Times 28695 – Americans in Italy, or chaps from Zürich?

After last Wednesday’s toughie, this was comparatively a breeze, although the crossing clues at 14d and 20a held me up for a short while at the end. 9a was an educated guess from wordplay (I knew ‘stele’) which I checked after solving. I liked the clever surfaces at 7d and 22d best.

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

1 Get wind about one failure of justice (8)
MISTRIAL – MISTRAL, the French wind, with I inserted.
5 Something of a grain surplus with Kent being stripped (6)
GLUTEN – GLUT (surplus) then [k]EN[t].
9 Standing stone eroded front and back in ancient mount (3)
TEL – a STELE is another word for a standing stone, remove the first and last leaves TEL, which I didn’t exactly know but it sounded likely to be a Hebrew word as in Tel Aviv and so on. Indeed I see it means “mount” in Hebrew, especially of an old ruined city.
10 What could bring to fruition election in leaderless country (11)
12 Soldiers trapping a traitor in professional operations (10)
13 Attend club (4)
BEAT – attend = BE  AT.
15 Group holding record time for chamber piece (6)
SEPTET – SET (group) with EP (record) T(ime) inserted. I wonder if setters will go on referring to records /EPs / LPs forever? I suppose vinyl is staging a minor comeback.
16 The Spanish sparkling wine cold is variable (7)
ELASTIC – EL (the in Spanish) ASTI (Italian wine) C[old].
18 Vermin around mug — a potential source of disease (7)
MICROBE – MICE (vermin) has ROB (mug) inserted.
20 Attitude of aloofness putting off girl (6)
STANCE – DISTANCE means aloofness, which leaves DI as the girl to be removed.
23 World lacking good rounded projection (4)
LOBE – GLOBE lacks the G.
24 Knocking down protest hero holding appeal (10)
DEMOLITION – DEMO (protest) LION (hero) insert IT for (sex) appeal.
26 Reformed Rasta or Zion believer (11)
27 Focus regularly seen in Taoism (3)
AIM – alternate letters as above.
28 Idea that’s out Oscar introduced (6)
NOTION – out = NOT IN, insert O for Oscar.
29 Those gawping around king with no clothes (8)
STARKERS – STARERS gawp, insert K for king.
1 Architectural feature encountered on work initially Egyptian (6)
METOPE – MET (encountered) OP (work) E[gyptian]. I actually knew this word, pronounced, Met-uh-pee, it’s to do with Doric friezes as on the Parthenon. Apparently the Greeks may have got the frieze idea in Egypt, as they were there from the seventh century BC. So the setter’s surface reading is accurate!
2 Covering place in swell burst of extravagance (7)
SPLURGE – PL for place in SURGE = swell.
3 Characteristic behaviour of a parrot is concerning round robin (10)
REPETITION – RE (concerning) PETITION sent around for all to sign.
4 Unconventional self-betrothal turning out well finally (3,3,3,4)
6 Be the first boy swallowing ecstasy (4)
LEAD – E inside LAD.
7 Wine, free inside, one feature of the Britannia Arms? (7)
TRIDENT – TENT ( a basic red wine) with RID (free) inside.
8 Like some ovenware, new and freshly in stock (8)
NONSTICK – N for new, (IN STOCK)*.
11 Advance encircling Jerusalem is one that might take off (13)
IMPRESSIONIST – an IMPREST is a loan or advance, insert SION for Jerusalem.
14 American fellow I found in Verona travelling? (10)
VACATIONER – &lit (I think!).  CAT I inside (VERONA)*, a CAT being a cool chap in America. My LOI.
17 Put arms on jacket two-thirds finished in bright yellow, not large (8)
EMBLAZON – BLAZ[er] 2/3 of a jacket, inside [L]EMON.
19 Maybe Tom is about stripped for nightclub (7)
CABARET – CAT, maybe a tom, has BARE inside.
21 Company in time making something new (7)
COINAGE – CO (company) IN AGE (time).
22 Empty garden? Some moving in these? (6)
GNOMES – G[arde]N, (SOME)*. My garden gnomes move around quite often, they get bored being in the same spot.
25 Evil character, one in the past (4)
IAGO – I (one) AGO (in the past).  Bad guy in Othello.


65 comments on “Times 28695 – Americans in Italy, or chaps from Zürich?”

  1. 13:29
    Easy, and pretty uninteresting.Like Pip, DNK TEL but knew ‘stele’. ‘Knew’ METOPE, i.e. knew the word not the meaning (psycholinguists often use a so-called lexical decision task, where words and non-words are presented to a subject, who has to say as quickly as possible whether it’s a word or not). Biffed IMPRESSIONIST on the basis of SION; IMPREST another word I’d get on a lexical decision task.

  2. Fairly easy overall, but I was embarrassed by taking way too long to see the chestnut clue for BEAT (my LOI!).
    Like Kevin, I knew METOPE was a word and my knowledge of it ended there.
    I’ve been to TEL Aviv, so that wasn’t hard, just a welcome outcropping of more unfamiliar vocab.
    IMPREST was both unfamiliar and unknown.
    A bit puzzled about what would be moving in the GNOMES, for the surface there.
    Seems “girl” is very often DI in these things. I wonder if that was already the case before the days of Lady Diana.

    1. BEAT was my LOI too, needing an alphabet trawl plus another thirteenth before I saw it. Kicked myself, of course. Overall straightforward in about 25 mins with the pre-breakfast cuppa.

  3. I wonder if the idea is that the gnomes are moving in, from Zurich, say, with removals van and all?

  4. I guessed wrong at TEL and went for TOL (since I didn’t know the word, and I couldn’t think of an ancient mountain I could take the first and last letters off). So a pink square for me, but otherwise a straightforward puzzle. I didn’t know IMPREST but with checkers that answer was obvious.

  5. It felt like a lot of drop the first, last, or middle lettters of something while I was solving, but when I went back there were only one or two. Thankfully.
    Following yesterday, BE AT and NOT IN are the kind of change the spacing clues I like and usually think are clever.
    thx, ulaca. ditto, setter

  6. 29 minutes. Same comments about TEL and METOPE as others. IMPREST appeared somewhere else only recently but I’d still forgotten what it meant and I didn’t know PETITION for ’round robin’.

    I agree VACATIONER is an &lit unless you’re an American living in one of the 23 places named Verona in the US (isn’t it fascinating what you can find on the internet), or living in Verona, Italy, in which case you would not be ‘travelling’; even then, maybe the question mark covers these possibilities.

    Thanks to piquet and setter

  7. 40 minutes with a wrong answer at 9ac where I opted for TAL as my best guess based on remembering that TAL in German has something to do with mountains and realising too late that it can do, but it actually means ‘valley’. I never heard of TEL, and although I had met ‘stela’ as a standing stone before, it would never have come to mind.

    Elsewhere IMPRESSIONIST held out for a while until I remembered SION as an alternative to ZION which references Jerusalem in the bible and various hymns.

    For METOPE I trusted wordplay but was still surprised to find it was correct.

    VACATIONER was my LOI after a mighty struggle trying to determine what was anagrist and who the ‘fellow’ may be. Eventually it went in as a word that fitted, but I never saw the CAT.

    Finally like Guy I was embarrassed by how long it took me to work out BE AT at 13ac.

    After the past two days I enjoyed that this one offered a bit more of a challenge.

    1. Tal in the revised spelling, formerly Thal ‘valley’, as in Emmenthal, Neandert(h)al.

  8. 25 minutes here, pleased that the hassle of having once written a bunch of code for the imprest system at work at last paid off (sorry) in some small way. Thought this was going to be a lot tougher when I encountered METOPE and a barely-remembered stele clueing the unknown TEL at the beginning but there was nothing unknown from there on.

    I couldn’t see 17d for a while but came back to it and deliberately didn’t re-read the clue and just stared at _M_L_Z_N until I found the right word without all that distracting wordplay in my brain…

  9. Despite correctly biffing TEL, successfully parsing the unknown METOPE, and threading my way through VACATIONER, I found myself after 7:21 looking at a pink square and the non-word “ciinage”. The position of the “I” and “O” keys has caused me this problem before. COD STARKERS.

  10. I went with TIL as I didn’t know (or remember) STELE and thought ‘standing stone’ could possibly be STILL. I was concerned as it crossed with METOPE, another unfamiliar word.

    I was also worried about IMPREST (what else could it be?), the spelling of ZOROASTRIAN and IAGO (I’m not well versed in Shakespeare). So, all in all, happy I only got one wrong!

  11. I counted mice, a rat, a lion and two cats, quite the menagerie today. Hope the last days of the northern summer are warm enough for those wishing to be BARE or STARKERS. 28.20 for me, nice puzzle with some toughies, thanks to piquet for explaining STANCE and IMPRESSIONIST. I would suggest EPs/LPs have a lot more contemporary currency than the antique ‘cat’ – who probably had 78s as well. I got the GNOMES answer straight away but don’t see how it works in terms of definition.

  12. Fell two short which was frustrating as they were not the hardest : MICROBE and EMBLAZON. Had a mental block not seeing mice=vermin or lemon=yellow. Whereas for 1A as soon as I saw “wind” I was sure it would be Mistral or Scirocco.

    Does ALL FOR THE BEST mean unconventional? I use it to mean a hope that something will turn out well, don’t see that being “unconventional”

    POLLINATION and ZORASTRIAN seem familiar from recent puzzles.

    I don’t get the definition for GNOMES.

  13. If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your Aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    (If, Kipling, obvs)

    20 mins mid-brekker left me with the Stance/Vacationer crosses.
    After Metope/Tel I thought the long one would be some weird name for an American, like Manovianer (from Maine) or something. So after 5 more mins getting Stance, I threw in the towel. “Cat” schmat.
    Ta setter and Pip.

    1. Same here with the American traveller; I was pleased to see that the correct answer is not in the online Chambers at least.

  14. 9:17 despite an interruption. Breezed through this. I was relieved to see I was right in deriving the unknown TEL from STELE. Thanks Pip and setter.

  15. I zipped through in under 15 minutes until encountering the American fellow. I eventually constructed VA???IONER as most likely and the Ginsberg vocabulary kicked in. Only then did I see Di in the distance. 25 minutes. Thank you Pip and setter.

    1. Compliments on the Witch ! You’ve only been beaten by the Prof, to whom you were conceding nearly 20 pounds in the handicap; I’d call that extremely unlucky.

  16. 29mins which I was pleased with until the dreaded NHO TEL drifted into view curtesy of our blogger. I had TAL having NHO the stone and not linking TEL to anything in particular. LOI, VACATIONER gave my brain a work out until I saw the “cat”.

    As our friend Sawbill would say, Mr or Mrs “drop it off, lose it, etc” again today maybe. Stripped, eroded front and back, leaderless, putting off, and lacking, and that’s just the across clues. Crikey.

    Funnily enough, the Mistral has being howling down here (drop in temperature from 40 last week to 19 today) so 1ac was a write in.

    I liked TRIDENT and ELASTIC.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  17. Dnf. Two wrong in just under 24 mins. TEL which I guessed wrong and was unable to derive as I knew neither STELE nor TEL. Also BEAT where I went for MEET. So a hat-trick of consecutive sub-10 minute solves was thwarted.

    COD: BEAT.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. This is what people who don’t do cryptics think they are. Dreadful clue.

  18. Not too tricky, at 14.28, but with pleasing surfaces throughout.
    There’s a decent Mitchener novel called The Source which traces Jewish history from the Stone Age to the present using the device of a dig through a TEL*, so with that and Tel Aviv and others in mind 9 was no problem. VACATIONIST I left ’til last as I hoped the relevant statesman would emerge.
    I don’t usually get to do this by the time I post, but IMPESSIONIST needs the IS provided in the clue to work.
    As for others, METOPE was entered confidently as a word I knew without knowing what it looked like on a building, with a side helping of “isn’t that a figure of speech?”
    *Slightly annoyingly, when I looked it up, it seems Mitchener spelt it with LL. You can be wrong but right!

  19. Just under half an hour. Eventually remembered steles to get the unknown TEL, pieced together the similarly unfamiliar METOPE from the wordplay, trusted that imprest is a kind of advance to get IMPRESSIONIST, had forgotten that tent is a type wine for TRIDENT, and got VACATIONER after spending too long trying to think of the names of people from various states.

    A nice puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Lead
    LOI Emblazon
    COD Vacationer

  20. For 15 across I believe that the chamber piece should be underlined as the answer and not group, which is part of the definition. Septet can mean a piece composed for a septet.

    1. I agree: piquet has it right in the explanation, but the definition is at the other end of the clue.

  21. 35:07. Mostly straightforward but with some tricky bits. LOI The American traveller VACATIONER. COD COINAGE, for the way it’s not pronounced like its components. WOD STARKERS

  22. “O to be a metope
    now that triglyph’s here”

    Thanks to e e cummings for teaching me that word – first time it’s ever been remotely useful in 55 years.

    Easy apart from the unknown TEL, which I guessed as TOL not having the first clue what was going on.

    1. Y’know, E.E. Cummings didn’t really change his name to all lower-case. It’s a myth that started when he allowed publishers to present it that way for the design on a book cover or two—a myth that really irked his widow. He used capitals in his poems, too—sparingly.

  23. 08:06, obviously helped by the smug classicist thing for METOPE, and having encountered both STELE and TEL in quizzing recently (the people of Axum loved a stele, and Tel Megiddo is the site of at least one battle of the past and one of the future, if you use the Greek name Armageddon). And I, too, managed to avoid the superficially tempting STARCH, having never really convinced myself with it.

    1. My grandfather served in the RAMC with Allenby at the 1918 Battle of Megiddo: Allenby undoubtedly chose the epithet for its religious resonance even though most of the fighting was not very close to the place. For centuries, but particularly in the latter half of the 20th, elaborate scenarios have been drawn up to allow the nations of the world (especially Russia) to converge on the plain for that climatic end time battle. So far the predictions have scored a resounding zero for accuracy: pity if, thank to my grandfather, they simply missed it.

  24. Initially I thought the setter had made a mistake and that NOTION was meant to be o in not on. But obviously in. 24 minutes, with no real problems. METOPE dredged up from somewhere, and the wordplay was so simple that I was pretty sure. VACATIONER I thought had the best clue; like others, I was looking for somebody from a particular American state. And also like others, I was a bit unhappy with the GNOMES clue. You’d think the setter could have improved on ‘moving in’, but I can’t myself see how.

  25. After a 10 something and a 15 something, I crashed and burned a bit on this one.

    Slow to see the right hand side. POLLINATION was LOI. Got the NHO TEL from the known STELE. I was in Jerusalem only last December, but SION wasn’t coming to mind quickly either, especially as I was somewhat foolishly looking for a flying contraption.


  26. 13:31 – TEL unknown, but stele familiar enough for it not to matter. Can’t quite work out what is going on with the GNOMES clue – it doesn’t quite seem to hang together – but enjoyed the nightmare image of malevolent garden gnomes silently gathering to perpetrate some evil deed, though that probably (or undoubtedly) reveals more about my strange phobias than it does about the clue.

  27. DNF, 28a raTION (out=RAT ON) and 20a STARCH not STANCE. Thought it was the spanish lady INESS (OK she has only 1 S) leaving starchiness.
    Read some book with archeologists in it, so 9a STELE & TEL familiar, although I was trying to crowbar in TOR. METOPE not at the front of my consciousness, but the instructions were pretty clear. 11d in Customs & Excise we had to apply for an IMPREST if we expected to have noticeable expenses.
    Liked STARKERS.

  28. Another pretty easy one apart from VACATIONER. I knew METOPE, my first one in. I saw BEAT immediately, but didn’t enter it because there might some double definition with a different answer.
    20 minutes.

    I am getting a bit fed up with the number of times DI is indicated by ‘girl’

  29. TIL for me, NHO “stele” and opted for standing=still, which I knew didn’t parse…but something had to go in. Biffed GNOMES, but it was a nice clue once explained (and gettable). Otherwise the remainder fell into the (mainly) fairly straightforward with only a few more chewable.

  30. I go along with the first comment above, easy and pretty uninteresting. Got tel from stele, knew imprest as a word sans meaning, and supposed maybe the garden’s empty with the gnomes moving (out). (Pretty uninteresting garden too, if so.) Surprised at the ancient American fellow still staggering around. But where’s the Times’ spark?

  31. Failed on vacationer- thought chap = man, and would never had gone for cat so since I missed the subtleties of the clue made up a word.
    Otherwise all fine. There goes another try at a perfect week!

  32. 19:48

    Steady solve while on my lunchtime walk. Notes as follows:

    Vaguely heard of METOPE somewhere but didn’t know what it was. Bunged in from M&P checkers.

    TEL – assumed stela was the stone – saw plenty of those in Egypt thirty years ago.

    Didn’t know PETITION meant round robin.

    For 4d I had ___/___/THE/LEFT for something ‘unconventional’ for a long time, until I dug deeper into the anagrist.

    IMPRESSIONIST – NHO IMPREST and didn’t know what SION (or Zion) was anything to do with Jerusalem

    COD BEAT for the simplicity
    LOI VACATIONER – same issues as everyone else

    Thanks P and setter

  33. Bit of an outlier, thought it was the easiest this week, not timed but very quick. In other words: right on the wavelength. METOPE unknown but guessable. Knew TEL from crosswords, then inferred that I must have remembered STELE/A. Forgot to come back and parse STANCE which had to be. Knew IMPREST. LOI was VACATIONER, obvious anagram but took a while to figure out what was anagram fodder – not expecting a non-anagram bit in the middle. Quite enjoyed it without giving it 3 stars.

  34. 33 min fail

    I think the stones above the Elgin Marbles are METOPES so that was okay but was sufficiently convinced by stile as the standing stone to punt TIL. Also stuck in STARCH and forgot to go back and justify it even though I had the DI- idea

    Thanks all

  35. MISTRIAL was FOI. NHO METOPE, but trusted the wordplay. SPLURGE came soon enough leaving me wondering what sort of mount could possible be T_L. I stopped wondering and moved on, leaving it until the end. VACATIONER and EMBLAZON were late entries. IMPRESSIONIST was biffed after IMPERSONATOR fell short, relying on the SION in the middle. Smiled at the GNOMES but didn’t ponder on their peregrinations. Moving back to 9a I managed to drag STELE = standing stone from the depths, eroded it fore and aft, and submitted after a cursory proof read. 16:43. Thanks setter and Pip.

  36. Hampered and fell closing stages.
    Did know stele, but I feel for those who didn’t; over-erudite.
    At least I was beaten by an ugly word that I cannot find in Chambers and will never have occasion to use. (14d)
    Thanks Pip.

      1. In that case they are welcome to keep it there; I’ll not be needing it.

        1. Nor me.. but it is specifically stated to be a US usage, so I don’t think there is any onus on us to do so, and no criticism can accrue to the setter.
          It is the unannounced Americanisms that I object to.

  37. Finished in 36.45 but with some nonsensical answer instead of VACATIONER. I just couldn’t get past thinking MAN was in there somewhere. Wasn’t sure about METOPE, even though I was an architect, but I’ll excuse myself as it predates the stuff I used to design somewhat!

    1. I was sitting at the breakfast table with 2 architects who both assured me there was no such thing. So you are in good company.

  38. 40.45 with MEET instead of BEAT. Foiled by a pun. Gah! NHO tent, METOPE or TEL but I have seen many a stele. IMPRESSIONIST and EMBLAZON were unparsed. Thanks to piquet.

  39. About 40 minutes, not very hard, although I did spend a few minutes convincing myself that 11 down really was IMPRESSIONIST and that IMPREST really could be a word. No problems with TEL (as in Tel Aviv, and I am sure there are archeological sites with tel in their names although right now I couldn’t find any offhand). Two totally unimportant comments: the correct parsing of 11 dn inserts not SION, but SION IS into IMPREST; and of course the American VACATIONER would not be travelling — being American, he would be traveling (I did say unimportant, didn’t I?).

  40. So an American man is a cat now? If I’ve not been able to get a clue, I often fill it in with a nod of appreciation. I left this one blank.

    1. Many North Americans around my age even aspired to be “hepcats” back in the middle of the last century.

    2. surely it’s just man=cat. American links to travelling, requiring us to find the American word for a holidaymaker?

  41. Not much to say about this – a strange mixture of very easy and very difficult. I construed NHO METOPE, but spent ages trying to decide on T-L. It might have been easier if it had been clued as a Hebrew mount, which would make Tel easier to guess. I didn’t think of sTELe until I’d confirmed the answer. I thought VACATIONER was fiendish, and definitely my COD, once I’d stopped trying to fit MAINE–N-R into the spaces. EMBLAZON also clever.

  42. I didn’t write in IMPRESSIONIST, although it couldn’t be anything else, because I couldn’t and still can’t see how that is ‘one that might take off’? Can anyone explain what I am missing, though late in the day. In the NEXT day in fact.

    1. If you take someone off, you impersonate them, usually in a slightly mocking manner.
      David Attenborough was very good at taking off Ludwig Koch.

      1. Ah, I see. I was thinking of the painters, who created pictures which resembled an image rather than depicted a lifelike image, and thought that didn’t quite work. I see now this was a misdirection which I fell for, and the definition of the clue is ‘people who impersonate’ e.g. comedians or David Attenborough as you say. Thank you for that.

  43. Thought this was going to be the “doddle” of the week for most of you, as I fairly sailed through it ( mind you, without much excitement) until I hit the roadblock of VACATIONER. Tried various words for American ‘man’, but cat wasn’t one of them ( surely it wasn’t only hippie Americans called that in the ‘60s? ) So a fail, but only just, the unknown and unfair TEL being the only other one. A bit on the pedestrian side, I thought, but the one bit of amusement provided by STARKERS.

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