Times 27,305: A B C D E F G H, I Got A Gal

I didn’t take too much time over this excellent crossword, under 8 minutes, but a couple of the clues turned out to be pretty tough to parse afters – I’m sure you good people will set me straight if I’ve missed something. I really enjoyed the erudite frame of reference throughout (Saki, Milton, Smetana, the Bounty), the neat and deceptive re-envisionings of words (eg 21ac, probably my Clue of the Day, and 9dn) and the general delight in good and unusal words (KALAMAZOO, VLTAVA…) Thanks setter for a good ‘un!

I’d write more but I’m falling asleep on a coach here, time to hit the hay. Will check in again in a few hours…

1 Munro: it’s associated with Karakoram mountain (4)
SAKI – S.A. [it] is associated with K1 [Karakoram mountain]. “Saki” being the pen-name of H.H. Munro.

3 Team’s holding line after defender’s lapses (10)
BACKSLIDES – SIDE’S [team’s] “holding” L [line] after BACK [defender]

10 Grandees, lionised, holding back something for the press? (7)
OILSEED – hidden reversed in {gran}DEES LIO{nised}. Something for the oil-press, not the media.

11 Not getting off with a fine, Luke banged up (7)
WAKEFUL – W A [with | a ] + (F LUKE*) [“banged up”]

12 A so-so assignment has the makings of a drama (6,9)
SAMSON AGONISTES – (A SO-SO ASSIGNMENT*). 17th century play by Milton.

13 Bluebottle returning note, buzzing round rook (6)
ROZZER – reverse all of RE ZZ O R [note | buzzing | round | rook]. Bluebottle as in copper.

14 Savagery of attack outside centre recalled, years later (8)
FEROCITY – FIT [attack] “outside” reversed CORE [centre], Y [years] later

17 Suspend for not behaving predictably? (8)
PROROGUE – PRO ROGUE [for | not behaving predictably]

18 Victor, at fifty-five, retired a banker in Europe (6)
VLTAVA – reversed V AT LV [Victor | at | 55] + A. Czech river that you probably knew via the Smetana piece.

21 Deputy to support Home Rule (6-2-7)
SECOND-IN-COMMAND – SECOND [to support] + IN [home] + COMMAND [rule]

23 Salt beef nearly everyone had for lunch? (7)
OXALATE – OX [beef] + AL{l} [“nearly” everyone] + ATE [had for lunch]

24 Something to drive down travel cost — consider getting picked up? (7)
FAIRWAY – homophone of FARE WEIGH [travel cost | consider]. A golf drive.

25 Ireland portrayed in film: golf making brief appearance (10)
FLICKERING – ERIN [Ireland] “portrayed” in FLICK G [film | golf]

26 Old nursemaid having Mary wash regularly (4)
AYAH – {m}A{r}Y {w}A{s}H

1 Northerner of twenty briefly without employment (7)
SCOUSER – SCOR{e} [twenty “briefly”] “without” USE [employment]

2 Hummer carrying Buddhist priest in US city (9)
KALAMAZOO – KAZOO [hummer] “carrying” LAMA [Buddhist priest]. Splendidly named city in SW Michigan.

4 A company boss with drive taking unrewarding roles? (2-4)
AM-DRAM – A M.D. [a | company boss] with RAM [drive]. Unrewarding in the financial sense of the word.

5 Crawled from floor, weight dragged behind (8)
KOWTOWED – K.O. [floor] + W [weight] + TOWED [dragged behind]

6 Dismissive remark from impolite Turk left one reeling (4,2,2,4,2)

7 Volunteers ate up: prepare for Jack to? (5)
DEFAT – reverse of T.A. FED [volunteers | ate up]. Reference to the “Jack Sprat could eat no fat” nursery rhyme.

8 Notice the cat’s come in, trying to attract attention? (7)
SPLASHY – SPY [notice] that LASH [the cat] has come in

9 Understand individuals’ private advocate is to be avenged (3,4,3,4)
GET ONE’S OWN BACK – GET [understand] + ONES’ [individuals’] + OWN [private] + BACK [advocate]

15 I grasp promotion technique poorly (2,1,3,3)
IN A BAD WAY – I NAB AD WAY [I | grasp | promotion | technique]

16 Christian maybe largely saying nothing smart at any time (8)
MUTINEER – MUT{e} [“largely”, saying nothing] + IN [smart] + E’ER [at any time]. MUTINEER was a write-in from Christian – that’s Fletcher Christian, master’s mate on the Bounty.

17 Misrepresent pops as very loud (4,3)
PASS OFF – PA’S SO FF or something quite close to that… I think?

19 Aged Scottish hag heard in the theatre (7)
ALDWYCH – homophone of AULD WITCH [aged Scottish | hag]. A famous theatre in London’s West End.

20 Upset charming hosts of EU council (6)
ECOFIN – reversed NICE [charming] “hosts” OF. Economic and Financial Affairs Council.

22 This S American native no good for a film (5)
COATI – add NG [no good] to the S American native to get COATING [a firm]

57 comments on “Times 27,305: A B C D E F G H, I Got A Gal”

    1. Of course that’s right! I was very sleepy. For some reason I can remember thinking “ING doesn’t mean ‘smart'”.
      1. The perils of write-in clues, you sometimes just don’t want to think about them much any more.
  1. A technical DNF, since I couldn’t remember AM-DRAM, which I’ve only come across once, here, and did an alphabet trawl with the ODE (ab-dr..? ac-dr..? etc.). DNK MD. ROZZER I knew from MAD magazine, where “It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide” would appear from time to time. I was sure 18ac was Smetana’s river, but I couldn’t remember the name, and of course remembering ‘Moldau’ wouldn’t have done me any good; NHO VLTAVA, but it seemed inevitable, and looked Czechy enough. No idea who Jack was, although I knew Mr. Sprat well enough. DNK ECOFIN. I thought PROROGUE and FAIRWAY especially good.

    Edited at 2019-03-22 06:45 am (UTC)

    1. Parsing of AM DRAM is AM(atuer) DRAM(atics) – unpaid roles – a great clue
  2. 34 minutes. Very enjoyable. Getting 1ac before the copy was out of the printer was an advantage and most of the NW corner went in easily with helpful wordplay when the answer didn’t present itself immediately.

    DEFAT was rather cunning with its parsing surely a total mystery to anyone not familiar with the old rhyme.

    I knew SAMSON AGONISTES from the Handel opera although his second name doesn’t appear in its title.

    DK ECOFIN but trusted to wordplay.

    My take on 16dn was MUT{e} (saying nothing) [largely], IN (smart – fashionable), EER (at any time).

    Edited at 2019-03-22 06:35 am (UTC)

    1. It’s not a name, it’s an epithet; ‘Struggling Samson’, or something. (I remember a prof from Cal, the frighteningly erudite Bertrand Bronson, had written a book about Dr. Johnson, “Johnson Agonistes”.)
      1. Does look as if it should be suffering or struggling, but it’s “champion”, as in (ant)agonist.
        1. But an antagonist is one who the agonist struggles against. Whence ‘champion’?
          1. From the (Classic) Greek, ἀγωνιστής, which variously translates as combatant, contestant, struggler or champion. The verb means “contend for a prize”.
              1. For sure, but Milton was being deliberately ambiguous (he tried out several other titles) and both “suffering” and “champion” were intended to illustrate Samson’s fall from grace and its consequences, and his ultimate redemption and hero status.
  3. 21:57 … I thought this was very tough. In fact, I thought my time was pretty impressive until I saw verlaine’s!

    That’s AYAH and AMAH in the course of a week.

    COD to ROZZER. A fun word, and the ZZ bit made me smile.

    I’m off to write out Smetana’s VLATAVA 100 times, as the tune is familiar (now I YouTube it) but the title wasn’t.

    1. I remembered VLTAVA from a recent reminder… It was the anniversary of Smetana’s birth on 3rd March, and Google had a link to a recording of the piece on its home page. A great piece!
      1. I’ve always thought Smetana should have ended Vltava with the wonderful fade-out as the mighty river merges with the infinite ocean, but he can’t resist a whacking pom….POM at the end, possibly so the audience knows when to applaud.
    2. I can’t say I’m at all confident of the difference between an AYAH and an AMAH, so thank goodness for wordplay.
  4. This was quite chewy but I enjoyed it a lot and was pleased to finish with a sub-100 NITCH. The last 4 minutes were spent on my last 3 clues – the unknown play, which I guessed successfully from the checkers I had, SPLASHY and AM-DRAM, my LOI. Lots of ticks of approval on my copy with several cunningly hidden definitions and entertaining wordplay. FAIRWAY my favourite. Thanks V and setter. 21:48.
  5. Clever crossword. Left with S-M-O- A-O-I-T-S. I tried SAMSON and SIMEON but there were just too many combinations.So not my favourite clue.
    1. I was trying to remember Simeon S… as well. The crossword regularly features SIMEON STYLITES, some bloke who lived up a pole for 40 years or something, and whose name actually came to mind but was wrong.

      Edited at 2019-03-22 10:25 am (UTC)

      1. I’ve just looked up Simeon Stylites (like most of his followers, presumably). I did think that Samson Agonistes might be those people fretting about buying an iphone after the Galaxy Note 7 battery fires.
      2. Yeah, if Samson thinks he’s got problems he should look at Simon Stylites, and count his blessings!
  6. My goodness, our setter dug out some real beauties! VLTAVA (cue YouTube search for Smetana), ECOFIN, OXALATE and COATI
  7. Verlaine – 8 minutes! Are you kidding me? My brain is slowly cooling after 35 minutes of neuron-bubbling effort. And you did it in 8 minutes. I am going downstairs for a stiff drink…
  8. 40 mins with half a Fat Rascal. Hoorah.
    Good grief, some interesting vocab today.
    Held up longest by Prorogue; no idea why.
    Thanks clever setter and V.
    Altogether now… Why, why, why, Delilah..
  9. Best one for ages, most enjoyable mix of odd words, lit refs and cunning wordplay. 35 minutes with the unknown 20d a sheer guess and the only poor clue . Is ECOFIN a word?
    Good in 8 mins late at night, V. Are you still in CA or back in Blighty?
  10. Rather TLS-ish with all the references you either know or struggle with.
    Since it’s Milton, I’d have thought SAMSON a poem rather than a drama, but research (looking it up in Wiki) shows Milton described it as a dramatic poem, if not really for performance, so I guess it’s OK.
    KALAMAZOO from Glenn Miller rather than geography.
    ECOFIN entirely from wordplay. Presumably we Brits will no longer be invited.
    Stumbled over MUTINEER looking for the Q – there’s no J either. I think Kevin has the parsing, but I’m grateful to V for sorting out the general mush of PASS OFF.
    23.09, very close to my average. Harder work (and less elegantly pleasing) than yesterday’s, but no real complaints.

    Edited at 2019-03-22 09:28 am (UTC)

  11. 62 agonising minutes on this, needing the strength of Samson to keep going, with LOI SPLASHY, after SAMSON AGONISTES finally seen as half-remembered from the Aldous Huxley reference. Did someone cut my hair off overnight? I enjoyed the bottom half with COD to FLICKERING, and, once I cottoned on to the Liverpudlian, the NW succumbed, but the NE with WAKEFUL and DEFAT took a long time. At least last year’s trip to Prague paid off, as well as listening in Chemistry. Tough puzzle. Thank you V and setter.
  12. 35:53 but with a very careless SIMEON AGONISTES. I thought it was SIMON and that I must have misremembered SIMEON, but didn’t check the anagrist. Drat! And that after carefully unpicking all the other tricky bits. Knew the Smetana but not the spelling, so had to work out the wordplay. Liked OXALATE and FAIRWAY.Knew Munro was SAKI but didn’t get the parsing. Years ago I saw Peter Bowles and Patricia Hodge at The Aldwych. It was a performance of Terrence Rattigan’s Separate Tables. We saw him strolling down the street afterwards, and noticing that we’d recognised him, he gave us a huge smile. I knew KALAMAZOO from a recent presentation by John Thomas, a bit of a guitar enthusiast/Law Prof/polymath who has unearthed the story of The Kalamazoo Gals who kept the Gibson Factory producing guitars during WW2, despite the firm presenting all sorts of obstacles and denying that they made any instruments during the war. He wrote a book based on interviews with some of the surviving workers. He also acquired a “Banner Gibson” Guitar which had made it to the war and back and has been taking it round the world to exhibit. I was fortunate enough to briefly play it when he came to one of the clubs in Middlesbrough. Anyway, back to the puzzle. I missed the Jack Sprat reference too. Thanks setter and V.
    On edit: After a quick Google, I find it was the Albery, not the Aldwych!

    Edited at 2019-03-22 10:45 am (UTC)

  13. Marred by a mistype, so technically one error. Plenty of gristle in this one, needing much mental mastication. I am sure I was not the only one to have to check Vltava (and Oxalate too I’m afraid). In exam conditions, they would have been my entries – so I don’t feel so bad. On Mutineer, is it maybe Mut(e) = largely saying nothing, then In = smart?? After Oakland was termed just ‘City’ a week ago, good to see Kalamazoo getting a more precise geographical definition.
  14. 32 mins. NE corner was a pickle. Enjoyed it very much. Great blog, v, thanks. And thank you, setter.

    Edited at 2019-03-22 12:55 pm (UTC)

  15. A level English does occasionally come in handy. I mainly remember it because we were bused to Chichester to watch Michael Redgrave fluff his lines more than once – we were sympathetic. 24.08
    1. They actually staged ‘Samson Agonistes’? I mean, it’s the locus bloody classicus of the closet drama!
    2. Surprised that no one seems to have brought up Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes in the comments yet – o tempora! o mores!
  16. Gosh. 59 minutes. Which I don’t think is bad, considering I’d NHO SAMSON AGONISTES, VLTAVA, AYAH, ECOFIN or Karakoram. In fact I’m not even sure I knew OXALATE, despite having done A-Level chemistry. It didn’t take me long to start thinking, “oh, it’s going to be one of those days, is it?”


    I’m currently listening to Smetana’s VLTAVA, which may be followed by a dose of Hoyt Axton, given that it was Della and the Dealer that introduced me to KALAMAZOO, probably from my mum listening to Terry Wogan’s morning show when I was a nipper.

    Edited at 2019-03-22 10:48 am (UTC)

    1. I was about to question your memory not knowing AYAH, but having checked I see it was AMAH we had just 3 days ago. Seems they are the same thing.
    2. For those interested in Vltava and the other five pieces of Ma Vlast you might enjoy a 2010 episode of Soul Music which is available to UK listeners on iPlayer and Sounds.
  17. Very difficult… I seem to be in the minority, as an uneducated oik, finding much of it obscure. Even UKisms like bluebottle and rozzer unknown in these parts. But did finish, correctly parsing Jack Sprat & remembering, finally, Samson Agonistes. K2 known so K1 guessed/Saki unknown, Vlatva & Smetana piece unknown, EcoFin obviously a Greens conference in Finland, Aldwych – is that a tube station? Oxalate unknown. Klamazoo from… can’t remember, a Vonnegut novel perhaps? Prorogue from a recent newpaper article: Rees-Moggy wanted to prorogue parliament because they wouldn’t vote the way he wanted them to. Not really enjoyable when so much is pure guesswork; this, as Pip and Zabadak mention above is for the literary, educated Englishman. Which I’m not.

    Edited at 2019-03-22 10:56 am (UTC)

  18. Pleased to finish this and all correct. Lots of “K”s to negotiate. I didn’t help myself by entering the answer to 21 across at 12 across.


  19. I remember the Kalamazoo bookkeeping system – the one I started with. Lots of carbon paper involved. I can’t remember my password though.
  20. Aldwych tube station closed in the 90s, but has had a long second life as a filming location – if you’ve seen a film or TV show set on the underground network recently, there’s a fair chance that was where it was filmed.
    1. That takes me back. The station was still in operation when I used to get off the number 9 bus from High St. Ken there to go to work in Lincoln’s Inn.

      Edited at 2019-03-22 01:26 pm (UTC)

      1. I remember Aldwych tube very well, but almost exclusively as “that one that’s been closed forever”.
  21. A proper challenge with lots of Friday-ish words, which I was pleasantly surprised to find were all more gettable than seemed likely from first reading. With the help of some precise wordplay, I managed to remember the VLATAVA (in my head known as “the one which isn’t the Vistula”), ECOFIN and OXALATE. Nice puzzle.
  22. ….due to too many unknowns (VLTAVA, OXALATE, ECOFIN), but battered it into submission.

    FOI SAKI (that old chestnut)
    LOI ECOFIN (who he, Ed.)
    COD ALDWYCH (dedicated to my ex)
    TIME 16:16

  23. Typed in SEE ONES OWN BACK only to find at the end I had one wrong – annoying! I can’t see my own back anyway (even with a mirror). LOI AM DRAM which I didn’t get till I came here. 8 mins? You’ve got to be kidding!
  24. I was pleased to get within one letter of finishing correctly, having gone for SAKE at 1A.

    I was convinced for some time that 24A was TOLLWAY. A tollway is something you drive down and a toll is a travel cost. Looking at it again now I suppose toll doing double duty should have caused me to rule it out ealier.

  25. 35:58. Lots of unknowns satisfyingly teased out from wp: Vlatava, oxalate, Kalamazoo and ecofin. With the S and the K in place I remembered that Munro was Saki. Read Samson Agonistes at university so that one went in without too many difficulties. Took a while to remember that bluebottle was a word for policeman. Defat entered from wp without cottoning on to the Jack Sprat connection. I found this challenging but very enjoyable.
  26. It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsky in snide (Mad Magazine a gazillion years ago.)
    1. See above. This came up here a while back, and someone kindly explained that it came from a Dorothy Sayers or someone mystery novel, and that it means, if memory serves, that it’s madness to bribe a cop with counterfeit money.
  27. The last clue I solved was 16d where i had BELIEVER – be li(e) ever – until I got PROROGuE and OXALATE across. Thought 18 across must be (Victor) ALVARA – founder of a Europen Bank – I’m sure nobody outside the crossword asylum ever uses “banker” to mean a river. Otherwise all correct. from jeepyjay
    1. Chambers has “banker” down as meaning “a river full to the top of its banks” in Australia and NZ, which I think makes it sort of fair game!
  28. Thanks setter and verlaine
    Although SAKI was my second one in, I didn’t see the very clever wordplay for it- have always meant to read his short stories but just have never got around to it.
    Afraid that my near 70 minutes included having to confirm through references the play at 12a, the salt at 23a, the theatre at 19d, the copper at 13a, the Euro council of financial ‘gurus’ at 20d and the ono-paid actor at 4d. I did remember the musical Michigan city at 2d and the Czech river though (even not knowing the Smetana music).
    Finished down the bottom with COATI, PROROGUE and that ECOFIN the last few in.

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