Times Cryptic 27038

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

“This puzzle was presented as a British cryptic challenge to contestants at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in March. The fastest solving time was 12 minutes”.

I don’t think we’ve ever had an individual solving time indicated before, but it only served to prove once again (as if I needed reminding) how far at the back of the field I am, as I needed 50 minutes to fill the grid. Most of it was fairly straightforward other than 8ac over which I lost a lot of time and needed all the checkers in place before eventually coming up with the answer.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 Chaplain is sorry for holding composer back (7)
ROSSINI – Hidden [holding] and reversed [back] in {chapla}IN IS SOR{ry}. A rare example of a definition being neither at the very beginning nor at the very end of a clue.
5 Sort of noble word ultimately preferred by gentlemen? (6)
BLONDE – Anagram [sort] of NOBLE {wor}D [ultimately]. The definition refers to the 1925 novel ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ famously made into a film in 1953 starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.
8 Tiny weight of messengers dressed up as elderly relatives? (9)
NANOGRAMS – This is one billionth of a gram. I was under illusion that ‘gram’ (as opposed to ‘gramme’) was exclusively an American spelling but apparently it’s not, or not so any longer. I’m unsure what’s going on in the second part of the clue but imagine it’s a cryptic hint based on the idea that if ‘stripograms’ are messengers dressed up (at least initially) as something or other, then ‘nanograms’ might be messengers dressed up as nans (elderly relatives) but hopefully not with the intention of performing striptease! Apart from that rather strange concept which made the cryptic half of the clue unfathomable other than by reverse engineering, I was a little thrown by the definition suggesting the singular whilst requiring an answer in the plural – not that there was anything wrong with this in retrospect.
9 Kind of theatre seat, note, next to small dog (3-2)
TIP-UP – TI (note), PUP (small dog)
11 A halfwit or two seen around start of period (5)
IDIOT – II (two) contains [seen around] the first letter [start] of DOT (period). The target audience for this puzzle use the word ‘period’ for ‘full stop’ as represented by a dot. I don’t recall seeing this variation on standard containment previously.
12 Gangster fooled gal, disgracefully (9)
GOODFELLA – Anagram [disgracefully] of FOOLED GAL. Not a word I knew other than as a brand of pizza, but no doubt everyone but me is familiar with its mafia associations if only from watching the Robert de Niro film.
13 Much power in performance tailed away, time after time (8)
GIGAWATT – GIG (performance), AWA{y} [tailed], TT (time after time)
15 Hut for redeveloping, just missing out on a medal? (6)
FOURTH – Anagram [redeveloping] of HUT FOR. This reminded me that I’m still smarting from failing to solve ‘perfect interval’ in a recent ST puzzle.
17 House seen in vacation can be filmed another time (6)
RESHOT – HO (house) in REST (vacation)
19 A little mischief by lassoer is unseemly (8)
IMPROPER – IMP (a little mischief), ROPER (lassoer)
22 Steadfast and united, mark well, before finale (9)
UNBENDING – U (united), NB (mark well – nota bene), ENDING (finale)
23 Sanctimonious group’s conduct (5)
PILOT – PI (sanctimonious), LOT (group)
24 Certain ears, or part of one, catching second bit of music (5)
DURUM – DRUM (part of one – referring back to ‘ears’) containing [catching] {m}U{sic} [second bit]. This is a type of wheat perhaps best known for making  pasta. In addition to the organs of hearing, ‘ears’ are the parts of cereal plants which contain the flowers or seeds, most usually associated with corn or maize but perhaps wheat too.
25 Angling: so unusual an activity for joining in (9)
SINGALONG – Anagram [unusual] of ANGLING SO. ‘Singalongamax’ was very popular in its day as are ‘Sound of Music’ singalongs still.
26 Two common sources of allergy in China once (6)
CATHAY – CAT + HAY (two common sources of allergy)
27 Small tear maybe in work permit found on drive (7)
DROPLET – DR (drive), OP (work), LET (permit)
1 Makes a few phone calls after race: that’s easily best (3,5,5)
RUN RINGS ROUND – RUN (race), RINGS ROUND (makes a few phone calls). ‘Best’ in the sense of ‘defeat’ or ‘beat’.
2 Louis XIV, laid low at home with gout at first (3,4)
SUN KING – SUNK (laid low), IN (at home), G{out} [at first]
3 Bar that’s fashionable acquired (5)
INGOT – IN (fashionable), GOT (acquired)
4 I called, worried to discover old political scandal (8)
IRANGATE – I, RANG (called), ATE (worried). More correctly known as the Iran-Contra Scandal, this occurred 1985-1987 during Ronnie Reagan’s second term of office. It may not have come so easily to mind today were it not for the incumbent President’s current activities in the region.
5 Waiter’s assistant initially should be ordered to block purchase (6)
BUSBOY – S{hould} B{e} O{rdered} [initially] contained by [to block] BUY (purchase). I only knew this word because it cropped up in March clued as ‘American waiter’ and Kevin Gregg pointed out the inaccuracy of that definition.
6 Foot odour spreading in the open air (3-2-4)
OUT-OF-DOOR – Anagram [spreading] of FOOT ODOUR. What a distasteful picture the surface reading brings to mind!
7 Sort of shift from place that druggie’s around (7)
DOPPLER – DOPER [druggie] contains [around] PL (place). The Doppler effect is the apparent shift of pitch experienced e.g. as the siren of an emergency vehicle is heard to approach and pass.
10 Be apparently unwilling to see obscure piece of theatre? (4,4,2,3)
PLAY HARD TO GET – A straight defintion and a cryptic hint
14 Divine being in chase: departs New York at speed! (4,5)
WOOD NYMPH – WOO (chase), D (departs), NY (New York), MPH (speed – miles per hour)
16 Dreamed of aged mini being restored (8)
IMAGINED – Anagram [restored] of AGED MINI
18 Lives overturned by Soviet police chief in gulag setting (7)
SIBERIA – IS (lives) reversed [overturned], BERIA (Soviet police chief). ‘Sent to Siberia’ is a traditional term for punishment and imprisonment in harsh conditions in the USSR.
20 Extract bribe, perhaps, swapping parts around (4,3)
PALM OIL – OIL PALM (bribe) [swapping parts around]
21 General Secretary, steeped in compassion, finding place for Wilbur? (6)
PIGSTY – GS (General Secretary) contained by [steeped in] PITY (compassion). Wilbur is the porcine hero of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ apparently – a reference completely lost on me.
23 Art gallery having trouble with public relations (5)
PRADO – PR (public relations), ADO (trouble). The national gallery in Madrid.

84 comments on “Times Cryptic 27038”

  1. Thanks for the explanation of 8, Jack, which I was clueless on. Not the world’s greatest clue, I think. It seemed that half of the first half dozen or so clues I solved were anagrams, as I took a bit of time to get into this, suspecting Americanisms or other weird things at every turn. But quite quick in the end for me at 18 minutes.
  2. so I’m the slowpoke so far. As Vinyl noted, 1d and 6d are British, but we get ’round’ so often in clues that I’ve long since got used to it. It took me a while to get the LOT of 23ac–I knew PISET wouldn’t work–in fact it wasn’t until PALM OIL that I twigged. I think DURUM was my LOI.
  3. This was fun. I was worried it would be like one of those old crosswords we get when they don’t want to run the competition entries online (why?). Plus I’ve lived in the US for years so I wasn’t expecting any problem if the usual cricket references were replaced with baseball ones.

    Slightly odd to have both NANOGRAMS and GIGAWATT a few clues apart.

  4. A careless ‘ran’ for RUN in 1d, so a DNF in 35 minutes. Maybe new party entertainment we don’t need, but I loved NANOGRAMS. We’ve had variations on ‘Certain ears’ before, but it still took me a while to spot it.

    Most people will probably have come across this, but 11a and our blogger’s comments reminded me of one of my favourite clues, scrawled on a piece of paper by a lady sitting next to me on a flight in America, when she saw I was doing a cryptic:
    Blind idiot. (3)

    Thanks to setter and blogger

    1. One of the tests for an automatic translator is to get it to re-translate the words back into the first language again. When “out of sight, out of mind” was put through one such exercise, the translator came back with “blind idiot”.

      Edited at 2018-05-15 09:49 am (UTC)

      1. Now there’s an idea for an automated crossword solver (or setter for that matter), even if it didn’t quite get the correct answer this time.
      2. I remember an ancient, and perhaps apocryphal, story of a program taking ‘hydraulic ram’, converting it to Russian, and then back to ‘water goat’.
  5. Zipped through this in 10-odd minutes, close to PB. 8ac I had to pause a few seconds, but no problems with the cryptic: kiss-o-grams and strip-o-grams are “things” so why not invent a nan-o-gram? No problem with the plural – mere nanograms is a tiny weight. Also no problem with the spelling: gramme, programme and analogue were de rigeur 50 years ago but only analogue has the faintest whiff of persistence here in Oz, and certainly not in America (Analog Devices is a large US company).
    What might give Americans pause is that non-technical ones might not have heard of grams, perfidious invention of cheese-eating surrender-monkeys. I was going to say the same about watts – that Americans wouldn’t have heard of the metric unit – but I googled first, and it turns out they buy their electricity in kilowatt-hours, not in horsepowers. Strikes me as strange, for an evangelically non-metric country.
    1. My slight uneasiness with nan-o-gram is that it decribes the messenger from a different perspective from the other two examples. A kiss-o-gram kisses and possibly strips and a strip-o-gram strips and possibly kisses whereas a nan-o-gram would do what exactly? We know that the strippers and kissers may dress up for example as policemen or nurses so it’s not inconceivable that nans may be also available if there’s a demand for them (though much more likely to be nuns), but as far as I’m aware there’s no equivalent word ending in -gram that describes the costume of the invader. Perhaps I’ve just led a sheltered life!

      Edited at 2018-05-15 05:10 am (UTC)

      1. Indeed, I missed that nuance, and failed to pick up on what you were saying, apologies.
        Your life is not so sheltered, perhaps? I didn’t know the strippers and kissers might be dressed as policemen or nurses, for example.
      2. This is easily answered: a nan-o-gram would do exactly what Michael Che’s Stepmom does in the brilliant SNL Mother’s Day skit that aired recently.

        Oh go on, it’s lovely…

        Edited at 2018-05-15 08:00 am (UTC)

      3. I think in the same way that Haters gonna hate, in the modern vernacular, Nans gonna nan.
  6. 20 mins. Only half way through my new (coconut enhanced) granola, yoghurt, compote, etc.
    Well Nanograms have got us talking. I liked it. “Ta-da! Happy Birthday and would you like a nice cup of tea?”
    Eventually I twigged (and quite like) the device used in Idiot.
    Thanks setter and Jack
  7. Easy .. but did not enjoy it much. I am always overly sensitive about Americanisms being included unannounced in England’s premier cryptic crossword. But then I still spell them gramme, programme and analogue, so am fifty years in the past it seems
    1. In general, I prefer American spelling–well, I would, wouldn’t I–as it tends to be that little bit closer to rational spelling–pediatrics, esophagus, program, analog, labor, etc. But of course it’s a British puzzle, it should follow British spelling. What bothers me is that it isn’t consistent. I’m pretty sure, for instance, that I’ve never seen labor/favor/odor, but I’m almost as sure that I have seen e.g. program. I grew up secure in the conviction that it’s -ize in the US but -ise in the UK; but now?
      1. I think I’m right in saying that Oxford dictionaries have always favoured -ize but their on-line version has now blurred the issue.
        1. My ODE has eg ‘realize (also realise)’. Dictionaries aside, I could swear that every piece of British prose I ever read in the first 60 years of my life used -ise exclusively.

          Edited at 2018-05-15 07:58 am (UTC)

      2. ‘Program’ is quite commonly used in British English, but ‘color’ never is. It’s as simple as that.
        The ise/ize thing is interesting. You’re right that ise is overwhelmingly dominant in British English usage but there’s no real historical reason for this and as jackkt points out the OED favours ize, as does Chambers.
        1. Come to think of it, I need to qualify my statement above: I have a vague sense that 18th-century English prose used -ize. Examples do not, of course, spring to mind.
          1. The first recorded incidence of ‘realize’ in the OED predates its ‘ise’ equivalent by over 100 years.
    2. I would go with gram and program, but also, without a gram of hesitation, analogue.
  8. I actually made heavy weather of this, biffing in silliness like LAP-UP and INLET before having to fix everything at the end. I do retract my comment on the Club Forums about how Americans need to practise lots: if they get really good at these things and the Times Champs go international, I’ll never get into the finals ever again!
  9. 20:00. I liked this, particularly the foot odour and the singing grannies. Given the heading I was expecting there to be more of a UD general knowledge challenge, but fortunately I remembered BUSBOY.
    Jackkt, you’ve a bit of a whoopsy at 16d – it’s an anagram of AGED MINI.
      1. Well let me be the first to point out your other deliberate mistake at 12ac!
        1. Ah yes, not Al Pacino. There’s a good reason for my confusion over that – not least that I have never seen it – but it’s all too complicated to go into.
  10. An easy ride this one. I started on the down clues and the first 7 were write-ins which then made the top half easy, biffing NANOGRAMS from checkers.

    A little trip down memory lane of time spent working with our cousins when I twigged “dot” for “period”. Luckily there wasn’t very much such “translation” required!

  11. Hard but fair. I found myself having to really concentrate on almost every clue. CODs to BLONDE and PALM OIL.
  12. A nanogram once appeared in ‘The Bill’, but it was really a kissogram young woman dressed as an old lady – probably the word hadn’t been invented then. If this is as described a ‘British cryptic challenge’ in the USA, what is ‘busboy’ doing in it? Or ‘goodfella’? Interesting if somewhat unsatisfactory puzzle, but I’d like to see one the other way round. 21′, thanks jack and setter.
  13. Well now. I have to work from a semi-recumbent posture at present, and reading the screen is even more tricky than usual. So I ignored the rubric altogether, and solved as normal, until I got to PLAY HARD TO GET when I was hit by the feeling that I’d done this before, saw the rubric (in a blur, of course) and assumed it was a relatively recent oldie.
    I liked the whole thing a lot, as it happens. SIBERIA was a very elegant clue, in that TLS way of being accurately self referential.
    I figured Wilbur had to be a pig from somewhere, didn’t notice any stray USAges,and spent a Magoo-ish (not him,the original) time trying to work out who Walter was in 5d and why he would need any kind of assistant, let alone a busboy.
    I sadly managed a typo to confound my also-ran 22.49, but this was fun.
    1. The first farm related Wilbur I usually think of is Mr Ed’s human friend.
  14. A steady 38 minutes on this, with IDIOT unparsed. As I put in IRANGATE, I thought that to be a bit obscure for a British crossword, but I do vaguely remember Oliver North. He’ll be an old man by now. The other Americanisms then began to make more sense. Physics is universal, so I knew the Doppler shift, the large power unit and small weight of course, uneasily biffing NANOGRAMS from a STRIPOGRAM analogy. I dredged up DURUM from a mix of cryptic and knowledge. Wilbur was also wasted on me, but PIGSSTY was clear from the cryptic. I’m no movie buff, but GOODFELLA vaguely known. COD to DOPPLER, whose effect can still be heard in a railway station near you. Thank you Jack and US setter.
      1. Sounds a bit like making Herod the Great the President of the Save the Children fund. I guess that it’s seen as a global opportunity for opening up new markets.
      2. The author LP Hartley wrote, memorably, in “The Go-Between”: “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there”. For “the past” read “the right wing in the USA”.
  15. This seemed rather easy… apart from 24a, where I had a stab at DIREM (I couldn’t get ‘re’ as the second note out of my head). In competition I like to think I’d have spent more time trying to puzzle that one out properly, but I might have got over-excited and gone for it.

    Thanks for explaining IDIOT – it had to be, but I couldn’t parse it at all.

  16. Just a whisker under 20 minutes for this one, so fairly easy going. I was a little surprised by GOODFELLA, as I knew the word only as the title of a TV series and a pizza brand, but everything seemed very gettable.
  17. The Oyster Bar at Grand Central came flooding back – where if I could get a London Times at the station I went – way back in the seventies!

    This one took me 29 mins so I ended up with change.

    5ac BUSBOYS aplenty and BUSGIRLS – adopted in Shanghai.

    12ac – There’s a GOODFELLA’S revival at a White House near you! My WOD

    24ac DURUM The Pink Panther’s signature tune.

    FOI 9ac TIP-UP

    LOI 13ac WOOD NYMPH – as I initially had GIGABYTE!

    COD 18dn SIBERIA

    Can we please do this again some time?

    Edited at 2018-05-15 09:14 am (UTC)

    1. The Oyster Bar is still there and just the same Horryd. And I’m happy to say Grand Central is very much nicer than it was in the 70s.
      1. I was last there in 2000. The first time I visited they had twelve different types of oyster on the menu. The waitress fixed it so I could have a dozen all different! She further amazed me when she presented this treat with each oyster named on a little scrap of paper!Box oysters! Real Service! NY – wow!

        I never miss an episode Anthony Bordaine.

    2. Talking of getting the London Times at foreign railway stations: I used to get it at Munich Hauptbahnhof in 1978. Then they had the Wapping dispute and ceased publication. I was distraught but took comfort from the New York Herald Tribune instead. (Much cheaper than the British newspapers) I got to really like the NYHT but never came to terms with their crossword – all those unknown acronyms and abbreviations.
  18. Just under 10m, so no real problems. Loved NANOGRAMS.

    Edited at 2018-05-15 08:24 am (UTC)

  19. Despite burying this in 10:21 I got little satisfaction from it.


    Lost time at 7D trying to justify “dipolar”.

    Wilbur totally lost on me.

    LOI NANOGRAMS which I biffed, but on seeing the explanation I unhesitatingly award it COD. However, being accompanied here by GIGAWATT and DOPPLER, I consider a 10% science base excessive !

  20. Thanks for IDIOT, Jack. I should have twigged that American usage would play a part in this puzzle as it was aimed at an American audience.
    I counted five anagrams which seems a little excessive, or perhaps it’s not.
    I am familiar with the term Iran-Contra Scandal but I had never heard the term Irangate before. And now Anonymous tells us that former Lt Colonel Oliver North is to be the next president of the NRA!! Gloom and doom!
    1. I don’t understand the problem with North becoming the head of NRA. North testified in Congress that he was willing to obey his führer sorry leader in no matter what; who better to be the leader of the NRA?
      1. Indeed, Kevin! Earlier today, I read a long piece in The New Yorker about Trump’s absolute need for loyalty. North is just the man, then.
        1. To be fair, most leaders of whatever hue demand something akin to absolute loyalty. ‘Tis part of the leadership DNA.
          1. I agree but Trump seems to take it a stage further. On the other hand there was this from LBJ: “I don’t want loyalty. I want loyalty! I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket.”
    2. Watergate has a lot to answer for. When a UK politician has a short and sharp exchenge with the police at the gates to Downing Street, the papers immediately named the issue ‘gategate’.
  21. 19 min 08 secs.

    COD Nanograms. Raised a smile. 😀

    No smiling now until tonight’s match is decided.

    Edited at 2018-05-15 10:32 am (UTC)

  22. I normally lurk but, unseemly as it is, I have to brag about my fastest solve ever at 7m 45s. I rarely break 20m so chuffed.

  23. Agreed with others that Nanograms is very good.

    It would be interesting to identify the collective COD from all of the TFTT pages. Then we could have Clue of the week, month, year? COW, COM and COY. It would take a fair amount of work though and would require enough of us to identify the COD each day to be meaningful.

    1. I seem to remember this was tried back in the early days of the blog, though I can’t remember exactly when or why it didn’t stick. Lack of enthusiasm from enough commenters, perhaps, or as you suggest, quite possibly because it seemed like a good idea at the time but just made too much work for someone…
  24. Thanks for the explanations for all the words I biffed – some very clever cluing here which completely passed me by, plus a very enjoyable read through the blog today.
    Held up for a while by GIGABYTE which made the nymph rather hard to fathom out.
  25. If the rubric hadn’t been there, would I have spotted any obvious Americanization…er, Americanisation, of this puzzle? Possibly, but clearly not in a way which interfered with my ability to solve. My only unparsed entry was IDIOT, which seemed unlikely to be anything else, despite my not knowing why. Otherwise, there wasn’t anything that you had to be American to get: for example, we have, as noted, previously discussed BUSBOYs and their exact nature before at length, and I think GOODFELLAs has entered popular language anywhere that Martin Scorsese films are shown. As with others, Oliver North’s scandal was quick to leap to my mind as he’s been in the news recently; and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect UK solvers to know that, any more than for a US-ian to know about the Abdication Crisis of 1936, say (or Simpsongate, as it would doubtless be called today). Pleasant solve, anyway.
  26. Perhaps I should have gone to the tournament – I clocked in at 11.44. Here is a pic of the winner by the way – https://www.crosswordtournament.com/. Pas de comment. I’d have squeaked in a little faster but was held up by the plural/singular measurement thingie in NANOGRAMS. We get a “puns and anagrams” semi-cryptic puzzle in the Sunday NY Times about 4 times a year – they can be a bit exasperating if you’re used to the UK style puzzles. This was certainly one of the better ones.

    E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is a lovely book but it had to be banned at bedtime in our house because my children would be distraught when Charlotte the spider dies near the end.

  27. I failed to notice the comment above the grid and just plugged away as usual, hardly noticing the extra dollop of Americanisms. I was surprised by 6d, expecting an S at the end, but all is now clear. I spotted the parsing of IDIOT fairly quickly after deciding there was no way the start of (P)eriod could fit into the answer. GIGAVOLT quickly fell by the wayside when I looked at V_O_ at 14d and then noticed that IRANGATE had become IRANGALE. FOI was INGOT, LOI PALM OIL, after failing to parse PULL OIL. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. 19:44. Thanks setter and Jack.
  28. 10:13. Take that America. In case Don Manley is keeping track my time may or may not have been affected by the screaming child having his hair cut while I waited my turn.
  29. One year I will make it to the ACPT… maybe should have gone last year, I may have won something. 7:11. I’m surprised that there were no times better than 12 minutes, as I know several of the folks who go to these and many of them do cryptic crosswords regularly – the Wall St. Journal runs one once a month, as does Harpers.
  30. Rarefied heights for me, or an off day for he. Stripping out the usual obvious people with invalid times and this must be my wavelength. At last. For one day only I’m sure.
  31. Love Goodfellas, so many great scenes. Raced through this in about 30 mins (well that’s racing for me) where there was always an easy clue to keep you going. Which university did The Punk Panther attend? – Durum. Thanks all
  32. Please emerge from the shadows and risk your waxy wings melting in the sunlight. Excellent time.
  33. This was pretty easy, and I (obviously) didn’t have any trouble with the Americanisms. My only hold ups at all were the crossing at WOOD NYMPH and GIGAWATT, where ‘chase’ as ‘woo’ wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. Regards.
  34. 18:48 and a rare foray into sub-20 mins territory for me, which is very pleasing. Pretty straightforward with only Wilbur unknown. No problems with the novelty bearer of glad tidings at 8ac.

    Angiogram – a message delivered and sung to you by Anita Dobson.

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