Times 28153 – Petite Messe Solennelle pour vous?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Writing the blog, it would appear that it was in the down clues that the setter really hit his/her stride. However, there was lots to enjoy too even as we were taken on a trip down Crosswordville’s high street in the across section.

I managed this in 26 minutes but there will be a lot of people beating my WITCH (see Crossword SNITCH on the sidebar, if this flummoxes you), methinks. What’s the Snitchmeister on, by the way? He will soon be challenging Gallers for the title of Australia’s brightest male Turing wannabe…

Which reminds me the Ashes starts tomorrow. Why do I feel panicky?


1 Sequence featuring in advert for brewing equipment (3-8)
TEA-STRAINER – TRAIN (sequence) in TEASER (advert)
7 Sweet potatoes, peeled (3)
PUD – [s]PUD[s]
9 Big jar picked up (5)
GREAT – sounds like ‘grate’
10 Muted, odd new pants acquired by fashionable people (5,4)
TONED DOWN – anagram* of ODD NEW in TON (Crosswordese trigger warning: ‘The ton’ [pronounced after the French fashion with a nasalised vowel and a silent n] was Britain’s high society during the late Regency and the reign of George IV; ‘ton’ is also common in Crosswordland for its related meaning of style or high fashion)
11 Dodgy retail stores fight for free computer programmes (9)
TRIALWARE – WAR in RETAIL* for some nerdy thing…
12 A long intro from Hendrix? (5)
AITCH – A ITCH for H[endrix’s] initial letter
13 Artist gatecrashes every exhibition, principally as a complaint (7)
EARACHE – RA (our Crosswordland artist – the Royal Academician from Burlington House) in EACH E[xhibition]
15 A lack of training? That’s not gonna happen! (4)
NOPE – NO PE; ‘nope’ and ‘yep’ are words I have a pet aversion to and will never use. What never? No never!
18 Boss of film company denied one Oscar (4)
STUD – STUD[io: 1 O(scar)]; boss for stud as on a shield or in Cruciverbalalia
20 Fluster in the end a little bit and struggle to manage (3,4)
RAT RACE – [fluste]R A TRACE
23 Duke eclipsing king and cardinal (5)
FIRST – R (rex > king) in FIST (duke: another cruciverbal synonym, much beloved by setters and discussed by aficionados)
24 Within minutes, idiot adviser rebuffed radio and the press etc (4,5)
MASS MEDIA – BOD (Biff of the Day): ASS (idiot) in MM (minutes) AIDE reversed
26 Tranquil, mainly secure island location in Africa (9)
SERENGETI – SEREN[e] GET (secure, as in secure a place at Harvard) I
27 Familiar issue beginning to encumber investigation (5)
PROBE – PROB (a familiar or informal way of saying problem, AKA issue) E[ncumber]
28 Container of eggs nearly knocked over (3)
TIN – reversal of NIT[s], together with ROE and OVA, Crosswordland’s favourite way to do eggs
29 Pie contains nuts, for example (4,2,5)
CASE IN POINT – PIE CONTAINS*; nice one, setter!


1 Learned soaring number in concert (8)
TOGETHER – GOT (learned) reversed ETHER (number > anaesthetic)
2 Workplaces had to be located with rest, oddly (8)
ATELIERS – ATE (had > ate) LIE (be located) R[e]S[t]
3 Child joining a large comprehensive (5)
4 Tight flips in the middle of great move (7)
ACTUATE – TAUT reversed in ACE
5 Wings of nylon filled with a strong material (7)
NANKEEN – A in N[ylo]N KEEN (strong, as in keen interest)
6 Terrace positioned externally ruined fancy entrance (3,6)
7 Pair winning almost immediately (6)
PRONTO – PR (pair) ON TO[p]
8 Heroin stashed in dirty vessel (6)
14 Guy takes a drink in a stupor (9)
CATATONIC – CAT (as in hep cat, or cool cat) A TONIC
16 Type of food in a tin, cooked without opening (8)
TANDOORI – DOOR (opening) in A TIN*; Tandoori is a method of cooking, but an extended sense is a type of food, as in Tandoori chicken
17 Dissolute young trainee mostly overwhelmed with depression (8)
19 Moderates needing restraint, being without power (7)
DAMPENS – P (power) in DAM (restraint) ENS (being; the plural ‘entia’ is useful for Scrabble players)
20 Society function hosted by European leader for composer (7)
ROSSINI – S (society) SIN (mathematical function; abbreviation for sine, which seems a bit unnecessary) in ROI (European leader)
21 Provide compensation for bad TV (6)
22 Trial a combination of having no booze and exercise (3,3)
DRY RUN – DRY (teetotal) RUN (exercise)
25 Wipe the floor with flash young boxer? (3,2)
MOP UP – MO (flash) PUP (young [canine] boxer)

67 comments on “Times 28153 – Petite Messe Solennelle pour vous?”

  1. Not sure how the SNITCH will play out, I felt like I was doing well to get through this one in slightly slower than average time.

    Had a lot of trouble in the Kimberley region, but as is often the case, it looks easier in hindsight. Should have seen GREAT a lot earlier than I did.

    High quality blog from the HKV today, thanks especially for explaining DAMPENS. Certain comments will be left to pass harmlessly outside off stump, but I will say I enjoyed the G&S reference.

  2. Oops. I was slow on this gentler offering. Thought 1 Down was TOGETHER but couldn’t parse it; spent 7 minutes getting nowhere. Finally figured it out, then had an error: DAMPERS for DAMPENS. Couldn’t parse it even after I knew the answer, so thank you Ulaca for teaching me this new, wild word.
    1. Had even more trouble with DAMPERS/DAMPENS. Candidate solution one was DAMPENS, as per the blog, except that I didn’t know ENS. Candidate solution two was DAMPERS with DAM as before, and then PERSON for “being” assuming “without power” equated to “not on” (in the sense of a piece of electrical equipment) allowing the deletion of the last two letters. Unknown word or dodgy cryptic? I gave up and came here.
      1. I did exactly the same as you – with the same wrong answer. I thought that seeing PERSon was a eureka moment….
  3. I did a lot of biffing and still got a 3-digit NITCH. DNK TRIALWARE. I wasted time trying to justify ROSSINI, even with the SSINI, thinking ‘European leader’ was E. My first reaction to FIRST was ‘But that’s an ordinal!’ LOI DAMPENS; took me forever to parse, specifically to see ENS, which I didn’t know, but assumed it’s related to ‘entity’. I liked TRIALWARE; ‘retail stores’ was nicely misleading.
    1. Same here. Was already framing my strongly-worded objection before spotting the wood, just tucked in sneakily behind the trees.
  4. Took too long on this, especially ages to see ACTUATE my LOI. I suspect because I was in crossword mode where tight always means drunk not tight in other senses.

    I’m still not clear how FIRST is a cardinal though. A few other minor things I didn’t know, like ENS. I thought of PROBE the first time I read the clue but couldn’t see why PROB was familiar issue. But it’s totally fair. It comes up all the time in the negative “no prob”.

    Edited at 2021-12-06 02:05 am (UTC)

      1. Ah yes. I just put it in with a shrug since it was so obviously correct and didn’t think too much at the time.
  5. but then suffered ‘xword interruptus’ from er’ indoors, over a minor domestic issue (toast and marmalade!). Although the watch ran to 57 minutes – it was nearer 37 minutes. A bit beefy for a Monday but not biffy – as exactitude was necessary.

    FOI 2ac PUD Old fashioned rice-pud with grated nutmeg svp.

    LOI 4dn ACTUATE IKEAN wizzardry!

    COD 29ac CASE IN POINT nicely hidden ‘jumble’!

    WOD 26ac SERENGETI – memories of flamingos

    I stayed up for the Saudi F1. The biggest heart stopper since the swings and roundabouts of Wembley ’66 IMO. I crawled into bed at 4:15am – shaken and stirred. Hamilton was just amazing!

    Edited at 2021-12-06 04:48 am (UTC)

  6. I found this very hard and had 53 minutes on the clock when I resorted to aids for my LOI, ACTUATE at 4dn. Although I had considered ACE for ‘great’ I wasn’t sure of it and ‘move’ as a definition of ACTUATE was never going to come to mind.

    Also failed to parse ENS in 19dn as I never heard of that meaning. If I needed to use ENS in Scrabble I would have justified it as the plural of printing term that comes up quite regularly here.

    Edited at 2021-12-06 06:06 am (UTC)

  7. As it happened, I had the whole top half done before I had anything in the bottom. Not that the bottom was any harder—though FIRST as “cardinal” did raise an illusory doubt. And it took a moment for the sense of ENS to dawn.

    “Winning” for ONTO and “move” for ACTUATE seemed oblique.

    COD TOGETHER, for “soaring/number” or AITCH for “intro from Hendrix.” Rock on.

      1. Aha. And I see that is revealed in the blog! I’m suddenly aware that I’m getting sleepy. Time to pull off the road (figuratively). Thanks!
  8. 33 minutes. Same initial doubts about FIRST until I realised the intended sense of ‘cardinal’ and I then needed to spend some time working out the parsing of others which I’d just bunged in, eg TEA-STRAINER and DAMPENS.

    Favourite was PUD. Definitely not ‘Sweet’ – in my book, very non-U!

  9. I finished up with ACTUATE, for which I wasn’t sure of the meaning, and DAMPENS, which I had thought of much earlier but wasn’t sure of the parsing. I’ve either not seen or not remembered ENS, so one to note for future as it would seem a handy setter’s device. It’s always good to see AITCH get its periodical outing to be reminded that there is no such thing as “haitch”.
  10. … above the Serengeti

    25 mins pre-brekker. I liked it. Lots of neat and clever stuff.
    I can’t remember seeing being=ens before.
    Thanks setter and U.

    Edited at 2021-12-06 07:54 am (UTC)

  11. 38 minutes with LOI ATELIERS. Penultimate was the unheard-of TRIALWARE. I didn’t parse DAMPENS. I remember one embittered senior executive ‘let go’ by his sociopathic CEO saying that if you set up your promotion policy as a RAT-RACE, you shouldn’t be surprised when the rat wins. That’s my COD. I liked TEA-STRAINER, TOGETHER, PRONTO and ROSSINI too. Overall though I made hard work of this. Thank you U and setter.
  12. Many thanks for the blog. Oh but pray
    There’s a teensy omission today
    ROI for French king
    Is the missing thing
    In 20 down, I dare say

    Edited at 2021-12-06 08:47 am (UTC)

    1. With no birds to moan of today
      You vision became X-ray
      But I’m not miffed at all
      It’s a very fair call
      So thanks – no, grazie mille!
  13. 18:14 But 1 wrong. Held up at the end by TOGETHER. I’m another who couldn’t parse DAMPENS… because I entered DAMPERS… DAM = restraint, the being without power being = PERS(on); without power = “not on”. Stupid boy. Thanks U and setter.
  14. ….as I was beginning to suspect. I’d already resigned the QC, and was within a whisker of doing the same here, when my second alpha-trawl finally came up with my LOI.

    Thanks for the blog Ulaca — I really needed it today, having biffed five answers (including LOI) and not having the will to parse them afterwards. Didn’t enjoy this very much.

    COD TEA-STRAINER (but only thanks to Ulaca)
    TIME 13:14

  15. Way off the pace of all my usal benchmarks today, which concurs with my feeling of slowness while solving. Got annoyed that FIRST was an ordinal, not a cardinal, but was then forced to concede that it could just be cardinal without the ‘a’. Finished by tossing a coin and going with DAMPENS, which matched the definition better than DAMPERS, even though I had to come here to discover why it was right. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

    Today’s earworm: the majestic Africa by Toto, despite it containing the completely ridiculous suggestion that Kilimanjaro rises above the Serengeti, which it really doesn’t.

    P.S. ulaca, I think I can identify the source of our shared nervousness about the Ashes, which is that we’ve both seen England play Test cricket recently. And in an ever-changing world, I am reassured by the old certainties, such as Glenn McGrath predicting it will end 5-0 to Australia, so all is well.

    Edited at 2021-12-06 11:12 am (UTC)

    1. 5-0 is unlikely this time, thanks to us being in the middle of a La Nina. Still, one can hope.

  16. I was held up by PROBE and LOI, TANDOORI, but saw them eventually. TOTAL was FOI and the top half was populated fairly rapidly, with ACTUATE last in that section. I didn’t parse DAMPENS. NHO ENS=being. Maybe I got lucky by not considering dampers! Liked CASE IN POINT and ROSSINI. 33:32. Thanks setter and U.
  17. 9:57. No dramas today, just managed to sneak in under 10 minutes after a bit of a panic over the parsing of ATELIERS.
    I’m surprised that ENS is unfamiliar to so many. I thought it was a crossword chestnut but perhaps that’s just Mephisto and/or Azed.
  18. Gave up after 45 mins with blanks in ACTUATE. I found this unusually hard (particularly for a Monday) throughout, with DAMPENS and PROBE solved but not understood.
  19. I took ages over this, a bit unhappily since I looked at the SNITCH and saw that several quick solvers had been very quick, so expected this to be an easy one that I just couldn’t get my head round; I was relieved to see that several others found it equally tricky. It was in the 50s that I started using aids since I was utterly stuck, and eventually I finished in just over the hour.

    Surely it’s (computer) program not programme? Not just an Americanism, but I always thought that was what it really should be.

    Edited at 2021-12-06 11:57 am (UTC)

  20. This one took me an hour and twelve minutes! FOI PUD, a great start, but then found most of the rest really hard. LOI DAMPENS where I too struggled with person | not on which would have given dampers. Went for DAMPENS with fingers crossed but it all added to my massive time
  21. Left with 2 holes today, DAMPENS being one, nuff said above, and ACTUATE the other, where I couldn’t see the ACE either.
  22. Yup (sorry Ulaca) another member of the damp club here. Most of the trouble I had with this sprang from my not knowing how to spell DINGHY – like Gandhi (or is it Ghandi) I never know where to put the AITCH. Good puzzle. 21.11
  23. Bah. Gave up on the hour with ACTUATE not moving me at all. Didn’t see why FIRST was cardinal, or why RAT-RACE was whatever it was.

    The day has been saved by someone bringing me a very nice bottle of BOLLINGER rosé which we have just consumed. Marvellous .

    Thank you U and far too clever setter.

  24. Finished up with four entirely separate down clues to solve.

    Bunging in ALEPH rather than the far simpler AITCH for the Hendrix clue held up PRONTO — easy once the problem was fixed.

    TOGETHER took a while to spot as well — only word I could think of that would fit, and completely failed to parse.

    The other two were much harder — so that’s what ACTUATE means then — and the slightly rubbishy DAMPENS which took some of the gloss of a decent xword.

    No PROBs with PROBE — but think NO PROBS (problem) and NO TRUBS (trouble) are more common in the UK rather than the S-less form used by the setter?

  25. This felt really hard to me, Had the top half almost complete before making significant headway below, and had to resort to significant amounts of biffing

    – ENS in DAMPENS was a new one for me, I found it in Collins but in Lexico it’s just the plural of EN
    – For ROSSINI couldn’t figure why SIN = function, now obvious
    – Had no idea that nits (of that sort) were actually eggs
    – FIST for “duke” – suspect I’ve seen that once before here, hopefully it will sink in this time

    On the whole I felt off the pace, lots of easy-ish clues turned into protracted struggles, and eventually I found myself staring at N-N-E-N for many minutes, before throwing in the towel and using a missing-letters solver webpage to get the unknown NANKEEN. My medium-term goal of a full week of correct completions sure ain’t starting here. Thanks U and setter

  26. 28.25. This was probably a medium difficulty puzzle but I got completely stumped at the end over my last two tandoori and probe and took ages to find them.
  27. 30.20 after a lot of humming and hawing. Never got much forward momentum so a real teaser for me today. Almost gave up before I finally realised actuatewas the answer to 4 dn. Hope to be a bit more on the ball tomorrow!
  28. Relieved to see others finding it difficult but I was tired and not in the right frame of mind so gave up with 12 clues unsolved. Like Denise, my next objective is a full week of correct solves. Oh well.

    Thanks to the setter (grrr) and especially to the blogger for the explanations.

  29. I could have sworn today was Monday. A tricky but very enjoyable puzzle that I made heavy weather of (“of which I made heavy weather” for the more punctilious)

    I biffed DAMPERS and took a long time to see ACTUATE and FIRST. I liked TANDOORI and PUD, but then I always do.

    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter.

  30. Many years ago I corrected my young son’s spelling of his middle name, which he had written as “Jhon”.

    He came back after a period of contemplation and said “if the aitch is silent, what difference does it make where it goes?”.

    1. The great thing about childrens’ spelling is that it makes perfect sense. My younger daughter always spelt IF with 2 Fs.
  31. Top left slowed me down. Actuate was LOI and only after long alphabet trawl. Shame because I got off to a good start.
  32. I liked it, excepting the Ens. I was pleased to get to the right sense of the ordinality vs cardinality of First. The setter had been so meticulous everywhere else it seemed more likely that I was missing something than that there was a simple error.
  33. This was fairly straightforward with COD to 12ac Aitch.
    No problem with Dampens as the clue was quite clear. I also like Case in Point and 1dn Together. Anyone recognize my avatar?

    Edited at 2021-12-06 06:08 pm (UTC)

  34. 18:30 this evening. I didn’t feel particularly sharp today but felt impatient at the same time, which probably explains the number of biffs I decided to go for and my general mood of frustration by the end. Not the setter’s fault, all down to little old me.
    However I did appreciate several clues e.g. the surface of 12 ac “aitch”, 26 ac “Serengeti” and 29 ac “case in point”.
    Thanks to Ulaca for an entertaining blog and to setter.
  35. Strangely enough I thought this was fairly easy despite needing 1h5m to solve it, very leisurely. But everything was correct and correctly parsed, including DAM P ENS (I know almost no Latin, but “entity” must come from something like ENS). I wouldn’t have known NANKEEN if it hadn’t turned up before, and I also didn’t understand why FIRST was a cardinal, but one is forgiving. I was held up in many places by stupid guesses (NEWS MEDIA at 24 ac, PIPED DOWN at 10ac and TEA CEREMONY at 1ac for some reason, and I was sure the bottom three letters of 25dn would be ..T UP. None of this helped much).

    Thank you, setter, for a very fair and enjoyable puzzle.

    Edited at 2021-12-06 06:44 pm (UTC)

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