28258 Thursday, 7 April 2022 I’m reviewing the situation

Lots to like about this one, keeping me going for 22 minutes and some. The Irish port town might not be familiar to everyone, but at least we are spared the Irish version, which is Droichead Átha. Even the plant here was no stranger, though perhaps better known to home makeover practitioners as the unbiquitous fallback colour of paint. There is a Latin phrase, but I have seen it often enough on British doorsteps to warn of the resident Rottweiller or (worse) Jack Russell. It’s also a pretty good &lit clue, one of two. There is a pleasing economy to the clues, with most coming in at 5 words or fewer, an admirable exaample of the setter’s craft.
The way I think everything works is detailed below, with some additional observations. Clues are in italics, their definitions underlined, and their solutions in BOLD CAPITALS
1 Trauma with schoolteacher mislaying note (6)
STRESS Our schoolMISTRESS mislays that part of her title which is a note: MI.
5 Irish port God heard about (8)
DROGHEDA An anagram (about) of GOD HEARD. Drogheda is a port on the River Boyne about 35 miles north of Dublin, for ever associated for me by early acquaintance with the head of the Blessed (now Saint) Oliver Plunkett, preserved for all to see in St Peter’s Church.
9 Pretentious, like an American’s trousers? (5-5)
FANCY-PANTS I got PANTS, American trousers early on, but only realised post solve where the FANCY came from: it’s “like”.
10 Old woman’s hot potato dish (4)
MASH The old woman is MA, add the ‘S and H(ot).
11 Head of government certainly not welcomed by African country, a bloomer (8)
MAGNOLIA Resist the temptation to start the bloomer with a G, head of Government. Instead add it to NO for certainly not and put both in MALI the African country. The remaining A is just before “bloomer”.
12 Little swine‘s extreme racket (6)
FARROW More familiar to me as the sow producing her young, but it’s also the litter itself. Extreme: distant, racket: ROW.
13 Prison in order it seems, after reflection (4)
STIR hidden (in) ordeR IT Seems, reversed (after reflection)
15 Cold heart, fanatical? (8)
HARDCORE A charade of cold: HARD, and heart: CORE.
18 Splendid resolution (8)
CRACKING The sort of resolution you’ve been engaged in to get this far. Super.
19 Contend with opinion (4)
VIEW The innocent, blink and you miss it, With provides the W to tack onto the end of VIE for contend.
21 Engineer unavailable to fill ditch (6)
BOFFIN I associate boffin more with investors like Barnes Wallis, but I’ll allow such geniuses can also be engineers. Unavailable OFF (like that menu item they can’t produce) placed in BIN for the verbal ditch.
23 Priest getting rid of possessions? (8)
EXORCIST A cryptic definition, but (and?) a good one. Possessions in this instance the demonic kind, as seen in the film of the same name as our answer.
25 Land back on long branch (4)
WING No reversal here. Land gives WIN, and back on lonG gives the G.
26 Meat off, duck the issue (7,3)
CHICKEN OUT Select your meat, make it CHICKEN, only to discover in the same way as in 21, that it’s off the menu and therefore OUT of stock.
27 Check hole for coin once more (8)
REINVENT Check is REIN, and hole VENT.
28 Soften mood (6)
TEMPER A relaxed double definition to finish the across clues.
2 One has left scent with a melodic expression (3-2)
TRA-LA Scratch I (one) from TRAIL: scent, and add the available A.
3 Elliptical character (9)
ECCENTRIC Most planetary bodies (for example) tend to have elliptical orbits, and eccentric similarly describes the practise. Also a usually unusual character: I’m a character, you’re eccentric, he’s bonkers
4 Contribute in nimble manner (6)
SUPPLY  Just a double definition, differently pronounced.
5 Waste lying in sad teeth — who’s needed? (6,9)
DENTAL HYGIENIST An anagram (waste, as in lay waste to) of LYING IN SAD TEETH, a pleasing &littish sort of clue.
6 A female in Indian garb supporting cricket side, observing game, perhaps? (2,6)
ON SAFARI A F(emale) wearing a SARI, generously described as Indian garb, supporting (this is a down clue) ON, one of two cricket pitch sides.
7 Old poet a big hit in the States (5)
HOMER A double definition, the second being a hit in American rounders which allows the striker to run all the way round.
8 Pass round combs in exchange (9)
DISCOURSE Took a while to work out that SCOURS is in there for combs, as in scours/combs the countryside looking for clues. DIE to surround it comes form one of the umpteen euphemisms: pass.
14 Bully ties elastic around dropped brick? (9)
TERRORISE An anagram (elastic) of TIES around ERROR for dropped brick.
16 Lead for canine, a very threatening thing jumping up — watch out for that! (4,5)
CAVE CANEM Another &littish sort of clue. The “lead” for Canine plus A plus V(ery) and the a reverse (jumping up) of MENACE for threatening thing. Here’s an authentic “beware of the dog” mosaic from Pompeii 
17 Top left aboard boat (8)
PINNACLE The boat is a PINNACE, put L(eft) somewhere aboard.
20 Old rail traveller leaves (6)
ROCKET Stephenson’s famous locomotive, and also salad leaves
22 Dickens character a smoker, evidently? (5)
FAGIN Made me giggle. US solvers suspend your offence, a FAG here is a cigarette: a smoker would have a FAG IN. Has anyone not heard of the monstrous/loveable fence and eccentric child educator from Oliver Twist?
24 Cook prodding stuff with utensil, initially (5)
SAUTÉ Couldn’t make SOUSE, my first guess work, but SAUTE is the first letter of Utensil in SATE for stuff. Some debate a couple of days ago as to whether glut meant sate. Here, stuff does.

42 comments on “28258 Thursday, 7 April 2022 I’m reviewing the situation”

  1. I liked the clues for FAGIN and CAVE CANEM a lot. My first guess at 5 was DROGHEAD so I wasn’t too far off. 9:01.
  2. Painfully slow. A first pass of the acrosses yielded only STIR & VIEW, the downs maybe CAVE CANEM. I thought 5ac was going to be a homophone (heard about) and wasted time accordingly. Couldn’t remember FARROW. POI DISCOURSE & LOI CRACKING took forever (I just couldn’t see ‘resolution’). I liked DENTAL HYGIENIST.
  3. A DNF in 39 minutes. About time, after some lucky ones lately. An A for the I in FAGIN.

    Baseball = “American rounders”? I suppose so. I liked EXORCIST – “A cryptic definition AND a good one” – and DENTAL HYGIENIST.

  4. Way off the wavelength, very difficult. Missed the fancy, didn’t know pants was particularly American. Totally unconvinced by CRACKING, but a complete alphabet trawl offered nothing else. Can just about see it. Farrow rang a vaguely porcine bell. Did like CAVE CANEM, EXORCIST and MAGNOLIA – The Masters starts today.
    Thanks setter and blogger.

    Edited at 2022-04-07 02:10 am (UTC)

  5. Some first-class surfaces here from our setter. 5d and 16d are great examples. It’s a pity I tend to ignore the surfaces as I solve, and only get to savour them in retrospect.

    I particularly liked EXORCIST and ROCKET which were my last ones in. DROGHEDA ( droy-ee-da ) was first. 27:05

  6. Can’t imagine DROGHEDA being unfamiliar to many, but I guess these things are subjective.

    Thought CRACKING was very good, but only after taking a while to see how it equated to resolution. Also liked EXORCIST, with the leading E taking me down the ELI….. path at first.

    Some lovely clueing in this one, with just the right level of difficulty for a wet Thursday morning.

  7. But DENTAL HYGIENIST eventually came, even with a lot of crossers missing.
    Pretty sure I’d never NHO of the Irish port, but hey, an anagram…
    Like galspray, I was thinking ELI for the priest, not suspecting one of them sneaky CDs.
    And I wanted to start MAGNOLIA with a G, like Vinyl, too.
    This setter is very good at the misdirection game.
  8. Once again as the hour began to approach I resorted to aids for two answers, but they were not my last two in. In both cases the missing answers were preventing me from solving some of the adjoining clues on which I was stuck and I needed them to unblock my brain and get me going again.

    One was the Irish port which I’ve never heard of. If I’d had all the checkers (which I didn’t) I’d still have had only a 50/50 chance of choosing correctly between DROGHEDA and DROGHADE, so this goes down in my book as yet another OWCAA.

    The other look-up was the second word in 16dn having spotted CAVE, realised the answer would be in Latin, and assumed it would be a legal term unknown to me. Not so, as I am perfectly familiar with it and I was annoyed with myself for missing the heavy hint provided by ‘canine’ which I’d assumed was only in the clue to give us the first letter of CAVE. Unfortunately both EXORCIST and CHICKEN OUT were missing at that point so I had no checkers other than the M.

    Edited at 2022-04-07 05:53 am (UTC)

  9. Following a week of slowness and errors so far, I was wondering why I can seem to be in or out of form in crosswording, much like a sportsperson. Maybe it is a confidence thing — one bad day gets into the subconscious and leads to bad decisions on subsequent days.

    Anyhow, today’s boo-boo was DOCKET. I’d discounted rocket and was left clutching at straws thinking that a docket is a page, so a leaf of sorts, or maybe it had something to do with dock leaves. I’m now off to see a crossword psychologist to help tame my inner chimp before tomorrow…

    1. Just take it one puzzle at a time Pootle. Stick to the process and the results will come. Form is temporary, class is permanent. You have to respect your opponent. Focus on the things you can change. Make sure you learn from your mistakes. You just need to go out and execute.

      (Other inanities are available, but that’s all I can think of at the moment).

  10. 25:19
    Fun puzzle – some nice quirky clues.
    Carl Palmer show last night – omg. He gets younger, not older. Thunder of the gods 🙂
    Thanks, z.
  11. 53 minutes, having started well but then getting hopelessly lost in the SW with RECANT (ditch) in for BOFFIN, before TERRORISE and FAGIN saved me. Just for the record, PANTS was interchangeable with TROUSERS as I grew up in Lancashire and is not an exclusively American usage. We weren’t describing the underpants-outside-trousers look of Batman, which came later. COD to EXORCIST and I liked ROCKET and FARROW too. Thank you Z and setter.
  12. I’m afraid I can’t share your enthusiasm for CRACKING, Z. The ‘splendid’ bit, OK, but not ‘resolution’. I thought that was too far-fetched.
    My other meh is at equating BOFFIN with engineer. Another clue that stretched the limits, I thought.
    I, too, didn’t know that FARROW could also refer to the litter itself.
    On the positive side, I did like FAGIN and CAVE CANEM but my co-CODs are REINVENT and EXORCIST. I thought the latter had the mark of Dean Mayer-like succinctness.
    1. I was reasonably happy with cracking, after all if you crack a code you have its resolution.
    2. Whereas I thought that FARROW only meant the offspring of the sow; somewhere I picked up the phrase ‘the sow eats its farrow’. BOFFIN for me (it’s not in my native Murcan vocabulary) has always meant a lab person, like the techie in my uni’s IT dept. Agree re ‘resolution’.
    3. I think the problem here is that there is a tendency to equate engineers with grease-monkey mechanics and American train drivers. But there is another side to their activities wholly related to design and creativity. Here’s the range of skills that may be involved as designated by the Engineering Council:

      Chartered Engineers “are characterised by their ability to develop appropriate solutions to engineering problems, using new or existing technologies, through innovation, creativity and change. They might develop and apply new technologies, promote advanced designs and design methods, introduce new and more efficient production techniques, marketing and construction concepts, pioneer new engineering services and management methods.

      All this can be done without getting oil on your fingers or wielding a spanner!

      1. Thanks, Jack. Good points and I, too, think of engineers as far more than ‘grease monkeys’. I worked in civil aviation all my life and felt that American airlines had the right terminology. Those people you see around the plane at an airport, fixing defects, checking the tyres and refuelling the plane are described in the US as mechanics, whereas those who design and build the plane are engineers. In British companies they were all engineers.
        However, I look on a BOFFIN in the same way as Kevin has described, as a lab person. I’m currently reading Max Hastings’ book “The Secret War”. In it he writes about Alan Turing. He, too, was a boffin as far as I’m concerned.
          1. Europeans (some or all?) have a system where those those who’ve done a 5-year engineering degree are engineers, and get their own title – Ing. Other engineers around the world are a bit jealous of this.
            In some fields some engineers are boffins. The physicists at CERN delve into the building blocks of atoms. Then the boffins in electronics research labs – PhDs in electronic engineering – turn the physicists’ theoretical findings into things like quantum computers.
  13. I thought I was going to DNF on this after 30 minutes with about 10 clues solved, but all of a sudden things started to drop into place. DISCOURSE was the clue that broke the logjam, and was rapidly followed by DROCHEDA and DENTAL HYGIENIST. That opened up the puzzle nicely. The SE held me up further until PINNACLE floated in and gave me CHICKEN OUT. ROCKET was LOI(I thought), but proof reading revealed that my biffed, unparsed, FURORE had knackered my DISCOURSE. A further moment of thought dredged up FARROW. 47:59. Thanks setter and Z8.

    Edited at 2022-04-07 09:29 am (UTC)

  14. Struggling recently to get a respectable completion rate, I was dismayed to find myself making only intermittent progress – but I resolved to continue, despite the apparently remote possibility of success. Tackled this in multiple chunks, with interludes for breakfast, household chores, etc – but I’m relieved to get a correct completion nevertheless.

    Luckily my kedgeree last night included plenty of ROCKET, and CAVE CANEM stuck with me ever since my O-level Latin teacher acquired an particularly energetic Dulux mutt. Not at all comfortable with CRACKING, couldn’t parse DISCOURSE, several minutes each on the final two REINVENT and WING – that was a struggle, but at least I’m no longer on course for the dreaded wipe-out week. Thanks z and setter

  15. I knew Drogheda from the viscious massacre in the Civil Wars and Farrow from previous puzzles. Since today is opening day for the 2022 baseball season I liked finding Homer. thanks z
  16. ….but a pink square for a horrendously careless ‘exorcism’.

    TIME 13:16 with error.

  17. Managed this in 25 minutes ending with the unconvincing CRACKING and BOFFIN which to me is a synonym for scientist not engineer. Knew DROGHEDA from the Battle of the Boyne and from playing the terrific Baltray golf course nearby. 5d a nice anagram. Nothing else of note.

    Edited at 2022-04-07 09:56 am (UTC)

  18. Like Kevin I thought this was going to be a homophone with some fiendish Irish pronunciation – nice bit of misdirection by the setter. I knew of the place because it’s where Oliver Cromwell was responsible for some pretty infamous war crimes. Did Woody call Mia a little swine I wonder. Good puzzles this week. 19.24
  19. 16:05. Difficult, but very enjoyable.
    I can’t see anything wrong with CRACKING=resolution but engineer for BOFFIN did prompt a MER.
    I also thought DROGHEDA was going to be a homophone, and it rang only the faintest of bells when I worked out that it wasn’t.
    I’m surprised to learn that pants for trousers isn’t exclusively an Americanism.
      1. Indeed, but I was surprised to hear that some of our Brit friends (boltonwanterer and isla3 above) considered pants to be a British English word for trousers. I have never heard that before, always assumed it was purely American usage. You live and learn!
        1. Ah but it’s not just an Americanism, is what I was getting at. Usually, down here in the antipodes, we use British spellings and meanings – “colour” has six letters, “biscuits” are sweet things we dunk in our cups of tea etc – but pants = trousers = pants =/= undies. You guys are on your own with that one.

          Edited at 2022-04-07 11:41 pm (UTC)

  20. Explosive start rattling off half a dozen in the first minute or two — DROGHEDA first in — don’t know why I know the name, but I do.

    Then settled down to normal speed before finishing the RHS after 15 mins or so.

    I found LHS trickier, piecing together clues with little coherence from one to the next, finally spotting the flower (I’d started with a G but could not make GARDENIA work) which opened up the rest of the top corner, leaving WING, FAGIN and BOFFIN in that order to complete.

  21. Including 10 for a nap. Well, golf on a day like today (4 seasons every 10 minutes) takes it out of one. I liked FAG IN after dreading some obscure Dickens character I hadn’t heard of.
    In fact, nothing I hadn’t heard of, which is nice for a change.
  22. I thought this was an absolutely beautiful example of the setters art today. Top half went in ok but bottom half a real struggle then suddenly they clicked. 40 minutes of very enjoyable struggle. Thanks z and setter
  23. Another DNF. Had TWIST in for the Dickens character (we had twist as tobacco recently) so had no hope of finishing the SW.

    Gave up after a long hour. I did like EXORCIST.
    Thanks Z and setter. Too good for me.

  24. 23:34 Several pleasing penny drop moments after puzzling for ages over some of these, so rather slower than the SNITCH would suggest for me. I liked FANCY PANTS, EXORCIST and ROCKET best. Thanks Z and setter.
  25. I got my timing all mixed up so don’t know how long I took. Probably about 50 minutes, with some electronic help because I had to be somewhere. Wasn’t very convinced by BOFFIN and CRACKING, and had HUMOUR instead of the (much more convincing of course) TEMPER. HOMER I thought referred to the Simpsons and I couldn’t see why he was a hit in America only; missed the baseball.
  26. 16.21. I ran through this pretty quickly with only farrow unknown but thought it a decent challenge.
  27. 11ac was very appropriate for the first day of The Masters. Augusta National is rightly acclaimed for its beautiful trees and shrubbery such as MAGNOLIA, Azalea and Dogwood

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