Times 26692 – California dreamin’

Solving time : 7:52 – so either on the easier side of things, or just right on my wavelength, or a bit of both. Greetings from a conference in beautiful San Francisco, where the crossword appears at 4pm.

There was a touch of biffing along the way, though there’s some lovely wordplay in the clues I had to go back and work on after finishing.

After this I have to go back to meetings, so hopefully I don’t have any glaring gaffes in this report, but if there are, check the messages to see if someone else has brought it up.

Away we go…

1 TOSS-UP: SOT reversed then SUP
5 IMPERIAL: IMPERIL(put in danger) surrounding the first letter in Army
9 HAIR GRIP: HAIR(y) (insecure), GRIP (case) – GRIP for a small suitcase is more common in the US than anywhere else I think
10 COMITY: T,I’M reversed in COY
12 SENTENCE: double definition, with rap referring to criminal record
14 LOSE ONE’S HEAD: This was a biff, and I still can’t put together the wordplay – there’s definitely a direct definition, and MISLAY for lose –
but I can’t see the HEAD/RING connection. As pointed out in comments – the ring (O) is the first letter of ONE’S
22 BEAUTY: anagram of BUY TEA
23 BONSAI: SNOB(elitist) reversed then A1
25 LAID-BACK: since it it DIAL reversed
26 STRIDENT: SENT(moved) with DIRT reversed inside
27 HARROW: RAH reversed, then ROW(what oarsmen do)
2 ORATOR: TA reversed with OR(gold) on either side
6 PECAN: PELICAN missing the L and I
7 RAM: ROAM missing the O
13 ECHO CHAMBER: E(note), CHOC(chocolate) and AMBER(orange) containing H
15 ESTABLISH: (r)ELISH(great enjoyment) surrounding BATS reversed
18 MATELOT: MATE(join up with), LOT(many)
19 STUCCO: CO with CUTS reversed above
21 UNITE: NIT inside EU reversed
24 SKI: SKI(p)

52 comments on “Times 26692 – California dreamin’”

  1. I came to find out how LOSE ONES HEAD worked since I had no idea either. I wondered if “mislay ring” was LOSE O but that leaves NESHEAD which isn’t any better.

    The other one I was being clueless about was PECAN since I couldn’t see the bird connection. So thanks on that one.

    I am usually to be found in San Francisco, but I am at a conference 100 miles south in Monterey.

    1. I took “ring” or “O” to be ONE’s head, as in the first letter of ONE.
  2. About 11 minutes, then just stared at _A_R_R_P, which clearly had to be HAIR_R_P, but that didn’t help. GRIP? DROP? TRAP? WRAP? Went for WRAP in the end.

    Now I see that what was required was actually a bobby-pin. Why don’t you people talk properly? Bah. Probably should have recognised GRIP=CASE though, think I’ve seen that somewhere.

    Oh well. The rest was pretty easy. Almost had a clean sweep through the Down clues.

    Thanks setter and George.

    Edited at 2017-04-06 01:45 am (UTC)

    1. It could be worse. When I was little I wore my hair with a “kirby grip”. Bah is the mot juste this morning – had my first typo in a cryptic in weeks.
      1. They were always called kirby grips when my sister wore them in the early fifties. Some forty years later when I had a daughter, I picked up one from the carpet and referred to it as such. Cue collapse of my wife and daughter into hysterical laughter. Was it really such an anachronism?
  3. Another one who couldn’t explain HEAD; ta galspray & brnchn. Biffed ECHO CHAMBER once I spotted CHOC. I wasted some time over SKI, because, as I recall, Christiania is now Oslo; can one ski there?
    1. There are ski slopes remarkably close to the city centre. Having said that, ‘Christiania’ is an odd choice now that I think about it.
      1. I’d never heard of Christiania so googled and it doesn’t appear as an old name for Oslo till the fourth page. I daresay one can ski in Oslo, but it’s hardly famous for it. You can ski in Hemel Hempstead too…


            1. Unspammed. Including a URL will get you spammed unless you’re a site admin. type. (I believe this is called “having ops”.)
          1. Yes the hippy commune in Copenhagen is better known these days.
            Oslo may not be famous for skiing but I’d rather do it there than Hemel Hempstead! In my youth I learned to ski on an artificial slope in Welwyn Garden City.
    2. The Christiania I was thinking of is the autonomous neighbourhood of Copenhagen. No skiing there, I thought, so I entered the three letters hidden in the middle of the name -STI- in the hope that it might be a word that has moved over the North Sea like ‘hygge’. Result: A PB but with one error. Berm.
  4. … and find my parsing of 14ac was (eventually) right. Bit convoluted but. And also to see my query about Norwegian city skiing already raised. I have a cousin in Oslo if anyone would like me to mail him about this.
    (I despise the useless and overused word “community”; but sometimes it seems apt.)

    George’s first guess must be right. I’m never on a wavelength. In fact, I don’t know what one is! So it must be easy.

  5. I think ring = “O”, and O is the head of ONES. So, “lose ONES head”. Took me a while! Any better suggestion welcome.
  6. 9m, no problems, and quite a lot of biffing. I didn’t understand LOSE ONES HEAD either so thanks to galspray and brnchn for clearing that one up.
  7. Completed in 29 minutes apart from 10 which delayed me another 10. I would have said I never heard of it but I said that when it last appeared here in August 2008 when it was more generously clued as “Courteousness as big town collects honour”.

    Not sure I ever knew STRAIT-LACED as an alternative to “straight-laced”.

    Not entirely convinced by insecure = hairy at 9ac.

    Like others I lost time over, and failed to parse 14ac, which is a bit galling having read galspray’s and Bruce’s explanation as I got as far as LOSE (mislay), O (ring) and then didn’t spot what else was going on.

    1. I’d always assumed it was ‘straight-laced’, but my ODE gives ‘straight-‘ as an alternative to ‘strait-‘.
      1. I found the entry in SOED somewhat confusing, suggesting that “straight-” came earlier although the expression has its origin in the word “strait”!

        strait-laced: adjective. Also (earlier) straight-. M16.
        [ORIGIN from strait adverb + laced adjective.]

        1. Both expressions are very old, dating from the mid 1500s, a time when spelling was a matter of personal choice.. World Wide Words says “the original was certainly strait-laced, referring to stays or corsets that were tightly laced and confining, but which by the sixteenth century had already taken on the modern moralistic sense.” .. but the two earliest references in the full OED are spelled straite-laced and streyght lasyd
  8. 9:23 … pretty breezy but fun. I liked the PECAN clue a lot, and PANCHROMATIC’s just a nice word.

    Enjoy San Francisco, George. Wish I was there. It’s definitely on my list.

  9. I had to reveal 9a, 12a, 17a, 16d to finish.

    16d barefoot, I was kicking myself! but I probably wouldn’t have got the other three.

    Couldn’t parse 14a but guessed head rather than mind.
    18d guessed matelot, but didn’t see mate = join up, I was hoping there was a word etam reversed…

    13d also couldn’t parse as I wasn’t sure what function “centre” was doing, easy to biff though.
    Couldn’t parse Hairgrip and pecan so thanks for the blog.

    FOI orator. COD 15d.

  10. … with last 5 minutes or so on the u/k COMITY. Same queries as others re 14ac, and STRAI(gh)T LACED, and didn’t get the Christiania ref at 24dn. Still don’t really: a ski turn, Oslo, Danish hippy commune…?

  11. Went through this in 26 mins over porridge with banana. Solid, comforting fare but with no zingy bits. So was the porridge. Couldn’t see why HEAD, so thanks for the parsing… maybe more zingy than I thought. LAID-BACK was neat too.
    1. I stick grapes and blueberries in my porridge, with the banana, to give it a bit of zing.
  12. Quick but enjoyable, just like .. well I won’t go there. Panchromatic known from early box-Brownie days

    1. Just over 17 mins so a quick one for me. Just outside Oslo is the mighty Holmenkollen ski jump and having climbed to the top of the tower, I have boundless respect for those who throw themselves down the slope.
      I always smile when I see BONSAI, recalling an ad proudly claiming that they were selling the world’s largest bonsai trees.
      Thanks setter and George.
      1. I can’t remember where it was, somewhere in Ohio I think, that invited people to enjoy themselves at its rooftop rathskeller.
  13. Well, this was an odd DNF for me. All done in 45 minutes apart from 12a, where I just stared at S_N_E_C_ for fifteen minutes and then gave up. I can’t quite see how I missed SENTENCE, but I did. D’oh.
  14. A straightforward (straitforward?) puzzle I guess, but I dithered whether to biff LOSE ONES COOL before finally seeing what the O was about. Wasn’t helped either by first putting CURATOR as a wrong solution to the 8d anagram. Well, museums can be pretty AUTOCRATic places. I was also trying to be clever on 5a, looking for an adjective meaning pig-like for too long. All these are weak excuses for my 25 minutes on this, becalmed in the NE. All the other quadrants were finished tout de suite. That’s my other excuse. We were out late last night watching Lee Mack in Molière in the West End. His comic timing stole the show for me, particularly when he claimed 5 stars from Michael Billington in the Guardian. WOD PANCHROMATIC. COD ECHO CHAMBER.

    Edited at 2017-04-06 04:09 pm (UTC)

  15. No problem with this one and solved 14A from the cryptic rather than having to biff and reverse engineer. Didn’t understand the Christiania reference and not much wiser after reading the blog. No real stand out clues today all very artisan
  16. Having blogged the QC at 3:30 this morning and then retired back to bed, I spent my time on the rattler this morning tackling this, and was pleased to complete before Waterloo all but24 and 26. These went in quickly over my first cup of caffeine in the office, so an overall time of just inside my target of 40 minutes.

    I played with HEAD, MIND and COOL for the last part of 14 until the checkers eliminated the other options.

  17. 30 minutes. Biffed 14a (thanks for the explanation). Got SKI from skip but did wonder about the Copenhagen relevance (so thanks again).
  18. A 13 min biff-fest with BAREFOOT my LOI. If I sniff a good time, parsing goes out of the window and I sniffed a very rare sub-10 today. Unfortunately I got held up in the SW.
  19. I completed this in just under 25 minutes, but held off submitting while I tried and failed to see the parsing of 14a. in the end I shrugged and submitted, like others unable to see further than LOSE O. However, the rest was all correct and my actual time came in at 26:06. FOI was TOSS UP and it was a straight top to bottom solve, apart from the SW which held me up until I saw BAREFOOT and then saw what was going on with my LOI SKI. An enjoyable puzzle, thanks setter and George.
  20. Definitely on the easier side today as I completed it without aids in 40 minutes which is excellent for me. Had no idea how 14 across worked but biffed it and once I read the blog knew I would never have parsed it. Too clever for me. Same with 25 across. Liked the crossword in general and barefoot in particular.
  21. I’m always hoping for some topical references in puzzles (apart from Good Friday which may frighten the children). But no golf clues today and a mention of skiing in our (beatiful) Spring! But the setter is forgiven for a straightforward puzzle today and all complete in a good time for me of around 25m. Some entered without full parsing granted. Maybe Jordan Speith may do a 14a again but personally I hope not as one always wants to see the best of people (apart from Mr Woods who doesn’t seem to have a best side).
    1. Oops… Above is from me (forgot to login). Just in case someone wants to put me right and explain that Tiger can be forgiven
      1. I am reminded of the old joke about a confused golfer who thought the Vardon grip was a suitcase. David
      2. Well, Woods is liked by his fellow pros, which is more than can be said for some San Diegan types…
  22. 18 minutes and a pleasant solve with nothing to add to the discussion, except to say that Lee Mack’s Scouser, Saffa and Strine impressions/parodies are things of beauty.

    Edited at 2017-04-06 03:23 pm (UTC)

  23. 17ac what a lovely word! My WOD.

    FOI 2dn ORATOR LOI 24n SKI


    Did not parse 14ac LOSE ONE’S HEAD and 3dn STRAIT LACED was unexpected.

    All correct in 27 mins.

    Mr. Galspray get a grip! I thought Bobby Pin was a stand-up comedian from Stockport.

  24. About 25 minutes today, LOI being HAIR GRIP. In this case, it was unfamiliar, but I must admit that the Americanism (Australianism?) of bobby pin is clearly a much more inexplicable term than HAIR GRIP. The latter makes some sense, at least. And I always thought it was ‘straight-laced’ myself. Regards.
  25. 13 mins, and for the third straight day one side went in rapidly (the left) but the other took a little longer, although I don’t have any excuse for taking too long to see what should have been some straightforward answers. In that bracket I would put IMPERIAL, PECAN, and SENTENCE which I looked at for over a minute before it became my LOI. Count me as another who biffed 14ac.
  26. 18 minutes and a p,wasn’t solve with nothing to add to the discussion, except to say that Lee Mack’s Scouser, Saffa and Strine impressions/parodies are things of beauty.
  27. DNF, because I too plumped for HAIR WRAP (a hairnet? and a WRAP is a case, no?) rather than HAIR TRAP (the thing in the shower that cleverly filters long hairs out of the runoff). Unfortunately, my first guess was HAIR GRIP, but I couldn’t make any sense at all out of that. Everything else was right, but there were many things I couldn’t parse correctly, such as PECAN and RAM. I did, at the end, understand how LOSE ONE’S HEAD worked. Small consolation.
  28. 30 mins on the train with just the NE left to do. Finished it all off in 5 more mins at lunchtime. Once I saw imperial the rest quickly fell. FOI 1ac. LOI 10ac an unfamiliar word but some generous wp. Biggest hold up for me was 9ac, saw it was hair something but couldn’t decide whether the case was a grip or a trap. In the end trusted the def and assumed there must be some sense of grip which I wasn’t seeing or, as it turns out, that the word had another meaning which I was unfamiliar with, so thanks to the blogger for confirming. COD to 17ac a nice anagram with a bawdy surface (at least I read it that way).
  29. An evening solve in 12″ under 10′, so expected to be on page 2 or thereabouts. That sinking feeling as you turn the pages and see no orange bar – dam’, a typo. But no, I’m on page four, which even when you discount the fakes is a long way down the list. So the final verdict is easy peasy. Even the marginal vocab MATELOT echoed form a week ago when I blogged it – that was when the Ma’s toilet got backed up and I went missing. Thursday is the new Monday.
  30. I thought 14ac clue not tight. Why is the word ‘right’ in there? It’s not necessary to the answer.
  31. 6:48 for me, including quite a lot of dithering, particularly over HAIRGRIP (only thought of HAIRy after I’d submitted) and LOSE ONE’S HEAD (taking ages to twig where the “ring” came from).

    Sligntly surprised that others weren’t familiar with “Christiania” as a ski turn, though I’ve no idea where I first came across it (I’ve never skied).

  32. After a couple of particularly dispiriting weeks, I am glad to find myself back here in wood-panelled library of the internet, amongst civilised company.

    This one was indeed rather gentle, as evidenced by a (for me) fast time of somewhere around 14 minutes. COMITY was half-known. MATELOT was known, but had become separated from its meaning at some point – in the end I figured that if Noel Coward was going to sing about someone, it was quite likely that they would be a sailor. The skiing reference was completely beyond me; like Tony I have never skied, although I have reassembled a few skiers from time to time.

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