Times 28677 – nothing offensive here

A fairly gentle workout for a Wednesday, I thought, with some straightforward anagrams and neat surfaces.

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

1 Sole trader? (10)
FISHMONGER – cryptic definition, play on sole.
6 Skip over technical college (4)
OMIT – O[ver] MIT as in Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
9 Major supplier of beluga canapés is a rogue (7,3)
10 Leader from Times in “wrong paper” shock! (4)
STUN – T[imes] inside SUN the other paper.
12 A colourful compound wager at one race worked out (12)
BETACAROTENE – BET (wager) (AT ONE RACE)*. Never seen it spelt out without a hyphen or more usually the Greek β-.
15 National team member always departs eastern archipelago (4,5)
CAPE VERDE – CAP (player for national team) EVER (always) D, E (departs, Eastern).
17 Firm taken aback by name of offensive group (5)
OCTET – OC (CO, firm, reversed) TET (offensive in Vietnam in 1968)
18 Wine temperature fine (5)
TOKAY – T (temp.) OKAY (fine).  A sweet wine from Hungary.
19 These gorgeous lips which might be to blame for a broken heart? (6,3)
CUPIDS BOW – best described as a double definition, I think, one being the M shaped upper lip which is supposedly attractive, and one being the result of a heart pierced by an arrow from Cupid’s bow.
20 Least attractive suit lengths I tailored (12)
24 Goodness regularly exhibited by Miss Mary? (1,3)
I SAY – alternate letters as above.
25 They cover some guitar Paul insured (10)
TARPAULINS – hidden word as above.
26 Look chaps! India’s opener’s caught (4)
MIEN – I inside MEN for chaps.
27 Small shrew reportedly tunnelled into rolling transporter (10)
SKATEBOARD – S (small) KATE (the Shrew, as in The Taming of…), BOARD sounds like BORED  tunnelled.
1 Confront female pilot who’s downed a few (4)
FACE – F for female, ACE a pilot who has shot a few down.
2 Band of elite soldiers on horse (4)
SASH – S.A.S. regiment, H for horse.
3 Undocking for the first time when playing any video game (6,6)
4 Simone grapples with Jack, a martial art expert (5)
NINJA – NINA Simone, civil rights activist, brilliant singer and pianist, died 2003, has J for Jack inserted. I was surprised by how long ago she passed away.
5 Reportedly, setter invents enhancement for viewers (3,6)
EYE MAKEUP – eye sounds like I MAKEUP meaning ‘the setter invents’. I would have hyphenated make-up, and been wrong.
7 First of many different odd bits of trouble she’s expecting (6-2-2)
MOTHER-TO-BE – M (first of many) OTHER (different) T O B E the alternate “bits” of trouble.
8 Hollywood won’t listen, unfortunately (10)
11 Instruction to leave hotel room? (2,3,7)
DO NOT DISTURB – cryptic definition, leave the room alone, not depart from the room.
13 Breaks, going green (10)
ECOTOURISM – cryptic definition, not very subtle.
14 Plane’s small thrusts to experience (10)
SPOKESHAVE -S (small) POKES (thrusts) HAVE (experience). My Dad, a keen DIY woodworker, had one in his amazing toolbox.
16 Kart (e-vehicle) overturned rounding entrance to cambered circuit (9)
RACETRACK – KART, E-CAR all reversed with C (entrance to cambered) inserted.
21 Home terminal initially loaded with back up data (5)
INPUT – IN (home) T (terminal initially) with UP reversed (“back up”) inserted.
22 Flipping keen prima donna! (4)
DIVA – AVID = keen, reversed.
23 Declined to fire whistleblower taken advantage of (4)
USED – REFUSED (declined) loses its REF = whistleblower.


72 comments on “Times 28677 – nothing offensive here”

  1. 13:33
    This felt harder than my time suggests. I started off trying SHOEMAKER, which fortunately was too short; moved on without thinking of the fish. MIT shows up a lot here, and usually, as today, with a less than accurate definition. I didn’t understand where 15ac CAP came from. Biffed USED, parsed post-submission; biffed MOTHER-TO-BE, never parsed. NHO SPOKESHAVE (LOI), and never thought of the appropriate ‘plane’. I find CUPID’S BOW lips anything but gorgeous.

  2. I feel like in the olden days I would regularly finish puzzles in 15 minutes or so. These days my average is more like 25 minutes, so to finish this puzzle in 13 minutes means something. (And it doesn’t mean I was particularly sharp, as I’ve been drinking whiskey for several hours…)

    1. Decline in performance from average of 15 minutes to average of 25? That’ll be the whiskey, then. Of course, if it were whisky, now, perhaps a single malt (Lagavulin is my favourite), you’d see your times recover in no time….

  3. 8:00. No problems with this, in spite of solving in the evening after a few glasses of wine. SPOKESHAVE was new to me and I was a little concerned there might be another word for ‘experience’ that would fit. But I couldn’t think of one.
    Like Kevin I initially put in SHOEMAKER but took it out again immediately when I saw that it didn’t have enough letters, and moved on without making the fish connection.

  4. Easier, but entertaining. LOI eye make-up, where the lack of hyphen didn’t help. Make-up is spelled with a hyphen in the 3 dictionaries I have, but Collins on-line allows makeup as well.

  5. I found this pretty easy with all except EYE MAKEUP done in under 20 minutes, and another couple to get the MAKEUP bit. I’m not quite sure the MAKEUP fits for “invents” which would really require MAKES UP surely? We seem to have a long words in chemistry thing going this week with trinitrotoluene and now betacareotene.

    1. I’m glad you said that about ‘invents’, Paul, as I was starting to think it was just me! There’s surely an error in the clue?

      1. On “invents”, I thought about that as well. I convinced myself that “setter invents” and “I make up” were okay as equivalent phrases.

      2. It’s not just you and Paul, Jack. I also think there’s summat wrong somewhere with MAKEUP = inventS.

        1. Yes, but I was convinced by starstruck’s explanation. It’s the opposite of a lift and separate in that you need to read ‘setter invents’ as ‘I (eye) makeup’ rather than treat them as individual words.

    2. I agree, Paul, and I was also delayed (and rather irritated) by its being clued as one word. Yeah, yeah – before the savants jump in to say so – I know some dictionaries have it as unhyphenated, but that is very much not my experience of its real everyday usage.

  6. Went very fast, until NHO POI SPOKESHAVE and LOI (which I might have seen sooner, but… a CD, y’know…) ECOTOURISM. Plenty fun.

  7. All but four answers in 20 minutes but I needed another 8 to sort them out. My LOI was the unknown (and unlikely looking) SPOKESHAVE, and I suspect I shall not be alone in that. It’s the first time it has appeared as an answer in the TfTT era but searching for it in the archive found a previous hit in a blog by Sotira who uses it as a humorous nickname for Shakespeare.

    I got lucky thinking of fish before shoes at 1ac and I’d written in FISHMONGER before seeing the other possibility. Fortunately the answer at 1dn soon confirmed that I had chosen correctly.

    No problems with today’s long chemical name.

      1. Thanks. I have the song in my collection but it’s not one I know particularly well.

    1. My late father always referred to the bard as Bill Spokeshave, and I still do. Straightforward today except for BETACAROTENE, where trying to use ‘wager at 1 race’ as the anagrist held me up for a while. Got in the end though, but failed to check timing. I guess about 25 mins.

  8. This one goes in the ‘fun’ box. some good surfaces and anagrams. My one term of woodwork lessons at age 11 paid off with SPOKESHAVE. Not sure 11 year olds today would be let loose with drills, saws and chisels.

  9. Quick fun indeed this morning, with several going in not completely parsed. Vague memories of SPOKESHAVE from my woodwork lessons too, which I thankfully gave up aged 14.

    EYE MAKEUP LOI, like others.

    9’32”, thanks pip and setter.

  10. 14m, not quite a personal best but not far off. Skipped over a few bits of wordplay here and there as I realised I might be on for a good time, so things like NINJA unparsed even though I’ve heard of Nina Simone. LOI SPOKESHAVE, which I think was unknown, though given that wooden spokes probably needed shaving it didn’t seem much of a stretch.

    I imagine I was somewhat lucky in knowing BETACAROTENE well enough to throw it in after seeing the BETA at the beginning.

  11. 40 minutes. Most of that spent on the crossing EYE MAKEUP and then BETACAROTENE at the end which I tried to make into a full rather than partial anagram. I didn’t know CAPE VERDE as an ‘archipelago’ and had to guess the ‘gorgeous lips’ sense of CUPID’S BOW; I agree with Kevin – anything but.

  12. At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
    The winged boy I knew;
    But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
    His Psyche true!
    (Ode to Psyche, Keats)

    15 mins mid-brekker. Very gentle and enjoyable.
    NHO spokeshave, but I can guess what it is used for.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  13. 26 minutes with LOI the unknown SPOKESHAVE, constructed with fingers crossed. I liked EYE MAKEUP but COD to ECOTOURISM, although isn’t that an oxymoron? The TARPAULINS did well to remain hidden for so long. Nice puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

  14. Same here for just about everything, EYE MAKEUP (still looks wrong) taking me out to 23.31. A better time than I expected, there were a lot of difficult words here. Very enjoyable, thanks piquet for untangling RACETRACK and several more. Not only have I heard of SPOKESHAVE but I own one, inherited from my father who explained it to me long ago in another century. A splendid tool. A friend interviewed Nina in the 70s and reported back disappointingly that in person she was contemptuous, entitled and an absolute horror. But so what? The music was sublime…

  15. 31 mins. All pretty straightforward except for the NHO SPOKESHAVE.

    Good fun, with lots to like, especially ECOTOURISM my POI.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  16. 20:53

    Was looking down the SHOEMAKER route initially but clearly didn’t fit – only filled in when the first two checkers were in place. Enjoyed spotting BETACAROTENE (a chemical that I know how to spell!) and KATE remembered from seeing Josie Lawrence (whatever happened to her?) as the shrew back in the 90s. No problems with CUPIDS BOWs – quite like them myself. My biggest holdup was untangling UNSIGHTLIEST even with six letters in place – just couldn’t see it for a few minutes.

    Thanks P and setter

  17. 28m 42s
    Another one who is querying MAKEUP = inventS.
    LOI was SPOKESHAVE. I think my father used to have one.
    Thanks, Pip.

  18. Quick today, with no unknowns. Got a spokeshave somewhere, both father and father-in-law had very well-equipped workshops..

    I notice that we have a couple of additions to our website, a Commenter Tips page, and a User Tips page.
    Many thanks to JohnInterred for adding those helpful pages ..

  19. 9:10. I didn’t think of SHOEMAKER but I did put in SHOESELLER for 1A which made a mess at the top when I got to the downs and saw FACE. Like others NHO SPOKESHAVE so I just trusted to the wordplay. COD to STUN for the surface. Thanks Pip and setter.

  20. 20 minutes or so, not all understood. Eventually put in SPOKESHAVE with no confidence whatsoever, failing completely to think of any plane other than the airborne variety and guessing that it might be a term from the early days of aviation. That intersected with TOKAY, today’s other unknown. I was also relieved to get the consonants the right way round in BETACAROTENE.

    For 5d, I agree with those who say the ‘reportedly’ applies to both “setter” and “invents” to give ‘I make up’ = EYE MAKEUP (I took ages to see it, mind).

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Face
    LOI Spokeshave
    COD Tinseltown

  21. 14:24 with one typo. Annoying as I spotted one typo before submitting but missed the second.


  22. Getting easier for me as the week goes on, about 25′ which is low in my world. Never heard of SPOKESHAVE but “have” for experience popped up in the last few days (and was new to me as a newbie). I did go down the “shoe” route for a few minutes on 1 ac, but quickly saw the alternative. thanks blogger and setter.

  23. 7:29

    That makes it my 4th-fastest solve of the SNITCH era so I guess I found it easy. I knew spokeshave but I’m not sure how. I thought it must have been in one or more past puzzles but a search suggests its only previous appearance on TfTT was in a 2008 blog where Sotira used it as an alias for Shakespeare.

    1. A crossword referencing Sorita containing MIT as an answer is very appropriate, as she was becoming more and more unhappy about the compilers’ repeated use of Oxbridge, Eton, MIT and other elitism insritutions.

      1. I think they just tend to be the ones solvers are most likely to have heard of?
        I have seen Reading used … and Poly, and Tech

  24. A generous setter today who evidently decided I needed some time off: even with a studious minute or more proof reading I managed 11.05. My last in was BETACAROTENE, convinced for some time it was going to be kaleidoscope (again). I know it as stuff that makes carrots (and possibly US presidents) orange: I didn’t find the “compound” definition helpful, taking it initially as an anagram indicator. CIGARET AWARE doesn’t fit the crossers or the “worked out” definition. Incidentally, even Google sniffs at it being one word.
    I did wonder if “these gorgeous lips” was a quotation to justify the opinion that otherwise seems not to be shared on this forum. Betty Boop will be disappointed.
    3 CDs today, one of them only barely C.

  25. 07:29, a good proportion of which was spent on assembling the unknown SPOKESHAVE from wordplay and trying it for size against various interpretations of the clue until I was convinced – maybe I need to watch The Repair Shop more, I bet there’s one knocking about in there. Also began by thinking the chemical was (WAGERAT1RACE)* which made it much less gettable.

  26. SPOKESHAVE was vaguely familiar, although I had to rely on wordplay and it was JerryW’s post above that reminded me of the words that I almost know by heart. Otherwise pretty easy even for me (23 minutes). More CDs than I like (which is none) and at least one of them was pretty un-C so far as I could see. Would have been fine as definitions in a regular clue, but standing alone seems to me to be inadequate. I realise that one has to be very careful with MIT and define it exactly, because so many people get it wrong, but I don’t actually know what is correct and surely ‘technical college’ as a loose definition is OK?

  27. 20 minutes. Pleased to have an easy one today as I had little time to spare, though I biffed a lot without looking closely at the wordplay. No problem with EYE MAKEUP.
    Some inventive cluing in places. I liked the indication of ACE in 1d.
    LOI was 12a.

  28. Couldn’t parse 23d refUSED, so thanks for that.
    12a BETACAROTENE I also tried the (wager at I race*) route, until _E_A looked like Beta. I claim NHO, but Carotene as the orange in the carrots & The Donald seems familiar. Apparantly it is a precursor to vitamine A, hence the seeing in the dark perhaps.
    I too tried SHOESELLER but a glance at the 1d FACE and 2d SASH “sitters” disabused me, although I wondered about an unlikely FOOTBALLER before I looked at 2d.

  29. 17:00. Some nice DDs among the usual fare. Shared the reservations about MAKE[-]UP, particularly as I put an S place holder at the end, expecting a third person singular verb ending but the CUPID’S BOW confluence sorted it out. A convention I hadn’t noticed – omitting apostrophes is fine, hyphens not so.

  30. Fractionally over 20 min, but with betatarocene. Obv. after the event. After failing to spell mid-TNT correctly yesterday am a bit put out with these ‘ere long words. Liked the odd bits of trouble.

  31. The first thing that came to mind when I saw sole, was fish, so FISHMONGER was duly entered. An enjoyable trot around the grid was reined in when I was left with 12a and 14d to solve. The unfamiliar SPOKESHAVE eventually emerged from the wordplay and I then discarded my presumed anagrist for 12a when I noticed I had 3 Es in the crossers. Wager was swapped for BET and ACAROTENE then also emerged. 15:46. Thanks setter and Pip.

  32. My LOI was EYE MAKEUP where I too had the Invents problem. It made me doubt CUPIDS BOW which I couldn’t fully parse.
    Am I the only person to have SPOKESFACE? My one term of woodwork did not cover the spokeshave, as I dimly recall.

  33. Fishmonger went straight in after I had looked at 1d which clearly began with the letter F. Never heard of spokeshave before. As an 11 year old I was not let loose with a chisel etc – but I enjoyed hammering red hot metal on an anvil.

  34. I had NHO SPOKESHAVE, but entered it as I couldn’t think of anything else – only a bit later did I think it might be ‘that’ kind of plane. I stared at 9A for some time looking for a pair of words indicating a rogue, when CASPIAN SEA dropped into my consciousness without ever seeing the anagram until it was written in. FISHMONGER was my first thought for 1A, luckily, which set me off on that corner. Nothing much to trouble me after that until LOI BETACAROTENE for which, like Norm0 and others, I was seeking to fit in WAGER and I until I thought of BET when the O in the crossers put me right. Thanks to setter, and to Piquet for the parsing of USED, which I completely failed to work out.

  35. This was a pleasant work-out, all done in 23 minutes, better than average for me. I had a good feeling about it when I guessed 1ac correctly and was not distracted by cobblers. Not being a DIY buff NHO SPOKESHAVE, but the clueing was quite helpful. I did not share others’ problems with EYE MAKEUP, though it took a while to find it. I biffed 23dn, having decided ‘declined to fire’ was US (i.e. not working/conked out) and that a mysterious ED was a whistleblower, so thanks for the correct explanation.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  36. 31 mins. Agonised over EYE ……. , it was the P at the end instead of an S which confused me. I’m with starstruck on this, clue is ok.

  37. Would you find a SKATE BOARD in a FISHMONGER’s?
    Everything flew in until I ground to a halt in the SE with two unanswered as is my wont. I had INTEL instead of INPUT, which once corrected, revealed the last two. My first completed crossword this week. Have I broken the spell?
    Thank you for FUSED and for the Vietnamese offensive.

  38. A quick enough time today at 22.35 but ruined by getting the anagram wrong by inserting BETATAROCENE, which looked plausible until finding out the real answer. No trouble with SPOKESHAVE which seems to be unknown to quite a few but still a DNF!

  39. Not so easy here. 31 mins and didn’t work out spokeshave. NHO of it and though I got the spokes part, have just didn’t possess me.

    As others have recorded lots of good clues and anagrams in particular. Frustrating day.

  40. Despite being a medic took ages to work out betacarotene. Never heard of spokeshave but it fitted the word play well enough to fit in. Must be improving. Up until now only managed to finish Mondays so well pleased to get further along in the week.

  41. Half an hour, very easy today despite a few unknowns (like Nina Simone, but that answer had to be NINJA). I thought of FISHMONGER right away and also of BETA-CAROTENE long before I could remember what the name actually was. As for SPOKESHAVE, which I have never heard of, I knew it would end in HAVE because there was another clue this week in which “experience” denoted HAVE, and then the rest was clear. The only clue I really thought was rather weak was ECOTOURISM.

    1. I was very surprised to discover that Nina Simone is the most requested performer on Desert Island Discs.

  42. Pleased to finish in an okay time given I’d never heard of Beta-whatnot or the tool, science and DIY being near the bottom of my interests.

    Roll on you Erinyes, Graces and Muses! Not forgetting the odd Oread…

  43. 21:02 with 0 errors. Fun puzzle – and I now have a mental image of Ninja Simone. time for a reboot?

    thanks Pip and setter.

  44. Looks like I’m the only person who doesn’t know MIEN, which was among several other words which were unfamiliar to me….TOKAY, SPOKESHAVE, BETACAROTENE so I’m pleasantly surprised to find everything correct. Enjoyed it.

  45. 27m. Would have been my best time for months but DNF as NHO spokeshave. Thought of spokesware but was sure it didn’t exist unless as an brand of pottery. Very pleasant half hour’s diversion from Emmers and Corrie.

  46. 21:43

    The top half went in very quickly, and I thought I might be on track for a PB, but it got harder lower down the grid.

    In common with JerryW, I remember spokeshave from Flanders and Swan’s Design for Living.

    Last two in were MIEN and ECOTOURISM.

  47. Got SpOKESHAVE from just one crossing letter. Surprised I’m the only one impressed by the hidden TARPAULIN, my COD.

  48. 28 minutes. I was hoping for a better time but BETACAROTENE and MAKEUP held me up.

    A spokeshave is like a potato peeler except for wood, and they are very satisfying to use.

  49. 22’35”
    Slowly away, stayed on gamely.
    Most enjoyable; thanks Pip and setter.

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