Times 28965 – we know what but not always why

I finished this clever puzzle in under twenty minutes, writing in a few answers which seemed obvious, without fully parsing them. Writing the blog, I struggled to explain two clues – 3d and 22d – I think the first time in 10 years of Wednesdays blogging that I had been a bit stumped by two in one puzzle. Then hours later the answer to 3d came to me while half asleep. But 22d still eludes me. No doubt I’m having a slow day and you’ll explain it with aplomb.

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

1 Account and article targeted backward scholarly world (8)
ACADEMIA – All reversed; AIMED, AC, A.
6 Screw, small, fairly regularly used (6)
SALARY – alternate letters as above.
9 Prestige owner somehow expecting this feature? (5,8)
10 Vampires perhaps circling house in ludicrous descent (6)
BATHOS – BATS with HO[use] inserted.
11 This sharp-witted writer seeks, only in small amount (3,5)
MOT JUSTE – JUST (only) inside MOTE a small amount. It’s what the writer seeks, not the writer himself/herself.
13 One is securing trade? Credit mostly impractical (10)
IDEALISTIC – I, IS has DEAL inserted, then TIC[k] = credit mostly.
15 Go separate ways when returning in carriage (4)
TRAP -PART reversed.
16 Second division game sometimes ending in this (4)
SCUT – S (second) CUT (division). A scut is a short tail on an animal such as a deer or hare. Why are the short clues often the hardest to see?
18 Year in France in region there finding source (10)
PROVENANCE – PROVENCE the region has AN (French for year) inserted.
21 Cheers to follow check about goal in violent dispute (8)
VENDETTA – VET (check) has END (goal inserted, add TA (cheers).
22 Marauder one up for covering area (6)
RAIDER – RIDER (someone ‘up’) has A[rea] inserted.
23 Call for a visit excited great force abroad (8,5)
VICTORIA FALLS – (CALL FOR A VISIT)*. Force being a word for a waterfall.
25 Revolutionary Indian instrument good for nothing (6)
GRATIS – All reversed, SITAR, G.
26 Height of talent learner’s shown for piano (8)
ALTITUDE – APTITUDE has its P changed to L.
2 Whose noted contribution is valued still in PC World? (7)
COPLAND – cryptic definition, where COP LAND = PC World. Aaron Copland the American composer.
3 Clown is so dejected! (11)
DOWNHEARTED – well, LOW is the “heart” of [C]LOW[N], and low can mean DOWN, so clown is down-hearted or dejected.
4 For customs, say what Panama has compared to Costa Rica? (5)
MORES – it took me a second pass to see what was going on here. Simply, PANAMA has three As and COSTA RICA has two. So, MORE A’s. Doh.
5 Temperature doubled in a drain almost causing crack (7)
ATTEMPT – TT inside A, EMPT[y] = drain almost. Crack as in ‘have a crack at something’.
6 Show power in second challenge that ousts king (9)
SPECTACLE – P in SEC[ond], TAC[k]LE.
7 Place on the radio for string of bloomers? (3)
LEI – sounds like ‘LAY’ = place. A Hawaiian garland of flowers.
8 Great sliced sandwiches at Henley meeting? (7)
REGATTA – (GREAT)* with AT inserted.
12 Extremist brutal having released new form of radiation (11)
ULTRAVIOLET – ULTRA (extremist), VIOLENT loses its N.
14 Tearaway has drive round middle of Slough (9)
IMPETUOUS – IMPETUS (drive) has [sl]OU[gh] inserted.
17 Expert having to conceal a butchery tool (7)
CLEAVER – CLEVER (expert) with A inserted.
19 Air on with AC needing fixsomething blown (7)
OCARINA – (AIR ON AC)*.  A kind of wind instrument.
20 Redcap initially stopped guards in need of evening out (7)
CREASED – CEASED (stopped) with R[edcap] inserted.
22 Transformation with scope to have sex change? (5)
REFIT – I wrote this in as the obvious answer but am a bit vague about how it parses. Perhaps, RE meaning about, FIT meaning fit for having sex? Or is IT the sex part? Or is it some kind of cryptic definition? Is a ‘REFIT’ some sort of slang for a sex change? Not my area of expertise.
EDIT jackkt has kindly explained this below, don’t know why I couldn’t see it.
24 Grizabella maybe right to leave Barrow (3)
CAT – CART (barrow) loses R for right. Apparently Grizabella is a character in Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, which I have never seen and never will; I dislike the whole musicals genre. I knew she isn’t a character in T S Eliot’s original Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which I do know and like. Wikipedia tells me that the musical has added characters, some of which were in unpublished drafts by TSE, including Grizabella, so I’ve learnt something new.


60 comments on “Times 28965 – we know what but not always why”

  1. 44 minutes. I had one query about parsing but didn’t find any of it particularly hard; I was just generally slow.

    At 18ac I had ‘Year in France’ (AN) in ‘region there’ (PROVENCE) = PROVENANCE. Seems okay to me.

    At 22dn REMIT (scope) becomes REFIT (transformation) when M (male) changes to F (female ) [to have a sex change].

    Not that it’s a word I have often had reason to say, but I’ve always thought MORES was pronounced “moors” so I didn’t see how the wordplay at 4dn worked. I’m sure I’m not alone in using that pronunciation but I can’t find support for it as an alternative to “more-ays” in any of the usual sources.

  2. 11:55. I thought there was some great clueing in this puzzle, though several bits I didn’t understand until reading the blog. Like Jack I didn’t know how MORES was pronounced so was left wondering how there are more S’s in two words without an S. I also didn’t understand COPLAND at time of solving, but I think PC World is brilliant. SCUT was my LOI, where I had been quite tempted by SCAT – I thought maybe division could be CAT, short for category and SCAT relates to the end of an animal. Fortunately SCUT came to me without too much ado.

    1. Doesn’t COSTA RICA have an S. But PANAMA has fewer S (0) than COSTA RICA (1) so I couldn’t get the clue to work (still got it from checkers and definition though).

  3. I fell asleep in the middle of this–no reflection on the puzzle, which was a good one–so I have no idea what my time was, but it certainly wasn’t the 54:20 I got when I clumsily clicked on the wrong button. Anyway, I parsed REFIT & PROVENANCE as Jack did. I spent a lot of time trying to think of a sharp-witted writer. I probably would have needed a lot of time to get MORES, but I had the M and ‘customs’, so it was just a question of getting the wordplay.

  4. I thought that this was very clever. I even managed to parse everything. PC World, good for nothing and second division game were very good but COD to REFIT.

  5. 9:17 but I stupidly negated it by entering aptitude at 26A. COD to SCUT. Cross with myself for spoiling a very enjoyable puzzle.

  6. 27 minutes with almost everything parsed, at least, finishing with SCUT. I thought SCUT was an unknown but now I come here I think I recognise the definition, so I’ve likely just forgotten it since the last time it appeared. Enjoyed the kickself moment of MORES (I think I’ve heard this aloud in “O tempora, o mores!” in various bits of pop culture, so I knew how to pronounce it, I just missed the homophone indicator and was wondering where “more S” came in…)

  7. Yes, now you mention the Latin expression, I have heard MORES pronounced as ‘more-ays’ but I don’t think I ever bothered to translate it, just vaguely knew what it was referring to, so I didn’t think of it as ‘customs’. But on the other hand, in English I have heard people refer to ‘the social moors of the day’.

  8. 12:33. Took a while to parse DOWNHEARTED, distracted I think by the OW appearing in both ‘clown’ and ‘down’. Remembered Copland’s contribution once I saw he fitted, and now vaguely recall SCUT, though didn’t while solving. Very nice puzzle.

    Thanks both.

  9. 11’50”, with all parsed.

    PROVENANCE is very clever, and there is also an allusion to ‘A Year in Provence’, a best-selling book and TV series. MORES was good too.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  10. May I ask what the ‘still’, or even the ‘valued still’, is doing in the COPLAND clue? Enjoyable puzzle, but took me way too long to get IMPETUOUS, after which the last few dominoes fell to give 43:07.

  11. 32:48

    Very enjoyable, though there were a couple of bits I didn’t get whilst in flight.

    As with Jack and others, had no idea that MORES might be pronounced any way other than ‘moors’.
    SPECTACLE – didn’t parse whilst in flight – if I’d thought of SEC for second rather than the much-more-regularly-used ‘S’ then I might have done so – doh!
    NHO SALARY = screw.

    I parsed REFIT as Jack did. LOI was SCUT which I stared at for ages before lifting and separating correctly…

    Thanks P and setter

  12. 20:12. I took ages to realise I didn’t know how to pronounce MORES wondering if there is a word MORAS. Hekd up at the end by SALARY forgetting that slang meaning and struggling with assuming S was small. I liked PC World and DOWNHEARTED. Thanks Pip and setter.

  13. Well, a DNF as I had SCAT and no idea about BATHOS. I thought it was where Australians washed themselves. Tee hee!

    Needless to say I enjoyed PROVENANCE.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  14. 34 minutes with LOI SCUT, which I’d forgotten if I’d ever known. For some strange reason, my printer first printed 28953 from a couple of weeks back which after half a dozen clues I eventually twigged as too familiar. COD to BATHOS. Thank you for the more As explanation, which I once definitely knew but I’m pretty sure I’ve been using the wrong pronunciation more recently. Only a pseud would use the word anyway. Guilty as charged. Decent puzzle but I was feeling too cantankerous after the false start to appreciate it fully. Thank you Jack and setter.

  15. 44:23

    Another very enjoyable crossword. Despite knowing – and even pronouncing it in my head correctly throughout – I almost simultaneously thought, “Why is it More ‘S’, when ‘S’ features once in Costa Rica and not once in Panama? If anything, it should be MOREA as ‘A’ features more frequently in Panama than in Costa Rica’.

    But when I managed BATHOS, I just shrugged and entered it as my LOI.

    Thank you, piquet and the setter.

  16. 9:16. A steady solve, with a pause at the end wondering how Panama has more Ss than Costa Rica, until the penny dropped. I pronounce the word ‘more-ezz’: perhaps this is just me. The only time I would say it would be when saying ‘o tempora o mores’ with conscious pomposity. Rather like MOT JUSTE.
    Like LukeB above I don’t understand the COPLAND clue.

  17. 15.05
    Another excellent puzzle, with some splendid surfaces and two brilliant long anagrams.
    I retrieved ‘O tempora, O MORES’ from the memory banks via its Flanders and Swann translation “O Times, O Daily Mirror!’, and my LOI from the gangster movie ‘COP LAND’.

  18. DNF, with ‘pathos’ rather than BATHOS and ‘scat’ rather than the unknown SCUT (I thought it was ‘cat’, short for category, for ‘division’ and assumed the clue was referring to the card game).

    Didn’t know the screw meaning of SALARY; didn’t see how COPLAND worked; missed the ‘say’ part of MORES so didn’t get how that clue worked; and didn’t parse RAIDER.

    Thanks piquet and setter.

    COD Provenance

  19. Hard but fair. I struggled with quite a few and it took me a few minutes shy of the hour, but it was an enjoyable challenge. Not entirely convinced by COPLAND = PC world but happy to be deceived by force = waterfall and was pleased when the M/F penny finally dropped for REFIT. Thanks Piquet and setter.

    From Like A Rolling Stone:

    You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
    Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese CAT
    Ain’t it hard when you discovered that
    He really wasn’t where it’s at
    After he took from you everything he could steal
    How does it feel?

  20. All done in 35:03, though half way through that I had only a handful and was wondering if this was an hour-plus monster. The end came in a rush, though I needed to come here to understand the guessed MORES, SALARY and SCUT.

    Re 8d: as a former rower, I enjoyed watching the live stream of Henley this year. The poor cox of the Washington University eight in the final of the Grand will never forget his error in steering them too close to the booms, bringing the boat to a halt and losing what would have been a titanic race against Oxford Brookes. But I enjoyed my old school winning in style, despite the terrible weather. Budge over, jet stream!

  21. 50m, 05s but I put SCAT iso SCUT. My reasoning was ‘Second Division’ = S CAT(egory)
    Thanks, Pip, for SPECTACLE and MOT JUSTE.

  22. 25.22, an an awful lot used to solve ATTEMPT and MOT JUSTE. I completely misunderstood the clue for ATTEMPT, looking to double the T in a word for drain to give something that either meant excellent or fracture. MOT JUSTE simply wouldn’t emerge from the mist, smogged by something like HOT BUTTY (I have hot buttered toast in the morning while seeking the witty answers to the crossword).
    Now that others have mentioned it, it’s hard to see what “valued still” is doing in COPLAND, though while solving I was too busy chuckling over PC World to notice.
    Our setter has demonstrated excellent levels of sharp wit today, with some very clever but not inaccessible clues.

  23. 23.36
    Hot and humid here making me even more slow-witted than usual. I struggled at first but I liked this clever puzzle more and more as I got into it. Cod was MOT JUSTE, my last one in having finally worked out ATTEMPT.
    Even though I knew that MORES was pronounced MORE AYS. I failed to say the word to myself and thus remained baffled till I came here. Initially putting providence instead of PROVENANCE didn’t help.
    Calling someone “A little SCUT” was sometimes used as an insult by my parents.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  24. 28 mins. I needed the answer to get where the literal was in MOT JUSTE, very clever. And there was me thinking there might be a clever writer whose first name is MIT or MAT. Finally struggled with COPLAND (I’m hopeless with composers) and IDEALISTIC, which was obvious but escaped this brain.

  25. I also only knew MORES from its appearance in Flanders and Swann, so had thought it was a Latin word. Like several others, now that the ‘still’ in 2dn has been mentioned I’m not sure about it but at the time didn’t notice. 71 minutes with aids regularly used in the attempt to kick-start things. But otherwise no criticisms, very good puzzle with COPLAND and MORES highlights.

  26. 15:12 Much harder than the last two days, and much more satisfying. No problem with MORES (that’s how we learned to pronounce in Latin lessons, though it is most certainly not how any self-respecting Roman pronounced it!), or SCUT (don’t people read Watership Down any more?). There was no need to parse MOT JUSTE, VENDETTA, VICTORIA FALLS, DOWNHEARTED, etc. while solving, but having been through them just now I’m very impressed with the clueing, in particular COPLAND (COD), POWER-STEERING, and MORES. It’s weird that SCREW can be a synonym for SALARY (it being the amount you can screw out of your employer), and I’ve never come across it before. I guess those on a wage rather than a salary would expect to get a weekly screw rather than a monthly one.

    1. Funnily enough I just ‘re-read’ (on audiobook, read by Peter Capaldi) Watership Down for the first time since I was a kid. I was expecting a trip down memory lane but in reality (and as I should have expected) I had completely forgotten almost all of it. It was nonetheless delightful: Kids These Days would do so much better reading that than another prolix wizard book or the dross churned out by various TV personalities.
      Anyway I don’t remember the word SCUT coming up much, but there is a rabbit word for poo.

      1. You’re quite right. I can’t find more than a couple of scuts in WD, so I must have been thinking of another book. WD is a great novel (I wouldn’t say greater than prolix wizard books though!), and the fact that the Chinese government banned it only increases its appeal. I’m off to find those literary scuts…

        1. I’m not aware of any children’s books by Tik Tok personalities but I’d be amazed if they didn’t exist.

      1. Good question. Wiktionary says moː.reːs, so pure long vowels rather than diphthongs and an S at the end. I guess something like MAW-RARE-SS

        1. It’s pronounced either ‘morez’ or ‘moriz’. So unfortunately the homophone doesn’t work.

  27. Perhaps the ‘still’ in the COPLAND clue merely refers to the fact that he is no longer living, and that we still appreciate his noted contributions. Not terribly convincing, I know …

  28. 10:35

    For my two penn’orth I’d say “MOW-RACE”, meaning that the clue to 4D is technically wrong. But then who actually pronounces Latin correctly these days (way-nee, wee-dee, wee-key for example)?

    Loved this. 9A is a killer anagram, and there are some well hidden definitions (SCUT, BATHOS, MOT JUSTE). 12D reads a little clumsily for my taste, but I guess if it had instead been “Extremely brutal…” the clue would have been much easier.

    Thank you, compiler.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone (in the UK anyway) say anything other than MORE-RAZE (mɔːɹeɪz), with the stress on the first syllable, so MORE A’S would sound identical apart from the stress probably being on the final syllable, which is good enough for a homophone in a crossword!

        1. Merriam-Webster has ˈmȯr-ˌāz (with a soundfile) also the variant -(ˌ)ēz; Collins spells out the sound as ˈmɔːreɪz, but the soundfile gives the same pronunciation as Merriam-Webster’s first: More “A”s.

      1. I really ought to put this one to bed. Long o in Latin was pronounced “owe”, not “ore” (unlike Greek omega). S was always sibilant, so never pronounced like a z. So “mow-race” is the correct pronunciation. I’m a self-taught classicist, but my references back this up indubitably, so it’s “moce, mow-race”. It most definitely is not “morez”.

        Sorry to be a stickler, but the fact that you’ve only heard people mispronouncing something doesn’t make it right! I accept your point though that’s it’s good enough for the crossword on that basis.

        1. I don’t know what references you are looking at, but they are not correct. I shared the correct Latin pronunciation yesterday, but here it is again: /moːreːs/. Now the vowel that seems to be causing the difficulty is the o:, which is a long ‘o’ sound. It would have sounded something like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Close-mid_back_rounded_vowel.ogg. Much more similar to AWE than OWE (which is a diphthong /əʊ/ in Modern English), so the Romans would have said something like MAW for the first part of the word.
          Obviously it’s now an English word, so the Latin pronunciation is irrelevant, and the reference books are very clear as to the modern pronunciation, which is /mɔːreɪz/ i.e. very close to MORE ‘A’s (have a listen to the audio clip on the Wiktionary website if you don’t believe me!) – https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mores#English.

  29. I struggled quite a bit with this, though the vocabulary was all familiar apart from ‘screw’ for SALARY and everything parsed. MORES FOI! SCUT familiar, probably from Watership Down. Was left with my LOI 13a desperately trying to construct an anagram of ‘trade credi’. Annoyingly, all the crossers supported this, so it took a considerable time before the final C forced a re-think as the word would have ended in TEC. I am hopeless at seeing anagrams – I’m sure most people would have realised long before that this was a non-starter! Thanks for a challenging but fair puzzle.

  30. No problem with refit but couldn’t parse Copland, scut or mores – dnk the former two or how to properly pronounce the latter. Living and learning. Thanks all.

  31. DNF

    ATTRACT biffed made ART JUSTY, the well known witty critic, my 11a.
    Nonetheless, a very good puzzle, which beat me fair and square.

    Thanks all.

  32. DNF in just under 30

    Just the one letter SC_T. Couldn’t see CUT for division and had forgotten SCUT (it rang the very faintest of bells)

    Very good overall with COPLAND the standout

  33. 18:30 with a bit of dithering over SCUT, which I knew but was misled by the wordplay, and MORES, which I don’t pronounce like that any more than anyone else appears to.

  34. Came to a halt after FOI, ACADEMIA dropped straight in. Eventually got going again with ALTITUDE, TRAP and REGATTA. ULTRAVIOLET corrected my first thought of PART at 15a. Battled away and eventually closed out with PROVENANCE at 21:32. Managed to parse them all. Thanks setter and Pip.

  35. Defeated by this very enjoyable puzzle by mot juste. Even with all the checkers I could not see it and was desperately looking for a writer – mit hunte anyone? Very embarrassing once one sees the parsing but I don’t like the contrived reversal of the phrase to achieve the misdirection.
    No, I’m not bitter😂

    Thanks p and setter

  36. 36.43 with LOI mot juste, primarily because I was seeking a writer who fitted the bill. Mores seemed right but it took me ages to get the More As bit. I banged downhearted in without knowing why, apart from the fact it fitted.

    All in all a challenging crossword but well worth the effort.

  37. Just a couple short (MOT JUSTE and SCUT)

    I had some alternative parsings that satisfied me:
    — MORE S just means More South, and Panama is more south than Costa Rica
    — COPLAND was an Operating System for Apple in the 90s, so that satisfied it for me


  38. This is the sort of thing that makes me very grateful for this site. A good half dozen that I solved without knowing why. Thank you for the explanations!

  39. Either too clever by half, or just too clever for me today. I had to toss in the towel with 3 unfinished, and could not parse another several. As usual when I’m badly thrashed by the setter I found the 25 or so which I both solved and parsed to be very clear. Thx, pip

  40. An enjoyable exercise, completed in 30 minutes in the TV room while witnessing the elimination of Taylor Fritz at Wimbledon. Managed most of the parsing too, though a couple, SPECTACLE and MOT JUSTE took a while.
    COD – COPLAND – agree the ‘still’ means his music is appreciated post mortem.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  41. 34 minutes with the last 10 minutes spent on ATTEMPT and MOT JUSTE. Even once I‘d cottoned onto JUSTE I still took ages to get the MOTE part and then felt a total idiot for missing EMPTY!
    Good puzzle!
    Thanks setter and blogger, especially for explaining what a Scut is, apart from a character in Tintin I think.

  42. Finished all correct, but with MORES not understood since PANAMA has zero S and COSTA RICA has one, meaning PANAMA has less, not more. No problem with REFIT, I was looking from an M to F (or vv) immediately. I didn’t know SCUT so that was just from wordplay and checkers. I wasted some time on MOT JUSTE when I just had the M in the first word wondering if MRS BUTTS (or similar) was a person I’d never heard of.

    1. 57:09, and nearly gave up on the last few clues (IDEALISTIC, SPECTACLE, MOT JUSTE). I also spent ages trying to find the “trade credi” anagram! Not my finest hour but satisfying to persevere and get there in the end


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