28906 From the Chargé des Choses

I thought I was on for a very quick time as the top half went in at Quickie pace, but part two appropriately glowed with the red of 15 acrosses, and the pace slowed. I also thought that a couple of definitions were a bit tenuous, requiring that three point turn in a Thesaurus, but I was not aware of anything that would earn an obscurity badge, though perhaps the Italian recipe for developing heart attacks was unfamiliar, and sounded indeed more like pasta. I crossed the line in 16.33, pausing occasionally to do my blogger’s unravelling duty.

Definitions underlined in italics, letters deleted or not included indicated by [], the rest as it pleases me.

1 Choose not to take part in work with solicitor (3,3)
OPT OUT – OP for work, as in opus, and TOUT for solicitor, not the legal kind.
5 Fine food shop to provide food, mostly (8)
DELICATE – A food shop is a  DELI[catessen], add most of CATE[r] for provide food.
9 Check next to one river and another for animals (8)
REINDEER – Check: REIN plus the river DEE and a R[iver]
10 Elite individuals go after information (6)
GENTRY – Mildly unsure of that definition: Chambers gives them as the rank below the nobility, so not really the top of the pile, but the wordplay – TRY for go after GEN for information – leaves no wriggle room
11 Terribly bad, bad local I repeatedly trashed (10)
DIABOLICAL – An anagram (trashed) of BAD LOCAL and repeated Is
13 Has drinks, but no starter (4)
OWNS – One expression for drinks is DOWNS. Take off the first letter.
14 Article in Libération covering Northern French city (4)
LENS – Libération is a French journal so the definite article in front of a plural would be LES. Insert N[orth]. Appropriately Lens is indeed in Northern France, unless it’s in Belgium. Or Switzerland.
15 Beset by trouble, degenerate shows sign of slowing down (5,5)
BRAKE LIGHT – Degenerate is RAKE (as in his Progress) enclosed by BLIGHT for trouble – again a rather one step removed equivalence.
18 Frequent drinking you ultimately had reduced (10)
ATTENUATED – Spent a while working this out, though nothing else fits. To frequent is to ATTEND. insert the last of [yo]U and ATE for had.
20 Prejudice in book reported to be cut back (4)
BIAS – B[ook] plus SAID for reported cut short and reversed.
21 Tool does some calculations, we’re told (4)
ADZE – Sounds like (we’re told) adds.
23 Vessels requiring knotted ropes at bow (5,5)
POWER BOATS – An anagram (knotted) of ROPES AT BOW
25 A very loud, cool thing (6)
AFFAIR – A plus musical FF for very loud (Fortissimo) plus cool as a verb giving AIR.
26 It’s not important to gossip about an award (2,6)
NO MATTER – Gossip is NATTER, insert OM (Order of Merit) for an award
28 Used sneaky tactic filling in legal document (8)
DEPLOYED – Sneaky tactic is PLOY inserted in a legal DEED.
29 Short, extremely showy gesture of respect (6)
CURTSY – CURT for short and the outer letters of S[how]Y
2 In part, Republican denies manoeuvring for the top job? (9)
PRESIDENT – R[epublican] plus an anagram (manoeuvring) of DENIES in P[ar]T
3 Old writer featuring in upcoming total collected works (7)
OMNIBUS – O[ld] plus NIB for writer contain in SUM for total reversed (upcoming)
4 Cup match level until just before the end (3)
TIE – A level is a TIER. Remove its end.
5 Greek party in charge of suppressing resistance (5)
DORIC – Party is DO, plus I[n] C[harge] with R[esistance] inserted.
6 Support key objective with sources of extra reserved money (5,6)
LEGAL TENDER – Worked out post submission: it’s LEG for support, ALT from your keyboard, END for objective and the first letters of E[xtra] S[upport] R[eserved] (amended, thanks Gerry)
7 Nicola messily devours the filling from any creamy pastry (7)
CANNOLI – Not surprisingly, an Italian cream filled pastry. An anagram (messily) of NICOLA plus the content of [a]N[y].
8 Cycle around centre of big Italian city (5)
TURIN – Cycle gives TURN, and for the second clue in a row, the extra letter, I, comes from the middle of a 3 letter word, this time [b]I[g]
12 Political group identified by your and my piece in LA Times (6,5)
LABOUR PARTY – Your and my piece translates to OUR PART, enclosed in LA (given) and BY for Times, with a slightly naughty capital letter.
16 Fit cheap, tatty clothes (3)
APT – Today’s hidden, in cheAP Tatty.
17 Cold male lacking pretence (9)
HEARTLESS – male is HE, and lacking pretence ARTLESS.
19 I shout out loud and look up and down (7)
EYEBALL – Another sounds like (out loud) of I BAWL from I shout
20 Somebody maybe taking a punt eating tail of foul fish (7)
BLOATER – So not a BLETTER, then, but a BOATER for one in a punt, with the last letter of [fou]L inserted
22 Excellent, regularly noted author (5)
DEFOE – I think its use is now only in dated hip hop movies, but DEF meant excellent, to which we must add the O and E of nOtEd.
24 Overcome, journalist enjoyed the delights of Bordeaux? (5)
WINED – Overcome gives the simple WIN, and the Crossword journalist ED.
27 One held by host? (3)
MIC – An MC is a M[aster of] C[eremonies] or host, I or one is inserted. A neat little &lit.

72 comments on “28906 From the Chargé des Choses”

  1. 25 minutes. I took CANNOLI on trust and the meaning of ATTENTUATED, but other than that this was straightforward for me. I can’t say I had any misgivings about definitions as noted in the blog but perhaps after a couple of years of doing The Guardian puzzle every day I’m becoming more relaxed about such things.

  2. 7:36 which is apparently my third-best time, so yee-ha! I was on too nice a wavelength to notice any of the tenuousness observed by the blogger (not to say it didn’t exist).

    Thought I was to be foiled at the end by 18ac. Eventually saw that ATTENUATED fitted the checkers and the definition and decided that the parsing could wait until post-submission.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  3. Infuriatingly, one letter away from a record speedy solve – ‘adse’ not ADZE. I’ve got a feeling it’s caught me before and know it will again.

    Thanks for the fine blog, Zabadak, although I’d parsed it all bar BRAKE LIGHT.

  4. Another near sub 10′ for this, for me, straightforward puzzle. CANNOLI seemed plausible. Biffed ATTENUATED after getting crossers. Have been to TURIN. Thought CURTSY hd an ‘e’.

    Possible breach of electoral law, mentioning one party without another on this election day? (Other regions may differ).

    Thanks z and setter.

    1. Chambers has both CURTSEY and CURTSY, deriving from courtesy. I’m not sure which looks wronger!

      1. Merriam-Webster gives the nod to CURTSY first for Americans comme moi, but to me it looks a bit… curt.

  5. No problems with this one. I had TIE(D) rather than TIE(R) but it makes no difference.Thanks Z and setter.

  6. Got stuck on ATTENUATED and LENS which dragged me over the 20 mark to 22.49. Some terrific clues here and bravo Zabadak for making sense of ATTENUATED, LEGAL TENDER (quite a construction there) and POWER BOATS (I was misled by the presence of the word Bow and was totally bamboozled, and it was an anagram!) Once again I missed def = excellent and I have difficulty equating elite with GENTRY, preferring the merit system. LABOUR PARTY was another cleverly constructed clue.

    And Louise, she’s all right, she’s just near
    She’s DELICATE, seems like the mirror (Visions of Johanna)

  7. Haven’t been to an Italian resto for a long time (have mostly convened with friends in Middle Eastern places lately, including a Palestinian one—written up in the mag I work for—that hosted a free dinner for Jews and Palestinians after October 7… Sorry, the world is too much with us), but I knew CANNOLI (and wouldn’t mind having one). Nice puzzle. I didn’t squint at any of the definitions.

  8. As straightforward as it gets for me in about 18′ before going to bed last night.. it had a very Quickie feel . I didn’t really have Z’s misgivings about the clueing, maybe I’m just happy rushing through it!

    Slight error in blog for 6 down where final letters come from E[xtra] R[eserved].

    I quite enjoyed BRAKE LIGHT. Thanks Zabadak and setter.

  9. 14:52 so another fast time. Vaguely heard of CANNOLI. LOI was BRAKE LIGHT.
    Thanks setter and Zabadak

  10. Thus from a mixture of all kinds began,
    That het’rogeneous thing, an Englishman:
    In eager rapes, and furious lust begot,
    Betwixt a painted Britain and a Scot.
    (The True Born Englishman, Daniel Defoe)

    15 mins pre-brekker. Straightforward, and some very nice surfaces and a neat &Lit. President, Tie, Power Boats, all very neat.
    Ta setter and Z

  11. 14:00
    Not what I expected on a Thursday. DNK CANNOLI. As Myrtilus says, some nice surfaces I liked LOI BRAKE LIGHT.

  12. 14:40, after wondering whether whether ADZH was actually the right alternative for ADZ. (It isn’t).


  13. 16 minutes and should have been quicker. LOI and COD EYEBALL. DEF to mean excellent came and went without ever really registering with me but the author was well known. I only know of LENS from checking out how to pronounce their football team. Thank you Z and setter.

  14. 17 minutes. Nice and benign though BRAKE LIGHT, ATTENUATED and the parsing of LEGAL TENDER and LABOUR PARTY took some working out. Near the end, POWER BOATS was helped by already having the crossing BLOATER.

    The “neat little &lit” MIC was my pick today.

  15. ‘Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.’
    Peter Clemenza (with apologies to Myrtilus)

    6:02. Another semi-biff-fest, lots of answers going in without full understanding of the wordplay but very few without any.

  16. 14:10
    Happy Mondays, with at least 3 of them this week.

    I thought this was going to be a sub-10 but then the pressure got too much and the last 3 (ATTENUATED, EYEBALL, DEPLOYED) took me to over 13. Record time lost, I then actually checked my work for once as a careless pink square would have been too much to bear.

    No unknowns, all fairly clued. A nice entry level crossword for those making the step up to the 15×15.

    Thanks to both.

  17. 21 mins so almost a pb. Very Mondayish I thought. LOI ATTENUATED which I finally parsed.

    Quite a lot to like, LENS, POWERBOATS, & BRAKE-LIGHT especially.

    Hopefully I’m going to Turin in July. Must try some of the unknown CANNOLI. I agree it sounds more like pasta.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  18. 15:35 (5 of which taken up by LOI ATTENUATED )
    Strolling through Little Italy in NYC a few years ago I was delighted to see two stores on Grand St with large models hanging over the doors to advertise their wares, one a gun and the other a cannoli (cannolo in Italian).

  19. Sub-10 minutes, so one of my quickest ever solves.

    I’ve fallen into the ADsE trap before, so this time I remembered to spell it with a Z; the only other vague uncertainty was CANNOLI, but the cluing made it clear enough.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Opt out
    LOI Affair
    COD Owns (in the same vein as my COD from yesterday – nothing special, but neat and smooth)

  20. 7.01, which is a PB by some distance, and could have been even better had I not started with a typo in 1ac that delayed me with OMNIBUS.

    Thanks Z & setter.

  21. 12:43. Nothing diabolical here except for the answer. Held up by biffing OEUVRES for 3D, which REINDEER highlighted was wrong. Thanks Z and setter. I enjoyed PRESIDENT for the little dig at the orange one. Thanks Z and setter.

  22. Decided against ‘bletter’, and opted for ‘blooter’. Well, if someone takes a punt, he’s a booter. And there are so many fish out there.

    1. Glad to see I’m not the only one to put ‘bletter’, though I did correct it to BLOATER in due course.

  23. 21:46. I knew CANNOLI from Montalbano – the Sicilian detective on the telly – a series that is sadly long gone. Now, will we get another Monday puzzle tomorrow?

  24. Only a handful of seconds slower than the QC, for a PB by some distance. My fastest time recorded on SNITCH seems to be an error, as when I click on the link – it’s a puzzle I haven’t done on the club site.

    DEPLOYED was LOI, and I was going too quickly to notice much about the puzzle.


  25. Lens, France, is a city. Lens, Belgium and Switzerland, are both municipalities.

    Collins has curtsey as an American word. Curtsy is the English version.

    Punt as in boot a ball is an Americanism that has crept into rugby. It’s a type of boat.

    1. According to OED it’s the opposite: ‘punt’ was originally an English (specifically rugby-related) word which was adopted by American football in the late 19th century.

        1. A man with a voice simply not made for broadcasting. I appreciate that he was an expert on the game, but I always wished he’d go for an early bath.

          1. Perhaps a little unkind? He was an authentic voice of the North, where the sport is mostly played, and in an era when the BBC was all RP and posh southern accents, a very rare example of the top brass tolerating someone from the regions. And he knew his stuff.

            John Arlott was another whose accent, in his case a rich Hampshire burr, was tolerated despite not being RP, and for the same reason – no-one knew cricket like he did.

            1. I’ve never really been into rugby but I get very exercised about accent snobbery. Having listened to a few samples of Eddie Waring’s output (I vaguely remember the name but no more than that) I’m sure that’s not Norm0’s point. His enunciation is less than clear. My dad was (and is) into rugby and the voice of Bill McLaren still brings back childhood memories for me: not an RP speaker by any means but so eloquent.

  26. 12:26

    A massive PB, as I’ve not reported a sub 15’ since I joined the blog. Had the same experience as Rowlie, finishing ATTENUATE EYEBALL DEPLOYED.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  27. All went in smoothly enough (I notice that the CANNOLI clue hasn’t been criticised for being an obscurity clued by an anagram — perhaps it was only an obscurity to me) and after 25 minutes I only had the ATTENUATED answer to find. Even though I had the checkers and I also guessed that ‘Frequent’ might well be a verb, after another six or seven minutes I gave up and used aids. Ate = had always defeats me. Surely SAWBILL is right: ‘level until just before the end’ in 4dn could easily have been tie[d].

    1. On CANNOLI: it may well be that no-one’s complaining because there’s no real alternative given the crossing letters!

  28. FOI OPT OUT and LOI ATTENUATED and done in 18:05, so fairly easy. I’m very familiar with cannoli as there’s a ‘Café Cannoli’ in Warwick and they often have a stall in the local markets in both Leamington and Warwick. They briefly had an arrangement with the local branch of Esquires in Leam whereby Esquires would sell their cannoli in fact, though that’s sadly no longer in effect. I highly recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area!

  29. I was on for a super quick time for me with just fifteen minutes having elapsed with just one to do. Unfortunately my mind went into reverse gear, and it took me a full eight minutes to solve ATTENUATED. It’s not very often I’m disgruntled with a time of 23.07, but I feel on this occasion it should have been far better.

  30. 13:15 – all straightforward though ATTENUATED evaded any sort of parsing even post-solve, so thanks for the explanation. OEUVRES and IONIC at 3 and 5d went in on sight and went out when the brain and crossers engaged.

  31. NHO CANNOLI despite having relatives in, or rather, near, TURIN. This is the sort of puzzle I like, ie one I can do.
    Why does TURIN appear so often In crosswords? I don’t know the stats but it seems to figure out of all proportion compared to other European cities.
    A very elegant city, by the way. In fact Piemonte is a generally neglected part of Italy by Brits. Cuisine is closer to French than southern Italian, and the local dialect (Torinese, with many local variants) has a distinctly French nasal twang to it. Towns like Ivrea, Alba, have quite a different feel from Chiantishire, Umbria, etc.

  32. Despite tackling this mid afternoon, I, surprisingly, find myself well inside the top 100 on the leaderboard, and hence on the SNITCH. OPT OUT dropped straight in and it then became a bit of a biff fest. Like Keriothe, I partially parsed most of the clues but didn’t linger. Slowed slightly towards the end by ATTENUATED, NO MATTER, CURTSY and LOI, MIC. Was aware of CANNOLI due to having watched the US Sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, where it was regularly served up by the Matriarch of the family. 10:33. Thanks setter and Z.

  33. 15:44

    Very straightforward, though didn’t bother parsing a few:

    DIABOLICAL (from checkers)
    BRAKE LIGHT (from checkers)
    ATTENUATED (from checkers but had no idea what the definition was! – Had been thinking it must mean ‘frequent’ rather than ‘reduced’, but am now reminded that musical notes can undergo attenuation)
    LABOUR PARTY – could see where it was going with L_B___/P____ so didn’t bother with the parsing.
    LEGAL TENDER – got as far as LEG ALT and bunged the rest in

    Slow on POWER BOATS as WATER was among the anagrist…

    As for Kapietro, my knowledge of CANNOLI comes mainly from Montalbano (think he’s keen on arancini as well)

    Thanks Z and setter

  34. 22:21 -smashed it out of the park. Easily a PB by 10+ mins and I would have scraped under 20 if I’d just bunged in ATTENUATED rather than trying to parse it. But didn’t because I wasn’t entirely sure of its meaning. My poor parse was something to do with frequent drinking beginning AT 10 😃 and could see the you=U, had=ATE was enough to go for it.

    8th completion ever I think – I only do the low SNITCHING ones and this was at 61

        1. No, I’ve been sticking to QC and Concise lately. I was attempting these a year or so ago but found them “a bridge too far”. Very pleased you are making progress though!

  35. 39.12 with two pink squares. Like MangoMan I’m a repeat ADSE misspeller and I fat-fingered LABOUT PARTY so it was never going to end well. ATTENUATED was unparsed so that was LOI after more than ten minutes on EYEBALL. Thanks Zabadak.

  36. 24:16. I saw the average times and knew it had to be quick. Then I looked and found precisely nothing for what seemed like ages. (perils of looking at it before getting out of bed and still half asleep!) Eventually brain locked into gear and the answers piled in fairly easily. COD EYEBALL. Thanks z and setter!

  37. An enjoyable puzzle, which only detained this scorer for c.19 minutes. Was held up for a while in the NW corner, as I was expecting 9ac to end in ‘s’ and so was playing around with animals like LEVERETS. Eventually the penny dropped with DORIC and the rest fell into place. I was another solver TIED at 4dn. NHO DEF=excellent in 22dn, but the crossers really left DEFOE as the only option for the author.
    COD – ATTENUATED because of the deceptive surface.
    Thanks to Zabadak and other contributors.

  38. Like our blogger, I raced through the top half but was slowed down in the SE corner. 15’45” is fast for me even so, but I needed help here to parse ATTENUATED and DEFOE, the first of which I might eventually have seen but the second never. ‘Def’ = excellent? I’ve never heard or seen it.

  39. Wow, I finished it. And in 15:17. So that really was a green run. Thanks for ironing out the wrinkles, Z.

  40. I’m like Andy Pandy. 13 minutes became 22 minutes because of ATTENUATED. I am sure my brain slows down at the end of the day. This did not feel to me like a 59 SNITCH, but the finishing times show 59 is just about right. Oh well. Many thanks as ever to setter and blogger.

  41. Came to it late in the day so quite pleased it was one of the easier offerings.

  42. Came in at 16 minutes 29 seconds which is a PB by over 3 minutes. I found this way easier than the Quickie today. LOI ATTENUATED. Fortunately, I have visited Sicily so CANNOLI was not an obstacle.

  43. Well I guess this makes a nice change of pace from some of the ‘I always find Jalna hard’ comments I often see over on the QC blogs 😬

    Glad most people had an easy ride with this one. I do wonder if this is all the calm before an editor special tomorrow though!

    Many thanks as always for solving and commenting

  44. Encouraged by Mrs S to give this a try, and a finish in 17 minutes which is not only a PB by I think some way but also only 2 minutes more than I took on a tough QC this morning. Much enjoyed, though Defoe not parsed and Cannoli a guess, and I’m sure I’ve seen Turin clued like that or very similar quite recently.

    Many thanks Zabadak for the blog and Jalna for giving me a boost at the end of the day.

    1. Found it: QC 2618 on 8 March had Revolution engulfing one European city (5), = TURIN.

  45. “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” – a quote from The Godfather. Apparently not as well known as I thought.


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