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Times 26,411: A Glittering Display

A second night in a row solving after an evening out on the sauce - well, now that the nice weather is back, drinking in beer gardens is kind of the law - but my less *obviously* impaired time of 6m39 may suggest that the long bus ride home from Penge had a sobering effect.

I though this was a splendid puzzle, and my enthusiasm for it redoubled during the parsing. I like a bit of setter braggadocio, the like of which we see at 28ac; of course it's a risky play, as the puzzle does then need to be above average, but I think this one was top-notch. The excellent clues start at 1ac and just keep on coming. Interestingly from the solving perspective, I got the usual handful of the across on the first pass, but then was really off to the races on the downs, which seemed easier and less pyrotechnic. With hindsight I kind of wish I'd attempted the whole thing backwards, a la Ginger Rogers.

LOIs were the 27ac/22dn crossing pair, the former of which held me up for quite a lot of valuable seconds towards the end, the latter becoming obvious once I had the final letter. My COD, amidst many spectacular clues, is I think just the completely smooth and slightly naughty surface of 16dn. I'd better sign off here as I believe I have an outstanding TLS puzzle to blog and thus plenty to be getting on with, but I promise it'll be with you within 24 hours. Round of applause to today's setter and see you again soon!


1 Confounded components of translation of Donne's? (10)
NONPLUSSED NON PLUS SED = NON + SED = components of (DONNE'S*) ["translation of"]. Unusual and clever!
6 Boat lower after losing stern (4)
SCOW SCOW{l} [lower, "after losing stern"]
10 Performed in opera having declined a wine (7)
SANGRIA – SANG {a}RIA [performed in opera "having declined a"]
11 Marx talking about object of whaling industry? (7)
HARPOON – HARPO ON [Marx | talking about]
12 Backed great time involving rugby, though not initially where play occurs (9)
LLAREGGUB (the setting of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood) – reverse of BALL [great time] involving {r}UGGER [rugby, "though not initially"]
13 Very rapid activity mostly constraining one computer problem (5)
VIRUS – V RUS{h} [very | rapid activity "mostly"] constraining I [one]
14 Make complaint, being exhausted, having circled lake (5)
BLEAT – BEAT [exhausted], having circled L [lake]
15 Online clothing store perhaps recalled accepting thanks in reply (9)
RETALIATE – reverse of E-TAILER [online clothing store perhaps "recalled"] accepting TA [thanks]
17 There’s a surprise! A half back is on target (4-5)
WELL-AIMED – WELL [there's a surprise!] + A + reverse of DEMI [half "back"]
20 One fanatic seizing power supply (5)
INPUT– I NUT [one | fanatic] seizing P [power]
21 Get rid of shifty person hogging Times page (5)
EXPEL – EEL [shifty person] hogging X P [times | page]
23 Be inclined to follow slow sort of schedule (9)
CHECKLIST – LIST [be inclined] to follow CHECK [slow]
25 Popular female visiting France no longer productive (7)
GAINFUL – IN F [popular | female] visiting GAUL [France no longer]
26 Bone from bird included in total (7)
STERNUM – TERN [bird] included in SUM [total]
27 Be dilettantish, turning out books in depression (4)
DALE DA{bb}LE [be dilettantish, "turning out books"]
28 I control series of clues with a glittering display (10)
IRIDESCENT I RIDE SCENT [I | control | series of clues]


1 Rocket builders taking line regarding the nose (5)
NASAL – N.A.S.A. [rocket builders] taking L [line]
2 Plain one should make shift to welcome in Queen without peers (9)
NONPAREIL – (PLAIN ONE*) ["should make shift"] to welcome in R [Queen]
3 Extravagant circulation claim by another old American magazine? (6,4,4)
LARGER THAN LIFE – Life being one American magazine, another might claim their circulation is larger than Life. Just about.
4 Surprise when male clothing excludes article (7)
STAGGER – STAG GE{a}R [male | clothing "excludes article"]
5 Depart clutching sort of pencil after taking in one show (7)
EXHIBIT EXIT [depart] clutching HB [sort of pencil] after taking in I [one]
7 People in church half-peeping round front of organ (5)
CHOIR – CHIR{ping} ["half" peeping] round O{rgan}
8 Expressed unhappiness after snakes affected by gale (9)
WINDSWEPT – WEPT [expressed unhappiness] after WINDS [snakes]
9 Discomfort from motion and flapping of valences and skirts (6,8)
14 Asked to adopt bird with deformed limbs? (3-6)
BOW-LEGGED - BEGGED [asked] to adopt OWL [bird]
16 Scotsman caught hacking into fruit machine? (9)
APPLIANCE – IAN C [Scotsman | caught] hacking into APPLE [fruit]
18 Wild alarm about copper affected by spots (7)
MACULAR – (ALARM*) ["wild"] about CU [copper]
19 Mostly sweet daughter twirling in clothes (7)
DRESSED – reverse ["twirling"] of DESSER{t} D ["mostly" sweet | daughter]
22 Source of medicine mostly a success in China (5)
PHIAL – HI{t} ["mostly" a success] in PAL [china]
24 Satisfied to pick up point in draw (5)
TEMPT – reverse of MET [satisfied "to pick up"] + PT [point]


( 59 comments — Leave a comment )
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May. 13th, 2016 07:36 am (UTC)
In what world is "tailor" spelt with an "E"?

I'm not as impressed with this as our blogger. 12ac is impossible unless you happen to know it and anyway I'd have thought an inventive setter could have come up with something far more entertaining and less impenetrable for an answer that's the reverse of bugger all.

If one first thinks (as I did) of DELL as the answer at 27ac it's a long road back.

Edited at 2016-05-13 07:44 am (UTC)
May. 13th, 2016 09:28 am (UTC)
I don't think it's anything to do with tailoring, just an "e-tailer" as in an electronic retailer. Which does make the mention of "clothing" a bit naughty admittedly as it's a bit of a blind alley.

Yeah, perhaps I was fortunate to know and love Under Milk Wood as well as I do, and have the luxury of being able to biff it in confidently and actually parse it post-submission...
Retailer - jackkt - May. 13th, 2016 12:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Marmite crossword - sawbill - May. 13th, 2016 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 13th, 2016 07:54 am (UTC)
Too tricky for me, got massively stuck in top left today… Couldn't get the unknown LLAREGGUB at all (but was nearly there, at one point I had in 'luggerlab'). Also had blanks at NONPAREIL (Queen is so often ER, not just R) or NONPLUSSED (wordplay far too clever for me). Also most of LARGER THAN LIFE was left blank. Not sure that one works for me.

Not come across scowl=lower. I thought it was something to do with lower=cow, so clearly couldn't make it work at all.

Thanks as ever, V, great blog.
May. 13th, 2016 08:55 am (UTC)
I think lour is more familiar to most of us.
RE: Scowl - (Anonymous) - May. 13th, 2016 10:01 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 13th, 2016 07:56 am (UTC)
I suspect that E-tailer is ok. But I am in complete agreement with jackkt on 12ac and 27ac. I also found the the jump from peeping to chirping well beyond my grasp. I really don't like crosswords where the majority are very easy so you fly through and then there is something so obscure that it seems out of place. Not very consistent. But I see others loved it, so what do I know?
May. 13th, 2016 07:57 am (UTC)
Totally agree with about 12ac and this gave me a DNF but I really should have come up with 'rugger' but couldn't get beyond RU so 'not initially' was meaningless. Other than that a splendid offering which I thoroughly enjoyed. Too many good ones to single out a COD.
May. 13th, 2016 08:06 am (UTC)
glittering display, then bugger all
Raced through for fifteen minutes, including the excellent LLAREGGUB, which I thought was reasonably well known. Failed to parse correctly 19d, so had DRESSES not DRESSED, hence unable to get IRIDESCENT. Some super clues though, thanks, 31’dnf.
May. 13th, 2016 09:37 am (UTC)
Re: glittering display, then bugger all
Mm, I know some people do get pretty steamed about literary/foreign words that are not mitigated by extremely transparent wordplay, and LLAREGGUB is both literary AND foreign, but on the other hand, if you don't know Under Milk Wood, you should get out there and acquaint yourself with it immediately, it's bloody fantastic! Welsh (after a very tenuous fashion) pride!
May. 13th, 2016 09:07 am (UTC)
Only a smidgen over 3Vs for me (21 minutes) so I obviously enjoyed it. Like the great man, I also finished with PHIAL followed by DELL (which I thought was very good). Maybe all that channelling of him a few weeks ago really has paid off. I even listened to something vaguely modern while solving today (film themes) before listening to a couple of versions of Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus.

There is a racehorse in Hong Kong (owned by a local Chinese fellow) called Packing Llaregyb. I don't know if the spelling change was forced on him by the stewards of the Jockey Club. Wouldn't surprise me - they get very touchy about that sort of thing.

Incidentally, since LIFE has been defunct as a magazine for some time, the 'old' in the clue makes it function okay, even if it's still rather clunky.

May. 13th, 2016 09:09 am (UTC)
Long ride home ...
13:30 ... I'm in the "thought it was brilliant" camp, with NONPLUSSED especially tickling my fancy. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect wordplay enthusiasts to know LLAREGGUB — it's a pretty famous example of it.

I loved the vocab selection in the grid. There's an impenetrable poem in there somewhere.

Thanks for the blog, Verlaine. "Long Bus Ride Home from Penge" is surely an album title.

Edited at 2016-05-13 09:38 am (UTC)
May. 13th, 2016 09:38 am (UTC)
Re: Long ride home ...
I believe "Long Bus Ride Home from Penge" was the original title of a Eugene O'Neill drama, before his editor put his foot down.
Re: Long ride home ... - sotira - May. 13th, 2016 09:47 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 13th, 2016 09:26 am (UTC)

My only issue with Dylan's famous (if rather backward village) was that I couldn't remember whether it penultimated with a U or a Y. Needed to fully understand the WP to be confident. Loved the play at 1ac: my sort of quirky clue. On the enthusiastic side overall, taking aound 22 minutes (if memory serves).

May. 13th, 2016 09:37 am (UTC)
Chambers has E-TAILER so fair game. This one stretched to just over 30 minutes with the RHS going in almost before I had a single LHS one although I know LLAREGGUB, as Mrs BT says (backwards). Some nice clueing but many nevertheless put in unparsed so thanks V.
May. 13th, 2016 09:46 am (UTC)
... for far too long. Only when I biffed it in did I spot LARGER THAN LIFE. I'd cracked LLAREGGUB with an early L amd B and remembering our esteemed English master Peg Leg Wakefield explaining its derivation to a sniggering class at school in about 1959. Doubted RETAILER for too long for the same reason as others. But finished eventually in about 45 minutes without parsing NONPLUSSED
May. 13th, 2016 09:48 am (UTC)
A little on the easy side for top-notch but not far off. AT 15ac I wondered about "tailer" until I realised the clothing bit was there only to confuse. DRESSED last in after finally seeing the definition. Liked NONPLUSSED best.
May. 13th, 2016 10:09 am (UTC)
An interesting topic for discussion: whether difficulty level is a contributing factor to crosswordy goodness. My gut feeling is that if the surfaces were perfect and the wordplay inventive and witty it wouldn't matter at all if it wasn't that hard. On the other hand it might be the case that it's too many obvious/hackneyed elements that lead to a puzzle being too easy.
Discuss - pipkirby - May. 13th, 2016 11:37 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: Discuss - keriothe - May. 13th, 2016 11:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Discuss - penfold_61 - May. 13th, 2016 12:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: Discuss - keriothe - May. 13th, 2016 01:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Discuss - kevin_from_ny - May. 13th, 2016 04:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jerrywh - May. 13th, 2016 01:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - megistias - May. 13th, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bigtone53 - May. 13th, 2016 02:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - verlaine - May. 13th, 2016 02:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bigtone53 - May. 14th, 2016 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Colin Thomas
May. 13th, 2016 11:21 am (UTC)
A toughie today but, I agree, a goodie. I took a while to get properly started, then finished with 12ac after 15m 35s. To add my views to the debate on that one, I didn't know - or had forgotten - the name, but got it from the wordplay after a bit of thinking. Nothing unfair there, I think (unlike the spate of recent clues where obscure foreign words have been clued as anagrams).

COD was 1ac for me.
May. 13th, 2016 11:33 am (UTC)
In the top notch category for me, although ended with DELL instead of dale at 27a. Also an UMW fan , I listen to an mp3 of the BBC Richard Burton version in the car frequently. 22 minutes.
May. 13th, 2016 11:38 am (UTC)
8m. I can't quite share our blogger's enthusiasm for this one, just because so much of it was biffed without a second thought so I didn't really admire the scenery as I went. I can't really blame that on the setter though.
Count me as another Under Milk Wood fan. LLAREGGUB is unforgettable if, like me, you first come across it at a young enough age for it to generate a frisson of naughtiness. And anyone who hasn't heard Richard Burton reading it should do so forthwith.
May. 13th, 2016 12:12 pm (UTC)
"To begin at the beginning..."
- After yesterday's quickie I thought today's would be decidedly harder, but 22 minutes was all it needed. In retrospect I think I should have slowed down and savoured the clues more. I share Verlaine's enthusiasm. There are some lovely surfaces and the wordplay to 1a is wonderfully inventive.

Perhaps I was helped by my intimate knowledge of Dylan Thomas's masterpiece, but 12 was very fairly clued.

If you are not familiar with the work listen to Richard Burton's mellifluous delivery on the original BBC recording.
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