Times 28468 – what colour are those cells again?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Time taken: 7:45, but with one silly error, showing that I have been in the USA for far too long.

A couple of letter subtraction clues today could be the stumbling point for solvers, but I thought this one was pretty straightforward.  Hope you know your stars!

How did you get along?

1 Huge son going to the end, amusing people (6)
COMICS – COSMIC(huge) with the S(son) moved to the end
4 Rubbish outside place, last bit of festive decoration (7)
ROSETTE – ROT(rubbish) surrounding SET(place), and then the last letter of festivE
9 Form of life in river covered in flowing liquid? (5)
LARVA – R(river) inside LAVA(flowing liquid)
10 Like a monkey’s mistake — a blessing being captured (9)
BABOONISH – BISH(mistake) containing A, BOON(blessing)
11 Gangster and cleric outside pub — The Star (9)
ALDEBARAN – AL(Capone, gangster) and DEAN(cleric) surrounding BAR(pub)
12 Give encouragement to holy person leaving diocese (5)
CHEER – remove ST(holy person) from the diocese of CHESTER
13 Area of ground that’s holy, trimmed at the edges (4)
ACRE – SACRED(holy) missing the outside letters
14 Old IT feature fills home-worker with fear (4,6)
CARD READER – CARER(home-worker) containing DREAD(fear). Never had to use one of these, though as an undergraduate I had an account on a machine running an operating system that was derived from a card reader, so code could also be seen as punches
18 Begging access, endlessly worrying (10)
ENTREATING – ENTRY(access) minus the last letter, then EATING(worrying)
20 Old man is full of energy? Exactly! (4)
DEAD – DAD(old man) containing E(energy)
23 Smallest lake towards where the sun rises (5)
LEAST – L(lake) and EAST(towards where the sun rises)
24 Safety device could make car heat up (9)
25 Search all the players before a session (4,5)
CAST ABOUT – CAST(all the players), then A, BOUT(session)
26 Look hard, one side to the other, for weeds (5)
TARES – STARE(look hard) with the S moved to the other end. Got this from wordplay, both Collins and Chambers list it as being a weed in the Bible, and also vetch which I guess could be a weed
27 Decided to add modern light to beastly home (7)
SETTLED – LED(modern light) with SETT(badger’s home)
28 Class reportedly got older and wiser? (6)
GREYED – sounds like GRADE(class).  This was my downfall, as I spelled it with an A, like the Americans do
1 Small room close to bodega: see red wine store (9)
CELLARAGE – CELL(small room), the last letter of bodegA, and RAGE(see red)
2 Tower where star has party, right? (7)
MIRADOR – the star MIRA, DO(party) and R(right)
3 Caught he-man in game (6)
CRAMBO – C(caught), RAMBO(he-man)
4 Bird — investigating having wings being clipped (5)
ROBIN – PROBING(investigating) minus the exterior letters
5 Troubled soul, dear Parisian who cannot stand tall? (8)
SLOUCHER – anagram of SOUL, and CHER(dear, in French)
6 Be ill, needing nurse round? The very last thing you want (4,3)
TAIL END – AIL(be ill) inside TEND(nurse)
7 Number three at sea (5)
ETHER – anagram of THREE
8 Lincoln bishop with a set of holy books found to be unorthodox (8)
ABERRANT –  ABE Lincoln, RR(bishop) and A, NT(set of holy books)
15 Branch of thieves’ organisation tried reforming (8)
DENDRITE – a DEN of thieves, and an anagram of TRIED
16 Garment covered in grass must be put right (9)
REDRESSED – DRESS(garment) inside REED(grass)
17 This person at social function provides food item (8)
MEATBALL – ME(this person), AT, BALL(social function)
19 What’s characteristic about conflicting directions in journey? (7)
TRANSIT – TRAIT(characteristic) containing N and S(conflicting directions)
21 Attendant always round queen, ready first and last (7)
EQUERRY – EER(always) surrounding QU(queen) then the first and last letters of ReadY
22 Duck in second camp: that is flying off (6)
SCOTER – S(second), and COTERIE(camp) minus IE(that is)
23 See copper beginning to search place (5)
LOCUS – LO(see), CU(copper) and the first letter of Search
24 Reminder about being associated with people posh and arrogant (5)
PROUD – PROD(reminder) surrounding U(associated with people posh)

74 comments on “Times 28468 – what colour are those cells again?”

  1. Thanks, George. I enjoyed this one – one for the astronerds perhaps. Took a guess at Mirador, thinking I’d heard of both the star and some places that might have been named after a tower.

  2. There were several words just on the edge of my remembering which, with crossers in place and crossed fingers, went in. And then there was Crambo which I didn’t know, couldn’t figure out, but did figure out that I’d never figure out. DNF. The words I didn’t have to think about twice went in pretty easily.
    thanks, george

  3. 44 minutes. GRAY in STINGRAY yesterday was clued as ‘dull American’ so there is some consistency, but I still think it was unfortunate that the first E in 28a wasn’t a checked letter. Tripped up our illustrious blogger anyway, even if his answer wasn’t strictly incorrect, British English or US English spelling.

    A few unfamiliar (=forgotten) words like CRAMBO and TARES made this a struggle towards the end, but I was pleased to have remembered ALDEBARAN and SCOTER.

  4. Just a little harder than the first three this week, partly because of a real unknown, CRAMBO. CARD READER seemed a bit obscure, too, and was one of my last in. I saw PROUD early on but took a while to make sure I was accounting for all the words in the clue. There were two “felt lucky to remember” answers in this episode, DENDRITE (which we had in one of these not so long ago, if memory serves) and SCOTER. (Oh, my! And here’s ROBIN too! The birds are back! That will provoke an amusing reaction from our unwilling twitcher colleague!)

    1. Two stars in the clues!! Outta sight!!
      For an “astronerd”, clearly alright.
      But two birds were the pits
      So can we call it “Quits”?
      If I’m generous, maybe I might.

  5. Another finding it mostly easy except for NHOs CRAMBO, TARES, MIRA, MIRADOR. Alphabet trawl gave RAMBO, clear wordplay on TARES, and total guess on MIRADOR. Should have got the last, used to eat at the clifftop restaurant Miramare overlooking the Adriatic. Remember reading Peter Biddlecombe’s exhortation to memorise the 20 largest stars, amongst other lists, when I first found this site about 15 years ago. Never followed that advice – he did crosswords competitively, I do them for a bit of fun.
    Like Guy PROUD seemed to have too many words in the clue, ALDEBARAN was in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, have used a card reader in the 1970s. Scoter took a bit of remembering.
    COD cellarage, liked the “see red” lift and separate.

  6. 25 minutes.

    Greyed is a poor clue -both answers should be allowed.

    (Unless galspray falls for it.)

  7. 17:05
    I must have seen CRAMBO somewhere recently; it came to mind immediately. As did MIRADOR, although I didn’t know MIRA and couldn’t have told you what a MIRADOR is.

  8. Finished once again within my target half-hour but this time with two errors.

    Firstly I had GRAYED at 28ac, and without the excuse that I’ve lived in the US for too long. Yesterday’s appearance of STINGRAY may have had some bearing in that the A-spelling was fresh in my mind, but also I was distracted and not concentrating on what I was writing as I was busy wondering what the answer had to do with being wiser.

    Elsewhere my problems were all in the NW where eventually I managed to work out the unknowns CRAMBO and ALDEBARAN, but had to take a guess at the star in the clue at 2dn. Perhaps influenced by the name of the QC setter I plumped for MARA and got it wrong.

    On reflection I think CRAMBO may have come up in a Guardian puzzle recently with RAMBO clued as ‘he-man’ or something very similar, as that bit of wordplay was in my head from somewhere.

  9. This was fine until I got to the last three clues in the top left. I had never heard of CRAMBO, I didn’t know ALDEBARAN. I had either never heard of or forgotten both MIRA the star and MIRADOR the tower. I was also tempted by “tower” being something that tows, like a tractor, but something that actually fitted. But all green in the end. Those 3 clues took as long as the rest of the crossword, I would guess.

    1. Almost the same experience, except I did know ALDEBARAN. But NHO MIRA or MIRADOR or CRAMBO, so it still took ages. 20:21, but with the same inexcusable American spelling mistake as a few others here…

  10. I solved this one after midnight after far too much to drink, but went to bed pleased with myself at solving it in under 10 minutes. When I woke up this morning the puzzle was still on the screen with three answers remaining… I bunged them straight in – MEATBALL, DEAD and GREYED, no problem, and submitted without leaderboard as the time was now in excess of 5 hours, and got a pink square where I’d entered LOCCS at 23D.

  11. 48:01. No pinks or aids. I really am getting better. FOI COSMIC, LOI PROUD.

    Vaguely remembered CRAMBO from a book of card games. ALDEBARAN is one of the most prominent stars even in washed out city skies. It’s the Red eye of Taurus, lined up between Orion’s Belt and the Pleiades. But NHO MIRA or MIRADOR, which I guessed as a tower in Lord of the Rings.

    NHO SCOTER. Slow to see DEAD =exactly, until I remembered “dead on”, “stopped dead” etc. Greek O-Level helped with DENDRITE, and biblical recall for TARES.


    1. CRAMBO was apparently a rhyming game, not a card game, and very popular in its day. Robert Burns was very fond of it (and presumably very good at it).

  12. 26:19
    Another steady solve. Four in a row …
    Thanks, g.
    PS: I think grayed is okay 🙂

  13. 43 minutes with LOI MIRADOR on a wing and a prayer but perhaps vaguely remembered. THE NW was a bit too much like the sky on a cloudy night though. I’ve never heard of CRAMBO and ALDEBARAN was painfully constructed. I once learnt some New Testament Greek and knew dendron was a tree so DENDRITE was entered confidently. Quite tough. Thank you George and setter.

  14. 14’12”, with the last two minutes on the nho CRAMBO, which fell to a double alphabet trawl.

    I thought GREYED was fair, given yesterday’s discussion. On the other hand, the potential pitfall was unchecked. Did the editor not see our discussion on HIGHWAYMAN / MEN?

    Thanks george and setter.

  15. 14:08. Did anyone get misled by the hidden STAKEABLE for 10A? I seemed to recall a monkey referring to a sum of money that might have been bet, so confidently wrote it in. I was really thrown when I couldn’t get any down answers in the NE corner at first until ETHER showed me something was wrong. LOI TARES, which was only vaguely remembered, as was MIRADOR. Thank-you George and setter.

    1. £500 is a monkey in betting. I actually think that’s a valid reading of that clue – that’s amazing.

      1. STAKEABLE doesn’t have dictionary status, at least not in the sources for the daily puzzles.

    2. That’s a made-up, if perfectly understandable, word. If you Google, you’ll get results for “stackable” instead. If you search for STAKEABLE in Collins, say, you’ll get no result. It might be in Chambers—seems everything is—but this isn’t Mephisto.

      1. Well I don’t use the dictionary while solving… except for the Mephisto and MCS, of course, so I’d no idea it wasn’t a proper word…. and didn’t until you told me. How sad. I thought it was a great answer to a great clue!

        1. I was suspicious, so looked it up (or, rather, tried to).
          At my copy-editing desk, I’m suspicious all day long.

  16. Lots of NHO’s but trusted the wordplay and glad everything was good. Tried to make GIBBONISH work for a while before thinking of the alternative.
    FOI Least
    LOI Aberrant
    Enjoyable crossword.

  17. 07:22, so pretty snappy, especially as there were things which had to be dredged from the memory banks, MIRADOR being the last to fall, and TARES ringing a very faint bell from Sunday School about a century ago (I had to use Google to refresh my memory, and it turns out to be the Parable of the Tares, Matthew 13:24-43, which I must have been remembering).

  18. 17:26. Harder than average for me, though the SNITCH rated it easier than average. There were several words either unknown to me or at the periphery of my knowledge – TARES, CELLARAGE, MIRADOR, CRAMBO, DENDRITE, SCOTER.
    Like a few others I put in GRAYED, I guess being influenced by the spelling of grade. However I spotted it on my pre-submit review and so changed it before submitting. A reminder to me of the value of those few extra seconds at the end!

  19. Despite dire predictions from many commenters yesterday, today was one of the easiest Thursdays I remember doing! No problems with any of the vocabulary except for CRAMBO, LOI, which the A and B checkers suggested had to be Rambo for he-man – in any case, it’s cropped up before, though probably in reverse. ALDEBARAN was vaguely remembered, but spelling was worked out from the cryptic. No problem either with MIRADOR – although I wouldn’t have remembered the star, the word was familiar from Spanish. A really enjoyable solve, that never felt as if it would be impossible to complete. I guess I was on the setter’s wavelength. Thanks to both him/her and George for the blog.

    1. my own “dire predictions” have been rolled over to tomorrow. I don’t think we have had a Friday stinker for a while

  20. Not as hard as was expected after 3 easy ones this week; 20 minutes, with CRAMBO a NHO guess, the rest known about. I don’t agree that GREYED is an ambiguous clue, the mainstream English spelling is such and this is in a British paper. Nice solving time, George.

  21. 39:47. I couldn’t get started in the North West so did the rest in pretty good time and came back to that corner for a slow struggle to finish. I sort of knew ALDEBARAN and the wordplay helped with the spelling. Toyed with MEGADOR for a while which I quite liked but couldn’t make it work. LARVA (such a simple one) came to my rescue. Bring on tomorrow’s

  22. NHO of CRAMBO, ALDEBARAN, Mira or SCOTER, but wordplay on all was generous and I seemed to be on the wavelength. Wrote them all in confidently. Liked LOCUS and EQUERRY – have at last trained myself to look for a Q whenever I see a U, which saves time. 20 mins for this today.

  23. Finished in just under 51 minutes. Last two in were LARVA and CRAMBO. NHO the latter, but it fitted the wordplay, so put it in with fingers crossed.

    I remember using card readers when first learning computing as an undergraduate.We would type our Fortran code onto a set of cards, and stack them up in the reader to run in the middle of the night, then come back in the morning to get our printed output, generally of error messages.

    I don’t know my stars, and resorted to looking up alphabetical lists of stars to find ALDEBARAN.

    Many thanks.

  24. 20.27

    Good challenge. Didn’t know the three toughies in the NW but followed the w/p.

    Liked SLOUCHER among others

    Thanks George and Setter

  25. Held up by LOI MIRADOR, otherwise a steady enough solve. 31:41. Thanks setter and George.

  26. I suppose that since yesterday we were told that it was gray not grey in STINGRAY, you could argue that we should have been again told that it was grey not grey. But why should a British newspaper signpost British spellings?

    28 minutes: the times creep up and I’m almost certain now that we are due a Friday stinker. It took me a while to see what 20ac was all about: surely if he’s dead, he can hardly be showing much energy, so ‘exactly’ seems wrong, but then the penny dropped. I tend to find the subtractive clues tricky, so was pleased that both were fine.

  27. No time, and resorted to aids anyway to get the NHO CRAMBO. No problem with DENDRITE – known from teaching material science a lifetime ago. The stars were vaguely remembered, SCOTER less so, worked out from wordplay. Thanks both.

  28. 16:24. CRAMBO was unknown, but fortunately ALDEBARAN – the visibly red star in Taurus – wasn’t, so Mr Stallone it was. Luckily, I failed to spot the charming accident of the unintentional hidden in 10ac – more persuasive than the real thing in retrospect (apart from those pesky crossers).

  29. Impossible number of NHOs for me to even start biffing from clues.

    CRAMBO (although I did biff this one!) MIRADOR TARES ALDEBARAN DENDRITE SCOTER and even CARD READER would never have come to me.

    I live and learn.

    Thanks all

  30. 26:06

    With 17 mins on the clock, had just the NW corner (with COMICS filled in) to complete.

    ABERRANT gave BABOONISH (COD and WOD surely) and having filled in CELLARAGE, gave the clue I needed for ALDEBARAN (vaguely known of).

    Then 9a gave the vaguely known star MIRA within the unknown MIRADOR. NHO the game either, was thinking some French-sounding card game, before eventually spotted the he-man.

  31. Last ones in CRAMBO, SCOTER, TARES, all NHO but eventually got from wordplay. Don’t love the definition for GREYED even if the spelling didn’t pose a problem.

  32. 18 minutes- with my unknowns being correct today- CRAMBO, ALDEBARAN, MIRADOR.
    Enjoyed it. Many thanks to the setter and blogger.

  33. 7:23. Another gentle one, in spite of a reasonably high funny-word-count. I thought clueing a rather obscure tower with a rather obscure star was a bit unfair, but I had heard of the tower.

  34. I biffed for England. Didn’t much enjoy it, but probably me than any fault of the setter

    TIME 8:28

  35. I was on for a fairly quick time (for me) of about 25 minutes till I got to my last three in the north west corner. Didn’t know my stars well enough to easily get 2dn and 11ac, but it was CRAMBO that really took the time for me to bring to mind. In the end crossed the line with all correct and parsed in 34.50, although a last minute check did allow me thankfully to make a last minute correction to the spelling of GREYED after remembering my country of birth wasn’t America!

  36. 25:07

    I didn’t reall enjoy this. Seemed to be a lot of MERs as I was going through it but the annoyingly ambiguous GREYED is the only one I can really point to now. Grumpiness may be connected to Microsoft and Google joining forces to make my life hell at the moment.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  37. Three goes needed this time to finish off the SE corner, with SCOTER eventually allowing me to get TARES and GREYED. I thought about putting in ‘abstract’ for 8d before figuring out ABERRANT, and MIRADOR and CRAMBO were unknowns where I wasn’t entirely confident about the wordplay either.

    It may say something about my age that I got CARD READER and thought “The little machine you use to make contactless payments? What’s old about that?”…

    FOI Locus
    LOI Greyed
    COD Parachute

  38. 17 mins. Apart from NHO CRAMBO and I didn’t know MIRA or that a MIRADOR was a tower, nice and easy. (Again)

  39. 32:04 and surprised to have no errors with several words I wasn’t completely confident on. SCOTER, DENDRITE, ALDEBARAN, CRAMBO and particularly MIRADOR where both star and tower were unknown. Unusual to have a crossword with almost identical ideas…”trimmed at the edges” and “wings being clipped”? Enjoyed it though. Thanks s & b.

  40. Defeated by TARES and CELLERAGE, which I should have got from the wordplay. Other rarities, like CRAMBO and MIRADOR (some hotels named after this I recall) I managed to solve.
    I thought of TARE weight, but couldn’t link it to a weed.
    Otherwise a nice one. Close but no cigar.
    Thank you George and Setter.

  41. This felt harder than yesterday’s but I ended up with exactly the same time of 26 minutes. Which goes to show. Enjoyable puzzle. Mirador was maybe a bit unfair, I thought. Never heard of the tower and juuust remembered the star from a short-lived interest in astronomy.

  42. 35 minutes, a bit harder than the first 3 this week, but that’s not really visible in my solving times. CRAMBO of course my LOI, after I dared put it in. No real problems elsewhere, though ALDEBARAN, vaguely remembered, had to be constructed from wordplay, as did SCOTER. I did indeed grow up in the age of punched IBM cards (and I still have some program decks of them in my personal IT museum), so why, upon seeing CARD READER, did I think of memory cards instead? Just for reasons of audacity and originality, STAKEABLE really should be the right answer for 10ac, although I would never have thought of that. But it does fit perfectly.

    1. I used to repair 80 and 96 column card readers and punches way back when! I also used to work on paper tape punch/readers! Now I feel ancient 🙂

  43. Here’s hoping for a Friday stinker!
    Even if I can’t complete, I’m bound to learn some more esoteric clue solving which had previously escaped me.

    Several years ago there was a great deal of chuntering on a much less erudite and distinguished site when Dean Meyer started setting for the Sunday Times. I loved his puzzles, working them out took me to the level where I expect, not hope, to complete the Times at least five days a week. Not quickly but I usually get there.

    Thanks to all the contributors and bloggers for such a witty and edifying forum.


  44. 26A reminded me of a Times clue some 45 years ago that read ‘Was classically returned as vetch’ (4). Basic Latin required.

  45. NHO CRAMBO but definitions were okay. MIRADOR was more in hope than expectation. SCOTER dragged up from somewhere. Knew ALDEBARAN. Stopped the run of each day getting quicker but enjoyed nonetheless.

  46. In a way I’m grateful that my run of solves has come to an end (nho’s Crambo, Mirador and Scoter were a step too far for me, even with a confidence boosting Aldebaran and Dendrite), as ‘another’ successful solve would have resulted in a weekend desperately trying to solve tomorrow’s undoubted stinker. Invariant

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