Times 28717 – Four Weddings and an Apt Balm

Lots to like in this Monday offering. Much that is straightforward (especially in the definition department), but some stuff to get the little grey cells working. 14:13.

1 Historian originally expressing views in press and TV register (11)
MEDIEVALIST – E[xpressing] V[iews] in MEDIA LIST
7 Antelope finally displaying character in Thessaly (3)
GNU – [displayin]G NU
9 Is balm apt somehow for such a church rite? (9)
10 Compact offered for retail around India (5)
11 Baseball player in jug (7)
PITCHER – doublf definition (DD)
12 Outdoor enclosure used in one’s first broadcast (4-3)
OPEN-AIR – PEN in O (initial letter of One’s) AIR
13 Automated machine to hold up books? (5)
ROBOT – ROB (hold up, say, a bank) OT (Old Testament)
15 Splash that’s more effective outside health resort (9)
17 To us, a sure assembly for the bottom drawer (9)
TROUSSEAU – TO US A SURE*; one for the Georgette Heyer fans
19 Shy literary bear, do we hear, or beaver-like rodent? (5)
COYPU – COY sounds like [Winnie the] Pooh, the lovable character created by Milne reference to whom is verboten in Communist China. Totalitarian states may always be identified by their lack of humour and their censorship.
20 Laborious exercises accepted by old woman (7)
OPEROSE – PE in O ROSE (random female no. 1); a word no one uses derived from the Latin word for work (opus)
22 Gave a protégé  expensive diamonds to begin with (7)
AWARDED – A WARD (protégé) E[xpensive] D[iamonds]
24 Gallery having trouble with image promotion? (5)
PRADO – PR (image promotion) ADO (trouble); I was there last month looking at Goya’s black paintings, Raphael, El Greco and Velasquez’s magnificent Christ Crucified
25 Con man’s haystacks featured in Times with hesitation (9)
27 Fish brought back in this cheap paper (3)
RAG – GAR reversed
28 Commotion involving amphibious troops in addition to that (11)
1 Doctor initially braving disorderly crowd (3)
MOB – MO B[raving]
2 Woman keeping record in warehouse (5)
DEPOT – EP in DOT (random woman no. 2); an old-fashioned feel to this one
3 English ambassador inspired by PM’s descriptive word (7)
EPITHET – E HE (His/Her Excellency) in PITT; just 24 when he became PM (The Younger, naturally); just 46 when he cashed in his chips, having been premier for 19 years (bar a few days)
4 Worthy naval officer capturing British frigate ultimately (9)
ADMIRABLE – B (British) in ADMIRAL [frigat]E
5 US soldier set up card-game in ice house (5)
IGLOO – GI reversed LOO (card-game; not sure why there’s a hyphen – seems a bit, er, prissy)
6 Given time, girl produces a square tile (7)
TESSERA – TESS (random woman no. 3) ERA; those things in a roman mosaic
7 Courage shown by everyone digging into bridge support (9)
GALLANTRY – ALL in GANTRY (a word I associate with football commentators perched precariously in a confined space under the eaves of a stand in a proper football ground, e.g. Turf Moor – preferably accessible by a rickety ladder)
8 Where tubers are insufficiently crushed? (11)
UNDERGROUND – potatoes are found in the soil (under the ground), while if, say, you run out of steam with your cardamom seeds in the old pestle and mortar, you might be said to have ‘under-ground’ them. Moving right along…
11 A despicable person in professional theatre, not a fighting man (11)
PARATROOPER – A RAT in PRO OPER[a]; an object lesson in the need to lift-and-separate. No pacifists here! Opera is, collectively, theatre.
14 Aussie missile’s resonant sound echoed around back of house (9)
16 Prissy son in Paris that friends finally ditch (9)
SQUEAMISH – S (son) QUE AMIS (‘that’ and ‘friends’ in French) [ditc]H. Nice clue
18 Braggart’s display of force (4-3)
19 Thin, crisp biscuita marvellous thing! (7)
21 Good person, always seen around that compound (5)
23 The same girl climbing over the top (5)
DITTO – DI (random woman no. 4) reversal of OTT
26 Twisted-sounding cereal plant (3)
RYE – sounds like ‘wry’

98 comments on “Times 28717 – Four Weddings and an Apt Balm”

  1. Is this puzzle an oblique criticism of the practice of using any old female name in clues? Or just an example of it? I can’t decide.

    1. I’m very much in favour of the blogger highlighting the random names, which can usually be overcome with alternative wordplay. The worst I recall had four random dudes of two or three letters each.

  2. I biffed a good few with just a crosser or two (like BOOMERANG and MEDIEVALIST), and this played like a QC all the way… until (my antepenultimate one in) OPEROSE. OK, sure… A bit out of place here, but not unwelcome! POI was SQUEAMISH (“prissy” is not the first, or fifth, definition I’d think of) and LOI AWARDED, not because it was any harder than anything else.

  3. 18:44. I raced through most of this, only to be ground to a halt with MEDIEVALIST and TESSERA, which took 4-5 minutes. OPEROSE was a guess.

    1. Pedantic note: The expression “grind to a halt” is intransitive.
      The gears, the machinery of whatever grind to a halt, or may have, in the past tense, ground to a halt. They (or you) can’t be “ground to a halt” by anything else. (Like, crushed into little pieces and stopped as well?)

      Sorry, this has become one of my pet peeves recently, as a copy editor. I’ll probably have to fix it in an article again soon, if the federal government is forced to grind to a halt.

        1. Thank you, ulaca! I find it deeply ironic that I’m being given this lecture in a community devoted to a puzzle which celebrates precisely the wild flexibility of our language….

          1. Maybe you could explain the wordplay. I see only an inadvertent error. The wit eludes me. I must be dense. And I’ve been unfair to all the TV talking heads whose humor also went over my head.

            1. I didn’t say I was being witty. I was just being flexible with words to express myself. (Do you really think that I think the expression is “X ground Y to an halt”?) Our language has a long history of this, more than most as far as I can tell.

              As you are certainly well-learned in the history of our language, I don’t need to tell you about the many back-formation constructions in English, such as ‘edit’ from ‘editor’. No one was being “witty” when they first asked someone to ‘edit’ a piece of prose: they just had a need for a word, and in our language culture, we are likelier to bend existing words to fit new purposes than we are to follow prescribed rules. You might not like it, but you are definitely in the minority.

                1. He said the solecism was wordplay: intentional.

                  I merely considered it my civic duty to inform you. With Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect. You certainly gave the impression that you thought the idiom worked the way your formula expresses it—by using it that way. I would appreciate being given a heads-up if I were in your shoes. In that I may indeed be a minority in the general populace. But here?!

                  No offense was intended.

                  1. We just differ.

                    “Maybe you could explain the wordplay. I see only an inadvertent error. The wit eludes me. I must be dense. And I’ve been unfair to all the TV talking heads whose humor also went over my head.”

                    I don’t consider that comment to be courteous or respectful. It is obviously sarcastic and disingenuous. Okay we get it: you don’t believe people should bend words into new syntactic environments. Hence, for you, “grind to a halt” can only felicitously be used intransitively. I don’t agree. On this blog we have “bunged in from definition” —> bifd —> biffed —> biff. None of this makes any sense, but for the English language it’s par for the course. That is my opinion and clearly we differ in this.

                    We also differ on the definition of ‘witty’, which I take to mean “wry, amusing, characterized by humor of an intellectual nature” etc. My twisting of the idiomatic expression to a different grammatical use is not characterized by any of these qualities. It was just a playful use of language, where the severity of the image “grind to a halt” (which is certainly an exaggeration for a crossword puzzle solve) is balanced by the obvious intentional grammatical twisting.

                    I remember once on a reality show some character says to another character something like, “You need to grow your man up!”. NEWS FLASH! “Grow up” is not transitive. Well okay but she said it. And I guarantee she knows that’s not “how you say it”. And yet she said it that way for a reason.

                    1. Believe it or not, I really just meant to offer you the kind of tip that other people (professional writers!) thank me for (at the “office”) on a weekly basis.
                      Your reaction was quite a surprise, even a shock.
                      So I was suddenly in the grip of some emotion in the way I replied.
                      No syntactic advantage is gained, no felicity added to the expression, by using it in a way that makes less sense than the original version. Yes, I was being disingenuous when I implied that I was looking for some such reason and hoping you might enlighten me. I couldn’t conceive of any intentional wordplay being involved there, and this very common and nonsensical usage of the idiom grates my ear as much as hearing someone say something like, oh, “one-year anniversary,” giving the impression that they don’t know what “anniversary” means.

                      But I had thought this was a safe place for pedantry, safe enough at least that you could shrug my comments off in good humor, if you didn’t want to take them seriously.

                    2. I don’t actually have any emotional reaction to this exchange whatsoever. I’m just pointing out words you’ve used and implicatures made and underlining points of disagreement.

                      In this last message, you point out (again) that you cannot see any reason I could have said what I said, other than making an error. I do, and at the very least ulaca did as well. So I am happy to leave it as: you are limited in what you can see.

                      I’m not sure there’s any way to take this conversation further in a productive way.

                    3. Wait, are you really bothered by “one-year anniversary”? How little do you have to think through the pragmatics of that expression to understand why it’s evolved the way it has?

                    4. I can’t reply below, we’ve run out of space. To me, the usage was not “obviously intentional” because it so often comes out of the mouths of people who are obviously just not thinking about it. But I can’t claim to know why you put it that way.
                      Take care…

                    5. Whoa…
                      “How little do you have to think through the pragmatics of that expression to understand why it’s evolved the way it has?”
                      Who is being insulting now?

                      I am well aware (of course) that once people started specifying “one-month” or “one-week,” etc., “anniversaries,” this was an inevitable result, at least for less-than-careful speakers of the language.

                      I chose this example precisely because it is a “petty” pedantic matter that no one should get up in arms about but which can be taken into consideration when adjusting one’s language to a certain register of discourse.

                    6. Well I confess to finding “one-month anniversary” a little odd. I meant more that if you cannot redundantly specify “one-year anniversary”, then it becomes ambiguous if you say you’re celebrating your anniversary. Or do you suggest we only use ordinals, as in “first anniversary”, “second anniversary”? And I suppose ATM machine is out? 😉

                    7. « Or do you suggest we only use ordinals, as in “first anniversary”, “second anniversary”? »

                      How soon they forget…!
                      It always used to be (still is, I would hope) “first anniversary,” “fiftieth anniversary,” etc.

                      And I, for one, never say “ATM machine” or “PIN number.”

                    8. I haven’t forgotten anything. I’m just surprised that you will *only* allow one, and not the other.

                      I think there are distinctions and how people use the two. I think someone is much more likely to say “it’s the 10th anniversary of my father’s passing.” (Emphasizing the number of times the anniversary has occurred) but “ it’s our 10 year wedding anniversary” (emphasizing the length of time you’ve been married). “10th wedding anniversary“ sounds like bookkeeping.

                      And I’m not sure anyone would say “37 year anniversary“ or “37th anniversary” even though neither has any logical reason to be incorrect.

                2. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone put “year” between a cardinal or ordinal number and “wedding anniversary”; “37th anniversary” sounds perfectly natural to me. When people say, “It’s our anniversary!,” “wedding” is understood, and, with or without it, “our 30[th] [wedding] anniversary” doesn’t seem to require the insertion of “year.”

                  I’ve run out places to reply. Bye for now.

      1. I hope you’re not a sports fan, sports commentators are notorious for butchering the language. One of my particular favourites was a local football commentator’s “He’s fraughting with danger!”

  4. 18 minutes for all but OPEROSE plus another 4 minutes to arrive there via wordplay although it went in with fingers crossed as I never heard of it. Having said that, it appeared in a 15×15 way back in 2010 but I have no recollection of that. Its other outings were in two Mephistos (never do them) and a Jumbo in 2007, possibly before I discovered TfTT but I wasn”t doing Jumbos thern anyway.

    Elsewhere was pretty standard stuff although I wasted a moment or two thinking ‘hat’ for ’tile’ at 6dn but the only square one I could think of was a mortarboard. Fortunately TESSERA is not unfamiliar to me so I soon spotted it as the correct answer.

    1. Me too – took an alpha-trawl to make sure there weren’t any other plausible x O x E women around.

  5. 25 mins but needed help on OPEROSE. If I was pushed to manufacture a word from Opus, “operal” looks more likely.

    I didn’t parse PARATROOPER, but at a glance it had TROOP and PR in there, so seemed legit.

    Liked COYPU, and spent way too long on BOOMERANG, where I tried Aussie=Roo.

  6. Would have done better than the 20ish I eventually got had it not been for the NHO OPEROSE, my LOI. Thought I had the wordplay sussed but got the dread Unlucky! message. Tried every conceivable alternative to Rose in the answer until I realised the error lay elsewhere, I’d carelessly made a blue in TROUSSEAU. Doh! All told a nice puzzle. I liked SQUEAMISH and PARATROOPER and was pleased to get MEDIEVALIST, a word I’m suspicious of because of the version with an A in it. Thanks Ulaca.

  7. OPEROSE was my LOI too, assembled from wordplay and hoped it was a word. The company I worked for had a training session for our European application engineers in Madrid and I had to present. So I got to visit the Prado (and the Reina Sofia where Guernica ended up when it was returned to Spain).

  8. 32mins so standard Monday fare. Like others stuck with OPEROSE and before it, MEDIEVALIST.

    I was also strangely slow to see the two French parts or SQUEAMISH. I liked the BOOMERANG.

    Thanks U and setter.

  9. Took me 25 minutes the last few of which were looking at 20 ac and then holding my breath when I put the final S in.
    Thanks setter and blogger 🙂

  10. Comin thro’ the rye, poor body,
    Comin thro’ the rye,
    She draigl’t a’ her petticoatie,
    Comin thro’ the rye!
    (Burns’s version)

    15 mins of: originally, finally, first, to begin with, initially, ultimately, back of, finally (again) – to establish this as the first/last letter fiend. Too many.
    And compounded by the ladies’ quartet.
    Ta setter and U.

  11. 21 minutes. COD to UNDERGROUND. Decent Monday fare where the cogs nearly ground to a halt one clue too soon, of their own accord of course. That was OPEROSE, which I wanted to be ONEROUS. Thank you U and setter.

  12. This wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be at the end of my first pass, by which time it was two thirds completed. MER at prissy as a synonym for SQUEAMISH, and I needed all the checkers to see both OPEROSE and my LOI.

    TIME 6:53

  13. 8:00
    Pretty much your standard Monday stash, with another GNU to please fans of Flanders & Swann.
    And as Milton Jones once said, “While I was in Australia I learnt some Aboriginal words like ‘boo’, which means to ‘return’ – because when you throw an ordinary meringue …”

    1. Jones is the doyen of one-liners. My favourite: ‘Grandad has been very ill, so we covered him in butter. After that, he went downhill very fast.’

  14. Another Americanism that has crept in. I was brought up on MEDIAEVALIST. Still listed as British English in Collins. Sad Times…

  15. I got biff-happy and slapped in ONEROUS with a shrug, which left me trying to justify SATYR as a compound – half man, half goat? Fast and pink are strongly correlated for me at the moment.

  16. 11:27. About half my time must have been spent on OPEROSE. Given that PE was quite obvious, with hindsight I should have made the link to operations/operator/etc and seen OPEROSE sooner. I’m going to try using hindsight upfront from now on.

  17. Would have been sub-8′ save a careless ‘epiphet’. OPEROSE LOI .

    Happy Monday, thanks ulaca and setter.

  18. 20 minutes, with the last 5 spent on OPEROSE – I got the ‘ope’ bit quickly enough, but thinking of the woman’s name was harder, and even when I thought of Rose I wasn’t entirely sure.

    Didn’t parse FURTHERMORE and relied on the wordplay for TESSERA, but otherwise this was a nice and straightforward start to the week. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Mob
    LOI Operose
    COD Awarded

  19. I guess that’s the way that it goes
    With a word almost nobody knows
    So we struggled, we did
    At the end of the grid
    Getting OPEROSE was OPEROSE

  20. 22:27. As others, OPEROSE from wordplay with fingers crossed. But there were some more that didn’t go straight in such as FURTHERMORE, EPITHET, GALLANTRY and of course SQUEAMISH. A Monday puzzle with some bite

  21. 10 minutes give or take which counts as a record solve for me as I am no speed merchant. All of the across clues were write-ins aside from the unknown OPEROSE which held me up for a couple of minutes. That was the only unknown and for once I made light work of this very Monday crossword.
    An enjoyable solve though, and the uncharacteristically rapid solve has given me time to rewatch the highlights of the Wales vs Australia game and pinch myself a couple more times.
    Thanks to the setter and blogger.

  22. Straightfoward.

    The NHO OPEROSE LOI as for seemingly everyone else, and may have robbed me of a PB.


  23. Found this an easy Monday – but I was also on the wavelength, as many were bifd and post-parsed, such as MEDIEVALIST with the M and D and FURTHERMORE with just the F. I also bifd ONEROUS, but couldn’t account for any of it, so OPEROSE became my LOI, unsurprisingly. Only other problem was with the vaguely remembered TESSERA, which had to trust to wordplay once the crossers were in. Enjoyed this after a long run of difficult and unfinished puzzles over the last few weeks.

  24. 4:30. A bit of a biff-fest for me this morning. I hardly bothered with the wordplay for most of these clues. As I sometimes do when I get a quick time like this on the main cryptic, I attempted and for the first time achieved the goal of doing all three puzzles in under ten minutes. So feeling quite smug chipper this morning.

      1. I actually do the concise quite a lot, but in contrast to the cryptic I don’t focus on speed and am a bit slap-dash about it (I do it in between other things) so I don’t normally submit on the leaderboard. I almost never do the quick cryptic.

        1. Might I welcome you with open arms to the wit and wisdom of the QC blog. Mr Random; the K Scale; the SCC; the speedsters (Mr Busman and the buried John) – they’re all there awaiting your contemplations and considerations in the most convivial surroundings…

  25. 06:06, so a very Mondayish time, and would have been even more Mondayish, were it not for the much-mentioned OPEROSE, which obviously stood out as belonging to a different puzzle (although the delay was only long in comparative terms, of course).

  26. Monday, except LOI operose (there’s a surprise). First thought was ONEROUS, like Bolton Wanderer. MEDIAEVALIST straight in, but then needed parsing and correcting, like DrDoolittle. Only other problem was an unforgivably careless CATCHER instead of PITCHER which wasn’t corrected until PARATROOPER had to be. Seemed a puzzle thrown together without much effort – lots of initials/finals/proper names/French words; not to my liking.

  27. I was heading for a personal best with only 12 minutes expended and one to get. If I could have solved it in twenty seconds it would have been a PB. Unfortunately it took me another four minutes to come up with OPEROSE, and even then I thought it was probably wrong. I just couldn’t get ONEROUS out of my head, and twice returned to 21dn thinking was there was an alternative answer to ESTER that I hadn’t considered,
    I’m pleased with my time, but frustrated that I couldn’t beat my PB. It was there for the taking today. My finishing time was precisely 16.00

  28. 13:36

    11d and 28a unparsed, best guess at OPEROSE, momentary confusion as to what the sixth letter of 6d should be, MER over prissy = SQUEAMISH. All in all, a comfortable opener for the week…

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  29. 12:45 – BAPTISMAL seemed odd as an adjective when the clue seems at first sight to call for a noun, but I suppose the “such” more or less justifies it. Otherwise no particular grumps.

  30. TESSERA slowed me for two reasons: I thought time was T and I never knew that in the UK (but not apparently the USA) a tessera was square — you can tessellate other shapes so I assumed not. As for card-game, perhaps in this case we are seeing the start of the process in language that Susie Dent describes: two words, then hyphenated words, then one word. But it will be years before people say cardgame, I should think. 25 minutes, no problems really. Had to look up OPEROSE to check that it really was a word.

  31. I didn’t find this as easy as some, but I am suffering from a heavy cold, so the brain is not on top form. 1a was LOI. OPEROSE was unfamiliar – so tempted by ONEROUS.
    Too many anonymous girls. One is enough.
    28 minutes.

  32. Well this one comfortably passed the ‘more than six answers’ test after the first run through, so I persevered and was rewarded with a finish to add to the small but growing collection. Naturally, nho Operose was loi, but Rose seemed as good as any other name. Squeamish needed the crytic, as it would never have made my list of Prissy synonyms – or even synonyms of Prissy. Invariant

  33. Took time out from a long-ish drive (4,100km) and thought my brain had been fried when I was left staring at O_E_O_E for four or five minutes at the end. Reassuring to read that others were similarly challenged.

    Otherwise quite a friendly Monday solve. Thanks U and setter.

      1. Yeah, Sydney to Perth with an annoying detour to Adelaide. Will hopefully be solving in the middle of the Nullarbor tomorrow night.

  34. Really annoying. I thought I was going to get a sub 10 for the first time in ages until I hit a brick wall at 20 ac. After finally deciding I hadn’t got ester wrong, I guessed operose ( rather than onerous) was the right answer and extremely glad to see I was right.

    NHO operose . Has anyone else?

  35. 5:48 Nice easy Monday puzzle. Momentary head scratching around TROUSSEAU (I’ve never heard the “bottom drawer” expression) and PRADO (I always get it mixed up with Prada!), but mostly biffed successfully until the ridiculously obscure (for a Monday!) OPEROSE came up. For the smug classicist it could be nothing else, so I just stuck it in and hoped for the best. It’s a useful word which I shall try to use next time a really convoluted crossword clue appears. COD to UNDERGROUND.

  36. Luckily I had the crossers rather than my spelling for MEDIEVALIST.

    Couldn’t get OPEROSE without help. I did get the wordplay but couldn’t think of the name Rose despite knowing two of them as well as a Rosie.

  37. Had less trouble than others seem to with putting in OPEROSE, but more trouble with MEDIEVALIST adn the unknown to me TESSERA

  38. Screeched through this with MOB, DEPOT and MEDIEVALIST tripping over themselves in the rush, until I was left with O_E_O_E. I extracted ONEROUS from the grid when ESTER turned up. My sub 15 minutes turned into 20:31 by the time I’d constructed OPEROSE. I still submitted with crossed fingers! Thanks setter and U.

  39. in common with most, I found this pretty straightforward almost down to quickie standard. Only OPEROSE needed checking out, although what else could it be with all the checkers in?
    By contrast, I seem to recall that the quickie had one clue worthy of the 15×15.

  40. Not onerous this puzzle, apart from OPEROSE which, like almost everyone else, I worked out and crossed my fingers. POI was ESTER.
    Today I did not mind the random names, maybe because the clues were fun and the names were not extremely rare.
    COD to PRADO, a welcome change from The Tate.

  41. Gosh, finished all correct apart from two – 20a and 21d. Biffed Onerous which made ESTER difficult.
    Thanks all.

  42. 8:58. Another who was held up by the unknown OPEROSE at the end. I liked UNDERGROUND best for the surface. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  43. 21’18”
    Good steady pace, slowed, along with the rest of the field, on the final furlong incline.
    Kingsley Amis, in his The King’s English, perhaps curiously, does not quibble with the spelling of 1a;
    “Medieval: Now the standard spelling. Pronounced in four syllables as ‘meddy-eeval’, with please no glottal stop before the second E. To pronounce it in three syllables as ‘medd-eeval’ or ‘mee-deeval’ is an infallible sign of fundamental illiteracy, a positive shibboleth.”
    This was the second time I’ve come across a shibboleth today; the first being a pronunciation shibboleth with fatal consequences -“Say ‘parsley.'” – mentioned in today’s Radio 4 Start the Week, which I would heartily recommend to the language enthusiasts here.
    Thank you setter And Ulaca.

  44. I’ve noticed this a few times on a Monday. It seems to be a way of making a very easy puzzle hard to finish. In the end, I couldn’t think of any other female names with —O—E, so I suppose it was fair..ish.

  45. A very, very slow solve for me today – almost entirely accounted for by the OPEROSE/ESTER combination. I must have come across the latter before, as a bell faintly rang, but was very unconfident about it, which meant solving O_E_O_E as well as trying to parse ONEROUS. Got there in the end at least!

    Very much liked FURTHERMORE, and probably several others, but I solved them so long ago I’ve forgotten.

    Thanks both.

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