Times 26821 – Quirkus Maximus

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I rather think they got last Friday and today’s muddled up, or maybe the editor just wanted to give the V an inkling of what it is like to strut one’s stuff when the material has rather too much give in it. At any event, this was by no means bereft of interest and quirk, with a number of clues stretching wordplay and literals to the limit – one of them, (14a) both. At one point it appeared that we might have a Hebraic theme, but the good old Church of England stepped up and ensured that a broad ecumenicism reigned. Well, not exactly reigned, more like dithered and debated and ensured that a broad consensus was reached. 42 minutes.


1. STOUT – S[e]T OUT; I don’t think of stout as beer, but I have no doubt some lexicographer does.
4. FELL APART – FELLA (‘fellow’ according to the likes of Cilla Black) + TRAP (gin) reversed; top clue this.
8. EXCURSION – CUR[t] in EX + SION (as in Mount Sion, AKA Zion); really clever clue this – eg, ‘cut’ rather than ‘short’ indicating deletion, and the need to lift and separate ‘old part of Jerusalem’ – but the cleverness is rather undermined by its biffability.
10. RABBI – A + BB in RI (Religious Instruction – now sadly found only in crossword curricula); staying with the Hebrew theme, which by coincidence ties in with my current reading, Daniel Deronda.
11. THRASH – H in TRASH; West Indies and Bangladesh have recently become masters of this…
14. OUT OF SIGHT – as mentioned above, I’m not mad keen on this one. Collins says that the expression means ‘that’s marvellous!’, but then if, like me, you didn’t know that, since something that is in the shade is just as likely to be out of the light than out of sight, you are in a cleft stick as to which it might be. I just looked it up. Give me Habakkuk any day.
16. FILO – jokey wordplay, playing on a fee being low.
19. NOPE – reversal of EP and ON.
20. JOURNALESE – [w]ALES in JOURNE[y]. Another biff.
22. DISTRICT – C in DIS + TRIT[e].
23. PEEWIT – WEEP (Scots ‘keen’ means weep) reversed + IT.
26. PRATE – R ‘eaten’ by PATE (with an acute accent). Rabbit as in talk a lot.
27. NEOLOGISM – anagram* of SO LONG IM around E[ton].
28. RESIDENCY – [p]RESIDENCY; I’m not convinced this works, as a residency refers to an artistic group’s regular engagement rather than its venue.
29. SNEER – SN + EER.


2. OSCAR – when a group of crossword aficionados get together, one can imagine them describing a stretch limo as an outsize (OS) car. I liked the quirkiness.
3. TURNS OFF – URNS in TOFF; a tricky literal, ‘leaves the straight and narrow’, but Collins has ‘of a road, pathway, etc) to deviate from (another road, etc)’.
4. FAIR – alternate letters in F[r]A[s]I[e]R.
5. LANCASHIRE – CASH + IR in LANE (course).
6. ABROAD – A + BROAD (think Norfolk waterways).
7. AMBLESIDE – IDE after AMBLES. Wordsworth worked here as Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland.
8. TRIPE – T[akeaway] + RIPE.
13. MINOR CANON – ON following MINORCAN. I had to wait for 14a before learning whether this was major or minor. For the record, a major canon is a voting resident member of the chapter of a cathedral, while a minor canon assists in the daily services of the cathedral but is not a member of the chapter. But you all knew that anyway…
15. TAPAS BARS – PASTA* + BAR (but not) + S. Never really thought of these as cafes, but there might be a lexicographer out there somewhere who does.
17. OVERTIMER – OVER (on) + TIMER. Ugly word.
18. RAVENOUS – RAVE + NOUS (French for ‘we’).
21. FRIEND – If you were a particularly dense Australian crossword aficianado, you might have cause to ask your pal such a question, to which the response given is ‘Fri end’ – evincing the sort of ellipsis that would drive at least one of our regulars to repair to his cellar for a serious session.
22. DOPER – hidden in [planne]D OPER[ation]; a doper according to Collins is someone who administers or habitually uses drugs, which doesn’t seem to be quite the same thing as a dealer, who sells them.
24. WRITE – sound like ‘right’ (‘report from Tory’ standing for ‘sounds like Tory’); ‘author’ is the literal.
25. POLY – initial letters of the first four words. Presumably polys still exist somewhere; otherwise this clue would need a ‘former’ or some such.

64 comments on “Times 26821 – Quirkus Maximus”

  1. A Mondayish-feeling puzzle, but then it’s Monday over there. Nothing particularly noteworthy, although FILO took me a while as I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word (and seldom seen it). Wasn’t given pause at the time by the enumeration of SWEETCORN (I’m constantly in disagreement with the setter on enumeration, but here parsing was easy), or DOPER or RESIDENCY, but U’s definitely got a point, or indeed two.
  2. Took me around an hour to sort this one out!

    FOI 6dn ABROAD

    LOI 23ac PEEWIT which was somewhat tortured. As was 24dn WRITE!

    Local Spanish 15dn TAPAS BARS are cafes in my book as long as they provide ‘ parafino’!


    WOD 15dn JOURNALESE but not 12ac JAPANESE

    1. I must add my delight to see Lord Galspray is alive and well. I sincerely hope that one day soon you will be back with Professor McText to keep Meldrew in his place! Meanwhile life goes on – I’m off to ‘Dunkirk’

      If you are ever in Shanghai….

      Edited at 2017-09-04 07:44 am (UTC)

  3. Morning all. Just popped in to say g’day, having recently disappeared from this community with what may have appeared to be unseemly haste.

    My original paid subscription to the Crossword Club mysteriously morphed into an unpaid subscription to the Times a few years ago. That free ride has now come to an end, and I have chosen not to take out a subscription (it’s not the money, so please don’t pass the hat!).

    Didn’t want to go without offering the warmest of wishes to all the regulars here. As much as I enjoy the puzzles, it’s my daily visit to this site that I will miss the most.

    Thanks everyone for all the banter, insight and patient explanations. Despite my dimness, I can now spot an oread from a Habakkuk at a reasonable distance.

    Will probably stick my nose back in at some point, especially if there’s a slice of Christmas Turkey on offer. Meanwhile, all the best.

    1. Sorry to hear this. I experienced the same morphings, but took the view that I’d done alright and was now willing to pay my dues. Not meant to sound preachy – just saying.

      Mind you, I’m not sure I’d want to subscribe to the SMH and read all that one-eyed reportage, so I can understand your reluctance to continue your education at the hands of elite representatives of the Mother Country.

    2. This is appalling, G. I can understand your position of course but surely an exception can be made for the common good. If it helps at all, The Times isn’t actually a disgracefully bad newspaper. At least if you judge it by the standards of some of its stablemates.
      1. Thanks K. But sorry, I’m not saying anything about the Times, or anything at all about anything! Just a personal decision not to take up a subscription.

        It was our mate above that introduced the extra, um, dimension. Now thinking I should have just gone quietly into the night.

          1. I’m sure, like the UK’s decision to withdraw from the continent – immediately regretted in many quarters – an arrangement might be found that is suitable to all parties.

            Would his countryman Rupert be willing to sub him, I wonder, for the extra traffic Gallers brings to his flagship organ?

    3. Will miss your wit and wisdom, G. “Flicker to and fro, to and fro”, and join us from time to time.
    4. Has anyone tried to see if the email option for the crossword works if the recipient is not a subscriber?
    5. I’m sad to see the disappearance of someone I’d come to view as a yardstick for my solving and thus some sort of rival. All the best to you.
    6. Cheers Gallers! Sorry to see you go, but will look forward to the occasional bit of banter when you drop by. G’day to you too Old Bean.
  4. 35 minutes for all but 8dn where I had a blank spot that needed an extra 5 minutes for the answer to dawn on me.

    I have no problem with STOUT as ‘beer’ as that’s what it is before being further defined as strong and dark and flavoured with malt or barley.

    All the usual sources define RESIDENCY with reference to ‘venue’ so I don’t see there’s much of a stretch needed to clue it as such.

    Edited at 2017-09-04 04:25 am (UTC)

    1. Stout is more of a prejudice than anything else, as I can’t think of Guinness as beer.

      As for residency, the fact that X takes place at Y, doesn’t change the fact that X remains X! Test cricket takes place at Lord’s, but one cannot substitute “Lord’s” for “cricket matches”.

      1. There are many better stouts than Guinness though I don’t know if they are available where you are. If you ever find yourself in a Sam Smiths pub in London I would recommend trying their stout.
        1. Thanks for the recommendation. Here in Hong Kong it is safer to stick with bottled beers, such as Fuller’s 1845.
  5. 11:05 … a couple of pennies were slow to drop, like the excellently corny FEE LOW. And I had to write down STOUT before the parsing made sense. But otherwise not too hard.

    Is this the first time RI has been clues with “once”? I don’t recall seeing that before. It feels almost overly nice — the name may have changed but the instruction goes on.

    1. I was glad to see it! My father used to call it RI, but by the time I went to school it was RE everywhere, as far as I can tell. I suppose the public schools may have been lagging behind in the change, but that’s not unusual 😀
  6. 50 minutes here. It felt like that was more to do with the sleepiness of me rather than the difficulty of the puzzle, but perhaps not… I also wasn’t sure about OUT OF SIGHT, but then I suppose that question mark is just working rather hard. Thinking more on it, I suppose it’s more the figurative sense of doing something furtively: under cover of darkness, etc.

    I thought that 25d was being a bit &littish, what with the places of learning having been polys “originally”.

    FOI 10a RABBI, LOI 23a PEEWIT. WOD NEOLOGISM. Thanks setter & ulaca.

    Edited at 2017-09-04 07:09 am (UTC)

  7. 30 mins with tripe and sweetcorn filo (just kidding – porridge with raspberries).
    Last two were 13dn and 14ac and having spent a while trying to think of a Spaniard ending CAN, when I came up with MAJORCAN – in it went! Imagine how I laughed after the alphabet trawl for Out of -A-H-? The most inventive I came up with was YACHT. Now when I see something truly cool, I will comment knowingly “that’s really out of yacht, man”.
    I did switch to MINOR, by the way, eventually – but 14ac is poor (IMHO).
    The Champs Elysees is getting some footfall these days.
    Today only really like COD: NEOLOGISM.
    Thanks setter and Ulaca.
  8. 11:31.
    You need to pay more attention, u: OUT OF SIGHT with this very meaning came up in a Dean Mayer puzzle I blogged last year, and you even commented on it. This happens to us all of course but in the absence of that knowledge I’m curious as to what you thought the expression OUT OF LIGHT means. 😉
    Otherwise I agree with you that some of this is a bit loose: a RESIDENCY isn’t a venue, TAPAS BARS aren’t cafes, a DOPER isn’t a dealer. I can just about accept TURNS OFF by reading ‘straight and narrow’ as just a whimsical way of saying ‘road’. None of this actually caused me a problem while solving though, I bunged them all in merrily.
    1. I thought it couldn’t mean anything at all, but then that has never stopped me being wrong in the past!

      I must plead senectitude on the other charge. When I start repeating myself, the wife ignores me, but the child is good enough to stop me with a “Yeah, you said that before.”

      1. I’m surprised that after the last time it came up you didn’t take the opportunity to google Jerry Garcia and explore the extensive oeuvre of the Grateful Dead. No accounting for taste I guess.
        Accepting for the sake of argument that this meaning of OUT OF SIGHT is a bit obscure, I do think you should be able to pick it over OUT OF LIGHT on the basis that it’s a recognisable usage.
        1. Ooh, you are giving me a hard time! My major hang-up was the equivalence of ‘in the shade’ and ‘out of sight’.

          Grateful in that I’ve never knowingly heard them, I think…..

          1. Yes I agree ‘in the shade’ is another pretty loose definition. Something in that state is usually visible.
            My point is that even in the absence of an intelligible definition you can pick OUT OF POCKET over OUT OF PICKET.
  9. Not too keen on this crossword which I thought bent some definitions further than they should be bent.

    And describing tripe as food may be technically correct, but surely only someone who had never eaten the appalling stuff would ever do so… (tries but fails to shake off traumatic childhood memories..)

  10. Food, including a cheese, religion, and controversy – not bad for a Monday. Agree DOPER is wrong. TAPAS BARS in this country are very expensive in my limited experience, but perhaps the definition of café has changed. I suspect 25d may be a dig involving a perceived drop in education standards. Thanks ulaca and setter.
  11. … ending with a good few minutes spent on ABROAD. Couldn’t parse either JOURNALESE or DISTRICT, so thanks for the explanations.

  12. DNF as I messed up the DISTRICT/MINOR CANON crosser. COD to NEOLOGISM but quite like PEEWIT for the temptation to play with AVID/DIVA.
  13. 21.39 with quite a lot of dithering. STOUT I failed to parse: I believe it used to be prescribed for mothers-to-be, but that may be a blurred memory.
    OUT OF SIGHT, yeah, yeah, but cool? In the shade?. Hm. Just hm.
    SWEETCORN surely only pretends to be a vegetable? Even Chambers says “the yellow kernels of this, eaten as a vegetable” as if it doesn’t quite believe it either.
    My local Tesco’s doesn’t tend to stock LANCASHIRE, but any -SHIRE is going to be a cheese anyway, so no problem.
    TRIPE is food? Boil in milk for two hours, then throw in the bin and have some toast.
    FELLA is indelibly linked with Henry V for me, as his true inspiring speech at Agincourt was recorded as “Fellas, lets go!” No sure that makes it informal.
  14. “OUT OF SIGHT, man.” An expression widely used in its time. Hippie period, shoulder-length hair, button-down shirt, flared corduroy trousers. I was that far ahead of those times, no-one could see me. OK, so I might have been sporting that look, but I was more likely at Lords at the Gillette Final in those glorious days when the other 16 counties competed to see who would play LANCASHIRE in the final. A big cheese indeed, but also crumbly. About 35 minutes with interruptions today. LOI WRITE after PEEWIT was cracked. COD has to be Lancashire. Thank you U and setter.

    Edited at 2017-09-04 08:39 am (UTC)

  15. Not a bad effort it would seem judging by earlier comments and the SNITCH rating. Held up at the end by the MINOR CANON/ JOURNALESE crossers, the latter eventually seen and then reverse engineered. I agree that a certain slackness was evident in several clues but nothing to get too worked up about.
  16. 25 minutes, with Journalese unparsed and STOUT a silly LOI also unparsed. A few iffy definitions taken as they came.

    A sad day, hopefully just a temporary absence of G.

  17. This turned out to be right up my street. No problem with the expression “out of sight” (Mr David Bowie’s Suffragette City came up on my media player very recently) but I also raised an eyebrow at the clueing – on a hot day I regularly prefer sitting in the shade, but I don’t think it makes me invisible. I also hesitated over the definition of DOPER, but concluded it was the way an Agatha Christie detective might well describe a drug-dealer. One raised eyebrow and a slightly archaic usage didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment, anyway.
  18. I’m still having to solve on paper, as the clubsite still hasn’t resumed downloading to my desktop.
    This took me about 25 minutes, but I carelessly wrote in SHORT at 1ac, which is OK for ‘go without’ but quite wrong for the ‘beer’
    I have found I can get the interactive puzzles on my tablet, but not with either the profile name I use here, or my actual name which I’d used on the old site. So I have succeeded in submitting the competition puzzles, though doing them on the tablet is tedious, as I need to enlarge the keyboard to be sure of touching the intended keys, and shrink it again to see the grid or the list to indicate where they go – meaning that it took about as long to enter my solution as to complete it on the printout.
    1. I have tried using my Kindle Fire, but the submission form doesn’t work. I can do the crosswords OK in Firefox on my laptop but I usually end up with mistakes from not being able to touch type so prefer to use the ’email puzzles’ option and print them out to solve on paper.
      1. I’ve been getting the same, and the number of comments quoted exceeds the number visible, at least until I log in.

        The same happened a while ago but seemed to fix itself, so let’s hope that happens again.

        1. Hilariously, the only person who won’t see these empathetic comments is the Anonymous we are empathising with.
    1. I had the same problem over the past few days but it seems to sort itself out in the end. Are you using an iPad? On reflection, you may not end up seeing this answer.
  19. Like phmfantom, I still can’t get the club site to work for me.

    Twenty-nine minutes got me through this one, and it definitely didn’t feel like a Monday. This may be because of my continuing habit of having two Sundays and then going straight into Tuesday.

    FILO took a while to see – it appears that I’ve been pronouncing it wrongly (fye-low) all my life. MINOR CANON also took a little while, but is a very neat clue.

    I was held up for a while at 28ac by having convinced myself that a prefectory was a leaders’ office, and that a group might meet in a refectory.

  20. I finished this in 23:21, but I would have been far better advised to take another few minutes to check my answers properly, as having spotted Majorcan as a Spaniard, I overwrote OUT OF SIGHT with OUT OF REACH, failing to notice that I then had MEJOR CANON and LANCASCIRE cheese. Eejit! Annoying, considering that I’d successfully teased out the other obscurities. I’ll put it down to that fuzzy feeling in my head due to yesterday’s enjoyable overindulgence with the family. Thanks setter and U.
    1. Hello John,
      I like the new family group picture. Is there any chance that you will be able to get to the York ‘Sloggers and Bloggers’ get together in York next month? Details are on the Fifteensquared website under ‘Announcements’.
      1. Hi George, thanks for the heads up. Yes, my diary is clear for that weekend. I’ve checked with the Racecourse that they have rooms and sent a booking request and replied to John on the fifteensquared website. I’ll look forward to meeting you there. I had a lovely afternoon in Whitby with the family on the afternoon that picture was taken:-)
  21. 13:14 so decidedly average, at least difficulty-wise.

    I enjoyed the POLY &Lit, not least because my seat of learning was one such.

  22. About 40m for this. Not much to add other than a crumbly feel with Fell Apart, Lancashire (just THE best) and Filo. A bit like some of the clues. Thanks all
    1. I have recently changed laptops and when I try to open the grid on the Crossword club site, it won’t download. I have tried using Mozilla Firefox and Chrome. Thanks
      1. If you get any useful help, let me know – I have exactly the same problem on my laptop, and I know there are others. I have to use my iPad.
  23. Very enjoyable. 23 minutes this morning before a trip to the opthalmologist. The new site isn’t helping. My eyesight is getting worse and the print is getting smaller. I always think of STOUT as a kind of beer – along with Guiness. But I have a running dispute with a close friend whose pub won the Welsh “CAMRA pub of the year” a couple of years ago. According to him I don’t drink beer – I drink “lager”. I argue that it’s the Brits who are out of step. The rest of the world calls lager “beer”. It’s the Brits who need a new word for the warm stuff many of them prefer and which my friend brews at the back of the pub. Ann
    1. Indeed. If I suggested to someone that we “go for a beer” and they later pointed out that I was actually drinking Guiness or lager, I’d think they were being unnecessarily pedantic.
  24. I did most of this in 32 mins on the train this morning and finished it off in 17 mins at lunchtime. Held up a little at the end by the SW corner where prate, district and tapas bars all took a while to drop. A lot of the looseness passed me by as I sometimes solve a bit on autopilot, seeing things like doper and out of sight as clearly the answer without the rest of the brain kicking into gear to question it too closely.
  25. Some of you cats are so square! But surely you’ve heard Stevie Wonder sing, “Baby, ev’rything is all right, uptight, out of sight!” It is sometimes spelled “outtasight.”
    A younger French friend asked me once what I meant by “Far out!”
    I agree that the definition for DOPER is wrong. And I should know. Ha.

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