Times 28813 – Remembering James Agee

A bit of an extended Quick Crossword, this one, so hopefully a few Quickieites will be over to have a stab at this one. I got home in 16 minutes. Expect fast times from the usual suspects.

1 Primate, one replacing duke in cricket ground (5)
LORIS – Lord’s is the cricket ground – D replaces I
4 Time to tie up outside club, securing old vessel (9)
MOTORBOAT – MOOR (to tie up) around (outside) T (time) O (old) in BAT (club)
9 Singer, a large youth overcome by drink (9)
10 Prelude written in fortnight going west (5)
INTRO – reverse (going west) hidden (in)
11 Young rogue backing game with companion taking part (6)
URCHIN – RU (rugby union – game) reversed CH (Companion of Honour) IN (taking part – ‘Who’s in?’)
12 Support from beneath, subject to identification (8)
UNDERPIN – UNDER (subject to) PIN (as in ‘PIN number’, as you will)
14 Pressing news outlets to probe unusual item (9)
IMMEDIATE – MEDIA in anagram* of ITEM
16 Warning given by small number touring Oklahoma (5)
TOKEN – OK in TEN; ten is a small number if you’re talking about the number of votes for a candidate; a larger one if you’re talking about the number of children a couple has
17 Experience  discrimination (5)
TASTE – double definition (DD)
19 Aggressive man in church trapping female bird (9)
BULLFINCH – F (female) in BULL (aggressive man – sheesh! all these derogatory words for men; I don’t know…) IN CH
21 Boring type carrying articles for old animal minder (8)
NEATHERD – A THE in NERD (boring type); neat is an old word for a cow or other domestic bovine animal. Is a nerd always boring? Debate.
22 A lot of people I originally found in a mountainous region (6)
MASSIF -MASS (a lot of people) I F[ound]
25 Retired woman concealing worry about written work (5)
ILIAD – AIL (worry) in DI (random woman) reversed
26 Fit to be lived in by husband having a few talents? (9)
HABITABLE – H (husband) A BIT ABLE; if someone has a few talents, they might be called ‘a bit able’. Or would that be mean they had one talent, but only to a moderate degree? Discuss.
27 Caught in hospital department and ticked off (9)
ENTRAPPED – ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) RAPPED (ticked off, scolded)
28 Hear  possibly bawdy round (5)
CATCH – DD; a catch is ‘a type of round popular in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, having a humorous text that is often indecent or bawdy and hard to articulate’. Likely to cause a firestorm on X, formerly known as Twitter, today.
1 Party passionate about current venture initially requiring many workers (6-9)
LABOUR-INTENSIVE – LABOUR (party) I (current) V[enture] in INTENSE (passionate)
2 Priest captivated by churchgoer’s saintly memorial (5)
RELIC – ELI (our go-to Biblical priest – mentor of Samuel) in RC (Roman Catholic – churchgoing, if not lapsed)
3 Main sentence identifying cormorant, for example (7)
SEABIRD – SEA (main) BIRD (jail sentence)
4 Shabby-sounding carriage? (4)
MIEN – sounds like ‘mean’
5 Swiss hero absorbing a tirade over a lively dance (10)
TARANTELLA – A RANT in [William] TELL above (over) A
6 Right to retain the last word about one’s clothing (7)
RAIMENT – I in AMEN (last word in the Bible) in RT
7 Forthright Open University man accepting special post (9)
OUTSPOKEN – POST* in OU KEN (random man, or boyfriend of Barbie)
8 Old Icelandic character appearing personally, a constant irritation (5,2,3,5)
THORN IN THE FLESH – THORN (old Icelandic character) IN THE FLESH
13 US composer’s endless ambition to produce close harmony (10)
BARBERSHOP – [Samuel] BARBER’S HOP[e]; and here’s Barber’s setting of James Agee’s poem ‘Sure on this shining night’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8rd_mJ_bE0&ab_channel=TolosaChoralContest. James Agee’s film criticism is worth looking up. He was a master of the art.
15 Many initially help, engaging a good physio (9)
MASSAGIST – M[any} A G in ASSIST; sounds more professional than masseuse, somehow
18 Shrub ambassador introduced to new padre (7)
EPHEDRA – HE in PADRE*; one’s unknown plant du jour
20 Frenzied Italian brought up in country, mostly (7)
FRANTIC – IT (Italian) reversed in FRANC[e]
23 Drunkard pinching a bishop’s footwear (5)
24 A graduate in education, retired possibly (4)
ABED – DD; a B.Ed., on the one hand, and someone who has gone to bed because they want to sleep, rather than because they are ill, say, on the other


101 comments on “Times 28813 – Remembering James Agee”

  1. 26 minutes. TOKEN was clear from wordplay and checkers; I didn’t know it could specifically mean ‘warning’, but it’s in Collins.

    I needed all the checkers to get to the unknown EPHEDRA making its first appearance in the TfTT era other than a single outing in a Mephisto 8 years ago.

    MIEN was my LOI with the arrival of the M-checker. It surprised me a little as I had been convinced the answer would be a type of vehicle. There are so many carriages with odd or unlikely sounding names there would surely be one that would fit!

  2. Loosely robed in flying raiment, sang the terrible prophetesses.
    “Fear not, isle of blowing woodland, isle of silvery parapets! …”
    Boadicea, Tennyson

    25 mins with last two: Motorboat/Mien holding out for a while.
    Ta setter and U.

  3. 25 mins for me. So on the easy side (I don’t do Verlaine times). I did not know EPHEDRA either but it was almost the only way to fit the letters even before I had more than a single crosser. I got TOKEN the first time I looked at it with no checkers, but (a) wasn’t sure it meant warning and (b) TEN didn’t seem a good match for “small” number. I mean two is small but in astronomy, even a light-year is a small unit of distance compared to a parsec.

  4. 18 mins. Slight quibble on the definition of 25ac – my understanding is that the Homeric epics are primarily oral compositions, albeit latterly transmitted in writing. NHO ‘ephedra’, but did know ‘hedra’ which helped. /

    1. You might argue that the fact that they were written down is the most important thing about them, since otherwise they would have joined the vast majority of such oral compositions in oblivion!

      1. I have heard that the oral transmission of epic poems still continues in certain Balkan communities. Whether or not these include Homer is another matter, of course.

        1. Yes I think I’ve heard the same. I had to read Beowulf at university which is another example.

          1. Hwaet! Good stuff, wasn’t it? Plenty of thorns and eths if I remember rightly. Grendel was bad till you met Grendel’s mum.

              1. Should have relied on D Bader’s haiku crib:

                Hogarth’s hall haunted
                Dauntless Danes die, Grendel-gored.
                Why not hrelocate?

                    1. If only the Angelina Jolie film had been around when I was reading Beowulf. I’d have revised myself to death.

                      1. Impressed! CS Lewis would have been proud.

                        The Middle English Parlement of Foules is about as comfortable as I feel with the early (earlier?) English stuff.

                        (Can’t reply below – run out of replies, it seems.)

  5. 29:31 – pleasant stroll (literally and metaphorically) – as did this on my commute to work. NHO EPHEDRA or NEATHERD (though NEAT came up recently). couldn’t parse ABED. Nice puzzle to start the week.

  6. 9:06. Had no idea what was going on with CATCH, but there wasn’t much room for doubt.

    Thanks U and setter.

  7. 9:13. Like others I didn’t know EPHEDRA or that TOKEN could mean warning. I delayed my finish by having written in SHIP at the end of the BARBERSHOP answer, thinking that “close harmony” would be something like companionship. I must get out of the habit of entering unparsed assumptions!

  8. 30 plus mins with interruptions and another with last two in MOTORBOAT & MIEN.

    Quite fun and nothing to scare the gg’s. EPHEDRA dragged up from somewhere. DNK that meaning of CATCH but it couldn’t be anything else.

    I liked the two long clues and BALLADEER.

    Thanks U and setter.

  9. 7:48. A bit of a slow start but the downs went in quickly and the rest followed without getting stuck.Like others DNK EPHEDRA or that TOKEN could mean warning. Thanks U and setter.

  10. A half hour for me, with more problems in the bottom half. For some reason I don’t think of nerds as boring, but those nerds at Chambers will probably disagree. NHO of EPHEDRA, but I guessed it might be a source of ephedrine, and it seems I was right…

  11. 5:04, but in my (failed) rush to get in under 5 minutes I made a mistake so stupid that I’m too embarrassed to tell you what it was.

  12. 14’33 with CATCH unparsed but what else could it be? BALLADEER went in late as I was in bird mode. Biffing CHAFFINCH didn’t help either (CHAVFINCH even crossed my mind before sanity took over).

    COD – NEATHERD as I would never have got this in my early solving days. ‘Neat’ and ‘lower’ for cattle are looking like old friends these days, however 🙂

  13. 28 minutes with LOI NEATHERD. COD to LABOUR-INTENSIVE. “And the fleas that tease in the high Pyrenees.” I hope my old English master Peg-leg Wakefield is pleased I remembered that 65 years on. Thank you U and setter.

    1. I had a Geography mistress the same number of years ago, BW, who we unkindly called “Peg-leg Kitty” ( as she had a prosthetic leg and her surname was McKitterick). Best form teacher I ever had!

      1. Peg-leg, often abbreviated to Peg, lost his leg in action in the war. He was a terrific English master who gave me, on the science side, a real love of literature.

  14. My LOI was MEEN unfortunately. Otherwise a nice puzzle for those of us playing in the lower leagues.

  15. Aagh! I thought I was on for my first sub 10 minute of the year but made one typo. 9:57 with CATTH for CATCH.

  16. 22:58. FOI SEABIRD and LOI MASSAGIST. DNK the bawdy song meaning of CATCH. Not really surprising. I googled it afterwards and found it at definition no 33 in Collins at the bottom of the list

  17. 14:07, which the superb SNITCH site confirms is my fourth fastest ever. This was a biff fest for me, with many parsed after the dust settled, and thus fast but not very nourishing – a bit of a Big Mac, if they still make those. Like many, CATCH went in with a shrug and EPHEDRA with a prayer, while the MOTORBOAT/MIEN pair added at least three minutes to my time. Am I wrong in pronouncing mien me-yen?

  18. Fairly easy. Some clues were particularly easy. ‘Swiss hero’ and ‘dance’ were enough to give me TARANTELLA straight off. Among the trickier ones, I didn’t know that particular meaning of TOKEN; EPHEDRA was unfamiliar, and I could make little sense of CATCH except in the first word of the clue. Like Pootle above, I had tentatively entered SHIP at the end of 13, thinking the answer might be an abstract noun, but Samuel BARBER came to the rescue.
    26 minutes.

  19. 11:56 which was pretty much as fast as I could write the answers in on my phone. LOI was MOTORBOAT which was the only one I couldn‘t immediately solve at first glance and had to go back to.

  20. About 15 minutes. Didn’t know the second meaning of CATCH; hesitated slightly over TOKEN as a warning, but clearly it’s fine; hadn’t heard of EPHEDRA but the wordplay was helpful; instinctively thought of ‘thorn in the side’ for 8d before realising the last word wouldn’t work, and then needed the F from MASSIF to get THORN IN THE FLESH and understand what ‘appearing personally’ was doing.

    A nice start to the week – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Loris
    LOI Mien
    COD Entrapped

  21. 6:40
    My second fastest ever. I can’t be getting better at them after 50 years, so I can only conclude that Monday puzzles are getting easier.
    LOI MOTORBOAT (after the not-quite-homophone MIEN).

  22. No accurate time as I solved on paper this morning before reading about Everton’s continuing woes; a passion for heartbreak and disappointment that I now know I share with at least one former Governor of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street.

    That aside, I’d estimate 15 minutes door-to-door with thankfully nothing causing me too much difficulty.

    There were a couple of unknowns (EPHEDRA, TARANTELLA), but they were generously clued with helpful checkers to keep me on the straight and narrow.

    I imagine that this would have been a speed-typing exercise for the top of the scoreboard types.

    Thanks to setter and blogger both.

  23. 20′ with a bit of thinking required for MOTORBOAT and MEIN, and like some others it took a while for the meaning of “carriage” to dawn on me. NHO the other definition of CATCH. Similarly TARANTELLA and EPHEDRA ground out from the anagrist. Thanks Ulaca and setter.

  24. Easy enough but with another embarrassing typo to drain the website of its magenta ink. My issue with CATCH was that I equated it easily enough with round, given all the blurred associations of what you call a bit of music, but thought bawdy was superfluous.
    I was blocked for a while from St Paul’s THORN partly by Icelandic characters being runes, and by pain in the butt/neck/ass failing to fit. Add a touch of “THORN’s old English isn’t it?”
    MOTORBOAT last in – it’s quite complex wordplay and not usually an old vessel – that’s either a quinquereme or an amphora.
    13 minutes sullied.

  25. The “extended” bit extended my time out from QC territory to a more 15×15-like 29 minutes. Same comments as many others about CATCH, TOKEN and EPHEDRA, with MOTORBOAT and BULLFINCH resisting till the end. Favourite was NEATHERD, one of those words that looks like it was created especially for crosswords.

  26. All completed, very satisfactorily for me, in 30 minutes. TOKEN went in with a bit of a shrug. The SW caused the final hold up with NEATHERD giving the final checker to get EPHEDRA then, for loi BARBERSHOP, I had to get rid of the idea that it ended in SHIP (fellowship/friendship etc) before the answer arrived.

  27. One wrong at 14.39. I saw over in the clue after assembling TARANTELL_, and assumed that adding O was the instruction.

  28. @Ulaca.. ‘I’ think you missed the current intensive parsing…
    Nice to have a do-able 15×15.
    Many thanks

  29. Much the same experience as some others: slow at first with the acrosses then a whole lot of downs all coming in a rush, so eventually all easy enough. TOKEN also a doubtful one because I was unaware of the warning sense, and ten seemed peculiar: small in some circles, large in others. MIEN a bit of a hold-up: mean = shabby wasn’t immediate. 22 minutes.

  30. 12:56

    Comfortable start to the week with 1a and 1d in off the bat – though there were bits I missed/didn’t know:

    TOKEN – didn’t know the ‘warning’ definition, but the wordplay was crystal
    CATCH – NHO the bawdy round definition
    EPHEDRA – educated guess at the configuration of the available letters
    TARANTELLA – bunged in from TELL
    THORN IN THE what? – needed all checkers to confirm the final word

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  31. Off the wavelength. Mostly quick, but more than a few at the end held me up, as with others. Thorn’s are in the side here, not the in the flesh, and didn’t know catch or token, and guessed ephedra. L2I were motorboat and barbershop – always seem to find words made of two shorter words the hardest. But no complaints, a typically high-quality Times puzzle.

  32. DNK Samuel Barber – I thought until I found him in my cheating machine so I must have forgotten him. DNK those meanings of CATCH & TOKEN. DNK EPHEDRA. Otherwise all plain sailing in a soldier’s wind.

  33. I’m no sprinter so 27’59” was a good time for me. (OK, I know it’s Monday!) Glad to see that is on a par with a lot of you regulars. EPHEDRA was a guess after getting the E and the A, but just felt like the only possibility. DNK the obscure senses of TOKEN and CATCH, but so what.

  34. PB of 10:20 on this, smashed my previous PB of 11:48, hopefully I’ll get a single figure time one of these days! Nearly a minute was spent on the LOI which I should’ve seen earlier (BARBERSHOP)

  35. After Ulaca’s heads up that this was an extended QC, I was hoping for a very quick time. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, with not very much filled in after a run through of the acrosses, and a pretty pedestrian pace thereafter. The line was crossed in 30.54, which although under target was a little disappointing.

  36. 9.33 for a rare single-digit finish. Like others, didn’t know EPHEDRA, nor those meanings of CATCH or TOKEN, but a combination of crossers, definition, and wordplay saw me home.

    I had thought THORN was vaguely remembered from my degree, but appear to be wrong. I had in mind the symbol ð in the international phonetic alphabet, which represents a voiced/hard ‘th’ sound as in ‘father’. A brief search, however, suggests it’s not called that!

    Thanks setter and Ulaca.

  37. Nice to know ‘PC gone mad’ hasn’t reached the puzzles yet. Plenty here to EXPERIENCE DISCRIMINATION if nerds are boring, men are aggressive and years of medical training make you nothing more than someone who rubs backs nicely. 😂

    Nice straightforward Monday. Thanks U and setter.

  38. Felt an under-ten coming on so pushed it, biffing like crazy, and phew! all correct. CORMORANT definitely not just a sea-bird any more, if you’ve seen the damage they do 400 kilometres upstream on the Loire. 9’26”

  39. Completed unaided so I know this must have been very gentle as I rarely solve a 15×15 without help. NEATHERD, EPHEDRA and the ‘bawdy round’ sense of CATCH were previously unknown. MASSAGIST was my LOI and I can imagine several physios spluttering over this. Pleased to remember ‘thorn’ from previous crosswords. Hesitated over TOKEN. Thanks all.

    On edit: thanks ulaca for signposting this to us quickieites

  40. 7:50 – first sub-10 I can remember. Too pleased with myself to think of anything else to say.

  41. 19.53 Liked THORN IN THE FLESH, though strictly speaking ‘thorn’ is a current Icelandic character and an Old English one, though I daresay it was an old Icelandic one before it was a modern one…

  42. I set off at a gallop with LORIS FOI, and kept going. The LHS was rapidly populated. THORN IN THE FLESH needed a few crossers before it materialised, with CATCH, and TOKEN needing some thinking time to be assimilated before I shrugged and moved on. As with others, MOTORBOAT and MIEN were my last 2 in. 10:50. One of my better efforts! Thanks setter and U.

  43. A time I would have once been pleased with, but now it’s an over par WITCH.

    My experience has been covered above. LOI ILIAD.


  44. For no good reason I started with the downs today, so missed any possible fun of not getting many acrosses first pass. Same see-write-think process for the same words as others.

  45. 6m 9s, slowed by entering the equally valid SEALIFE at 3d. Well, equally valid if it had been a word, which apparently (and much to my surprise) it isn’t.

    Biffing THORN IN ONE’S SIDE at 8d was even less forgivable, given the enumeration.

    1. I would’ve also thought it was a word, for which I can only blame the Sealife Centre in Hastings I used to visit with my grandparents.

Comments are closed.