Times Quick Cryptic No 2397 by Joker

Solving time: 08:39

First time I’ve blogged one of Joker’s offerings. Not too much here that is too tricky though I was mainly held up by the two thirteen-letter words and a hastily bunged-in 2d which required some backtracking once I’d realised that I couldn’t solve 13a.

Having said that, on seeing the light, I must award my COD to 2d for its cleverness. LOI was 5d which needed all of the checkers to remove the scales from my eyes.

How did you get on?

Definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [directions in square ones].

1 Donkey is there primarily to help (6)
ASSIST – ASS (donkey) IS T{here} [primarily i.e. first letter of THERE]
4 To some extent extol ecological backing for wild cat (6)
OCELOT – Reverse hidden [backing; to some extent] in extol ecological
8 Capitalist system surprisingly commies claim about right (13)
COMMERCIALISM – Anagram [surprisingly] of COMMIES CLAIM about the letter R (right)
10 Part of flower that’s favourite, most of all (5)
PETAL – PET (favourite) AL{l} [most of – in this case everything but the last letter of ALL]
11 Not the one nor the other therein perhaps (7)
NEITHER – Anagram [perhaps] of THEREIN
13 Presiding officer’s way with one who deserts other ranks (9)
MODERATOR – MODE (way) with RAT (one who deserts) OR (other ranks)

In the armed forces, ‘Other Ranks’ typically means all of those who are not commissioned officers.

17 Establish where choirboy might stand in church? (7)
INSTALL – IN STALL – the choir area in a church might be occupied by sometimes finely carved and decorated wooden seats known as choir stalls

In less ornate churches, the choir area may consist of benches or pews

18 Brilliant European look (5)
STARE – STAR (brilliant) E (European)

Here, brilliant is a noun. A brilliant is a diamond or other gemstone cut in a particular form with numerous facets so as to have exceptional brilliance.

I guess that STAR is one of the many shapes into which a gemstone may be cut.

19 Spot dance club with Lima address (13)
DISCOLORATION – DISCO + L + ORATION – DISCO (dance club) plus L (Lima – NATO phonetic alphabet) ORATION (address)

Although American-looking, this spelling is also used in the UK (though DISCOLOURATION is perhaps more usual?)

21 Old person in New York, an insignificant one (6)
NOBODY – O (Old) BOD (person) between the letters NY (New York)
22 Unwilling in church to put robes on? (6)
CLOTHE – LOTH (unwilling) in CE (church – Church of England)

Not sure why the question mark is there.

1 Account record tons take as correct (6)
ACCEPT – ACC (account) EP (record) T (tons)

AC (for a/c) might be the more usual acronym for ‘account’, but ACC seems to be acceptable too

EP denotes an Extended Play record from the olden days of vinyl, typically a 7″ disc which has more than two tracks and might play at 33rpm rather than 45rpm.

2 Occasionally four notes are followed by seconds (9)
SOMETIMES – SO ME TI ME (four notes on the Do-Re-Me scale) plus S (seconds)

Carelessly bunged in SEMITONES early on (‘notes’ being an anagram of ‘tones’) and had to re-think when I couldn’t solve 13a.

The Do-Re-Me scale, most notably (geddit?) heard in the film The Sound Of Music, is part of solfège (aka solfeggio, sol-fa, solfa, solfeo, among many names) – a music education method used to teach aural skills, pitch and sight-reading of Western music

3 Provide letters for magical formula (5)
SPELL – Double definition
5 What could be in race disturbance after tea (7)
CHARIOT – RIOT (disturbance) after CHA (tea)
6 Garland regularly seen in Algeria (3)
LEI – Alternate letters of [regularly seen in] Algeria
7 Weary taking in doctor’s tone (6)
TIMBRE – TIRE (Weary) with MB (doctor) inserted

MB is the acronym for Bachelor of Medicine (derived from the Latin medicinae baccalaureus)

9 Singer bad at control (9)
CONTRALTO – Anagram [bad] of AT CONTROL
12 That woman on Indonesian island street is a dealer in plants (9)
HERBALIST – HER (That woman) BALI (Indonesian island) ST (street)
14 Sparkler did on a fifth of November, oddly (7)
DIAMOND – Anagram [oddly] of DID ON A plus M (fifth letter of November)
15 Free study coming with a rider (6)
RIDDEN – RID (Free) DEN (study)
16 Occult gathering can see in an unusual way (6)
SEANCE – Anagram [in an unusual way] of CAN SEE
18 Playwright left item of clothing (5)
SHAWL – SHAW (Playwright – George Bernard SHAW) L (left)
20 Thus baby’s beginning to cry (3)
SOB – SO (Thus) B{aby} [baby’s beginning i.e. first letter of baby]

66 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2397 by Joker”

  1. 19:02. I seemed to go slowly but no major holdups- just each clue took around 40 seconds or so. I think MODERATOR took the longest as I was thinking it started Major-or Magis- or Master-, but after I saw it ended
    – RATOR, MODE for way was obvious. I think STAR and brilliant are just synonyms, as in a STAR performance or STAR actor equalling a brilliant performance or brilliant actor.

  2. All done in 9:56, except for the parsing of DIAMOND and DISCOLORATION. I always forget L = Lima in the phonetic alphabet. COD to SOMETIMES.

    Thanks to Mike and Joker.

  3. 1120 White Ship shipwreck plunges England into dynastic chaos

    Quick run in the park, the two long anagrams required most of the checkers. As an ex-choirboy I liked INSTALL, and we never used that “do re mi” business. Only time I ever see it is in crosswords.

  4. Very slow to finish, but all correct at the finish line.
    Tried for a long time to solve 19a as anagram, but realised it had to be DISCOLORATION eventually and then parsed it.
    POI and LOI – SHAWL and STARE

  5. I savoured each mouthful of this one before swallowing my last mouthful at CHARIOT. I was ultimately slowed down by DISCOLORATION and RIDDEN, which I thought an unsatisfactory clue. Still, I was all green and quite sated before I poured my third coffee at 26 minutes, so am quite happy.
    I especially liked INSTALL, CONTRALTO and SOMETIMES, given their musical connotations and smiled to myself at HERBALIST.
    Thank you Joker for another enjoyable workout.

    1. Essentially on your wavelength today ITTT having followed your Greek weather tribulations with sympathy from a consistently sunny Algarve. Hope you had a good time regardless! Steady solve for me today in 23 mins with no significant misgivings and enjoyed DISCOLORATION after yesterday’s DISCONSOLATE!

      1. Hi there SC. So glad you’re having good weather over there. I’m at the airport atm waiting for my flight home where I’m looking forward to some better weather! Happy solving. And enjoy your break 👍

  6. 7 minutes. I can’t say I recall seeing ACC for account in a crossword before but I’m sure I’ve used it informally e.g. as a column heading in spreadsheets.

    In my experience EPs (of which I still have at least two dozen in my collection) played at 45 rpm rather than 33. In the days when they were most popular (195os/60s) most people had stacking autochangers on their record players and it was important that singles and EPs could be mixed together as obviously all the records in a stack had to be played at the same speed.

    1. Although you can find both 10” and 12” EPs which play at 33 1/3. Former, especially jazz from the early ‘50s and latter, disco, reggae and punk from the late ‘70s. EP cassettes existed, and EP streaming tracks these days are a marketing thing. My first EP purchase was that great Beatles 7” EP ‘Twist and Shout’ on Parlophone, but I wouldn’t be without my 12” Joy Division ‘An Ideal for Living’ on Anonymous Records.

      1. I admit to knowing nothing about the more modern terminology but I’m puzzled by: 10” and 12” EPs which play at 33 1/3. What’s the difference between them and 10” and 12” LPs which play at 33 1/3?

        1. It’s a pleasure to be addressing the one person who has contributed to these blogs since Blog No.1 – the Father of the Feast, as it were? I think the answer is: it depends on the kind of music on the disc. When pop songs began to be marketed on small 7″ discs, they were called EPs from the start. Because pop songs only lasted 3-5 minutes, the grooves could be very far apart, resulting in very high quality reproduction. Then, if you wanted a larger record which might contain more tracks, this would still be called an EP, but could be 10″ or 12″ and might play for 12-15 minutes. Whereas for the classical market, this was no use at all, because we needed 30 minutes on a side (with, necessarily, grooves closer together), and this was called an LP.
          So, typically, you might have a classical LP of 10″ (20 minutes) or 12″ (up to 30 minutes), or you might have a pop EP of 10″ (10 minutes) or 12″ (up to 15 minutes).
          The figures may not be precisely accurate, but I hope I’ve given the vague idea.

    2. Jackkt,

      I’ve definitely seen it before, as i usually put “AC” (being an accountant myself), and always get tripped up with the extra “C”.

  7. Look, I realise that most of the folk who do these crosswords haven’t listened to a new release since circa 1960-odd, but I can assure you that EPs are still a thing. Azealia Banks’ 1992 and Burial’s Rival Dealer are classics from the last decade or so, and glancing at the recently purchased music on my phone I can see Banyana EP by DJ maphorisa & Tyler ICU.

    Unplug your ears people.

    4m btw

    1. Tried to listen to those but Alexa’s explicit filter prevented me – I’ll have to wait for the kids to go to school before I can enjoy some soothing foul-mouthed melodies.

  8. Fast until bunged up at the end with RIDDEN, STARE, SHAWL and CLOTHE so ended up taking 15m, including falling for the trap of trying to get Peru into DISCOLORATION. Just pleased to finish all green for the first time this week and I’m still smarting from absolutely no one else thinking ‘arittea’ was a goer yesterday.

    1. Hello Mendeset,
      I tackled yesterday’s crossword today and ARItTeA only just lost out to the correct solution. I had NHO ARIETTA and thdt seemed almost equally implausible.

  9. 28:51 … personally found there was lots that was tricky here … but I guess I’m just not experienced enough. Too much going on in the clues for me to know what I was supposed to be doing. Last few were MODERATOR, CHARIOT, SHAWL, INSTALL, RIDDEN and finishing off with DISCOLORATION. Liked the anagram of CONTRALTO into “at control” 👍 About avg. time these days which is beginning to feel slow!

  10. Top half went in fairly quickly but the bottom put up more of a fight with DISCOLORATION, CLOTHE, RIDDEN and DIAMOND proving particularly stubborn.
    Can’t say I was a fan of RIDDEN but other than that a very enjoyable solve which I finished in 8.29.
    Thanks to Mike

  11. Slipped in just the right side of 20m for a racing start to the morning before the coffee had time to reach its usual lukewarmness. Biffed SOMETIMES. COD DISCOLORATION because I managed to go with the flow and it dropped in.
    Sun is shining in the East (relatively).
    Always struck me as odd that MBBS appeared a mixture of Latin and English in a qualification I acquired. I assumed that one related to higher learning and the other had some later connection to barbering. No doubt somebody will put me right.
    Thanks Joker and Mike.

  12. 11 minutes for me. I liked the do-re-mi clue, but although it was obvious what I was looking for, there were just too many combinations the first time I looked at it with no checkers to spend time thinking about. I also spent a fair bit of time IN STALL when I was still a treble. LOI was RIDDEN, a bit of a weak clue since half the answer appears in the clue.

  13. This was an immersive puzzle for me, shown by the fact that I was 2 mins over target when I thought I was going unusually quickly. Ah well.
    A good QC. Most of the top half flew in and I returned to the my LOsI TIMBRE and NEITHER (both straightforward) after completing the lower half. The longer answers came to me smoothly (so where did the time go?).
    I won’t pick out favoured clues – too many good ones.
    Thanks to Joker and Mike. John M.

  14. Lovely – another friendly one. All done in about 25 minutes; FOI ASSIST, COD SOMETIMES, LOI RIDDEN (I agree, ride/RIDDEN a bit weak; that’s what I meant about NICE the other day). Yes, the top was easier than the bottom. Thanks, Joker.

  15. 11 minutes and no drama, although it took a while for SHAW to come to mind for the LOI. DISCO was also slow, but I enjoyed the experience. I think the question mark in 22a is because one can ‘clothe’ in other things than robes, eg clothe / cloak in mist, or to clothe a bed – there will be better examples than mine. Thanks Joker and Mike.

  16. Flew through the top in a couple of minutes but then got really gummed up in the bottom (matron!). I needed lots of checkers for DISCOLORATION, especially because I kept trying to turn it into an anagram, and COD DIAMOND, SHAWL and LOI RIDDEN all took a lot of head scratching. Thus it ended in a regulation 08:24 for 1.6K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Mike.


  17. The top half (even including Timbre) went in without too much trouble, but it was a completely different story down south. Discoloration unlocked a few more answers, but I needed an alphabet trawl for loi Ridden, and that nudged me into the SCC. Quite slow in places, with wrong end of clue issues (shawl, nobody), so no complaints. CoD to 3d Sometimes. Invariant

  18. Over par.

    I was looking for something cleverer than RIDDEN, and I was stuck on both the playwright and the item of clothing for my LOI SHAWL, despite all the checkers.

    I liked DIAMOND and CONTRALTO. DISCOLORATION also a good one.


  19. An enjoyable offering from Joker who in my opinion pretty much always pitches it at the optimum level of difficulty (others may disagree!). I had to be at my sharpest to finish within target, and did so finishing in 9.36. The main hold up was with my last two clues where I was alternating with trying to think of a dramatist of four letters or an item of clothing of five letters ending in L. Shaw got the nod, and with all the checkers in place I was able to solve my LOI which was DISCOLORATION.

  20. No problems with this one. FOI, ASSIST, LOI, STARE. 6:52. Thanks Joker and Mike.

  21. 8.17 so not bad. Still some brain fog from the weekend as I put a question mark for the parsing of spell = provide letters!

    Last two were install and ridden.
    COD seance.

  22. 9:20 (Hywel Dda merges Dyfed with Seisllwg to create Deheubarth)

    LOI DIAMOND, unparsed., after finally getting DISCOLORATION, having forgotten my NATO alphabet and fallen into the Peru trap.

    Thanks for the blog.

  23. Slow, esp with DISCOLORATION , as I kept trying to think of some kind of speech rather than a spot. (Spell check wants me to add a U). Biffed RIDDEN and then OCELOT without seeing the reverse hidden, doh! But then I could at last finish NE. Also slow on CLOTHE, so fairly dim today.
    No problem with MODERATOR, also liked INSTALL, STARE, SPELL, SOB.
    Thanks for much needed blog, Mike. Had to biff DIAMOND too, as failed to see 5th letter of November.

  24. 24.13 The top half was quite quick but the bottom was like pulling teeth. Last three were DIAMOND, INSTALL and RIDDEN. An early start this morning, so I’ll blame that.

  25. 24 mins…

    Also felt this was on the tricky side.

    Didn’t parse 2dn “Sometimes”, but now that I’ve seen the explanation I can see it’s very clever. The omission of the “u” for 19ac “Discoloration” definitely threw me for a while.

    Didn’t think much of 15dn “Ridden”.

    FOI – 1ac “Assist”
    LOI – 15dn “Ridden”
    COD – 2dn “Sometimes”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. “Are you going? Going to the Boston tea party” – From the chorus of ‘Boston Tea Party’ by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (1976). I have just dug this out from my LP collection and listened to it for the first time in several years. Inspired by the vision of a CHA-RIOT. Thankyou Joker!

    I was on form today, having warmed up by smashing yesterday’s Orpheus in 18 minutes (an astonishing time for me, given the setter). And I made good progress with today’s offering from Joker until I reached the 8-10 clues to go point. A barren spell of 5-6 minutes was broken by DIAMOND and most of the remaining clues tumbled into the grid. RIDDEN, my LOI, added three minutes or so at the end. Total time = 30 minutes.

    Many thanks to Joker and Mike H.

    1. Well done on yesterday’s QC. A very good day all round for those of us who struggle with Orpheus.

      1. Thankyou, Mr A. Let’s hope the rest of the week continues in the same vein.

  27. I join a number of others in finding that the top half of this went in smoothly and the bottom half took a bit more care. 12 minutes in all for me, which is par for a puzzle by Joker, but not without hesitating over the abbreviation ACC for account (for me, ACC means Accusative case in grammar), and the spelling of Discoloration, which I would certainly add a U to. And is not the third note of the Solfa scale usually Mi not Me? How lucky our setters are that a number of words have alternative spellings!

    Ridden does seem, as a few have said, a weak clue but otherwise a very nice puzzle, with the COD for me Diamond.

    Many thanks to Mike for the blog

    1. Me is a perfectly valid alternative to Mi. What’s usual may vary from country to country.

  28. LOI CHARIOT took at least 5 minutes before I managed to get on the right wavelength – no idea why that happened when the rest seemed like a steady solve. Many of the same comments as above. Happy to be green in 26:05. Thanks Joker and Mike.

  29. Could not finish this one due to 19a. Really did not care for that clue at all. Other than that an enjoyable QC.

  30. Narrowly avoided the SCC with LOIs RIDDEN, closely followed by DISCOLORATION causing lots of trouble, the former because it seemed too easy and the latter because of the spelling! Needed blog to parse DIAMOND. Liked HERBALIST. Overall, for me, easier than most of the recent QCs. Very enjoyable. Thanks all.

  31. Defeated by DISCOLORATION today, having forgotten that Lima is part of the NATO alphabet. Apart from that I had much the same experience as others – fast at the top, much slower at the bottom. Couldn’t parse ACCEPT (never seen account abbreviated to acc) and thought RIDDEN was weak. 28 mins for all except 19ac.

    FOI – 1ac ASSIST
    LOI (of those I solved) – 18ac STARE
    COD – 17ac INSTALL

  32. I raced through this from ASSIST to RIDDEN in a ‘I can’t quite believe it’ 5:22. Thanks Joker. I was definitely on your wavelength today.

    1. A bonkers time. Congratulations!
      Slightly faster, I think, than your Majorcan hill climb Strava time last year.

  33. A bit under 11 minutes. DISCOLORATION gave me the most trouble, both for the def and spelling, which I see is given as the preferred (or at least it’s listed first) alternative in several UK dictionaries. I liked the surface for DIAMOND but it’s hard to beat SOMETIMES for clue of the day.

    Interesting to see that a component of the wordplay of one clue here has generated quite a lot of discussion in today’s 15×15 blog.

    Thanks to Joker and Mike

  34. 8.40

    Felt there was a smidgeon of post-lunch sluggishness and looking at the solvers whom I’m normally close to would confirm it.

    Nice puzzle

    Thanks Mike and Joker

  35. Surely in the solfeggio scale, the third note is Mi and not Me. I admit this doesn’t quite fit with Julie Andrews’ “name I call myself” though!

    1. I’d agree but think Joker might have stretched the trick to fit the definition 🙂

    2. ‘Me’ is perfectly valid and is actually the only note in the Julie Andrews scale where the spelling of word in the lyric matches that of the note: doe, ray, far, sew and tea being the others. I’m not counting ‘la’ because Oscar Hammerstein ducked out of that one – a note to follow soh indeed!

  36. Rather a curate’s egg, I found. Lots went in easily, but then MODERATOR, RIDDEN & DISCOLORATION took a while to unravel. Biffed SOMETIMES .

  37. Really enjoyed this, although others have already summed up my view on RIDDEN. I was another who struggled in the bottom half whilst finding the top half straightforward.

    Got home in 16 mins, which I am delighted with given the setter. Some brilliant clues, with the laurels going to COMMERCIALISM and DIAMOND.

    Thanks for a great blog Mike.

    1. Well done, Gary, you were home and dry while I was still another 3 minutes scratching my head!

  38. Good fun. Rattled through this to restore my self esteem after struggling with 28,605.

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