Times 28,235: Kansas, I Don’t Think We’re 21dn Any More

Sometimes I dread Fridays with their ever-present threat of *shudder* a merely Tuesdayish or Wednesdayish offering to spoil the entire week of this blogger, but I needn’t have worried today, this puzzle was a cracker. Almost every clue here has something a little special in it to admire, a frisson of “ooh, that’s quite clever”, and the surfaces are great too. Hard to know what to single out for Clue of the Day but perhaps my LOI 13ac (a real peanut butter drop moment) or 26ac, which I took forever to parse out of an innate fear of “sports clues”.

Solve in real time available at https://www.twitch.tv/opheliafailure/video/1421717078, at around 12 minutes in.

Many thanks to the setter – I enjoyed this one very very much!

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

1 Vintage producer Selznick’s last about which we remain crazy (9)
WINEMAKER – {selznic}K, about which (WE REMAIN*). As in “a producer of vintages”, and nothing to do with David O. of Gone With The Wind and Rebecca fame.
6 Lively youth: fine young fellow, on reflection (5)
BUCKO – reversed, OK CUB [fine | young fellow]
9 Fellow bishop expelled by Venetians? Indeed (7)
10 Knight supplies said tour (7)
CIRCUIT – homophone of SIR KIT [knight | supplies]
11 Reason stateside A&E is on the news briefly (5)
INFER – E.R. is on INF{o}
13 Spread of disease, say, after world body retreats (9)
NUTBUTTER – T.B. UTTER [disease | say], after reversed U.N. [world body]
14 Port is the ruination of one? Harsh, IMO! (9)
HIROSHIMA – (I HARSH IMO*). Being a port may not be the thing this city is best known for.
16 Odd items of fur: many are worn (4)
FRAY – F{u}R {m}A{n}Y
18 Bearing stand for broadcast (4)
MIEN – homophone of MEAN [stand for]
19 It’s not entirely sunk in: destitute and extremely cold (9)
UNKINDEST – hidden in {s}UNK IN DEST{itute}
22 Failure to reject what a sucker will fall for? (5,4)
LEMON DROP – LEMON [failure] + DROP [to reject] – if you are a sucker, and like sucking things, you might fall for, as in really dig, a lemon drop.
24 Place large letters after spinning dice (3,2)
CUT UP – reversed, PUT U.C. [as in uppercase]
25 Abscond in hot air balloon, following female (4,3)
BUNK OFF – BUNK [hot air] + O [balloon – can O really stand for anything round?] + F(ollowing) F(emale)
26 Optimism briefly at first in West Ham lifts players (7)
OBOISTS – O{ptimism} B{riefly}, plus ‘OISTS [in West Ham, or anywhere else sufficiently Cock-er-nee, lifts]
28 Replay’s beginning at ten or five to three, perhaps (5)
RATIO – R{eplay} AT 10; “five to three” is a fairly random example ratio
29 Club round the corner, by front of town clock (9)
NIGHTSPOT – NIGH [round the corner] by T{own} + SPOT [clock, as notice]
1 Turning blue, swimmer becomes ravenous (7)
WOLFISH – reversed LOW + FISH
2 Joshua’s father and sister (3)
NUN – double def. Just like Baldrick’s, Joshua’s father was a Nun.
3 Suspect signs of damp and decay? (8)
MISTRUST – MIST is a sign of damp and RUST a sign of decay
4 Alight following guide and enter (3,2)
KEY IN – a guide is a KEY, and apparently, per Chambers, IN can mean “alight”. Not entirely sure how you would use that in practice? “OMG! My house is in!”
5 People descending on Number 10? (9)
RACETRACK – 10 (across) is CIRCUIT, so that’s the definition here; people are a RACE and a laid-down musical number is a TRACK.
6 Craft across the channel that Pole’s on (6)
BARQUE – QUE [across the channel, in France, “that”] that BAR is on
7 Cooked up stew or fettucine (11)
8 Make better attempt perhaps to acquire a desktop accessory (3-4)
OUT-TRAY – OUT-TRY [make better attempt, perhaps] “acquiring” A
12 7 chaps in total — one in bed? (6-2-3)
FORGET-ME-NOT – FORGE [7(dn) = COUNTERFEIT] + MEN [chaps] in TOT [total]
15 Number I purchase mostly for flat in E England (9)
IBUPROFEN – I BU{y} PRO FEN. Number as in something that numbs (pain).
17 Cracker put together quickly (5,3)
KNOCK OUT – double def with KNOCKOUT, as in a dish, belle or looker
18 Outrageous IBM lark shakes establishment (4,3)
MILK BAR – (IBM LARK*). Establishment where one can buy shakes
20 Work with printing press: sort firm required (7)
TYPESET – TYPE [sort] + SET [firm]
21 Digging books up, leaving nothing out (2,4)
IN TOTO – INTO [digging] + reversed O.T.
23 Note in sort of rock something sharp (5)
PRONG – N in PROG [sort of rock (music)]
27 Fool at the first opportunity losing head (3)
SAP – {a}SAP

56 comments on “Times 28,235: Kansas, I Don’t Think We’re 21dn Any More”

  1. Toto – my dog not Dorthy’s – doesn’t go on walks, he goes on scavenging missions. The merest hint of a scrap of food, and it’s in Toto. His other favourite hobby is pretending to be a dead cockroach, a la userpic.
    The crossword, superb. Very tricky, but all gettable. Needed the cryptics a lot: Bucko, NHO nut butter, nightspot etc. Quite a few barely-knowns: Upper Case guessed, clock I though was recognise rather than spot, Nun. Did know IN for alight from previous lessons: “the fire is in” is apparently northern dialect. Overall high quality and enjoyable.
  2. Came up short with half a dozen eluding me in the northeast when I called it a day after, um, 100 minutes. Really enjoyed what I did get and congrats to all who finished this under their own steam.
  3. As the hour approached I had all the answers but 26 across. After a further 10 minutes I was still unable to think of any words that fitted the checkers so I gave up and used aids. As a former musician I was pretty sore not to have thought of OBOISTS.

    Elsewhere I NHO BUCKO nor NUT BUTTER and I was unable to explain the UC in CUT UP. After yesterday’s poor performance when my confidence took a knock this puzzle did nothing to restore it, but on reflection, and having read other comments, I don’t feel quite to bad about it as I did crack most of its secrets eventually.

    Edited at 2022-03-11 05:42 am (UTC)

      1. You make a fair point, Olivia, but my life as a budding musician ended by choice nearly 50 years ago with a complete change of direction of career and aspirations. I haven’t played a note in at least 40.
  4. I had exactly the whole left side worked fairly quickly, but the right suddenly seemed harder, with the SE the toughest spot (why did it take me so long to see TYPESET, of all things?!). My thought on solving OBOISTS (and I’ve thought this before) is that it somehow seems off for the clue to refer to a dialectical (mis)spelling as part of a charade—as if it were a homonym—when that part of the word in the answer isn’t at all pronounced that way.

    Edited at 2022-03-11 06:34 am (UTC)

    1. I also considered that point after v explained how it worked, but isn’t it just a variation on the old ‘lift and separate’ ruse by which each part of a clue or wordplay may need to be treated individually? The other problem here that really stumped me was ‘in’ presenting itself as a containment indicator when in fact it was no such thing!
    2. It seems a matter of convention that the cockney/H thing isn’t treated as an oral phenomenon. You just ‘drop the H’ from the written word. Otherwise I would agree with you, and pace jackkt above I don’t think ‘lift and separate’ is enough: if a separate element is treated as a homophone it has to match the pronunciation in the answer. I don’t think you’d ever see ‘thorough’ clued as THO + homophone of RUFF, for instance.

      Edited at 2022-03-11 09:20 am (UTC)

      1. Yes, it’s a fine and interesting point. I’m pretty sure it must have been discussed here before but with the recent loss of the Google search facility we shall probably never know.
        1. Just a reminder (as you’ve already had behind the scenes, Jackkt): using Google itself, directly, has always worked just as well and even better than the search function embedded in LJ.
          Example searches:
          site:times-xwd-times.livejournal.com/ homophone
          site:times-xwd-times.livejournal.com/ “drop the H”
  5. What a ‘triffic puzzle! Like Vinyl, I thought I was in for a two hour job but gradually things came together AND without the use of aids.
    Thanks for CUT UP and RACETRACK, verlaine. Those were the only two I couldn’t parse.
    Oh, add 4d KEY IN to that. I only changed from ON to IN at the last moment. It didn’t look right but the clue demanded IN.
    There were some terrific clues as Verlaine has said. My podium finishers were NUTBUTTER, OBOISTS and my LOI, LINDSAY.
    OBOISTS was quite apposite as, today, I’ve been watching a concert on the Berlin Philharmonic website of Richard Strauss’ music featuring their principal OBOIST, Albrecht Mayer.
    PS….Great headline, Verlaine!

    Edited at 2022-03-11 07:46 am (UTC)

  6. The world’s whole Sap is sunk;

    30 mins pre-brekker, and another cracker.
    Mostly I liked Ratio.
    MER, or more, at balloon=O. The ‘anything round’ idea will only catch on if we let it.
    Thanks setter and V.

  7. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to finish after getting to the 15-minute mark (a time in which I have, at least once in the past, completed an entire Times puzzle) with only five answers written in.

    Nevertheless, once I moved away from the NW corner and started filling in a few answers elsewhere, things started speeding up and I ended up circling around, back through the NW and finally finishing with 5d RACETRACK where I hadn’t clocked “number” = “track” until I came here. I needed more of V’s commentary to fill in some of the parsing of a few other biffs and semi-biffs, including OBOISTS.

    All done in 46 minutes, and by the sound of other commenters I can be quite pleased with that. I certainly wasn’t entirely on the wavelength, but perhaps I was closer than I thought…

  8. …trying to make something of Bateau for too long. And that was just the start of it. 68 minutes IN TOTO with LOI KNOCK OUT. DNK NUTBUTTER, but it had to be. I also didn’t fully parse RACETRACK. 19a/24a were the UNKINDEST CUT UPs of all, although MIEN was pretty mean too, especially as it’s a word I’m never quite sure how to pronounce. COD to LINDSAY as the biggest PDM, but LEMON DROP, RATIO and NIGHTSPOT were probably more deserving. A toughie but a good puzzle. Thank you V and setter.
  9. I found lots to like today, but none more so than UNKINDEST, which was very well hidden to my eyes. I remembered Joshua’s father from a previous outing, albeit not quite correctly so ended up with SIB until WINEMAKER put me right. I now have an ear worm of Africa thanks to IN TOTO.
  10. We had “bagel” for “O” — that perplexed
    We have “balloon” for “O” — I am vexed
    If an “O” can be found
    From just “anything round”
    They’ll be using Uranus next

    Edited at 2022-03-11 08:56 am (UTC)

    1. From the OED: “O: Any round thing, as a circle, circular spot, etc.”
      Though whether that includes spherical things, is debatable..
  11. After 1hr15 gave up. Was never going to get NUT BUTTER. the only references I can find have it as two words or hyphenated. I notice a number of previous comments have written it as two words too. Bit too tricky for my liking.

    Shame, because starting with WINEMAKER, I was a happy bunny. Then it just got worse. Took an age to see COUNTERFEIT, a very clever anag. I liked IBUPROFEN, WINEMAKER and MILK BAR best.

    Thanks V and very crafty setter.

  12. Ooh, I did like this. Inventive stuff. Thank you, setter.

    18ac mien and mean are not quite homophones to me. Perhaps I’m not pronouncing it right!
    6dn Living in Kent as I do, craft crossing the channel is a bit of a sore point at present ..

    1. How do you pronounce MIEN? Do make two syllables of it? I think I would say these words identically but MIEN isn’t a word I have much call for in everyday conversation.

      Edited at 2022-03-11 09:25 am (UTC)

      1. Yes, well, a hint of two syllables anyway. meeyen, or heading that way, at least.
        1. Yes that’s what I meant really. I was going to say diphthong but I’m never sure I really know what one is.
        2. I recall Maggie Smith pronouncing it with with 2 syllables (when enjoining her girrrls to walk like Sybil Thorndike) in the Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, but she was using a Scottish accent at the time.

          Edited at 2022-03-11 11:59 am (UTC)

          1. That might be the one and only thing I have in common with Dame Maggie…
            In view of the heightened interest in this matter I checked the pronunciation given by Lexico, Collins & the OED. All three pronounce it as one syllable. I have no idea how I settled on my version – I will stick with it, though frankly may never actually have to say the word again anyway; not exactly a daily subject of conversation.
        3. I think the only time I’ve ever seen ‘mien’ was in ‘The Raven’: … but with mien of lord or lady…
          1. Mien is a word like scion or heinous or wreak that I’ve come across often in print but never sure how to pronounce. So of course I never use them!
  13. 19:38. I thought this was an absolute corker. I had very few in after my first pass through and it was a thoroughly enjoyable struggle throughout, requiring constant wordplay-grappling. No unknowns either, so all the difficulty was from cunning clueing rather than obscurity. Actually I don’t remember seeing NUTBUTTER before but I just assumed it was a variant of peanut butter.
  14. So now I’m quite pleased with my 36.39, not least because most of the RHS mystified, neither definition nor wordplay emerging readily from the mists. None more so than the completely hidden UNKINDEST. Clever to put CUT up just beneath to reference Caesar and justify the superlative, which might otherwise look invented.
    I resisted the OUT bit of the TRAY for ages because I couldn’t see how it meant “make better”. Just one of many genius tricks from this setter. And SIR KIT? You swine!
    I was quite surprise to find NUTBUTTER is indeed a thing without the pea and the space. Presumably product placement precluded the version that uses 25% of the world’s production of hazelnuts.
    Great stuff, if a bit o the brutal side. Thanks V for explaining all.
  15. 23:50 Nice one! Lots of fun. Mostly quite slow but the NE corner came in a rush at the end. DNK IN = alight and only just got OUT-TRY after musing for a while. I loved SIR KIT and NUTBUTTER. Thanks V and setter.
  16. 45:02 — took me a fair while to get anything and had what felt like long moments of nothingness interlaced with periods where everything seemed to fall in place. Spent a while at the end on CIRCUIT/RACETRACK — it was a bit mean to have cross-referential clues crossing in the grid.

    Enjoyed IBUPROFEN’s flat in E England although the ‘number’ was a bit chestnutty.

  17. 66 minutes. Definitely the hardest of the week so far. ‘Joshua’s father’ and the ‘spread’ unknown but went in with reasonable confidence. I found others like OBOISTS and for some reason KNOCK OUT particularly difficult. Same MER re IN for ‘Alight’ at 4d.

    Favourite was the SIR KIT homophone.

  18. After 45 minutes I came to a grinding halt with 26a, 6a, 6d, 10 and 5d unsolved. I suspected RACETRACK for 5d but didn’t know why, not having 10a. I I had _ECHO for 6a, but finally gave up and Googled it. Once I had BUCKO, I guessed BAR for ROD, and eventually saw BARQUE. I then saw CIRCUIT and went back to 26a where the mist finally cleared and the OBOIST arrived. I submitted off leaderboard at 48:02. Thanks setter and V. A toughie!
  19. Proper Friday fare, this, but a fair test. I was another who got held up at the end by CIRCUIT / RACETRACK, which rather needed one to be solved before the other could follow.
  20. Perhaps I can use the fact that I tested positive for COVID this morning to excuse my poor performance today – mistyping COUTNERFEIT and therefore spending an age trying to fill N?T???N?R before realising my error…

    Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst of it, because in 6d I read ‘channel’ as ‘pond’ (no, I don’t know either) and in the end put in the unlikely BARSUS.

  21. I slipstreamed down the west side but ran into serious headwinds in the east. For the longest time I was trying for “openers” in 26a because I thought the cockney reference attached to optimism (-ope) rather than lift. Full marks to the setter, no wonder it didn’t make sense. COUNTERFEIT was excellent. I also lingered over the spelling of 9a, probably because there is a rather annoying US senator who spells it with an EY on the end. 25.30
  22. ….to provide much enjoyment. Had to come here for no less than 6 parsings. At least my biffing was successful once I’d corrected “knock off”. NUTBUTTER as one word, and the awful LINDSAY were the antitheses of COD.

    FOI WINEMAKER — false sense of security
    LOI NIGHTSPOT — once I cleared that F
    COD OBOISTS — a magnificent PDM
    TIME 24:14 — but no typos for a third day !

      1. I remember it from my childhood when the only form of heating in our house was coal fires. I’ve no idea of the semantics but it seems perfectly logical that if a fire can go out it must previously have been in.
  23. 47:50. As tough as they get for me, even for a Friday, but worth sticking with to have each clue fall into place with a satisfying, skilfully engineered click. A thing of beauty, I thought.
  24. Splendid puzzle. I have no issue with ‘OIST. In fact I thought that was the best bit.
  25. Very good. I ran out of time, but pretty certain that LINDSAY and NUTBUTTER would have done for me anyway. Too many good clues to mention.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter

  26. Excellent puzzle, although I had to use aids by the end even to finish in 74 minutes. Would never have got NUTBUTTER, never having heard of it. Very much liked the shakes establishment.
  27. My old trick of leaving it for an hour when stuck to let my inner calculator process the unknowns worked like treat today. On resumption the last 12 clues resolved themselves in record time. As above, I left the parsing for UC, RACETRACK and LINDSAY (never thought of those kind of Venetians) to the expert.
    LOI SAP, I was a bit dumb there.
  28. One left on the hour — the NHO NUTBUTTER which I assume to be an americanism. As a kid, of all the foodstuffs provided by my dear parents, peanut butter was the one that I loathed the most (closely followed by marmite) — what made it worse was my sister using the same knife for peanut butter and then sticking it in the jam.

    I wasn’t going to get it in a million years, so came here and cheated, so finished on somewhat of a damp squib.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the challenge.

    1. Never heard of Nutbutter this side of the Atlantic, Mike. PB, yes, and now in the smart shops cashew-b, walnut-b, etc. But without specification of what kind of nut, no just nutbutter. .
  29. Gave up approaching the hour with none of the right hand side completed. Was hoping for a better performance after yesterday but much worse.

    Glad it’s the weekend (I confine my solving currently to the Times daily puzzles.)

    Thanks setter and definitely to the blogger for the explanations.

  30. I put WINEMAKER straight in and thought this was going to be easy…until it took a long time before I got another answer. Got there in the end with LOI PRONG. So brilliant clues.
  31. Well that was a stinker (in a good way). Took me twice as long as usual and I went down every blind alley available, but got there in the end. Agree with astronowt about the ballooning number of options for o. Many thanks to setter and V.
  32. There was a long hiatus after I got a couple of 3 letter words, NUN and SAP. 15 minutes later I got the next one and realised I was in this for the long haul. I was on the verge of giving up but struggled to the finishing post. 62 minutes. Ann
  33. 1 hour and 22 minutes but well worth it and very satisfying to complete a real Friday puzzle. I liked MILK BAR, IN TOTO and SIR KIT. LOIs OBOIST, which I am sure has troubled me before because it doesn’t look like a real word, and LINDSAY where I had nothing at all but the crossers.
    I needed two sessions to finish, the second early this afternoon, and then just pressed submit. Having taken so long to do it, and submitting so late in the day, I never thought for a moment I might be in the top 100 on the leaderboard. But there I was, at 79. Wow. But it’s not going to do my snitch average any good
  34. 48.33. Very tough. Very satisfying to complete when at times I wasn’t confident that I would do.
  35. Acid (rock) around R seemed like a good choice for sharp, and I encourage the editor to have the setter re-think some of the across lights in the SW to accommodate that. And that, as with others, was just the beginning of my problems. Nice puzzle when I finally got there.

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