Times 28641 – “If a guy is over 25 percent jerk, he’s in trouble.”

I don’t know about you, but I found this quite difficult; there were no words I didn’t know, but some of the definitions were cunningly hidden and deceptive. But I finished it in about half an hour thanks to unravelling some good wordplay and a few moments of clarity. I didn’t know the American aspect of 21a or the star part of the gem at 18d but guessed them correctly.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Puts waterproof coat on — so Cleopatra survives a little longer? (8)
ASPHALTS – Cryptic definition – if the ASP was HALTED, Cleo would last a bit longer. A bit contrived, but I guess it works.
5 Decoration got by medic turning on splendid display (6)
POMPOM – POMP (splendid display) then MO reversed.
10 Area, so long closed, prepares for work (1,8,2,4)
A FAREWELL TO ARMS – A, FAREWELL = so long, TO = closed, as a door is ‘to’, ARMS = prepares. Early book by Hemingway, not his best IMO.
11 Drug arrived concealed in hollow, with accompanying note (10)
MEDICAMENT – ME (note) DINT (hollow) with CAME (arrived) inserted.
13 At least a dozen answer, giving approval (4)
VISA – VIs would be at least 2 sixes in Roman numerals, and A = answer. In Collins it gives VISA: 2. any sign or signature of approval, although I’d never seen it used that way.
15 Irish girl learning to gatecrash parties (7)
DOLORES – DOS (parties) has LORE (learning) inserted. I worked in Dublin for several years with a formidable Irish lady called Dolores, but it’s not only an Irish name, it’s common in Spanish speaking Catholic countries.
17 Inviting mockery, perhaps, no good for Charlie’s evening out! (7)
IRONING – IRONIC (inviting mockery perhaps) has C (Charlie) turned into NG.
18 Some insects drop right into your cuppa (7)
DIPTERA – DIP (drop) TEA (cuppa) with R inserted. Insects with only two wings.
19 Italian physician returned home — a very small delay (7)
GALVANI – All reversed, IN (home) A, V(ery), LAG (delay). Luigi Galvani, we remember, was the Italian chap who messed about with frogs legs and electricity, and for whom the galvanometer is named.
21 What sort of jerk would keep lawman on the case? (4)
SODA -yet another American clue in our British crossword. A SODA JERK is apparently the guy who works a soda machine in a drug store. I think it is made from DA a US district attorney, after SO = the case, it is so, it is the case. Is someone raiding US puzzles for clues? Editor, what’s going on?
22 For a year restricted to college broadcast (10)
PROPAGATED – PRO (for) PA (per annum) GATED means restricted to college (or did in my time there).
25 Celebrate arrival of Sabbath, yet heed working at start of week (3,3,5,4)
27 Short track: primitive instinct to stop to perform it? (6)
SIDING – ID (the primitive part of your psyche) inside SING = perform.
28 Finishes off masterstroke, N English dish and N African one (8)
COUSCOUS – I think “finishes off” here means remove the end letters, of COU[P] for masterstroke and SCOUS[E] for N English dish. As you’d guess, and I did, SCOUSE is a stew from Liverpool.  I’d prefer a good French couscous.
1 Concerned with wings on sea (7)
ALARMED – ALAR means to do with wings, and MED[iterranean].
2 Climber to copy, getting head down (3)
PEA – APE = copy, move the A to the end.
3 Part of church, one Cranmer reformed (4,6)
AMEN CORNER – (ONE CRANMER)*. I know more about Augusta National’s golfing Amen Corner, and the rock group, than I do about churches, but I gather that amen corner is the area of a church, typically a black gospel type, where devout worshippers shout “amen” responses at frequent intervals. I doubt if Cranmer would have approved.
4 A little heat coming through leather muffler (5)
THERM – hidden as above. One therm is quite a lot of heat energy, there’s about 1.5 therms in a gallon of petrol.
6 Instrument that’s not broken, but odd bits missing (4)
OBOE – alternate letters as above.
7 Maybe marathon runner’s standard habitual reaction: a single short breath (11)
PARTICIPANT – PAR (standard) TIC (habitual reaction) I (a single), PANT (short breath).
8 Bow Street’s obliged to suspend one for breaking in? (7)
MUSTANG – another “cockney speak” clue, “obliged to suspend” being “must ‘ang” in Bow Street.
9 Harsh-sounding tribal chief? (8)
CLANKING – well, a clan king could be a tribal chief.
12 Shabby upside-down top and old hat worn by a detective (11)
DILAPIDATED – LID reversed (upside-down top), A PI (private investigator), DATED = old hat.
14 Scientists from south Australia first to break old records (10)
ZOOLOGISTS – OZ (Australia) ‘from south’ = ZO, O LOGS = old records, insert IST = first.
16 Busy art dealer finally flogged gem (4,4)
STAR RUBY – (BUSY ART R)*, the R from dealer finally. I’d never heard of this ruby, but got it from the anagrist, see https://blueearthgems.com/gemstones/star-ruby-meanings/
18 22 hell-bound rejects (7)
DISOWNS – well, 22 is propagated, which doesn’t really mean sown, for me, but I think it’s intended here; DIS (hell) has SOWN (synonym for answer to 22a) inserted.
20 Compounds ten days with a fateful one (7)
IODIDES – IO (ten) D[ays] IDES (a fateful day).
23 A possible Castilian naval officer keeping fit, mostly (5)
PABLO – PO (Petty Officer) has ABL[e] inserted.
24 Object when gallons going spare (4)
THIN – THING = object, loses its G for gallons.
26 Finally give acclaim to a form of music (3)
EMO – final letters as above; some kind of rock music, I am told.


73 comments on “Times 28641 – “If a guy is over 25 percent jerk, he’s in trouble.””

  1. 12:46 – did not feel confident about SODA, but it was correct and I think you have the parsing. I liked the quirky clues for ASPHALTS and CLANKING

  2. 37:34
    I went offline at 32:47 with several unsolved clues and little hope of solving them, went to the gym, came back, and managed to finish in 5′, with VISA being my LOI. FOI was A FAREWELL, which I biffed mainly from the enumeration, parsing post-submission. Also biffed MEDICAMENT, WET THE BABY’S (NHO), & COUSCOUS (wasn’t going to be bstila). I would have saved myself a lot of time on GALVANI if I hadn’t stupidly flung in PLANGENT at 9d, yet once again intending to come back to it, which I did, days later. MER at Irish girl. Failed to parse DISOWNS, as I failed to see that hell was not DIS but DI…S.

  3. Another with VISA as LOI after an alphabet trawl. Preceded by a guessed SODA where vaguely remembed soda-fountains and soda-jerks at the drug store from ancient US TV shows, and not seeing it is SO/it is the case.
    A MER at Dolores being Irish here, too. And a missed opportunity with South not being capitalised in ZOOLOGISTS – South Australia being an actual place.
    Very tricky in other places, too, but all clued well. Held up by wrongly thinking both pom-pom and cous-cous were hyphenated, and a couple of NHOs, such as Galvani, and Amen Corner not being at Augusta. Liked ASPHALTS and CLANKING – and VISA.

  4. Yeah, I found this quite hard, but didn’t know whether it was objectively such or if this perception was merely a reflection of my ongoing sleep deficit. I had hardly anything on the right side when I finished the left. Some great clues here, though. Wasn’t entirely sure what was going on with PROPAGATED, but now think I might have come up with the explanation for GATED if I hadn’t been so fatigued. LOI COUSCOUS, which I’ve been enjoying often with grilled salmon. Do SODA jerks still exist today?

    (Kwinkydinkily, test solvers for Kosman & Picciotto’s Out of Left Field had A FAREWELL TO ARMS a few days ago, and it was my FOI then, just from the enumeration and def.)

  5. 73 minutes for this toughie! And at the end I had question marks against 10 clues involving words, shades of meaning, definitions or parsings I wasn’t sure about and would have needed to research further if I had been on blogging duty. I won’t go through them all here, but one I would mention was DINT at 11ac as an alternative to ‘dent’ which I don’t recall coming across before; I only knew it for sure in the expression ‘by dint of’ which has something to do with force or exertion.

    The wordplay in 8dn eluded me, associating Bow Street with law enforcement (Bow Street runners, Bow Street Magistrate’s Court etc) rather than Cockneys, since it’s by Covent Garden in the West End, more than a mile away from the so-called centre of Cockneyland, St Mary-le-Bow in the East End at Cheapside. The capital S on Street may therefore be a deception by the setter, and intentional or not, it’s valid and certainly misled me without preventing me solving the clue from the literal.

    1. Just realized from your comment that I didn’t fully parse MEDICAMENT. DINT = “dent” is new to me too.

    2. I am frequently threatened with a dint on the head (pronounced heedie) by mrs kapietro who is Scottish. The meaning there is a hit or blow described by Collins as archaic. But it might leave a dint behind

  6. I had VIVA, and knew that the math didn’t check out, but went with it anyway. Of course once you see the pink square you know exactly what the answer should be.

  7. Like others I got to the point of having four or five unsolved, but unlike others there was no fairytale ending of returning to the fray and finishing it off. VISA, CLANKING, IRONING, GALVANI – I never had a chance. I thought there were a lot of excellent clues here but some of the required knowledge was too obscure, some definitions totally eluded me and some wordplay was unfathomable. Thanks to piquet for any number of explanations, notably the PROPAGATE/DISOWNS connection and SIDING. I suspect other solvers will be similarly defeated by some of my bugbears and a few others, like MUSTANG, ASPHALT, COUSCOUS and IODIDES – whatever they are.

  8. This wasn’t half as nice as paradise – but a pretty decent puzzle nevertheless. Started off thinking it was way above my pay-grade – then it turned into a very satisfying solve with a crummy ending. FOI COUSCOUS but only understanding COU(P), and a few more in the first pass of the downs. Subsequently realising it wasn’t completely impossible, I enjoyed the puzzle rather a lot until nearing completion in the NW, where I needed 10 mins or so to get POMPOM – MUSTANG (failing to realise this was an “East End” clue (duh) – and VISA.

    Rather a shame that I stupidly put in CLANGING and also (early in the solve when I was sure I wouldn’t complete) SIDE as a dumb guess. If I wasn’t doing these things in a hurry before work, I’d spend more time doin’ ‘em properly. 54m fail, thanks P and setter.

    1. FOI COUSCOUS gets a round of applesauce from me … I had all the checkers for ages and still couldn’t figure out the .. um .. African nation 🙂

  9. 48 minutes with the hard ones as mentioned by others. I half-parsed a few like MEDICAMENT and had never heard of a SODA ‘jerk’. I liked the “flat-pack, assemble as directed” PARTICIPANT and both the wordplay and def for MUST ANG.

  10. This was a very tricky workout, and for the second day in a row my ongoing SNITCH average has been severely compromised. Another who never for a moment linked DOLORES with the Emerald Isle (certainly from Latin rather than any Celtic/Gaelic root), and I’m (yet again) grateful to Pip for explaining my biffed LOI.

    FOI DOLORES (despite my misgivings)
    TIME 16:15

  11. 43:17 but…

    …cheated with my LOI SODA – NHO of such a jerk and couldn’t make much of the parsing.

    Few NHOs: IODIDES, GALVANI (both from cryptic), ALARMED (solved from MED + definition)

    Some nice PDMs experienced at MUSTANG, POMPOM, CLANKING and COUSCOUS.

  12. Finished in 49 minutes and was staggered to find it all correct. I had no idea about SODA as jerk, but if I see LAWMAN I always think of Hamilton Burger in the days before Raymond Burr went into a wheelchair. I thought DOLORES was American too, not Irish, a glamorous blonde who Perry represented. PABLO’s means only the old ice cream parlour in Blackpool to me. I’m not sure if ASPHALTS is brilliant or terrible, but it’s my COD. Well deciphered Pip and thank you setter.

    1. I hear indirectly from Galspray that you are an author. What type of books do you write and under what name? I’m currently halfway through one of Sawbill’s books, a spy novel called ‘The Collation Unit’.

        1. Thanks, Jerry. I’ll ask my local library to get the trilogy. They do sound like a good read.

      1. I see Jerry has done the PR for me! The Unholy Trinity is a three-book family saga (Where’s Sailor Jack?, No Precedent, The Dove is Dead) covering the period from 1945 through to the 2030s. I hope you’re tempted.

        1. Hello! It sounds like a very readable trilogy. I’ll ask my local library to get it in. They’ve been very good in the past at acquiring books I’ve asked for. I’m currently reading Sawbill’s novel “The Collation Unit” which they got for me.

          1. All three books are published by Amazon KDP in paperback or on Kindle. Some libraries are sniffy about ordering from Amazon. If you have trouble, DM me on the email address on my website and I’ll get them to you.
            It’s not that I’m desperate for readers of course.

            1. Thanks BW! My main contact at the library has always liked my choices. He acquired all eight “Slow Horses” spy novels by Mick Herron on my recommendation so I hope he likes the idea of your trilogy.
              If you don’t mind, I’ll keep you as a backup. As a pensioner with limited funds and limited storage space these days, I’m trying not to add to my permanent collection of personal effects.I’ve already consigned most of my books on art to a Salvation Army book sale.

  13. DNF. I went with VIVA as LOI after 39 mins but expected a pink square or two.


  14. 35:34. I found much of this hard but two clues in particular pushed my time out. First there was the MEDICAMENT predicament. On the one hand, I only knew dent was a definite synonym for hollow (though dint seemed possible). On the other I thought the root of the answer would surely be MEDIC-, and this is what I went with. The other clue predictably was that for SODA where I was unsure of the definition and whilst presuming the lawman to be DA I couldn’t see the parsing of SO for quiet some time. When I finally twigged I thought the expression soda jerk rang a vague bell. It sounds akin to the British trolley wally.

  15. 20:47 but 1 wrong, with a desperate SIDE instead of SODA – my LOI after 2 1/2 minutes looking at all the answers that could fit. NHO and couldn’t countenance that there was such a thing as a “soda jerk”. Really? I thought this was a British crossword puzzle. Otherwise lots to enjoy. I liked WET THE BABY’S HEAD most. Thanks Pip and setter.

  16. 20′, but with VIVA, which at least indicates approval. Rushed in as LOI because I had no idea at all about SODA and was expecting pink.
    Always previously thought GALVANI was a physicist.
    Ashes 2 today!

    Thanks pip and setter.

    1. From Wiki
      …was an Italian physician, physicist, biologist and philosopher, who studied animal electricity. In 1780, he discovered that the muscles of dead frogs’ legs twitched when struck by an electrical spark….
      He worked under Volta.

      1. I was surprised to see him as physician not physicist, not knowing/remembering him but guessing he was behind the word galvanic. But there’s also a school of thought that physics didn’t start as a science until the second half of the 19th century – before then it was all ?can’t remember? natural philosophy or something. Not religion, the opposite of it, but magic nevertheless. Similar to my American mate discounting Bill Russell and his achievements – basketball didn’t start until Dr. J.

  17. 20:45
    Tricky, but fair (though the word order in 27ac would seem to suggest it’s an &lit, which putting the definition at the end might have avoided).
    Rockers of a certain age may recall Andy Fairweather Low’s band AMEN CORNER, or Blind Willie McTell’s use of the expression in his song ‘Married Man’s a Fool’, as covered by Ry Cooder on ‘Paradise and Lunch’.
    SODA JERK was apparently a pun on ‘soda clerk’, the formal job title of that drugstore assistant.
    And didn’t an American humorist (Thurber?) once say that all hairdressers are called DOLORES?

  18. 19:17

    I’d have been quicker if I hadn’t mistyped IODIDES as IODIDEA causing a bit of head-scratching over COUSCOUS. -O-S-O-A didn’t look completely unlikely as foreign grub.

    I immediately though of the late DOLORES O’RIORDAN of The Cranberries when solving that particular clue so the Irish connection seemed obvious.

    COD to W the baby’s H.

  19. Another hard and slow one. 67 minutes, with one pink square for GALSANI – with the S for small instead of the V for very. I even wondered what the word “very” was doing there in the clue and I would have plumped for GALVANI if it had clicked. Never mind. An enjoyably tough workout

  20. About 40 mins.
    This was tricky.
    Dolores is of course a Spanish word.
    Thanks, p.

  21. 90m 51s
    Much of that time, after the hour mark, was spent on 21ac. I have never heard of a SODA JERK. I ended up entering SODS on the basis that the clue mentions a ‘lawman’ and there is such a principle as ‘Sod’s Law’.
    Thank you, Pip, especially for DISOWNS.
    No problem with DOLORES as an Irish name. The sadly now late DOLORES O’Riordan was a member of The Cranberries.
    COD: ASPHALTS. Very droll.

  22. 1.02.52 in interrupted sessions. I have heard of ’emo’ but couldn’t tell you what it is, but then I can’t tell my garage from my house. Like RobR, I thought only of Galvani as a physicist. Dolores Irish ?

  23. Long as you love me, it’s alright
    22.17. For most of the time solving this I thought I was on for a quick time, but the SW corner threatened a total halt to the proceedings until I finally remembered the DIS version of hell, and after long minutes agonizing, put in SODA for no more reason that lawyers are sometimes DAs. Soda Jerk as a thing is buried somewhere from (sort of) Happy Days, but looks like an archaism.
    AMEN CORNER as part of a church makes sense, but unknown in that context to me. London has at least two, Augusta one, and classic pop history one. Curiously, their “bend me, shape me” turns up in a song which the denizens of Amen Corner in a church might be found singing with enthusiasm.
    Today’s DOLORES must be from the Irish quarter of Madrid.

    1. More likely goes back to the Spanish Armada when a good few of the wind-blown sailors washed up (alive) in Ireland.

  24. Medium hard this one, took two cups and a bit of scribbling in the margins but I got there.
    I suppose I shouldn’t but I do find clues like 21ac irritating in The Times of London
    Similar mer to others, at the Irish Dolores and the move from Augusta to a church.
    Pip your anagrist at 16dn should be BUSY not BUST

  25. If the clue had said ‘Spanish girl’ there would have been no doubt. I have never heard of an Irish girl called Dolores (have only just heard of the Cranberries and certainly don’t know of anyone there). Most of my remarks have already been made. Knowing little about Galvani, I’d have thought he was a physicist not a physician. 59 minutes, with much doubt about the SODA jerk.

  26. 40:02. A tough one. The toughness of which led me to overlook some of the subtleties and shades of meaning when solving as perseverance overwhelmed appreciation. Grateful for the blog to enjoy it all more fully in retrospect.

  27. Surprised to find so many not knowing Galvani.
    We have galvanised iron, (which does NOT require galvanism so is a misnomer), we have galvanise as a verb=electrify. I had thought he was a chef who noticed the twitching frog’s leg!

  28. 16:38, but with SODS, bunged in in desperation after several minutes of head-scratching as the only thing I could come up with that had any connection of any kind with at least one word in the clue. I wasn’t surprised that it was wrong. I suppose I should have thought of DA for lawman, but I’m not sure that would have got me to the right answer.

  29. I had 65 minutes on the clock but a 20 minute phone call when the clock kept running so about 45 minutes real time.
    LOI was VISA which must have taken me well over 5 minutes staring at it. Once I realised, I thought it was a good clue. ASPHALTS was one of the easier ones (because the P made me think of ASP and then it was obvious) but a great clue I thought. Didn’t understand the SODA jerk either, I thought maybe beef jerk came with soda or something! A farewell to arms took me ages to get, a title I’ve vaguely heard of but nothing more. I thought Dolores was Spanish too, I never heard of it as an Irish name. It must have Latin origin not Gaelic I would have thought.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  30. 31:14, but with GALBANI. Despite having worked out the correct parsing I found myself indoctrinated by the ice cream adverts that have been cropping up on Ch4 recently. Drat! Thanks setter and Pip.

  31. 54 mins but in desperation put side in for soda. I suppose jerk is an American word and I did consider da as the lawman but never made the connection with so for case. Not sure I do even now.Wasn’t too convinced by visa either but at least I got that one right.

    Struggled quite a bit as my time shows but asphalts made up for all the pain. What a great clue.

  32. DNF – in contrast to SteveB above, I was defeated by ASPHALTS as I had absolutely no idea about Cleopatra and the snake. I put ‘applasts’, thinking that lasts=survives a little longer and that it might have something to do with applying plaster.

    Didn’t really understand SODA or VISA, so thanks for the explanations. Got MUSTANG without being sure about the definition – how does it mean ‘one for breaking in’? Tried to justify either Galileo or Galilei, even though they’re both clearly wrong, before working out GALVANI.

    COD Star ruby

  33. Finished in the end. My LOI was PARTICIPANT since I’d mistype GALVINI and not spotted it. When I realized it began with P I was trying to remember the name of the guy that ran from the battle of Marathon and then dropped dead, which I finally dragged out of my brain as being Phidippedes, so totally irrelevant (in fact, the word marathon in the clue was pretty much irrelevant since just “runner” would have sufficed. I found this hard but very enjoyable, like many others, done in two sittings.

  34. I’d never come across DINT to mean hollow, so despite MEDICAMENT seeming more plausible, I chose between MIDECAMENT & MEDECAMENT. Probably should have been obvious that I needed to go for known answer & unknown wordplay rather than known wordplay & unknown answer… today, at least.

  35. 69 mins with SODA the LOI and never was there a better definition of ‘hit and hope’ so glad to get past the post.

    I’d describe this as: enjoyable start (FOI – ASPHALT), agonising and not very enjoyable middle, then a really lovely finish.

    COD was IRONING … very begrudgingly, but not really as it is quite wonderful.

    A Wednesday beast for me. Phew!

  36. 17:05, with delays in all the places you’d expect. Happy at least to have ruled out my initial thought of VIVA which couldn’t add up to more than 11, however you play with your Roman numerals.

  37. I agree Dolores sounds like an unlikely Irish name as it obviously isn’t from a Gaelic root like Maureen, Kathleen, Maeve,Deirdre etc. However because of Ireland’s Roman Catholic heritage many women are named after saints. In fact of those I’ve known more were along the lines of Maria, Bernadette, Theresa, Assunta, and indeed Dolores, rather than traditional Celtic-derived names.

  38. Tricky this. Some very good clues, but not 21 across in my opinion. Thought of SODA as a possible answer, couldn’t link to any sort of jerk. Like others went for sod as being the possible lawman.
    And obviously I must be the only person who thought that PARTICIPANT Was a very weak clue. This could apply to anyone who joins in with any activity at all, so the reference to running the marathon seems very weak to me. Heyho.

    1. I agree. It’s just a nonsense. Along with about ten other clues. Apart from that it was alright.

  39. MUSTANG, SODA and VISA all too hard for me.

    35 mins or so up til then. MUSTANG in hindsight is a v good clue.

  40. 34:15 – definitely tough, though I remembered the soda jerk from some long forgotten book; struck me as odd at the time. The jokey ASPHALTS didn’t seem too strained to me and was the best of a generally inventive bunch of clues. LOI was VISA, via an unsatisfying alphabet trawl when I couldn’t get VIVA to work nohow.

  41. This was slow for me, but the first I’ve finished with confidence this week, so satisfying. For the first time I can remember ‘concerned with’ was not RE. I thought ‘evening out’ was fabulous and might make me smile next time I’m faced with a pile of it. It might even make me forgive the setter MUSTANG which was groan-worthy.

    Thanks setter and blogger

  42. Ran out of steam before my flight home and after a rather over-indulged week. Funnily seemed to get many of the clues causing consternation… I think Dolores was reasonably common in Ireland when many names had a religious context, certainly came easily to mind for me (I’m not Irish btw!) – also reminded me of the wonderful Cranberries (and Westworld….). However I slowed up at the end as my eyelids drooped and couldn’t finish the last few. VISA just did not come to me; didn’t get SODA – not least as I has DI as the lawman – and POMPOM was beyond me today. No doubt I’ll be back in a few hours for the red-eye home. Thanks to all.

  43. Managed to complete this in about one hour, having struggled as others have with the two four-letter words at 13ac and 21ac. NHO DINT as a hollow or PI as abbreviation for a detective, but the answers here seemed to be assured from the rest of the clueing. Agree that 7dn was an unnecessarily elaborate clue, and I toyed with PARALYMPIAN until it became clear from the crossers that it had to be something else.
    LOI – VISA
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

    1. Private investigator? Magnum PI? Think Hawaiiaaiiaaiin shirts, 80s perms, Ferraris.

  44. DNF. Gave up after 52 min with SODA and DISOWNS unsolved; neither of them made sense without the blog.

    Thanks P and setter

  45. 41’38” – happy to finish all correct, after an exhausting day – and to see the snitch good and high. Dolores definitely Irish. That and Deirdre.

  46. Hard, and with a desperate sado for jerk. Would never have gone for soda despite trying to use da for lawman.
    Hopefully tomorrow will be kinder!
    Thanks to the blogger

  47. After a desultory look that yielded very few clues, including the annoying DOLORES (definitely Spanish), I joined forced with Mr Ego when he got home around 9pm and we finished it together. He was for SIDE, I was for SODA (some weird half-remembered reference to soda jerk must have surfaced), but in the event, it was irrelevant, as I had VIVA, which didn’t make mathematical sense, but VISA wouldn’t have either, as I’d never heard of that meaning of ‘approval’. Some very good and satisfying solving, but coupled with the two or three annoyances referenced above by most of us, it spoiled what could have been a brilliant crossword.

  48. 4 hours, 1’45”
    Asleep in the stalls, never at the races.
    This jerk was once in a diner just shy of Oklahoma City, which sure is pretty, so I might have unwittingly encountered a genuine soda jerk. Enquiring about whether a black and white photograph of a pile of matchwood was this diner in the 30s or 40s, I was told “Yes sir, but not seventy years ago, last year. Welcome to Tornado Alley!”
    Glad to have finished with all parsed, if not encountered.
    Thanks to the setter for the workout – Never Say Die ! (L.Piggott, 1954)

  49. Bought a physical paper after years away to try a Times crossword for old times’ sake. Couldn’t get about 12 clues — too many of the ‘jokes’ didn’t land for me. I guess most work technically, but only when you know the answer. e.g. How are you supposed to get ‘VI x 2 = at least 12’ from a standing start?

    If this is the standard they use for a Wednesday these days, not sure I’ll be coming back.

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