Times Cryptic 28958


Solving time: 37 minutes with the last 5 spent on 14dn eventually remembered from previous puzzles, but more about that in the blog. Another inventive and enjoyable puzzle.

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]. “Aural wordplay” is in quotation marks. I usually omit all reference to juxtaposition indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Scoundrel’s behind pretentious talk in clip (7)
BULL (pretentious talk), DOG (scoundrel). I knew ‘bull’ as ‘nonsense’ but had to go to Chambers to find it specified as ‘pretentious talk’.
5 Historic warrior — one with a strange attitude seems initially to retreat (7)
I (one) + A + RUM (strange) then + A{ttitude} + S{eems} [initially], all reversed [to retreat]
9 Plant with grass turned over around it, attended by bird (5,4)
TURF (grass) reversed [turned over] containing [around] IT, then REE (bird). NHO REE as the female ruff or reeve, and the definition couldn’t have been less helpful but fortunately the combination of checkers and enumeration led me inevitably to the correct answer.
10 Confused answer covers this French commune (5)
Hidden [covers] in {confu}SED AN{swer}. I didn’t know this as a place.
11 H is found in fifteen consecutive letters in code (5)
H contained by [found] E TO S (fifteen consecutive letters). I’ve seen ‘atom’ clued along similar lines more than once so I spotted the device immediately.
12 Lawyers about to take part in song (9)
BAR (lawyers), CA (about), ROLE (part ). This is a Venetian gondola song. Mendelssohn wrote several for solo piano and Offenbach is famous for his Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann, usually spelt with two L’s
13 Retracts blade roughly, showing damage from conflict (6-7)
Anagram [roughly] of RETRACTS BLADE
17 Prospective wealth he has left to marine? It’s a shocking event (8,5)
ELECT (prospective), RIC{he}S (wealth) [he has left}, TO, RM (Royal Marine)
21 Try to hear what happens in autumn, though not at first (9)
{l}EAVES DROP (what happens in autumn) [though not at first]
24 Scoundrel to go down after intervention by University (5)
LOSE ( go down) contains [intervention by] U (University). Another scoundrel to go with the one at 1ac!
25 Area of New Zealand not initially hosting new dance (5)
{O}TAGO (area of New Zealand) [not initially] containing [hosting] N (new)
26 Rest before quick meal (9)
BREAK (rest), FAST (quick)
27 Artist joining the writer and family for a small dish (7)
RA (artist), ME (the writer), KIN (family)
28 Novice’s first use of firearms not good in religious establishment (7)
N{ovice’s} [first], {g}UNNERY (use of firearms) [not good]
1 Ineffectual chap — deceptive character extracting pounds (6)
B{l}UFFER (deceptive character) [extracting pounds]. Most usually found in the expressions ‘old buffer’ or ‘silly old buffer’.
2 Ludicrous barrel blocking fluid haulage (9)
BL (barrel) contained by [blocking] anagram [fluid] of HAULAGE. I don’t recall ever seeing this abbreviation before, but since ‘barrel’ can be an official unit of capacity, like all such measures it needs an abbreviation.
3 American lawyer raised challenge about a source of information (4,3)
DA (American lawyer), then TEST (challenge) reversed [raised] containing [about] A
4 US soldier welcoming a coarse Italian patriot (9)
GI (US soldier) containing [welcoming] A + RIBALD (coarse)
5 Special attention for this point? (5)
SP (special), EAR (attention)
6 A blemish covered by old woman’s make-up (7)
A + SCAR (blemish) contained [covered] by MA (old woman)
7 Right fuss involving one form of communication (5)
R (right), ADO (fuss) containing [involving] I (one)
8 Suggestion pub open around start of evening (8)
INN (pub), UNDO (open) containing [around] E{vening} [start of…] evening
14 Snape is gutted Harry strained regarding uphill task (9)
Anagram [strained] of SNAPE IS  H{arr}Y [gutted]. I dredged this up from memory eventually having met it in previous puzzles but unfortunately I couldn’t remember the spelling and made the wrong 50/50 choice over the placing of Y and I. Another unfair anagram clue to an unfamiliar word.
15 Sauce prepared again, essence not originally being included (9)
{s}OUL (essence) [not originally] contained [being included] in REMADE (prepared again)
16 One choosing empty life in particular part of national activity (8)
L{if}E [empty] contained by [in] SECTOR (particular part of national activity)
18 Bunch in Society very much enthralled by food (7)
S (society) + SO (very much) contained [enthralled] by TUCK. I didn’t find the word ‘bunch’ in any of the dictionary definitions – they mostly mention ‘tuft’ – but I guess it’s close enough.
19 Waterproof garment, medium type, mostly (7)
OILS (medium – for painting), KIN{d} (type) [mostly]
20 Church location most suitable to house religious figure (6)
VERY (most suitable  – the very thing) containing [to house] ST (religious figure)
22 French life missing one French name for poison (5)
V{i}E (French for ‘life’) [missing one], NOM (French for ‘name’)
23 Rifle given popular outlaw’s name (5)
ROB (rifle), IN (popular)

70 comments on “Times Cryptic 28958”

  1. 10:29 – in my case it was LAUGHABLE that took me forever to spot and I was hitting myself when I saw it. REE pops up sometimes in Mephistoland. I got a good giggle out of the clue for NUNNERY.

  2. 15:30
    NHO REE, which made parsing FRUIT TREE take longer. I only remembered the Bulldog clip as I was about to write ‘DNK’ in the margin. ELECTRIC STORM, SISYPHEAN, & REMOULADE biffed, parsed post-submission. I would think that the myth of Sisyphus was fairly widely known, but it didn’t help that it was the adjectival form, and that I & Y were both unches. Like George, I enjoyed the clue for NUNNERY.

  3. A nice crossword until it wasn’t. Never heard of SISYPHEAN and failed to spot the anagram fodder which might have given me a chance to at least guess it. Had REMOULADE but couldn’t see where OUL came from. COD to VENOM.
    Jackkt, I think you’re missing the ‘TO’ in the parsing for 17a.
    Thanks setter and jackkt.

  4. About 60 minutes. Very enjoyable. NW corner gave the most trouble. FRUIT TREE was difficult and wasted a lot of time assuming ludicrous was an anagrind. After a break the NW corner came out easily when I saw LAUGHABLE for Ludicrous. LOI ETHOS.
    Thanks to Jackkt for the parsing.

  5. I had to go all the way to Chambers (after reading the blog) to see how BULLDOG could mean “clip”—it’s a brandname for a stationery clip! But I guess y’all know that…

    1. I didn’t actually know bulldog clip was a brand name – it’s one of those brand names that has become generic like hoover in the UK.

    2. I’ve been aware of bulldog clips all my life and never knew Bulldog was a trade name, however I see that it was a stationery supplies company. According to one source the copyright on the clip dates from 1944 but I’d find it hard to believe there wasn’t a similar device available prior to that which Bulldog refined in some way and branded. Although the Collins on-line British English entry is ‘Bulldog Clip’ the American and Cobuild entries dispense with the capital letters, as does the ODE. And in a rare deviation from normal practice the printed edition of Collins has ‘bulldog clip’ (all lower case) not reflecting the British English entry online.

      1. In Collins, “Bulldog Clip” is tagged trademark. One can’t get to “clip” from merely the entry for “bulldog,” nor vice versa.

  6. 10:50. I’m sure I’ve got the I and the Y the wrong way round in SISYPHEAN before but fortunately at some point the correct spelling has stuck with me and I was able to biff the answer today.

    1. I’ve gone the opposite way. I always remind myself not to fall into the trap but keep forgetting which way the trap is set.

      Nothing I can do about it now, this one will always be a toss of the coin for me. Fortunately today I called correctly.

  7. 33.18, there were some tough ones here and I was pleased just to complete the grid. NHO of BUFFER as any kind of bloke (duffer I know), nor REE, nor have I encountered that E to S device which I grudgingly admit is rather clever, so thank you Jack. Being required to know soul = essence then lopping a letter off was quite a challenge, but nevertheless this was a quality puzzle I thought.

    From Rainy Day Women #12 & 35:
    They’ll stone you when you’re at the BREAKFAST table
    They’ll stone you when you are young and able
    They’ll stone you when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
    They’ll stone you and then they’ll say good luck
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

  8. I took 36:24
    My last two in were BUFFER and finally FRUIT TREE
    Sisyphean I got pretty much instantly from the uphill task reference but was a bit unsure of the spelling
    Very good puzzle I thought, though I was above my 30 minutes target
    Thanks setter and Jack

  9. 24 minutes with LOI ETHOS, the penny only dropping as I wrote it in. It had to be LAUGHABLE, but I don’t remember BARREL as a unit on the back of my 1950s Silvine exercise books. 35 gallons apparently, but abbreviated to BBL. Roll out the barrel, 280 pints. I remember BULLLDOG clips well. As a young man, bored witless at some meeting, I was playing with one which flew off out of my hands, through the air like a guided missile, and just missed the senior executive who was Chairing. He could have been badly BATTLE-SCARRED, my COD. REMOULADE was mixed to order, revealing its soul..I dredged SISYPHEAN up from the depths of my soul. Good puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  10. 11:35
    A couple of tricky wordplays, but with biffable definitions. NHO A for attitude or BL for barrel, but fair enough.
    LOI FRUIT TREE added about a minute until I spotted REE.

    1. I don’t think A is an abbreviation for attitude, I think it is rather that ‘initially’ applies to both words of ‘attitude seems’ = A & S

      1. Yes, that’s right, the curly brackets indicate the deletion and the plus sign that ‘initially’ applies to both words.

  11. 20:36 but with annoying typos in BARCAROLE and BATTLE SCARRED (BARRACOLE and BATTLE SRARRED)

    I think I need to get back to just enjoying the crossword for what it is without paying attention to my time. Or just checking my work, there is that.

    Otherwise a nice mixture of clues. DNK REMOULADE and REE but otherwise within my knowledge.

    Thanks to both.

  12. 38:10 but errors


    Held up but finished after spotting I had mistakenly entered BACCAROLE so the correction helped complete. Unfortunately, I had also entered SYSIPHEAN!

    Thank you to jackkt and the setter.

  13. Beaten after an hour by three including REMOULADE – not helped by incorrect ELECTRIC SPORT (thinking ‘left to marine’ could ONLY be ‘port’) and FRUIT TREE (in my mind if REE was gonna be part of the answer it tied to reed for grass – NHO of the bird).

    Plus like WP above and others I had an incorrect switch of i and y in SISYPHEAN and an a instead of an e in RAMEKIN.

  14. Just under 15 minutes.

    Managed to get the right spelling of SISYPHEAN; didn’t know the ree bird for FRUIT TREE; more familiar with a duffer rather than a BUFFER; didn’t know the bl abbreviation for barrel, but assumed it had to be for LAUGHABLE; and TUSSOCK went in more from wordplay than from knowing what it is.

    Jack – I think you’ve got an extra A in the parsing of BARCAROLE.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Sedan
    LOI Louse
    COD Data set

  15. 32.48. Once again, some rather loose definitions. ‘Remoulade’ was dragged from a vague memory and strikes me as one of those ‘foodie’ terms which, when seen on a menu, means that the meal will be pretentious and overpriced.

    1. It’s a French sauce, simple as that. As I’m sure a quick search would have revealed. It’s a bit like tartare sauce, like you get with fish and chips.

      Interested to understand what “non-foodie” terms you might expect to see on a menu, especially ones which might mean you can expect the meal be down to earth and cheap.

        1. Apart from the fact that, like almost everything else on a menu, slow-cooked is a “foodie” term, confit has a specific meaning. Not everything slow-cooked is confit. Confit was a way to preserve food before refrigeration, very down to earth and basic.

  16. 23:20 – with much buffer-like fumbling on an iPhone keyboard. NHO of the REE bird, which sounds like it was invented to make life easier for crossword compilers

  17. 16.03, agreeing at least this time with Jackkt’s opprobrium for “another unfair anagram clue to an unfamiliar word”. Takes me back to the pre-PB era of the TLS when the ending of Greek entries was a toss-up between -os and -us with no indication as to which it was.
    Took a while to get started on this until GARIBALDI opened things up. After that plain sailing until the coin toss for SISY-, and the vague memory of a bit of NZ called something-TAGO.
    Jogged memory of the day: the obituary for the battle-scared General, corrected with apologies to bottle-scarred.

  18. 8:25 WOE. I’ve been perfectly familiar with the myth of Sisyphus since doing Camus at school, but I can never remember which way round the Y and I go. After confirming that the wordplay was going to be of no help and agonising over the choice for a few minutes I of course jumped the wrong way. Not a very kind clue.

  19. 9.26. I did know the spelling of Sisyphus so didn’t give it a second thought in-flight, but sympathise with those caught out.

    Thanks both.

  20. 21:27

    I enjoyed this. No problem with SISPYHEAN (I’m another who learnt the word from Camus) but the REE took a while and I wasn’t aware that SEDAN was a place. I liked INNUENDO and VESTRY.

    Battle scarred, Battle Scared, Bottle Scarred. The proof-reader’s nightmare.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

    1. I believe Sedan played a part in the early months of both WW1 (when it was still a ‘war of movement’), and also during the ‘blitzkrieg’ of WW2.

      1. It did. It is perhaps best known to historians as the site of the decisive battle of the Franco-Prussian war, a crushing defeat for the French which brought about the abdication of Napoleon III and the end of the second Empire

        1. Ah, that Sedan! I remember reading about this sometime ago but had forgotten it completely.

  21. Of course we should all know the correct spelling of SISYPHEAN, but, it seems like many others, I didn’t and if I’d got it right I’d have been under, instead of exactly on, 30 minutes. But that’s like saying that if Rory McIlroy had sunk that putt he’d have been in a playoff. He didn’t and nor did I.

    Chopin also famous for his Barcarolle.

    It always seems a bit odd to call a tree (9ac) a plant but it is one, I suppose.

    Held up for a while on ELECTRIC STORM: it looked as if it was going to be e… shock, which of course would have been silly.

  22. About 35′. Like others, it seems, a fair amount spent on the NW corner. Never heard of REE but the crossers did their job giving me the “F” for BUFFER. DATA “bit” never did work, but SET eventually came to provide the unparsed ETHOS (I knew there would be some process to work it out, but E to S never came to me). REMOULADE and RAMEKIN not known from fancy restaurants but instead from Masterchef… Thanks Jackkt and setter

    1. … and the episode of ‘Frasier’ concerning the ‘poi ramekins’. (Does anybody know what they are?)

      1. Yes, but only because my late wife liked “posh?” words and insisted on using that one. You never know when an irritant can dig you out of an Xword hole….

  23. 26 mins. Quite a few MERs here. Apart from having to look up the spelling, surely the anagrind is in the middle of SNAPEIS and HY, not the usual placing at all. Is a FRUIT TREE a plant? I suppose so… LOI SEDAN, took an age to see it was a hidden.

  24. 35 minutes for me too. I hadn’t heard of REE for ‘bird’ and couldn’t tell you much about REMOULADE, my LOI or SEDAN as a ‘French commune’. I could at least justify the rest, including the spelling of SISYPHEAN, but never really felt on top of this so was happy to finish.

  25. Knew the stuff today, with BULLDOG LOI, was looking for a haircut. Like others NW took a while. SISYPHEAN OK.

    17’34”, thanks jack and setter.

  26. I actually completed this one, but with no confidence that I had; I could not parse FRUIT TREE or ETHOS and put them in purely because I could not see any alternatives given the checkers. I came on here half expecting to find that they were wrong, particularly ETHOS.

    I was also uncomfortable with BUFFER. At least I could parse it, but I had never come across that use of the word: DUFFER, yes, BUFFER, no.

  27. Very much held up by the top left corner, though LOUSE was actually LOI because I forgot about it.


  28. 24:04 but…

    …one pink square – hopelessly lost with SEDAN – didn’t know it as a French commune, and didn’t spot the hidden. I bunged in SUDAN in the hopeless hope that a) the wordplay was a confused answer i.e. ANS* as an anagram around something else…; and b) that the SUDAN was a French colony (it wasn’t!).

    Hey ho, nothing else was that tough, I even spelt LOI SISYPHEAN correctly.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  29. 31’10”
    Managed to keep up a fair pace on sticky going.

    This dinosaur should have got 1ac sooner, since his paper and fountain pen approach is held together with a bulldog clip. It reminded me of ten minutes staring at a mansard roof out of a coffee house window in St. Edward (King and Martyr)’s Passage, unable to fathom M-N-A-D, many moons ago.
    I was very relieved to finish under par with all parsed, but Sedan and the sauce were taken on trust.
    Most enjoyable; many thanks setter and Jack.

    1. Failed on this one. Went with BAFFER instead of BUFFER (was thinking “baffler” for the deceptive type) and had DESERTER at 16d. No excuses!

  30. 23.30 . Reasonably pleased cos I didn’t think it was easy. Made it slightly harder by spelling barcarole wrong at first and guessed sisyphean . Didn’t recognise the anagram so glad to read the explanation in the blog. Thank you!

    Similar story for fruit tree, never heard of a ree bird.

  31. 1a B l UFFER; never spotted the missing L. DOH!
    2d Laughable; can’t find bl=barrel anywhere, but did find bbl=barrel in Wiki. Looks odd to me but….
    9a Fruit Tree. I can’t find “ree” in Wiktionary in this sense. I have a feeling that she has shown up here before but she still isn’t in my Cheating Machine as too abstruse IMHO. Please setter use another route to give us REE.
    14d SISYPHEAN; I too could not spell him, would have plumped for the wrong I/Y choice, so looked him up, so DNF. However I would not say that Sisyphus is unfamiliar at all.
    15d Remoulade; could not find the sOUL, so biffed.
    16d Selector. I don’t see what “national” is doing in the clue, so MER.

    1. I took ‘part of national activity’ to be a reference to discussions about the economy of the nation where one often hears the terms ‘public sector’ and ‘private sector’.

  32. A few unknowns for me but managed to follow the wordplay. biffed SIYPHEAN and then reverse engineered it. Didn’t know REE was a bird. Didn’t know SEDAN. Assembled the vaguely heard of sauce from remade and (s)oul as instructed. FOI, RADIO, LOI, REMOULADE. 16:32. Would’ve been quicker, but I spent about a minute reverse engineering SISYPHUS before submitting. Thanks setter and Jack.

  33. DNF with (I won’t say unknown because I know Jack will scold me and tell me when the last time it came up) SISYPHEAN a no-hoper. Shame as I worked hard on the rest.

    I thought TANGO was a bit convoluted too. I only knew it from its quality wine producing status. I did know SEDAN and, as has been mentioned, it was the precursor to the flight of Napoleon 111 to the UK. I know this because my great, great Grandfather looked after his horses (his écuyer) and fled with him! Napoleon 111 is actually buried in Farnborough.

    I liked EAVESDROP.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    1. I wouldn’t dream of scolding you, Rosédeprovence, but in any case it’s 8 years since SISYPHEAN came up, and I’m perfectly capable of forgetting much simpler words that appeared only a week ago.

  34. Fairly steady solve on this finishing in 35.07. A couple of minutes were needed at the end however for 14dn. It took me a while to work out that an anagram was involved, and then to take a best guess for where the I and the Y were located in SISYPHEAN. When faced with a straight choice I invariably go for the wrong option,but this time I managed to get it right.

  35. Tricky in a lot of different ways; tricky definitions, unusual words, clever clue construction. Thanks, setter. For me, I knew it was Sis… but without the anagrist would have plumped for Siseph… Lucky that.

  36. Nothing stretching in this, and the bottom half was a veritable biff-fest. As a result, not especially satisfying. 22mins plus change.

  37. An hour to barely finish with one mistake, a silly one: SHEAR instead of SPEAR because “attention” was whispering “hear” in my ear rather than the latter. Maybe I shouldn’t have been reading the news last night before going to bed. I did spell SISYPHEAN right, after writing down and staring at both versions, opting for the one with the Y preceding the I and eventually deciding it didn’t look right after all. Didn’t know about BULLDOG clippers nor REE birds, but I’m not alone in that.

  38. 24:02, with L2I being INNUENDO and SPEAR.
    NHO REE, so was doubting TREE at the point where I was stuck on 5d.
    I grow celeriac in my allotment, but they never grow large enough to allow me to make a celeriac REMOULADE.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  39. 27.59 LOI BARCAROLE and REMOULADE were dimly remembered. The French SEDAN and REE were NHO. But I enjoyed the puzzle and was very pleased to finish. Thanks Jack.

  40. Day behind: got all the harder ones straight away. DNF because of easy 5d. Took an hour as well. We are all as Sisyphus rolling Times Cryptic uphill every day.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *