Times 27868 – get thee to a 27

Time taken: 10:25

Please forgive me if I am a little distracted and numb today. I became a US Citizen in 2014, and have spent today obsessively watching the events going on in Washintgon DC, talking with friends there, and talking with colleagues and students about the truly awful events of today that surely must signal the end of an era in US politics. I’m ashamed of the leadership of my adopted country.

OK – puzzle. My time is just a scratch better than my average, but I think there’s a few that can be biffed without thinking too hard of the wordplay (which in one case is exceptionally clever). Though looking at the early leaderboard, it is verlaine, aphis99 and myself who are in the top three, so maybe this is a shade more difficult than usual.

Added after I completed the write-up… this is a really good puzzle! Looking back at the clues, there is a lot of good wordplay, solid surfaces and a challenge. I think I enjoyed it more as I was writing it up.

Away we go…

Late addendum: Thanks for all the kind comments and empathies. It is interesting to me that the Jonathan apple is not particularly familiar – they were pretty popular in Australia, and although they are not so much in the US, a related Jonagold apple (a cross between Jonathan and a golden delicious) is.

1 Confucian text about time is causing irritation (7)
ITCHING – the Confucian text is the I CHING, insert T(time)
5 Partially hang a cross around Italian artist (7)
ORCAGNA – hidden reversed in hANG A CROss. Grateful for the wordplay here, I don’t recall hearing of the 14th centuary Florentine artist
9 Good to take in friend and propose housing area (9)
PALATABLE – PAL(friend) and TABLE(propose) containing A(area)
10 Losing face, grimace in stress (5)
ICTUS – remove the first letter from RICTUS(grimace)
11 Gosh! I’m not sure what steals Jonathan’s heart? (5)
CORER – COR(gosh) and ER(I’m not sure). Jonathan referring to the type of apple here.
12 Feeling less clear about famous residence (6,3)
NUMBER TEN – NUMBER(feeling less) then NET(clear) reversed for the Prime Minister’s residence. This is by far my favorite clue in today’s puzzle, well done, setter.
13 This person’s on tram stoned, excited and showing off? (13)
DEMONSTRATIVE – I’VE(this person’s) after an anagram of TRAM,STONED
17 How shop closes, bailiff’s work showing bias (13)
PREPOSSESSION – last letter of shoP, then REPOSSESSION (bailiff’s work)
21 Playing arena, band’s Indian accompaniment (4,5)
24 Whirling around, party in bar (5)
LEVER – reversal of REVEL(party)
25 More pathetic view from European beach? (5)
LAMER – from an Eurpoean beach you may see LA MER
26 Where one may study royal fashion (9)
PRINCETON – PRINCE(royal), TON(fashion). A university in New Jersey
27 New weaponry initially dropped in sister’s home (7)
NUNNERY – N(new), then GUNNERY(weaponry) missing the first letter
28 Transport rental including hotel transport (7)
ENTHRAL – anagram of RENTAL containing H(hotel)
1 Legislator blocking current law’s effect (6)
IMPACT – MP(legistaltor) inside I(current), ACT(law)
2 Romantic pass finally made before watershed? (9)
COLERIDGE – COL(pass) then the last letter of madE, and RIDGE(watershed), referring to the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor
3 Lag, one put inside when students attend school (7)
INTERIM – I(one) inside IN TERM(when students attent school)
4 Vulgar speaker given tropical fruit flip (2,7)
GO BANANAS – GOB(vulgar form for mouth) the ANANAS(tropical fruit)
5 Listeners’ disapproval in ancient theatre (5)
ODEUM – sounds like ODIUM(disapproval)
6 Illusion’s toll on artist (7)
CHIMERA – CHIME(toll as a bell) and RA(artist)
7 It’s mean to criticise (3,2)
GET AT – double definition
8 Missing person dispatched during a competition (8)
ABSENTEE – SENT(dispatched) during  A BEE(competition, particularly at spelling)
14 Go for spin in cricket shot, following match (4,5)
TEST DRIVE – DRIVE(cricket shot) after TEST(cricket match) Double cricket! There’s no cricket going on in Sydney right now due to rain.
15 Wrought iron’s imported tax-free for pioneer (9)
INNOVATOR – anagram of IRON containing NO VAT(tax-free)
16 Love to write schedule without divisions (4-4)
OPEN-PLAN – O(love), PEN(write), PLAN(schedule)
18 Ball’s carried for English playmaker (7)
OSBORNE – O’S(ball’s) BORNE(carried) for John OSBORNE, playwright of Look Back in Anger
19 Suffering? Current back spasm ruled out (7)
ILLICIT – ILL(suffering), I(current) then a reversal of TIC(spasm)
20 Where men go home through river (6)
URINAL – IN(home) inside the river URAL
22 Angry after 1000 sinks getting article for plug supplier (5)
ADMAN – MAD(angry) with the M(1000) at the bottom, then AN(article). Another really good clue, using conventions that would only work for down clues.
23 My pet cuckoo is vain (5)
EMPTY – anagram of MY PET

69 comments on “Times 27868 – get thee to a 27”

  1. I found this harder today, definitely over 30 minutes (45 on the clock but I had to take a call in the middle). I got held up on PREPOSSESSION towards the end and the TEST of TEST DRIVE, surprisingly my LOI.
  2. I also found this a bit harder today. Did anyone else think that 10A depended on knowing two obscure terms: rictus and ICTUS?

    I also wondered part the “It’s” is playing in 7D. This and 10A slowed me down in the NE corner.

    Thanks for the blog, George, despite the goings-on in the US. We look aghast from afar, so I’m sure it’s much worse up close. Hang in there.

    Edited at 2021-01-07 02:27 am (UTC)

    1. My thought is that “It’s” is indicating one of the definitions and to complete the sentence. Without it the clue would be “Mean to criticize” which isn’t great as a whole sentence (says the man who has butchered English repeatedly on this blog).

      Fortunately a delayed delivery of Australian chocolates (a Christmas gift from an old friend) arrived this afternoon so I could watch the downfall of American democrazy with caramello koalas.

      Edited at 2021-01-07 02:33 am (UTC)

    2. I would say that RICTUS is fair game for the 15×15. It might raise an eyebrow in the QC where I blog but I think here it’s fine. Same for ICTUS (although I know it mostly from its other meaning as an epileptic seizure – ICTUS used to be the title of a special interest publication in the field when I used to work in pharma advertising).


  3. I had to log in through the Times site, and thus learned of the attempted insurrection. Never mind impeachment; there’s a clear case for arrest and conviction.
    I had difficulty concentrating on the puzzle, and could probably have shaved a few minutes off my time. Anyway, FOI ITCHING, POI ICTUS–all I could think of was INCUS, which couldn’t be right–LOI GET AT. NHO ORCAGNA, and it took me a while to realize I hadn’t seen a hidden yet.
  4. Made heavy weather of this one. Just misparsing things all over the place, and I needed George’s blog to help me see that the tropical fruit was a pineapple, and not a banana.
  5. I was feeling v. pleased to have picked the reverse hidden for the unknown Italian painter at 5a, then to have solved ICTUS but an impatient ‘get it’ for my LOI 7d in a rush to get finished meant I ended up not finishing instead after 42 minutes.

    Watching the PBS News Hour at the moment. All very depressing.

  6. 26 minutes, so the run of easier puzzles continues. We must be due a stinker soon and these often come on Fridays so I wouldn’t want to be blogging tomorrow!

    My heart sank when I saw that the first word in the first clue was ‘Confucian’ so I delayed that one for a while and it proved to be perfectly easy once I had some checkers in place. There were two unknowns however, ORCAGNA (which looked very unlikely) and ICTUS.

  7. I thought I was in with a chance of a pink square with my LOI ODEUM. I didn’t know the word and was torn between odeom, on the basis of it being similar to odeon, and odeum, on the basis that the word ending was similar to other Latin words I know such as forum. Fortunately I went the right way.
    1. When it came up in April 2015 you didn’t say then that you didn’t know the word!


  8. Thirty five minutes

    FOI ORCAGNA Andrea de Cione – I know Orvieto well and its lovely wines – having done the Grand Tour.

    LOI 20dn URINAL – I left it until last as I’m a bit of a wee-wee! Sorry ladies!

    COD 22dn ADMAN – my trade


    George you have my sincerest commiserations, mais
    toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite. de Maistre

    Edited at 2021-01-07 07:30 am (UTC)

    1. It may have been more appropriate to quote a non-believer in the divine right of kings.
      But certainly, in any case, to have dropped la particule.. 😉

      Edited at 2021-01-07 05:33 pm (UTC)

  9. After 30 mins with yoghurt, granola, etc I was still trying to find a synonym for romantic, not “a” romantic. It would not have hurt the surface to add the “a”, indeed it would have improved it IMHO.
    Thanks setter and G.
    1. You can only blame yourself, railing all those days against dangling articles, now they’re even scared to include a non-dangling one 😉
    2. But I agree. The NW corner was last in, even the multi-obscure Orcagna/odeum/ictus went in far earlier.
    3. If you want to test your eyesight drive to the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle to find one of this painter’s works.
  10. 10:01. Just edged over the ten-minute mark checking my answers, determined not to revert to my run of pink squares.
    I followed the wordplay to construct ORBISON at 18dn, brain insufficiently caffeinated to notice immediately that I was in the wrong arts department.
    1. Apart from not being English, and not being a playwright, that’s actually very clever.
  11. I am truly sorry for all our American friends but the GOP must reflect: “If you dance with the devil, then you haven’t got a clue, for you think you’ll change the devil, but the devil changes you”
  12. I managed this in around the half hour, enjoyed every minute and learned ODEUM, ICTUS and ORCAGNA along the way. Thanks setter for a top puzzle, witty, clever, challenging, educational and yet entirely fair. And thanks George for the excellent blog under duress.

    Shocking to see the events across the pond. Surely the 25th must be invoked to stop the madness? I note that none of the members of the Monster Raving Loony party invading the Capitol were wearing masks. Perhaps the virus will teach them something about reality.

  13. Foiled by 10a, not having heard of ICTUS or rictus. I feel like rictus is a word that’s come up before in these crosswords without lodging itself in my brain. I hope it will now.

    Didn’t parse OSBORNE, and wouldn’t have got anywhere near it without having all the checkers, so thanks for the explanation. Jonathan as a type of apple was new to me too, though I managed to get CORER.

    FOI Chimera
    LOI Odeum
    COD Princeton

  14. A rather nifty 12.33, with the top right section last to go in. I doubt if there’s any other way ORCAGNA could have been even remotely fairly clued. Definitely a no-pointer on a Pointless “Italian artists” section.
    Tuned in to CNN last night to watch the sacred ritual of the college votes, and was impressed by some eloquent speeches, even from Mitch, before all hell broke loose. Our American friends, you have my sympathy, but also my admiration for the electoral marvel that is Georgia. There is light.
  15. 13:48 with, like others, the NE corner last to go in. NHO the artist, but the wordplay was kind and had fingers crossed for ODEUM which I didn’t know either. I agree with George on NUMBER TEN being excellent, but it was LAMER that made me smile most. Thanks George and setter.
  16. Horrible NE corner with several unusual words: ODEUM, (R)ICTUS and ORCAGNA – having done the rest in less than twenty minutes, the final eight minutes or so were spent working out these three!

    Didn’t know Jonathan as an apple either.

    Edited at 2021-01-07 09:33 am (UTC)

  17. Can’t disagree that this was an excellent crossword.

    My heart goes out to you George, and to all sane Americans. But as Z says above, didn’t Georgia do well?

  18. All prayers for democracy, and for the people of the USA. Crying for the future.


    15′ 58″, thanks George and setter.

  19. 34 minutes with LOI GET AT, after I finally realised ORCAGNA was a reversed hidden. I thought the I CHING was more Taoist than Confucianist. COD to PREPOSSESSION. Grimace of the day to ICTUS. The limiting of exercise to once a day means that with present dog walking duties I will be probably a little later doing the crossword for the time being. A decent middle of the road crossword for me. Thank you George and setter.
  20. Wrote in DEMONSTRATION originally but once I had corrected that, all fell into place. Bit tired as I went to bed at 2330 and then got up at 0400 to follow up what had happened in Washington. Now where have I seen a rictus grin?
  21. Good puzzle. The couple of things that were just on the edge of my GK (ORCAGNA and the apple reference) were fully indicated by wordplay just as it should be. Educational and fun.

    Mainly posting though to sympathise with George’s comments on the US situation. I too have been obsessively following events from here in sleepy old Hammersmith, London, UK. I don’t understand why the Republican Party don’t publicly disown him and leave him to rot amongst all the litigation that ought to be coming his way in a couple of weeks’ time. But then again I suspect that just shows that I don’t understand US politics at all. I guess the fact is that the Republican Party are very much made in his image. Still, major figures have now come out and condemned him e.g. Romney, Pence and Bush which ought to give the craven rank and file enough reason to turn on him. But I don’t know. I suppose he’ll survive like Japanese Knotweed and come back stronger and more vitriolic in 4 years’ time.

    Also George, some years ago I used to enjoy reading about your battles with The Listener while carrying on my own occasional campaign but it had fallen off my radar of late. Then I remembered the other day how much I used to enjoy it and visited the link but it seems you have allowed it to wither. Which saddens me although I understand it was probably just taking up too much of your time. Still, just thought I’d say how much I used to enjoy it but I guess it would have been better to have told you at the time!

    All the best to you and I sincerely hope your adopted country manages to avoid another Civil War!


    1. Thanks Don – it was a lot of fun for a long time, but then fewer people were reading (it got down to about 20 views a week), I got some other writing work that took me away from it and then my scanner died, so the whole thing kind of wittered away. I still do the Listener with about a 75% success rate, though I stopped submitting when overseas mail delivery got decidedly dodgy – apparently one entry I sent took months to get delivered.

      Listen with Others is still going strong, with far fewer off-colour jokes.

  22. Slowed a bit by putting PREPOSSESSING – which almost works, but doesn’t – but otherwise a fairly gentle puzzle, nicely constructed. Pleasant clueing for the artist I’d never heard of, and nice unching for crossword classic ODEUM prevented me from having to think too hard about spelling.

    1a was my LOI in 6m 37s.

  23. I nearly gave up in the NE. About 10 mins on the last few there. Last two in were the unknown ORCAGNA and the unsure ODEUM. Which sounds like what I feel for Trump. But rather than odium = disapproval, I would go with “hatred or disgust incurred by someone as a result of their actions”

  24. After one hour, I was unable to solve:

    24A: LEVER Spent ages trying to understand how either DO or an abbreviated political party could be accommodated; then became obsessed with LIVID. All to no avail.

    20D: URINAL Parsed the structure of the clue and knew that IN was ‘home’ – but couldn’t fathom the waterway or ‘where men go’ despite having to take a short comfort break part way through!

    As so often for me, the above clues now seem very reasonable ones that I could have managed with the application of greater imagination and determination.


    I guessed, based on wordplay:

    5A ORCAGNA (subsequently looked up in Vasari’s ‘Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects’ in which he (with two brothers) is afforded 10 pages.
    11A: CORER (presumed Jonathan must be an apple or pear)

    Thank you, glheard and the setter.

    Edited at 2021-01-07 11:44 am (UTC)

  25. Agree that this was enjoyable. For me, the artist also fell into the camp of “never heard of but wordplay meant I didn’t need to have”, while much of the other difficulties were firmly in smug classicist territory.
  26. A couple of unknowns, but nothing too taxing. I though this was an excellent puzzle – good surfaces and inventive cryptics. 18 minutes
  27. Went to bed on time on Tuesday night feeling good about the prospects for the GA election. Stayed up well past my bedtime last night just to make darn sure the renegade members of Congress were well and truly squashed and Pence did his job. Interesting to read that when law enforcement was belatedly called in to deal with things Trump was by-passed entirely and it was coordinated with the leaders of Congress and Pence. Everyone a bit tired this morning.

    Nice puzzle although DNK ORCAGNA in spite of “doing” art history eons ago. Clearly I wasn’t paying attention. 14.25

    1. If I read correctly, Trump refused to call in the National Guard to quash the coup attempt he’d called for.
      1. Yes, I saw that too. But then I read that he changed his mind (or whatever that is in there) but by then he’d been written off.
  28. Me neither. I’ll have to spring that on some of my artist friends.
    And like George, I’d been rather distracted today. Got hung up in the northeast because I couldn’t quite believe the artist’s name, and also because I’d put in DEMONSTRATIVE (taking “on” as part of the anagrind and “this person” to simply indicate “I” rather than “this person’s” indicating “I’ve.” ABSENTEE straightened me out on that.
    I don’t recall ever encountering this sense of PREPOSSESSION.
  29. Thoroughly enjoyable. Both ictus and odeum went in on a wing and a prayer. Thought for a while that Jonathan would expose my sketchy awareness of the Old Testament but the cluing saved me.

    Thanks to both setter and blogger and my sympathy to the latter

  30. If someone had said – Corum, a Hebrew musical instrument played by David – I’d have believed them.
  31. Having spotted the reversed, obscure Italian artist and knowing (r)ICTUS, if not ICTUS, I managed the NE corner without much ado. The SE, however, held me up, and my last 3 in were LEVER, URINAL and ILLICIT. Previously, IMPACT set the wheels in motion. Nice puzzle. 22:41. Thanks setter and George. I was also appalled at the goings on instigated by the madman clinging to the White House. Hopefully Pence will invoke the 25th, and prosecutions will follow.
  32. Is this the third time this week we’ve had a BANANAS clue?

    Never heard of ORCAGNA. Follows on another never-heard-of person earlier this week, DELLER.

  33. held up in the NE, partly by DEMONSTRATION for the same reasons as Guy, until forced by the ABSENTEE (Georgia voter?) to become demonstrative. “It’s nearly finished and there hasn’t been a hidden yet” revealed the elusive nho ORCAGNA. LOI GET AT, never seeing the mean double definition. Thanks GL for pointing it out.

  34. 24m today, with all answers confidently entered, a testament, I think, to the quality of the puzzle. Even the more obscure answers, such as the artist and the stress, were, with a bit of head scratching, quite accessible. Thank you, George and setter.
  35. I was on a roll today but was typing like an idiot throughout. Should have checked for errors at the end but was too excited about what might well have been a PB. Ah well.

    Lots to enjoy here. Didn’t know ORCAGNA or ICTUS (other than knowing it was a word) but wordplay seemed clear-cut.

  36. Like most, I ended up in the NE corner where I spent a good 5 minutes on 2 remaining clues. Eventually I spotted the hidden reverse of the NHO artist to enable my LOI GET AT. Trickiest puzzle of the week by far but enjoyable nevertheless. Thanks to setter and blogger.
  37. For 3dn I can see that the answer fits the second half of the clue, but how does interim mean lag?
    1. I was puzzling that one, but my Chambers app has the first definition of interim as “time between”, which could be a lag. The second definition is “the meantime”, which is the sense I usually think of.
  38. 25.36 and it took me an age to get started as will be shown by my FOI being nunnery. Thought I was going to have a major disaster at that point so delighted to have actually finished. DNK odeum and kept thinking of odeon which made for a rather circuitous progress. LOI impact.

    Lots to like worked out itching before dimly remembering I Ching. Other likes rictus, Coleridge , corer and the hidden Italian artist. Who he?

    Thanks setter- well explained as ever and setter.

  39. Late to the party today. As usual found this easy until it wasn’t. Chief difficulty was with COLERIDGE and CORER, both fairly straightforward clues but baffled nonetheless.
    Had to check meanings of ICTUS and ODEUM.
  40. ….after failing to spot my eventual LOI on the first pass, but spotted ORCAGNA straight away, even though I’d never encountered him. Parsed DEMONSTRATIVE afterwards.

    Anyone who’s visited the URINAL at a major sporting venue once play ends will see why I found the clue very amusing to read.

    TIME 8:18

  41. Most enjoyable puzzle of the year so far, not quite sure why but I loved it! Thoughts with all American friends – wtf is happening with your country?
  42. 24.31. A tricky puzzle I thought. DNK the Jonathan apple. Had to look at lamer for ages before seeing the view of La Mer. The ictus, get at, orcagna, odeum corner really held me up here. Eventually saw the hidden and slowly decrypted the rest. Stayed up late last night watching the extraordinary scenes unfold in the US. Have spent much of this evening viewing follow-up coverage.
  43. First time posting here! Relatively new to the “main” cryptics, long-time (very amateur) solver of QCs – learnt using this blog!

    Always have to look up a few answers, but getting better every day thanks to you lovely folks!

    I parsed 4D as: GOS (as in gossip) for vulgar speaker, with BANANA (tropical fruit) inside.

    1. I’m very much at the same stage as you, Elliot. This took me ages and needed helpers for ORCAGNA and ODEUM, but still satisfying to complete.

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