QC 2699 by Oink

My Solving time (12:46) was much faster than the post-solve unpacking for this blog.

I spent ages over-thinking the parsing for 3D. The use of Aristotle Onassis as a Canonical Greek passed me by. I started looking for a hidden, then alternate letters, maybe backwards. Then something about his initials (AO), or his wife (Jackie Kennedy), or his profession (shipping magnate).

But he’s Greek, so that’s it? It’s a tough definition as well, so I think this clue will account for blanks and pinks today.

If you haven’t come across the Sunday Time Clue Writing contest I’d suggest you take a look at this brilliant clue for LUMBERJACK: Labour leader is supported by Brown and Straw — he’ll make cuts (10)

Definitions underlined in bold , synonyms in (parentheses) (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, other wordplay in [square brackets] and deletions in {curly} brackets.

1 A strain working for emperor’s wife (7)
TSARINA – (A STRAIN)* [working]

This is a very common crossword word. Learn it.

7 British scoundrel’s shoes (7)
BROGUES – B{ritish} + ROGUE + S (scoundrel)

My initial parsing was B + ROGUES, but that implies plural, so it would have to be scoundrels’, with the apostrophe so indicating. I will appeal to the Apostrophe Protection Society.

9 One to whom candidate must appeal? (7)
ELECTOR – Cryptic?

Only cryptic element is the possible misdirection of “appeal”.

10 A blonde’s contrived affectionate address (3,4)
OLD BEAN – (A BLONDE)* [contrived]

This phrase appears in England in about 1910, (OED first sighting is 1917). Etymology is not known, probably from either a bean as something simple an worthless (“not worth beans”) or from bean for the head (“beaning” someone is still baseball slang)

11 Car valuation regularly neglected (4)
AUTOVALUATION, with alternate letters skipped [regularly neglected]

Oink loses points for artistic merit, that trailing N pains me.

12 Individuals visiting one Asian country or another (9)
INDONESIA – INDIA (one Asian Country) contains ONES (Individuals)

The name Indonesia derives from the Greek words Indos (Ἰνδός) and nesos (νῆσος), meaning “Indian islands”, so the clue and definition follow the etymology. Although it’s an odd name: they are nowhere near India and have never been part of India, there doesn’t seem to be any campaign to change the name. Maybe they just like sitting next to India at the UN.

14 Manager mislaying old earrings (9)
ORGANISER – (O{ld} EARRINGS) [mislaying]

Is a Manager the same as an Organiser? I’m sure there are entire management books on this.

OED has ORGANIZER as the headword, which surprised me.

16 Son having dessert — or a potato? (4)
SPUD – S{on} + PUD{dding}
17 Saw how some prefer their whisky? (7)

“iced”  not usually how one asks for a whisky. “On the rocks” is for whisky, “iced” is for tea. “Iced Whisky” sounds as odd as “Tea on the rocks”

20 Calls round with advice to evildoer? (5,2)

Am evildoer should be told to “drop sin”. Very nice, I’m, a fan of clues which can be solved by a simple change in the word break.

21 Alibi of French dealer in stolen goods (7)
DEFENCE – DE (of in French) + FENCE (dealer in stolen goods)

An Alibi is one way of providing a DEFENCE in a criminal trial.

22 Hurried back to consider report (7)
NARRATE – NAR (RAN=Hurried, backwards) + RATE (consider)
1 Country in which one will find kippers? (3,4,2,3)

Kippers are sleepers, hence Land of Nod, which is itself an ancient joke (going back to at least to Swift) punning on the biblical place name (in Genesis 4:16) where Cain is expelled to. There is nothing soporific about this location in the text, but it sounds like the involuntary nodding that a sleeper makes when they drop off.

So. Kippers sounds like kip, which is slang for sleeping. Sleepers involuntary Nod. And this place in the Bible contains the word Nod.

2 Helping with article on gambler’s activity (8)
ABETTING – A (article) + BETTING (gambler’s activity)
3 Shred a letter to Aristotle Onassis (4)
IOTA – It’s a Greek letter and he’s just a Greek Guy

For example, Not a shred of evidence/Not an IOTA of evidence.

4 A body of water overseas (6)
ABROAD – A + BROAD (body of water)

OED says “East Anglia only”. Rarely used in the singular, though. Apparently the US airmen stationed in East Anglia were at first excited to be stationed close to the famous Norfolk Broads.

5 Don visiting solitary chap, a city dweller (8)
LONDONER – DON inside LONER (solitary chap)
6 Musical instrument found in sack, did you say? (4)
LUTE – Aural wordplay for LOOT

With the U sitting in 2nd position, I was sure that this was TUBA, for Tuber, which is found in a sack.

8 Features of a musical creating a stir? (4,3,5)
SONG AND DANCE – Refers to the colloquial usage for an elaborately contrived story, explanation, or entreaty (OED)
12 Naive, as some popes were (8)
INNOCENT – Cryptic. 13 popes were called INNOCENT.

Innocent III was the most (in)famous, he directed the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars and organized the Fourth Crusade of 1202–1204, which ended in the sack of Constantinople.

Other top Pope names : Urban, Hilarius.

13 Initially Omani spy aims to disturb meetings (8)
SYMPOSIA – (O {mani} SPY AIMS)* [to disturb]
15 Ground next to animal’s lair very wet (6)
SODDEN – SOD (ground) + DEN (animals lair)
18 Posh chap having time away (4)
TOFF – T{ime} + OFF (away)

Class-warfare alert, I thought that was banned in election season. The OED guessed the etymology to be an alteration of “tuft” the special tassel on the gown which could be worn by “a nobleman or gentleman-commoner at Oxford.”

19 Bristly customer finding love in boozer (4)
BOAR – O(love) inside BAR (boozer)

And right at the end, the Signature clue.

93 comments on “QC 2699 by Oink”

  1. I hesitated to put in ELECTOR, thinking there must be something cryptic in the clue, but no. I don’t see the problem with AUTO: ‘regularly neglected’=every other letter deleted, including N. 6:14.

  2. 10:36. I really enjoyed this one. I liked the short ones, SPUD and IOTA, the medium ones, DROPS IN, NOTICED, and OLD BEAN, and then the long one, my COD, THE LAND OF NOD

  3. Regarding ELECTOR, I think too many cryptic definitions are weak tea in the same way, which is why I am not a fan of this clue type. However, I recently learned that the late and truly lamented Richard Rogan was quite fond of CDs, and I do regret that I never had a chance to argue with him about it.

  4. I thought this was generally fairly straightforward and enjoyable, but IOTA did slow me down quite a lot, as I’d NHO Aristotle Onassis. I really don’t think the clue benefitted from having that specific person to be referenced. I guess Onassis was quite well known ~50 years ago when he was alive, but it’s pretty obscure today.

    1. Well, the name “Aristotle (!) Onassis” is pretty patently Greek. (I’d heard of the husband of the former Jackie Kennedy, of course. I have a friend whom Jackie O phoned one day to complain about the giant lizard atop the Lone Star Tavern at Fifth Avenue and 13th Street in Manhattan, which he did not create but was complicit in its placement. She was head of the Community Board.)

      1. Who would be the Canonical Greek? Socrates ? Zorba (“the Greek”)? The late Duke of Edinburgh?

        I think “in Athens” or even “in Greece” might be the way to go.

        1. Ah, well. Perhaps I was forgetting that this is the QC. But even just the last name looks plenty Greek to me. (I don’t know if he was Greek Orthodox, though—”orthodox” being a definition for “canonical.”) Your allusion to the duke of Edinburgh went right over my head.

          1. The Duke was referred to disrespectfully in some circles (Private Eye?) as ‘Phil the Greek’ because of his Greek ancestry.

            1. He was already known as Philip the Greek back in the 70s when I was young, and probably well before that

              1. Private Eye had been around then for 10+ years, but I just remembered their nickname for the Prince was ‘Keith’.

  5. 6 minutes including parsing, my fastest regular solving time given that constraint. I’ve achieved it 56 times over the years but made the magic 5 minutes only 5 times.

    I got confused in the discussion about BROGUES as to the proposed parsing. Mine was B{ritish} + ROGUE + S (scoundrel’s).

    I agree with Kevin that AUTO is fine as it stands.

    Merlin, you need RATE (consider) at 22ac.

  6. A regulation six on the first pass of the acrosses before finishing all green in a remarkable 6.06. Pausing only to see if ‘proverb’ might got where NOTICED went based solely on ‘saw’ and to work out what Aristole was up to with IOTA. Went back up to SYMPOSIA to finish.

  7. The only thing (for me) more frustrating than a pink square for a typo is a pink square for a typo when I’ve spent 30 seconds proof reading the puzzle 😒.
    Other than that I really enjoyed this one and it was also gentle enough that I would have recorded a sub 5 minute solve without my fat fingers.
    Amongst a strong list of contenders THE LAND OF NOD gets my vote for COD.
    Thanks to Merlin

  8. IOTA was my LOI and probably stopped this being a PB – in the end I resorted to an alphabet search as I could not see where the clue was going at all. Fortunately surprisingly few words go I-T- so I got there in the end, but it pushed a sub-5 minute run out to a 7 minute completion.

    The speedy solve was much helped by getting both long down clues straight off, and thereafter no real problems till the aforementioned Greek letter. I parsed BROGUES as B + ROGUE’S (for scoundrel’s), with the apostrophe then ignored for the grid.

    Many thanks Merlin for the blog, and especially all the etymology. I agree with you that “iced” sounds wrong for whisky with ice.

  9. Thanks Oink and Merlin. I suppose boar is the trademark clue. Merlin might you prefer oddly neglected valuation for auto?
    A rare sub 10 for me with iota loi

  10. 3:41. I enjoyed the blonde’s OLD BEAN best. A couple of comments on the blog. I think “rogue’s” for “scoundrel’s” is fine for 7A – it is the definition “shoes” that’s the plural the answer has to match. I also have no problem with the N in valuation being neglected – it fits the pattern of deleting every other letter. Whilst the area in East Anglia is called The Broads, the individual lakes, of which there are 63, have the name in the singular… e.g. Oulton Broad. Thanks Oink and Merlin.

  11. Err I’m embarrassed to learn that Jackie O’s married name is Onassis, I had always thought it was her maiden name, but upon googling, her maiden name was Bouvier which I also knew.

    I had no idea that Aristotle Onassis was a person. I was very confused by that clue and just biffed IOTA.

    I also didn’t know popes were Innocent, but again the obvious synonym for Naive was there. I like these obvious synonyms!

    You say ELECTOR is weak but I don’t get it at all. A candidate *must* appeal to an elector… What other meaning is there to the clue? Is there a pun in there?

    Anyway about ten minutes or more it took me. And I wouldn’t have gotten BOAR had I not known it was an Oink puzzle so there’s that.

      1. I also didn’t know that. My parents didn’t let me watch the Simpsons. My husband almost solely speaks in Simpsons quotes.

        It’s weird when I watch an ep now to find out my husband hasn’t said an original thing in his life.

        1. Someone–a friend of his, no doubt–said that you could tell from Aldous Huxley’s conversation what volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica he was currently reading.

  12. Started fast but got bogged down on the right and ended in reggo 08:17 for 1.3K and an OK Day. Too many clues on the right required a second look for me to clock something really fast – SYMPOSIA, SONG AND DANCE, INDONESIA and especially LOI LUTE, which needed a trawl.

    Agree with Cedric and John about BROGUES.

    Lovely puzzle, COD DROPS IN, many thanks Merlin and Oink.


  13. I enjoyed this and they all dropped in nicely except for the aforementioned IOTA. I was well familiar with the man. Mrs Merton’s historic question, ‘Mrs Kennedy, what first attracted you to the multi- billionaire, Aristotle Onassis?’ comes to mind when matching the beautiful, tall, 39 year old JK with squat, elderly Greek shipping magnate, AO.
    In the end I just assumed, rightly, it required just a suitable Greek letter, nothing more.
    22.minutes when all said and done and much to like. Thanks Merlin and Oink.

    1. Poor Jackie K, I guess she thought Ari could ensure she had some privacy. And very successful people have their own charm, in my limited experience. She was not gold-digger, as you imply. She had her own gold, inherited.
      I still remember vividly her pink blood-stained suit after JFK’s death.

      1. I’m with you. If you ever watch the film of the assassination and put yourself in her place, it is heart-rending.

  14. 5:50

    I missed the exact parsing of 3d whilst in flight, just bunged in IOTA from the first checker. Didn’t notice either that LOI SYMPOSIA was an anagram – was trying to squeeze in the initial letters of ‘Omani spy aims’ (which almost worked) – in the end, just bunged in from checkers.

    Enjoyable blog as usual – thanks Merlin, and Oink for the grid

  15. A shocking start, trying to make Onerous parse for 1ac before seeing Tsarina, followed by a futile search for a real country at 1d. Fortunately, the coffee then kicked in and I switched to a more appropriate solving technique. The recovery went well and put me in with a shout at a sub-20, but CoD Lute (ah, that sort of sack) and loi Iota (and that sort of shred) nudged me into a window seat. Invariant

  16. Wow. A fastest time for me by over 2 minutes at just over 8 in all. I couldn’t believe it. That’s 2 completed in a row with no real problems. Woohoo

  17. After a few clues I was getting stuck on this. Then I read 1d which was immediately obvious to me and the rest went in very quickly with all the helpful letters.
    It does matter what order you read the clues in.
    LOI was INNOCENT after 10 minutes.
    A fun puzzle as is often the case with Oink.

  18. Finished and much enjoyed. Yes, ELECTOR seemed too simple, but liked many others inc OLD BEAN, DEFENCE (COD), DROP SIN, SONG AND DANCE.
    Helpful that 1a and 1d were easy.
    Thanks vm, Merln.

  19. 13 mins, lots of interruptions.

    Nice puzzle. Liked drops in and noticed.
    Didn’t like elector.

    Voter held back in foxtrot celebrations (times crossword submission)
    Lo, erect cavorting voter (News of the World crossword submission)

  20. Quick start but tailed off a bit in the SW – tried many ways round in vain for the now simple LAND OF NOD. That was loi but I still made it just inside ten minutes.

  21. Finished in 35 mins. – but not correctly.

    6 Down- Put TUBA instead of LUTE and did not spot the clash with BEAN (as in 10 Across – OLD BEAN)
    until I read the blog. A near miss.
    No wonder I never succeeded at proof reading.

    TUBA always makes me think of a favourite joke – which is much too rude to put in this blog.

    1. I once saw a comic who proclaimed on stage that he could play the tuba. And he then proceeded to produce a potato (ie tuber) with a hole in it, through which he made a very creditable sound not unlike a brass instrument might make.

  22. 5:27

    Almost as fast as I can write except for a little thought required at 13, 14 and LOI ABETTING.
    Fun puzzle, thanks Oink and Merlin.

  23. My fastest time for a little while at 6.07. I completed the crossword in my usual manner by attempting all the across clues before going on to the down clues. As I only completed four across clues on my first pass, and then completed all down clues straight away on first reading, it is a pity I didn’t reverse the process. I’m sure this would have improved my time by a fair margin.

  24. Ten minutes. But I had the disappointment of mistyping my LOI as SYMPOAIA, then hitting submit, and before the screen cleared seeing the error. So a pink square for me.

  25. 7 minutes. For once no major hold-ups. I had no problem with ELECTOR as there is more than one way of looking at the clue. What if a candidate has a grievance about something during the eg campaign or election; to whom does he or she appeal to resolve the grievance? IOTA was also fine by me, probably because such a big thing was made of Onassis being a “Greek shipping magnate” when he married Jackie K in 1960-whatever.

    A confidence builder after a v. slow (compared to everyone else) 15×15 today.

    Thanks to Merlin for the usual interesting tidbits and to Oink.

  26. Found this a fun diversion this morning, thank you Oink, although I was beginning to panic as the end was looming and No Piggy Reference – yikes! But there it was in the last clue – oh me of little faith.
    I really liked NOT ICED and DROP SIN and, like others, saw no problem with AUTO and BROGUES. I thought, with the latter, that the rule was to ignore punctuation.
    I’d certainly heard of Aristotle Onassis and his relationship with Jackie Kennedy. I believe he also had a bit of a walkout with Maria Callas the opera singer.
    You got me wondering, Merlin, about the derivation of OLD BEAN (which made me smile, as I’m a big fan of Wodehouse). I wonder if it could have arisen from “human being” being shortened to “being” then further contracted? Just a (very) idle thought.
    Didn’t require the blog today but, as always, enjoyed reading it, thanks Merlin.

      1. Ah, right.
        Have to admit, I hadn’t looked it up or anything. Just a bit of post-crossword chatter.
        Thanks, though – impressed at how much research you do.

  27. Pretty straightforward, a time in the mid 4’s leaving me half way down the leaderboard.

    I liked the LAND OF NOD, NOTICED and DROPS IN, which was also my LOI.


  28. 5.12 with a typo

    Usual good fare from Oink. BEAR held me up in the SE. Talking of which if you haven’t seen the show, get on it! It’s fab.

  29. 21 mins…

    Inched into the SCC by getting stuck on 11ac “Auto”. Even though I could see it must relate to alternative letters somewhere, I somehow consistently failed to find it and couldn’t get Audi and other marques out of my head. I also put “Tuba” into 6dn thinking it was a homophone of “Tuber” until 10ac presented itself.

    Overall, a fun puzzle with some lovely clues.

    FOI – 1ac “Tsarina”
    LOI – 11ac “Auto”
    COD – 20ac “Drops In”

    Thanks as usual!

  30. Also found ELECTOR to be rather weak but no problems with the rest. Liked LAND OF NOD and DROPS IN the most. Liked even more finishing in 7:55 which is a substantial PB for us. Thanks, Merlin and Oink.

  31. Great puzzle lots to make me smile.

    Managed in one sitting.

    Spent some time wondering whether the country where one would find kippers was connected to THAILAND!

    Thanks Oink and Merlin

  32. All done and dusted in my usual slow time of 30-40. Thought the best clubs was 1 down. Very clever.

    1. One of the pleasures of this blog is the gradual reduction of embarrassment over solving time to near-zero.

      Personally, I suffered from oboe fixation with much less justification.

  33. 25:04 for me – nice enjoyable solve.

    Decided it had to be IOTA though couldn’t see the straight definition.

    Slight eyebrow raise at “Alibi” indicating DEFENCE without a DBE indicator.

  34. 5.59 Mostly very straightforward. I was distracted for a while trying to fit NEAT into 17a. DROPS IN and BOAR were the last two. Thanks Merlin and Oink.

  35. That was fun! 7:28 all done and dusted, and with ticks and smiles all over the grid. There were a few I’ve seen before (or at least variations of) such as INDONESIA and ABROAD, but they were still enjoyable, although I too kept hoping there was a bit more to ELECTOR than met the eye 😀 I really liked DROPS IN and NOTICED.
    FOI Tsarina LOI Lute COD The Land of Nod
    Many thanks Oink and Merlin – yes, I agree re LUMBERJACK. Professional level I reckon – absolutely inspired 🤣

  36. A pleasant 16:43 so back to a respectable time (for me), a good thing since there’s a full day today of non-puzzle activities.

    Agree ELECTOR is hardly cryptic but did not find IOTA that hard. OLD BEAN, hilarious, lucky I’ve seen it somewhere (Jeeves?). Tea on the rocks,🤣. I was recently reading about how INNOCENT III was writing about the values of peace and love while whipping up the Albigensian Crusade. It kind of haunts me.

    Thanks to Oink. Great commentary today, Merlin!

  37. 27 mins analogue timing. Not seeing anything cryptic about Elector but it was easy enough to put in. Slowed down in the South of the grid, Organiser and Symposia took too long. Drops In, great clue.

    Thanks Oink and Merlin

  38. Really well balanced, enjoyable puzzle today. I especially liked the Oink reference being BOAR as we sometimes see the aptly named little ‘humbugs’ when walking.
    Thanks Oink and informative blog Merlin.

      1. 😂 Perhaps … getting 1ac and 1dn immediately was the key for me today.

        Hard luck on missing out on a sub-20. I recite the Greek alphabet each day before I start the QC as it comes up so often. It stood me in good stead today.

  39. Drat! Sailed through today and totally forgot to clock in here. Mrs M being an Indonesianist liked 12a; I loved DROP SIN. Thank you, Oink.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *