Times 26,843: Caged Fury

A very fun and frolicsome puzzle this, bursting with guff, galumph, Lilliputian megaflops and an underwear-based clue that surely narrows down the identity of the setter to an elite group of usual smutspects. My time on the clock of 6m45 does rather suggest though that whoever suggested, earlier in the week, that Tuesday has become the new Friday may have been onto something.

18ac would probably have been more of a poser if we hadn’t had THIMBLERIGGER at least a couple of times in recent memory: how do words this odd just keep on turning up? The down clues were notable for brevity (this being the soul of wit, of course), with 8dn surely close to constituting some kind of record, though we’ll always have bloody “Gegs?” of course. I always think that 3dns can’t fly though of course this is pretty racist of me, just because they look a bit like penguins doesn’t mean they can’t exceed 50mph in the air “the wings moving so fast as to become a blur”. Some good classical education morsels to be found in Gad and dear old Lydia, plus a bit of the right sort of literature, Robert Louis and Dean Swift. I shall studiously avoid putting the rear-viewed underwear anywhere near my COD: honourable mention to 11ac with its lovely surface, but I think 20dn takes it for me with its marvellous marriage of cleverness and concision.

Round of applause to the setter. It’s been a pretty good crossword week, hasn’t it?

1 Flag lowered finally, miserable in retreat (5)
DROOP – {lowere}D + POOR reversed [miserable “in retreat”]
4 Son of Jacob nursing swelling, he is lumbered (9)
GALUMPHED – GAD [son of Jacob] “nursing” LUMP HE [swelling | he]
9 Was substituted? Strange! (4-5)
LEFT-FIELD – If you were substituted, you might have LEFT FIELD (punctuated differently)
10 Romeo in bunk becoming surly (5)
GRUFF – R [Romeo] in GUFF [bunk]
11 Sweet thing, remarkably genial wife filling in puzzle (7,6)
BELGIAN WAFFLE – (GENIAL*) [“remarkably”] + W [wife] “filling in” BAFFLE [puzzle]
14 Anger, with one enjoying a carefree life cut short (4)
RILE – RILE{y} [one (proverbially) enjoying a carefree life, “cut short”]
15 Stop company cutting funds for home protection (10)
DAMPCOURSE – DAM [stop] + CO [company] “cutting” PURSE [funds]
18 Sneaky blighter, I’m a con (10)
19 Reportedly cross, whimper (4)
MEWL – homophone of MULE [“reportedly”, cross]
21 Unexpected U-turn with date and deal complete (13)
UNADULTERATED – (U-TURN + DATE + DEAL*) [“unexpected”]
24 Fighter starts to box intelligently, presenting defence (5)
ALIBI – ALI [fighter] + B{ox} I{ntelligently}
25 He wrote in earnest, even so, needlessly (9)
STEVENSON – hidden in {earne}ST EVEN SO N{eedlessly}
27 Proscribe different tokens for cash (9)
BANKNOTES – BAN [proscribe] + (TOKENS*) [“different”]
25 Skimpy briefs a possible source of irritation when viewed from behind (5)
TANGA – A GNAT reversed [a possible source of irritation, “when viewed from behind”]

1 Planned debate (10)
DELIBERATE – double def
2 Festering cricket side (3)
OFF – double def
3 Excessively complimentary review in flier (6)
PUFFIN – PUFF IN [excessively complimentary review | in]
4 Fruit garden’s odd parts fascinate (9)
GREENGAGE – G{a}R{d}E{n} + ENGAGE [fascinate]
5 Ancient region largely evacuated before help turned up (5)
LYDIA – L{argel}Y + AID reversed [help “turned up”]
6 Huge disappointment? That’s the measure of computing (8)
MEGAFLOP – more or less another double def
7 One must stay in under this (5,6)
HOUSE ARREST – cryptic def
8 Bad pud (4)
DUFF – double duff, sorry def
12 Very small place, one secured by girl (11)
LILLIPUTIAN – PUT I [place | one] “secured by” LILLIAN [girl]
13 Siren trouble girl raised as blooming deadly thing? (10)
BELLADONNA – BELL ADO [siren | trouble] + ANN reversed [girl “raised”]
16 Futile, to be blunt? (10)
POINTLESS – more or less yet another double def
17 Offering nothing in classical language, alumnus going first (8)
OBLATION – O [nothing] in LATIN [classical language], O.B. [alumnus] going first
20 Pirates at sea without a prayer? (6)
PRIEST – (PIR{a}TES*) [“at sea”] – prayer as in “one who prays” here, of course…
22 Happy band, distressed (5)
UPSET – UP SET [happy | band]
23 Post or stick, did you say? (4)
JAMB – homophone of JAM [stick, “did you say?”]
26 Beginning to seem cool, crime (3)
SIN – S{eem} + IN [cool]

77 comments on “Times 26,843: Caged Fury”

  1. At least on Friday I can be reasonably sure it’s my last DNF of the week. Got everything apart from 23d, JAMB, which I just couldn’t see. I don’t know if I’m just off the wavelength this week or whether it’s being back in a 9-to-5 job for a while that’s putting me off my rhythm, but I seem to be a long way away from my normal cheery solving… Let’s hope next week is an improvement.

    (Nevertheless, thank you, setter & V!)

    Edited at 2017-09-29 07:00 am (UTC)

    1. I wanted 23dn to be MAIL (somehow?) so very badly, but fortunately the first letter of 27ac put me back on the straight and narrow and upright…
  2. In a sea of somewhat resistant acrosses, THIMBLERIG was my surprising FOI. Luckily I had happened to look up ‘shell game’ the other day, which is another term for the same thing (con trick with objects hidden under swift-moving cups etc)
    1. I can’t even remember my LOI but my FOI might have been RILE? I think rows 9, 11 and 13 all went in pretty quickly but the top half was not very tractable, no!
  3. … and that One Error today was at 19ac, where I had a hastily thrown in ‘meul’, so excited was I to finish a Friday crossie in (well) under 30mins… Yep, I too tried to make ‘mail’ fit 23dn, and was helped by the recent appearance of THIMBLERIG.

    cod: GALUMPHED. Good word.

  4. Some time taken to dredge DUFF and TANGA from the cobwebbed recesses of my memory, and some more time to remember that meaning of ‘cross’; otherwise pretty smooth sailing. I liked 8d for its brevity, but COD to PRIEST.
  5. Yes, confusingly straightforward today.. galumph a wonderful word, as is belladonna, so much nicer than deadly nightshade..
  6. A finished Friday, in 25′ too! It certainly helped to have had THIMBLERIG recently, and GALUMPHED remembered from childhood. Thanks v and setter.
    1. I had a 6 foot tall Scots girlfriend many decades ago who was wont to call me a “great glaikit galumphit galoot”. I *think* it’s a term of endearment…
  7. I’ve had three really quick ones this week, this one in 13.30, Wednesday’s and Monday’s, so maybe things are looking up.
    Charles Lutwig Dodgson’s wonderful coinage was a treat: he was so good a creating words that betrayed instant meaning. I know exactly what GALLUMPHING looks like, which is more than can be said for a lot of other words that crop up in this space.
    My last in was MEWL, and needed the alphabet soup strainer. Even then, I nearly missed it on the way through.
    Like V, I wasn’t sure of the airworthiness of the PUFFIN, thinking it got by primarily by looking cute, but apparently its an epithet used by a surprising number of aircraft, which must say something.
  8. 20d was one of my favorites too, though I felt like kicking myself that I didn’t see it sooner. (Long day.)
    I didn’t know, or at least remember, DAMPCOURSE, my LOI, had all the checkers and still had to look it up, and Google says, “Do you mean DAMP COURSE?” Collins seems to be odd man out in running the two parts together.
    I don’t see “Strange” as synonymous with “LEFT-FIELD”(and when are those words ever hyphenated?). The expression “out of left field” would refer to something strange, but you can’t, uh, substitute “LEFT FIELD” for “strange” in any locution I can think of.
    Nor do I think of a “siren” as involving a BELL.
    We have Lewis Carroll to thank, of course, for GALUMPH, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
      1. Sure, if people really say that. Which I haven’t heard. If they say that, and they don’t mean anything political, which is what “left” usually means in my milieu. I didn’t see that in any dictionary, but I didn’t look very long last night.
        1. I think the left field of music is the alternative/experimental end. Hard to Google though, because you just get the bloody band called Leftfield!
  9. DNK TANGA and I’ve no plans to try them at this stage of life. Not heard of LOI MEGAFLOP either although I’ve been one of those at all stages. Fortunately both were just about biffable and I found the rest of the puzzle straightforward enough with little MEWLing and no puking. THIMBLERIG’s perpetrator has been with us too recently for me to forget. I do think you can be GRUFF, a commendable attitude, without being surly, which isn’t. COD GALUMPHED. 21 minutes. Thank you V and setter.
  10. I’ve just surreptitiously Googled tanga briefs because although I knew the word well enough I couldn’t recall what they looked like. I shan’t be buying any. I now look forward to my afternoon free of BELGIAN WAFFLE as my colleagues across the water just rescheduled a meeting they has booked for late this afternoon. Maybe they remembered that here in the UK we’ll all be drunk on a Friday afternoon.

    Thanks to verlaine for your mention of Dean Swift. I never knew the name of that fine London boozer referred to Jonathan Swift.

    1. Dean Swift, not to be confused with Dean Moriarty, not to be confused with James Moriarty, not to be confused with James Joyce, not to be confused with, er, French singer-songwriter Joyce Jonathan, not to be confused with Taylor or Jonathan Swift.
  11. This was a welcome return for me to sub-30 minute solving and, at 28 minutes, the first time I have achieved my target for a while.

    I didn’t know MEGAFLOP as a computing term (only as a theatrical disaster) and this appears to be its first appearance although ‘gigaflop’ has come up a couple of times, or TANGA which I also didnt know on its last appearance in 2010.

    Edited at 2017-09-29 07:54 am (UTC)

  12. 18:15 … slow but steady progress here, with delays in the predictable places. The waffle took a long time to emerge, LILLIPUTIAN and MEGAFLOP likewise.

    Last in PUFFIN, where I had the feeling I was walking into a trap until finally seeing the hidden-in-plain-sight “in”.

    COD to the hopeless pirates

  13. was my FOI as it was partially used as a nick-name for a friend, the mighty GLUMPH! Also my WOD.

    The north was easier than the south where I had a few problems on a simultaneous basis.

    LOI 28ac TANGA!!?? never arrived! So it was a DNF! a NIT was my source of irritation!

    I had 17dn as LIBATION for OBLATION. Fortunately the much chewed THIMBLERIG finally turned up and the correction made! 22dn JAMB was a long time in the making, until them BANKNOTES arrived at 27ac.

    Didn’t manage to parse 14ac RILE (Doh!)

    COD 19ac MEWL – that sort of four-legged cross!

    This week has been most challenging throughout and it was good to see our Jack back on track!

    Next week is ‘Golden Week’ in China may the powers that be shine brightly upon the Goths and Meldrewites!

    Edited at 2017-09-29 09:16 am (UTC)

  14. 27:57 with the four letter homophones the cause of most grief. I see Mr. Mayer is lurking in another place so hopefully I am now nicely warmed up.
  15. 34 mins with a quick reference to Jacob’s sons on Google – is that cheating? (are we supposed to know all 12?) and MEWL being the last one in, after an alphabet trawl. BELGIAN WAFFLE went in unparsed and uneaten.
    1. I don’t think anyone could be reasonably expected to list off the sons of Jacob (though of course knowing all the books of the Bible is pretty much compulsory, KERIOTHE) but being able to think “Gad, does he sound plausible as an early Israelite patriarch? Yes he does” is probably a good crosswording skill.
        1. “”Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” Matthew 5:25
      1. Oh, absolutely, part of any educated man’s general knowledge. Setters will be keen to work Isacchar into a clue, and then, least one be accused of sexism, his daughter Dinah ought to get an outing.
  16. 30.35 after mega-hold-up at the end with puffin and left-field. Didn’t know tanga, don’t now, don’t want to. 11’s surface will haunt my dreams; she certainly also follows cricket. Wonderful that galumphing back is also lumbering back, if quickly. A streak of wit touching this one, concealing the impression of a laboured cleverness. – joekobi
  17. One has to wonder, with Bella/Donna a major character in the novellas, and tanga the kind of undergarment all characters – male as well as female – are fond of wearing, though the skimpier thong typically wins out.

    A dissenting voice re priest, as I’m not overly keen on these banker-for-river type clues. My COD goes to mewl, for being a good word and my last one in. Sorry, Janie…

    27 mins.

    1. “Banker” and “flower” for river are seriously overfamiliar, which has become a problem… this one is a bit fresher and thus less eye-rolly. Also the question mark at the end was probably judicious, it seems to me that the bankers and the flowers don’t get flagged up with those any more, even though they probably should…
  18. Very pleasant. Last time it came up, I misremembered THIMBLERIGGER as THIMBLEFINGER, which wasn’t an option this time round. I should just be glad that it’s no longer on the list of words which cause me to say “Never seen it before”, so that someone can point out that I said exactly the same thing 2 years earlier.
  19. Is this the first outing of ALI as ‘fighter’ in the Times? It’s not long since he sadly qualified for such a role.
    1. It isn’t and in fact in January this year (Jumbo 1241) we had the same word clued as ‘excuse boxer boxing instinctively at first’.
    2. I was talking to a well known crossword compiler and editor about this only the other day and I hope he won’t mind me quoting him:

      “Wadham Sutton always tells of how he waited years for Irving Berlin to pop off before he could use ‘A call to arms from Berlin’ for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. And we were of course sorry to see the likes of George Best and Muhammad Ali depart though there was an upside… But I swear I don’t have a shortlist. I actually thought Christian Dior was still alive for ages and never used him”

  20. Bom Dias (possibly?) from sunny Faro. Late posting today as on the plane. It being Friday, I thought this would take half the flight, but it was done before we left the stand – about 25 mins.
    Breakfast had to be a Costa muffin. No greengage jamb in sight.
    Eyebrow twitch at dampcourse as one word. Most time alphabet trawling for MEWL even though I should know by now that ‘cross’ is often a hybrid.
    Thanks setter and V.
    Just off to pop my tanga speedos on. See you next week. Waiter!
  21. 8:52. I thought this was going to be a stinker because my first in was MEWL and that was the only across I got on my first pass through. The downs proved much easier and that got me going. Some fun words as others have noted, and I happened to know them all. TANGA has definitely appeared here before, I’m sure that’s the only way I know it.
  22. Yes, some very nice stuff here. GREENGAGE reminded me of the lovely French name for them “Reine Claude”. Sadly we never see them in NY, even in the farmers’ markets at the right time of year. I wonder if Myrtilus has greengage JAMB with his morning croissant. 15.13
    1. In your recent absence it was I who made two jars of Spanish greengage jam(b) as discussed with Victoria Myrtilus over cafe et croissants. I miss plum duff!
  23. Yet another DNF as couldn’t get to MEWL and biffed yell simply because it fitted. Perhaps now I will finally remember cross may mean hybrid though it has riled me many times before. As V says it’s been a good week for the crossword; I know this as I think I’ve DNF’d every single one, a sure sign apparently of great puzzles. At least TANGA and THIMBLERIG went in quite quickly and GALUMPHED is such a great word. I was held up by biffing MEGADUMP for a longtime, but it wouldn’t parse. I was well over 60m for this DNF – so V’s time is very impressive to put it mildly. Thanks, V, for the blog and grudgingly thanks to this week’s setters for making this old man feel so wonderfully inadequate!
    1. Magoo was well under 5 minutes of course, so the smart money is on no major upsets at the 2017 Times Crossword Championships 🙂
  24. 27 minutes – (with check for typos!) FOI was 1ac, but then nothing more than 19ac till starting on the downs. No particular hold-ups, though having an F made my try WIFE as part of the anagram fodder for 11ac. At 4ac I didn’t look up Jacob, just assumed he had a son called Gahed. I’ve become accustomed to the Times ignoring hyphens, so 15ac went in as soon as I had a few checkers. 3dn was LOI, as it doesn’t spring to mind for a bird beginning with P.

    Edited at 2017-09-29 11:19 am (UTC)

  25. 15 mins for my first weekday Times puzzle in three weeks. Like k MEWL was my FOI and TANGA was my LOI with fingers crossed. I confess that PUFFIN went in unparsed once I had BELGIAN WAFFLE. I haven’t got a problem with in=in but I don’t expect to see that kind of cluing in a Times puzzle so I wasn’t looking out for it.
  26. MEGAFLOP is a word that, as it happened, I must have typed a dozen times yesterday on a presentation on computer performance. One of my pet peeves (being interested in words, which I guess most of us are here to at least some extent) is that MEGAFLOP is not really a word. It is MEGAFLOPS. Even if you have only 1, it is 1 MEGAFLOPS since it is milliiion floating point operations per second. This makes no sense without the S. It is not a plural, 1 megaflop, 2 megaflops. This comes up more often with MIPS (millions of instructions per second) where it is also 1 MIPS. Or today, more like 4,000 MIPS in your iPhone.

    Here’s another pet peeve. People say “did you know your mobile phone has more compute power than NASA had to get to the moon?” NASA had a total of about 1 MIPS. If you run the numbers, the only correct response to this is “yes, and did you know that at the highest speed in the middle of the return trajectory from the moon that the spacecraft went faster than…a tortoise (I so wanted it to be snail, but the numbers came out at tortoise).

  27. An absolute joy pretty much throughout. Finshed in 34:18 – not bad for a Friday for me. I feel like I’m closing in on my long-term goal of a sub-30 minute solve, although it’s proved elusive so far.

    Edited at 2017-09-29 01:42 pm (UTC)

  28. Nice one. I finished the acrosses in dismay at the paucity of letters written in, but the downs got me going. I had GIGAFLOP for 6d at first, thinking a MEGAFLOP is not much computing power these days. This article says we will have a 200 Petaflop computer soon! Apart from that, lots of lovely clues. 11a, 25a and 20d my favourites. Thanks to setter and blogger for the entertainment. 22:50

    Edited at 2017-09-29 12:51 pm (UTC)

    1. 200 petaflops! It regularly baffles me how computing technology can be so frankly indistinguishable from magic when most of the rest of our technology is hardly out of the Victorian age….
  29. I think that the compiler has confused “substituted” with its non-synonym “replaced”! The player who has LEFT the field has been replaced – the one who has JOINED the field has been substituted for him.


    1. Hmm, if you Google for a definition though, you quickly get:

      replace (a sports player) with a substitute during a match.
      “he was substituted eleven minutes from time”

      So if it’s a terminological error it’s not really the compiler’s, it would seem…

  30. according to Collins Dictionary online:

    Substitute is sometimes wrongly used where replace is meant: he replaced (not substituted) the worn tyre with a new one


    1. ODO (the Oxford Dictionary of English) gives ‘replace (someone or something) with another’ as one of the definitions of ‘substitute’. So Collins thinks ODO is wrong. Dictionary fight!
      1. I do understand that in practice some users give “substitute” a wider variety of meanings than others. But it is a shame really – rather like using “lend” and borrow” to mean the same!


  31. Forty-six minutes, which is quite slow even for me, with MEWL my LOI after a lengthy bifactorial alphabet trawl.

    No problems with the airworthiness of a PUFFIN, although of course it would be slower than an unladen swallow.

    1. If you Google “puffin flying speed” you will see at the top of the page 77-88 km/h, “swallow flying speed” you see 50-55 km/h, so I’m going to have to ask you to provide more evidence for the above bold assertion! (My search results do seem unlikely I must admit…)
      1. Good lord – it appears that you are not incorrect.

        Given their stocky build and fearsome beaks, this makes puffins quite fearsome.

        1. You wouldn’t want one of them coming at you at 88 km/h, that’s for sure. (Hang on, isn’t that the speed a puffin needs to achieve to travel in time?)
          1. Not sure about travelling in time, but at 88km/h, a puffin will age very, very slightly less quickly as a result of time dilation. We are all, constantly, travelling at a uniform speed through spacetime; if you start hurtling around through space, your speed through time decreases accordingly.

            This, of course, explains why stupid-fast hatchbacks are always driven by young people.

        2. You’ve got to factor in the gale-force winds puffins use. Dry-bob swallows have to generate all their own speed.
          1. On the other hand, a puffin is less likely than a swallow to find itself in the jetstream.
          2. I’m imagining that swallows have more stamina for staying airborne than puffins, though presumably puffins can “fly” for longer underwater? Though not for want of Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling trying to even the score.
  32. I b*ggered up a reasonable attempt by substituting DMAPCOURSE for DAMPCOURSE, thus also turning my fruit into a GREENGMGE, making my 32:31 effort useless from an accuracy point of view. Ah well. DROOP was my FOI and MEWL my last with an alphabet trawl. Didn’t know the underwear, but went with the wordplay. Liked LILLIPUTIAN. Fun puzzle. Thanks setter and V.
  33. 11ac proved difficult because I was BEMUSED for ages. “Sweet thing” put me in mind of “Sweet pretty things they’re in bed now of course…” which shouldn’t BAFFLE any Dylan fan.
    1. Careful, now. I’ve only just got I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine out of my head after earlier puzzles…
      1. I have that on a CD by Joan Baez. I had the original vinyl then a few years ago, I bought the CD. After ‘Unplugged’ by Dylan, i shall give that one a spin!
        1. As a song, it only really came to my attention on Thea Gilmore’s cover album of the entirety of John Wesley Harding. That’s one of the wonderful things about Dylan, isn’t it? Even if you’re not too fond of the original someone’s bound to have covered a song in a way that might appeal to you. I have half a dozen different covers of All Along the Watchtower in my collection.
    2. Just read this listening to the soundtrack from ‘Girl from the North Country’ which has just been released. Saw the show at The Old Vic a couple of months ago. Absolutely brilliant. They’re all sitting in the kitchen with the tombstone blues.
      1. Wow! I’ve just read Michael Billington’s review in the Guardian of ‘Girl from the North Country’. What a wonderful show it sounds! Certainly gets a 5-Star review. Shame I live in rural France. I shall now play Dylan’s superb ‘Unplugged’ album. It starts with ‘Tombstone Blues’. Thanks for your comment!
  34. 17.5 mins this am; 25 mins this pm to finish. Found this tricky in parts ending up in the NW corner where I was looking at “flag” as a noun for far too long. Enjoyed the Belgian waffle but COD if not WOD to Galumphed.
  35. Wednesday Quick: took 20 minutes
    Thursday Regular: spelling mistake
    Thursday Quick: typo
    Today: foiled by ‘tanga’ which apparently is a word in the peculiar dialect that they speak on the other side of the world. Chucked in ‘tinea’ when I had only the N and decided to review it when it disagreed with one of the crossers…bugger

    Otherwise fun

  36. 13dn Siren trouble girl raised as blooming deadly thing? (10)
    How do we get from SIREN to BELL?
    1. If I Google up “siren”, the first thing that comes up is:

      a device that makes a loud prolonged signal or warning sound.
      “ambulance sirens”
      synonyms: alarm, alarm bell, warning bell, danger signal; More

      Obviously there’s a noticeable difference between the siren that makes a wailing noise on the top of a police car and the bell that makes a clanging noise from the church belfry, and perhaps it’s a bit naughty of the setter to elide these, but it seems clear at least that they are two things in the same category… if the fire alarm went off in your building you wouldn’t be completely confused if someone referred to it as either a “siren” or a “bell”, right?

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