Times 26759 – Very Verlainable

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I’ve flown in today as Verlaine is off in Glastonbury doing something with henges and probably covering himself in woad, or worse. This was a puzzle he’d have enjoyed blogging, so I’ll try to do him justice, after he kindly stood in for me on Wednesday.
It took me about 25 minutes to finish and understand, with the pennies dropping on 19d and 23d at last having biffed them initially.
Some witty clueing here; I especially liked the bit of chemistry at 7d, the classical bit I actually knew at 27a, and my CoD 28a. I’m trying to find a way to link 12a, 17a and 20a as one thought bubble.

Definitions are underlined.

1 Stew of rice and basil getting heated quickly (9)
IRASCIBLE – (RICE BASIL)*. Nice easy starter.
6 Restrain European dressed in thong (5)
LEASH – Insert E (European) into LASH (thong). So, leash can be a verb, it seems. The bizarre fashion for ladies wearing thongs with the fishtail bit sticking up at the rear above the hip-level jeans or shorts seems to have passed, or am I just not looking as closely these days?
9 Cut out third of fatty food and port for your health (7)
CHEERIO – Take CHEESE, cut out the last third to get CHEE, add RIO as in de Janeiro.
10 It’s best the writer’s lodged by plump old lady (7)
OPTIMUM – OPT = plump (for), MUM = old lady, insert I = the writer.
11 Observes egg in cuckoo nest (5)
NOTES – O for egg, goes into an anagram (‘cuckoo’) of NEST.
12 Track names put in ship’s outside accommodation (3,6)
DOG KENNEL – DOG = track, KEEL = ship’s outside (well, underneath). Insert NN being names. I thought this was going to be DOG HOUSES at first, until it ended in L.
14 Twelve months in northern port (3)
AYR – A YR = twelve months. AYR is a rather sad Scottish west coast town near the golfing wonders of Troon and Prestwick.
15 One’s filling a carrycot, moving top layer (11)
ARISTOCRACY – I’S = one’s, inside anagram of (A CARRYCOT)*. Nice definition!
I was initially thinking, a strata-thing, or best egg producer.
17 Policeman, getting stoned, is the worse for wear (11)
DILAPIDATED – DI = policeman, if you lapidate someone you throw stones at them. As a Friday bonus, here’s a link to the best lapidating scenes in movies; for me Life of Brian is way ahead. https://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/3so2a0/monty_pythons_life_of_brian_features_the_best/
19 Maybe castle’s staff (3)
MAN – Double definition, man = piece in chess, man = verb to staff.
20 Where punters are withdrawing computer game (9
CAMBRIDGE – Well, some punters, those who stand on the wrong end of the punt and drive it backwards. And the Cam is hardly as much fun as the Cherwell or the Isis, but that’s enough one-upmanship.
MAC is your computer, withdrawing = CAM, BRIDGE is the game.
22 What officer has shortened in kit (5)
STRIP – Officers have STRIPES, shortened to (football) kit.
24 Person satirising press one way (7)
IRONIST – IRON = press, I ST = one way.
26 Simulated affection is a risk to doctor (3,4)
AIR KISS – (A RISK TO)*, anagrind ‘doctor’.
27 Returning home, one honoured proud Greek mother (5)
NIOBE – IN = home, returning – NI; OBE = one honoured. Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus. She boasted about having 14 children, all worthy of marriage to high end suitors; because of her excessive pride, a chap slaughtered seven or so, or maybe all, of her kids and left them unburied. As she was turned into a stone afterwards, she didn’t have a lot more to say. You couldn’t make this stuff up. I only remember who she was because I once spent some time studying the chemistry of Tantalum and Niobium which are metals together in Group V of the periodic table.
28 Back room for scientist with a space traveller’s instrument(9)
BALALAIKA – A LAB is a room for scientist; ‘back’ = BAL A; LAIKA was the stray dog from the streets of Moscow who was sent into orbit in 1957. The idea was that a stray was more used to surviving extreme conditions. Yeah, like zero G and overheating? The American press, I learn, dubbed the dog “Muttnik” at the time. Brilliant clue, IMO.

1 Popular preserve of old people (5)
INCAN – IN = popular, CAN = preserve, verb; INCAN = of the Inca people.
2 A more desirable accessory (7)
ABETTER – A, BETTER = more desirable. Someone who aids and abets.
3 Villain around deck had scrap at sea, overwhelming resistance (9)
CARDSHARP – I was misled into looking for pirates or mutineers initially, like Christian; it’s an anagram of (HAD SCRAP)* with R inside.
4 Liberal protested, following less travelled path? (5-6)
BROAD-MINDED – MINDED = protested, after B ROAD a less travelled path than an A ROAD.
5 For one – nil, this is excessive pride (3)
EGO – E.G. = for one, O = nil.
6 Having good physique, unconcerned to go topless (5)
LITHE – BLITHE would be unconcerned, topless = remove the B. You can wear a thong if you are lithe. I’m not. Nice surface.
7 After what’s in magazine, great new twists? It’s a gas (7)
AMMONIA – AMMO is in the magazine, then A1 N (great new) reversed.
8 Greeting Asian from Peak District? (9)
HIMALAYAN – “Hi Malayan” would be greeting an Asian chap. Have we seen this before? Seems likely.
13 Fail to do some sightseeing in Northern China? (2,2,3,4)
GO TO THE WALL – Easy write-in double definition.
14 Job for summer, holding Head of Convent’s habit (9)
ADDICTION – Insert C being head of Convent, into ADDITION being what a ‘summer’ does, he sums.
16 Immoral type of stars revealing value of land (9)
CADASTRAL – CAD is the immoral type; ASTRAL = of stars; I am looking at the cadastral plan of our village on my desk, lots of little numbered box shapes showing who owns what, but thankfully it doesn’t mention their value as such.
18 African runner‘s beverage stored in vehicle (7)
LIMPOPO – POP inside LIMO. See ‘runner’ think river. Say after me, “the grey-green greasy Limpopo river, all set about with fever trees”. Even though I hate poetry, I remember that one. Do kids read Kipling these days?
19 Right in sea, island’s in the drink (7)
MARTINI – RT = right, inside MAIN = sea, then I = island.
21 Extra is earned, receiving this (5)
RAISE – Today’s hidden word clue; EXT(RA IS E)ARNED.
23 Yearly gathering remains official in Turkey (5)
PASHA – P A = per annum, yearly, insert ASH = remains.
25 VAT only goes up (3)
TUB – BUT reversed.

53 comments on “Times 26759 – Very Verlainable”

  1. I had LIMPOTO. Should have read my Kitling.

    All good fun otherwise, and you’ve done justice to V’s Friday spot Pip.


  2. Quickie for a Friday, about 25mins… a couple of dnks… NIOBE was pencilled in as nimbe until LIMPOPO put paid to that, CAMBRIDGE was part-biffed (despite the fact that I’m typing on one), as was MARTINI. CADASTRAL is a new word, and I hesitated at the end between A and E for the 6th letter in BALALAIKA, but, by chance, got the right one this time. Phew.

    1. I think NIMBE was the character in Greek mythology who was turned to stone for refusing to allow a new temple to be built behind her house.
  3. 18:16 … more great stuff. I thought I might fail to finish, after 4 minutes or so staring at A_E_T_R for 2d. A couple of alphabet trawls later and it was on with the self-kicking boots.

    LAPIDATE is definitely going onto the Useful Words list, even if it’s not strictly that useful.

    Can’t give a COD to 28a as that story always makes me too damned sad. So COD to LIMPOPO – lovely word and a sweet surface

  4. 48 minutes for me, so not too easy, but at least not as impossible as I’ve found a couple of the others this week. Very glad to find NIOBE existed—I thought of the right answer early, but wanted all the checkers first before I penned her in. Almost the opposite with CADASTRAL, where I was sure I was right as soon as I’d thought of this unknown word, so it helped me finish off the SE.

    FOI IRASCIBLE, LOI OPTIMUM, not sure why. COD 3d for the lovely maritime misdirection. Thanks for the explanation of the lapidation, Pip, among other explication, and thanks to the setter, too. Just what I needed for an early start on a Friday.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 07:18 am (UTC)

  5. Just under 20 mins of enjoyable solving with some unparsed so thanks pip. I knew CADASTRAL from my old day job of international tax so that was a write-in. The nearest that I got to a Blue was punting for the University against Oxford (from the correct end of course). The team was selected from members of the Dampers Club, restricted to those who had inadvertently fallen into the Cam from a punt. Makes sense! By the way, the Limpopo is grey-green, as well as greasy etc

    Edited at 2017-06-23 07:22 am (UTC)

    1. You see, bigtone, I can’t even remember the one poem I thought I could remember…
  6. Felt more like a Monday, which is fine with me. No problem with NIOBE, which triggered a biff of LIMPOPO. I was held up a bit by my LOI STRIP, as I had no idea what ‘kit’ was doing; and isn’t it unusual to shorten a word by two letters rather than one? COD to OPTIMUM.
  7. 18 and a bit, rather more like it. One of those where some answers went in twice, the first time sure about the word but baffled by the wordplay, the second time forcibly deciphering the wordplay. OPTIMUM one such, because “the writer’s” refused to be anything other than I’M, and unless you’re very forgetful, UM is not the old lady.
    CADASTRAL (ASTRAL was easy) from who knows where, possibly that inviting cloud of words I never use except in crosswords. Perhaps I should fine a way of transferring that cloud to a web page.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 08:36 am (UTC)

  8. Long before Petra and Shep, Laika was well-known. I did not learn until relatively recently that she never came back. Had a teacher at school who once said ‘Cheerio’ to us when downing a drink – we thought it quaint, and that was in 1969. An officer can have only one stripe, so 22ac works. LOI the unknown CADASTRAL, although already had CAD in mind from wrongly thinking it was part of 3d. 26′ , thanks pip and setter.
  9. 40 minutes again. Never heard of CADASTRAL and needed all the crossers. Didn’t even parse BROAD-MINDED, wondering why The Broad was a less-travelled path when Blackwell’s and The Paperback Shop were on it. CAMBRIDGE was late in too, with me being at the other place and a Microsoft PC user. I’ve always felt sorry for Laika and hope she found peace in the great DOG KENNEL in the sky both literally and metaphorically. Nice puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.
  10. 10:11, taken over the ten-minute mark by worrying that DILAPIDATED might be something else. I decided it was probably right by figuring the ‘lapis’ in ‘lapis lazuli’ might mean stone and ‘lapidate’ might come from the same root.
    NIOBE unknown, CADASTRAL a word I know from French equivalents which are more commonly used than in English. LIMPOPO from Kipling of course. The answer to your question is yes, Pip. A subsection of my progeny at least has done the Just So Stories at school. Possibly all of them for all I know.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 08:03 am (UTC)

  11. we had a law-lecturer at college who had been a DC in Bechuanaland and was forever banging on about going up the LIMPOPO! Hence 18dn for me was an easy passage – ‘green and greasy’! My WOD

    I struggled with this for 48 mins mainly as I had Fridayitis! Should have gone much quicker as I did Monday when I had Mondayitis. It was a v. good challenge and much enjoyed.



    Excellent blog and avatar – not a word to V.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 12:04 pm (UTC)

  12. Forgetting that the word runner is crosswordese for river, I thought I might be looking for an obscure Namibian antelope or some such. Hence LIMALEO went in with scarcely a qualm.
    I knew CADASTRAL as I’m living in Friuli, where under the Habsburg empire they followed the regimented system of land surveying which existed at the time.
    Back in the early sixties, our French teacher insisted you could not refer to a ‘dilapidated wooden shed’ because lapis meant it had to be made of stone.
    1. I think that’s the most extreme example of the etymological fallacy I’ve ever come across!

      Edited at 2017-06-23 03:05 pm (UTC)

      1. he told us we could learn vocab by using mnemonics like ‘an egg is un oeuf for a Frenchman’, and asked us to think up our own.
        I came up with ‘you have to have veuve to marry a widow’, but he told me to stop being suggestive.
  13. Your heading reminds me of the critic who reviewed the play “I Am a Camera” based on Isherwood’s Berlin stories for the New York Herald. His headline was simply “Me no Leica”.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 09:24 am (UTC)

  14. . .enjoyed this one.

    Those guys who can do cryptics almost as quickly as they write – if I found xwds that easy, I’d find something more challenging, like getting a text shown on Question Time, or changing the headlamp bulb on a BMW K1200RS motorcycle. Grrrrr . . .

    I knew about Laika from a very young age – one of the answers on my ‘Magic Robot’ game; a 4 inch plastic android holding a pointing rod and swivelling on a mirror above a magnet. Class.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 10:33 am (UTC)

    1. My proudest moment in my (short-lived) pub quiz career:
      The last question of the quiz; scores are level. My question comes up – and the opposition gleefully laugh “nobody will ever know that” – “What was the name of the first dog in space?” Being a bit of a space buff, I of course knew, to everybody’s amazement. I think it was a mastermind question once, and then this. Nothing’s ever wasted, is it?
    2. Wow! There’s a blast from the past! Don’t think I’ve ever thought of it since playing over 50 years ago, but the memories came back complete and entire, even (possibly) including the scent of the game as you took it out of the box. To us, even when we had an inkling of the way it worked, it was pure magic. Such happy days.
  15. This 28 minute solve came as a welcome relief for me after the beasts of the past two days.

    All very enjoyable with some unknowns (CADASTRAL and NIOBE) gettable from wordplay. The LAPIDATED part of 17ac was also unknown and I was pleased that the checkers were helpful when it came to spelling the Russian banjo.

    I think there’s a convention that unless otherwise indicated a shortend word is reduced by only one letter so the officer referred to in 22ac is a low ranker limited to one stripe.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 09:31 am (UTC)

  16. Enjoyable fare. 22.08. Don’t quite follow the thought-bubble need Pip, unless you live there, but offer ‘Trump turns down honorary doctorate from Churchill College Cambridge, calling the building a dilapidated dog-kennel’. I too liked balalaika. – joekobi
  17. Witty and enjoyable puzzle which, like quite a few others judging by the comments above, I found somewhat easier than the usual Friday fare. I share the admiration for BALALAIKA and ARISTOCRACY.

    I biffed DILAPIDATED, but could not parse it because I had never come across the verb “to lapidate” before. Thanks to blogger Pip for the explanation. I’d forgotten that NIOBE was famous as an excessively proud mother, but did remember Hamlet’s mocking description of his mother, “like Niobe, all tears”, at his father’s funeral, soon after which she married his uncle Claudius.

  18. Officer – all I did was lapidate next door’s cat for beating mine up! I’ll get away with it. Another Friday DNF for me as I failed on Cadastral and even didn’t get the gas. Off to see The Fantastic Mr Fox at the theatre tonight. My review may be “what the fox’s hat” (also a good beer from Fox brewery). Excellent puzzle and well done to all you experts. If you always complete crosswords are they any fun any more? I can’t be bothered with Times Super Fiendish Sudoku as they’re far too easy.
    1. The Times is always fresh, that’s its genius. I get miffed only if I chuck in a typo, and on very rare occasions when I find a perfectly valid alternative answer and the Editor either disagrees or disdains to comment.
  19. Well inside target time but with a casually typed DELAPIDATED. Well- maybe you can unstone something?? Held up with MAXIMUM for OPTIMUM for quite a while.
  20. 12:45, with my lack of prior knowledge of lapidations, Niobes and cadastrals failing to hold me up.

    Feeling pretty chipper today. Daughter number two has taken her last GCSE this morning so normality can resume at home and daughter number one has found out that she got a first in her psychology & criminology degree. That’s achievement enough in itself but since a brain haemmorhage meant she nearly didn’t make it to 15 we’re particularly proud and chuffed.

    1. Applause from the Cornwall corner. Well done, her. Guess you did alright, too 😉
    2. May I echo the congrats, Penfolds. With the current level of bad eggs and extremists around, can’t imagine said daughter with a 1st in that will be idle for long.
    3. No chance of looking at the crossword today with a four year old grandson on the go, but just had to congratulate the Misses Penfold, not least because I’ve been on the receiving end of their father’s “next time you must try harder and achieve your potential” pep talks 🙂
    1. I disagree, anon whoever you are, unless you’re The Editor. Ship = keel? I think Ship outside = keel is stretching it far enough.
      1. Much as I hate agreeing with anons, I think this one’s right, Pip. Eng.Lit. teachers are fond of offering keels=ships as an example of metonymy. Chambers has ship (poetic) as a definition for keel.
        1. I am waving a hankie as a white flag; if the angle is a poetic one I can only plead a satisfying level of ignorance.
          BTW Sotira thanks for the TLS blog, I am learning from it… one day I’ll finish one without aids.
  21. I’m proud and chuffed just hearing the story Penfold. Well done you lot.
  22. Didn’t find this as easy as some, stretching it out to 51:59 but carelessly putting LYTHE for 5d, probably as I often drive through it on the way to Whitby. Otherwise started promisingly with 1a, then got bogged down. I finished on STRIP having almost pressed submit with STRAP biffed, but a last second rethink lit the light bulb. Spent ages trying to think of a fast critter, before the other meaning of runner spluttered from the depths. DILAPIDATED also took some time to emerge. NIOBE vaguely remembered after the wordplay and crossers jogged the grey matter. CADASTRAL from wp only. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and Pip.
  23. Thanks for that one Keriothes!

    And setter and blogger. I think I liked the egg in cuckoo’s nest best.

  24. One of the best Times puzzles. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘villain round deck’, ‘Peak District’, ‘job for summer’, etc. Such mastery in crafting words is to be admired, dear anonymous setter and as a setter, I read each with ‘wish I had thought of that first’. Thank you for making my day.
  25. About 40 mins and enjoyed it. I would have laiked it, but Robrolfe beat me to it. COD to Balalaika, but I do like the simplicity of ‘job for summer’ in 14dn. Last day of hols today. Back to printout over breakfast next week. Thank setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2017-06-23 04:05 pm (UTC)

  26. Very enjoyable. Most done in 41 mins this morning (FOI 14ac) but another 8 mins needed at lunchtime to get 17ac, 4dn, 18dn, 16dn and LOI 2dn. 16dn was unknown and I needed dilapidated to make sure it wasn’t the unlikely looking curastral. I biffed 10ac without seeing that meaning of plump. I had a question mark at the definition of 6dn, I took physique to mean the outward physical appearance and lithe to mean supple and did not think the two necessarily synonymous. COD 20ac.
  27. I’m still up in the air about MAN – it seemed OK to ignore the punctuational apostrophe, but I could not ignore the plural. So I went with MEN. And thought, “but a staff can be both men and women, not like the Times to discriminate that way.”

    Otherwise, i got held up because VAT was clearly TAX, and then XYLOPHONE fit right in. Ever notice how hard it is to re-think (or even try to parse) one that you are particularly proud of biffing?

  28. 9:23 for this delightful puzzle. I had something I really needed to finish on Friday evening so didn’t find time to check through or comment at the time, but after doing so this (Sunday) morning, I felt I just had to offer my thanks to the setter. (Probably far too late though. Sorry!)

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