Times 28,097: The Sick Man of Blogging

My browser woes continued apace today with Chrome refusing to show me the Club puzzles even after multiple updates and reinstalls. I eventually did the puzzle in Safari but then couldn’t get the automated blog skeleton script to work, so had to download Opera which is finally doing the trick. The most underrated of all web browsers?

This was meaty enough for a Friday with some tricksy but not absurd vocabulary and some tricksy but not absurd cluing. Both the top row went straight in but there were speed bumps from there, culminating with the initially baffling 8dn (“_E_R_T_T, huh, really?!”). Splendid clue, in how hard it is to see that it’s “just” an anagram; I also really liked the cryptic gymnastics of 12ac, 5d and 6dn. I had not known that 20ac could be a collection of musicians as opposed to just their trade.

Great puzzle, thank you setter!

Definitions underlined, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Criticised after openings of some courses cancelled (8)
SCRAPPED – RAPPED after S{ome} C{ourses}
9 Imagine a lot of discontented feelings around slump (8)
10 Surprised comment about label that’s brought back name of detective writer (6)
AGATHA – AHA! about reversed TAG. Agatha Christie, of course
11 Target of nepotism? Measures one’s time in office: short! (10)
12 Has now left, but not before a bath (4)
WASH – WAS H{ere}
13 Invincible men to point out (10)
16 Refuse to accept position? That shows stupidity (7)
DENSITY – DENY “accepting” SIT
17 Remit of coroner’s query initially unites different cases (7)
INQUEST – Q{uery} “cased” by (UNITES*)
20 Big church, not English cathedral, hosting small troupe of musicians (10)
MINSTRELSY – MINST{e}R + ELY “hosting” S
22 Old-fashioned person repeating the same thing again (4)
DODO – D(itt)O [the same thing] twice
23 Extravagant articles about to appear in court case (10)
THEATRICAL – THE and A + C “appearing” in TRIAL
25 Culmination recalled for one enthralled by a US writer (6)
APOGEE – reversed EG “enthralled” by A POE
26 Limits to Prince adopting a language with royal attributes (8)
PALATINE – P{rinc}E “adopting” A LATIN
27 Impulsively hosting King and I with a certain charm (8)
RAKISHLY – RASHLY “hosting” K + I
2 Think company will have special appeal amongst spectators (8)
COGITATE – CO will have IT amongst GATE
3 Soldier is repeatedly besetting the opposition (10)
4 Source of sharp pain? Repeats “Ooh!” when stricken (10)
5 Manor-house finally collapsed — son brought in workers in middle of week (7)
DEMESNE – {collapse}D + S “brought in” MEN, nested in {w}EE{k}
6 American composer is overlooking intro (4)
IVES – {l}IVES [“is”, minus the first letter]
7 Take charge of narrative, lifting a veil (6)
8 Upset to a great degree in certain circumstances (8)
14 One writing US city book to miss something on letter once (5,5)
PENNY BLACK – PEN NY B LACK [one writing | US city | book | to miss]
15 Attaining less than zero, therefore really angry? (10)
THUNDEROUS – UNDER 0, “attained” by THUS
16 Daughter turned up recording a book — here’s a sample? (4,4)
DEMO TAPE – D + reversed EP A TOME
18 Small model encapsulating Queen of the Stars? (8)
SIDEREAL – S IDEAL “encapsulating” E.R.
19 Feel gutted, less healthy, with no initial sign of life? (7)
21 Want larvae gutted for bait (6)
24 Downpour taking top off sewer (4)

76 comments on “Times 28,097: The Sick Man of Blogging”

  1. I had no idea how WASH worked, and in desperation put in HATH (now ‘has’), leaving the bath to fend for itself. NHO AEGROTAT, but it seemed more likely than GEAROTAT.
  2. NHO aegrotat though considered and rejected it. Eventually gave up and looked it up, and it rang a very faint bell – has it been in a puzzle before? Otherwise some tricky stuff – needed Penny Black to finish off the unlikely-looking minstrelsy, wash took a while to figure out, not entirely sure what Palatine was (a hill in Rome?). Enjoyably challenging puzzle
    1. Prior to today it has only appeared in Mephistos, most recently in July last year (blogged by George). Jimbo blogged it twice, in 2019 and 2009. I never do them, so it was new to me and I also gave in and looked it up.

      As an hour came up on the clock I had three missing answers, that one, 9ac and 7dn. I had spotted the possibility of ENVISION quite early on but it wouldn’t parse and I didn’t manage to get past it to the correct answer until I’d cheated on AEGROTAT which supplied the E-checker.

      As for 7dn, I got as far as T{a}LE (narrative) [lifting a] but I thought that the lifted A was the one supplied by ENVISAGE i.e. it had moved up the answer, rather than it had been completely removed. That screwed the intended wordplay so I lost that way to the answer, and going via the definition ‘veil’ was never going to lead me to MANTLE. Eventually I reverted to aids for the second time.

      Much of the rest of the puzzle was very hard work too but I think on the whole I quite enjoyed tackling it, in a sort of masochistic way.

      1. I dug this up from a mental Marianas Trench this afternoon and I have a feeling that it had something to do with one of the authors of “1066 and All That” who confessed that that was the degree he was awarded at University…..but I may be totally mistaken. Certainly I’ve never had reason to utilise the term until this day.
        Sorry Bolton Wanderer I’ve just seen your comment below. At least my suspicion has been confirmed

        Edited at 2021-10-01 03:55 pm (UTC)

  3. I failed at the last hurdle where my random arrangement of letters produced GEORATAT. Pah!
  4. 31 minutes with LOI MANTLE. MINSTRELSY was not known but I could make nothing else of it. I toyed with HATH too before WASH came out of the blue. COD to THUNDEROUS. I’ve known of AEGROTAT since I first read 1066 and all that. I think it was Sellar whose degree came on that basis. In that, King John lost his crown in the wash of course. This puzzle was tough in parts but overall a Good Thing. Thank you V and setter.
    1. Yes, that’s where I got AEGROTAT from too. Excused from lecture attendance on account of feeling grotty. As I recall Yeatman was M.A. (failed).
  5. Left side went in rapidly, held up with six short on right. Annoyed to miss STEPSISTER which would have led to a couple more. INQUEST remained in pencil as I did not know the “cases” device. Likewise “attained by”. I know hundreds of anagram indicators, I guess I need to learn the same number of “contains” devices.


  6. Did all the hard bits in 12′, also knew AEGROTAT from 1066… Unable to get MANTLE 🙁

    Thanks verlaine and setter

  7. Words I COGITATE quite frequently
    But a THUNDEROUS “NO!”
    To the NEEDLEss DODO
    My ANTITHESIS, obviously

    If the avian had been eschewed
    Old queen DiDo, we might include
    The art movement DaDa
    Would be better by far
    And our setter would then be a DuDe

    DeDe birds are DuDs, don’t you see?
    On that we can surely agree
    DaDs might have occurred
    As an alternate word
    Avoiding the ranting from me

    Edited at 2021-10-01 07:46 am (UTC)

    1. You could say it wasn’t a bird
      Though you’d think such a claim was absurd
      Chambers says its a bod
      Who’s stupid or odd
      No matter what else you have heard
  8. I managed to do this without aids which has been a rare occasion recently.
    NHO: AEGROTAT, DEMESNE, MINSTRELSY but managed to solve them.
    I thought it was unusual to have three clues (by my count) which entailed gutting certain words:
    26ac: P(rinc)E; 19d: F(ee)L; 21d: L(arva)E.
    Seven years ago (#25886 08Sep14) I made a note of PEASHOOTER, because the clue amused me: “Weapon whose use may make a child’s pulse race”.
    COD: WASH. Clever.
  9. I have exactly the same problem as our blogger. I can get to the club website but don’t get the grids. However if I don’t go to the club site but stay on the Times puzzle page I do get the grids and they work. I too have tried removing and reinstalling to no effect. I now use Edge. Tough puzzle, great blog. When are we going to get the video again?
    1. I moved house again and haven’t been set up for video recording since I did but I just bought a desk so hopefully those times are just around the corner once more!
    2. Yes I am now reduced to using the Times app to get to Crossword Club. Even DuckDuckGo doesn’t work.
  10. ….and considerably less grumpy had I not had to spend a lot of time backing out typos, and correcting bad biffs (flutter for FLICKER, and “dump tape”, which took me all the way back to operating a LEO III in 1968).

    AEGROTAT was dredged from O level Latin, and I was late to join the merry MINSTRELSY at “Phil the Fluter’s Ball”.

    LOI FLICKER (duh !)
    TIME 16:18

  11. 25 minutes and change for the second day in a row, though I though this one was a bit obscurantist rather than amusingly clever.
    I might have preferred MINSTRELSY clued with chocolate (are they still made?) and was almost satisfied with MINSTRALLY despite the lack of a cathedral.
    I may be the only solver to have happily biffed AEGROTAT from the T?T finish. It was MANTLE (of course) that held me up because of that lifted A that wasn’t (either way you take that). Chambers doesn’t have veil as a definition, except indirectly in its poetic covering meaning.
    Didn’t work out WASH and assumed it was a rather clumsy CD.
    I wasn’t really happy with STEPSISTER as an object of nepotism, which has more the flavour of an older favouring a younger relative: the word has its origin in “grandson”.
    My title is a remembered classic clue for the related nepotist
    Not grumpy, just less ecstatic than yesterday.
    1. Wiktionary has Etymology:
      Borrowed from French népotisme, from Italian nepotismo, from Latin nepōs (“nephew”), a reference to the practice of popes appointing relatives (most often nephews) as cardinals during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
      1. It started off meaning grandson/descendent, but the meaning developed over time. Now here’s my favourite example of outrageous nepotism. Lord North (Prime Minister from 1770-82), when questioned about the propriety of appointing his half-brother Brownlow to the bishopric of Coventry and Lichfield at the age of 29, is said to have replied: “Indeed, my brother is no doubt young to be a bishop, but when he is older he will no longer have a brother as Prime Minister.”
  12. 17:57. Like Kevin, I had no idea how WASH worked – thanks for explaining that V. LOI AEGROTAT which I knew from somewhere other than crosswords. I was surprised MINSTRELSY was a word, but the wordplay was unequivocal and held off entering IVES until I got 9A and then eventually twigged the wordplay. A nice Friday test. COD to PEASHOOTER. Thanks V and setter.
  13. I really must improve my handwriting — this is the Times after all, not a puzzle in Viz .
  14. Was pretty determined to finish this – even if it involved taking multiple breaks and resumptions for breakfast, morning walk etc…
    …but the NE corner was just fiendishly difficult. Spent 7 or 8 mins playing with the anagrist for 8d, did think of STEP as possible start for 11a, NHO Charles Ives, and even though there’s a Demesne Road very near to me, didn’t know the meaning.

    Glad I didn’t persist any longer with this, because it was never gonna happen.

        1. I heard a lot of Burl Ives in my childhood (Children’s Favourites with Uncle Mac on the Light Programme) so I have happy memories of him – Big Rock Candy Mountain, the old lady who swallowed the fly, etc. No happy memories of Charles though.
          1. The buzzing of the bees in the cigarette trees. Jack I remember those songs too but I didn’t like them…
        2. You need to know Ives for American composer quiz questions just in case it doesn’t sound like Copland is the answer: Ives is your backup.
  15. I was fully expecting some pink squares after clicking submit with AEGROTAT my LOI (6 seconds behind Verlaine today), but luck was with me on that one.

    SIDEREAL was another than I wasn’t sure about, but SIDQUEAL seemed much less likely.

    A mixture of write-ins and some that required considerably more thought, particularly the slightly loose (Cinderella-inspired? Unless I’m missing something) definition for STEPSISTER.

  16. DNF. I struggled for an hour before giving up on STEPSISTER MANTLE and AEGROTAT. I had AEGROTAT on my scrap paper, but didn’t believe it. I also postulated FACADE and MANTLE but couldn’t see the parsing. Never got past SLEASEBALL for 11a. Looked up all three and submitted off leaderboard. I had the rest correct, although WASH was biffed and not understood. More a chore than a pleasure today. AEGROTAT being particularly obscure imho. Thanks setter and V.

    Edited at 2021-10-01 10:44 am (UTC)

  17. Now that my tablet is showing a timer (although I haven’t discovered how to pause it if I go and do something else for a while — I reloaded the app so that I have the new version, not the ‘classic’ one) I really should start to give my times. Today was an hour, with a look in a list for MANTLE and an electronic hunt for _e_r_t_t. I thought some of the answers were very obscure: DEMESNE, AEGROTAT, MINSTRELSY and with DEMO TAPE (not in Chambers, so I couldn’t cheat on it) I wasted ages looking for a three-letter word meaning ‘turned up’.
      1. isla explained this much better than I did but the comment seems to have been deleted.
        isla said C = about (circa, latin) and the court & case are lowered and joined (rather than lifted and separated) to give TRIAL.
        1. Hi Andy, I was a few minutes behind you. Loaded the page and took 10 minutes or so to read down to here. Your reply was not here when I got here, but you’d written it in that 10 minutes I was reading.
          So I deleted my comment partly for neatness, just repeating what you said. And also because if there’s two comments virtually the same it seems like patronising, not a good look – whereas in reality it’s just unfortunate timing.

          Edited at 2021-10-01 12:19 pm (UTC)

  18. 32:30. Tricky NE with the downs proving particularly troublesome. Is invincible the same as omnipotent? Potentially, I suppose, but then it must potentially be absolutely anything.
  19. Not a Friday Beast, but quite a few words which I’d expect to come across in crosswords a lot more than I would in real life.
  20. Managed this in 23 minutes without aids, although MINSTRELSY was put in from wordplay alone. For some reason I knew AEGROTAT from uni times and I liked WASH once I saw how it worked. Thanks V for blog in spite of tribulations; another reason not to go with Apple kit.
  21. Had to cheat on the tricky vocab (8d aegrotat, and 20a minstrelsy. Note that aegrotat is highlit here as a typo, so clearly absent from one fairly comprehensive dictionary.
    Other bits were QC-ish. And some you could write out by following the instructions without even knowing what you were writing! Such as 25a apogee (note I don’t take it as =culmination,) and 26a Palatine.
  22. Thanks to our blogger for the parsing on WASH and IVES. I remembered PALATINE from the extended family of Stuart royals because it was from that branch we imported the Hanoverians. The whole subject of MINSTRELSY is very dodgy in these parts, especially when a white politician is found to have been photographed in blackface during his student years. I think of a MANTLE as a cape rather than a veil so that took a while before I was convinced. 24.56

    Edited at 2021-10-01 10:58 am (UTC)

    1. I took MANTLE/veil to be verbs. And it actually never occurred to me to think of Christie-type minstrels, only medieval ones.
    2. I used to quite like the B&W Minstrels’ show when I was a lad. There, I’ve said it ..

      To this day, it seems more like a compliment than anything else. As if you have to be black to sing well

      1. ‘It wouldn’t be called “cultural appropriation” if it was inappropriate, now would it?” I do think, even if “we know better” now, it’s generally unfair to cry outrageous racism about behaviours in the past that it just hadn’t occurred to people were problematic yet…
        1. I agree. Especially when I still don’t quite see the problem. but then, being a white middle class English male I am quite used to being resolutely unoffended despite all the opprobrium
  23. I found this really hard, mostly because of wilful obscurity and/or tenuous definitions, and rather resent the time I wasted before being left with the impossible AEGROTAT. Awful clue. MANTLE is also pretty bad.

    Edited at 2021-10-01 11:15 am (UTC)

    1. These emoji things that have appeared in my absence. I’m sure it’s been pointed out that they seem a little incomplete?

      I just wanted to express solidarity with your sentiments, as I did with Pootle above. Not sure the rose-red heart is the best way of conveying that. I mean, I hardly know you…

  24. 32.05. Managed to pass the aegrotat test more by luck than judgment. I found this quite tough and didn’t help myself by overthinking a fair few clues.
  25. DNF after 50 minutes when I had to find AEGROTAT in a crossword solver. All combinations of those letters seemed equally unlikely. Enjoyed struggling with the rest. Found most of the vocab deep in my brain, not necessarily with the meanings. I liked the “less than zero” bit of THUNDEROUS
  26. 73:22
    Ouch. Bunged in aegrotat after looking at it for 40 mins. Got lucky.
    Thanks, v.
  27. 40.24 so a bit snaillike I suspect but pleased to finish the week without defeat. LOI mantle with envisage just before. Held up by trying to get envision to fit before finally realising 8 dn was an anagram of to a great. Oh what tangled webs I weaved .

    Very enjoyable so thanks to the setter and Verlaine for the usual excellent blog.

  28. It was like sitting an exam one hadn’t revised for. So I am fully in Lord Keriothe’s camp, along with the Honourable Member for Perth. Failures at every turn, mainly in the northern section.

    FOI in 22ac DODO

    COD 4dn PEASHOOTER which I failed to unravel

    WOD 8dn AEGROTAT which I similarly failed.

    I lost interest and watched an episode of M*A*S*H* instead. Mood Meldrewvian

    1. I clean forgot to mention Miss Penny Black of 14 Downing Street. A redeeming feature today.
      In all my years of philately I have never owned one. I have resolved to buy myself one for Christmas – perhaps a pair with a nice Maltese Cross?
    2. Never mind that this one didn’t quite work for you – at least there’s a new MCS for your delight and delectation now!
      1. My dear Verl,
        I have appropriately blocked-off the entire week-end for ‘The Special One’. l will be taking no calls either, that is unless Mrs. Pelosi requires help.
        As ever,
  29. Totally beaten by the NE corner. Never heard of the degree, and I don’t think MANTLE is a veil. Too clever for me. Didn’t help that wife was tormenting me with her computer problems this am, so very late with comments.Thanks V .
    1. I would have been in agony over having to guess if a MANTLE is the same as a veil, but I thought of MANTILLA which really is a veil, and that seemed close enough for comfort finally. Whether a MANTLE is a MANTILLA is, of course, another question entirely.
      1. I don’t think it really matters since MANTLE and veil both have a general sense of something that covers, or (as a verb) to cover. But it’s oblique, as are ‘take charge of’ for MAN and ‘lifting’ to indicate ‘having removed’. All in all it’s a pretty rickety clue.
        1. Yeah, a clue that “only just works” from multiple angles probably should not be considered a classic…
  30. was giving very little. I managed to finis in 19:05 mins.
    New to me was Minstrelsy. COD Demesne.
  31. 29:35 this afternoon.
    I found this tough throughout , on the other hand the solving process, although somewhat tortuous, was quite satisfying, so my compliments to the setter.
    Was another to be held up at the end in the NE corner but much of the delay was due to my earlier mis-spelling of 5 d “demesne” which meant I was not going to get “stepsister”, even though I was sure “measures” had to be “steps”. I actually wasn’t terribly happy with “target of nepotism”, as I felt that had to imply other rivals that one was using promotion of relatives to thwart. “ Benficiary of nepotism” would have been fairer imho.
    LOI 7 d “mantle” which I biffed.
    Never mind, a good test to round off the week as far as I was concerned, with several excellent clues including 12 ac “wash”, 8 d “aegrotat” and 19 d “flicker”.
    Thanks to V for the elucidations and to the setter.
  32. Satisfying but tough. Was’nt 7 dn target word (‘mantle’) wrongly defined as a ‘veil’ ? Surely a mantle is a cloak? I got ‘aegrotat’ by trial fitting letters remaining from the ‘,to a great degree’ anagram around the the end letters of envisage, stepsister omnipotent and inquest, and then looked up aegrotat which I’d never heard of (and have never actually need to employ!)
  33. “to a great / degree” is. such a brilliant discovery by the setter that I must dispute that this is an awful clue… though I agree that it resulted in a clue less fair than strictly optimal.
  34. Sudden esprit de l’escalier — I should have called this blog Aegrotat, Aegrotat, I Shall Wear The Bottoms Of My Trousers Flat…
  35. on the clock, but I forgot to pause so it means nothing. No need to repeat the comments about the weird AEGROTAT, LOI WASH for which I also nearly put HATH. Trouble with reporting in late, everyone has already said everything!
  36. Back in 1975/6 a lecturer told me a joke about a failing student that concluded with ‘he went for an aegrotat’ as the punch line. Seeing my puzzled look, he had to explain what it meant. Nearly 50 years later I finally get to use the word! As for the rest, a (very) slow but successful solve, albeit with my architect wife chipping in with the nho Demesne, when I was completely stuck in the NE corner. I’m so grateful that she shows no interest in doing these… Invariant
    1. …whereas I was very grateful to Kiwi wife for nho AEGROTAT, as these appear to be common in NZ, the term even being used in high school for missing final exams due to sickness. It’s a plague in NZ universities!
  37. Couldn’t get past that.
    On the bright side, the club site via Chrome still does all I need it to do to produce my next blog entry, although the old-style grid that we run the script on doesn’t appear when I remove the URL suffix now on Safari, which I always used for this before.
  38. I knew AEGROTAT since a friend of mine got his degree that way. So it wasn’t even my last one in. But I messed up and typed AEGRETAT (despite it being an anagram and so all the letters in front of me). So a pink square for me.

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