Times 28417 – Criminal waste of a minor prophet

A bit of arcane vocab, a bit of sciency stuff, a few Latiny words – just the sort of fare you’d expect from the Thunderer.

Nothing much to scare the horses here – I came in in a smidgen over 14 minutes, so we can expect times starting with the digit 3 from the speedsters.

A black mark against the setter, though, for the easy clueing of the minor Old Testament prophet. I’m trusting it was just a blip, and we’ll be getting a juicy anagram next time.

1 Judge introducing this writer’s form of jazz (4)
JIVE – J (judge) I’VE (this writer’s)
4 Scottish citizen’s unfortunate gag in Wales (10)
GLASWEGIAN – anagram* of GAG IN WALES; before I go, I expect neither of these countries to be part of the union
9 She succeeds in a woman’s current arts, we hear (10)
INHERITRIX – IN HER I (current) sounds like TRICKS (arts – as in dark arts)
10 A blow for the party! (4)
BASH – double definition (DD)
11 Quantity army doctor injected into relative (6)
AMOUNT – MO (Medical Officer) in AUNT
12 Reportedly publicise weaving machine, something long in the family (8)
HEIRLOOM – sounds like AIR (publicise) LOOM (weaving machine)
14 Greek character leaves wine, being not in favour (4)
15 English youth cutting borders in Florida marshes (10)
EVERGLADES – E + LAD in VERGES; glad they are still there, alligators and all
17 Fellow outside acknowledges wife, an oppidan (10)
TOWNSWOMAN – OWNS (acknowledges) W (wife) in TOM (random fellow) AN (from the clue); from Latin oppidum = town
20 Intimidate learner in loose hood (4)
COWL – COW L; I’ll be wearing a horrid KF94 mask instead of a cowl with my robe for this weekend’s five performances of Carmina Burana with the Hong Kong Phil and Hong Kong Ballet
21 Shrub in French art, one less colourful on the outside? (8)
ESPALIER – ES (French for are as in you (singular) are, or art in old money) I (one) in PALER (less colourful)
23 Neat woman’s brief description of a certain acid? (6)
OXALIC – OX (neat, as in cowlike thing) ALIC[e] (the random woman is in brief form)
24 Intrepid bachelor leaving for party (4)
25 Fellow pupil’s swimming group taking winning position (10)
SCHOOLMATE – SCHOOL (swimming group of fish) MATE (winning position in chess)
26 Old friend keeping aquatic bird outside (10)
EXTERNALLY – TERN (aquatic bird – and rather a beauty) in EX (old) ALLY (friend)
27 Defrauded teacher, easily at first (4)
DONE – DON E[asily]; as in ‘he done me like a kipper’
2 Abject circle in mining disturbed over evidence of debts (11)
IGNOMINIOUS – O (circle) in MINING* followed by IOUS
3 Carrying out of extreme sentence (9)
4 Ultimately ruining dinner, fibre and cartilage (7)
GRISTLE – final letters of [ruinin]G [dinne]R ISTLE (fibre used in making carpets)
5 Senior officer’s broadcast on head of clan and escort (3,5,7)
AIR CHIEF MARSHAL – AIR (broadcast) followed by CHIEF (head of clan) MARSHAL; Collins (which is, as everyone here will attest, always right) has ‘to guide or lead, especially in a ceremonious way’
6 Type of songbird increasing around west (7)
7 Mature insect in yours truly’s past? (5)
IMAGO – I’M (Yours truly’s [something of a genius]) AGO
8 Some mourN AHUMble Hebrew prophet (5)
NAHUM – bitterly disappointing…
13 Exaggerated about court order, and set up computer link (11)
OVERWRITTEN – OVER (about – no crying over spilt milk) WRIT (I have prepared these) NET (computer link, I guess – comments welcome) reversed
16 Eminent Conservative involved in a medical upset (9)
18 Onset of weariness strikes a French religious festival (7)
WHITSUN – W (initial letter of W[eariness]) HITS (strikes) UN (a in French)
19 New phrase in old record kept by Napoleonic marshal (7)
NEOLOGY – O LOG in NEY; whether Napoleon had another marshal, I have no idea. Just like I’ve no idea if the rebels had another general but Mr Lee.
21 Lofty dwelling identified by detective crossing Rhode Island (5)
22 Airman has change of heart, becoming kingpin (5)
PIVOT – PI[l]OT with the medial letter (heart) changing


74 comments on “Times 28417 – Criminal waste of a minor prophet”

  1. 13:12
    I was heading for a sub-10′ time, but couldn’t figure out 17ac; not knowing what ‘oppidan’ meant didn’t help matters. Finally decided that EXECUTING should be EXECUTION, and worked out the wordplay. NAHUM was a gimme, although for a brief moment I did wonder what ‘moum’ meant; ‘Hebrew’ could well have been dropped; as could ‘Florida’.

  2. 5:41 – had to piece together TOWNSWOMAN, but everything else came at a first or second glance.

  3. This was a breeze, a power-walk jaunt, despite my being briefly taken aback in encountering oppidan.

  4. This is probably the easiest 15×15 I can remember, and I think there were only two clues, (containing the unknown ‘oppidan’ and the ‘Florida marshes’) that didn’t give up their secrets immediately so I had to return to them when more checkers were available.

    15 minutes, but as it’s my custom to annotate the 15×15 print-out as I solve each clue to indicate parsing and definitions, I could probably have knocked 5 minutes off this time if I’d been speed-solving.

    Having disposed of this so quickly I’d have been disappointed if I hadn’t had around a third of the Saturday Jumbo still to complete before retiring for the night.

  5. This may have had the lowest Snitch ever, but I still could not finish.

    NHO OXALIC, nor did I understand neat=OX ( still don’t ). So guessed ONALIC.
    NHO IMAGO. I often struggle with these short contractions and though this was “I’d”, hence IDAGO
    NHO an oppidian, and also had EXECUTING, so went for ROUGHWOMAN, which I thought might be what an oppidian was, maybe like harridan.

    But pleased to get the NHO ESPALIER and INHERITRIX.

      1. As in neat’s-foot oil (I was going to say jelly, but it’s not in ODE or Collins).

  6. Not much to say about this crossword other than I very briefly wondered if it was TOWNSWOMAN or DOWNSWOMAN not knowing oppidan.

  7. 6:57. My fifth fastest finish but still slower than 2 * Verlaine! Even on an easy day I learned something though – I now know what an oppidan is (though my spell checker doesn’t like it).
    For anyone who has time on their hands following a quick finish, I can recommend Friday’s Listener, which was the easiest I’ve encountered (but no less enjoyable for it).

  8. Our setter cannot be ACCLAIMED
    IGNOMINIOUS, they must be blamed
    For they are a knave
    I am ANTI. I RAVE,
    At the WAXWING. They should be ashamed

  9. 12 minutes with LOI INHERITRIX. COD to TOWNSWOMAN, only because I then remembered my Mum being in the Townswomen’s Guild. I don’t think they made jam or sang Jerusalem. They must have been plotting revolution.

  10. 25 minutes. Didn’t know ‘oppidan’ or that an ESPALIER can be a ‘shrub’. Instant word association for EVERGLADES is “Florida”; I’ve never heard the word applied to ‘marshes’ elsewhere.

    The Twelve Minor Prophets; fertile ground for crossword setters, but don’t go giving them any ideas. The Wikipedia article on the Book of NAHUM contains the word “deuterocanonical”. Deserves to be a NEOLOGY but it isn’t.

    Stonewall Jackson is the only other Confederate general that comes to mind but I don’t know if he’s ever been seen in crossword land.

    1. Jeb Stuart was another famous Confederate general still much revered in the U.S. South. Longstreet, Beauregard,Forrest, Pickett and Pike are others who come to mind.

  11. It wasn’t just “oppidan” for me, I also didn’t know “istle”, but apart from that nothing to add, really. An 18-minute top-top-bottom solve with no major holdups.

  12. Pretty straightforward. Didn’t know ISTLE but GRISTLE it had to be. LOI TOWNSWOMAN on a wing and a prayer. 26 mins. I liked IGNOMINIOUS.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  13. 18m 59s
    The only clues that I couldn’t parse properly were ANTI and GRISTLE. I had never heard of ISTLE.
    Like others, I didn’t know oppidan.
    I don’t know WAXWING but we have Wax-eyes here in NZ, also called Silvereyes.
    I also didn’t know an ESPALIER can be a shrub as well as a trellis.
    As for NEOLOGY, I much prefer my own word for crossword solver – crosswordiste – over cruciverbalist, which I think sounds pompous.
    ///Good luck with Carmina Burana, ulaca! /////

    1. ISTLE used to show up fairly often in the NYT, as does ‘agave’, from which it is derived. It’s pronounced ‘istlee’, and I see from ODE that it’s a variant spelling of ‘ixtle’, which I’ve never seen.
      I used to not know that an ESPALIER could be a shrub, but learned from an earlier (some years ago) Times cryptic, but then didn’t know it again. I’ll probably not know it again in time for its next appearance here.

      1. Sounds like you’re getting into the Donald Rumsfeld zone of known unknowns and unknown unknowns! 😁

        1. More like Gelett Burgess:
          The other day upon the stair
          I met a man who wasn’t there.
          He wasn’t there again today;
          I wish, I wish he’d go away!

  14. That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
    Not till about
    One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
    Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out, …

    25 mins over brekker. It seems a bit slower than most – maybe taking too long over Inheritrix/Waxwing and convincing myself Istle meant fibre.
    Thanks setter and U.

  15. 7:23. No real problems this morning, but it wasn’t among the very easiest for me. A puzzle with funny words like oppidan or OXALIC and old-testament prophets is unlikely to be that.

  16. Quick but not quick enough with a WITCH of 121. Held up by the oppidan for some reason. Congrats to Verlaine on equalling his second-fastest solve at an astounding 3:10. Thanks setter and Jack.

    1. There’s astounding and then there’s Mohn who makes astounding look sluggish, though 🙂

  17. Under nine minutes, vastly helped by starting to fill in EVERGLADES while still taking in the clue, and by knowing OPPIDAN .

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  18. Interesting that so many found it so easy. One man’s general knowledge and all that…

    NHO oppidan, INHERITRIX, OXALIC, ISTLE (tho’ biffed), NEY (would never have biffed)

    Congrats to all who flew through it!

  19. 20 minutes or so. Didn’t know what oppidan meant but managed to figure out TOWNSWOMAN, and didn’t know the istle fibre either, which held up GRISTLE for a long time. Only know ox=neat thanks to doing these crosswords, and eventually realised what was going on with OXALIC.

    FOI Jive
    LOI Gristle
    COD Glaswegian

  20. Easy and quick, as others have said, though oppidan gave pause for thought before I remembered that oppidum=town. Seen istle and imago several times before.
    I see that neither this cryptic nor todays quick cryptic have scared any horses. So that’s good ..

  21. 17 minutes, ending with JIVE which I didn’t think was a form of jazz more a rock and roll dance. The rest was write-me-in.

  22. All but two, the NEOLOGY/OXALIC crossers, so worth my rare foray from QCLand. Must remember “neat” and the French guy!

  23. Like most I found this pretty easy so my time of 22 minutes was really nothing very special. Was a bit slow to understand OVERWRITTEN and had never heard the word NEOLOGY, but easy enough.

    I notice my avatar has disappeared again. Goodness knows why. It doesn’t really matter at all, but some people may like to know. I look as if I’ve logged out (although I didn’t) so I logged in again. It still didn’t appear, even after leaving and reloading the page.

  24. A pleasant romp with only oppidan unknown. FOI, EXECUTION, LOI, OVERWRITTEN. Biffed EVERGLADES and GRISTLE so didn’t notice istle. Steady away at 11:40. Thanks setter and U.

  25. Experiment: I logged out (with some effort), then closed the page. I then opened up again and signed in and wrote this. Perhaps it will appear now.

    Yes it did. Now I’ll leave it and see if it appears automatically tomorrow.

  26. I don’t time myself, but this was as easy as it gets. Couldn’t remember the meaning of oppidan, but once the checkers were in it was pretty obvious.

  27. My only real hold-up was having ING instead of ION on the end of the extreme sentence. I recalled “oppidan” from some esoteric social distinction at Eton between scholars and oppidans and thought for a while that “fellow”, as in a college, might relate to that. But I was making it far too complicated. Also got briefly sidetracked by “oxalis”, which is a rather pretty flower, by no means an acid. 11.48

    1. I was curious about your oxalis observation and looking it up I found it is where oxalic acid comes from.

    2. Around here we call the yellow variety of oxalis soursobs, from eating the stalks when children. A sour taste means it’s acidic.

  28. 5m 11s, and I didn’t find this quite as easy as others – TOWNSWOMAN took some piecing together (not helped by having EXECUTING as the crosser), as did OXALIC. For some reason the very simple JIVE took me quite a while.

  29. 04:30, so an entertaining solve, if very breezy, even for a Monday. As others have observed, that might lead you to characterise it as straightforward, but surprisingly so, given that it doesn’t shy away from some quite arcane vocab (though admittedly much of it is less arcane in Crosswordland, where the neat graze in the field as minor prophets preach the good word to the oppidans.

  30. Although well inside my target time finishing in 28.35, though I feel I should have been faster on this one. The comments above with some super quick times confirm my thoughts. I too was caught out by putting in EXECUTING which made the unknown Oppidan clue initially impossible to solve. Once I had figured out the OWNS part of the clue the final two fell into place. These two clues cost me over three minutes however.

  31. Comfortably inside 25 minutes, which is very fast for me. DNK istle or oppidan, and struggled with the spelling of MARSHAL (despite it being my surname, but with an extra L!). Vaguely remembered OXALIC, and I was pleased to remember IMAGO. Thanks all.

  32. 12:54

    A jolly canter and a pleasant way to start the week.

    GRISTLE always brings the bizarre musical combo Throbbing Gristle to mind, along with their equally oddly-named founder Genesis P-Orridge. Their Wikipedia entry makes it clear that they were unlikely to be confused with Abba.

    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter

  33. I came in at 12’47” – not for the first time, I find the really easy ones according to Snitch don’t bring out the best in me . Nitch-wise I do better on the harder ones.

  34. 16:33. Judging by the comments, this should possibly have been faster but it didn’t seem particularly easy while solving. As TOM and DOM seemed equally likely as “fellows” and not having a clue what an oppidan was, I ummed a while over DOWNSWOMAN – like Mr Sawbill – but otherwise no real holdups.

  35. 11:21

    Pretty quick – SNITCH at 55 currently which would have given me 17m30s to complete.

    Even the more unusual words were generously clued. Only TOWNSWOMAN held me up – once I’d separated the AN and saw that W was the wife, I was able to make an educated guess.

  36. Hi, a couple of comments:

    I am not at all convinced that Ignominious and Abject are synonyms? Also, Espalier is to train a tree using a lattice of canes typically, to branch sideways. Hence, it is usually used as a verb. If used as a noun, it would only apply to a tree, which is of course not a shrub…

    …my two penn’orth.

    1. Both your points seem valid to me. I’d say abject and ignominious are similar but it’s a push to consider them synonyms. Espalier can be “a fruit tree trained on stakes” but a shrub is “a low woody plant smaller than a tree” so that seems more tenuous.

    2. The first words of the first definition of ESPALIER in Collins are ‘an ornamental shrub’.
      I’m not sure about ‘abject’ and ‘ignominious’. Collins (again) gives ‘contemptible’ for ‘abject’, which seems reasonably close to the disgraceful connotations of ‘ignominious’.

      1. They’re both in the synonym list for “Contemptible (despicable, shameful)” at Thesaurus-dot-com.

  37. I didn’t go to Eton but pupils who live in the town (Windsor?) are known as Oppidans, after the Latin for town

  38. 26:24. Good fun, but I didn’t find it that easy. LOI JIVE but most time spent constructing the TOWNSWOMAN

  39. Cripes, laser-focused wavelength for me, and a big PB by 90 seconds or so. I was just chucking them in on sight towards the end, and breathed a big sigh of relief that my LOI TOWNSWOMAN was correct, having bunged in from a hazy guess at what oppidan might mean. I don’t suppose that the stars will ever align in such a way again, and this record will stand for some time for me…if I was a pro cyclist, there would be widespread accusations of doping after such a result.


  40. A successful finish, which unfortunately is still the hallmark of an easy puzzle. Even then it was a close run thing, with loi Townswoman going in with crossed fingers after a lengthy Executing/Execution dilemma. Pleased to remember the neat/ox trick, so some small signs of progress. Invariant

  41. I see quite a few colleagues from QC-land have strayed across to the 15×15 today – we were told in our blog that this was a very approachable puzzle, and so it proved for me with a completion in just over 18 minutes, which I think is my fastest yet. A number of the clues do seem to have crossed over from the QC with me …

    Completed but not all parsed though, with a number of answers put in from definition-plus-checkers: I did not know Istle, for example, only knew Espalier was a plant, not which type of plant, and had forgotten that Neat are cattle until I had put in Oxalic and the penny dropped. So once again the 15×15 teaches me things I did not know or reminds me of things I had forgotten – it nearly always does!

    OTOH I was familiar with the term oppidan, both its general meaning and its Eton slang meaning, and getting Townswoman quite early on definitely helped the solve go sweetly.

    Many thanks to Ulaca for the blog

  42. “Oppidum” is well known to Latinists as being the word for a town, so it only took a second to convert “oppidan”. Bit of an unfair advantage to the Lit Hum crowd.

  43. As a rookie solver it was satisfying to complete confidently today. My MO is grinding to a halt with one or two clues that no amount of staring at resolve. Perhaps it was very easy today but I cling to the hope that I am improving because I was able to construct even the unknowns from word play. I still needed the X from the bird to complete INHERiTRIX which I wanted to end in ESS. I always forget that feminine ending. Thanks for ISTLE. Ney was uppermost in my mind after a recent trip to Versailles where a whole room is devoted to busts of his generals and enormous paintings of their martial exploits.

  44. 6:18 late this afternoon, after a morning of various activities and chores. Maybe I should prepare for puzzles in that way in future, as I reckon that was my second best ever time (and all parsed) but I do acknowledge the very low SNITCH level. On a personal basis , as I get older, it was nonetheless a very cheering experience.
    FOI 1 ac “jive” with a slight MER, although Wikipedia suggests its strong jazz roots, having appeared in a Cab Calloway dictionary originally.
    Otherwise, a sprint for the line with no vocabulary issues to impede me fortunately.
    I think “oppidan” stuck from a Times puzzle many moons ago.
    Thanks to Ulaca for the blog and to the setter for a benevolent start to the week.

  45. 9.28. Always very satisfying to dip under 10 mins. Paused briefly to ponder the istle bit of gristle and to conjure up oxalic but otherwise nothing here to delay me.

  46. I thought I’d gone top to bottom through the Down clues for the first time ever but EXECUTING needed to be EXECUTION and even with that I didn’t know oppidan and couldn’t get TOWNSWOMAN.

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