Times 27297 – For Romeo lovers, bird lovers and dog lovers.

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Starting at 1a, I sped through the top half then lower left of this one on a PB schedule, then the opposite of 13d happened. I slowed down to cope with a couple of unknown or obscure words at 20a and 13d put in purely on wordplay, but still finished in a respectable 16 minutes.
An enjoyable but somewhat inconsistent puzzle, some clues very sraightforward (1a, 12a, 14a, 2d, 17d) and a few quite tricky. 8d may hold up a few who aren’t familiar with An Lár in the Emerald Isle but it was a gift for me. I’m not crazy about the randomly named ‘man’ at 6d or the ‘fellow’ at 24d, but at least we haven’t got ‘journalist’ clueing the first two letters of 6d.

1 Mo’s back! (6)
SECOND – Double def; MO = second, brief bit of time, SECOND = back as in support a candidate.
4 Sad endeavour to secure run for American singer (8)
BLUEBIRD – BLUE = sad, BID = endeavour, insert an R.
10 Pie cooked by French priest, an enjoyer of good food (9)
EPICUREAN – (PIE)*, CURÉ = French priest, AN.
11 Arab artillery invading islands without question (5)
IRAQI – Two I’s = islands, insert RA and Q.
12 Propose article on music, meeting challenge (3,3,8)
POP THE QUESTION – POP music, THE an article, QUESTION = challenge. A write-in I thought.
14 Content, but extremely hazy about download? (5)
HAPPY – H Y about APP = download.
16 Dutch painter left with worker, one making plea (9)
APPELLANT – Karel APPEL was a Dutch painter; L, ANT = worker.
18 Haughty nature of knight entering plant with sons (9)
ALOOFNESS – Another one biffed then parsed. ALOE = plant, insert OF N (knight in chess), add S S for sons.
20 Bird identified by a good friend in Paris (5)
AGAMI – All good cruciverbalists know their birds, antelopes and odd mammals, don’t they? Or they do it from wordplay and assume AGAMI must be a bird. It is, a S. American type of heron, consisting of A, G, AMI = French for friend.
21 Dodgy presentation of light sauce? (6-8)
25 Live with wooded area around (5)
DWELL – Insert W for with into DELL.
26 English cleric backing new plant? (9)
EVERGREEN – E, REV reversed, GREEN = new.
27 Staid old lady, but about to relax at the front (8)
MATRONLY – MA and ONLY (=but) have TR inserted, the T and R being initial letters of To Relax.
28 Back in resort, siblings find somewhere to eat (6)
BISTRO – Today’s hidden word, reversed in RES(ORT SIB)LINGS.

1 In Peel’s day he mistreated a dozy kid? (10)
2 Primate‘s mischievous child overwhelmed by church (5)
CHIMP – IMP follows CH. Simples.
3 Wicked US city accepting anything once! (7)
NAUGHTY – NY has AUGHT inserted. Aught is a adaption of naught = nothing, to mean anything, in use for centuries e.g. the Bard wisely wrote, as you may recall, “Ay me! For aught that ever I could read, could ever hear by tale or history, the course of true love never did run smooth”.
5 Move suddenly east after a breather (5)
LUNGE – E after LUNG a ‘breather’. Seen this clue elsewhere very recently, can’t recall if T, ST or Guardian.
6 Man in charge of army journal’s last description of decree (7)
EDICTAL – ED a random man, IC = in charge of, TA = army, L = last letter of journal. Not a common word but simply means pertaining to edicts.
7 Lover upset a sailor of Arabian origin (9)
INAMORATA – all reversed: A, TAR (sailor), OMANI (of Arab origin).
8 Tabloid, possibly, not unknown in lower chamber (4)
DAIL – DAILY = tabloid possibly, lose the ‘unknown’ Y; the lower house of the Oireachtas, Ireland’s parliament, the upper being the Seanad. I lived in Dublin for many years so this came easily to mind, but maybe not so for those further away.
9 In the main it constitutes a seismic convulsion (8)
SEAQUAKE – A not very cryptic definition.
13 Dispatch oxygen round Herts town, gradually increasing speed (10)
STRINGENDO – Regulars will know that Herts town often means TRING, surround that with SEND and O for oxygen. Musical term meaning what it says above, in Italian literally ‘clutching’.
15 Well-known Republican feeding dog where otolaryngologists work (9)
PROMINENT – I thought, it can’t just be President? And it wasn’t. R goes into POM(eranian dog), then those ear nose and throat chaps work IN ENT.
17 Rich confections —the old man’s samples (8)
PASTRIES – PA’S = the old man’s, TRIES = samples. Simples too.
19 Opera in which priest is bitten by dog? (7)
FIDELIO – FIDO bites ELI the priest. Beethoven’s only opera, premiered in 1805.
20 Spear produced by stupid person, say, leading to fine? (7)
ASSEGAI – When I was a youth (a Mod, not a Ted, Jimbo), I terrorised cats and streetlamps with catapults, home made crossbows and ASSEGAIS made of sticks and string, the word has stuck in my memory. ASS = stupid person, EG = say, A1 = fine.
22 Excited cry over Lenin’s first revolutionary device (5)
WHEEL – WHEE ! + L(enin). Simples again.
23 Bungling writer brought up in centre of Linlithgow (5)
INEPT – PEN reversed inside IT the central letters of that Scottish place.
24 Fellow US attorney visiting a medium (4)
ADAM – DA goes into A, M for medium. Not an award winning clue, with a random chap’s name as an answer.

39 comments on “Times 27297 – For Romeo lovers, bird lovers and dog lovers.”

  1. 13:12 … with quite a bit of double and triple checking at the end for the weird words. A relief that the wordplay for ASSEGAI (not assagai) was clear. I was a little less confident about STRINGENDO.

    Some really nice surfaces, though, and “Mo’s back!” the kind of clue that makes me very happy. Thanks Pip and se. (and ed.)

  2. I must have seen AGAMI and STRINGENDO before, and I know I’ve seen ASSEGAI. Maybe I would soon have totally forgotten all three if not reminded today. But I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen EDICTAL, which was my LOI, and a word that almost seems useless. I mean, to say “EDICTAL decree” would seem redundant. But I had a good time here tonight.

    Edited at 2019-03-13 06:55 am (UTC)

  3. A very similar experience to Pip’s, albeit a bit slower at 23 minutes, but that still equals my previous PB. Rather a relief after yesterday’s humbler.
  4. Probably a PB for me at 10:57.

    Was probably also under 10 minutes if I subtract the time I lost by checking I wasn’t doing the Quick Crossword by mistake!

  5. Most of the answers in the left went in on first reading of their clues but I slowed considerably to the right with unknowns AGAMI and APPEL, and the tricky derivative EDICTAL as my LOI. But I still got through it in 34 minutes which ranks as successful in my book despite just missing my target half-hour. Another solver here grateful for clear wordplay at 20dn helping me to avoid my customary misspelling, ASSAGAI.
  6. When I saw “Mo’s back” at 1 ac I thought this was going to be a devilishly clever puzzle. In fact the rest of it was quite ordinary and mostly easy with a few unknowns gettable from wordplay. In spite of this it took me 29 mins with a long period of mental paralysis in the middle. This seems to happen quite often.
    Operas might have more general appeal if they did include things like priests bitten by dogs rather than heroines dying of consumption.
  7. Really did wonder for a while whether the two puzzles had got mixed up, but came down to earth pretty quickly. STRINGENDO unknown, ditto AGAMI. Liked the IN ENT construction. 17′, thanks pip and setter.
  8. Stroll in the park with several going in from definition and a number of chestnuts like TRING. ASSEGAI on trust like others
  9. 17 minutes, with LOI EDICTAL. STRINGENDO was unknown but easily constructed. I had to assume that AGAMI was a bird. I think I’ve seen one flying over the white cliffs of Dover. I guess COD has to go to POP THE QUESTION, for having a bit of wit to it, or perhaps PROMINENT where I wasted a minute or so trying ro fit IKE in. Thank you Pip and setter.
  10. Nice to get a mention today although now living in Scotland!
    Fairly straightforward 23m solve but very enjoyable nonetheless.
  11. One of those days where the 15×15 was almost done faster than the QC – would have been under 9 minutes if I hadn’t been warned that I was only 98% complete when I pressed submit – going back to notice that I had, indeed, forgotten to put EVERGREEN in meant the scales tipped over the 8.58 I’d initially hope for.

    So even with that, only 11 seconds slower than my nightmare quicky this morning – 9.07

  12. Yes, easy but fun. Some good examples today of clues where you can trust the wordplay and confidently enter a word you’ve never heard of ..
  13. Lots of biffing, pretty easy. Would have been under 10 but for a last minute spent on Matronly. Agree about ‘man’ and ‘fellow’.
  14. Gentle after yesterday’s much more difficult offering. Still a couple of new words, a new painter and a few tricky ones like EDICTAL to keep up the interest and enjoyment.

    Finished in 25 minutes.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  15. Rather different to yesterday’s! As others found, several words which were on the edge of, or even outside, my vocabulary, but in every case the wordplay left me in no doubt I’d constructed the right one.
  16. 19’40. Held up here and there on an otherwise smooth run. Didn’t know agami, unaware of edictal, liked the old word for a tired child.
  17. 22 mins As above comments, a right mixture of Quickie clues and unknowns. My LOI was MATRONLY where I failed to see the use of the first letter of TO. Also took a while over WINDOW DRESSING, having got the DRESSING bit and not able to find the right type of salad dressing.
  18. DNF as I threw an ASSAGAI at 20dn. Jack – this is not a misspelling, but an alternative spelling! (Southern Africa, Chambers). However, it does not conform to the word play. 3dn!

    FOI 1ac SECOND



    Another heroic failure: Sleepyhead.

  19. ….BLUEBIRDs over the white cliffs of Dover, but WHEEL meet again.

    DNK STRINGENDO or the Dutch painter, but the parsings were clear. Biffed my LOI (thanks Pip !) but otherwise this was a comparative zephyr (see my QC post).

    COD DAIL (Clue of Da ?)
    TIME 7:10

  20. Seventeen minutes for this, making it relatively easy but poor value for money. I may have encountered STRINGENDO here before – otherwise I’d have been more wary of such an implausible word. ASSEGAI is definitely one I’ve only ever seen here. LOI was EDICTAL, which took me forever to see until I actually read the clue and put the pieces together. When all else fails, read the instructions.
  21. A hard QC today but this was relatively straightforward for a 15×15.
    I got SECOND immediately and then I was off and running. A few unknowns, as noted above, but clear from the cryptics. I nearly fell with just two to jump. At 24d I had EDDA, a combination of letters which I thought I had seen before -could it mean medium? That meant a long struggle to find MATRONLY and then ADAM. All correct in the end. David
  22. Re comments on yesterday’s blog, The Times Daily Quiz of 11 March had this question:
    “In 1161, Pope Alexander III canonised which king, the son of Aethelred (sic) the Unready and Emma of Normandy?”

    I wonder if yesterday’s setter had her in mind.

    A:Edward the Confessor

  23. Like others, I zipped through the LHS and then was reined in by a number of unknown words which the clear wordplay allowed me to construct confidently. I originally wrote ASSAGAI at 20d, but immediately changed it on checking the wordplay. Didn’t know Appel, STRINGENDO, AGAMI or EDICTAL, but was happy with them. I was held up most by my LOI, MATRONLY, which prevented me ducking under the elusive 15 minute barrier. 16:49. Thanks setter and Pip.
  24. Not sure I like the difficult words much. Clues for them totally fine, but it seems a cheap way to up the ante. Still enjoyable however.
  25. 24 mins. I concur with the mutterings here about the random man and fellow. I liked the IRAQI use of ‘without’ — for most of my life, since school assemblies when we had to sing that hymn ‘There is a green hill far away/ Without a city wall’, I’ve been puzzled as to why anyone would find it desirable or conventional to build a city wall around a green hill; I shrugged and assumed it was another historical, cultural thing about Israelites in the centuries BCE.
    Thank you for the fine blog, Pip.
  26. A straightforward (and wide awake, at last) 17.22 solve, though the Dutch painter was taken on trust. It appears other Dutch professions are available. And don’t think I’d have said “bird” for AGAMI in a quiz.
    Might I venture (just for fun) that SECOND has a triple definition, MO, S(econd) and BACK?
  27. …stupid mistake. I knew as soon as i pressed submit that I’d biffed PROVIDENT rather than entering PROMINENT. Random bird AGAMI unknown but everything else eminently gettable.
  28. I prefer despatch. But then I also prefer ‘ise’ to ‘ize’. Call me old-fashioned. Alas, on both counts, the OED says I’m wrong. Mr Grumpy
      1. Yes, so I gather. Shakespeare and all that. It still doesn’t sit right with me though. Mr Grumpy
        1. Yes I’m the same. I prefer ISE and can’t help thinking of IZE as American, even though I know that isn’t true either!
  29. 26:43. Started off quickly with quite a few QC type clues as has been noted. Slowed down a bit at the end especially the NE once again with edictal, bluebird and dail all taking some time to appear.
  30. Does nobody remember Charlie Drake having a minor hit in the 60s with “l Bent My Assegai”? It was utter tripe of course.
    Killer Joe
  31. 11:11. I’m in Sydney at the moment, and what with all the travelling haven’t had time to pop in here. This is fortunate given the absolute horlicks I made of yesterday’s puzzle, for which I’m blaming jetlag.
    This one was less problematic for me, although I spent a few minutes at the end staring blankly at 6dn.
    One of the many obscure and very specific things I have learned from doing these things over the years is that ASSEGAI has two spellings, so I’m always careful with it (as I would expect to be with the actual object).
    9dn isn’t very cryptic but it’s designed to look that way: ‘a seismic convultion’ in a clue with an 8-letter answer is so clearly signalling an anagram.

    Edited at 2019-03-13 10:11 pm (UTC)

  32. Thanks setter and pip
    One of the quickest Times crossword solves that I have done recently – still 28 minutes. It still had a couple of new terms for me – STRINGENDO and EDICTAL.
    Nothing particularly notable with it and finished with WINDOW DRESSING and PROMINENT (after having to look up what an ‘otolaryngologist’ might be.

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