Times 28306 Everything you wanted to know….


Not, from my point of view, a particularly taxing puzzle, completed in 13 minutes, but pleasant enough.

There are some exotic words, in Hebrew, French and herbal English, and a name which some of our younger readers might not recognise and I had forgotten, but for the most apart the wordplay is pretty unmistakeable. We have no “hidden” today, and several, almost all of them down clues which are not quite &lits but in which part of the wordplay is taken as understood in the definition, which rather complicated your honest blogger’s underlining of the same.

Definitions underlined in  italics, and solutions in BOLD CAPITALS

1 Made to keep one listening and prepared for battle? (9)
FOREARMED – Made is FORMED, and it keeps EAR for one listening.
6 Positioned like a king in charge of subject (5)
TOPIC – If you’re the king I suppose you’re TOP of the heap. IC is the standard abbreviation for in charge, often rendered I/C
9 Herb adding price to alcoholic drink (7)
ALECOST – Simple wordplay for a slightly odd word. ALE is the alcoholic drink, and COST the priice to be added. Rather appropriately, alecost, also known as costmary, is a herb that looks like this, and is traditionally used in the flavouring of….ale!
10 Warrior in hospital receiving special care (7)
SARACEN – SAN is a dated, Enid Blytonish word for hospital, via sanatorium, and care in a “special” form, RACE is inserted.
11 Month in which a fast woman tempted to enter races (5)
TEVET – One of the transliterations of טֵבֵת  (others are Tebet and Tebeth), this Jewish month coincides with December /January, and kicks in halfway through Hannukah, which is anything but a fast, acting as an ersatz Christmas in modern Jewish families. There is a fast on the 10th day of Tevet, commemorating the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, so our setter is technically correct, though other months have more significant fasts. The wordplay is clear enough, the woman tempted being (of course) EVE, and the races she enters are/is the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle races, back on this year after a two year Covid hiatus.
13 Fine vase — it has flower, something to embellish a room? (9)
FURNITURE – F(ine) URN for vase, plus IT in plain sight and the river (flower) URE
14 Using fingers, mine, I count (9)
DIGITALLY – Mine provides DIG in its verbal form, I is just I, and count is TALLY
16 Effort of female put down (4)
FEAT – Effort as, I suppose, in a feat of strength. F(emale) plus EAT for put down (one’s throat, presumably). Not well attested in Chambers, where the more familiar “put away” gives eat.
18 What’s explosive about sex appeal? She once told us! (4)
HITE – The wordplay is unmistakeable, IT for sex appeal and H(igh) E(xplosive) surrounding. I confused the word with hight, old fashioned for named, so could make no sense of the definition. I should have remembered the fabulously named Shere Hite, who extended the work of Masters and Johnson and Kinsey in the study of human (and especially female) sexuality, and was indeed explosively informative.
19 Plant needing a support, post to keep it in place (5-4)
MARES-TAIL – A support is A REST, and MAIL for post keeps it in place
22 French city spoils Parisian female, one trapped (9)
MARSEILLE – Spoils gives you MARS, the ELLE for a Parisian (just French, then) female traps I for one.
24 Distribute everything — nothing left at the end (5)
ALLOT – Everything is ALL, nothing give you the O, and lefT at the end gives the T.
25 Inclined in education to ignore one of the three essential elements? (7)
LEANING – Education is LEARNING, from which you remove one of the three R’s preferably R(eading)
26 During prayer this person’s to make a face (7)
GRIMACE – Prayer is GRACE, as in before meals, and this person is me, sorry, I, placed “during” On edit: No it isn’t! As brnchn points out, you need that to be I’M for “this person’s” to work.
28 Keep mum involved in home decorating? Charming! (5)
DISHY – Keep mum is the command SH!, It’s placed into DIY for home decorating.
29 Heroes sit around making conjectures (9)
THEORISES – You need to read the definition as a verb without “making” for the grammar to work. An anagram (around) of HEROES SIT
1 Went hungry? Needing inner energy, did the opposite (7)
FEASTED – Went hungry is FASTED. Put E(nergy) therein for the required opposite
2 Hesitation about eating one egg or several of them? (3)
ROE – For the second clue in a row the definition refers back to part of the wordplay to be strictly complete. Hesitation is ER, which is reversed (about). It takes in (eating) O representing one egg.
3 One disloyal in a job, source of trouble (8)
APOSTATE – Well, a job gives you A POST, and add ATE the goddess of mischief and a source of trouble, therefore. Try not to waste time as I did by seeing “source of trouble” as T. Doesn’t work.
4 Suitable honour for rising figure (5)
MOTIF – Suitable FIT, honour OM (Order of Merit). Combine and reverse (rising, in a down clue)
5 Killer of hunted animal guarding southern city once (9)
DESTROYER – “As pants the hart for cooling streams when heated in the chase” For hart read DEER, insert S(outhern) and TROY for the ancient (once) city, not Ur for a change
6 Routine held up: nail the robber responsible for it? (6)
TURPIN – Another clue where the definition refers back, this time to “routine held up”. Routine is RUT, held up it gives TUR, nail is PIN
7 Pal I recruit to arrange something on a wall (7,4)
PICTURE RAIL – An anagram (to arrange) of PAL I RECRUIT
8 Above river, study game (7)
CONTEST – Place CON for study above another river, the TEST.
12 Tea and vinegar’s out for us: also meat (11)
VEGETARIANS – So it’s an anagram (out) of TEA and VINEGAR’S. Us as the rather spare definition, obviously regard meat as out, but as far as I know even the most abstemious don’t rule out tea and vinegar. Is there a word for a slightly messy &lit?
15 Escape a tricky situation? You get illumination from above (9)
LAMPLIGHT -Going on the LAM you’d be making your escape. The added tricky situation is a PLIGHT.
17 Frame given position in bottom of the box (8)
ESPALIER – The frame you train trees across. Position is LIE, placed in E (bottom of thE) and SPAR for box. As in pugilism.
18 Mortified drone showed sign of injury (7)
HUMBLED – Drone is HUM. This one showed a sign of injury and BLED.
20 Tenants may have to deal with such correspondence (7)
LETTERS – A double, chestnut flavoured, definition.
21 Lightheartedness is the thing sought in duty (6)
LEVITY – IT this time is not sex appeal but the thing sought. Place in LEVY for duty
23 Bore is miserable male being shunned (5)
EAGRE – Miserable is MEAGRE, but the M(ale) is shunned, ignored.
27 Sailor’s muscles (3)
ABS – Double definition, the AB being a conventional abbreviation for a sailor

71 comments on “Times 28306 Everything you wanted to know….”

  1. 35:30. Almost every clue was a head-scratcher for me. In the end, I was able to convince myself I hadn’t biffed anything stupid (like LAMPLIGHT). Looked up HITE, but as z says, the wordplay was crystal clear.

  2. 22:42
    Should have been quicker, but POI FEAT and LOI CONTEST took an inordinate amount of time: a FEAT is an achievement not an effort; and it wasn’t until I got the T that I could finally recall the TEST. I also spent a lot of time on 15d, taking ‘escape’ to be FLIGHT and not giving that up soon enough. SARACEN is used in Crusade contexts, so I suppose ‘warrior’ is OK, although ‘Saracen’ doesn’t mean ‘warrior’. Does DISHY mean ‘charming’?

    1. An effort is (or can be) an achievement. See Collins (achievement; creation a great literary effort) or Chambers (anything done or produced).

  3. DNF after an hour. Missed EAGRE, TEVET and HITE . Vaguely familiar with ALECOST and MARES TAIL and admired HUMBLED, FOREARMED, and LAMPLIGHT. COD to FEAT. Really needed all explanations – thanks! I wonder if the tea and vinegar being out for us means they are out on the table,i.e. presented to us to eat.

  4. Forearmed was forewarned.

    Some what old fashioned puzzle – with 9ac ALECOST; 18ac HITE; 7dn PICTURE RAIL; 4dn TURPIN; 15dn LAMPLIGHT; 17dn ESPALIER and 21dn LEVITY featured. Fortunately I am from the Beerbohm Tree era and would have further expected a ‘Shakespearean’ quote thrown in for good measure. So 50 minutes was about par for a Thursday, for me.

    FOI 2dn ROE
    LOI 12ac TEVET
    COD 13ac FURNITURE with straightforward instructions from IKEA
    WOD 9ac ALECOST – once used as a bookmark for one’s Bible, to keep the word of the Lord nice’n’ fresh.
    Meldrew (as pictured)

  5. 24 minute DNF. Managed to get the less common words, but yet again didn’t read the anagram fodder carefully enough for THEORISES. I remember Shere HITE, but wasn’t aware of her death a couple of years ago.

  6. Usual time. This felt as if it had come from much earlier in the Queen’s reign. NHO TEVET or HITE.

  7. I had the same unknowns as others, but got there from wordplay. Didn’t remember Shere Hite, and didn’t know TEVET.

    BTW, 26ac is I’M in GRACE.

    Thanks, Z.

  8. 50 minutes for another puzzle that was more of a chore than a joy to solve. When unknowns such as TEVET and HITE appear early on you begin to wonder what other obscurity may be lurking elsewhere. Okay the wordplay was clear but if you don’t recognise the answer when you arrive at it, how can you be sure that it’s right?

    I thought 6ac was very poor. It’s easy enough to biff subject = TOPIC, and IC from ‘in charge’ is standard fare, but ‘positioned like a king’ = TOP ? Really?

    17dn and 23dn were instances where I knew exactly what was being referred to (the Severn bore thing and the trellis) but needed most of the checkers to be able to bring the answers to mind. I had wanted 17dn to be ESCALIER to relate to climbing but it didn’t look right and once this was in my head the idea took some shifting.

    1. “I’m the king of the castle” is the person “on top” in the old children’s game?

  9. I think I was expecting something trickier this morning because it felt like a Saturday, but I was in the right frame of mind to tackle this one, happy to throw in unknowns like TEVET and HITE on trust. Swept through from FOI 1a FOREARMED to LOI 17d ESPALIER in 19m.

    Building up my crosswordy vocab with everything from “H. E.” to MARE’S-TAIL over the last few years definitely helped. Almost surprised that Beerbohm Tree and “S. A.” didn’t get a look-in given the rest of it.

  10. 23 minutes, finishing with MARES-TAIL and ESPALIER. I vaguely remembered SHERE HITE and deduced the nicely-clued COD TEVET. All the rest went in without trouble. Now off to Lord’s wearing the requested red, white and blue for the Jubilee. My son’s taking me in a role reversal from years past. Some things about getting old are nice. I hope we’re bowling so that we see Anderson and Broad in harness, maybe for the last time. Mind you, with our batting we could well see them anyway! Pleasant puzzle. Thank you Z and setter.

  11. 11:50. I had to trust to the wordplay for TEVET and HITE , wasn’t sure about FEAT and biffed ESPALIER. Thanks for explaining APOSTATE, Z, which had me baffled as to why it didn’t end in T. Thanks setter too.

  12. 25.2o. I was quite pleased with my time given the number of unknowns – LAM, HITE, ALECOST and TEVET.

  13. The online version of 12 down that I encountered was “Eating veal endlessly’s bad – little right in it for us (11)”
    I came here hoping to understand why the anagram didn’t quite work, only to find another clue entirely

    1. Interesting. How are you accessing the puzzle? Everywhere I’ve looked, including the published newspaper, has the clue as in Z’s blog.

    2. But it does work – the fodder is “eating vea”, plus the s that comes after endlessly, plus the r

      What is this app? I do all of the crosswords on my phone, and the interface isn’t great…

  14. Like many others HITE and TEVET were new to me but easily worked out
    CONTEST and FEAT held me up as I thought feat was an achievement not an effort
    The rest were fairly straightforward and at 29 min I just beat my target

  15. “Escape a tricky situation? You get illumination from above” Correct answer = MOONLIGHT (as in “do a moonlight flit”). I even went back to it and convinced myself it was definitely right. After that, it all went downhill… DNF 49m.

    1. That’s one of those (actually quite good) answers that works sufficient well to stop you looking for a better. Glad I didn’t think of it!

    2. It didn’t occur to me – fortunately – but I’d agree with you that this is a perfectly acceptable double definition of MOONLIGHT.

    3. I wasted a lot of time on that too, until I noticed I’d put FEASTER at 1d which held up DIGITALLY which corrected MOONLIGHT.

    4. It would be more correct to say MOONLIGHT is an alternative rather than a correct answer.
      To MOONLIGHT, as opposed to “do a moonlight flit”, means to have a second job.

      1. On reflection, this is correct. Up here in the thankfully bunting-free People’s Republic of Glasgow MOONLIGHT in the sense of a moonlight flit only exists as a noun, not as a verb. ‘He did a moonlight,’ for example, rather than ‘he was moonlighting,’ which is the second job thingy.

        1. Yes I agree – though it’s not much of a stretch to imagine, as I did, that “moonlight” could also be used as a shorthand verb for “do a moonlight”. I wasn’t thinking hard enough, or possibly got too excitable at coming up with my “solution”

          1. There’s moonlighting…and then there’s Leo Sayer’s “Moonlighting”! Great song!

            1. Now there’s a first: ‘Leo Sayer’ and ‘Great song’ in (almost) the same sentence.

              1. 🎼Meanwhile, the Carlisle turn-off of the M6 Motorway
                Drinking cold black coffee, eating hot cup-cakes🎼

    5. I always have trouble with MOONLIGHT. The escape from a difficult situation is the FLIT. The word moonlight just indicates it’s done at night. To MOONLIGHT means something else: it is to get a second job, eg to help make ends meet.

      Sorry. I must have had the page open for ages and missed the other comments saying this. I was distracted by Trooping the Colour

    6. Surely it is the flit that is the escape, not the moonlight. I was also tempted by it, but, fortunately, found it unconvincing.

    7. Snap ! I even tried to make Orris Root fit for the plant. Ended up with chaos in the middle of the grid.

  16. 39m 23s
    My favourite band…..Little FEAT!
    Some exotic words such as ALECOST, TEVET, MARE’S TAIL and EAGRE.
    Didn’t know Shere HITE had died. Also didn’t know she started out life as Shirley.
    Thanks, Z, for APOSTATE and ESPALIER.

  17. Spent a while trying to make an anagram out of “fingers my,” as my early typo of FEASTER at 1d precluded DIGITALLY. ROE was FOI. TEVET and HITE from wordplay, although the latter did ring a faint bell. Failed to parse FOREARMED, so thanks to Z for that. The lack of 14a meant that MOONLIGHT went unchallenged for some time, holding up MARES-TAIL while I wondered what an ORRIS WALL might be. Managed to remember ESPALIER, although it took a moment or two to parse. I eventually spotted my error at 1d and DIGITALLY corrected LAMPLIGHT which allowed me to get, LOI, MARES-TAIL. 25:50. Thanks setter and Z.

  18. 26 minutes, with a few from wordplay alone, like TEVET, ALECOST, HITE, none of which were familiar, but had to be. The rest was a steady solve without incident.

  19. I had SPOTLIGHT at first for 15d but 14a fixed that. Didn’t understand the LAM but it had to be.
    I’d forgotten about Shere Hite and thought Hite might be a goddess.

  20. I got a bit mixed up in the DIGITALLY/LAMPLIGHT intersection, being sure it was DIGITALLY but also being almost sure it was MOONLIGHT and not really knowing what ‘lam’ meant although I suspected it was what it is. Managed HITE because I’ve heard of her, probably saw her books in the shops in the 80s, may even have read her, not sure. But why did the setter use this rather obscure word? There are plenty of other possibilities, like hate and hots and Hutu etc. 23 minutes.

    [note to the creators of the site: I’ve become used to the small size of the avatar, but now it’s missing.]

    1. Missing Avatar

      Will, have you seen Andy’s (formerly linxit) comment a bit further down the page? You may need always to double-check that you are signed in before posting. There should be something top right of the screen to confirm this (‘Hi, Wil Ransome’, or ‘You are logged in as Wil Ransome’). I don’t know whether there’s a glitch but if it persists you can report it via Contact Us under Help.

      1. The black menu across the top (allowing, e.g. “New Post”) is not visible to regular users, only authors, editors and admin. The way to tell if you are logged in is to see if you see “Logout” at the top right.

        1. Thanks, John. Of course, I should have checked with my basic id!

          Is Andy’s theory about automatic logout after a certain period correct, and if so, what the time-span?

    2. Even RITA, which I had ( and which ruined 18d for me) on the strength that she was “educating” (about IT) – and my assumption that RA was some kind of explosive I’d not heard of! Back to the drawing-board…

  21. I’d heard of TEVET but couldn’t have said what time of year it is but Z is right that Hannukah certainly doesn’t involve fasting and coincides with Christmas usually. And on Christmas Day many Jewish families in NYC order in Chinese, they don’t fast. Just about remembered HITE and wondered about SARACEN=warrior – then recalled that in Return Of The Native Eustacia Vye dresses up as the Saracen Knight in the mummers’ show. 16.56

  22. 21:29
    Stumbled through this with my botanical ignorance costing me time. Had “earmarked” for 1a for a while, thinking “I’ll parse it later”. Stupid boy. Needed Zabadak to parse APOSTATE fully. COD HUMBLED.
    Thanks to Zabadak and the setter.

  23. The lower half was considerably quicker to fall than the top half, where I had a few guesses that I initially couldn’t quite justify (ROE, TOPIC). 7m 39s, ending on CONTEST / FEAT.

    I agree with the suggestion that 12d was a slightly messy semi-&lit.

    HITE was new to me, but couldn’t be anything else.

  24. 11:12. A bit of an odd feel to this one, but I didn’t find it too hard. Shere HITE rang the very faintest of bells, but TEVET was completely new to me.

  25. HITE

    Could not choose between HETI and HITE. Both of which fitted the wordplay, and both could have been shes as far as I knew.

    No avatar. Can anyone help please?

    1. My guess is you’re not logged in. Happened to me a couple of days ago and tested the theory. I’m not sure how long the timeout is but you get automatically logged out after some time (maybe 24 hours?).

      The site (or maybe the browser) remembers your username and email so your comment appears as usual but with the avatar missing.

      1. That’s right, Andy. The login timeout is by default set to 48 hours, or if “remember me” is checked, 14 days. It seems a bit of a pain so I’ve got a planned enhancement for the next site update to increase it to e.g. 1 year.
        And yes, you have to be logged in for your avatar to appear with your posts/comments.

    2. There is a Canadian writer , Sheila Heti, who had a book appearing on New York Times year-end Best Of list for 2012. A lot of her books are concerned with so-called women’s issues relating to self-image, motherhood, fashion, etc. Her earliest literary influences were the Marquis de Sade and Henry Miller.

  26. Sadly made a mess of the anagram and invented sarecan not seeing the more obvious answer so a DNF
    Hope for better tomorrow

  27. Wouldn’t have considered Shere Hite as obscure, but then I actually DID read Playboy for the articles. And although ALECOST and TEVET didn’t get much of a mention in those articles, the wordplay was pretty generous here.

    Couldn’t fully parse APOSTATE until reading the blog. Thought DIGITALLY was the pick of the bunch.

  28. Rubbish performance from me today. I failed to check the anagrist accurately, so entered ‘theorists’, and compounded that with my LOI after 8:32 by biffing ‘limelight’. Therefore I am HUMBLED !

  29. Like most people here I got TEVET and HITE from the wordplay, a few others went in half-parsed with a shrug, e.g. LAMPLIGHT, APOSTATE, THEORISES. Held up at the end by FEAT as I had a hard time equating it with effort, but couldn’t think of anything better so bunged it in with fingers crossed for 11:08.

  30. Like others before me biffed MOONLIGHT which put me on the back foot for solving MARES TAIL and DIGITALLY. I was sailing along for a quick time (for me) of about 30 minutes, but had to settle for 45 in the end.

  31. 17.51. A fun puzzle and a pretty smooth solve. The NHO Hite and Tevet from wordplay alone. Mares-tail parsed post solve. I thought the connection between the robber and the routine held up giving us Turpin was tangential at best (unless a routine is a type of stagecoach). Vegetarians was another that didn’t quite work for me, given that as far as I know vegetarians can quite happily partake of vinegar and tea.

  32. 20 mins
    I had a major MER over FEAT, the setter is stretching meanings beyond the dictionary. Now for the jumbo….

  33. 18.50

    Double sub-Kevin today which is a pretty rare thing indeed

    No real hold-ups and same comments as others about TEVET and HITE

    Happy BH to everyone and thanks Zabadak and setter

  34. 23:18

    Having had a bit of a MARE with Wednesday’s, this was a bit more comfortable. Still there were some bits and bobs that went unnoticed:

    FOREARMED – thought ‘prepared for battle’ meant ARMED so failed to correctly dissect the rest of the clue.
    TEVET – NHO and LOI but a reasonable guess.
    FEAT – a little shrug there
    APOSTATE – didn’t get the ATE bit
    LAM = escape. Well I never knew!
    ESPALIER – from def – absolutely no clue what was going on here.

    On the upside:

    HITE – the name came easily, though would have liked to have seen the setter Spooner-ise this one.
    ALECOST and MARE’S TAIL – things are improving with my plant-naming.
    MARSEILLE – i before e except in Marseille?

  35. 15’29” for me. All quite straightforward, though I didn’t realise Ate was the goddess of trouble-making. Shere Hite was unforgettable from the sheer unlikelihood of her name.

  36. 47 minutes, with lots of unnecessary obscurities but not really all that hard. Not a very charming puzzle, but not a real stinker either.

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