Times 28843 – Hamlet as Ninja Turtle!

Time: 20 minutes

Music: Beethoven, Symphony #9, Bohm/VPO.

This puzzle was rather an odd duck.   There are some good clues, but some of the clues, and some of the answers, are a bit on the strange side.    But here at TfTT, we solve ’em all.

There were a number of clues that can only be described as escapees from the Quick Cryptic: oiler, mews, tutu, comb.   These answers will help with the more unusual clues, giving the solver some kind of starting point.

My LOI was barramundi, and that was not easy.   There is also a barramunda, but in the daily cryptic one cannot be used to clue A, so barramundi must be the answer.   In case you are wondering, they are completely different creatures, so you could use both to make a wonderful clue for a Mephisto.


1 Some fancy a nice greenish-blue colour (4)
CYAN – Hidden in [fan]CY A N[ice].
3 Wet blanket left with proceeds of robbery, say (10)
SPOILSPORT – SPOILS + PORT.   Say probably is used to indicate a DBE, but is not really needed.
10 Deliver post, including notes identifying roof timber (9)
RIDGEPOLE –  RID (G,E) POLE.   A rather peculiar surface, with identifying as a peculiar connecting word.
11 Apply pressure to withdraw from specialist (5)
12 US composer defending old times in country dwelling (7)
13 Water down cement mix used by inspector (6)
15 Unrealistic hopes of rooks in flight? (7,2,3,3)
CASTLES IN THE AIR -Double definition, the second jocular unless you’re playing 3-D chess without a board.
18 He painted a dancer and extremely old violin, originally (8,2,5)
LEONARDO DA VINCI – Anagram of A DANCER + O[l]D VIOLIN.   Biffed by me, and many others.
21 Young male wolf, perhaps, meeting a Trojan queen (6)
23 Unexpected role Garland’s taken on — a siren (7)
LORELEI – L(anagram of ROLE)EI.
26 Source of heating abandoned by British tanker (5)
27 Concentrated way we count decimally: it’s very easy at first (9)
INTENSIVE –  IN TENS + I[t’s] V[ery] E[asy].
28 Fish markets principally in Scottish island, and German one (10)
29 Sounds made by seagulls in stable yard (4)
MEWS – Double definition.
1 Grain, bivalve mollusc, and roadside plant (10)
2 Check uranium in mine entrance (5)
4 Took part in parade, urged to protect commander (9)
5 Leader of Italy no longer with us provided with inspiration (5)
IDEAD –  I(taly) + DEAD.   Really?
6 Furtiveness shown by duck in south (7)
7 Practise too hard in cricket period, having a number of coaches (9)
8 Expression of disapproval over universal ballet wear (4)
9 Happen to live well at last, having crossed Cornish river (6)
BEFALL – BE (FAL) [wel]L.
14 Intelligence of supporter on good terms with current head (10)
16 Duck coming across large person wielding spadelike tool (9)
17 Land due to turbulence? That’s knotty (9)
19 Where fish may be kept, as in part of opera (7)
20 Where two gentlemen were putting up an old cleric (6)
VERONA – AN O REV upside down.
22 Valediction from a girl at Brussels (5)
ADIEU – A DI, EU.   Doesn’t really work, IMO.
24 Suppressing anger, see water flowing through Nantes (5)
LOIRE – LO + IRE, suppressing in the sense of being on top of.
25 Search jazz group, missing nothing (4)

97 comments on “Times 28843 – Hamlet as Ninja Turtle!”

  1. 22m 57s
    Re 5d Surely, our setter can’t be suggesting that IDEA can be a verb. If so he/she needs to be taken out and shot. If I asked for dictionary confirmation I’m sure someone would provide one but, really?!
    As that nice Mr McEnroe once said: “You cannot be serious!”
    This is taking ‘verbification’ of nouns (e.g. ‘medal’, ‘summit’) too far.
    Re BARRAMUNDI. As ‘Galspray’ will tell you, it’s an Aussie fish.
    Otherwise I found it very straightforward.

    1. Interestingly OED has ‘idea’ as an obsolete verb meaning ‘to give a particular form or character to’ with the first citation from 1638!

        1. That particular sense has stayed obsolete, but it illustrates that noun-verbing is a very ancient practice! The meaning required here seems to be confined to Chambers.

  2. 16:23
    As Vinyl says, an odd one. NHO BARRAMUNDI, NHO CORNCOCKLE, NHO LUTE, sure as hell NHO IDEAD. May have HO SHOVELER. Is corncockle a roadside plant? ODE says it’s a weed that’s almost been eliminated. V, you’ve left out an A in BARRA.

  3. 20.46. Quite a strange mix of easy and obscure, conventional and weird. The escapees from the QC were helpful as was the check function when I could not believe IDEAD could be the answer. Like Kevin I had a few NHOs but BARRAMUNDI was not one of them, in fact the crossword has IDEAD me into going to the market and getting some for dinner. Started off trying to fit teal into where CYAN was and had to wait for STEALTH before I could use it. So let’s see, a couple of ducks, two rivers, a fish, AQUARIA, a bivalve mollusc and some seagulls. I was held up at the end by LOsI BEFALL and RIDGEPOLE, thanks V.

  4. SOED has this entry dating from centuries ago:
    idea’d adjective – having an idea or ideas, esp. of a specified kind M18.

    It’s also in Chambers as an alternative to ideaed

    Collins doesn’t list either version but rather oddly has:
    unideaed adjective – literary – not having or showing any ideas.

    If I’m following the grammar of the clue correctly, in order for the answer to work adjectivally ‘with inspiration’ has to be the definition, but that gives us a problem with ‘provided’. Perhaps it’s intended as a link word in the same way as ‘identifying’ in 10ac. Or maybe the setter really does think that idead is valid as a verb!

    As for the rest of the puzzle, I had the same unknowns as others, CORNCOCKLE (Collins specifically mentions roadsides as one of the locations where it’s to be found), BARRAMUNDI, and LUTE as cement.

    Oh, and my solving time was 21 minutes.

    1. Could ‘provided’ not a part of an adjective phrase? He was provided with inspiration, he was idea’d?

      1. Yes I think so: it matches the Chambers definition ‘provided with an idea or ideas’. It’s a strange word, for sure.

  5. CYAN was FOI, of course, but then I decided to go for the two 15-letter ones, which were both very easy. Things mostly went smoothly after that, though I was surprised to find myself working out two NHOs, CORNCOCKLE and BARRAMUNDI (as well as guessing the unknown LUTE part of DILUTE), and IDEA’D was my LOI, because I couldn’t quite believe it!

  6. 11:45 Held up by Schrodinger’s clue at 5dn, where IDEAD simultaneously had to be the answer but couldn’t possibly be the answer. SHOVELLER and HECUBA took a while at the end as well.

    But then as Martin suggested, in these parts BARRAMUNDI is an OHO rather than an NHO. So swings and roundabouts.

    Quite a fun way to start the week I thought. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  7. 22 minutes. NHO LUTE for ‘cement (mix)’ or CORNCOCKLE and I thought IDEA’D as a verb (or adjective) was very odd, even if it is in the OED (no, not a usual crossword reference) in both transitive and intransitive forms; the entry for IDEA as a verb was modified only last year. The SHOVELER ‘Duck’ took a bit of dredging.

    No problems with BARRAMUNDI; maybe an exotic name if you’re unfamiliar with it, though I find the fish tastes quite bland.

    1. None of the verb entries in the OED seem to match the definition here, which seems to be confined to Chambers.

  8. I changed my profile pic temporarily to show a barramundi I caught in the Kimberley last year. It was so large that I had to release it. Over 80cm is considered breeding stock and can’t be kept.
    It’s a great fish to eat, when legal.
    IDEAD and LUTE entered with a shrug ( what else could parse?)

  9. To bend with apples the moss’d Cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    (To Autumn, Keats)

    Good grief. 20 mins pre-brekker left me thinking, Shovel(L)er surely can’t be a clue worthy of The Times, and if Idead is right then the editor must me away skiing. Mews is poor too.
    Ta setter and V.

    1. Isn’t mews trying to be a triple? Sound of cat, synonym of gulls, synonym of stable yard.

      1. The MEWS I remember best is the one containing the posted engagement ring, the discarded fur coat, but the drain of which didn’t finally get the keys to the VW Golf.

  10. 25.52. I made heavy weather of this, clearly. Mostly a vocab problem I think. BARRA, BARRAMUNDI, IDEAD, LUTE, CORNCOCKLE, ADIT, HECUBA (having considered both MEDUSA and REMUSA) and SHOVELER all VHOs, PHOs, or NHOs, so I never quite felt secure.

    It took a very unenjoyable alphabet trawl at the end, tauntingly soundtracked by seagulls, to dredge up MEWS. I recognised it as a stable yard once I saw it, but wouldn’t have thought of it from the definition.

    I liked STEALTH in particular.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  11. Somewhat surprised that there were only 30 minutes on the clock when I finished this one. It’s definitely the kind of puzzle I wouldn’t have completed a couple of years ago. I was actually happy enough with IDEA’D as an adjective and imagined it might’ve been famously used in some poem I wouldn’t have heard of…

  12. 17:55
    Mostly straightforward fare but with a few unknowns therein. The cluing was generally generous so no issues aside from not having any faith in IDEAD.

    BEFALL was last in as it took a while to dredge the river.

    Thanks to both.

  13. 24 minutes with the same unknowns as most others, although I did know the duck and could easily pretend I knew the fish and the plant. I can’t convincingly pretend I knew the cement mix and certainly not IDEAD. Having said all that I enjoyed this because everything was gettable to me with crossers, apart from whether the fish ended in A or I. I plumped right. Thank you V and setter.

  14. 17:43. As almost everyone else NHO IDEAD, CORNCOCKLE, BARRAMUNDI. Also NHO RIDGEPOLE. But the clues made everything easy. Almost put de Vinci but checking the anagram saved me.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  15. With expectations of a Monday puzzle, I did this in 12’20”, but had banged in ‘medusa’ (both wrong and unparsed) for HECUBA.

    Incidentally, a young wolf is a pup, not a cub.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

    1. Here in Britain we have wolf cubs which are young scouts.
      But I would always use cub for a young wolf, anyway. I’m sure Akela has it right…

      1. Yes, I was the senior sixer for a while, leading the dybs.

        It seems that Kipling and Disney may have different views on this.

        Let’s do our best!

        1. As a cub I stayed a lowly dob throughout but I guess the high point of my later scouting career was accompanying a friend on his hike and campout to achieve his Queen’s Scout status.

  16. Just under 25 minutes, finishing with an alphabet trawl to get MEWS.

    Hadn’t come across CORNCOCKLE, RIDGEPOLE or HECUBA before; didn’t know the lute=cement mix part of DILUTE; never heard of a shoveler duck so SHOVELLER went in with a shrug.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Cyan
    LOI Mews
    COD Lorelei

  17. 13.34

    IDEAD straight in I’m afraid. Seemed nonsense but I didn’t doubt it. NHO CORNCOCKLE but there are only so many grains and molluscs. BARRAMUNDI last in and did need a careful check. COD SHOVELLER as saw a few at Slimbridge the other week.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  18. If you’re wondering where I’ve been, the answer is trolling around London at meetings events and do’s etc. Hence never really having the time to post here or, for that matter, to finish a xword in one sitting.

    Sluggish therefore and rusty, this took me 50 mins. Last two in, the horrible IDEAD & NHO RIDGEPOLE. Comments above say it all really. Like others, NHO LUTE which, according to my dictionary, is a tool (ie mixer) not a”mix”per se.

    I have eaten BARRAMUNDI in Aus so that was no prob.

    I enjoyed the two long clues.

    Thanks v and setter.

  19. 6:54

    That’s my 3rd fastest time in the SNITCH era so I was too busy typing away to notice if anything was a bit odd.

    I note there are quite a lot of submissions with one error on the leaderboard so I came here hoping to find out what had tripped up Pootle, Ulaca and others.

  20. 6:21. No problems today, but like everyone else a MER at the very odd IDEAD.
    NHO ‘lute’ or CORNCOCKLE but have eaten BARRAMUNDI.
    I don’t think 15 can be described as a double definition unless you can find a dictionary in which the phrase is defined as a flying chess piece, which would surprise me.

    1. I wanted to quibble with Vinyl over that “DD” but let it pass. He and I usually differ when it comes to the “jocular” (as he rightly has it) literal interpretation of an idiom.

      1. It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of course but to me the definition has to correspond to the meaning of a word or idiom as you’d find it in a dictionary. Sometimes (as in 1dn in this puzzle) this interpretation means that there is no straight definition.

  21. As above, basically.
    I thought BARRAMUNDI was an old map of the Scottish islands … 🙂 but it did ring a bell, which is the main thing

  22. Straightforward but a typo did for me (MEWB). Didn’t like IDEAD or ADIEU but thought HECUBA and CASTLES IN THE AIR were pretty good.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  23. The same doubts as many others with some of the answers. I see that my thinking for SHOVELLER was wrong: that the US spelling for someone who shovels is shoveler, and this comes across l to give shoveller, the spelling (I thought, mistakenly) for the duck. The wordplay would allow this. Anyway I got the answer and also the CORNCOCKLE, of which I’d never heard. 22 minutes.

  24. Best crossword of the 3 for me today – though that’s not a high bar, having failed on both QC and Concise.

    However, it was a rare sub-10 even with all the same comments/NHO’s as above. BEFALL LOI after CORNCOCKLE and RIDGEPOLE. IDEAD went as per Dvynys and Galspray above, with a big old shrug, but not much more than that.


  25. As a curiosity: I’ve met lute as a flour-and-water paste used eg to form an airtight seal round a casserole lid.

  26. I still don’t understand 13a. What is the cement mix about? Where did the lute come from? Sorry, just looked up LUTE: Wiktionary: “Thick sticky clay or cement used to close up a hole or gap, especially to make something air-tight.”
    DNF. 5d IDEAD isn’t a word. I have forborn to put it into my cheating machine, so it better hadn’t appear again.
    16d According to Wiktionary SHOVELLER single and double L apply to both the duck and the digger, so clue doesn’t work IMO.
    17d NODULATED is a word we can live well without.
    Otherwise quite easy.
    I spent 3 months going round Oz and ate a lot of 28a BARRAMUNDI. Surprised to find an unrelated BARRAMUNDA fish in my cheating machine.

    1. Single-L SHOVELER is the US spelling for someone who digs, in UK spelling it’s SHOVELLER. The duck is more normally SHOVELER in both cases, so you can just about justify it. Fundamentally though I agree with you: spelling aside it’s the same word!

  27. 19:07 in the end but held up for a bit as I put ‘castles in the SKY’ rather than ‘AIR’ to begin with. The more normal phrase is ‘castles in the air’ of course but my answer would’ve worked. The song by the Van Dahl Project must’ve been at the back of my mind.

  28. 23:36 – same batch of unknowns, reallys?, NHOs and half-remembereds as everyone else, plus my own little blind spot of MEWS, LOI after a prolonged staring match.

  29. A quick time for me of 24.34 where many answers came rapidly to me on first reading. However I nearly came undone at 10ac where I confidently put in RIDGEBEAM, and of course I then had trouble with 4dn and 5dn. I was convinced it must be right as it parsed perfectly well. Only after sorting out both of these clues on their own merits did it become clear I had got 10ac wrong. I’ve specified many a ridgebeam in a roof design over forty plus years, but I’ve never heard of the apparent alternative ridge pole.

    1. The old-fashioned tents with a roughly triangular cross-section have two vertical posts connected by a ridge pole. Our scouts used army-surplus ones nearly fifty years ago.

  30. 15:18

    Quite enjoyable even though there were several unknowns: CORNCOCKLE, (DI)LUTE (but what else could it have been from the L and T checkers), IDEAD, BARRAMUNDI (from the last three checkers and an inspired guess for the island – still NHO the fish!), SHOVELLER (spent some time trying to shoehorn SCOTER in somehow, though the definition made the answer fairly obvious). Took a while too for ‘that’ meaning of PROCESSED to come to mind.

    Thanks setter and V

  31. CYAN started the proceedings, followed by AUDIT and CORN. The COCKLE arrived later when I had the crossers. Apart from a MER at IDEAD, the rest went swimmingly until a biffed BARRACUDAS held up NODULATED until I wrote out the anagrist. I then had to carefully use the wordplay to come up with BARRAMUNDI as opposed to barramunda. 16:14. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  32. 7:00. Close to a PB for me.

    IDEA’D is familiar fare for Listener Solvers so it didn’t really hold me up. Chambers has both it and “ideaed” as an adjective meaning provided with an idea or ideas, although it’s not easy to come up with a sentence that doesn’t make it feel more like a dreaded noun-cum-verb. LOI was CORNCOCKLE. NHO but glad of the generous wordplay.

  33. 25’23”
    Going fairly well until veering violently, never troubled leaders.

    I’m absolutely certain I’ve seen IDEAD before, but, as Crucifer has pointed out, it may have been in a Listener. If it has appeared in The Times it was many moons ago.

    Rather odd but fun; thank you setter and Vinyl.

    1. I hadn’t thought to check earlier, but you may have seen IDEAD in Mephisto 2981 on Oct 15, 2017 when the clue was:

      Provided with many plans, one finished enthralling term of office (6), blogged by George as : I(one), DEAD(finished) containing the last letter of officE

  34. Didn’t submit this as after 30 mins I couldn’t work out what seagulls and stables had to do with each other. IDEA’D odd but seemed fairly old-fashioned rather than a neologism so fair enough.

  35. 20 mins. Also held up by CASTLES IN THE SKY until the Y just looked wrong. IDEAD? My LOI. The IDEA of using an apostrophe seems to be unusual, eg she hennaed her hair or she henna’d her hair. Which seems right?

  36. DNF today as if never heard of mews as a synonym for seagull and couldn’t Come up with a word to fit. Idea as a verb sounds like the kind of consultant speak I escaped from with retirement, along with imagineeering. Enjoyable puzzle all done on 20 minutes otherwise.

    Thanks V and setter

    1. The sound a seagull makes is referred to as mewing, presumably because someone once thought it was catlike.

      1. Which is exactly why I didn’t get it! IMO, seagulls’ cries sound nothing like a cats meow, so never got it ( despite knowing the stables definition).

  37. Is there any way to enter a thumbs-down emoji? This was certainly not too hard, since I solved it in just under half an hour, and all of its strange content is legal, even IDEAD, which my premium OED (the subscription online version) gives as an alternate spelling of IDEAED. But that doesn’t mean that this and the obscure Australian fish, the nonmusical LUTE, the roadside plant no one has ever heard of and the duck turned into a person by the addition, in Britain, of an extra L are examples of the sometimes encountered brilliance of the setter’s art. On the contrary. They provide obscurity and a, shall we say, cheap veneer of difficulty which contribute nothing to the enjoyment of solving . I simply find it hard to believe that the setter couldn’t come up with better alternatives.

    1. Barra are native to northern Australia, S E Asia, and the waters of Sri Lanka and southern India. They masquerade as Asian sea bass.
      Farmed plate size whole fish are available year round, but rather bland. A crust of macadamia nuts and bread blitzed together makes a great difference.

  38. I can’t spell, so fell into the DE VINCI trap.
    I spent a while trying to lever BARRACUDA into 28a, but it looked wrong with a double D at the end. I looked it up to check spelling, and discovered the BARRAMUNDI. So a DNF on two counts.

  39. Whizzed through in a PM solve of 11.48. IDEAD is
    a: An epic poem by Homer (possibly the Simpson one)
    b: A sort of nymph who thinks a lot
    c: A refugee from Mephisto
    d: The result of a setter staring at I-E-D and thinking what have I saddled myself with?
    e: A extinct newspaper
    f: An advert for a fish
    g: Any 15th March in the Common Era
    h: Any, all, or none of the above.

  40. I can’t say this held me up a great deal, but neither did it engage me much. A lot of biffing, despite the NHOs. Helena for HECUBA was immediately corrected on seeing the next clue AQUARIA, also bifd. And Barracudas became BARRAMUNDI as soon as NODULATED went in and I looked at the cryptic. I certainly wouldn’t want to spend this little time on a puzzle on a daily basis! Liked BEFALL and LORELEI.

  41. 10.30 . A regular Monday of recent times. Nothing too difficult. Hadn’t heard of corncockle but generously clued. Idead is a new one on me also but couldn’t be anything else with the clue.
    Ridgepole was my bete noire but got there in the end. Exert my last one in.

    Not too much competition for COD but I go for Barramundi.

  42. Finished in a whisker over 20, with all the uncertainties already articulated above. Didn’t like IDEAD, did like CASTLES IN THE AIR. Many thanks Vinyl.

  43. My PB of slightly under 15 minutes, on a very undemanding puzzle even for a Monday – except for a long and horrified hesitation over IDEAD!

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