Times Cryptic 28541 — None of the above

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

45:15. Got stuck at around 25 minutes in with the last four clues. Contemplated giving up many times but ground out each letter and finally made it home. Not quite sure whether I should feel satisfied or frustrated!

1 Standard form filled with rubbish automatically? (6-7)

Never heard of this word but it took me at least 10 minutes at the end to find FASHION.

8 One does associate with poachers at last catching game (4)
STAG – {poacher}S + TAG (catching game)

Brilliant word play, and brilliant definition.  ‘Does’ as in female deer.

9 Printer malfunctioning with bug — that’s troubling (10)

One “easy” anagram.

10 Beastly group with info on unfinished work (8)

According to Chambers, “a phylum of the animal kingdom, including the vertebrates and protochordates, animals possessing a notochord at some stage of their development”.

11 Helmsman in endless river redirected missile (6)
EXOCET – COX in TEE{s} reversed

I can’t believe I managed to get this one. Only vaguely had heard of EXOCET, but finally thought of COX(swain) after many long minutes of head-scratching.

13 Gorilla sat uneasily, seeing swamp predators (10)

Another “easy” anagram.

16 John: name for Scots lad (4)

I am informed by the internet that in Scotland there are ‘loons’ and ‘quines’ for ‘boys’ and ‘girls’. The wordplay was obvious here but I hesitated over the definition.

17 Clubs held by United — but not now? (4)
ONCE – C in ONE (united)
18 Ground where one welcomes island leader (10)
EISENHOWER – anagram of WHERE ONE around IS

Also struggled with this one for ages. I thought ‘ground’ could indicate an anagram but I wasn’t sure how to get to ten letters. Finally I decided to try IS for island and was mightily surprised when EISENHOWER appeared.

20 Ambassador in sight finding guillotine (6)
BEHEAD – H.E. (ambassador) in BEAD
22 West Indian hostile to assassin casing area (8)

I guess ‘gun’ as in ‘hired gun’?

24 More sneaky one hidden by small duck, almost there (10)
26 Most important having rook in such dark films? (4)
NOIR – NO. 1 + R
27 Despotic writer appears before Italian heretic (13)
1 Mineral mixture in ewer falling short (11)
2 Got it right about work coming up (5)
ROGER – R + reversal of RE (about) GO (work)
3 Hotel specialist tipped to administer leaderless institution (9)
ORPHANAGE – H + PRO reversed + {m}ANAGE
4 Guy coming into Algarve resort brings hash (7)
FARRAGO – RAG (guy, tease) in FARO

I had vaguely heard of this word but knew it was in my brain somewhere. Finally I thought of RAG for ‘guy’ (I assumed this was the intended meaning), but was only able to get the rest of the clue when I finally saw the crossing FASHION.

5 Flavoursome addition to food — and booze! (5)
SAUCE – double definition

This one took me longer than it should have, as I only had the U and was sure I needed a specific alcohol.

6 Groom to struggle with libido leaving party in confusion (9)

Yet another “easy” anagram.

7 Fancy pigeon Greek character needed on top (3)
NUN – NU (Greek character) + first letter of NEEDED

My last one in. I couldn’t fathom what that middle vowel could be. Of course I had the wordplay all wrong, thinking that “needed on top” was some sort of addition or deletion of a Greek letter, or even G for Greek. A ‘nun’ is a pigeon with feathers on its head that look like a nun, apparently.

Also I did not know that ‘fancy pigeon’ has nothing to do with being ornate or elegant, but rather refers to pigeons which were bred to suit one’s fancy.

12 I should follow lover, once helping to find forgiveness (11)
EXONERATION – ONE (I) after E (lover, once) + RATION (helping)
14 Lacking refinement in lament that ignores Unknown Soldier? (9)
15 Atmosphere’s raised about bodily form, losing my patients here? (9)
SANATORIA – AIR’S reversed around ANATO{my}
19 His law affected India’s lingua franca (7)
SWAHILI – anagram of HIS LAW + I

A final “easy” anagram.

21 Copy made where nothing replaces end of simple song? (5)
23 Bottled spirits and dope given to Latin couple (5)
GENII – GEN + II (two, in Roman numerals)

Quite a scene painted here.

25 Leaves to create drink regularly offered in the bar (3)
TEA – every other letter of THE BAR

61 comments on “Times Cryptic 28541 — None of the above”

  1. 37:30, but I went to the dictionary for PARROT-F, not knowing the word. DNK NUN, LOON and was reluctant to enter the latter until the checkers were all in. CHORDATA took a long time because I was thinking of a word like ‘herd’. I knew EXOCET, but it was not until after submitting that I parsed the clue.

  2. Never heard of PARROT-FASHION, but it made sense. It must be years since I saw EXOCET anywhere, but that came a lot earlier than POI STAG (brill!) and LOI CHORDATA.

    It was a surprise to see the American EISENHOWER—and clued so minimally, as “leader.” The Republican president who had been Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II is most often evoked these days to cite his all-too-prescient warning that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

  3. DNF. Failed on pitchblende, which I have heard of but couldn’t tell you what it is. Entering it allowed me to get my other unfilled word chordata, also heard of. The only unknowns, like others, parrot-fashion and nun – needed the first to decide between pin, nun and mun. Loon and quine known from working in Aberdeen: “Fit like, loon? Foo’s yer doos?”
    Brilliant crossword, so many intricate but precise clues. Really had to use the word play for some of those minimal definitions, like leader and institution.

  4. The return of the challenging Friday! 54minutes of brain-racking to finally finish with a clear round. Ages spent on CHORDATA, thinking the ‘info’ must be ‘gen’ and looking for a variation on GENERA, but insufficient data to make it work. Once the penny dropped so did the last one in, PITCHBLENDE. Many moons ago I worked with this uranium ore for a mining company during a university vacation.

    1. Another one here who looked in vain for a variation on GENERA that would work.

  5. I took rather longer than Jeremy to get things down to the last three or four clues and like him, I also contemplated giving up. In the end I decided to use aids to to give me the answer to 1dn in the hope that would enable me to solve the remainder, which it did. I never heard of PITCHBLENDE so I somehow doubt I would have solved it otherwise.

    The others unknown to me today were CHORDATA, LOON as a Scottish lad and NUN as a pigeon, although some or all may have come up before. I also fail to understand how ‘sight’ = BEAD .

    No problems with EXOCET – everyone in the UK who was around at the time of the Falklands war knows all about them. Or PARROT-FASHION which I’m surprised is unknown to most of the contributors so far. There’s no shortage of people who learn things parrot-fashion and churn them out on demand without necessarily engaging their brains in either process.

    1. ‘bead’ as in ‘draw a bead on’? which ODE says is “chiefly (N. Amer.)”

      1. News to me! I thought of the expression ‘Keeping a beady eye on’ but wasn’t able to relate it directly to ‘sight’.

    2. I believe the meaning of BEAD here is part of a type of gun sight… quite obscure.

        1. Speaking as an owner of three shotguns I have to correct you here – this is entirely commonplace knowledge. 😉

  6. 66m 41s. The NW corner kept me occupied for a very long time.
    Jack refers to the EXOCET missile. You must have been very young, Jeremy, at the time of the Falklands war, or not around at all. The ‘Argies’ had them and used them on us. The author Jack Higgins even wrote a thriller entitled ‘Exocet’ based on their use in that war.
    Thank you, Jeremy, for ORPHANAGE, AUTHORITARIAN and, particularly STAG. Now that you’ve explained STAG that has to be my COD.
    Other favourites were SANATORIA and NOIR. There is a very funny series of videos on YouTube under the heading of ‘Henri- Le Chat NOIR’. An existential cat!

  7. 54 minutes with LOI CHORDATA, unknown along with NUN, LOON and the bead of BEHEAD. I found this tough and was surprised I arrived here in under the hour, indeed at all. It must be the kitchen. COD to EXOCET. Thank you JEREMY and setter.

  8. She watch’d me by the hie-gate side,
    And up the loan she shaw’d me.
    And when I wadna venture in,
    A coward loon she ca’d me:

    35 mins mid-brekker. I liked it; mostly OrpH anage.
    Ta setter and PJ.

  9. That STAG is brilliant. “One does associate with”, and “catching game”. Great stuff. Way too clever for me.

  10. 28:25. I struggled to finish with several in the NW and a couple of other stragglers in EXOCET and NUN. I thought those the likely answers but didn’t want to risk submitting them unparsed.
    For the NW corner I decided to take a break and within 30 seconds I thought of PITCHER for “ewer”. Until that point I’d only been able to come up with jug. It’s amazing how putting the crossword down so often frees the brain up. With PITCHBLENDE in place everything else came together except ORPHANAGE. For a while I couldn’t think of any word which fitted but eventually the partial parsing of -ANAGE enabled me to limp home.

  11. Didn’t like 1 Across, PARROT-FASHION
    STEALTHIER NUN and LOON invoked passion
    PERTURBING agitation
    The bird fans have more than their ration

  12. 44:14
    Very enjoyable solve; chewy, but I was never held up for a long time.
    Thanks, pj.

  13. Elegant crossword, this, much enjoyed.
    Pitchblende was instrumental in the discovery of Uranium. And later of Radium, by Mme Curie
    Exocet, being a French missile, and instrumental in the Falklands conflict, better known here than in the US I expect.

  14. DNF – normality restored! Really struggled as couldn’t get 1A for far too long and never heard of 1D so needed some assistance there.

    LOON and NUN were new too but wordplay was clear.

    Good effort in grinding it out, J, should definitely feel satisfied.

    Thanks setter

  15. Dnf as couldn’t get 1a and 1d despite having all checkers. Entered Orphanage and Nun without confidence. I was working in France during Falklands War. Loud cheers in the office from the locals when news of an exocet strike was announced. Didn’t go down well with us Brits! A bit too tough for me. Hoping for an easier Monday. Excellent blog – liked the detail.

  16. Another DNF here. Finally back home now after 28 hours travelling, my only excuse!

    However, NHOs include CHORDATA, PITCHBLENDE, NUN (in that sense) and LOON. EISENHOWER also beat me a I didn’t see the anagram. Bah.

    Thanks Jeremy and (for me) too clever setter.

  17. One wrong: I had souse instead if sauce. Not the kind of crossword I enjoy.

  18. A fine Friday puzzle. I needed Jeremy to explain EXOCET and the very clever STAG. My smugness at knowing both NUN and LOON and correctly working out CHORDATA was rightly punished by my entering SANITARIA.

    Thanks to Jeremy and the setter.

  19. 52 minutes, with a few entered in the hope, which luckily worked out OK, and some words only vaguely known. I didn’t understand the parsing of STAG until I came here and the whole clue is quite brilliant. Nor did I understand ORPHANAGE, but should have done: tipped was quite simple but I only thought of removing the tip of a word.

  20. After missing my target on the QC, I rattled through this with such a vengeance that I find myself 8th on the leaderboard – only 70 correct entries so far, and Verlaine heads the list of those with an error. I biffed NUN simply because I had N-N and nu was a Greek character. My kind of puzzle. Thanks to both the setter and Jeremy

    COD EISENHOWER (ANTIGUAN a very close second)
    TIME 9:18

  21. 7d had to be NUN but I missed the “Needed on top” for the 3rd letter, and never spotted the PRO lurking (tipped) in the 3d ORPHANAGE.
    10a CHORDATA. As I use Wikipedia a lot the phylum is always specified for any animal, so the word had flashed past me on many occasions and eventually loomed up out of the murky depths of my feeble brain.
    Surprised, as others, that PARROT-FASHION isn’t familiar.

  22. I have seen CHORDATA somewhere – perhaps in a recent Mephisto – but I couldn’t call it to mind. Some baffling obscurities – the aforesaid, the gunsight BEAD and the pitchy stuff – mixed in with QC clues like ALLIGATORS. All seemed fair in retrospect.

  23. Tough but fair puzzle, with some absolute beauts – STAG being the standout, with the ‘catching game’ part in particular raising a smile.

    13.24 finishing on the unknown PITCHBLENDE on my second trawl through the alphabet for _L_N_

  24. 58 minutes. Yet again convinced myself that, being a Friday, many clues were harder than they turned out to be but even so I couldn’t parse the first bit of ORPHANAGE or the BEAD for ‘sight’ in BEHEAD.

    Good to see FARRAGO again and I liked STAG.

    Thanks to Jeremy and setter

  25. An extremely enjoyable struggle – STAG being worth it on its own. I was unequal to it in the end so thanks for Chordata, pitchblende and nun.

  26. 33 minutes
    I feel a bit better now looking at the other comments 😉
    At one point I thought I might hit a personal record, I had about 2/3 done in 8 minutes, but then it all went pear shaped –
    PITCHBLENDE and CHORDATA slowed me down a lot but then on top of that came ORPHANAGE and my LOI EISENHOWER which must have taken me getting on for 10 minutes between them.
    Oh well.

  27. DNF, defeated by CHORDATA – I got the ‘data’ part, but I didn’t figure out the ‘chor’, and I didn’t know the term anyway. I wasn’t helped by having no confidence whatsoever that PITCHBLENDE was right, even though I had parsed it.

    I didn’t understand bead=sight in BEHEAD, so thanks for the explanations above. And I’ll join the chorus praising STAG – the brilliant ‘does’ in the clue completely passed me by. Liked ORPHANAGE a lot too.

  28. 1 hour and 4 minutes and two wrong. I had DEHEAD instead of BEHEAD and I thought it looked odd but I thought it parsed (sight = dead if you squint). But then I couldn’t spell SANATORIA. Is the Guy in 4dn our very own Guy? COD STAG now it’s been explained to me. Many thanks for the blog

  29. Absolutely outstanding puzzle. 35:34 but really a DNF as I could not get the NHO pitchblende. Was confident of pitch to start which enabled stag and Chordata but needed the rest to tease out once and behead. So many superb devices today but COD to stag.

    Thanks Jeremy and setter

  30. Beaten by a couple of NHOs that I would never arrive at through wordplay/clueing: PITCHBLENDE and CHORDATA.

    I also feel that ‘leader’ is a it vague for EISENHOWER and ‘automatic’ a bit too tenuous (but I admit not entirely misleading) for PARROT FASHION.

    Anyway the faults are clearly all mine because others whizz through. I doff my cap to them all.

    Thanks setter and PlusJ too.

  31. A tough but enjoyable puzzle, taking me 42 post-prandial minutes. The bottom half, especially the down clues, went in surprisingly quickly, but the NW corner held me up for a long time. I saw the BLEND part of 1dn but could not think of anything except HORNBLENDE which of course does not fit. And in 1ac I twigged it was something-FASHION but could not escape from BRISTOL-FASHION, another non-starter. NHO NUN, BEAD or LOON in the senses required here, but the clueing and knowledge of Greek alphabet were helpful.
    LOI – NUN
    COD – STAG.
    Thanks to jeremy and other contributors.

  32. 10:34. I liked this one a lot.
    I needed wordplay to spell SANATORIA right.
    NHO LOON in this sense. Macbeth’s ‘cream-faced loon’ is a variant meaning (rogue) of the same word, according to OED.
    As others have noted I suspect EXOCET will be extremely familiar to anyone who lived through the Falklands war and pretty obscure to anyone who didn’t.

  33. Seeing how many seasoned solvers failed to finish this one, I am doubly pleased to have finished this one just a little over target at 46.15 with all correct. LOON and NUN went in with fingers crossed although I had a vague notion the pigeon has cropped up before. The only one I didn’t parse was EISENHOWER, as I failed to think of IS for island. COD definitely goes to 8ac which I think was excellent.

  34. 11:14, and despite not being au fait with all the required knowledge (the NUN and the LOON, obvs) I got there pretty promptly, which suggests that the wordplay is beyond reproach. So not quite as testing as Fridays can be, but with a satisfying amount of chewiness.

  35. Well I finished, but landed three pink squares – two for not correcting AUTHORITATION (habit of entering ATION into A_I_N ending) and one for a surprising Q in SQNATORIA.

    Not as enthused as others when there are too many unknown words as answers, especially when they cross: CHORDATA (I hated biology at school – soooooo booooooring), PITCHBLENDE (still no idea what that is), BEAD for (gun)sight though the answer was straightforward, NUN (bl**dy birds!), LOON (gettable at least).

    Failed to parse: EXOCET, the aforementioned BEHEAD, and ROGER.

    However, as Jack mentioned earlier, I too was surprised at how many struggled with EXOCET and PARROT-FASHION.

  36. Convinced myself that the pigeon in question was a PIN, which held me up for ages. NHO PITCHBLEND, CHORDATA, LOON. This one took me a few minutes over the hour but I got there in the end. Now for a well-deserved pint of Pride.

      1. London. Don’t think I’ve ever tried the Golden, but I’ll look out for it.

        1. It’s only in bottles and quite hard to find even in Fullers own pubs. My local one orders it in specially for me.

          1. I’ve just seen that it’s 8.5%! One for special occasions.

            I did try a bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale recently — also 8.5% — and was delicious.

            1. Thanks for the prompt to get my Christmas Ale for 2023 brewing. The more months in the bottle it gets, the better. I had the last of my 2018 vintage at Christmas and it was still good. It generally comes out at about 7.5%. One 330ml bottle is enough! Sadly my local brewery in Rougham went bust some time ago so you can no longer get Comrade Bill Bartram’s Egalitarian Anti-Imperialist Soviet Stout (famous for having the longest named bottled beer) although it does somehow appear at the odd local Winter Beer Festival.

  37. Some fiendishly cunning clueing, and great fun. Biffed my way to a surprisingly correct solution!

    Multas gratias to blogger and setter.

  38. DNF having biffed in NORMAL FASHION. I did get the NUN and all of the bottom half though. Too tough for me.

  39. Would not have finished without the aid of Mr Ego, who provided the elusive PITCHBLENDE, NHO, never guessable and EISENHOWER (there is no way that can be an anagram, I said). However, in my favour, I dredged up CHORDATA and LOON from somewhere (Shakespeare) and finished all correct. I never really mind how long it takes me, but a finish is a satisfying end to the day.

  40. A really late contribution even by my standards! Took about 20 mins or so to get to the last 4 clues in the NW corner before before being summoned to dinner by Mrs P. Steak pie and a bottle of Rioja Riserva.
    Didn’t reset the timer thereafter, but suddenly recognised the “does” in 8 ac “stag” – not a chestnut but I have seen it before – and then staggered over the line.
    Great puzzle. Thanks to setter, Jeremy and above all the Muga winery!

  41. 26:40. Solving a day late after a third consecutive day of long walks. Maybe my brain is as tired as my legs as I struggled to get through this a bit at a time without ever really getting stuck, finishing with PARROT-FASHION and PITCHBLENDE. COD to AUTHORITARIAN. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  42. A late entry 55 minute slog. Guessed LOI Eisenhower , nun and chordata. Pitchblende took ages but eventually yielded.

    A good Friday puzzle. Thanks setter and blogger.

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