Times 26720

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
My first blog for a while following an unexpected major op that put me out of commission for a couple of weeks, and thanks to all who expressed their good wishes. I appear to have come through it rather well so far but unfortuntely my crossword puzzle brain packed up completely for a while and is only just starting to get back into gear so I won’t embarrass myself by revealing how long this one took me to complete.  Looking back on it whilst compiling the blog I don’t think anything was particularly difficult other than the “legendary queen”, but there are one or two definitions that  might be thought a little on the loose side.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 Old German in moving scene offers Christmas gift (12)
FRANKINCENSE – FRANK (old German),  IN, anagram [moving] of SCENE. As with most things to do with religion there’s a variety of opinion on some matters but it seems generally accepted that the three Wise Men or Kings bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh, did not visit the baby Jesus at Christmas, but at some later date, so the definition may be considered a little dodgy. I remember being taught it was at the Epiphany although I can’t at the moment find any official support for this, but that was when the figures representing the Wise Men were added to the crib in our church. Some sources suggest they visited the infant up to two years later. On the other hand it’s not uncommon for painters of nativity scenes (and designers of Christmas cards) to include the Wise Men along with the new-born babe, shepherds, oxen et al, so perhaps the setter may be allowed a little leeway here.
8 Initially advise voter against keeping record in correspondence (7)
ANALOGY – A{dvise} [initially], NAY (voter against) containing [keeping] LOG (record)
9 Doctor was madly grabbing royal undergarment (7)
DRAWERS – DR (doctor), anagram [madly] of WAS containing [grabbing] ER (royal). I wondered about singular/plural here but if a pair of trousers can be considered as a garment then I suppose a pair of drawers may be too.
11 Get air into smart accommodation close to Tube (7)
INFLATE – IN (smart – trendy), FLAT (accommodation), {tub}E [close]
12 Diminutive man on wagon welcomed to AA meeting (7)
REGATTA – REG (diminutive man), then TT (on wagon – teetotal) contained by [welcomed to] AA (with reference to Alcoholics Anonymous). The definition may be a bit loose but if horse-racing takes place at a meeting then boat-racing might also.
13 Girl absolutely losing weight (5)
HOLLY – {w}HOLLY (absolutely) [losing weight]
14 Laziness and rudeness to involve daughter rather than son (9)
INDOLENCE – The S (son) involved in IN{s}OLENCE (rudeness) changes to D (daughter) to give us INDOLENCE (laziness)
16 Host a knees-up getting cake in (9)
ABUNDANCE – A, BUN (cake), DANCE (knees-up)
19 South American native in Lima with Buddhist monk (5)
LLAMA – L (Lima – NATO alphabet), LAMA (Buddhist monk)
21 They’re billed a huge amount for pressing uniform roughly (7)
TOUCANS – TONS (a huge amount) containing [pressing] U (uniform – NATO alphabet) + CA (roughly)
23 Birds with wings in Estonia’s coastal location (7)
SWANSEA – SWANS (birds), E{stoni}A [wings]
24 Less mature, the solver’s stifling snigger occasionally? (7)
YOUNGER – YOUR (the solver’s) containing {s}N{i}G{g}E{r} [occasionally]
25 Roaming mammoth chasing feline, not caught (2,5)
AT LARGE – {c}AT (feline) [not caught – c in cricket], LARGE (mammoth)
26 Malty centres in confection for legendary queen (12)
CLYTEMNESTRA – Anagram [confection] of MALTY CENTRES. Spartan royalty. Didn’t know her so I battled with this one. I’m not keen on anagrams of obscure words of foreign origin.
1 Frightening female given severe reprimand (7)
FEARFUL – F (female), EARFUL (severe reprimand)
2 There’s curiosity in an old tree inhabited by lemurs originally (7)
ANOMALY – AN, O (old), MAY (tree – aka hawthorn) containing [inhabited by] L{emurs} [ originally]
3 One economist’s explanation insane when reviewed (9)
KEYNESIAN – KEY (explanation) anagram [when reviewed] of INSANE. John Maynard Keynes, economist,  (1883-1946).
4 Deepest point in Mahanadi river (5)
NADIR – Hidden in {Maha}NADI R{iver}
5 Matthew maybe read up on church’s central area (7)
EVANGEL – LEG (on – cricket) + NAVE (church’s central area) all reversed [read up]. A new word to me although of course I knew “evangelist” so it wasn’t hard to arrive at the asnwer.
6 Submachine-gun loaded by little honey (7)
SWEETEN – STEN (submachine-gun) containing [loaded by] WEE (little). “Honey” needs to be taken as a verb here.
7 Language of Hamlet — old lines becoming quite a mouthful! (6,6)
DANISH PASTRY – DANISH (language of Hamlet), PAST (old), RY (lines – railway). A very loose definition.
10 One responsible for flats and other properties? (5,7)
STAGE MANAGER – A barely cryptic definition with reference to scenery (flats) and properties used on stage in theatre.
15 Energy to limit velocity when rocketing in void (4,5)
DEEP SPACE – E (energy) + CAP (limit) + SPEED (velocity) all reversed [rocketing]
17 Student Union in posh university principally aligned with Left? Extraordinary! (7)
UNUSUAL – U (posh), NUS (National Union of Students), U (university), A{ligned} [principally], L (left)
18 Plan announced for man on board (7)
DRAUGHT – Sounds like [announced] “draft” (plan)
19 Free ale left out little advertising! (7)
LEAFLET – Anagram [free] of ALE LEFT. I’ve taken “out” as part of the definition as leaflets can be published or “put out”, but it could be intended as part of the anagrind in which case it would appear to be surplus to requirements. Having read Isla’s comment below I think I tried a bit too hard on this one, and it’s simply: Anagram [free] of ALE + anagram [out] of LEFT.
20 Fool without a care sent up expansionist kingdom (7)
ASSYRIA – ASS (fool), AIRY (without a care) reversed [sent up]. “Airy” can be casual or flippant which I suppose might extend to being careless or “without a care”. The country was an imperial power in its day, hence “expansionist”, I assume.
22 Romeo among undesirables in riotous struggle (5)
SCRUM – R (Romeo – NATO alphabet), contained by [among] SCUM (undesirables)

35 comments on “Times 26720”

  1. Liked ANALOGY, a bit dubious about “rocketing” meaning going upwards, but can live with it. Took LEAFLET to have 2 anagram indicators: free ALE, then LEFT out.
    Not a Christian so Jesus’s birth was definitely at Christmas (not April or May when shepherds might have been around) and the three wise men definitely arrived that day, he says in ignorance.
    Guessed correct order for letters in the obscure foreign queen, but didn’t check the fodder well enough so a wrong CLYTAMNESTRA.
    1. Thanks for your thoughts re LEAFLET and I have amended my comments in the blog. I don’t think there’s a dispute amongst believers that Jesus was born at Christmas, just as to whether it happens to correspond in any way with the time of year at which the festival takes place in the modern era. That the Wise Men bearing gifts arrived some time after Christmas appears to be generally accepted other than in some iconography where a degree of artistic licence is perhaps understandable.

      Edited at 2017-05-09 06:55 am (UTC)

  2. 13:55 … with a bit of a brain-racking at the end for STAGE MANAGER, where I had got ‘scale’ (flats etc) into my head and was searching for something musical.

    Struggled, too, with ANALOGY / ANOMALY, the sort of words I still have to stop and think about any time I’m tempted to use them.

    Good to have you back, jackkt.

  3. I completed this in the (for me) fast time of 45 minutes. FOI FRANKINCENSE, LOI DEEP SPACE. I’m surprised I got CLYTEMNESTRA almost straight away without writing the letters down. Thanks to setter and blogger.
  4. Never did parse TOUCANS; I’m going to have to study the NATO alphabet. DRAWERS, in case anyone wanted to know, is a *plurale tantum* (plural, *pluralia tantum*), a noun with no singular form that nonetheless refers to a single thing (trousers, scissors, glasses (spectacles); so anyway no problem with ‘garment’. CLYTEMNESTRA is one of those bits of what certainly was GK back in the day–she’s the wife of Agamemnon (also a character in Faulkner’s “Absalom, Absalom!”, the daughter of a slave-owner and one of his slaves)–I’m curious as to what Verlaine will say.
  5. Not too tricky today… last ones (unparsed) STAGE MANAGER and DEEP SPACE. Oh, TOUCANS also went in unparsed, so thanks for those, Jack. Good to have you back on board!

  6. I also found stage manager tricky to track down – but otherwise a straight forward morning
  7. I enjoyed this. Under 35 mins over porridge, not a 7dn unfortunately.
    Today’s random man is diminutive (hoorah).
    COD to TOUCANS: nice wordplay and the mental image of them is always pleasing.
    When I was young and in France, having momentarily forgotten that l’addition was the usual name for a bill in eateries – I looked it up in a pocket dictionary. I tried La Facture – but this just puzzled the waiters, so looked further and tried Le Bec which didn’t help. Eventually we got there.
    Thanks setter and welcome back Jackkt.
    1. If you hold up one hand, and pretend to sign it with the other, that works in all known languages 🙂
      1. I wonder how long that will continue, now we rarely sign bills? Will the youngsters continue the tradition, or will we have to learn to mime whacking one hand with the other in the manner of contactless payment to attract the next generation of waiters?
        1. Trust me, it will work forever. I’ve never actually signed a bill in my life
          1. I suspect it will continue anachronistically in the same way that the symbol for “save” in IT resolutely remains a floppy disc. In any case, I don’t think I’d feel confident attempting to mime entering my PIN into a payment device; and I don’t think there’s any international sign language for contactless payments…
            1. I have toyed with the idea of a gesture which mimics shoving a payment card up the base of a card reader – but never dared try it.
              With regard to the ‘signing flourish’ method – this is tricky unless the waiter is more than, say, four feet away at the time.
  8. Kicking myself that FRANKINCENSE didn’t leap out at me for the definition alone (controversy notwithstanding). COD to DANISH PASTRY, loose yes, but raised a smile. Couldn’t get DRAUGHT, which has held me up in the past I’m sure, and Clytemwotsit either, but a successful bundling together from the letters.
    Many thanks setter and Jackkt.
  9. I found this easy, much helped by writing all the four long ones straight in.. Clytemnestra familiar from a misspent youth partly spent reading Greek plays

  10. For the second day in a row breezed through at my latter day maximum speed, 10 minutes for all but ANOMALY, which I had to write down to figure out. 12.24 for the lot.
    In my semi-professional opinion, events 2000-odd years ago happened, as Douglas Adams nearly said, in a way almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Nativity plays. The bit that’s true is the bit about the lobsters.
    I knew CLYTEMNESTRA, but had a complete memory blackout as to who, where, why, and when she (if she was a she) was Queen. The otherwise uncredited Nativity visitor, perhaps?
  11. Very easy puzzle with only 26A causing any problem. Had to guess and Google to verify answer. Once again we complain about obscure foreign words being clued as anagrams.

    Good to see you back Jack. That scrambled head feeling passes. I had it as a side effect following my cancer treatment. Luckily I was only blogging Mephisto at the time so had a week to work my way through the puzzle!

  12. 9m.
    The three wise men appear with their gifts immediately in every nativity play I’ve ever seen, which was good enough for me. But since I don’t believe that any of it happened anyway I’m not really in a position to quibble on the details.
    I had heard of the queen, but I had a brief panic thinking ‘how am I going to be sure where to put the Y’ before realising that there weren’t any Is to get it mixed up with. I’ll be interested to know if anyone who doesn’t know her fails to get this from the anagram. I struggle with the idea that she’s obscure but then I’ve heard of her so I would say that, wouldn’t I?
    10dn may be barely cryptic, but it was cryptic enough to fool me! My last in.
    Good to see you back, jackkt and best wishes for a continued recovery.

    Edited at 2017-05-09 12:51 pm (UTC)

  13. One minute over my hour, having got through the top half quite quickly and then slowed. My last three were the queen, the empire, and the coastal location.

    Eventually, with all but one crosser, I shuffled the letters nearly correctly and then remembered CLYTEMNESTRA from a previous puzzle, which led me to ASSYRIA. In my defence, there have been a lot of kingdoms, and not many of them weren’t expansionist…

    Those two had me in the mood for looking for obscurities or gaps in my knowledge, and I made a hash of SWANSEA, thinking I was looking for some unknown place in Estonia. D’oh. Still, I got there in the end.

    FOI FEARFUL, COD 26a for the lovely anagram, and also WOD CLYTEMNESTRA. Maybe next time she comes up I’ll at least remember a bit about her rather than just her name.

    Thanks, as always, to setter and blogger, whom I’m very glad to hear is feeling better.

  14. Just under 30 mins including making a cup of tea and letting the dog into the garden for a rather one-sided conversation with a pair of squirrels. CLYTEMNESTRA went straight in (well, Dido did not fit, neither did Gold or Myrrh). All I know about Assyrians is that they came down like a wolf on the fold. LOI STAGE MANAGER. Good to hear that you are on the mend, Jack.

    Edited at 2017-05-09 09:01 am (UTC)

  15. 12 mins, with the last couple of them pondering S?A?E MANAGER because I don’t recall ever coming across the required meaning of “flats” and I was wondering if there could be such jobs as either a “space manager” or a “share manager”. In the end I bunged in the correct answer with a shrug.
  16. It wouldn’t be Christmas without “We three kings of orian tar”. I’m a classics type so knew the queen. In some versions she murders her husband on his return from Troy and sets off an orgy of revenge killing.

    Very good to see you at large Jack. One of the dispiriting things about being in doctors’ hands is the amount of time you spend sitting around in a hospital gown twiddling your thumbs while you wait for someone to come and do something to you (while the day’s crosswords are sitting locked in the cubicle with the rest of your clobber). 14.03

  17. Enjoyable mix of the straightforward and slightly trickier. I don’t think any of the clues required unreasonably obscure GK. SWANSEA was cleverly deceptive. TOUCANS went straight in because I’m lucky enough to have seen the birds in the wild and any hint of big bills almost at once brings them to mind; but it took me an age to work out the cryptic parsing.

    Good to see you back from your op in such good form, Jack. An equal delight to be reacquainted with your wonderfully clear and detailed blogging template.

    1. Thanks for your good wishes, Mike. I wasn’t aware I was doing much different from most bloggers but it’s pleasing to know that someone else follows the logic I attempt to apply when analyzing the clues.
  18. Glad you’re back on blogging form. Nice straightforward puzzle today; and after my botanical blind spot yesterday, a nice classical reference to remind me that obscurity is all a matter of perspective.
  19. Managed three quarters of this in about 30 minutes but then ground to a halt in the NE, eventually dragging the correct answers forth in 48:37. FOI was DANISH PASTRY and LOI EVANGEL after dithering between STAGE and STORE for 10d and still not understanding why, plumping for stage after I finally twigged REGATTA. CLYTemwotsit rang a bell so no problems with her. ANALOGY and ANOMALY held me up for a while. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter, and welcome back Jack.
  20. 44 minutes, but had a brainstorm at 19, where I bunged in ‘liana’ – actually, I remember thinking about it a bit, but just what I was thinking about I don’t recall. Anyway, quite an achievement to get arguably the easiest clue wrong.
  21. I originally had SCENE SHIFTER instead of STAGE MANAGER. And, to my great shame, had SEASIDE instead of SWANSEA – which is where I happen to live! LEG defined as “on” continues to defeat me but I had EVAN??? from the cryptic so EVANGEL it had to be. 33 minutes. Ann
  22. I’d just like to join in the good wishes to Jack. May you continue to recover quickly and return to full health.
  23. Zoomed through this one until the queen, and had a few different versions of the name but finally guessed the correct one. I know the name mostly from the GWAR dancer Slymenstra Hymen.
  24. Oh dear! I started off slowly with only INFLATE from the first acrosses, but then switched to the downs, got the first seven of them straight off, and went reasonably quickly through most of the remaining clues, giving me hopes of a half-decent time.

    Unfortunately I lost the plot at that point, and struggled for ages over my last three clues. Eventually I got ASSYRIA and then SWANSEA, but that left me with the ghastly, vocalophobic 10dn. Even when I at last realised that the second word was probably going to be MANAGER, it still took me an age to come up with STAGE and I finished in a miserable 18:31. With hindsight, all three look almost trivial. (Sigh!)

  25. 24 mins on the train this morning and another 20 mins to polish off at lunchtime. Nothing unknown apart from flats for scenery at 10dn but saw “properties” and was thinking props anyway so assumed flats was a term for something stagy. 13ac Holly biffed, just couldn’t see the obvious weight, thinking lb, ton, oz etc. Evangel unfamiliar but confident enough from wordplay to put it in. 26ac known from a recent production of the Oresteia at the Almeida, with Angus Wright a terrific Agamemnon and Lia Williams a superb 26ac. FOI 9ac, LOI 13ac. COD 7dn yum!
  26. If you don’t know it (and I didn’t) then all you can do is arrange the letters in a pretty pattern. My solution looked like a right momble but it turned out to be correct, so I don’t know whether my solution constitutes a dnf.
  27. I suppose an anagram is the ultimate version of ‘don’t know where the letters go’, but even containers are like that: why should you necessarily know where the insertion or containment is, exactly? CDs too, can be tough, but I didn’t really see CLYTEMNESTRA as ‘obscure’, and I’m another one who knew the ‘flats’ reference for STAGE MANAGER.

    I don’t know how hard a Times puzzle should be these days, even for speed freaks (!), but this one had some very nice clues.

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