Times 26775 – who can do this one? 28 across.

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A general knowledge flavour to this one, I thought, with more unusual or obscure words than in recent Wednesday challenges, but all gettable with the wordplay. We uncover a cactus, an antelope, a Japanese art form, a Greek God reference, a minor book of the Bible, a Latin musical term, a kind of trousers probably derived from Kipling’s India, a musical instrument … and the name of a Greek Titan, also one of my granddaughters. When 21a went in I thought it was going to be a pangram but I can’t see J or V.
I don’t quite get the definition part of 11a, maybe it will come to me before I finish the blog.

Definitions underlined.

1 A black horse, caught entering a monk’s office (6)
ABBACY – A, B(lack), C(aught) inside BAY.
4 Pampered head of science group in school (8)
COSSETED – S(cience), SET = group, inside CO-ED = school.
10 Arab nomad’s base in Paris or Indiana (7)
BEDOUIN – BED = base, OU = or in French, IN(diana).
11 US investigator with mobile for underground worker (7)
FROGMAN – A G-MAN was a US ‘Government Man’ or investigator. Then ‘FOR mobile’ = FRO goes in front to give FROGMAN. But a frogman is possibly an underwater worker, not an underground one? Que pasa aqui?
12 Good to abandon one form of control for another (4)
REIN – REIGN loses G.
13 Aimed, perhaps, to present integrated methods of communication? (5,5)
MIXED MEDIA – AIMED is an anagram, i.e. ‘mixed’ of MEDIA.
15 Bits of iron, mark, and other things with gold inside.
METALWORKApologies to all, my foolproof method of blogging every clue seems not to have been foolproof after all. The parsing goes: MK (mark), insert et al = and other things, W(ith), OR = gold. As Jimbo says below, M-ET-AL-W-OR-K.
16 Draw along vessel, king having advantage (5)
KEDGE – K(ing) has EDGE (advantage). To kedge is to pull a ship along by winding in an anchored hawser.
18 Revolutionary leader initially followed by figure from east (5)
LENIN – L (leader initially) followed by NINE reversed..
19 Unresponsive, not very overbearing (9)
21 With restricted credit, encase musical instrument (7-3)
SQUEEZE-BOX – SQUEEZE = restricted credit; BOX = encase.
23 Reportedly not her expression of praise! (4)
HYMN – HYMN sounds like HIM so not HER. A fair enough homophone, unless you can pronounce the N in HYMN,as I have sometimes heard when I lived in that fine country where they often say fil-um and col-yume.
26 Work unit moving a prickly plant (7)
OPUNTIA – OP = work, (UNIT)*, A. Scientific name for the prickly pear genus, perhaps the ‘punti’ bit is devived from the same root as ‘pointy’.
27 Academic circle sure to be taken in by mistake (7
BOOKISH – BISH = mistake, takes in O and OK = circle, sure. Perhaps academic people (or I) should be called KINDLISH now not bookish, I find it hard to read a real book these days unless it’s in Big Type.
28 Pot youth leader is able to put beside cape (8)
BILLYCAN – BILL = cape, as in Portland Bill; CAN = is able. Insert Y(outh). My Dad, an Army Man, liked his billycan, I recall, when we went on camping holidays in the rain. Wiki tells me “It is widely accepted that the term “billycan” is derived from the large cans used for transporting bouilli or bully beef on Australia-bound ships or during exploration of the outback, which after use were modified for boiling water over a fire; however there is a suggestion that the word may be associated with the Aboriginal billa (meaning water; cf. Billabong). I look forward to learned input on the subject from our friends down under.
29 Bottle Geordie’s mother shows, catching large antelope (6
MAGNUM – Me MAM catches a GNU. And a-gnother gnu perhaps. It’s a good few years since I heard that song.

1 Cautionary signal recognised at first by doctor in A&E (5)
AMBER – MB (doctor) inside A E, R(ecognised).
2 Horse trials venue using inferior porcelain? (9)
BADMINTON – Well, bad Minton would be inferior porcelain, if there was such a thing as bad Minton.
3 Youngster consuming hot fish (4)
CHUB – CUB consumes H.
5 Leaving tip, avoiding busy periods (3-4)
OFF-PEAK – Leaving = off, tip = peak.
6 She marks Old English exercises? Cobblers! (10)
7 Little can keep yours truly subdued (5)
TAMED – TAD = little, insert ME = yours truly.
8 Manure a Welshman collected — wearing these? (9)
DUNGAREES – DUNG = manure, A, REES = Welshman.
9 Trendy pad son leaves for introduction of Oxford blue (6)
INDIGO – IN = trendy, DIG(S) = pad loses S; O(xford).
14 Prepare calmly but with sadness (10)
PLANGENTLY – PLAN = prepare, GENTLY = calmly.
15 Explosive device in writing about sick man keeping minutes (5,4)
MILLS BOMB – MS (writing) about ILL (sick), BOB (man) about M(inutes). A Mills Bomb was a kind of hand grenade introduced in 1915.
17 Orgiastic incident initiated in council upset Scotsman (9)
DIONYSIAN – SYNOD = council, reverse, insert I(ncident), add that universal Scotsman IAN.
19 Supporting old president, prohibit a craft from the Far East (7)
IKEBANA – IKE as in Eisenhower, BAN = prohibit, A. Japanese flower arranging.
20 Woman originally producing house keys (6)
PHOEBE – P(roducing), HO(use), E, B, E are keys in music.
22 Typical American university man (5)
USUAL – US, U(niversity), AL = man.
24 From Perelman, a humorous book? (5)
NAHUM – Hidden word in PERELMA(N A HUM)OROUS, 7th in order of the 12 minor prophets, book of the Old Testament.
25 Musical canon’s duty list (4)
ROTA – Double definition, one being a ’round’ in music.

59 comments on “Times 26775 – who can do this one? 28 across.”

  1. Slowed down by the ‘underground’, which I can’t make sense of. Also slowed down by a short-circuit in my memory banks searching for ‘imperious’. DNK BILL, DNK the musical meaning of ROTA. I don’t think much of clues like 20d, where EBE is just ‘keys’. Pip, you seem to have skipped 15ac.
  2. Can’t help much with BILLY, Pip. It’s just a billy, innit? Never thought much about the origin. Actually I hesitated over it because I thought it was a word unknown beyond these shores, and I didn’t know the “cape = bill” synonym. Thought there might be a bullycan, with reference to bully beef. Never know with the Poms, they don’t ‘arf talk funny.

    Nice challenge today. Fortunately the wordplay was generous for MILLS BOMB, OPUNTA, NAHUM and PLANGENTLY.

    COD to MIXED MEDIA, I like those ones. Thanks setter and Pip.

    1. I’m not going to copy it all in but Ramson (AND 1st ed) devotes five tightly packed columns to this one. Still he begins:
      [f. Scot dial. billy-pot cooking utensil, cf. bally, bally-cog milk pail: see SND.]
      The recent 2nd ed. tells us that a billy is a billy-can without its lid.
      1. Have only ever known it as a billy, with or without a lid. Just boils faster with the lid on. Either way, there’s always some scalded knuckles.
  3. as I put in POWERLESS at 19ac – works for me! – and thus IMPERVIOUS to IMPERIOUS and with its W as Woman for 20dn originally, I thought I was on the right track. Was 19dn PROBANA an old Malayan vessel? IKEBANA it was!

    So all over the place and too worn out to care for once – unheroic failure in the South East.


    WOD BUGGER! Mood Meldrew.

    Edited at 2017-07-12 06:38 am (UTC)

  4. Like Galspray, I just know that a billy can is a billy. Jolly jumbucks etc.

    Still can’t figure out how a frogman swims underground!

    Edited at 2017-07-12 05:52 am (UTC)

    1. All I can muster is an underwater cave – bu IMO it is a loose clue that needs an editor.
  5. … problems: the frogman and the musical ROTA. I thought the latter was a nod to the great film score composer, Nino Rota. Why so long to see AMBER? It even required a penultimate ABBACY to get it. Losing my grip.

    More Oz stuff: everyone here knows that IKE BANA is Eric’s brother.

  6. 36 minutes for me, and definitely a game of two halves, with the north falling quite swiftly before I got rather more bogged down in the south, almost like a FROGMAN in a swamp. Still, never quite got stuck, and I enjoyed teasing out all those unknowns and barely-knowns (I think NAHUM is actually starting to sink in for me, at least…)

    WOD SQUEEZE-BOX, partly for its ability, as our esteemed blogger observed, to immediately turn one’s mind to pangrams in an otherwise unpangrammatic puzzle.

    FOI 1d, LOI hard to decide, as I basically penned in my pencilled-in letters of PHOEBE, IKEBANA and OPUNTIA all in a rush. Glad ROTA turned out to be right.

    I also had a question mark against our underground 11a. Thanks to Pip for the parsings, especially 13a, which I didn’t twig even though I’d realised MEDIA was an anagram of “aimed”. D’oh.

  7. For those desperate about 15A its METALWORK; M(ET-AL-W-O)K

    Raced through this with no problems except the underground FROGMAN. Look forward to somebody explaining that!

  8. 45 mins with half a fat rascal (hoorah). I blench when I see ‘plant’ and this one held me up. Also had to invent words from wordplay: Abbacy, Kedge, Nahum. Oh well, it is an education. I now know a Gnu is an antelope and a scientific name for a prickly plant. Thanks setter and Pip.
  9. Zipped through all but 11 across in 15 minutes, with deduced biffs OPUNTIA, MILLS BOMB and ROTA, and correct guess IKEBANA rather than IKEBARA. Had heard of KEDGE I think. Richard of York gave battle vainly? I did know about G-Men from some dreadful simulator ride at Disney which I was dragged on, and finally got to FROGMAN shaking my head in puzzlement. I gather there was reference in a movie. COD MIXED MEDIA, followed by SQUEEZE-BOX. In the context of Durham Town, John Dun and I were discussing what a Geordie would call his Mum recently so 29 across quickly solved, courtesy also of Flanders and Swann. Thank you Pip and setter.
  10. So I typed in BEDHUIN and thought “Whatever you do, don’t forget to go back and parse that ….”

    1 error

    1. Still get a good laugh every time I see your avatar, Sotira. Ta for that and your earlier reply concerning its provenance.
  11. 17′, with crossed fingers for ROTA, like jack have not come across the term in decades of music.I suppose a frogman has to be unde ground level? Are there BILLs other than in Dorset? Knew KEDGE from Hornblower. Thanks pip and setter.
  12. I’m back to my typical form this week with one stupid entry per day. Today’s was ABBECY.
  13. Always happy to oblige, Jimbo. A frogman might work in a sewer or other watercourse. Makes more sense to me than ‘checksum’, anyway.

    29 minutes for this, which I thought was pretty darned good, considering I didn’t know half the words, but it turns out to be pretty ordinary. So, a big callout to Horryd for his epic fail, which has made me feel a lot better. Every cloud, you know, H-man…

    Edited at 2017-07-12 07:51 am (UTC)

  14. 41 minutes, and another solver here perplexed by the underground frogman, but I suppose he could be diving in an underground lake.

    In all my years of studying music, learning about rounds and catches and canons, I have never heard the term ROTA before, but I now discover that it’s a term that famously applies to the ancient round ‘Sumer is icumen in’. One lives and learns! DK OPUNTIA but worked it out form wordplay and checkers.

    Edited at 2017-07-12 07:56 am (UTC)

  15. DNF having fallen for the IKEBARA trap. I thought the smattering of unusual words added spice to a technically straightforward challenge.
    As test cricketers can now apparently be given demerit points I am extending it to crossword setters, with two today for FROGMAN (??) and PHOEBE, the latter doubly irritating as a weak clue for a random girl’s name.
  16. 30 minutes but no idea about FROGMAN. They can work above ground in tanks. The clue doesn’t work for me.
  17. Nahum Nahum ra ra ra! Sadly I appear to have already lost my Nahum Tate userpic but hopefully my work was already done, and keriothe was able to enter 24dn with a confident smile.

    My brief hour of being ahead of Jason on the club leaderboard is disappearing into the mists of time forever, but 7 minutes something again for this means I continue to be having a good week. Brief stumble when I entered OPTUNIA or something for a while, and I was as puzzled by my LOI FROGMAN as everybody else.

    Oh, and I’ll probably be going into this further on Friday if I remember, but I’ll be in New York from 29th August until about 4th September… if any Stateside solvers are close enough to the Big Apple that they’d consider convening for a meetup one evening?

    Edited at 2017-07-12 10:13 am (UTC)

    1. I was, partly because I remembered the discussion, and partly because the setter had the courtesy to give us unambiguous wordplay. And by the way I actually got it right last time!
      1. You always get it right as far as I can tell… you just kvetch about it lots too!
        1. I often get it wrong, but I make a point of kvetching even when I know the answer or (as in this case) get it right by luck. I am an equal opportunities kvetcher.
    2. July 29th to 4th August, dash it all! For a man who’s quite good at some things I have trouble with the basics like even knowing what month it is. ARGH.
      1. It would be great to meet you, Verlaine. Monday thru Thursdasy, I work on Eighth Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets in Manhattan—at The Nation, where I edit the (cryptic) crosswords, among other things—and I live just over the bridge in Brooklyn Heights. Do you ever karaoke? I’ll be joining my friends in the Humans Against Music (HAM) group at Freddy’s Bar at 627 5th Avenue in Brooklyn after 9 pm on Monday the 31st. “One of the Best Bars in America”—Esquire. “Perfect bar”—The New York Times… and the drinks are at low non-Manhattan prices! So that might be an idea.
        1. Sounds pretty great! I *have* done karaoke, but I’d be reluctant to say that you’d want to *hear* me doing karaoke. Native crosswording ability is in no way correlated with any power to carry a tune…
  18. 11:26, approaching a PB for me.

    The Chambers definition of FROGMAN is what you would expect (Man with flippers etc) so seeking further guidance I hauled out my copy of SOED (A to Markworthy). It has no entry for FROGMAN. Unless we are all missing something, this is a weak clue.

  19. Was going to put in FOOTMAN in the hope that he might work in a mine somewhere, but it didn’t parse. But there again I’ve not heard of a GMAN either. Lots of words on the edge of my ken, but all (aside from 11a) parsable.
  20. Just under the half-hour, with 11ac LOI, reluctantly, after trying to think of any other way to parse it.
    The pangram possibility made me waste some time trying to make 19ac INJURIOUS (I hadn’t noticed the missing V) as J looked likely for the girl’s initial at 20dn.
  21. It has just occurred to me that the original version of the clue might have referred to a ‘worker down below’ or the like, and it was changed for a briefer surface without seeing it wasn’t synonymous.
  22. I started this off thinking ‘Too many difficult words. This will be a DNF”. Took me 14 minutes, with a couple unparsed. LOI: Dionysian. COD: Cosseted.

    Stuart (who lives in the afore-mentioned fine country, where they also say ‘say-fete-y’).

  23. Despite tripping over ‘oputina’ – sounded plausible – and ‘abebana’ – who knew there were two old presidents with three-letter nicknames ending in E? – I got there in 11m 54s. Took ages over 15a, but didn’t think twice about 11a despite the fairly loose definition. Only luck meant I had IKEBANA instead of IKEBARA.
  24. As for others, several unknown or half remembered answers were constructed from wordplay. The top half flew in and I thought I might be set for a fast time, but the usual call back to reality reeled me in and I slowed down to eventually finish in 35:49. FOI was AMBER and LOI was OPUNTIA after PLANGENTLY gave me the final crossing letter needed to stimulate the brain. IKEBANA was remembered from somewhere, as was NAHUM from the previous discussion. PHOEBE as defined by a collection of keys seemed a bit loose to me too. I was also puzzled by the underground FROGMAN, but justified him as a possible worker in the sewers. Overall it was an enjoyable puzzle. Thanks setter and Pip.
  25. 11:58, held up by trying to come up with something else for FROGMAN. This looks like an error to me.
    I didn’t understand BILL/cape: I knew of Portland Bill but didn’t make the connection, so thanks to Pip for sorting that one out.
  26. It occurs to me that “frogman” is typically used for a military diver doing covert operations – Could this be the “underground” part of the clue? A bit weak if so, but the best I can come up with.
    1. Buster Crabbe was famously in that category. The only other frogman I can name is Clarence Frogman Henry. I don’t know why I remember him but I do.
    2. The most famous one I can think of is Jacques Cousteau—in fact, as co-inventor of the Aqua-lung, I suppose he rather invented the whole frogman genre…
  27. I don’t know about Bad Minton but I once had a cartoon novel by Ken Pyne entitled Martin Minton. It was a sardonic tale about the life and adventures of a hapless chap by that name. Very amusing.
    I also don’t know about FROGMAN for underground worker. I’ve not read other comments; maybe someone has explained it, but I can find no dictionary reference (ODO, Collins online, Chambers online, dictionary.com) which says anything about ‘ground’. They all specify water.
  28. I came to this with a sore hip and ran out of steam in the fourth part. Like yesterday I found little joy with this and for the third time this week I DNF with one clue wrong (Ikebara for goodness sake). As others, Frogman, Opuntia, Nahum etc. If I had a daughter called Phoeba (as I could) what would happen.? (Yes, I’d have 2 wrong). Just boring, boring.
  29. I did this almost as soon as it came out and managed 12ish minutes, with some head scratching over FROGMAN, ROTA and BADMINTON. The times ususally defers to the Collins definitions, which for Frogman gives “someone whose job involves diving and working underwater, especially in order to mend or search for something. Frogmen wear special rubber suits and shoes, and carry equipment to help them to breathe underwater”. Wonder if it was meant to be underwater?
  30. 30m today and all correct, thanks to believing the wordplay for the rather numerous unknowns. Like others puzzled by FROGMAN but it seemed to make more sense than footman so in it went. I enjoyed this puzzle very much so thank you setter and Pip for explaining the new words.
  31. About 20 minutes, with a lot of head shaking over the unknown words like IKEBANA and OPUNTIA. ROTA in that sense, ditto. I can’t shed any light on FROGMAN either, and I’d guess like George it is possibly an error. Anyway, regards.
  32. Had never heard of a MILLS BOMB, the exotic IMPUNTIA, or how to KEDGE (the “cape” sense of “BILL” seemed to ring a very far-off bell), but learned them all by decryption of the clues, which is one of the most enjoyable aspects of working these puzzles. Especially when it is done sans aids (except, maybe, to double-check that such a word exists before entering it in, in ink).
  33. I chubbed plangently along with this one in a top-to-bottom-ish solve. After 37 mins on the train this morning I had a handful left in the bottom half. I tidied them up in another 7 mins at lunch time. Slightly held up by entering BAMIINTON at 2dn and AMEN instead of HYMN but it didn’t take too long to spot and correct the errors. 15dn, 26ac and the musical canon were unknowns but gettable from checkers and wp. Some nice images presented by the finished grid – Bedouin frogmen and off peak Phoebe singing squeeze-box hymns in the cosseted abbacy with indigo ikebanas….
  34. Dithering over FROGMAN and ROTA (the latter sounding familiar, but vocalophobia putting the wind up me) pushed me over the 10-minute mark to 10:16. Which is a pity because I was on the setter’s wavelength quite a lot of the time.

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