Times Cryptic No 27058, Thursday, 7 June 2018 Not, thankfully, fubar.

I somewhat laboured over this for 24 minutes, which might have had to do with the lateness/earliness of the hour but I liked it rather a lot. Two of the clues, 12 and 14, only really succumbed as I wrote up my reasoning but are fine examples of the craft. There might well be some spluttering into the Earl Grey over some rather risqué slang (fully explained, as I remember, in Shaving Ryan’s Privates) and, for those Apple fanatics a solecism of emails-to-the-editor proportions, but I’m sure it’s only teasing. There are plenty of rather satisfying surfaces to add to the playfulness of the clues: 6 and 5 are particular favourites.
I’m sure you’ll let me know what the obscurities are: I’m fortunate enough not to have any in this grid. As ever: clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS.


1 From EU I may not obtain anything (3,4,2)
YOU NAME IT Well, it’s an anagram, of EU I MAY NOT. The instruction is effectively “get your answer from these letters”.
9 Language arising when home improvements turned to ruin (7)
YIDDISH DIY (home improvements) reversed on DISH (ruin). So not “oh (expletive deleted)” then.
10 Garments that are loose and short wind round at the back (7)
KAFTANS The only garment from the early 70s I can still wear, hence the “loose”.  SNAK(e): short wind, reversed around AFT: at the back
11 Opening? Almost missing it (5)
EARLY As in the early moments of play. NEARLY for almost missing  it,  i.e. opening letter
12 Song that’s penned about grand German location (9)
NUREMBERG Ah yes, now I see it. NUMBER (song) pens RE (about) plus G(rand). Probably more than a hint of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg intended.
13 Girl returning from Dubai, not Naples (7)
ANTONIA A reverse hidden in DubAI NOT Naples, though ironically more likely a girl from Naples, not Dubai
15 Mess tin: article half full (5)
SNAFU From GI slang acronym Situation Normal All F…ouled Up. SN (chem.): tin, A: article plus half of FUll.
17 Stingray — either part (5)
SHAFT More (American?) vulgarity: both sting and ray are (different) meanings  of our answer, ray as in shaft of light.
18 He’s composed: rested, in other words (5)
SATIE Composer of Gymnopédies et al, SAT for rested, IE for it’s said.in other words
19 Very little on which to gamble, it’s said (5)
SPECK Sounzlike (it’s said) for spec(ulate), gamble
20 Pasta is stuff I fed our people (7)
FUSILLI the twisty sort, possibly from Italian fuso, spindle. Stuff gives FILL, add I, insert US for our people.
23 Belt worn as arranged with MBE (3,6)
SAM BROWNE,  British military belt worn crosswise over the chest. Anagram (arranged) WORN AS and MBE
25 Bones from bag used by artist (5)
SACRA Five fused bones at the base of the spine. SAC: bag, RA: artist, Royal Academician
27 Tweet’s sound content reflecting on character of Greek (7)
CHIRRUP PURR (sound content) backwards on pick-any-1-from-24 CHI
28 Old singer has taken to the stage at ball (7)
ORBISON The incomparable Roy IS ON attached to ORB for ball
29 Kind suggestion leads to input, quickly? (5-4)
TOUCH TYPE Kind gives you TYPE, which is led by TOUCH for suggestion ads in touch of class


1 Joining in informal greeting to civil rights leader (6)
YOKING George W is alleged to have greeted our esteemed PM with “Yo, Blair”, and might have done the same to the rather more properly esteemed Martin Luther King  had he had the chance.
2 Available and willing to participate in talks about merger, finally (2,3,5)
UP FOR GRABS Willing to participate: UP FOR,  talks: GABS, around mergeR (finally)
3 Scaremongering done in manner of Republican film (8)
ALARMIST In the manner of: À LA, R(epublican) film: MIST
4 Come after opponents at table with petition (5)
ENSUE At a (bridge) table, East and North are opponents/ Petition gives the SUE you need
5 Greet a guy’s high pressure shower (4,5)
TYRE GAUGE High is the anagram indicator, GREET A GUY the fodder. So that’s shower as in “thing that shows”. Crafty.
6 Most futile, having papers in case (6)
IDLEST  ID the conventional papers, LEST (old fashioned?) incase.
7 Note minimum charge raised for support (4)
PIER Pick any note from seven RE plus 1P,minimum since the ha’penny was taken from us. Reverse
8 Sound made by homeless child, one who’s very pale (4-4)
WHEY-FACE A homeless child? That would be a WAIF. Add ACE for one, and say it quickly and uncritically in the manner of The Scottish Person:
“Go prick thy face, and over-red thy fear,
Thou lily-liver’d boy. What soldiers, patch?
Death of thy soul! those linen cheeks of thine
Are counsellors to fear. What soldiers, whey-face?”
14 Reassuring words, presumably from soldiers, getting twisted about (3,2,5)
NOT TO WORRY Oh, this is clever. Presumably from is NOT TO, soldiers you should know by now are OR, with WRY for twisted circumscribing.
16 Burden-carrier first, perhaps soldier second (9)
ASSISTANT A burden carrier might be an ASS, first gives IST, and a perhaps soldier in a crossword is an ANT
17 Ultimately helps a lot to notice weakness (4,4)
SOFT SPOT The ultimate letter of helpS plus OFT for a lot, SPOT for notice
18 Runner on jolly sort of engagement (8)
SKIRMISH I think this is RM for jolly (slang for Royal Marine) then sort of gives –ISH, both tagged on to SKI for runner
21 Putting out leader, different dailies cooperate (6)
LIAISES No longer controversial back-formation from liaison, here an anagram (different) of DAILIES without the leading D
22 Race from gym with long stride, moving left (6)
PEOPLE Gym is PE, a long stride is a LOPE, move L(eft) um, right.
24 Portuguese name for colony that’s PC to the French (5)
MACAU Now (and, on edit, as called by the Portuguese) called by the Chinese Macau (or some other transliteration). I believe Apple get narked if you call their overpriced fancy box a PC, but hey ho. “to the” in French is AU
26 Maybe die young, close to home (4)
CUBE Clever again. Die, as you all know, is the proper (but mostly ignored) singular of dice, which should be a perfect cube. CUB for young, E from close of homE.

70 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27058, Thursday, 7 June 2018 Not, thankfully, fubar.”

  1. Thanks for the parsing of SKIRMISH; I don’t think I would ever have thought of the Royal Marines.
    FOI: CUBE.
    It took me long enough to think of KAFTANS, and very long to parse it.
    I’m an American, for better or worse, and I don’t see SHAFT as quite synonymous with “sting”; the former has one definition of treating someone harshly or unfairly, and the one on the receiving end of such treatment might feel “stung,” so maybe that’s what the setter was thinking. I had SMART at first but couldn’t explain the “ray” part so it had to be SHAFT. I don’t see SHAFT as particularly “vulgar” (in the sense here), even when deployed in the idiom “to give the shaft [to]” (which you hear more often than the word on its own). But somehow I’ve always thought of an elevator shaft.
    I couldn’t parse FUSILLI, but that’s because I had… “Fuselli.” I remembered a New Yorker cartoon where a piece of pasta is on the phone, greeting an old pal named “Fusilli,” and I must have thought Fuselli looked more like a name (like the artist’s, with one L).

    Edited at 2018-06-07 05:49 am (UTC)

  2. 8d my LOI, even though I had the solution and knew the quote; couldn’t parse it until the end. I had HIKING at first, and STEAK, but soon enough saw the light. (W, as a sort of born again Christian, would have shown more respect, I imagine, probably saying “Yo, Rev”.) Biffed 14d, never came close to parsing it. On KAFTANS: I parsed it as you do, Z, but if ’round’ indicates inclusion, what indicates reversal?
        1. I biffed this one, and despite your blog, I still think it doesn’t work. To me, the clue as presented would lead to SAFTNAK.
  3. In the end, I gave up on 19a and put in “STEAK”; not sure I’d ever have got to SPECK via “spec” from “gamble”. Bah. Still, I don’t feel too bad about getting the rest of this challenging puzzle in about 50 minutes…
  4. MACAU of course at 24d. ‘Macau’ is the official Portuguese spelling, ‘Macao’ being an archaic form.

  5. 32 minutes, with the unknown WHEY-FACED last in. Not helped by being unconvinced by equivalence of opening and early, but I think they do pass muster. Thanks for the blog, Zed. I would give the COD to 5d if it made more sense!
    1. I can’t comment on whether or not you claimed to have heard of whey-faced when it cropped up in 25476 in May 2013 as you appear to have cleared the contents of whatever you posted at the time.
  6. Once again my solving time was around 1½ times my target, but this was enjoyable enough. I had a number of shades of meaning, points of grammar that I didn’t quite “get” but heigh-ho, as I wan’t on blogging duty I bunged in the answers and moved on.
  7. I never really got onto the wavelength for this and just ran out of steam with a few unsolved.

    Not helped by being absolutely sure that it was MACAO. I’m puzzled about this, ulaca’s comment notwithstanding. The Wiki page is titled Macau but then uses Macao more often than Macau in the text. What’s going on?

    Also not helped by immediately thinking SATIE but dismissing it because of the tense of “he’s composed”, which seems odd for a dead composer.

    Hey ho.

    1. I’m always confused as to which spelling is which; not that the issue arises that often chez moi, mind you. It doesn’t help that they’re pronounced the same: [makáu].
    2. “The Wiki page is titled Macau but then uses Macao more often than Macau in the text. What’s going on?” Well, it’s Wiki. You’re expecting editorial standards?
      1. 🙂

        Wikipedia’s usually pretty good but tends to fall down on anything controversial. There’s probably a bunch of editors regularly changing all the Macaos to Macaus, and another bunch routinely changing them back.

  8. The ‘vulgar’ meaning of ‘shaft’ isn’t marked as ‘US’ by any of the major sources. Has Zed been checking out other stateside sources, I wonder?
    1. There is a (different) US vulgar meaning of shaft in Chambers, and my eyes probably drifted across, partly, no doubt, influenced by the proximity to SNAFU. Plus, in the sense used here (I got well and truly stung/shafted by Viagogo) it just sounds more US derived than British to my ear. Even more so if you accompany it with jittery guitar riffs and “Who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about? Right on!”
  9. Personally, I found this offering very clunky with heavy inelegant clues.
  10. Was the only 5-letter-horizontally-inclined-s-word I managed to enter correctly; had SMART for SHAFT, STEAK for SPECK, and SATRE for SATIE

    On the bright side, it’s far more efficient to have all your errors in one puzzle, rather than spread them out over several

    1. Among my across errors, I thought I was clever to see Upsilon — Lisp (tweet) u (content of soUnd), reversed + on. The rest want much better.
      I do have to say that I quite liked the ones I did get before giving in. A tip of the Stetson to the setter.

      Edited at 2018-06-07 04:09 pm (UTC)

  11. DNF in 45 mins (Smart for Shaft) with yoghurt, granola, etc.
    All done (with Smart) in 30 mins, then struggled with the Early/Whey-face combo. Yes, the opening of a piece will be early in it of course, but as a synonym it deserves an MER.
    Mostly I liked:”penned about”, “fed our people” and COD to the pressure shower.
    Thanks setter and Z.

    PS – after a recount, COD to Fusilli – great clue.

    Edited at 2018-06-07 07:30 am (UTC)

  12. All done in about 35 minutes but I went for STEAK despite wondering how it fitted the clue. With hindsight SPECK is one I could have got.

    As with keriothe I remembered WHEY FACE from Macbeth. I thought Shakie referred to a “whey faced loon” but a quick search suggests I might be mixing this up with the “cream-faced loon” that keriothe mentions. It’s a good insult either way.

  13. As for others I never quite tuned in to this setter and found clues for such as SHAFT, SATIE and MACAU irritating. Finished eventually but with no feeling of satisfaction.
  14. 13:21. I started really slowly on this but the downs proved more tractable than the acrosses.
    I semi-biffed (bunged in from definition, but only one of them) SMART, but fortunately remembered to reconsider at the end.
    I think I remembered WHEY-FACED from Macbeth (I saw it just a couple of weeks ago), but not consciously. If it had been ‘cream-faced loon’ I’d have known where it came from.
    The ‘yo Blair’ thing is a myth, of course. The conversation was caught on tape and he clearly didn’t say it.
    Z – you have got slightly mixed up between two clues at 18dn: ‘it’s said’ is from 19dn, IE is from ‘in other words’. I say this just to show that I read the blogs 😉
    1. Thanks, amended, though as in 18ac and 19ac – just to show I read the comments! 😉
  15. Tough but fair and very well constructed. 26d was a brilliant clue. I too can’t fathom 10a because there is no reversal indicator for SNAK; if ’round’ is taken as such then there is no inclusion indicator for ‘aft’. Or have I missed an explanatory comment?
    35mins for this quality offering.
  16. …my friend Keith’s Mum says you were a nice lady. Betjeman thought you were good, even better than E J Thribb. I canvassed for Harold back in the sixties and I had a SOFT SPOT for you. Anyway, you won’t be seeing rainbows any more. ‘It’s over’ is now in my head for the day, courtesy of the BIg O. For once, that’s good.
    I didn’t expect to finish this and it took damn near an hour. But I’m here. LOI WHEY-FACE, something I’ve never heard. Didn’t parse KAFTANS or SKIRMISH. I had SMART for SHAFT for a long time, conscious it only half-fitted. All told, either this was a stinker, or I had a bit of a one. Thank you Z for explaining things, and setter for the challenge.
  17. A DNF, after 46 mins, since I biffed ENTRY instead of EARLY and then gave up on 7d faced with ‘_ I _ T’. I share in the dissatisfaction shown by some here on EARLY = ‘opening’, SHAFT = ‘sting’, and some poor surfaces (e.g. the guy in the shower).

    But I liked FUSILLI: the pasta is, I think, so named because the spiral shape is analogous with the spiral groove that was cut into the inner surface of a rifle barrel. This was a major improvement in firearm design: by spinning the bullet along the length of the barrel, the shot flew much straighter and was therefore much more accurate than the old blunderbuss type of smooth tube barrel. Many here will know that the French word for a rifle is ‘fusil’ and indeed we have the English words ‘fusilier’ and ‘fusillade’ from the era when this innovation was so significant. Language – don’t ya jus’ love it?

  18. ….I could smile for a while….then I came here to find that my 13:25 had been negated by incorrectly biffing “smart”. And now I’m crying !

    I went to see Barry Steele and Friends on Saturday night. The guy has totally got the late, lamented Big O, and they’re well worth seeing if they ever hit your town.

    Not totally happy with this (see earlier comment re KAFTANS), but some very good clues.

    LOI the incorrect SMART
    COD CHIRRUP, also liked SNAFU and SKIRMISH

  19. Put in at first pass ORBIT for “either part” thinking Stingray was a satellite . Changed it to SMART. Unhappily biffed STEAK as SPECK. Not my finest hour but not the finest crossword either.
  20. I wondered about that as well. Collins online has:
    idle in American:
    1b. vain; futile; pointless
  21. 33′ but with STEAK only half-parsed and wrong and working to a deadline, leaving the house…No excuse really, but I think I’ll revert to paper so I am not too tempted to hit ‘submit’.

    Thanks z and setter.

  22. 42 minutes, but with SMART at 17ac as LOI, being unable to think of anything better, even though it doesn’t go with ‘ray’. Whole LHS gave difficulty – at my age the old singer had to be ROBESON (which I couldn’t parse) – Roy O. is modern to me, so only found after getting 17dn. Also started with HIKING at 1dn, which prevented me thinking anagram for 1ac. Also couldn’t see how to parse 7dn & 16dn, missing I = 1 device in both.

    Edited at 2018-06-07 10:42 am (UTC)

    1. I used to listen to Paul Robeson’s show on the Light Programme. What a voice! That’s a couple more ear worms. Ol’ Man River and Just’A Wearyin’ For You. And his song about trees. Music from heaven.
      1. Has to be my favourite singer of all time. My parents met him in Cardiff before the war. I saw him at the national Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale in 1958. Then again at Stratford in Othello in 1959. Unfortunately both speaking parts. Although he sang an unaccomanied “Water Boy” in Ebbw Vale. Great memories of a fine voice and a fine man.
  23. After 25 minutes had all but 8d, for which no ideas, not knowing my Scottish play. I agree with Jimbo, all a bit clunky and not much fun, although 1d and 28d were neat. Don’t understand why IDLEST = most futile. Does idle mean futile?
    1. Chambers Thesaurus gives futile under idle in the context of (for example) idle threats, along with empty, vain, pointless and such,
      1. Never trust a thesaurus for that sort of thing, although in this instance you don’t need to, as this meaning of “idle” is in all the dictionaries


        1. I quoted the Thesaurus because my Chambers doesn’t give idle=futile directly and its Thesaurus does. Just sayin’.
  24. Breezed through all but SHAFT in about 10 minutes. And after another 5 still couldn’t see it so bunged in SMART. No, me neither but probably loosely based around “sting” being in the clue.

    Then to finish off didn’t spot the STOTW* so ended up with 2 wrong.

    Hey ho there’s always tomorrow…..

    *Stupid Typo Of The Week

    Edited at 2018-06-07 10:44 am (UTC)

  25. Found this a bit of a laborious trudge. 28 minutes with same post-solve reservations as others over KAFTANS/SNAFTAK. Thought 5d was clever.

  26. Disaster. Somewhere in the 13th minute I gave up on this one, with PIER & ENTRY missing, and SMART & MACHU for SHAFT & MACAU. It’s probably sour grapes, but I didn’t really enjoy some of this – 17a is missing a definition, and the homophone at 8d is at least a step too far.
    On the other hand, I loved the definition for TYRE GAUGE.
    1. Yes, it was an odd clue, wasn’t it? I hesitated for a long time over what to underline as the definition. Strictly, I think it’s a double definition – obviously sting and ray – and from comments above I was rather lucky to hit on SHAFT for ray before trying to wrap it round sting (for which I was guided by the Newman/Redford/Scott Joplin film).
      But I can’t remember a previous example of a double definition in a single word.
      1. Actually the clue has two definitions, admittedly rather sneakily run into a single word.
        It reminded me of “Either side of SINAI” – a famous clue for SLOTH, of yesteryear


      2. I toyed with Rebel before I had crossers – Stin is a bloody minded rowdy, and Gray is sometimes a
        Confederate soldier. More overthinking.
  27. Oh dear. Perhaps, if we have a practicing psychologist amongst us, he or she can explain the following phenomenon. You write in an answer, knowing that it’s almost certainly wrong but unable to see any alternative. As soon as you submit, the correct answer presents itself immediately. Such was my experience with 19ac. To quote the ever-wise Homer, “d’oh!”

    Apart from that bludner, I got through this one in about 35 minutes, with the northright corner holding me up the most. I failed to see the wordplay for both PIER and EARLY, and put them in only with reluctance. It also took a while for the 1P to drop with WHEY-FACE.

    1. This seems like a variant of L’esprit de l’escalier, and may also be a function of, um, performance anxiety
      1. You may be right, although with my knees it’s more likely to be a variant of l’esprit d’ascenseur.
  28. Lots of convoluted thinking required for this puzzle. I successfully negotiated all the bear traps apart from 24d, where I could only think of MACHU, and totally missed both parts of the wordplay. YO-KING was my FOI after briefly considering HIKING. WHEY FACE was my LOI. I hesitated at 5d as a TYRE GAUGE could measure tread depth rather than pressure, or perhaps I’m just being picky. Perhaps I’m just being thick, but I still can’t see where NOT TO comes from in 14d, only the men and the twisted. I biffed KAFTANS from the K and the F, and moved quickly on. 31:04 WOE. Thanks setter and Z.
  29. A ‘fuselli’ so dnf. But unhappy with the 17 ac. clue – either part is fine but the whole needs to figure somehow, or something else does. And where does ‘Not to’ come from in 14? A little smart-alecky.
      1. As “to” will doubtless appear as “not from” fairly soon I expect !
      2. Oh yes. I suppose in crosswordland it just about can be. Not quite the whole shilling though, as (more so) with stingray. However devious, the Times has its own straight and narrow to maintain or all is lost.
  30. I enjoyed this and was quite pleased with my 14 minutes and my decision to think about 19 a bit more and change STEAK to SPECK but I should have revisited what I thought was an iffy SMART. Not to worry.
  31. I came to this late because I kept getting that maddening “keep off the grass” message from the Club and had to go and do something else for a bit. Yup, another “smart steak” here until quite late in the day. Usually the great Georgette Heyer is very helpful so I can’t complain but she led me astray this time because I was so sure the old gambling game and the colony were both spelt “Macao” and all I could think of for the first word in 29a was “tooth”. 20.03
    1. I’ve been having problems with the Club site banning me while using Chrome browser. I’ve found that if I clear cookies for the last 24 hours, it lets me back in until the next time.
      1. Thanks John. I’m Firefox and it only happens occasionally and when it does I find if I leave it alone for a half hour or so whatever it is comes to its senses.
  32. Started, middled and ended slowly, DNF’ing in just on an hour and a half with an unconvincing ‘smart’ for 17a. Several others such as 14d and the pasta unparsed. Still, worth the effort with the reminder of The Big O and defs such as ‘Maybe die’ and ‘pressure shower’.

    ‘WHEY-FACE’ may come in useful some day and worth filing for future use.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  33. Had to stop and think in the same places as others, working hard to come up with a more likely alternative for STEAK, and finally seeing that EARLY did work, which was the final piece needed to get the Shakespearean insult.
  34. I’ve little to say about this (as I was hopelessly lost on many clues despite getting the answers correctly – but still a DNF. I found some clues very dodgy and unwieldy. Funnily I knew SNAFU from a 1970s rock band (nice album cover art alongside some fery average country/blues). Well done Z for even understanding some of this guff.
  35. DNF in about 20 minutes, as I went with SMART. The sting part made sense, and I simply hoped at the end that there is some well known UK type named Ray Smart who everyone else here identified immediately. Oops. Anyway, regards.
  36. 37:58 I liked this puzzle and thought it had some novel touches. I think I was probably lucky to see the ray bit of stingray and instantly think shaft, I was then able to squint slightly and see shaft as a synonym for sting. Also lucky that spec materialised fairly soon. In fact it was the last word of 2dn that held me up making that my LOI.

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