to the NW to finish, with BEREFT my LOI after TOADFLAX. I enjoyed this puzzle.
  25. Around 20 minutes for everything except TOADFLAX, and another many minutes even with all the crossers in place to light upon that, more as a guess. Not a plant name I know, but I looked it up and found it’s a snapdragon. Oh, those I know. Didn’t know of BCH either but it didn’t hold me up at all. Regards.
  26. DNF. Bah! FOI 9ac. LOI the incorrect BARSAK at 5ac – I saw the SA bit and took a punt on the throaty sound being BARK to create one more unknown in a puzzle with quite a few unknowns derived from word play (8, 10 and 24ac for example). My, “that’s definitely not a word radar”, let me down. I convinced myself that a BARSAK was some sort of Ottoman treasury official. I was heading for a reasonably fast time for me of around 35 mins which is why I didn’t stop and take the time I should have done – I am sure BURSAR would have been well within my ken had I tarried a while instead of chasing a faster time. COD 21dn. My idiocy aside, I thought this was an enjoyable puzzle.
  27. I can’t remember the last time I used a fax but I do remember the first time I came across one; it was in December 1983. I called a number and had to ask someone what that funny whistling noise was at the other end.
    No problem with bursar; a long-ago girlfriend was one such.
    I particularly enjoyed 18d, 19d and 21d. 45m 04s
    1. I remember a story about someone asking for more paper to be sent over via the
      fax machine

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