Times 28803 – Wednesday walk in the park

After the TCC semi-final puzzles which appeared on recent Wednesdays, I found this one had nice relevant surfaces but had nothing to slow me down; I nearly achieved a PB with a thirteen minute solve. Four straightforward anagrams in the first few across clues set me off to a flying start, and the rest followed without delay once I saw what bass was doing in 5d and guessed the genre of horror film.

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

1 Female holding drink pouches (8)
MARSUPIA – MARIA a female holds SUP = drink. Plural of marsupium, a pouch as found on a marsupial.
6 Disreputable person some consider as callous (6)
RASCAL – hidden as above.
9 Engineer locates impure, valuable substance (8,5)
10 Cut through mass of stone and shell of concrete (6)
PIERCE – a PIER being a big stone thing, C[oncret]E.
11 Changing tags in German, somehow (8)
13 Many labels come undone, certainly (2,3,5)
15 Old shipbuilder’s failure to respond to doctor? (4)
NOAH – not saying “ah” when asked by the doctor, NO AH.
16 Drive away from the entrance to Sutton Hoo (4)
SHOO – S[utton], HOO.
18 Tiny insect shrivels if disturbed (10)
21 Desk forced open? That is acceptable (4-4)
PRIE-DIEU – PRIED = forced open, IE = that is, U = acceptable.
22 Small white ball next to a large canine (6)
JACKAL – JACK the small white ball in bowls, A L[arge].
23 Even having money, this would be a great deal! (8,5)
STRAIGHT FLUSH – even = STRAIGHT, FLUSH = having money. A very good hand at poker.
25 French satire, not entirely truthful (6)
26 Fruit always once being primarily wrapped in fabric (8)
TAYBERRY – AY (always) B[eing], inside TERRY as in terry towelling.
2 Briefly adequate — though variable — increase in sound (7)
AMPLIFY – AMPL[e] = adequate, briefly; IF = though, Y an unknown number.
3 Country united after the end of serious earlier rioting (6,5)
4 First-class sort of voting idea regularly netting millions (5)
PRIME – PR (sort of voting), I d E a, insert M for millions.
5 Possible spaces for bass, as featured in song (7)
AQUARIA – QUA, Latin for as, inside ARIA, song.
6 Recall in relation to cars leads to certain embarrassment (9)
REMINISCE – RE (in relation to) MINIS (cars) C[ertain] E[mbarrassment].
7 Group from London area (close to Barnet) (3)
SET – SE (London area) then [Barne]T.
8 Italian team leaving a place in Georgia (7)
ATLANTA – ATALANTA are a football team in Serie A in Italy, remove an A to get ATLANTA the big city in Georgia, USA.
12 Fabricate nasty material to hide universal truth (11)
MANUFACTURE – MANURE = nasty material (except for gardeners), insert U for universal and FACT for truth.
14 To avoid disagreement, I had sounded confused (9)
MYSTIFIED – supposed to sound like “MISS TIFF I’D”.
17 Aromatic paste — mostly strong, is it? (7)
HARISSA – HAR[D] = strong mostly, IS, SA = it, the old sex appeal thing yet again.
19 Deride US city that’s disgusting and extremely affluent (5,2)
LAUGH AT – LA (US city) UGH (that’s disgusting), A[ffluen]T.
20 Runs what’s too short, revolting horror film (7)
SLASHER – all reversed (revolting); R[uns], EH’S (what’s) ALS[o]. Apparently a slasher movie is a subgenre of horror film with sharp implements involved, not my sort of thing.
22 Judge uncertain for a moment (5)
JIFFY – J[udge], IFFY = uncertain.
24 Staff party set up to follow conclusion of seminar (3)
ROD – [semina]R, DO reversed.


63 comments on “Times 28803 – Wednesday walk in the park”

  1. As my target 30 minutes arrived I had 3 answers missing that I had been working on for some time. At 33 minutes my work was done. The breakthrough came when I managed to arrive at SLASHER via wordplay. I had previously thought of biffing SHOCKER, but as the possible K-checker didn’t help me with the intersecting 23ac it didn’t go in. The H from SLASHER then helped me to come up with STRAIGHT FLUSH which unlocked HARISSA on the other side of the grid. I knew the word but not as a paste.

    I was unable to parse ATLANTA as I know little or nothing about foreign football teams, but fortunately the literal couldn’t have been clearer once a couple of checkers were in place.

    I expect a flood of complaints about the outrageous “Miss-Tiff-I’d” but it brought a much-needed smile and I loved it. NO-AH was pretty good in that respect too.

  2. I didn’t hesitate to write it in, but no dictionary definition I can find quite supports PRIE-DIEU as a “desk.”
    Very glad to have not seen a SILVERFISH for a long time.
    Merde, I should have gotten CANDID before the POI.
    HARISSA was all right as LOI, though, as a NHO worked out from wordplay.

    1. SOED: prie-dieu M18. [ORIGIN French, lit. ‘pray God’.]

      A desk for prayer consisting of a kneeling surface and a narrow upright front surmounted by a ledge for books etc.

      The Concise Oxford has it too, as does Chambers (printed edition and the free online version). Not in ODE or Collins though.

      1. Collins, Dictionary,com and Merriam-Webster all (I think) mentioned that a PRIE-DIEU might support a book, but none used the word desk, and indeed their definitions of desk (always as a workspace) did not quite seem to fit. I guess calling it a bench would’ve made it too easy..

  3. Pretty straightforward despite a couple of unusual words (marsupia, prie-dieu). My LOI’s were HARISSA followed by CANDID.
    26 minutes.

  4. 16:14

    Not too many hold-ups – didn’t know that a PRIE-DIEU could be described as a desk; heard of SLASHER movies (definitely not my thing) but totally failed to wade successfully through the convoluted parsing; similar story with MYSTIFIED (got the ending only). The rest was all pretty straightforward – liked STRAIGHT FLUSH the most.

  5. Try Wikipedia… ‘A prie-dieu (French: literally, “pray [to] God”) is a type of prayer desk primarily intended for private devotional use, but which may also be found in churches. A similar form of chair in domestic furniture is called “prie-dieu” by analogy. Sometimes, a prie-dieu will consist only of the sloped shelf for books without the kneeler’.

    The essence of the name is the kneeling action. I would call a sloped shelf for books without a kneeler a lectern! I guess somewhere along the line the word became used inappropriately…and now we’re stuck with this interpretation.

    The derivation of SLASHER was very difficult….

  6. 38 minutes, the last five. on the totally unknown SLASHER. I also struggled with STRAIGHT FLUSH. I did know PRIE-DIEU though. Once again my Church Youth Club and not Billiard Hall past reveals itself. A tricky puzzle today, I found.COD to MYSTIFIED. Thank you Pip and setter,

    1. If only you’d attended the darts academy in St Helens, BW, like young Mr Littler.
      (a bit unkind, to say that his name has a certain irony attached)

    2. My Church youth club had a 3/4 sized snooker table, which taught me the connection between prayer and actually potting the ball. The divine response was always “best of luck with that”.

      1. Table-Tennis and Five-a-side football were what we had. And a five minute epilogue to end the evening, with me praying that I’d get to walk Margaret Walmsley home.

  7. I was happy with PRIE-DIEU, but unhappy with (mystified by?) “pried”, as mere confusion with “prised”, though of course universal in the US. To be resisted, in my view.

    1. Interesting .. the OED has: “Originally U.S. and English regional (East Anglian). To raise, move, or force up, out, open, etc., with a lever.”
      It is a word I’ve been familiar with all my life and did not know of a US connection.

      1. Yes, indeed. Hence the US version of rhe UK observation that “prised comes before an autumn”.

  8. 7:21. I took a moment to remember the first word of PRIE DIEU, and had to construct SLASHER from the wordplay to confirm it before putting it in. I liked the NO AH. Thanks Pip and setter.

  9. Not too difficult.. I was 14dn by 8dn, my knowledge of Serie A being no greater than my knowledge of horror film genres. But not many places in Georgia both start and end in A, I guess.

    Liked mys-tif-ied, and also the flush. Nice crossword.

    1. There’s Augusta, Georgia,(population, over 200,000) birthplace of Woodrow Wilson and home of the Masters golf tournament.

  10. 16.50. Most delighted at getting prie dieu which I managed to remember from not having worked out in previous puzzles. Guessed slasher. The rest reasonably straightforward.

  11. As others, I whizzed through this in 13:39.
    Not quite a PB but the fastest for a while.
    A couple of words I did not know: that marsupials are named after marsupia, and tayberry. Prie dieu has turned up before.
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  12. A surprisingly quick 21 mins for me this morning, from MARSUPIA as FOI onwards to LOI CANDID—I think Candide is the only French satire I’ve ever read, so that was lucky. Also helping in spirit was my friend Emily, who’s one of the regular panellists on a horror podcast and the reason I listen to it enough to know my SLASHERs from my folk horrors from my found footage films even though I’m not a horror nerd myself. The only bit I didn’t know was the Italian footie side, but luckily ATLANTA wasn’t hard to guess.

  13. 12.54, with MARSUPIA my LOI. Obvious once you see it, but finding the right ‘female’ to act as the container took a little bit of thought.

    I liked NOAH, MYSTIFIED (even more so once I’d corrected my original MIS- as I worked through the clue), and SILVERFISH. Never heard of a PRIE-DIEU, but the wordplay was fine.

    Thanks both.

  14. 45 mins, the last 5 of which were spent on SLASHER eventually bunged in without parsing, hmmm, otherwise a fairly gentle stroll.

    Wasn’t sure about PRIE-DIEU either but seem to remember it from somewhere before.

    I liked JIFFY and the card hand.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  15. I’m totally MYSTIFIED as to how, despite checking carefully as I went, I managed to enter AAUARIA at 5D.

    TIME 10:08 with a typo
    EOD MYSTIFIED by Fleetwood Mac

    1. My sympathies. Having checked my answers carefully and found one of my silly typos, I was congratulating myself…

  16. 27:20
    Another nice puzzle. A little bit of French going on here, which I liked.
    Thanks, p.

  17. Fiddlesticks.
    22:45 but with another typo (MANUFACTUEE). What with CANDIDE and PRIE-DIEU making an appearance, I think that I subliminally Frenchified the English as what got me through my GCSE.

    On that theme, as Del-Boy would say, I found this crossword bonnet de douche, albeit relatively easy compared to recent Wednesdays.

    A couple of unknowns (PRIE-DIEU, HARISSA) but the unknowns/crossers were generous enough.

    Hopefully fat-finger syndrome won’t strike 3 times in a row so I look forward to tomorrow’s offering. Thanks to both.

  18. I’ll wear the stupid hat today, as unlike Amoeba I failed to correct my MISTI…, staring as I was at SLAHER and expecting the crimson to spurt forth from there. Didn’t see the reversal indication. TAYBERRY vaguely remembered, though not from Tesco’s, and HARISSA struggled to emerge from underneath a coating of haroseth. PRIE DIEU went in from the U and the numbering, and the remembrance of discussions past in this parish.
    Briefly wondered whether a silverfish was an insect, since they look a bit more alien than that: Wiki is good enough to put primitive into the definition.
    A decent puzzle with the NO AH giving a grin, done in 17.24

  19. Two goes needed.

    Never knew that MARSUPIA are pouches or that a SILVERFISH isn’t a fish; only knew PRIE-DIEU from previous crosswords; only vaguely remembered both terry fabric and TAYBERRY; didn’t know that Candide was a satire, though the clueing helped me get CANDID; didn’t parse SLASHER, and had been trying a couple of anagrams until TAYBERRY set me straight.

    A nice challenge – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Rascal
    LOI Slasher
    COD Mystified

  20. 9:35
    A couple of biffs, but nothing to raise the blood pressure.
    LOI SLASHER, LOL NOAH. When I was a GP and children asked me why I had a rubber hammer on my desk I used to tap them on the head with it and say, “Say Ow”.

  21. 18:49
    I found this pretty straightforward apart from MYSTFIED. NOAH was COD.
    A bit surprised to see RASCAL on consecutive days and as a hidden word in both.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter

  22. 8:05, but when I checked my answers I spotted the typo MANIFACTURED but not the following-wordplay-without-engaging-brain MISTIFIED. I’m making an awful lot of silly mistakes at the moment.
    Nice puzzle. No unknowns, unless you count MARSUPIA, but it’s such an obvious reverse-derivation that I don’t really.

  23. 8:08 Nice easy challenge for a Wednesday morning. MARSUPIA went straight in, as I don’t know any other words for pouches! I biffed quite a few (PRECIOUS METAL, BY ALL MEANS, SILVERFISH, PRIE-DIEU, STRAIGHT FLUSH, etc.). Nice to have some slightly unusual vocabulary. I do feel the clue for SHOO was a bit feeble, but overall a good puzzle. COD to JIFFY.

  24. 35 minutes, no major problems, although some of the words were at the limits of my knowledge. I couldn’t have told you that HARISSA was a paste, or that Atalanta was an Italian team of any sort or that MARSUPIA were pouches (although pretty obvious from marsupial). Surely the homophone for MYSTIFIED won’t be able to call forth the usual gripes from rhotic speakers.

  25. Having finished the NY Jumbo, I was able to get down to this early(ish) after my swim, and found it to my liking – with enough slight obscurities to challenge, but also a generous sprinkling of easy ones around the grid to get me started. I didn’t know the term MARSUPIA, but worked it out from the S-P in the middle, figuring it referred to those kind of pouches. PRIE-DIEU was known, and luckily, also SLASHER, though I abhor horror films, as I never worked out the parsing for it. Like Guy, I was embarrassed to have CANDID as my POI, especially as I studied the book for A-level, and love the Bernstein opera based on it. Thanks, setter and Pip.

  26. 32′. 90% very straightforward but held up by MYSTIFIED (which seems obvious afterwards.. well they all mostly do I suppose) and PRIE-DIEU (which I only know from crossword-land as a kneeling bench, so “desk” threw me). Enjoyed seeing a footie reference among the Latin and French clueing! Thanks Piquet and setter.

  27. 24 minutes. I liked MYSTIFIED and was happy to work out the parsing of SLASHER, even though it’s more familiar as the nickname of a certain dour Australian batsman of the late 50’s-early 60’s than as a ‘horror film’. Otherwise this wasn’t too difficult with MARSUPIA as a noun the only (semi-) new word.

    After a few gentle ones, it’s about time 2024 showed its teeth; maybe tomorrow.

  28. Untimed and had no real problems other than AQUARIA continually reading ‘brass’ instead of bass until I spotted no R. I blame ‘song’ at the end of the clue.
    MYSTIFIED I spotted the homophone with a smile, HARISSA I had early on but didn’t put in until I got the parsing (should have seen it earlier). PRED-DIEU I didn’t know but WP and checking letters helped there.
    SLASHER went in last without parsing as I had ‘revolting as part of the definition which surely that type of film would be.
    My favourite was the simple NOHA for its penny drop.

  29. NHO – PRIE DIEU and hope never to come across it again

    Couldn’t parse for the life of me MYSTIFIED but it fit.

    COD to NOAH. Much more my kind of thing. Ahhh.

  30. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I had no need for aids, understood all the parsing as I went (haven’t read the blog yet). I laughed out loud at NOAH (suspect it may be a chestnut, but never seen before). Should’ve been quicker, but finishing error-free is reward enough for me. (I’m no sprinter.) Happy New Year to all.

  31. Correction: since reading the blog I realised I missed the reversed-hidden nature of SLASHER, so it was a really biff. Also, I wasn’t really happy with PRIED as ‘forced open’. PRISED yes, but not PRIED.
    (By the way, a couple of teaspoons of harissa works wonders in a ragù or arrabiata pasta sauce!)

  32. Doh! Thank you piquet for NO AH, which I biffed, being unable to parse even after deep thought. COD now penny has dropped.
    I thought I NHO Tayberry at 26a, but when I looked at the Wikipedia entry I recognised the article, and when I looked at my cheating machine I saw that I had added it, so it must have come up before. Some things just won’t stick in the memory.
    I also thought I NHO 17d HARISSA as it wasn’t in my cheating machine, but again I recognised the article so it must have come up before and I must have forgotten to add it to the machine.
    From Wiki I see that Psycho is credited as being the first Slasher film. I’ve seen it and I think I enjoyed it, but had you asked I would have said I don’t like them.

  33. A couple places where the answer was clear, but the definition needed a little squinting. But mostly what pest control service does the setter use so that his or her Silverfish are TINY insects? I mean they aren’t grasshopper size, but, well, but. Thx, pip, thx setter

  34. Over target at 48.15 and then discovered my guess LAUSUPRA for 1ac was wrong, as I suspected it would be. I spent a while trying to find a female name to suit the clue and could only think of Laura and Paula. Maria didn’t occur to me, but if it had the link to marsupial would have been obvious. STRAIGHT FLUSH was not a problem, but when playing cards with my poker playing pals years ago, we used to call it a running flush. I’ve seen enough American films to know the alternative however.

  35. A fun puzzle. Plenty to think carefully about but all fairly clued and satisfying to work out.

    Thank you Pip and setter.

  36. 22 minutes today so I found it trickier than some did. Slowed in the Devon and Cornwall region by Harissa and prie-dieu. We have had prie-dieu recently and I thought I’d remembered it but confused by pried as forced open.

    Thx p and setter

  37. 06:11, an enjoyable pacy solve. Delighted to have remembered PRIE-DIEU, as I’m pretty sure it was a complete unknown last time I encountered it (for whatever reason, this process – not knowing / learning / remembering – does not always inevitably follow when it comes to crosswords, so worth celebrating when it does). NOAH raised a smile.

  38. Just over 7 minutes, and struggled towards the end with PRIE-DIEU only vaguely at the back of my mind.

  39. MISTIFIED. I had written in MIS at the beginning and IED at the end long before TIF appeared, and when it did I wrote it in with delight. What a splendid clue, I thought, totally failing to see the sucker punch it contained. Nice one Setter. Lots of other nice clues too

  40. Forgot to post earlier. A third easier one in a row for me, despite a couple of NHOs in MARSUPIA and TAYBERRY.


  41. 32 minutes, so not very hard, and a spate of clues went in right away (but another spate didn’t, of course). SLASHER from wordplay. But there were many witty clues, NOAH my favourite, but HARISSA, MYSTIFIED and JIFFY were quite good, too.

  42. 18 mins held up at the end in the SE trying to use REF instead of J for judge.
    Had to work on a few memory cells for PRIE DIEU.

  43. Finished, but used aids to get LOI Aquaria (laziness after a couple of beers tonight).
    Note to self – if you see a “U”, think of “Q”!!

  44. I loved Mystified and Harissa, but how on earth of was a normal person supposed to know ‘PRIE-DIEU’?

  45. 22a ” Small white ball next to a large canine” I parsed as S(mall)CUE(white ball in snooker), next to A, then L(arge) , giving me the ASCUEL – a breed of dog I’d never heard of, but there are probably quite a few breeds in this category so I wasn’t unduly concerned. As a general rule I find that if an answer parses well it is usually correct, even if I’ve never heard of the word. Not in this case! It took the iffy judge to set me right.

  46. Started this late in the day so had to sleep on a couple of clues before my brain had enough gas to parse them.
    I’ m referring to SLASHER and PRIE-DIEU my last two in.
    And although nobody is going to read it now I was keen to post a comment because it’s very rare for me to solve 3 in a row all correct. All the more satisfying that it happens to be the first 3 days of a new year. I have great hope now for my 2024 stats.

  47. 42:38. had fun with this one though I should have got through it a lot more quickly. I spent far too long looking at PRIE-DIEU than was good for me.
    particularly liked CANDID, which did not leap off the page but had to be coaxed at length.

  48. Like others, thought this a fun puzzle which I navigated fairly well until PRIE DIEU, which I’d forgotten ( and which I think is unfairly clued as “desk”); thereafter all my problems were in the lower half, except for ATLANTA ( only Italian football team I’ve heard of is something Milan) and was annoyed when I realised it was as simple as it was. Mucked up 16a by entering PUSH at first. Loved NOAH, MYSTIFIED and STRAIGHT FLUSH, but TAYBERRY a NHO, and the parsing of SLASHER too convoluted for me.

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