Times 27,167: Joculus Riffed

Something of a disaster last night as I clicked submit to post this blog and LiveJournal instantly ate it, beyond any of my attempts at recovery. I have to dash out to catch a train right now… but there was plenty to talk about on this excellent crossword, so I promise I’ll return and sort this placeholder out! In the meantime…

1 Goal minders do it (6)
OBJECT – double definition: to mind something is to have an objection to it

4 Rank alongside aphids, ultimately, as parasites (8)
SPONGING – PONGING [rank] alongside {aphid}S

10 Sort of tall beast that’s kept in cellar? (5,4)
TABLE SALT – (TALL BEAST*) [“sort of…”]

11 Assume that one judge must visit French city (5)
DIJON – DON [assume] that I J [one | judge] must “visit”

12 Dashed busy? (9,5)
INSPECTOR MORSE – we’ve talked in here only recently about how a “busy” is a member of the police force, and Morse code contains many dashes (as well as dots)… suggesting this groanworthy/brilliant pun of a definition.

14 What was taken from Samson and Lot (5)
SIGHT – double definition. Samson was blinded after being shorn; and “a sight” is a lot in some idiomatic uses as, again, I think we’ve discussed in here recently. “He’s a damn sight more friendly than you are,” that kind of thing.

16 Grabbing armband, collecting pants (9)
SNAFFLING – SLING [armband], “collecting” NAFF [pants]

18 Something said to be complete, note, within one (9)
UTTERANCE – UTTER [complete] + N [note], within ACE [one]

20 Inadequate person finally found new life, some job (5)
DWEEB – {foun}D {ne}W {lif}E {som}E {jo}B

21 MCC aim: come repeatedly for batting average abroad (5,2,5,2)
COMME CI COMME CA – (MC AIM COME COME*) [“for batting”]. Every schoolboy’s favourite response to “Comment ca va?” if I recall correctly, due it being the most fun thing to say.

25 Covered on the inside with wrinkles (5)
LINED – double def

26 Girl fashioned garland, almost new (9)
MADELEINE – MADE LEI [fashioned | garland] + NE{w}

27 Further comment, often too complicated (8)
FOOTNOTE – (OFTEN TOO*) [“complicated”]

28 Beef, for example, from across the pond or canal? (6)
MEATUS – MEAT U.S. [beef, for example | from across the pond]

1 Course books containing sign of error troubles publisher (6,4)
OXTAIL SOUP – O.T. [books] containing X [sign of error] + AILS O.U.P. [troubles | publisher]

2 After first of January, one’s having to live in digs (5)
JIBES – after J{anuary}, I’S [one’s] having BE [to live] in

3 Mild Liberal getting stick all round (7)
CLEMENT – L [Liberal] getting CEMENT [stick] all round

5 Pan perhaps necessary for recipe — teriyaki? (5)
PETER – hidden in {reci}PE TER{iyaki}

6 Green light’s extinguished: then sleeps (4,3)
NODS OFF – to give someone the green light is to give them the NOD; so NOD’S OFF [green light’s | extinguished]

7 Fair distance beyond home? Wrong (9)
INJUSTICE – JUST ICE [fair | distance] beyond IN [home]

8 On the way out, I dispatched award (4)
GONG – GO{i}NG [on the way out, losing its I]

9 Resistance fighter trained in Sparta (8)
PARTISAN – (IN SPARTA*) [“trained”]

13 Helicopters from Richmond bringing winning team perhaps to the Oval (3,7)
EGG BEATERS – egg beaters are an American term for copters, so this is probably Richmond, VA, not the one south of the Thames. Bring BEATERS [winning, team perhaps] to EGG [the oval]. Whew!

15 Duck excessively short tackle (3,4,2)
GET DOWN TO – GET DOWN [duck] + TO{o} [excessively, “short”]

17 One used to call a contact, briefly, before work (4,4)
AREA CODE – A REAC{h} [a | contact, “briefly”] before ODE [work]

19 Raced round like a loony, after a fast time (7)
RAMADAN – RAN [raced] round MAD [like a loony], after A

20 Director finally accepted Zola and his article (2,5)
DE MILLE – {accepte}D + EMIL [Zola] + LE [his (i.e. a Frenchman’s) article]. But wasn’t it EMILE?

22 Space traveller wasn’t the only one to get in contact? (5)
COMET – if you get into contact with someone you meet them, so multiple people getting into contact could be said jocularly to have CO-MET.

23 Turn out fine in the end: I’m out of Casualty (5)
EVICT – {fin}E + VICT{im} [casualty, losing it’s I’M]

24 Scandinavian of note is visiting (4)
OLAF – OF, visited by LA [note]

86 comments on “Times 27,167: Joculus Riffed”

  1. After a very slow start, I was surprised to finish in 51 minutes. At some points I thought I’d never get to the end, but I sped up as the crossers went in. FOI 27a FOOTNOTE, LOI the unknown 28a MEATUS. I also didn’t know that Samson was blinded, so spent far too long trying to arrange his hair in an appropriate way.

    Enjoyed this one, with some nice misdirecting word combinations and good surfaces. 12a INSPECTOR MORSE, 16a SNAFFLING, 2d JIBES, 20d DE MILLE and 22d COMET all stood out for me.

    Sorry to hear about the swallowed blog, V. I hate it when that happens.

  2. 30 mins with yoghurt, granola, banana, etc.
    I liked the wittiness of this one.
    I sort of get why distance=ice, but it is a stretch.
    Mostly I liked: S ponging, Snaffling, Comme Ci/Ca, Oxtail soup and COD to Dashed busy.
    Thanks setter and V.
    1. Distance = ice is another thing that feels like it has come up not long ago (eggbeaters too!). I guess it’s just one of those crossword things you might just need to assimilate, so as not to be surprised when it comes up occasionally.
  3. All fairly straightforward, though there were a few I couldn’t fully parse. I presumed EGG BEATERS meant helicopters, but why only in a part of West London was beyond me so thanks to Verlaine for steering me across the pond. COD to RAMADAN – great surface which obscured the definition well.
  4. Like Jack, I had no idea what Richmond was doing in 13d; the G checker suggested EGG, which reminded me of the vaguely known EGG BEATERS. I also didn’t know that PONG was also a verb. Isn’t 1d ungrammatical? Nice clue otherwise. 12ac from checkers, 21ac from the 2-letter words, C_ and _A. MEATUS my LOI; I knew the word–in the sense of knowing that it’s a word– but realized finally that I didn’t know the meaning; I thought it was some kind of tissue. I was puzzled by 20d, as it is indeed ÉMILE.

    Edited at 2018-10-12 07:54 am (UTC)

        1. I wondered about that too but I think it’s OK. It’s the issue/fact of course books containing sign of error which troubles the publisher, rather than the books themselves.

          EDIT: Great minds think alike, but some type faster than others!

          Edited at 2018-10-12 01:29 pm (UTC)

        2. I see what you mean, but I think it may be acceptable in elliptical, headline, crossword-clue fashion as representing ‘The fact/situation of course books containing…’
    1. The singular verb refers to the noun clause : so although it does sound odd if you read it the other way it is grammatical
  5. …Emil looked wrong, shrug and carry on. Richmond left me nonplussed, also ice which I couldn’t parse at the time but on reflection works perfectly. Meatus LOI as never heard of. Otherwise a very enjoyable offering with its wit and occasionally low-brow vocabulary. A bit longer than average, but not much.
  6. Fast through the top section, slow through the bottom for a total of 22 and a half minutes.
    Having said that, SPONGING resisted to the end even when I began thinking rank=horrible rather than lance corporal, and like Myrtilus I had INJUSTICE in without getting the ICE bit (I’m still working on it via coolness).
    AREA CODE was my last in, both the literal and the wordplay proving strangely elusive. MEATUS on wordplay alone and hope.
    I presume the setter at 13d was acting on the belief that all of us diverted into thinking of the oval ball game would be associating Richmond with Twickers to compound the illusion. I’m afraid I was thinking sausages and a full English.
    Once again I rather wanted to put he squiggly bit under the Cs in the COMME clue, but then ÇOMET would look odd.

    That aaaargh moment when everything disappears is horrible: I sympathise, V. I do mine in Word and paste (without formatting) into LJ’s visual editor for prettying, which might explain why my blog takes a while to appear but does provide safety nets.

  7. Very enjoyable puzzle with some excellent and clever clues

    I knew EGGBEATER but like others was mistified by Richmond and am certain its EMILE ZOLA so that looks like a mistake

    Thanks to setter and V

  8. Hard work finishing off the last 6 or 7 clues took me to nearly an hour of solving but I got there without resoring to aids other than to check the unknown MEATUS derived from wordplay. VERY annoyed that after recent discsussions INSPECTOR MORSE was my last one in even though I had been on to the ‘busy’ reference on first reading of the clue. SPONGING was another answer that seemed to take forever to emerge. I had no idea what Richmond was doing in 13dn as I knew EGGBEATER (though not as an Americanism) and wrote it straight in.

    On the lost blog, I take the precaution of always preparing mine elsewhere (using the free Mozilla web editor KompoZer) and then paste it into LJ. I may then do a bit of tweaking in the final edit but it’s always useful to have the local version as back-up.

    Edited at 2018-10-12 07:29 am (UTC)

    1. Yes, I do the same with my blogs. LJ has a habit of losing entries so its a simple and sensible precaution
  9. I found this a witty and enjoyable challenge, surprising myself by completing it in under 45 mins. LOI 12a – took all the crossing letters before the copper dropped.
  10. …clueless in Hadley Wood. 65 minutes and still didn’t get AREA CODE or DWEEB. I guess I’ve known all the digits for the area codes for so long that I’d forgotten that’s what they were called, so the cryptic remained opaque. I think I once knew DWEEB but it’s not in my present vocabulary bank. Biffed COMET, MEATUS and EGG BEATERS. I guessed it must be a US term for helicopter, so perhaps that was a full solution. A minor triumph from a poor performance. Thank you V and setter.
    1. DWEEB is an excellent tool to have up your sleeve for Scrabble, Words with Friends, GrabbyWord etc.
  11. This was nearly perfect. But then there’s 20 down knocking the score down a bit. I wonder if the paper edition has anything different. Not that I can imagine what… As Sawbill points out, the article can be simply L, but to add, say, that Zola is around 50 or was pocketing a pound would be both too obvious and too wordy.

    For no good reason, the wordplay for COMET eluded me. And I’m not sure we’ve yet fathomed the reference to Richmond. Is there no US burg with a more exclusively American moniker where one would see helicopters or what else is going on there? My own neighborhood has at times been up in arms over chopper noise. But Z’s explanation, admittedly, which is beyond my ken, perhaps makes it crystal clear to others.

    Edited at 2018-10-12 08:52 am (UTC)

    1. The facsimile edition of the newspaper has the same clue as the club, but it’s a poor state of affairs that two on-line mistakes in as many weeks now have us mistrusting the clues that we read.
    2. I think the non-exclusive US-ness of Richmond is the point, to fool you into thinking of London.
      1. It’s got to be somewhere people might reasonably be expected to be playing cricket, and ideally not far from the Oval, for the surface…
          1. The reference is fine with the cricket reference—which went right by me, of course—but if the indication of an Americanism were the only thing to go by, then “Richmond” would not be kosher. This is what I was trying to say earlier.
              1. Yes, so it’s fine as a somewhat ambiguous indicator.
                If the reference to the word as an Americanism were the only thing to go by, in the absence of the further cricket reference, it would be an insufficient clue, because it is not an unambiguous reference to America.
                How many ways do I have to say this?
                1. Why does it have to be unambiguous? This is a cryptic crossword, everything is supposed to be ambiguous!
                  1. I put that far too strongly. It would of course be “kosher” to use “Richmond” as an indicator of an Americanism, but it could be any American town at all, if it weren’t the case that the wordplay also involved cricket. This enables the definition to glide seamlessly and deceptively into the wordplay. If this were a non-cryptic puzzle (and I just got up and have made my coffee and printed out today’s from The New York Times), you would certainly want a nonambiguous indicator of a word’s provenance, but also, I imagine, for certain cryptic clues, where the wordplay was not so clear.
                    1. I kind of agree. But Norfolk, eg, which fits the ‘could helicopter to the Oval from’ bit, and which is also a US naval base and therefore plausibly home to helicopters seems less likely to be known to non-Americans.
  12. Excellent crossword. Some great surfaces. CODs to RAMADAN and the “average abroad”.
    I took Emile’s article to be l’.
  13. The style of this puzzle reminds me of David Mclean’s Saturday crosswords. I often wish weekday setters did not remain anonymous!
    1. There are a few setters in the Times stable with this kind of cheeky wit about them… I wouldn’t like to bet money on any of them, but I do definitely have a lineup of usual suspects 🙂
    2. You surely mean DM’s Sunday puzzles, or do you have inside info about Saturday setters?
  14. 32 mins. LOI SPONGING. Slowish solve, but enjoyable – nicely clued. Didn’t parse 22dn: this co- plus a bit is getting to be a regular feature. Great blog, V, cheers.
  15. Same as others with “ice” and Richmond. Milton to the rescue with Samson. Commiserations on the lost work V. Once upon a time I posted the TLS puzzle a week too early and went blithely off for a long weekend sans internet while PB and Linxit had to step in and remove it. My punishment was having to re-write the thing from scratch when I got back. 22.25
  16. 52 mins for this tricky one. I couldn’t write in SIGHT because, for a long time, I just couldn’t see how Lot=sight: but eventually I twigged. MEATUS unknown: I biffed RECTUM for a while, which was kinda close, until the unknown EGG BEATERS went in. That clue had me completely fuddled, as I had no idea about helicopters or Richmond but luckily BEATERS was pretty clear and oval=EGG seemed plausible. I thought ‘dashed busy?’ was a super clue, loved it! As was 1a OBJECT, too. I didn’t notice the EMIL(E) error, so elated was I in seeing the solution.
    Am I right in thinking that Times Cryptic setters deliberately scope the GK domain referenced by the puzzles to align with a certain demographic? Film stars are Garbo, movies are ET or Psycho, artists are Dali, poets are Larkin and directors are De Mille. I suppose the “must be dead” rule precludes the appearance of any contemporary media people.
    Thanks for your functional blog, V, and thanks, setter, for a fine puzzle.
    1. Very embarrassing that Zola should drop an E: apologies all round.
      As for choice of artist etc funnily enough I was talking about this with flesh and blood solvers earlier in Cheltenham: the thing a lot of them have in common is that they’re short! We love the river PO and DALI, ECO, ET
      Less keen on Irrawaddy, Velazquez etc 🙂
  17. Emil and the Detectives might be recruited to search for M. Zola’s missing E. Otherwise, this was top notch, with some excellent misdirection, and 16ac put me in mind of Julian and Sandy, which is always bona (and meant that when I spotted 21ac, I could hear Kenneth Williams saying “That’s your actual French, that is”). No unknowns today, but like others, for some reason I found myself temporarily baffled by 17dn, possibly because the brain expects to see a consonant at the end after an E. I got there eventually, if only after wondering what an AMEN CODE, or an APEX CODA might be.
  18. Very much enjoyed this. Got held up at the end in the NW with OXTAIL SOUP mainly due to doubting SIGHT as I didn’t realise that about Samson. LOT being SIGHT seemed a bit wrong but on reflection it’s okay. ICE was pencilled in for a while. COD to both the long clues – never having set a crossword, one wonders whether they are the first ones to go in and the rest of the crossword is built round them?
  19. Stopped after 39′, unwilling to enter the unknown MEATUS I must relax more. No idea re Richmond etc., and a lot passed me by, have sung Samson.

    Thanks verlaine and setter.

  20. 12m 38s but with an error – VENTUS instead of MEATUS. Having considered the latter, I thought that the former sounded more plausible as a body part (using ‘beef’ in the ‘moan or grumble’ sense). Ah well, one to add to the vocab for future puzzles.

    I also couldn’t parse ICE at the time but thought it was great once I read this; I didn’t enjoy “Dashed busy?”, which might be a fun idea but doesn’t quite work for me.

    1. Mm, it could be deemed to be a bit Gegs?-y. I’m happy to see clues like this *once in a while*.
  21. I think this took me about half an hour but, as I was called away and left the timer running, no real idea.

    I did, though, find it fairly tough, and there were three (DWEEB, COMET and AREA CODE) that I failed to parse. CoD 12ac, LoI DWEEB.

  22. 45 minutes, after almost giving up, having been stuck on NE corner for 15 min until I realised that GOES OFF (or OUT) at 6dn did not parse – was also sure that 7dn’s distance had to be MILES. Then was so relieved to finish that I submitted without typo checks, so 3 errors from 2 typos in SE, though had known 28ac, and shrugged off Richmond for 13dn.
  23. Another tricky puzzle with some offbeat definitions. Took me ages to come up with EGG BEATERS even though I was convinced that the first word was EGG. Took a while to get SIGHT too. DWEEB was remembered from a previous puzzle and I saw the parsing after I typed it in. I was also puzzled by EMILE’s missing E. Liked OXTAIL SOUP and INSPECTOR MORSE a lot. Had SPONGERS, not quite parsed until GONG went in. AREA CODE was biffed from checkers. MEATUS on a wing and a prayer from wordplay. 41:59. Thanks setter and V.
  24. ….it’s right next to the salt.

    13:05 for this excellent (if we forget Zola) offering. I never thought about the missing E while solving it.

    Didn’t see the need for Richmond, but again the answer presented itself clearly enough.

    I agree with Kevin Gregg that the syntax in 8D doesn’t work, but again it didn’t hold me up.


    Was worried for a while that 10A might be an unknown wine.

    I had MIGHT pencilled in at 14A until the soup was served.

    I enjoyed “sling = armband”, and “CO-MET”.

    Thanks to V for parsing AREA CODE, my other biff being LOI DNK MEATUS.


      1. Having read later posts further up the page, I accept the validity of the clue. I did, of course MEAN 1D, rather than the perfectly straightforward 8D. I must take these mittens off….
  25. Liked this a lot, finishing in 29 minutes. My personal favourite was OXTAIL, even if I never liked the stuff out of cans back in the 70s. Failed to see how DWEEB worked. Excellent word, though.
  26. 11:01 – the missing E passed me by as well, though I was a little confused about ICE and got MEATUS from wordplay.
  27. Nice words here. Particularly liked DWEEB which was cleverly hidden. Had not heard of EGG BEATERS as helicopters. However, I did inexplicably know that the end of the male appendage is called the Urinary MEATUS. COD to INSPECTOR MORSE. LOI INJUSTICE (had 6d as GOES OFF – not quite parsable – pencilled in for a long while before GONG gave me SPONGING)
  28. 16:25 for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle.

    I particularly enjoyed the definition for COMME CI…

    I have to say I was surprised to find that MEATUS was an actual word and not a momble.

  29. I found this fairly easy but I also wondered about some of the clues.

    1d seems OK to me, but 20d looks like a howler. I assume the setter chose Richmond for 13d as it’s the only place near the Oval which has a counterpart in the US, but the clue would have worked better with “perhaps” coming after Richmond.

    Joint COD to 12a and 21a.

  30. I got ‘Sight’ in a different way – from a character called ‘Lot’ in Genesis who was also blinded…and presumed that the capital ‘L’ suggested that…
    1. I wondered about Lot being blinded but couldn’t find it referenced when I researched it, but am happy to take it on board if it was so. Any route to the correct answer is acceptable as a means of solving, but for blogging purposes we need to analyse further. If there was nothing more to the clue than examples of two people who were blinded then it would belong more in a GK puzzle than a cryptic as double definition clues in the latter need to refer to two distinct meanings. Ref the capital L, by convention capital letters may be added in cryptic puzzles in order to mislead; it goes with the territory.

      Edited at 2018-10-12 04:55 pm (UTC)

      1. I don’t think Lot was ever blind. The would-be rapists at the door were made blind by the angels, allowing him and his family to escape. Poor Lot’s wife was then turned into a pillar of salt for looking back. Lot escaped with his two daughters, both of whom he then made pregnant at their instigation. Extract what moral guidance you can from that!
  31. 18:50 but with one wrong. Amen Code for Area Code. I biffed Dweeb without conviction having failed to see the wordplay.

    COD: Oxtail Soup. I also liked Object.

  32. Much enjoyed this, we are having a little bit of a run of good ones I think..
    Mention of eggbeaters prompts me to tell my favourite helicopter story, about Lt Cdr Eric Brown, who was head of the experimental flight at Farnborough during WW2. One day his station commander told him to go up to Speke Aerodrome, Liverpool and “have a look at something the Yanks have got, called a helicopter” .. and bring it back to Farnborough. So he and a colleague flew up there, and watched the American ground staff assemble the sikorski helicopter from crates of parts. Nobody there knew how to fly one, so he flopped around the aerodrome for an afternoon learning how, and then flew it back in the evening to Farnborough!
    There cannot be many people in the world (well he’s dead now, but only last year) who have ever *taught themselves* to fly a helicopter, having never laid eyes on one, and then flown it the length of England, all in a day..
  33. 10:19. Shame about Zola but I confess I didn’t notice as I solved.
    I vaguely knew EGG BEATERS but not that it was an American term so I wondered about Richmond.
    Fingers crossed for the unlikely-looking MEATUS.
  34. A helicopter in Richmond, Virginia (and elsewhere) may be called an egg beater, but I learned from a solver in Cheltenham today that in Papua New Guinea the word translates as “Mixmaster blong Jesus Christ”, which is rather magnificent: no doubt a heavenly version of the US kitchen item!
    1. That still wouldn’t work as it’s in the wrong place (that would lead to De Milel). Besides, RR has been on and acknowledged that it was a boob.
  35. I know I am late to post but I am celebrating as this is the very first 15×15 that I have solved without any aids whatsoever. The reason being, my internet in Spain is down and I am using mobile data to submit. LOI was a guess for 28a MEATUS. My time is irrelevant. Thank you Verlaine for the blog confirming my paper scrawls.
  36. ODE = work? Could someone explain. I’m new to this, but enjoying learning through this excellent site
    1. Just as a quick for instance, in my Chambers app definition 14 of WORK as a noun is “a literary, artistic, musical or dramatic composition or creation”.

      One to watch out for and it often means a book in crossword land.

      Edit to say think of the complete works of old what’s his face or, such a thing was one of yer man’s finest works.

      Edited at 2018-10-12 09:10 pm (UTC)

  37. Unusually, I completed this after a couple of beers which seemed to help – I went with the force and it worked – just got stuck awhile on “Area Code”.
    I think we have seen “Dijon” just recently?
  38. Late commenting as only just back from an evening at the cinema (the new Nicholas Cage film, Mandy, since you ask – it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I thoroughly enjoyed it). The puzzle took me 39:30. I would’ve been a few mins quicker but dithered over meatus and some uncertainty over evict where for some reason I was trying to delete me, I or I’m from everywhere but the end of vict, very embarassing. Also delayed myself trying to make an anagram of garland ne at 26ac for a while. Egg beaters went in from word play. A really fun solve. Honourable mention to 21ac but my favourite was 12ac which I thought was brilliant.
  39. Not quite sure how one is meant to detect Comme ci… unless the (foreign) phrase was already known. Anagrams and foreign phrases do not mix.

    Distance = ice? Distant and icy, maybe.

  40. Hi, Olivia;
    I can’t reply to you via Live Journal because you’re blocking messages, but thanks so much for yours! I’d love to see the puzzle, too, if there’s a way to let you know my address.
    1. Good to hear from you Kevin. I’ve asked Vinyl to let you have my email address (he’s got all of them) so we can be in touch directly. I don’t want to change my LJ protocol, having had some unwanted stuff in the past. Hope this works.

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