Times Cryptic 28346

Solving time: 46 minutes.  I had lots of MERS and queries whilst solving this and some answers went in without a great deal of confidence as I wasn’t completely sure of the definition or wordplay. I think I resolved everything whilst writing the blog but some of it was hard work and the fact that there was so much outstanding during the solve was why I felt little sense of satisfaction on completing the grid.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Son covered in blubber is to cut back on food (4)
S (son) contained by [covered in] FAT (blubber). A nice easy clue that got me off to a flying start and together with the intersecting 1dn gave me a false sense of security about what was to come.
3 Poor quality harness — it’s breaking (10)
Anagram [breaking] of HARNESS IT’S. I took ages to work out the anagram. I had started by thinking it would end with -NESS but quickly dismissed that as the setter surely wouldn’t have used -NESS in both clue and the solution?  I needed more checkers before the penny finally dropped.
9 Think again about what’s the correct short title for a vicar? (7)
What’s the correct short title for a vicar? REV, IS IT?
11 Logical operations run a small country (7)
AND / OR (logical operations – in a spreadsheet formula, for example), R (run), A. This was one I had doubts about the wordplay but I’ve given you my best guess at it. 
12 Part of Oklahoma gets millions for parking abuse (9)
‘Panhandle’ (part of Oklahoma) becomes MANHANDLE when M (millions) is substituted for P (parking). I struggled with this because I wasn’t aware of  ‘panhandle’ as part of Oklahoma. My only reference point for the word would have been the theme song to the TV Western Bronco which mentions a panhandle in Texas. I didn’t know there were others.
13 Hit small child (5)
S (small), MITE (child). A  welcome straightforward clue to parse but I took a while to come up with the answer.
14 Stop tungsten and silver working in estate in Florida (7,5)
STATION (stop), W (tungsten – aka ‘wolfram’), AG (silver – more Periodic Table), ON (working). ‘The next station stop will be…’ is a tautology favoured in on-train announcements in the UK. After the panhandle thing I was expecting another specific USA geographical reference, but ‘Florida’ was there only to indicate an American word for what we call an estate car.
18 Sally’s moving through this person’s agency (6-6)
I’ve no idea how I got to this answer unless it was by coming up with two words that fitted the checkers (I had all of them by that stage) and noticing they fitted together to make a reference to campanology, a pursuit in which in bell-ringers ring changes. I bunged it in and after completing the puzzle  set out to discover what ‘sally’ had to do with the price of fish. I found this in SOED: sally  (1) The first movement of a bell when set for ringing; the position of a bell when set. (2) The part of a bell rope near the lower end which has coloured wool woven into it to provide a grip for the hands. Either will do, but I think the second one sits a little better with the clue. Very obscure stuff! On edit: I’ve now remembered going on a tour of our local parish church  when I was about 12 which included the bell-ringing chamber halfway up the tower and being given a demonstration by one of the ringers who mentioned the word ‘sally’. So I knew it all along but it didn’t  came to mind during the solve.
21 Lingering impression is old and unfriendly (5)
O (old), DOUR (unfriendly). An easy clue to explain and much needed after 20ac where I felt I’d have really earned my remuneration if there was one!
22 Really appreciate artist during god’s festival (5,4)
DIG (really appreciate  – dated slang) + RA (artist) contained by [during] MARS (god of war)
24 Little committee agreement (7)
COM (committee), PACT (agreement). Another answer that had me working hard on the parsing. When solving I thought it was a double-definition, possibly even a triple, but having failed to account satisfactorily for ‘committee’ I gave up on that idea and learned that COM is a valid abbreviation of  ‘committee’ which then provided a simpler explanation.
25 Not a horse running in shape (7)
NO (not a),  NAG (horse), ON (running – ‘working’ as in 14ac)
26 Cook penne with cream for enduring quality (10)
Anagram [cook] of PENNE CREAM
27 Bank of Scotland’s courageous? Not very (4)
BRA{v}E  (courageous) [not very – v]. Some may be familiar with the Robert Burns poem that begins Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon  set to the music of a traditional folk song. Here’s a gentle instrumental version in an arrangement by the always interesting Percy Aldridge Grainger.
1 Leading stronghold invaded by part of rising (8)
FORT (stronghold) containing [invaded by] SOME (part of) reversed [rising]
2 Plain   Georgian city (8)
Two meanings, the second being in the US state of Georgia
4 Did judge desert extremely dry at first (5)
RAT (desert), then E{xtremely} + D{ry} [at first]
5 Draw in game, some initially report, before tea (9)
S{ome} [initially], TALE (report), MATÉ (tea)
6 What’s to the south of the Himalayas? Not a poor state (13)
What’s to the south of the Himalayas? INDI{a}‘S POSITION [not a]. Another riddle clue in the style of 9ac. Dear, oh dear!
7 Eavesdrop with Beethoven — first half’s organ (6)
EAR (organ} becomes the [first half] of {Lud}WIG (van Beethoven)
8 Southern harbour reduced by small amount (6)
S (southern), HAVEN (harbour)
10 Fleet’s spell on island hurt girl (7,6)
SPAN (spell), IS (island), HARM (hurt), ADA (girl). I wasn’t sure about ‘spell / SPAN’ but I think it works for a period of time.
15 Micromillimetre — a term none read wrongly (9)
Anagram [read wrongly]  of A TERM NONE. Another anagram where much of the anagrist appears in answer in the same order as in the definition.
16 What reduces flow in a petrol station, mostly a resistance (4-4)
A, GARAG{e} (petrol station) [mostly], A, R (resistance). It’s a thickening agent used in cookery.
17 Appearance of coppers round residence (8)
PENCE (coppers) containing [round] RES (residence). ‘Des res’ (desirable residence)  is used a lot on the property market.
19 What has to speed up protection? (6)
TO, then PACE (speed) reversed [up]
20 Mould, perhaps in fine abalone (6)
F (fine), ORMER (abalone). This is  an edible marine mollusc and  it’s handy that it turned up in another puzzle within the past week or two so it was fresh in my mind.
23 Manage in charge of old Scandinavian? (5)
RUN (manage), IC (in charge). SOED: Of or pertaining to ancient Scandinavia. I didn’t know this specific meaning, but it had to be.

69 comments on “Times Cryptic 28346”

  1. 18:13
    Like Jack, I had no idea what Sally was doing, but the checkers suggested CHANGE-RINGER (and nothing else). Biffed 10d SPANISH ARMADA, parsed post-submission. If you look at a map of Oklahoma, you’ll see a skinny strip of land on the west. I knew ‘panhandle’ from Golden Gate Park’s. I was grateful for the recent appearance of ‘ormer’. Not that it matters, but I took ‘logical operations’ to be operations in propositional logic, viz. conjunction and disjunction (AND & and OR v); I don’t know from spreadsheets. Liked BRAE.

    1. I don’t know the terminology you use, Kevin, but I think we’re onto the same thing. Logical functions in spreadsheet formulas include IF, AND, OR, TRUE, FALSE, NOT.

      1. I think it would have been better as “operators” than as “operations,” but it didn’t give me pause while solving.

      2. As I said, not that it matters. I know nothing of spreadsheets, and was just a bit concerned by the slash in AND/OR; I saw the clue as AND OR R A.

      3. AND and OR are logic gates used in computing so I assumed this was a reference to the operations they carry out – whatever those are!

        1. The commonest gate in electronics is the NAND gate, confusingly “not AND” in other words, the output is true if the two inputs are different.

      4. As Guy states, “operators” would have been better than “operations” (by using the correct term) but it would also have created a somewhat smoother surface.
        Thanks, Jack, for researching “Sally” and explaining 18ac.

    2. 23 and a half minutes or so, couldn’t see how CHANGE RINGER, my best guess for my last remaining clue, worked; so I left it unfilled. Annoying.

      I do think ‘micromillimetre’ for NANOMETRE is inelegant.

  2. The Florida Panhandle is fairly well-known too,stretching from around the state capital Tallahassee to the Alabama border with the Gulf of Mexico to the south and Georgia to the north.

  3. I know what change-ringing is (thank you Dorothy Sayers and Bells on Sunday), but sally was completely unfamiliar. I left every other character blank and collected a pleasing DNF DQ. Other than staring at the crossers for Stalemate for longer than should have been necessary everything went in easily. I’m with jackkt on the ‘does it count as an anagram if most of the anagrist is already in proper order?’ question.

    1. Perhaps a valid criticism for the NESS, but I would have thought that NANOMETRE was a pretty reasonable jumbling of A TERM NONE.

      1. Yes, but I think Jack’s point is that we have two « ness’s » in 3ac and two « mètres » in 15d.

        1. Ah yes. I incorrectly read it as him comparing the anagrist to the solution.

  4. A 65 minute DNF. If there’s no such word as “indislocation” then there should be. Would never have known what was going on with CHANGE-RINGER anyway and couldn’t parse SPANISH ARMADA. One of those days.

  5. jackkt has neatly listed all of my concerns. This is another crossword that needed editing.

  6. Reasonably speedy until the last 2: indisposition just took a long time to come up with; and change-ringer a total guess after an alphabet trawl, remembering ringing the changes in past puzzles. No real problems or quibbles except a couple of guesses needed, the second com = committee much easier than sally being ?something? Thanks jackkt for the detective work.

  7. Hey, Jackkt, my home state of West Virginia has two (count ’em, 2) panhandles. And I don’t know how many panhandlers (sigh).
    AGAR-AGAR came late, but the only unfathomable thing here was (big surprise) “sally” in the context of CHANGE-RINGER, my LOI, with crossed fingers (then I looked Sally up).

    It would normally bother me if a clue definition and its answer both ended in “ness,” but the recurrence in the same order of four of the 10 anagrist letters in HARNESS didn’t bother me. There’s no such recurrence in NANOMETRE of A TERM NONE, but there is repetition of 1/3rd of the definition as 5/9ths of the answer. This could have been avoided easily enough.

    Yet I liked this puzzle well enough.

  8. Got most of this in about half an hour, then couldn’t come up with the last three—CHANGE-RINGER, INDISPOSITION and SMITE, oddly—no matter how much I stared. Just one of those days when the brain wasn’t working, it seems, though of course I also had no idea about the campanology reference. I was still trying to think of names for people who chucked things at an Aunt Sally at a fairground when I just threw in the towel in frustration.

  9. 23:23, a large portion of which was spent staring at the crossers for CHANGE-RINGER.

    Really enjoyed the puzzle, especially the appearance of AND and OR. Turns out that gates were a big deal in computing long before the founder of Microsoft. (Attempted IT joke, needs work).

    Thought REVISIT and STATION WAGON were both excellent as well. Thanks setter and Jack.

    1. A joke about gates is your will?
      It’s open and shut. You can chill
      NOR is IT funny
      (That pun takes the money)
      I thank you. I’ll send you the Bill.

  10. Just over the hour with at least 10 mins staring at the crossers in 18ac. Eventually bunged in CHANGE-RINGER with fingers crossed.Big thanks to Jack today for unraveling the complexities of this one. An unenviable task, especially the above mentioned C-R.

    Agree with Jack on the NESS/MÈTRE thing.

    I did like BRAE.

    Thanks Jack and quirky setter.

    1. Sadly I went with change rigger- having spent at least 10 minutes trying various options
      The alleged definition needed of sally isn’t in the dictionary app I use either!
      I’ll try again tomorrow
      Thanks blogger

      1. Perhaps you might consider changing your dictionary app, at least for Times crossword purposes. The Times uses Collins and Lexico (Oxford Dictionary of English)) principally with occasional reliance on Chambers. All are available free on-line, though there is also a paid-for Chambers app. The required (not alleged) meaning of ‘sally’ is in all of them.

  11. 27 minutes with LOI CHANGE-RINGER needing several minutes pause before I thought of someone ringing the changes. I had SLIVER for 8d at first, not that Liverpool Pier Head can really be described as a harbour, but ANDORRA put me right. COD to EARWIG for the Ludwig Van. I liked REVISIT too. I’d no idea where the panhandle was but the cryptic and crossers were kind. Enjoyable. Thank you Jack and setter.

  12. First 70% fairly straightforward, then hard slog to finish this off with MANHANDLE, CHANGE-RINGER and finally PRESENCE (totally oblivious to the “coppers” = PENCE device, not for the first time). Previous comments pretty much cover my thoughts, I’ll just add that Bells On Sunday is the worst radio programme in world history – everyone responsible should be slowly tortured to death (by me).

    For the last 15 minutes I just wanted it all to end – to the extent that I skipped my usual typo-check, and found I had a 1-char boob in ARMADA. 42:47, thanks J and setter.

    1. Absolutely, slow lingering death involving hot oil and fingernail pliers is to be recommended!

      PS from Mikado:
      Mikado. Yes. Something lingering, with boiling oil in it, I fancy. Something of that sort. I think boiling oil occurs in it, but I’m not sure. I know it’s something humorous, but lingering, with either boiling oil or melted lead. Come, come, don’t fret — I’m not a bit angry.

  13. Gave it a good bash but DNF after an hour or so.

    Just could not see TOECAP, FORMER or PRESENCE (kicking myself for looking only for police acronyms for the latter – lesson learned I hope) and wouldn’t have known, and still don’t like the clue or answer for, CHANGE RINGER.

    Agree re clumsy “ness”s and “metre”s so not a particularly satisfying session all round although I do like the type of clue that gives REVISIT and INDISPOSITION, and separately MANHANDLE.

    A really valuable and honest blog, thanks Jackkt.

    Question: remind me please, what is MER?

    1. Minor Eyebrow Raise – there’s a Glossary link in the right-hand column of this page

      1. Thank you DT- a new resource to me (and one that I should probably have been big enough to go and find for myself!)

        1. The Glossary is also accessible via the drop-down Help menu at the top of the page.

          1. Bizarre coincidence – just now received a marketing industry email from Digiday entitled “WTF is MER?” …apparently it’s also Marketing Effectiveness Ratio.

            I prefer TfTT version!!

  14. 13:50 with a total guess at the end on CHANGE-RINGER based purely on the checkers.
    I didn’t understand COMPACT, assuming that ‘agreement’ was a definition and wondering how to account for ‘committee’.

  15. 45 mins, no particular problems, just finished rereading Dorothy L Sayers The Nine Tailors as referred to by Paul in London above, so no issue with sally.

    1. There are two kinds of detective stories – The Nine Tailors being in the class of those very much worth re-reading even when you know who did it and why.

      1. It’s a very good one as you say Paul and the “murderer(s)” give it quite a plot twist.

  16. Another speedy one, although held up for a minute trying to work INDUS… the river into 6d. 17 minutes no MERs. Knew vaguely about sally to do with bell ringing.

  17. 23:15, but sadly a cursory proof read failed to reveal PRESENEE, leading to cursing. FAST was FOI and LOI, CHANGE-RINGER, went in from crossers and a vague feeling that campanology was involved. I also wasted time on INDUS. Thanks setter and Jack.

  18. 52:35. Thank you Jackkt for a fine blog that seemed uncannily to report my own experience with this puzzle. COD AGAR-AGAR for the surprising transformation of the garage

  19. 26’38”. Rare morning solve for me. Not sure I’m any brighter or bushier-tailed. Like many others, I assumed sally had a bell-ringing connotation — like tailors (cf Dorothy Sayers, whose book I read years ago but don’t remember it mentioning sallies). My difficulty was that I had the checkers that triggered thoughts of ‘charge’ (also as in sally), so wasted time thinking of charge-nurses and such like. Nearly swerved off-piste by putting in panhandle sted manhandle, put luckily couldn’t find a 1d that fitted. Didn’t mind the -ness repetition in 3 across so much, but the -metre in 15d was indeed very lame. It shouldn’t have been too hard to summon up a different definition. Having made that minor gripe, I can only express once again a hearty thanks to all!

  20. DNF
    Beaten by CHANGE RINGER, having reluctantly decided that even his harshest critic wouldn’t have called Leonard Cohen a WHINGE SINGER.

    Similar reservations to Jack about this, and I’m grateful to him for explaining EARWIG, (which is now COD)

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  21. 33:27 but…

    Well, I’d heard of change-ringing of course but had no idea that was what was referred to, so after several mins of trying WHENCE, WHINGE, CHANCE, THENCE in combination with FINGER, BINGER (someone who binges), DIGGER, RIGGER etc etc I gave up and came here for succour.

    The rest wasn’t too bad but hadn’t heard of SAVANNAH as a place in Georgia, and assumed panhandle to be something Oklahoman after getting MANHANDLE from checkers.

  22. 23:11, I’m going to blame the infernal heat for the fact that my brain appears to have turned to mush in the last couple of days, and go for lie down in a darkened room.

  23. 18:20 with some fleeting and untroubling assumptions about a city in Georgia and yet another meaning of sally. Not the slickest collection of surface readings but no quibbles, though I did wonder whether AND/OR was a single operator/operation rather than plural, though of course it could be either if separated. I think.

  24. There are quite a number of US states with panhandles and I know I picked up the term from weather (particularly hurricane and tornado) reports. Louisiana has a well-known one and also a famous MARDI GRAS festival. So it took a while for me to think of some salient feature of OK and the song (where the wind comes sweeping down the plain?) didn’t help much. The weird shape of the states that have them came about as the result of treaties and compromises and general horse-dealing when various territories were added to the union. It wasn’t gerrymandering which is a whole other story. 20.24

  25. “Like a blackbird I’ve got CHANGES to RING” (Jethro Tull : ‘With You There to Help Me’ from the album ‘Benefit’).

    I was never comfortable with this Americana-fest.

    TIME 14:58

  26. All went quite well until I was left with the sally clue, which completely defeated me despite my having all the checkers. So I copped out electronically, and used a dictionary to explain, since it meant nothing to me. I finished in 28 minutes but would still be there now without my having ‘cheated’. Quite enjoyed the jokey clues REVISIT and INDISPOSITION. Evidently Jack didn’t, despite everything else hitting the button.

    1. I didn’t mind the one (with no preference) but two in the same puzzle was excessive in my view.

  27. DNF. Had everything sorted in 29.50 apart from change ringer, nearest I got was chance rigger! I presume it’s a campanology question but will now check above for further enlightenment.

  28. Guessed CHANGE-RINGER just because of “Ringing the changes” but wasn’t sure if it was going to be some sort of RIGGER and an obscure nautical term as I hadn’t heard of a SALLY. Defeated by TOECAP despite guessing construction would be to do with PACE, and NHO BRAE.

  29. Rattled through this one until I got to the SW where I stalled bigtime. My little brain couldn’t work out why it was FORMER for mould for far too long. That left the COM which was unknown to me, and I never saw the PACE reversal at all.
    Had to check on Sally before submitting

  30. Good crossword, stuck on 6d for ages thanks to getting Indus in my head. Like many I biffed 18a. COD was 9ac.

  31. No problem for me until the end with AGAR-AGAR and CHANGE-RINGER. I “knew” gum-agar, which doesn’t actually exist and is actually gum-arabic. Once I fitted CHANGE-RINGER to the checkers I remembered Sally was something to do with bell ringing (the largest bell?) so I was confident that was right. Living in the US and working in semiconductors, I had no problem with PANHANDLE, NANOMETRE, AND and OR gates, SAVANNAH (the destination of Sherman’s ‘march to the sea’ at the end of the civil war). I also lived in Scotland for years, so no problem with BRAE. Curiously, the most famous song is “Ye banks and braes” which sort of implies they are not the same thing, although to me one is just the English word and one the Scottish word for a hillside.

  32. Actually I really enjoyed this with few queries. Did not know that Oklahoma has a panhandle but very familiar with the Florida one. Sally and change ringing did come to mind – I’m sure from the nine tailors as I’ve never read anything else about bell ringing. Unfortunately a very respectable 19 minute solved by a bad parsing of 8d – S (outhern) HAVE (harbour reduced) by S (small) to give SHAVES small amounts. Reading it back again still not sure it’s not equally valid.

    Anyway a close shave.

    Thanks J and setter

    1. Nearly, but the definition would have to be just ‘amount’ (since ‘small’ is already used to indicate S) which I don’t think cuts it as a definition for SHAVES.

  33. Beaten by 18ac going for an unlikely CHANCE DANGER. Over my time limit anyway at 52.10, the last 10 of which were spent trying to fathom who Sally was!

  34. @Jackkt re 14a … ‘Station stop’ is not a tautology. For example, going west from Hove on the train, the next station is always Aldrington but the next station stop is usually Portslade as hardly any trains stop at AGT!

    1. I’m not sure I can see the point of being told what the next station is if the train one’s on doesn’t stop there. For years ‘the next station is…’ or ‘our next stop is…’ was considered sufficient until somebody re-wrote the script.

        1. As the next ‘stop’ maybe at a red signal, they make that clear by stating ‘station stop’

  35. Too hot to go out so I had plenty of time to stare at LOI 18a before CHANGE RINGER emerged as the leading candidate. I thought Sally was Charge so was trying to work that in.
    I liked quite a lot of this although it did feel like the second choice puzzle for 4th July.

  36. DNF. Ran through most of this in about 20 minutes but gave up on change-ringer, had no idea what was going on there. A bit deflating.

  37. 53 minutes. Agree with many of the comments here. I didn’t warm to this one somehow.

  38. Late posting. All done and dusted in 43 minutes. Much Americana which never bothers me as American politics has been my main interest for many years.

    FOI 1ac FAST – so a fast start!
    LOI 1dn! FOREMOST – lastmost!
    COD 12ac MANHANDLE could almost describe a PANHANDLE!
    WOD 16dn AGAR-AGAR

    18ac was a early entry thanks to the brilliant Miss Sayers, who used to work at S.H. Benson back in the day – ‘Murder Must Advertise’.

  39. Same comments as other, greater minds: off to a FAST start with a few of the accrosses going straight in, couldn’t for the life of me think of a small child as a ‘mite’, and things went slowly downhill after that. Getting STATION WAGON as a pretty quick PDM helped a restart, and the recent showing of an ORMER helped speed things up a tad. Liked INDISPOSITION and BRAE most.

Comments are closed.