Times 28,139: Better Eryri than Errory

I don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything but I’d knocked this one down in 330 seconds or so which by my calculations makes it a little easy for a Friday puzzle. HAVING SAID THAT some of the clues I liked best only revealed their true goodness post-solve – I’d
bunged in 22ac, 5dn (my COD I reckon), 9dn etc and rather enjoyed them upon proper parsing.

Could have done with some more abstruse vocab possibly. 6dn may be a bit rare? But I used to make them as a kid, studding olives full of cloves until they resembled Pinhead the Cenobite – happier times. Thank you setter, enjoyed!

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

1 Couple of poor grades withheld by lady in disgrace (6)
DEFAME – E and F are poor grade. Why are they “withheld” by DAME? Does withhold mean the same as hold? Answers on a postcard.
4 Bug-infested support mechanism using office equipment (8)
STAPLING – a SLING is a support mechanism, it is infested by a TAP or telephonic bug.
10 Present teacher hugged by Welsh girl briefly in Welsh region (9)
SNOWDONIA – NOW DON hugged by SIA{n}. An easy clue for a North Welshie like me.
11 Person building union of two generations? (5)
MASON – MA and SON represent two consecutive generations.
12 Fish finger initially cut (3)
EEL – {f}EEL
13 Crawler, irritating little thing in failing cult (5,6)
STICK INSECT – TICK is the irritating little thing, inside SIN [failing] + SECT
14 Class that is offensive (6)
16 Sharp blade in copse initially seen on tree (7)
ACERBIC – B{lade} I{n} C{opse} seen on ACER
19 Smooth, yet unfashionable (4,3)
EVEN OUT – yet is EVEN, unfashionable is OUT
20 Dig popular ruler going two-thirds of the way? (6)
22 Sweet, immortal queen OK (11)
MARSHMALLOW – MARS, an immortal god, plus H{er} M{aj}, plus ALLOW
25 Those ending on safari, epic game reserve (3)
ICE – {safar}I {epi}C {gam}E. “Ice” never really means reserve outside of crossword puzzles, but you just have to know it does mean it (in a “frostiness” sense) in them.
26 Little bit hot in gerbil cages (5)
TINGE – {ho}T IN GE{rbil}
27 In store, no rocks: just this one? (9)
28 Shift time for sport (8)
DRESSAGE – a shift is a DRESS, time is an AGE
29 Stuff provided sent back before lunch? (6)
DEFEAT – reversed FED [provided] before EAT [lunch]
1 Ruined, as is the next clue? (6)
DASHED – there is an em-dash in the next clue. Unless it’s an en-dash. Never quite sure
2 Pay nothing to fill ditch — free! (9)
FOOTLOOSE – to pay a bill is to FOOT it, and then 0 “fills” LOSE [ditch]
3 Subject of cautionary tale sorrowful, I am upset (5)
MIDAS – reversed SAD I’M
5 I’m grateful Sri Lankan hero has penned some yarns? (6,1,7)
6 Air fresheners required when first of muck spread on ground (9)
7 Leader dissociated from lies, potentially, in publication (5)
8 Characteristic study I confess primarily into catlike animals (8)
GENETICS – I C{onfess}, into GENETS
9 Illegal use of dope when part of team, customary within group (7,7)
INSIDER TRADING – IN [part of] SIDE [team] + TRAD [customary] within RING [group]. Dope as in info
15 Weak — as a sucker? (9)
TOOTHLESS – if you have no teeth, you’ll be doing a lot of sucking. I had my wisdom teeth out this week, so I can attest
17 Indian food: second helping in US city (9)
BALTIMORE – BALTI? Please sir can I have some MORE
18 Bound to adopt measure — thus cyclist protected? (8)
21 Becoming standard finally, European coin (6)
DECENT – {standar}D E(uropean) CENT
23 Reach series of peaks (5)
RANGE – double def
24 West and east winds blow (5)

68 comments on “Times 28,139: Better Eryri than Errory”

  1. I imagine last week’s lockout is not be mentioned – so I won’t. 330 seconds later you seem to be on the ball. I was some 66 minutes, however considering I do not have the keys to the TARDIS, this was about par for a Friday.

    FOI 2dn FOOTLOOSE and fancy free!

    LOI 19ac DEFEAT – de horse jumped over the fence, first defeat and then defence. (Old Jamaican jokette)

    COD 6dn POMANDERS an Anglo-Danish invention

    WOD 10ac SNOWDONIA fondly remembered 1961-62 hols; a great Lemonade Station halfway up!

    I note that the Americans usually have their Thanksgiving Turkey with 22ac MARSHMALLOWs atop! Really!? This year there is shortage as per Fox & Fiends!

    Tunnock’s Tea Cakes all round!

    Edited at 2021-11-19 03:40 am (UTC)

    1. The marshmallows, if they’re used, go on the yams, not the turkey; bad enough, of course.
      1. I would imagine that the turkey and the marshmallows arrive in one’s stomach, within a few moments! This ‘mash-up’ was queried on ‘The Late Show’ by its British host, James Cordon Bleu. We never knew.
        Even toasted marshmallows at Buck P BBQs are seen as a tad Countess of ‘Wessex’ — whatever! I have never knowingly celebrated a Thanksgiving Dinner.

        Edited at 2021-11-19 05:31 am (UTC)

        1. Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday: no presents, no cards, no religion, just joining another family in their beautiful house (they had money and had it built) for a terrific dinner (she was a great cook), no yam à la marshmallow.
    2. Fake news! Fox and Friends, at least, has no shortage of turkeys.

      It’s frightening to contemplate the extent of Murdoch’s realm… the sun never sets…

      Edited at 2021-11-19 07:39 am (UTC)

      1. appears akin to a Scottish Christmas – no cards – no presents – no religion – jist the fitba the day after – then the religion gets going!
    3. If you think marshmallows and turkey are bad Horryd you haven’t experienced green bean casserole. Don’t ask.
  2. I lost track of the time, having gone offline and resumed after coming back from the gym–to find the elevator still out of order and having to walk to the 6th floor, but I digress–but over 40′. The problems were the 1s and 29ac. I’d put in INFAMY at 1ac, which somehow seemed OK at the time, so I wasted a lot of time before thinking to examine the clue. Then I dithered between DISHED & DASHED until it dawned on me. At 29ac I wanted ‘provided’ to be IF, or FI.
    When I had my wisdom teeth pulled, the dentist warned me against sucking; no straws, no kissing, no cigarettes. That was the day I quit smoking.
  3. At the very end of a very enjoyable solve, I was nearly… stuffed by DEFEAT. Found this British slang usage in Collins, though.

    I am lucky to have never encountered, let alone been served, the aforementioned culinary atrocity involving MARSHMALLOWs. Parsed the ingenious wordplay only after it was entered.

  4. Tamil Lion may cause a few raised eyebrows among the majority Sri Lankan population.

    Enjoyed this, even if it was more like a Monday. Possibly the first I completed this week. Still reeling from the Aussies’ win last weekend, I guess.

  5. POMANDER seemed marginally more likely than PAMONDER. Which reminds me that I’ve had a reasonably good recent run of guessing correctly. It’s only when I guess wrongly of course that it can be considered a poor clue.

    Enjoyed the “illegal use of dope”, so to speak.

    Thanks setter and V.

  6. I did almost all of this in about 25 minutes and then ground to a halt on DEFEAT. A surprising number of words fit the checkers and none of them seemed to have anything to do with the clue. One problem is that “stuff” can mean a lot of things including all those fabrics whose names I can never remember. I almost put in CEMENT (it is stuff, like most things are) before I eventually got there.
  7. Off the wavelength, seemed to spend a lot of time perplexed, but got there without complaint. Like Paul DEFEAT was last in, after an exhaustive trawl – defeat appeared early and fit the cryptic but I was dubious about the definition. In the end it had to be.
    Another who really liked the illegal dope use, but along with marshmallow found the clues easier to get than to parse.
  8. 39:27. I woke up early this morning, so here I am for this splendid end to the week. FOI 2dn FOOTLOOSE LOI 29ac DEFEAT after taking ages with it. I liked STAPLING and MARSHMALLOW and particularly GENETICS. So good to meet the genet here again
  9. Well I for one found this very hard and rarely for me I gave up overnight with about half of the grid completed, and resumed this morning.

    Even then I needed aids for my LOI (DEFEAT) because I was getting nothing from the most likely definition (stuff) nor from the wordplay, and there were clearly too many words that fitted the checkers to embark on an alphabet trawl – 48 as I discovered later.

    In fact a lot of clues were like that, and several answers went in on the basis of what fitted the checkers, and I looked for definition and wordplay afterwards. That’s not a very satisfying method of solving so I can’t say I enjoyed this much.

    Edited at 2021-11-19 07:43 am (UTC)

    1. My experience was very similar to yours, Jack. I still can’t see how “dashed” works at 1D. Can you parse it for me? Where is the “em-dash” in footloose? At 1A the poor grades are surely “held”rather than “withheld” by the lady.
  10. Those wretched unches again giving many of us problems (29ac)! 47 mins with DEFEAT, DEFAME and DASHED the last three in.

    I liked the two long clues and MARSHMALLOW. A number went in unparsed, so thanks v for the explanations. Trickier than a Monday generally I thought.

    Thanks V and setter

  11. 12m on the dot. I found this quite tricky, and had a brief panic faced with _E_E_T at the end. So many possibilities and no obvious starting point from the clue. Fortunately EAT for lunch occurred to me and I constructed it easily from there. It’s the kind of clue that could have held me up for ten minutes without that stroke of luck.
  12. 53 minutes, nearly ten Verlaines, for a puzzle I couldn’t get going on. LOI was DEFEAT, and I felt stuffed by the end. COD to TOOTHLESS. It would have been THANKS A MILLION if I’d parsed it properly at the time. I’ve trained myself to say Charlotte Dujardin whenever DRESSAGE is mentioned on A Question of Sport, so it was disappointing the clue made no reference to her in French or English. I can’t see in retrospect why I found this so tricky, as I had all the knowledge and vocabulary. I could have done with a railway up the mountain but I went up the PYG track. Thank you V and setter.
  13. Apparently this one is average difficulty but I found the whole thing very difficult and was eventually defeated by the NE corner. I had bifd STAPLING but didn’t see sling and tap so took it out again … NHO genet – that’s going to reappear I guess. I had the anagrist for POMANDERS and knew the word but somehow contrived not to get that either. FOI BALTIMORE although I deny that BALTI is Indian… it’s an English dish.

    Enjoyed the challenge; disappointed with the defeat, but no complaints. Thank you setter and Mr V for the educational blog.


  14. Didn’t parse THANKS A MILLION and didn’t fully see how HELMETED worked, but both were biffable with enough checkers in place. Hadn’t heard of POMANDER, but that sounded like the most likely option once I realised it was an anagram, and I had to trust that a genet is a catlike animal to get GENETICS. A steady solve otherwise for an enjoyable crossword – thanks to setter and blogger.

    FOI Ice
    LOI Pomander
    COD Waste

  15. Thanks for the kind limerick in yesterday’s comments which I’ve only just seen. (Manically busy week)
    Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, I promise

    I am however very very confused having been away from this site for a couple of days.

    My wife and I have a Times subscription and I solve the puzzle via that access route to the crossword

    The crossword i solved on that website yesterday is the one blogged here today…..

    I never saw the grid numbered 28138 (blogged here yesterday) on that site

    And today I solved a completely different grid there (which is nevertheless numbered 28139)

    I would have assumed that someone would have pointed this glitch out yesterday, and it would have been corrected today, but it seems not

    I had composed a limerick for the puzzle I’ve just solved, but I’m not going to type it here as a) it would be irrelevant and b) my suspicion is that I’d be revealing some of the answers for the Saturday prize puzzle

    1. Interesting! Might be worth a post in the crossword club forum.
      FWIW both the one in the paper and the one on the club site are the same, for me today & yesterday ..
    2. Did you access via the Crossword Club or the on-line newspaper itself (which involves clicking on a general ‘Puzzles’ icon)? Either way it all looks in order so it’s very odd.
    3. I had some similar problems a few weeks ago: on several occasions the app hadn’t updated the crossword and was still showing the previous day’s. I rang them up and discovered that there are two versions of the app that enables us to solve the Times crossword (I also subscribe) and the one I was using had the small word ‘Classic’ on the screen icon, below the T. When I downloaded the other version (which I would guess is more recent) these problems disappeared. I also got a usable keyboard.
      1. Alas yes, although Eros would have been enough clue for me — its one we have decent images of.
  16. About three verlaines for me today.
    Genet came up only recently, not sure where, so no probs there .. pomanders rang a vague bell, I thought it might be next to the lychees and physalis in Sainsburys.
  17. 20 minutes almost to the second, but a strange puzzle where very little “felt” right when entered and resisted proper parsing.
    Mind you, 13a STINK BEETLE was wrong, and had to be corrected.
    Was anyone else disconcerted by the apparent sweet potatoes in the Sri Lankan clue? The notoriously ambiguous type face meant I couldn’t see y a r n s and eventually gave up on parsing, thankful that it wasn’t BILLION.

    The yams and MARSHMALLOW concoction turned up on Pointless recently, eliciting much disbelief and some queasiness. Where did the Pilgrim Fathers find the sweeties?

    Same misgivings as everyone else, apparently, on DEFEAT. Too many possibilities for each of the words. And on the crossing letters.

  18. There was no dash in 2 down in the version on my phone or on my iPad or in the clue. Am I missing something?
    1. My paper has 2d as
      Pay nothing to fill ditch — free!
      where the — is a long dash. In my paper longer than an em dash.
      1. In my print-out it looks like the standard Times crossword em dash for this clue as in 15 & 18db.

        An em varies in actual length according to the font height and is usually measured in points e.g. in 9-point type an em will be 9 points; 10-point type, 10 points etc.

      2. An em dash is the longest dash. Hyphen, endash, emdash. Their specific, but not their relative, width will vary with the font.

        Edited at 2021-11-19 05:47 pm (UTC)

  19. 40:15 (2415 seconds …)
    Steady solve. LOI defeat – like everyone else. Quite a bit of reverse engineering in this one.
    Thanks, v; great blog.
  20. And obviously 1d was one of several I could not parse, 22a MARSHMALLOW another, and 9d INSIDER DEALING held me up for a while, and obv unparseable, only fixed by 19a EVEN OLD being incredible even to me.
  21. Dished instead of DASHED. Annoying since I was delighted with my time of 9:13 — COD POMANDERS.
  22. After about 4m 30s I had everything except 1d… except that I didn’t, because I’d biffed INFAMY at 1a. After reluctantly removing it and re-biffing DEFAME (the ‘withheld’ didn’t make any sense to me either), DASHED came not long afterwards. 7m 53s in total, so those two took up over 40% of my solving time.

    I couldn’t figure out the parsing of THANKS A MILLION so just trusted to luck that no one is thankful enough to offer a billion instead.

    Edited at 2021-11-19 10:44 am (UTC)

  23. All was fine until 1 down and 29 across, both of which required interminable alphabet trawls with my mind wandering and the clock ticking. Would have been about 20 minutes otherwise.
  24. 24:08. Unusually high number of solve now, explain later clues — MARSHMALLOW, STAPLING and the FED in defeat, to name a few, but all scrupulously fair on inspection.
  25. I was uncomfortable with too many of the clues: on many occasions V just gives A as a synonym of B with no comment, so my misgivings weren’t explained. In 12ac finger = feel seems a stretch; as do fed = provided and eat = lunch (29ac); lose = ditch (2dn); trad = customary (9dn); and blow = waste (24dn). Can’t explain withold/hold in 1ac. Liked the dashed clue. 52 minutes.
    1. Finger = feel, no stretch and no explanation required! Trad is short for traditional = customary. Fed you a story = provided a story; lunch is an eat, as per Roget. To blow = waste under the spend topic. As for 1ac Verlaine knew not either! I have sent him a postcard.
  26. Same doldrums as others in the NW and SE corners – yup I had infamy for far too long. I always hear that word as pronounced in Franklin Roosevelt’s patrician tones in his radio address after December 7th 1941. A certain recent president had to be “reminded” what happened on Pearl Harbor Day. Our blogger has an interesting recipe for POMANDERS using olives – I recall making them with oranges. 23.04
    1. INFAMY for me is always heard in the voice of Kenneth Williams, and always followed by “… infamy, they’ve all got it in for me.”

      Can’t be helped now…

  27. After staring defeat in the face for the last 10 minutes, DEFEAT rode to the rescue. And very happy to see it.

    44 minutes.

  28. Not a Friday Beast by any means (@verlaine will have sighed to himself, I thought even before coming here) but perfectly serviceable. Admittedly, I base that judgement on _E_E_T revealing itself pretty quickly at the end; as others have said, it’s the sort of clue where you can find yourself tearing your hair out trying to work out which of several dozen likely-looking words is required.
  29. I drew a blank on the NW Frontier, so moved diagonally and managed to start quickly with the reserve strategy. ICE, WASTE and IRONSTONE soon had me off the mark. A foray into the SW produced more rewards and MARSHMALLOW soon provided even more assistance. THANKS A MILLION loomed from the biffing mist, and was the only clue I didn’t bother to parse, so really glad it wasn’t billion! The remains of the SE were proving resistant, so I headed back to the NW and managed to get DEFAME and DASHED, which allowed me to complete the quarter with EEL and FOOTLOOSE. Back then to the SE where 17d, 20a and 29a awaited. A posited EAT for lunch brought the stuffing to light, then BALTIMORE hove into view, with INSULT arriving shortly after. An enjoyable puzzle. 22:55. Thanks setter and V.
  30. Struggled with FOOTLOOSE, my ditch was a hole, and was never going to work. That held me up for the NW, and I had to come here to understand 1d, being a bear with little brain.
    The rest of it was a steady but satisfying slog through the clues. LOI DEFEAT pretty obvious when you get it.
    WOD SNOWDONIA nice to see the local hills get a mention
    1. Snowdonia was my anti-WOD. As a non-UKian my knowledge of the geography of the lesser-known parts of UK is close to zero; and I despise all clues which include random boys’ or girls’ names, and doubly-despise random foreigners’ (i.e. non-English) names.
      1. Don’t let the Welsh hear you describe their country (and the highest mountain in the UK outside of Scotland) as lesser-known! They’ll be waving leeks and daffodils at you in an extremely hostile manner!

        Edited at 2021-11-19 09:31 pm (UTC)

        1. They might even unleash Bill Oddie and Ecky Thump. Is that Welsh?
          But: Snowdon as a “mountain” is very dissimilar to any “region”. Same way as Everest is unlike Nepal.

      2. Quite surprised as Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales and has a very famous railway built a hundred years ago which goes to the top!
        1. But not the highest mountain in England or the UK. And also, to reperat: Snowdon as a “mountain” is very dissimilar to any “region”.
  31. Mostly harmless — usual amount of biffing missing the finer points of INSIDER TRADING, THANKS A MILLION, MARHMALLOW, STAPLING, STICK INSECT and GENETICS.

    Like many, DEFEAT was the last one in, having pondered for several minutes before finally looking at Stuff in a different way.

  32. the Thanksgiving recipes – green bean casserole can be botulistic according to my English mother! I do so love pecan pie! And parkin! Marshmallows I can do without. I was rather surprised that ‘Pomanders’ were not better known – I like Olivia know of oranges studded with cloves and carried by ladies in wimples, to ward off medieval viruses. 6dn my clue of the day. PS My time was a not too shabby 11.11 minutes.

    Edited at 2021-11-19 02:01 pm (UTC)

  33. I can’t see how defame and disgrace mean the same thing. To bring shame on someone is not the same thing as saying unkind and untrue things about them. At least they’re different in my world. Rejected defame for that reason and also the awkward use of withholding. Didn’t like dashed either. No one would say 2dn was dashed. There’s a dash in it but that ain’t the same thing in my world.

    Good crossword otherwise. Thanks Setter. Please excuse my moaning …

    1. Quite a high level of moanage there, bro! Such subtleties passed me by; happy as I was to find something to fit the gaps, which wasn’t calumy (sic) or infamy. Defeated by defeat on the half hour though. Would never have got eat for lunch in a million/billion years
  34. bother on a Friday, but today is a bit slack workwise, so I gave it a go.

    Quite pleased to have finished, yet alone in around half an hour.

    LOI was DEFEAT, which fell quite quickly. INSIDER TRADING probably my COD.


    Edited at 2021-11-19 03:00 pm (UTC)

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