Times Quick Cryptic No 2153 by Orpheus

14-minute completion for this Orpheus puzzle, which includes much to be admired.  I needed to write out the anagrist for 7d before I could see the answer, and a modicum of GK is required to cope with some unusual letter combinations.  I put a tick next to two clues to mark them as impressive.  They were the last of each set – 23a and 20d, and they share my award as joint CsOD.


1  Devise song about film (where stars may be seen) (10)

PLANETARIA – PLAN (devise) and ARIA (song) with ET (film) in the middle.  ET as a film is often used as a device in cryptics.

8  Self-admirer obtained one in east of France (7)

EGOTIST – GOT (obtained) and I (one) inside EST (French for East, or East of France).

Girl originally from Hebridean island? (5)

FIONA – F{rom} (originally) and IONA (Hebridean island).

10  Slender object cut short (4)

THIN – THIN{g} (object – cut short = drop last letter).

11  Bearing of one stopping aggression on road? (8)

CARRIAGE – I (one) inside (stopping) CAR RAGE (aggression on road).

13  Vicious criminal beheaded revenue collector round back of office (6)

AXEMAN – {t}AXMAN (revenue collector, beheaded – remove first letter) containing (round) {offic}E (back of office).

14  Oddball’s party beside dam (6)

WEIRDO – DO (party) beside WEIR (dam).

17  Passing first of exams before expiring! (8)

ELAPSING – E{xams) (first of) and then LAPSING (expiring)

19  Unemployed lad primarily tucking into fish (4)

IDLE – L{ad} (primarily) inside (tucking into) IDE (fish).  Except for the very latest newbies, we should all have learned IDE as fish by now.

21  Before magistrate, prepared for trouble (5)

UPSET – UP (before magistrate) and SET (prepared).

22  Item of clothing bloke wrapped round limb (7)

GARMENT – GENT (bloke) containing (wrapped around) ARM (limb).

23  Disinformation demanding serious look, do we hear? (10)

PROPAGANDA – Sounds like (do we hear?) PROPER GANDER (serious look) – GANDER equals look from Cockney rhyming slang – gander and duck = look, although in CRS ‘butchers’ also means look, from butcher’s hook – look.  ‘Take a gander’ and ‘take a butchers’ are synonymous in CRS).


2  Row involving one oddly like a big cat (7)

LEONINE – LINE (row) containing (involving) an anagram (oddly) of [ONE].

3  New worry, finding fastener (4)

NAIL – N{ew} and AIL (worry).

4  Giant squeezing head of Italian painter (8)

TITIAN – TITAN (giant) containing (squeezing) (head of) I{talian} to give TITIAN, a painter (who happened to be Italian, or at least Venetian!).

5  Extremely resolute one-time agent of change (8)

REFORMER – R{esolut}E (extremely) and FORMER (one-time).

6  Scent a wanderer picked up (5)

AROMA – Homophone (picked up) – sounds like A ROAMER (wanderer).

Vindictive move – tell an edited version (10)

MALEVOLENT – Anagram (edited version) of [MOVE – TELL AN].

Irrelevant additional intelligence about hallucinatory drug (10)

EXTRANEOUS – EXTRA (additional) NOUS (intelligence) containing (about) E (hallucinatory drug).

12  Voice raised in river brawl? (8)

FALSETTO – FAL (a river in Cornwall, with Falmouth at its mouth) and SET TO (brawl).

15  Communist leader, one with brightly coloured hair (7)

REDHEAD – RED (communist) and HEAD (leader).

16  Riddle employed in game (6)

ENIGMA – Anagram (employed) [IN GAME].

18  Front put up by a fabulous Greek writer (5)

AESOP – POSE (front) and A (a) all reversed (put up) to give AESOP, Greek writer famous for his fables.

20  Region in Far East? (4)

AREA – Hidden in {f}AR EA{st}.

58 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2153 by Orpheus”

  1. 20:32. COD to PLANETARIA with FALSETTO close behind. Thought the itinerant ethnic group ,the Roma, was the wanderer but looking closer and seeing the homophone indicator realize that roamer was what was meant. Put in Flora first thinking of Flora MacDonald helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to the Hebrides but luckily on checking thought of Iona which led to the right lassie . Thanks for helpful blog!

  2. I was detained for 18 minutes in my carriage between the Planetarium and the nearby Garment Quarter in Little Titchfield Street.

    FOI 6dn AROMA
    LOI 9ac FIONA

    This was on the brink of being a fully fledged 15×15 as I headed south on the grid!

    On edit
    Mr. Rotter, Sir, I don’t think GANDER is strictly CRS but was ‘half-inched’ from American slang in the late 19thC.; it neither rhymes nor chimes!
    ‘Having a gander’ is simply ‘rubbernecking’, which is what geese do, innit!.?
    Being ‘goosed’ is something else and off today’s menu: or one’s goose is cooked!

  3. 11 minutes, so another missed target. On reading 1ac right at the start I thought ‘planetarium’ but as it wouldn’t fit I dismissed the idea until later when the arrival of checkers forced me to reconsider it and the plural came to mind. An unnecessary delay.

    I also have my doubts about ‘gander ‘ as rhyming slang, as in order to make ‘gander and duck = look’ work the Cockney would have needed a northern accent!

    1. Gander

      Jackkt, you are surely right about this.
      Merriam-Webster on “gander” for “look”: “probably…from the goose-like appearance of a person stretching to look at something.” Rien à faire avec CRS.

  4. 23ac reminded me of one of Thurber’s Fables for Our Time, where a confusion of ‘proper gander’ and ‘propaganda’ results in the gander’s being forced to leave town. It took me forever to come up with CARRIAGE, for a very poor 8:28.

  5. I remembered that IDE was a fish!

    I did not know my names of rivers however.

    I will also have to remember ET as the film.

    The right hand side of the puzzle was fairly ok for me, I couldn’t do the left.
    I have no knowledge of Italian painters, but I know Titian hair, so hopefully I won’t forget next time. I also don’t know my islands. Sigh. Rivers and islands. And just.. Culture in general, I couldn’t think of any Greek writers that weren’t Homer.

    I find the homophone clues the hardest. Double definitions second hardest.

    Always tomorrow! Thank you to therotter for the extra hints in the blog for other puzzles much appreciated

    1. I think the hardest are ‘Spoonerism’ clues but mercifully we don’t see many of them in the QC.

      1. Oh yes and we don’t see many where you move like the first letter of the word to another part of the word.

        I should start looking at the main puzzle and seeing if I can manage one or two clues every day. It seems a lot of those clues are two step. Eg Work out two synonyms then anagram them which, along with the bigger vocab is going to be a huge mountain to climb for me

        1. I’m with Jackkt on this one. Spoonerisms are the hardest clues to sort out, and my heart sinks when I read a clue that mentions the good doctor!

        2. I have a go at the 15 x 15 every few days when I’ve got a bit more time. Sometimes I manage to get just 2 or 3 right, and sometimes I can complete nearly all of it before looking at the blog. It’s a great way to learn more about word play and has been really helpful for the QC. I’ve also increased my vocabulary and general knowledge exponentially. Give it a go!

        3. I think I get the sort of clue that you are referring to Tina, but I can say with a high degree of certainty that you will never have a clue in a Times crossword that requires you to think of a synonym and then use it as anagram material. That’s called an ‘indirect anagram’ and is an absolute no-no in these ‘ere parts!

  6. 29 minutes, and I struggled with this after a few days away from crosswords. Lots BIFD.
    FOI: NAIL.
    Favourite PROPAGANDA.

  7. I don’t think there’s any evidence that Aesop was a writer; I’m not sure if there’s evidence that Aesop existed.

  8. “They’re Knocking Nails Into My House” was the debut single by the IDLE Race, the group in which Jeff Lynne (ELO and the Traveling Wilburys) started out. And I’m relieved to say that I nailed this, albeit a few seconds past my target, without any pink squares.

    I found it quite tricky, and was a little wary of my LOI, where ‘car rage’ didn’t strike me as really being a thing.

    TIME 5:09

  9. I’m clearly out of step in finding this far from a Quick Cryptic. Once I accepted that this was going to be a struggle, I found much to enjoy but I was not on the wavelength. Very slow going – I couldn’t compete with rotter today and went steadily and inexorably into the SCC. Thanks to both, though. John M.

  10. A large crashing sound as my run of fast finishes in the last few days comprehensively hit the buffers. This took me 17 minutes and for most of that time the SCC beckoned before a rush of answers at the end – a rare case of the very opposite of last-clue-itis.

    Hard to say why I struggled but from not realising that Planetarium went -ia in the plural (I see on research it is an “allowed alternative” to planetariums), to a MER at Car rage (NHO, always road rage to my mind), to misreading 21A completely (I though it was 22A and couldn’t make any sense of it at all), I was clearly not on Orpheus’s wavelength today. It happens …

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

    1. CAR RAGE

      I can’t find any evidence that this exists as an accepted lexicographic term (i.e. one that you would find in leading dictionaries) but that’s of no matter here as it’s not the answer to the clue, merely part of the wordplay, and as such, setters by tradition are free to indulge whims and fantasies etc in order to make their puzzles more entertaining for solvers. As these things go, CAR RAGE clued as ‘aggression on the road’ is hardly a stretch since ‘road rage’ and ‘air rage’ both exist, so why not ‘car rage’ as a means of providing a route to the answer, CARRIAGE.

      I would however have agreed with your point had CAR RAGE been the answer to the whole clue.

      1. Thank you Jack. Perhaps I was being a little harsh on our setter – but it did seem to me that this is a two-stage clue, as one has to (A) find a phrase that means the clued “aggression on the road”, and then (B) add an I into it to get to the answer. And I wasn’t expecting step (A) to require one to think of an invented phrase that doesn’t exist!

        I am sure this would pass without notice in more complex crosswords, but I was a little surprised to see it in a QC, and I also note that although in a small minority, I am not quite entirely alone in this …

        1. There is also a question mark at the end of the clue which I believe implies that it is not a rigorous definition. It seemed fair to me on that basis.

  11. 11.28 with a typo

    Inexplicably just couldn’t see PROPAGANDA – delayed me for a couple of minutes at the end as my POI with FALSETTO straight in afterwards.

    No complaints though – everything seemed fair enough and thought CARRIAGE was rather good

    Thanks all

  12. My stifled “yee-ha” on finally cracking PLANETARIA disturbed the peaceful slumbers of the 08:21 commuter train. Chewy puzzle but I kept on chewing.

    FOI AROMA, LOI CARRIAGE, COD FALSETTO, time 12:10 for 1.5K and an OK Day.

    Many thanks Orpheus and Rotter.


  13. Struggled to 7:38 for this one, just not on Orpheus’ wavelength at all this morning. I ended up staring at the hole where CARRIAGE and REFORMER should go without any idea how to parse either of them for a couple of minutes, until the penny finally dropped.

  14. Starting off with 3d, 2d and 4d respectively, confirmed that 1a was PLANET____, but ARIA took a while to substitute itself for ARIUM. REF took forever to find its ORMER and ROAD RAGE wouldn’t yield right of way for a while either. EXTRANEOUS and FALSETTO extended the bafflement quotient before I finally clocked off at 12 seconds over my target. 10:12. Thanks Orpheus and Rotter.

  15. I think this was a bit too tricky to be a quickie. Enjoyed it though. Fal has been in a few crosswords lately so it helped with one of the toughest clues. I do think that setters need to stop using ‘girl’ for a female first name. Thanks setter and blogger.

  16. Another failure, did not see FALSETTO, that “raised” on a down clue was too tempting. I was on to rivers like Po, Arno, but never seen Fal in a clue before. Add it to the list of short rivers: Esk, Ure, Ob, Dee.

    NHO CAR RAGE, surely always “road rage”. And I forgot Ide, if I ever knew it.


  17. Excellent puzzle but a bit chewy in places.
    Started with EGOTIST and then had a brief flirtation with LIONISH😂 before common sense and parsing prevailed. My main hold ups were AXEMAN (no idea why), CARRIAGE and LOI REFORMER, which took me over target.
    FALSETTO just pipped PROPAGANDA for my COD. Finished in 10.40
    Thanks to Rotter

  18. Not on the wavelength today; this took me about 25 minutes. LOI ELAPSING which took ages. Prior to that needed AESOP (should have been easy), FALSETTO ( a tough clue I thought) and PROPAGANDA ( I now think of Fake News). ENIGMA was another slow to emerge in the bottom half.
    Did well on the top half.
    This seemed tough for a QC. COD to AXEMAN.

  19. Definitely on the harder side, but I made a reasonable fist of it.

    ELAPSING was my LOI, but there were some gems in here I thought – PROPAGANDA, EXTRANEOUS, FALSETTO.

    V good puzzle.


  20. Like ‘Blighter, this quickly turned into a ‘sit back and enjoy the ride’ puzzle rather than a QC. And there was lots to enjoy along the way, albeit some of the nuggets were very well hidden – Carriage certainly took an age. Having decided that 17ac was probably Enacting, and that 12d contained a raised Oral, it’s fair to say that the SW corner proved to be trickiest part of the grid, but I got there in the end, around the 30min mark. CoD to the more straightforward 21ac, Upset. Invariant

  21. It appears I’m an outlier today in not finding this too tricky, although I had to pause a moment to convince myself about my LOI, CARRIAGE, REFORMER and FALSETTO. COD to PROPAGANDA. Thank-you Orpheus and Rotter. 4:53.

    1. Hello Mr Interred,
      I’m a day behind at the moment, and have only just completed my attempt at yesterday’s Orpheus. This is just to say that I am in awe of your time, as at 4:53 I was just solving my first clue (THIN). My first complete pass through the grid resulted in only 5 solutions and took 17 minutes.
      Despite being severely roughed-up by the setter, I finished all correct (without aids) in 79 minutes. Phew, phew and double-phew!
      This seemed much more challenging than a QC to me.
      Mr Random

      1. Thanks. I was clearly strangely lucid yesterday as I finished the 15×15 in less than 9 minutes too. It’s all down to practice, I think. I think you are right, this crossword was a little tricky, but my experience helped me spot the tricks. Furthermore, I’m in the middle of compiling my next Weekend Quick Cryptic, so am in a cryptic frame of mind, which may help too.

  22. Seem to be in good company in finding this on the trickier side (although I’ve just seen john’s post above!). Hobbled over the line in 29 mins – LOI (by about 8 mins) was ELAPSING – just couldn’t work out which was the definition… Otherwise much to like including FALSETTO, FIONA, and PROPAGANDA. Biffed CARRIAGE – would never have thought of ‘car rage’, but if you accept that, it’s a very clever clue. Many thanks for the explanations. Very enjoyable overall.

  23. I’m with Jackkt on the matter of Spoonerisms. They are the hardest clues to sort out, and my heart sinks when I read a clue that mentions the good doctor!
    I thought todays crossword was very well constructed, with some excellent clueing. My favourite has to be 23ac, and I was surprised to read in the comments above that Ganda may have an American derivation. I thought it was very much an English slang term.
    I think I was tuned into the setters wavelength today finishing in 7.57. The crossword generally seemed tougher to me than my personal time suggested.

  24. Oops sorry I seem to have multiple entries here. The message board seemingly refused to initially accept my first entry referring to duplicated comments, and again on subsequent efforts

  25. I bow to pressure on ‘take a gander’ not being CRS, but at least one source I looked at put it down to ‘gander and duck = look’. I’m north midlands and pronounce look as in luck and duck. Some northerners pronounce look as Luke. Of the two, I’d say that cockney pronunciation is closest to luck, hence CRS of butchers ‘uck for look. Ah well, such is life’s rich tapestry.

    Thanks for all the comments.

    1. Dear Mr Rotter,
      My elder son spent the first 6 years of his life in Macclesfield, NE Cheshire. Mrs Random vetoed my choice of first name for him on the grounds that Luke would sound like ‘Look here!’ in the local accent. She did, however, allow Luke as his middle name.
      BtW, I’m a day behind at the moment and have just solved yesterday’s Orpheus (my most afeared setter) in 79 minutes! I am mightily relieved, but my nerves are frayed. Definitely not a QC, in my opinion.
      Mr Random

  26. Dnf…

    One of those QC where I think I’m losing it as I only had half of the grid completed after 30 mins.

    However, whilst I may not have been on the wavelength, I enjoyed a lot of the clues. Only raised eyebrow was 13ac “Axeman” which wouldn’t have been my first thought as a vicious criminal.

    FOI – 10ac “Thin”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 8dn “Extraneous”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. Eh up me duck! I also struggled with concept that duck rhymes with look in CRS. As a former resident of East London and currently in the East Midlands, I can say the vowel sounds are quite different. Of course, Rotter knows that too 😅 Having read the explanations above the alternative makes much more sense.
    I also struggled with this one – like Blighter and Invariant, I decided to take it easy and finished in 15 minutes. There were a lot of PDMs – I really liked the misdirection in 12d, and tried to put an upside-down alto or similar into a river! The surface for Fiona was lovely too – a good Scots name.
    FOI Thin LOI Falsetto COD Propaganda
    Thanks Orpheus and Rotter

  28. Enjoyed this one. Had to solve in two goes with a food shop in the middle. Perhaps that helped, as once I got home clues like PLANETARIA and MALEVOLENT immediately sprang to mind. Biffed quite a few like FALSETTO, EXTRANEOUS. COD PROPAGANDA which made me smile. LOI ELAPSING after an alphabet trawl. So by my SCC standards I felt I had been
    relatively speedy with an Orpheus today.

  29. Very difficult and needed some help to eventually get over the line. I find Orpheus’s clues often very covoluted.

  30. Got stuck half way through this and had to use aids to finish. I had EXTRANEOUS pencilled in for 8d but could not parse the second part as I was looking for GEN or IT for intelligence. For 11a I was looking for a bearing like NW or SE to fit somehow into road rage and wanted to put DYING somehow in the passing and expiring clue. Plenty of misdirections!

  31. 1hr05 DNF over two sittings (45 + 20). Geography not one of my strong subjects so biffed FLORA and in hindsight I have heard of IONA.

    That was hard work. I was beginning to think I was done for on first pass as I read clue after clue with nothing cropping up until we got to IDLE which was on yesterday’s. Then GARMENT and AREA were somewhat gimmes. And MALEVOLENT untangled itself and I could see the O ending WEIRDO which became DO for party.

    Noting that MALEVOLENT had all the vowels in checkers and therefore no issues with spelling.

    AROMA – was confused by the necessity of the “picked up” bit. ROMA gypsies (if we’re allowed to use that phrase) are travellers. I understand the explanation in the blog.

    A bunch of words – LEONINE, AXEMAN, EXTRANEOUS, TITIAN and PLANETARIA that I don’t think get used much in general conversation. Not entirely convinced by the plural use of PLANETARIUM.

    Didn’t realise AESOP was Greek and missed the significance of fabulous until reading the comments – nice bit of etymology for my brain to take in.


    Thanks to TheRotter and Orpheus

  32. Well, what a puzzle. I had a go this morning and after 20 mins had completed two across and one down clues. Clearly not a good day, and on the basis that this is supposed to be fun I put it aside.

    I have just sat down with Mrs Prof to have another look and we breezed through it in about 10 mins, thoroughly enjoying and appreciating the wonderful clues. So a big thank you to Orpheus for a clever and entertaining puzzle!


  33. We found this very tricky, and not helped with a 4m old puppy with a squeaky ball. Needed some help to finish, eg 1a. Enjoyed some clues eg 11a carriage.

  34. DNF

    In fact, nowhere near. With 8 unfinished after 30 minutes this was my worst outing ever. CARRIAGE and PROPAGANDA in particular were beyond my solving ability.

  35. Well off the wavelength today. Nothing on first pass until FOI 10a Thin and ended with a very empty grid. I slogged through and finally completed ok but it must have been well after the SCC had shut up shop for the evening and certainly all the lights were out. LOI 2d looking at lionise as well as Leonine. COD 14a Weirdo. Much to enjoy if it hadn’t been such very hard work!

  36. Difficult to get a real tiume on this – I am always quite slow. However I first looked at it as we left Kings Cross and realised I hadn’t got a pen. Solved three or four. Bought a pen at Darlington and was done before I got to Saltburn – around 40 minutes journey. Enjoyed it.

  37. By my (admittedly very low) standards, I didn’t find this too bad. Began slowly but got a sudden rush of inspiration. Hats off to propaganda – great clue!

    1. I’d say it’s one of those slangy words you see in gangster-type films where they say “he’s got some nous”. Usually pronounced as “nowse” if that changes your perspective on it.

  38. Straight from Chambers – NOUS (noun) – Intellect, Talent or Common Sense. I don’t know how better to explain – that’s what it means.

  39. I’ve heard and read it several times when commentators or journalists praised football players and managers for their”tactical nous”.

Comments are closed.