Times 27187 – Torcher, say?

There will be no time and no music today, because I had to solve this on the train on the way home from New York City, and I had to give up after an hour with one unsolved.   When I returned to the puzzle later, I decided to go for a likely answer and biffed it, without being able to make much of the cryptic.   In the end, my solution turned out to be correct.

My solve was an interesting example of getting to a correct solution without really knowing everything that is needed to solve this puzzle.   I had a hard time getting started, and several of the clues were definitely a stretch.   Taking a hint from Jeremy, without completely altering my blogging style, I’m going to go into a little more detail than usual about how I managed to solve some of the more challenging ones.  Anyone moving up from the Quickie to the main puzzle is eventually going to run into some more difficult puzzles, and developing a good technique will enable you to solve them….eventually.

1 Block entrance to office used by surgeon (4)
VETO – VET + O[ffice].   Not obvious because of the word order, and skipped over until crossing letters became available.
3 Having several parties subsequently in action (10)
TRILATERAL – TRI(LATER)AL.   It seems perfectly simple, but I was fixated on BI and THEN.   Once I tried LATER, it became obvious….but that was much later.
9 Keys a morbid type reportedly kept in lightweight anorak (7)
CAGOULE – C(A GOUL)E.   One of my last ones in, and very difficult.  With all the checkers, I realized that C and E were the keys, and you want A G_U_ in the middle.  But what?   I considered ‘a glum’, but ‘glum’ is not a noun and doesn’t sound like ‘glum’, it is ‘glum’.  Eventually, another word rang a vague bell in the back of my mind, although if you had asked me what a ‘cagoule’ is before I started solving I would have had no idea.  The other possible meanings of ‘lightweight anorak’ offer additional chances for confusion, but here ‘anorak’ actually refers to an anorak.
11 Small network I’m working to turn around (7)
NOMINAL – LAN + I’M + ON backwards.   I had biffed ‘minimal’, but couldn’t get it to work, so I just started writing in likely equivalents from right to left, read out what I had, and there it was!
12 Intimidates thirty, having change of heart? (9)
THREATENS – THRE(-e,+A) TENS.   I saw at once there must be some fancy synonym for ‘thirty’, but I actually biffed the answer from the checkers and worked backwards.
13 Broadcast protected by company’s capital (5)
CAIRO – C(AIR)O, one of the useful starter clues that went straight in – there weren’t many of them.
14 Welding substance damaging on eye? Exactly (12)
OXYACETYLENE – Anagram of ON EYE? EXACTLY.   I saw this was an anagram, but the two Y’s and an X gave me pause.  It was only when I got the first letter from the crossing word that I realized what it must be.
18 Camp fellow frames conditions covering posh wrapping material (6,6)
BUTTER MUSLIN -BUT(TERM(U)S)LIN.   The most difficult clue, IMO, the dreaded obscure answer with an obscure cryptic – obscure to me, anyway.  An early attempt to put ‘ifs’ around U was not successful, but when I had more crossers I saw it must be ‘terms’ around U, and that the last word was probably ‘muslin’.   I thought of ‘butter muslin’ almost at once, but I still trawled through the alphabet in search of a better answer.   But in the end, I supposed that if there is cheesecloth, then butter muslin might exist as well, and I was right.   Of course, if you live in the UK and know who Billy Butlin was, the whole thing is much easier.
21 Hope and believe this is bound to be heard (5)
TRUST – sounds like TRUSSED.   I was hung up on ‘tied’ until I got the first and last letter.
22 Deliver additional note about island clubs (9)
EXTRICATE – EXTR(I,C)A + TE.   A lot of possibilities in a short clue, but once you think of ‘extra’ it really can’t be anything else.
24 First-class bishop, single chap, backing state (7)
NAMIBIA – A1 B, I MAN all backwards.   Another one where you will be rewarded by meekly following the instructions.
25 Suffering fever, knight concealed torment (7)
ANGUISH – A(N)GUISH.   A write-in for me, because I just solved the same clue in another puzzle, I can’t remember where.
26 S African native — worker in Francis Bret’s time? (10)
HARTEBEEST –  HARTE(BEE)’S T.  I saw ‘worker’ and ‘South Africa’ and saw immediately what the answer must be.  Bret Harte was a 19th-century American writer, for those who don’t recognize him.  He had to change the spelling of his name from ‘Hart’ in order to get the clue to work.
27 Fish trap creepy duke put out (4)
WEIR – WEIR[d],   a chestnut, and my FOI.   I had to search the whole puzzle to find an easy one!
1 Calling out initially for last of tea in break (8)
VOCATION – V(-a,+O)CATION.   I saw that this was a letter-substitution clue, but I needed a little help to figure out what the word to operate on was.   The -tion’ ending was sufficient, and the initial V allowed me to get VETO as well..
2 Stone the writer picked up after row about golf (8)
TIGEREYE – TI(G)ER + EYE, sounds like I.   I spotted the TIGER part quickly enough, but wasn’t sure about the rest until I got the crossing Y.
4 Magistrate constantly upset about illegal drug (5)
REEVE – EVE(E)R upside-down, a compendium of crossword cliches leading to one of our favorite magistrates, along with the doge.
5 Concerning two bodies jointly travelling in a Rolls round university (9)
LUNISOLAR – Anagram of IN A ROLLS around U.   Another toughie, and at first I played RR around U.  Or maybe ‘rolls’ are the sort that are served with dinner, which could lead to all kinds of possibilities.  Eventually, the checkers made it clear this must be an anagram, but even with all the checkers it was very difficult to place the remaining letters.   I juggled a U, an I, and an O, and eventually I found it.
6 Taking a while polishing off porridge? (4-9)
TIME-CONSUMING – TIME + CONSUMING, in the prison-sentence sense of ‘porridge’.   I thought this might be a cryptic definition for ‘life sentence’, which fortunately does not fit, but managed to get it eventaully.
7 Managed to get record, holding second of rivals off (6)
RANCID – RAN + C([r]I[vals])D.   You would think by now that the setters would know that a CD is not a record, particularly with all the LP and EP clues that keep popping up.
8 Proceed lumberingly and see ballot set up (6)
LOLLOP – LO + POLL upside down.   An easy one; clearly, LO and POLL must be involved in some combination, but it is not clear whether to invert one or both, so this took several tries.
10 Female noble gripped by message defying explanation (13)
UNACCOUNTABLE – UNA + C(COUNT)ABLE.   Another one that should have been easy, but since the second C is the crosser, it is easy to suppose that the girl must be four letters, ruling out the obvious UNA.    I got around to the idea that there must be two C’s only after trying a lot of four-letter females and four-letter nobles.
15 Petite gal skipping small part of book (5,4)
TITLE PAGE – Anagram of PETITE GAL, a relatively simple clue.
16 Like lime perhaps from prickly plant in winding lane (8)
ALKALINE – AL(IKALI)NE, where the outside is an anagram of LANE.   I couldn’t think of an appropriate prickly plant, and in the end just biffed it.  ‘Kali’ is probably more familiar as either a Hindu goddess or a Linux distro.
17 Loose article pinched by ’awker, perhaps? (8)
UNTETHER – UNTE(THE)R, i.e. the stage cockney’s version of ‘hunter’.
19 Stink son on Web kicked up, about hackers primarily (6)
STENCH – S + NET upside-down + C + H[ackers], a very convoluted clue, but the answer is obvious.
20 Portion of flavourful marine bird (6)
FULMAR – hidden in [faith]FUL MAR[ine], a bird I had only vaguely heard of.
23 Athenian courtesan doing for certain Asians (5)
THAIS – Double definition.   Thaïs is a courtesan in an opera by Massenet, but she is Alexandrian, not Athenian.   However, few solvers are likely to know or care.

53 comments on “Times 27187 – Torcher, say?”

  1. One who fell into the vacation/vocation trap. Some tricky stuff there what with kali, lunisolar, Thaïs and some bloke called Francis Bret of whom I had never heard. I did like (Billy) Butlin as a “camp fellow”. Very amusing.

    Edited at 2018-11-05 04:47 am (UTC)

  2. … so tricky for me today with quite a few unknowns. I did know CAGOULE, otherwise I would have struggled with the wordplay like our blogger. DNK Butlin, kali, Harte, Thais (the opera figure) or fulmar, so many of the clues needed to be teased out with a lot of effort. I am thankful once more to Flanders & Swann for HARTEBEEST (mentioned in the gnu song) or I would have struggled with that clue also.

    Thanks, vinyl, for the blog (with additional detail :-). And to the setter for an interesting challenge.

  3. DNKs on parade: CAGOULE, BUTTER MUSLIN–I still don’t know how I got that one–KALI, FULMAR, LOLLOP, TIGEREYE, LUNISOLAR (LOI). Biffed 26ac from the H, inferred that Francis Bret was Bret Harte. Liked NOMINAL.
  4. Some of you may have noticed that the list of reference solvers for the SNITCH has been updated. A few from this blog have been included, so you’ll see your “personal NITCH” listed alongside the others.

    The list needed to be refreshed, as new solvers have come on board and others have stopped solving online. Interestingly, although I’ve added over 30 new reference solvers, the NITCH values for each day remain remarkably consistent. I did some detailed checking for the 20 crosswords in October and the alignment (old vs new NITCH values) was very close.

    1. Thanks for your continued good work. I was promoting the SNITCH to non-TfTTers at the championships!
      1. Thanks for the question. The reason is that the SNITCH calculation is based on the solvers that appear in the top 100 on the leaderboard. If reference solvers get pushed out by faster times, they are removed from the SNITCH calculation. [This is a hangover from the days when only the top 100 on the leaderboard were kept and I wanted the calculation to be recoverable; I’ve kept the practice for consistency with the original SNITCH calculations.]
  5. My LOI was BUTTER MUSLIN, but I was held up a while because I misread my second U as an H in the checkers. CAGOULE wasn’t a problem, as it’s French and comes up in Le Canard Enchaîné in connection with Corsican terrorism. Had never heard of FULMAR, took a flying leap of faith. I checked the long chemical anagram with the dictionary, where it is two words, OXY ACETYLENE.

    There seems to be an error: Bret Harte’s original name was Francis Brett—two Ts—Hart.

    1. Yes, Francis Brett Hart, known as Bret Harte, so it could be a boo-boo. But that’s one hell of a difficult clue for Monday. Or for a Friday.

      Could it have been allowed in the Championships one wonders!

  6. Quite a lot of obscure stuff here so I was pleased to have it all correct after 42 minutes even if I didn’t understand some of the references.

    One thing that remains unexplaned is what ‘small’ is doing in 15dn.

    Of course I didn’t know it, but I’ve since read that ‘Thais of Athens’ is an historical novel by Ian Efremov published in 1972. According to the blurb, Thais was an Athenian who later travelled to Egypt and became the mistress, possibly even the wife, of Ptolemy and bore him several children.

    Edited at 2018-11-05 06:21 am (UTC)

  7. 18:20. BUTTER MUSLIN my LOI too. I was puzzled at the apparent errors about Thaïs, so looked her up. I think the clue is referring to this one, rather than the operatic character with the lovely meditation. Never heard of Bret Harte, though, and KALI was unknown too. COD to STENCH.
  8. Still had quite a few left in my hour; in the end I at least narrowed it down to only two remaining, but I gave up on those. I couldn’t quite get “queen” out of my mind for the camp fellow at 18a, and I doubt I’d have thought of Butlins (I didn’t know the name Billy Butlin) to get the unknown BUTTER MUSLIN. I also knew neither 26a’s HARTEBEEST nor Francis Bret, so that one was quite unlikely to fall no matter how long I stared at it. Ah well.
  9. 35 mins and gave up on Hartebeest – while enjoying yoghurt, granola, blueberries, etc.
    I used to own a Cagoule (the shame). I worked out which ‘bodies’ and therefore where to put the vowels in Lunisolar. DNK Kali. Worked out Butter Muslin and even guessed 23dn might be Thais. BUT I was forced into submission by the DNKs: Beest, nor Bret.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.
    1. Did I read somewhere that you are a TLS setter? I thought the TLS crowd would snap up Francis Bret, who us normal folk have never heard of.
    2. I used to enjoy Bret Harte’s short stories when I was in my teens. “The Luck of Roaring Camp” and “Tennessee’s Partner” are still stuck in my memory. As for the animal… Think Flanders & Swann:
      “Nor am I in the least
      Like that dreadful HARTEBEEST.
      Gno,gno, gno I’m a gnu”

      I wasn’t able to come here earlier although I did this puzzle yesterday with my morning cuppa as usual. I knew all the GK except for LUNISOLAR which became obvious from the definition as I struggled with the anagram. 34 minutes. Ann

  10. Had VACATION rather than VOCATION so DNF in 57 mins. Saw CAGOULE early but had no idea of the correct spelling though appropriate guesses helped with crossers. Fortunately my daughter had a friend called Thais which prompted that as a possible 23d. Slowed for a while on BUTTER MUSLIN. HARTEBEEST was last one in.
  11. Did not submit, being unsure of the obscure THAIS and HARTEBEEST, and a wrong LINOSULAR anyway, so a DNF. Some hard clues for a. Monday I thought.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  12. DNF in 35 mins. Linosular for lunisolar and Hordebeest for Hartebeest.

    COD: Anguish.

    1. I was sorely tempted by Linosular on the basis that the word ending was going to follow insular, consular, etc.
  13. Was about to mention Vinyl has the wrong Thais, but I see it’s been done. Two Thais, both courtesans, who knew?
    I didn’t find this easy but got through it OK. Butter muslin (a familiar material to the Heyer groupies) last in and only parsed after biffing it.
  14. 57 minutes with LOI UNTETHER. THAIS a complete biff. Never heard of constructed BUTTER MUSLIN, but liked the Billy Butlin reference when it finally dawned on me as I played around with ‘terms’. LUNISOLAR only vaguely known. There are many ways of discovering a poet, as I found with Out of Africa movie and Housman. I’d not heard of Mr Harte before but crossers gave me an antelope I did know. The UNACCOUNTABLE Una’s been putting herself about quite a bit recently. COD to TIME CONSUMING because it was more at my level. I found this a shock for a Monday morning, but thank you V and setter.
  15. A bit chewy for Monday but got home unscathed in 15.35. LOI was BUTTER MUSLIN which appeared after an alphabet trawl for the second half. ‘Camp fellow’ well worth the entry fee. Would have biffed CAGOULE instantly if only I could have remembered what the wretched things were called. Essential gear for all the family on holidays in Cornwall in the 70s.

    Edited at 2018-11-05 09:57 am (UTC)

  16. I thought this a brilliant crossword for any day of the week, and was pleased to get home with no pinks in 18.39.
    Clever letter sub clues like 1d and 12a usually get a thumbs up from me, even if 12a (three tens!) had a random letter substitution.
    Francis Bret(t) Hart(e) would have been tricky in a TLS, but I got the “dreadful” HARTEBEEST from the South African reference. Curiously, the spelling may be S African in style, but varieties are found in much of the continent, where to the local predators it’s known as “lunch”.
    BUTTER MUSLIN was my last in on definition only: I regret not taking the time to tease out the wordplay, as “camp fellow” was delicious.
    Did others think “lime – acid, surely?”.
    And thanks to the setter for the anagram for OXYACETYLENE: I’d have had no chance with the spelling otherwise.
    And (again) much appreciation for the expansive blog which this crossword merited and beginners and old hands alike can benefit from.

    Edited at 2018-11-05 09:59 am (UTC)

    1. Yes, it took me an age to consider that lime was alkaline (especially since I didn’t know KALI).
  17. I rather like train-solving, provided that is that none of my fellow passengers are yakking on cell phones. I had all kinds of trouble getting started with this but it went smoothly after that. DNK what a CAGOULE was although I’d heard of them – I had visualised a sort of long cape with a pixie hood worn by a stylish Moroccan and all the time it was an anorak, how disappointing. We’ve had THAIS in the TLS. AL KALINE played for the Detroit Tigers and then became a broadcaster for them – also DNK the plant or the properties of whichever kind of lime it was. As Jerry says, Heyer for BUTTER MUSLIN. 20.04
  18. Slowish in 32’10, butter muslin and untether somewhat time-consuming at the end. I suppose a title page is a small part of a book, Jack. Now to hunt out Saturday’s results: I hear of a reversal of lunisolar proportions.
  19. I was hoping to get a gentle sub-ten minute start to the week after the hard labour of Saturday’s Final. Instead I find this beast, which I ended after 19:17 of out-and-out struggle, only to find LUNASOLAR was an incorrect biff.

    LOI WEIR (I can’t concur with Vinyl1 on this being a chestnut, but I’m sure it will have appeared before).

    Thanks to Vinyl1 for parsing my DNK’s, which were LUNISOLAR (obvs !), the prickly part of ALKALINE, and the ridiculously obscure reference in HARTEBEEST, and also for BUTTER MUSLIN where Sir Billy had passed me by.

    I don’t believe I was stuck for ages with TRUST, and never realised until now that TIGEREYE was a single word.

    COD THREATENS (answer pertinent to my Final performance ANGUISH !)

  20. 22 minutes, but really DNF, as after spending several minutes trying to think of something better than HORSE-SENSE to fit the checkers at 26ac, resorted to aid, when it became clear. (I have heard of Bret Harte, but didn’t know Francis). I see that the Thais I knew of wasn’t the one referred to, so thanks for that.
  21. Tough enough. Did half in 15 minutes before going out for Monday coffee meet-up, then finished in another 30 or so on return. But quite a few were bunged in hopefully and not fully understood. 5d, 26a, 23d, didn’t know THAIS was a Greek (and apparently she isn’t in fact). Never heard of Mr BRET or BRETT. But did finish without aids.
    Good blog vinyl1 thanks. CoD 12a.
  22. Gosh. There I am, as a new reference solver. That should confuse matters, as my results are variable, to say the least.

    Must be my 15 minutes of fame – £20 prize cheque for the Mephisto arrived the other day.

    1. Welcome to the club (that I’m not yet a member of 😉 and thanks for letting me use your times as part of the mix. Everyone’s results vary, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much. The averages tend to be pretty stable.

      And congratulations on your prize.

  23. Five unknowns, but helpful wordplay, a few biffs and a guess for the ‘S African native’ saw me through in 55 minutes. Interesting to read up about the previously unheard of American author – not the best of friends with Mark Twain apparently. THAIS was my favourite, mainly because like johninterred, it reminded me of the lovely Méditation.

    Not often we come across a new word in the blog itself. ‘Meeking’ is a particularly good example.

    Thank you to setter and blogger

  24. Very tough for a Monday – I slipped up on two of them, putting HORSEBEEST (never heard of Bret Harte or the animal) and OXYACYTELENE (usual grumbles). BUTTER MUSLIN was the LOI, as I’d never heard of that either… add it to kali & Thais, although I was pretty confident on those.

    14 and three quarter minutes with those errors.

  25. 11:54 which looks pretty good based on other times. I found most of it straightforward to start with but a number of nasty surprises lay in wait. I knew butter muslin but had to write it out to see if it fitted the wordplay and I’m pretty sure we’ve had hartebeest before but the only Harte I know is the erstwhile ROI and Leeds United left back and free kick specialist Ian of that ilk.

    Kali, Thais and lunisolar were definitely unknowns, and I don’t think anyone has ever replied “aguish” when I’ve asked them how they are. “Alright considering” and “fair to crap” are far more common.

  26. Slipped up with an unforgivable HARTEBEAST, even though I knew it didn’t quite fit the cryptic and I’ve had it for lunch at a lodge in Tsavo East! I had no idea who Francis Bret was though. I knew the wrong THAIS too, as Meditation is one of my favourite pieces. As a teenager I pestered the life out of the music shop in Sunderland to get me a piano adaptation of it which I still play to this day. I also knew CAGOULE and managed to get the correct substitution in 1d. VETO was my FOI, as VET seems to be the go to surgeon for setters these days. I managed to assemble LUNISOLAR correctly, and chuckled when Billy Butlin surfaced into my penultimate ___TER MUS_N. I was about to submit when I noticed I still had TIGER_Y_ at 2d and after dismissing NYB or BYN for the writer soundalike/reversal, spotted EYE and hit the button, then howled in 25a at my pink square. 32:54 WOE. Thanks setter, and V for the very useful thought processes.

    Edited at 2018-11-05 01:47 pm (UTC)

  27. No gentle Monday for anyone who was still slightly frazzled after the weekend. Lots of things which needed to be teased out, and I will join the queue to confess to my ignorance of, in no particular order, LUNISOLAR, KALI, HARTE and THAIS. However, once I’d thought about which bodies might be involved, the distribution of the vowels in the first one seemed fairly clear, and the others went in happily enough on only half the clue (the fact that I know about Bret “Hitman” Hart, formerly of the WWF, but not Bret “The Writer” Harte suggests my brain is filled with the wrong sort of knowledge for this crossword).

    That left BUTTER MUSLIN, which was another unknown, so had to be solved in instalments, the last one being when I saw who the “camp man” was, which meant I finished on a pleasing penny-drop moment. As was said about one of the puzzles last week, a puzzle where you can get the answers (eventually) despite your ignorance is a good puzzle, and makes you feel it’s teaching you something new rather than just infuriating you.

    1. I’m glad someone else has confessed to being more familiar with “the hitman” than with the writer. I wasn’t sure whether to own up to it myself!
  28. 33 mins: I’m quite pleased. Along with most people here I DNK Harte, the Athenian THAIS, Kali nor LUNISOLAR. But I happened to know the antelope and, as a keen gardener, I certainly saw lime as ALKALINE rather than citric. Permuting the vowels of 5d eventually led me to see the two celestial bodies. All very satisfying.

    As was your blog, vinyl1, so thanks for that.

  29. Stiff test for a Monday and one which I failed in around 36 mins with a made up herdebeeste thrown in in desperation never having heard of the US man of letters and not knowing the S African beestie. Plenty of other unknowns had to be painstakingly worked out: butter muslin, tigereye, lunisolar, fulmar and Thais (I was ignorant of both the Athenian and the Alexandrian but did know the Asians). COD 18ac because it’s always satisfying to piece together an unknown with a degree of confidence from wp and camp fellow was a nice touch.
  30. I enjoyed most of this crossword, even solving unknowns TIGEREYE, LUNISOLAR, BUTTER MUSLIN and FULMAR from wordplay. I biffed ALKALINE and THAIS and then all my good work was completely undone when I couldn’t solve 26a HARTEBEEST. I googled Francis Bret and got no further before resorting to the crossword solver to finish.
  31. Quite tough for a Monday and I had to resort to aids for the last few clues or I’d never get the (microwavable) dinner on. Some new words to instantly forget (feeling my ague)!
  32. No need to repeat the long list of unknowns, since I had no fewer than everyone else. My LOI, BUTTER MUSLIN, went in after about 50 minutes and this was one of the puzzles which I submitted thinking there must be 10 mistakes in it (since there were twice that many guesses) and being surprised to find that everything was correct after all.
  33. This took a while, maybe 45 minutes, though not all at once. I certainly didn’t know LUNISOLAR, kali, the camp man, etc. I didn’t know of BUTTER MUSLIN either, and had to look it up. As a US solver I’m quite familiar with Bret Harte the writer, but I can’t believe we are expected to know ‘Francis’ as part of his name, especially as this is a British puzzle. That seems hopelessly obscure. But at least HARTEBEEST was biffable. Regards.
  34. Long time last night but solving into wee hours. Finished off 3 clues with early morning tea. LOI Thais. Answers went in smoothly but slowly. 17dn came via Hawker-Hunter jet but unconvinced even though answer correct! DNK lunisolar but parsed it. COD hartebeest, another shout out to Flanders and Swann, despite no idea of Francis Bret (misspelt or not).

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