Times 28893 – cracking the egg

A mixed bag, I thought, a bit of a curate’s egg perhaps, this one. Some excellent clues, and a few more which I solved with that “well, I suppose so” shrug or eyebrow raise. I’ll let you make your own minds up, rather than spelling out which clues I found less than inspired. It wasn’t that easy, took me 35 minutes to solve and understand.

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

1 Sack not quite dry, a horror of mine (8)
FIREDAMP – sack = FIRE, DAMP = not quite dry. Miner’s name for methane, which causes explosions in coal mines.
5 Prepares to eat apple initially, backing out of it (6)
ASLEEP – All reversed; PEELS (prepares to eat), A[pple].
10 What Pompeii tour offers is yet to be confirmed (7,2,2,4)
REMAINS TO BE SEEN – double definition, one prosaic.
11 Doorway with no steps suitable for newcomers (5-5)
ENTRY-LEVEL – ENTRY (doorway) LEVEL (with no steps).
13 Refuse short, brisk walk (4)
MARC – MARC[H] a brisk walk, short. MARC being the spirit made in France from the grape skins and pips left over in making wine. A fiery drink, but not always “refuse” IMO, even if made from the refuse from wine. Also called grappa in Italy.
15 In a mess, having nothing for starter for lunch, so stepped out (7)
TANGOED – TANGLED has its L replaced by an O.
17 Intermittently fine, but regularly early on parade (7)
SHOWERY – SHOW (parade), E[a]R[l]Y.
18 Composer has no clue, struggling at piano (7)
POULENC – (NO CLUE)* after P[iano].  The only Francis Poulenc piece I have on CD is his organ concerto, which is quite jolly.
19 Tea for audience coming in, chef promises (7)
COMMITS – COMMIS being a rank of chef, insert T which sounds like tea.
21 Small coin is old — chuck back (4)
OBOL – O[ld], LOB reversed. I knew this from previous crosswords, it’s an old Greek coin, six made a Drachma.
22 Company rescuer talked of sleepless period (5,5)
WHITE NIGHT –  sounds like “white knight”, a chap who rescues a company in financial trouble; a white night happens in high latitudes in summer when the daylight last all night and people hold festivals and don’t bother sleeping.
25 With spread teachers until recently drink the fruit of the vine (9,6)
BUTTERNUT SQUASH – BUTTER (a spread), NUT (teachers’ union), SQUASH (a drink).
27 Sweet American lives in France, it’s true (6)
HONEST – HON, short for honey, endearment used in America, EST French for “is” or “lives”.
28 Nuisance, a line editor introduced that holds up column (8)
PEDESTAL -PEST an nuisance, insert ED[itor], add A, L.
1 In trouble receiving fine, not popular penalty (7)
FORFEIT – FINE “not popular” means loses the IN, to give FE, insert into FOR IT meaning in trouble.
2 Farm animal’s light weight, not good (3)
RAM – GRAM loses G.
3 Regularly meditate as exercise (5,5)
DAILY DOZEN – if you meditate regularly, you DAILY, DO ZEN. Daily dozen is not a phrase I knew, apparently it means a set routine of tasks or exercises.
4 Shot at table in a crowd hasn’t died (5)
MASSE – MASSED = in a crowd, delete the D[ied]. A massé is a swerve shot at snooker, I’ve seen it done often on TV but never attempted it for fear of ripping the baize.
6 A large number killed (4)
SLEW – double definition.
7 Observe work in nursery is so unpleasant (3-8)
EYE-WATERING – EYE (observe), WATERING (as in watering plants in a nursery). An odd definition, I thought, for me it can mean expensive, surprising, higher than expected, so I suppose sometimes unpleasant.
8 Screw secures prison in terror (7)
PANICKY – SCREW = slang for PAY, insert NICK for prison.
9 Small conifer cultivated for use in court (8)
12 The missing husband gets name published regularly: perfect! (3,3,2,3)
TEN OUT OF TEN – THE loses its H > TE; N for name; OUT OFTEN = published regularly. I biffed this one and parsed it later.
14 Deficient punctuation unprecedented in bulletin (10)
COMMUNIQUE – COMM[A] = punctuation, deficient; UNIQUE = unprecedented.
16 Rating all the cards, or just some (8)
DECKHAND – 52 cards in a DECK, less in a HAND of cards.
18 Bear contemptuous expression as high official (4-3)
POOH-BAH – POOH Christopher Robin’s bear, BAH! expression of contempt.
20 Last to move, grabbing red bag (7)
SATCHEL – (LAST)* with CHE (Guevara) inserted.
23 One under coach protected by astute engine-driver (5)
TUTEE – hidden as above.
24 Reporter’s to employ these in graveyard traditionally (4)
YEWS – sounds like “USE” = employ.
26 Perform a sort of scan (3)
ACT – A, CT scan (computed tomography).


65 comments on “Times 28893 – cracking the egg”

  1. 38 minutes. I was unable to gain an early foothold in the top half of the grid so this turned out to be another ‘bottom-up’ solve, the exception being WHITE NIGHT which I never heard of and was my LOI. I knew of ‘white knight’ from the days of chivalry, but not from rescuing failing companies.

    OBOL from wordplay; if I’ve met it before I had forgotten it.

    MARC was a struggle as I thought for too long that the definition was ‘brisk walk’.

    I knew DAILY DOZEN having heard of it in my childhood. Here’s more info about it acquired by my AI assistant: The term “daily dozen” for exercise routines originated with Walter Camp, famous as the “Father of American Football”. In the 1920s, Camp designed a set of twelve calisthenic exercises that were simple and achievable in a short amount of time, making them ideal for people with busy lifestyles. The exercises gained popularity and were incorporated into military training routines.

  2. A curate’s egg indeed. REMAINS TO BE SEEN is odd because ‘to be’ is in the clue. Having recently visited Knossos, one must consider whether you are seeing ‘remains’ or a concreted-up ‘reconstruction’.

    Liked PANICKY. LOI was DAILY DOZEN, nho, but I may not be as old as jack.

    I’d heard of the business WHITE (K)NIGHT, but not the polar phrase.

    24′ 35″, thanks pip and setter.

    1. I visited Knossos some years ago and came to the same conclusion. I found it disappointing for that reason.

    2. I had the same thought about 10. I resisted anything with “to be” in it because that was in the clue. It could (should) have simply said “not yet confirmed” instead.

  3. A struggle for me, not helped by the fact that I dozed off when I was getting nowhere in the top half and so don’t have a proper time but I’d guess around 50. Had no idea what was going on with a few of these, such as FORFEIT (For it? Really?), WHITE NIGHT and COMMITS, so thank you piquet. Also for noticing OUT OFTEN which eluded me. NHO the composer but it looked about right from the crossers. LOsI were SLEW and MARC, knew the brandy and guessed how they made it. Liked YEWS, PEDESTAL, DECKHAND and the squash, among others.

  4. 46:44, I was definitely not on form today!
    I didn’t know either MARC, just knew it as something to do with wine, or my LOI DAILY DOZEN
    Thanks setter and especially today’s blogger for elucidating.

  5. And on the Pedestal these words appear:
    My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
    Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
    (Ozy…, Shelley)

    30 mins mid-brekker, with POI Daily DoZen leading to LOI Firedamp.
    I assumed White Night was a thing.
    Ta setter and Pip

  6. I’ve been remarkably consistent this week, and for the third day running I had a typo with “daily dozem”. Finished in 15:18 for what it’s worth, COD to TANGOED.

  7. 31:23
    Looking at Pip’s explanations, I wondered why it took me so long. But my FOI was WHITE NIGHT, which I didn’t know but followed Myrtilus’s assumption. 12d parsed post-sub; OFTEN=regularly? New Year’s Eve comes regularly, but not that often.

  8. Couldn’t find SLEW in the back of my mind so chucked in SHED (loads) which almost works for both definitions but doesn’t really work for either…

  9. DNF. Defeated by DAILY DOZEN, which I shouldn’t have been as I remember doing a series of piano exercises in books of increasing difficulty called “A dozen a day”, which are still on sale today. But I enjoyed the puzzle, especially REMAINS TO BE SEEN. Thanks Pip and setter.

  10. 50 mins and another who had a bottom up to top solve with last two in DAILY DOZEN & TANGOED.

    Une nuit blanche in French is a sleepless night so that was no prob. However, lots of others were. REMAINS TO BE SEEN, MASSE, ENTRY LEVEL & SLEW all took an age to see.

    I didn’t like marc=refuse and I agree with our blogger re EYE-WATERING. Oh well.

    Thanks pip and setter.

    1. Chambers on MARC: “Grapeskins and other refuse from wine-making”. Mind you I can see why you might not like it!

    2. Collins has two definitions for marc, as follows:
      1. the remains of grapes or other fruit that have been pressed for wine-making
      2. a brandy distilled from these

      .. so the first definition lets the setter off, ne c’est pas?
      I have drunk quite a lot of marc over the years, of quality varying from very fine, right down to paint-stripper. Auchan sell one that is truly disgusting.

      1. I very much do like Marc. I have an excellent one on the go at the moment, an “hors d’âge” from Domaine du vieux Télégraphe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They might resent it if I suggested they made it out of rubbish! :-).

        1. Marc du Châteauneuf is always good, marc du Bourgogne is usually the rubbish end, marc du Champagne can go either way. The best one I ever had was a marc de gewurtztraminer from Alsace. Wonderful stuff, needless to say, never seen it since ..

      2. Marc – fair enough, then, I didn’t know the first definition and didn’t venture to Collins because I was sure of the second one. When I’ve visited vineyards in France they’ve never called the solids marc.

        1. Having been a winemaker in the south of France for over 16 years, I can assure you that « marc » is exactly what we call the spent skins, pips, and other solid matter that is left behind in the « cuve » after décantation of the wine. For other wines, whites in particular, and other barrel-aged wines, the grumps (as I call them) are the lees. Much finer in texture and flavour. These are often distilled to make « fine » . Fine de Bourgogne is an excellent example and, obviously, much « finer » i.e. smoother, than marc.

    3. Back in the day I worked in the North Sea (pre-Piper Alpha, when safety became a thing), and there was a safety poster “Be prepared for the unexpected” featuring Paul Gascoigne and Vinnie Jones. Seemed equally unpleasant and eye-watering, from Gazza’s point of view.

  11. 16.45, so working my way towards another Easy Friday. I liked the Pompeii clue: I gather they’re digging up more to be viewed. WHITE NIGHT was a new one on me.

  12. 28:40

    Very satisfying, and a thoroughly good egg for me: thanks setter.
    To be or not to be – why not not yet?
    Nice blog too, thanks.
    LOI DO ZEN, despite seeing recently somewhere.

  13. I record 18.57 but I made the mistake of clicking on review after getting the ‘Congratulations’ message, which restarted the timer. I would guess about 18.50, which is pretty quick for me.

    1. If you’re on the app, if you go out & go back in to the puzzle it re-presents the Congratulations message with the time.

  14. Gave up on the hour (I know, I know but I have things to do!) I DNK the DOZEN and it could have been a very long time before I saw the witty wordplay. I may have a distant knowledge of the word SLEW meaning a lot of something, or not. In both cases I could have wasted a morning/enjoyed time sitting quietly cogitating at the kitchen table in the sunshine, if the family hadn’t woken up.

    Thanks Pip

  15. 45:24 with a fail on both DAILY DOZEN and COMMITS.

    A real struggle from the off, with lots of unknowns (COMMIS, OBOL, MARC, POOH-BAH, POULENC) and I was slow to see the wordplay at times.

    I would tell you my guess for DAILY _O_E_ but I think that is best left between me and the Times.

    Thanks to both.

  16. Second DNF on the trot and it’s only Wednesday. NHO MARC and didn’t come to me on wordplay. DAILY DO ZEN is a nice clue, but I’d never heard of the exercise routine and -O-E- wasn’t too helpful. Also NHO WHITE NIGHT but knew the business homophone so easy enough. Not a fan of EYE-WATERING which to me is not necessarily unpleasant. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  17. 14:33 once I remembered MARC from previous puzzles and parsed from there.

    I enjoyed this one, and thought DO ZEN very smart.

    Thanks both.

  18. DNF
    FOI FIREDAMP then REMAINS TO BE SEEN. I saw ACT as an anagram of CAT which needed “a sort”. Thought FORENSIC was clever. I kept looking for a conifer so didn’t get it at all. If I had seen “use in court” as definition I would have seen it quickly considering I did a significant amount of forensic work during my working life. ASLEEP I didn’t have the slightest clue. SHOWERY, COMMITS the same
    After looking at the parsing above everything looks so easy.

      1. Strange. CAT scans are still CAT scans down here. Or maybe not. But NMR scans have become MRI scans, presumably because people don’t like being exposed to nuclear cooties – nuclear is the N in NMR.

  19. To a newbie like me, this seemed unfathomable to begin with; however, I managed to complete around a third of it. You cannot rush genius so they say…

    1. Make no mistake, this was hard and as a beginner you probably did well to get a third of the way. I’ve been doing the crossword for 60 years and have seen it become more and more difficult and elitist. I don’t like the idea that recent puzzles will put off tyros, so hope you persist with this!

  20. 17:32

    Pretty tricky this but an enjoyable solve. LOI was COMMUNIQUE where I thought the definition was “deficient” and I had to add a punctuation mark to a homophone of unique.

    My only NHO was white night.

    To add to the MARC debate, the third def in the Chambers app is “any fruit refuse, e.g. from the making of cooking oil”, so the setter is on solid ground. I’ve had the drink as well as “marc de champagne” chocolate truffles.

  21. 35’25”
    Got a clear run, stayed on gamely.

    … a clear run in the sense that I was lucky that all but the no-K, no-dark night fell within my ken.
    I was surprised to see the Snitchmeister’s rating so high, but there were quite a few oddities, rather than obscurities, buried in rather gnarly definitions.
    Delighted to finish under my par, just, despite being seriously stretched; many thanks setter and Pip.
    PS What’s a slew in Seattle, when it’s not a Triple Crown Winner?

  22. Two goes needed.

    Didn’t parse COMMITS as I didn’t know commis=chief; relied on the wordplay for the unknown OBOL; didn’t know WHITE NIGHT as a term for when no one sleeps; only got MASSE because I think it came up fairly recently here; didn’t know screw=pay, but PANICKY had to be right; didn’t parse COMMUNIQUE; not familiar with POOH-BAH but again the wordplay helped; and took absolutely ages to get the second word of DAILY DOZEN.

    A tough workout – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Act
    LOI Daily dozen
    CODs Forensic / Satchel

  23. No precise time, but getting on for an hour between dealing with multiple deliveries. I found this much more difficult than others seem to have found it – ASLEEP, MASS, SLEW, DAILY DOZEN being among the many that held me up, the problems only partly attributable to interruptions.

  24. 20:47. I found that very hard, particularly the top half where I got stuck for ages. I thought some of it a bit loose, and 10ac rather tasteless.
    I’ve never had a MARC I’ve found pleasant, but I am fond of a good grappa. As others have pointed out the word also applies to the wine-making leftovers from which the spirit is made.
    ‘Nuit blanche’ for a sleepless night is quite common in French, but I’ve never heard it in English.
    The financial term ‘white knight’ normally refers to a bidder for a public company who ‘rescues’ it from a hostile offer. I’ve always found the language around these things curious. If I offer to buy your shares in a company, you can agree to sell them to me or not. There’s nothing ‘hostile’ about it. The terminology of course applies to the company’s management, who might stand to lose their jobs: the language implicitly endorses a breach of their fiduciary duties.

    1. As, as far as I can see, the financial world contains less sense than either of Alice’s worlds, or the White Knight’s ideas for that matter, it seems quite apt that they should see him as a saviour.

    2. ‘White night’–which I’d never come across–is evidently a calque on ‘nuit blanche’.

      1. Rather confusingly OED says ‘formed within English, by compounding’, but also ‘perhaps after French nuit blanche’. In the other sense (a day where the sun doesn’t set) it apparently derives from Russian.

        1. White Nights was a rather gloomy short story by Dostoevsky that involved a man wandering around at night trying to cross paths with an enigmatic woman. Marcello Mastroianni starred with Maria Schell in a 1950’s movie version that was pretty good. I think it won some awards anyways.

  25. DNF, brain not working today. I blame the dental hygienist. Thought of ASLEEP at 5a but ran out of ideas to make it work, and I wasn’t going to get 6d SLEW from ??E? as there are too many options. Oh well.
    Couldn’t parse 19a COMMITS and couldn’t quite bring the commis to mind; something was hovering around but didn’t come.
    DNK 22a White Night but it is in the dictionary. Did know White Knight so put it in with a shrug.
    Nearly mucked it up at 27a by biffing CANDID, and thought that Hon=US sweet and est=French lives were off, but on reflection it was I who was off.
    I can’t spell or parse 28a PEDaSTle, but the checkers fixed it.
    I looked up 3d DAILY DOZEN afterwards and it seems to mean vegetables in the diet, so ho hum. Jackkt has put me straight now but I never was going to see DO ZEN.
    I thought Eye Watering at 7d was a measure of pain; i.e. bad enough to cause tears.
    COD to 8d PANICKY.
    I agreed with piquet that MARC=Refuse was wrong; a glass of marc can set you back lots of Euros. DNK that the drink is named from the makings.

  26. The white night was a mystery: had never heard of the real meaning or the French term and assumed that because one couldn’t sleep one put the light on, or something. I liked REMAINS TO BE SEEN. Was unaware that the NUT no longer existed, presumably an attempt to avoid tiresome circumlocutions involving NAS/UWT. DAILY DOZEN known from P.G. Wodehouse, who I think used to do a d d. Couldn’t see why EYE-WATERING is ‘so unpleasant’. 47 minutes.

  27. 37:37. nicely on the wavelength, and OK with most of the vocab. Remembered the plural – oboli – from previous crossword but that was enough. I knew WHITE NIGHTS from a summer visit to Stockholm – they closed road bridges so that people could party – and had to just assume the White Knight businessmen. I liked PANICKY

  28. Tricky, but got there. All parsed. Against the grain it was the bottom half that held me up more than the top half. COMMITS and COMMUNIQUE last 2 in. White night NHO in that sense, but white knight was in the newspapers often last millennium. FIREDAMP first in… well-known, there’s another DAMP which is carbon monoxide, but I’ve forgotten its name. I’ve been in South Afrcia the past few months, they have a marc called Wildebeest, a brandy made from the refuse of wine making. So I had to try it, not too bad.

  29. I found that quite difficult. After FIREDAMP and RAM, I got nothing until YEWS, TUTEE and ACT. Then the struggle started. DECKHAND and WHITE NIGHT eventually got me going, but it was like swimming through treacle. I’ll spare you the details, but MARC was LOI. 40:52. Thanks setter and Pip.

  30. 15:06

    Took 5 minutes to get my last three: PANICKY, MARC and ASLEEP, in that order. Like jackkt I got sidelined into looking for a brisk walk with 4 letters, and for some reason couldn’t think of NICK for ages, not helped by forgetting that meaning of SCREW.

    I really enjoyed this. It was tough in places, but all fairly clued, with a good variety of clue types. I find it a bit odd that some quicker solvers always seem to cry foul when they take longer than usual to finish, while others don’t even appear to submit to the leaderboard for the same reason. Some may say that smacks of hubris. There was nothing remotely dodgy in this set of clues, as far as I can see.

    Favourite clue: COMMITS.

  31. Worked this on the edge of slumber and didn’t finish (DAILY DOZEN) until the lights were out. Aha—Satori! I only knew this in terms of some lottery game. DO ZEN sounds rather dumb.
    POI was TANGOED. I could second a couple of the quibbles above, but I rather liked this, even better than the ones for Monday and Tuesday.

  32. DNF
    Wildy off the setter’s wave length today. May have eventually got MARC, MASSE and EWES but threw in the towel after 40 minutes. I think Nuit Blanche is more widely used than its English equivalent. Amongs other things it refers to occasions when museums and galleries remain open all night.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter

  33. I’m another defeated by Daily Dozen.
    Why is “until recently” in 25ac – does the NUT no longer exist?
    Wasn’t mad keen on this puzzle – too many obscure definitions for me.

    1. Yep, in 2017 it merged with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers to become the National Education Union, or NEU.

  34. 43:18

    Definitely at the tougher end of the spectrum. Thought ASLEEP and YEWS were good, and assumed that both WHITE NIGHT and DAILY DOZEN were ‘a thing’. Trickiest was PANICKY/MARC crossing – I couldn’t get CAN out of my mind for prison. NHO COMMIS as a chef. Pleased to dig out POULENC from the P checker and the grist available.

    Thanks P and setter

  35. 34 mins but didn’t work out the second part of daily dozen. All told I thought this was pretty good and now I’ve seen the parsing, daily dozen would have been my COD- just to show I’m not bitter.

  36. Found this tricky and must admit to hitting reveal for MARC, MASSÉ and WHITE NIGHT, all NHO. Managed the rest, including the composer, but oh so slowly. Double-checked OBOL was a coin. Couldn’t parse COMMITS. Liked FORENSIC and REMAINS TO BE SEEN. Many thanks P.

  37. DNF. NHO DAILY DOZEN. Did not equate MARC with refuse.Also failed on SHOWERY and ASLEEP.

    Thanks piquet for helping me make sense of it.

  38. I got LOI DAILY DOZEN although I don’t know the phrase. I did know WHITE KNIGHT in the sense of a company you get to buy you to defend against a hostile takeover, and it was pretty plausible that WHITE NIGHT might be a sleepless one, especially since I knew nuit blanche. I had no idea NUT was no longer the teachers’ union but presumed it must no longer be so from the clue. No problem with MARC having lived in the south of France for 6 years. Coincidentally, when I returned to California I bought a case of Vieux Télégaphe Château Neuf du Pape to hide away in the container behind all the furniture. Plus a couple of other cases that I figured were reasonable in France and would be expensive in US.

  39. A very fine setter today (now yesterday), because I twigged all his/her allusions except for doing Zen, for which thanks to Piquet and others. Fortunately biffed it from knowing the exercise term. The obol, abbreviated ob. used to be added to £ s d meaning a halfpenny. But I’m going back 400 years or so!

  40. Could 24D not equally be EWES, since sheep are traditionally employed to keep the grass short in graveyards?


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