Times 28545 – crisp and tasty

Lots of food and geography in this puzzle, and a pair of colourful deceased celebrities. I enjoyed the 16 minutes it took me to finish it.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics

1 Service good or grand here? A state! (8,4)
MIDNIGHT MASS – G (good, or grand) being MID the word NIGHT; MASS as in Massachusetts.
9 Practise meditation perhaps every month, for example (5)
DOZEN – if you DO ZEN you practise meditation. Every month is a dozen months.
10 Back turned on beach, briefly, in Scottish town (9)
STRANRAER – STRAN(D) = beach briefly; RAER = REAR reversed. Port town in SW Scotland, miles from anywhere in Scotland but only 32 miles by boat to Larne in N. Ireland.
11 A pity gent cut off from part of Africa (8)
EGYPTIAN – (A PITY GEN)* where GEN = gent cut.
12 Drop off family’s cleaner (6)
NAPKIN – NAP = drop off, KIN = family.
13 Uncontrolled descent of alpinist taking a tumble (8)
15 In conversation, mention accessory (6)
BROOCH – sounds like BROACH which means raise a subject.
17 Evil country garden evacuated (6)
MALIGN – MALI a country, G(arde)N.
18 An arm casually wrapped round American love, sweet thing (8)
MARZIPAN – (AN ARM)* with ZIP (American meaning zero) inside.
20 Tyrant, son punching revolutionary was a drunkard (6)
DESPOT – TOPED (was a drunkard) reversed with S inserted.
21 Old boy back tucking into wine and curry (8)
VINDALOO -O (old) LAD (boy) reversed inside VINO = wine. Are my tastebuds getting less sensitive, or are vindaloos getting less fiery?
24 Trash in cities I tidied up, cleaner on the outskirts earlier (9)
CRITICISE – CR (outskirts of cleaner) then (CITIES I)*.
25 Island salutation reversing a greeting on Majorca? (5)
ALOHA – A,  HOLA! (as Spaniards say) reversed, Aloha being a greeting in Hawaii.
26 Hand-held device showing western, old film featuring boozer (6-6)
WALKIE-TALKIE – W(western) ALKIE (boozer) TALKIE (old film).
1 Film about mad cow disease, all ending in Ohio, say (7)
MIDWEST – MIST (film) around D W E, where D W E are the end letters of maD coW diseasE.
2 Old musician woozy, measure of drink found slightly lacking (5,9)
DIZZY GILLESPIE – woozy = DIZZY, GILL (measure of drink) ESPIE(D) = found, lacking the D. Jazz trumpeter and bandleader, died 1993.
3 Moonlight in Nice somewhat uplifting, don’t you agree, mate? (5)
INNIT – reversed hidden, as above; Essex speak, innit.
4 Iberian, say: what had him in a funk? (8)
HISPANIC – HIS PANIC had him in a funk.
5 Queen sees king hiding in tree (4)
MARY – MAY tree with R inside.
6 US city offering boat trip round Lapland, might you say? (5,4)
SANTA CRUZ – A Santa cruise might be a Lapland boat trip, on a lake, perhaps; Santa Cruz is also a city in California, although I’ve only visited the one in Tenerife.
7 Splashing American, swimmer from Mississippi? (7,7)
JACKSON POLLOCK – a pollock being a fish, so one from Jackson in Mississippi; artist known for his seemingly random splashings of paint to create his abstract works.
8 Moment of truth — for the crisp eater? (6)
CRUNCH – cryptic definition.
14 First of suitors snubbin’ a young girl (9)
SIGNORINA – S(uitors), IGNORIN'(G), A.
16 Indonesian business protected by foundation (8)
BALINESE – LINE (business) inside BASE (foundation).
17 Doctor, one brought into wine region where the last couple sent spinning (6)
MEDICO – MEDOC a Bordeaux wine region, bring in ONE / I gives you MEDIOC, then reverse the last two letters.
19 Gas worried baby (7)
NEONATE – NEON a gas, ATE = worried.
22 Tot put on a performance (5)
DRAMA – DRAM (tot), A.
23 Second little creature? That’s right! (4)
TICK – triple definition.


80 comments on “Times 28545 – crisp and tasty”

  1. Not so easy for me either, I thought the setter was playing with us when it wasn’t BSE or OB for Old Boy. MIDNIGHT MASS and DOZEN not to my taste.

  2. I scanned through the clues looking for easy pickings to get me started and needed 8 minutes to find the first answer to write in the grid. Fortunately things improved once I had something to focus and build on but progress was generally slow throughout. MIDWEST, DOZEN, JACKSON P, DRAMA, TICK and WALKIE-TALKIE gave me particular problems so that I returned to them many times before they gave up their secrets.

    51 minutes.

    1. My dear fellow cruciverbalists

      (Uh oh! What’s going on, this doesn’t sound like a limerick?)

      You may recall that on March 1, Jackkt mentioned a list of single letter abbreviations that the Times crossword setters use.

      (Are we supposed to be interested in this? Dunno; I guess Jackkt might be)

      I am sitting here, dusty but triumphant, having retrieved from my loft space a copy of that very list, which I acquired some 25 years ago

      (Blimey, what sort of weirdo keeps stuff like that for so long? His attic must be absolutely rammed! Yeah, no wonder he’s dusty!)

      My proposal, unless anyone objects, is to use this list as the inspiration for a series of future limericks, one based on each letter of the alphabet.

      (Well, it would make a nice change from moaning about birds!!)

      All the very best

      Astro Nowt

      1. I’d rather not know what’s on the list… keep the unwritten rules unwritten. That’s the essence of The Times, no-one knows the rules.
        Maybe you could private-message it to those that would like to see it.

        1. Yes, whilst I’d be interested to see it having heard of its rumoured existence for so long, I tend to agree with Isla that it’s probably not a good idea to reproduce it here for fear of giving the impression that it’s definitive and setters are bound by it. If this ever was the case I doubt that it would be now after 25+ years have passed since it was compiled.

  3. I think your explanation of 1d has the middle letters the wrong way round? Thanks so much for the blog!

    22:59 for me, about par, but it seemed easier than that, especially as I managed to get the two artists very quickly. Very enjoyable anyway!

    1. You were correct, I had read “about” as a reversal, which it isn’t. Corrected now.

  4. The first wish of Queen Mary’s heart
    Is, that she may bear a son,
    Who shall inherit in his time
    The kingdom of Aragon.

    30 mins mid-brekker. I liked this, mainly because of the great choice of vocabulary and the excellent J Pollock. For me, this was LOI and a big PDM.
    I think someone once said Pollock’s work was like the floor of the Sistine Chapel.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  5. I found this tough and was over the hour again, with LOI MEDICO. I just couldn’t get on wavelength at any point, although in retrospect it looks an excellent puzzle. COD to DIZZY GILLESPIE and WALKIE-TALKIE jointly. Thank you Pip and setter.

  6. I was well off the wavelength today but ultimately just pleased to finish after two failures to start the week. I struggled in various places, not least with my LOI, TICK, which seems straightforward enough in hindsight. The first thing that came to my mind was MINK and I struggled to move past that until I resorted to an alphabet trawl.

  7. I took forty-one minutes all told
    I struggled through, rather than strolled
    My first answer in
    Was the tricky TAILSPIN
    And the TICK at the end was pure gold

  8. 23:58. Rather good but rather tricky with plenty of PDMs when I eventually saw the penny. LOI BALINESE forgetting BALI is in Indonesia. I liked the triple definition and SANTA CRUZ but COD to TAILSPIN for the excellent surface. Thanks Pip and setter.

  9. For some reason I just couldn’t get into this one at all. Managed literally 3 clues in 30 mins and gave up. And yet looking at the answers now, they weren’t really that hard. This must be a wavelength puzzle, and I was way, way off it.

  10. Like some previous commentators, I found this pretty tricky. Like Jack, I kept coming back to clues I just couldn’t fathom. Finally all done in 48 mins.

    LOI MINDSET where I too played with BSE for too long. I liked the Artist when the penny finally dropped.

    MARZIPAN, SANTA CRUZ and VINDALOO were fun too.

    Thanks pip and setter

  11. 28 minutes, with a biffed MIDNIGHT MASS and DIZZY GILLESPIE unparsed beyond the ‘Dizzy’ – I didn’t know gill as a measure of drink and didn’t see found=espied. But with the checkers, in particular the Z from DOZEN, it was obvious enough to put in. Had to think about the correct spelling of BROOCH, and STRANRAER was helped by awareness of Scottish football teams.

    FOI Innit
    LOI Balinese
    COD Vindaloo

  12. A good puzzle, finally completed in 28’33”.

    I have been to SANTA CRUZ in California, and went on a rollercoaster on the Boardwalk. Oddly (for me) there were no pavements (sidewalks) on the road to the beach.

    I took ages to get WALKIE TALKIE, with TICK LOI like others.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  13. 42:28

    On a slightly unsettling journey to Glasgow (train to Carlisle then coach to destination rather than train all the way), sneaked just inside my target time for the Snitch (107 when I looked).

    Seemed to take a while for some answers to fall into place but all parsed very nicely. Liked WALKIE TALKIE and JACKSON POLLOCK.

  14. 59 minutes. Had trouble, not in the MIDWEST but in the Middle East of the grid with BROOCH, MARZIPAN, SANTA CRUZ and finally JACKSON POLLOCK. STRANRAER mainly remembered from the BBC reports of the Scottish football results, eg Hamilton Academicals 1 Partick Thistle 0.

    Thanks to Pip, setter and Blue Poles

  15. I found this tough and nearly gave up. Eventually all done in 45 mins with one typo.

    CODs: The two American artists.

  16. 47.01. Got all the answers, but I had to leave some of the parsings to people with more brain cells than I have.

  17. 19:53

    I had most of this done in my average time of c14 minutes but needed another 5 and more to get JACKSON POLLOCK, TICK and WALKIE-TALKIE. Proper stings in the tail.

  18. 14:04. I started very slowly on this and generally found it pretty tricky, in spite of a complete absence of obscurity, aka things I didn’t know. This combination is usually a sign of quality and sure enough I really enjoyed this one.
    I initially put in SIMP at 23dn from the wordplay and it slowed me down at the end. It’s a word I hear my kids use but I don’t really know what it means so figured it could easily be whatever was required here. I ought to have considered that this kind of yoof usage is unlikely to have made it into the Times crossword.

    1. I always thought it was short for “simples” being yoof-speak for “it’s obvious, innit?”

  19. Liked this one. Not Mondayish, but a steady solve.
    When I was a student we used to have vindaloo races … makes my stomach churn just thinking about them, now

  20. A slow burner. On the first run through I only found MALIGN, which was a bad omen. The bottom half gradually emerged, but then I was becalmed until a PDM gave me 2dn. Then everything else fell into place. I had the letters for POLLOCK, but kept trying to find a geographic epithet to add to it, on the analogy of Atlantic Salmon. Some very crafty clues here. Finished in 46 minutes, but I often wondered if I would ever get there.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  21. This took me ages (64 minutes) partly, but hardly, because I had great trouble with BROOCH, initially thinking it might be breech (and breach) — breech = accessory? Probably not, but maybe; then entering it stupidly as broach. The fact that I’m not a fan of Jackson P is irrelevant: it’s a great clue. I didn’t realise that TICK was a triple definition at the time and entered it thinking that ‘That’s right’ was a bit odd.

    In today’s paper there is an obituary of the Uruguayan architect who was responsible for the walkie-talkie in the City of London.

  22. Although just outside target at 46.30 I was happy with this time as I thought it was a toughie. I even managed to parse everything as I went with no biffing which was even more gratifying. The bottom right hand corner was where I was held up to the greatest extent, with the final four clues taking about 10 minutes with my LOI in being BALINESE. Listening to James Alexander Gordon reading the football results, and a visit to Burns Country last year, certainly helped with STRANRAER.

  23. Glad I’m not the only one to have found this tough. Jack the dripper took me ages as I thought it must have been an American fish, which I suppose it is in one way.

    Tick was my LOI , too much time spent on trying to identify a small animal to follow s.

    Good puzzle, brightening my day in a hospital bed. Thanks setter and blogger.

  24. 26:50. A tougher than usual Monday starter with most difficulty in the POLLOCK/MARZIPAN crossroads area. Much parsing post-solve.

  25. I thought that this was enjoyable quirky thanks to its American and boozy woozy elements. COD JACKSON POLLOCK.

    I’ve found that that curries in France are invariably less hot than their UK counterparts. A Madras was plenty hot enough for me in England but now on the rare occasions I visit an Indian restaurant, I routinely order a VINDALOO.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter

    1. Where do you find an Indian restaurant in France? I can’t, certainly not around me anyway.

      1. Well there are two right here in Poitiers, and you’ll find them in most cities. In Paris there is a remarkable thoroughfare, Passage Brady ,which consists almost entirely of Indian restaurants. It’s worth googling to see some pictures of it

  26. 7m 33s, but it took a lot of attempts before it got going – nothing much was immediately tractable.

    COD for Jackson Pollock.

  27. Well I didn’t think I would finish this and I didn’t. FOI 17a MALIGN, nothing else on first pass. Was cross with self for failing to spot the TAILSPIN/Alpinist anagram. Had to come here to get MIDNIGHT MASS and DOZEN which I wasn’t going to get any other way. Struggled thru the rest with LOI TICK – very good indeed, and I hadn’t found that it was a triple til I came here.
    Thank you setter and blogger.

  28. the leaderboards aren’t showing for me – anyone else having this problem? Any suggestions to fix it? Have changed browser without success. Thanks.

    Enjoyed all the American clues.
    LOI TICK gets a big tick from me.

    1. I’m having the same problem too. It’s inconsistent but is arising on both my PC and tablet from time to time.

  29. Took me about 30 minutes in total, but had a long break in the middle with 7 and 26 unsolved. When I came back to it I saw Jackson Pollock immediately, then walkie-talkie with a bit more thought. Isn’t there a convention against using derogatory words like ‘alkie’ in the clueing? What next: ‘small spade produces chuckle’?

    1. Aren’t boozer, sot or toper derogatory? The latter two are used a good deal. Likewise fool, ass, hobo, rake, clot. If we are to ban all these words from crosswords I think the setters would give up.

      1. Fair point, but I think ‘alkie’ is stronger than any of those. I don’t know if there is any limit on what is permissible, other than the setters’ good taste. There are surely some words that would be considered unacceptable, even as unstated implications, on grounds of indecency, ethnic slurs, or sexism. I think there have been complaints in the past about the derogatory use of ‘welsh’.

        1. I could be missing some subtlety regarding the use of the term ‘alkie’, to be fair. I would regard it as being a shortened (albeit with dismissive and/or critical overtones) version of alcoholic – the sort of thing you might say about somebody in casual conversation, but not what you’d expect a diagnosing professional to come out with. It is, of course, in true Times tradition, wildly passe!

        2. Sexist terms are quite common, as are various forms of mental health mockery. Some way to go.

          1. Simp, at least in the US, would fall into the no longer used in polite conversation mental health mockery category – short for simpleton in it’s most derogatory meaning. It shows up in a lot of 1930s gangster stories

            1. The modern meaning my kids use is quite different. It describes someone who is too nice to people: a suck-up, a toady, that sort of thing. The origin though is similarly unpleasant: it was originally used of men who are ‘too nice’ to women, and is linked to a misogynistic tendency online.
              I speak to my 13-year-old quite regularly about this stuff. He is regularly exposed online to people like Jordan Peterson and even Andrew Tate, and he has friends who are drawn to this world. When I hear them say ‘simp’ I will occasionally call them out in it, but they are usually using it in a more innocent context and don’t see the problem.
              So in reality I was a little disingenuous when I said that I don’t know what ‘simp’ means: I know exactly what it means and how it relates to unsavoury online content that my children may be exposed to. That’s a bit heavy though!
              (Also when solving I don’t think I thought beyond “it’s a word, stick it in”)

              1. It’s probably false etymology, but you could make a case for some overlap between the 2020’s usage and the 1940’s usage that goes beyond just the derogatory flavour.

  30. I was pleased to complete this correctly, only to realise that I hadn’t. I decided early on the second word in one across must be a mess, as in a state, and that the first bit will be something like officers, as in the officers mess justifying the idea of service. Oh dear. Finally got the midnight bit, but failed to change the e in mess to an a to get mass. Agh!

  31. So only 37 comments at this point, and I see that many found this tough. I thought there was just too much else on my mind last night, as nothing seemed that difficult when I finally figured it out. Still, didn’t finish till this morning. The CDs were, as so often, what held me up the longest, LOI the excellent JACKSON POLLOCK.

  32. 8:51. Had ten minutes to do this between meetings so was pretty happy. Some fun stuff today.

  33. So near, yet so far. With two left and wanting to come here, I bunged in YANKEE TACKLE and SICK (modern usage) at 23d where an unlikely SIMP had been lurking.
    Tough, a little unfair at times, but I enjoyed it.

  34. I found this tough also – 46 minutes. The two celebs held me up a lot. But I thought it was a good puzzle.

  35. A tough one, but managed to finish it. I thought TICK might be SICK for quite a while, but couldn’t find suitable wordplay. 1ac I couldn’t work out until I had all the checkers, and then I didn’t get it.
    3d was my favourite clue.
    Thanks for the blog, and thank you setter.

  36. 31 mins with much time spent trying to find the Mississippi swimmer, which turned out to be an American splasher. I was only saved by the only word I could think of which fitted the first word, JACKPOT, which morphed into JACKSON and the penny dropped. LOI TICK too many options for -I-K.

  37. Pretty chewy, much harder than the last two days. Hate MARZIPAN but loved the clue!

  38. LOI TICK, inevitably. Finished, but not without help from Mr Ego, who usefully solved 1A, the first word of which I still failed to parse, and MARZIPAN. I did eventually get 7D, but was not helped by the Mississippi connection, since I didn’t know Jackson as a place. I didn’t expect to finish, and only when our splasher suddenly came to me was I able to finish the SE corner. I was fixated on BO for the curry, so that took ages, and also on CJD or BSE and ET for the MIDWEST. Eventually the answer appeared from the definition and then all became clear. On the whole, the 5 and 6 letter clues were fairly easy – eg DOZEN, DESPOT, BROOCH, ALOHA, NAPKIN. It was the longer ones that really held me up. I’m relieved to see I’m in good company at finding this particularly difficult as I really wasn’t on the wavelength.

  39. Today’s lead obituary featured ‘Walkie Talkie’ and that phrase stuck giving me a leg up into the crossword. Neat.

  40. A lot of clues featuring the USA.
    Started in the SW and worked round clockwise. Just over an hour again – very good for me.
    l know ‘neonatal’ of course but NHO NEONATE.
    Took a long time to parse MEDICO.

  41. Couldn’t get Dizzy Gillespie or Jackson Pollock – thanks for clearing them up.

  42. Like some others I took a long time to start. FOI Napkin. I am usually a 20-ish minuter so was frustrated. That being said when I got the answers, most gave me pleasure except 1a. I have sailed from Stranraer many a time (with no murders that I know of). LOI Tick at 47 mins and solved with no resort to aids.

  43. I found this very tough, eventually signing off with WALKIE TAKIE at 55:26. Sadly I’d been careless with a young SINORITA. Thanks setter and Pip.

    1. I also mixed up a couple of languages by putting SIGNORITA. A pity because I was just starting to feel pleased with myself for finishing this tricky one.

  44. Got there eventually with the NHO DIZZY GILLESPIE my LOI when I thought of gill. Plenty to enjoy here especially JP when i twigged that one.
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  45. Biffed Midnight Mass and despot. Still don’t get the explanation for the first, and was looking at “sot” for the second hence despot. Had to check neonate was a word, but done in about 50 nins. enjoyed the names!

  46. 19:07 early this evening, most of today being centred around lunch with old friends chez nous.
    An enjoyable solve with plenty of witty clues and where my GK was up to scratch on this occasion.
    Stopped the clock to do the washing up, with the NW corner needing sorted. Never really associated Fairy Liquid with being a source of inspiration but on my return from. the kitchen solved 2 d “Dizzy Gillespie” immediately which opened up the quadrant readily. So COD for me has to be the jazz trumpeter.
    Thanks to setter and to Pip for his blog, particularly for parsing 23 d “tick” as a rather neat triple clue which in my haste I had not realised.

  47. 51 minutes, so not easy, and somehow I found many of the clues, shall we say unfriendly, not really illegitimate, but asking for vague associations even if it eventually became clear that only one possible association would really fit well. TICK, which was my LOI, would be an example of that, JACKSON POLLOCK perhaps also. I was held up for a time by having MALICE instead of MALIGN (with “cultivate” or something like that being the garden to be cleared out). A puzzle somehow leaving an undefinable strange aftertaste.

  48. Bit of an outlier here – found it quite straightforward, everything parsed, no NHOs. On the wavelength, I guess. Things like TICK went straight in, and with only D_Z it had to be Dizzy Gillespie – great bowler who inexplicably just lost the knack on one Ashes tour. Only a few seconds delay at the end for WALKIE-TALKIE and last one in JACKSON POLLOCK, when the second K gave me the fish and the penny dropped. POLLOCK well known down here thanks to Gough splurging $1.3 million on his ‘Blue Poles’ in about 1973. I was dragged off to see it when it visited the State Gallery.

  49. 1 hour and 5 minutes. I found this tough and/or I was way off the wavelength. But lots to like. I have given up my MERs at things like midnight clueing G. To help me get used to it I’ve come up with a clue:

    Middlesex ending Gateshead’s urge (3)

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