Times Cryptic No 28877 — Things to chew on

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

25:08. Not the most strenuous puzzle on the whole, but there were some very cleverly-worded clues that had me scratching my beard for several minutes at a time.

1 Sawyer’s rubbish leg-pull? On the contrary! (6)
OFFCUT – I guess this means that OFF is the opposite of ON (leg), and PULL is the opposite of CUT?
5 Charming, animated young explorer visits Italian island on the way back (8)
ADORABLE – DORA (animated young explorer) in (visits) ELBA (Italian island) reversed (on the way back)

Sometimes ‘animated young explorer’ means just that!

9 Exaggerated performance [from] dame put him off (6,2,2)
HAMMED IT UP – anagram of (off) DAME PUT HIM
10 Sticky stuff starts to get under new keyboard (4)
GUNK – first letters of (starts to) GET UNDER NEW KEYBOARD
11 Conservative, having been found out, fell to pieces (8)
CRUMBLED – C (conservative) RUMBLED (having been found out)
12 Soften some Lahore lentils (6)
RELENT – hidden in (some) LAHORE LENTILS
13 Rodent, one escaping from silky fabric (4)
VOLE – I (one) removed (escaping) from VOILE (silky fabric)

Couldn’t see past MOLE and TOILE. Then I finally remembered Debussy’s VOILES.

15 Elected Republican in Springfield is hard work (8)
INDUSTRY – IN (elected) + R (Republican) in DUSTY (Springfield)

Didn’t know this singer. Does the grammar of the surface reading work for you?

18 Reportedly nothing large eaten by one American sea creature (8)
NAUTILUS – homophone of (reportedly) NOUGHT (nothing) + L (large) in (eated by) I (one) US (American)
19 100ml drained from head swelling (4)
NODE – DL (100ml [= 1 dl]) removed (drained) from NODDLE (head)

I kept thinking ‘head’ was NOODLE and couldn’t see how this worked.

21 Monstrous female pair denied promotion (6)
OGRESS – PR (pair) removed from (denied) PROGRESS (promotion)
23 Literary fragments smart guy introduced to workers (8)
ANALECTS – ALEC (‘smart’ guy) in (introduced to) ANTS (workers)

This was hard for me, though it was gettable from the wordplay with effort.

25 American uncle knocked back first of home brew (4)
MASH – SAM (American uncle) reversed (knocked back) + first letter (first) of HOME
26 Criminal force probes chap instructed by director (10)
MALEFACTOR – F (force) in (probes) MALE ACTOR (chap instructed by director)

Quite tricky.

27 Seaside fanatic, we hear, that’s brown dressed in shell suit (8)
BEECHNUT – homophone (we hear) of BEACH NUT (seaside fanatic)
28 English daisy festival (6)
EASTER – E (English) + aster (daisy)
2 Tehran’s ready to turn up in support of feminine talent (5)
FLAIR – RIAL (Tehran’s ready) reversed (to turn up) under (in support of) F (feminine)
3 Normandy favourite arrived right on time to receive honour (9)
CAMEMBERT – CAME (arrived) R (right) + (on) T (time) around (to receive) MBE (honor)
4 Little / squiffy? (6)
TIDDLY – double definition
5 Saturday’s client ordered a book case for a violinist (1,5,2,7)

Never having read the Sherlock Holmes books, I did not know that he played the violin.

6 Making show — and opera, potentially (2,6)
ON PARADE – AND OPERA anagrammed (potentially)
7 Guardian article on haircare product (5)
ANGEL – AN (article) + (on) GEL (haircare product)
8 Learning about key battleground at the eastern front (9)
LENINGRAD – LEARNING anagrammed (about) + D (key)
14 Pop called each day within confines of office (9)
ORANGEADE – RANG (called) EA (each) D (day) in (within) first and last letters (confines) of OFFICE
16 Stretches / grammatical constructions (9)
SENTENCES – double definition
17 Florida witch doctor exorcising a bully (8)
FLASHMAN – FLA (Florida) + SHAMAN (witch doctor) without (exorcising) A

A reference to Harry Flashman, who I’ve never heard of.

20 Rhubarb / cake (6)
WAFFLE – double definition
22 What about time in charge of moral code? (5)
ETHIC – EH (what) around (about) T (time) IC (in charge of)
24 Slithy character burying Romeo[’s] valuable collection (5)
TROVE – TOVE (slithy character) around (burying) R (Romeo)

Jabberwocky is perhaps the only poem I can recite from memory.

73 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28877 — Things to chew on”

  1. Couldn’t parse NODE, which was frustrating—thanks. LOI was OFFCUT, and my best guess about the wordplay was that maybe “cut off” had something to do with a “leg” in cricket, as you have it, if it isn’t a grisly allusion to amputation.

    But I thought this puzzle was brillig.

    (I have referred to my “vorpal blade” when noting the paring of excessive verbiage in article teasers written by a particularly verbose editor—snicker-snack!)

    1. In cricket you cut to the off side and you pull to the leg side. In a cut shot you angle the bat towards off and strike forward through the ball so it goes at an angle to off. In a pull shot you strike across the line of the ball hitting the ball towards the leg side. The off side and leg side in effect are to the right and left side for a right-handed batsman. A cut shot is a hit to the right and a pull shot is hit to the left for a right-handed batsman.
      For a left-handed batsman the sides swap and the shots swap sides with this.

        1. I suspect by now, having done so many of these crosswords, you know more about cricket (or at least its terminology) than many people who grew up with the game!

        2. For cricket tyros it should be remembered that the definition of “leg” and “off” is from the batsman’s pov, not that of us spectators in the pavillion. I hope that’s clear. 🤣

      1. Silly me, I thought it was as simple as the opposite to an on cut would be an off cut. Cut being used as in “the editor will pull the article”.

  2. I had about as much clue about what was going on with DORA as Jeremy had with his OFFCUT.

    I also had no clue that ANALECTS meant fragments; thought they meant wise if somewhat obvious sentiments expressed by Confucius.

    Another 25 minutes here.

  3. Congratulations on your cricketing form, J.

    Exactly as you say: OFF is the opposite of LEG, and a CUT is the opposite of a PULL!

  4. 24:03
    A rare bout of insomnia is compensated by a fleeting appearance on the leader board. I thought this was a terrific puzzle with some nice literary flourishes.
    Having TRIFLE rather then WAFFLE for a while didn’t help. and I biffed ADORABLE having failed to get DORA out of CECIL RHODES. OFFCUT and FLASHMAN both made me smile.
    Thanks to Jeremy and the setter

  5. Well I can recite the first verse of Jabberwocky but not the rest, played cricket so know cut shots, and had heard of Dora. I’ve read all the Holmes stories and all or most of the Flashman stories which I regard as brilliant and very accurate historical ‘faction’: true but for the insertion of Flashy. Only unknown, like +J, was a surprising NODDLE instead of NOODLE.
    Sped through until the last few – ANALECTS where I’d mentally pencilled in A…ENTS, MALEFACTOR and WAFFLE. Finally guessed a WAFFLE could be a cake and quickly got the others.

  6. Terrific puzzle I thought, even though I struggled for ages at the end with ANALECTS (oh, THAT smart guy) and the easy MASH to get home in 29.01. I thought there were some really clever clues and brilliant surfaces, and for me it had a just-right mix of easier clues and ones that needed work to unpick. Thanks Jeremy, OFFCUT must have been a challenge without the cricketing knowledge and it is a shame you have missed out on hearing the wonderful Dusty Springfield. Aretha and Dionne were both huge fans, she had a fabulous voice. I’m less sure about the image of the invading Republican invoked by the clue.

  7. 25 minutes, which may be some sort of record for a Friday, or at least a rarity.

    My scant knowledge of cricket was sufficient to understand most of 1ac although if I ever knew ‘pull’ as a cricketing term I had forgotten it.

    NHO DORA the Explorer. NHO ANALECTS which has not appeared before although we did have the alternative ‘analecta’ once in 2010. Didn’t know ‘slithy’or ‘tove’ but biffed the answer with the aid of checkers.

    Another MOLE here at 13ac although I returned to the clue and changed it to VOLE before stopping the timer. VOILE has come up once, in 2013.

    Didn’t fully understand the wordplay at 19ac but was in no doubt that NODE was to be derived somehow from ‘noddle’ meaning ‘head’.

    Never having heard of Dusty Springfield or Sherlock Holmes as a violin player is impressive, Jeremy, and I’d liken the first to my never having heard of Freddie Mercury until his death was reported in all the front-page headlines. If you’ve never heard of Freddie Mercury either you get a bonus point! I knew Dusty though, as I’m sure every Brit would, and I actually saw her in a mixed-bill live concert in 1962 when she was still performing in a folk group called The Springfields with her brother Tom Springfield and Tim Field. Later as a solo artist she widened her repertoire to include many different types of popular music and had many hit records on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world.

    I never read a Sherlock Holmes book in my life but have watched some of the films and TV versions dating back to 1932 in which he is rarely portrayed without being seen at some point playing his violin.

    1. Although Tim Feild was in the original group, he was replaced by Mike Hurst before the Springfields’ big hit ‘Island of Dreams’

      1. Yes, I saw them in January 1962 (Harrow Granada) and am pretty sure that Tim Field was still with them then. Mike Hurst must have joined later that year as his first recording with them was Island of Dreams which peaked in the charts at No 5 in April 1963 according to my source.

  8. Very easy puzzle which I finished in 20:38. Gives me a bit of confidence back after yesterday’s failure.
    Kept thinking of Tintin for 5ac! Had no idea who Dora was but getting Elba made the answer obvious.
    Thanks setter and Jeremy

  9. 22′
    Done over lunch, so I imagine the actual time on task was a few minutes less. DNK OFFCUT, and sure as hell didn’t know what was going on cricketwise, but wasn’t too worried. I never saw the program, so I didn’t know that Dora was animated. ANALECTS was easy–ALEC in ANTS–although I was thinking Buddha not Confucius. Another NOODLE here. I was going to say that I didn’t recall FLASHMAN as a bully, until I finally realized it’s the schoolboy in Tom Brown here, not the hero of the Flashman novels. An enjoyable, easy-for-Friday puzzle.

    1. Kevin, it’s the same Flashman. George MacDonald Fraser had the idea of writing stories about Flashman from the time of his expulsion from Rugby School onwards. The Flashman novels are my favourite historical fiction – there are two especially good ones set in the USA, Flash for Freedom and Flashman and the Redskins, plus one rather poorer (in my opinion) including John Brown, Flashman and the Angel of the Lord.

      1. I realized it was the same Flashman, or at least that Fraser’s hero was supposedly the Tom Brown boy grown up (I never read ‘Tom Brown’); but as I said I didn’t recall the Fraser Flashman being a bully, whereas I gather that the schoolboy was.

      2. Funny that I can’t remember who played Tom Brown in the 1970s TV serial, but I can remember Richard Morant played the dastardly Flashman – memorably ‘toasting’ Brown over an open fireplace.

  10. Liked this one .. the cricketing term a write-in, Dusty one of my favourite singers. I remember seeing a “Motown Special” TV programme, which she hosted, and thinking she stole the show.
    Nho the animated Dora, but my son-in-law has a Ford Explorer which he calls Dora, so ovbviously he has!
    MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books are superb and historically, 100% accurate so far as we can tell.. Flashman, one of the original “Antiheros.” A bully, a coward, a liar and so forth but gripping stuff regardless..

  11. Not hard for a Friday. I’ve never heard of DORA, whom we’re told was an animated American character, so that’s not surprising. Just saved myself from entering BEACHNUT.

    It used to be the rule that examples of names, etc were indicated as such. Now DBE’s are just about in every puzzle.
    40 minutes

  12. At 27 mins, definitely my quickest ever Friday. DNK DORA But It had to be ADORABLE, and NODE went in with fingers firmly crossed.

    I am a great fan of Sherlock so 5d was a write in and my COD.

    Very enjoyable.

    Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  13. 11:21 but with MOLE for 13A not thinking of VOLE. DNK VOILE, but thought MOILE might be a fabric as I did know TOILE. Grr. Nice puzzle. I liked OFFCUT. Thanks Jeremey and setter.

  14. Absolutely no nhos today, only ‘voile’ had to be dug from memory.

    Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien an immortal singer, in my view. I have read all of Sherlock Holmes, and all of Flashman. Have heard of but never seen Dora the Explorer. Parsed NODE. Unaccountably didn’t parse OFFCUT.

    12’50” thanks jeremy and setter.

    Blessings to all this Easter.

  15. You’re the nimble tread of the feet of Fred Astaire
    You’re an O’Neill drama
    You’re Whistler’s mama
    You’re camembert
    (You’re the top, Cole Porter).

    25 mins pre-brekker left me with the tricky one – and the best I could do was ANAPESTS. Clearly ‘Apes’ is a nickname for a smart guy.
    Thanks Apes (setter) and PJ

  16. 36m 11s
    Congratulations to +Jeremy for producing a good blog despite never having heard of Dusty Springfield, or Flashman, not knowing that Sherlock Holmes played the violin, and being slightly dodgy on cricketing terms!
    My late wife and I used to live on the border between Basse Normandie and Mayenne. We sometimes used to take visitors to the charming Normandy port of Honfleur. On the way home we used to stop at CAMEMBERT so they could take photos of themselves with the village sign.

  17. The use of Dora is interesting. It surprised me. Generally crosswords lean heavily on outdated conventions – eg noone has used “rhino” to mean money since about 1928. The problem you encounter when you make things more contemporary is that there perhaps isn’t the same level of common knowledge any more.

    My twin daughters were born in 2001 so I know Dora very well. If I hadn’t had children, I don’t think I’d know of her.

    1. I love seeing newer references, especially if they’re alongside older references (like Dusty Springfield and Sherlock Holmes). Also, importantly, the setter needs to have a good sense of whether the reference is one that another setter could make decades hence. In this case I think the setter made the right choice: Though I’ve never seen a single episode, Dora the Explorer is now almost 25 years old and still seemingly well known. If the setter had made reference to a current popular TV show, I think we could all fairly object.

      Anyway, tastes differ on these things but I’m glad to see it, just as I’m glad to learn about Dusty Springfield. 🙂

      1. You might be rewarded with a listen to her peerless version of Bacharach’s ‘The Look of Love’? By his own admission, Bacharach couldn’t believe what she did with it. Praise indeed.

  18. I was slowed down at the end when a foolishly biffed “trifle” (which isn’t a cake of course, but then I never think of a WAFFLE as a cake either) gave me a hard time solving ANALECTS. I’m clearly not quite such a smart Alec as people think.

    I still have some Dusty Springfield CD’s but as I’m clearing out the flat to move in with my son I’m afraid they’re about to go. I particularly recommend her album “Dusty Definitely” which includes a great version of Rita Wright’s Motown classic “I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You”.

    TIME 10:26

  19. 15 minutes or so.

    Didn’t know voile as the silky fabric for VOLE; had a MER over WAFFLE as a cake; wasn’t very confident at all about NODE; hadn’t heard of ANALECTS but the cluing was kind; also had to trust the wordplay for FLASHMAN.

    No problem with the surface reading for INDUSTRY – a person can be hard work if they’re difficult to deal with.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Gunk
    LOI Node
    COD Hammed it up

  20. Well I haven’t done that for a while – inside 10 minutes by 2 seconds! Usually when I’m under time pressure (Good Friday service is 10 o’clock locally) I stumble and freeze, but my only hesitation (and pink fear) was NODE, where I couldn’t see how cml could be removed. The DeciLitre didn’t occur.
    Perhaps this was just a Slumdog puzzle for me: all the potentially arcane bits of knowledge were readily available. Looking forward to a Monday toughie.

  21. 30 minutes. Like Jack, I’d heard of ANALECTA, not ANALECTS, but the wordplay left little doubt. Didn’t know TOVE as ‘slithy character’. Favourites were the references to DUSTY Springfield, FLASHMAN and DORA as the ‘animated young explorer’.

  22. A slow 43:02 for most of which I would have been scratching my beard, like our blogger, if I had one. Held up most by NHO ANALECTS where I decided MAGE was the smart guy, and actually had AMAGENTS written in, until smart Alec arrived much later to rescue me. Good to see Dusty Springfield

  23. Other MOLE fan here, figuring MOILE was more likely than VOILE. Ugh.

    Like the Sherlock Holmes hidden definition here very much, and the late great Dusty Springfield making an appearance.

  24. This must’ve been easy for a Friday as I finished with no aids in 30 minutes. Thoroughly enjoyable!
    Debating point: is it legit for the setter of a UK puzzle to refer to a US animated character that (as far as I’m aware) has never been shown in the UK? The answer was clear enough, but still…

    1. Oh really? I didn’t know that cartoon hadn’t been syndicated in the UK! A stranger reference than I’d thought then.

    2. It’s available on several pay TV channels in the UK according to a quick Google search, but frankly I’d keep my cash in my pocket if I were you. (I saw plenty of it when visiting friends with children when I lived abroad.)

  25. 15:21 one error

    Would have been a reported PB but for my MOLE. If V came before M in the alphabet I’d have had it.
    Still, looks like there’s a sub 15’ in me one day.
    Liked 9a and 26a.

    Good fun, thanks blogger and setter.

  26. DNF. Had forgotten or didn’t know that 23a ANALECTS is valid as well as ANALECTa, which is also plural only and means the same. Was a bit foxed by the ANTa but ignored them.
    LOI was 17d ORANGEADE as I simply didn’t believe it could be as easy as that!
    Didn’t understand 1a OFFCUT, thanks all.
    NHO Dora the explorer in 5a; couldn’t parse it.

  27. ‘Dora the female explorer’ was a first hit in the early 70s for a band called Stackridge. Lucky for me, as I was unaware of the TV series

  28. Like some others I was heading for a time well below 30 minutes, most unusual for a Friday, but then became bogged down on a few at the end, which spun things out to 46 minutes. The cake defeated me and I looked at a list of cakes: the only thing that vaguely fitted the clue was WAFFLE, but I was so doubtful about it — that it was really a cake and that it really meant ‘rhubarb’ — that I entered it doubtfully and only properly once I had all the checkers. Was utterly defeated by OFFCUT, but when it was explained I liked it best of all.

  29. Pretty quick time by my standards of 28.36 but spoiled by MOLE for unlucky 13ac. I managed to convince myself that the fabric was moile, even though on seeing VOLE was the answer I then recalled I’d heard of voile. Enjoyable puzzle even though I’m frustrated at not quite getting there.

  30. 17:05, having shrugged and put in NODE, like Jeremy having assumed the head was NOODLE. Pleased to finish after a pretty unsuccessful week.

    I’m British and have no kids, but am aware of Dora the Explorer, so she’s made it across the pond somehow…

    Thanks both.

  31. 15:48 – great puzzle. Perhaps I should be surprised that anyone old enough to be doing the Times crossword hasn’t heard of Dusty Springfield, but having just discovered that a couple of young people in their 20s I know had never heard of Tina Turner, it just makes me feel even older!

  32. 25 or more likely 30, on paper with my customary thick-head Friday.

    ANALECTS was the only unknown, and all parsed for a change.

    Not too difficult for a Friday but I agree with Jeremy that there were some nice definitions therein.

    Thanks to both.

  33. The names of Sherlock Holmes stories are always interesting, A Study in Scarlet, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, but COD to Flashie, made me think of Horryd.

  34. 41:41, so a good time for a Friday.

    Lots of fantastic clues here, with slithy toves, Dora the Explorer and Smart Alec. And the topical EASTER. I did not see the Iranian Rial, or Dusty Springfield, but put in from definitions.

  35. Regarding OFFCUT I think Pull and Cut have the same meaning as they both mean remove as in the magazine pulled the article and the director cut the scene.

  36. A very enjoyable puzzle, with good mix of elegant clues and GK. NHO Dora the explora, but HHO Dusty Springfield – there is a green plaque in her honour stuck on a school in West London, not far from me. All done in 24 minutes, good for a Friday.
    Thanks to jeremy and other contributors.

  37. Thought I’d posted early on but I hadn’t. I first saw Mary O’Brien aka Dusty Springfield at the Blackpool Hippodrome in 1960, singing in a group called the Lana Sisters (they weren’t). Along with Ella, Chrissie Hynde and Emmylou, my favourite female vocalist. And no, I have never heard of Dora even if some of my kids were the right age. 19 minutes. Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  38. Did this early before golf this morning in heavy showers, it was fun and took me about 20 minutes. Good to see Jabberwocky getting a mention, and Dusty. As a teenager I was “in love” with Dusty until I heard she was a lesbian, and then discovered what a lesbian was. But I still like her music.

  39. Not a Friday stinker by any means, but a couple of clues that taxed the grey matter! NODE went in with a shrug and I was glad to think of Smart Alec before submitting ASAGENTS! No problems with the animated explorer, either my kids or grandkids had made me well aware of DORA. FLAIR was FOI and ANALECTS LOI. 13:55. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  40. That was pleasant! All the literary/ musical references right up my street.
    Proud of myself for being strict enough not to settle for MOLE, but it was close.
    OFFCUT set a standard that advised against rash biffing but allowing brief thought to be rewarded.
    Only delay was the first jackdaw of the year coming down the chimney…
    Thanks everyone

  41. 16 mins so not the expected trial for a Friday. In my case, that arrived yesterday.

    Adorable was a puzzle as I didn’t get Dora as the explorer- and didn’t after reading the blog either- so I’ll look in earlier comments to see if anyone else had the same experience. Waffle followed by analects were my LOIs. The latter was runner up in my COD estimation, a close second to industry.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  42. Could not parse NODE ( I’m another one in the head= noodle camp), and stuck for ages on my LOI ANALECTS, not being able to see who the smart guy was. Given that DORA the explorer had made an appearance, I even googled the protagonist of Smart Guy, but that turned out to be TJ, so no help. Finally spotted the smart ALEC to finish in 31:50.

    Thanks Jeremy and setter

  43. Late to this having had granddaughters all day. They were far more taxing! As others say, pretty straightforward for a Friday at about 23′ for me. However I’d never have properly parsed OFFCUT, and the violinist reference was missed (not a huge Sherlock fan). Similarly I couldn’t get Bart Simpson out of my head for the Springfield reference, eventually wondering if the city might be in the dust belt, though I knew it wouldn’t be…poor old Dusty never came to mind. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  44. 14:41

    Greatly enjoyed with some clever clueing. Nice to see DORA the explorer – amused my children fifteen or more years ago – perhaps we should watch out for her nemesis Swiper the fox and cousin Diego in future grids?

    Wasn’t sure how NODE was constructed and missed the cryptic part of 27a – ha and indeed, ha. Both the curtain material and ANALECTS were new to me, but kindly clued.

  45. Well, I got all the hard bits in 40 minutes, but ruined my success with MOLE, being two tired and perhaps disinterested today to question it. Of course, once I knew it was wrong VOLE sprung to mind immediately — but unfortunately not while proofreading.

  46. Late to the party, and with only a very minor observation regarding the parsing of 17d. Surely all American states are abbreviated to two letters and to exorcise is to take out rather than away, so the parsing should, I believe, be FL + ASHMAN (with the first A exorcised and placed in front). COD A Study in Scarlet, for both the smoothly devious definition and the very satisfying anagram.


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