Times 28,163: I Am Rubbra, You Are Glue

I can’t say I loved this particular Friday puzzle, but a lot of that was due to not one but two 15-letter “cryptic definition” across clues. This Marmitey clue type can be excellent if it hits the spot, and indeed I did quite enjoy 10ac with its play on two very different kinds of “stand”; but 26ac quickly became my least favourite clue in ages as I sat staring at it for minute after minute thinking “well it’s clearly SUNRISE something on the groanworthy basis of ‘setting’… but what exactly?” The answer would not come, especially as I had FURNACE (URN in FACE) pencilled in for 21dn. Foreign words clued by anagram is some people’s bugbear, mine is I guess a cryptic def where only part of the answer is cryptically defined. Bah!

I also raised a minor eyebrow when I Googled the odd-looking “Rubbra” and discovered him to be an odd choice of inclusion, given that he seems relevant to the answer, rather than to the wordplay leading to that answer, if that makes sense?

There was some good stuff in here though – I liked “green sauce” and the clever wordplay at 3dn a lot, and I guess I have to give credit where credit’s due, both 21 and 22dn misled me heroically; looking for {desig}N “clothed by” a synonym for graceful, or possibly {gracefu}L + a synonym for clothes reversed was a long wild goose chase for the latter, and suddenly realising what kind of “bomb” was meant by the former was a huge PDM. So yes, things I very much liked amidst things I didn’t, a curate’s egg for me this week swimming in its green sauce. Thank you though setter, parts of it were excellent!

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

1 Without serious intention heartless judge finds victim (8)
5 Officials ultimately do nothing to hide European corruption (6)
SLEAZE – {official}S LAZE “hiding” E(uropean)
10 Stand to ease pressure on back? (9,6)
REARGUARD ACTION – cryptic def
11 Shady borders round church close lacking a background (7)
SCENERY – S{had}Y “round” CE NE{a}R
12 Titled fellow from circle in London borough (7)
13 Reviewer a layman initially on the danger list? (8)
15 Bug found in green sauce Penny refused (1,4)
18 Cringe — or one to make you do so? (5)
COWER – one who COWS you, and might make you cringe, is a COW-ER
20 Feel so bad catching a cold, be humiliated (4,4)
LOSE FACE – (FEEL SO*) “catching” A C(old)
23 Current doctor to protect by putting on thick coat (7)
IMPASTO – I M.O. “protecting” PAST [by]
25 Terror seen around the world makes one hesitate (7)
26 High-technology business not suited to setting? (7,8)
SUNRISE INDUSTRY – cryptic def
27 Main charity sent back something sparkling (6)
DIADEM – MED(iterranean) AID, reversed
28 Large one supplied with carpet that’s free (8)
1 Romeo entering small wood causes laugh on stage (6)
CORPSE – R entering COPSE
2 Singular boast about keeping figure in field (9)
SCARECROW – S CROW “about” CARE [keeping]
3 Boost to have soldiers relieving us in some 31 days? (7)
4 With duke sent down, now one grovels (5)
TOADY – take TODAY [now], and move the D(uke) down one position
6 University with nuclear research facility in the French city (7)
LUCERNE – U with CERN in LE [the, in French]
7 Coordinate a policy broadcast (5)
ALIGN – homophone of A LINE
8 Intellectual way to stop foreign article being duplicated (8)
EINSTEIN – ST “stopping” EIN EIN
9 Unconventional people not paired at dances (8)
ODDBALLS – ODD [not paired, as in socks] + BALLS [dances]
14 Retreat after slaughter associated with old battle (8)
CULLODEN – DEN after CULL + O(ld)
16 Gold box Rubbra emptied for ensemble (9)
17 Hidden crop covered with fresh seed (8)
ECLIPSED – CLIP “covered” with (SEED*)
19 This writer has to support others unwilling to accept control? (7)
RESTIVE – I’VE supporting REST
21 Bomb vessel in front part (7)
22 Design ultimately graceful clothes having turned up (6)
ARGYLE – hidden reversed in {ultimat)ELY GRA{ceful}
24 Forest creature threatened with old man circling (5)
PANDA – AND, “circled” by PA
25 Jumping gun stops motor racing in kingdom (5)
FUNGI – (GUN*) “stops” F1

74 comments on “Times 28,163: I Am Rubbra, You Are Glue”

  1. Hmm, not used to blazing a trail in the comments. I seem to have liked it more than our esteemed blogger did, thinking for example that 16dn was a rather clever way of cluing “orchestra.”
  2. 48 minutes. At the very first moment I thought CASUALLY at 1ac but couldn’t parse it so it didn’t go in. If only I had realised how close I was I’d have been off to a flying start instead of scratching around the grid looking for a foothold elsewhere.

    Verlaine, you have a surplus E in the parsing of LUCERNE.

  3. 38 minutes. LOI ARGYLE, where I failed to spot the hidden. I constructed rather than knew the kingdom of FUNGI. COD to REARGUARD ACTION. Lightning has just stopped play in the Test Match. I don’t suppose it will last for the next three days though. Thank you V and setter.
    1. Quote from an Australian friend of mine: ‘it’s not sporting event, rather a very sad pantomime’.
  4. Unlike the blogger, I had INDUSTRY from the checkers and couldn’t get the first word. Actually I had an unparsed SERVICE in there for a while.

    From memory the other hold-ups were TOADY, SCENERY and FORBEAR. Tough day at the office, but happy to wrap up a pinkless week.

    Thanks Verlaine and setter.

  5. Sub-25 so delirious after a week floundering around like Jack Leach. Last in ARGYLE – never spotted the hidden.
  6. But couldn’t do SW corner; FORBEAR (clever but I missed it) and FORTUNE and ARGYLE where I failed to spot the hidden – I often do.
  7. I thought I was on for a really quick time, as the top half flew in in just over the time it took to read the clues, and for E-COLI not even that, which meant i missed out on the green sauce giggle. But the lower half slowed to a crawl as I failed to spot the hidden ARGYLE, was without a clue (literally and metaphorically, my dislike of cryptic definitions is well documented), spent ages trying to think of the kind of kingdom that has a king, looked foe several of the wrong kind of bomb, didn’t think of MED for “main (I’m not sure it really is anyway) and took even longer to find CLIP for crop in my last one in. So 22.10 when it looked like being 10.22. Thanks to V for the honest blog, and for being only 3 minutes quicker than me, for once.
        1. Thanks Z – I think I’ll try that on the assembled company at Christmas. It should go down LICHEN eggnog.
        2. I was hoping against hope that that wouldn’t be the answer. Sending an appropriately festive eyeroll your way!
          1. Whenever I Expand a collapsed comment on the site now, it opens in another page, all by its lonesome. I’ve tried this in Safari and in Chrome, to the same result. This is annoying. To whom should I report it?
            (Expanding the first collapsed comment, I get all the rest, at least.)
            Another dubious improvement?

            Edited at 2021-12-18 12:06 am (UTC)

  8. Where is everyone this morning? ARGYLE seems to have been exceptionally well hidden – I certainly didn’t spot it – and I had a bit of trouble parsing CASUALTY too. I didn’t see how it worked (because it didn’t) but I had “failure” for bomb in 21d which put the FUNGI/FORBEAR axis out of reach for a while. I wasn’t bothered by Verlaine’s misgivings about the long across struts – they were helpful. Liked this one. 19.07
  9. I sped through most of this in 15 minutes, then a minute or two to see that my wrong entry of CASUALLY was stopping me from getting 4d. That left three still to go, 26,22 and 25. 25 looked like FUNGI, but initially I missed the somewhat cryptic definition so didn’t put it in immediately. Eventuallly I spotted the hidden answer in 22. All this added another 12 minutes to my time. Very frustrating.
    I share Verlaine’s dislike of 22. I didn’t pay mch attention to it’s partner CD at 10, which I bunged in as soon as I had enough checked letters to see what it must be.
  10. And by the way, is something political going on with the Times crossword?
    Yesterday we had the incredibly prescient 1d/23d pairing of SHROPSHIRE as an answer and “Progress after ousting Conservative member” as a clue, coupled with today’s headline news as the Lib Dems win the North Shropshire by-election, a seat the Tories have held for 200 years. The fabled D-DAY OVERLORD coincidence (?) comes to mind even if it was in the Telegrope.
    Today the grid is ridded with words Boris would probably like to avoid: a CASUALTY of SLEAZE, fighting a (possibly hopeless) REARGUARD ACTION, situation CRITICAL causing him to LOSE FACE and (uncharacteristically, perhaps) COWER. The public are fed up with TOADY hangers on, and even his own party is RESTIVE, having been ECLIPSED in a proper pol, and looking increasingly like the CORPSE of a once invincible force.
    What larks!
  11. I loved this crossword purely on the basis that it gave me a very rare sub-verlaine! Actually I’m also not a big fan of cryptic definitions and SUNRISE and REARGUARD both took all the checkers and some thinking time before they fell. Both being compound words didn’t help. E COLI was eventually biffed after I had been completely misled. I thought the E was for electronic and I was looking for a computer bug and I thought the green sauce was pesto. Nice clue!
  12. Fun ideas, Zabadak! Surely a coincidence? Too good to be true. Set off in hope of sub-10 QC/C double having whizzed thru QC in record 2:35. This was chewier fare, however, and finished this in 10:54, which seems good if Jason took nearly 9 mins (this is always when Magoo and Mohn seem to come to the fore and still manage +/- 5 min times). Stared a while before LOI of ARGYLE and then groaned in admiration when I saw the hidden. SUNRISE INDUSTRY clue perhaps a bit weak, but rest of high quality imho. Many thanks tonon-wavelength Verlaine for his warts-and-all blog and setter for the challenge.
    1. Today’s collection of words probably yes, coincidence. But yesterday’s, I’m not so sure. In May 1944, the Telegraph solutions included OVERLORD, OMAHA, SWORD, JUNO, MULBERRY and NEPTUNE, all D-Day codewords. Publicly, it was declared a coincidence, but the setter, headmaster of a school adjacent to a huge US base, was rigorously interrogated by MI5 and almost lost his job. Later admitted that his habit of getting words from his boys inadvertently introduced the code words which the boys had gleaned from the GIs they mixed freely with and were less than tight lipped about security.
      Who slipped the result of the election to yesterday’s setter and how they knew so far in advance we may never know, but it’s one fabulous coincidence!
  13. We seem to have lost the option to “like” which I was going to do to Zabadak’s political analysis and at the same time we’ve gained an option to “complain” about some of the comments – which I wasn’t going to do. Is this new?
      1. Sorry, I do see the complain option now. I’d wondered what that symbol was but hadn’t put two and two together.
      2. Mysteriously, I have the option to complain about the first dozen or so comments, but not like them, after that I don’t have either option. Where do I complain?
        1. I’d like to complain about not having the like button, but I like not having the complain button
      1. WHAT red circley thing Francois – I haven’t got that??? Where are Vinyl and Jack when we need them….. Also I note that I have been given editing privileges over Verlaine’s blog which is really weird.
        1. It is a red circle with an interior red diagonal line. When you click on it, it says “report as” then there is a list such as: “spam” “adult content” etc. Very weird. It’s sited just in front of the drawing pin.
          1. Just sent an email to Vinyl and Jack suggesting they take a look. Is the QC thread normal? I can’t tell.
            1. Yes Olivia, the QC seems to have the same icon. Maybe it’s just my computer but some of the mentions above seem to refer to the same thing, I think.
            2. Just found this update in LJ from today:

              You can now easily report spam and dangerous content in entries and comments, specifically content about drug trafficking and manufacture, provoking suicide and methods of committing it, as well as pornographic materials with minors.
              All users can now file a complaint about spam, not just the author of an entry, – this will make the fight against spam more effective.

  14. 26:18 — I seem to recall ORCHESTRA and ECOLI being clued in similar ways recently which helped. Otherwise all seemed good solid Times fare though the word “intellectual” seems a rather feeble pointer to EINSTEIN.
    1. I said much the same (about Einstein) on my video stream of this! You think of “intellectuals” as being a bit more pretentious, perhaps, than dear old Albert. I can’t imagine him wearing a beret and a polo-neck.
      1. I’d go so far as to say it borders on incorrect if one thinks of the usual connotations of the word – unless it is intended in such a broad way that it becomes more or less meaningless, even as a “definition by example”.
  15. Lots to chew over, with various satisfying penny-drops, especially ARGYLE. As is always observed, a hidden word clue which delays you till the very end is a good one, even if it’s the slightly more missable reversed variant.

    Googling RUBBRA, I find him generally described as “forgotten”, but afraid to say I never knew him to forget in the first place. Doubtless he was once a well-known name to Times solvers, even if he was no Beerbohm Tree.

      1. I see he died well before I arrived at Oxford myself, so he could easily be an inclusion in a future Times crossword. Or maybe not — I fear that the clues his surname could generate might be deemed too racy for The Thunderer.
  16. I took ages over this: 75 minutes, with plenty of aids by the end. But that was largely because of the quality of the clues, which apart from a couple of wishy-washy CDs were very good. 22dn was very clever and fooled me utterly, although it seems I wasn’t the only one. Did V really dislike this one? I can see nothing that suggests this.

    Edited at 2021-12-17 12:14 pm (UTC)

    1. I didn’t hate it but I did dislike getting stuck for 10 minutes in the SE corner, and leaving video evidence of the debacle on the internet for amateur sleuths to track down. Occasional abject humiliation is good for me I’m sure…
      1. Amateur sleuths to track down? I can’t find it anywhere. Perhaps it’s in Facebook or somewhere like that.
        1. Rewatching the video I think it’s clear that the word “industry” is simply not in my vocabulary…
  17. Mostly enjoyable, however, employed as I am in a hi-tech business, I have never heard the term SUNRISE INDUSTRY so that was a bit of a damp squib for me.

    I saw the FORTUNE once I’d nailed 25a FORBEAR — think TUN had appeared as a vessel not too long ago.

    I also failed to spot the hidden reversed ARGYLE — top marks for that one setter.

  18. 50:23 after a slow start. FOI E COLI from the enumeration then thought about. Then fairly steady progress. LOI EINSTEIN and COD, I think
  19. 34 minutes. I didn’t find this too tough for a Friday but was lucky to have cottoned on to the cryptic defs pretty quickly. I was annoyed that I bunged in E COLI unparsed, almost made up for by working out FORTUNE and by seeing the clever reverse hidden ARGYLE, my favourite and LOI.
  20. 20:39. Another tricky one. I like a good cryptic definition but I can’t say I was particularly enamoured of these long ones. Fortunately SUNRISE INDUSTRY appeared (with quite similar clues) in two Dean Mayer puzzles I blogged, so it didn’t hold me up for long. It’s a rather outdated expression though so a CD is a bit mean if you ask me.
    I enjoyed the rest of this though, a good challenge.
      1. Practically speaking it has already been, which is rather the point. As I commented in one of my blogs: ‘it’s fallen out of use as companies in the relevant industries have graduated from plucky fresh-faced challengers to dominant global behemoths crushing all before them’. Wise words, I’m sure you’ll agree.
  21. a terrible FAILURE at 21dn, then I stuck in FRISEUR at 25ac just to get finished! DNF

    FOI 1ac CAREFREE which quickly became CASUALTY, which reminded that terrible old TV Saturday night soap.

    (LOI) 22dn ARGYLE – any Plymouth fans in the house?



    Did not parse the green sauce – parsely?

    1. Plymouth ARGYLE have a special place in footballing legend. It was against Argyle in the final match of the 1998/99 season that Jimmy Glass, the Carlisle goalkeeper scored the last minute goal, when he came up for a corner, that kept Carlisle in the football league.
  22. ARGYLE and DIADEM is surely a nod by the setter to the recent closure of the Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It was the only producer of pink diamonds, and for a while was the largest diamond producer in the world by volume.
    Some of my mistakes in the crosswords are pink diamonds, but unfortunately they aren’t rare. But not today- 22:51 all emeralds
  23. So, just me then who spent two hours poring over an atlas searching for a small Pacific island kingdom called Fungi?
    1. Sounds like what you’d get if you crossed the capital of Tuvalu with the nation whose capital is Nuku’alofa…
  24. 55 mins so fairly tough for me . Struggled over FORBEAR, ECLIPSED, FORTUNE and ARGYLE. The latter I thought a great clue once I finally saw it! NHO SUNRISE INDUSTRY but worked it out from the wp and never parsed E,COLI.

    I still keep being logged out of LJ which is annoying, maybe I should change my username to A and my password to B. Would make my life a lot easier. And now we have a new set of red blobs to deal with.


    Thanks V and setter.

    PS except I notice I haven’t got a red blob yet everyone else has! I WANT one, I’m jealous:-(

    Edited at 2021-12-17 02:48 pm (UTC)

  25. Fairly stiff challenge but nothing to frighten the scarecrows. COD to ‘Sunrise’ Industry which appeared to discombobulate even the best- India specializes. Sleaze is most apposite what with the bite-back in Oswestry, Salop. Happy Christmas Boz!
  26. NHO ‘sunrise industry’ or ‘impasto’, which proved major impediments in the SW corner.
  27. Happy with that, especially as I, too, pencilled in FURNACE and hadn’t really heard of SUNRISE INDUSTRY. Lots to enjoy but I also share Verlaine’s discomfort about cryptic definitions that don’t quite land.
  28. For two major sources of crossing letters to be loose cryptic definitions, and thus hard to be completely sure about until you have a fair few crossing letters, seems dubious to me, is my new position after a few hours’ kip. Still a setter must make Fridays Fridayish by any means at their disposal.
  29. A late entry as there was nothing on the site earlier this morning prior to my trip to the golf course. 23.27 with a bit of a delay with argyle, tillI finally recognised the hidden word. Liked ecoli and rearguard action. But my favourite was eclipsed.
    Thanks setter and blogger.
  30. Oh, verlaine finally turned up, did he? Too late for me. I turned in at 10pm NZ time, thus avoiding the predictable early dismissal of England’s openers.
    On the difficult side for me. My two LOIs were the crossing clues FORBEAR and ARGYLE.
    In 21d I associate ‘bomb’ with FAILURE, so that’s what I entered at first, then changed it to FURNACE, as per verlaine, before arriving at the correct answer.
    I wasn’t so hot on the first of the two long across clues, 10ac, but I did like SUNRISE INDUSTRY. “Not suited to setting” was fun.
    LUCERNE was clever. I visited the museum at CERN once and understood very little of it!
    COD to FUNGI for clever use of kingdom.
  31. Gave up on the hidden ARGYLE

    I tell my kids always to ask themselves “is it an anagram or a hidden” (when solving cryptics I hasten to add not for all life’s difficult moments)

    Didn’t take my own advice

    The slight difference for me compared to every other deceived solver is that I had no idea why ARGYLE was design. I sort of see it now but aint giving myself too hard a time

    Great blog and comments as always and thanks to the setter as well

  32. The first half went in relatively quickly, but I was stuck on the bottom for a while. I put this down to the increasing malaise from the booster shot (it’s all over now). I am glad to see that I was not the only one to have entered, for a while, FURNACE, which made INDUSTRY invisible. FORTUNE was actually my LOI, but I ARGYLE POI, and also LOP(arsed).
  33. I don’t know what LJ have done to the site, but it’s a mess. Buttons missing, jumping to wrong pages when you try to expand a hidden answer. Pain in the rear! Anyway I was about to go to bed on the Saturday side of midnight when I noticed I hadn’t done Friday’s 15×15. so I set about it and was all done in 23:36. FOI was CORPSE and the NW filled nicely, as did the NE. Tougher going down under, but I eventually finished off when I spotted the required definition of bomb. Thanks setter and V.
  34. Solvers who are keen on speed clamour always for wordplay, so today’s cds will have attracted scorn. But I liked them! But then I can’t speed-solve! Nonetheless, nice puzzle. Took me ages.

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