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Sunday Times 4727 by Jeff Pearce

An enjoyable puzzle, not too stretching which was probably a good thing as I tackled it whilst nursing both a hangover and a dancing injury incurred during the previous night's revelry.

A couple of unknowns from the animal kingdom, but both came with generous wordplay so they did not cause me too much grief. And then there was the high ranking Catholic who eventually revealed himself thanks to there being enough cross checkers that it couldn't really be anything else (the attendant wordplay took a bit of sorting out).

Personal view was that our setter saved the best to last, with 22d being very neat indeed. Thanks to Jeff for kicking off the New Year in fine style, and all the best to everyone for 2017.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

Across
1 Duchess is near to show (8)
DISCLOSE - D (Duchess) + IS + CLOSE (near)
5 Son visiting heaven once in religious book (6)
ESTHER - S (son) inside (visiting) ETHER (heaven)
9 Prisoner originally found employed at sea (8)
CONFUSED - CON (prisoner) + F (first letter - originally - of Found) + USED (employed)
10 Ape put American soldier in water (6)
PONGID - Just like the man says, we put GI (American soldier) in POND (water), to give a word referring to any member of the great ape family. Unknown to me, but generous wordplay so no problems with this one.
12 For display, arrange clean bandage (5)
DRESS - With some trepidation, I venture to suggest this is a triple definition - but I may have gone off the rails here! I think we are looking at dress as in dress a window (for display, arrange), and dress as in clean a wound and also the verb to dress meaning to bandage.
13 Menu distributed during piano playing gives rise to
complaint (9)
PNEUMONIA - *(MENU) - distributed - inside (during) *(PIANO) with "playing" as the anagrind
14 After start of wedding nag hotelier about where to get a
drink
(8,4)
WATERING HOLE - W (start of Wedding) followed by *(NAG HOTELIER) with "about" as the anagrind
18 Finished a letter to English priest about surprisingly
successful student
(12)
OVERACHIEVER - OVER (finished) + A CHI (a letter - in the Greek alphabet) + E (English) + REV reversed (priest about)
21 One might get completely smashed at traditional meal in
Greece
… (6,3)
DINNER SET - Cryptic (& Lit, I think). Apparently the plate smashing custom is now regarded as somewhat passé by contemporary Greeks, but it lingers on in a few English Greek restaurants. That said, it's probably preferable to the earlier Greek tradition of throwing knives at the feet of the dancers who provided the entertainment after a good dinner.
23 … and article cheers one of its characters (5)
THETA - THE (article) + TA (cheers) giving us the Greek letter (character)
24 A painful swelling produced by one rodent (6)
AGOUTI - A + GOUT (painful swelling) + I (one), giving the American creature that looks a bit like a guinea pig. Apparently it's greatest claim to fame is that it is one of the few species that can open Brazil nuts without tools - an impressive feat that I have only ever seen a few prop forwards achieve.
25 Girl’s entertaining exploit in fairground feature (8)
CAROUSEL - CAROL (girl) with USE (exploit) inside (entertaining)
26 Put flower in front of dull unfinished vestibule (6)
EXEDRA - EXE (flower - the river in the west country) goes in front of DRA{b} (dull unfinished)
27 One after tips in dingy bar — a horrible place (8)
DYSTOPIA - DY (tips in DingY) followed by STOP (bar) + I (one) + A


Down
1 Upset journo in America murdered judge (6)
DECIDE - ED (journo) + ICED (American slang for 'murdered') all reversed (upset)
2 Might this performer have you in stitches? (6)
SINGER - Amusing cryptic referencing the iconic Singer sewing machine
3 Uranium and oil developed with Asian state (9)
LOUISIANA - *(OIL + ASIAN) - with "developed" as the anagrind - and U (uranium) also thrown into the mix
4 Switzerland entered into expensive contract for race (12)
STEEPLECHASE - CH (Switzerland) 'enters' STEEP LEASE (expensive contract)
6 Goes off retreating — before military’s first assault (5)
STORM - ROTS reversed (goes off retreating) comes before M (Military's first)
7 Mad Harry’s first character repeated in Goon movie (4,4)
HIGH NOON - *(HH (Harry's first character repeated) + IN GOON) with "mad" as the anagrind giving us the classic western. Neat clue construction.
8 Blushed as choice of wine and weak coffee’s rejected (3-5)
RED FACED - RED (choice of wine) + DECAF reversed (weak coffee's rejected)
11 Senior Catholic girl heard cardinal attempt to entertain one
Roman American (12)
PENITENTIARY - PENI (girl heard - sounds like Penny) + TEN (cardinal - as in number) + I (one Roman) + A (American) inside TRY (attempt), giving a priest who is empowered to deal with certain types of penance. I wasn't wholly sure about the role of "Roman" - maybe it just helps the surface reading...
15 Get actor embarrassed without a piece of clothing (9)
GREATCOAT - *(GET ACTOR) - with "embarrassed" as the anagrind - going around A (without a)
16 Going crazy? On the way, certainly (4,4)
ROAD RAGE - Neat cryptic clue based on "on the way" equating to "on the road"
17 One very tall European runner, say, is in front (8)
BEANPOLE - POLE (European) with BEAN (runner, say) in front
19 Own extremely fashionable cat, on reflection (4,2)
FESS UP - FE (extremes of FashionablE) + PUSS reversed (cat on reflection). There was a bit of huffing on the Forum regarding this being a slang term, but it worked fine for me. Certainly during my recent spell in exile in Australia, "fess up" was in very common use and I've heard it used a few times since being back in Blighty. And we get plenty of colloquialisms in both the ST and the daily cryptics...
20 Valencia’s favourite serving father with his daughter? (6)
PAELLA - PA (father) + ELLA (his daughter?)
22 Go into chippy but ignore the fish (5)
ENTER - {CARP}ENTER - the chippy without the fish. Very neat.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
bletchleyreject
Jan. 8th, 2017 12:57 am (UTC)
Maybe just an off day, but I found this much harder than this setter's usual offerings. New words eg PONGID, uncommon words eg EXEDRA, very complicated parsing with an unusual meaning eg PENITENTIARY and the unparsed DYSTOPIA, admittedly not helped by omitting to copy 'dingy' on to my one page hard copy. (Whinge, whinge - what about fitting the printed version on to only one page? I can't imagine I'm the first person to have commented about this.) Agree with DRESS as a triple def. No idea how long I took, but finally finished correctly so however long, it was (probably) worth it.

Thanks to setter and to our blogger.
kevingregg
Jan. 8th, 2017 02:15 am (UTC)
Like bletchleyreject, I found this much harder than Jeff's normal ST. I went offline after the half-hour, with PENITENTIARY, BEANPOLE, DINNER SET, & EXEDRA to do, and ENTER to justify; and filling those in took bags of time. I knew PONGID, and DNK EXEDRA seemed OK once I thought of 'drab', but PENITENTIARY went in because nothing else would. I could see objecting to FESS UP if it were exclusively US, but certainly not because it's 'slang'; Peter Biddlecombe has a definitive comment in the forum.
jackkt
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:12 am (UTC)
I also struggled with some of this and think it may have been a technical DNF. Does Ella = "daughter" at 20dn just because it's a girl's name or is there a more specific reference that I'm missing?
kevingregg
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:28 am (UTC)
Ella
For what it's worth, that was my interpretation at the time, and I wasn't that thrilled. But Lord knows we have 'boy' and 'girl' often enough, so why not 'daughter'? It's a change from D, anyway.
nick_the_novice
Jan. 8th, 2017 11:24 am (UTC)
Re: Ella
Totally agree your analysis, Kevin.
vinyl1
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
Well, 'ella' does mean 'her' in Spanish.
bigtone53
Jan. 8th, 2017 09:42 am (UTC)
I got to PENITENTIARY in the end but even with all the crossers, I toyed with RESIDENTIARY, which Chambers defines as amongst other things as 'a person bound to reside, such as a canon', which felt a bit religious. Even with PENITENTIARY, I was like Nick unable to see what the Roman was for. Thanks Jeff and Nick.
sawbill
Jan. 8th, 2017 09:54 am (UTC)
I, too, wondered about ELLA which means 'she' in Spanish or if it had something to do with Spanish girl's names such as Isabella.

Loved Dean's 9a today by the way.
horryd
Jan. 8th, 2017 10:40 am (UTC)
@@@@@ PONGID
at 10ac was a known (obs.) and my WOD. COD 4dn STEEPLECHASE. LOI 1dn DECIDE

Generally tough. Fine setting.

bletchleyreject's comment about printing is valid but it can only be on one page if the font size and grid are smaller - which might not suit a lot of us 'Oldies'. On Championship days the 'header' is often a third of a page!

Edited at 2017-01-08 10:42 am (UTC)
jerrywh
Jan. 9th, 2017 06:50 pm (UTC)
Re: @@@@@ PONGID
With Firefox you can set the print % to any figure you like and also delete unnecessary bits .. I leave mine set at 90% which gets it onto one page even on championship days
.. of course it does make the print 10% smaller. There are ways round that too but not quite so straightforward

Edited at 2017-01-09 06:51 pm (UTC)
pipkirby
Jan. 8th, 2017 02:00 pm (UTC)
Sunday Best
Did this after a normal New Years Day lunch at the local restaurant (4 hours 7 courses) so half asleep, but my print-out shows all done in 35 minutes with PONGID and EXEDRA guessed and checked afterwards.

Agree today's 9a by Dean is a cracker as was the whole puzzle.
vinyl1
Jan. 8th, 2017 06:25 pm (UTC)
I didn't find this particularly difficult...
....and seemed to know pongid and exedra somehow. My time was 31 minutes.
keriothe
Jan. 9th, 2017 10:48 am (UTC)
13:44 for me. No real problems, with even the tricky unknown terms (PONGID, EXEDRA, PENITENTIARY) somehow revealing themselves.
No problem with FESS UP. 'Daugher' for ELLA would be a bit of a stretch, but 'his daughter?' coming immediately after 'father' is fine by me.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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