Times 27,131: Maxim Gun vs Epigram Cannon

I was quite pleased to solve this somewhere north of the 8 minute mark, as, with the added insight from having had to write it all up, I’d say it ranks quite high on the deviosity scale. Loads of definition parts requiring an “as in” gloss to explain how they indicate something rather different to what you (or at least I) first thought of; which in turn generates some of the absolute best kind of surfaces. Lots of very clever double definitions too, and I’ll give me clue of the day to 7ac as the penny-drop moment when I realised that the middle part actually made it a triple def was most excellent. I tip my topper to the setter!

1 Pledge to block new bus lane is beyond disgusting (11)
UNSHOCKABLE – HOCK [pledge] to “block” (BUS LANE*) [“new”]. Beyond disgusting, as in incapable of being disgusted.

7 Trench one often had to drain (3)
SAP – triple def. Had, as in made a fool of.

9 Time remaining after specialist vacated theatre area (5,4)
STAGE LEFT – AGE LEFT [time | remaining] after S{pecialis}T

10 Rubbish collecting for instance in pan (5)
ROAST – ROT [rubbish] “collecting” AS [for instance]. Pan as in criticise.

11 Nervous excitement children are in at bedtime? (7)
JIMJAMS – double def. I use the latter definition a lot but not the former, myself.

12 The solvers no good, I hesitate to say: they won’t get this! (7)
YOUNGER – YOU NG ER [the solvers | no good | I hesitate to say], plus whimsical def.

13 Recalled fair sound of raven and cuckoo (5)
WACKO – reverse all of OK CAW [fair | sound of raven]. Cuckoo as in mad.

15 Seal domestic encounter finally by a whisker (9)
CRABEATER – {domesti}C {encounte}R, by A BEATER [a | whisker, as in egg-whisker]

17 Draws one a plant (9)
RAFFLESIA – RAFFLES I A [draws | one | a]. Draws as in “the luck of the draw”.

19 King of Tyre, from memory, greeting heads (5)
HIRAM – RAM [memory], headed by HI [greeting]. An ally of David and Solomon in the 10th century BC, or thereabouts.

20 Informally offering Desprez, Ziegfeld exhibits (7)
PREZZIE – hidden in {des}PREZ ZIE{gfeld}

22 See cracks appearing in displays of mutual affection (4-3)
LOVE-INS – LO VEINS [see | cracks]

24 Increasingly wintry spot forecaster’s mentioned (5)
ICIER – homophone of EYE SEER [spot | forecaster]

25 An anti-Nazi gathering expels one foreign national (9)
TANZANIAN – (AN ANTI NAZ{i}*) [“gathering”, with one I for one “expelled”]

27 Funny form of censorship (3)
GAG – double def

28 Pale woman’s fixing familiar person with interest (11)
STAKEHOLDER – STAKE [pale, as in fencepost] + HER [woman] “fixing” OLD [familiar]

1 Unexpectedly goes for hikes (3)
UPS – double def. The first as in “he upped and left”, I think.

2 Fit and well — antismoker at heart (5)
SPASM – SPA [well] + {anti}SM{oker}

3 Herb’s ego jarred with Nora (7)
OREGANO – (EGO + NORA*) [“jarred”]

4 Long hose: get it caught up in taps (4-5)
KNEE-SOCKS – SEE [get it], “caught” reversed in KNOCKS [taps]

5 Swallow fed dry sandwich (5)
BUTTY – BUY [swallow, as in believe] “fed” TT [dry]

6 Starter of cabbage leaves baked in pastry on the way (2,5)
EN ROUTE – EN {c}ROUTE [baked in pastry, left by C{abbage}]

7 Easily overcome reaction of disgust in alternative to Thatcher? (9)
SLAUGHTER – UGH [reaction of disgust] in SLATER [alternative to thatcher (for getting your roof done)]

8 Opera’s premiere mostly gets hammered (5,6)
PETER GRIMES – (PREMIER{e} GETS*) [“hammered”]. Opera by Benjamin Britten.

11 Awesome gas associated with singular manure (3-8)
JAW-DROPPING – JAW [gas, as in chat] associated with DROPPING{s} [manure, singularised]

14 Boxing damaged finger of course, primarily (9)
COFFERING – (FINGER OF C{ourse}*) [“damaged”]. The other type of “box”.

16 After a short butcher’s knife with a label on (2,1,6)
AT A GLANCE – LANCE [knife] with A TAG [a | label] on

18 One miraculously raised a sprint briefly after endless idling (7)
LAZARUS – A RUS{h} [a | sprint “briefly”] after LAZ{y} [“endless” idling]. Or possibly LAZ{e}, not sure. Lazarus raised from the dead by Jesus in the bible, obviously.

19 Force ace to quit game (4-1-2)
HAVE-A-GO – A = ace, and if you HAVE someone GO, you force them to quit. Game as in “ready to give it a whirl”.

21 An old artilleryman’s casing initially too wide for one (5)
EXTRA – EX-R.A. [an old artilleryman] “casing” T{oo}. A wide must be a type of cricket extra, the intricacies of which someone with a non-superficial understanding of this arcane sport should feel free to explain in the comments.

23 One competed in green coat? (5)
IVIED – I VIED [one | competed]. A whimsical definition of being covered in (green) ivy.

26 Joiner, Pole, taking Thursday off (3)
NOR – NOR{th} – take one of the poles and chop off TH = Thursday. Joiner as in “grammatical conjunction”, I suppose.

45 comments on “Times 27,131: Maxim Gun vs Epigram Cannon”

  1. I absolutely loved this this very clever puzzle. The brilliant surfaces kept me smiling all the way through as the pennies dropped. LOI 15a – a seal I had never heard of.
  2. Fell at the last hurdle by guessing CLAMEATER for 15a. Just couldn’t work out the wordplay. So, two letters wrong in 52 minutes. I might’ve persevered if 19a hadn’t already been a 50/50 chance—I guessed right, but never having heard of HIRAM or even Tyre, it could just as easily have been HIROM…


    Am I right in thinking that we’ve seen this pangram-but-for-a-Q collection of letters a few times before?

  3. 50 mins with yoghurt, blueberries, etc – to DNF with two left: the plant and the seal.
    DNK either of them and would probably never have come up with Raffles or a Beater.
    Lots to admire – but it felt a tad too clever for me from the off.
    Thanks setter and V.
  4. I had a confident ICING instead of IVIED (I C(ompeted) IN G(reen) = ICING, which is a coat). This left me with only SCAREMONGER which fitted in 28A rather than the desired STAKEHOLDER. Other than that an enjoyable workout.
    1. I did exactly the same as you. “Icing” kind of works – I-C-IN-G, and if you Scaremonger, you turn someone pale (although I could make no sense of the parsing for Scaremonger).
      I am glad that I am not the only one!
  5. Very hard work. Towards the end I just gave up and used aids. Didn’t know the random plant, or the seal which I might have stood a chance at if the alternative enumeration (4-5) had been used. Biffed a few others such as the opera.

    Not my finest hour.

  6. What Sawbill said, word for word, except the penny never dropped; so I suppose it was just as well I didn’t finish.
  7. FOI was rafflesia, a tropical flower said to be the largest in the world and often found in Malaysia, celebrating Independence Day today; once from Britain and another from the yoke of a corrupt party led by apparently the biggest kleptomaniac in history.

    Good puzzle that took me slightly over the half hour. I am often amazed at and awed by people (like our hardworking blogger today) who finish within 10 minutes. I used to compare my time with the great Peter Biddlecombe and consistently my time was three times his. BTW, haven’t seen him here lately. I always credit him to be one of those responsible for making crosswords not such a lonely pursuit when he pioneered blogging with others …

    Edited at 2018-08-31 08:32 am (UTC)

  8. 34 minutes with CRABEATER LOI, finally constructed after I couldn’t persuade CHAR to be the domestic. I too wish there’d have been a hyphen. Penultimate was IVIED, entered with an ‘I suppose so.’ HAVE-A-GO was unparsed. DNK RAFFLESIA but crossers were generous. I had a Great-Uncle Iram, which I guess was an unaspirated HIRAM. I never thought to ask at the time. I suppose STAKEHOLDER is a useful word but it led to a load of cant in Annual Report writing. It was the only time we ever thought of most of them. Nothing can be quite as bad as the image created by LOVE-INS though. The sixties was definitely in two halves.Liked JIMJAMS, which I would have hyphenated also, but COD to SLAUGHTER. A decent challenge. Thank you V and setter.
  9. I suspect we are going to need a big venue for next year’s reunion of the ‘beaten by CRABEATER’ club. As jackkt said the 5-4 enumeration given by Chambers might have helped but I was never close to seeing the wordplay so the setter wins. Very few easy pickings anywhere in the grid and an enjoyable challenge.
  10. Beaten by the seal. Convinced domestic was CHAR so made it impossible for me. Dithered over SHARE v STAKE (HOLDER) until the penny dropped. Excellent crossword. CODs to SAP and YOUNGER.
  11. 30 mins DNK CRABEATER so dnf. Agree with jack re enumeration.

    Thanks verlaine and setter.

    Edited at 2018-08-31 09:06 am (UTC)

  12. CRABEATER is not a word in my dictionary (nor, unhyphenated, in my Chambers) so my time soared effortlessly through the roof.
    And my STAKEHOLDER was within a whisker of being a SHAREHOLDER (who I would have thought had more interest), if I could have squeezed share into pale. I still think there may be a form of plough that could oblige.
    RAFFLESIA was guessable if not easily pronounced.
    HIRAM dredged from memory, though not, I confess, with any precision: could have been from either of the two books automatically included in your desert island library.
    JIMJAMS fine except for the nervous excitement bit: in my house, that habdabs, usually screaming.
    SLAUGHTER made me smile (I might prefer not to be quoted on that).
    Did you know the seal, V, or work it out from wordplay? Either way, impressive time, especially compared to my embarrassingly SNITCH-red one.
  13. 40:34… of which about 12 on CRABEATER, but I was determined to crack it without aids. A great Friday puzzle with lots of tricky clues. Didn’t know that meaning of JIMJAMS nor the plant. Pleased to dredge the King of Tyre from distant memory and nice to see the music of Benjamin Britten mentioned. COD to YOUNGER.
      1. I’ll be back there on Sunday before listening to my kids playing in the Suffolk Youth Orchestra at Snape Maltings.
  14. 30 minutes, but couldn’t see how to parse 9ac, so bunged in SPARE SEAT – my first thought after seeing ‘vacated’ and ‘theatre area’. I also missed the significance of ‘pale’ so went for SHAREHOLDER at 28ac. I did remember 15ac, from a crossword elsewhere with seals as a theme, but needed Bradford to remind me of HOCK for ‘pledge’ – so technically a DNF.
    Bob K – there is also leg-bye: sadly, only two of our bats outscored Extras yesterday.
  15. Given V’s excellent blog, for which thank you, his note on 21 warrants a response. I am no expert but I believe that three examples of an ‘extra’ would be a wide, a no-ball and a bye. If others know better, then I willingly stand corrected. Kind regards, Bob K.
    1. Quite correct, though you can add leg-byes and (more rarely) penalty runs to the list. “Extras” scored more for England yesterday than their top four batsmen put together.
  16. Am now very good at I.I.. after yesterday so IVIED went in nicely. Otherwise can’t add to comments above LOI SAP which could have been sip sop or sup for all I could tell. Excellent example of the Friday crossword, most enjoyable
  17. 19:31. I almost gave up on this, so I am feeling horribly smug a quite sense of satisfaction at having persevered and worked out the unknown seal and plant from the wordplay. Like others I was convinced the former would start CHAR for ages.
    I have heard of HIRAM, but I don’t know why. Does he appear in Shakespeare? A quick google suggests not, even in Pericles.
    1. The Old Testament: 2 Samuel 5:11 and elsewhere. A friend of King David. And yes, of course I looked it up; but I figured it’s a man’s name, and looks like one from the OT.
  18. A pleasing 47 mins for me. I’d never heard of a CRABEATER but ‘beater’ for ‘whisker’ came to me straightaway and the rest of the wordplay made it look totally plausible.
    LOI IVIED: the checkers just screamed ‘Iliad’ at me and I couldn’t think my way out of it. In my family we also had abdabs rather than jimjams — I guess, like boltonwanderer’s Uncle Iram, they were the unaspirated version.

    This was great fun, with lots to admire in the setting. I missed the middle def in SAP so thanks to V for pointing it out: a spiffing clue. All the 3-letter solutions were clever, I thought. The range of vocab — across slangy jimjams, wacko, prezzie; life-sciences rafflesia and crabeater; grammatical nor, and the usual historical-cultural GK of Peter Grimes and Hiram — was very satisfying.

    Thanks, V. And thanks, setter.

  19. I couldn’t get beyond CHAR for the start of 15 so gave up. Shame, because I really enjoyed the puzzle, plenty of clever disguise going on which is the way I like ’em.
    1. I don’t. It’s very odd: the name was a write-in for me, and I even knew that he was a king, but I’ve no idea how. It certainly isn’t from my intimate knowledge of the Old Testament, and I can’t find any reference in literature that would explain it.
  20. Crashed and burnt. In slow motion. Very slow motion. The only Hiram I know is Hiram Holiday, who I used to watch on telly before putting on my JAMJAMs, which is what my Father used to call them. (Not my fault then that one). Then, less forgivably, like the sap I am I put in SIP on the basis that you would have to do this often in order to drain anything. I was a bit tired by the time I got to that one.
  21. I regret to report I shall no longer be able to claim I’ve been doing these things for years and have never won anything: I have today received my first prize, for the Saturday crossword. Yay!
  22. I was somewhat distracted when I started this puzzle, as I found myself banned from commenting on the QC (and all other TfT blogs), but struggled on manfully, starting with a mombled ROTIE at 10a, which wasn’t corrected until PETER GRIMES pointed out the error of my thinking, much later in the solve. It did however, allow me to correctly deduce EN ROUTE. After an hour I was left with 15a and 28a. I confidently entered SHAREHOLDER and, after deciding I was never going to get it, looked up CRABEATER, which my CHAR at the front precluded me from seeing. 66:52 with 1 wrong and 1 looked up. A toughie! Thanks setter and V. (and V1 for helping me back on blog!)
  23. Well I got through this, but only after about 15 minutes of staring belligerently at 15a until it finally caved in and divvied up the seal, of which I’d never heard, natch. Once I’d twigged that we were looking for a kitchen implement I was in business. Time through the roof, but I always prefer if possible to crack these tricky ones rather than give up or set a time limit; that said, I’m lucky enough on Fridays to have the time to do that. Hiram from Hiram Holliday on TV when I was little. Rafflesia, well, okay. Never heard of it, but fair wordplay. Thanks setter and blogger.
  24. Surprised nobody has mentioned the (non) homophone at 24a? A three-syllable word clued as two syllables. Mr Grumpy
  25. My LOI was SAP, and it took me a minute to see the triple def too. I must have remembered HIRAM from the Bible. Never heard of the seal, but must have heard of the dreaded “plant,” took a guess with EXTRA, thought the def for YOUNGER was quite oblique… but used no aids (nor timer) and got all correct.
  26. Passed the hour and gave up, having looked at 15ac and 28ac for the last fifteen minutes, getting nowhere. Not helped by having put in IRISH at 23d der… Some great clues though, particularly liked 7 & 8d, and 22ac. I was also starting to get hungry what with BUTTY, EN (C)ROUTE & ROAST. Nice blog V, thank you.
  27. I also had to resort to the aids to complete this. The CRABEATER was unknown altogether, and I confess to having to confirm the opera name too. I now recognize Mr. Britten’s name, but his works? That’s another story. Regards.

    Edited at 2018-08-31 07:31 pm (UTC)

  28. …STAGE LEFT. Great album by RUSH. Tried to post this morning, but it wouldn’t let me.

    Finished without too much trouble in 13 minutes.

    Edited at 2018-08-31 09:14 pm (UTC)

  29. DNF. Bah! After 40 mins I had all but the crabeater. I got as far as (c)(r)(a) plus a word for whisker but failed to make the leap from the kind on Tiddles the cat to the kind found in the kitchen. I feel like I should’ve persevered but coming here and finding that my shareholder was wrong anyway, I don’t feel so bad. Clever stuff today, didn’t see the third “one often had” Def in 7ac. Jimjams only lately known to me as nervous excitement when it was used in the winning entry to the ST clue writing contest for the word abdabs a little while ago. Surprised rafflesia is not more widely known as the giant flower that reeks of rotting flesh. The Hiram I thought of was Bingham (the chap who “re-discovered” Macchu Picchu). Failed to parse 18dn where the clue read sprint but the eyes saw spirit. An enjoyable one despite being whiskered by the setter.
  30. In 9 ac I thought the ‘Time remaining’ was T after ‘Specialist vacated’ = SAGE LEFT – a much simpler interpretation of the clue.

    My first thought for 8 dn was ANVIL CHORUS (only hammering in Opera I know of), and second guess was MUSIC DRAMAS (which fits -R-M-S), but eventually got PETER GRIMES.

    from Jeepyjay

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