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Times 27,485: Copularity Pontest

I completed this comfortably inside of 10 minutes, but it could have been quicker if I hadn't entered 10ac as "COPULA", which left the intersecting down clues a lot harder to make head or tail of! When the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains, however probable, must be the truth, so the light did eventually dawn.

This felt to me like an absolutely irreproachable crossword in the modern style, with a battery of the latest cryptic tricks resulting in perfect surfaces and not a few laughs; the GK (literally in one case) was also pitched at an excellently erudite level, while never stooping to obscurity. I really liked the wordplay in both 24 and 25ac, but full marks to the definition parts of 11dn and 27ac too, and their seamless marriage into the cryptic. 13/10 to the setter, would solve again.

ACROSS
1 Such as Chesterton, maybe, entertaining with his stirring article (8)
EGGWHISK - E.G. G.K. [such as | (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, maybe], "entertaining" W HIS [with | his]

5 Can pocket valuable? Hardly! (6)
TINPOT - TIN [can] + POT [pocket]

9 Seafood etc barman mostly prepared (8)
CRABMEAT - (ETC BARMA{n}*) ["prepared"]

10 Carbonated drink bottles finished round roof (6)
CUPOLA - COLA [carbonated drink] "bottles" UP [finished]

12 Toy bear’s in bunk (12)
FIDDLESTICKS - FIDDLE STICK'S [toy | bear's]

15 He passed on book two in series of books (5)
OBIIT - B II [book | two] in O.T. [series of books]

16 Cancels course if ill, unable to return displays (9)
NULLIFIES - Hidden reversed in {cour}SE IF ILL UN{able}

18 Jailed by judge, ex-pupil’s assisted crime (6,3)
INSIDE JOB - INSIDE [jailed] by J O.B. [judge | ex-pupil]

19 Stop at sea to tell some tales? (3,2)
LIE TO - double def

20 Designates perimeter of park especially for winter sport (5,7)
SPEED SKATING - (DESIGNATES P{ar}K*) ["especially"]

24 Running without queen’s backing (2,1,3)
IN A ROW - reversed W/O RANI [without | queen]

25 Cried several times over, with husband involved in plot (8)
BOOHOOED - O O O O ["several (four) times", over], with H [husband] "involved"], in BED [plot]

26 Partner of old politician getting into film for free (6)
EXEMPT - EX [partner of old] + MP [politician] "getting into" E.T. [film]

27 Biased when accepting Houses of Parliament as constitutional asset? (8)
ASHPLANT - ASLANT [biased] when accepting H.P. [Houses of Parliament]. I didn't know that an "ashplant" was a walking stick, but such would certainly prove an asset while going on a "constitutional".

DOWN
1 Watch Italian sides being eliminated after football upset (4)
ECCO - reversed {s}OCCE{r} [football]

2 Get stuck into the butter! (4)
GOAT - or GO AT [get stuck into]. The butter as in "the creature that butts".

3 Awkward when first on diet of meat sandwiches? (3-6)
HAM-FISTED - 1ST [first], "sandwiched" by HAM-FED [on diet of meat]

4 What’s amusing by reputation? (8,4)
STANDING JOKE - JOKE [what's amusing] by STANDING [reputation], &lit I guess

6 Time to leave to pick up cold tongue? (5)
INUIT - IN{t}UIT [to pick up, minus T for time]. "Cold tongue?" as in "language spoken in a cold region"

7 Banned for plagiarism in second edition (10)
PROSCRIBED - PRO [for] + CRIB [plagiarism] in S ED. [second | edition]

8 Radio station’s run repeated broadcast (10)
TRANSISTOR - (STATION'S R R*) ["broadcast"]

11 Ringer that’s incorporating end for our now cordless sockets (12)
BELLYBUTTONS - BELL YON'S [ringer | that's] "incorporating" BUTT [end]. The sockets left by our cut umbilical cords!

13 In short, “garish” is appropriate for style of French king (5,5)
LOUIS SEIZE - LOU{d} ["in short", garish] + IS SEIZE [is | appropriate]

14 King and I set makes for cracking musical (4,2,4)
KISS ME KATE - (K I SET MAKES*) ["for cracking"]

17 Move inch by inch? (6-3)
ISLAND-HOP - an "inch" being an island, a lovely cryptic def

21 Band ultimately mean to raise flag (5)
DROOP - {ban}D + reversed POOR [mean]

22 What’s oddly featured by satellite state (4)
IOWA - W{h}A{t} by IO [satellite (of Jupiter)]

23 Approach of mine having commercial appeal (4)
ADIT - AD IT [commercial | appeal]. "Of mine" as in "in a mine".

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
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aphis99
Oct. 18th, 2019 01:39 am (UTC)
Very good clues. Loved BOOHOOED in particular for the neat device, but this was replete with beautiful punning allusions - cold tongue, constitutional asset etc.

It took an age to finish the top left (looking for an anagram of HIS as part of 1ac), then GOAT came to mind which led to EGGWHISK and finally ECCO.
martinp1
Oct. 18th, 2019 03:21 am (UTC)
Technically a DNF as I needed aids for 5 clues. Still don't understand YONS in BELLYBUTTONS but I'm sure it will dawn on me eventually.
COD to EGGWHISK.
jackkt
Oct. 18th, 2019 05:23 am (UTC)
That = YON
That's = YON S
(no subject) - martinp1 - Oct. 18th, 2019 08:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 18th, 2019 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penfold_61 - Oct. 18th, 2019 02:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jackkt - Oct. 18th, 2019 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - harmonic_row - Oct. 18th, 2019 03:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
jackkt
Oct. 18th, 2019 05:34 am (UTC)
After resorting to aids in order to finish off a couple of recent puzzles I was determined not to give in on this occasion, so I persevered and eventually completed the grid unaided in 64 minutes with ASHPLANT as my LOI. I can't say I ever heard of it either as a plant or as a walking stick, but it has appeared once before in my time at TftT, in 2014 in a puzzle (also blogged by Verlaine) when I didn't mention it in my comments so presumably I worked it out on that occasion too.

SPEED SKATING was another NHO and I lost time thinking the nautical term at 19ac was LIE BY and writing it in where its Y-checker prevented me solving 8dn for a while. Having found the answer eventually I thought it might have been better if the setter had somehow avoided having TO in the clue.

Edited at 2019-10-18 05:37 am (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Oct. 19th, 2019 04:24 pm (UTC)
Lie to
I thought it would have been better if the setter had put (a second) 'to' in the clue, after 'stories'. (Lie = tell stories, lie to = tell stories to). Perhaps that's what you meant? The 'to' which is there is the strangely allowable 'to' of the infinitive verb, which setters are, for no particular reason I'm aware of, given license to insert or leave out as it suits their purposes.
isla3
Oct. 18th, 2019 05:40 am (UTC)
Another DNF. As an Italian-speaker I know what ecco means(here/there it is!), so that couldn't have been the answer to 1 dn. I see that Chambers claims it means "look there", but that is ecco as an English word not as the Italian word. Bah.
Otherwise brilliant crossword which again I found much harder than it should have been. 2 guesses: couldn't see the parsing of bellybuttons and the didn't know the definition of ashplant.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 18th, 2019 02:19 pm (UTC)
Good point about ecco. But you’re always likely to be undone by the eccentricities of Chambers and the setter’s over reliance on it. You have my sympathy. Mr Grumpy
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 18th, 2019 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 18th, 2019 05:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
myrtilus000
Oct. 18th, 2019 08:00 am (UTC)
From the brow of Iowa tha...
...Gone was every trace of sorrow...
45 mins then gave up.
The eggwhisk beat me and despite tearful navel-gazing, so did boohooed/belly buttons.
Meanwhile I loved: Nullifies, Louis Seize and COD to Speed Skating.
Thanks excellent setter and V.
boltonwanderer
Oct. 18th, 2019 08:03 am (UTC)
Ecce homo
45 minutes. LOI IOWA. ECCO seen from inverting ‘sOCCEr‘ and then comparing it with Mr Pilate’s reported proclamation to the crowd at the Antonia Fortress. It seemed near enough. Walking up the Via Dolorosa from there, I did see a souvenir shop with the sign, ‘T shirts printed while-u-wait’. I have to confess wondering if I’d found the explanation for the Turin Shroud. INUIT was a total biff. ASHPLANT was also in on a wing and a prayer. COD to LOUIS SEIZE. A good puzzle, quite tricky in places if not a full Friday job. Thank you V and setter.

Edited at 2019-10-18 08:05 am (UTC)
pootle73
Oct. 18th, 2019 08:12 am (UTC)
38:12
I thought this was an excellent offering, which got me wondering, is a lot more effort required on the part of the setter to come up with such a puzzle? I presume it must be.

Hard to choose a COD but I'll plump for EGGWHISK for its elegant construction. The cunning definition for BELLYBUTTONS was excellent as well. It strikes me that if I looked at that clue in isolation (i.e. without crossers) for a whole day I still don't think I'd get it. It was hard enough with crossers!


Edited at 2019-10-18 10:02 am (UTC)
gothick_matt
Oct. 18th, 2019 08:58 am (UTC)
After an hour and thirteen I effectively knocked over my king by putting in 17d INLAND-HOP as my LOI. So close! But I did need to get on with my day, sadly. My brain was rather worn out to start with, so you can imagine the state it was in at the end...
z8b8d8k
Oct. 18th, 2019 10:10 am (UTC)
A willow grows ashplant a brook, therewith fantastic garlands
Tough enough at close to 35 minutes - I've found it hard going this week. Clues here had strong whiff of not having a clue what's going on until a sudden shift of perspective flashed he answer up in neon. The cordless socket (some people have outies, you know), the stirring article, the toy bear, the constitutional asset all conspired mightily against understanding, so I felt quite pleased (and relieved) when the scales fell from my eyes.
Alongside those beasties, ISLAND HOP was delicious fun, TINPOT was nearly TINSEL, the radio clue a happy reminder of when trannies were something else.
An absorbing and challenging grid, if hardly from my point of view an encouragement into even the third division of this years tourney.
john_dun
Oct. 18th, 2019 10:40 am (UTC)
After an hour and 44 seconds I forgot to go back to my unsatisfactorily biffed ECCE, so a pink square. Drat!! Bl**dy hard work. Thanks V.
philjordan
Oct. 18th, 2019 10:42 am (UTC)
I'd rather spot a....
....BELLYBUTTON than go belly up - and I wouldn't have been surprised had I done so with this beast ! Luckily, all five of my biffs were correct, and I was just within target.

I bow to Verlaine with utter respect for parsing ASHPLANT, HAM-FISTED, BELLYBUTTON, INUIT,and IOWA. I wouldn't have been at all surprised if those last two were wrong. OBIIT was a DNK, but was parsed to my satisfaction.

FOI CRABMEAT
LOI IOWA
COD IN A ROW
TIME 19:51
pipkirby
Oct. 18th, 2019 11:11 am (UTC)
Ecce shoes
Super crossword, super blog, all done with smiles in 3 x Verlaine i.e. 30 minutes; except unsure about ECCE or ECCO, not being an Italian speaker but knowing the Latin, and not spotting the soccer reversed idea. Did bung in ECCO as more likely first person than third. Loved bellybutton, island hop, took a while to see my LOI INUIT.
ulaca
Oct. 18th, 2019 11:40 am (UTC)
I experienced angelic understanding in the SW, as solutions flew in without any ratiocination, enjoying direct communion with the crossword gods and/or the setter’s spirit. By the time I got to the top, I had used up my allotment and had to dismiss ECCE HOMO from my thoughts to get at the unknown Italian via the game Manchester United used to play.

I came here intent on congratulating the world’’s second best solver on his stellar time, but refuse to tip my hat to anyone who does a puzzle like this in under ten minutes and can only say that he should have been faster.
special_bitter
Oct. 18th, 2019 11:41 am (UTC)
49:02 I found this tough and Friday-ish. Brilliant clues all over the place. I particularly liked cold tongue, cracking the unheard of ashplant from the cryptic, egg whisk, boohooed, bellybutton emerging from goodness knows where as my LOI after what felt like an eternity of unproductive staring at the crossers, the very nice multi-word reverse hidden at 16ac and island hopping. Terrific.
mauefw
Oct. 18th, 2019 12:03 pm (UTC)
The foreign language first column did for me, as I gave up in 19th minute with blanks for both. Definitely should have got LOUIS SEIZE but I couldn't think beyond SWIPE for 'appropriate'; ECCO was unknown to me but still kicking myself about the soccer.

IOWA was a wonderful clue, and the cryptic definition of ISLAND-HOP was my favourite in a very long time - so hard to do well, but hats off to the setter in this case.
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