Times 28,307: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, En-14ac

A clear maker of the Friday grade, in my book, with every clue being slightly more than minimum-effort. Even the “simple anagrams” are quite fun: who could fail to smile at a moose-ling? Harum-scarum gave me the heebie-jeebies as if you have absolutely certainty of how something like that is spelled, you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din.

“Skinny” as the definition for “cutaneous” provoked in me an appreciative… laugh? Groan? Let’s call it a graugh. I liked all the clues where you had to switch out part of a word for something else; -> is my favourite crossword blogging notation but I don’t get to use it nearly as much as I’d like. COD though to 8dn which is just brilliant, especially in the fact that they are all east coast states. I wonder if Ganymede tends towards lying in an easterly direction of Jupiter? Astronomers will doubtless be able to advise.

Thanks setter! And now I must away to blog the Monthly Club Special before it’s even more too late!

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

1 Calm consideration when accepting contract’s initial condition (6)
PACIFY -PAY [(financial) consideration], accepting C{ontract} IF [condition]
4 Spotting beloved, Romeo becoming very soft (8)
10 Project involving a worry about Pat’s constituent? (9)
BUTTERFAT – BUTT [project], involving A FRET reversed
11 Dainty piece of marzipan if left over (5)
ELFIN – hidden reversed in {marzipa}N IF LE{ft}
12 Cancel opening of N European hotel (3)
INN – {f}INN
13 Reckless dictator’s wives collectively spook the people? (5-6)
14 Back choice between daughter and tot (6)
DORSUM – OR [choice] between D(aughter) and SUM [tot]
16 Legal profession finally acquired an epithet for dramatist (3,4)
THE BARD – THE BAR [legal profession] + {acquire}D
19 Container for chow mein has small stone in it (4,3)
MESS TIN – MEIN has S(mall) ST(one) in it
20 Weight applied to bed sheet material (6)
COTTON – TON applied to COT
22 Manager’s job could be a sight more powerful (11)
SUPERVISION – or Superman might have super-vision, a more powerful type of sight
25 Letter that’s awesome or disappointing (3)
GEE – double def with GEE! which can convey any number of emotions
26 Misread quiz, oddly missing nationality of Hadid (5)
IRAQI – even letters only of {m}I{s}R{e}A{d} Q{u}I{z}. Zaha the architect
27 “Moose-ling” could be a recent addition to dictionary (9)
28 Prepare to be in Paris during grand day out (3,5)
GET READY – ETRE [to be, in French], during G(rand) + (DAY*)
29 Radical shock treatment is failing (6)
DEFECT – DEF [radical!] + E(lectro) C(onvulsive) T(herapy)
1 Open fans? (6)
PUBLIC – Double def; an public space, or a star’s adoring public
2 Skinny Australian suppresses most of light gas after reduction (9)
CUTANEOUS – AUS suppresses NEO{n}, after CUT. As in “pertaining to skin”
3 Hot personality turned to carnality (5)
FLESH – H(ot) SELF, reversed
5 George acting without thinking (9,5)
AUTOMATIC PILOT – double def. Acting without thinking is “being on autopilot”
6 Animated screen tip knowing what you’ll do next? (9)
7 With more detail, finding lead later, to make a deduction (5)
INFER – FINER, with the first letter getting slightly delayed
8 Moon’s four states, all in the east (8)
GANYMEDE – G(eorgi)A, N(ew) Y(ork), M(ain)E, DE(laware). All Eastern seaboard states, indeed!
9 Answer bosses with note formally, I had said (14)
AFOREMENTIONED – A(nswer) + FOREMEN + TI [musical note] + ONE [I, formally] + ‘D
15 Gloomy Sunday’s predecessor, a number for time of global revolution (9)
17 Digs around inside without companion lying parallel? (9)
ALONGSIDE – (DIGS*) inside ALONE [without companion]
18 Great destruction (8)
SMASHING – double def. Funny how many slang words for “great” are quite violent: cracking, blinding, whopping…
21 Euler’s number substitutes for zero in arrangement for mathematician (6)
23 Moan, rejecting new form of hair (5)
24 North Italy’s top honour for weeping mother (5)
NIOBE – N(orth) I(taly) has O.B.E.

114 comments on “Times 28,307: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, En-14ac”

  1. 44 minutes. Struggled to bring this one home, especially in the BUTTERFAT area.

  2. Ah see, I DID have absolute certainty about how HAREM-SCAREM was spelled. That was the problem.

    Still, nothing could dampen my enjoyment after 21dn. My second-favourite mathematician being referenced to clue my fourth-favourite! Happy days indeed.

    1. 48m fail – also 100% sure of how to spell HAREM-SCAREM. Wondering how I managed to acquire this misunderstanding, I was going to blame Bugs Bunny – but it appears “Hare-Um Scare-Um” was the nearest approximation, so I don’t have a good excuse.

      Nevertheless enjoyed this challenge, almost derailed by having DORSAL for quite a while amongst 2 or 3 other biffs. Didn’t know aviation-land George, so LOI 5d involved an alpha-trawl to get PILOT. Thanks V and setter

      1. There’s a Canadian rock band that spells it our way Denise. That’s my excuse, despite never having heard of them.

    2. Ditto on HAREM SCAREM.

      Okay, I’ll take the bait … who are the first and third favourites (and why)?

      1. Same top three as everyone, surely? Riemann, Euler, Gauss.

        Fourth should be Ramanujan, but Fermat gets elevated on my list because I stumbled across his “Little Theorem” independently. He just beat me to it by 340 years.

    3. Fourth favourite? How far down do you go, G? And who are the first and third?
      Laplace is my eleventh favourite …

      1. Nobby Clarke tops my list – he got me through GCE ‘O’ Level maths. The rest are of no significance to me.

      2. I’ve got LaPlace bracketed with Fourier, comfortably inside the top 10. Probably find a spot for Bernoulli off the bench.

        1. We need to explore this further. . .. top 100, maybe, like Rolling Stone with guitarists..

        2. I’d have Newton and Leibniz up front, with Godel partnering Euler in midfield. Cantor would be infinitely preferable to anyone else in goal. David Hilbert as manager.

          1. Looks a strong squad on paper Corymbia. Which I guess is all they had.

    4. Who are your second and third favourite mathematicians? Though surely, instead of having a linear ranking, you should have first, first, second, third, fifth, eighth, thirteenth etc favourites?

        1. I’m so highbrow… my favourite Happy Days spinoff is Joanie Loves Fibonacci.

      1. I’d be more inclined to go with second, third, fifth, seventh, etc. Hence the appearance of Riemann at the top of the list.

  3. Took well over an hour and a quarter to finally corral all these..Enjoyed the short ones- FLESH, GEE,THE BARD- plus the long AFOREMENTIONED. DORSUM was new to me but was obviously right. By coincidence I had just finished a book explaining how FERMAT’s last theorem was finally solved. (Still no wiser). HARUM SCARUM was known as it is in the chorus of the poem and song “Amo amas I love a lass” that combines English and Latin to humorous effect,e.g. “If I’ve luck sir, She’s my uxor”. Didn’t know George , or how to parse many, especially DEFECT. Thanks for that and rest of blog.

  4. 17:57
    Fortunately, George came up here recently; and I almost as recently learned DEF. Biffed BUTTERFAT, CUTANEOUS, parsed post-submission, but never figured out INFER & FERMAT. Definitely COD to GANYMEDE.

  5. I know how to spell harum scarum, but wrote in the alternative seeing the dictator as the Arab sheik. Idiot!
    Otherwise enjoyable, top left very hard, pacify and flesh L2I. Forgot to parse 8dn – saw moon and the crossers and wrote in Ganymede without looking at the rest of the clue, as I like to do. Liked CUTANEOUS best of all, built up from the cryptic before the PDM.

  6. A fifty minute, Friday DNF. 13ac HAREM-SCAREM was amiss. My George failed.
    I really wanted 19ac to be SNAP-TIN but it was MESS-TIN (Billy?) and thus 18dn SMASHING came rather slowly. Did we not have Pumpkin recently?

    FOI 4ac DAPPLING – although it might have been 25ac GEE!
    LOI 7dn INFER
    COD 8dn GANYMEDE – a write-in tho’
    MOD 21dn FERMAT

    I need 22ac!

  7. 36 minutes, so not too bad for a puzzle containing so many tricky bits and pieces.

    It was a confidence booster to spot 1ac on first reading although I’m not sure how I came to see it so quickly.

    No problems with HARUM-SCARUM as I have met it within the past week either here or possibly in a Guardian puzzle.

    I was confident of DEFECT but had no idea how DEF related to ‘radical’. It seems to be yet another example of juvenile jargon that’s becoming increasingly prevalent in The Times puzzles.

    CUTANEOUS was unknown but assembled itself nicely in accordance with instructions in the clue.

    1. DEF for “radical” was briefly popular when *I* was a juvenile, which is quite a long time ago now… What I was wondering was how long a word has to be out of service before it gets the “archaic” indicator!

        1. That sounds right. I think the earliest association I can personally recall is Def Jam, and Wikipedia says that Def Jam Recordings was founded in 1984. My other big association is with Mos Def, and apparently he’s still around, though I doubt anyone’s actually used “def” as a word since the 1990s. Being nearly fifty now, though, I don’t really know what the yoof of today are saying!

            1. Can confirm. And it’s one I happen to like, but haven’t quite brought myself to use.

              1. I sometimes use it for the express purpose of annoying and/or embarrassing my kids.

        2. Well I was long past being a juvenile by then so wouldn’t have been aware of it. If I’m going to know juvenile slang it’d have to be from the 50’s or 60’s.

  8. Clever techniques (especially the letter substitutions). COD, of course, to GANYMEDE

  9. In response to our esteemed blogger’s question, Ganymede is in a circular orbit around Jupiter, and so, on average spends the same amount of time to the East and West of its parent planet.

    Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and is bigger than the planet Mercury, (although its mass is lower). The answer to this apparent contradiction is their differing densities. Mercury is largely composed of iron, whereas Ganymede is a mixture of rock and ice.

    1. “Mercury is largely composed of iron” – now that’s ironic. Quite literally.

  10. I have a friend who, since a phone autocorrect accident a few years ago, now deliberately texts people with “Haiku BUTTERFAT!” instead of “Happy birthday!” which was helpful for 10a. Having failed at a previous crossword by misspelling HARUM SCARUM also helped, as at least I reconsidered and corrected my initial “harem scarem” once I’d finally noticed that “dictator’s” was a homophone indicator.

    44 minutes in all, and enjoyable minutes they were, with a few of my favourite kind of clue, where I put a question mark in the margin after solving it and then a few seconds later groan and replace it with a little appreciative tick. COD 2d CUTANEOUS. FOI 4a DAPPLING after giving up on getting an initial foothold in the NW corner. LOI 23d PLAIT.

  11. Super, smashing – um – def?
    So I now feel quite good about my 17.26, in exalted company on the leaderboard!
    Not a complaint, but I tend to pronounce HAREM as har-reem, and HARUM as hair-rum, so was initially tempted with the former spelling before giving the setter the butterfat of the doubt.
    For the gloomy clue, I got as far as substituting the T of SAT with TURN (number) before smudging the rest and leaving it to V. At least I learned (remembered vaguely?) that Euler’s number was E in the mathematician’s fest.
    First time I’ve met CUTANEOUS without sub, but a rewarding clue to deconstruct after biffing.
    GANYMEDE is indeed a thing of wonder, but how any of this company solved it by thinking of four Eastern states to construct the moon rather than simply being amazed that the moon was so constituted?

      I still don’t understand how you parse ‘saturnine’. Could you please explain.

      1. ‘A number for time of global revolution’ is telling us to replace DAY (time of global revolution) with NINE (a number) in SATURDAY (Sunday’s predecessor).

      2. Saturday precedes Sunday; delete the time part (day) and substitute a number, this time 9.

  12. 51 minutes with the NW being the sticky wicket. LOI PUBLIC. Maybe I was still too excited after yesterday’s great day at the Test. COD to FERMAT although I had a couple of other theorems as to the answer that I couldn’t prove first. This was a good Friday work-out. Thank you V and setter.

  13. 51m 19s
    Oh, good! Something to harrumph at! DEF! I obviously have as much liking for the word as Jack does. The other one that grinds my teeth is ‘deffo’.
    There were some excellent clues, I thought. My favourite was GANYMEDE. Talking of moons, I have one of those QI books of facts. From that I have learnt that there is a moon of Uranus called Margaret. I find that comforting somehow!
    Thank you, Verlaine!

    1. Seems somehow inapt. Like some people at the park who have a dog named Colin. It’s just not a moon’s/dog’s name.

      1. Margaret would feel apter if the planet was called George, as proposed by Herschel, who discovered it.

    2. There’s only one ‘f’ in defo. And too many effin’ people using it (including my son I’m sad to report).

      1. A pedant writes: Lexico gives both spellings. That the word is there at all is bad enough.

  14. Spelt Harum Scarum incorrectly but it didn’t affect any other clues
    A few clues I had trouble understanding especially ‘defect’ as I have never heard of def as radical
    Never heard if Dorsum or the Iraqi chap but the answers were straightforward
    Several CODs 1a 8d and 21d
    I reckon my 32min was a good effort considering I only had 1 answer after the first 5 min!!!

    1. “def” is more “rad!” or “cool!” than radical per se.

      I’ve just Googled around a bit and it seems to have originally been “death”. I quite like the idea of referring to excellent things as “death” in a plummy English accent I must say.

    2. The “Iraqi chap” was Zaha Hadid. She was a ‘starchitect’ . Among her many notable and spectacular works is the aquatic centre for the London Olympics. Nevertheless I was a little surprised to see her name in a cryptic. I suppose she is now part of acceptable GK.

  15. 14:54. I found this quite difficult, and got particularly stuck in the NW with my last four PACIFY, PUBLIC, FLESH and finally the very tricky CUTANEOUS. For the last I wasn’t 100% sure of the word so wanted to understand the wordplay, which proved elusive. Very enjoyable puzzle.
    As I pronounce them ‘harem’ and HARUM are not homophones, therefore this is the worst clue in the history of the universe and the setter should be hung drawn and quartered [am I doing this right?].

          1. I seriously don’t understand the objection. When I say ‘author docks’ it sounds exactly the same as ORTHODOX. Absolutely identical. And I don’t have a particularly unusual accent.

            1. In what’s known as Scottish Standard English – or Scottish Received Pronunciation – the R in ORTHODOX is rhotic, as is the R in AUTHOR. A proper homophone for AUTHOR DOCKS, for a Scots speaker, would be OTHORDOX.

              1. So what? I don’t pronounce ‘harem’ like that but lots of people do. This strange idea that homophones are terrible if they don’t reflect my pronunciation is precisely what I was parodying in my initial comment.

                1. My beef is that there’s an automatic assumption that the solver uses English RP. The homophone may work in English RP, but for many speakers it won’t. In this particular instance, the ‘homophone’ in fact depends on an RP speaker’s inability to articulate the sounds of his own language.

                  1. It’s the Times of London, it seems reasonable to reflect the local pronunciation in homophones. As it happens ‘harem’ as a homophone for HARUM is more American than RP (it would normally be hah-reem), but again, so what?

                    1. Apologies. Didn’t realise that crosswords were only for people in the Home Counties.

              2. Orthodox is a fine clue. I do apologise for you being Scottish… but surely you see that a homophone that suits everyone worldwide, is not possible?

                1. Of course I understand that there needs to be give and take with accents and pronunciation, when it comes to homophones – otherwise, I wouldn’t be have been doing crosswords at all levels for over forty years. However, I think there are limits and how far this can be stretched, and in my opinion, given the pronunciation that I and many other solvers use, this particular clue went too far.

                  1. Equally without wishing to give offence, I’m perfectly calm. On almost all occasions crossword homophones don’t chime with my pronunciation either, and I accept that: it’s part of solving. But ORTHODOX is an English word, not Scots, so you can forget about the foreign language stuff. And the way I pronounce English is equally as valid as the way anyone else pronounces it, as any linguist would tell you.

                    What the setter is effectively asking me to do is move the R several spaces to the right and still expect it to make sense. Would that be allowable for any other phoneme?

                2. I have occasionally been amused at the homophone clues published by Indian setters – they don’t work at all in MY accent but I like them all the more, accordingly!

                  1. Well quite. Just imagine someone English (or, in the case of ‘harem’, American) saying it. Is that too much to ask?
                    Having said that it appears that HARUM is a recognised English pronunciation: the first example given on the Collins website is a rather plummy-sounding rendition of it. I’ve never heard anything other than hah-reem, but then it’s not a word one hears on a daily basis.

                    1. Going back to your original comment, the first pronunciation of HAREM given in Chambers is HARE-UM. It’s not one I’ve ever heard. In fact, never heard anything other that HA-REEM.

                    2. It’s rendered as HARE-UM by Maria Muldaur in Midnight At The Oasis.

                      No further correspondence will be entered into.

                    3. Just as a point of interest I had never heard of Hah-reem until today when I watched someone English solve this puzzle.
                      I’m Australian and it’s always been Hair’em, like in the Hamilton musical soundtrack rhyming ‘harem’ with ‘share ‘im’

  16. 11m 14s, with the NW corner taking the longest to fall – having eventually got PUBLIC (without really being sure about the second definition), I realised that PACIFY was a fair bit cleverer than I’d thought it was, and FLESH soon followed.


  17. 16:43, held up in the top left and bottom right with PUBLIC/PACIFY then FERMAT/DEFECT my last ones in. Also took a long time to tease out CUTANEOUS and BUTTERFAT, so that top left corner was looking very empty for ages.

    1. Are you Linxit by any chance? Long time no see. If so I temped the Saturday for you for a few cycles about 100 years ago. Nice to see you back.

  18. My favourite limerick:
    There was a young curate of Salisbury,
    Whose manners were halisbury-scalisbury
    He wandered round Hampshire
    Without any pampshire
    Til his bishop forced him to walisbury.

    (Read using old postal abbreviations)

  19. Completed a few of these recently but only managed a few today – now I’ve read the blog I’m glad I didn’t bother. Glad others enjoyed it!

  20. Ditto Z on the pronunciation of “harem” and the flubbed parsing of SATURNINE (but he clocked in ahead of my 20 on the nose). Those of us of a certain age will of course remember Procol Harum. Speaking of shades, my schoolmates and I once had to produce poems similar to the one by Manley Hopkins that starts “Glory be to God for dappled things” and I thought Myrtilus might give us one of his quotations. My effort in that respect remains in well-deserved obscurity. Nice puzzle.

    1. Procol Harum deserve to be remembered for much more than “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. Their lead guitarist, Robin Trower, was almost anonymous on much of their early canon, but by the time of their excellent album “Broken Barricades” he had stepped forward to reveal how he could ‘bend’ a note. His earlier solo albums are superb.

    2. Procol Harum Scarum adds yet another twist to the pronunciation debate!

      1. At least it is unambiguous how to pronounce “Procol Harum” – “procul” exactly as in “quippe (senatus) foedum hominem a republicā procul esse volebat” and “harum” exactly as in “harum causarum fuit justissima quod Germanos suis quoque rebus timere voluit”.

        1. Certe! Mind you, that assumes there is a concensus on how Latin is/was pronounced!

    3. So glad Olivia that someone finally mentioned my fave (!) poet since school days – a long way off now, and besides, the wench is dead. Would love to see what you made of the attempt to emulate GMH! I had a fantastic Welsh Eng. Lit. teacher who read his poems as if they were music ( which they were to my adolescent, poetry-disdaining ears.) I too would like to see a Myrtillus quote from him. On the crossword front, I found this a bit challenging – especially the over-Ikean ones like Cutaneous- but thoroughly enjoyed what portion of it I managed: really liked Supervision for its simplicity!

  21. 49 minutes. Stuck in the NW at the end like a few others before BUTTERFAT opened things up. As noted by Jack, happy to have had HARUM-SCARUM elsewhere in the last week or so, even if (in retrospect) the wordplay was helpful.

    My favourite was the bland looking definition but complicated parsing for AFOREMENTIONED.

  22. 15:23, and enjoyed even if I was a bit wobbly on the alleged pronunciation of HARUM/HAREM and the radical DEFness. Had to tinker with the wordplay to see where it was leading in lots of answers, but got there in the end.

  23. 25:24 with a careless E in the SCARUM section. Didn’t see the logic of some of the answers (FERMAT etc) but the lack didn’t seem to impede progress. All good stuff.

  24. Don’t quite get the harem/harum thing. I thought harem was pronounced hah – reem.
    Thanks, v.

    1. Per Chambers it looks like you can pronounce “harem” almost any way you like – it’s a foreign word and clearly open to some interpretation!

  25. I know perfectly well how to spell HARUM-SCARUM, but I failed to observe that ‘dictator’s’ was a homophone indicator, and spelt it with e’s thinking it must be an alternative. Annoying when I had a not-too-shabby 12:16 completion. COD to BUTTERFAT.

  26. Had harum-scarum with Es and didn’t know euler’s number was E, so DNF again today- only success was Monday- hope for a better week next week

  27. Total failure today. Horribly stuffy (étouffant) here today and I currently have a head full of wasps. Did not know DEF, thought NIOBE was NAOMI and still don’t understand the connection between FRET and PAT.

    Other than that, everything was either hunky dory or HARUM SCARUM.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter.

    1. There’s no connection—the fret is “worry”. The pat (of butter) is something of which BUTTERFAT would be a constituent.

  28. 33:21

    Slow start, but managed to get going in the NE which gradually spread into other areas.

    Stuck for ages on the BUTTERFAT/CUTANEOUS crossing, and on the DEFECT/FERMAT corner – could see the ECT but the DEF only went in from the definition.

    I have no favourite mathematicians – it’s a profession where you only become famous after your death!

    1. That’s why my favourite mathematician is Evariste Galois, who expedited the process.

  29. I am puzzled by BUTT = PROJECT at 10A. Chambers gives five definitions, none of which seems to relate to this.

    1. From Collins: “verb: 2. (intransitive) to project; jut”
      .. it is in Chambers too, as a verb, “to project, jut out”

  30. 21.22 a satisfyingly tractable solve. The dictator nailed the spelling debate of harum v harem for me. The chow mein lift and separate was a nice pdm. The painstaking breakdown of aforementioned made it a late entry and meant the LHS was harder work than the RHS.

  31. I nearly entered Ganemede with New England for New York – caught myself.
    I nearly entered Reject for Defect – caught myself.
    But then I went and spoilt it all by saying something stupid like “Harem Scarem”.

  32. This looked scary last night, but today I found myself fairly whizzing thru it (interrupted by a few urgent tasks). I wondered if Verlaine would be disappointed, even. But yes, it was very clever, and assiduously avoided the obvious. I felt this was the best of the week.

    I was hesitant about “Def” for “Radical,” although it is synonymous with the shortened form!

  33. Just under 30 minutes, but with HAREM SCARUM so DNF. Several that I biffed and hadn’t bothered to go back and parse before I came here.

  34. Hi Verlaine,

    when searching for the puzzle number in the search box I have to remember that you – unlike other bloggers and indeed The Times – put a thousands comma in the puzzle number. If I don’t, the search fails miserably. I’m fond of thousands separators on the whole, but rather more so when used consistently. Or maybe the Webmaster could tweak the search function to find both versions of the puzzle number?

Comments are closed.