Times 28711 – Capital Zzzz?

Music: Stan Getz, West Coast Jazz

Time: 31 minutes

This was probably a pretty easy puzzle, but since I could barely stay awake while solving, my brain had trouble making the necessary jumps to get to the answers.   Perhaps if I had actually fallen asleep I could have solved the whole puzzle in a dream, but I probably wouldn’t have remembered any of the answers when I awoke.

I did wonder a little about the appearance of a Pope who is not Alexander, one who seems a bit close to green paint.     At least the cryptic is obvious enough.

I’m sure the wide-awake solvers must have done pretty well, as the SNITCH is currently at 87.

1 One clearing up mess decks with basket (4,5)
POOP SCOOP – POOPS + COOP, where coop can mean a wicker basket.   Called a pooper scooper here in the USA.
6 Madly busy chap I see talking (5)
MANIC – MAN I sounds like SEE.
9 Girl abandoned opera part, close to return (7)
ARIADNE –  ARIA + END backwards.   Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera, which helped bring this particular lady to mind.
10 Promoted, work was satisfying — returned lively! (2-5)
UP-TEMPO – UP + OP MET backwards.
11 Guide always follows the way (5)
12 Is not the first to discover discharge in kidneys (9)
13 On publication day, beer at New College (8)
14 A female tennis ace (4)
17 Actually withdrawing a pound in bank (4)
18 Two aliens, one with no answer for hard taskmaster (8)
MARTINET – MARTI[a]N + ET, very clever, I must say.
21 Couple like party not to end? Time I’m going (9)
22 Assume one is in position (5)
POSIT – POS(I)T – now here’s a genuine chestnut.
24 Limit a territory parrot is kept in (7)
IMITATE – Hidden in [l]IMIT A TE[rritory], where the literal is not at either end of the clue for once.
25 Old Lionheart spitting out one fruit here (7)
26 Hate Hobart, shivering when temperature drops (5)
ABHOR – Anagram of HOBAR[t].
27 Collapsed, going by railway? Don’t use the line? (6,3)
1 Devoutly hopes to hear appreciative remarks (5)
PRAYS – Sounds like PRAISE.
2 Playwright, one who asked for more money, a forger (6,9)
OLIVER GOLDSMITH – OLIVER [Twist, the Dickens character] + GOLD + SMITH.
3 Starry team? One that is (8)
SIDEREAL – SIDE + REAL, that is Real Madrid.
4 Disabled, needing oxygen by the sea (3-5)
5 Pictures about one American pope (4,2)
6 Reason I’m confused with vote (6)
MOTIVE – Anagram of I’M + VOTE.
7 Is Douglas linked with England? So Donne told us (2,3,2,2,6)
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND – Cryptic hint, an obvious write-in for most solvers.
8 The up platform? (5,4)
CROWS NEST – Cryptic definition, my LOI.   I was thinking cross, and then I saw it.
13 Cocktail to pick up at lunchtime perhaps reluctantly at first, a small quantity (9)
MARGARITA – AT I + R[eluctantly] + GRAM, all upside-down, an answer most solvers will simply write in.
15 Morale so bad in auction house (8)
16 Unusual form of capital Y (8)
ATYPICAL – Anagram of CAPITAL Y.   I don’t know about you, but I was expecting something really clever.
19 Sweet little thing in city retreat (6)
ECLAIR – E.C. LAIR.    I believe large ones are available, if you prefer.
20 Express disappointment in feeble books (6)
23 Obsequious type turning up these days for radio programme (5)
TODAY – TOADY with the A.D. reversed.

64 comments on “Times 28711 – Capital Zzzz?”

  1. 15:51
    DNK COOP, but once I stopped thinking of POOR & POOL, it was obvious. (V, I think ‘mess’ should be underlined; and, not that it matters, is ‘clearing’ a typo for ‘cleaning’?) PIUS IX took a while; needed to give up PICS. I liked MARTINET.

    1. ‘Clearing up’ seems fine to me in the sense of removing something to make the way clear. There no cleaning involved in the process as far as I’m aware, not having a dog.

  2. I liked this a lot! My FIO was the Donne quote and the second the playwright’s 15-letter name. Then, as I was not in a hurry, I worked symmetrically for a while, starting with the four-letter clues on each side and proceeding to the fives. It took a while for the left and right sides to merge, but everything became clear in due time, with much cleverness appreciated along the way.

    I think the name of any pope would be as legit an answer as any other. (In any case, it’s another “Pius” who is now in the news; CNN headline: “Wartime Pope Pius XII probably knew about Holocaust early on, letters show.”)

    On a second look, the clue for IMITATE does not really ask for a word meaning “parrot,” though that’s what the answer has to be…

  3. 34 minutes. Yes, it seemed easy enough although I needed checkers to remember ARIADNE. I should have thought of her sooner as ‘Ariadne’s thread’ is a technique used in solving problems of logic etc – sometimes needed when I have a particularly tough Sudoku to resolve.

    I surely can’t have gone all these years without meeting ‘kidneys/REINS’ before, but I can honestly say that I have absolutely no recollection of doing so.

    POSIT clued as ‘Assume one is in position’ was hardly worth bothering with, was it? Talk about hiding in plain sight!

    1. Like Poe’s purloined letter, it was hidden from my plain sight; I probably had the S, but anyway I thought of POSIT–>I in POST (not I in POST –> POSIT) and never noticed the hidden. But then I’m very good at not noticing hiddens.

      1. Kevin, my point is that it’s not intended as a hidden answer as there’s wordplay, but because the setter has used ‘position’ in the clue the answer is already staring one in the face.

        1. I got your point, but expressed myself poorly: I didn’t think it was intended as a hidden answer, but ‘posit’ is hidden–or should I say hiding–in plain sight, and I didn’t notice it.

  4. They’re called pooper-scoopers here as well, but it didn’t require much of a stretch. Didn’t know the playwright but the checkers helped. Pretty Monday-ish overall.

    Think I only know SIDEREAL, MAGDALEN, MARTINET and ARIADNE from crosswords, so I guess that’s the pay-off for doing lots of them!

    Thanks setter and Vinyl. 9:12.

  5. 26 minutes. I didn’t know the details of ARIADNE auf Naxos (commissioned by the recording company I presume) as an opera but the name sounded appropriately operatic and fitted the wordplay. REINS is interesting as a plural noun which I might have seen before but had forgotten and REINVENTS therefore went in from the def. Seeing the enumeration, CHAIR LIFT was my first guess at CROWS NEST but obviously didn’t work.

    I like Hobart and it’s even better ‘when temperature drops’. The ‘pope’ clue was interesting; there’s a variation on the same theme elsewhere today.

  6. And therefore never send to know for whom
    the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

    Well it almost tolled after 25mins mid-brekker, but I still had the painful alpha-trawl to eliminate Crow’s Feet. Botox would have been quicker.
    I liked this one. Neat and tidy.
    Ta setter and V.

  7. 14:15. I thought the SNITCH was going to rate this easier as I slowed myself down in several ways – for some reason I wrote in PREYS for PRAYS, I had TOADY instead of TODAY, and I’d assumed CROWS NEST was going to begin with CROSS. I was that sure of the latter that I considered inventing a CROSS SEAT.

    I have never heard of the meaning of REINS used here and Chambers has it as rare or obsolete in the singular. As for POOP SCOOP, here in Blighty I’d also call it a pooper scooper.

  8. 29 mins so very much on the easier side. REINS no probs as it’s French for kidneys. Yes, MARGARITA was a write in.

    Nothing outstanding, but a jolly Monday romp.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  9. 26 minutes, with LOI CROWS NEST. As far I am aware, they’re called POOPER-SCOOPERS the length and breadth of the UK too, or at least they have been by my dogs. As a New College man, I did somewhat resent being dumped on the other side of Longwall Street. COD to TUMBLE DRY. Nice puzzle. Thank you V and setter.

  10. 19′, with much time on LOI CROWS NEST, being fixated on ‘cross’ as the first word.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  11. Very small points – (I seldom comment on the blogs because the individuals concerned do such an excellent job)

    I think there’s another A to account for in the parsing of MARGARITA, and, at 3D I’m not entirely sure you need a reference to Madrid – “one that is” is sufficient for “real” in my view.

    1. “One that is” is a noun whereas REAL is an adjective, so I’m pretty sure the Real Madrid reference is what the setter intended, particularly as their star players are referred to as galacticos.

      1. ‘Were’ referred to as galacticos. That era officially ended in 2018. It was always open to debate anyway as the achievements on the pitch, while perfectly adequate, never quite matched the hubristic moniker. They only started winning trophies consistently when the more humble and no-nonsense Zidane was in the hot seat later in the period. Since 2018 they’ve gone for younger players with obvious potential rather than fully-formed star quality.

  12. 08:50. I started very quickly on this but slowed down steadily. Putting in TOADY didn’t help.
    I’m familiar with REINS as the French word for kidneys, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it in (English) crosswords before.

  13. 15:13 but only after using a wordsearch to find my last one CROW’S NEST having stared at it thinking CROSS something for a couple of minutes. DNK REINS for kidneys, but the answer had to be REINVENTS. I did remember ARIADNE auf Naxos, though. I will be meeting some friends from university days for lunch close to the MAGDALEN college with the extra E later today, (i.e. not the one in the place that has a New College). Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  14. 9:15
    Nice Monday ease-in, giving me a PB for my morning constitutional of KenKen/Fiendish Sudoku/Polygon word/Quiz photo/Cryptic crossword of 17:45.
    My primary school was named after Pope (later St) Pius X, who features unsympathetically in Flann O’Brien’s novel ‘The Hard Life’.

  15. DNF, defeated by CROWS NEST (I bunged in ‘crows feet’ as I didn’t see what the clue was getting at). Didn’t know reins for kidneys in REINVENTS, couldn’t have told you what a MARTINET is until today, and had to hope that SIDEREAL is a word.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Magdalen

  16. A fun run in 38:31 to reawaken the neurons after a week in the Big Apple, featuring some spectacular thunderstorms. Really enjoyed this, with COD for me (competing with several nice surfaces) TUMBLE DRY.

  17. Way off the pace today, with a typo to boot, and a certain amount of irritation, both with myself and the setter. I took forever to spot the hidden IMITATE, tring all sorts of parrots. Didn’t readily ASSOCIATE(X2) with couple. Confidently wrote in CLOUD NINE for the up platform – it’s a CD, so why not? Displayed my ignorance of cocktails (even this one!). Tried to invent PIUS the 99th. Tried to find a sweet little thing – not on my teatray! The TODAY clue I thought was a mess: “these days” is also today, so I had a double definition and an unaccountable TOADY. Misread 16a as capital V: anagram that! In my village, COOP’s a shop, though it’s got baskets. For quite a while I wondered when ALIENDE was a woman.
    Just not my day.

  18. 31:20. LOI CROWS NEST with a diversion via CROSS.

    REINS appeared quite recently in a Jumbo on 1 July. I was one of several people who didn’t know it then, so I knew it today, but not until after I’d entered REINVENTS from the definition.

    And yes I put the MARGARITA straight down and worked out the recipe afterwards

  19. 12:14

    Fairly Mondayish. I hesitated over POSIT thinking that couldn’t be the answer given the use of POSITION in the clue, and like Pootle thought that 8 was likely to be CROSS something.

  20. 17:48 Good fun. The two easy-ish long ones certainly helped.
    CROWS NEST slowed me down for some time and I’m amother who intially had TOADY instead of TODAY. I thought MAGDALENE, SIDEREAL and IMITATE were all excellent.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  21. Mondayish, but fun. Like others NHO reins (not being a Jumboista), didn’t know coop as basket, didn’t know who Ariadne was and if abandoned by e.g. parents or hedonistic and abandoned in behaviour. L2I crows nest and today.
    PIUS IX unknown to me as anything special, but unlike most popes he gets a Wikipedia entry so maybe not green paint. Apparently longest-serving pope ever, and was pope during the Rinascita when Cavour, Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele united Italy from a bunch of principalities into a single country. Including grabbing the Papal States (roughly Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche), leaving poor old Pio with only the Vatican.

  22. About 30′ today, interrupted by a bunch of phone calls (real ones, not scams for a change). CROWS NEST came late but was pleased at picking up MARTINET on first pass. Even though I’m a footie fan, I didn’t get the Madrid reference on SIDEREAL, just assumed “one that is”= REAL. Quite a few write-ins, esp Donne. Thanks vinyl1 and setter.

  23. No time because ofinterruptions but probably around 30 minutes.
    Not hard but also not easy in my opinion!
    Didn‘t know the rein / kidney thing, was hooked on renal for a while until i saw it had to be vent in the middle
    Also just assumed one that is = real, never thought of madrid!
    Pix took me a minute or so too
    And like almost everyone else started with toady before realising
    Thanks setter and blogger

  24. I got the two long down answers fairly quickly so should have been much better than 67 minutes. Despite my accident the other day I entered margharia without noticing at 13dn, and this slowed me down a bit but I soon realised. I think the TODAY clue is bad: it could lead to either of two answers and you don’t know which until you have the checkers. In my blog yesterday of The Everyman this point came up and I said that in my opinion Alan Connor was correct in his clueing because he produced an answer that was unequivocal, leading to a discussion on the matter. Not all agreed with me.

    1. We discussed this the other day: a lot of people dislike it when checkers are needed to resolve ambiguity, but I don’t mind it. In fact in a funny way I rather like it: the grid is an integral part of the puzzle so it’s nice to see it being used.

    2. Wil, I’m having a problem with understanding how 23 could be TODAY. ‘Turning up these days’ can surely only be interpreted as DA?

      1. I think you can just about read the clue as saying ‘a word for obsequious type where turning up AD would give you the name of a radio programme’.

        1. I don’t see how it can possibly be read any other way. I guess I must be missing something, but to me the clue is unambiguous.

          1. You can also read it as ‘as word for obsequious type where AS has been turned up to give you the name of a radio programme’.
            The phrase ‘turning up these days’ can be read either as something that has happened to TOADY, giving TODAY (the answer), or as something that could happen to TOADY (the answer) to give TOADY.
            FWIW I think the former reading is much more natural but I think both can be justified.

          2. I’m with you, Normo. I have read the alternative explanation over and again and I simply don’t see it. That being said, I have no problem with clues that rely on checkers to resolve them as that’s why the exercise is called a crossword puzzle.

  25. PRAYS was FOI. I was progressing quite slowly until POOP SCOOP led to OLIVER GOLDSMITH and NO MAN IS AN ISLAND dropped in giving me lots of crossers. ONE ARMED took a while to see, but allowed me to get REINVENTS, the REINS part of which I was unfamiliar with. Liked TUMBLE DRY and ARIADNE. CROWS NEST was LOI after a long dalliance with CROSS something or other. 25:20. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  26. Finished in a good time for me of 30.40, and held up only by my by last two in which were REINVENTSand finally CROWS NEST. As with others, didn’t know REINS being connected with kidneys, and kept trying to get a solution involving CROSS for 8dn. Had it not been for the last two, my time was close to twenty five minutes.

  27. Surprised so many of you NHO reins. Am I the only one who was confused as a teenager by Je t’aime moi non plus, wondering where kidneys came into it? Very Mondayish I thought.

  28. 12:15, and a very familiar story to others above. Didn’t remember seeing REINS in this meaning before, but it’s close enough to “renal” not to leave any doubts; and then spent a lot of my final solving time wondering what might follow CROSS, or coming up with words which were direct synonyms of “platform”, both of which were obviously fruitless (such are the perils of the cryptic def if you don’t see it at once). Otherwise enjoyable. Pius IX is one of the Popes it’s worth learning for quizzes, as he comes up more than most for reasons outlined a little upthread, and must not be confused with the one who was maybe a bit too relaxed about the Nazis.

  29. 30.20, another in the REINS befuddlement camp, enjoyed recalling the magnificent Arthur Ashe. Fun puzzle I thought.

  30. 23:04

    They’re called POOPer SCOOPers in Croydon as well…

    – Didn’t know who ARIADNE might have referred to, if anyone, but recognised as a girl’s name.
    – Baffled as others with REINS = kidneys – never heard of it.
    – Think we’ve come across OLIVER GOLDSMITH before, but still couldn’t tell you anything about him.

    LOI LAMENT – alpha-trawl required.

    Thanks V and setter

  31. Like others held up a lot at the end by CROWS NEST which I failed to get. The best I could do was CROSS TEXT which I reasoned (?) might be a platform for messages.
    I would like to think that MARGARITA was a nod to Jimmy Buffett but hardly anyone in the UK has heard of him. Anyway his time has come.

  32. 27 mins, but I agree CROWS NEST wasn’t obvious from the clue. Otherwise a good challenge.

  33. 38:19
    I enjoyed 7d.
    LOI was ARIADNE.
    NHO of REINS as meaning kidneys, but the definition was enough to make this one biffable.

  34. Just under half an hour, with CROWS NEST my LOI, as it seems was the case for many. Not a great clue, in my opinion, and perhaps that explains why it was the last to fall for so many of us. Otherwise a fairly standard Monday romp.

  35. 45’5″
    Slowly away, then got slower.
    As a chronic horophile, one clue delighted me.
    It was by the use of the The Great Celestial Clock and its SIDEREAL Second-Hand that John Harrison’s Gridiron/Grasshopper clock was shown to be accurate to within a second a month. Sirius disappeared behind his neighbour’s chimney precisely 3 minutes 56 seconds earlier each night. The film of Dava Sobel’s ‘Longitude’ presents a rather charming scene in which a very young William Harrison explains this to the Astronomer Royal in 1730.
    I’ve a party trick of using the principles of sidereal time to turn a child’s cardboard/ acetate star map into a clock.
    Thank you setter and Vinyl.

  36. 16.10

    Struck lucky by seeing CROWS NEST early doors as I have NHO the REINS thing.

    MAGDALEN was very clever.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  37. 35m. FOI no man is an island because of the answer length 2,3,2,2,6 + Douglas which always evokes the IoM. Interestingly Douglas is exactly half way between John O’Groats and Lands End as the proverbial crow flies. Most people think Liverpool or Manchester.

  38. Reposted by me as it was posted previously in the wrong puzzle discussion:

    Merlin says:
    18 September 2023 at 8:49 PM
    Done in about 45, in three sittings. 1 d proved the hardest with both PLEAS (sounds like PLEASE) and PIOUS, which sounds like PIUS. Ok that one was a bit of a stretch.

    LOI ARIADNE, only for her from the Agatha Christie detective.

  39. Others have said it all, but I didn’t know SIDEREAL (not an easy word !), or that meaning of reins; enjoyed constructing MAGDALEN , TUMBLE DRY and ORCHARD. On and off all morning with many other things to do.

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