Times 28,247: ✂✪❥❿➹➰❡

Okay this was sufficiently Fridaylicious for me – remorsely pangrammatic and with multiple clues pulling no particular punches on the difficulty level front. 11ac got me my in and I was soon being led by the setter up up the garden path: progress was steady but it felt like you had to work for your supper, for sure.

I very much enjoyed 21ac and 20dn but felt somewhat fretful hitting the submit button about a number of difficultish words clued with some quite murky wordplay: 4dn, 22ac and my LOI 16dn (if you’d asked me what a WAIT-A-BIT was yesterday, I think it might have been a while before I hit on “a plant”, although at least we didn’t have to find WAG-‘N-BIETJIE as I think was actually required by a Monthly Club Special some months back). Still all panned out okay so my thumbs, I’ve just checked, are up. Thank you setter, Łódź of fun!

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

1 Brief article largely altered in album (9)
THUMBNAIL – TH{e} [article, largely] + (IN ALBUM*)
6 Gangland boss potentially runs book when fighter boxes (2,3)
MR BIG – R(uns) B(ook), “boxed” by MiG
9 Liqueur recalled: first rate, rich — a tip for dinner! (7)
RATAFIA – reverse all of: A1, FAT, A {dinne}R
10 Idiot contributing to never-ending battle (7)
DINGBAT – hidden in {never-en}DING BAT{tle}
11 Wonderful hawk circling wide (5)
SWELL – SELL [hawk] “circling” W(ide). FOI
12 Nobody in particular serving American general (3,6)
JOE PUBLIC – JOE [serving American, as in GI Joe] + PUBLIC [general]
13 Highlands dish given to the French (8)
PLATEAUX – PLATE [dish] given AUX [to the, in French]
14 Facts somewhat overturned (4)
DATA – reversed A TAD
17 Unknown party left doing U-turn in E European city (4)
LODZ – Z DO L(eft), all reversed. Actually spelt Łódź in Polish and pronounced something like “wootch”, so a missed opportunity for the dodgiest homophone clue ever really
18 Queen opening museum: horse gallery (8)
VERANDAH – E.R. “opening” V AND A + H(orse)
21 First signs of near miss might indicate such a small distance (9)
NANOMETRE – first resolve “first signs of near miss” to nm, and then recall that this is the abbreviation for a nanometre
22 Hat not right for combined forces doing tour? (5)
TOQUE – I think this TO{r}QUE losing its R: torque being a system of forces tending to cause rotation, so if you squint and consider “tour” to mean “going around”?
24 Old explorer not about to drop hamper (7)
SHACKLE – Topical clue: this is Ernest SHACKLE{ton} of Endurance fame, losing reversed NOT
25 Soap bars perhaps made from best tallow? Not half (7)
26 Out of a relationship, one side being hurt (5)
ACHED – {unatt}ACHED, just the right side
27 Herald in front getting keepsake (9)
1 Tramps begin cycling? (5)
TARTS – START, cycling the first letter round to last position
2 Apprehend thug at ground where the gullible may venture? (2,3,6,4)
3 Happened to turn up a month before woman has done likewise (8)
BEFALLEN – reverse A FEB before reversed NELL
4 50 per cent of diaries, a hit when put on screen (4-4)
ABAT-JOUR – JOUR{nals}, A BAT put on that
5 Where girl may go, boy almost stops (6)
6 Feature parent outside hospital department (6)
MENTUM – MUM outside ENT. Take this unusual word on the chin
7 UN squabbled about splitting bill for cheap fare? (6,3,6)
BUBBLE AND SQUEAK – (UN SQUABBLED*), “splitting” BEAK [bill]
8 Barge in cut transporting lost crate (9)
GATECRASH – GASH “transporting” (CRATE*)
13 Pacific group turn on Paisley (9)
15 Try stopping animal hater (8)
16 Reason to include major road loop for plant (4-1-3)
WAIT-A-BIT – WIT “including” A1 + TAB [loop]. This was my LOI as I don’t really associate tabs and loops but I looked it up and it’s right there, one of the main definitions of tab, a loop for hanging something up by, well I never.
19 Small donkey died and reeked (6)
SMOKED – S(mall) MOKE D(ied)
20 Object emphatically struck ledge after repeatedly losing height (6)
23 City in Europe being overlooked by church (5)
ESSEN – ESSEN{ce} [being], “overlooking” CE

58 comments on “Times 28,247: ✂✪❥❿➹➰❡”

  1. Well, that was hard. Took a while, all parsed except ACHED where I wondered about arched losing R? And of course abat-jour, never heard of. Parsed the jour bit but put another 50% of diaries on top as a desperation guess: almANACs. Oh, well. Even managed to spell AUX correctly, giving the pangram.
    Lots to like – verandah, itself, thumbnail my favourites. The description of torque not so pleasing, but it made for a good surface.
    Thanks setter and blogger.
  2. Well this developed into a bit of an obsession, and ultimately my white whale was ABAT-JOUR. For similar reasons to Isla, I toyed with ALMA-JOUR, partly because the crossing liqueur was one of many unknowns to me.

    But eventually I convinced myself (corectly) of how it all worked, and was left with a choice between BAT and LAM for “hit”. I guessed BAT, so based on the fact that my 50-50 guesses are always wrong, I went with LAM. (This seemed like a faultless strategy, but may need some tweaking).

    Thanks setter for a challenging and entertaining hour, and thanks V-dog for the blog.

    1. Bat and lam? What about jab, rap, ram, tap and tan, even dab and pat, amongst others?
      1. All considered, but they each failed the sniff test. Which is about as rational as my “guess one, choose the other” strategy.

        But yes, it made it pretty tough for the tiny minority of the world’s population who don’t use ABAT-JOUR in everyday speech.

      2. Got to agree there — appalling clueing if not possible to pin it down to one of those!
        1. Though now that the nina has been revealed below, it seems we did actually have a chance. Fiendishly diabolical perhaps, but if we were smart enough…
    2. I normally have an unwritten rule that I have to submit to the leaderboard every day but I made an exception today for this clue. The best I managed to come up with was ALAM JAUD. I didn’t think of journals and instead managed to come up with J (July) AU (French “to”) D (December). I was very confident in its wrongness.
    3. I didn’t even get as far as ‘bat’, also after over an hour, after ‘lam’ snuck into my tired brain. All academic, anyway, as I shoved in ‘plateaus’ after thinking, ‘Yes, aus is the plural of au in French.’

      I can only share these sorts of things with you. I’m too embarrassed to out myself just yet.

    4. As far as I’m concerned , ABAT-JOUR is a lampshade in French (Larousse), which is why I didn’t enter it.
    5. It’s a lamb that goes to a alammoir, and a bat to an abattoir! [citation needed]
  3. thanks to V for parsing ESSEN properly. I had thought it might be the Essene religious sect dropping the European E giving a random city.

    Parsed my way to nho RATAFIA, and had the same choice as Galspray to make for between BAT and LAM ( never considered Isla’s other possibilities). I chose BAT, as I know the setters’ predilection for cricket.


    Edited at 2022-03-25 06:24 am (UTC)

    1. Well chosen corymbia, but to be fair setters also have a predilection for words that are used only in crosswordland. And LAM is an absolute exemplar of that category!
  4. After an hour I was within a whisker of solving this without aids despite a considerable number of DNKs and other answers I knew to be correct but couldn’t explain. Eventually however I admitted defeat, looking up ABAT-JOUR (another DNK) which gave me JOE PUBLIC where I had been considering THE PUBLIC but hadn’t written it in because I didn’t understand how it would work.
  5. Well, thank you, Verlaine! If I ever make it to Lodz, I will not embarrass myself with the wrong pronunciation!
    So many queries – at least 8 – so thanks again, V.
    Fortunately, unlike Galspray, I chose correctly between LAM and BAT in ABAT-JOUR. Never thought of the other possibilities suggested by Isla3. But how to work ABAT-JOUR into everyday conversation along with MENTUM. Given the cluing of ACHED, I’m a little surprised our setter didn’t use (MO)MENTUM in constructing that clue.
    LOI: ABAT-JOUR of course.
    COD: ESSEN. It might be a crossword regular but the cluing was clever.
  6. Surprisingly, I found this on the easier side compared with others this week; maybe I’ve finally warmed up. 48 minutes still makes it quite a struggle, mind. I was a little surprised to find that my LOI ABAT-JOUR was right, and I was glad it was a pangram as otherwise I’m not sure whether I’d’ve plumped for LODZ or LODY.

    There were several places where I had only one of either the definition of the wordplay, too, but I was more confident about my guesses on those.

  7. 18:45. I hated this puzzle. Difficulty derived from silly obscure words and ridiculously convoluted wordplay. ‘Difficultish words clued with some quite murky wordplay’ sums it up nicely, if politely, and I’d add the preposterous 26ac to your list. Like pulling teeth.
    I confess I checked LODZ before submission. It looked very much like the name of Polish city, and vaguely familiar, but I wasn’t entirely sure and couldn’t shake a CCR-induced suspicion it might just be LODY.

    Edited at 2022-03-25 07:43 am (UTC)

    1. Agreed re 26ac. One can be unattached without ever having been IN a relationship to be ‘out of’.
      1. Indeed. Also IMO using ‘one side’ to indicate taking half of a ten-letter word is ridiculous, and the ordering of the wordplay (‘out of relationship, one side’) doesn’t make it remotely clear that that’s what’s intended. Apart from that Mrs Lincoln…
        1. Wrong side of the bed K? Good to see the odd new device being employed IMHO. On another day I think you’d have been singing its praises.

          I should add that my overall disposition towards this puzzle was improved by the revelation of the nina. So I would probably rank it as a “Dinsdale”. Harsh but fair.

          1. I don’t think so, G. I actually had rather a lovely morning today and solved the puzzle in leisurely fashion on my sofa at home with a nice cup of coffee. There’s a fine and always subjective line between ‘harsh but fair’ (aka Eureka!) and ‘convoluted obscurity’ (aka Oh FFS), and where the line sits depends on context. When you’re solving Mephistos, for example, you want a bit of convoluted obscurity. But I don’t think the sunniest of moods would convince me that 4dn is a clue that should appear in a daily puzzle, and I speak as someone for whom ABAT-JOUR is, while perhaps not everyday speech, perfectly familiar.
            Anyway, what nina?
      2. I think it’s just the opposite of “in a relationship” though? Not implying having gotten out of a relationship, just not being in one.
  8. DNF, raising the white flag after 45minutes, left pondering if COD BEFALLEN was transitive or not, and with ITSELF and FORETOKEN missing all non-crossers, ABAT-JOUR, RATAFIA and MENTUM unknowns put in without conviction and ACHED a biff. I’m usually OK with plants, but I didn’t know WAIT-A-BIT either but I did construct it eventually.Perhaps but that’s what those bulbs were that I put in a few years ago were, which still haven’t appeared. I did know LODZ. COD to BEFALLEN. Thank you V and setter.
    1. Looked it up post-solve – think it’s what I know as “lawyer cane”, gets its hooks into you and won’t let you go.
  9. Obviously a struggle – but actually I felt reasonably satisfied with my effort given the degree of difficulty. Slow but steady progress, moderate biffing until I approached the end and ground to a halt.
    – Didn’t solve two NHOs (ABAT-JOUR / WIT portion of WAIT-A-BIT)
    – Lazily put TURNS in 1d even though it wasn’t a proper biff for “begin cycling”. One of those “I’ll get back to it later” self-deceptions

    Given the comments of other more experienced solvers, I’m marking this up as a success – more self-deception, but I’m happy and that’s the main thing. Thanks V and setter

  10. You’re not going to believe this, but this turned into almost the easiest of the week for me at 18.14, with everything parsed except ACHED (no other remotely connected word fitted) and TOQUE, only hat I know with a Q in the middle (and a chef underneath).
    I’ve no idea where I knew ABAT JOUR from, but the majority of the crossword followed a curious rule of the MCS, which is that he preponderance of high score letters in odd but feasible words makes solving easier: there are fewer choices.
    Thanks to V for filling in my gaps and for general erudition, including how to pronounce (and properly spell) Łódź. I’m still trying to work out whether the DINGBAT title is more than a random selection. It probably is.
    1. I recommend you solve the Zodiac Killer’s final two ciphered messages to the police before tackling mine — that will give you a valuable headstart.
  11. 52:43
    Got through it okay. Abat-jour no problem, owing to my French background. NHO wait-a-bit, but wordplay was accessible. Thought we’d seen the back of clues like 1 dn, but apparently not.
    Thanks, v.
    1. Agree h_r.

      We get a bit of muttering on here about the proliferation of drug references. But it’s the likes of 1dn that really belong to another best-forgotten era.

  12. DNF over the hour, for all the reasons cited above and since we are talking about oddly worded phrases, UP THE GARDEN PATH led was I! Nothing more to add.

    Edited at 2022-03-25 09:21 am (UTC)

  13. It might have taken 83 minutes but I was mighty pleased to have finished this. I was left with the NHO ABAT-JOUR as my LOI and went through exactly the same thought processes as isla3 and galspray but luckily plumped for the correct one because it sounded more, well, French. Very logical. A few other unknowns eg MENTUM, which went in from wordplay but I had no idea at all how ACHED worked. FORETOKEN? Really?
  14. My darling, I need to explain
    I think I’ve created a stain
    The smoking pile on the floor
    Is not just random spoor
    It’s all that is left of my brain
  15. Not so much UP THE GARDEN PATH, more like up the creek without a paddle. Thanks to V for the parse on TOQUE – I was never going to get that.

    Had to dig deep into my increasingly rusty French for ABAT-JOUR and MENTUM (menton is Frog for chin). I finally recalled the WAIT-A-BIT tree (so-called because it has wicked thorns that catch on peoples’ clothes) from one of my childrens’ favourite movies – The Gods Must Be Crazy. It’s probably too un-PC to be shown now. RATAFIA is a sweet sticky lady-like drink that crops up in Georgette Heyer (of course).

    I don’t think of GI Joe as a serving American exactly – he was a doll/action figure from the Viet Nam era that spawned a franchise and a movie etc. Missed the pangram comme toujours. A real work-out at 31.53

    1. I think that calling soldiers GI Joes was a WW2 thing that predated the introduction of the doll (in the 60s)… could be wrong though. Obviously the doll is what comes to mind first now…
  16. Several unknowns, in particular MENTUM and ABAT-JOUR, my LOI which I eventually used aids for and which took me just over the hour. Does swell = wonderful outside the US? DETESTER seemed a rather feeble word, but had to be. Otherwise rather nice I thought.
  17. This had the curates egg theme of the week. I actually found most of it quite accessible, until like most I hit the buffers with ABAT JOUR. In the end I gave up and looked it up, the options were, as noted above, multiple. I also thought RATAFIA was a biscuit, but it did work.
  18. I had all of this sorted in 36 minutes, apart from the unknown ABAT-JOUR, where I considered ABAT, but was never going to get JOUR as I had biffed THE PUBLIC at 12a and didn’t think to reconsider it. I eventually looked up ABAT-JOUR and corrected THE to JOE, submitting off leaderboard at 46:03 with no pinks. A dispiriting end to a valiant effort at one of the most obscure and convoluted crosswords I’ve encountered. Thanks V.
  19. You’re right, they are biscuits too. I think they were meant to be served with the liqueur in genteel circles.
  20. The longish anagrams gave me false hope, but ABAT_JOUR. WAIT-A-BIT and several others left me punch-drunk and beaten. An appropriate end to a dismal week, though the mention of BUBBLE AND SQUEAK did cheer me up a little.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter

  21. Lots of problems in the SE corner, where I biffed WAIT-A-BIT and ESSEN. Thanks to V for parsing another biiff, ACHED.

    Unfortunately I entered ‘the public’, but ABAT-JOUR was beyond my ken anyway.


  22. Found this tricky and had eight clues circled which I couldn’t parse so thank you Verlaine. There are two phrases which appear as Ninas by the way.
      1. Anyone who DID spot that would have gotten some valuable help in resolving ABAT-JOUR.
        1. Oh wow. Yeah, wish I had spotted that, would have got me over the line and out of the pink. Very clever.
  23. Must have been in the groove. No major difficulties. Us Frenchies know abat-jour because it’s the common word for lamp-shade. It “diminishes the light”. Mentum I didn’t know, but then it is akin to the French menton. Shackleton in the news recently with his ship and all. Had to fight off urge to put in retsina.
  24. …cheated on the impossible ABAT-JOUR (got the JOUR bit) which if you don’t know it….. poor clueing there setter! — too many types of hit to choose from.

    Other than that LODZ was recalled from Widzew Lodz’ adventures in European football — late ’70s-80s when they put then three-times winners Liverpool out of the European Cup.

    The random plant WAIT-A-BIT was a guess built on shaky foundations.

    And yes, remembered that French plurals can end in X (been caught out by that before)

  25. 43 mins. A late in the day solve that had me fighting for every answer, some of which were Fridayishly clever. I didn’t share Keriothe’s disdain for ACHED but if I had been able to parse it I might have done!
  26. Was pleased to get all of this offering done and dusted in 35 minutes, except ABAT-JOUR which was new to me in spite of having lived in France for 12 years and speaking passable French. MENTUM was a guess from wordplay, as was WAIT A BIT. Thanks V for explaining a few.
    Bubble and squeak made from left-over sprouts – delish.
  27. Like several others I had The Public, and that absolutely precluded Abat-Jour — but AJ would have been precluded by my brain anyway. I liked Itself, and couldn’t parse several. Thanks v-dog
  28. I’m another who went for ALAM-JOUR and I never worked out WAIT-A-BIT either. Both answers were NHO to me. So DNF. But very enjoyable.
  29. Arrgh, so frustrating! I was thrilled to finish this one, having been a day behind all week due to having Covid. I couldn’t parse Essen or Ached, so checked them first against V’s notes, only to find I’d carelessly bunged in Turns for 1D, which I thought was unconvincing, but seemed to be confirmed by the crossers. Pride cometh before a fall, alas!
  30. DNF. Gave up as the hour approached with no sign that wait-a-bit, toque or abat-jour were going to fall any time soon. Not helped by having an unparsed the public instead of Joe Public. Frustrating.
  31. There should be a classification for a Pangram where all the letters are on crossed squares. This puzzle has the I, O, V, W, X, Y and Z all tucked away.

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