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Times 25,743

I felt too tired last night to face the prospect of solving and blogging post-midnight; with hindsight, that was a good decision, as I found this pretty stretching even after a good night's sleep. On the whole, I wouldn't go so far as to say I didn't enjoy it, more that I found it quite heavy going; clock stopped at 18:17, which was well outside my daily target of 2 Magoos, but still well up the leaderboard so far, which suggests I wasn't alone.

Across
1NEGATIVE - E.G. (as an illustration), in NATIVE(original). Of course, in these days of megapixels, young people will only know photo negatives as a way cool filter on their Instagram.
5CLOVER - Left in COVER. Non-cricketers will be pleased that another definition of "cover" was used today, this one being "The amount of ground covered by a vertical projection of the vegetation, usually expressed as a percentage".
9BUTTRESS - BUT, TRESS. If you're not a rugby fan, I imagine the surface may have passed you by entirely (both lock and prop are positions in the scrum).
10ICARUS - cryptic def. Hmmm. I know some people have been rumbling about the use of cryptic definition clues recently; mainly, they will say, because several of them haven't been any good. Perhaps this has made me sensitive to them, but this one certainly made me wince a little; if you were describing what happened to Icarus, you'd say his wings were exposed to the sun, never in the sun; obviously the language has to be changed to make the surface look as if it's about someone being splashed across the pages of a tabloid, but it made the clue sound forced and odd to my ear. Maybe I'm being too picky and just over-analysing because being blogger of the day makes you look more closely than usual...
12DRESS - double def., as in dressing a wound or dressing an actor, helped by the multiple meanings of "theatre".
13TEMPERING - double def. because the word itself is one of those odd ones which can have two completely contradictory meanings, depending on whether you are tempering steel or tempering justice with mercy, for instance.
14FOURTH ESTATE - THE in FOUR("crew"), STATE("say"). In crosswords, the rowing crew is usually the full eight, but rowers operate as fours or pairs as well (though I'm not sure you can call two people a crew).
18EXACERBATION - EX("no longer"), ACE("expert"), Bishop in RATION("helping").
21BARCAROLE - BAR("piece of music"), CAROL("something sung"), European and a nice &lit., the whole thing being a traditional Venetian gondoliers' song.
23CLEAR - double def.
24TALLIS - TALL, IS, as in "a tall story". Composer Thomas Tallis was associated with royalty at the courts of both Mary and Elizabeth. This sprang quickly to mind because Radio 4 recently repeated a play about his associate William Byrd, and the suspicions of him as a covert Catholic traitor, in which Tallis featured.
25ATLANTIS - AT, Length, ANTIS.
26MAYHEM - if you MAY HEM, in the sewing sense, you are able to create a border.
27LETHARGY - Husband in (GREATLY)*.
 
Down
1NOBODY - as in a) Diary of a Nobody, and b) the answer to the schoolboy joke "Why didn't the ghost go to the party?".
2GATHER - concealed in toGA THE Romans.
3TURNSTONE - spelling out that flying directly away from the South-West would mean turning to the North-East. A bird which often features in puzzles, and which gets its name from its habit of looking for food under...well I expect you've guessed.
4VISITORS BOOK - another cryptic def. It's not awful, but I doubt it's going to convert anyone to the cause who doesn't already love them.
6LUCRE - (CRUEL)*. Is there any sort apart from the filthy?
7VERTICAL - V, (ARTICLE)*.
8RESIGNED - double def.; the meanings are made clear if you consider the alternatives as perhaps RESIGNED and RE-SIGNED.
11AMPHITHEATRE - A MP("representative") HIT("ran into") HEAT("criticism") RE("about").
15SLOWCOACH - LOW("humble") inside [Secondary, COACH("school")].
16VERBATIM - (VIBRATE)*, Mass.
17FAIR PLAY - FAIR("blonde"), PLAY("theatrical performance").
19MENTOR - MEN TO Right &lit.
20FRISKY - Female, RISKY.
22ALIVE - Answer, LIVE("as it happens"). I was slightly puzzled here, as I initially took "no longer quick" to mean "dead", in fact I was 100% wrong, as it seems to mean "alive, but a word which is no longer used to mean that", which seemed a little odd. Obviously, it depends how well you know "quick" as meaning "alive" - still used in the Church phrase "the quick and the dead", or in biting one's nails to the quick" - but I wouldn't have thought the signal was needed in the way it is in Mephisto-land where obscure Spenserian words are part of the scenery. I was confused, anyway, but maybe that was just me.

Comments

( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
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janie_l_b
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:28 am (UTC)
DNF...

Found it tough today, and had a couple of blanks…

TALLIS (thought about the 'tall' bit, but dnk the composer
NEGATIVE (was convinced N-G-T--- had to have -GHT- in the middle)
VISTORS BOOK (don't usually mind cryptics. But that's when I get them…)

Otherwise, I too was a bit confused by ALIVE, and dnk TURNSTONE. That will hopefully be added to wherever I got BARCAROLE from, having only ever met it in crossword-land.

dorsetjimbo
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:32 am (UTC)
Some good stuff here and some plain awful

10A would do as a GK question in a quiz for 15 year olds. Why "home" in 4D - hotel maybe - and anyway just silly. Setters have got to stop using this device if it doesn't suit their strengths

And this setter can clearly produce good clues. 21A is top class. I don't like 22D because I don't think it quite works. 25 minutes to solve a slightly frustrating puzzle
vinyl1
Mar. 25th, 2014 11:05 am (UTC)
I was thinking that 'home' and 'visitors' are the opposing teams, which means there is more going on in this clue than just a CD>
(no subject) - dorsetjimbo - Mar. 25th, 2014 11:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - keriothe - Mar. 25th, 2014 11:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vinyl1 - Mar. 25th, 2014 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
visitors book - fathippy2 - Mar. 25th, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
oliviarhinebeck
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:36 am (UTC)
Tallis
I knew the canon but didn't know the royal connection and after being interrupted I just threw in "talkie" because I couldn't think of anything else. I'm sure I took a good half hour altogether.
mctext
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:39 am (UTC)
22:12
Agree that "no longer quick" is literally wrong, but wrote "archaic?" on the puzzle as a possible (weak) defence. Not all that obscure. It was in the title of a recent movie.

Our new editor can keep his stated fondness for CDs. These two are awful.

Vinyl: didn't know this composer either. Let us be spared. Made the 22/24 intersection very strange, especially when the ancient musician spelled his name with a Y.

COD had to go to the charade at 11dn. Excellent. And a show of what this setter can do when out of CD-dom and into proper clue writing.

(Am I sounding enough like Jimbo yet? — On edit: written before I'd seen his comment!)




Edited at 2014-03-25 09:40 am (UTC)
jackkt
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:40 am (UTC)
49 minutes. After yesterday's comparative doddle this one took me a while to get properly under way. I was also puzzled by 'quick' apparently meaning 'no longer alive' but eventually worked out what must be going on. TURNSTONE was my only unknown and I lost some time on it considering 'tackstone'.
napasai
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:56 am (UTC)
Generous wife
I was also confused by ALIVE. My wife, in her generous way suggested a "NO LONGER QUICK" means that it is a word for QUICK that is "no longer" than quick (ie only 5 letters). What a kind lady she is to be so nice to the setter!
john_from_lancs
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:06 am (UTC)
Under half an hour; and yes, I enjoyed the puzzle, CDs an’ all.

TALLIS’s 40-part motet, Spem in Alium, (supposedly composed for ER I’s birthday) is a favourite of mine, particularly the David Willcocks version from the early 70s.

No objection to 10: wouldn’t you say someone had spent too long in the sun?

Think I’ll spend a quarter of an hour with Spem in Alium on Spotify; it really is magnificent
falooker
Mar. 25th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
I watched a TV programme the other day "The English Renaissance". They lauded "Spem in Alium" as one of the wonders of the age. Sometimes I'm grateful for the licence fee! Ann
tringmardo
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:11 am (UTC)
Very enjoyable today with a reasonable time of 19:26 so no complaints. I agree that Icarus is a bit obvious but at least some attempt was made to cryptify (!) it.
Tallis was new to me but clearly correct.
phmfantom
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:13 am (UTC)
45min - forgot about composer, so eventually put in TALKIE as only word to fit 24ac, to avoid a DNF.
Toyed with SETTER at 19dn - a cd ?!
ulaca
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:16 am (UTC)
42 minutes. Nice to see Tallis get a mention.

A most enjoyable puzzle, where I had to adjust ‘tackstone’ to TURNSTONE to get my last in, BUTTRESS. COD to the excellent CD, VISITORS BOOK.
z8b8d8k
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:18 am (UTC)
18 minutes, with a sadly brief diversion via DUMB SHOW for 17d before I had any checkers. Wordplay and definition "just acting" seemed to work perfectly, though of course I realise that it's wholly unfair to blonds and I should be drummed out of the regiment for even thinking of it.
To be fair to the setter at 22, under QUICK Chambers gives "alive (archaic, church, Bible etc)" which puts the dear CofE firmly in its place. You'd have to access a 1662 service to hear it these days.
I can't remember how it connected, but TURNSTONE was fresh in the mind after checking odd birds for STONECROP a few days ago.
TALLIS was an odd clue I though, with the royal bit not really helping - "stuff for church" might have been better, not using "stuff" would have been much better.
I liked the rugby deception in BUTTRESS. I also liked the &lit for BARCAROLE.

Edited at 2014-03-25 10:18 am (UTC)
melrosemike
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:50 am (UTC)
Strangely, given most of the comments above, I found this as easy as yesterday's - that of course only means that I managed to do it in about 30 mins, or about 6 magoos, which counts as fast for me.

I agree about the feebleness of ICARUS - GK rather than a genuinely cryptic clue and absurdly easy GK at that. I'd be prepared to make a case for VISITOR'S BOOK. Some (admittedly rather grand) people do have visitor's books in their homes in which they invite comments from guests, and the CD seems to me of passable (if no more) quality.

I shared the general puzzlement over ALIVE and, although the solution was pretty obvious, hesitated to put it in as it seemed to make no sense. Which is not surprising as it doesn't.. "Quick" can mean "living" or "alive", albeit only in a few rather special contexts. So "no longer" is factually inaccurate. "Seldom quick now ...etc" might have worked, but even then it's difficult to parse "with" satisfactorily.

That said, there were excellent clues elsewhere in this puzzle. BUTTRESS, AMPHITHEATRE and BARCAROLE all took my fancy.
keriothe
Mar. 25th, 2014 11:19 am (UTC)
Rather grand
Not necessarily...
sotira
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:50 am (UTC)
WOE is me but happy anyway
18:30 minutes but With One Error. I really enjoyed the puzzle, regardless.

I suspect every Brit, whether they realise it or not, has heard Thomas Tallis, albeit through the filter of Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by …”. It often pops up in mainstream culture. Top Gear used it for their celebration of the British motor industry, and the Fast Show for a memorable and touching Ted and Ralph sketch (thank you, Wikipedia, for the reminder of both).

My one error was RECTOR at 19d, which I took to be another double def. (-ish) and rather liked!

Agree that BARCAROLE is a peach.

Edited at 2014-03-25 10:51 am (UTC)
Andy Borrows
Mar. 25th, 2014 11:01 am (UTC)
Re: WOE is me but happy anyway
What helped me with MENTOR was the fact that the setter used an identical cluing device for TURNSTONE. Your "rector" was a pretty good alternative though.
Re: WOE is me but happy anyway - sotira - Mar. 25th, 2014 11:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Andy Borrows
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:52 am (UTC)
16 mins with the TALLIS/ALIVE crossers my last ones in. "Stuff" was a bizarre word to use in the clue for the former and put me off for a while, and the latter went in with a shrug, although I now see how it is supposed to work. I agree with those of you who think this puzzle contains a strange mix of clues.
ianb21
Mar. 25th, 2014 11:12 am (UTC)
Nasty
Thanks for the excellent blog Tim. I learned a lot today.
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