Times 28084 – not so steep

Time taken: 9:18.

Got out of rehearsal early, so I’m doing the puzzle a bit earlier than I expected. The first few times are all over the place, so this might be a puzzle for those who twig to some of the more obscure entries. I had fun unravelling the wordplay. though I suspect several of the phrases are biffable.

I’ll check in with a postscript tomorrow, but since I will be passed out while most comments come in, please check the comments to see if any quibbles have been answered.

Postscript: I didn’t think about it at the time since I have been to Florida, but didn’t realise Key Largo was going to be a new one for solvers. I also didn’t think about Ankle Bone too much, like others being reminded of dem bones. Glad to find I am not alone in my original gaffe at 20 across.

Away we go…

1 Nick, Matthew or Herbert in Dickens (6)
POCKET – double definition, though one I did have to look up after solving – Matthew Pocket and Herbert Pocket are characters in Great Expectations.
4 Minister, one having arrived at pulpit, initially? (8)
PREACHER – REACHER(one having arrived) next to the first letter of Pulpit
10 Improving where further progress seemingly impossible, minutes saved (2,3,4)
ON THE MEND – there would be no further progress ON THE END, insert M(minutes)
11 Dance: fifty entertained by it, repeatedly (5)
SALSA – L(50) inside SA(sex appeal, it) twice
12 Blank — unlike 21 across? (14)
EXPRESSIONLESS –  I’ll admit biffy smartypantsness and thought “fourteen-letter synonym for blank… has to be EXPRESSIONLESS” – the wordplay is based on 21 across being ACTION PAINTI NG which would have expression
14 Blot on the landscape, one visited by tourist? (5)
SIGHT – double definition
16 Kneel on ground clasping back of limb, behind a lower body part (5,4)
ANKLE BONE – anagram of KNEEL,ON containing the last letter of limB after A
18 Picture physician after shaving cat (9)
OCTOPUSSY – DOCTOR missing the exterior letters, then PUSSY(cat). Early James Bond film
20 Rank rising sharply? (5)
SHEER – Double definition – I had STEEP in here until I got 13 down
21 Excited on anticipating a style of art (6,8)
25 Fish seller hooking customer, finally (5)
TROUT – TOUT(seller) containing the last letter of customeR
26 First of Franciscans approaching giant screens, when vespers observed? (9)
NIGHTFALL – first letter of Franciscans inside NIGH(approaching) and TALL(giant)
27 One overwhelmed by blow where justice doesn’t prevail (8)
MISTRIAL – I(one) inside MISTRAL(wind, blow)
28 Intimate last few hours of working week? (6)
FRIEND – the last few hours of the workin week would be the FRIday END
1 Calling for fines, so furious (10)
PROFESSION – PRO(for) then an anagram of FINES,SO
2 Deeply distressed, share being over? (3,2)
CUT UP – CUT(share), UP(over)
3 For example, copper kettle has one (7)
ELEMENT – double definition
5 Set day between sun and moon (5)
RADIO – D(day) between RA(sun) and IO(moon)
6 Clear salt on crack (7)
ABSOLVE – AB(salt) and SOLVE(crack)
7 My vicar’s cigar? (4,5)
HOLY SMOKE – double definition, the second cryptic
8 Course went on, reportedly? (4)
ROAD – sounds like RODE(went on)
9 Experience heavy blow, as would Oscars attendee? (3,5)
SEE STARS – double definition
13 Sodden and dishevelled, get pulled round back of hovel (10)
BEDRAGGLED – BE DRAGGED(get pulled) surrounding the last letter of hoveL
15 Drive home, smashing gate on bridge (3,6)
GET ACROSS – anagram of GATE, then CROSS(bridge). Referring to driving home an idea
17 Dark ultimately — terribly early start — to get to US island (3,5)
KEY LARGO – last letter of darK, then an anagram of EARLY, and GO(start)
19 Needle for example for canine? (7)
POINTER – double definition
20 Constituency or housing association’s ultimate politician (7)
SENATOR – SEAT(constituency), OR containing the last letter in associatioN
22 Relative bringing Ghanaian diplomat up (5)
NANNA – the Ghanian diplomat is Kofi ANNAN long time secretary of the UN. Reverse him.
23 Having wiped brow, criminal hot under the collar (5)
IRATE – remove the first letter of PIRATE(criminal)
24 Only half the characters, little matter (4)
ATOM – half the letters would be A TO M

57 comments on “Times 28084 – not so steep”

  1. A relief after yesterday’s killer. DNK ACTION PAINTING. I only knew KEY LARGO from the movie; didn’t realize it’s a real island. The setter seems inordinately fond of double definitions (5), and of initial/final letters (4, 25, 26ac, 13, 17 20d). I liked RADIO.
  2. Even slower at 39 minutes. With yesterday’s bruiser fresh in the mind, things didn’t look too good when I first saw 1a, which eventually had to go in via the def aided by helpful crossers. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of ACTION PAINTING and like Kevin I thought KEY LARGO was a fictional place created for the movie (and subsequent song). How wrong we are, as amongst other attractions, it apparently regards itself as the “Diving Capital of the World”, according to Wikipedia.

    The talus is sometimes referred to as the ANKLE BONE but the ANKLE is a joint and a BONE is well… a bone, so to me it’s not really an anatomically kosher term.

    I liked OCTOPUSSY, the other movie to appear in the grid. BEDRAGGLED is exactly how I felt after yesterday’s battle so was today’s favourite.

  3. Pleased to complete after yesterday, although pink squares at 1a PICKER for POCKET. Guessed that Matthew and Herbert were pickpockets in Oliver Twist.

    Did not parse Kofi Annan. Tried to make NINJA work.
    I was probably not the only one to look for a long time at the anagrist at 1d as ‘for fines so’, promising letters, confirmed by checkers. Was penultimate LOI, leading to the rushed 1a error.


    COD ATOM, although SEE STARS was the pick of the double defs

    Edited at 2021-09-16 03:47 am (UTC)

  4. I surrendered with 7dn HOLY SMOKE missing! I was convinced it was HALF something! Holy Smoke!

    FOI 1ac POCKET

    POI 20ac SHEER



  5. Another one here who felt battered by yesterday’s monster: COCKSHY indeed!
    I spent a long time trying to get an adaptation of PINCH into 1ac and I didn’t help myself with 13d by initially copying George and biffing STEEP in 20ac.
    I like linking EXPRESSIONLESS to ACTION PAINTING and wondered if Jackson Pollock and his ilk ever toyed with the idea of Abstract Expressionlessism! 😀
    Amused by HOLY SMOKE. For once my did not equal cor.

    Edited at 2021-09-16 04:19 am (UTC)

  6. Like George I had STEEP at 20A which helped lead me in the wrong direction at 13D. I thought the definition was just “Sodden” and I was looking for an anagram (“dishevelled”) of “get pulled” and L. I eventually decided it looked too unlikely, realised STEEP was wrong and crawled over the line.
  7. A steady solve.. BEDRAGGLED last one in because like George, I had STEEP for 20ac to start with.
    George I notice that SMARTYPANTSNESS is 15 letters and thus ideal for cryptic use. Look forward to seeing it in a crossword one day..
  8. That seemed Sheer miracle to the multitude…

    25 mins pre-brekker.
    I think this is the demon first/last letter setter again: initially, back of, finally, first of, back of (again), ultimately, ultimate, ‘wiped brow’. Too many.
    I took a long time to see pussy.
    Thanks setter and G.

  9. Another one who took the STEEP path to begin with. Also got lost on NANNA, where the letters in “Ghanaian” were hard to look away from. Nice misdirection.

    But my biggest hold-up was at the end, where all I needed was POCKET with all checkers in place. After nearly five minutes, the penny never really dropped, but shifted position enough to get me interested.

    Felt like a fair tussle in the end, and crosswording was the winner on the day. Thanks for the blog George. And BTW, an immediate biff from “blank” to EXPRESSIONLESS is a very intuitive piece of solving. Nice work.

  10. 41 minutes, so 2 minutes longer than yesterday. I was hindered by not knowing the Dickens characters and it was only when the checkers suggested POCKET which fitted with ‘nick’ that I decided he probably used it as a surname for a Matthew and Herbert.

    NANNA seemed likely at 22 once I had ruled out ‘niece’, the more obvious fit for the definition, but I had no idea about the Ghanaian diplomat. If I ever knew Kofi came from there, I had forgotten it.

    Edited at 2021-09-16 06:04 am (UTC)

  11. Relief to get no pink squares today. I remember the song from the final episode of The Prisoner which possibly helped me get ANKLE BONE.

    No real problems other than not knowing the Dickens characters and thinking 1D was an anagram. Once I sorted that out POCKET looked likely and so it proved. Needed all the checkers for NANNA (LOI).

    Thanks setter and g.

  12. Herbert Pocket is Pip’s friend in Great Expectations, played by Alec Guinness in the 1946 David Lean film.

    OCTOPUSSY appeared elsewhere very recently.

    NANNA had me worried until I parsed it.

    15′ 27″, thanks george and setter.

    1. Guinness in the movie is how I arrived at POCKET too – I’d completely forgotten there was a Matthew
  13. About 25 minutes, ably assisted by daughter’s dog, who’s here for our dogsitting services on a non-WFH day. Maybe we can do some ACTION PAINTING together. Not much else will get done today. LOI NANNA, needing all crossers and the biffed blank space before the reversing secretary-general was safely ensconced. COD to OCTOPUSSY. I liked HOLY SMOKE too. Thank you George and setter.

    Edited at 2021-09-16 07:59 am (UTC)

    1. John. That’s good to know you provide a dog sitting service. We have a rather unruly Jack Russell who is quite difficult to farm out when we need a respite break.

      Could you please post your address and drop off times. Expect a delivery within the next few days. I assume mates’ rates will apply?

      1. St John, Mates’ rates do indeed apply, but you may find these on the punitive side, in fact so steep as to be sheer
        daylight robbery. As the old proverb has it, a friend in need is a bloody nuisance. I see Manchester City’s new left winger got a decent goal last night.
  14. Just checked the SNITCH, and I’m not listed there for today. Anyone know what might cause that? Hope I haven’t upset Starstruck.
    1. Sorry, galspray, that’s a bug I will have to look into. It’s getting confused because of your alias name. But I’ll pretend you’ve offended me if that helps – possibly I’m a Panthers fan…
  15. Haven’t tried yesterday’s yet, so I can’t compare, but I found this a puzzle in which all the answers were obvious once you got them, but not before.
    1a was almost my last in, thinking of the wrong Dickens novel so not remembering either of the Pockets. Not sure I remember Matthew anyway.
    Two classics for the seasoned solver: A TO M and IRATE: some of you may claim there are others.
    Is ACTION PAINTING expression? Tony Hancock’s version might suggest otherwise. And I wasn’t wholly convinced by blot on the landscape for SIGHT, perhaps too influenced by the fabulous Blott.
    Rather liked HOLY SMOKE. 18.22
  16. About 50 mins so definitely on the harder side. Another who had STEEP, until BEDRAGGLED appeared and put me right. So my last two in.
    I liked OCTOPUSSY and FRIEND. Thanks G and setter.
  17. 21:04 Not sure what slowed me down although LOI SEE STARS took quite a while to get as did remembering Kof Annan. I tried for a while to make an anagram of GET PULLED and H for 13D. COD to OCTOPUSSY.
  18. A fine puzzle, but I took a chance on ITEM. After several successful weeks, the second successive day with a pink square. Thoughts turning to the service revolver and bottle of whisky in the study.

    Thanks to G and the setter.

  19. Ignored 1ac and then made swift progress, but got stuck in lower half. The very neat concise clue for OCTOPUSSY held me up most, and then finally returned to biff 1ac. Many thanks to setter and blogger, as ever.
  20. Beeraggled for Bedraggled.

    I think beeraggled would be a good word to describe someone worse for wear after too many drinks.

    Many years ago now I coined a word, “lagershed”, on a blog I visit called Politialbetting.com. The word is based on the 9pm watershed and refers to the time after which chat on a blog becomes overly influenced by the intake of intoxicating beverages. It’s used quite frequently there by the regulars but has yet to be taken up by Chambers, Collins etc.

    So recently I submitted a definition to the Urban dictionary and it has been accepted. Fame at last.


    1. If the sign of the lagershed having been reached is for the posters to become foul mouthed and abusive then there are some early drinkers on the Tottenham Hotspur forum I sometimes look at.
  21. I found this enjoyable but tough. Pleased to finish on 42:33 and then slightly surprised to be so far down the list at 98 out of 115. I’m just too slow. I could not parse NIGHTFALL or POCKET, so thanks to the blogger for those in particular. LOI SEE STARS. Had STEEP too briefly. Liked RADIO. COD OCTOPUSSY
  22. I don’t think either=RANK.
    Also 8d ROAD is weak.
    I don’t really see how ACTION PAINTING is antithesis of Blank either.
    But I loved 7d Holy Smoke and 18a Octopussy.
  23. Another STEEP here until BEDRAGGLED appeared. The NW posed problems and it was only when I separated Nick from Matthew and Herbert that the definition percolated into the front of my brain. I already had CUT UP and ELEMENT, and even though I’ve read the novel in the dim and distant past, the name didn’t really ring a bell. POCKET did stop me trying to shuffle for fines so around and I immediately spotted PROFESSION, which then led me to OCTOPUSSY. LOI was SEE STARS. NHO ACTION PAINTING, but EXPRESSIONLESS and crossers got me to PAINTING and the rest of the anagrist would only go one way. Liked MISTRIAL and NIGHTFALL. 32:07. Thanks setter and George.
  24. 15:24. I felt badly off the wavelength with this, but perhaps for that reason I enjoyed it a lot.
    I’m not sure I understand 12ac. Is there some particular reason ACTION PAINTING is not EXPRESSIONLESS or is it just a general point about art? Seems a bit loose if so. I didn’t know the term but associate the style of art with Maude Lebowski.
    LOI POCKET, with fingers crossed. I’ve never read Great Expectations (not a Dickens fan) so I only had ‘nick’ to go on, and it’s a little oblique.

    Edited at 2021-09-16 10:39 am (UTC)

    1. ACTION PAINTING—of which the paint-slinging, -dripping, -spattering Jackson Pollock is the prime exemplar—was a subcategory of Abstract Expressionism, and AbEx was all about the exalted personality of the artist as revealed in his (usually his) emphatic brushstrokes, the passion in the splashin’. It was this attitude toward which Pop Art, and especially Warhol’s brand of it (look, ma, no drips!) was the deliberate antithesis.

      Edited at 2021-09-21 11:48 pm (UTC)

  25. 20 minutes, so a sight faster than yesterday’s ultra-marathon. I don’t fully understand the working of EXPRESSIONLESS — or, at least to the extent that I do, it seems rather woolly. Is “expression” a technical term used in action painting?

    On edit I see Keriothe made a similar point but I can’t see anyone has been able, or moved, to provide enlightenment.

    Edited at 2021-09-16 11:29 am (UTC)

  26. I had STEEP for no good reason, but unlike others I was too incompetent to get BEDRAGGLED until I had to go back to STEEP and see how silly it was. Like John interred I was trying to make an anagram of ‘get pulled’.
  27. ….that I was another member of George’s “steep” club. It’s been a while since I’ve seen sa for sex appeal

    TIME 9:24

  28. Additionally I suspect that A TO M is a bit of a chestnut – IIRC even I’ve seen something before – so time to remember that properly. Looking at the nifty “big data” clues database confirms it’s a very common filler on The Times and other grids
    1. Bad paste, here’s the comment in full – apologies:

      Failed to stop the clock when breaking for scheduled morning walk, this went OK, except for 24d which I entered as ITEM. Really need to pay closer attention to my discipline around filling in answers in which I have almost no confidence – and actually I think the message is now beginning to sink in, I’ve made the same mistake enough times. At least I had enough self-awareness to avoid entering STEEP in full, correcting it as LOI when BEDRAGGLED fell in.

      Additionally I suspect that A TO M is a bit of a chestnut – IIRC even I’ve seen something before – so time to remember that properly. Looking at the nifty “big data” clues database confirms it’s a very common filler on The Times and other grids

  29. I don’t know anything about expressionism or ACTION PAINTING but I know what I like. Felt rather slow on the uptake this morning and spent a while trying to remember who Kwame Nkrumah was and seeing if he’d fit. 19.06
  30. 26.51. This one wasn’t too tricky but did lead me down a few garden paths. I initially failed to separate the ‘for’ from the ‘fines so’ anagrist in profession. Cracking the rather intricate nightfall took some time. I struggled to see Ra for sun or the radio definition of set. Like others I tried to anagram ‘get pulled’ around the L from hovel before working out bedraggled. I completely missed Kofi Annan too, I thought I was reversing some unknown Courtly Ghanaian rank. Octopussy the longest and most enjoyable garden path for me today.
  31. Surprised that Snitch was only 95 — this seemed a shade harder. Or maybe I just wasn’t at the races.

    Slowish start but had trouble filling in several what should have been fairly simple answers with all checkers in place e.g. SEE STARS and HOLY SMOKE.

    NANNA — I’d spell with two Ns rather than three, and had no idea about Kofi Annan being Ghanaian.

    A domani.

  32. Managed to finish, with letters in all the spaces. Unfortunately I had Preached for 4ac, and consequently Drag (strip/on) for 8d, which almost works. Most of the difficult ones today had to be slowly assembled, so I missed the enjoyable pdms from yesterday’s beast. Invariant
  33. 34 mins but after the disaster that was yesterday- I have rarely been so literally clueless- this was a relief. Like Mr Blogger I was obsessed with steep until I realised that 13 dn wasn’t an anagram of get pulled and l. So last one in was sheer straight after bedraggled.
    Nice to see atom make another welcome appearance. Lots to like in general . Octopussy my COD but liked mistrial as well.
    Thx blogger and setter.
  34. Took an hour but at least I finished this one, with the usual biffing. FOI on the mend without much confidence after yesterday when the setter completely wiped me out, I solved nothing at all yesterday. Surprised I even tried this after that. Five on first pass meant I might get going today, so delighted to complete. I had to change night time once irate became clear, and nightfall was a PDM, it fitted the clue so much better. Also had steep, but bedraggled was emerging from the fog and straightened that out. Thanks for the many clarifications of my biffing, George. I DNK the Dickens characters, so it was a toss-up between picket and pocket, but pocket fit so I was lucky there. Thanks to the setter for a puzzle I could do, even if I did not know exactly how. GW.
  35. 14ac One of my favourite modern writers Tom Sharpe (and his cover illustrator Paul Sample). Blott was incomparable. Organised mayhem! This took me 10:26 minutes so was a bit of a romp! COD 14ac Sight of course. Also liked 5dn Radio
    1. Porterhouse Blue was a favourite. Also the Wilts of course, though they’re not for the faint-hearted!
  36. 60 minutes !’m afraid. Pocket got me (thought nick was prison, laceration, the devil etc) Found Nanna, but couldn’t parse it (Kofi Annan indeed!. Liked Holy Smoke (some humour there).
  37. Another enjoyable one where all the required bits dropped into place without any great delays. Enjoyed the OCTOPUUSY clue (though brought up sharp in the comments by realising that it can now be regarded as an “old” Bond, having aged quite a lot since release, along with me…)
  38. A bit late, but then I am on holiday so that’s my excuse. These weren’t as hard as I made them out to be. Wasn’t too happy with UP as over and the POCKETS had to be checked. As a philistine I know nothing about Dickens.
    Rural Northumberland has the feeling of stepping back in time. Masks everywhere!
  39. Doing this several days late. Saw the clock ticking for 30 minutes so rushed to get in under he bar. Disaster. I failed to answer one clue – road – and mis-spelled another. But what I was rushing to say was that I am this moment by the weirdest of coincidences reading Octopussy! The Fleming short story. Started it on Sunday! I need hardly say the story has no connection with the film, bar the title. The octopussy is actually an octopus in Jamaica. I shall say no more. Same with Quantum of Solace. That’s a tale set in Bermuda where all Bind does is listen to the high commissioner telling an anecdote about an un happily married couple. A quantum of solace is the minimum amount of affection required to keep a couple together. A comment on Fleming’s own failing marriage.

Comments are closed.