January 6th, 2021

Times 27867 - Georgia on my mind.

January 6th. One of the few days so far on my 2021 calendar where something happens. Calor Gas deliver, Majestic Wine deliver, and Americans have just been to the polls in Georgia again. I have fingers crossed for all three, else we're going to freeze, have no booze, and see Sleepy Joe lose the Senate. This puzzle, however, was less worrying; a mix of witty clues, easy clues and a couple that I don't quite understand even if I knew the answer. I enjoyed it, nevertheless. Thank you Mr Setter. Happy Epiphany!

1 Contrive once more to render rhino safe (9)
6 Traffic in March moving easily at first (5)
TRADE - TREAD (march, of a stair perhaps) move the E to the end.
9 A German turning back to welcome city relative (5)
NIECE - EIN (a German) reverse it, insert EC for city (of London).
10 Continue to be harsh on sal(eswoman in recession (9)
PERSEVERE - REP reversed, SEVERE = harsh.
11 Blunder, as is possible with mule (3,4,4,2,2)
PUT ONES FOOT IN IT - cryptic, a mule being a shoe or slipper.
13 Horribly grim aunt mellowing perhaps (8)
14 In South Africa I grow supportive of the national drink? (6)
PROTEA - PRO TEA would be in support of tea; the national flower of S. Africa. I knew this as it's the name for the SA national cricket team. And I've been there.
16 Pony disembowelled by Indian? That’s disturbing (6)
CREEPY - CREE (Indian) P(on)Y.
18 Not entirely together, EU pontificates on this (8)
HEREUPON - hidden word as in red.
21 Naturally obstreperous northern boatmen (2,3,6,4)
TO THE MANNER BORN - (NORTHERN BOATMEN)*.  Two things to say about this. One, Mrs. Kirby said 'must be the Vikings' although I was thinking, chaps from Whitby. Two, I wanted to write "To the Manor born" until I realised it was a grim TV show, and didn't fit. Obstreperous as an anagrind? Is this a first appearance?
23 Gloomy about one’s son’s expulsion (9)
DISMISSAL - DISMAL (gloomy) around I'S S(on).
25 Getting stuck, Charlie has a breather (5)
CLUNG - C for Charlie, LUNG for breather.
26 Perhaps one in eight might, after change of leader (5)
ROWER - All you have to do here is choose between rower and power to decide which is the correct definition, as power = might.
27 First of early NHS units built in military accommodation (6,3)
NISSEN HUT - (E NHS UNITS)*, the E from the first of early.
1 Endlessly regret joke about speed merchant’s approach (3-2)
RUN-UP - RU(E), PUN reversed. A fast bowler in cricket, a speed merchant, has a long run-up, longer than the pitch itself on occasion.
2 Way in which press was accommodated once? (5,6)
3 Back Her Majesty to be more authoritarian (7)
STERNER - STERN = back, ER = HM.
4 Dignified admission that one’s putting on an act? (8)
IMPOSING - I'M POSING = one's putting on an act.
5 Bigoted? A bishop must step in right away (6)
NARROW - A, Right Reverend, in NOW.
6 Stagger around with the Speaker? (7)
TWEETER - A tweeter, other than the Orange One who lost, (but still says he didn't) is a small speaker which plays the high frequency notes. To get it, insert W(ith) into TEETER meaning stagger.
7 Wicked desire to get rid of husband (3)
ACE - This was actually my LOI, which annoyed me as it''s not original. ACHE (desire) has H removed, and ACE can mean wicked, terrific, in outdated slang.
8 What might give you an irritated look? (9)
EYESTRAIN - &Lit.? I don't really get this. Okay, your eyes could look red and irritated if you have the condition. And reading too much with the wrong specs could make you irritated. But is this sufficiently cryptic? Am I missing the point?
12 Lazing around? It’s pretty underwhelming (3,2,2,4)
NOT UP TO MUCH - Well, if you're not up, still in bed, I guess you're lazing around. Is that it?
13 Style of overall, not the first union staff rejected (4-5)
MOCK-TUDOR - (S)MOCK = overall, not the first; TU (union) ROD reversed = staff rejected.
15 He painted tsar’s opponents, eating only when ordered (8)
REYNOLDS - As in Sir Joshua; The REDS here were the Tsar's opponents, insert into them (ONLY)*.
17 Top-notch rock band in seaside attraction (7)
PREMIER - R.E.M. inside a PIER. If I have to explain who R.E.M. are, get a life. They came from Atlanta, GA. Michael Stipe's voice sends me into REM sleep but the songs are good.Edit. As Martinp1 points out below, Athens GA not Atlanta.
19 It hurts, being long subordinate to judge in Bow (7)
EARACHE - under 'EAR, cockney for hear, as a judge may do; we have ACHE = long (for).
20 Vicar’s boy not feeling too good, apparently (6)
PARSON -  a boy, a son, feels only at PAR, not above par, but good enough I'd have thought.
22 Almost all the booze knocked back in darkness (5)
NIGHT - TH (almost all THE), GIN (booze) all reversed.
24 Gnome used to be upside down (3)
SAW - WAS reversed.

  • glheard

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