Times 26,825: Putting The “Lite” Back Into The TLS

Guys, guys, we may have to stop high-fiving one another about how we’ve proved (with SCIENCE) that Friday puzzles are definitely harder than the rest of the week: I think our esteemed editor is fighting back. My club board time of six-minutes-some suggests that this Friday is again on the easier end of the spectrum, and so far the Snitch is more or less bearing that out.

Which is not to say that it was a complete walkover. The days of the TLS puzzle being blogged on this site seem, alas, to be over; but this puzzle should have brought a little comfort to those of us who were missing our fix, with cameos from Jules Verne, John Buchan, the immortal bard, John Keats, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas “an oldie but a goodie” More… Let’s just say that those of us who use crosswords to wear our erudition vaingloriously on our sleeve should have been very happy with this one. As I often say, a crossword that doesn’t teach me something new about the world or the language feels like a wasted opportunity, and today I increased both my knowledge of Ohioan geography and Polish legend, so that’s two thumbs up to the setter from me. COD to my LOI 12ac: the more cryptic definition part was welcome in a puzzle that felt mostly straightforwardly clued elsewhere, and making websites for bands for a living as I do, the surface is basically the story of my life…

1 Long story shows eastern prince in odd places (4)
EPIC – E [eastern] + P{r}I{n}C{e}
4 Tourist attraction’s sponsors coming around initially financing everything (5,5)
ANGEL FALLS – ANGELS [sponsors] “coming around” F{inancing} + ALL [everything]. The highest waterfall in the world, found in Venezuela.
9 Kindly little man takes rodent into hospital department (10)
BENEVOLENT – BEN [little man] takes VOLE [rodent] into E.N.T. [hospital department]
10 Warning enigmatic sea captain rebuffed (4)
OMEN – NEMO [enigmatic sea captain (from Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)] reversed
11 More work‘s work one placed in out-tray regularly (6)
UTOPIA – OP I [work | one] placed in {o}U{t}-T{r}A{y}. The book, as “More work” so often is in crosswords, by Sir Thomas More.
12 Musical group’s manager in shock? (8)
HAIRBAND – HAIR [musical] + BAND [group] = “manager in shock”, i.e. something that manages a shock of hair
14 Old-fashioned loyalty not hard for left-winger (4)
TROT – TROT{h} [old-fashioned loyalty, minus H for hard]
15 Toy guns now manufactured in Ohioan city (10)
YOUNGSTOWN – (TOY GUNS NOW*) [“manufactured”]. Don’t know if Youngstown, OH is famous for anything particularly, but as anagrams go it seemed pretty unlikely to be anything else.
17 Muslim once acted badly, bringing about complaint (10)
MOHAMMEDAN – HAMMED [acted badly], “bringing about” MOAN [complaint]
20 Head cold not too bad around noon (4)
CONK – C [cold] + OK [not too bad] around N [noon]
21 Submarine needs anti-rust treatment endlessly (8)
UNDERSEA – UNDERSEA{l} [anti-rust treatment, “endlessly”]
23 Marooned pirate catching mum’s assassin (6)
GUNMAN – GUNN [marooned pirate, from Stevenson’s Treasure Island] “catching” MA [mum]
24 Starter stolen from hired vehicle’s central part (4)
AXIS – {t}AXI’S [hired vehicle’s, with the starting letter “stolen”]
25 Noble actor is poorly represented in painting (10)
ARISTOCRAT – (ACTOR IS*) [“poorly represented”] in ART [painting]
26 Artist in a way feeding bitterness with idle talk (5,5)
EDGAR DEGAS – A RD [a | way] “feeding” EDGE [bitterness], with GAS [idle talk]. Painted lots of ballerinas in 19th century France.
27 Country route back from Glenallachie (4)
LANE – hidden reversed in {Gl}ENAL{lachie}

2 Priest-king right to admit to trouble with gospel writer (7,4)
PRESTER JOHN – R [right] “to admit to” PESTER [trouble] with JOHN [gospel writer]. A legend from the time of the Crusades.
3 Damaged pectoral area does for tragic royal (9)
CLEOPATRA – (PECTORAL*) [“damaged”] + A [area]. Tragic queen of Shakespeare play fame.
4 Freak indeed eating no food — appetite ultimately lost (7)
ANOMALY – AY [indeed] “eating” NO M{e}AL
5 Old corgi nun had spruced up for canine contests (9,6)
GREYHOUND RACING – GREY [old] + (CORGI NUN HAD*) [“spruced up”]
6 Allowing the French time can start to grate (7)
LETTING – LE T TIN [the French | time | can] + G{rate}
7 Vampire, firstly impaled, interred by priest (5)
LAMIA – I{mpaled}, “interred by” LAMA [priest]. Child-eating demon found in Greek mythology and a Keats poem.
8 Yankee stops fellows travelling up for meeting (5)
SYNOD – Y [Yankee] “stops” upside-down DONS [fellows]
13 Sometimes no advantage getting round Polish girl? (3,3,5)
NOW AND AGAIN – NO GAIN [no | advantage] getting round WANDA, daughter of the founder of Krakow and sometime Queen of the Poles.
16 Scientific investigator left with fragments of china (9)
TECHNICAL – TEC L [investigator | left] “with” (CHINA*) [“fragments of…”]
18 It’s thought of as keen to involve celebrity in slanderous attacks (7)
MUSTARD – “involve” STAR [celebrity] in MUD [slanderous attacks]. Keen as mustard, proverbially.
19 Wife released from prison society invalidates (7)
NEGATES – NE{w}GATE [prison, “releasing” its W for wife] + S [society]
21 American extended period in employment (5)
USAGE – U.S. AGE [American | extended period]
22 Action from party leaders in informing next generation (5)
DOING – DO [party] + I{nforming} N{ext} G{eneration}

47 comments on “Times 26,825: Putting The “Lite” Back Into The TLS”

  1. 40 mins with croissant and blackberry jam. A pleasant finish after a sparse beginning.
    Last ones in were 9ac/2dn when I eventually twigged today’s little man was Ben, taking care of his vole. Only dim memories of Prester John but the ‘to trouble’ was enough.
    I think of Lamia via Keats as more woman/serpent – but you live and learn. The Keats is brilliant and includes the famous lines:
    Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
    Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
    Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine-
    Unweave a rainbow…
    Which is worth remembering if ever we get too pedantic about clues.
    Mostly I liked: ‘More work’, Ben Gunn, ‘Hammed’, and COD Cleopatra (her poor pectorals).
    Thanks well read setter and V.

    PS Where has Horryd gone? Is he on strike?

    Edited at 2017-09-08 07:50 am (UTC)

    1. … lines which proved irresistible bait for Richard Dawkins, giving him the title of his excellent 1998 book (just a bit of balance for our resident science buffs)
      1. The Selfish Gene is top of my ‘I would recommend list’. If only he would shut up about God (an argument he knows he can’t win) and do more of what he is best at. His reputation has been tarnished.
        1. What kind of dryasdust bugger would want to unweave a lovely rainbow? Yah boo sucks to Dawkins…
      2. He’s a great writer despite his totally irrational views on religion. But then all science is either physics or stamp collecting, as Rutherford said, so what can you expect?
        1. One man’s ‘utterly irrational’ is another’s ‘totally rational’. It’s all a matter of belief, rational or otherwise.
  2. Not quite a TLS but near enough to raise a smile. YOUNGSTOWN looked a likely enough Ohioan (that word again) settlement, and post solve research suggests it’s famous for featuring in The Boss’s The Ghost of Tom Joad collection. Incidentally, a typo in that entry, V, or should I know how anagrams fo? Otherwise masterly and erudite as ever.
    Should I be pleased to have known MOHAMEDDAN, or is that fatwa-worthy?
    CONK I’d have restricted to the nose, but what do I know?
    LAMIA from dim memory, but probably not from Keats
    PRESTER JOHN from actually owning the book by John Buchan.
    20.26 so yes on the easier end of the spectrum and certainly not the menace of the week.

    Edited at 2017-09-08 07:55 am (UTC)

    1. Haven’t you heard of Dario Fo and his Accidental Death of an Anagram? The perils of having to blog at 1.30am instead of 12.30am now…

      Edited at 2017-09-08 01:51 pm (UTC)

  3. Lots of unknowns constructed from wp (LAMIA, YOUNGSTOWN, MOHAMMEDAN, PJ) and for 13dn I was so convinced ‘no advantage’=’no win’ that I gave up on making sense of ‘andaga’, and just biffed. Don’t think I ever knew M Degas’ first name, so that took some working out, too. And I never went back to work out the correct anagram at 5dn, but that had to be.

    COD: HAIRBAND for ‘manager in shock’ def.

  4. One letter wrong for the second day running. As I couldn’t fully parse 2D today’s error was a biffed PRESTOR JOHN.

    I’m with Janie in my admiration for HAIRBAND but it is just pipped by UTOPIA as ‘More work’ for my COD.

  5. I worked this over dinner in my favorite local restaurant, Teresa’s, which is a Polish place. After finishing (the puzzle, not dinner), I had to Google “Polish Wanda” to identify the girl referred to in the clue. But waitress Agnes knew all about her.
    LOI was UTOPIA, “More work” is brilliant. LAMIA was a nice surprise, as I hadn’t thought about the Keats poem in years. Some really smooth surfaces here, although the one involving the character from Treasure Island is rather surreal.

    Edited at 2017-09-08 08:25 am (UTC)

    1. I’m very envious and impressed that you managed to use the Times Crossword to strike up a conversation with a young (maybe) waitress! I do solve in public occasionally but no commuters have ever seemed at all awestruck by my speedy polishing off of the i puzzles…

      Edited at 2017-09-08 09:30 am (UTC)

      1. Agnes is certainly young compared with me, but I’ve known her for years. I always find out the names of the staff at Teresa’s (all from Poland or Eastern Europe, most in school and on the way to other professions), and they all know to make a huge Irish coffee (java, Bushmill’s *and* Bailey’s… no longer on the menu) when they see me coming through the door. I have learned to say (if not spell) “Thank you” and “Good night” in Polish.
        But I also chat up waitresses anywhere else, given half a chance!
        I wonder how many of those commuters have ever tackled the Times cryptic and have an inkling what you’re up against, and so handily conquering.
  6. 16:27 … true to verlaine’s doctrine of learning something new with every solve, I spent a happy half hour over ‘breakfast’ (mostly coffee) in search of Prester John, wandering around Syria, India, Acre, Aksum and many points in between. I was especially taken with the necessarily brief story of a certain physician, Philip, who was despatched by Pope Alexander III in 1177 with a letter for Prester John (fan mail). As Prester John probably never existed, and if he did he was most likely John the Presbyter of Syria who had died about 1,000 years earlier, it was a tricky assignment. Philip was never heard of again. I’m choosing to think that he sailed off, went ashore at the first island to catch his eye, changed his name to Kostas and lived a long and happy life.

    A really enjoyable crossword, which came together very sweetly. The “manager in shock” and “More work” are indeed both worthy of a COD nomination. Thanks setter and verlaine.

  7. A mispent youth hoovering up John Buchan novels meant 2d was a write in. Had no idea about Wanda the only one I know of is Ms Ventham of The Lotus eaters etc who I had a soft spot for in my adolescent days.Found this very easy just over 11 Ty V and setter

    Edited at 2017-09-08 08:35 am (UTC)

      1. Eric Newby’s wife, met in the remarkable book “Love and war in the Apennines,” was called Wanda. And I think she was in fact Polish..
        1. It’s just occurred to me that there’s probably a reason that the only Wanda I can think of in my (generally trashy) literature knowledge is in Adam Hall’s The Warsaw Document. That man really did his research…
  8. Apart from putting in HEADBAND at first, everything was pretty straightforward. Last few minutes spent on the ANOMALY/BENEVOLENT crosser.
  9. I found this impossible, with so many unknowns—that Gunn was marooned, the Polish girl, ANGEL FALLS, YOUNGSTOWN, CONK, DEGAS’s first name, LAMIA—that I was quite pleased to have only a couple left in my hour.

    I stretched it a bit further, but getting the penultimate, TROT, just left me with a bunch of crossers I couldn’t fit anything in for the unknown PRESTER JOHN, though I’d got as far as working out the JOHN bit. I’d been wrongfooted by the apparent direction of “to admit to”, and distracted by “eat” for “trouble”.

    There was fun along the way (I particularly liked HAIRBAND) but on the whole this was a but much for me. I suppose there had to be something rather more artsy along to compensate for the recent physics mention…

    Edited at 2017-09-08 08:44 am (UTC)

  10. 14 mins so pretty much on the wavelength, although knowing PRESTER JOHN from reading Buchan as a lad like The Toff above certainly helped. I took ages to see “More work” as the definition in a puzzle in another place fairly recently so I’m a little annoyed I didn’t see it faster than I did today, especially with the first two checkers in place. I first came across LAMIA on Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway album and I’ve never forgotten it. GREYHOUND RACING was my LOI after MOHAMMEDAN.
    1. I know “More work” is a shining example of crossword cluing but I do feel like I’ve seen it an *awful lot* of times over the years… it’s just possible that I do Too Many Damn Puzzles, of course.
  11. Longest time this week, with much spent fruitlessly on 5d, hoping it would unlock the entire puzzle. 21ac took a while. I always thought Ben Gunn’s appearance and actions were a bit contrived. Dnk LAMIA so have learned something. Thanks V and setter.
    1. I find them great when Keriothe doesn’t know stuff, a pain when he does. (Joking! Joking!) But yes, point taken. I guess we wouldn’t want a forest of literary allusions every day, but once in a while is hopefully fine.
      1. Well I didn’t know pretty much everything there was not to know in this puzzle, and I loved it. Deriving something like PRESTER JOHN from wordplay is the most satisfying sort of solving in my book. I will never complain about the most ridiculously obscure reference if there is a fair route to the solution for those who don’t know it.
        Not knowing stuff certainly slows you down though. 17 minutes of fun for me today.
  12. Wanda Ventham featured in very some dodgy Doctor Who episodes of my youth (one of the more egregious examples of which is 30 years old this week! Doesn’t time fly) but she’s probably more famous today for being Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum.
  13. Late on parade means it’s mostly been said already. I needed aids for the unchecked letters of PRESTER having assumed that ‘trouble’ was clueing EAT. I’d vaguely heard of the answer once it was revealed.

    CONK is only ‘nose’ in my experience and along with ‘hooter’ which came up in a puzzle I blogged earlier in the week was a favourite expression of Anthony A St J Hancock in his days at Railway Cuttings. It’s in the books though.

    Is a child-eating demon the same as a vampire?

    I had no idea that WANDA had particular associations with Poland.

    Edited at 2017-09-08 09:44 am (UTC)

    1. I don’t know how strictly vampiric Lamia was, but I *will* say that I once reviewed the clientele of a recent Whitby Gothic Weekend as “mutton dressed as Lamia”, and was really undeservingly pleased with it.

      Edited at 2017-09-08 09:47 am (UTC)

      1. I think you have every right to be 😀 I’m just surprised that Lamia got nary a mention in either _Dracula_ nor seven whole seasons of _Buffy_. I’m clearly going to have to expand my vampire lore sources.
  14. No vainglorious TLS blogger me. I see my colleague Z and I share the same erudite references for the piscine WANDA and Springsteen’s steel mills of YOUNGSTOWN. That’s where Trump stages a rally when he needs re-inflating and promises the workers that he’ll bring their jobs back etc. etc. 17.28
  15. Another failure for me in 43:30 with a lot of that pondering over the completely unknown PRESTER JOHN. The nearest I could get was PREATOR JOHN, being fixated on EAT as the indicated trouble, and only having read The 39 Steps by Mr Buchan. I managed to dig out all the other references from what passes for my brain. I also thought CONK referred to nose rather than head. Knew Ben Gunn, Angel Falls and Edgar. Didn’t know LAMIA or that UTOPIA was a work by More, but got them from wordplay. “More work” was very clever though. YOUNGSTOWN vaguely known, but mainly from anagrist. Liked HAIRBAND and MOHAMMEDAN. A chewy puzzle if you’re not into literature I think. Thanks setter and V.
  16. 55mins 29secs for me today. FOI 1ac. An enjoyable puzzle which sent me off on a couple of false trails, for example: wanting an anagram of “once acted” and “m” for Muslim to give a medical condition (hammed was terrific though). I also appreciated the definition at 12ac, the More work and the keen condiment slandering the stars at 18dn. I’m sure I only know Prester John from previous crosswords, somewhere relatively recent too, perhaps a Jumbo or ST if not the daily. Knew most of the allusions though Lamia was at the edge of that knowledge. LOI 5dn where I saw there had to be some anagram action going on but my preferred anagrist: “old corgi nun had” was one letter too short and so took time to separate out the “old” from the rest.
    1. Your comment prompted a search, and sure enough PRESTER JOHN has appeared before, puzzle 26550 on 5 December 2013. I didn’t know it then but I’m not going to beat myself up too much for having forgotten it again nearly four years later.
      1. Thanks for looking it up Keriothe. Yes, whether I had seen it before or not I was always going to go the long way round to derive the answer from word play and checkers rather than “priest-king” and enumeration.
  17. Thirty-three minutes, and I didn’t find this one especially easy.

    LAMIA was new to me, as was the Polish Wanda (really? A queen?). YOUNGSTOWN too – although I have many relatives in Ohio.

    BENEVOLANT ANOMALY is a phrase which it is impossible to say six times in a row.

    1. It appears I was only a half dozen seconds slower than Magoo today so there’s certainly an element of me having done unusually well, but the XWDSnitch is reporting this as a 92 currently, which is/used to be easier than normal for a Friday. So I do stand by my early morning ravings!
  18. Out all day and did this tonight while watching Jimmy’s 500th on Highlights. Knew PRESTER JOHN but not sure how. About 40 minutes including distractions. Never heard of LAMIA, from crossers then cryptic solved. YOUNGSTOWN also unknown but soluble. There’s not much TECHNICAL about my Physics! Good puzzle. Sorry not to do it justice. Thank you V and setter.
  19. Educational, if not as stretching as many Fridays, and solved in a happy mood after returning from a day at Lord’s. I am not hugely surprised to find I am the only person to finish this puzzle earwormed by Warren Zevon’s Boom Boom Mancini, about the famous lightweight boxer out of Youngstown, Ohio, which is my only point of reference to that place.
    1. Tim, although I’m a huge fan of the sadly late Warren Zevon and know Boom Boom Mancini well I didn’t make the connection so I was earworm-free. On an ever so slightly related note, I saw Jackson Browne at the Liverpool Philharmonic at the end of June and he did a superb version of Lawyers, Guns and Money.

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