Times Cryptic No 27,065: Beware the Ides of Off

A very good workout for a Friday with a lot of non-obvious definitions to compliment some cunning wordplay. I did this while on the move, and don’t have a time, but I’m confident I soared well past the 10 minute mark.

FOI 22ac, as I’ve done enough crosswords by now for that DID O type device to leap straight out at me; LOI 15ac where I was looking for an archaic word for “roughneck” for way too long. There are loads of clues here that are candidates for high praise but a couple that stuck out for me were 18ac (I’m easily tickled by political surfaces), 20dn (perhaps a trifle libertarian but it directs the brainwaves towards the wrong kind of theatre very nicely). As a classicist I only ever had one real option for Clue of the Day, the Latinate and very smoothly clued 6dn. Bravo to the setter!

1 Prop, you said, caught by Belfast’s flankers and lock (8)
BUTTRESS – U [you “said”] “caught by” B{elfas}T + TRESS [lock]

5 In retreat, heroic national leader’s instructions (6)
RECIPE – reverse all of EPIC ER [heroic | national leader (the UK’s Queen)]

8 Strategy adopted by men due to work, or not? (10)
UNEMPLOYED – PLOY [strategy] “adopted by” (MEN DUE*) [“…to work”].
This is a semi-&lit but I’m not quite sure where the wordplay ends and the definition begins; it seems to me there must be partial but not complete overlap.

9 Bearing king on throne (4)
LOOK – K [king] on LOO [throne]

10 Bird and dog laze in Manhattan area, perhaps? (8,6)
COCKTAIL LOUNGE – COCK and TAIL LOUNGE [bird; dog; laze]. Not an area of the New York borough of Manhattan, but an area in which one could be served a nice Manhattan.

11 Viewpoint associated with Times sub (7)
STANDBY – STAND associated with BY [viewpoint; times]

13 Worry about woman in flood (7)
FRESHET – FRET about SHE [worry; woman]. “The flood of a river from heavy rain or melted snow.” I know it was something watery but probably would have guessed at a babbling brook or suchlike.

15 Roughneck turning criminal in early period (7)
BOYHOOD – reverse YOB [roughneck “turning”] + HOOD [criminal]

18 Some current politicians hiding before backing America’s leader (7)
AMPERES – MPS [politicians] “hiding” ERE [before], backing A{merica}

21 Charming helper‘s good faith and merry fooling around (5,9)
FAIRY GODMOTHER – (GOOD FAITH + MERRY*) [“fooling around”]. Charming not as in pleasant, but as in casting magic spells.

22 Addict to make no gains at all (4)
WINO – WIN O = win nothing = “make no gains at all”

23 Put up with drinks, initially punch (10)
ROUNDHOUSE – HOUSE [put up], with ROUND [drinks] initially

24 Get wrong place to eat on a plane? (4,2)
MESS UP – MESS [place to eat] + UP, as in up in the air, as in maybe on a plane.

25 The English lady trembling with passion (8)
HEATEDLY – (THE E{nglish} LADY*) [“trembling”]

1 Throws out black cats (7)
BOUNCES – B OUNCES [black | cats]. Bounce as in “what a bouncer does”, I think.

2 Article on overthrown officer rude in Iran? (9)
THEOCRACY – THE [article] on reversed CO [“overthrown” officer] + RACY [rude]. Iran with its Ayatollahs being perhaps the most noted modern theocracy.

3 Place covered by grass is viewed well (7)
REPUTED – PUT “covered by” REED [place; grass]

4 Question one with foxy clothing in flamboyant fashion (7)
SHOWILY – HOW I [question | one], with SLY “clothing”

5 Turn up during criminal ram-raid to give message (9)
RADIOGRAM – GO reversed [turn “up”] during (RAM-RAID*) [“criminal”]

6 About fifty tips for first date in Rome (7)
CALENDS – CA L ENDS [about | fifty | tips]. In ancient times, the calends was the first of the month.

7 Page with note about Polish sound (7)
PHONEME – P with ME, about HONE [page; note; polish]

12 It could be explosive blunder litigant’s turned up (5,4)
BOOBY TRAP – BOOB [blunder] + PARTY reversed [litigant “is turned up”]

14 Horse and badger eating mineral in medicinal plant (9)
HOREHOUND – H and HOUND eating ORE [horse; badger; mineral], Horehound lozenges are good for digestion, sore throats and inflammation, I discover.

16 Foul American kills fish (7)
OFFSIDE – OFFS [an American word for “kills”] + IDE [fish]

17 Appalling hotel that is recalled by us abroad (7)
HEINOUS – H [hotel] + I.E. reversed [that is, “recalled”] by NOUS [us “abroad”, specifically in France]

18 Dip in alcohol fit for diner (2,5)
AL DENTE – DENT in ALE [dip; alcohol]

19 Adept on piano, the playing is diviner! (7)
PROPHET – PRO [= professional = adept] on P [piano] + (THE*) [“playing”]

20 On-line rush for event in theatre (7)
SURGERY – on-RY SURGE [(railway) line; rush]. An operating theatre, not a playhouse.

47 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27,065: Beware the Ides of Off”

  1. 22.46 … a nice challenge, for sure.

    I slowed myself up by being sure, as only the ignorant can be, that 6d was CALIENS, a notion of which I was not disabused until I finally twigged the COCKTAIL LOUNGE.

    I knew FRESHET but didn’t know what it meant, so I just learned something.

    All Verlaine’s suggestions for COD are worthy contenders, but I’m giving it to one of my last in, the foul American in OFFSIDE

    1. They put me in the earlier session when I asked, so thanks for prompting me to do so. Not sure why they put me in the later one in the first place but never mind!

      Edited at 2018-06-15 07:27 am (UTC)

  2. Just over an hour here, with the unknown 13a FRESHET bunged in in desperation with the feeling of knocking over my king. Delighted to come here and find out it was actually the right answer. 4d SHOWILY took ages, too. All good fun, I thought. Thanks to setter and V.
  3. This solver soared well up to the 60 minute mark, his only real consolation being that he completed the grid eventually without resorting to aids.

    Actually most the LH side went in smoothly enough (I’ll come to the exceptions in a moment) but the RH was something of a nightmare with a number of unknowns, some of them intersecting, which presented me with no end of problems. Needless to say I didn’t know CALENDS until the wordplay led me to it and I made the association with ‘calendar’ which more or less meant it had to be correct. Other unknowns were FRESHET, ROUNDHOUSE (other than the venue in Camden Town) and HOREHOUND which sounds more like a term of abuse in a Jacobean drama than a medicinal plant.

    My problem on the LH side was bunging in S(ASK,I)LY at 4dn which then gave me an incorrect checker and prevented me solving 8ac until I had corrected the error. The word doesn’t exist of course but I had confused it in my haste with ‘sassily’ which arguably fits the definition but not the wordplay.

  4. 35 mins with half a Fat Rascal (hoorah)
    Trickiest bit was the Freshet/Horehound crossers. Both DNKs but the wordplay was helpful.
    Mostly I liked: Amperes, Calends and COD to the bird and dog lazing and chatting in a chirp/woof pidgin while surveying the rooftops of Manhattan.
    Thanks setter and V.
  5. 19:46 and learning two new words where luckily the wordplay was clear.

    If you stopped me in the street and asked me what the first day of the month was, I would have said Kalends, confirmed by Collins Latin Dictionary and Grammer (Kalendae = Kalends, first day of each month). I suppose though that as it also says ‘Calendae – see Kalendae’ it is sort of OK but this one niggled a bit.

    Anyway, thanks setter and V.

    Edited at 2018-06-15 07:42 am (UTC)

  6. Faster than it felt, with a couple at the end (PHONEME of all things, BOUNCES LOI, SHOWILY, & UNEMPLOYED taking what felt like a hell of a lot of time. I was quite dense at SHOWILY, persisting in wanting a QU. I knew HOREHOUND from a child’s biography of Mark Twain where horehound drops appear, and my reaction at the time was pretty much like Jack’s. CALENDS I knew as a Roman date, not to mention we had it here recently; as I said then, I mainly knew the word because the Greeks didn’t have calends, hence the term ‘Greek calends’. If you stopped me in the street and asked me what the first day of the month was, I’d edge away from you and hail a cab.

    Edited at 2018-06-15 07:53 am (UTC)

  7. 31:36 after fretting for a while over whether FRESHET was a word or CRUSHED the answer to 12a. It turned out I was worrying needlessly and I learnt a new word. Several clues kept me mystified for ages until the answers suddenly came in a flood. As V says, a good workout. COCKTAIL LOUNGE my COD.
  8. 11:49. It felt while I was solving this like I was doing well on quite a tricky puzzle, as the secrets of clues for words like FRESHET (vaguely familiar) and CALENDS revealed themselves to me much more quickly than they might have done on another day. The Snitch seems to confirm that impression. So thanks to the setter for putting a little spring in my step this morning!
  9. There were a few new words for me here too, HOREHOUND, FRESHET and ROUNDHOUSE as a punch, but I managed to work them out. CALENDS was familiar once I saw the wordplay. Like Jack, I toyed with SASKILY until UNEMPLOYED showed me the error of my ways. It took me a long time to get started, with WINO my FOI. The rest of the SW followed but then the proverbial pulling of teeth became the order of the day. 47:51, and glad to get through it. Thanks setter and V.
    1. This reminds me that I desperately wanted SHOWILY to be SEQUINY or similar for such a long time…
      1. The setter could have made it work if the question was a convoluted que….
  10. Another toughie, taking 47 minutes. with LOI SHOWILY. COD to COCKTAIL LOUNGE ahead of AMPÈRE, the physicist in me unused to giving André-Marie his full name other than for his Law. DNK FRESHET or HOREHOUND but both constructible. I seem to remember the ROUNDHOUSE punch being particularly associated with Rocky Marciano in my youth. I believe that OFFSIDE is not actually a foul in football as it is not in contravention of Law 12. OK, so I’ve just looked that up. I played for 30 years without ever reading the rules of course. The referee never did either:his eyesight wasn’t good enough. Good puzzle, but I feel sorry for our newbie Lucy getting all these toughies in. a row. Thank you V and setter.

    Edited at 2018-06-15 08:57 am (UTC)

    1. I wondered about ‘foul’ for OFFSIDE but fortunately I possessed the requisite level of ignorance for it not to bother me too much.
  11. I was thankful for having got on the slow train today otherwise I don’t think I’d have finished this on the commute.

    I felt sure we’d seen FRESHET before but I was surprised it was as long as 3 years ago: https://times-xwd-times.livejournal.com/1299854.html. Though we didn’t have the clues in the blog back then the explanation says it was also formed by SHE and FRET in that instance.

  12. 41:22 with one typo. TheocEacy. Tough but a better effort than yesterday’s DNF and early surrender.

    COD: CALENDS. Nicely disguised.

    LOI: PHONEME. An awkward surface and not a phrase I imagine is used that often. Perhaps when I next attend a European Phonetics Book Review group, I will catch myself saying, “Have you seen that page with note about Polish sound?”

    On further reflection, I suppose it could be a page, as in an attendant, carrying a note about Polish sound. Maybe Queen Victoria received a recommendation to listen to Chopin delivered by a “page with note about Polish sound”.

    Edited at 2018-06-15 09:15 am (UTC)

  13. I agree with Pip, boltonwanderer and Z about radiogram. What price ‘teasmade’ in a cryptic soon?! HOREHOUND and FRESHET were new to me. Like Verlaine, I wanted SHOWILY to be something SEQUINY.
  14. Another, shall we say (pace Thud) mildly extended solve a couple of minutes quicker than yesterday. My last in was the excellent BUTTRESS, because I was convinced that the T of BelfasT came at the end. No such words, of course.
    Surely a FRESHET is one of those lemon soaked paper napkins without which (allegedly, H2G2) aircraft can’t take off. You’d need a slew of them even to create a trickle.
    OK with CALENDS, now looking forward to four of them in the dyslexic version of the Two Ronnies’ best sketch.
    HEINOUS of course from Bill and Ted, not knowingly used elsewhere.
    HOREHOUND took me into The Scottish Play, but on checking it’s not The Scottish Person calling out the assassins, but (sic) in one of Lady Scottish Person’s early soliloquies in its medicinal guise.
    MESS UP my CoD, not least because it invoked memories of airline meals you never can eat tidily (not in cattle class anyway). Now where did I put my freshets…
  15. Unless it’s HEINOUS of course.

    Took a while to start (FOI FAIRY GODMOTHER), and also a while to finish (LOI PHONEME), but in between I burbled along quite steadily to an 18 minute finish.

    I was also enticed into momble country with “saskily”, but avoided the temptation until “how” became evident. Unusually for me, no biffing today.

    Lovely puzzle with lots of COD candidates, but I particularly liked the rugby usages of BUTTRESS.

  16. 27 minutes, with PHONEME LOI taking a while, and HOREHOUND a guess from wordplay. Lots to like in this one, liked 15a for the use of YOB and HOOD together. I thought a radiogram was a large old piece of furniture which played music.
    1. I did too. An early girlfriend’s parents had one in their front room, the name for the sitting room as opposed to the living room. It had a lid with a slow-acting spring mechanism, I remember. It had mainly been used for Mantovani-type music until we were allowed to sit in there on our own, when things got a bit more rock ‘n roll.
        1. I remember asking my aunt and uncle for A Hard Days Night as a Christmas present and receiving Beatles for Sale. I happily played it on the radiogram in the sitting room:-) The more usual items were various shellac 12 inch LPs of the classical persuasion although there was a 10inch version of Tex Ritter singing High Noon, with Boogie Woogie Cowboy on the flip side!
    2. It certainly was in my youth, much more handsome than the random collection of boxes that succeeded it. I’m currently in the latter mode, with four speakers linked to an amp, FM tuner (!), cassette tape player (!!) and cd player, with other more modern boxes linked in. Not sure Siri can help with that lot.
      1. My mother was horrified when I tainted our Grundig with the Rolling Stones, rather than its accustomed Mantovani !
        1. Mine had a similar reaction to me playing my cherished Walton’s 1st Symphony on their’s. “That’s very…..interesting music”. Certainly more interesting than the inevitable Scheherazade.
          1. Ours had a shiny (fake) walnut finish and you had to kneel to use it safely. I remember removing the plug fuse so my sister could not play singles when I was sleeping when doing nights.
  17. Never heard of the American OFFS, but the clueing was clear. Nor the ROUNDHOUSE PUNCH either, obviously my knowledge of violent conduct is rather lacking. However, fortunately my FAIRY GODMOTHER showed up for my BOYHOOD, so I have led a rather quiet life, methinks.
  18. Good and thoughtful stuff, it must be Friday already, which is nice. I follow in the long line of people who a) knew FRESHET was a word without necessarily being able to give a definition out of context, and b) worked out the existence of HOREHOUND from the wordplay, and thought it sounded more like a companion word to last week’s WHEY-FACE than a real plant.
    1. Methinks the Setter doth the Scottish Play
      Have much in mind, so oft he plucks therefrom
      Obscurities we elsewhere never find.
      What, will the line stretch out to th’ crack of doom?
        1. Why thank you (I think)! “I like to remember that I was the first to call him so, for, though he always deprecated the nickname, in his heart he was pleased by it, I know, and encouraged to go on.”
  19. FRESHET was unknown to me, so I spent a good while at the end of the puzzle running through the alphabet to see if there was anything more plausible – not helped by the fact that I wasn’t entirely sure of HOREHOUND. 14m 50s.

    I’m not sure what the consensus is on “you said” for U, but personally I’m not a fan – a homophone (even if only for one letter) where it’s not pronounced that way in the answer doesn’t sit terrible well with me.

    Speaking of not being a fan, I tried the Evening Standard cryptic for the first time yesterday, and possibly the last.

    1. Prompted by your comment, I tried today’s on a masochistic whim. Not an inspiring experience, perhaps highlighted by 2d “The salon called it back in”. I’ll give you ?A?T?G. No? Well, it’s RATING. I believe we might have a myopic typesetter.
      1. That’s remarkable! My objections were about the poor cryptic grammar in almost every clue, but now I feel better about not being able to solve the last few – possibly they were impossible!
  20. Agree with everyone about the FRESHET/ HOREHOUND crosser, hate that feeling of crossed fingers when submitting. 37′, so a solid Friday. Also agree with boltonwanderer, OFFSIDE is not a foul, it is an offence, and the same in rugby too.Thanks verlaine and setter.
  21. Well over an hour for me, and DNF having failed in the NE. I entered LOOK with no great confidence as I couldn’t really see how LOOK and BEARING were synonymous. Never saw RECIPE despite being all over the logic. DNK CALENDS, but was looking for an IDES equivalent, and couldn’t see PHONEMES for the life of me. Abject failure.
  22. This one looked harder at first than it seemed to be after I got started, though my impression may be deceptive because I had the TV on and was not in any hurry. I had the top half first. I knew CALENDS because I often see the expression in the French press (especially Le Canard enchaîné) “renvoyer aux calendes grecques“—but wait, I thought, the clue says “in Rome.” Turns out I hadn’t fully fathomed the way this phrase works, although I had got the general gist, which is to postpone indefinitely the realization of an action. It’s precisely because, indeed, the Greeks didn’t have the term “calends” for the first days of their months that “Greek calends” signifies an unknown date.
    And yes, I wrote this for insertion here before I saw the blog and read the comments. Hi, Kevin!

    Edited at 2018-06-15 04:53 pm (UTC)

  23. I enjoyed all 50 minutes of this, since it was solvable, but there was hardly a clue that was obvious. Each clue suggested some line of thought, but the correct answer in many cases turned out to be something completely different (COCKTAIL LOUNGE, for example, nothing to do with the Battery or Central Park or Greenwich Village).
  24. 41:42 an enjoyable solve with the tricky NE taking some time to sort out. LOI horehound which I didn’t know. It sounded a bit iffy so I just did a quick alphabet trawl to check there weren’t any other obvious three letter minerals with an ‘R’ in the middle. I was another who was looking for sequiny or sequins until unemployed went in.
  25. No problems today, except I temporarily lost my mind and misspelled SURGREY. Dope. That held up the ROUNDHOUSE for a while until I noticed that I fouled that up and had the rogue crossing ‘R’. Fixing that allowed my LOI HOREHOUND to go in from wordplay. Regards.
  26. This took me an unconscionably long time (almost an hour), for no good reason other than that my brain is currently on a go-slow. Worse yet, I rounded it off with a typo.

    I can’t for the life of me find any reason why I found this one difficult – even the slightly obscure CALENDS and HOREHOUND were familiar. Regarding the latter’s clue, it is notable that a badger can badger a hound, and a hound can hound a badger. Well, perhaps not so notable after all.

    Thanks to setter and blogger alike, and a good weekend to all and one.

  27. So be it HONE for ‘polish’, if the crossword-setters must, though its original and still usual meaning was/is ‘sharpen’. But somebody should tell them flatly that neither SAND nor SANDPAPER can or ever does mean ‘polish’, as those words have been employed in more than one recent crossword. Both operations, like ‘smooth’, are things that one may (or may not) do BEFORE polishing, quite distinct from it, not part thereof–indeed on a wooden surface they may well include removing previous polish. As I’ve said here before, the setters’ rights, though wide, do not include plain misuse of the English language.
  28. I envy those who count an hour as slow; for me anything less than an hour is good going, and I didn’t manage it with this puzzle. A little surprised by the use of “on-line ” in 20 down; both by the hyphen and by the use of RY (i.e. railway) as a synonym for line. Also vaguely unhappy with “some current ” for “Amperes”; not sure why.
  29. I realise that my previous comment (Hours) may not appear very complimentary. In fact I enjoyed the puzzle very much and found it satisfying to complete, and I learned two new words in the process: FRESHET and HOREHOUND.

Comments are closed.