Times 28522 – don’t mind if I do.

Solving time: 12:05.

Just before starting this puzzle, I was telling a friend that I wasn’t sure if I should have a drink before or after doing the puzzle (I am on the East Coast of the USA, so the puzzle appears at 7pm). I should have made a drink before, as there were several beverage-related clues and answers teasing me from within, and the cat jumped on my lap so I was stuck for a while.  Rest assured the lack of drink has been rectified.

I think the distractions increased my time a little, but I don’t think there’s anything particularly tricky or controversial here.

How did you get on?

1 Love probing science with celebrity left-winger (9)
SOCIALIST – O(love) inside SCI(science) and A-LIST(celebrity)
6 First couple in parade endangered animal (5)
PANDA – the first two letters in PArade are P AND A
9 Shattered about me backing black mark (7)
DEMERIT – TIRED(shattered) surrounding ME, all reversed. Collins has “tired out or exhausted” as a definition for shattered.
10 Train worker managed to keep line in design (7)
RAILMAN – a double container… L(line) in AIM(design) in RAN(managed)
11 Blow up in middle of Hertfordshire, in brief (5)
ERUPT – UP inside the middle letters of HERTS(Hertfordshire)
12 Large yard surrounding a place of God (9)
MONASTERY – MONSTER(large), Y(yard) surrounding A
13 Mild distinction about island plague (8)
NUISANCE – NUANCE(mild distinction) surrounding IS(island)
14 View singular quantity of film (4)
SCAN – S(singular) and a CAN of film
17 Artist who’s backed 75 per cent of Eastern philosophical system (4)
GOYA – reverse three of the four letters in YOGA(Eastern philosophical system)
18 Guy restraining a dog without a tail — this dog? (8)
MALAMUTE – MALE(guy) containing A, MUTT(dog) minus  the last letter
21 Drink round south Mediterranean island mostly confidential (3,6)
TOP SECRET – TOPE(drink) surrounding  S(south) and then CRETE(Mediterranean island) minus the last letter
22 Staff taken aback about City ornamentation (5)
DECOR – ROD(staff) reversed surrounding EC(city)
24 Allege shortfall in uncontaminated wine (7)
PURPORT – PURE(uncontaminated) minus the last letter, then PORT(wine)
25 Fear city rioting doing for area? Right (7)
RECTIFY – anagram of FEAR,CITY minus A(area)
26 Drink a lot of beer — get completely smashed? (5)
TOTAL – TOT(drink), and most of ALE(beer)
27 Winner with time to quaff new celebratory drink (9)
CHAMPAGNE – CHAMP(winner) and AGE(time) containing N(new)
1 Small, vain creep? (5)
SIDLE – S(small), IDLE(vain)
2 Promise to limit one rent’s rising in support of local area? (9,6)
COMMUNITY SPIRIT – COMMIT(promise) containing UNITY(one) and RIP(rent) ‘S reversed
3 A blemish outside prison up in Indian city (8)
AMRITSAR – A, MAR(blemish) containing STIR(prison) reversed
4 Close situation I encountered in international store in America? Not quite (8)
INTIMACY – I inside INT(international) and MACY’S(store in America) minus the last letter
5 Crowd beginning to reappear, enthralled by daring beachwear (6)
THRONG – first letter of Reappear inside THONG(daring beachwear)
6 Overly formal to enquire about manned orbiter (6)
PRISSY – PRY(enquire) surrounding ISS(International Space Station)
7 Statistical processing less responsive on specific form of consumption (6,9)
NUMBER CRUNCHING – NUMBER(less responsive) on top of CRUNCHING(form of consumption)
8 Anyone working to bring about an opening for chaos and irritation (9)
ANNOYANCE – anagram of ANYONE contaning AN, and the first letter of Chaos
13 Marijuana underlying dodgy things in entertainment venue (9)
NIGHTSPOT – POT(marijuana) underneath an anagram of THINGS
15 Black deed — river’s picked up germs (8)
BACTERIA – B(black), ACT(deed) and then the river AIRE reversed.  Thanks to early commenters – I was having a tough time with the river part when I first posted the blog.
16 With assistance, I surpass obstacle (8)
HANDICAP – HAND(assistance), I, CAP(surpass)
19 Vermin run up round top of oven, making you draw back (6)
RECOIL – LICE(vermin) and R(run) all reversed surrounding the first letter in Oven
20 Writer’s last to be moved by acidic reviewer (6)
CRITIC -move the last letter in writeR in CITRIC acid
23 King Harry maybe appearing heartless — something you can find in Shakespeare (5)
RHYME – R(king) and then HarrY and MaybE missing the interior letters

85 comments on “Times 28522 – don’t mind if I do.”

  1. 18:47
    I biffed several, and failed to parse some: DEMERIT (I thought of RE, ME reversed ‘about me backing’, no idea what to do with D_IT; DNK tired=shattered), COMMUNITY SPIRIT. DNK ISS. The setter seems inordinately fond of dropping final letters: MUTt, CRETe, PURe, ALe, MACY’s.

    1. Hmmm… did not notice the errant S. Might work better as the S being indicated by ‘S. I’ll change it and see what happens

  2. 12m but sadly I do not know how to spell NUICANCE. I suppose I could have actually parsed the clue properly, but sometimes you just have to, you know, chuck it in and move on. You don’t want to overthink these things

  3. 41 minutes. I was convinced the ‘manned orbiter’ at 6d was going to be “MIR” for a word based on “prim” so I wasted time in the NE corner. No hope of parsing COMMUNITY SPIRIT, GOYA, with the tricky ‘backed 75 percent’ bit or ERUPT. I liked MONSTER, as an adjective, for ‘Large’ at 12a; makes a change from the usual L or OS.

    CITRIC for ‘acidic’ at 20d? Mm…

  4. I might have managed to parse COMMUNITY SPIRIT but I forgot to go back. And just sort of shrugged at ERUPT, “Hertfordshire” obviously being a UK thing (glad to have the explanation). “Shattered” for TIRED took a while coming. LOI RECTIFY.

  5. 45 minutes for all but the dog which was unknown to me. And even after I had used aids to come up with the answer I was unable to decipher the wordplay so I never really stood a chance with it. Turns out this is its first appearance in the TfTT era although a form of it appeared in a TCC Qualifier puzzle in 2020 spelt MALEMUTE when the alternative spelling gave rise to some comment. I didn’t work it out then either, clued by the equally unhelpful &lit: Only bitch barks in this breed? (8)

    I have seen ‘P AND A’ wordplay in a puzzle within the past two weeks, though possibly not in The Times

      1. Thanks. I searched only on today’s spelling with two A’s. I note that on the occasion you have found I didn’t report any problems coming up with MALEMUTE. For sure I didn’t know it, but the wordplay was much kinder than today’s.

  6. 39m 54s
    A good challenge. Thank you, George, particularly for explaining COMMUNITY SPIRIT.
    I nearly left INTIMACY as INTIMATE until NUISANCE forced me to change my mind.
    The mention of Macy’s reminded me of LBJ’s famous quote about loyalty which David Halberstam put in his book “The Best & The Brightest”:
    “I don’t want loyalty. I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket.”
    PRISSY also gave me another reminder, this one about the ISS. The point on the earth’s surface that is farthest from any landmass is in the Pacific and is known as the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility or Point Nemo for short. According to Wikipedia the closest human beings can sometimes be the astronauts in the ISS.

    1. Yes, space would be really close if you could drive there. The ISS orbits at 227 miles, so a four-hour drive. or so.

  7. 33 minutes with LOI RECOIL, although I then went on to parse the previously biffed COMMUNITY SPIRIT. That was a bit convoluted. This Englishman certainly knew of and has shopped in Macy’s. And Bloomingdale’s. I was dragged round by Mrs BW and took my revenge by taking her to MOMA. A good middle-of-the-road puzzle. COD to NUMBER CRUNCHING. Thank you George and setter.

  8. 13:13. The first one this week which hasn’t resulted in some head scratching for me, though I think there would have been some for MALEMUTE if it hadn’t appeared before. I did indulge in a little muddle headed thinking for my LOI, SIDLE where I was trying to make SEDGE work through a combination of S for small and EDGE for creep.
    It was a shame to see verlaine’s run in Jeopardy come to an end yesterday but I’m sure the tidy sum he came away with was some consolation.

      1. I tried to find the programme on Jackkt’s link, but it had been removed. Very frustrating for those of us in the UK.

          1. I think a search of YouTube always finds the most recent episode (which is why Jack removed the one linked to earlier this week).

  9. I had met MALAMUTE at some time
    ISS was quite simply sublime
    Please explain, on resumption
    “How is CRUNCHING consumption?”
    And this is the end of my RHYME

    1. Agreed -I thought crunch=consume was too much of a stretch. Crunching goes with the chewing part of eating whereas it’s the swallowing that could equate with consuming.

  10. Silent alone amid a Heaven of Song.
    Assume thy winged throne, thou Vesper of our throng!

    30 mins mid-brekker. No ticks, no crosses.
    Ta setter and G.

  11. 7:53 . A fairly even mixture of total biffs (e.g. COMMUNITRY SPIRIT) and ones where I needed the wordplay. I’m glad I remembered MALAMUTE from previous puzzles because it’s a tricky one to get from wordplay.

  12. Gave up on the hour with the unknown MALAMUTE mutt beating me. Like Jack, I looked it up.

    Generally quite a challenge today with both long clues needing a good bit of working out. Apart from the dog, SIDLE and DEMERIT were my last two in.

    I liked the PANDA and, of course, the CHAMPAGNE.

    Thanks g and setter.

  13. Had heard of MALAMUTE but put it in last, when I eventually parsed it. MACY was vaguely known – Miracle on 34th Street? Did not parse COMMUNITY SPIRIT.

    15’56”, thanks george and setter.

  14. 30 minutes, with the last 10 spent on 18a. Eventually I put in MALAMUTE because it parsed, but I hadn’t heard of the dog, so I’m pleasantly surprised to come here and find out it’s right.

    Didn’t fully parse GOYA, and COMMUNITY SPIRIT was a total biff – I never remember to consider ‘unity’ when there’s a ‘one’ in a clue. Straightforward enough otherwise.

    FOI Panda
    LOI Malamute
    COD Champagne

  15. Remembered malamute, but took three goes at spelling it before it looked right … they are not mamalutes or mamalukes..
    Champagne, the world’s most overrated and overpriced beverage.
    And the mere mention of a “King Harry” makes me shudder ..

      1. Re Champagne, I cannot agree. Champagne is one of the world’s most noble libations. It is the drink of celebrations. The production costs and investment (most Champagnes are aged for a minimum of 3 years) merit the price. There is also the high price of grapes, land and intensive labour (Champagne grapes must be hand harvested) to take into consideration. I for one think it’s worth it!

        1. You are welcome to your opinion .. but my own view is that they took an indifferent white wine (they still have some, if you want to check!), added bubbles to it, stuck on a fancy label, and promoted it as what you absolutely have to have whenever celebrating.
          You can’t fault the marketing skills, but for Eur40 you can buy an indifferent NV champagne, or a bottle of Bordeaux (if you choose right) the flavour of which you will remember for the rest of your life.
          Champagne is great, for spraying over people who have failed to win a grand prix. I see that sort of behaviour as its purpose in life 🙂
          Whatever it might be, noble it is not..
          Ha, rant over .. just hate to see the world taken in like that 🙂

          1. I can see that I’m not going to win this one so I’ll give in peaceably. I do agree about the Grand Prix, though, but it’s more likely to be sparkling apple juice these days.

    1. … or MAMELUKES which I had biffed for a while (then realised the E did not fit and reconsidered).

      Slow time today but glad to finish with all OK.

  16. One hour, but I had to look up MALAMUTE at the end and there were major gaps in the parsing elsewhere. Still an enjoyable challenge. I liked PANDA and RHYME. Thanks for the much needed blog

  17. 48 minutes, with some delay because I entered malemute, thinking it was the only spelling and not taking enough trouble. otherwise no dreadful problems, just clues that for me were occasionally quite hard. MER at shattered = tired: I should have thought that shatteredness was an extreme form of tiredness, nor just regular tiredness.

  18. After 35 minutes I consulted to a list of dogs for 18a. Since the word was totally unfamiliar, the answer could have been almost anything. Dozens of possibilities for ‘Guy’ ( I thought DUPE for a while) and dozens for a dog without a tail. Just the sort of clue for an obscure word I detest. It’s as if the setter wants some solvers to fail at the last hurdle.
    I biffed INTIMACY without fully understanding the wordplay. I’ve never heard of MACY’S even though I have visited America. Is there any reason why a UK solver should be familiar with it?
    Definition for 29 isn’t particularly apt. Most of Shakespeare’s plays consist of blank verse. He wrote sonnets, etc., but they have nowt to do with any of the Henry plays. It’s not wrong, of course, but surface and answer don’t cohere particularly.

    Apart from those personal niggles, the clues were fine.

  19. 14:06, indicative of a slow and steady solve (and to continue the alliteration, satisfying).

  20. Got there, but slowly. One of those puzzles where all the clues seem to have so many potentially meaningful words in them that it’s hard to work out what’s going on. In the end only Goya and community spirit unparsed, so thanks for those.
    My dog and I walk every day on beach and park, and round here the dog people are very friendly so I know all sorts of other dogs including snowy types like Bernese mountain dogs, huskies, malamutes and samoyeds. I almost disapprove of Arctic dogs in a place that’s often 40 degrees and above, but then again I have to throw my greyhound in the ocean on hot days, they’re too much for him.
    I do know Macy’s, but never been to New York. They do the Thanksgiving Parade?

  21. 16m. All relatively straightforward but I was a bit thrown by TOTAL. Neither “completely smashed”, nor “get completely smashed”, seem correct as definitions. To total something in the required sense seems like it has to be a transitive verb but the definitions point to either an intransitive one or an adjective. I’m sure there is a way of parsing this that makes sense but I can’t see it.

    1. If you ‘Total’ a car it’s because it has been so badly smashed that in insurance terms its a ‘Total write off’.

    2. In vulgar British usage ‘total’ can be a transitive verb, as in ‘I totalled the Ferrari’. In which case to total something is to get it completely smashed. I think the usage originates in insurance jargon, where a ‘total loss’ means the cost of repairing a crashed car (if possible at all) would be greater than its market value. [written before seeing the comment by Raffles1958]

      1. Precisely my point. I am aware of the “write off” meaning but the clue suggests an intransitive verb. The answer, as I said and you similarly point out, is a transitive one.

        1. The clue asks for “get completely smashed”; if you get your car completely smashed, you TOTAL it. The object of “get completely smashed” there is “car.” It’s a transitive phrasal verb.

          1. I hadn’t thought of “get” in the sense of someone else transitively getting the smashing done. I was stuck on something that just intransitively “got smashed”. You are quite right. Thanks.

  22. All ok except for “Malamute”, for which I had to resort to aids. Never heard of the creature.
    About 30 minutes otherwise.

  23. I joined the THRONG puzzling over the dog, having been fixated on it having CUR in it, due to an early bit of NUMBER CRUNCHING, but as MALECURE didn’t parse, a bit of deep diving eventually dragged MALAMUTE from the depths. I failed to parse COMMUNITY SPIRIT, shrugged and moved on. Knew of Macy’s, so no problem with INTIMACY. I was mainly delayed in the NW where AMRITSAR and INTIMACY finally revealed SOCIALIST. DEMERIT arrived when I stopped trying to shoehorn EMB into the answer, although I tried to parse it as Kevin did, and failed. That led to POI, SIDLE, and ERUPT finished the job. 30:59. Thanks setter and George.

  24. I needed George’s help to parse ERUPT, PRISSY, and my LOI, but otherwise found minimal difficulty.

    TIME 7:36

  25. Started like molasses but picked up steam. Shied just a bit at tired=shattered and purport=allege but they were obviously fine and made for some nice misdirection. AMRITSAR was the site of a notorious massacre in 1919 – which also features in one of the sub-plots in Jewel In The Crown. Nope, didn’t parse COMMUNITY SPIRIT. 19.25

    1. The massacre of 1984 was far more intense, and bloodthirsty.
      Wikipedia skirts around it, since it was only Indians and the British were not involved, but it led to more than 20,000 deaths …

  26. I gave up on the dog after 10 minutes. It has come up before, several times I’m sure, but for me a breed of dog is as dreaded as a type of shrub in crossword-land.

    1. We gave our daughter a copy of the Observers Guide to dogs (well, she picked it up and wouldn’t let go) when she was about 3, and still in a pram.
      Within days, she could tell a puli from a malamute, a setter or an Airedale … you could look out for a copy 😉

  27. 33:39

    After a slow start – just DECOR on the first pass of the acrosses – picked up in the bottom half.

    Finished with MALAMUTE which I thought we’d seen here before (though as pointed out above – with a different spelling) and LOI PRISSY – once I’d thought of PRY, it was easier!

    ERUPT, GOYA and NUMBER CRUNCHING all went in at least partially-unparsed.

  28. I completed this successfully, but wavered over the equivalence of ‘purport’ and ‘allege’. If something is ‘purported’ there is an implication that a thing is probably not what it seems or is claimed to be (usually something desirable), whereas if it is ‘alleged’ the implication is that something (usually undesirable) may well be true, but not yet proven. E.g. a painting might be a purported Rembrandt, while its vendor might be an alleged faker. I don’t think the words can be interchanged without changing the meaning.

  29. 26 mins, held up at the end because I couldn’t think of the Indian city and then I had INTIMATE which made a nuisance of NUISANCE. Feels like MALAMUTE comes up pretty regularly

  30. Was in trouble in the NW corner, and also had a space with MALAMUTE, suddenly saw mutt and so checked that was correct- then was struck with SIDLE, which gave DEMERIT and then finally ERUPT. pleased to have also reflected on my spelling of MONASTERY (I had originally thought it had 2 E) but parsing left no doubt.
    Nice challenge, thanks blogger and setter.

  31. I was on schedule for a sub 45 minute target finish till I got to the dog that most have never heard of (including me). I persevered for a further ten minutes and finally thought of mutt for dog and finished all correct and parsed in 53.30.
    About 8 years ago when visiting New York, I was dragged unwillingly into Macy’s by Looby Loo as it was only two blocks away from our hotel. Someone earlier mentioned Harrods and Macy’s in the same sentence ; I can only say that Macy’s seemed rather shabby and dated and rather disappointing, and cannot hold a candle to its London equivalent.

  32. All correct and parsed, but took a long time! No problem with Macy’s or Malamute (spelled the way I’d expect) but terrible trouble with the wine on LOI PURPORT. I had to do an alphabet trawl. Hopefully it will stick for next time, once Asti and Rose and Cava have been eliminated…

  33. 36 minutes and no problemsat all. I put in MALAMUTE quite confidently once I saw the crossers, but maybe I was confusing it with MAMELUKE and don’t really know it — no matter, it was right. GOYA could only be that, but I didn’t understand how the wordplay worked. COD to TOTAL for the appropriate surface reading.

  34. DNF. A breezeblock of a puzzle, with everything except 18a done in under 30 minutes, then quite unable to finish. NHO MALAMUTE, and a trawl through the list of dog breeds in Wikipedia , looking for anything that might fit, did not help, since they do not list it other than as “Alaskan Malamute”.

    Thanks for the blog.

  35. DNF. Doing fairly well until LOI 18 ac “Malamute” which I’d never heard of and even though I toyed with male for guy, the brain couldn’t come up with a tailless mutt. So after the QC earlier, not a good day at the office.
    To cheer myself up I went out to stock up on our wine “cellar” ( actually the attic) and 18 bottles later had more or less succeeded!

  36. Came in under the hour, but not by much. Invented all sorts of dogs before settling on Malamute, which I’d never heard of. So I suppose it was a ‘fair’ clue, but even so.

    I find it hard to think of any situation when you’d say “get completely smashed” to mean “crash” or “total”.

    “I got my car completely dirty”, yes. But “I got my car completely smashed” — who’d say that?

    1. “My car got completely smashed” = “my car got totalled,” surely?
      Personally, I would say “Had a slight problem with the car have you, dear?” .. but each to their own 🙂

  37. I struggled with this and took nearly an hour, including a cheat on the last couple. I biffed community spirit, so was really grateful for the parsing provided by our genius blogger. George, you go up even further in my estimation – 12 minutes is impressive enough, but your temptation for a pre-7pm drink and a cat on the lap make you my favourite blogger (at least until Verlaine’s return!).

  38. A big DNF today. Didn’t get the dog, or the NW corner.
    Ah well, back to the drawing board.
    You learn from your failures I suppose.

  39. 26ac can someone please explain how ‘smashed’ fits in. TOTAL = completely, but why smashed. thanks

  40. MER at thong equating daring beach wear, my Australian first thought being rubber sandals*, swiftly replaced by a smile when the penny dropped.

    *Jandals to those across the (Antipodean) ditch.

    Thanks you setter and blogger for another fun start to my day.

  41. Again thought this was going to be called out as “Monday-ish”, and to my delight certainly wasn’t! Would have taken more care if no interruptions, which led to me looking at E-U-T and naturally putting a Q there…so invented the word EQUIT. Ho Hum. Also not careful enough with the dog, as I knew of the breed, but put in MAHAMUTE in haste, unparsed of course. Apart from that, all plain sailing…I’m getting used to this setter apparently.
    Lots to like.

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