Times 27,671: I Slept, And Dreamt That Life Was Beauty…

Friday-acceptable without being the sternest challenge of the week – I’ve got my eye on you, Mr Rogan, and your Friday-disrespecting ways. Anyway there are two really good lift-and-separates in here, some well-judged definitions, and my COD 4dn (especially in a puzzle which also contains trans-national gender-fluidity). I wonder what percentage of present assemblage would count as “woke”, compared to the general population. Anyone want to claim or disclaim their credentials in that regard? Thanks setter!

1 Notice I alter bad swimming pool equipment (8,5)
BILLIARD TABLE – BILL (notice) + (I ALTER BAD*) [“swimming”]. ++good lift & separate

9 Write off note kid returned (5)
TOTAL – reversed LA TOT [note | kid]. FOI

10 Experience became hard in two different ways (2,7)
GO THROUGH – GOT [become] + H, ROUGH [hard, in two different ways]

11 Moorland needs cultivated borders covered (10)
ENSHEATHED – HEATH [moorland] that is “bordered” by (NEEDS*) [“cultivated”]. LOI

12 Call round (4)
RING – double def

14 Movement follows opening of fat camp (7)
FACTION – ACTION follows F{at}

16 Top expert on board? (7)
SURFACE – or alternatively SURF ACE

17 Book‘s editions (7)
NUMBERS – double def, the book being Biblical

19 It’s Parisian imprisoning a soldier most guarded (7)
CAGIEST – C’EST “imprisoning” A GI

20 Dash put in pastureland (4)
ELAN – hidden in {pastur}ELAN{d}

21 Serious work of German, oddly receiving smuggled drug (5,5)
GRAND OPERA – G{e}R{m}A{n}, “receiving” RAN DOPE

24 Point in shock, impressive food course having no end (9)

25 After refreshment, writing sides (5)
TEAMS – MS [writing] after TEA

26 Many suffering shocks, and nothing that amazes me, in theatre work (13)
TONSILLECTOMY – TONS ILL ECT + O MY [many | suffering | shocks + O | MY]

1 Awkward bachelor said to drink some liquor (14)
BUTTERFINGERED – B UTTERED to “drink” FINGER [some liquor]

2 Fantastic fruit, a good deal from Florida, say (5)
LOTUS – LOT US [a good deal | from Florida, say]

3 Misfortune braved, admits leader of nouvelle vague (3-7)
ILL-DEFINED – ILL DEFIED, “admits” N{ouvelle}. Another nice L’n’S

4 Woke in seaside resort, topless (5-2)

5 Test art works, little pieces (7)

6 Wave, one that may be crashing? (4)
BORE – double def with a “crashing” bore

7 Cryptic clue I see and explain (9)

8 Big guns in article, Times story (3,5,6)
THE GREAT GATSBY – GREAT GATS in THE BY [article | times]

13 Sign for esoteric sectarian (10)

15 In recital, poet is a striking performer (9)

18 Passages in street on dry island (7)
STRETTI – ST RE TT I [street | on | dry | island]

19 Person inside ruffled lace mask (7)
CONCEAL – CON [person inside] + (LACE*) [“ruffled”]. Hands up everyone else who tried to work out how an ONC was a “person”

22 Cheers up in bedroom, regularly a source of inspiration (5)
ERATO – reversed TA in {b}E{d}R{o}O{m}

23 Girl who’s a boy after Channel crossing? (4)
JEAN – or, in France, (Monsieur) Jean. Is this a nonophone?

80 comments on “Times 27,671: I Slept, And Dreamt That Life Was Beauty…”

  1. of which the last 4+ minutes were devoted to ENSHEATHED; I remembered ling and erica, but not heath. I biffed BILLIARD TABLE, TOTAL, GRAND OPERA, THE GREAT G, CONCEAL, parsing post-submission, except for CONCEAL, where I gave up, having forgotten the ‘inside’. And yes, I thought of ONC for a brief while. ‘Theatre work’ triggered ‘surgery’, but I needed the O_Y (and to correct STRAITS to STRETTI) to pin down what kind of surgery. I’ve come across ‘woke’ 2 or 3 times, never in a helpful context, so I was fortunate that Brighton is on my very short list of English seaside resorts.
  2. Nice puzzle. I liked the Surf Ace. I’m proud to have supported and demonstrated for Right On ideals and movements once; more currently I have it from two reliable sources that I am not only not woke, but that I have no hope of ever being so. They’ll learn with time.
    1. Hey, I’m firmly ensconced on the left, and you’ve always seemed pretty woke to me, Paul… for a banker.

      Edited at 2020-05-22 05:02 am (UTC)

      1. Thanks, Guy. I’ll connect you with Ms p_i_l’s daughters, who will quickly set you straight. It’s possible they’ll find you un-woke as well…
    2. The surf ace felt like a bit of a chestnut to me… but hey, even if it is, it’s a tasty chestnut.
  3. I’d always thought it was “crushing bore” so I hesitated over 6d until the end. I find a young David Mitchell agrees with me, at the end of this Mitchell and Webb piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIfSQW499Xc. (Having been watching James Bond movies in sequence during lockdown, this is both timely and funny.)
  4. The only woke thing about me today is that I woke at 4:30am with a headache; I’m not feeling particularly RIGHT-ON. On the other hand, I didn’t let it slow me down too much, crossing the line in 36 minutes.

    It might’ve been a half-hour but for 13d PROGNOSTIC and 16a SURFACE, where I floundered for a while before kicking myself because I’d thought “surfer” when I’d first seen 16a twenty minutes before but hadn’t returned to the thought when I picked it up again…

    FOI 14a FACTION, LOI 23d JEAN, which I realised I still hadn’t put in after I’d finished what I thought were my last couple. Hopefully my day will improve from here…

    1. Well, Matt, if you can do this in just over half an hour, at the crack of dawn, with a headache, then that’s pretty impressive! Hope the day did get better 😀
  5. I’m know very little about pool but I don’t think it can be played on a billiard table. For one thing, I believe the width of the entrance to the pockets is greater making potting the balls easier. I got through all but two answers within my 30-minute target and one of those (13dn) fell after a couple of minutes of extra time, but after a further 10 minutes I was getting nowhere with 11ac and became convinced the answer would be a word I didn’t know so I gave up and resorted to aids. Of course I did know the answer so I feel let myself down a bit.

    Edited at 2020-05-22 05:15 am (UTC)

    1. Seems a technical distinction (i.e., for people who know more about the subject than I do), but in any case in Collins one (British) definition is a game of billiards played for the “pool” of money put up in bets and the following American definition is “any of various games related to billiards played typically with object balls numbered from one to fifteen and a cue ball, on a pool table.” Since a billiard table is different from a pool table, I guess the first (British) definition may excuse this.

      Edited at 2020-05-22 05:22 am (UTC)

    2. There is more than one style of billiard table, and several types of pool table .. I’m pretty sure there is sufficient overlap between the two to exonerate setter
    3. I used to play Pool on a snooker/billiard table in my local Miner’s Welfare Hall as a youngster. Each player had a coloured ball and three lives. If your ball was potted by someone else three time, you were out. Last man standing got the pot of money, which comprised the stakes paid to get your ball.
  6. 25 mins pre-brekker.
    Mostly I liked: Woke and the surface of 22dn (although Erato is in too many crosswords).
    Thanks setter and V.
    1. Belatedly, the Billiard/Pool debate has reminded me of my favourite Snooker quiz question.
      Assuming no disqualifications, what is the lowest possible winning score in snooker?
      Hint: it is lower than 21.
        1. If the black’s still on the table I’m going to snooker you in the jaws of a pocket.
          1. The route to 16-8 is your starter, but the player potting the white on the first shot pots yellow, green, blue, pink.
            So she has 2+3+5+6 = 16
            The loser pots the brown so has 4+4 = 8
            The black isn’t played because the game is already over.
            I have come across this question before, but it’s readily googleable. I obviously can’t prove it but I don’t believe that potting all of the reds and the white from the first shot without potting anything else is physically possible.

            Edited at 2020-05-22 08:05 pm (UTC)

            1. Until the black is off the table the game isn’t over surely? Pissed up in a club, cue ball on the cushion, black at the far end of the table, there’s a fair chance of a 7 point penalty, surely.

              Anyway, the question asked for the lowest winning score, not result, so it’s 16 either way.

              1. Fair point. Particularly in a game where the starting point was a shot in which all the reds and the white were potted you probably wouldn’t discount the possibility.
      1. An unlikely occurrence but does this work?

        Jimmy pots all the reds in a single shot, but goes in-off, handing Ronnie a 4-0 lead. The reds don’t get put back on the table so it’s all on the colours.

        Ronnie fluffs the yellow, letting in Jimmy to pot yellow, green brown and storm into a 9-4 lead. Jimmy gets a kick and leaves the blue over the pocket.

        Ronnie gratefully takes the blue to tie things up at 9-9. After about an hour of cat and mouse with the last two colours Jimmy gets a fluke double to pot the pink. He takes on a risky black but leaves it open. Ronnie pots an easy black to win 16-15. The crowd goes wild.

  7. Enjoyed this, straightforward but not too much so, just as I prefer them ..
    Liked 4dn .. I feel I am as right-on as rational thinking and commonsense will allow, which is not very far sometimes. Look at the complete mess we have got ourselves into with gender politics.
    V, in defence of poor Mr Rogan nobody at The Times has ever given even the slightest hint that there is anything different about Fridays. His predecessor always maintained that he occasionally reserved the better crosswords for Saturdays, otherwise it was all completely random..
    1. I’m well aware of the official line but equally we all know from the work of the eminent Professor Starstruck (PhD, AU) that there is some de facto correlation between easy starts and harder ends of the weeks. Also it’s fun to do my comedy Make Fridays Hard Again bit.
      1. Fridays are just hard enough already though, aren’t they? Sat there, right at the end of the working week? Perhaps I should start a “Hard Mondays, easy Fridays” counter-revolution..
        1. My theory is that Fridays are harder because everyone is more knackered. It’s an empirically observable fact that average solving times increase as the week goes on but I don’t believe that RR could achieve this (remarkably consistent) effect deliberately.
  8. 28 minutes. LOI was ILL-DEFINED, although it wasn’t. COD to CYMBALIST. I liked THE GREAT GATSBY too. I can’t give COD to RIGHT-ON although of course I am superwoke, having a nephew who lives in Camden-by-the-Sea. I needed all the crossers for TONSILLECTOMY.There should be a law against long anagrams, and also musical terms I’ve never heard of. Or so I assume that’s what STRETTI are, or are they back alleys? I also had a MER at the idea of playing pool on a BILLIARD TABLE. But overall, pleasant fare. Thank you V and setter.
  9. Quite tough but doable. The sort of puzzle you feel good about completing. Thank you setter for some very entertaining clues.

    I have no idea if I’m “woke” since I don’t know what it means.

      1. As part of my actuarial training I learned how to give advice that was strictly speaking accurate but of little immediate practical help. I assume you attended the same lessons k.
        1. A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He spots someone down below and lowers the balloon to shout: “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

          The man below says: “Yes. You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees N. latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees W. longitude.”

          “You must be an engineer” says the balloonist.

          “I am” replies the man. “How did you know.”

          “Well” says the balloonist, “everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost.”

          The man below says “You must be a manager.”

          “I am” replies the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

          “Well”, says the man, “you don’t know where you are, or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problems. The fact is you are in the exact same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault.”

          1. The old ones are the best

            I was once scheduled to give a keynote address to an international convention of accountants at Caesars Palace in Oz. I was preceded by a national politician who gave an overtly political speech that went down like a lead balloon. They were standing in the aisles hurling abuse at this guy.

            Next up and sensing some hostility I told that joke substituting “accountant” for “engineer” and “politician” for manager. Brought the house down!

          2. Just showed this to my engineer husband 😂😂

            BTW what about replacing engineers and managers with chief medical officers and the government?

          3. This reminded me of a similar but different joke. A helicopter is flying around near Seattle but the pilot is lost. He shouts down to a person in a bulding and asks “Where are we?”

            The person replies “You’re in a helicopter.”

            The pilot then immediately flys in the correct direction and lands. A passenger asks him how being told he was in a helicopter helped.

            “I got an answer that was technically correct but completely useless towards solving my problem. So I knew I was at the Microsoft support building.”

  10. Managed this in exactly my SNITCH average, although at the moment it is slightly harder than average. I really enjoyed it, some lovely clues. Is masking the join between def and wordplay ‘lift and separate’? I didn’t know that, but I agree swimming pool and nouvelle vague are very good examples.

    COD, though, has to be RIGHT ON.

    Yesterday’s answer: you have to go back to 1755 (or the first half of 1756, apparently) to say that since then there has been a king on the throne for longer than a queen. Quite long, despite there only being two queens during that time. Inspired by LANCASTER.

    Today’s question: what is the only book of the bible not to have any of the letters of the word mackerel in it?

    Edited at 2020-05-22 07:56 am (UTC)

    1. This will be a cinch for Keriothe. OT only? Job. NT has John (or do you include ‘Gospel of’ and ‘Epistle of’?) and Titus. And I think the RCs have Tobit.
  11. Just as good as Jean, in my opinion, and much funnier. Reluctantly amended when the throat surgery showed up.

    Anyway, 25.33 for this, and as Jim says, the sort of puzzle you feel good about completing.

    I tried TIMPANIST for the kitchen section performer until that didn’t work, and even then I was trying to justify a poet called Simba (wrote in Latin, I think) and why is led to list.

    Richard Osman’s brilliantly silly House of Games has a Ninja Turtle section called Highbrow Lowbrow for which my (and V’s) Great Escape is surely a candidate.
    I also discovered how extensive my list of moorland names is (fortunately not very) before realising it was the generic HEATH.

    Thanks to V for explaining why STRE is not suddenly the new abbreviation for street. And lots of other things too. Personally, I think the lockdown effect on knowing what day of the week it is has meant Friday could be any day: this week it was Tuesday. Clearly the Times editorial team is part of the government’s cunning plan to keep us all confused.

    1. Jean, masculine name in French (the feminine form being Jeanne), feminine name in English
      Rene, masculine name in French (the feminine form being Renée), masculine name in English
      1. Rene, according to Chambers, is a variant of Irene, which is where my experience of the female version comes from. Has the additional advantage of not requiring an accent.

        1. René(e) comes from
          Renatus lui-même issus du verbe latin renāscī (« renaître, naître une nouvelle fois »)

          The French version of Irene is Irène (sometimes Irini or Irinie), and it comes from the Latin Irene, Du grec ancien Εἰρήνη, Eirếnê (« Paix, Clémence »).

          Renée means “reborn,” “Irène” means “peaceful” (irenic).

          1. I suppose I should’t argue with someone called Guy du Sable writing in immaculate French, but I’m going to anyway.

            This is Chambers’ rather terse entry: Rene see Irene. René is a separate entry.

            Irene (also Irena) f (Gr) peace. Dimin Rene (rē’ni).

            Maybe not so common these days, but I have known several Renes all of which were women.
            Je suis vraiment désolé mon brave, mais je suis aussi parfaitement correct

            1. Apparently, there are English and no doubt otherwise Anglophone women named Rene with only one E at the end (I knew that, actually) whose name is said to derive from Irene and French women named Renée whose name derives from… “renée.”

              So if a French girl named Renée crosses the channel, she won’t “become a boy,” but if one of those (rare, yes) English girls named Rene went the other way, she would. Ou tout le monde dirait, « Quoi a devenu de votre final E ?»

              I think Jean was a better choice for the clue because it avoids the complication of there being both an English and a French RENE, which are apparently not forms of the same name but different names, with different derivations. Maybe an even better reason is that such Rene dames are rare birds and (the best reason) most people came up with JEAN as the answer.

              Edited at 2020-05-22 04:33 pm (UTC)

              1. Jean is clearly the better answer, but Rene worked fine for me when I put it in. Until it didn’t. Both answers change both gender and pronunciation when crossing La Manche, and Rene additionally acquires an accent. If the crossing letters had not been decisive, I would have felt justified in invoking VAR!
  12. 28.35 with a slow start and slower finish but spoilt by putting in StrattI rather than stretti. FOI cagiest and LOI Jean after a sudden rush with tonsillectomy, cymbalist and epicentre. An enjoyable encounter with my COD prognostic closely followed by the aforementioned tons etc etc.
  13. …I put CAMPANIST (it does exist!) iso CYMBALIST
    However I found the puzzle enjoyable. Most puzzles are if I can get through them in under an hour.
    Yes, sir, me sir! I was wondering about a person called ONC in CONCEAL.
    Thank you for explaining that one as well as GO THROUGH and GRAND OPERA.
    I particularly enjoyed SURF ACE, and TONSILLECTOMY but my COD goes to BILLIARD TABLE. As you say, Verlaine, it’s an excellent lift & separate.
  14. ….a crashing BORE” (David Bowie : “Life on Mars”).

    MER at TATTERS as “little pieces”. They’re hanging strips, and they don’t have to be little. The only slight blemish on a first class puzzle.

    I again needed a 2 minute alpha-trawl for my LOI, where I struggled to spot “heath”.

    TIME 12:51

          1. “Many times…..many, many times” as Lady Celia Molestrangler was wont to remark in “Round the Horne”….
    1. They don’t have to be hanging strips .. “torn or ragged pieces, esp of material ” (Collins) “An irregularly torn piece, strip, shred, or scrap of cloth or similar substance, hanging loose from the main body, esp. of a garment; more rarely applied to the separate pieces into which a thing is torn; a rag” (OED)
  15. I’m sure I’ve come across the surf ace before. And did the setter perhaps once drive a Lotus Elan?

    As one who is possibly in the minority for knowing stretti, I felt it was too generously clued: all you non-musicians should have been head-scratching for much longer.

    1. Yes, but didn’t we have STRETTI very recently. I recall having to look it up at the time, and will never forget it now.
  16. I can’t argue with RIGHT-ON as the COD, even though it was immediately obvious from the “5-2”. I didn’t know that pool could also be played on a billiard table. Here’s the first OED citation from 1797: “Any gentlemen wishing to play the Game of Pool, can be accommodated with Balls for the purpose.” Which is all you need to know really.
  17. Lots to enjoy here, even when, as yesterday, I got stuck on two intersecting words which needed a good bit of encouragement to leap to mind. In this case, it was ILL-DEFINED and ENSHEATHED.

    4dn immediately made me think of one of John Thomson’s characters of days gone by, which raised a smile.

  18. Hand up here too. I used to be woke but I’m drifting off now – just like the boats against the current…
  19. I found this very Fridayish and struggled to a finish in 24 minutes, giving me one of the highest WITCHES on the board of 134. Yesterday it was 79. Go figure.

    1. You’ve fallen victim to my relentlessness Friday propaganda and refused to believe it could be easier than 125. My work here is done.
  20. 15:01. Enjoyed this a lot, pitched at just the right level of difficulty for me and full of interesting clues.
    Pool is a form of billiards, so by definition a pool table is also a BILLIARD TABLE. An excellent clue.
    I like it when they use new-fangled words so I enjoyed 4dn. I like to think of myself as pretty woke but I don’t think my daughter would agree.

    Edited at 2020-05-22 10:08 am (UTC)

  21. BORE and then BILLIARD TABLE were my first 2 in. Having played Pool on a Billiard Table as a youngster, that was a write in. PROGNOSTIC, BUTTERFINGERS, TONSILLECTOMY and finally ENSHEATHED held me up a good deal longer. I was also inexplicably held up by TOTAL and LOTUS for far longer than I should have been. 33:16. Thanks setter and V.
  22. Snap, Martin: CAMPANIST was my downfall and me a drummer too – though as a kit player the idea of such extreme percussive specialisation is a bit chilling and probably why I didn’t think of CYMBALIST as a real job. Is there a tomtomist in the house?

    This puzzle was pulling teeth for me but the pains were somehow exquisite. Like many others I really enjoyed the woke clue, and I did finally twig and smile at the person inside. Well done setter and thanks for the blog V – you make it all sound so simple!

    Edited at 2020-05-22 01:10 pm (UTC)

  23. I was anticipating trouble here – mostly because of the expectation that it’s Friday, therefore it must be hard! I must stop pre-empting the situation. In fact, I didn’t find it particularly easy – a few fell into place quickly, but from there on, it was a bit slow, although nothing unfair. I very nearly gave up with a couple to go, but decided not to be a quitter. Sometimes, when it all becomes a bit of slog, you wonder if it was worth it, but – as others have commented – ultimately, this was one of those satisfying crosswords. So, not a bad end to what has been a very mixed week, especially having had a successful time today over on the other side as well!

    I too nearly Ninja Turtled / biffed The Great Escape, but decided not to rush into it, thank heavens. I had most trouble with 1a and 1d – needed all the checkers to get them, embarrassingly, because they were perfectly obvious!

    WOKE? Try to be – shouldn’t we all be courteous and respectful really, rather than looking for offence? It was nearly COD tho. I liked JEAN as well.

    FOI Ring
    LOI Epicentre
    COD Cymbalist – I too had a timpanist lurking for a while
    Time 58 mins

    WOD Tonsillectomy – I had one at the age of 7 (very common in those days) and was assured that I would have some jelly and ice cream in the hospital after the operation, but I didn’t, and was given some toast. As you can see, nearly 60 years later, I am still bearing a grudge!

    Thanks to the setter and Verlaine – I really had better start reading some of your poetry! I’ve still got Gray’s Elegy to read …

    1. ‘Courteous and respectful’ is really a perfect definition of ‘woke’.
  24. Me too, only it seemed so pat that I managed to save ink and eraser by holding my breath until I got a dis- confirming crosser.
  25. Good challenging puzzle, never heard of symbolists before and tonsillectomy and prognostic were the last to solve.
  26. Feeling pleased with myself only to realise I had entered “Cimbalist”. Darn it. Nice crossword.
  27. Rather late solve today but all correct.
    DNK STRETTI and failed to see on = re so held me up somewhat. LOI LOTUS wasn’t sure what’s so fantastic about them. On consulting mr Google, I find that they are in some kind of Greek mythology, as well as being a staple diet in Japan and Sri Lanka.
  28. For Americans, who don’t really play snooker, what is the lowest number of pitches possible in a baseball game?
    1. Not American, but have seen baseball. I’m going to guess 52. 17 innings with one home run to the home team during them, or else as the first pitch bottom of the ninth; and between 17 and 51 pitches producing outs. 51 outs on 51 pitches if every batter is caught or run out first pitch. As many as 34 batters can get on base if each innings goes: first pitch hits the batter who goes to first, second pitch hits the batter and batters advance to first and second, third pitch the batter hits into a triple play.
      1. The right idea but not quite there. A home run “during them” brings up another batter, which means another pitch. It has to be a walk-off home run on the first pitch of the 9th. But yes, 52 is correct.
        1. Do they not entirely dispense with the bottom of the ninth if the home team is winning? A home run during the first eight home-team’s innings is the 52nd batter, and the game ends after the away team’s 9th inninngs?
        2. Though I was wrong elsewhere, batters can get on base with hits before the triple-play, don’t need to be walked by the pitcher.
  29. Fun crossword. Held up at the end with CYMBALIST, TONSILLECTOMY, and EPICENTRE. I forget which was the first to fall, and it unlocked the other two for a sprint to the tape.

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