Times 28775


Well, I had most of this quirky puzzle done in 15 minutes or so, but had to put my thinking cap on for 1,3,7, and 8dn. The NW was thus my main blank space (3dn my LOI), but avoiding the DNF took some “educated” guesses elsewhere too. And a determination not to throw the towel in over a bonkers anagram like a fortnight ago. A couple of science-y bits helped, in my case. Oh, and I had to parse (hopefully!) 1ac after the fact…

So for me, a curate’s egg in terms of difficulty, with more hard than not, but that in the end I was happy to nibble on, probably only because I managed to finish with no errors. Hope you did the same (or better, of course).

Definitions underlined.

1 A thousand small homes over island capital (9)
STOCKHOLM – K (a thousand) + COTS (small homes) all reversed, then HOLM (island). Still quite unsure about this explanation, so looking forward to clarifications below.
6 Very light, perhaps, the cost of travelling around Lima (5)
FLARE – FARE (the cost of travelling) containing L (Lima). Very light/bright?
9 Oppressive old emperor no longer working (7)
ONEROUS – O (old) + NERO (emperor) + U/S (unserviceable, no longer working). I cannot wait to see Simon apologise on behalf of all setters everywhere for this barely explicable abbreviation. “It’s not just any word, you know”, it’s pretty much any word, and any number of letters, with random punctuation in between that’s completely ignored.
10 Worked on encasing Egyptian god in precious stone (7)
DIAMOND – DID (worked on) containing AMON. Not ‘Ra’, then.
11 A smart cravat or tie, primarily (5)
ASCOT – &lit. First letters of A Smart Cravat Or Tie. Kudos to the setter for finding an alternative to the racecourse.
13 Cutting illumination on front of stage (9)
SLIGHTING – LIGHTING (illumination) on the first of Stage.
14 Berne et al. curiously open to incomers (9)
16 Soon girl must get round in (4)
ANON – ANN (girl) containing (round).
18 Endure explosion — not the first in blitz (4)
LAST – bLAST (explosion), minus the ‘b’ (first in blitz).
19 Butterfly in Australia of no recognisable type (9)
AMORPHOUS – MORPHO (butterfly) in AUS (Australia). Okay, I did look this one up during blogging to check, but my guess was right so I’m counting it.
22 Slight inebriation — nearly going wrong in confusion (9)
MERRINESS – all-but-the-last of ERRINg (going wrong), contained by MESS (confusion).
24 Piece of Amilcare Ponchielli’s making a comeback? (5)
OPERA – &lit. (but only if it is making a comeback, I suppose). Reverse hidden in amilcARE POnchielli.
25 Drive back concerned with vibration (7)
REPULSE – RE (concerned with) + PULSE (vibration).
26 Punish favourite dog (7)
WHIPPET – WHIP (punish) + PET (favourite).
28 Unknown deli junked produce (5)
YIELD – Y (unknown) + an anagram of DELI.
29 Active agent embracing both sides (9)
SPRIGHTLY – SPY (agent) containing RIGHT + L (both sides).
1 Son to pay for work space for loads (7)
STOWAGE – S (son) + TO + WAGE (pay for work). Second best lift-and-separate of this puzzle.
2 Have a debt to those in power (3)
OWE – letters in pOWEr.
3 Zany skier after one’s gone missing visits ski resort (8)
KLOSTERS – anagram of SKiER (after the ‘i’ (one) has gone), which LOST (missing) visits (i.e. is contained within). I hope loads of our readers know the resort (I did not), otherwise this is a brute.
4 Peaceful havens nomad seeks regularly (5)
OASES – every other letter from nOmAd SeEkS.
5 Insane to anger Number One close to Spanish government? (9)
MADRILENO – MAD (insane) + RILE (anger) + NO (number). I did not know the literal, and hesitated even when I saw what might be going on. All is forgiven for this beautiful example of ‘lift and separate’.
6 Run round tree, creating quite an impression (6)
FLASHY – FLY (run) containing ASH (tree).
7 A … do … mi/E … la one plays in this style (7,4)
AEOLIAN MODE – anagram (obviously) of A DO MI E LA ONE. Guessed from having a modest familiarity with Chopin’s Aeolian Harp. Is there a musical link between this style and the sol fa scale, making this a semi-&lit? I shall find out.
8 Kill off melon plant growing from within (7)
ENDOGEN – END (kill off) + OGEN (melon).
12 Ruin chinchilla, perhaps when adjusting her top (11)
CATASTROPHE – CAT (chinchilla, perhaps) + AS (when) + an anagram of HER TOP.
15 Ask for God’s protection for guarding weak and innocent (9)
BLAMELESS – BLESS (ask for God’s protection for) containing LAME (weak).
17 Facing work sitting for artist (8)
OPPOSING – OP (work) + POSING (sitting for artist).
18 Sucker punch victim (7)
LAMPREY – LAM (punch) + PREY (victim).
20 Reticent about skin growth that’s looking dark (7)
SWARTHY – SHY (reticent) containing WART (skin growth).
21 Taken off course I’m upended by slide on ice (6)
MISLED – reversal of I’M + SLED (slide on ice).
23 Drain small jug (5)
SEWER – S (small) + EWER (jug).
27 An irrational terror’s beginning in bed? (3)
PIT – PI (an irrational (number)) + the first letter of Terror.

59 comments on “Times 28775”

    1. From Wiki:
      A flare gun, also known as a Very pistol or signal pistol, is a large-bore handgun that discharges flares, blanks and smoke. The flare gun is typically used to produce a distress signal.

  1. Very easy for a Friday. I think KLOSTERS is where (then) Prince Charles would take his sons skiing. At least, I have heard of it as a result. I had no idea about the MORPHO but just took it as “it must be” since there was obviously no other word that would fit. Also knew what AEOLIAN MODE was, but not ENDOGEN (but I do know of Ogen melons). I also knew what a Very light was. So not too difficult to use the wordplay to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.

  2. Like Paul, DNK ENDOGEN but knew Ogen, DNK MORPHO, knew Very light (learned it here). DNK HOLM, and never did parse STOCKHOLM. DNK the cat, only the rodent, and never parsed CATASTROPHE. My LOI was KLOSTERS, and it was last in because my hair-trigger keyboard doubled the R in ONEROUS, giving me ONERRUS, and I didn’t notice; so I spent ages trying to think of a place called KERST_R_ (I figured KERS was (sker)*).

  3. 36 minutes. Not so easy for me. No hope parsing STOCKHOLM which luckily materialised magically from crossers and NHO MORPHO as a ‘butterfly’ (genus) or AEOLIAN MODE. OGEN was a bit of a stretch to remember and like Kevin, I was thinking of the rodent for ‘chinchilla’.

    I’m not too keen on ENTERABLE as a word. I liked the sneaky ‘One close to Spanish government?’ def and the OPERA reverse hidden. I don’t care if it’s regarded as populist light classical music, “Dance of the Hours” is still one of my favourites.

  4. 37 minutes. Never parsed STOCKHOLM. NHO ENDOGEN but knew the melon, so it wasn’t a tough clue. NHO MORPHO or MADRILENO. Can’t make up my mind whether 7dn is a clever clue for its musical references or a dreadful one as it’s so scrappy and random, but I knew AEOLIAN HARP.

    Who is Simon?

    1. Simon Anthony, of Cracking the Cryptic on YouTube. I don’t know why I like spending an hour watching watching someone solve a puzzle I just completed, but I really do.

      1. I too enjoy it. It is fun to see where he struggles and I didn’t and vice versa. For those who don’t know, Simon solves the Friday cryptic unseen every Friday (and if he can’t make it, Mark Goodliffe fills in for him). And if you want to see something totally bonkers, watch Mark try and solve the Club Monthly…without a dictionary. In the last one, he got all the insane answers right and screwed up one letter in a simple one (a bit like the Time Crossword Competition for him this year, I guess).

      2. Thanks. I tried watching Verlaine once and found it too depressing (no reflection on him, of course) but I’d be scared to analyse my own thought processes when solving for fear of losing what modest ability I have acquired over the years.

      3. It was Cracking the Cryptic that got me into this hobby earlier this year. For most of my life I had a suspicion that the whole concept of the cryptic crossword was a Mornington Crescent-style in-joke.

  5. Very good puzzle, and one I could actually finish!

    your parsing for 1a seems right and clear, not sure why you are uncertain?

    thanks setter and blogger

  6. One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to Yield.
    (Ulysses, Tennyson)

    35 ish mins pre-brekker. Not my cup of tea.
    Note to self: learn more about butterflies, estate agent jargon, flares and Monocotyledonae.
    Ta setter and W.

  7. 42 mins with the same hiccups, unknowns, ENDOGEN, MORPHO, and a couple of unparsed hit and hopes, STOCKHOLM and KLOSTERS as others have mentioned above. I did however know of the AEOLIAN MODE and the MADRILENO.

    Very enjoyable, I thought.


    Thank you William and setter.

  8. Another one letter dnf, falling with MADRIDENO. Otherwise 21′.

    Definitely a curate’s egg today.

    Thanks william and setter.

  9. 19:00
    Back to normal clues after yesterday’s proper curate’s egg.
    LOI MISLED (the “slide on ice” mizzled me, as my grandma used to say).

  10. Lift and separate. Write it out a hundred times. Beaten by both of the ones that impressed the blogger: STOWAGE (STORAGE?) and MADRILENO (don’t ask). At least I knew Very light. I like that it’s launched from a Very pistol

  11. 13:25. Another who’s GK holes were filled by the wordplay or biffing… DNK HOLM for an island, MADRILENO, that a chinchilla was a cat, ENDOGEN (I knew the melon, though) and the butterfly. Thumbs up to the setter for spotting Ponchielli’s full name had OPERA reverse hidden in it. Thank-you William and setter. I tried to work out how the clue for AEOLIAN MODE describes it, and the significance of the …s and /. Has anyone managed to crack it, or is it just a random collection of notes?

  12. 31 minutes with LOIs the KLOSTERS/STOCKHOLM crossers, both well-known to me but not clued so that I saw them without deep examination. I didn’t know how MADRILENO was going to end until I guessed AMORPHOUS and would in so doing have learnt the name of a butterfly if I’d seen what the AUS was there for. As it was, I was trying to understand how a butterfly fluttering its wings in Australia could set a crossword clue in Britain, a new formulation of the butterfly effect. I just thought FLARE was a grammatical error. COD to ENDOGEN, not that I knew that either. Not a satisfactory solve, but a solve nevertheless. Thank you William and setter.

  13. I worked out endogen because I remembered Gordon Brown’s gobbledegooky “post-classical endogenous growth theory”. Fairly friendly for a Friday.

  14. DNF, defeated by KLOSTERS. Hadn’t heard of it, and didn’t see the ‘lost’ part as I failed to separate ‘gone’ and ‘missing’ in the clue.

    Got STOCKHOLM with no idea how it worked (I need to remember holm as an island); didn’t know Very lights but FLARE had to be right; had forgotten the U/S abbreviation for ONEROUS (I feel like it must have come up before); thought ENTERABLE was a horrible word; hadn’t heard of the morpho butterfly for AMORPHOUS or the ogen melon for ENDOGEN; and wasn’t 100% certain about the spelling of AEOLIAN MODE.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Diamond

  15. Well I’m going to say it: this was a class or several above yesterday with some excellent clues.
    The AEOLIAN MODE one does work, and it’d brilliant. Here’s the wiki version:
    “On the white piano keys, it is the scale that starts with A. Its ascending interval form consists of a key note, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step. That means that, in A aeolian (or A minor), you would play A, move up a whole step (two piano keys) to B, move up a half step (one piano key) to C, then up a whole step to D, a whole step to E, a half step to F, a whole step to G, and a final whole step to a high A.”
    Our setter uses diaresis for missing notes, and presents a mix of sol-fa and conventional notes, so A (…B) Do(standing in for C) (…D) E/Mi (same note) (…F) La (standing in for G) and ONE to fill in the rest. It’s scarily accurate and clever.
    Lots to get thrown by: the Egyptian god is always RA (not), chinchillas aren’t cats (yes they are), MORPHO is an unlikely butterfly, MADRILENO is the logical outcome of the wordplay but looks improbable, very light was very cute. Sucker punch a clever lift and separate. All great stuff, and smooth surfaces to boot.

    1. Aha. Thanks for deciphering the description of the scale. With the Aeolian mode starting on A I didn’t think of Doh = C, but of course it is for a scale in that mode starting and finishing on La (=A not G), so that ellipsis before La must cover F and G, I think.

  16. A very (ahem) nice puzzle, even if the ‘Very light’ reference went over my head. 10m 11s, with most of the last 3 minutes spent trying to piece together KLOSTERS: I’m not a skier, and had never heard of the resort. ‘Ski resort’ might be up there with ‘shrub’ in my most dreaded definitions.

  17. Half an hour all told with fingers crossed for ENDOGEN as OGEN was an unknown. Similarly MADRILENO but the cluing was more helpful on that one.

    Otherwise a mixed bag. I knew KLOSTERS from the Royal Family connection and most of the other clues went in without too much bother.

    An easier end to a tough but enjoyable week. Thanks to both.

  18. DNK MADRILENO or ENDOGEN (or indeed ‘ogen’ for melon), so not beating myself up about not getting these. Guessed AMORPHOUS, not knowing what a MORPHO is. Perhaps a tad over-heavy on unfamiliar words (I knew KLOSTERS, but many – reasonably – don’t). Otherwise I enjoyed this.

  19. Some hard vocab made it slow, but nevertheless enjoyable. Much more so than yesterday’s. Same NHOs: HOLM, MORPHO, and ENDOGEN. Took a while to remember ogen, only ever seen here. Did know Klosters and Very lights and Chinchilla cats, Madrileno was quickish, aeolian mode had to be but the cleverness of it went right over my head. The blog saying Amon not Ra reminded me of NFL player Amon-Ra St Brown – and his brother Equanimeous.

  20. 14:15. Tricky one. It would have been much trickier if I hadn’t happened to know almost all the funny words. Only MORPHO was new to me.
    I know ‘holm’ mostly from spending a lot of time in Scandinavia. STOCKHOLM means ‘log island’, and there is an area in Oslo called Tjuvholmen – thief island – which I used to stay in when I visited.
    Edit Oh, I also didn’t know that a CHINCHILLA can be a cat. And a rabbit, apparently.

  21. Remembered OGEN vaguely from a crossword a couple of years back. Like others I got bogged down in the end in the top left. I even semi-persuaded myself that the setter had mixed up the one across and one down clues, whose answers were STOCKROOM and SPOKANE (ok it’s not a state capital but I didn’t know that) . After dismissing that notion, I narrowly avoided STORAGE. COD MADRILENO. With a wiggle on the ‘n’. 23’09”

  22. Much slower than yesterday, but at least I got round. Started like a train, before coming badly unstuck with the NW. STOCKHOLM was tricky; I knew neither COT nor HOLM, and thought the M would be the thousand, although from the crossers I should’ve got it more quickly. And KLOSTERS was purely built from the wordplay.

    Liked MADRILENO, learned about AMON and the MORPHO, vaguely remembered the OGEN (and knew ‘endogenous’, so was pretty sure), found AEOLIAN MODE rather fiddly despite its undoubted cleverness.

    Thanks both.

  23. 29 minutes so just inside the half hour. Opposite to most people, knew endogen so had to assume an ogen was a melon plant. LOI was Klosters which took an alphabet trawl through the second letter till klo… rang a bell and as someone says it was the royal family’s preferred ski resort. I thought the Aeolian Mode clue must somehow work like that, thanks Zabadak for working it out!
    I’ve got a feeling Biggles probably fired Very lights a lot, at any rate I remember them well from childhood adventure stories.
    Nice mix of clues today
    Thanks setter and solver

  24. 08:32, so much less Friday-ish than yesterday’s puzzle, albeit with some quite arcane elements – fortunately having half the knowledge was enough in most cases e.g. knowing the OGEN melon, if not the ENDOGEN, and that musical notation has MODEs, which suggested the rest of the anagram pretty clearly.

  25. 23:44 – Even more impressed with this after reading Zabadak’s explanation of AEOLIAN MODE, which sailed right over my head in the heat of battle. There was a great deal else to like too.

  26. I was quite pleased with my 40 minutes on a Friday, but unfortunately had entered Storage despite being puzzled about “rage”. Ah well. I didn’t parse Stockholm either. Good puzzle, nevertheless.

  27. 34 mins but admit to having a little help with Klosters, even then I didn’t understand the cryptic till I got here. That gave me the K for 1a and for a moment I thought it was CLOAKROOM until my duh moment ended. LOI STOWAGE, nice easy clue which totally befuddled me

    1. I was trying to justify STOCKROOM and SHORTFORM for some time (having got S_O___O_M), both of which I was quite pleased about…

  28. It looks as if the setter was also unsure about ENDOGEN, because the definition in the clue is more or less the same as the one in Chambers. And Chambers also seems to think that ENTERABLE is a pretty feeble word — a word, but not worth talking abour — because it just gives it as an adjective under the heading ‘enter’. 46 minutes with the slowness attributable to the several words that didn’t stand out.

  29. DNF
    Beaten by the combination of AEOLIAN MODE and AMORPHOUS. Thanks to Zabadak for the detailed explanation of the former. As someone once said ” I am still confused but at at a much higher level.”

    An enjoyable puzzle otherwise. Thanks to William and the setter

  30. MADRILENO is not a word. Madrileño, however, is. The Spanish Ñ is not a funny-looking N but a separate letter. I wish setters wouldn’t do this, but of course they will.

    1. I suspect every one of us knows that N is different from Ñ, and [n] is different from [ñ]; we also know that you can’t get diacritics into the squares.

        1. Hardly the same thing. O and 0 do at least look the same, and some dictionaries allow one to stand for the other.

      1. My point is not that setters should use ‘ñ’ instead of ‘n’, but that I would prefer them to avoid words which require it. However, as I said, I know this isn’t going to happen.

  31. About 40 mins.
    Stockholm I just put in cos it had to be that. The archaic cot was new to me as was holm. Madrileno in normal print features a tilde and is pronounced enyo at the end. Okay puzzle if a bit offbeat.
    Thanks, w.

  32. Busy morning and only just got to this, expecting the usual Friday fare. But I found it really quite straightforward with some QC type clueing I thought (albeit with a few “has to be” unparsed biffs thankfully explained above). Just under 20′ which is fast for me and welcome after yesterday’s mauling! thanks William and setter

  33. Couldn’t parse STOCKHOLM even tho’ I knew HOLM=isle. Cot I knew too, but didn’t see. Grrrr.
    U/S is (was) widely used for unserviceable and was essential in military stock records.
    BIFD 19a. I didn’t even notice the A…US round the morpho. Doh!
    Never worked out 3d kLOSTers. Had heard of it from some royal report or other. I’m not a great royalist.
    Saw 7d from crossers was AEOLIAN so BIFD the harp without engaging brain. 24a Opera fixed that. It is a very clever clue, right over my head.
    12d DNK Chinchilla cats, so had a MER. Doh! I now think I might remember having the same MER before.

  34. 29:21

    Baffled by the parsing of STOCKHOLM (got the K!), NHO the Very FLARE nor the opera (though the wordplay was fine), forgotten u/s for unserviceable, and ENTERABLE is a horrible word.

    On the plus side, I had heard of KLOSTERS (Royal family skiing destination), thought of the chinchilla CAT, and remembered OGEN as a melon (though didn’t know ENDOGEN).

    I thought 7d was clever – AEOLIAN MODE is to all intents and purposes, a fancy name for the natural minor scale. When the major scale is C (piano white keys C D E F G A B C), its natural minor is A (piano white keys A B C D E F G A), so the notes detailed in the clue are all members of that scale (do is C, mi is E, la is A).

    Thanks setter and William for filling in the blanks.

  35. This was not easy, but for once I got everything right in 50 minutes, the last 10 of which were spent agonising over STOCKHOLM and finally deciding it couldn’t really be anything else, even if I couldn’t parse it. I know HOLM is an island — in Swedish, but I didn’t know it could be that in English as well. And the US in ONEROUS, if indeed it is meant to be unserviceable, is, shall we say, absolutely unserviceable. I did get KLOSTERS correct to my surprise and of course only from the wordplay. So this was a good, hard puzzle, at least almost all of it, apart from the patently unserviceable remainder.

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