Quick Cryptic 2322 by Joker

Another enjoyable tussle with Joker today. I was speeding along, but then my last three took me a good five minutes. Looking at them now, I can’t see any reason why they held out for so long, but there it is. All done and (all but one) parsed in 17:19.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen a grid with a three-by-two block of letters in a QC. There’s probably a technical term for that, which I look forward to learning.

Definitions underlined in italics, wordplay indicators in square brackets, synonyms in round brackets, deletions in squiggly brackets.

1 Lounge about with one fizzy drink, sweet (8)

LOLL (lounge about) + I (one) + POP (fizzy drink).

5 Big tub filled with sulphur is immense (4)

VAT (big tub) containing [filled with] S (chemical symbol for sulphur).

7 Wish for having time off in sheltered bay (4)

COVE{t} (wish for) without T for time [having time off].

8 Family member is on lawn playing (3-2-3)

Anagram [playing] of IS ON LAWN.

9 Number cut back in game (8)

NINE (a number) + SNIP (cut), reversed [back].

Ninepins, a slightly cheaper form of bowling than ten-pin bowling 😉

11 Absinthe, primarily the French drink (3)

A [first letter – primarily – of Absinthe], + LE (the, in French).

13 Run in to end where batsman stands (6)

R (run – cricket) inside CEASE (end).

A double helping of cricket lingo needed for this clue. R for “run” is common enough, but I can see “crease” –  the name for the area where the batsman stands – causing problems.

I think we’re supposed to refer to “batters” these days.

16 Make a mistake with mission (6)

ERR (make a mistake) + AND (with).

This was one of the three that held me up at the end. Finally had a PDM when I spotted that “with” wasn’t just a linker word this time.

18 Sculpture, say, exhibited in Parthenon (3)

Hidden [exhibited] in {p}ART{henon}.

A definition-by-example clue, indicated by “say” in the clue.

19 Save edit when working, something that may de-stress one (8)

Anagram (when working) of SAVE EDIT.

“De-stress”? I wonder why Joker didn’t use “relax”, or “lower one’s stress”, or anything that isn’t so ugly, really.

20 Half-and-half calamari and tapenade, a spicy mix (8)

Half of calaMARI + half of tapeNADE.

I don’t suggest following this recipe. And while marinades can be spicy, I don’t think they have to be.

22 Homeless child with a condition (4)

W (common abbreviation for “with”) + A + IF (condition, as in “if this, then that”).

23 Let It be? Track initially included in songs given at concert (4)

T (Track initially) inside [included in] SET (songs given at concert).

“stet” (Latin for “let it stand”) is what editors write on a manuscript when they make an edit and then change their mind, deciding to keep the original, or “let it be”.

I wondered for a little while whether the odd capitalization of “Let It be” was significant, but I can’t see anything, so I’m concluding that it was just an oversight.

24 Fine food shop has pretty item sent to a customer (8)

DELI (fine food shop) + VERY (pretty, as in “this is a pretty good clue”).

1 Caught after oil can’s running short (7)

C (caught, another cricket reference) after an anagram of OIL CAN.

Laconic, from Laconia, the part of Greece that contains Sparta. Apparently Spartans were renowned for being terse in their speaking habits.

2 Shrub seller in America south of Los Angeles (8)

VENDER (seller in America (?)) after [south of, for a down clue] LA (Los Angeles).

I live in California, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen “vender”. My dictionary has both “vender” and “vendor” with no mention of any regional usage. A short spell of online investigation hasn’t turned up any indication that US usage favours “-er”: in fact, the one article I found that had an opinion on the topic came to the opposite conclusion.

US usage does have “-er” endings on words like “fiber” and “center”, but that would only work as the wordplay device if the British spelling were “vendre”.

Or have I mis-parsed this clue completely?

3 Punishes unruly son for self-assertive behaviour (9)

Anagram [unruly] of PUNISHES + S for son.

4 Pasolini’s beginning a new movement in film (3)

P [Pasolini’s beginning] + AN (new).

In QC land, if you haven’t heard of a person, it’s often a good plan just to use the word as fodder for the wordplay. In this case, Mr Google tells me that Pier Paolo Pasolini was an Italian poet and filmmaker. So had I been more cultured, I would have appreciated the surface meaning more.

The definition of PAN is to move the camera while filming.

5 Anger over supporting French wine and what it could become? (7)

RAGE (anger), reversed [over] supporting [below] VIN (wine, in French).

Wine kept for too long can indeed turn to undrinkable vinegar, as I can sadly confirm.

6 Give a point to clever men without marks (7)

SHARP (clever) + {m}EN [MEN without M for marks, as in DM for Deutschmarks].

This was my LOI, and the only one I hadn’t parsed before submission. Great misdirection, with “marks” and “point” sending me completely the wrong way. Took ages before I thought of the “put a point on” sense of the phrase.

10 Put one’s foot down on healthy Veronica plant (9)

SPEED (put one’s foot down, when driving) + WELL (healthy).

I had heard of “speedwell” as a plant, but didn’t know the genus is Veronica.

12 Line a mat, manoeuvring material in layers (8)

Anagram [manoeuvring] of LINE A MAT.

14 Drive forcefully into separate defensive wall (7)

RAM (drive forcefully) + PART (separate, as a verb).

“Into” is often used in wordplay to mean “one word inside another”, but works fine to mean “come together” – think of cars “running into” each other.

15 One not believing in attending robbery (7)

AT (attending) + HEIST (robbery).

I flip-flopped on whether to underline “in”, but decided that the clue works better with it as the indicator that the wordplay follows.

17 Way to cook sea fish (small ones) (4-3)

DEEP (sea, usually with “the”) + FRY (small fish).

21 Help get Charlie away from corrosive liquid (3)

A{c}ID (corrosive liquid) with C [Charlie in the phonetic alphabet] taken away.

64 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2322 by Joker”

  1. All I could think of at 13ac was WICKET, which looked wrong; I needed a checker or two to remind me of CREASE. At 10d I made the mistake of biffing TREADWELL; I knew SPEEDWELL, but ‘put one’s foot down’ suggested ‘tread’, and I thought maybe there was such a plant. This made NINEPINS impossible, so I finally twigged and corrected 10d. ODE gives ‘vender’ as a (US) alternative to ‘vendor’; I’ve never seen it, and anyway LAVENDOR was out. 5:55.

    1. Which dictionary is “ODE”? I looked in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and Chambers: neither of them mention a “US” sense.

      1. Oxford Dictionary of English, which is in my electronic dictionary; it’s morphed into, first Lexico, and now Dictionary.com, which just cross-refers to ‘vendor’. But in ODE, it says ‘(US) variant spelling of vendor’

        1. Yes, ODE and the Concise Oxford specify ‘vender’ as US, but the SOED just has it as an alternative to ‘vendor’. Collins has them as alternatives if you look under ‘vendor’, but if you search Collins on-line for ‘vender’ it brings up only the ‘American English’ entries. Chambers has both in the printed edition without mentioning US, as does its free on-line version it but it adds ‘or (rarely) vender’.

          For myself, I would never have considered spelling it ‘-er’ but fortunately in this puzzle there was no alternative because of the checked letters.

          1. Since -OR is from Latin, while -ER is from Old English, one wouldn’t expect ‘vender’, but then most of us don’t know the origins of words. And of course -ER is extremely productive: if there were a verb ‘zoop’, someone who zoops would be a zooper; someone who bazangs would be a bazanger, etc. ‘zoopor’ or ‘bazangor’ are out of the question.

            1. Yes, ‘-er’ is the go-to ending for agent nouns when coining new ones so possibly ‘-or’ is the exception and for that reason the words taking it tend to be well-established and we learn and remember them.

              On the gameshow Countdown when contestants essay agent nouns by adding ‘-er’ to a verb the rule on validity is that they have to be specified in the ODE.

              1. Fowler’s Modern English Usage (a reference that I strongly recommend) supports all of the points made by Kevin and Jackkt above.

  2. 11:52. Licorice for a sweet (with lie for lounge) seemed possible for a long time. When I finally saw the last letter was p LOLLIPOP was obvious. Like blogger SHARPEN was LOI- I had trouble seeing marks for m. Very useful blog with many interesting points- thanks Doofenschmirtz!

    1. You reminded me that I meant to look that up. Mark = M as in Deutschmark (DM). Added to blog: thanks!

  3. Very nice puzzle. Slowish start then steady solve. I would have avoided the SCC if I hadn’t struggled for 5 mins with SHARPEN and WAIF. Never seen IF for condition but it’s nice. Either this puzzzle was a bit easier than some or I am improving thanks to all the setters and bloggers. 21 mins

  4. A DNF in 11:39. I spent a few minutes on the “el cheapo” 9a at the end, eventually losing patience with an alphabet trawl and just bunging “nineties” in, even though I couldn’t parse it. I agree with most of the points you’ve made (even if I missed them when solving), especially ‘de-stress’ which is both an unattractive word and psycho-babble – some combination.

    I know little about him but had heard of ‘Pasolini’ as a filmmaker, though not as a poet. I haven’t looked him up but I’ll take a running jump that (a) he makes art-house films and (b) doesn’t vote Conservative; probably wrong on both counts.

    Thanks to Joker and Doofenschmirtz

  5. 3 seconds over my 10-minute target. I also live in California and have never seen VENDER spelled that way. No problem with SPEEDWELL. I am not a plant person but I’ve learned that when I see Veronica in a clue, the answer is always SPEEDWELL. My guess at the odd capitalization of Let It be is that it is an error — it was meant to be Let It Be, to pretend to refer to the Beatles’ song/track, but then it got messed up.

  6. A typo and a moment and madness deliver a DNF. I’m always scared by double unches and I couldn’t cope with them today! Suddenly saw that ‘smarten’ would fit and that smart and clever were close and bunged it in to finish without actually checking there wasn’t something better. There was. “Luckily” I’d evidentally already written ‘pushinees’ so it didn’t make much difference. Annoying though because I was feeling pleased with myself for my crosswording prowess when I saw Veronica and immediately thought SPEEDWELL. A 15m, DNF.

  7. 11mins with my LOI (the same as Doof’s) hitting a pink square as the misdirection of 11ac gave me, like Mendesest above here, ‘smarten’ not SHARPEN.

    A great Joker puzzle with ATHEIST my COD. I have a feeling it’s a chestnut but I like it regardless.

    Thanks all.

  8. 13:00

    LOI VENDER as I worked in Procurement in the US for a decade and used this word multiple times every day and never saw it spelled in any other way than VENDOR. But the OED has a full entry, with multiple citations, and is not flagged as US usage.

    SPPEDWELL, I am still dependent on my reading of Watership Down when about nine for many plants needed for crosswords : Chervil, Mallow, Toadflax, Campion, Sacbious, Buckthorn etc.

  9. A good puzzle from Joker with a nice mix of easy and chewy clues. I enjoyed working my way through, finishing with NINEPINS (I was tempted to biff nineties but, thankfully, couldn’t parse it). My penultimate, SHARPEN, took a while to gel in my head.
    I liked the unusual grid, smiled at ATHEIST, and hesitated over the VERY in DELIVERY but it had to be.
    Within a few seconds of my target so I’m slowly improving this week.
    Thanks to Joker and to Doofers for a full and interesting blog (though it would be easier to navigate with single, not double, spacing IMO). John M.

  10. Not a happy experience today and quite pleased to DNF in under 30 mins .
    Vender. Really? Nineties too, so DNF. Wondered whether ‘Livery’ played a role in ‘pretty item’ since I did not equate quite as very.
    COD SHARPEN although I did not parse it. Altogether left with a feeling of failure.
    Thanks Doofers and Joker for bowling just one too many googlies today. Out for a duck.

  11. DPS for a careless sedItive, which summed up a solve where I never really got into any kind of rhythm.
    I’m another in the treadwell camp (despite having seen SPEEDWELL in a few crosswords now) which made NINEPINS impossible until I revisited it. SHARPEN also proved tricky.
    FOI LOLLIPOP which seems to come up a lot at the moment and ‘finished’ with NINEPINS in just under 10 minutes for an undistinguished day.
    Thanks to Doofers

  12. Firmly returned to usual level of dreadful today. 10/26. Should have been 11, but misspelt ATHEIST. I then got two more (VAST and COVE), by cheating with Bradford’s, but then this annoyed me because I had thought of those words earlier but didn’t think that they were correct! Success is a long way away. Thank you for the very useful blog.

  13. Joker in a tamer mood.

    Held up slightly by a careless VINTAGE, didn’t overthink VENDER, as the E was checked. LOI was SHARPEN, which I liked, as I did DEEP FRY. Most of the clues were v good though I thought.


  14. 9 mins…

    Just one of those puzzles where everything came to mind without hesitation. 10dn “Speedwell” is a classic answer that I wouldn’t have known (not being into plants or anything) without doing these crosswords.

    Have to confess though, I was puzzled by the parsing of 5dn “Vinegar” – thinking the “Anger” was an anagrist, rather than a synonym.

    FOI – 4dn “Pan”
    LOI – 24ac “Delivery”
    COD – 6dn “Sharpen”

    Thanks as usual!

  15. For a Joker QC I found this one to be quite easy going, though I did need the use of aids to answer my last three, which just eluded me.

    I have never heard of STET, but simply guessed it. SPEEDWELL, I think I’ve heard of though did need help on that one.


    1. As well as “stet” being used in the publishing world, it was often used in financial auditing, when working papers were actually performed on paper (rather than the computers of today) and management comments needed adjusting.

      1. Thank you for the reminder! I still remember the first time I saw stet handwritten on a audit document and had to look up the meaning of it in an old fashioned type dictionary.

          1. When I was in the Navy, I was only allowed to write in black.

            Commanding Officers were allowed to write in red, and Admirals, in green.

            I once had some green writing in the signature block of my official ship email account. I was told, in no uncertain terms, to change the colour.

  16. 11 minutes, narrowly avoiding pink squares as I revisited my initial Smarten – I was not happy with the parsing and worried at it until Sharpen emerged.

    Otherwise no holdups, the controversy over Vender completely passing me by and I didn’t even see the capital I in Let It be. COD to Atheist.

    Many thanks to Doofers for the blog

  17. 15 mins so this must be on the easier end of QC spectrum as I am rarely below 20 mins. Very enjoyable, COD to ATHEIST.

    Can anyone tell me whether including a cricket reference is a requirement, or simply a tradition, of the QC in The Times? I think there is one every day but as I don’t find the time to do it every day I am not sure.


    1. I don’t think a cricket reference is a requirement but there are so many of them and they are so useful to setters that they must be hard to resist.

  18. Really good QC, stretching but not painful. Bit like the ideal yoga class, really.

    I had a long wrestle with NINEPINS (where I really, really wanted to make “nineties” work) and also SHARPEN (where I tried hard to convince myself that “smarten” could parse). So those two added a few minutes, but the rest went in reasonably smoothly. Liked DEEP FRY, MARINADE and STET (my COD) especially. All done in 09:38 for 1.6K and an OK Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Doofers for a very good blog.


  19. I seem to be on a reasonable run of form at the moment finishing this one in 7.31, so comfortably within target. I usually find Jokers’s offering a bit tougher than this, or perhaps I was just in the right frame of mind, who knows?
    Nothing held me up to any extent, even SPEEDWELL came readily to mind. It did help in this case to have a wife who is an avid gardener, who insists that I accompany her to various garden centres on a regular basis.

  20. 2 mistakes, LOI Smarten instead of SHARPEN, and Nineties instead of NINEPINS. Both sort of made sense.
    Rather slow in general this morning.
    Liked DEEP FRY, LOLLIPOP, RAMPART, MARINADE. No problem with SPEEDWELL, except there’s too much of it in my lawn. No problem with STET which was also used when the author did not like the editorial changes. Modern editing has been complicated by IT!
    Thanks vm, Doofers.

  21. I didn’t see 1a at first glance, so started with PAN and worked clockwise from there. Not as tricky as expected from Joker today, and I shoved in LOI, STET, at 6:42. Didn’t stop to parse SHARPEN. Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  22. Got there in 24 minutes, although I really should add the further 2 spent trying to parse AID (my LOI).

    COVE and SON-IN-LAW were my first in, and five more went in during my first pass through the across clues. A good start for me! From then on, I hopped around according to the availability of new/helpful checkers. SHARPEN and NINEPINS both required an alphabet trawl, but (unusually) nothing stumped me for too long today.

    Mrs Random started her day with a run and is now at a Pilates session. I daresay she will tackle this and yesterday’s QCs sometime this afternoon.

    Many thanks to Joker and Doofers.

  23. This was a fairly steady solve in 15:27, which could have been even quicker if I had seen “the point” in 6d SHARPEN, my LOI. Didn’t parse the M for Mark so thanks to the blog for the explanation. I wasn’t keen on Vender but it didn’t hold me up. WAIF, STET and SPEEDWELL all familiar (although I didn’t know it was Veronica). I particularly liked ATHEIST and DEEPFRY. Thanks Joker and Doofenschmirtz. A good day!

  24. Like our blogger I was speeding along and then I wasn’t. My last two probably accounted for a third of my 9:45 solving time. My penultimate solve was NINEPINS after being unable to justify nineties and my LOI was SHARPEN.

  25. A slow start in the NW, but things improved once Lollipop came to mind, and it was a steady 18min solve thereafter. Perhaps Joker was in a friendly mood, or I was lucky with a few half remembered answers (Errand, Stet) from previous puzzles. Speedwell, on the other hand, went in like a shot, with its customary shudder from this gardener. CoD to 15d, Atheist, though Sharpen ran it close. Invariant

  26. Two sittings but just could not get SHARPEN – very inflexible thinking today (a difficulty I’m trying to work on by doing QCs) and could only think of the ‘offer a verbal point to’ sense – aargh. Otherwise no problems although LOLLIPOP was my POI for some reason (dear oh dear). My DNF time was around the 20 min mark. Very enjoyable. Spotted NINEPINS early on which delivered LACONIC. Only know SPEEDWELL from crosswords. Very enjoyable. Many thanks all.

  27. All done in 20. Assumed vender was another way of spelling. English must be the most flexible language in the world. Advisor and adviser are equally common When I did English O level in 1981 there was an edict allowing spellings and grammar that would have been a hanging offence a generation before. J

  28. 7.11

    No typos! Hurray!

    Loved the double double whatever they are. Dove in there straightaway and worked around the rest of the grid.

    STET is one useful thing I learned as a Trainee Solicitor 35 years ago. Still trying to work out the second.

    And I was also another TREADWELL, even contemplating a king momble in NINEMIRT before sense prevailed

    Thanks Doofers and the Joker

  29. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks Joker – and an informative blog – thanks Doofenschmirtz.
    Re 23a: In the newspaper “Let It Be” is written in italics which I presume indicates it being a title. So I thought the surface was meant to imply that the Beatles song “Let It Be” was one track included in the songs given at the concert ie part of the set.
    Far from an error, I thought it was that use that made it a clever clue.
    Maybe I’ve misunderstood (wouldn’t be the first time)?

    1. I’m sure that’s what Joker intended, but use of a lower case ‘b’ in ‘be’ has caused some confusion.

      1. Ah! Yes, you’re right.
        I think I automatically read “Be” instead of “be” because that seemed so obviously how it worked.
        Irritating for Joker if it left his/her desk as “Be”.

  30. This seemed to suit us, finishing unusually with 20m. Failed to parse crease but the answer was obvious. A good day.

  31. Took me a while to solve this today – not seeing the anagram for PUSHINESS not helping. Like others, SHARPEN was LOI. Not at all sure about the VENDER part of LAVENDER.

  32. Mostly done in 13 minutes but like our blogger I got a bit stuck at the end. My LOI was NINEPINS after SHARPEN (unparsed).15/16 minutes in the end.
    FOI and COD to STET.

  33. 11.30, of which the final two minutes were spent staring at 6dn, before finally having an “oh of course..” moment and getting SHARPEN.

  34. I thought this was hard and I was pleased to avoid a DNF. Joker has become one of the hardest setters and today was another tricky one.

    I don’t have a time but I was well into the SCC (although much of my time there was spent trying to unravel 9ac). Botany is not my thing, and so I was pleased with myself for putting in TREADWELL for 10dn. It was only after puzzling over 9ac for ages that I realised it was SPEEDWELL.

    FOI – VAST
    LOI – NINEPINS (easy when I had the ‘S’)
    PDM – SPEEDWELL (see above)

    Brilliant blog Doofers, full of great tips!

    PS 6dn was one of the hardest clues I have seen.

  35. DNF because of 6d SHARPEN. But given the comments above (especially the bloggers!) I don’t feel too bad about it. Perfectly gettable if I hadn’t fixated on “clever men” being SAGES or MAGI or similar. Thanks Joker for a good puzzle.

  36. DNF

    Put SMARTEN, couldn’t figure out WAIF and failed to see MARINADE despite figuring out how the clue worked. All in all the worst effort for many months.

  37. I’m glad I was able to recover my funds, I would have had to file for bankruptcy, thanks to Geminihacks -.- cohm. I was able to get a hold of these scam brokers and take back my money. I would gladly refer anyone.

  38. SLACKEN instead of SHARPEN , parsed as give ( definition; to give as a verb being to slacken) point S to without (LACK) and MEN without M, though it did leave the ‘clever ‘ as superfluous. As soon as I pressed submit I realised SHARPEN was the correct answer!

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