Times 28171

Time: 17 minutes
Music: George Lloyd, Symphony No 8

I did this puzzle a bit aggressively, as parts of it were rather loose, and in any case I was thoroughly frustrated by my struggles with this week’s Mephisto and was looking for something easy.   This certain fit the bill, although several answers went in with a shrug.    After last week, I’m sure everyone will be relieved to get a relatively simple one, and I’m certainly not complaining. 

I’d like to thank everyone who volunteered to write a clue for the Times for the Times Christmas special.   Even more, I’d like to thank the volunteers who made the whole thing possible, isla3 and johninterred.   I hope all the regulars enjoyed tackling this puzzle.    A special guest will be along shortly to blog it and comment on the quality of the clues.   I thought most of them were pretty good, and I’m glad everyone had a good time.

1 Influence behind admitting Further Education college’s principal (6)
AFFECT – AF(F[urther] E[ducation] C[ollege’s]T.
4 Key of Galaxy? (5,3)
SPACE BAR – Definition with cryptic hint.
10 Mark speed of star? (9)
CELEBRATE – CELEB RATE, yes, that kind of star, and mark as a verb, as in mark an anniversary.
11 Number one seed’s cut in half racket (5)
NOISE –  NO I SE[ed].
12 It goes on what’s left to pay for public services? (11,3)
INHERITANCE TAX –  Cryptic definition.   Here in the US we mostly have estate tax, not inheritance tax.
14 Former lover with gentle touch who’s moved away (5)
16 Radical devouring book without emotion (9)
ROBOTLIKE – RO(B)OT-LIKE, where radical must be an adjective.
18 Confronted, this setter cried loudly (9)
20 Old lady after back massage in part of southeast Asia (5)
BURMA – RUB backwards + MA.   Perhaps the setter should update his 1937 atlas?
21 Areas of vegetation around Crosby getting cleaner (9,5)
25 Surly Republican cutting through nonsense (5)
26 Supporter is behind what MPs do (9)
27 Lifetime opportunity for widespread enlightenment (8)
DAYBREAK – DAY + BREAK, and yes, one of the definitions for day in Chambers is lifetime.   OK, whatever.
28 Appear in court, perhaps, where proceedings can last up to five days (6)
ATTEST – AT TEST, where the cricket is played to its proper length. 
1 Inventor agreed to obstruct Olympian (10)
2 Hotel niff picked up on odd occasions, result of lack of cleaning? (5)
FILTH – Reversed odd letters of H[o]T[e]L [n]I[f]F.
3 Queen perhaps taking in naked entertainment (7)
CABARET – CA(BARE)T, where a queen is a female cat.
5 Carefully put in order A to M? (5)
PREEN – PRE EN, where EN may be taken to be N spelled out.
6 It’ll help you understand scam message (7)
CONTEXT –  CON TEXT – don’t reply!
7 Officer runs after a GI bride disgracefully (9)
BRIGADIER – Anagram of A GI BRIDE + R.
8 Head away from watercourse’s foul odour (4)
9 Looking after students having done exam (8)
13 Men chatted casually, not getting involved (10)
15 Concern to get in first? (9)
17 Banter assumed to be better when young? (8)
19 A judge brought up previously in Bordeaux who is underground drink supplier (7)
AQUIFER – A + QUI + REF upside-down.
20 Youngest in family’s the one after the others to give parents a break (7)
BABYSIT – BABY’S IT.   If you’re It in tag, then you are trying to chase down the other players.
22 Bring up a plank of wood (5)
BALSA – A SLAB upside-down.
23 We objectively mature in practice (5)
24 Something few swear any more or say nowadays (4)
EGAD – E.G., A.D.

50 comments on “Times 28171”

  1. I needed 13 minutes or so to get EYEBALLED, PASTORAL, and ROOTLIKE, turning what was otherwise a fine puzzle into a slog. Sometimes I wish I would allow myself to simply give up, but I stubbornly persist.
  2. I see lots of us have made one error. I put DAYDREAM instead of DAYBREAK for 27a. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one asleep at the wheel. I was more concerned about ROBOTLIKE , which didn’t seemlike a real word to me- thinking it should be hyphenated. I did notlike it.
    19:24 with the pink icing
    1. I was also a DAYDREAM. I couldn’t entirely see how it worked but it was hard to think of anything else once I’d seen it.
  3. 30 minutes for all but PREOCCUPY plus another 10 minutes unable to come up with any word that would fit the checkers so I resorted to aids. Enough is enough for a single missing answer.

    Having read the blog I discovered I had an error at 10ac with CALIBRATE where I thought ‘mark’ was rather loose a definition and assumed there was a star out there somewhere called CALIB.

    Edited at 2021-12-27 04:05 am (UTC)

  4. DNF. Like Jack, about 35 minutes to get everything except PREOCCUPY, which I just couldn’t see. After another half hour and a bit I just bunged in a nonsense word in frustration.

    Looks like the proceedings will last five days this time (COVID willing) the way things are going.

  5. I am assuming that 4ac includes a reference to the Galaxy chocolate bar?

    DNF as I too had CALIBRATE at 10ac. And failed on 5dn PREEN which was a lousy little clue, in my opinion. Time 42 minutes


    (LOI) 8dn REEK

    COD 25ac GRUFF

    WOD 22dn BALSA

  6. I put in DAYDREAM, whatever. As with horryd, I assumed that galaxy referred to the chocolate bar in part.
  7. 20 mins pre-brekker.
    The eyebrow twitch is back, MERing away at Galaxy and Pre-en.
    Some time spent stopping myself writing in Daydream.
    But I liked it a lot, mostly the Men chatted anagram.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  8. Fortunately, I didn’t think of DAYDREAM so I was lucky there.
    With 4ac I started with SNACK BAR as that’s what a Galaxy is!
    In 20d, my thought was that the setter could have left out “after the others” and the meaning would have been the same. “The one” = “it” in my book.

    Edited at 2021-12-27 08:58 am (UTC)

  9. … and your head. Too much Christmas. 32 minutes with LOIs EGAD followed by DAYBREAK, COD to SCRUBBING BRUSH. I liked the clever SPACE BAR too, and also AQUIFER. I didn’t fully parse BABYSIT until coming here. Thank you V and setter.
  10. Just on 40 mins. I also had SNACK BAR for a bit until I finally saw PREEN. Then the alphabet trawl until the penny dropped. Yes I agree about the Galaxy bar bit, but it does leave the SPACE bit hanging in limbo, unless it is so clever as space = galaxy?

    LOIs PASTORAL and ROBOTLIKE, which I didn’t. PREOCCUPY also took an age to see. I did like SPACE BAR though.

    This setter was clearly given a whole set of Bs for Christmas by the editor:-) I counted 9 of them!

    Thank you v and setter. Definite relief after last weeks marathon, as v mentions.

  11. Held up for about 8 minutes on my last two – PREOCCUPY and DAYBREAK. Helped by Queen = CAT appearing recently.

    Thanks setter and v

  12. Didn’t find this as straightforward as vinyl, with the South East in particular slowing me down.

    Had almost managed to convince myself that belch was an old English word for a plank of wood (that one might bring up), before sanity prevailed. Didn’t like PREEN but did like SPACE BAR and COD PREOCCUPY.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  13. Odd one. All but 5 done in 15 minutes. Then gave up after 30 mins with no more entered. EYEBALLED was very gettable but “loudly” as a homophone indicator didn’t immediately spring to mind. Completely forgot the root sense of radical. DAYBREAK — okay I guess but wasn’t beating myself up too much for that. PREOCCUPY ditto. Only slight query was on PASTORAL — shouldnt there be a ? At the end?

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  14. 11:50. No major hold-ups today. I though PREEN was a bit odd and had my fingers crossed.
    Day for lifetime is also odd, whatever Chambers says. I can see it in the plural (the rest of his days) and for a specific part of ones life (in his day) but can’t think of a context in which it works as presented.
  15. I didn’t understand the SPACE BAR clue and I still don’t: it seems very loose. I fell at CALIBRATE, which does mean mark, assuming that Calib was a star I hadn’t heard of. Liked the underground drink supplier and men chatting though.

    Thanks setter and V. Season’s greeting to all at TftT, especially our noble and indefatigable bloggers.

  16. 60 min limit reached, left 5 clues not found. PREEN, SPACE BAR, AQUIFER, GRUFF & EGAD. Annoying.
    Thank you everyone for explaining.
  17. I tentatively wrote in both DAYDREAM and SNACK BAR, and removed them when I couldn’t parse them to my satisfaction, even though it’s still a little early for my regular New Year resolution (to remember that if you can’t explain why your answer right, there’s a good chance it’s wrong). All good in the end.
  18. I only had PREOCCUPY and DAYBREAK to do after 27 or so minutes, but spent another 10 minutes on them without success, so used aids and even then thought it might be daydream. But both good I think and a fair cop. What I didn’t think much of was some of the surfaces: 11ac, 2dn, 7dn, 19dn, 20dn, 24dn.
  19. Just over 30m. Needed the blog to see my error — CALIB for CELEB — and I had guessed that Galaxy was a kind of computer as well as a chocolate bar. Didn’t parse PREEN and couldn’t see, as Keriothe as pointed out, how Day is LIFETIME, but like our blogger I moved on with a shrug. Thank you, setter, for the rest of a puzzle which was much more in keeping with my pay grade. And a special thank you to V, and all the rest of the blogging team, who keep this site alive and kicking. You are all much appreciated in this corner of the north east! Hey wear a nappy to one and all!
  20. Two thirds of the grid filled in under fifteen minutes, then I slowed to a crawl trying to deal with all those cryptic, or just weird, definitions. Like Jackkt I resorted to an aid to get PREOCCUPY, ditto ROBOTLIKE. PREEN was my last entry, after 40 minutes. I didn’t like the clue at all, nor the unqualified dbe, CROSBY in SCRUBBING BRUSH, nor the concentration of cryptic definitions affecting the NE corner. All in all I didn’t care for the puzzle much.

    Has Burma’s change of name passed the Times by? Or are the editors taking a stand in unison with the millions of inhabitants of that oppressed country who still regard their country as Burma, and object to the new name thrust upon them by a miltary junta?

  21. The first thing that came to mind was the seedy dive in the early scenes of the first Star Wars – where Luke goes with Alec Guinness to meet Harrison Ford. I saw the movie in a fleapit cinema full of screaming children and with a hole in the screen on Nantucket back when it first came out. My attention wandered soon afterwards. I didn’t find this all that easy but at least avoided the daydream. 15.20
  22. 27:47. Some clever stuff along the way and some I was a bit dubious about. SPACE BAR LOI immediately after PREEN, having spent an embarrassingly long time trying to fit some diminutive version of “chocolate” around the available C. Went for DAYBREAK after dismissing DAYDREAM, but like others was not entirely convinced by day as lifetime.
      1. It literally means root-like, in several different ways; my dictionary has:

        3 Linguistics denoting or relating to the roots of a word.
        • Music belonging to the root of a chord.
        4 Mathematics relating to or forming the root of a number or quantity.
        5 Botany of, or springing direct from, the root or stem base of a plant.

        Presumably all coming from Latin “radix”, an actual root.

        1. Ah — didn’t know that. Many thanks for the explanation.
          When doing the puzzle, I was hung up on Book = OT and Radical = Roblike — which makes even less sense!
  23. All correct (although I wasn’t sure about PREEN and luckily had put in DAYBREAK without thinking of DAYDREAM). But I didn’t find this as easy as some for some reason. I also spent far too much time trying to find a way to say choc or chocolate in 5 letters.

    Edited at 2021-12-27 03:04 pm (UTC)

  24. I liked ‘say nowadays’ for EGAD, but PREEN and pre-N? Really? I didn’t go much on DAYBREAK either, but thanks to our blogger for confirming that the dictionary excuses the setter on that one. The week must pick up from here.
  25. Having, I thought, solved all apart from 15d, I spent a while before the PDM provided PREOCCUPY. Sadly I fat-fingered it as PREOCCUOY, but alack and thrice woe, I crashed out anyway with CALIBRATE and DAYDREAM. 26:31 for this dog’s breakfast.
  26. I trundled through this fairly easily although I could only guess at “robotlike” as I had a general knowledge failure over “root-like”. For me “space bar” and “preen” let down an otherwise reasonble-for-a-Monday puzzle! Thanks to all. PS. I thought Morten Morland’s wonderful cartoon in the Times today more than made up for the small grumbles with the crossword.

    Edited at 2021-12-27 07:55 pm (UTC)

  27. A 42 minute DNF — the funny thing about DAYDREAM is that once you think of it, it’s almost impossible to believe that something else could also fit the crossing letters. Otherwise quite enjoyable, once I realized that SCRUBBING BROOM actually could be something else. I thought ROBOTLIKE was quite good.
  28. Why is the typesetting for this entry so poor? There is neither a line break nor a space between one answer and the next one. Is it because I’m reading this on an iPad? Maybe it only renders correctly on a PC or MacBook? Thanks

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