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25703 They don't come much easier

This one turned out to be a ten minute romp, which allowing for my clumsy and inattentive typing techniques is about as fast as I can go. A couple of words were not that familiar - 12 for its definition and 14 looking like a made up word - but both had generous and almost unmistakeable wordplay. You have to know about Parliamentary record keeping, or there's no way of getting 11; I suppose you have to know some very basic chemistry for 6, and the teeniest bit of Bible knowledge for 19a but, hey, we solve crosswords, we do. Brains the size of a planet.
Here's my take. As usual, the gentle pointing out of (almost inevitable) errors is welcome.


1   STAR CROSSED  cf Romeo and Juliet, 6th line (Shakespeare missed out the penultimate letter). Ace, our top player
    crossed, providing a chance for the Spurs centre forward to blast it wide, presaging a season that will end in tears, or
    at best the Europa League (again).
7   CAD  part of a hand of cards is, um, a card. Knock out the King or Queen, the standard R, and you have our knave.
9   CLIENTÈLE (No extra marks for the accent) - the people who patronise (pleasant sense) a business, anagram of INTELLECT
    and the only drug known to compilers, E.
10 ALARM Definition flap, ALAR is "like wings" and M the tail of bantaM
11 HANSARD No way to get this if you don't know the daily record of proceedings in parliament (both Houses), initiated in the
    early 19th century by William Cobbett and his publisher Thomas Hansard, a crime for which they served 2 years and 3
    months imprisonment respectively.  Parliament itself took over publication in 1909 but kept Hansard's name. Our clue is a
    cryptic definition.
12 PROTEAN  anagram of ONE PART. Knew the word, did not know it could mean shape-changing. Nothing to do with SA
13 RUMBA RUM (drink) in front of BAT with its last missing. Simples
15 AMENDMENT  "Constitutional change". Matrioshka wordplay: D(emocrat) between two MEN inside A T(ime)
17 SENTIENCE One possible synonym for time is a jail SENTENCE, chuck in the I and bingo.
19 MANNA  Miraculous white sticky flakes that fed the Israelites in the wilderness, from (Thomas) MANN and A. The Hebrew
    means "What is it?" I seriously hope some Sunday School child has reported that the Israelites lived on Wotsits. That
    would be a miracle.
20 CHATTER  Rabbit as in Chas and Dave's immortal song. Hidden in magiC HAT TERrific.
22 PARABLE  Short piece of writing is PAR(agraph), intelligent, ABLE, the whole the story with a moral.
24 ONION  The archetypal tear jerker. One position for a switch is on, twice around the symbol for electric current I.
25 BANGALORE  Outlaw=BAN, GALORE as in lots of (or Pussy for Bond fans)
27 DON When you NOD you sign agreement, backwards it's Quiet Flo, the Don.
28 ENTERTAINER Hopefully amusing, an anagram of INTERNET ERA, as plainly signalled as it gets


1   SIC Latin for so: "it was indeed written thus". First letters of Silence In Court.
2   ALIEN Foreigner for definition, A plus legal right, or LIEN. Tidy if not difficult clue.
3   CANTATA. Half a CANcan, TATA for "so long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodnight".
4   OVERDRAWN   A common enough problem ameliorated by a forgiving bank that just racks up the interest. Equally
5   SLEEP One of the more setter friendly Prime Ministers, PEEL'S overturned for night-time rest, if you're lucky.
6   DIAMOND  is the crystalline form of carbon, a girls best friend offered on that sort of dating with the hope of being
     caught by her.
7   CHAMELEON is an unusual arrangement of CLEAN HOME for the colour changing reptile and its human analogue.
8   DEMONSTRATE  Definition "show", DEMON STATE (say) captures R(ing)
11 HARPSICHORD. HARD (firm) surrounds P(iano) and a changing of CHOIRS.
14 MENTATION  A perfectly crumulent word, meaning operation of the brain. MENTION around A T(heatre).
16 EYE OPENER  What someone coming round is.  And surprising.
18 INTENSE. I'm sure I've seen it before, but it's still my favourite du jour. SEE and SAW are different tenses of the verb. How
    they differ, conflated, gives "extreme".
19 MARSALA  ALAS and RAM, the striking beak of a ship as much as anything else, reversed for the sweet Sicilian wine.
21 REBUT  More used to its meaning of counter-argument, but it also means "drive back". R(iver) then TUBE (a currently
    strike-bound form of public transport around here) reversed.
23 BLOWN Exposed as in blown cover, affected by wind as in, um, blown. How's it going, Jim?
26 EAR  And here to finish is our every other letter clue, rEpAiRs. Ear as in "of corn"


( 58 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 6th, 2014 02:33 am (UTC)
Nul Points
On my way to a speedy 10 minute solve, one glance at 14d was all I needed to see the reversal of ‘ad’ inside ‘mention’, et voila! nous avons la solution — MENDATION — et une grande screw-up. La prochaine, s'il vous plaît.

p.s. Crumulent [sic] ou cromulent, z8?! [the Urban Dictionary is good on the former!]
Feb. 6th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
Re: Nul Points
I intended the latter, of course. Let's leave it in as a perfect example of the use of SIC!
Re: Nul Points - mctext - Feb. 6th, 2014 03:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Nul Points - bigtone53 - Feb. 6th, 2014 04:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 6th, 2014 02:40 am (UTC)
I'll bet many might think that an American solver....
....would be stumped by the CD for 'Hansard'. Not here, I blew through this one in just a little short of 23 minutes without thinking very hard.

'Alar' is a stock word in US puzzles; just remember, it can also be a banned pesticide.

As for Proteus, he is a Greek myth, and also a book in Ulysses where Stephen Dedalus goes through a series of mental gymnastics while walking on the beach.
Feb. 6th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
Re: I'll bet many might think that an American solver....
I cannot see Ulysses without thinking of Battery Sergeant Major Williams in 'It Aint Half Hot, Mum' (Windsor Davies). Rummaging through the books of one of the team, he says "What's this? Useless, by James Joyce'
Feb. 6th, 2014 02:44 am (UTC)
Not so fast as the crew on deck so far. A mixed bag suitably summed up by the crossing CHAMELEON and PROTEAN.

I really do wish that the mind/brain conflation (a very dangerous one in my book) wasn't promulgated in The Times (14dn).
Feb. 6th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
I thought I might actually get under 10', but 12ac, 9ac (LOI), and 5d slowed me down. The only PM's I could come up with for a long time were North and Pitt (figured Campbell-Bannerman was out). In another life, I worked at the UC library's government documents department, and we received Hansard, the command papers, and just about everything else HMSO cranked out. COD to BANGALORE. And I second Mctext's animadversion on mind/brain.
Feb. 6th, 2014 02:57 am (UTC)
26 minutes for all but two, MENTATION and PROTEAN which delayed me for another 9 minutes. My pleasure at finding it so easy was offset by feelings of concern about the stinker which no doubt awaits my turn of blogging duty tomorrow.

Edited at 2014-02-06 02:58 am (UTC)
Feb. 6th, 2014 03:12 am (UTC)
And that was with interruptions, so definitely on the cruisy side.

Great blog as usual Z. Agree with your choice of INTENSE for COD.

Had wrongly assumed that HANSARD was uniquely Australian, but I see it's yet another term you Brits have copied from us.
Feb. 6th, 2014 03:13 am (UTC)
Re: 15:42
Not to mention nicking that bit out of the corner of our flag.

Edited at 2014-02-06 03:32 am (UTC)
Re: 15:42 - galspray - Feb. 6th, 2014 03:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 15:42 - (Anonymous) - Feb. 6th, 2014 02:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 6th, 2014 04:01 am (UTC)
back in the Double 600 club (concise & cryptic).

COD: Thanks z for explanation of intense, put in solely on clue/checkers as mention around A & T.
Hope 2mrw's not too much of a stinker for you Jack!

Had to bite the bullet today, and get a new Desktop, and am currently building it completely from scratch (suspect corrupted s/w = dodgy backups).
So done mixed in with umpteen software downloads & installations, otherwise sure I'd have been 600+.
Feb. 6th, 2014 08:14 am (UTC)
WOE again...

About 30 or so minutes, so a quickie for me too. But I got one wrong: I had 'protein' at 12ac, missing the anagram (there seemed quite a few in this one…). Hadn't come across that word (but then nor had I come across MENTATION), and hadn't worked out the wp (but then hadn't worked out MARSALA, either). Thanks for the blog.

Feb. 6th, 2014 08:51 am (UTC)
20 minutes, so a stroll in the Jimboesque park. Could have been enlivened by the odd obscure makar (sic), I thought - the discussion if not the puzzle.
Feb. 6th, 2014 09:24 am (UTC)
This is fast for me as I am the slowest typist in the world so I must have attuned to the setter's wavelength. I liked 18D

Edited at 2014-02-06 09:24 am (UTC)
Feb. 6th, 2014 09:41 am (UTC)
Can't disagree - this is a 15 minute comfortable wade in the bog. I also liked 18D although I'm sure it's not original.

Thanks for enquiry z8. Some statistics are now emerging. For example in the last 8 weeks we have had 50% of our annual average rainfall. Local beaches are being rearranged at an alarming rate and trees are falling over in all directions.

Forecast is heavy rain for next 3 days plus 100mph winds. Can't wait!
Feb. 6th, 2014 10:26 am (UTC)
Another zippy sub-10 minuter, perfectly good puzzle on the easier side of things (as demonstrated by the fact I still only just managed to achieve my main daily target of beating 2 x Magoo).

Admittedly, had there not been a checker in place, I would have followed through with my own invented word for 14dn in MENTITION (obviously the brain equivalent of DENTITION for teeth).
Feb. 6th, 2014 10:56 am (UTC)
Wot no decimal point @ 18D? Well all right then, and a nice clue in a nice puzzle. 18 mins for this slowcoach, mentation up creek, very probably.

This week's been an odd one in terms of difficulty, but nearly all the puzzles have been well scribed.

Decent blog, for which many thanks.


Feb. 6th, 2014 11:33 am (UTC)
Nice blog, as usual. Thank you.
I was up late, and this was just the right speed for a post-midnight solve. Agree with all others regarding INTENSE, but enjoyed most other clues as well.
Feb. 6th, 2014 11:54 am (UTC)
Easyish but enjoyable puzzle (mind, that doesn't mean I completed it in anything remotely close to the lightning times recorded above). Held up by 14D (my LOI) where, like Sotira, I originally had MENDATION but then decided to check in the dictionary and came up with MENTATION, at which point the wordplay immediately became clear.

Thanks for the entertaining blog, Z8
Feb. 6th, 2014 11:55 am (UTC)
I should have added that I too thought INTENSE was very good.
Feb. 6th, 2014 12:35 pm (UTC)
First post here: been following you good people for a couple of months, which has given me great insights to assist in my slow climb from the foothills of the Sydney Morning Herald cryptic to the Olympian Heights... Thanks so much for all the insights and the wit.

Knocked this one over in a tad over two hours. A puny effort by your standards, but a major triumph for a bloke who - until recently - found a calendar more useful than a clock in measuring completion times.

Struggling with the parsing of 16 down - appreciate any insights. Got it through letters I already had and definition "that's surprising". Also get the "coming round" bit - but what's the "certain view" piece of the clue?

Thanks again for all the blogs and comments -this has got to be one of the most civilised venues on the internet.

Feb. 6th, 2014 12:49 pm (UTC)
Welcome, Nick - always good to have new blood and new perspectives.

At 16, the 'to a certain view' works I think to distinguish 'eye-opener' from say 'waker' or 'riser' by highlighting the visual aspect of the return to consciousness, in this tongue-in-cheek literal.
Eye Watering - nick_the_novice - Feb. 6th, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galspray - Feb. 6th, 2014 12:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ulaca - Feb. 6th, 2014 01:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sotira - Feb. 6th, 2014 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - janie_l_b - Feb. 6th, 2014 01:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bigtone53 - Feb. 6th, 2014 01:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 6th, 2014 02:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 6th, 2014 12:58 pm (UTC)
8:57 with MENTATION my last one in, the word play was very clear, I just hadn't ever heard of it.
Feb. 6th, 2014 01:16 pm (UTC)
Many years of commitment and attitude have led, oh so slowly, to this - a sub-half hour time and PB of 28 minutes. Possibly having been distracted of late by the Winter Olympics, I have had DNF after DNF of late so (to use Slopestyle Ski terminology) I'm so truly stoked at this awesome result that I feel like doing a triple misty switch-grab! :-)))
Feb. 6th, 2014 01:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Stoked!
Well done Chris - although I have to say that a triple misty thingummy does sound a bit like something Thud n' Blunder might treat!
Andy Borrows
Feb. 6th, 2014 01:21 pm (UTC)
12 mins. A straightforward but enjoyable solve. I also got PROTEAN from the anagram fodder once all the checkers were in place, and MENTATION was my LOI from the wordplay.
Feb. 6th, 2014 01:48 pm (UTC)
9:48 and plenty of entertainment along the way. As with others mentation and that particular meaning of protean where unknown, as was RAM in 19, so it's testament to the setter's craft that
this lack of GK didn't slow me down.

Interesting to see Bangalore in the Rawalpindi slot. Hyderabad down there tomorrow?

COD to sleep for the definition. It was also my LOI.

Thanks to setter and blogger and congrats to Chris above on the PB. Next target 15 minutes.

Edited at 2014-02-06 01:51 pm (UTC)
Feb. 6th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
All stoked for Woodsy
This seems like a good time to mention that the son of chrisw91 (above) — James “Woodsy” Woods — will be competing for GB in the Olympics next week, and, if the wind and the judges are set fair, is a realistic medal prospect.

I should mention that I twisted chrisw91’s arm for permission to mention this — he feared it would be “un-British” to say anything.

Woodsy competes in the ski version of Slopestyle (not today’s snowboard version). He is, without doubt, awesome and sick (in a good way). He does things that make you go ‘ooh’ and ‘ouch!’. Watch a lovely sample of his work and an interview with the young man himself at:


I’m sure all regulars will join me in wishing James, and his nervous dad, every success next week (the 13th, I think).

I believe the expression is "Kill it, Woodsy!"
Feb. 6th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC)
Re: All stoked for Woodsy
Go Woodsy.
Re: All stoked for Woodsy - ulaca - Feb. 6th, 2014 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: All stoked for Woodsy - chrisw91 - Feb. 6th, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: All stoked for Woodsy - penfold_61 - Feb. 6th, 2014 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: All stoked for Woodsy - topicaltim - Feb. 6th, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: All stoked for Woodsy - janie_l_b - Feb. 6th, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 6th, 2014 03:23 pm (UTC)
Welcome Nick, and Go Woodsy!

A most enjoyable amble today, but over all too soon - must have hit the exact wavelength, finished under 20 minutes.

The setter obviously moves in different circles to mine: to me, a DIAMOND, single, marks the end of dating, to him a diamond choker no doubt "might be useful" at the beginning ... is he, I wonder, a CAD?

Amusing crossing of SENTIENCE and MENTATION. Even more amusing RUMBA with HARPSICHORD, my COD! Beecham didn't like 'em - "like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof". He had a point, but whisper it not to my "original instrument" fanatic friends.
Feb. 6th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
Hi, have been following for a week or so. This blog has helped me improve rapidly, so thanks for all your work. Still, my performance still varies wildly. Finished both Saturday puzzles same day for a first, then made a hell of a mess on Monday, yesterday close but dnf... This did seem the easiest i've seen but maybe I ought just to be grateful for a new PB, well under 20 minutes.
Mann was the first German writer to come to mind, and if you'd given me an hour probably would still be the only one!
Still an ok puzzle. Maybe one down was a bit easy.
I do the 'I' as well. Diamonds,Indian cities, and sambas/tangos/rumbas seem to be flavours of the week.

Edited at 2014-02-06 04:53 pm (UTC)
Feb. 6th, 2014 05:17 pm (UTC)
Welcome, counterfly.
(no subject) - bigtone53 - Feb. 6th, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 6th, 2014 06:04 pm (UTC)
16m. I liked this one, but don't seem to have found it as easy as some. Thanks for explaining INTENSE.
Welcome to our new visitors and go Woodsy!
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