Times 26853 – spare me the German poets please, but sue the French by all means.

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Quirky, economical clueing here in this puzzle; nothing too obscure but much to admire in this fine example of the setter’s art. I had the right side completed quickly with a couple of blanks on the central long answer, but the left followed smoothly and it was all done in 25 minutes. One or two needed more thought as I wrote this, to understand what was actually going on below the surface even though the answers were there. The more you look at it, the cleverer it becomes.

Definitions underlined as usual.

1 Man with knife, sharper, cutting meat about (8)
MACHEATH – This was actually my LOI. I spent an age trying to work MAC (the man with knife) into something but then it wasn’t obvious where the definition lay. Then I realised; CHEAT = sharper, as in cards, and HAM is the meat reversed around it; the definition is ‘man with knife’, as in the song lyrics this was his surname, not just Mac. Follow me?
6 Crafty: can it work at first, being in debt? (6)
SHREWD – Actually my FOI. “Can it!” means shut up, or SH. in RED = in debt, insert W being work at first.
9 Style of emperor, short on staff (6)
MANNER – MAN = staff, NER(O) = emperor, short.
10 Free entry to Wimbledon? Has it any value? (4,4)/i>
WILD CARD – Two unrelated definitions, or questions to which the answers are yes.
11 Even I can make a snowman (4
YETI – YET = even, I.
12 Have room next to brother for meditation (5,5)
BROWN STUDY – to OWN STUDY is to have room, precede by BR(other).
14 Funds in an instant old woman provided for backing (8)
FINANCES – Reverse all of this: SEC (instant), NAN (old woman), IF (provided).
16 Stole whiskey, facing charge (4)
WRAP – W = whiskey, RAP = charge, as in rap sheet.
18 Second most important road sign (4)
STOP – S = second, TOP = most important.
19 Ancient script’s inconsistent, grammar finally failing after the greeting (8)
HIERATIC – HI = the greeting, ER(R)ATIC = inconsistent with one R removed, the R being the end of grammaR. Not a word I knew but it seemed to be a likely relative of hieroglyphic.
21 A month back, sounded off about the end of Europe being certain (10)
GUARANTEED – GUA = AUG (month) back, RANTED = sounded off, about E = end of Europe.
22 Parties needing hard cash (4)
DOSH – DOS being the plural of DO = party, add H(ard).
24 Chess among others independent school introduced to me (4,4)
MIND GAME – IND = independent, GAM = school (of whales), insert into ME.
26 Beyond repair? I don’t care (3,3)
TOO BAD – Cryptic double definition.
27 Sue the French about a dog (6)
BEAGLE – BEG = sue, LE = the French, insert A.
28 Deep desire to be studying with new head (8)
YEARNING – Change the ‘head’ of LEARNING L to Y.

2 Opening letter scandal, as it were, is a gem (5)
AGATE – I find there is a real list of “-gates”, my current favourite is perhaps Penelopegate, but A-gate isn’t there; if it was, it would be an opening letter scandal.
AGATE is more of a semi-precious stone, than a gem.
3 Useful foreign character, told to be race official (11)
HANDICAPPER – Horse racing official who sounds like HANDY KAPPA (Greek letter K).
4 Flying stunts, not at these exercises (8)
AEROBICS – AEROBATICS would be flying stunts, leave out the AT.
5 Ahead of rival, the ways German poet pens start of sonnet in time please (3,4,3,5)
HOW GOES THE ENEMY – HOW = the ways, GOETHE = German poet, insert an S (start of sonnet); add ENEMY = rival; you get a (not very?) well known phrase meaning “what time is it?”.
6 Like the sea? Nothing bobs up in it, surprisingly (6)
SALINE – NIL reversed in an anagram of SEA (here ‘it’). If you sea what I mean.
7 Fabulous flyer missing end of crag (3)
ROC – ROCK = crag, endless.
8 Wild arrow loosed in major conflict (5,3,1)
WORLD WAR I – (WILD ARROW)*. How easy was that?
13 Different leaders take own groups in city (4,3,4)
TOWN AND GOWN – OWN has different ‘leaders’ i.e. T and G. Expression used in Oxford and other university cities to describe the factions of differing interests and values.
15 Like a trespasser, confusing sin with virtue (9)
17 Aim to break old soldier — army’s vicious campaign (8)
VENDETTA – END = aim, insert into VET = old soldier, TA = army.
20 Packed away as a precaution (2,4)
IN CASE – Double definition, one cryptic.
23 Mark, there’s only one time for heart pill (5)
STAIN – Some loose medicine going on here, but we know what he means. STATINs are pills taken to lower cholesterol levels in the blood and supposedly decrease the risk of heart disease; remove one of the Ts = there’s only one time. Fortunately after 20 years I have stopped taking them, so can enjoy grapefruit and Earl Grey tea again.
25 Travel down at first, then up, to keep following (3)
DOG – D = down at first, then GO = travel, up = OG.

61 comments on “Times 26853 – spare me the German poets please, but sue the French by all means.”

  1. Glad to see it wasn’t just Murcan me who never heard the question of 5d, but it seemed unavoidable. Biffed SHREWD, half-biffed HANDICAPPER, satisfied with the HANDI part. You can have grapefruit, Pip, although you shouldn’t take the statin at the same time; not that I’m pushing statins, mind you.
  2. Really nice clues, glaring exception being the elephant at 5 down.

    Lots of stuff I’ve never heard of: brown study, how goes the enemy, hieratic, handicapper…all quite gettable though

    My last one was 1ac too; had to write the clue down on a piece of paper to get it

    Best clue was ROC

    Edited at 2017-10-11 05:57 am (UTC)

  3. I’d never seen the long phrase before, although I found the German poet and the enemy so it pretty much had to be HOW at the start except…

    I couldn’t get MACHEATH, even though I know the song and I even know his surname. I wasn’t sure that the long down started HOW and I was fixated on trying to make 1a HASHTAGS (sharper, the sign for a sharp in music), especially since there seems to be a definite effort to get the newer words in the dictionaries into the crossword. I even had the backwards HAM bit, just couldn’t see what went inside.

    Everything else done pretty quickly, while cooking dinner.

    Edited at 2017-10-11 06:03 am (UTC)

  4. I battled my way through this with great difficulty but as the hour approached and I was left with only 1ac and 19ac unsolved I had lost the will to continue and, convinced the answers were words I didn’t know anyway, I resorted to aids.

    I was right about not knowing HIERATIC but not about MACHEATH, and I kicked myself for not getting that one as I am a huge fan of the music of Kurt Weill and had the work from which the original song came (Die Dreigroschenoper) in my mind as it was featured last week in the excellent documentary series currently showing on BBC4 called “Tunes for Tyrants”.

    I worked out 5dn eventually but I have never heard the question before.

    Failed to parse 6dn which I biffed. Then I spotted NIL reversed and SA clued by ‘it’ but was left wondering where the E came from.

    Edited at 2017-10-11 05:25 am (UTC)

  5. Very satisfying puzzle, and you can add me to the LOI 1ac brigade. I’m also nominating it as COD – looks impossible from the crossers, but it must have HAM reversed outside, right? Still looks impossible, okay, let’s find a work for sharper, well it definitely doesn’t end with R, a sharper cheats at cards though – oh! Did he invent some kind of knife? Wait, Mac The Knife! Lovely to be able to work through a difficult clue like that and get there.

    I didn’t even bother to parse 5dn though, and having looked at the somewhat tortuous solution I’m glad I let Pip do it for me. Great phrase though, and one I might try to reintroduce into popular use.

    Edited at 2017-10-11 06:50 am (UTC)

  6. Nah, didn’t finish this. Never got near Mack the Knife and never woulda. Likewise HOW GOES THE ENEMY. Does anyone actually say this? And the wordplay in HIERATIC was too subtle for this solver.

    Some clever stuff but not a puzzle I feel bad about failing on. Clearly beyond my ken.

  7. 50 mins over yoghurt and fresh fruit. But much more tasty fare in the crossword.
    For me 1ac was third to last in (followed by the Dog/Beagle crossers) – but MacHeath must be COD. Brilliant. And what a great reminder of some sumptuous use of language: scarlet billows, oozin’ life, cement bags droppin’ on down, etc.
    Also mostly I liked: ‘can it’, Wrap, HandiKappa, ‘sin with virtue’.
    MER (minor eyebrow raise) at 5dn (but we have had enemy=time not that long ago) – and Statin now being in common parlance.
    Thanks sumptuous setter and Pip.
  8. Pleased, almost proud, to have finished this aidlessly, handicapped as I was by my lack of the necessary ‘G’K. Then had most of the wind taken out of my sails by finding my, admittedly slow, 51 mins bringing up the rear on the club leaderboard.
  9. 19.37, which looks pretty good today. I had MACHEATH early on, but erased it because the MEAT bit seemed to be all over the place. My last in was SHREWD, partly because of the cluing pointing (me, at least) in all sorts of wrong directions, and partly because I was trying to justify the desperate SCREWY.
    I eventually worked out the ENEMY clue, with thanks to my very short list of German poets – though Goethe was a long shot as part of a clue, surely. A quick Google reveals it was first seen in print in the Brighton Gazette and Lewes Observer of 26th October 1826. How did I miss that?
    Being a fan of “My Word” wordplay, handy kappa makes it as my CoD.
    Bizarrely, I lost time wondering whether WW1 ended with an I, a lower case l, or a digit 1. I’ll try to be less obtuse in the future.
  10. It would seem I was on the wavelength today. It was a big help that early on I wondered if there was a word for a man with a machete for 1A – maybe because I saw a few of them in holiday a couple of months back. Mack The Knife never crossed my mind where on another day I could have got lost down that path for ages.
    1. Well I thought I’d put in a word for a man with a machete but I now sea that Macheath is Mack The Knife. So I win no prizes for understanding today!
  11. About 40mins…

    Yes, I too tried to work out how to fit Mac in to another word, before realising that Mac(heath) WAS the definition. Couldn’t work out how SHREWD or AGATE worked, so thanks for those. Ended with the deceptively easy MANNER and the unknown HIERATIC. I parsed SALINE as Jack did, and wondered about the final E, and tried unconvincingly to shoehorn screwy in at 6ac like Z. Oh, and was a little concerned that the last bit of WW1 should be, well, a 1.

  12. This was a great crossword with much to catch the eye and the unwary.

    I DNF in 55 minutes bunging in MASHIACH (Messiah)at 1ac as my LOI all to no avail! I never thought of ‘Mac the Knife’.

    FOI was 7dn ROC so hardly my COD but that goes to
    2dn AGATE!

    WOD 22ac DOSH!

    Thank-you Mr. Setter and the Wise Owl

  13. HIERATIC is one of the languages on the Rosetta stone. Dnk the time phrase at all. MACHEATH LOI, brilliant. 39′. Thanks Pip and setter.
  14. 55 minutes with HOW GOES THE ENEMY biffed quite early on, once a WILD CARD had been given me, my knowledge of German poets not being that extensive. I think I knew it from somewhere. HIERATIC constructed and put in hesitantly. MIND GAME not parsed, not knowing the whale school. I sometimes used to dine(?) at the TOWN AND GOWN on The High back then. One of the puds available was jelly and evaporated milk. We knew how to live. LOI MACHEATH. I learnt the song from Bobby Darin’s version, not being quite old enough for the original Brecht/ Weill. Ella’s live version, on YouTube, is truly wonderful. COD I suppose HANDICAPPER, easier though for the setter than the solver. Thank you Pip and setter for a tough start to the day.

    Edited at 2017-10-11 08:47 am (UTC)

    1. Some of us will never forget the word GAM it prompted exactly same error in the Championship a few years ago: OPHOD instead of the required OGHAM.
  15. Great crossword this one, and I feel quite smug thank you very much, at having finished in a reasonable time – not easy, but quicker than yesterday. Interestingly this is precisely what the SNITCH says should happen, uncanny really, that website.

    Struggled with 1ac having spotted Mac as the knife owner early on, but not knowing his full name. Also unfamiliar with 5dn but knew that time is the enemy, so it looked plausible. The phrase sounds somewhat Wodehousean.. “How goes the enemy, Jeeves old pip?”

    Pip, most of the dictionaries allow wiggle room for a gem to be either a precious or semiprecious stone. Eg Collins: “a precious or semiprecious stone used in jewellery as a decoration; a jewel.” The attractions of jewellery and diamonds etc., or gold for that matter, seem to have passed me by completely.

  16. …by the unknowns MACHEATH and BROWN STUDY, the latter because I stupidly had my towns and gowns in a twist. I got as far as HAM reversed for 1a but would have been no wiser had I worked it out fully. Definitely not my kind of music.
  17. In an all-male public school in the 60s, the only occasions for actually meeting females were the Debating Society and the School Play. I was the Stage Manager for the School production of The Beggar’s Opera whose leading part is MACHEATH so this went in quickly. The rest not so quick so 26:29 overall with some unparsed so thanks pip.

    Edited at 2017-10-11 07:53 pm (UTC)

  18. DNF. Bah! Had all bar 1ac, including the unknown “brown study” and the half known “how goes the enemy” (both satisfyingly constructed from word play), done in about three quarters of an hour. Persisted for another 15 mins or so before deciding that whatever the answer to 1ac, it was beyond my reach. I did think of Mac the knife but didn’t know his full name. I got as far as reversing ham round the outside of a word meaning sharper but couldn’t make the final leap from tarter, more acidic or strop to that kind of sharper and couldn’t let go of the idea that I was looking for a synonym for butcher, surgeon, soldier or assassin rather than an individual. I also hamstrung myself by thinking that the answer was probably the same 4 letter word repeated. In retrospect a bit disappointed because I think I could just about have managed to construct it from wordplay had I shaken off some of the wrong notions which I had allowed to take hold.
    1. I got stuck looking for a word meaning ‘more sharp’ for ages. Eventually I did an alphabet trawl for the third letter (I had MA from a reversal of HAM) and when I got to MAC I immediately thought of Macbeth: completely irrelevant but it opened up the possibility that I could be looking for the name of a person. This got me out of my rut but it could easily never have happened.
      I think we can safely say that this was a tough clue.
  19. 15:39. I struggled a bit with this, particularly the unknowns like BROWN STUDY, HIERATIC and HOW GOES THE ENEMY. I constructed the last of these outwards from GOE(S)THE and the fact that the ‘enemy’ is time, but I assumed it was something that landlords said at the end of the evening.
    My thought process to get 1ac was exactly as described by verlaine, with the additional difficulties that 1) I thought ‘sharper’, as opposed to ‘sharp’, was a bit odd for CHEAT, and 2) I had no idea that Mac the Knife even had a longer name, never mind what it was. So although it took me a long time at the end of my solve I’m quite pleasantly surprised that I cracked this one at all.

    Edited at 2017-10-11 10:18 am (UTC)

    1. My thought process with 1. was also that described by v., with the additional difficulty that it took me approx. 1,000,000 times longer. -jk.
  20. 35.45, last in by a distance 1. I don’t feel I’ve heard, said or read the 5. phrase yet once in it seems familiar. Maybe every setter telepathises it maliciously with every puzzle. A few flattish clues, a few near-fiendish, yet somehow a very pleasing overall set-up. – joekobi
  21. Like Jack, I resorted to aids to check out my constructions of some of the clues before inking them in. My guess at NOW GOES THE ENEMY being corrected by Google, which gave me the reversed HAM to stick a sharp into, which I correctly devined as CHEAT, and then confirmed with Google as I didn’t know Mac the Knife’s full name. BROWN STUDY from wordplay only and HIERATIC was looked up after I was stuck with HIE_A_I_ and going nowhere. That was my LOI at 53:57. FOI was YETI. A stiff workout indeed. Thanks setter and Pip.
  22. 57:23 with 1a, 9a and 24a all biffed at the last with fingers crossed, so many thanks for the explanations.

    Out of interest, I found it took around a minute and a half to read the clues and the same to type the answers, ignoring thinking time, so how some people get times of around three minutes or less is a bit of a mystery to me.

    Maybe I’m just a bit thick?

    1. MrChumley, they dont. They solve elsewhere and then compete on how quickly they can type their answers in. Known around here as neutrinos
      1. Thanks, I kind of suspected that but didn’t like to cast aspersions. A strange thing to do IMHO and a shame for the genuine quick solvers.
  23. 2 unknowns at 1a and 5d crossing each other meant that I had to resort to other aids to complete this. A strange curate’s egg of a crossword with many write-ins. HIERATIC clear from the clue, but I didn’t see CHEAT for sharper. Maybe my mind doesn’t work that way…
  24. Kevin Spacey does a pretty good Bobby Darin (yeah that line forms, on the right, babe) and I was another fooling about with “machete”. I only knew HIERATIC as meaning “priestly” – no idea about the old lingo. We’ve had championship level puzzles 2 days in a row now so perhaps this is a warm-up. Took ages to get WILD CARD. 24.29
      1. Yes, growing up in Victoria Road Kensington certainly made me familiar with the things!
  25. 19:45 and I found this really tough, certainly much harder than yesterday’s where I was on wavelength. I didn’t know the “well known phrase” at 5 and of course finished with 1ac.

    Oddly enough my first thought on the entire puzzle was that Mac was a man with a knife but only 19+ minutes later did I remember the MacHeath bit of the song lyric. In the intervening period I was another who tried to make up a word for a machete-wielder.

  26. Yet another DNF today and worse it was a never would have finished as so many clues were simply beyond me – not often you encounter that number of unknowns in a crossword at my time of life and with tortuous clueing to boot. So not my favourite puzzle as you might have guessed. Unsurprisingly I didn’t think this was the masterpiece others have praised, but then one never does perhaps with DNF. I wonder if these grids are now automated to come up with so many obscure words and phrases; perhaps it’s just the editor’s policy. One particular gripe – I guessed TOWN AND GOWN but other than Pip’s (to me) generous parsing I couldn’t make it work. Hey ho no doubt more disappointment tomorrow! Thanks, Pip for putting me out of my misery with the blog.
  27. I couldn’t tell if the puzzle was harder than Tuesday’s or my brain was just fried after eleven hours at my job. MACHEATH was one of my last too, but I’m not sure which was the very last, don’t remember. The clue for DOG is fiendish. I think I first encountered HIERATIC, used in the “priestly” sense, reading about Mallarmé.

    Edited at 2017-10-11 02:34 pm (UTC)

  28. To complete in about 50 mins. Thanks to an old work colleague (known as chap) who used expressions like 5d which gave me a way in. Many answers biffed (with some confidence) without parsing. I am afraid I am inconsistent – rubbishing yesterday’s puzzle just because it beat me! I will be judged by the crossword Gods one day. Thanks blogger.
  29. Took a while, slowing down at the end but loving MACHEATH when I saw it. I never know how much US culture (i.e. Bobby Darin) has wafted across the ocean and am often surprised when something I think of as US-based pops up. That could also be due to my thickness, as evidenced by the fact that my LOI was actually YETI, which took a few minutes more. Regards.
    1. First heard Bobby Darin singing Dream Lover on a jukebox in an ice cream parlour in 1959 when on a youth club camp. We were in deepest North Wales. The Atlantic’s not been much of a barrier all my life and it wasn’t for my parents either, with Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Glenn Miller etc their taste in music.
    2. As vinyl1 mentions above Macheath first appearered in John Gay’s ‘Beggar’s Opera’ (1728) and the song which later became known as ‘Mack The Knife’ dates from 1928 Germany. The English translation was by the American Marc Blitzstein and dates from 1954.
  30. An hour this morning for all but 1a and the first two letters of 5d, not helped by thinking that 1a must be wrapped in an anagram of “meat”.

    In the end, the only reason I got there after twenty more minutes was assuming the utterly unknown MACHEATH must be some obscure word for a machete-wielder—possibly Peruvian—so it’s nice to see I was in excellent company on that garden path.

    Never heard of HOW GOES THE ENEMY either, and again, completely baffled by the meaning before coming here. Thought it might be some obscure piece of Scottish landlordese for chucking-out time…

  31. Now that we have had ‘old Macheath’, maybe we will get Jenny Diver and The Black Freighter. I first heard the latter on a record by Judy Collins. Trivia Corner (although I’m sure Times crosswordistes will know it): Lotte Lenya, who was married to Kurt Weill, played Rosa Krebbs in “From Russia with Love”. Don’t let her kick you under the table!
    39m 30s
  32. Try going to the non-club puzzle. Solve, using aids as liberally as you please. Print solution, and reserve. Rev up your nervous system with a jolt of coffee. Go to the Club site. Hit ‘solve’ and copy like the blazes. It helps to be a touch typist.
  33. DNF. Didn’t know 5d but worked it out from the wordplay. Defeated by 1ac, which had me completely baffled. Never knew that Mac the knife was an abbreviation – foiled by lack of requisite GK once again. Otherwise all completed in about 27 minutes, enjoying 6a, 9a, 10a, 3d and 6d. Nice puzzle. Just one step too far for me. Thanks Pip and setter
  34. Finished in just over an hour (not counting a break before getting my two LOI, the obscure HOW GOES THE ENEMY (I needed to see GOETHE to believe that that was right, and had no idea what it meant, envisioning Nelson or some other military commander saying this (famously but unbeknownst to me) in some battle) and of course MACHEATH. But I did suspect all along that HAM would be the meat. My COD would be AGATE, but I did groan suitably as I filled it in.
  35. “Free entry to Wimbledon?” supplies the non-cryptic definition. But I see no point whatever in “Has it any value?”? Sure, “free” can indicate something has little or no value. But “wild” can’t. Surely this part of a clue should relate to the answer, not to another part of the clue itself.
    1. I’m not sure I’m following you, but I took the “Has it any value?” to indicate the wildcard in a game of cards, where, say, if threes are “wild” then a three can assume the value of any other card, or “any value”…
  36. Mostly straight forward.

    1A LOI=COD MACHEATH: the meaning of “sharper” is well-concealed. The repetitive template .A.H.A.H was mind-freezing, making me think of HASH etc.

    24A In one of their occasional acts of printer’s devilry, South China Morning Post typesetters replaced “to me” with “tome” in 24A, but this and the DNK GAM weren’t blockers.

    5D HOW GOES THE ENEMY? Also DNK, but old Goethe came to mind, and HOW GOES THE E.E.Y (= rival) is not hard to biff.

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