Times 28483 – MacPherson’s Rant

Time: 17 minutes

Music: Mahler, Symphony #5, Maazel/VPO

This was quite a nice puzzle, with a number of original devices.   It was easy only because I took the time to use the cryptics, which reward the solver very quickly.   The repeat in phosphorus was pretty good, and I also liked the oenology clue.     I’m not too sure about the one cryptic definition, but I can’t see anything else there.

I hope everyone enjoyed the Christmas festivities….here in Connecticut, it’s still Christmas for another two hours.



1 Public house, very large, repeatedly holding RU match needs this (10)
7 Desire to get rid of … to get rid of piano (4)
9 Organised activity for many an American fool covered in excess fat (5,3)
FLASH MOB – FLA(SHMO)B, more often spelt schmo.
10 So-called poet emerging from Vienna is soliciting backing (6)
OSSIAN –  Backwards hidden in [Vien]na is so[liciting], so-called because he didn’t really exist.
11 Losing face, one looking to buy container (6)
HOPPER -[s]HOPPER, one that took embarrassingly long to figure out.
13 Old opera company record unknown for wine producers’ scholarship? (8)
OENOLOGY – O + E.N.O. + LOG + Y.
14 Contrived Orient cliché describing the solar system (12)
HELIOCENTRIC – Anagram of ORIENT CLICHE, where the surface is not exactly idiomatic.
17 Joint delivery of speech (12)
ARTICULATION – Double definition.
20 Member of orchestra was partial suspect? (4,4)
SIDE DRUM –  SIDED RUM, more often called a snare drum.
21 Friend in New York to receive allowance (6)
22 Film of father with girl (6)
23 Ended chief’s expense (8)
25 Handy pottery left out (4)
26 Officer having to fabricate utility vehicle with new soldier? (10)
2 Respected hotel everyone was in debt to (8)
3 Notes appeal for help (3)
SOS – Multiple occurrences of SO.
4 Pigeon house on lake left incomplete (5)
HOMER – HO + MER[e], i.e. a homing pigeon.
5 Prepare for painting buff and blue (3,4)
6 Cruel don’s going badly rogue (9)
7 Uncalled for as one introduces songs for one Conservative (11)
8 Large house with good open area of land (6)
12 Greek character behind catalogue is a collector (11)
15 Call from queen to provide food with gold all in the middle (9)
CATERWAUL – CATER _ W/AU + [a]L[l], where the queen is a female cat.
16 Give notice on account of eastern conflict ending in revolution (8)
FOREWARN – FOR + E + WAR + [revolutio]N.
18 Think of a number one’s going to score (7)
COMPOSE – A cryptic definition, I believe. I  can’t see anything like ‘think of a number’ where you can remove an I or ONE and get compose.
19 Page that is about traitor and main criminal (6)
21 British remain in port (5)
24 Lobster perhaps beheaded at that time (3)
HEN – [t]HEN.

57 comments on “Times 28483 – MacPherson’s Rant”

  1. 18 minutes with OSSIAN unknown and 7dn remained unparsed until after I’d stopped the clock. In fact it baffled me for some time and since the full parsing has been omitted here I’ll record it as UNITED (as one) contains [introduces] SOLI (songs for one) + C (Conservative). Tricky stuff indeed because of the unlikely use of ‘soli’ rather than ‘solos’ as the plural.

    1. OSSIAN was known to me but only as a rather nice beer. Having refreshed my history I feel suitably enlightened.
      Tough one for a Tuesday.
      Thank you Vinyl1

      1. I had 7ac as “itch” (pitch being, I thought, getting rid of, like throwing). Corrected when 7 & 8 dn were addressed.

  2. I was hung up at the end trying to parse COMPOSE as something other than a CD… to no avail, of course.
    No other problems. An enjoyable time.

  3. 11:28
    I biffed FLASH MOB, LIEUTENANT, & UNSOLICITED, parsing post-submission. NHO SIDE DRUM, only knew ‘snare drum’; ODE doesn’t refer from one to the other, only noting that ‘snare’ is also called ‘snare drum’. I took me an alphabet trawl to get SIDED. COD UNSOLICITED.

  4. 22m 04s
    I agree with Jack about UNSOLICITED. Never heard of SOLI before.
    LOI was COMPOSE and agree with vinyl that it is just a cryptic definition.
    In the extremely unlikely event that I ever get to appear on The Chase and Bradley Walsh asks me what I would do with any winnings, one choice would definitely be for someone to organise a FLASHMOB performance of one of my favourite opera arias, one which I would be part of the audience for, but would not be aware of in advance. Among my choices would be “Largo al factotum”, “Non Piu Andrai”, “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön”, and “Soave sia il vento”. “Der hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” would get people’s attention as well!

  5. 41 minutes. I found this harder than a usual Monday with COMPOSE, my LOI, going in uncertainly as a cryptic def. Biffed UNSOLICITED which I wouldn’t have had a hope of parsing.

    Some nice clues, with the SIDED RUM ‘Orchestral member’ and CATERWAUL being my picks.

    Hope you’re weathering the storm OK, Vinyl.

  6. My boundly reverence, that I cannot trace
    Your Hallowed names, in this unholy place, …

    20 mins pre-brekker. Very gentle and soothing – once I had changed my (p)itch to (p)urge.
    Thanks setter and V.

  7. Most unhappy with HOMER and HEN
    I suggest they FOREWARN people when
    Are amongst the words
    That Nowt will be moaning again……

    (But HELIOCENTRIC gets ten out of ten)

  8. 32 mins so normality finally reigns again. I enjoyed this one though took a little too much time on my last three in SIDE DRUM, COMPOSE and ARTICULATION.
    I agree with Jack re 7d, SOLI making me look twice before I entered it with a shrug.

    Of course I loved OENOLOGY, PHOSPHORUS too. NHO OSSIAN.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  9. Completed in about 30mins but with one wrong answer – I should have taken my time over SIDE DRUM but threw in ‘like drum’ instead, knowing it was wrong but hoping there was something obscure that would help me out.

    COMPOSE went in when I realised that score was related to music and not goals but I didn’t really parse it and, like others, I still can’t beyond it being vaguely cryptic.

    LIEUTENANT went in, came out and went back in again, unparsed (as was UNSOLICITED) until the very helpful blog. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  10. 10′, but with a careless ..OS at the end of 1ac.


    HELIOCENTRICITY was a paradigm shift resisted, by the church mainly, for many centuries. People held a ‘view’ against increasingly massive scientific findings. Let’s pray that this doesn’t happen with climate change.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  11. 23 mins. Pretty straightforward today though couldn’t parse UNSOLICITED or COMPOSE.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  12. 25:38 but it felt much longer as several clues resisted, especially in the SW corner. An enjoyable battle with COD for me the queen’s call. If you want to see SIDE DRUMs being played in truly astounding fashion, take a look at any video of the Swiss ‘Top Secret Drum Corps’. Wonderful stuff.

    Thanks to setter and Vinyl.

  13. All easy enough and I was expecting to finish in a time that was one of my best, but the excellent SIDE DRUM held me up and then I reached a dead end over COMPOSE; I put it in and to my surprise was told that I was correct in 23 minutes. But I never understood how it worked and was looking in vain for something cryptic. Now I’m told it’s a CD. I suppose there is a link between score, number and compose but to me it seems one of the wishier-washier CDs.

  14. Like others SOLI was new to me so had no idea about the parsing of that one, amongst others.
    LOI DEFT (took ages not being that familiar with Delft)

  15. 9:38. No problem with SOLI, which I’ve seen in a few choral scores. DNK A female lobster was a HEN. LOI URGE but not because I’d got stuck on it. COD to PHOSPHORUS. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  16. Very nice one. Our weather here is much like Vinyl’s in Connecticut – not that much snow but plenty of ice and very cold. In fact I’m a bit like Mariana marooned in the moated GRANGE waiting for Pat the Plowman to come and salt us (again) but so far he cometh not. Walter Scott didn’t fake his sources (like MacPherson) he just embellished them. 12.06

    1. Anyone who has a dad called Finn McCool gets a thumbs up from me.

      I haven’t seen you around much recently, Olivia. Hope you are keeping okay.

  17. 33:41 with a good bit of that systematically going through the alphabet to find SIDE DRUM, and another bit wasted because I put in ITCH before I had any checkers.

    Nice puzzle, like vinyl1 I found that a pleasing number of clues came from wordplay first (PHOSPHORUS, CATERWAUL, SIDE DRUM were all great… BUDGET I had to say out loud as BUD-GET before I realised it made a word).

    I wonder what the general opinion is on clues like 7a where there is a very good (and obvious) alternative solution in ITCH. It wasn’t a big deal because UNSOLICITED had generous checkers (even if very difficult wordplay), but do people see it as a positive or negative to have alternate answers that need checkers to discount?

    Thanks both.

    1. I’ve never had a problem with checkers being required to determine the answer to a clue. It’s called a crossword puzzle which to me suggests that the intersection of words might be expected to play a part.

      1. Fair point 🙂 With cryptics you get used to being very confident of an answer once you’ve parsed it but perhaps that shouldn’t be the expectation.

        1. No, your point was fair enough in that I know there is a body of opinion here (possibly not around on Boxing Day) that believes clues should be able to stand alone with only one possible answer, but it just happens that’s never been my view.

          1. It is indeed my view that the ideal clue, a perfect clue, is one solvable outside of a grid. It’s one thing that distinguishes cryptics from puzzles where every letter is checked.

  18. 9:21. A strange solve in that I would have been well under 5 minutes if it had not been for 20ac and 18dn.
    It took me forever to think of SIDE DRUM and even when I did the word ‘orchestra’ surprised me as the term refers specifically to a way of playing it that isn’t used in that context. Are there any orchestral percussionists among us?!
    I had no idea what was going on with COMPOSED and now that I think I understand it I find it a bit odd. It suggests that composition is a purely intellectual exercise divorced from the process of writing music down. I suppose it can be.

    1. As someone who frequently miked up orchestral percussion sections, I have no problem with SIDE DRUM. Side and snare are interchangeable terms in orchestral percussion and it was one of my earlier entries, having just the i crosser (plus my joint COD, with 1A). As for COMPOSE, it stands to reason, surely, that if you are going to create a piece of music, particularly a song, as implied here, you have it first in your head before you commit pen to paper, or more likely nowadays, fingers to keyboard. It’s what distinguishes music from noise.

  19. 41:26 but invented a new instrument, the FIXE DRUM. It didn’t seem likely, but I’d been staring at it for 10 minutes. Otherwise no major delays. I hadn’t parsed UNSOLICITED so appreciated the explanation here. Thanks s & b.

  20. Having struggled a bit with today’s QC, I wasn’t overly hopeful of success despite the low Snitch. However this turned into a very gentle solve, with only the parsing of Unsolicited totally defeating me – I thought Ted (Heath) was pushing it for one Conservative. . . I also spent some time thinking 9ac was going to start with Class, having never come across Shmo, nor Schmo for that matter, and was grateful the setter used a hidden for nho Ossian. CoD to 1ac, Phosphorus. Invariant

  21. 18d is a double definition surely? “Think” COMPOSE, “of a number ones going to score” COMPOSE, no?

  22. Sped through this in about 20 minutes, knowing that I wasn’t able to devote 30 minutes to it before our family arrive for Boxing Day get together. I wish now I’d timed it as it may well have been a sub twenty which is very quick for me. Like others couldn’t quite get my head round the parsing of COMPOSE.

  23. A Monday 15×15 completed. A very welcome return to normal after hosting Christmas and delivering the nonagenarian parents home safely.
    I liked CATERWAUL and PATINA , and LOI was COMPOSE which I biffed in having got the crossers and saw ‘score’.
    I strayed a long way from my comfort zone last summer & participated in a flash mob in our local city centre . NHO before then…
    Agree with MartinP1 , those Mozart arias are sublime. Look forward to that flash mob …
    Best wishes to all across the pond in the extreme weather.

    Thanks as always to blogger & setter.

  24. I also nearly went with “Like Drum” – fortunately, I realised my error.
    Thanks for the parsing of “Unsolicited”.
    Nice Boxing Day puzzle.

  25. 53 minutes, despite briefly dozing off mid solve.
    Last two in were SIDE DRUM (which required a lengthy alphabet trawl) and compose, which I also failed to parse.
    Unsolicited – I did not correctly parse this.

    Many thanks

  26. Trotted through this in 18:18, but carelessly bunged in CATERWALL and didn’t recheck the parsing to account for the gold. Drat. I knew how to spell caterwaul too. Too much Christmas spirit yesterday I guess! Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  27. 17 minutes with lots of biffing.

    Yeah, ‘compose’ was a bit of an odd one. I just bunged it in and hoped for the best.

  28. One letter error- I put CATERCAUL in at 15, and was wondering where the C came from. Then I got distracted by an alphabet search for the drum. I nearly entered PIPE DRUM, but at the last minute thought of the correct entry.
    A pleasant Boxing Day solve all in all.
    Thanks for the blog and thanks setter

  29. I am surprised that the dreaded MER hasn’t actually been applied to COMPOSE 18d, so I will supply it 🙂

  30. Thanks for explaining the parsing of UNSOLICITED (and several others),although I still don’t understand COMPOSE. LOI DEFT. NHO OSSIAN. Just pleased to finish.

  31. 28 minutes, so very easy but quite enjoyable. LOI was SIDE DRUM of course (after rejecting LIKE DRUM and wondering if there were VIBE DRUMS or such). Many good clues, like PHOSPHORUS, but the one I liked best was FLASH MOB and the shmo in it. Glad to see Olivia’s back.

  32. 20:18

    Only finished this off today 27th – just catching up following Xmas. COMPOSE had me flummoxed and didn’t see SOLI in UNSOLICITED. Otherwise a decent grid.

    Thanks setter and Vinyl

  33. Thought I’d try a 15×15 for a change and enjoyed the challenge!

    Commenting here in case someone stumbles upon this and can enlighten me – for 1ac why does ‘Very large’ clue for OS?

    Thanks for the blog!

  34. Did better after my recent failures, but still ended up with COMPOSE missing, plus the first half of 20a, and a wrong guess for 11a ( locker instead of HOPPER🙁 – don’t ask). Putting PHOSPHORUS straight in was a confidence booster, and enjoyed the PDMs of FLASH MOB and several others. HYN to all the fabulous bloggers and compilers here: you make my day(s). 👏

  35. A treat after yesterday’s tough one. Maybe Australia should have its own blog – apparently around 500 people a day were using the search link to this blog. However my own current busy spell means I won’t find the time to persuade someone else to organise it heh heh.

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