Times 28912 – that’s numberwang

Time taken: 13:56. Tricky one today!

I got stuck for quite a while here and then cracked a really unfamiliar wordplay element, not sure if it is new or if it is just a long time since we have had something like that. Getting that opened up the bottom half of the grid and it all came together.

A look at the early times and it appears I’m not the only one who struggled with this – how did you do?

1 Marvellous epicurean perhaps could be heard (8)
DYNAMITE – sounds like DINER(epicurean, perhaps) and MIGHT(could)
5 One counted on a god seeing sacrifice of Church (6)
ABACUS – A, BACCHUS(god) minus CH(church)
10 Mercenary backing Channel 5 (5)
VENAL – reversal of LANE(channel), V(5)
11 Play a note and strike a chord? (4,1,4)
RING A BELL – double definition
12 Maestro returned books with study in India (9)
TOSCANINI – OT(books)  reversed, then SCAN(study), IN, I(India)
13 Drone linked to superpower remains on the ground (5)
HUMUS – HUM(drone) and US(superpower)
14 Mole inhabiting drains I’d eradicated (7)
INSIDER – hidden inside draINS I’D ERadicated
16 Pass with badge sent over for huge cardinal (6)
GOOGOL – GO(pass) then LOGO(badge) reversed. Cardinal referring to the number
18 Bothersome judicial work (6)
TRYING – double definition
20 Charlie has put away a black jumper (7)
WALLABY – WALLY(Charlie) containing A, B(black)
22 Eight, it’s inferred, carrying old cloth (5)
TOWEL – This is the one that held me up forever… it’s O(old) inside TWEL… if you think of TWEL is two thirds of TWELVE, it works out to be eight.
23 One needing to be driven home after ancient-looking cocktail (5,4)
RUSTY NAIL – NAIL(one needing to be driven home) after RUSTY(ancient-looking).
25 Dry talk on flag recalled (9)
EVAPORATE – ORATE(talk) after PAVE(flag) reversed
26 Did something one day — about time! (5)
ACTED – ACE(one), D(day) surrounding T(time)
27 A fishy style? (6)
MULLET – referring to the haircut and the fish
28 Pin loose, fasteners here and there (2,6)
IN PLACES – anagram of PIN, then LACES(fasteners)
1 I’d advise you to assess trouble in joint (8)
DOVETAIL – DO(I’d advise you to), VET(assess), AIL(trouble)
2 Some number in edges on equilaterals, squares (5)
NINES – N(some number), IN, then the external letters in EquliateralS
3 Old president works on a way to take charge to a greater extent (7,8)
MILLARD FILLMORE – MILL(works), then A, RD(way) and then if you take more of a charge(load), you FILL MORE
4 Piece of cake kennelling stray dog (7)
TERRIER – TIER(piece of a wedding cake) containing ERR(stray)
6 Second rate shot blunted at first in each and every game (5,10)
BEACH VOLLEYBALL – B(second rate) then VOLLEY(shot) and the first letter of Blunder inside EACH and ALL(every)
7 Drink: last few bars stocking a lot (5,4)
CREAM SODA – CODA(last few bars in a musical piece) containing REAMS(a lot)
8 Drop prominent display (6)
SPLASH – double definition
9 Denouement unresolved, page missing (6)
ENDING – PENDING(unresolved) minus P(page)
15 Eccentric snooker player might do this (9)
SCREWBALL – a SCREW is a spin shot in snooker, so the player may SCREW BALL
17 Lady unclothed has broken more than one bike chain belonging to the Greeks (8)
CYCLADES – the internal letter of lADy inside CYCLES(more than one bike)
19 British composer like Brahms or Wagner, say? (6)
GERMAN – double definition referring to the composer Edward GERMAN
20 Case of wife forbidding picture (7)
WESTERN -external letters in WifE, then STERN(forbidding)
21 Burn with rage about king (6)
STREAM – STEAM(rage) surrounding R(king)
24 Greek framework extremely lacking (5)
ATTIC – LATTICE(framework) minus the external letters

81 comments on “Times 28912 – that’s numberwang”

  1. I did all right, had a pretty smooth flow, but never got to the bottom of TOWEL, which was nevertheless the obvious answer. Got MILLARD FILLMORE when I had the D and the second I, parsed as I wrote it in. Ended in the SW, with MULLET, STREAM and TOWEL. I’d say that moisture EVAPORATEs, while whatever it covers or permeates dries.

    1. I had the same thought but the second definition in Collins is ‘to lose or cause to lose liquid by vaporization, leaving a more concentrated residue’.

  2. Never heard of the predecessor to Donald Trump, so limped home in 46 minutes, having brilliantly ( I thought) conjured up ‘Richard Millhous (sic)’ before (kinda) seeing the light. German also unknown.

  3. What made this so hard for me is that there are no anagrams other than the 3 letters of PIN in 28ac. That surely must be a first?

    I made slow but steady progress and might have been in 40 minute territory if I hadn’t hit a brick wall in the SW corner with 15dn, 21dn, 22ac, 25ac and 27ac holding me up for ever. I finished with 57 minutes on the clock and an error at 25ac as my LOI where I bunged in ELABORATE for little other reason than it was a word that fitted and I had lost patience by that stage. I had no idea how TOWEL worked but thanks to George I now understand it and recognise that the device has been used before, if only very occasionally.

    Once I had a few checkers in place I had no problem with MILLARD FILLMORE because I’d heard the name and knew he was a former POTUS. He first came to my attention in the spoken introduction to the Tom Lehrer Revisited concert subsequently released as an album that’s been in my collection for some 50 years:

    I should like to introduce now the featured artist of this evening’s…ordeal. I’m sure that you will all agree without any hesitation that Tom Lehrer is the most brilliant creative genius that America has produced in almost 200 years, so perhaps a few words of biographical background might not be amiss. Endowed by nature with perhaps the most glorious baritone voice to be heard on an American stage since the memorable concert debut in 1835 of Millard Fillmore; endowed also with twelve incredibly agile fingers; Mr. Lehrer has had a long and varied career in the field of entertainment starting with nine years at Harvard University…where it was that he first decided to devote his life to what has since become a rather successful scientific project – namely, the attempt to prolong adolescence beyond all previous limits.

    1. Tom Lehrer is surely among the most brilliant creative geniuses etc.…
      I didn’t even notice the absence of anagrams!

        1. Oh, I’ve been formatting articles online all day. We set off citations, with quotation marks at least. Maybe I read too hastily and thought that was you speaking. After all, I even missed noticing the twelve fingers. Well, stranger things have happened… ha

    2. I was also helped by knowing of Millard Fillmore from listening to Tom Lehrer. I still, of course, don’t get what Lehrer is referring to (if anything).

        1. When I was a child, Millard Fillmore was a representative presidential nonentity; the name was enough to mark him as a wimp. Lehrer wouldn’t have chosen Polk, or Pierce, or Buchanan.

            1. But then, the list of chemical elements sounds funny as articulated by Tom, even if not as funny as everything else he wrote and sang.

  4. No time, as most of this was completed in a hospital waiting room (regular appointment, no problem), except for EVAPORATE; which came to me as I was booting up this computer to type in the answers. Like Jack, I had stuck on ELABORATE and decided to go for the DNF. That one I finally figured out; not so with TOWEL, where I could do nothing with TWEL.
    MILLARD FILLMORE may be deservedly unknown to many Brits, but those of a certain age may remember the Fillmore, on Fillmore Street, which is named after Millard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fillmore .
    1ac and 1d drove me crazy; they both resisted my attempts at solving until the words just suddently appeared to me and I parsed post hoc. COD to both.

    1. There was also a Fillmore East, and at least three (vinyl) albums I own were recorded ‘live at the Fillmore East’ (Allman Bros, Hendrix, CSN&Young).

      1. Allman Brothers live at Fillmore! Execellent.
        Recently on a flight and watched a Santana documentary… back in the day Santana and his band were basically the house band at the Fillmore, something I didn’t know.
        Also didn’t know President was named after the street named after the venue.

  5. Woke up super early – luckily, because I needed enough time to break for Somali breakfast, giving me the solving-power boost I needed to complete this. I’ve heard of the Fillmore East but never the prez – so 2d was entered in bits, and DYNAMITE took an age. After that, LOI GOOGOL was only the vaguest memory from childhood – and that completed the highest SNITCH puzzle I’ve managed for a year or more. 38:47 – thanks G and setter.

  6. I found this very hard taking 41:03
    Also I had to google the NHO Millard Fillmore at the end, fill more ha ha
    I think I vaguely heard of a Googol, I needed the cream soda to get that it was logo backwards
    Thanks setter for a real challenge today!

  7. 13.21, which after yesterday’s debacle I’m delighted by. I have distantly heard of MILLARD FILLMORE, but that didn’t stop me pencilling in LEONARD for a bit. Also didn’t know GERMAN, but then composers aren’t my forte.

    Thanks G & setter.

  8. 40 minutes. I’d heard of Edward GERMAN but know none of his music and I was thrown by Brahms being paired with Wagner rather than his drinking buddy Liszt, even if he’s not the correct nationality. No hope of parsing TOWEL and I know less about MILLARD FILLMORE than I do about our ‘British composer’. Favourite was DYNAMITE which needed all the checkers.

    All in all quite a hard one and I was glad to finish off with MULLET.

      1. Thanks, that does sound familiar if not instantly recognisable.

        Not directly relevant, but unless I’m mistaken the castle shown in the graphic (? album cover) accompanying the YouTube audio clip is Eilean Donan Castle which is hardly in Merrie England!

  9. Very hard, don’t really have a time because I had to do it in shifts when real life intervened but over an hour I’d say. Googled the NHO president and had no idea about TOWEL so thanks glh. I got SCREWBALL straight after DYNAMITE because of an old Muddy Water song, I’m Ready: I’m drinkin’ TNT, I’m smoking’ dynamite, I hope some screwball start a fight…’ I think I foreshadowed yesterday that after a few easier ones we were in for trouble, and I was right. But some of the times above are amazing, well done.

    From Murder Most Foul:
    Air Force One comin’ in through the gate
    Johnson sworn in at 2:38
    Let me know when you decide to throw in the TOWEL
    It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul

  10. Struggled but finished all at 59m – without parsing TOWEL.

    Thank you, glh and the setter

  11. Chewy challenge today, with the marvellous clues at 1a and 1d. Held up a lot in SW, had no idea about TOWEL. Bunged in ‘hellenic’ before seeing the brilliance of CYCLADES.

    Knew of MILLARD FILLMORE from Sporcle, I have scored 100% on US Presidents.

    18’12”, thanks george and setter.

  12. 53 minutes with LOI TOWEL finally understood. It took me an age to remember MILLARD’s surname which the cryptic didn’t manage to fill me in on. COD to GOOGOL out of the many good ones. Can we please stop having Cocktails?I don’t drink them. Beer,, wine and whisky only, please. Thank you George and setter.

  13. That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
    So in my veins red life might Stream again
    (The Living Hand, Keats)

    45 mins mid-brekker and it was worth it. I admit I couldn’t see how Eight=Twel.
    What next, Seven=Four (half of fourteen)?
    Ta setter and G

  14. Absolutely delighted to come here and find I got MILLARD FILLMORE right, as I’d never heard of him. Also because I thought ‘charge’ in the clue might give ‘bill’, but in the end I picked the right option.

    I can never remember what Epicurean means, despite it coming up recently, so it was a long time before I got DYNAMITE and even then I wasn’t sure why it was right; struggled to get HUMUS even with the checkers as I was thinking of the wrong kind of superpower; likewise found MULLET hard with the various meanings of style; didn’t know what the CYCLADES are but the clueing was kind.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Insider
    LOI Millard Fillmore
    COD Acted

  15. Spent about 15 minutes initially with little progress. Looked very hard. Had to go out.
    Four hours later and answers came thick and fast (for me) Most were biffed without parsing so unsure how many would be correct. They just kept fitting in. All correct in an extra 25 minutes.
    Now to see why they were right thanks to GLH’s great parsing.

  16. 29:44

    I tried my best to stymie myself by confidently typing in the much underappreciated, frequently overlooked, and entirely made-up TOREADINI as our resident maestro. Otherwise the unknown President took some unpicking, and both 1A and 1D were slow to reveal themselves.

    The only others to cause much issue, and they were both write-ins once I had a few checkers, were the unparsed TOWEL and Mr German who was and will probably remain unknown to me.

    Thanks to both.

  17. 54m 06s
    A good test. Thanks, George, for TOWEL and CREAM SODA.
    My knowledge of FILLMORE extends only as far as Cream’s live recording of ‘Crossroads’ at the Fillmore in 1968.

    1. Wasn’t that at the Albert Hall? Mind you there were countless Live at the Fillmore albums…

      1. Not least Humble Pie’s crunching assaults on blues standards on the “Rocking the Fillmore” double album.

      2. The one I’m thinking of was definitely at the Fillmore. One of THE classic tracks, of course!

  18. Gaudiamus Igitur
    Enjoyed this challenge over 21 minutes or so, delighted by the TOWEL clue (because I worked it out!). I’ll tuck MILLARD away for when I appear on Pointless: this side of the pond he’s a dead cert 250 quid.
    GERMAN I was OK with, like Ireland he sticks in the mind as a Brit composer with a mildly inappropriate name. But his music doesn’t give me much of an earworm: today HUMUS has that honour as that which nos habebit, particularly as I’ve unquestionably reached molestam senectutem.

    1. I was at the Albert Hall yesterday for my youngest’s PhD in particle Physics.They played Gaudeamus Igitur, the day’s earworm. It didn’t help shorten the endless procession of MBAs, recruited by Imperial for a few billion dollars more. I’ve got a foot in both camps, but their presence among the natural scientists jarred. They even whooped and cheered, something no physicist would ever do. I think there’s an Exclusion Principle which doesn’t permit it.

  19. Enjoyed this one, though somewhat on the harder side I thought.
    German rang a vague bell, and I had heard of Fillmore because he was named after a hall.

  20. Excellent puzzle, took me 35 minutes and some great PDMs, thanks for explaining TOWEL which was my LOI and not parsed. TWEL = eight, sneaky.

  21. 13:37. Quite tricky, nicely knotty. No problem with the president but I’ve never heard of the composer. ‘Never heard of’ in this context usually means ‘forgotten the last time it came up’ but it’s not really feasible to do a search for the word GERMAN and check.
    MER at EVAPORATE but this meaning seems to be covered by Collins (see above).

    1. Knowing his first name now, I Googled “Edward German” and “timesforthetimes” and got a link to a puzzle on our current site, Times 26246, blogged on 3 November, 2015, where the composer was used to clue GERMANE, and you were the first to comment, writing, “I spent a few minutes at the end on my last in, GERMANE. I had forgotten the composer and thought the key was going to be G.” Odd for you to comment so early, but you had just crossed the pond.

      There’s also one on livejournal, Times Jumbo 1059, blogged on 2 November 2013, where his MERRIE ENGLAND was an answer, and Jerrywh was the only commenter(!).

      1. Good sleuthing! I wonder where I was – I used to fly back and forth to Raleigh a lot in those days.
        I solved Jumbo 1059 so perhaps the reference to Merrie England in Tim’s blog for 26246 reminded me of the composer after the fact.
        In any case, it’s clear that not only had I forgotten GERMAN, I’d forgotten him twice! It probably won’t be the last time.

  22. 26:59

    Great puzzle. Loved the 2/3 of twelve reverse.



    Thanks all

  23. 28:03

    Found this tough going and can’t say I really enjoyed it. COD – RUSTY NAIL. Whatever the opposite of COD is – TOWEL.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  24. 54 minutes which would have been considerably longer if I hadn’t looked at a list of American Presidents — I thought I more or less knew them all but this chap was quite new. Yes it’ll be useful on Pointless. And also I cheated a bit to get SCREWBALL, since the only snooker shot I could think of that began with s was stun. Otherwise no major problems, but good difficult clues made me rather slow. Liked EIGHT.

  25. DNF. I commented a few days ago about not knowing about flowers. Normally, I consider myself to be ok on composers and better than ok on US Presidents. These NHOs were entered with fingers crossed. Did not have a clue how to parse TOWEL and gave up on HUMUS. Not a good day for me!

  26. I manged to solve all bar the SW in around 25 minutes. GERMAN was unknown but emerged from the crossers eventually. The old president was assembled in stages with FILL being the last section, which sort of confirmed TOWEL, although STREAM was still to come. I’d had ORATE for a while, but EVAP took an age to see. It did however lead to the correct sort of burn and STREAM duly led to the elusive MULLET. Another perusal of the clue for 22a finally yielded 2/3 of 12, just as I submitted. 35:21. Thanks setter and George.

  27. Judging by some of the times so far submitted, this could be assessed as a tough one, but for some reason I bucked the trend and completed in a relatively speedy (at least for me) 29.06. I completed the right side pretty swiftly, and a steady solve of the left side left me with two to do. The presidents name eluded me for a while, but from the deepest recesses I manage to conjure it up. Unfortunately I rechristened him Willard instead of Millard, and this made my LOI 1ac somewhat difficult. Eventually DYNAMITE came to me with a bang, and Millard was automatically corrected.

  28. Didn’t know the president and guessed at Millard Finemore, so 22a had to wait while I consulted Mr Google.

  29. 34:15

    Not easy to finish – did well on the RHS, less confident on the left, though did see the trick with TOWEL and bunged it in from just the W checker. Wondered if there was a president other than Nixon named Richard, until DYNAMITE blew that theory away – have heard of FILLMORE East (Jimi Hendrix’s album Band Of Gypsys was recorded there) and knew it was named after a president but didn’t know his first name – worked out in tandem with VENAL.

    That left DOVETAIL, TRYING and finally GERMAN – never heard of the composer and didn’t know for sure that Brahms was German, thankfully knew that Wagner was…

    Thanks G and setter

  30. Like others, the east side went in at a normal pace, then… I did see Towel, and also the parsing, when with no crossers Corew and Boaot didn’t look like any cloth I’d ever heard of. So COD here.
    Parts of this – Millard F, Cream Soda, Beach Volleyball – sounded very American, and parts, Wally/Charlie, German, very UK.
    Nice go, setter; thx GH

  31. 41 mins. Game of two halves, RHS done in 15, LHS 29. Especially the NW, where I came completely unstuck. I thought I’d heard of all the presidents….

  32. After 40 mins l had to go off to golf and I had three left, 1ac, 2D and the completely unheard of GOOGLYGOGOGLO.

    Seems to me I’m unhearing a lot recently. Hmmm….

    Upon my return I immediately saw what was going on a bunged in all three. Can’t say that I enjoyed this one much, especially not DYNAMITE.

    I did like CYCLADES though.

    Thanks George and setter.

  33. First DNF for a while – could not for the life of me see the epicurean homophone at 1across even when nines eventually came to me. This made the NHO president an impossibility. I did think of Fillmore East as a famous venue but thought it only had one l and could not see how filmore could possible be taking more charge. I also thought of “works”ard for the first name but what sort of a name ends in ard? Even if I thought of mill it wouldn’t have helped me😊 oh well every days a school day.

    Thx for the parsing of towel which I think is too clever by half but that may be bitterness as I did not get it😊
    Loved the enormous cardinal, COD
    Still enjoyed the challenge – thx G and setter

  34. Two visits, before and after being roundly beaten in a golf game by a junior.. who should have been at school and some chores.

    Seemed to go fairly well though no time counted. Although latterly I’ve read quite a bit of US history, my introduction to Fillmore was, like others, through various “live” vinyls. Never heard of the GERMAN fellow and entered TOWEL but no idea how it worked. Bit my tongue at the now daily non-rhotic and gave myself a pat on the back for knowing the cyclades. Thanks George and setter.

  35. I enjoyed this and got it done in 38 minutes – or I would have done if I had had the insight of ChrisLutton on 3dn. I didn’t, so it’s all rise to salute the new ex- POTUS, MILLARD BILLMORE. Against that I am pleased to have succeeded with some of the more abstruse parsing, especially TOWEL.
    LOI – n/a
    Thanks to george and other contributors.

  36. I needed three visits for this one, with a bike ride and a shower for mental recovery intervals. Right-hand side fairly quick but the left-hand side slowed me down considerably.
    Probably 1.5 hours in total, but I got there in the end.
    Great puzzle – I liked the Twel(ve) device. Stream took an age also, as I was focussing on the wrong type of ‘burn’.

  37. 39.41. I thought that I was being a real thickie until I came here and saw that others had also taken longer than their usual times to complete the puzzle. I couldn’t parse ‘towel’ of course. I’m a bit surprised that so many solvers had not heard of Sir Edward German, but then I don’t recall having ever heard of Millard Fillmore, needing the wordplay to deduce the solution. Overall, chewy but satisfying.

  38. Sorted out all the parsing in the end – although I had never heard of Fillmore and bunged in ‘Billmore’, on the basis that billing is charging. ‘Towel’ took me ages to parse but got it eventually. Just under an hour – and got Fillmore wrong!

  39. Failed with my LOI MILLARD BILLMORE which was disappointing because it was quite a struggle getting to the end. And I was rather pleased with myself that I saw the device used for TOWEL quite quickly. Oh well.


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