Times 28569 – popcorn and rock.

Not the hardest, but for me, one of the most fun Wednesday puzzles for a while. Quite an eclectic mix of popular culture, classical references and regular chestnuts, but nothing obscure. I (and the setter, presumably) hope you enjoyed it.

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

1 Still presented as fair (4-6)
EVEN-HANDED – EVEN = still, HANDED = presented.
6 Dad’s time is gone (4)
PAST – PA’S = Dad’s, T for time.
10 Tasteless, if popular, drink one had (7)
INSIPID – IN (popular) SIP (drink) I’D (one had).
11 Old race vehicle out of gas rounding port (7)
CHARIOT – CHAT (gas, gossip) around RIO (de Janeiro).
12 Complete reversal of stage act getting some applause (9)
TURNROUND – TURN (stage act) ROUND (of applause). UK spelling; I think it is more often spelt turnaround in the USA.
13 Over to the left, drawings by European (5)
EXTRA – all reversed (over to the left); ART, X (by) E(uropean).
14 Fly close to ground in fighter jet, heading east (5)
MIDGE – D (end of ground) inside MIG (Russian plane) E for East.
15 Fury after backing pose with Apple gadget (9)
TISIPHONE – SIT (pose) reversed then I-PHONE.  Tisiphone was one of the mythological Greek goddesses of vengeance, collectively the Furies or Erinyes. If you put in TELEPHONE in a hurry, you shouldn’t be doing The Times crossword.
17 Half-heartedly mock lame eccentric touring American city (9)
JERUSALEM – JE[E]R = half heartedly mock, (LAME)*, insert US.
20 Fool touching gunpowder ingredient (5)
NITRE – NIT (fool) RE (touching, about). Potassium nitrate.
21 Game official using computers for makeover (5)
REFIT – REF (game official), IT.
23 Champagne’s outside in case with a single ale, almost heavenly! (9)
CELESTIAL – C[hampagn]E, LEST (in case) I, (a single) AL[E] (ale almost).
25 Picture five thousand coming in to compete (2,5)
TV MOVIE – V (five) M (thousand in Roman) inside TO VIE = to compete.
26 Pilot in need of a route from Italy to Qatar finally (7)
AVIATOR – A, VIA (Roman road) TO, R (end of Qatar).
27 Dodge marshal, overwhelmed by fear, perhaps (4)
EARP – hidden, as in Wyatt Earp, of Dodge, Deadwood, Tombstone etc.
28 English finish before Scotland ultimately could get started (10)
ENGENDERED – ENG[lish], END (finish), ERE (before) D (end of Scotland).
1 Be unfair to her, maybe, starting a little late (5)
EXIST – being unfair to a “her” could be being sexist, so starting late would make it EXIST. It took me a while to stop looking for “be unfair” as the definition.
2 Film is something additional after a stroll in the park (4,5)
EASY RIDER – EASY (stroll in the park) RIDER (additional clause). I’m not at all a movie fan, but I do remember liking this 1969 Dennis Hopper  / Peter Fonda classic, mainly for the great music.
3 Priest I envy: he’s awfully prone to overreact? (14)
4 Agreement nothing but false, certainly (2,5)
NO DOUBT -NOD (agreement) O (nothing) (BUT)*.
5 Disguises knight in green dress every so often (7)
ENCODES – ECO (green), insert N for knight, then D r E s S.
7 Inclined afterwards to improve — looking tired initially (5)
ATILT – initial letters of Afterwards To Improve Looking Tired.
8 Meeting with milk producer in balance uneasily cut short (4-1-4)
TETE-A-TETE – TEAT (milk producer) inside TEETE[R].
9 Choose lipstick perhaps with care, to cover broken nose (4,2,4,4)
MAKE UP ONES MIND – MAKE-UP (lipstick maybe) MIND (care), insert (NOSE)*.
14 Girl leading procession millions resolved to jeer at (9)
MAJORETTE – M (millions) then (TO JEER AT)*.
16 Reveal more appropriate place to shop (9)
OUTFITTER – OUT = reveal, FITTER = more appropriate.
18 Desk in small room briefly overturned on seabird (7)
LECTERN – CEL[L] reversed then TERN a seabird.
19 He must keep fighting harmful programs (7)
MALWARE – MALE (“he”) with WAR (fighting) inside.
22 Strange pair after CD lifted bone (5)
FEMUR – RUM = strange, the pair after C D is of course E F, reverse all (“lifted”).
24 Right to become centrepiece of easily understood graphic (5)
LURID – LUCID exchanges the centrepiece C for R.


67 comments on “Times 28569 – popcorn and rock.”

  1. I don’t have a solving time for completion as I was distracted by the 5 missing Down clues and hadn’t at that stage tracked them down in Crossword Club online solving mode, but I made short work of the clues on my printout in 10-15 minutes.

    There’s a note above the puzzle to say that it was used in the recent American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and I would like to make a plea to our Editor not to give us any more of these as I found the standard some way below what we have come to expect from our daily Times puzzles. [Later edit: I seem to be against the house on this one so perhaps I allowed my judgement to be clouded by the disrupted solve].

    1. I definitely did not enjoy this as the stress levels rose fighting with the technology. I started on the app, then moved to the on-line edition and wrote in the answers before realising it has the same problem and finally completing it on the crossword club site, which doesn’t work at all well on my tablet.

      Even before all this, my first one in was 6a which I commented on was like an easier Quick Cryptic clue.

      Despite all this, the total time spent was less than average.

      I wonder if the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament used this as a teaser to bring the crowds in.

      I would be interested to see more in order to understand if I am right.

  2. 8:14 – solved on the club so saw all the clues. I hope they enjoyed it at the ACPT. Biffed LURID

  3. 30 minutes for me, with several of those at the end wondering about EXIST. It is always easy to miss really short definitions (“be” here). I enjoyed it.

  4. I thought it was nice Tuesday fare with some good vocabulary. Fun the blogger said, and I agree. I did give a thought to trying to fill guesses in for the missing bits based on crossers before going looking for the proper clues. I’m glad I didn’t give that a go.

  5. 11:14. No complaints here, I actually thought it was pretty good. Particularly liked the definitions “Dodge marshall”, “Be” and “Choose”.

    TISIPHONE was a head-scratcher so I just followed the cryptic. Must get round to memorising those Furies one of these days. (As if).

    Thanks Pip and setter.

    1. Classical mythology is not my strong suit, but TISIPHONE gettable from the wordplay if you avoid the telephone trap. I print out from the club site, so no missing clues.

  6. 23:39, which gives me the worst WITCH so far. I use the club site, so I had all the clues, but the five downs didn’t show up when I printed the puzzle out afterwards.
    I biffed TETE-A-TETE from the enumeration, and never did parse it. I liked some of the misleading surfaces: out of gas, be unfair, fly close to the ground. COD LURID. I thought this was a pretty good puzzle, all in all; not sure what Jack saw as notably inferior to the usual suspects.

  7. Feel a bit dim – couldn’t parse LURID, wondering how LUID could be easily understood. So thanks for that. LOI EXIST as I couldn’t get it immediately but had no other holdups (except 2LOI LURID’s parsing) before coming back to it. Vaguely suspected a girl’s name, which an extra letter on the front would make ‘be unfair’, before the penny dropped.
    No problems with the quality of the puzzle – on the easy side, but standard Times fare.

  8. I didn’t have the bandwidth for a difficult puzzle tonight, so was very grateful for this not terribly taxing but still quite entertaining creation. It was satisfying to get the 14-letter anagram 3D very early on, with no checkers, and the other 14-letter Down right after, also without checkers. I saw LURID a long time before I wrote it in, not seeing that the R was substituting for a C. It was a surprise to see EARP in an English puzzle, but that’s cultural imperialism for ya. LOI was EXIST, which is very clever indeed.

    1. I think Wyatt Earp is very well known as a US marshal, principally through his involvement in the gunfight at the OK Corral, which of course became a major film. I couldn’t have told you for certain he was marshal of Dodge City, but it was obvious enough even without the hidden.

  9. For retribution, and you, Styx, livid in the shadowy deep
    I see; and you, Tisiphone, to whom I pray so often,
    Assent, and grant your favour to my dark request.
    (Statius, from Thebaid Book 1)

    20 mins mid-brekker. I liked it after a shaky start, having been disconcerted, I think, by the ‘warning’ of American involvement. It seemed to me to be good quality clueing throughout. A slight MER at the Lurid clue, but it was Lucid enough.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  10. Nothing to say about the crossword but five clues missing is unacceptable. Perhaps the editor could focus on sorting out the technology rather than getting involved in foreign competitions?

    1. Yes, because his presence at a – God forbid – “foreign” competition is definitely the reason why those 5 clues were missing today.

    2. Richard Rogan didn’t attend the tournament. Mick Hodgkin did. Neither of them can do much about The Times famously less than competent IT staff except complain, just as we do .. 😉

  11. What a fun puzzle! LURID and EXIST LOsI. My wife helpfully googled for the clues and read them to me, after the heart-thumping discovery of the glitch when I’d made a good start.

    Managed to finish in under 20′. Chapeau to the Editor for this preferably occasional innovation.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  12. 18:02 which is very tidy for me. I didn’t see the note about the American competition until I was nearly finished and it suddenly made oddities like TV MOVIE click. I thought it was fun although clearly not challenging given my time! My favourite was EARP – I didn’t spot the hidden indicator until I’d managed to connect “Dodge” and “marshal” in my head. CHARIOT was very clever although as my LOI I biffed it from the checkers.

    Thanks p&s.

  13. Likewise held up by searching for the « lost » clues. Otherwise enjoyable enough. Thank you b for posting them above.


    Thanks pip and setter.

  14. 21.32. A bit slow. I was indebted to my childhood watching Wyatt Earp on the telly.

  15. 28 minutes. My thoughts are much the same as others. I quite liked this and wondered if the US references – TV MOVIE, EARP, EASY RIDER and MAJORETTE – were included with the target solvers in mind. Like Paul above, I had trouble with the almost invisible ‘Be’ def at 1d but the one that held out longest was the simple (from def anyway) FEMUR, for which “fibula” just wouldn’t shift, even if it was one letter too long.

  16. 12:09. I only noticed some clues were missing after I’d started. I stopped my clock when I got to 14D and went to the online puzzle to copy the clues and print them before restarting. Quite gentle but with some neat clues. I was surprised it didn’t feel too different from an easy Times 15×15. FEMUR my favourite. Thanks Pip and American setter.

    1. The setter probably wasn’t American. Mick Hodgkin attended the tournament, and took the puzzle with him ..

  17. I turned up the e-paper edition for the last five clues. I did wonder if the American Puzzle Tournament expected the entrants to answer without the clues. 28 minutes with LOI ATILT. COD to LURID. Thank you Pip and setter.

  18. Well I enjoyed this, having overcome the slight frisson the heading provided. Good surfaces, and some witty clues. I think our American cousins were let off, it is not all that difficult (once the missing clues are located!).
    Apparently 8 of the 774 contestants at ACPT finished it within 30 minutes. One of them took 5m 10s, and I will leave you to guess who that might be 🙂 .. of course it is very different from the usual US crosswords. Fury = Tisiphone for example was widely felt to be “unfair.”
    In the competition proper, Verlaine came 181st out of 774 contestants.

    1. Worth noting that not all 774 contestants attempt the puzzle. The puzzle was part of Friday’s (optional) pre-tournament games session. There were 2 versions of the puzzle available: the one as published today (with all the clues, obvs), and a second version which had the definition parts of the clues underlined. Top 2 finishers of the standard version were Brits. There was some top-tier crossword talent (solvers and constructors) in the room, but there weren’t many hands that went up over the 30mins, and the general vibe afterwards was that it was a tough puzzle all things considered.

      1. But then I guess that unless you do the Times daily, you would struggle, just as I would with a Guardian puzzle if I were to attempt it out of the blue.

  19. About 20 minutes, solving on paper so I had no idea of the kerfuffle with the missing clues.

    Like most others, it seems, I enjoyed this. The only answer I was ensure of was EARP, but Wyatt Earp rang enough of a bell and the wordplay was generous. Spent too long trying to fit ire/rage for ‘fury’ (and ‘esop’ for ‘backing pose’) into 15a before enough checkers were in place to get TISIPHONE, though I always forget that meaning of fury, and TETE-A-TETE occurred to me long before I parsed it. EXIST was a nice PDM.

    FOI Past
    LOI TV movie
    COD Exist

  20. 40 mins, but without TISIPHONE. Didn’t know the Fury. Everything else pretty easy, though I enjoyed EARP and EXIST.

  21. As a technophobe I stick to the paper and pencil method so avoided the glitches referred to by others. I found this an enjoyable puzzle and finished in 28 minutes, after spending an age in the NW corner, especially the parsing of EXIST. But no complaints, and getting 3dn and 9dn at an early stage was helpful. I never – until today – thought of a lectern as a desk.
    FOI – PAST
    COD – EARP.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  22. As I go first to Crossword Club I wasn’t aware of missing clues!
    DNF as I failed to see ‘be’ as definition, so bunged EVICT in at 1dn on basis that an eviction is often unfair, with ‘her’ referring to some case I couldn’t recall.

  23. Very nice puzzle. I enjoyed FEMUR, EARP and LURID. I was held up by LECTERN and EXIST at the end.
    I think Mr Murdoch needs to spend a bit more on his Times IT department.
    Thanks to Setter and Pip for the blog.

  24. I quite enjoyed this, although it had quite a different (American?) feel to the regular weekday one. Solving was much more biffing with post-parsing than usual, and it wasn’t difficult, apart from a complete brain-fog with LOI TISIPHONE, which would have been a giveaway had I thought of that meaning of fury. I failed to parse TETE-A-TETE and LURID, though with both I knew it was the correct answer. I assumed there was a missing ‘F’ from fluid, though couldn’t account for that. FOI EASY RIDER, LOI TISIPHONE, COD ENGENDERED.

  25. 16:31 – but one error. I had not heard of TISIPHONE and went for TISOPHONE. Pose was POSIT and Fury somehow was synonymous with Hone. Tisophone was the Apple gadget.


    1. I don’t know the furys either so went with tisopcore- with posit for pose and then wondered if core could be an apple gadget! Think I was conflating it with Terpsichore!
      I’ll try again tomorrow!

  26. I’m a bit vague on the Furies and it wasn’t until I’d sorted out tisephone, which looked wrong, that I could record 41 minutes. Never had the problem with the missing clues, since they were there in the version I use digitally. At first I thought this was a very easy taster for the US solver, who probably won’t be so familiar with the cryptic devices that we take for granted, but soon realised that this was not the case. I enjoyed ‘be’ and LURID. And the Dodge marshal.

  27. 26 mins. Haven’t we had TISIPHONE fairly recently? I certainly chucked it in on that memory. I still don’t get how SEXIST becomes EXIST by starting a little late, but maybe I’m a bear of little brain.
    LOI EARP, took a while to figure out the clue. COD TURNROUND, clever misdirection as I was trying to reverse a stage act without much luck.

    1. We had it twice last year, on 30 Dec and 8 March. We also had her sister Megaera, on 19 August. The blogger listed down all three furies, on each occasion ..

  28. I printed a full version so wasn’t affected by missing clues.
    A pretty steady solve, finishing in 22 minutes. I think we’ve had TISIPHONE relatively recently. The one that gave me trouble was 9d. My initial entry was MAKE UP ONES FACE. I also wondered momentarily why LUID meant “easily understood”. Senior moment.

  29. 22:10. Blissfully unaware of the missing clues, US origins and other vexations. Seemed like a fairly bog-standard puzzle to me – in a good way. LOI, by some margin, EXIST.

  30. Never heard of TISIPHONE even though I assumed it was classical reference. As a result I had TISAPHONE as my answer, taking the A from Apple and phone as the gadget. As I use an IPhone, I can only conclude after Piquets rather harsh comment in his blog that I shouldn’t be doing The Times crossword!
    I took about 35 minutes to finish all but three, and then a further 20 plus minutes to crawl over he line

  31. 7:51. I solve online so the clues were all there and I was unaware of the special status of the puzzle, but I did notice an unusual number of US references as I solved. No problems though.

  32. Took me 35 minutes. Partly because of the missing clues (thanks for putting them up here! I should have looked sooner) Partly because I took much too long to do my last three in, which were CHARIOT ENCODES and LOI EXIST.
    But that was a good crossword today I thought if it wasnt for the missing down clues. Probably on the easy side for the experts but just right for me.
    Thanks again to setter blogger and commenters 🙂

    1. I was wondering whether the missing down clues were deliberate- a new form of Sunday special puzzle, like an AZED ‘Carte blanche’!

  33. DNF

    I’ve “sort of” learned all my muses, graces and furies, just not well enough to know how to spell them all. TESIPHONE.

  34. One error at the one hour mark, but pleased to winkle out the troublesome 5 letter words at the end: EXIST, EXTRA and ATILT. Pink square was for TESIPHONE, where I had set=pose, and knew that it was a Muse/Fury I was missing.

    Did not parse LUCID, also looked up LUID as maybe some dialect version for “understood”.

    COD EXIST, that two letter definition was nicely hidden

  35. 33:22

    Didn’t feel as if I was particularly slow today but I am just outside my Snitch target time (84 = 32 mins). Everything parsed OK and didn’t even notice anything American about this. Fine with EARP, even got the Fury without checking it actually existed first.

  36. I always use the print edition so no problems with missing clues. No beefs about the American tilt, which I hardly noticed as such. But i do object to enumerating ‘TV MOVIE’ as ‘2,5’, rather than as ‘1,1,5’. TV most certainly ain’t a two-letter word — it’s an abbreviation. I’ve seen this before in The Times and have never liked it.

    1. It is a two letter abbreviation and most definitely should be rendered as 2 and not 1,1

  37. Great fun, thoroughly enjoyed even though tisiphone, outfitter and LOI engendered had to be ground out.

    1. Same three problems as you, Chris, being LOsI. Had forgotten the Furies (or maybe never knew them), and ENGENDERED had me all flummoxed over the E’s …didn’t know why LURID was correct either, but bunged it in. The wily BE in one down was not seen, and I was distraught to think that Apple had put out yet another new gadget without my knowledge! Otherwise plain sailing, and enjoyed, especially the hidden EARP.

  38. Missing clues all present & correct on the CC website, so no problems in a very straightforward puzzle brought home in an energetic, middle-age-defying 13:54.

  39. I totally agree with Jack. This was like swimming uphill through treacle. I particularly disliked TV MOVIE, EXIST, and TURNROUND. At least I slew the beast.

    TIME 9:26

  40. 30:50. Good fun. I was unaware of the missing clues or the American connection. I had more than usual trouble with the parsing. Half a dozen clues with PDMs post-solve from the blog. So, many thanks Piquet. LOIs EXIST and ATILT. I liked the Dodge marshall and the pair after CD

  41. INSIPID was FOI and EXIST brought up the rear. TISIPHONE rang a bell. Fortunately, proof reading revealed typos at JERUUSALM and LECTTRN. 21:03. Thanks setter and Pip.

  42. I agree with our blogger: not the toughest, but very enjoyable. Beaten by a lack of classical education (again). NHO TISIPHONE also a fun DNF.

  43. A glitch-free 29 minutes. Enjoyable puzzle. I liked the chariot and the well-hidden EARP.

  44. I was well behind my normal cohort on this, hitting 33’24”. I expected Snitch to be much higher. Probably just tiredness. I have noticed playing pelmanism with my three year-old, she beats me hands down most times. But occasionally in the morning I get the better of her. The brain definitely slows down as the day progresses. EXIST and TURNROUND took up a good chunk at the end. TURNAROUND is for me a more normal word.

  45. This took me just over 2 hours, but I finished it eventually.
    I don’t know enough mythology, so had to look up lists of the Furies to get TISIPHONE.

    An enjoyable slow solve.


  46. Already commented in my reply to Chris. Thankfully I solve on paper (the rest of which I chuck immediately) and a month after the regular crowd, so avoided all the hoo-ha around America.

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