Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish (verlaine) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish

Times 27,587: Wide Sagacious Setter

Now this is what I want to see on a Friday - a tough, clever puzzle which keeps many of its secrets past the 10 minute mark and indeed into the parsing. 12ac, 20ac, 22ac, 29ac, 2dn, 8dn, all clues that I saw even more brilliance in after submitting, after I took it upon myself to discover *exactly* how they worked. (And that's not to even mention 16dn, 24ac, 26ac which I wouldn't have felt comfortable submitting without full comprehension of how to get there. Just as well really or I could easily have committed to EXER with a shrug!)

All of the surfaces are perfect and to be honest this a virtuoso piece of setting across the board, with several clues that go above and beyond the normal levels of originality in their devices - this is Monthly Club Special level stuff. Bravo, nameless perpetrator, bravo. Plus as a lifelong Doctor Who fan, even despite recent provocations, 28ac as well as the TARDIS noise at 18dn tickled me pink. Best puzzle of the year for me so far I think and I'll make almost all the clues by joint COD, apart from maybe 17ac which is a bit of an oldie and therefore somewhat self-descriptive.

Over to you lot then, what did you think?

1 Sets out with currency that’s been converted? (8)
EXPOUNDS - or, EX-POUNDS, as (British) currency that has been converted into something else, may be.

5 Pimp linking minister to a parliamentarian (6)
REVAMP - REV [minister] linked to A MP

10 Twice a year kid meets old cameraman (9)
PAPARAZZO - P.A. [a year, x2] + RAZZ [kid] meets O. FOI.

11 Back in Normandy: a Hungarian composer (5)
HAYDN - hidden reversed in {norma}NDY A H{ungarian}

12 First light sees one charmed by swan (4)
LEDA - L.E.D. A could be "first light", in the same way that L.E.D. B would be "second light", yes? One charmed by a swan that was actually Zeus, in Greek myth, that is.

13 Possible place for setter’s cryptic legend on back of book (3-6)

15 Mormon wandering in valley briefly finds place of rest (6,4)

17 Dodgy moment, not the first (4)

19 Colour dry clothing with it (4)
TINT - TT [dry] "clothing" IN [with it]

20 Sudden change for American humorist into small red jumper (10)
SWITCHEROO - WIT [humorist] into S CHE ROO [small | red | jumper]

22 Was glitchy volume increased on a good day? (9)
HICCUPPED - CC [= cubic centimetre = volume] UPPED, on HI! [a good day (to you)]

24 Always apparently packing an extra five in a single square container (4)
EWER - EVER is always. Its second square contains a V or five - if you squished another V into that square it might look like more like EWER than EVER!

26 Logo for channel that is reversing its polarity? (5)
IDENT - ID EST, its S{outh} flipping to N{orth}.

27 Rude Finns could make enemies (9)
UNFRIENDS - (RUDE FINNS*). Though everyone knows that the actual, real-world usage of this word is as in "snubs on Facebook".

28 Feisty female to play Doctor Who, at last, enters (6)
TOMBOY - TOY [to play], entered by MB {who}O. The Jodie Whittaker era is... not yet good, but it's better than last year, so that's something!

29 True stories about river fronts producing algae (8)
SARGASSO - SO [true], "fronted" by SAGAS "about" R

1 Finally, time is up, by clock (4)
ESPY - {tim}E {i}S {u}P {b}Y

2 Sweet Dot given fresh flower (10,5)
PEPPERMINT CREAM - PEPPER [dot], given MINT [fresh] + CREAM [flower (as in, the best of)]

3 Madness, having uranium near each child (8)
UNREASON - U NR EA SON [uranium | near | each | child]

4 Dropped off note and final letter (5)
DOZED - DO [note] and ZED

6 Did second check in English dictionary (6)

7 Summons requesting company to go to court? (6,3,6)
ANYONE FOR TENNIS - cryptic def, simply a tennis court rather than a legal one.

8 Fine strike that’s spotted in football field (7,3)
PENALTY BOX - PENALTY [fine] + BOX [strike]. I assume the penalty box is spotted because it has a penalty spot? But my grasp of the beautiful game is notoriously shaky.

9 See books covering county’s missing years? (4-4)
LONG-LOST - LO N.T. "covering" GLOS. LOI

14 Repeatedly cold, this most unconventionally fine shower! (6,4)
SCOTCH MIST - (C C THIS MOST*) ["unconventionally"]

16 Fixing undiluted drink, suddenly left, upset (8)
RAWLPLUG - RAW [undiluted] + reversed GULP L [drink suddenly | left]. This unusual and deceptively defined word took me AGES to crack.

18 Moan endlessly about tablets for hearing and breathing problem? (8)
WHEEZING - WHING{e} "about" a homophone of E'S [tablets (which're good, according to The Shamen)]

21 Neat, I agree (4,2)
JUST SO - double def

23 Government department do: couple in the end have left (5)
DEFRA - DEFRA{ud} [do], minus its last two letters. What did my American compatriots made of this rather parochial reference to the British Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs?

25 Capital letters, initially and finally, turning up in ciphers (4)
OSLO - L{etter}S, reversed inside O O [(two) ciphers]
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February 14 2020, 12:59:07 UTC 1 week ago Edited:  February 14 2020, 13:01:04 UTC

22:52. I thought this was quite magnificent. Topicaltim has rather summed up my thoughts, particularly on the welcome modern usages. EWER and LEDA are brilliant, but so is much of the rest.
I spent several minutes at the end trying to justify SARGASSO: I didn’t know it was a type of seaweed and the wordplay is fiendish. Very satisfying to finally figure it out and enter the answer with complete confidence. There was a lot of that in this puzzle.
Bravo and thanks to the setter!

Un-American activity and RAWLPLUGS


February 14 2020, 13:12:54 UTC 1 week ago Edited:  February 14 2020, 13:21:53 UTC

I believe that the setter aimed this one right at our American Cousins! Except for PIMP as a car verb I think it equates to the English - primp.Fortunately I have seen the show on History Channel which has a nice IDENT

PENALTY BOX, RAWLPLUG, DEFRA, ANYONE FOR TENNIS (Jolly hockey sticks etc) and Fry's PEPERMINT CREAMs (A National indulgence - now from Cadbury?) or even Bendick's if you have the dosh! They have or had the Royal Warrant for Peppermint Creams!

I was home in about 50 mins RAWLPLUG and all. A long time since I got to grips with one of them!



COD 10ac PARARAZZO but not difficult


Is Basil Brush dead!?

They're just called wall plugs here Horryd. I knew the UK term because I very well remember one of the very few times my father (THE unhandiest person) was doing some DIY about the house that called for them and he enlisted me as his mate.
Loved solving this so was quite happy that it filled a tad over 26 minutes.

I didn't know LEDA (guessed it was someone in Swan Lake) or RAZZ.

In 2d does mint = fresh in the sense of mint condition (rather than toothpaste-speak)?
That was more or less my assumption...
Taxing, devilish, really enjoyable, but DNF. Struggled mightily to get all filled and parsed except 23 and 29. Hindered at 23 by the Aussie DFAT = Trade and Foreign Affairs being pronounced DEFAT. Maybe just ran out of energy with sargasso and NHO defra, unable to reach them. Otherwise only rawlplug unknown, Leda actually remembered since last time - recent?
Kudos to the setter.
I'm glad I looked at this and I'm glad I stopped and came here when I did. Such a lot to learn and enjoy.
Quite a few clues came quickly,including REVAMP as we used to watch Pimp My Ride when the children were at home. I really struggled with 8d and rejected Penalty Box as it is marked by lines; only the penalty spot is a spot. I had Penalty Hit (possibly a hockey term) and then wondered where the football fitted (unless Spotted = Seen).
And of course I had EVER.



February 14 2020, 14:18:46 UTC 1 week ago

'Rawl plug' eluded me, even when it was the LOI and I had every other letter. D'oh.

Tricky puzzle, but fun.


February 14 2020, 15:36:16 UTC 1 week ago

Another game of 2 curates eggs, completing most of it in 15 mins, then as usual seizing up. Main problem was IDENT where I hadn’t put the channel into the literal, and JUST SO which just wouldn’t come. On pressing go, I discovered that my biffed EVER was a EWER. Ah well!
That was me...
I thought the double 5 at 24A was in Roman numerals, and biffed EXER.

Thanks to V for also unravelling SIX other clues that left me on Planet Zog. Not my cup of tea.
Not so much a DNF as a HGG - Hardly Got Going. Back to the QC for me I think. Is the Friday puzzle known to be a tougher one?

8D - Penalty Box. But it is surely called the Penalty Area by most soccer players? The smaller rectangle right in front of the goal is I think sometimes called the Six Yard Box, and is what the coach is referring to when he screams from the touchline "Get it in the box!". But I have not heard the larger 18 yard rectangle called a box.


The Penalty Box


February 14 2020, 16:47:05 UTC 1 week ago Edited:  February 14 2020, 16:53:43 UTC

Cedric - when I was a lad the penalty area in football (soccer) was known as the PENALTY BOX. 'Get it in the box' refers to the penalty area itself. And still does.

Some official guidelines. 'Within each penalty box is a smaller rectangular box that extends 6 yards out from the goal line.'

I played for Stockport Co. My uncle for York City FC.

Are you outside your area!?

Re: The Penalty Box


1 week ago



1 week ago

Are you suggesting the editor isn't always on the case?

He does keep forgetting to tell us when Championship Qualifiers are being featured - and today he allowed RAWLPLUG to plug their wares! Whatever next!?
I knew DEFRA and Leda, nho Rawlplug, and was in questionable territory on Ident. I found a couple of the definitions to be tough - either slightly loose or very abstruse - but also found the cluing to be clear except maybe for Sargasso). As with others, I pretty much liked them all, especially Anyone for Tennis.
I had to look up DEFRA. Didn't know it. And I biffed EVER. That whole 'extra V in a square' bit went over my head entirely. Fiendish puzzle. Regards.
Finished correctly 15 minutes ago. But it took 45 minutes in 2 sessions. I had to leave it this morning to get to the cafe for my breakfast before they turned off the grill. My LOI was DEFRA - it had to be but I couldn't parse it until coming here. I found this quite difficult and I can't decide whether I enjoyed it or not. But there were a few eureka moments which made the struggle worth while. Ann
Endless thanks for the blog. I threw myself at this one today and did an uncharacteristically good job. Had to look up UK government departments online to find DEFRA, and still couldn't think of the appropriate synonym of 'do'! RAWLPLUG also eluded me, although I did have RAWLP_U_ and assumed I'd made a mistake. Otherwise I had everything in, but many were incompletely parsed, so thanks again!
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