Times 28885 – Bang! Bang!

Typical Monday offering, which is causing a few problems to some solvers. We shall perhaps find out why.

I was nothing fancy, getting home in 16:06

1 On a river, a weir capsized some ships (6)
ARMADA – A R reversal of A DAM
5 Replace drink when meeting spy (8)
SUPPLANT – SUP (drink) PLANT (spy)
9 Range of influence in a minister (8)
PREACHER – REACH (range of influence) in PER (a)
10 King holds back magical creature — it’s instinctive (6)
REFLEX – ELF reversed in REX
11 Vehicle made from wood reportedly full of problems (5,5)
BEACH BUGGY – sounds like ‘beech’ BUGGY
13 Somewhat slovenly baker (4)
OVEN – hidden
14 Snoop around back of slate quarry (4)
PREYslatE in PRY
15 Room for eg Hoover that’s not working in alcove I redesigned? (4,6)
OVAL OFFICE – first appearance of OFF (not working) in anagram* of ALCOVE I
18 Psychiatrist stole package (10)
SHRINKWRAP – SHRINK WRAP (stole as in boa)
20 Award at first given to partner’s hairstyle? (4)
AFRO – Award (‘at first given’) FRO (to’s partner, as in ‘to and fro’)
21 Turning valves produced liquid (4)
SPAT – TAPS reversed
23 Complete brigade moved into a French stronghold at last (10)
UNABRIDGED – BRIGADE* in UN (‘a’ in French) strongholD
25 Tribune rudely ignoring new city (6)
26 Perhaps Douglas gets conservative care, initially (5,3)
FIRST AID – FIR (perhaps Douglas, i.e. Douglas fir) STAID (conservative)
28 Graduate left lesson in castle (8)
29 Read novel — gosh, it’s enchanting! (6)
DREAMY – READ* MY (gosh)
2 Element, not particularly well done, at huge cost? (4,5)
RARE EARTH – RARE (not particularly well done) EARTH (at huge cost?, as in ‘It cost the earth’);  I guess the question mark is there to paper over the syntactic issues. RARE EARTH is another name for LANTHANIDE, which of course I had never heard of, but which is derived from the Greek meaning to ‘lie hidden’ – appropriately enough.
3 Without principal, there’s some chaos (7)
ANARCHY – ARCH (principle, as in ‘arch villain’) in ANY (some)
4 Wooden, like roof of house (3)
ASH – AS House
5 Spray first of schnapps on prude (5)
SPRIG – Schnapps PRIG
6 Killjoy‘s standard mistake: unfinished musical work (5,6)
7 Go up? Not when this is the case! (4,3)
LIFT OFF – if the elevator isn’t working (OFF again), you won’t be able to go up. You could always use the stairs, of course.
8 Relative being at home upset teacher periodically (5)
NIECE – IN reversed tEaChEr
12 Black storage compartment holding sculpture and picture (11)
BLOCKBUSTER – B (black) BUST (sculpture) in LOCKER (storage compartment)
16 Show with Brontë heroine on the radio (3)
AIR – sounds like EYRE – well, to most people…
17 Complained couple has no time for urgent advice (5,4)
CARPE DIEM – CARPED (complained) ItEM
19 Bury with one manager, initially caretaker (7)
INTERIM – INTER I (one) Manager
20 Car driving aid that’s being investigated? (7)
AUDITEE – AUDI (car that is constantly being advertised in the Times crossword) TEE (driving aid – in golf) for a company that’s being audited
22 Artwork made by a couple of Greek characters (5)
24 Allowed to remove cap that’s dreadful (5)
27 Free fairground attraction ejects last in line (3)

54 comments on “Times 28885 – Bang! Bang!”

  1. 27 minutes. I raced through most of it but slowed when I reached the SE corner.

    I thought of AFRO immediately on reading 20ac but was reluctant to enter it with no checkers in place because I was unable to see the parsing at that stage. CARPE DIEM needed all its checkers to bring it to mind. AUDITEE was my LOI as it’s an awkward word and in any case I had missed the definition at first.

    At 7dn, rocket-launching makes for a better context than elevators. We have LIFT OFF!

    1. I took it that the wordplay referred to an elevator, while the literal of course references rockets.

  2. I didn’t think this was routine Monday fodder, and must thank Ulaca for explaining AFRO, which was a biffed SLOI when I eventually saw CARPE DIEM. My LOI just didn’t look like a real word.

    TIME 10:08

  3. When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
    Preparing on his spell-bound Prey to dart:
    Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
    And fright him as the morning frightens night!
    (To Hope, Keats)

    After 25 mins (I liked it), mid-brekker (Harrogate, IPad) (yoghurt, dates), I was left with what had to be Afro (but why?) and a weird word I couldn’t work out.
    Mrs Myrtilus reminded me we will be returning to Edinburgh today in our AUDI, which triggered Auditee and forced Afro.
    Ta setter and U

  4. Struggled a bit in the SE corner at the end, and screwed everything up with a careless typo. I liked AFRO once I saw the “to’s partner” bit. One thing I remember about RARE EARTHS is that they are neither rare nor earths. Like the Holy Roman Empire that was not holy, Roman, nor an empire.

  5. 16:08. It should have close to 10 but I was another becalmed in the SE corner where I entered AFRO last as I couldn’t parse it after CARPE DIEM, which took a while to see. I wondered what a TED driving aid could be and had to see TEE to get DREAMY. Thanks Ulaca and setter.

  6. 29 minutes. I had trouble in the SE corner too, missing the parsing of AFRO (v. good) and being slow to get AUDITEE, CARPE DIEM and FIRST AID. Favourite bit was the OVAL OFFICE def.

  7. 19:02
    Mostly meat and drink but like others I was slowed down in the SE. For the speedsters amongst us this will be a bit of a typing exercise.

    Thanks to both.

  8. 20.05 for me, a great mix of clues I thought. I too puzzled over ‘ted’ as a driving aid before reading the clue again, and eventually I got from cars to golf. Many thanks to Ulaca for explaining RARE EARTH, AFRO and CARPE DIEM, all of which I got but could not parse. ‘Costs the earth’, ‘to’s partner’, item without a T – props to the setter.

  9. I took 28 minutes, it was the SE corner that slowed me down with LOI AFRO which I needed the blog to understand. Annoyed with myself now!
    Good puzzle and many thanks to setter and blogger.

  10. 27.19 which could be a PB for this slowcoach. Like others I thought I would be quicker again than that until the bottom right needed more thinking about. Liked the staid fir and the room where they keep their vacuum cleaner in Washington. It will always been the understairs cupboard for me now.

    Thanks U

  11. Like everyone else it seems, slowed down by the SE. 32 mins with last three in CARPE DIEM, AUDITEE and the unparsed AFRO.

    I liked the BUGGY.

    Thanks U and setter.

  12. Couldn’t parse either AFRO or ANARCHY, and was so discombobulated, especially by AFRO, I missed an unmissable typo. Bother.
    Permit me to suggest that AUDITEE is a word only in dictionaries, crosswords and incomprehensible business-speak.

    1. Even if it’s a word, the definition doesn’t work: try replacing ‘auditee’ with ‘that’s being investigated’ in a sentence. I can’t.

  13. 9:03

    I couldn’t see how ANARCHY worked so thanks for that one U.

    When I got to AFRO I already had the R so AFRO seemed a likely answer and I spotted the parsing.

    PIETA might have caused me problems had I not encountered it before in these puzzles. I still needed all the checkers to get it.

  14. 11:42

    Pretty happy with this – no real hold-ups – thought of AFRO but only wrote in when the R checker went in, seeing the parsing at the same time. Couldn’t have told you what POI RARE EARTH is, but with four checkers, it seemed the most likely answer. LOI was PREACHER once all checkers were in place. Liked AUDITEE and CARPE DIEM

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  15. About 15′ which could well be a PB. Everything more or less fell into place with just CARPE DIEM and AUDITEE to work out at the end. Didn’t parse PARTY POOPER immediately nor AFRO until Ulaca’s explanation. Thanks Ulaca and setter

  16. A pleasant Monday job, 15 minutes ending with FIR STAID. Thanks ulaca for explaining AFRO, which I biffed, having forgotten the “to and fro” device.

  17. If I were being very Zoilist I’d say that ‘fro’ is not ‘to partner’ but ‘to’s partner’. But no doubt one could just about construct an argument for doing without the apostrophe s, and I just didn’t get it, thinking that a fro might be a name for a partner, or maybe there was a hairstyle called an abro. 36 minutes, with AFRO just entered in the hope, and after everything being pretty easy for me getting held up on AUDITEE (what?) and the excellent CARPE DIEM.

    1. I think it’s possible to cue/clue coo as ‘bill partner’ (and fro as ‘to partner’) on the basis that we have ‘bill and coo’ & ‘to and fro.’

      Maybe not very elegant, but feasible, nonetheless.

  18. 21:32
    Found this a lot more difficult than Ulaca. Couldn’t parse AFRO till I came on here and I just couldn’t see TAPS, PIETA or AUDITEE. I liked both OVAL OFFICE and CARPE DIEM.
    Thaks to Ulaca and the setter

  19. Annoyingly stymied by AUDITEE, which I just couldn’t see. When I resorted to an aid at 25 minutes (having wasted at least 3 minutes staring at it) my Chambers app says there’s no such word!!
    So a DNF/used aids. I had a good feeling I’d do well so I set my timer. 22 minutes for one answer short is good for me so I’m particularly miffed at myself.

    (BTW, I always write with a pen on to the paper version, and make an effort to be neat, so I take my time. I like to think I’d’ve been quite a bit less than 22 minutes if I typed the online version.)

  20. 13:10

    A PB by some margin. Didn’t see POI RARE EARTH or LOI ANARCHY until all the checkers were in place after a steady clockwise solve.

    Thanks all.

  21. Well I finished in 32.15, but I was hoping for something a little quicker having had the impression this was going to be a doddle. Like others it was the se corner that caused the trouble, where I couldn’t parse AFRO and so the empty space left for 17dn made CARPE DIEM more difficult. AUDITEE was also slow to come as I was trying to parse either Audited or Auditor.

  22. 17:05 – certainly no PB for me, but straightforward nonetheless. AFRO was good, but I only saw why on review after solving.

  23. Because I couldn’t parse my LOI, AFRO, and didn’t know why a question mark was required after hairstyle, and still don’t, I spent quite a while looking for an alternative. Liked CARPE DIEM.

  24. DNF. I gave up on this. I couldn’t for the life of me see what was going on with four of the clues in the SE and just couldn’t be bothered today for some reason.

  25. 23’10”
    Clear run, kept on well.

    Started in the SW which could have helped and no real obstacles, except AFRO, which clarified itself a few moments after stopping the clock.
    A very neat and concise puzzle; thank you setter and Ulaca.
    (I don’t single out clues, as a rule, but as a fir fan I did enjoy the starchy Dougie.)

  26. 18 minutes or so.

    Didn’t parse PARTY POOPER; took a long to see how AFRO worked; had to trust that there’s an element known as RARE EARTH; and not really familiar with the spray meaning of SPRIG.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Armada
    LOI Sprig
    COD Unabridged

    1. A spray is in fact much more than a mere sprig (in the UK at least), so a minor mer in retrospect. It’s a sort of snail (tiny?) bouquet, or a rather overdone buttonhole adornment.

  27. 30:35. had a bit of a break in middle so in my own mind I’m under the half hour and close to a PB. Biffed AFRO and ANARCHY, but rest were fairly straightforward – liked OVAL OFFICE. thanks Setter and U

  28. 15:47 but with a very careless not quite parsed LEFT OFF. Drat! I was held up in the SE by CARPE DIEM, AUDITEE, FIRST AID and LOI, AFRO which took an age before I saw the parsing. Enjoyable puzzle though. Liked OVAL OFFICE. Thanks setter and U.

  29. This had a strongly North American feel to the syntax and to a number of the answers. As usual, I grimmaced at the product placement because I didn’t see it right away; when I do see one quickly I think ‘what a clever setter’.

  30. After getting home late-ish last night, I worked just a few clues and went to sleep confident that I’d finish this quickly in the morning, before having to knuckle down to work. And so it was!

  31. Nowhere near a PB for me. 23.05 with LOI afro, largely due to being unconvinced that the clue indicated that answer. Even after reading the explanation I think it’s a clunky clue.

    Thought I was going to come up short but eventually solved carpe diem to save my blushes.

    Good puzzle . Thanks setter and blogger.

  32. 16 mins held up by an early entry of TAKE OFF. Removing that made it all obvious. Never even thought of that kind of LIFT.

  33. I have no idea why this should be the case, but I always seem to struggle (even) more with the green puzzles than those supposedly a bit more challenging. Today was no exception, with the SE corner taking as long as the rest of the grid. Auditee, Carpe Diem, First Aid and Afro (had to be the answer, but couldn’t see why) all required teasing out (in more ways than one). I did rather enjoy the Shrinkwrap(ped) Oval Office. Invariant

  34. Clocked in at 17.03, but was actually quicker as, for some reason, the timer did not stop automatically when I completed the puzzle. It took me a little while to find out how to stop it. (On the iPad at least, tap on the displayed time).

  35. This would have been my first sub 25 min but for trying to fit an anagram of read with the d i had at the end of my silly audited at 20d. Anyway 28 mins is rocket propelled for me

  36. 27:04 . I’m another one who had AFRO as LOI, since I could not parse it. Thanks for the explanation.
    I liked OVAL OFFICE, once I had got beyond thinking “eg Hoover” might be DAM.

  37. Did this late today, and a quite reasonable time has left me outside the top 100.

    I’ve seen FRO clued like that before.


  38. DNF so at 45 mins with 10 unsolved clues, resorted to blog. 1a 5a then started a cascade of checkers for completion. But needed the blog to parse many of them. Thanks all

  39. An enjoyable Monday workout, with some clever clues, as already noted. It took me 24 minutes, longer than it should have as I stalled at 11ac, 15ac and 18 ac, not helped by putting in SPRIM instead of SPRIG at 5dn, corrected once the penny dropped with 11ac. NHO AUDITEE, but it had to be right from the clueing.
    FOI – OVEN
    Thanks to ulaca and other contributors.

  40. Well that was certainly a personal best for us, by about 5 minutes or so! All done and dusted in 19:47. It will be a very long time before we get near that again. LOI AUDITEE and a fight for COD between our POI FIRST AID and AFRO, which we refrained from putting in until the penny dropped on the parsing. Thanks to ulaca and the setter.

  41. 24 minutes for a puzzle which, though very easy, didn’t seem trivial and had a number of clues which required attentive and careful parsing. COD to AFRO (“to” partner, indeed!). I also liked the Douglas FIR in FIRST AID (not the capital of Man, this time).

  42. 26.39 Like others, I spent a while on CARPE DIEM and followed it with a biffed AFRO and LOI AUDITEE. Thanks ulaca.

  43. 45 minutes. Found it relatively easy. All parsed. Bit better than Friday’s disaster.
    FOI OVAL OFFICE then LIFT OFF, REFLEX, NIECE and solved top. Solved bottom left and finally bottom right. LOI DREAMY.
    Driving aid as tee seems to be common in SMH crosswords

  44. 53:54 with it now SNITCHING at 68. Parsed everything apart from AFRO (LbOI) and the PER part of PREACHER.

    Had about 12 answers on my first pass through, most of them towards the bottom. Then a period of crickets and staring and at 30mins I still only had 16. Things then came together, such that around 45mins I had just AUDITEE/AFRO/CARPE-DIEM left. As ever couple of NHOs in PIETA and RARE-EARTH but to be expected on the 15×15. Pleased to complete probably my 6th ever.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *