Times Cryptic No 28649 — Oneteen, twoteen, buckle my shoeteen

DNF. To say that this wasn’t meant to be would be an understatement. This wasn’t the hardest puzzle I’ve ever (not) solved, but it was surely the most head-scratching and confusing.

1 Walker may use this trick to take in silly sap (8)
KNAPSACK – KNACK (trick) around anagram of SAP

Chambers has an expedient or knack, but I’m not sure I’m on the wavelength with KNACK = ‘trick’.

5 Where to pray about games installed in rogue computer (6)
CHAPEL – C (about) + P.E. (games) in HAL (rogue computer)

HAL 9000, that is.

9 Maybe Arabic circles love analysing signs and symbols (8)
SEMIOTIC – SEMITIC (maybe Arabic) around O (love)

Helpful if you just know the definition.

10 Way to transport goods around island without success (2,4)
IN VAIN – IN VAN (way to transport goods) around I (island)
12 What happens in 11, 12 and also in 17, written out? (5)

So goddamned fair, too.

13 E.g. ladies and gents hiding pants showing eccentricity (9)
LOOPINESS – LOOS (e.g. ladies and gents) around PINES (pants)

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how PINES = ‘pants’. I tried searching to see if there was some sort of trousers called PINES, but no. Then I briefly considered NINES (LOONINESS)! But finally I saw the appropriate definition of ‘pants’. The mental image of a hot, sad dog did the trick.

14 Where papers are kept in detective’s investigation about plot (8,4)
DISPATCH CASE – D.I.’S (detective’s) + CASE (investigation) around PATCH (plot)
18 Drudge changing bather’s towel (6-6)
21 Rash head of Armenia gets behind old, patriotic song (9)
EXANTHEMA – first letter of ARMENIA after EX (old) + ANTHEM (patriotic song)
23 Assistant used on-line articles about classical law (5)
ALEXA – A + A (articles) around LEX (classical law)
24 Little time followed by long year (6)
TITCHY – T (time) + ITCH (long) + Y (year)
25 Forbidding nurse to bind hip (8)
SINISTER – SISTER (nurse) around IN (hip)
26 Someone refusing to accept / old money (6)
DENIER – double definition

Had to look this one up. An old French coin.

27 Returns from Bury St Edmunds, initially going inside (8)
INTEREST – INTER (bury) + ST around first letter of EDMUNDS
1 Kafka’s first novel cutting if not authentic (6)
KOSHER – first letter of KAFKA + SHE (novel) in OR (if not)
2 Thrash metal about right for this band (6)
ARMLET – anagram of METAL around R (right)

This anagram eluded me for awhile.

3 Unsatisfactory hearing air Holst composed drinking whiskey (4,5)
SHOW TRIAL – anagram of AIR HOLST around W (whiskey)

So did this one.

4 Emptied ideal sauce into soup — this adds flavour (6,6)
CHILLI POWDER – I{dea}L + LIP (sauce) in CHOWDER (soup)
6 In China, majority group cry for attention in Asian city (5)
HANOI – HAN (in China, majority group) + OI! (cry for attention)
7 Endless calm around setter up for a bit of setting (5,3)
PLACE MAT – PLACAT{e} (calm) around ME (setter) reversed
8 Instigator of luminarism, as well as visionary artist (8)
LANDSEER – first letter of LUMINARISM + AND (as well as) + SEER (visionary)
11 Business people admitting ordeal is challenging (12)
CONTESTATION – CO (business) + NATION (people) around TEST (ordeal)

‘Challenging’ as a noun.

15 Dislike eating meat I cooked? It’s a source of iron (9)
HAEMATITE – HATE (dislike) around MEAT I anagrammed
16 Pupil once expelled after losing head complained (8)
OBJECTED – O.B. (pupil once) + {e}JECTED (expelled)
17 Reportedly get The Kinks out of distress (8)
STRAITEN – homophone of STRAIGHTEN (get the kinks out)
19 Furniture from person a crossword is compiled for? (6)
SETTEE – if the SETTER is the compiler, the SETTEE is therefore the solver
20 Incentive to turn up during motor racing (6)
CARROT – hidden reversed in MOTOR RACING

The wordplay completely fooled me, but the definition was clear.

22 Lake house in Thanet occasionally abandoned (5)
TAHOE – HO (house) in T{h}A{n}E{t}


71 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28649 — Oneteen, twoteen, buckle my shoeteen”

  1. 31:20 but WOE
    I put in SYMBOLIC thinking I’d have to see how it works, and of course failed to; the M gave me LOI ARMLET and I was so happy to finish that I submitted without examining it. (I remember Sperber and Wilson on semiotics: ‘The recent history of semiotics has been one of simultaneous institutional success and intellectual bankruptcy.’ But I digress.) Other than that, I had no major problem–although my obtuseness with hiddens kept me from parsing CARROT–but everything seemed to take time.

    1. Wot Kevin said! Really, I knew SYMBOLIC wasn’t it, but I definitely didn’t twig Arabic is Semitic.

  2. I think trick = knack works if you think along the lines of “there’s a knack to doing this crossword without resorting to aids”.

  3. Also happy to finish, found it challenging. IN VAIN eluded me for a long time, needed an alphabet trawl. CARROT also a trawl, then immediately saw the hidden. EXANTHEMA was looking at the wrong end, expecting an unknown rash inside EX_A for an unknown song e.g. EXALTIERA. NHO denier as a coin, or the phrase bottle-washer; forgot to parse KOSHER. Guessed EVENT then reverse-engineered the clue to confirm. So tough. Knew Semitic but not semiotic’s meaning.
    Liked CHAPEL for the unexpected rogue computer and INTEREST, written for johninterred?

  4. I forgot to note my time but I’d estimate around 40-45 minutes. However I used aids for my LOI, SEMIOTIC, which was one unknown answer too far for me having wrestled more successfully with EXANTHEMA, HAEMATITE and the horrible CONTESTATION. According to the source I checked, the last of these is an Americanism and seems to be one of those words made up to sound important when something shorter and simpler could be used.

    I thought SETTEE was amusing.

    1. CONTESTATION seems pretty cromulent to me. Do you object to e.g. ‘detestation’? ‘infestation’? ‘manifestation’? ‘suggestation’? Oh, wait…

      1. You made me look up cromulent, Kevin, as if I didn’t have enough to do … it’s only in Collins as a suggested new word, but slightly to my surprise the OED has it.

        1. In the OED, yet! Do they explain that it’s a joke from ‘The Simpsons’?

          1. They do indeed, and the first quotation given is the relevant excerpt from the 1996 episode in question:
            “Simpsons (transcribed from TV programme) 7th Ser. Episode 16 [Mrs. Krabappel] Embiggens? Hm, I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield. [Ms. Hoover] I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.”

      2. I love ‘cromulent’! I shall definitely find uses for it henceforth. I like that it’s completely invented rather than having emerged from ‘business-speak’, like the dire CONTESTATION!

        1. The first quotation in the OED entry for contestation dates from 1548. It is a fine old English word, originally stolen from French.

  5. NHO DISPATCH CASE or EXANTHEMA, and the spelling of CHILLI raised an eyebrow.
    Otherwise, I don’t know what took me so long!
    SETTEE was indeed very funny.
    LOI EVENT—and quite a PDM. Nice device!

      1. With one L over here, but I see that for CHILI POWDER Collins online doesn’t list the two-L version even as an alternative for you Brits.

        1. Thanks, Guy. I’ve never seen that. We seem to have be looking in different places in Collins online and you searched on ‘chili’. If you search ‘chilli’, it’s there under British English with 1-L as an alternative ‘esp. US’, and under American English as an alternative to 1-L. I’m pretty sure 2-Ls is standard here.

          I also searched Collins for Chilli Powder and the entry is listed only as 2-Ls under British English, but searching on Chili Powder brings up a different entry which has the 1-L under both British and American English.

          We could also explore ‘chile’ listed in all the usual sources as an alternative to ‘chilli’ (and possibly ‘chili’) but I’ve wasted enough time on this already!

        2. I just checked the kitchen, and it’s definitely sold as CHILLI POWDER over here. Collins need to get themselves to a Tesco.

          1. To be fair to Collins, they have CHILLI and CHILLI POWDER as the dominant British spelling but perhaps they need to have a word with their editors about the failures in their cross-referencing systems.

  6. Fail in 42 minutes; I invented the faux Yiddish “kishef” for ‘not authentic’. Recognised most of the other words except the NHO CONTESTATION.

  7. Really enjoyed this but was tripped up with LOONINESS. LOI was ALEXA took ages to see after giving up on PA and E-AS.

    Thanks setter and Jeremy, especially for CARROT which sneaked by me

  8. 44 minutes here, with most problems in the SE and finishing with ALEXA, despite having used my lady-in-a-tube just before starting by calling, “Alexa, crossword!” across the room. This turns on the reading light by the sofa and starts Wynton Marsalis playing on Spotify, but sadly does nothing for my knowledge of classical languages.

  9. Delighted just to complete this successfully, a feat that took me 53.41. Was held up for ages by EVENT, ALEXA, SEMIOTIC and the CASE bit. Terrific and challenging crossword but there sure was plenty of baffling obscurity. Used the check function on a few that looked unlikely, notably HAEMATITE and EXANTHEMA, and was pleased to see them come up all green. Thanks to Jeremy for his explanations, especially CHAPEL. CARROT was a hidden? ARMLET an anagram? Who knew? Is there some way CONTESTATION can be rounded up and put in a box with PROLIFICNESS and dropped into the sea?

  10. 11:40
    Not a typical Friday (thank Goodness, as I’m supposed to be packing for a trip to Llangollen).
    We had BOTTLE-WASHER as the word to clue in an Azed competition a couple of years ago: my entry (non-prizewinning) was “Belowstairs, the boots is this perhaps”.

    1. This is a clue type that is very popular with Azed but hardly ever seen in daily cryptics: I’m sure most of the readers of this site know that the letters of [is bottlewasher] are the same as the letters of [belowstairs the]. I see this got a VHC and it looks pretty good to me, but Azed has a whole lot of what seem to many to be rather arcane rules about what constitutes a satisfactory comp. anag. clue and maybe he didn’t feel that it was so good as the prizewinners. Perhaps he felt that his rule, which I can’t understand, that there should be some sort of a gap between the two parts, had been contravened.

      So far as I’m concerned I reckon that a VHC is hardly much worse than a prize. My clue, which achieved nothing at all, was ‘Not right, bloke working with a bit of soap and hot water — as this?’ [(bl[OK]e s[oap] hot water)*] — perhaps a bit tortuous.

      1. I submitted clues to Azed sporadically for a while but gave up, mainly because I’m useless at writing clues, but also because I couldn’t make head or tail of what he thought constituted a good one. I often thought the winning clues were much worse than others that he rated much less highly, and sometimes pretty rubbish!

        1. I’ve often thought that my clues which get a mere HC are better than some of the VHCs (but I would, wouldn’t I) and it’s nice to have some support in this view. But when you have a single person judging the competition one’s bound to be a bit disgruntled from time to time. The alternative, which The Crossword Centre uses, is to have some sort of a democratic process. Not sure about that.

  11. 46:46 – nice Friday fare for me this week.

    Failed to spot the hidden CARROT but got it from the def.

    COD – CHAPEL as I love 2001 – Kubrick’s finest work for me.
    LOI ALEXA – took a while to realise the ‘online’ bit was part of the definition!
    DNK – DENIER / EXANTHEMA but had no other options. I’m learning to just trust the wordplay these days.

    Thanks blogger and setter.

  12. A happy Wanderer has a KNAPSACK on his back. After 45 minutes, here I am present and correct, with LOI PLACE MAT. I both liked and enjoyed this, quirky as it was. I didn’t know EXANTHEMA but the crossers made it likely. The EVENT of the day was 12a, and conventional COD LANDSEER. Thank you Jeremy and setter. Valderi, valdera etc.

  13. Phew, that was tough. Very pleased to have finished a Friday in 58 mins. Today’s unknowns included SEMIOTIC, I knew of the Semites and where they came from so it seemed logical, EXANTHÉMA , got from closely following the wp and crossers.

    ALEXA was ironic as my step-son has literally just bought me one! I also had LOONINESS for a while, but for once checked carefully and finally worked out the correct parsing.

    I agree, CONTESTATION is a horrible word.


    Thanks pluswilliam and setter.

  14. “If you allow Cezanne to represent a third dimension on his two-dimensional canvas, then you must allow Landseer his gleam of loyalty in the spaniel’s eye.”
    (Brideshead Revisited)

    40 mins mid-and-post-brekker. I liked it. Nicely done in terms of chewiness and inventiveness.
    NHO the rash.
    Ta setter, PJ and settees

  15. Tough but great fun. Had no idea how to parse LOI LOOPINESS. No probelm with SEMIOTIC, a big pretentious thing in the early eighties. Nho EXANTHEMA, constructed from wordplay. I cook with fresh (packaged) chillis, and occasionally chilli flakes, but always with two Ls. Also nho DENIER, but it sounded as if it was like denarius, very familiar from the New Testament. Agree with jack re CONTESTATION, a very ugly and unnecessary word.

    The other day when I spoke to ALEXA, her first words were ‘good afternoon’. This immediately made me feel uncouth for not greeting her politely. Is this a slippery slope?

    18’05”, thanks jeremy and setter.

    1. I assumed DENIER was a sibling of dinar deriving from deniarius. NHO it before like most people, it seems.

  16. 41m 26s so delighted to be only verlaine x 5!
    I seem to have been on the right wavelength as I spotted the presence of HAL straightaway. “I can’t let you do that, Dave”.
    9ac: SEMIOTIC. Back in the 1980s I was working in Riyadh and bought a Concise OED from the English language section of a book shop. On leafing through it I found a neat rectangle of white paper had been papered over one word and its definition. I felt that couldn’t have been the local censor who would have just used a black texter. It must have been the publisher. Holding the page up to the light I could see the word ARAB underneath. The (shocking!) definition was the key: ‘One of the semitic peoples’.
    Thanks Plus Jeremy.

  17. As the deer pants….
    …known to some of us as the Marks and Spenser song, but it does at least tie up with the idea of longing and so pining. A pleasantly chewy 25 minutes, giggling at SETTEE and INTEREST (with the brilliant use of Bury St Edmunds), a blast of nostalgia with HAL, a satisfying unravelling of two words I’ve never seen before and hope never to see again, and a kick in the shins for not getting KOSHER quicker.
    I did wonder whether CHILLI POWDER added flavour and not just heat, but that shows what I know. DENIER I knew as a measure of the opacity of nylons, and that still carries a bit of a frisson from schoolboy days when we knew the lower the number the more interesting it was to the young imagination.
    I got LANDSEER from hoping that Edward Land was a pioneer of luminarism with his famous camera, and started HANOI as DELHI, believing that the majority in China was the Democratic Equality Lot or some such.
    Highly entertaining.

  18. Two goes needed to complete this one, with SEMIOTIC, ARMLET and EVENT (which I didn’t understand at all) in the NW corner followed by seeing the hidden CARROT at the second attempt.

    Didn’t know Hal the rogue computer, had to trust that EXANTHEMA is a word and that DENIER was a coin as well as meaning something to do with tights, and hesitated over STRAITEN for a long time as I didn’t know its distress meaning. Also took ages to see how much of the clue for ALEXA was the definition.

    A tough but rewarding puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Hanoi
    LOI Carrot
    COD Kosher

    1. As mentioned above, contestation is a fine old English word, with a number of OED quotes dating back as far as the 16thC.

  19. For some reason I didn’t have to struggle with this one, 24 minutes with only the unknown EXANTHEMA guessed. I thought SETTEE was excellent.
    I always thought CHILI and CHILLI were both acceptable spellings, with CHILI being more American. Etymonline.com says it comes from Aztecan language chilli, and then Spanish chile, so take your pick and wash your fingers afterwards..

  20. 17:55. Another difficult one that I found enjoyably challenging rather than frustratingly obscure.
    I used to think semiotics was a load of rubbish but now I’m not saussure.

  21. A bit of a workout today, but enjoyable nonetheless. Didn’t know the rash, but wordplay and crossers came to the rescue. CHAPEL was FOI as H(i)A(b)L(m) floated directly to mind. In fact the NE gave me a quick boost as LANDSEER, HANOI and PLACE MAT all jumped into place. LOONINESS arrived first but was quickly replaced by LOOPINESS as the wordplay sank in. ALEXA was delayed by a badly biffed HAEMETITE, but happily LEX rode to the rescue. SETTEE raised a smile. CARROT brought a sigh of relief when the hidden was finally spotted. On returning to the almost blank NW, CHILLI POWDER and SHOW TRIAL opened up the corner, and KNAPSACK was slung into place. Writing out 11, 12 and 17 provided EVENT. KOSHER and ARMLET eventually arrived leaving SEMIOTIC as LOI. Knew Semitic as Arabic, but not the meaning of the answer to the clue. 34:42. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  22. I did all right with this – 33:54 – except spelling CHILLI with an E at the end. Oh well. I knew SEMIOTIC from Umberto Eco who was, I’m sure, a professor of semiotics

  23. Several entered without understanding: had never heard of EXANTHEMA, the coin meaning of DENIER, CONTESTATION (dreadful word). I missed the reverse hidden for CARROT — had meant to return to it but forgot, likewise the 11, 12, 17 clue. So not really a very good effort, which involved a little prodding from lists etc. 58 minutes.

  24. Not too taxing apart from a bit of tricky vocab .. nho exanthema, (the Wikipedia photo is not for the faint-hearted), thought denier was something to do with ladies’ legs, and not all that confident about semiotic. But I did know that in one of life’s sadder facts, both Arabs and Jews are Semites.

  25. I thought I’d got this, but I had KISHEF at 1d as a word that might mean ‘not authentic’. Looking it up, there is some evidence that it’s a Yiddish term for ‘enchanted’, so I might try to argue it, albeit without much hope.

  26. Got there in the end, around an hour of on-and-off solving. I came back to California from Europe a couple of days ago so my body is not adjusted. I fell asleep in the afternoon (the crossword comes online here at 4pm) and so I ended up solving in the middle of the night when I couldn’t go back to sleep. I missed that CARROT was hidden, I was just bemused as to how CAR ROT could mean motor race. I mean I got the CAR bit but ROT for race seemed dubious. EVENT was clever. I started in the NW corner so with the checkers it was obviously going to be EVENT (“what happens”) but I hadn’t go the other clues that I assumed were referenced (the usual rule is that “seven” means the number but “7” means the answer to 7) but the clue would be too long and too obvious keeping to that convention. Plus I was bemused by the recursive nature that one of the referenced clues was the one I was solving. Eventually I had a PDM. I thought that the lift-and-separate for Bury St Edmunds was great. For non-Brits, maybe even non-East-Anglians, Bury St Edmunds is a real town east of Cambridge. It is the home of Greene King, my favorite beer when I was at university and where I went on a brewery tour a couple of times. “I came not to Bury St Edmunds, but to praise him.”

  27. I thought this was going to be the Friday beast that would elude my best efforts, so was astonished to finish. The main problem was starting, in fact. But once FOI DISPATCH CASE was entered and parsed the H suggested ‘hate’ around the anagram, giving the not-really-known HAEMATITE, and I was off. Obviously, I’d never heard of EXANTHEMA, but was able to piece it together. It struck me that a couple of years ago, I would never have been able to do that, so I must be getting better, if not faster!

  28. By the time I post at least one person has already said those things I might have noted. It is interesting how often we have similar experiences, including setting off on the same false trails. Like Alto-ego I took time to start but then had no real problems, even with the mentioned unknowns, by following word play and recognising the misdirections. So, as someone has already said, ‘chewy but fair’. I may be paraphrasing. So both Fridayish and not Fridayish. Sadly didn’t know the people or the study so a DNF without SEMIOTIC.

    Thanks pj and setter

  29. 34 mins, got really bogged down in the NE. The usual Friday NHO’s were plentiful. A lot of lifting and separating here which I didn’t see including visionary artist and about games, where I had HAL but didn’t see the about bit.

  30. 32:51

    Clear round for a grid that would have tripped me up several times over once upon a time. A few unparsed etc:

    DENIER – opacity of tights here also, pencilled in until the crossers semi-confirmed it
    EXANTHEMA – NHO but buildable from cryptic
    LOOPINESS – didn’t like the PINES = pants bit, even if it might be a dog wot is doing the pining/panting
    EVENT – from definition, didn’t get it even when I did write it out
    SEMIOTIC – LOI after seeing ARMLET – vague memories of what Robert Langdon does
    CONTESTATION – MER – bet no-one uses this anymore
    HANOI – I’d bunged it in from the first checker and dopily thought, hang on, what’s Chinese about that? Re-bunged once all three checkers in place
    SETTEE – the joke went some metres over my head – sorry setter!

    Thanks setter and Jeremy

  31. 15:39. LOI SEMIOTIC required an alpha trawl. DNK EXANTHEMA or CONTESTATION but trusted to the wordplay. Much to admire. I liked CHILLI PEPPER and the nicely hidden CARROT, But COD, of course, to INTEREST for the mention of my home town for the last 26 years. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  32. Very enjoyable crossword, Setter, thanks from the SETTEE.
    Also thanks for the blog, plusjeremy. For once, didn’t need it for parsing, but always enjoy reading them.
    We found it interesting reading about chili vs CHILLI. By themselves, both look fine to me, but together the LL looks more correct (possibly because I’m Welsh 😊).
    It brought back memories for both Mr SR and me of that famous Jimi Hendrix song which we both pronounced as “Voodoo Chilli”. Wouldn’t get very far if we asked ALEXA to play that!

  33. So do I have to log in each time I post to get my avatar to show (despite ticking the “keep me logged in” box)?

    1. You do have to be logged in for the avatar to show but you should be able to stay logged in. It is possible your pc is being overprotective in relation to cookies. Try using a different pc and see what happens..

      1. Thank you!
        Very kind of you to reply – I’ll give your suggestion a try.

  34. Just popping by to say I’m really proud to be perhaps the only person here never to have heard of Alexa.

    Still got the clue right, though! Who needs bots and apps?

  35. 40 minutes, the last 10 or more of which were spent on EXANTHEMA which I of course NHO (who has???) but I thought the first A would be the Armenia and then I was looking for a patriotic song going -T and so on. Big mistake. NHO CONTESTATION either but was easier to work out.
    Thanks setter and blogger, as ever

  36. 34’52”. Got sidetracked by the thought of ERYTHEMA, which also means a rash. I know that because in French erytheme fessiere means nappy rash. Of course the French can’t just say rougeur de couche. It’s got to be proper like. Liddell and Scott reminds us that ERUTHROS — the root of ERYTHEMA — means red. EXANTHEMA on the other hand comes from EXANTHEO meaning to bloom, either with flowers or with sores. ANTHOS of course is flower.

  37. 62 mins but too tired by the end to realise that symbolic should have been semiotic. Oh dear, how sad. Never mind.

  38. 46’20”
    Clearly found the going testing.
    Carbon copy of yesterday; all parsed but fingers tightly crossed for DENIER.
    I was pleased to see my birthplace. There was lots to enjoy here;
    thank you setter and Jeremy.

  39. All said – bar the fact that I found the whole left half (?) easyish, only to come to a screeching halt on the right. CHAPEL, DISPATCH CASE (where I was looking for something disputed 😩) and ALEXA all elusive ( only vaguely heard of that). But successfully worked out the unknowns EXANTHEMA and HAEMATITE without too much bother. Was aware of that meaning of DENIER, not of CONTESTATION. Thought CARROT very good hidden, and had a laugh at SETTEE. ( I shall use that word in future !)

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