Times 28,175: Goodbye To All That

The very last puzzle of 2021 offers a plethora of 2022 holiday destination ideas, for when this Omishambles dies down and the world throws open its doors once more. Mexico, Andalusia, champagne in the Alps, Columbia, Bangkok and Cambodia, the dusty Sahara, New Zealand, all fabulous options that this globetrotting grid proposes for our pleasure.

There was a real sense of playfulness and invention to the cryptic elements to match – I was much tickled by 10ac, 18ac, 3dn and more besides. Thanks setter! My only regret is that solving and blogging on a Dvorak keyboard is very slow work, but who knows, maybe this will be the year I finally don’t blow off my resolutions and master the damn layout. Here’s to faster typing speeds in 2022, for us all!

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

1 Worried about grasping unknown ancient language (5)
AZTEC – ATE C [worried | about] “grasping” Z. Isn’t the language more properly “Nahuatl”?
4 Resent shift, say, ending for worker inside (8)
BEGRUDGE – BUDGE, E.G. {worke}R inside that
8 Work allowing you to take extended leave? (3,4,7)
THE LONG GOODBYE – a Raymond Chandler work, with added cryptic definition of its title
10 Unhealthy condition of Society? That’s the case across the pond (9)
SINUSITIS – S(ociety) + IN U.S. IT IS
11 Two playing partners love to get through (3,2)
12 Reading for one’s partner no longer suitable for him or her (6)
UNISEX – UNI’S EX [e.g. Reading’s | partner no longer]
14 Unusual shop, said to be one containing bar? (8)
17 Palace supporter following city going to West Ham (8)
ALHAMBRA – BRA, following L.A. (written from east to west) + HAM
18 One leaving lingerie promotion possibly somehow reanimated (6)
20 European state chancellory taking back exhibits (5)
TYROL – hidden reversed in {chancel}LORY T{aking}
22 Canvas creator’s realism somehow capturing a king (9)
SAILMAKER – (REALISM*) “capturing” A K
24 I, in turn, no longer having influence, make huge effort (2,3,2,4,3)
25 Sticky matter, new poetry book being sent back for late supplement? (8)
ADDENDUM – all of MUD N EDDA reversed
26 Sports for kids (3,2)
HAS ON – double def. As in, “he has a onesie on? You’re having me on!”
1 A white cat in a street isn’t rare, ultimately (4,8)
2 What could be Bangkok hotel’s sound promotional material (3-2)
TIE-IN – homophone of THAI INN
3 Contradictory facial expression for one providing support (9)
CROSSBEAM – a “cross beam” would appear to be an oxymoronic facial expression
4 City airline crossing from South African country (6)
BOGOTA – B.A. “crossing” TOGO (written from south to north)
5 Merchandise on the way? Bravo! (4,4)
GOOD SHOW – GOODS on HOW [the way, as in, “the way we live now”]
6 Cancelled one for each of 18 (5)
7 Endless zest in good French school is something sweet (9)
9 Awfully odd time, in theory, to cheat (2,3,5,2)
13 Sort of royal club for US dramatist (9)
ISHERWOOD – ISH E.R. WOOD [sort of | royal | club]
15 Pub drama involving politician in French city (5,4)
PHNOM PENH – P.H. NOH “involving” M.P. EN
16 Most of new school having walls painted (8)
19 Sand blaster in my opinion cuts small round marks (6)
SIMOOM – IMO “cuts” S O M
21 See something worthwhile in blackguard (5)
23 Birds mostly peck, with one poking inside (5)
KIWIS – KIS{s}, “poked” by W I [with | one]

76 comments on “Times 28,175: Goodbye To All That”

  1. Christopher Isherwood is hardly known as a dramatist! As far as I’m aware he wrote only three plays very early in his career (1934-1936) and these were in collaboration with WH Auden (would it be fair to clue him as a dramatist too?). Also Isherwood was still British at the time and didn’t become a US citizen until 1946.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 07:08 am (UTC)

      1. Me too. And I didn’t know he wrote plays. Did he do the Cabaret adaptation of I am a Camera? I’m too lazy to google it.
        1. If you read through the comments this has been covered, but to summarise, no, he was never involved with Cabaret or I am a Camera (other than to collect royalties) and as for being a ‘dramatist’ he co-wrote three minor plays with the poet WH Auden, a childhood friend, none of which has been revived in a major production within living memory.
        2. I see Jack has answered your query about Isherwood. The one piece of trivia I have heard about “I am a Camera” is that one critic wrote a one-line review: “Me no Leica”!
  2. Hard work, but I finally made it, with ALHAMBRA my POI and FRESCOED LOI. I biffed 1d and 24ac, only working them painfully out post-submission. Forgot to parse GLYCERINE, and gave up on ISHERWOOD; who I’d never thought of as an American dramatist (see Jackkt above). ODE calls AZTEC an extinct language, from which Nahuatl is descended. I liked UNISEX & UNDEAD.
  3. As for the rest of the puzzle, it was such a hard slog and as the hour approached I took to looking up a few bits and pieces to hasten me to the end as I was becoming bored with it.
  4. Hello everyone – especially those who noticed my recent absence from this board…

    …a month or so ago, I had about 6 or 7 consecutive days of solving failures, and it sort of precipitated a crisis of confidence …I became disengaged and listless, unwilling to put in the effort to get back on track. Eventually I self-diagnosed a case of slatternliness (a condition unknown to me before it appeared here a few weeks previously).

    Now pleased to report that I’ve recovered – because this morning I didn’t petulantly push the Reveal button when the going got tough. I ploughed on, and to my considerable surprise, actually made it through to the end.
    – First successful Friday completion as far as I can remember (certainly in the last six months)
    – Highest SNITCH of any puzzle I’ve fully solved!

    FOI UNDEAD and slow progress through the grid, with the BOGOTA / SINUSITIS crossing the last to go in. SIMOOM seemed a bit improbable as a word, but there was no other reasonable decode for that cryptic.

    PS: I watched the 1973 THE LONG GOODBYE a couple of weeks ago – what an excellent movie. Along with Nashville, the best of Altman’s classic early seventies sequence.

    PPS Happy New Year everyone here, best wishes for a successful 2022

    1. I would add McCabe and Mrs Miller to you list. Nashville is astonishing and Eliot Gould is a magnificent choice to play a 70s gumshoe.

      49 minutes for the crossword, with the vaguely remembered SIMOOM last in. Sounds like it should be VW’s next model.

      Edited at 2021-12-31 08:29 am (UTC)

    2. I’m impressed. My finger was in heightened twitch mode over the reveal button as the hour approached
    3. The break obviously did you good ! You’ve recorded your best SNITCH on the same day that I produced probably my worst (224 !)

      Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, and I did the same myself about 8 years ago. It worked for me too.

    4. We seem to have a wavelength here because I re-read The Long Goodbye and then also watched the Altman movie in the last month. One of the pleasures of the movie, which I didn’t fully appreciate at the time I first saw it, is watching Sterling Hayden aka Gen. Jack d. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove and the corrupt police captain in the Godfather. Welcome back!
      1. I suffered rather by putting “The Long Holiday” to start with.. there is one, it won the Prix Goncourt
    5. Well done, Denise. I am wondering if you (like me) have a slight case of the SADs, seasonal affective disorder. December is always the most difficult month for me but as the days start to get longer, things improve …
  5. That was tough but I was pleased to solve it sans aids AND without the post-submission gremlins I’ve encountered these past two days. In all, this gave me a lot of satisfaction.
    I liked the two clues with hidden commas: 4d “from South (,) African country” and 17ac “city goes to West (,) Ham”.
    Other aspects I liked included 11ac where, for once “partners” didn’t mean Bridge partners, and 7d where “zest” didn’t mean vim or energy but “rin(d)”
    In 13d I liked “sort of royal” = ISH ER although I thought ISHERWOOD was British.
    8ac took ages because I thought there must be an equivalent to ‘dress down Fridays’ for Mondays (‘Tie Down Mondays?)
    1d ASTI SPUMANTE and 3d CROSSBEAM took a lot longer than they should have.
    Thanks for explaining Kiwis verlaine.
  6. Crosswordus interruptus so two sessions of about 20 mins each while enjoying croissant and Mojito marmalade.
    I enjoyed it a lot, mostly Asti and Alhambra.
    I had to re-invent Simoom but it rang a bell.
    Only MER was the ‘sort of royal’=’ish,er’. That is a bit tricksy.
    Thanks setter and V.
    1. Best to firmly separate them. “sort of” = ISH is commonplace nowadays, popped up only the other day, though not so common as royal = ER ..
  7. 35′ 14″, pleased to finish with the nho SIMOOM. Didn’t Isherwood have something to do with ‘Cabaret’?

    Wishing everyone a Happy New calendar Year!

    Thanks verlaine and setter.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 09:06 am (UTC)

      1. Dramatist John Van Druten wrote the play “I am a camera” on which “Cabaret” was based. Isherwood wrote “Goodbye to Berlin” on which Van Druten based his play. He was another one who was born English and became a US citizen.
    1. Nice Chandler reference. The gimlet being the favourite drink of Philip Marlowe’s disappearing friend in The Long Goodbye.
  8. 70 minutes with LOI HAS ON. Each clue was like pulling a tooth. I too thought of ISHERWOOD as an English novelist, associating him with Auden and Berlin, so that was third last. POI was PHNOM PENH, where the crossers eventually gave it away and also provided a handy spelling guide. Using Reading as a Uni makes me wonder when Bolton is going to be clued as such. COD to THE LONG GOODBYE. Thank you V and setter.
    1. I’ve been caught that way before. Reading has been a full-blown university since 1926, so is not a glorified poly like some ..
  9. Too hard especially pre-coffee. Fell into every trap (too numerous to name) but enjoyed the struggle while it lasted. An hour is my limit and there were a good few still missing.

    Thanks V and setter

    HNY all

  10. 41:29 Great stuff. I was very slow getting going and got stuck at the end by a careless GLYCEROLE. Even when I spotted the error I took another 5 minutes to eventually see SOAPDISH. Several ticks of approval pn my copy, including HAS ON, SINUSITIS, GOOD SHOW and UNDEAD, but COD to UNISEX. Thanks V and setter.
  11. Cor, talk about pulling teeth. Exactly the same time as (welcome back) Denise.

    FOI TIE-IN, LOI LOUSE. ASTI SPUMANTE took an age but I loved it when I saw it. Fizzing I was, positively fizzing. Champagne tonight though. I also liked SOAPDISH and HAS ON. NHO of SIMOOM and could not believe it was a word but whacked it in anyway and hoped.

    Thank you V and devious setter. Happy New Year to all.

        1. Ah yes, but it’s the quality of the wood, the quality of the pickup and the capability of the luthier in question. 🙂
          1. Quality of the pickup? I’ll give you that. Quality of the wood I’ve never understood. One slab of wood that is incapable of resonating, given that it’s over an inch thick, can’t really sound all that different from a slab of a different wood.

            Then again, when it comes to fun, said luthier, who builds classicals and high-end steel-strings, actually plays a couple of electrics.

  12. Six down was a pretty fine wheeze
    But I didn’t enjoy the kiwis
    A New Year’s resolution
    Might be the solution
    If our setters can hear our pleas
  13. ….among whose ranks I am definitely not listed. Sheer bloody-mindedness got me through eventually.

    FOI AZTEC (cue false sense of security)
    LOI PHNOM PENH (I’d have spelled it wrongly without the checkers in place — thought it was Pnomh Penh)
    COD THE LONG GOODBYE (this was just long !)
    TIME 23:51

    1. Is phenomenally hard to spell but the setter and the grid did the hard work for us this time.
  14. A hard but pleasurable slog though this one in 32 minutes, negotiating spelling tests and garden paths along the way
    Lots of great misdirections in this one, the West Ham clue especially deceptive. If the setter had put a capital C on City it would have completed the footy illusion and I wouldn’t have minded.
    I think the misdirection for ISHERWOOD was a step too far, though. Isherwood is surely much batter described as a british writer/novelist, or just a writer: the American is only half true anyway, and when he was in Cabaret he was played by Michael York with an impeccable English accent*.
    It took me several goes and a fruitless search for a fitting crosser at for UNDEAD to get PHNOM PENH right, and only when I go the tie in UNDID answer did I finally manage to resolve my issue.
    ASTI SPUMANTE with an E thanks to the wordplay, or would have been I.
    Definitely a Verlaine-targeted special to end the year: bring on the new with joy to all!

    * On checking my facts, which I didn’t quite properly do yesterday, I see the Michael York character in Cabaret was supposed to be American, and the Liza with a zee character Sally Bowles was supposed to be British. I blame casting.

    1. I think you were right first time about Cabaret, or rather the film of Cabaret. In the stage musical the Isherwood character called Clifford Bradshaw was American and Sally Bowles was English (played by Judy Dench in the original UK production, and prior to that by English actress Jill Haworth who had created the role on Broadway), but in the film the Isherwood character (now called Brian Roberts and played by Michael York) was English and Sally had to be American because Minelli had been cast. In fact both Sally (based on the multi-talented Jean Ross) and Isherwood were British. Isherwood had never even set foot in America at the time of his Berlin Diaries nor when he wrote the now largely forgotten plays with Auden.

      Edited at 2021-12-31 10:57 am (UTC)

      1. Ha, I see where your heart is, Jack. Leaving all that to one side, Cabaret is my altogether favourite musical, not just because of Lisa or Michael but because of the incomparable Joel Grey. a magnificent, unforgettable performance as MC.
        1. I agree the film is good and Joel Grey is superb. I’m probably out on my own here, but the performance that grates more and more on me every time I watch it, is Liza Minelli’s. Her Sally B is so out of character with the book and the play and the stage musical.
  15. The left-hand side took me 45 minutes – broke for elevenses, tea and toast, and the right-hand side took equally as long. Good puzzle though – I had to crack it.

    My major error was bunging in ‘The Long Weekend’ at 8ac – Oz Psycho thriller from 1978. It was Chandler’s GOODBYE that was sought, unfortunately. Thus no progress in the NW corner until far to late. Bah!


    LOI 6dn UNDID – I do not like related clues any more

    COD 15dn PHNOM PENH – tr. Old Lady Mountain

    WOD 17ac ALHAMBRA – the Theatre, in Leicester Square, was bulldozed in 1936!

    At least 18dn SIMOOM was a write-in.

    Snitch is presently at 156 – now for the QC

    Edited at 2021-12-31 10:15 am (UTC)

    1. Th Alhambra, a magnificent building stood on the site of the somewhat unsightly Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. Only last week I watched a documentary in which it was featured. You’re right that it was bulldozed, but only after it had been irreparably damaged by fire. Sadly that was the fate of many of the old Music Halls, one of the hazards of smoking by the masses.
  16. I think your Long Weekend perfectly illustrates the issue with this type of clue: it can’t be said to be a wrong answer because there’s no wordplay to check it. You have my sympathy!
    1. I will reply longhand. Thanks for the sympathy, Zed. I was surprised I was alone – but ‘The Long Goodbye’ is the classic.

      Have nice long weekend and a HNY! Meldrew

  17. 21:41. Phew! A very tricky one to end 2021. I found the top half particularly difficult after filling in the bottom in reasonable time. Great puzzle with lots of PDMs along the way.
    Happy new year everyone!
  18. After I failed to find the strike zone all this week this one landed right in my wheelhouse (in baseball lingo). Very entertaining puzzle. My only hold-up was a pause to correct “tentmaker” to SAILMAKER when I went back and actually read the clue. There was a short-lived drama critic for the NY Times called Charles Isherwood – apparently no relation. He was fired for reasons that were never entirely clear. TIE-IN reminded me of a long-ago tie emporium in Grand Central Terminal called “Tie City”. 20.08
  19. I couldn’t believe that Christopher Isherwood was a US dramatist and it had to be some other Isherwood of whom I’d never heard. Yet there it is, and my doubts are supported by many who have done the research that I never did. Very difficult, although apart from the above no criticisms really (apart perhaps from the ish-ER thing, also the fact that The Long Goodbye isn’t unequivocal — my first thought was the Long Holiday, and that was a film also — and it seems a bit weak to clue it as simply ‘Work’) so my 79 minutes, with plenty of aids by the end, is only because of my own incompetence really.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 11:19 am (UTC)

  20. Never quite flowing, never quite stuck, though I slowed down toward the bottom of the grid. 47 minutes, with SIMOOM only vaguely remembered. At least I had the advantage of not knowing enough about ISHERWOOD to be deterred by how he was clued! Also, one of Adam Hall’s Quiller series is set in PHNOM PENH, so at least I’ve seen it written down a few times on every re-read…

    Hope everyone has a nice new year!

    1. In The Honourable Schoolboy Jerry Westerby fetches up there for a while. I missed parsing the French EN and coasted in on Cambodia having been part of French Indo-China.
      1. I had a go at reading The Honourable Schoolboy earlier this year after the Alec Guinness Smileys were re-shown on t’tellybox; sadly I really didn’t get on with it at all. Shame; I remember very much enjoying a couple of the other le Carrés in the series…
  21. 37.20 which didn’t seem very rapid but I was very pleased to finish this last of the year effort. A real toughie I thought.

    Stand out clues for me were phnom penh which even after cracking it still puzzled till the penny dropped that the French reference was to en, alhambra ( beautifully crafted literally and cruciverbally), asti spumante and simoom which I only got after a double alphabet trawl and that by a good guess.

    Thx setter and blogger. Here’s to a return to exploring the world in 2022.

  22. I come here battered but unbroken after a 72:11 battle with this beast! With AZTEC, ASTI SPUMANTE and UNISEX rolling in on the trot, I wasn’t expecting such a slog. A biffed GOOD SAVE held up SOAPDISH right to the end, and a biffed SPINNAKER held up PHNOM PENH until SOAPDISH made me reconsider it and look at the wordplay. UNDEAD and UNDID took an age to decode too. BOGOTA and BEGRUDGE were another tricky pair. By contrast, the unknown SIMOOM was a doddle to construct. Like Johninterred I was also distracted by un ecole, with GLYCEROLE holding things up until I recalled la lycee. Fortunately for me, I knew nothing about Mr ISHERWOOD. A tour de force to finish off the year. Thanks setter and V. Happy New Year everyone.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 11:51 am (UTC)

  23. I can see why some would find this hard going, but I found it tough but enjoyable; no easy wins, but success in one answer leading to another as the grid gradually filled. Only eyebrow raise was the much-discussed Isherwood, which seems odd clueing given that there is no need to mention a nationality at all. Still, there you go, another year done.
  24. We still have an Alhambra in Geneva – it used to be a music hall but is now a student hangout. Lots to enjoy in this chewy puzzle, sometimes on fringes of my GK, but with some real festive crackers – loved 1dn’s deception and construction. Thanks and Happy New Year to one and all.
  25. I thought this was great. I didn’t help myself by putting in SPINNAKER for SAILMAKER. Canvas meaning sail gave me the definition. Someone creating their own realism could be a SPINNER and put that around A K.

    COD: unquestionably ALHAMBRA.

  26. Just dropping by to wish a Happy New Year to all here.
    I still do the cryptic every day- this dragged me out for 35 minutes. Very clever stuff. Perhaps I’ll resume commenting in the coming weeks. Once I figure out how to get LJ to recognize me again, that is.
    Best regards everyone.


    1. Hello from me Kevin and very nice to hear from a fellow Hudson Valley resident. Do please come back – most of us are still around.

      Edited at 2021-12-31 01:01 pm (UTC)

  27. 54m. PHNOM PENH and UNDEAD proved particularly recalcitrant in a generally difficult puzzle. I also wondered about Isherwood’s nationality and characteristic artistic milieu, and was in good company, as I feel I have been all year as a small part of this blog. Thank you to all setters, bloggers and contributors and wishing you a very happy new year, wherever, whenever and however you celebrate it.
  28. Pleased with myself for keeping going to the end with this one. Just managed to scrape in under my time limit of an hour. For 12ac, the only word I could see to enter was United. Probably all the football references enticed this Manchester-born Man Utd supporter to think of it. (Plus having watched a rather turgid match yesterday evening.) I can’t imagine the day when ‘Reading’ would lead me to think of ‘uni’. ‘At uni’ possibly, for the activity but not ‘uni’ for the place.

    Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable puzzle and to Verlaine for the blog. Thanks to all the bloggers and commenters for another year’s enlightenment and entertainment.

  29. I see Livejournal is playing silly b*ggers again, with screens and buttons coming and going..

    Loved this, putting THE LONG HOLIDAY,which won the 1940 Prix Goncourt as any fule kno, did set me back a bit but I got there in a reasonable timeframe. I haven’t checked but I think SIMOOM came up not long since.

    I whizzed through the comments above, before adding one but they are such an interesting and erudite set that I shall have to go back and read through them again, later.. 🙂

  30. Pretty hard but it didn’t seem quite so bad as the Snitch indicated. Got held up rather with ‘simoom’ but got there in the end. Very enjoyable overall – thanks setter and V.
  31. 30.50. Superb puzzle which felt like it was just about at the limit of my solving ability.
  32. Crashed and burned after an hour, having made pitiable progress. On seeing the answers I realize this is a fine puzzle, which on another day, I might have done justice to.

    Overwhelmed by lassitude, not helped by the prospect of attending our French/Mexican neighbours’ New Year celebration this evening. Aieee Caramba!!

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter,

  33. I’ll call this “pleasantly difficult” because I managed to finish it in about 45 minutes without aids, after a tiring and muddy game of golf. Didn’t parse BOGOTA (I thought TOGO was in West Africa?) and wrote in ISHERWOOD thinking is he really an American playwright?
    Like others, I’d have spelt PHNOM PENH wrongly if we didn’t have the wordplay to help.
    Thanks V for blog and Happy New Year. I hate to think what garbage might result if I tried to learn a Dvorak keyboard when my fingers know QWERTY.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 04:29 pm (UTC)

  34. ‘Live Journal’ is really not terribly suitable IMHO. They remind me of the 18ac.
    I managed this in 18:31 minutes – delayed in posting by Tea with Mussolini! My COD has to be 1dn ASTI SPUMANTE and WOD SIMOOM! Like me ISHERWOOD was half-American.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 04:47 pm (UTC)

  35. Again, I didn’t get to this until morning, and since I generally get up at 10 a.m. NYC time, there’s not much now for me to add. A solid workout, but not too frustrating. LOI ASTI SPUMANTE—brilliantly hidden definition.
    HNY, and I hope everyone worked last Sunday’s Xmas special…
  36. I felt I was really being stretched and having to work overtime for much of this, and was convinced I was going to end up with a very ignominious DNF with multiple clues unsolved. But not only did I complete the puzzle correctly; somehow it had only taken me 11.06, my third-best time ever. It’s not so often that I come in at under 15 minutes so I’m not sure exactly what time-space wormhole I was operating out of today… but I’d sure like to know how to access it again 🤔
  37. Time taken. All day. This puzzle had the highest snitch that I, like others, have ever managed to finish.

    LOI SIMOOM after grinding the word out of the cryptic elements with all the checkers in place.

    Happy new year to you all with particular thanks to those that have the skill and the time to deliver the blog.

  38. Touch and go as to whether I could sneak under the hour for this — just missed that mark. The hardest clue for me was that for GO OUT OF ONE’S WAY for which I never had more than three checkers for 95% of the time taken.

    For me, it was a top right to bottom left kind of solve, TYROL and LOUSE being the two penultimates.

  39. My apologies for late reply-too much celebrating! You raise an interesting point. I checked on Fender’s web pages and there are mentions of ash and alder having different tones, and this quote: “Red alder boasts many sonic advantages”. So I do think there is something in it….

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