Times 28107 – it’s not the TLS, follow the wordplay…

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
IMO the best Wednesday for a while, not the hardest but quite tricky in places and witty too. Some basic literary knowledge helped, but it isn’t essential if you follow our setter’s instructions.

1 Box holds Great British key (5,3)
SPACE BAR – SPAR (box) has ACE (great) B inside. Once again, a key is one on a keyboard.
5 Nobleman missing river’s underground movement (6)
MAQUIS – MARQUIS, our nobleman, loses his R. The Maquis formed as a rural resistance movement in France from men who fled into the mountains to escape the Vichy-run STO, the compulsory work order (to work for the Nazis).
8 Where to find tea plant (3)
POT – Double definition; drink it or smoke it.
9 PM no longer bluff, brooding antihero (10)
10 American can lie low, about to protect Republican (8)
RESTROOM – REST (lie) MOO (low) reversed = OOM, insert R for Republican.
11 A centre back eats divine sage (6)
BUDDHA – A HUB (a centre) is reversed and has DD (divine person) inserted.
12 Drink cold Guinness? (4)
ALEC – ALE (drink) C (cold). On checking, I was surprised to find AG had died as long ago as 2000.
14 Gallivanting abroad, I must get time with my work (3-7)
JET-SETTING – JE (I abroad, French) T (time) SETTING (what our setter does).
17 Shakespearean prince wearing underwear in castles (10)
FORTINBRAS – The princely chap who appears at the end of Hamlet. IN BRA = wearing underwear, inside FORTS.
20 Dance in drag, delaying end of rumba (4)
HULA – HAUL = drag, move the A (end of rumba) backwards (delay it).
23 Trendy, not quite trendy, or affectedly trendy (6)
CHICHI – CHIC HI(P) not quite.
24 Jar with crow’s foot in jelly (8)
VASELINE – VASE (jar), LINE (crow’s foot, an age line or lines by the edge of the eye). A Unilever brand name, so not normal for a weekday puzzle, but I think it’s almost as generic as Hoover these days. Does Vaseline get rid of crow’s feet?
25 Waiting on sauce for empty waffle (3,7)
LIP SERVICE – LIP = sauce, SERVICE = waiting (on).
26 Characters detained in Slovakian cells (3)
OVA – barely hidden as above. Nothing to do with eggs, though; stands for Original Video Animation characters, a big thing in Japanese (manga).EDIT apparently I have made life harder than it needs to be, the definition is just CELLS being egg cells, as several people below point out. I quite liked my version, though!
27 How week begins, with caviar for the president (6)
MONROE – Week begins on MONday, and ROE is caviar. James Monroe was the fifth President, 1817 to 1825, no relation of Marilyn Monroe, 1926-62, who had relations with the 35th President.
28 Arab in later years reversed narcissism (8)
EGOMANIA – Once again our arab chap is an OMANI from Oman, stuffed inside AGE reversed.

1 One’s skinny drink comes with wafer I arranged (9)
SUPERWAIF – SUP (drink) then (WAFER I)*. A superwaif, Collins says, is a very thin, very young supermodel. I’ve never met one or heard the word but the wordplay led me correctly.
2 Performer, one who may draw applause at the end (7)
ARTISTE – ARTIST has the E from end of applause bolted on.
3 Flame once right to stop boiling egg on (6)
EXHORT – EX (flame once) HOT (boiling) insert R (right).
4 Even bits of Martha’s elbow beaten black and blue (2,1,3,3)
AT A LOW EBB – A T A the even letters of Martha, then (ELBOW)*, then add B for black.
5 Dark vehicle borne by horse (7)
MACABRE – CAB (vehicle) is borne by MARE (horse).
6 Put money on scrap, a fabulous contest (9)
QUIDDITCH – QUID (money) DITCH (scrap). If you haven’t read or seen Harry Potter stuff by now, you won’t be interested in my explaining the details of quidditch, and if you are into HP, I don’t need to.
7 Lives, I see, in cooler Iranian city (7)
ISFAHAN – IS (lives) FAN (cooler) insert AH ! (I see ! ). Big city in Iran. I had heard of it, vaguely.
13 Move friskily in a top with more attractive outside (3,1,5)
CUT A CAPER – CUTER (more attractive) has A CAP inserted.
15 On the drink, as a finger is drunk (9)
SEAFARING – (AS A FINGER)*. Nice surface.
16 Return of a feeble boat touring a Pacific country (9)
GUATEMALA – A LAME TUG (a feeble boat) is reversed and has A inserted where needed.
18 Turned to source of celebrity gossip for tragic tale (7)
OTHELLO – OT (to, turned) HELLO ! the celebrity gossip magazine.
19 Capital in recycling event being green (7)
NAIVETE – insert AI (A1, capital) into (EVENT)*.
21 Place to study cause of limping in fantastic beast (7)
UNICORN – UNI(versity), CORN as on sore foot.
22 One out of boredom penning English song (2,4)
TE DEUM – TEDIUM loses I and gains E.

62 comments on “Times 28107 – it’s not the TLS, follow the wordplay…”

  1. Very easy… until the end with Vaseline. Still not used to brand names – or proper names of boys and girls, but they’re usually much better indicated. Nearly gave up the alphabet trawl in frustration at T, as it *couldn’t possibly* start with UVWXYZ 😉
    Liked the SEAFARING and GUATEMALA – was looking for an island. Parsed chichi same as Jack, and OVA as cells made from characters in Slovakia. On checking I see Chambers says an ovum is an egg cell, so they both work.
  2. NHO OVA, and assumed like isla that ‘ova’=egg cells. I biffed CHICHI (I think I’d hyphenate it), and after submitting parsed it as Jack does. NHO SUPERWAIF. I think I had some dim awareness of ‘Hello’, which was enough. I think I was more bothered by QUIDDITCH than by VASELINE, although that was one bit of Harry Potter GK that I actually had.
    1. I think Pip might have over-thought the parsing of OVA. His version doesn’t account for “cells” in the clue, whereas “cells” as a definition works just fine.

      And I know we’re rightly tolerant of obscurities around here, but a technical anime reference might be pushing it a bit.

      Also, after a 30-second google, I’m not convinced that OVA could be taken to mean “characters” in that context.

  3. Over an hour for a DNF. Couldn’t get VASELINE at the end, missed the parsing of OVA and bunged in / parsed later some others that just looked right. Also lucky to get a few such as FORTINBRAS and CUT A CAPER so can’t complain that I didn’t get this one out.
  4. I was expecting a comedown after yesterday and I got it. Complete fail on the Quicky, then abandoned ship on this one after half an hour, having to use a wordsearch to get VASELINE.

    Couldn’t rid myself of “ageline” for crow’s foot, and the clue was never going to fly from there.

    Aside from that, it’s always satisfying to construct unknowns like SUPERWAIF and FORTINBRAS from the wordplay and some checkers.

    Nice puzzle, let’s see what tomorrow brings. Thanks Pip and setter.

    1. I also had an epic fail on the Quickie, unable to look beyond an anagram at 15 and throwing in the towel after 12 minutes – not more than one of those spent on that.
  5. Nearly came a cropper on 11a where I was trying to shoehorn SADDHU in as the sage. The only alternative I could see being SIDDHI, but neither parsed ( be careful now, you impostor!). MACABRE came late to the rescue. Vaseline applied smoothly at the end. 31:02
  6. All correct for me. No idea how JET SETTING worked since I took the definition to be “gallivanting abroad”. I don’t think flying to Birmingham ever qualified as jet-setting! Some lovely definitions, such as “empty waffle”. “Song” for TE DEUM seemed a little loose. I’ve no idea about anime so I’m sure OVA are just cells. I’ve never heard of a SUPERWAIF like everyone else, but the wordplay doesn’t allow for much else and it is totally plausible as a very thin person. I’ve never read either Wuthering Heights nor any Harry Potter, but didn’t have any problem with the references since they are so well known.
    1. I also took ‘gallivanting abroad’ as the definition, for the same reason; and wondered if we were supposed to accept ‘je’ for ‘I’.
  7. This is a fine puzzle. May have vaguely heard of the tabloid and the emaciated model, but they were fun to discover. Funny, SEA-FARING occurred to me first (before I counted) as an answer where eventually fell JET-SETTING.

    Though I am a POThead, I took “plant” in the clue to be a verb, which POT can also be, “plant in a flower pot.”

    I find it quite imaginative to see OVA here as “Original Video Animation characters,” bravo. But I took/ take it to be egg cells, as so mundanely usual.

    Edited at 2021-10-13 02:58 am (UTC)

  8. I found this tricky, taking ages to get any sort of flow to join up initial answers scattered around the grid. I also lost time at the end with TE DEUM and VASELINE fighting a rear-guard action and holding out against my best efforts. Eventually they succumbed as 43 minutes arrived on the clock.

    Unknowns were SUPERWAIF and the Iranian city, and I didn’t know that FORTINBRAS had only one S. I parsed OVA as simply hidden and defined as ‘cells’.

    I may have taken longer over two clues if elements of their answers had not appeared in Izetti’s QC solved a few minutes before starting on this puzzle.

    1. I guess it must be just a coincidence, the echoes—since I worked it after—in the QC… I won’t say any more here…
  9. Stared at 1ac forever without seeing it and ran out of time so misbifd. Otherwise enjoued the exercise.


    TY setter and blogger.


  10. 35 minutes, with VASELINE last in when I worked out it was something + LINE. QUIDDITCH was one of the things that put me off Harry Potter, after dutifully sitting through that first film with daughter. Never read a word she wrote but have a lot of time for Ms Rowling when she talks such sense about gender issues.

    Thanks to Pip for the JET-SETTING parsing and the entertainment of the ingenious Japanese manga stuff.

  11. I’m up and down the SNITCH like a yo-yo this week. From near the bottom Monday to near the top yesterday to near the bottom again today. It was the NE corner that did for me today, where I became completely becalmed until I called in reinforcements in the shape of Mrs Pootle (Denise suggested she was bending the rules by asking a companion an answer yesterday but I can confirm there is a “phone a friend” option in the rules). My wife came straight in with HEATHCLIFF and that was all it took to unlock the rest, finishing with ISFAHAN. I hesitated slightly over whether “oh” could mean “I see” but “ah” seemed more likely and ISFOHAN seemed less likely.
  12. … Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

    30 mins pre-brekker, so just right. An excellent crossword in my view. Superwaif was a NHO but helpfully clued, and Maquis rang enough distant bells.
    Mostly I liked: Heathcliff, Lip Service, Fortinbras and Naïveté.
    Ova is clearly just cells.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  13. 32 minutes with LOI SPACE BAR, meeting myself coming back. COD jointly to LIP SERVICE, MONROE and FORTINBRAS. I think Twiggy used to be described as a SUPERWAIF. I had OVA as egg cells. If it refers to Manga characters, then I’ve been too long in this world. Mind you, seeing I watched Elvis’s Aloha from Hawaii concert on Sky Arts this week, the evidence for that is already incontrovertible. The first dirty joke I ever heard was about a young married couple who didn’t know the difference between vaseline and putty. Of course, all their windows fell out. Another good puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.
    1. Is crow’s foot jelly a thing? Is cow’s foot jelly a thing? I’m sure the bovine variety has appeared previously, and someone – perhaps you – mentioned it as a delicacy, whereas I thought it was a wood glue. But I can’t find it with google. Did that exchange occur, or am I making it up?

      Edited at 2021-10-13 08:17 am (UTC)

      1. It wasn’t me, as Shaggy sang. I just had Crow’s Feet as the lines under the eyes and VASELINE as a petroleum jelly which was none too good at holding glass in a frame. I didn’t even think of Vaseline as a brand name.

        Edited at 2021-10-13 09:08 am (UTC)

      2. An addendum. Cow heel is a delicacy, one I used to eat at the UCP restaurant in Bolton before a Wanderers game. Maybe I’ve referred to that in times gone by.
        1. That’s the one! The Universal Cow Products shop, priceless.
          Google didn’t find it as I put in foot, not heel.
          1. I’ve just checked it out. UCP actually stood for United Cattle Products. It was a long time ago, when Elvis was in the army.
            1. Cheers, poor short-term memory this end. Something you’d never see anywhere else but northern England, still makes me wag my tail.
  14. IseemtohavelostmySPACEBAR
  15. I fully agree with Pip’s summary. I found this fun, as well.
    I was going to complain about product placement with VASELINE but, as Pip says, it’s about as generic as Hoover these days.
    Once I had discarded the idea of boredom as ennui, I was fine. As Shakespeare said in Henry V:
    “Let there be sung Non nobis and Te Deum”
  16. Excellent puzzle. Don’t get to sing TE DEUM often as it’s generally in the Matins service.

    Spent a while parsing JET-SETTING. Nho ISFAHAN.

    VASELINE, LOI, may be, by now, generic, but HELLO isn’t, OK!

    20′ 22″, thanks pip and setter.

    1. My niece, who was brought along to our choral concerts as a child, thought they called it a tedium because it was boring.
  17. 16:57 LOI VASELINE after TE DEUM, like others. Some nice witty clues. I liked EXHORT UNICORN and JET-SETTING best. I parsed OVA as being the egg cells. Thanks Pip and Setter.

    Edited at 2021-10-13 07:10 am (UTC)

  18. 12:33. Great puzzle. I had a bit of a panic at the end, without a clue as to how 24ac worked until I associated crow’s feet with LINEs and realised that I had misspelled GUATEMALA in the way I always misspell GUATEMALA.
    Agree that it’s CHIC, HIp and the ova are eggs.
  19. FOI SEAFARING, LOI BUDDHA 45 mins but cheated on ISFAHAN. Enjoyable. Liked lit. refs (ex Eng. teacher.)

  20. This was indeed a rewarding crossword and I was managing well with what appeared to be only two clues remaining unsolved after 30 minutes. I unfortunately had entered GUATeMALA (I now see I was not alone) so I spent ages trying to parse MAJOLICA as the ‘jar’ in 24 across. It was only when I gave up and I spotted my earlier mistake that VASELINE slotted into place. My LOI, TE DEUM was then very simple as I recalled a church service from about 20 years ago, when a congregation member (who always arrived late and left early, so his only words to me had ever been ‘Peace be with you’ turned to me after we (vicar, servers, choir and a handful of attendees) had collectively delivered a lamentable version of the TE DEUMl, and uttered his only other words to me: “And that’s why it’s called ‘The Tedium’.

    APOLOGETIC EDIT: With thanks to pipkirby and the setter.

    Edited at 2021-10-13 09:11 am (UTC)

  21. Finished just on the hour so quite meaty I thought. For me the SE corner held me up with VASELINE TE DEUM and EGOMANIA my last ones in.

    I really liked RESTROOM and JET-SETTING. I agree with our blogger that a number of clues needed close inspection of the wp to finally arrive at the answer which was not necessarily known, eg FORTINBRAS.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  22. Mostly enjoyable except for the random Latin (TE DEUM) and the difficult Iranian city if you’ve never heard of it (me only vaguely).

    My main area of difficulty was in piecing together the SE corner — not sure I’d really associate the biffed-from-checkers GUATEMALA with the Pacific Ocean (didn’t spot the weak ‘a lame tug reversal), EGOMANIA took a long time to spot, and with VASELINE taking a while to come, and the aforementioned TE DEUM not really helping, it was something of a struggle.

    About on par though SNITCH-wise (107 when checked) so can’t complain too much.

  23. Then got stuck for a while. VASELINE and FORTINBRAS were slow to come, but wordplay and checkers eventually allowed the pennies to drop.

    COD: RESTROOM, very clever.

  24. Enjoyable, requiring just as much thought as I can deal with on a Wednesday. As seems popular, VASELINE was the trickiest clue for me, but the fact that it was a trademarked name wasn’t part of the problem, which suggests that it has, indeed, become a generic part of the language (I always enjoy Private Eye gently ribbing the person at Portakabin whose job is to write to people who describe any temporary building as a Portakabin unless it is a genuine, bona fide, Portakabin®, and threaten them with legal action for misuse of the word Portakabin®)
  25. Pleased with 22:43 for this trickiness. SUPERWAIF was unknown and others went in on definition. Would have needed a long time to make sense of the cryptic for JET SETTING and a couple of others that suggested themselves from the crossers.
  26. I had most of this solved in 25 minutes, but after spending the next 14 minutes trying to make sense of 24a, being fixated on croW’s foot, and getting nowhere, I biffed WATERICE in despair and was rewarded with 4 pink squares. Couldn’t make the connection between vase and jar, or crow’s foot and line. Ah well tomorrow is another day. Thanks setter and Pip.
  27. Bah – I chucked in ISFICAN from the wordplay (which could easily have been several other options) then forgot that it was made up, so couldn’t think of anything that fit B?D?C? and meant sage.

    I forgot the cardinal rule: if in doubt, don’t put it in.

  28. MER at Te Deum being clued as song, a bit odd, but OK I suppose. It looked to me that the setter was going for a pangram but gave up fairly early.

    I got my timers a bit mixed up but probably about 52 minutes. How these people do it in under 10 minutes is a source of amazement.

  29. Enoyed the lit. refs, as ex English teacher. 45 mins.
    FOI SEAFARING, LOI BUDDHA. Had to look up INFAHAN so technically DNF.
  30. Didn’t really feel in the mood to tackle this – and particularly grumpy when confronted with a Shakespearean reference, amongst the slew of other seemingly-impenetrable stuff on my first pass. FOI ALEC wasn’t much of a foothold.

    Anyway, due to a combination of not-in-the-moodness, and a few appointments, I opted to dip in and out of this one, pretty sure that I was heading for a DNF. Didn’t remember to pause every time, so I don’t have an accurate elapsed, but 61:08 on the clock FWIW. On my fourth or possibly fifth brief siting I noticed I was actually getting close to completion, and that it wasn’t that difficult after all! LOI (obviously) FORTINBRAS

    I remember being forced to sing TE DEUM in chapel at school – the wordplay occurred to me even as a 12-year-old or thereabouts.
    Visited ISFAHAN in 2011 (a period during which it was possible for UK citizens to get a visa for unaccompanied travel there). I would be back like a shot if macro-politics didn’t prevent it – for me, southern Iran rates 12/10 as a travel destination.

    Thanks Pip and setter

  31. 15.52. A really enjoyable solve with a good range of tricks and references. LOI Vaseline where I was fixated on W being crow’s foot for a while before I spotted the jar and all became clear. I really liked the plonking of abroad between its more natural companion, gallivanting, and its actual companion in the wp, I, in the clue for jet-setting. You can’t beat a good bit of lifting and separating!
  32. First completion for a while. Didn’t know bluff = cliff so HEATHCLIFF went in with a bit of a shrug, had to piece together ISFAHAN and SUPERWAIF from the wordplay, and eventually thought of VASELINE for 24a once all the checkers were in place without knowing what a crow’s foot referred to. No problem with TE DEUM, having sung one on Sunday (though any version other than Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale feels inadequate).

    FOI Alec
    LOI Vaseline
    COD At a low ebb (nice bit of separation)

  33. COD restroom. Though I suppose can and restroom are both American. So “American can” is a bit redundant. But nicely hidden. Had to assume superwaif existed. Horrid word. “Lip service” always makes me hum the E Costello song. As does “Heathcliff” and the K Bush.
  34. A fine puzzle. Another Guatamala-goer but I checked it just in time. LOI VASELINE. COD FORTINBRAS. Will not mind if I never see a SUPERWAIF either in real life or in another puzzle.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  35. Very enjoyable once I got started.
    I did however run out of steam in the NW. WEB SURFING (no idea about the parsing) was not a good basis for the rest of that quarter so I gave up and came here.
    COD to LIP SERVICE but lots of smiles.
  36. 17:14 this afternoon. I really enjoyed this puzzle with its well constructed clues and misleading elements and because it drew on a wide range of GK, almost all of which (on this occasion) I was familiar with.
    Inter alia, we had references to Hamlet, Harry Potter, Wuthering Heights, a branch of the French Resistance, Hawaiian dancing, early (doctrinaire ?) US Presidents, Indian enlighteners, a “pacific country” in Central America (and indeed why not?) and “song” masquerading as a classic hymn. Who needs “Mastermind”?
    Admit NHO 1 d “superwaif” but the combination of wordplay and crossers left little room for doubt.
    COD 24 ac “vaseline”. Nice smooth surface although the visualisation wasn’t terribly pleasant?
    Thanks to Pip for a concise blog and to setter
  37. ….that I have reached the Olympic qualifying standard in the fat finger competition. Maybe it was the shock of immediately spotting how a NHO worked that caused me to enter SUPERWAAF.

    Great puzzle — shame I spoiled it.

    TIME 10:52 (with subsequent weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth)

  38. What a nice puzzle. My biggest problem was trying Bathroom and Washroom (which even has the proper S and a W from the 1d fodder) before Restroom occurred to me. Thx setter, & pip

    Vinyl, is Omani the second carpet, or am I missing something?

    1. I wondered that too, but looked up OTHELLO, which is a rug but not of an oriental kind.
      1. Thank you, Z.

        I have this fear that one fine day I’ll appear before St Peter, be asked to justify my life, and all I’ll be able to come up with will be that I know lots of random trivia from doing the puzzle. Othello carpets; two different ways to say ‘definition by example’, one of them fancy greekified English; a name for medieval candy shops; a list of all the three-letter rivers in Great Britain.

  39. As usual an hour’s entertainment for two. My husband supplied Quidditch. I had the quid, but not the GK thereafter. FOI Maquis. LOI naivete. I biffed restroom, (considered mushroom for a while) Buddha, jet-setting, lip service, exhort, at a low ebb, Isfahan and naivete from the definitions. COD Othello. Thank you for the explanations, Pip, and for the puzzle, setter.
  40. Day 3 of the new regime was a disaster. Spent too long doing other things until settling to the crossword in a very unsettled frame of mind. Got nowhere with it. On reading the blog I wasn’t surprised as it struck me as being incredibly difficult. Then read the comments and decided that it is the sort of day on which I need a drink.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    There’s always tomorrow!

  41. Held up at the end by SUPERWAIF, would have helped if trusted my POT answer, but the P didn’t look right there. VASELINE last in, only belatedly saw that crows foot was LINE

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