Times 28,103: Just a crouton in the cryptic 20ac

Hello hello, I thought, this might be interesting, as I put in 9ac and 7d, an unusual pair of words if ever I met one, but in the end it all fell into place pretty easily thereafter. I think I liked the musical mashup at 13dn the best, but there were quite a few other fun cryptic constructions in here too, name your own favourite.

By popular demand I made a video of my solve, so if you REALLY want to know what my LOI is you’ll have to watch it for 8 minutes (or jump ahead).

Thanks setter!

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

1 Showing nobility, pounds replaced by pair at financial risk (3-5)
SUB-PRIME – SUB{l->PR}IME. SUBLIME [showing nobility] with L [pounds] replaced by PR [pair]
5 Girl presented a note for discussion (6)
DEBATE – DEB A TE [girl presented | a | note]
8 Fish, confused, bled out (3)
GAR – GAR{bled}
9 Exposure to sun in quarantine, around noon (10)
10 Accountant set out agreement for gems (4-4)
11 How posh people used to pronounce actually spread disease (6)
INFECT – “In fact”, pronounced by Her Majesty the Queen or similar posho
12 Embargo applied to old port (4)
OBAN – BAN applied to O
14 Principled school looked after children? (4-6)
HIGH-MINDED – HIGH [school] + MINDED [looking after children]
17 A little yarn to line clothes for the summer ahead (5,5)
SHORT STORY – TO RY [to | line], with SHORTS [clothes for the summer] ahead
20 Very cheerful, but in trouble here? (4)
SOUP – SO UP [very | cheerful]. If you’re in the soup you are in trouble
23 Joker put round a new rumour (6)
CANARD – CARD put round A N
24 Girl “I just met” with Greek character making music in Mexico (8)
MARIACHI – MARIA [“I just met a girl called Maria”] with CHI
25 Through seawater ploughed giant ship (10)
26 A hard answer I suddenly see (3)
27 My clue confused lecture hall (6)
28 Separate legs, taking seat across sides of tractor (8)
STRADDLE – SADDLE across T{racto}R
1 Discerning in saint a goodness, right away (9)
2 Unusual attire bishop’s put on? Yes and no (7)
BIRETTA – (ATTIRE*) with B put on. Not an unusual attire for a bishop, so a semi-&lit-semi-anti-&lit, or something
3 Passenger maybe arresting a looter (6)
RAIDER – RIDER “arresting” A
4 He entrances me, surviving at first in southern desert (9)
MESMERIST – ME + S{urviving} in S MERIT [desert, as in what one deserves]
5 Boxer’s in mire over philosophical principle (7)
DUALISM – ALI’S in MUD reversed
6 For work meetings at home, at first get into underclothes (9)
7 Vestment in large container left in reserve (7)
13 Opera and musical in back-to-back clash, setting a standard (9)
NORMATIVE – NORMA smooshed together with reversed EVITA
15 One providing simple treatment as dog run over in robbery (9)
HERBALIST – reversed “LAB R” in HEIST. Simples are herbs
16 Party till early hours, in which I see texting double (9)
DUPLICATE – D.U.P. LATE, in which I C
18 Responsible youth’s pressure upset lout (4,3)
HEAD BOY – HEAD [pressure] + reversed YOB
19 Pistol not used at the front? (7)
SIDEARM – cryptic def
21 Nothing difficult about raising crops in the front garden (7)
ORCHARD – 0 HARD “about” R{aising} C{rops}
22 American organisation holds people up in darkened room (6)
CINEMA – C.I.A. holds reversed MEN

74 comments on “Times 28,103: Just a crouton in the cryptic 20ac”

  1. About 20 minutes for everything except the unknown TUNICLE, and several more to puzzle that one out. I’m not sure an ORCHARD and a garden are really the same thing but Chambers says “an enclosed garden of fruit trees” which is not what it means here in California where it is more likely to mean 200 acres of almond trees. But apart from the TUNICLE, not a very Fridayish puzzle after our not very Mondayish Monday puzzle.
  2. The INFECT wordplay gave me a chuckle. The MARIACHI wordplay gave me an earworm which I was humming for the rest of the solve.
  3. I thought of MESMERIST (and HYPNOTIST) right off, but couldn’t see how it would work; it turned out to be my POI, giving me LOI SUB-PRIME (dnk it involved risk). I liked NORMATIVE. Definitely not a Fridayish puzzle, but chewy enough for me.
  4. Perfect level of chewiness for my money as well.

    Loved the video V, although I couldn’t hear you very well. Possibly a problem at my end, I dunno. Most fascinating was how similar your solving process is to mine (probably to most of us) but at roughly triple the speed.

    Having REALISM at 5dn (because actually paying attention to clues is for wimps) caused a hold-up at the end with DEBATE. Relatively smooth sailing otherwise.

    Thanks Verlaine and setter.

  5. 38 minutes, with the unknown (but I like it) TUNICLE my last in. A few other uncommon words meant there was some sense of achievement in getting this one out.

    Dear The Times Crossword editor, I think there’s an error in the wording for 11a. It should read ‘How Kiwis do pronounce actually spread disease’

    Thanks to Verlaine and setter

    1. I thought it was the other way around. As in Jacinda’s “Build Back Bitter”
      1. You may be right. Along with everything else that they do so well, those Kiwis have no peer as vowel manglers, and it’s often hard to work out which shortened vowel is being used as a substitute for the original!
  6. Tunicle and insolation had to be, it was duplicate I struggled with: where did the O go?
    DO / UP LATE (party/till the early hours) around IC. Eventually remembered the DUP. Otherwise no problems. Liked CINEMA which would have qualified as a semi-&lit back in the extraordinary rendition days of torture and murder, but COD to BRIEFINGS following all the recent stories of Zoom meeting “wardrobe failures”.
  7. An enjoyable just right challenge to start my day.

    FOI 10ac
    LOI 29ac — just didn’t see “So Up” argh.
    COD 11ac

    I saw 16dn as D(Democrats) with Up Late, but seems to work either way.

    Thanks setter and explicator.

    Edited at 2021-10-08 05:33 am (UTC)

  8. Well off the pace today, making a meal of the NE, with my inability to take the possessive in BOXER’S into consideration stymying me on the philosophical principle.

    TUNICLE last in, as I suspect it may be for many ordinary mortals.

  9. I found it difficult to get going today but once I did the answers flowed nicely, finishing up as many with the unknown but quite gettable TUNICLE.
  10. Slooooow but very pleased to register a successful completion in the end, after back-tracking multiple times due to loose assumptions:

    – Figured 1d would almost certainly end in -ING, making 17a GHOST STORY
    – Wrongly biffed REALISM for 5d, making 5a appear to start RUBY …or maybe REBA, giving REBATE – then it clicked

    Had no idea about NORMA, just about remembered BIRETTA as ecclesiastical headgear, TUN as large cask to help me derive LOI and unknown to me – TUNICLE.

    Bit of an ordeal, but largely self-inflicted – must dial up the effort on guess-discipline – but the right result made it worth the effort. Thanks v and setter

    1. Remember Norma; just as ‘She’ is the go-to cruciverbal novel, ‘If’ the poem, ‘Norma’ is the opera. And ‘ET’ the movie.

      Edited at 2021-10-08 07:18 am (UTC)

        1. Thanks both – appreciate the newbie guidance – all of the above chestnuts now on my memory-jogger list.

          Been tripped up by SHE before, actually figured EVITA straight away today – good to see the building blocks of cross-wisdom fitting into place.

      1. …and “Evita” the musical – the reversed “ATIVE” always comes in handy
    2. I’m glad you mentioned ecclesiastical headgear, as I’d taken it that the bishop had a gun until now.
  11. After 30 minutes I was left with three answers outstanding in the NE corner and after staring at them for another 5 I gave up and resorted to aids.

    My problem had been thinking DI, A, LOG at 5ac which seemed to work perfectly but I thought it unlikely without an indication of American spelling, although one sees ‘dialog box’ frequently with reference to computers so it may well be thought to be part of English English by now. Anyway, having thought of that answer I found it impossible to see past it, so I cheated and then kicked myself that DEBATE should have been obvious. Given the B checker provided by that, BRIEFINGS slotted quickly into place but I was still baffled by the vestment and running short of patience so I looked that up too. TUNICLE seemed vaguely familiar so I have probably met it before, but not in The Times according to a TfTT Google search.

    Some may know that I am heavily into song lyrics so I need to mention that Mr Sondheim’s line is ‘I just met a girl named Maria’.

    Edited at 2021-10-08 05:28 am (UTC)

    1. Back in the mid-80s I got my first exposure to IT, and at the time some UK diehards were still claiming it should be “computer programme” – but that debate was settled long ago in favour of universal use of the US spelling.

      I’d say dialog box is a similar case, it’s now English English.

      One that still grates on me is “favorites” for browser bookmarks.

      1. Thanks for that, Denise, which makes me feel better about my attempt to justify DIALOG, however I’m afraid I would have to concede that whilst ‘dialog box’ would be correct in English English, ‘dialog’ as a standalone word meaning ‘discussion’ is probably not there yet.
      2. I don’t regard any of those words as English English; but I guess I am a fair bit older than you are…
      3. My favourite US IT import is “disk” which is an IT thing whereas a disc is a round flat thing.
    2. I had DIALOG too, and had to give up, as although I was troubled by the US spelling, I couldn’t see how it could be anything else. Hence 6 and 7 D were impossible.
      Gill D
  12. And bowery hollows crown’d with summer sea

    20 mins pre-brekker. Is it Friday?
    I liked it.
    Thanks setter and V.

  13. Perfect level of difficulty. Having put in BRIEFINGS, I was held up by DUALISM and TUNICLE as I was unable to get TABLED out of my head even though it was patently wrong. Thanks setter and V for the video.
  14. …not a GAR. 34 minutes with LOI CINEMA. COD to MARIACHI for its combination of cultures, but I really liked BRIGANTINE too. TUNICLE was a construction that sounded right, as did INSOLATION (is that what the motorway protests are about?) and it took a while to parse SHORT STORY. Good puzzle.Thank you V and setter
  15. AHA! Yet another SUB-PRIME
    The CANARD’s the problem this time
    A bird in translation
    Leads to my protestation
    A SAGACIOUS grumble, in rhyme
  16. …I biffed NORMALISE iso NORMATIVE without thinking.
    Thank you Verlaine, particularly for SUB-PRIME, SHORT STORY and MESMERIST.
    COD to INFECT.
  17. All good. I must have come across BRIGANTINE and BIRETTA in the past, but goodness knows when. DUALISM and TUNICLE proved the toughest for me at the end.

    Thank you to verlaine and the setter

  18. Thanks. To see our blogger hover over my FOI, SOUP, for a good 10 seconds has set me up for the day. The fact that it took me nearly 7 times as long to complete is but the merest bagatelle and, I am sure, is almost entirely down to typing speed. Thanks blogger and setter.
  19. 20′ 10″, good puzzle. TUNICLE, nho, LOI, with MARIACHI, nho, POI.

    Thanks verlaine and setter.

  20. 54 mins. I found this chewy enough with a lot of clues needing close inspection to work out. I did like CANARD, NORMATIVE and the MARIA-Y thing. Last pair in TUNICLE (NHO) and INSOLATION when I had finally worked out what was going on.

    Very enjoyable challenge though. Thanks V and setter.

  21. Deftly clued and entertaining, I thought. Liked the use of some crossword staples in a new way to get NORMATIVE, and the amusing INFECT (just in case it comes up in a future puzzle, a CRECHE is when two Range Rovers collide in Knightsbridge).
  22. got caught up in the NW corner for a long time at the end, mainly due to having “NOB PRICE” at 1a (yes, the N.O.B price is a thing in financial circles). This, sadly made much harder work for 1d and 4d at the end. Eventually after repeated alphabet trawls came up with nothing to fit either, a rethink allowed the penny to drop and an almost immediate finish.

    V’s video is interesting viewing, surprisingly slow start but pretty steady once going, and – unlike me – not slowing down and getting utterly stumped at the end!

  23. 20:52 LOI BRIEFINGS when I eventually abandoned BRAS with something in the middle. Did anyone else put in REALISM at first for 5D as I did. NHO INSOLATION and TUNICLE but remembered MARIACHI. I liked MESMERIST and INFECT best. Thanks V and setter.
  24. So the second quickest of the week at 17.17. Probably helped by knowing the ecclesiasticals: I used to wear a faux BIRETTA with my Elizabethan get up on Totnes Tuesdays and TUNICLE I just know, with a side helping of surprise that so few others do. Heaven forfend we should drift from Catholic/Anglican clobber and start seeing Orthodox garb, though even setters might find the zostikon, kontorasson and skufia tricky.
    Another time I might have been held up by the CD SIDEARM, but we had it (and of course I moaned about it) identically clued in an ST in July.
    My last in , not properly understood, was the innocuous SHORT STORY, wondering where the Conservative was depicted in the clue.
  25. Not sure of my time, about 33 or 34 minutes I suppose. Unlike some of the speed merchants, I am one of galspray’s wimps who does’t move on until satisfied of the parsing of an answer. But now that I am solving digitally I find it much easier to biff the answer, then stop and look at it — the equivalent of writing it in the margin, as I used to do when solving on paper. But this method meant that when I entered my LOI BRIEFINGS the congratulatory message flashed up and the time stopped at 30.21. It took me two or three minutes to see how BRIEFINGS worked.

    Nice crossword I thought.

    Edited at 2021-10-08 10:24 am (UTC)

  26. One could have a HIGH-MINDED DEBATE about NORMATIVE DUALISM but I prefer the CINEMA. Nice puzzle with only INSOLATION (I note that the Live Journal spellcheck queries it) for a DNK. 16.15
  27. GAR and OBAN were my first 2 in, although after having clicked on the puzzle to start it, I was distracted by receiving a message from a missionary friend in the DRC, and lost 4:20 before I actually started the puzzle. Having then solved RAIDER, CATS EYES and BIRETTA, I turned my attention to the SW, and continued in an anticlockwise fashion. I knew NORMALISE didn’t fit, but it was only during proof reading that the correct solution arrived. MARIACHI has finally lodged itself in my brain and only needed a couple of crossers to facilitate the extraction process. I also had a chuckle at INFECT. Apart from the insertion of an inverted A-less EVITA, my LOI was the U in TUNICLE, shortly preceded by BRIEFINGS and MESMERIST. INSOLATION was constructed from wordplay slightly earlier in the proceedings. A fun puzzle. 33:26, less the 4:20 wasted earlier. Thanks setter and V.
    1. You have a missionary friend who works for the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti? Cool.
      1. He’s a lay Mill Hill missionary working in the Democratic Republic of Congo 😊
  28. Sorry am I missing something? Surely combining Evita and Norma gives the letter “A” twice?
    1. It says that it is a clash, so the ‘words’ NORMA and ATIVE clash in that they share a space for the A.
    2. Iagree, although it caused no delay.
      Also in 16d DUP L IC ATE I thought that the cruciverbalist had simply omitted to delete the “o” from “do” thus allowing UP LATE to have a smoother surface IMHO.
  29. Didn’t find this terribly difficult, all clues working themselves out with a lttle thought. Only really held up through bunging in BESTRIDE instead of STRADDLE which ate up some minutes, then a long think at the end about what T_N_C_E might be
  30. 32.00. This was an enjoyable workout. I particularly liked the smooth ‘to line clothes for the summer ahead’ construction of short story. I finished up in the NE with LOI tunicle, tun being preferred to tin as a large container.
  31. friday offerings often take twice as long, with much soul-searching and gnashing of teeth. I didn’t get the full ration of mental torture today…..and, rather sadly, I miss it. Nevertheless , it was a beautifully crafted example of the setter’s art. TUNICLE was a nho, but confidently parsed and entered.
  32. Am I the only poster baffled by Maria? Seems so. Absolutely no idea what was going on there so was left with _A_I_CHI at the end. Nho of Mexican music either. Deprived childhood no doubt.

    Liked INFECT a lot but SUB-PRIME even more. Don’t know why but the association of the word SUBLIME with the cause of the last crash was I thought v clever

    Struggled in the NE like others but teased them all out eventually

    Thanks all

    1. Maria is a song from West Side Story, the Bernstein musical.
      I’ve just met a girl named Maria,
      And suddenly that name
      Will never be the same to me.”
  33. ….and a number of biffs, one of which was “realism” which held me up until I got SLOI DEBATE once I’d discounted the rogue R. In truth, I never recovered from a very slow start, being 7 clues in, then 12 clues in for my second answer.

    TIME 14:04

  34. 32:38. Got fixated on 1d as pointing to INSTA- something (right away) and proceeded to make a pig’s ear of the rest by putting two answers in the wrong place (and getting one of them wrong as well). Spent most of my time backtracking. By popular demand, I will not be posting a video of this solve.

    Edited at 2021-10-08 01:40 pm (UTC)

  35. FOI aha. Five on first pass = marginal whether to continue. The solve began to happen, though, and with two to go I stuck it in the online grid – to find I had made several mistakes. Realism, normalise, insulation. NHO insolation.
    These took some sorting out. Didn’t parse Gar, short story, sagacious, mesmerist, tunicle, herbalist or duplicate. LOI tunicle. All good clues. Entertained two of us for an hour. Thanks, V, and setter.
  36. Had to do this in 2 sittings, with the second one completing it fairly quickly. LOI SOUP most people’s FOI. Being a Friday, I was convinced that CARAND might be a thing which held me up somewhat.
    COD INSOLATION. At least I knew it.
  37. I was going great guns, but put ‘realism’ for ‘dualism;’. This meant that the last two clues – debate and tunicle — were decidedly tricky. It was 15 minutes before I spotted the problem. I see now the source of my stupidity. The ‘mire’ in the 5d clue. Without thinking, I made an anagram of mire and Ali’s – except of course it’s not an anagram. There’s an extra ‘i’.
  38. Didn’t parse SHORT STORY and didn’t see merit = desert in MESMERIST, but otherwise this wasn’t too bad, and my first completion for a while.

    Slightly ashamed to say the only reason I’ve hear of BRIGANTINE is because it features in the lyrics to a Stone Roses song…

    FOI Gar
    LOI Sidearm
    COD Herbalist

  39. Too sleepy when I started last night after writing Sunday’s blog, so was glad to finish it fairly quickly this morning as I waited for the kettle to whistle for my coffee. Funny thing, the phrase HIGH-MINDED occurred to me first while looking at 1A, “Showing nobility…” TUNICLE is cute. (Hope those priests keep their vestments on.)

    Edited at 2021-10-08 03:44 pm (UTC)

  40. A good puzzle for a Friday. I looked at it blankly first time round, but then managed to plough through fairly methodically, apart from the DUALISM and TUNICLE man-traps.

    COD NORMATIVE. INFECT made me laugh out loud. Presumably these were the same people who thought that sex was what the coal was delivered in.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter.

  41. 12:23 late this afternoon.
    Like others I felt this was on the easier side for a Friday, but at least it balances out Monday. I felt it was a well crafted puzzle and satisfying to solve.
    FOI 5 ac “debate” and then jumped around the puzzle seeming to pick up the setter’s wavelength.
    Held up early on at 5 d “dualism” where I was looking for a dog/dogma connection, until I tried substituting “ali” for “boxer”, another Crossword-land standby, and the answer appeared.
    COD 24 ac “mariachi”. I’ve always had a mental block when trying to recall the name of this music. The wordplay should help in future. In fact maybe the technique would be useful in general, for names that, for me, increasingly prove elusive?
    Thanks to V for the blog and the video and to setter for providing an enjoyable puzzle.
  42. Exactly the same as Jack- DIALOG was my FOI at 4ac! I then stuck in ARBITER at 2dn!! I carefully counted all the vowels! Never recovered and jacked it in on forty minutes – total lack of interest.

    7dn TUNICLE! played no doubt on an icicle

    20ac SOUP!! Was that a clue!!?

    1ac SUB-PRIME ain’t in my vocab. especially with ARBITER in place!

    COD 22dn CINEMA I can cope with the MEN in black- CIA

    WOD 24ac MARIACHI banned in our house – ‘er indoors find they get under her feet and she doesn’t like the food.

    Mood Meldrewvian, but I had a marvellous Thai Tuna sarnie for lunch, washed down with a large, cold Pinot G.

    PS I do wish Mohammed Ali would hang up his gloves!

    Edited at 2021-10-08 04:54 pm (UTC)

  43. Nice one! Held up in NE corner like many of the other solvers. TUNICLE and INSOLATION are new to me and will try to store them among the cobwebs in my mental attic. Liked 2dn BIRETTA, good wordplay.

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