Times Cryptic 26698 – April 13, 2017 10 Whoreson Unnecessaries*

You’d have thought that a setter’s determination to cram as many Zeds as possible into the grid would, once twigged, help with the solving, and it did, to an extent, as the odds on a clue containing a Zed were quite high. 5ac a case in point. But this was no quick solve for me, taking a tad over 26 minutes, and no-one (so far) is a whole lot quicker. To the setter’s additional credit, the arrangements for getting all those Zeds in don’t force odd or unknown words, though the “short letter” might be a rarity and there’s no way to get to 24d if you don’t know it (on edit, yes there is).
* I counted so you don’t have to. Felt like more, though.

Here’s my take on the solving, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS.


1 Whisky one’s missing? Nearly all love wine and soda  (8)
SPRITZER  Whisky is an example of SPIRIT, knock out a I (one) and ad ZER(o) for most of love, as in tennis.
5 Whistling device  (6)
WHEEZE   Double definition, noise form a congested chest, maybe, and the sort of plot device that Jeeves came up with to extricate Bertie from the mire, often described as jolly good.
10 Sailor also called for port  (5)
OSAKA Tried to fit a Z in, but OZ is not a sailor and OS (ordinary seaman) is. Also Known As…
11 County girl with unknown double cocktail  (5,4)
BUCKS FIZZ Orange juice and fizzy wine made from county BUCKS, girl FI and two “unknown” Zeds
12 Senseless bringing doctor in if I doze off (9)
ZOMBIFIED   Doctor here is MB, and the rest is supplied by the letters of IF I DOZE “off”
13 It might be something polar bear misses at first  (5)
TOTEM  Polar here is “like a pole”, but not in the sense of “the end of an axis”. Maybe debatable, but this is Crosswordland. Bear is TOTE, misses at first is, of course, M.
14 As female maybe avoiding relations that are unpopular, outspoken  (7)
NUNLIKE  (That) are unpopular roughly translates to “none like” which you need to say out loud.
16 Lowers cape, heading off to fight  (6)
CATTLE  C for Cape, ATTLE from fight with the front B missing.
18 We agree with that policeman’s reforms  (6)
AMENDS  AMEN, Hebrew for, um, “we agree with that”, plus a Detective Sergeant.
20 State regularly backed Maoist law on rich  (7)
CROATIA   A rather impressive reverse every other letter hCiR nO wAl TsIoAm
22 Highland track crossed by crowd going the wrong way  (5)
TYROL  Right, no arguments over Y or I today. R(ailwa)Y in LOT (crowd) all reversed.
23 See that wallaby jumps across with appropriate bounds?  (9)
ALLOWABLY  A rather unlikely looking source of anagram fodder nevertheless “jumps” and arranges itself across (around, here) LO for see.
25 Caught in trap, live, outside in fruit tree (9)
NECTARINE  Trap is NET, insert C(aught), live is ARE (Hancock, anyone?) and is placed outside IN
26 Girl’s new top: ace for going about!  (5)
LINDA  Top LID and A go about N(ew)
27 In a jacket that’s too short  (6)
ABLAZE  When a fire is “in” its burning. A short jacket is A BLAZE(r)
28 US film producer does prison flogging — audio version  (8)
SELZNICK  Sounds like (radio version) SELLS NICK.


1 Dropping off pair with hands bleeding  (8)
SNOOZING  I like “pair with hands” for bridge partners South and North. OOZING for bleeding is just a bit yucky.
2 Concrete mass in field  (5)
REALM  As in scientific field. Concrete REAL and M(ass)
3 Music played at Ritz — and Oz jail  (11,4)
4 Very black time I had in middle of Greece’s recession  (3-4)
EBB TIDE  That soft, ruboutable pencil your holding right now is a BB, then T(ime) I (ha)d all within the middle of GrEEce
6 Dance tantalizes with nothing exotic  (10,5)
HESITATION WALTZ  An anagram “exotic” of TANTALIZES WITH plus O, nothing.
7 Short letter recalled gym has been made available for hire  (9)
EPISTOLET  and yes, it’s a real word. Gym, PE is “recalled”, then a straight translation of the rest of the clue: IS TO LET.
8  Frenzy merely shows one used to get a reaction  (6)
ENZYME  The “hidden” du jour. FrENZY MErely
9 One grabbed twice by bisexual tart (6)
ACIDIC  Oooer. I (one) appears in two locations in AC/DC, swings both ways, doubles the chance of a date on a Friday night.
15 Figured men should support miners  (9)
NUMERICAL   I suppose figured = having numbers. The one time mighty National Union of Miners (betrayed by Scargill/smashed by Thatcher) is supported by ERIC and AL, two gentlemen
17 Slothful water carrier who fell lifting tool (4,4)
LAZY JACK Does a system of ropes constitute a tool?  Chambers has “a jack constructed of compound levers pivoted together”, but Google has nothing of the sort. Slothful LAZY, JACK the post traumatic stress disorder victim allegedly healed with a combination of acetic acid and one of Julie Andrews’ favourite things minus the string and the packages.
19 Sons each bearing something refreshing  (3,3)
SEA AIR  S(ons) EA(ch)  amd AIR for bearing. “as I walked along the boulevard with an independent air”
20 King’s maybe a merry one, crossing stage  (7)
COLLEGE  A merry king is COLE, insert LEG for stage (think Tour de France)
21 Lines of volunteers land faraway in it  (6)
STANZA  Volunteers, the TA, NZ the “land far away” (unless you live there) both contained within S(ex) A(ppeal) or IT.
24 Spot on head of Indian  (5)
BINDI  Is pretty much what it says in this almost not cryptic clue. But it is also BIND (spot, as in of bother) and head of I(ndian). A smart & lit that fooled me into thinking there was no cryptic.

49 comments on “Times Cryptic 26698 – April 13, 2017 10 Whoreson Unnecessaries*”

  1. … zeds in my first three in (1ac, 5ac, 11ac). Stood me in good stead for STANZA when all but the T were blank. Had a bit of trouble at the end with the LINDA/BINDI crossers. The latter is a brilliant &lit — my favourite clue type. Nice blog Z! But can you explain the title? (Feeling a bit stupid today.)

    On edit: Oh! Just seen it’s from King Lear.

    Edited at 2017-04-13 02:01 am (UTC)

  2. Just on 21 minutes and surprisingly I was the best time after the puzzle had been live for about two hours. NUNLIKE was my last in but the one that I really was worried about was LAZY JACK who I just presume is Lazy Susan’s poor cousin. Decidedly odd puzzle.
  3. After almost an hour I gave up on NUNLIKE, which I now see is a brilliant clue. Just couldn’t see it at the time, despite twigging to the “female avoiding relations” device. Considered NUNCIVE, NUNNINE and other unlikely constructions, but not the blindingly obvious one.

    Also would have got STANZA more quickly if it said “nearby” instead of “faraway”.

    Very interesting puzzle, and nice to see the setter paying homage to the Thursday blogger. Well done both of them.

    1. … the blogger is our Z8 and there are 9 Zs in the grid. Time for a name change?
      1. 10 actually. One in each of the eight words on the perimeter plus two more in “fiZz” and “jaZz”.

        An excellent puzzle that reminded me of Dean’s style in some ways although the clues are longer than he usually sets these days.

        Spotting the Zs around the edges helped me get to the answer at 5ac, otherwise I may still have been looking for it. I sort of see BIND (spot), I{ndian} [head] now although I’d never have thought of it without reverse engineering, but I still think the clue lets down an otherwise superb puzzle as it could almost have appeared without alteration in a GK puzzle, so clearly was it asking what the spot is called.

        Solving the QC before coming to this helped with 27ac, and 12ac to a lesser extent.

        Edited at 2017-04-13 04:16 am (UTC)

        1. I didn’t know the name of the spot and enjoyed puzzling it out and the penny-drop moment that followed. I fancy a fair few regulars will be in that boat.

          Edited at 2017-04-13 09:58 am (UTC)

  4. 21:52 … I seem to keep saying “that was fun”, but yet again it was! Great fun. I really appreciate the extra effort that went into creating this.

    Yesterday’s dietician debacle put me on guard and I didn’t write in BINDI until I’d made sense of the clue. Didn’t BINDI come up not so long ago?

    Last in the mind-bending NUNLIKE.

    COD … ACIDIC — genius clue

        1. Whenever it was, I learned then that BHINDI and BINDHI are not the same thing, and that the latter can also be spelled BINDI. This helped a lot today with what I initially took to be a not-very-cryptic definition.
  5. Another puzzle where I just couldn’t get there in my hour. As with yesterday, quite a few left over, including the unknown meaning of “in” for ABLAZE and the unknown waltz. There were a few where I’d got close—considering a nun in 14, thinking about cows for 16—but hadn’t quite made the full leap.

    At least I got the unknown producer; glad he wasn’t CELZNICK, which seems to be a common alternative. (I barely know the names of film producers whose films I’ve actually seen…)

  6. 35 minutes. Excellent crossword. I have just re-read the clues and they are beautifully crafted. Thanks for the blog Z10b5k4.

    Last night it was great to put faces to a few names. Good fun.

  7. Not for me to say, perhaps, but there are 8 Zeds around the perimeter, and the is even a Zab in the bottom left hand corner, and if I were the setter, and my attempt to celebrate one of the bloggers had been missed by the blogger himself, I might be a bit crestfallen. So wow and thanks!
    1. Perhaps also worth noting that the the setter could only get the timing right if he or she happened to be the editor…
  8. I was in a haze with this one for a long time before the fuzz lifted and I completed the maze with zeal although I had to hazard a guess with a couple. Quite a zany puzzle which gave me quite a buzz.
    LOI 23a to just creep in the hour mark, mainly as I thought the anagram was WALLABY and AE (bounds of “allowable”) with “see” as the straight clue.
    Shame one of the answers wasn’t IZZARD.
  9. 45 minutes for this, having gone up several blind alleys, including docking at that mighty shipping hub ABAKA, eating a BALTI Indian, and developing STIGMATA bleeding hands for Easter which naturally led to the Zombies being mummified. All turned out OK in the end, though I’ve never heard of the constructible LAZY JACK. NUNLIKE, obvious from crossers, is a whole jaw drop from a homophone to me, and doesn’t apply to many females of my acquaintance either, although I don’t know what nuns are really like, so perhaps it does. LOI SELZNICK was also semi-biffed, Gone with the Wind being even from before me. COD the brilliant ACIDIC. A good if hard puzzle. Thank you Z and setter. It was great stuff meeting people last night at the George.

    Edited at 2017-04-13 08:38 am (UTC)

  10. I really enjoyed this (over almond milk porridge). I assume it is a well deserved tribute to Z8 who always provides such great insight and entertainment.

    I took about 55mins. I loved the polar bear. But spent ages trying to add ‘men’ to NUM. Who’d have thought that all I needed was our old friends Eric and Al?

    Many thanks to the setter – who has shown that we have no need to fear the whoreson Zed.

  11. Took an age but I thought this was the finest puzzle I have seen for a very long time. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and there were indeed quite a lot of minutes. Beautifully structured clues that were of the very highest calibre. Keep ’em coming, O wondrous setter!
  12. Well, that was full of pizzazz even if I did zigzag across the grid at times

    All good fun so well done setter and blogger

  13. 30:27. I found that extremely hard, but I thought it was brilliant. If my beer-addled memory from yesterday evening isn’t playing tricks on me I believe it’s one of the editor’s, which would explain both the quality and my difficulty with it. I group his puzzles with John Henderson’s in a mental category labelled ‘masochism’.
    It really was great fun to solve though, apart from perhaps five minutes about half-way through when I really thought I wasn’t going to get any further.
    Very nice to catch up and meet a few new people yesterday.

    Edited at 2017-04-13 08:08 am (UTC)

  14. Thoroughly enjoyed this and was pretty much on wavelength,but my miniscule knowledge of cinema held me up trying to make penz.i.k work at 28. Then further delay for my LOI 14 one where you have the answer but don’t believe it. COD 9, about 40 with a parcel delivery. Thanks to z8 and setter
  15. I was quite glad that my boss arrived in the office and interrupted my solving with some demands for actual work, as it means I don’t have to own up to my hangover-impaired time… over the 20 minute mark whichever way I try to cut it I’m sure. Great to meet so many Timesy people last night and I just wish I’d managed to eat some food before accepting that many drinks. Ow, ow, ow.

    Excellent puzzle and I had the same experience as many of thinking “oh! lots of z’s! well this should be easy now” followed by “argh! this isn’t easy at all”. Well played, setter, well played.

  16. Nice puzzle, nice BINDI in particular, but why all the Zs? Is it seriously a paean to the blogger? I am confused.
  17. Great puzzle. Just like galspray, nearly an hour then fell at NUNLIKE. Also reminds me of my favourite quiz question about the volume of a piece of circular bread with height a and radius z. Thanks z and setter.
  18. While conceding that you can’t have puzzles like this all the time (if you did, nobody would ever graduate from the QC) sometimes you need something which provides a real challenge. Very satisfying to complete – LOI was the top right corner, where I had a bit of an alphabetical run-through the unchecked letters of _H_E_E and, almost as if I hadn’t noticed the really obvious feature of this puzzle, started with A, rather than the other end of the alphabet, which would have been considerably more helpful…

    Compliments to setter and blogger.

  19. Have to admit this was beyond my skills. A bit like a part time pianist watching a maestro – very awe inspiring. Back to the beginners puZZle for me! Bank holiday soon so wishing all a good long weekend.
  20. Didn’t get 5: allowably, Selznick, snoozing, hes waltz and stanza.

    For 25a why does live = ARE?

    COD acidic,

    to Bon Scott:
    Are you AC or DC?

    “Neither, I’m the flash in the middle”!

  21. This turned into something of an epic for me, played out over several several short sessions. I found many of the clues really tough, but I do love a penny-drop moment and there were plenty of those.

    ARE for “lives” I hadn’t seen before, and I can’t quite get my head round it. Sadly the Hancock reference does nothing to enlighten me. Also IN for “ablaze” was new to me and I can almost guarantee I’ll have forgotten all about it by the time it turns up again.

    Overall though, I’m blown away by the quality, and still marvelling at the skill required to get all those zeds in so naturally around the outside. Just brilliant.

    Edited at 2017-04-13 12:49 pm (UTC)

    1. It’s “live” rather than “lives”.

      1st definition of BE in Chanbers is to live, so you/they/we are = you/they/we live.

      1. Oh my goodness! I could’ve sworn it was “lives” but I see I misread. Thanks for putting me straight.
    2. The Hancock reference was prompted by the “is are” combination, which possibly only had resonance for me. In the Radio Ham, Tony’s almost only contact is a Japanese with fractured English who seemed always to be reporting “it is are raining here in Tokyo”, a phrase that has stuck with me down the decades.Unravelling crossword clues sometimes leads to bizarre looking grammar, in this case “live is are”.
      1. Ah… Another penny drops. That line never stuck with me in the same way, but then there are so many gems to choose from. Thanks.
  22. Great puzzle, was determined to finish, but alas, it beat me! NUNLIKE, SELZNICK and the JACK bit of 17dn remained unsolved after an hour or so. I’ll add my appreciation to the skills of both setter and blogger. Many thanks!

  23. 18:13 for a splendid puzzle, so thanks all round.

    The Zs certainly helped me with the dance without which I would have struggled with the unknown producer. I also had to trust that BINDI was the name of the spot, based on a loose connection to my go-to vegetable in curry houses.

    COD to ACIDIC.

  24. This was the one that had me dithering because I couldn’t see “it”. For some reason I did know BINDI and I think it must be from the Raj Quartet – the scene where Daphne and Hari go to the temple and she gets a rather messy one thumb-printed on her forehead.

    Speaking of quartets, I like to think Z was indeed getting a shout-out here. Verlaine has had one and I’ve had a couple so now it’s Sotira’s turn as the 4th member of our TLS blogging crew. I’d been wondering how the setter would handle Zabadak and had been idly playing with a combo of Balzac and zabaglione…24.35

  25. Great puzzle. I was feeling rather bleh this morning but this went a long way to cheering me up. I wasted a lot of time on the SE corner because I’d biffed HESITATION TANGO. 47 minutes. Ann
  26. 32 mins. Tough but satisfying. Seeing the possibility of all the Zs around the edges certainly helped. I spent about 4 mins at the end on BINDI because I’d forgotten the name of the Indian mark and it took that long for me to see spot=bind. It didn’t help that the wordplay could have been interpreted as meaning that either “spot” or “spot on” was the definition for B?N?. Top quality.

    I’m glad those who gathered together last night seem to have had a good time.

  27. I did this one in several sessions over the day, totalling around two hours of actual solving time. The rest of the time was filled in with a family breakfast and then a hike around the southern end of the island in bright sunshine and a bit of a breeze. I have to admit to being defeated by SELZNICK(just the NICK bit) and NECTARINE(I was working on BE instead of ARE) and looking them up in order to continue with the puzzle. however I did eventually manage to solve the rest. A piece de resistance from the setter and a well deserved tribute to Z, to whom thanks for yet another entertaining blog. I particularly liked the Brown Paper reference:-)
  28. Wonderful puzzle, and if an acknowledgement of the blogger, even more impressive. Great stuff all around, especially NUNLIKE and ACIDIC. LOI for me was BINDI after LINDA. I needed all the crossers to remember what that was called. Thank you setter, a zuperb effort. Regards.
  29. I thought this was a top quality puzzle, just terrific cluing from start to finish, plus the fun with all the Zs without sacrificing any quality. Felt a bit foggy this morning after probably overdoing it in the pub last night (very nice meeting some of the folk from these parts) No time for me, just pleased to finish it. Most trouble was in the SW but too much fun not to persevere and get over the finish line. A real feeling of satisfaction to finish all correctly parsed. Too many great clues to nominate a COD. Thanks to the setter and blogger.
  30. I loved the Z theme… and who better to be doing the blog! Thanks Z – great narrative, as always. After a few answers I tried for as many Z’s as I could, which helped with 5a, among others. I got to 27a and thought “haven’t I seen this already?” – yes, like jackt, I’d done the QC first. The polar TOTEM had me raising an eyebrow, but otherwise lots of fun clues. COLLEGE my favourite, working, as I do, at a non-teaching department of the “fenland poly”, as one of our contributors here described it recently. SE corner my last. (I’d never heard of a LAZY JACK, and, no – 24d wasn’t BLAZE). But 10 Z’s in one puzzle is zany and amazing. 28:20
  31. 17:16 for me, with the last couple of minutes spent parsing LINDA (to eliminate LYNDA or any other girl’s name that might have fitted).

    I biffed HESITATION WALTZ. I seem to remember being taught something with that name many years ago, but it must have been at best a cut-down version of the delightful version danced by Tim Lamm and Paula Harrison on YouTube.

    I’d never heard of LAZY JACK, but at least the wordplay (and the need for a Z) made the answer pretty certain.

    I see several other solvers have used the word “fun” for this puzzle, and that was the first word I thought of to describe it too. I raise my hat to the setter.

  32. A DNF after 90mins with 24dn BINDI missing and 26ac LINDA very uncertain as I missed the LID – LYNDA LYDIA LAURA and others in the queue.
    COD 9dn ACIDIC. WOD 12ac ZOMBIFIED which describes me perfectly.

    Edited at 2017-04-14 07:40 am (UTC)

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