28750 Blow winds and crack your cheeks


Another short-sighted typo marred my 24.27, which didn’t feel that long and will probably prove to be slower than it should have been. I have the impression of a puzzle with an almost comprehensive set of the single letter abbreviations filling in the gaps. They’re decent clues, albeit with a couple of hmm moments, but I found it hard to pick a stand-out apart from the triple for being a triple and the &lit for being an &lit. I do hope there isn’t a brilliant NINA that I’ve missed. With the rain lashing down and storm Ciarán howling even in this “driest place in the country”, perhaps we have a topical enough clue at 17, the &lit.

Definitions underlined in italics, the rest explained as we go along.

1 Like some dogs, raced around too much (7)
SPOTTED – “Some dogs”, or at least 101 of them. SPED is placed around OTT, “over the top” and so too much.
5 Record single back around number four in chart (5)
ENROL – Single this time is LONE, reversed around the fourth letter in chaRt. Single is not I, four is not IV. Different!
9 Respond with about turn (5)
REACT – Perhaps that should be a dotted line under “with”, as its only there for the sense of the literal. About: RE, turn ACT as in a music hall.
10 Machine boxing fruit in gold November (9)
AUTOMATON – The fruit is the TOMATO (don’t argue just because it’s salad). It’s boxed in by AU for gold (Au for purists) and NATO November
11 Scrap — small dog perhaps grabs bite (7)
SNIPPET – S(mall) dog perhaps as an example of a PET, with NIP for bite grabbed.
12 Uniform carried by entire travelling entourage (7)
RETINUE – NATO Uniform carried by an anagram (travelling) of ENTIRE.
13 Block an interrogation to eliminate last cause of slippage (6,4)
BANANA SKIN – The wonderful HTML that magically produces the framework for these blogs faithfully reproduced my M for N typo. At least I can correct it here. Block gives BAN, an interrogation with its last crossed of gives AN ASKIN. Adjust spacing..
15 Perhaps ammonia has power to catch the breath (4)
GASP -At its simplest, ammonia is a GAS. Add P(ower)
18 Properly healthy spa (4)
WELL – A triple definition, and rather a good one.
20 Docker perhaps not working is a sponger (10)
FREELOADER – If a docker, an example of a LOADER, is not working, he  is FREE do do as he pleases. I remember days when dockers, if asked to work for free, would have been out for months.
23 Restaurant initially needs support in Canada (7)
CANTEEN – The initial of needs is N, support TEE, and a short CANada is the container
24 Anger about some current wild behaviour (7)
RAMPAGE – Anger is RAGE, around AMP for current.
25 Girl on the outside loving and beautifully attractive (9)
GLAMOROUS – The outside of girl provides the GL, loving the AMOROUS rest.
26 Ring modulator usually features (5)
TORUS – That donut (doughnut?) shaped ring is hidden is modulaTOR USually
27 Sing free melody without metre (5)
YODEL -Happy(ish) memories of Frank Ifield. An anagram (free) of MELODY without M(etre)
28 Pet insect runs in bread basket (7)
TANTRUM – Bread basket produces the equally colloquial TUM. Digest the insect ANT plus R(uns)
1 Network stop second director working (7)
STATION – I think I’m OK with network being the equivalent of a radio or TV station, and in the clue  with it being a pseudo plural that allows stop rather than stops. Not for the first time in my blogging career, the director is Jaques TATI. Before him S(econd) and after ON for working. [Early comments suggest the definition should include stop. Makes sense!]
2 Get through more cash than English pounds, tons need changing (8)
OUTSPEND – Construct the anagram (needs changing) fodder from E(nglish) POUNDS and T(ons) ====
3 A lot of land agreement has no disadvantage (5)
TRACT – Took me a while to work out that the required agreement is a CONTRACT, from which you remove the disadvantage CON as in pros and cons.
4 Decide to put off excavation (9)
DETERMINE – A simple charade put off DETER, and excavation MINE
5 Yet I’m upset about new animosity (6)
ENMITY – An anagram (upset) of YET I’M and N(ew)
6 Something to see in the Capitol and tour around (7)
ROTUNDA – While solving I though this was something I hadn’t seen on the Capitol in Rome (I was pushing a wheelchair at the time and it’s not very friendly), but it’s this one,  sometimes a rather exciting place to be. A simple anagram (around) of AND TOUR.
7 Look briefly to dispatch good weapon (5)
LANCE – Look briefly is GLANCE, remove the G(ood)
8 What might kill something like albatross over front of ship (8)
CROSSBOW – The clue references the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I briefly feared that “something like albatross” would produce CROW, but fortunately it’s just over for CROSS and front of ship BOW. I’ve tried and so far failed to think of a context in which over directly translates to cross. [It seems there’s a reason why I struggled to find an over/CROSS  equivalence because it was probably not what the setter intended. I think the comments below are right, including the ones that generously support what I thought in the wee small hours.]
14 In a long line getting beer round bar (6,3)
STRUNG OUT – Beer this time is STOUT, and bar therein is RUNG.
16 A rhyme is troublesome (8)
PERVERSE – That sneaky (for me) a that produces PER, and VERSE from rhyme
17 Who’ll show climate turning endlessly severe? (8)
DOOMSTER – I think an &lit. MOOD derives from climate and is reversed (turning) and severe produces STERN from which you cut the end N. Let’s not start a debate on climate change: that’s what Facebook’s for.
19 Ship’s rope in dock holding beam up (7)
LANYARD – At least it’s spelt properly this time (it wasn’t 6 weeks ago). Dock, the verb version I suggest, produces LAND, and RAY for beam is reversed (up) and inserted.
21 Vague about Indian city plan (7)
DIAGRAM – I seem to get the home of the Taj, disproportionately often, but here’s AGRA again with DIM for vague around it.
22 Spring back with green during more than half of April (6)
RECOIL – Rather a decent literal. Green is ECO, contained in the last 60% of ApRIL
23 Secretive egret regularly hides in island (5)
CAGEY – The even letters of eGrEt in CAY, one of the rarer words for island.
24 Nothing in France holds society up (5)
RISEN – French for nothing is RIEN. stick in S(ociety)

89 comments on “28750 Blow winds and crack your cheeks”

  1. 25:28
    I have a ? at CROSS, and wondered if the bird might be a hybrid; I’d forgotten that the Mariner killed the albatross with a crossbow. I still can’t figure out how the clue works. I took ‘network stop’ to be the definition of STATION. One could read the surface as ‘network stop’ being the fronted object of ‘working’, I suppose.

    1. Ditto with me for ‘station’. For 8d I wondered w hether ‘albatross’ might work as a synonym for ‘cross (to bear)’.

      1. Agreed. Dictionaries have cross & albatross both as an affliction or oppressive influence. And a station is a stop on a rail network, or else what’s the word stop doing?

        1. That might be true from a dictionary/thesaurus point of view but it’s terrible theology!

      2. probably too late for anyone to comment. I had sealion for 1d. south east Asia low-latitude ionospheric observation network!! stop..seal..second director I.. working on=sealion.

        1. I’d be surprised to see such an obscure answer, but more importantly you will never see ‘second director’ (as opposed to second of director or similar) as an indication for I in the Times.

  2. Tough to start, top/left hard to get, so solved anticlockwise from bottom left. Needed cryptic for ENROL my only hmm moment, and LOI DOOMSTER. Liked FREELOADER and GLAMOROUS.
    Saw YODEL clued as a cryptic def once: Mountain air (5) which I really liked.

  3. Started with a sprinkling all around the grid of answers, mostly short ones, that I saw at a… glance (FOI GASP) and the rest filled in rather quickly. There were a few places where I felt lucky to have thought of a clue component so quickly, like I was just on the legendary wavelength. Or my day of intense concentration at work—and at the office!—left my brain oiled and ready for battle. Some were briefly biffed but parsed as I wrote. Finished in the NW. The triple definition impressed, and I’d wager (though not much) that this is the first visit of DOOMSTER to these parts.

    Collins has for CROSS “an opposition, hindrance, or misfortune; affliction (esp in the phrase bear one’s cross)” and for “albatross” “a constant and inescapable burden or handicap.” There is, as so often, a helpful overlap with the wordplay, but strictly speaking, I’d say the definition ends with “kill.” (If it can’t be called an &lit…?)

    (Excuse me, but is there really anything anymore to “debate” about climate change?)

    1. Yes it’s happening now, but dating tools suggest the climate has been flip-flopping at various points throughout the earth’s history. It’s only in the modern age that we’ve been able to conceptualise and contextualise it as ‘climate change’.

      And that’s without taking into account that we are roughly in the middle of an interglacial period which apparently has been warmer than most previous interglacials.

      It doesn’t make it any less scary though. But cutting carbon emissions and implementing other ‘green’ measures is probably a futile exercise in the great scheme of things.

      1. It may indeed be too late. Well, we had a nice ride… But global warming (or contributing to it) is far from the only deleterious effect of fossil fuel consumption.

  4. But in the poem, the CROSSBOW doesn’t kill “something like an albatross” but an echt albatross.

  5. 53 minutes. I took a while to think of FREELOADER an dit only came to me when most of its checkers were in place. DOOMSTER took forever and probably account the last 15 minutes of my solving time.

    I too wondered about the parsing of CROSSBOW, also considering the possibility of albatross being a hybrid, although surely I would have heard of that before? Not very long after I had written it in I decided to move on and return to it later but what with the trials and tribulations over DOOMSTER I clean forgot.

    Narrowly avoided STRING OUT at 14dn.

  6. Stuffed it, DNF at 40, just could not see PERVERSE having forgotten A = per (sometimes). DOOMSTER nearly did for me as well. I’m assuming with CROSSBOW that an albatross around one’s neck is the equivalent of a cross one has to bear, so the def ends at ‘kill’ and the ‘over’ simply indicates positioning. I’m more excited about seeing CAGEY spelt like that, in a QC last week it was CAGY which looks all wrong to me. Thanks for the helpful blog Z, to your comment on ENROL that ‘single is not I, four is not IV’ I would add ‘and record is not EP, LP or tape.’ As you say, different!

  7. 23′, kept getting distracted.

    Knowledge is knowing a TOMATO is a fruit; wisdom means not including it in a fruit salad.

    A good workout, thanks z and setter.

  8. Top half fine, bottom half tough. DNF at 40 minutes. On seeing the reveal, I like FREELOADER.

    Our train service now always says “your next station stop will be Surbiton”. I think some pedant one day pointed out that the next station on the line might be one we were not stopping at. Hence the “clarification”. That, along with “See it. Say it. Sorted” do not enhance the commuting experience.

    1. The alternative explanation for the irritating ‘station stop’ is that because of deteriorating service they had to start distinguishing between stops at the station and the other frequent stops because of leaves on the line, the wrong kind of snow etc etc.

  9. 13:27. When the first 5 or 6 clues I looked at yielded nothing I thought this was going to be tough but it proved easier going once I got into my stride. I only knew LANYARD as something worn round the neck, like an albatross killed with a CROSSBOW.

  10. 52 mins, definitely on the trickier side. Last two in , DOOMSTER and PERVERSE took a while. Otherwise generally fine and a good challenge. I also took the CROSS to be an albatross, wrongly apparently.


    Like vinyl, I also bunged in EMNITY which of course held up AUTOMATON for a bit.

    Thanks z and setter.

  11. I think to make CROSSBOW work I think you need to read the cryptic part of the clue as one. So “over front of ship” = “CROSS BOW”. As in “Pull the sail cross bow”.

  12. 24:14. Quite tough but all very fair. Unless I missing something the surface reading of 10 across seems a bit odd. What is gold November? An autumnal scene presumably?


    1. Gold November? All I can think of are lines from two old songs-“all the leaves are gold and the sky is grey”-Mamas and Papas- and “in the gold November Rain”-Guns ‘n’ Roses.

  13. 31 minutes with LOI RECOIL. COD to DOOMSTER. Perhaps Frazer in Dad’s Army? I didn’t spot where the CROSS came from but I remembered who and what killed the albatross. Decent puzzle. Thank you Z and setter.

  14. 20 minutes all said and done, but I manfully tried to overcomplicate proceedings by attempting to anagram “a rhyme is” for 16D.
    I didn’t initially have the P from GASP and I read “troublesome” as the anagram indicator. Needless to say it didn’t go well. Thankfully the near gimme at 15A put paid to such nonsense and I can happily go on with my day.
    Nothing unknown, aside from a few of the synonyms, but no complaints. Thanks to the setter and blogger.

    1. Your attempted anagram at 16D is almost worthy of today’s DAFTA, except that I tried that strategy too .. despite having the P from GASP. Doh!

      1. I’ll gladly accept the award as I consider it wholly deserved.

        I’m glad at least that I’ll have some company on the podium though…

  15. Another steady solve but I thought this had some fun bits and in the end, was a very sound effort. Like others I puzzled over crossbow for a while but I think cross (to bear) = albatross sorts it well enough.

  16. About 20 minutes. I thought the definition of CROSSBOW ended at ‘kill’, with the albatross as a cross to bear, but I’m happy to be convinced otherwise; I didn’t fully parse STATION (I keep forgetting Tati as a director); I didn’t know cay as island for CAGEY; and I took far too long to see the anagrist for OUTSPEND. No real problems otherwise.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Rotunda
    LOI Lanyard
    COD Determine

    1. I think your take (and others’) on the Ancient Mariner clue is probably what the setter intended, but s/he and I will have to have a private conversation about that elsewhere. This is not the forum for abstruse points of theology, though I wouldn’t mind a definitive answer to the angel/pinhead conundrum.
      I’ll retire to cuddle Gladly, my cross-eyed bear.

      1. I think, were I the Almighty Employer, and I noticed a group of angels shirking their duties while squeezing together onto the head of a pin, probably laughing and taking selfies, I would be handing out pink slips immediately(or at least demoting the idlers to a lower order of angelhood).

  17. 39:09
    Spent half of that time staring at doomster. Finally saw climate = mood.
    Thanks, z.

  18. 42:31, mostly a bottom-up solve.

    I thought an albatross was roughly shaped like a cross, but realised I was thinking of a gannet. Still worked.

  19. 15:50
    I’ve noticed some bars have started requiring punters to queue for the attention of staff, making their job easier but slowing the provision of alcohol to those STRUNG OUT .

  20. 8:18. Steady solve, nice puzzle. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with the equivalence between a cross and an albatross.
    I had forgotten ‘bread basket’ as a term for the stomach, but it does ring the faintest of bells now that it’s explained.

  21. 11:17, solid puzzle. I concur with those who thought their way through the Ancient Mariner story and eventually concluded the albatross was the metaphorical cross the subject of the poem had to bear (incidentally, a goalkeeper in a team I played for was known as the Ancient Mariner, for his tendency to stop one of three, but that’s neither here nor there). I only knew the ROTUNDA in Birmingham, but it wasn’t a big leap to imagine other cities might have their own, arguably more notable, version.

    1. If there was a large rubbish container outside the Birmingham ROTUNDA, would it be a DOOMSTER?

  22. About 45′, somehow on a number of clues I got the parsing all wrong even after the solve. Nevertheless got there. Didn’t know (or at best forgot) the crossbow incident, and biffed RISEN (my only other-ish language is Spanish, not French). I’ve never linked pet and TANTRUM. All in all I’m not sure how I finished!

  23. Beaten by SE corner. Knew exactly how they all worked, but just couldn’t see them and didn’t have the time to let the pennies drop.

  24. 47:21. I caused myself problems by putting REPLY for 9a (plausibly ply=turn, as in 4-ply wool has four turns of wool) which made 1d and 2d impossible for a long time.
    At the end left with DOOMSTER (biffed, without seeing how to parse it), and LOI PERVERSE which needed a very slow alphabet trawl.

    Thanks Z and setter

    1. I put in REPLY too! Ply=fold=turn seemed fine to me. Fortunately one of the first downs (I can’t now remember which one) put paid to that quite quickly.

  25. 26 minutes with no major problems. The ‘something like albatross’ could have been ‘cross’ (to bear) and the definition simply ‘What might kill’, so that there was an &lit element to it. Or the definition could have been ‘What might kill something like albatross’, referencing the poem, and having ‘over’ = ‘cross’, although I’ve never heard of that. However, if it’s in Chambers then OK I suppose. My guess is that the setter intended the former.

    As you go into Archway station on the Tube that dreadful ‘See it. Say it. Sorted’ message was no longer played the other day. Have they by the grace of God given up on it?

  26. 28 mins I also spent ages trying to fit COMMUTER instead of DOOMSTER. As an AGW sceptic, I thoroughly concur. Still no idea about CROSSBOW

  27. Enjoyable, and somehow quite unlike most puzzles, so initially I was flummoxed.
    Like jackkt narrowly avoided STRING OUT at 14dn, but finally the MER at RING=bar went away with RUNG.
    Like S Dunlop I thought an albatross was roughly shaped like a cross.
    Like keriothe I had forgotten ‘bread basket’ as a term for the stomach.
    Like simjt I caused myself problems by putting REPLY for 9a.
    So much like some others then. Took a while. Liked AUTOMATON.

  28. 21:20 – quite gentle after a bit of a bumpy start in the NW corner. Once the low digit acrosses and downs fell into place, the rest followed without too much trouble.

  29. As I pondered 8d I considered PROW and BOW for the front of the ship. WELL at 18a made BOW most likely and CROSS seemed a likely candidate to partner it. Further cogitation brought up dim memories of albatrosses and crosses to bear, so in it went. After some time spent wondering about 16d, PER for A insinuated itself into my thought processes and PERVERSE arrived leaving me with _O_MSTER. The final PDM arrived when I connected MOOD with climate. 21:47. Thanks setter and Z.

  30. 19.50 but mightily relieved to see tract was right. SE quadrant gave me a few wobbles but the rest was reasonably straightforward.

    Thx setter and blogger.

  31. My main problem came in the NW, having put REPLY, like several others, thinking ‘ply a trade’/’turn a trade’ specifically. Although I’d thought of SPOTTED, I failed to parse it initially, and so had 1A and 1 and 2D unfilled at the end, until I revisited REPLY and found an alternative. This seemed harder than it was, given no unknown vocabulary or references, except the ROTUNDA one, where I failed to see the anagram. I put it down to a wavelength thing. I liked AUTOMATON and also RobR’s illustration of the difference between knowledge and wisdom! Thanks to setter and Zabadak for an entertaining blog.

  32. 74:50 for me today but may have left the clock running a bit… I still can’t quite parse pet being a synonym for TANTRUM, it’s not in Chambers anyway… any thoughts?

    thanks Z and setter.

    1. My Chambers app has this for definition 2 of pet:
      1. A slighted and offended feeling
      2. A slight or childish fit of aggrieved or resentful sulkiness
      3. The sulks, huff

  33. I used the “across the bow” plus the albatross-killing-tool method of getting to Crossbow. Seeing Spotted before I’d even sat down and licked the end of my pencil set my expectations for the rest of the puzzle – I sussed that we’d be looking for clear cryptics pointing to definitions which would need an extra second’s worth of thought. Which they did.
    thanks, Z

  34. 60:35
    Strayed again away from the relative comfort of the QC again after seeing the 15×15 SNITCH for today.
    Pleased I did with only my 5th 15×15 solve, though there were 4 ‘guesses’. I hoped STATION would be ‘network’ having ION (thinking ‘I’ was the second letter in ‘director’. Got TRACT only from the ‘land’ element. DNK the ‘albatross’ Rime and DNK ‘A’= PER(verse).
    In 6dn, was ‘Capitol’ not a direct part of the clue as in the Capitol ROTUNDA in Washington?
    Many thanks Z for the education.

    1. Bravo skipper!
      Good to see you back, and in a much more chipper mood, reversing the doom of your last post.
      Retain that A=PER; it crops up frequently and is often very cleverly hidden.
      Another tip: have a go at yesterday’s qualifier, don’t beat yourself up – it’s a toughie, and take the advice on PUNCTUATION that I left in yesterday’s comments.

  35. I wondered “Is DOOMSTER a word?”
    It’s not one that I’d ever heard
    ‘Twas my last one in;
    No pink square – massive grin
    And at least it’s not some type of bird!

    1. Well, I wonder if Gullinkambi,
      one of the three roosters from Asgard who crowed to signal the beginning of Ragnarok could rightly be called an avian Doomster.

  36. 32’22”
    Decent steady pace throughout, never nearer.
    I was chuffed to finish under par, but the 87 Snitch bumped up my 88 to, rather aptly, the number of spotted dogs. All were parsed and familiar; I too took the ‘cross/albatross to bear’ line.

    The SPOTTED dogs that stick in my memory are in Joseph Losey’s Don Giovanni, filmed in colour but Donna Anna and Don G appear to be shot in monochrome, due to their costume, make-up and dogs. Come to think of it, it was shot at the Villa ROTUNDA in Veneto; is there something going on that we haven’t SPOTTED ?
    Thoroughly enjoyed this; thank you setter and Z.

  37. I heartily concur with the comments above that Birmingham comes to mind immediately when the word ‘rotunda’ is mentioned and it would be better clued as such. Got all but ‘doomster’ in the end and misspelt ‘enmity’ like many others.

  38. 21 minutes, of which my last three in, STATION, REACT (couldn’t get REFIT out of my head), and PERVERSE took simply ages. Was annoyed with myself for not thinking of Tati quicker, but I think 16d was a genuinely hard clue.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  39. Hmm. Slow start to this one and eventually DNF as really struggled with the SE corner as never worked out FREELOADER or TANTRUM.
    Thought some of the clues were a bit dodgy (wouldn’t have thought of CAN as shorthand for Canada although the answer was obvious) but liked BANANA SKIN and GLAMOROUS.
    Thanks again to setter and blogger and everyone who contributes to this.

    1. There are quite a few sets of abbreviations that setters resort to; vehicle registration and Internet codes being but two. I’m hopeless with anything concerned with IT, but I’ve almost invariably found that setters pose the wordplay in such a way that makes the one required fairly plain.

  40. I thought this was going to be a lost cause for quite a while but eventually the answers appeared. So quite satisfying in the end

  41. 33.46 Quick for me. The NE and SW went straight in and the rest followed slowly but mostly steadily. I read ALBATROSS as a burden but I didn’t think about it very hard. DOOMSTER was the last one in. Thanks Z

  42. 21.12

    Wasn’t that an album by Rush?

    Anyways, also tardy getting going but sped up. PERVERSE was LOI as I was slow to remember the per= a thing

    Nice puzzle

    Thanks all

  43. 33:05

    Didn’t get the CROSSBOW thing – did Rime of the Ancient Mariner at school but Iron Maiden’s version was much better.

    Personally I don’t mind the See It Say It Sorted thing. At least folk know what to do if some seven-foot eighteen stone ne’er-do-well follows them through the barrier.

  44. A late comment. I left this unfinished with problems in the NW. and went back to it in the middle of last night when I couldn’t sleep. A plausible answer to 9a is REPLY, and that really screwed me. Answers should be unique.

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