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Times Cryptic 27308

I found some of this very tough having taken 6 full minutes to come up with my first answer. I gave myself a break about 40 minutes in and then forgot to record my total time which certainly exceeded an hour. The delay in starting had knocked my confidence but it was then damaged further by not being sure of the unchecked letter at 7dn - but more on that later. Having now prepared  the blog, I'm not sure why I found the puzzle so difficult as, on reflection, many of the clues seem quite straightforward.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1316 by Orpheus

A good QC from Orpheus. I’d have been quicker than 10 mins if I hadn’t continued my spell of messing up on a particular clue (this time LOI 8ac). Hopefully you’ll all be OK - let us know how you got on. As always, all questions are welcome.

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A great collection of anagrams here. I think that six clues were straight anagrams (including all four of the long 13-letter clues) and another two involved them. There were also I think three double definitions of which five definitions were straight and only one cryptic. Most of the other clues were straight insertions, which made for a pretty straightforward puzzle overall. Having said that I found it very entertaining as all the anagrams (and indeed all of the clues) were very pleasing with natural surfaces and didn't feel strained at all (apart from 2D perhaps). Many thanks to Izetti therefore for a very neat and entertaining start to the week.

I have no idea of time as I was just getting into my stride when the BT engineer came to call and I spent the next half hour with him diagnosing that the reason one of my telephone lines had gone down was that a fox had eaten it. But as I say it felt pretty straightforward and there may well be a few PBs out there.

My FOI was the hidden word at 1A and my LOI was 15D (reversing SIR was obvious to me but then revesing BED seemed more difficult for some strange reason). COD would be one of those neat anagrams but it's difficult to choose between them. I probably liked 6D best in the end.

My NATRAF (Nina And Them Radar And Filter) twitched slightly when it spotted the beginnings of a story being told in the final grid:

DAMASK AMUSES ROGUE'S GALLERY

And then if you ignore the hyphen of 'SIT-IN':

SIT IN UNTAKEN SARCOPHAGUS

Which reminds me of one of my father's favourite sayings. If you sat in his chair in front of the TV when he got up and left the room for a moment he would invariably say upon his return: "Would ye jump into my grave as quick?"

And then we have:

AVERAGE THOSE, THE PARTY'S OVER and SINGER SEVENS

Reading downwards we have:

DIREST CASTES MIGHT HAVE BEEN STERN CHARADE

And also:

GRUMPIEST MILITIA TASTE STEAK AU POIVRE SAYING DEBRIS

Or perhaps the long anagrams are giving some sort of BREXIT commentary:

ROGUES GALLERY - THE PARTY'S OVER, MIGHT HAVE BEEN STEAK AU POIVRE

As I say, it all sort of nearly makes sense. But not quite. Which makes me believe it's all just a bit of a coincidence after all. Or maybe Izetti is just playing around with me. Like Hamlet and Polonius:


Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By th' Mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or like a whale.
Polonius: Very like a whale.

Definitions are underlined as usual and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Madam, a skirt will contain this material (6)
DAMASK - hidden word: maDAM A SKirt
4 A maiden exploits charms (6)
AMUSES - A + M (maiden) + USES (exploits).
8 A group of undesirables regularly goes wild (6,7)
ROGUES GALLERY - straight anagram ('wild') of REGULARLY GOES.
10 Something wicked about Italian making protest (3-2)
SIT-IN - SIN (something wicked) 'about' IT (Italian).
11 Eccentric aunt with range of knowledge left on the shelf? (7)
UNTAKEN - UNTA (anagram of aunt ('eccentric')) + KEN (range of knowledge).
12 A group's cash thrown into a stone box (11)
SARCOPHAGUS - straight anagram ('thrown') of A GROUPS CASH.
16 Girl in time seen to be ordinary? (7)
AVERAGE - VERA (girl) 'in' AGE (time).
17 That group of map-makers featured in article (5)
THOSE - OS (Ordnance Survey - map-makers) 'featured in' THE (article).
18 Hearts broken with poverty — expect no more fun (3,6,4)
THE PARTYS OVER - straight anagram ('broken') of HEARTS + POVERTY.
19 Entertainer, one who got things stitched up! (6)
SINGER - double definition, one cryptic. The name of SINGER was once to sewing machines what HOOVER is to vacuum cleaners.
20 Ball game in uniform aboard ship (6)
SEVENS - SS (Steam Ship) with EVEN (uniform) 'aboard'.
Down
1 I'd flipped over, repose being most terrible (6)
DIREST - DI (I'D 'flipped over') + REST (repose).
2 What would excite them? Big heaven? It never came to pass (5-4-4)
MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN - straight anagram ('what would excite') of THEM BIG HEAVEN.
3 Hard back (5)
STERN - double definition.
5 Fighting force initially might, it’s likely, if trained in advance (7)
MILITIA - take the initial letters of Might It's Likely If Trained In Advance.
6 Take a previous, re-cooked, meat dish (5,2,6)
STEAK AU POIVRE - straight anagram ('re-cooked') of TAKE A PREVIOUS.
7 Remaining, not time for speaking (6)
SAYING - STAYING (remaining) minus T (time).
9 Tum suffering with gripes making one most irritable (9)
GRUMPIEST - straight anagram ('suffering') of TUM + GRIPES.
13 Tea awfully dear — it's a travesty (7)
CHARADE - CHA (tea) + RADE (anagram ('awfully') of DEAR).
14 Classes of people left out of grand buildings (6)
CASTES - CASTLES (grand buildings) minus L (left).
15 Rubbish in plot upset gentleman turning up (6)
DEBRIS - DEB (BED (plot) 'upset') + RIS (SIR reversed, or 'turning up' in this down clue).
17 Liking decorum (5)
TASTE - double definition.

Music: Bizet, Carmen Suites, Markovich/Lamoureux
Time: 28 minutes

I had a hard time getting started, finding few short, easy clues, but once I got going I biffed nearly all the longer answers.  Only if I got really stuck did I try to puzzle out the cryptic.   With long clues for long answers, the cryptic can be very difficult to figure out, and if you don't need it, why bother?    For the purpose of general amusement, I have bolded all the clues I biffed.

The music has been sounding much better lately, as I have taken to cleaning each record before playing it.   I had gotten lazy and was thinking, well, this doesn't sound any better than CD.   For doing the blog, I am listening to a CD, on the computer, the Foo Fighters 'Wasting Light'.   I'm not sure if I like it, but since I am able to get lots of CDs for fifty cents or a dollar around here, I am trying all the music I missed to see if it is any good.   A lot of it isn't.

Across
1 Small drinks on behalf of church team taking orders (5,5)
SALES FORCE - S + ALES + FOR C.E, a stock Cramer is always touting.
6 Junk plans to head west (4)
SPAM - MAPS backwards, a starter clue.
9 Brief message backing TV fundraiser Henry’s left (7)
NOTELET - TELET[h]ON backwards.
10 Got up tired, having lost energy (7)
WAKENED - W[e]AKENED.
12 Temporary pianos evenly sited round old university (3-2)
POP-UP - P(O)P(U)P, yes, lots of pianos!
13 Like interpreter to invoice hosts in August, on returning (9)
BILINGUAL - BIL(IN + AUG backwards)L.
14 Head of printing house fetched back painter (not English) behind picture book (10,5)
PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM - P[rinting] HO[use] + GOT backwards +  RAPHA[e]L + BUM, with the English slang meaning of 'bum' rather than the American - this is the Times of London!
17 Varied resources here to cover French study update (9,6)
REFRESHER COURSE - RE(FR)ESHER COURSE, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of RESOURCES HERE.
20 A hundred and fifty European books, romantic? (9)
CANDLELIT - C AND L + LIT, not NT or OT for once!
21 ‘‘Jaws’’ bound to be shown in empty cinemas (5)
CHOPS - C(HOP)S.   I'm not really sure what sense of 'jaws' is intended here, but the cryptic is obvious enough.   Feel free to discuss!
23 Salute archbishop opening mine (7)
PLAUDIT - P(LAUD)IT, for once not Ven, but a specific archbishop, the one who caused a lot of trouble in 17th-century England, and was beheaded after being attainted by the Long Parliament,
24 Less smooth make-up runs, hard to stop (7)
ROUGHER - ROUG(H)E + R.
25 Pine tea chest's contents (4)
ACHE - hidden in [te]A CHE[st].
26 Saw old man in a hotel with the general manager (10)
APOPHTHEGM - A(POP)H + THE G.M.   I really needed the cryptic for this - I knew the words, but my attempts to spell it would have been risible.
Down
1 Abrasive guide appears around North Dakota (9)
SANDPAPER - SA(N.D.)PAPER, wherre the enclosing letters are an anagram of APPEARS.   Our constructor appears to favor enclosing anagrams.
2 Decline rent at university (3-2)
LET-UP - LET + UP, 'decline' as in not rain so much.
3 The French turning up cut down outside support under their own steam (4-9)
SELF-PROPELLED - LES backwards + F(PROP)ELLED.   Parsed only for the blog.
4 Love to live in credit some weeks (7)
OCTOBER - O + C(TO BE)R.  Likewise.
5 Maybe Jersey Beer erected plant (7)
COWSLIP - COW + PILS upside-down.
7 ID of superior doctor in NW London area (3,6)
PIN NUMBER - PINN(U MB)ER.   Never heard of Pinner, but I didn't need the cryptic anyway.
8 Perfect lines to fill little volume (5)
MODEL - M(ODE)L, that is, a milliletter with a poem inside.
11 Bouncer to try to win dodgy hearing (8,5)
KANGAROO COURT - KANGAROO + COURT.   I always tend to write 'kangeroo', which gave me trouble with PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM until I sorted it.
15 Composer on holiday with another, eating nut (9)
OFFENBACH - OFF (EN) BACH, where 'nut' is a slang term for the printer's measure.   Offenbach is one of two enclosing composer pairs, the other one being Verdi/Monteverdi.
16 Eddy, top conductor, hogging large mike (9)
MAELSTROM - MAE(L)STRO + M.
18 Unfortunate Tory leader packed in spring summit (7)
HILLTOP - H(ILL T)OP.
19 Some sailor upset pest controller (3,4)
RAT TRAP - PART TAR upside down.   It would have been amusing to clue a specific part, like 'sailor's leg'.
20 Coconut oil prepared right away, primarily from this (5)
COPRA - C[oconut] O[il] P[repared] R[ight] A[way].   Are you so used to 'right away' meaning 'remove the R' that you tried to do just that?
22 Buff coach horse every so often (5)
OCHRE - [c]O[a]C[h] H[o]R[s]E, my FOI, in my quest to find a clue I could solve easily.

Sunday Times 4842 by Robert Price

24:48. This is the first puzzle from the new setter replacing Jeff Pearce. His name is Bob Price, and as we heard from Peter Biddlecombe last week (see comments here) he is a regular winner of the ST clue writing competition. So effectively I suppose what we have here is a gifted amateur making his first foray into the professional arena. Edit: turns out we have no such thing. Bob Price is apparently Myrtilus, already an established TLS setter and regular commenter here.

And what a debut [narrator: it was not a debut] it was. I found it very tough indeed, and it gave me a strong sense that I was struggling against an unfamiliar and original setting mind. Of course I may have imagined this, knowing as I did that this was a new setter: maybe it was just hard. But in any event I enjoyed the struggle enormously.

I don’t normally nominate a clue of the day, and there are lots of great clues in this puzzle. Some of the surfaces are particularly good. This week though 11dn is the winner for me (by a short head over the brilliant 1ac) just for the sheer magnitude of the penny-drop moment. Even after I had figured out what the answer must be I puzzled over it for perhaps another 5 minutes before I managed to justify it.

So welcome and thanks very much to Bob for a fine debut, and here’s how I think it all works…

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*, anagram indicators like this.

Across
1 Harry Carpenter's lost pages in boxing volumes
CHIVVY - CHIPPY (carpenter) has lost its Ps (pages) in the process of boxing (containing) Vs (volumes). An excellent clue with a quite original construction, and Harry Carpenter was a boxing commentator, making the surface reading particularly apposite. Brilliant stuff.
4 Work on second at Oxford, drinking a lot
SOFTEN UP - S, UP (at Oxford) contains OFTEN. This clue describes my university career precisely.
9 Recycled material this chap turned into hives?
REHASH - RASH containing a reversal of HE.
10 Dish that's sharp mostly fed unnatural greed
KEDGEREE - KEEn containing (GREED)*.
12 Mop up road spills in High Barnet
POMPADOUR - (MOP UP ROAD)*. Barnet (Fair) being CRS for hair, of course, and the POMPADOUR being a hairstyle in which the hair is brushed high above the forehead. It’s named after Madame de POMPADOUR, mistress of Louis XV, but seems to be mainly a style for young men these days.
13 Get too hot while slicing baloney
ROAST - RO(AS)T.
14 Something used to focus or intensify a concert not working right
CONCENTRATOR - (A CONCERT NOT)*, R.
18 Murder trial documents found here
DISPATCH CASE - DISPATCH (murder), CASE (trial). I had DESPATCH for a while, which caused me problems with 15dn for some time.
21 Guy taking time to relax
TEASE - T, EASE.
22 View of skyline or of space for rebuilding
ROOFSCAPE - (OR OF SPACE)*. The arrangement of the anagram fodder here is so close to the answer that I saw it immediately.
24 Top drivers may do this at lay-bys
PULLOVER - two definitions, one slightly cryptic if only because it should be two words.
25 Sweet place to hold the Royal Ball
SORBET - S(ORB)ET.
26 Bishop finally admitted to a slight thirst
APPETITE - A, P(bishoP)ETITE.
27 Last time transport picks up close to home
HEARSE - HEARS, homE. Neat definition.

Down
1 Motor at speed in soft top? Hardly
CARAPACE - CAR, APACE.
2 Callous article suppressed by popular philosopher
INHUMANE - IN, HUM(AN)E.
3 Most gutsy, ejecting supporter before a match
VESTA - braVEST, A.
5 Extreme response from more than one class in school conflict
OVERREACTION - OVER (more than), RE (one class in school), ACTION (conflict). Tricky wordplay!
6 He got trim woven for a producer of woolly bears
TIGER MOTH - (HE GOT TRIM)*. A woolly bear being the caterpillar of this particular type of moth.
7 A Christie novel has an added French dialect
NORMAN - N OR M (Christie novel), AN. I had forgotten about this Agatha Christie novel so bunged in the answer from definition and AN and crossed my fingers.
8 At the end stir in sauce very quickly
PRESTO - P(stiR)ESTO.
11 Score over half a century, say
FORTY PER CENT - CD. A score is twenty, half a century is fifty, so the former over the latter is…
15 Cut in diet originally due to nuts
EDITED OUT - (DIET)*, (DUE TO)*.
16 Outside US city, dismal saloon provides stop-off for diners
SALAD BAR - SA(LA)D BAR.
17 Home again, engineers sat on wooden bench
RESETTLE - RE, SETTLE (wooden bench). 'Sat' here means 'sitting', which is arguably non-standard but a very common usage.
19 More work about opiates covered up
UTOPIA - contained in ‘about opiates’.
20 Cod's wasted in rubbish batter
WALLOP - codsWALLOP.
23 Wrap, possibly with fur ripped off
STOLE - DD.

Mephisto 3055 - Don Manley

I found this trickier than most recent Mephistos, and solved it largely from the bottom up - I think at one point the entire bottom half was full, but only 7 down was in place in the top half.

Definitions can be confirmed in Chambers.

The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go...

Across
1 As before, observe flood in which fish flips over (9)
SPECULATE - SPATE(flood) containing LUCE(fish) reversed
10 Word of appreciation by fellow for meat dish (6)
TAMALE - TA(word of appreciation), MALE(fellow). Tamales don't necessarily contain meat, and are delicious.
11 Fibrous plant in very small area east of heath (6)
MOORVA - V(very), A(area) after MOOR(heath)
12 Money pursued by academic sharks (8)
RHINODON - RHINO(money) then DON(academic)
13 Follower of Jesus in Chinese city (4)
XIAN - Double definition, XIAN being short for Christian
14 A story about the old man that took astronomical measurements (7)
ALIDADE - A LIE(story) surrounding DAD(the old man)
15 Language of old group of people enthralling a number (5)
TEMNE - TEME(old form of TEAM, group of people) containing N(number)
18 Growing as twins at home beset by rage (6)
BINATE - IN(at home) inside BATE(bait, rage)
19 Invalid sadly losing pounds — protein required (6)
AVIDIN - anagram of INVALID minus L(pounds)
24 Unpopular doctor with pained expression, college type (6)
FELLOW - FELL(unpopular doctor) with OW(pained expression). The first part was new to me, from "I do not like thee, Doctor Fell"
25 Spiders one’s found in region (6)
ARANEA - AN(one) in AREA(region)
28 Spots patterns (5)
MOLDS - double definition
29 Vessel making speed interrupted by bar (7)
PINNACE - PACE(speed) with INN(bar) inside
30 Playwright’s run (4)
BOLT - The playwright is Robert Bolt, best known for A Man For All Seasons
31 Time to face mistake about charge — legal resolution needed (8)
TERMINER - T(time) with ERR(mistake) containing MINE(depth charge)
32 American food in small East End home we fancy? (6)
OMELET - American spelling of OMELETTE - or 'OMELET
33 What could be boring for Scot? Terrible English — no good! (6)
ELSHIN - anagram of ENGLISH minus G(good)
34 Record chief troublemaker in Greek province (9)
EPARCHATE - EP(record), ARCH(chief), ATE(troublemaker)

Down
1 Vagrant in street, exhausted person (5)
STRAG - ST(street), RAG(exhausted person)
2 Old characters in NZ settlement with toilet on island (7)
PAHLAVI - PAH(Maori settlement), LAV(toilet), I(island)
3 Satire performed receives stick? The opposite (7)
CANDIDE - DID(performed) inside CANE(stick)
4 This old language sounds dull (6)
LEDDEN - sounds like LEADEN
5 A second degree restricts one ultimately — one doesn't have much of a life! (6)
AMOEBA - A, MBA(second degree), containing the outside letters of OnE
6 I'm in a financial scheme with others — there's money in cosmetic stuff (8)
TONTINER - TIN(money) inside TONER(cosmetic stuff)
7 Proper friend in the first place (8)
PRIMALLY - PRIM(proper), ALLY(friend)
8 'ampshire town as before (5)
AVANT - The town is HAVANT, remove the aspirant
9 Cheese in cake always (6)
PANEER - PAN(cake), EER(always)
16 Is everything found in a last resort? (8, two words)
PIS ALLER - IS, ALL(everything) inside PER(A)
17 Position of soldier that's horrible without support — start to panic (8)
FIRE-STEP - FIE("that's horrible") containing REST(support), then the first letter of Panic
20 Polish nails inappropriately inside quiet hotel (7)
PLANISH - anagram of NAILS inside P(quiet), H(hotel)
21 Invention with one not quiet showing vanity (7)
CONCEIT - CONCEPT(invention) with I(one) replacing the P(quiet)
22 Flog WI produce maybe — second-rate/satisfactory? (6)
JAMBOK - JAM(of Jamaica), B(second-rate), OK(satisfactory)
23 Some viewers' areas had planned activities time set up (6)
TAPETA - ATE(had), PAT(Planned Activities Time) all reversed. Areas of the eye
24 Less inclined to show bias as female broadcaster? (6)
FAIRER - F(female), AIRER(broadcaster)
26 Big old footballing boy keeping order (5)
ROOMY - ROY of the Rovers containing OM(order)
27 Old soldier, a bit of a nut left to pass away (5)
KERNE - the KERNEL of a nut missing L(left)

Jumbo 1370

A fun and fairly straightforward puzzle with a few odd words and constructions to spice things up. Though it's not something that necessarily affects the solving experience, there did seem to be a larger proportion of clues than normal where the definition was at the beginning. FOI 1A, LOI 27A, COD 4D for the smile.

Definitions are underlined, anagram = *, omission = {}, double definition = dd, cryptic definition = cd


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Joy and bliss for me – another Saturday that I could finish without tearing of hair or beating of breast, without spending too much time in a state of 15ac. The NE corner was the last to go in. I thought 7ac was delightful. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle, with a delightful flavour of whimsy and irony.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC'. Deletions are in [square brackets].

Across
1 I'm a threat to all, promiscuous cleric said (5,6)
LOOSE CANNON: LOOSE=promiscuous, CANNON sounds like (“said”) CANON=cleric.

7 Member of Parliament's a dish: bachelor knocked out (3)
OWL: [b]OWL. I normally don’t have much time for contrived collective nouns, but “a Parliament of owls” is well enough known to make this definition delicious.

9 Act foolishly, hurling most abuse (4,5)
MESS ABOUT: anagram (“hurling”) of (MOST ABUSE*).

10 Wife visiting North American railway town (5)
CREWE: a CREE is a North American. Insert W for wife. I didn't know Crewe is/was a railway town, but the wordplay convinced me.

11 Director of further education in damaging U-turn (7)
FELLINI: F.E. for further education, LLINI is IN ILL backwards (“U-turn”).

12 Pointless filibuster I leadenly can deliver (7)
STERILE: hidden answer (“delivered”).

13 Originally Ottoman fort half seen on numerous occasions (5)
OFTEN: fiddly parsing: O[ttoman] (“originally”), FT (fort), [se]EN (“half”).

15 Blissful state? Teacher doesn’t like it (9)
IGNORANCE: double definition, the second cryptic and a bit whimsical.

17 Passing Sian frolicking in river (9)
TRANSIENT: anagram of (SIAN*) “frolicking” in TRENT.

19 Bungling writer’s back, overcome by drink (5)
INEPT: NEP is PEN backwards, inside IT, an old-fashioned drink.

20 Say again: educated Liberal must go (7)
ITERATE: [l]ITERATE without the L[iberal].

22 If nurse is sick, one makes tea (7)
INFUSER: anagram of “sick” (IF NURSE*).

24 A Dickensian quirk? (5)
TWIST: double definition, the first being Oliver of course.

25 Somehow lure a girl, a freedom fighter? (9)
GUERRILLA: an anagram, “somehow”, of (LURE A GIRL*).

27 Retired academic gives signal of assent (3)
NOD: DON “retiring”.

28 One contemptuous of bards, and where they lie at rest? (5,6)
POETS’ CORNER: or, split differently, a POET SCORNER? It (but of course, not he) is in Westminster Abbey.

Down
1 Scottish smoker depressed, having to give up golf (3)
LUM: g[LUM] being depressed, without G[olf].

2 Resort to stuffing oddly oily bird (5)
OUSEL: USE in O-L-, the odd letters of OiLy.

3 Joy’s story recalled home full of love (7)
ELATION: ELAT is TALE “recalled”, then put O (love) in IN (home).

4 Australian with roots in Lincoln? (9)
ABORIGINE: ORIGIN in ABE.

5 Lines of attack rejected (5)
NOTES: the “rejected” attack is SET ON, backwards. “Lines” might be notes, as in “I dropped them a line”.

6 Kind of family that’s equivocal, putting university back (7)
NUCLEAR: equivocal is UNCLEAR. Move U for university as instructed.

7 Old piece of furniture niece destroyed, following instructions (9)
OBEDIENCE: O for old, BED is furniture, then IENCE is an anagram of (NIECE*) “destroyed”.

8 Interrogator may use this … or let deceit run riot? (3,8)
LIE DETECTOR: an anagram “running riot” of (OR LET DECEIT*).

11 Suffering from cold, TV interviewer attacked by dog (11)
FROSTBITTEN: David FROST was the interviewer, perhaps BITTEN by a dog.

14 Dealing with gas and ship’s propeller? (5,4)
TRADE WIND: TRADE=dealing, WIND=gas. The propellor of 19th century square-riggers bound to the Antipodes.

16 Crazy quality of Brazil, perhaps (9)
NUTTINESS: at first glance this looks like a double definition, but since CRAZY doesn’t seem to be the same part of speech as NUTTINESS, perhaps it’s just a cryptic definition.

18 Celebrated lamb producer in new venture (5-2)
START-UP: STAR=celebrated, TUP=bearer of lambs.

19 Conclude nothing can get to grips with northern hell (7)
INFERNO: INFER=conclude, O=nothing, all gripping N=northern.

21 Dog beginning to bound away, a born hunter (5)
EAGLE: the dog is a [b]EAGLE.

23 Sage quickly engulfing lake (5)
SOLON: SOON=quickly, L=lake. I knew SOLON by name, but no more. Turns out he was one of the “seven wise men of Ancient Greece”.

26 Make known dictator’s successor (3)
AIR: sounds like HEIR. (On edit: might sound like "heir" when listening to dictation.)

Quick Cryptic 1314 by Teazel

This was more of a challenge than I have had in recent blogs, mainly because of defective general knowledge on may part. There is a good range of clues, though. A couple of very old chestnuts - I'm sure I've seen 10ac, 21ac and 3dn before, but overall fun and fair.




Across
7 Big book about company not yet ready? (2,4)
TO COME - big book is a TOME with CO for company inside
8 Mass meeting consumes energy, in fact (6)
REALLY - Mass meeting is RALLY, with E
9 Criminal is grass (4)
BENT - Double definition. This one floored me for the simple reason that I did not know bent was a type of grass
10 Make people a gift (8)
DONATION - DO (make) + NATION (people)
11 Everything for factory (3,5)
THE WORKS - double definition
13 One’s turning over newspaper to examine closely (4)
SIFT - 'one's' backwards is SI, FT is a newspaper.
15 Strength of character exhibited by Magritte (4)
GRIT - hidden word: MaGRITte
16 Famous ostrich I dissected (8)
HISTORIC - anagram ('dissected') of OSTRICH I
18 One lassoing a troublemaker is unseemly (8)
IMPROPER - IMP is a troublemaker, ROPER is one lassoing
20 Confront fiascoes regularly (4)
FACE - alternate letters of fiascoes
21 One engaged to withdraw name from money affairs (6)
FIANCE - Money affairs is FINANCE, minus N for name
22 Ship’s officer errs, up for correction (6)
PURSER - anagram ('for correction') of ERRS UP

Down
1 Cooperating for capturing woman (8)
TOGETHER - TO GET HER
2 Speaking exaggeratedly about plain drink being delicious (5-8)
MOUTH-WATERING - MOUTHING (off) outside WATER
3 Sensitive offer (6)
TENDER - double definition
4 Shortly trim American fruit-tree (6)
PRUNUS - trim is PRUNE, lose the last letter, add US
5 Anger after church service cancelled: a painful initiation (7,2,4)
BAPTISM OF FIRE - BAPTISM (church service) + OFF (cancelled) + IRE (anger)
6 What Prodigal Son shows additionally (4)
ALSO - hidden word: prodigAL SOn
12 Pet fish, one fine to rear (3)
KOI - I OK (one fine) backwards
14 Recoils from birds seen round lake (8)
FLINCHES - FINCHES outside L for lake
16 Take place, maybe up north (6)
HAPPEN - Another one that floored me, as I did not know the Northern English dialect usage of 'happen' to mean maybe.
17 Fight over drug is embarrassing predicament (6)
SCRAPE - SCRAP + E
19 Worker installs one gas-pipe (4)
MAIN - MAN is worker, with I inside.

Times 27,305: A B C D E F G H, I Got A Gal

I didn't take too much time over this excellent crossword, under 8 minutes, but a couple of the clues turned out to be pretty tough to parse afters - I'm sure you good people will set me straight if I've missed something. I really enjoyed the erudite frame of reference throughout (Saki, Milton, Smetana, the Bounty), the neat and deceptive re-envisionings of words (eg 21ac, probably my Clue of the Day, and 9dn) and the general delight in good and unusal words (KALAMAZOO, VLTAVA...) Thanks setter for a good 'un!

I'd write more but I'm falling asleep on a coach here, time to hit the hay. Will check in again in a few hours...

ACROSS
1 Munro: it’s associated with Karakoram mountain (4)
SAKI - S.A. [it] is associated with K1 [Karakoram mountain]. "Saki" being the pen-name of H.H. Munro.

3 Team’s holding line after defender’s lapses (10)
BACKSLIDES - SIDE'S [team's] "holding" L [line] after BACK [defender]

10 Grandees, lionised, holding back something for the press? (7)
OILSEED - hidden reversed in {gran}DEES LIO{nised}. Something for the oil-press, not the media.

11 Not getting off with a fine, Luke banged up (7)
WAKEFUL - W A [with | a ] + (F LUKE*) ["banged up"]

12 A so-so assignment has the makings of a drama (6,9)
SAMSON AGONISTES - (A SO-SO ASSIGNMENT*). 17th century play by Milton.

13 Bluebottle returning note, buzzing round rook (6)
ROZZER - reverse all of RE ZZ O R [note | buzzing | round | rook]. Bluebottle as in copper.

14 Savagery of attack outside centre recalled, years later (8)
FEROCITY - FIT [attack] "outside" reversed CORE [centre], Y [years] later

17 Suspend for not behaving predictably? (8)
PROROGUE - PRO ROGUE [for | not behaving predictably]

18 Victor, at fifty-five, retired a banker in Europe (6)
VLTAVA - reversed V AT LV [Victor | at | 55] + A. Czech river that you probably knew via the Smetana piece.

21 Deputy to support Home Rule (6-2-7)
SECOND-IN-COMMAND - SECOND [to support] + IN [home] + COMMAND [rule]

23 Salt beef nearly everyone had for lunch? (7)
OXALATE - OX [beef] + AL{l} ["nearly" everyone] + ATE [had for lunch]

24 Something to drive down travel cost — consider getting picked up? (7)
FAIRWAY - homophone of FARE WEIGH [travel cost | consider]. A golf drive.

25 Ireland portrayed in film: golf making brief appearance (10)
FLICKERING - ERIN [Ireland] "portrayed" in FLICK G [film | golf]

26 Old nursemaid having Mary wash regularly (4)
AYAH - {m}A{r}Y {w}A{s}H

DOWN
1 Northerner of twenty briefly without employment (7)
SCOUSER - SCOR{e} [twenty "briefly"] "without" USE [employment]

2 Hummer carrying Buddhist priest in US city (9)
KALAMAZOO - KAZOO [hummer] "carrying" LAMA [Buddhist priest]. Splendidly named city in SW Michigan.

4 A company boss with drive taking unrewarding roles? (2-4)
AM-DRAM - A M.D. [a | company boss] with RAM [drive]. Unrewarding in the financial sense of the word.

5 Crawled from floor, weight dragged behind (8)
KOWTOWED - K.O. [floor] + W [weight] + TOWED [dragged behind]

6 Dismissive remark from impolite Turk left one reeling (4,2,2,4,2)
LIKE IT OR LUMP IT - (IMPOLITE TURK L I*) ["reeling"]

7 Volunteers ate up: prepare for Jack to? (5)
DEFAT - reverse of T.A. FED [volunteers | ate up]. Reference to the "Jack Sprat could eat no fat" nursery rhyme.

8 Notice the cat’s come in, trying to attract attention? (7)
SPLASHY - SPY [notice] that LASH [the cat] has come in

9 Understand individuals’ private advocate is to be avenged (3,4,3,4)
GET ONE'S OWN BACK - GET [understand] + ONES' [individuals'] + OWN [private] + BACK [advocate]

15 I grasp promotion technique poorly (2,1,3,3)
IN A BAD WAY - I NAB AD WAY [I | grasp | promotion | technique]

16 Christian maybe largely saying nothing smart at any time (8)
MUTINEER - MUT{e} ["largely", saying nothing] + IN [smart] + E'ER [at any time]. MUTINEER was a write-in from Christian - that's Fletcher Christian, master's mate on the Bounty.

17 Misrepresent pops as very loud (4,3)
PASS OFF - PA'S SO FF or something quite close to that... I think?

19 Aged Scottish hag heard in the theatre (7)
ALDWYCH - homophone of AULD WITCH [aged Scottish | hag]. A famous theatre in London's West End.

20 Upset charming hosts of EU council (6)
ECOFIN - reversed NICE [charming] "hosts" OF. Economic and Financial Affairs Council.

22 This S American native no good for a film (5)
COATI - add NG [no good] to the S American native to get COATING [a firm]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1313 by Pedro

Thanks Pedro for a nicely balanced puzzle, which took me one minute over my target time of 15 minutes.  Some of the clues and answers reminded me of humorous anecdotes, some of which I have shared below.

There is nothing too obscure here, other than my usual difficulty in spelling LABYRINTHINE, so hopefully, this will prove accessible to most of the newbies as well as the regulars.

Across

Like the cerebrum, initially large in the brainy, amazingly (12)
LABYRINTHINE – Anagram (amazingly) of L{arge} (initially) and [IN THE BRAINY].  Reminds me of the old Monty Python sketch ‘I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy’.
Prepare dominant position in tennis (3,2)
SET UP – Double definition, the second relating to the scoring system in tennis – if one is a SET UP, then one is in a dominant position.
9 New union members accepting good connections (7)
BRIDGES – BRIDES (new union members) accepting G{ood}.  This one reminds me of the tongue-tied bridegroom in his speech at the reception who thanked his new mother-in-law for the gift of ‘a lovely perky copulator’ rather than the ‘coffee percolator’ – the old ones are best!
10  Look pained, turning round after a spray (7)
AEROSOL – LO (look) and SORE (pained) all reversed (turning round) after A.
11  Power in second eleven, perhaps (5)
STEAM –  S{econd} and TEAM (eleven, perhaps).  Soccer and cricket teams each field eleven players per side, so TEAM and eleven can be synonymous.
12 Mother’s left to adopt English girl (6)
DAMSEL – DAM’S (mother’s) and L{eft} with E{nglish} inserted (adopted).  DAMSEL is a slightly old-fashioned term for a young girl or unmarried woman.
14 Minor untruth about odd items in total (6)
LITTLE – LIE (untruth)around (about) the odd letters (odd items) in T{o}T{a}L
17  Tree not recorded after start of operation (5)
OLIVE – LIVE (not recorded, as in a LIVE vs recorded performance), after first letter (start) of O{peration}
19  Voter part reversed about spinning etc. (7)
ELECTOR – ROLE reversed about an anagram (spinning) of [ETC].
21  Vehicle in rain misrepresented as a blissful state (7)
NIRVANA – VAN (vehicle) inside an anagram (misrepresented) of [RAIN].
22  Some remarkably rich words for a song (5)
LYRIC – Hidden word (some) in {remarkab}LY RIC{h}.
23  Evidence of worth, as most subtly altered (6,6)
STATUS SYMBOL – Anagram (altered) of [AS MOST SUBTLY].

Down

1         Heads of local office to set up and initiate office at station? (4,3,5)
LOST AND FOUND – Initial letters (heads of) L{ocal} O{ffice}, followed by STAND (to set up) and FOUND (initiate).  The question mark indicates that LOST AND FOUND offices can exist at other locations than at stations.
2  Beer half-heartedly produced for nipper (5)
BITER – The beer in this case is BIT{t}ER, with one of the central letters removed (half-heartedly).  I wasn’t totally sure of the equivalence of BITER and nipper, although my last dog as a young puppy definitely thought he was biting when he was nipping. 
Reply regarding limiting one comment on forum (7)
RIPOSTE – RE (regarding) surrounding (limiting) I (one) POST (comment on forum)
4  Aristocrat getting a couple of pounds extra (2-4)
NO-BALL – NOB (aristocrat) and A (a) and LL (couple of pounds).  A NO-BALL in cricket is a bowled ball that falls foul of the rules, and counts as a run to the batting side (an extra).
5 They’ve come into money? Girl’s embracing one (5)
HEIRS – HER’S (girl’s) with I inside (embracing one).  The question mark at the end of the definition part is because HEIRS don’t always inherit money.
Overlook large general being upset:  shocking treatment! (7)
NEGLECT – L{arge} GEN{eral} reversed (being upset), followed by ECT (Electroconvulsive Treatment) (shocking treatment).
7  Claim mastery, after working:  that’s irregular (12)
ASYMMETRICAL – Anagram (after working) of [CLAIM MASTERY]
13  French detective, one appearing in magazine about origin of thefts (7)
MAIGRET – I (one) appearing in MAG{azine} RE (about) and origin (first letter) of T{hefts}.  Jules MAIGRET is the name of a fictional French police detective created by author Georges Simenon.
15  Fish is given to friend in a perfect world (7)
IDEALLY –  IDE (chub-like fish – remember this, it crops up a lot in Crosswordland) and ALLY (friend).
16  French race venue tends to receive millions (2,4)
LE MANS – LEANS (tends) with M{illions} inserted (to receive)
18  Nice description of repealed legislation? (5)
EXACT – Cryptic double definition.  An EX ACT could describe repealed legislation, and EXACT is also precise and accurate, as is ‘nice’.
20  Thrill – not half – over start of bass beat (5)
THROB – THR{ill} (not half) O{ver} and start of (first letter) of B{ass}.

Times 27304 - don't wait until the 20

Time taken: 9:30.

I didn't get off to a very good start on this one, but it was a steady solve and fill in the gaps as I went round and I ended up a scratch under 10 minutes, which is pretty good for me.

I had bated breath as there were two guesses (both in the top row) that now I have to work out what the definition is (in one case) and the wordplay (in the other). Maybe I'll blog the downs first...

The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go...

Across
1 Surface of river reflected man in garden (7)
MACADAM - the river CAM reversed then ADAM was in the garden (of Eden) - the definition is a road surface - I'm more used to seeing it as TARMACADAM
5 Role of Charlton police after soup stolen from bordello (2,3)
EL CID - CID(police) after BROTH(soup) has been removed from BROTHEL(bordello). El Cid was played by Charlton Heston in 1961. Before making it as an Hollywood actor, Charlton Heston ran a theater in Asheville, North Carolina in the 40s, it is now the Asheville Community Theatre and I have performed a couple of times in it. While I'm storytelling, I'm about to start reheasing for my (ahem) biggest role yet, I will be playing Falstaff in a summer production of Henry IV Part 1
9 Secret boozer with beer, half-cut (5)
INNER - INN(boozer) and half of beER
10 Fermenting juice isn't wrong (9)
INJUSTICE - ANAGRAM of JUICE,ISN'T
11 Stick around, and ultimately you'll achieve celebrity (7)
NOTABLE - BATON(stick) reversed and the last letter os youlL, achievE
12 Tear about Long Island with a dependent (7)
RELIANT - RENT(tear) surrounding LI(Long Island, an area close to New York City), A. Edit: I had mistakenly identified Long Island as a borough earlier, offending several people and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Apologies.
13 Reportedly rejected everywhere (10)
THROUGHOUT - sounds like THREW OUT(rejected)
15 Drove female mad at last (4)
HERD - HER(female), then the last letter of maD
18 Carve sides of elegant church (4)
ETCH - outer letters of EleganT, ChurcH
20 Play with mates until very late (4-6)
LAST-MINUTE - anagram of MATES, UNTIL - I liked this clue very much
23 Touching delicacy on fiddle (7)
CONTACT - TACT(delicacy) with CON(fiddle)
24 Backsliding setter’s packing trunk for drug dealer (7)
CHEMIST - I'M(setter's) reversed inside CHEST(trunk)
25 Learning of nude riot, I panicked (9)
ERUDITION - anagram of NUDE,RIOT,I
26 Tease short bloke very loudly (5)
CHAFF - CHA(p), FF(very loudly)
27 Iron resolution possessed by private secretary (5)
PRESS - RES(resolution) inside PS(private secretary)
28 Order wine for relatives (7)
KINDRED - KIND(order, sort), then RED wine

Down
1 Enormous characters in gym, on steroids (7)
MONSTER - hidden in gyM ON STERoids
2 Charlie regularly decries Birmingham thinker (8)
CEREBRUM - C(Charlie, NATO alphabet), then alternating letters in dEcRiEs, BRUM(Burmingham)
3 Doctor Kildare finally trapping medical equipment in zip (5)
DRIVE - DR(doctor), then the last letter of kildarE, containing IV(intravenous, medical equipment)
4 Maori just breaking hearts? (5,4)
MAJOR SUIT - anagram of MAORI, JUST
5 Simply sail off in case of emergency (6)
EASILY - anagram of SAIL in the outside letters of EmergencY
6 Capital extremely tense after cold weather (7)
CLIMATE - LIMA(capital), T(ens)E after C(cold)
7 Lived and died on edge (5)
DWELT - D(died), WELT(edge) - I got this from definition alone, not knowing that a WELT is a strengthening border
8 Ivy signs letter whose contents form word picture (8)
VIGNETTE - the interior letters of iVy sIGNs lETTEr
14 Despondent Scottish football team heading away from Wick (9)
HEARTSICK - HEARTS of Midlothian football club, then (w)ICK
16 Anil perhaps heard to choke on jam? (8)
DYESTUFF - sounds like DIE(choke) on STUFF(jam)
17 Means to suppress report (8)
SILENCER - cryptic definition
19 Carpet originally came with guarantee (7)
CENSURE - C(ame), and ENSURE(guarantee)
21 Close-fitting garment giving rise to bother in university (7)
UNITARD - reverse all of DRAT(bother) IN, U(university)
22 Makes different V-sign (6)
VARIES - V, then ARIES(star sign)
23 Read out tawdry tweet (5)
CHEEP - sounds like CHEAP(tawdry)
24 Law of Swiss state banning introduction of tariffs (5)
CANON - Swiss states are CANTONS, remove T(ariffs)

Cryptic 27303 - Temping for Pip

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you.  I'm standing in for Pip while he attends to some personal stuff.  Normal service will be resumed shortly.  I haven't done one of these since the Club severed its relationship with the TLS so I'm a bit rusty, but never mind.  This took me about 18 minutes, parsing as I went along except for one instance.  There was nothing unfamiliar or outre although there was one word which took a bit of dredging.  Answers in BOLD CAPS.  Definitions in italics underlined. I've forgotten how to change the colour code so the clues aren't highlighted in a blue hue - apologies.

Across
1.  Leer from monster having left for run (4)
OGLE  Change the R in "ogre" to an L.
4. Having patriotic sentiment in Rise and Fall (10)
INTONATION If you have that feeling you are "into nation".
9.  Homes apt to be given makeover on air (10)
ATMOSPHERE  Anagram (given makeover) of "homes apt" with RE=on.
10.  Sound of French pop duo (4)
PAIR.  Sounds a bit like "pere"=pop en Francais.
11. Persuasive businessman? (6)
COGENT  The company gent.
12.  State in which goodish priest keeps house (8)
OKLAHOMA  OK=goodish.  LAMA=priest containing HO=house.
14.  Star brought back in luggage van (4)
VEGA From the Lyra constellation.  Reversed in [lugg]AGE V[an].
15.  Simple edit to revise maximum going rate?  (5,5)
SPEED LIMIT  Anagram (revise) of SIMPLE EDIT.
17.  Crooked chemist with use for printed notepaper? (5,5)
SHEET MUSIC  Anagram (crooked) of CHEMIST and USE.
20.  Heard brass instrument (4)
LUTE  Homophone.  I know not everyone does but I do pronounce it the same as "loot"=brass=money.
21.  One hundred and two swimmers finding little nipper (8)
CRAYFISH  C=100.  RAY and FISH are the 2 swimmers.
23.  Second mount carries prophetic significance (6)
MOMENT  MT containing OMEN. At first I got a bit too cute with this and thought that the definition was "significance" as in Hamlet's "enterprises of great pitch and moment", which would have made MO=second with MT having some kind of prophetic EN in the middle. NOT.  If I hadn't been blogging I might have just left it at that, but as it was I had to account for that pesky EN which called for a complete re-think.
24..Alpha male causing scrap (4)
ATOM  This made me laugh.  A with the belligerent cat.
25.  Vessel comes to shore in smashing location (6,4)
BOTTLE BANK  BOTTLE=vessel.  SHORE=bank.
26 Peripatetic dealers, coming in handy, fix disk?  (10)
DEFRAGMENT  I haven't done this in a very long time so it took a few beats for it to surface.  DEFT=handy containing RAGMEN, the dealers - Steptoe & Son in the UK and Sanford & Son in the US.
27.  Stop heading for takeaways?  (4)
DIET  AndLIt.  DIE=stop.  T[akeaways].  And of course you cut out the fast food if you're trying to drop a few pounds.

Down
2.  Poor area losing hospital wants good number for meeting (3,8)
GET TOGETHER  Remove the H from G[H]ETTO and add G and ETHER=number.
3.  River keeps running at speed, being clear (9)
EXONERATE  The River EXE containing ON=running with RATE=speed.
4.  Naval mine, not large, used by American force (7)
IMPETUS  Remove the L from [L]IMPET=mine (the kind that sticks magnetically below the waterline to an enemy vessel) and add US.
5.  Bad tweet bothers chap leaving Conservative authority (3,6,4,2)
THE POWERS THAT BE Anagram (bad) of TWEET BOTHERS [C]HAP (leaving out the C).
6.  Annoyed as essential to assimilate Latin at the outset (7)
NEEDLED  NEEDED=essential containing first letter in Latin.
7.  Maybe comma adding nothing to one publication (5)
IMAGO  A COMMA is a kind of butterfly and this is its adult stage.  1 mag=publication O.
8.  Woman not completely common (5)
NORMA is NORMA[L]=common.
13.  This is to preserve ancient name in reorganisation (11)
MAINTENANCE Anagram (reorganisation) of ANCIENT NAME.
16.  Scots girl and mum reaching wicked city (9)
ISLAMABAD ISLA=girl with MA and BAD=wicked.
18.  Sent down sewer's product Irishman picked up on corner (7)
MAILBAG  If you were sent down for a stretch in prison you might be obliged to sew these.  LIAM=Irishman reversed with BAG=corner.  I first read this as "comer" which confused things briefly.
19.  Kept appointment with fate in legendary town (7)
CAMELOT  CAME with LOT=fate.  And now I've got that wretched song in my head.
21.  Reportedly blackened vegetable (5)
CHARD Sounds like "charred".
22.  Indian potato following is rather cold (5)
ALOOF  ALOO=potato with F=following.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1312 by Orpheus

A strange, strange solve. I finished just over 15 minutes, yet I had most of the grid filled in within 5! I filled in 1 Across and 1 Down without even reading the full clue, and on a first pass I was able to fill in many answers without even consulting the wordplay. And yet, the last five or six clues took me ten minutes!

So... after hitting 'Post', my blog was somehow posted without any of the writeups for the clues. I have to redo the whole thing, and I am not pleased. Sorry it'll be pretty terse.

Across

1 Second sailor downed tools, overawed by celebrity (10)
STARSTRUCK - S ("second") + TAR ("sailor") + STRUCK ("downed tools")
As in, 'went on strike'.
8 Joint [obtained from] the Spanish part of London (5)
ELBOW - EL ("the [in] Spanish") + BOW ("part of London")
9 Giant, raving, hit a log (7)
GOLIATH - anagram of ("raving") HIT A LOG ("hit a log")
10 Supposed discharge, do we hear, [in] visitor’s accommodation? (5-4)
GUEST-ROOM - GUESSED ("supposed") + RHEUM ("discharge") replaced by homophones ("do we hear")
12 Atmosphere [in] racecourse, by the sound of it (3)
AIR - AYR ("racecourse") replaced by a homophone ("by the sound of it")
13 Farm worker beginning to interpret Asian language (5)
HINDI - HIND ("farm worker") + first letter of ("beginning to") INTERPRET ("interpret")
'Hind' is a British term for 'farm worker'.
15 Hibernian flag at front of hotel (5)
IRISH - IRIS ("flag") + ("at") first letter of ("front of") HOTEL ("hotel")
Flag is a kind of the flower iris.
17 Dull / piece of floor covering (3)
MAT - double definition
The first sense is the opposite of 'glossy'. Can also be spelled 'matt' or 'matte'.
18 Kind of hydrangea rhinos eat, unfortunately (9)
HORTENSIA - RHINOS EAT ("rhinos eat") anagrammed ("unfortunately")
20 English girl, about to enter African country (7)
ERITREA - E ("English") + RITA ("girl"), RE ("about") inside ("to enter")
21 Reportedly remained sedate (5)
STAID - homophone of ("reportedly") STAYED ("remained")
22 Former college girl framing directions [for] Pacific islander (10)
POLYNESIAN - POLY ("former college") + SIAN ("girl") outside ("framing") NE ("directions")

Down

1 Heavy tool fraud used to secure shelf (12)
SLEDGEHAMMER - SHAMMER ("fraud") outside ("used to secure") LEDGE ("shelf")
2 Mosey along, initially attracting mockery by the French (5)
AMBLE - first letters of ("initially") ATTRACTING MOCKERY BY ("attracting mockery by") + LE ("the [in] French")
3 Farm animal [identified in] broadcast? (3)
SOW - double definition
4 District Officer originally involved in the rise of Niger (6)
REGION - OFFICER ("officer") reduced to its first letter ("originally") inside ("involved in") the reversal of ("the rise of") NIGER ("Niger")
5 Get together to bind top half of lush plant (9)
COLUMBINE - COMBINE ("get together") outside ("to bind") first two letters of ("top half of") LUSH ("lush")
6 Savoury dish [served by] girl with friend in Paris (6)
SALAMI - SAL ("girl") + ("with") AMI ("friend in Paris")
'Ami' is French for 'friend'.
7 Sort of pipe we crunch hard, surprisingly (12)
CHURCHWARDEN - WE CRUNCH HARD ("we crunch hard") anagrammed ("surprisingly")
11 Hotter hit played until that time (9)
THITHERTO - HOTTER HIT ("hotter hit") anagrammed ("played")
14 Some open it with a jerk! (6)
NITWIT - letters inside ("some") OPEN IT WITH ("open it with")
16 Back in outskirts of Derby? [That’s] dull (6)
DREARY - REAR ("back") inside ("in") first and last letters of ("outskirts of") DERBY ("Derby")
19 Language [of] extreme characters in SW1 (5)
SWAZI - AZ ("extreme characters") inside ("in") SWI ("SW1")
21 Prosecute union leader in Home Counties (3)
SUE - UNION ("union") reduced to its first letter ("leader") inside ("in") SE ("Home Counties")

Times Cryptic 27302

45 minutes. The left side went in easily enough and many of the clues might have appeared in a QC without causing too many problems, but I struggled a little more with some on the right, especially 5dn with its unknown monkey.

Here's my blog..Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1311 by Tracy

Having gone wrong at 7dn I deservedly enter the hallowed halls of the SCC today. When I finally realised what had happened, the rest, with some relief, fell into place with the clock on 17 minutes. Loi 1dn - which rather tells the story of a tussle all around the grid. Some clues could have been clued more easily, so expect a challenge but also look out for some very clever stuff in here. Thanks Tracy.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1310 by Joker


I needed 9 minutes for this and having written the blog it all seemed pretty straightforward but others may disagree and all opinions are welcome.

Here's my blog...Collapse )
What a puzzle, containing one of the most unlikely words to ever appear in a Times daily puzzle! Congratulations to everybody who persevered and worked it out. (No kudos at all to those who might have been born there or have visited the place.) Given how easy the rest of the crossword was, I think congratulations are also in order to the setter, who perhaps was either born in this place or had a seminal and unforgettable experience there - his (or her) first Guinness, perhaps.

I was going to make an announcement this week in advance of a personal milestone that falls soon, but I have decided that any attempt to steal the compiler's thunder on this most special of occasions would be insensitive and out of order, so it will have to wait for another day.

32 minutes plus change for this perseverer.

ACROSS

1 Freely take grub round Canberra at first — in this? (6-3)
TUCKER-BAG - anagram* of TAKE GRUB round C[anberra] to give us this semi &lit. For all the cobbers, Bruces and Sheilahs out there. G'day, mates!
6 Record book (5)
ALBUM - double definition (DD)
9 Verse in ancient language inspiring a native of Riga? (7)
LATVIAN - V (verse) and A (from the clue) in LATIN
10 Admission of right-winger relating to sexual desire? (7)
AMATORY - If Theresa May were to say, I 'AM A TORY' then, who knows, this incantation might work it's magic as an aphrodisiac and everyone might vote for what she appeared to be wanting on that particular day. On the other hand...
11 Left French department carrying note for Irish town (10)
PORTLAOISE - aha, here we are, here we have it. THAT CLUE, as I'm sure it will become known whenever cruciverbalists gather to share their collective wisdom on the world's greatest, oddest, etc. clues. First, the wordplay, then the history lesson. PORT (left) followed by OISE (a French département) around LA (musical note). Now, I - and indeed the setter - would have you know that PORTLAOISE, though boasting a population of only 22,000, is the fastest growing of the top 20 largest towns and cities in Ireland (it's obviously a devoutly Catholic place), which was once called Maryborough (after Bloody Mary) in the days when the county was called Queen's County. Very sensibly, one of the first things the burghers of the Irish Free State did after they had got this county back was to give both it and their county seat new names. Originally the town was called Portlaoighise (meaning 'Fort of Leix', in case the more observant of you were wondering how you can have a port near the geographical centre of Ireland, however wet it might get) but they very sensibly I think simplified this to Portlaoise, while the county somehow ended up without the E (Laois). Incredibly, in light of the clue's reference to a French department, Port Laoise (as it is also called) is twinned with Coulounieix-Chamiers in the Dordogne département of France. Extraordinary, as David Coleman might have said. (Thanks to Kevin for the correct parsing.)
12 Evidence of injury and endless panic (4)
SCAR - SCAR[e]
14 Weight of ice beginning to accumulate in farm vehicle (5)
CARAT - A[ccumulate] in CART. I wonder how many carts those British farmers who are always pleading poverty still operate across their substantial acreages.
15 Wader shortly to appear around quiet headland (9)
SPOONBILL - P in SOON BILL (headland as in Portland Bill)
16 Send down girl who’s out of practice for speaking? (9)
RUSTICATE - If Cate (or could it be Kate? I think so, you know) hasn't been practising her public speaking, a wag might go up to her and say, 'You must be very rusty, Cate!'
18 Stony, and lacking 15 dn (5)
ROCKY - DD, one relying on a quick scan of the down clues
20 Lamb casserole at last, one served in US city? (4)
ELIA - dear old Charles Lamb, brother of the lady who called Byron 'mad, bad and dangerous to know', but still had her wicked way with him, is in danger of becoming better known for filling awkward four-letter crossword spots than for being a dashed good essayist; [casserole]E I in LA
21 Dramatist quietly crossing river, and later wooded hollow (10)
PIRANDELLO - another author chappie who pops up not infrequently, this Italian is best (only?) known for his play Six Characters in Search of an Author, which, it has to be said, is up there with Long Day's Journey into Night for title of really cool play title; R (river) in PIANO (quietly) followed by (and later) DELL
25 Jew, possibly, lives with artist and priest (7)
ISRAELI - IS (lives) RA ELI
26 Pouring drink, reportedly, requiring Chinese porcelain (7)
TEEMING - sounds like TEA, MING
27 Almost decapitated sooner than expected (5)
EARLY - [n]EARLY
28 Sailor sporting many hats around Cowes initially (9)
YACHTSMAN - MANY HATS* around C

DOWN

1 Dump outside entrances to urban lorry plant (5)
TULIP - U[rban] L[orry] in TIP
2 Time to enter new career as supplier of food (7)
CATERER - T in CAREER*
3 Pilot gets one in a spin, making us flap (10)
EPIGLOTTIS - PILOT GETS I* for the flappy thing that stops food entering the lungs. Well done, that man!
4 Game sheltering in scrub in gorge (5)
BINGO - hidden in the last three words
5 Young chap: good person enthralled by dead PM once (9)
GLADSTONE - LAD ST (saint) in GONE (dead)
6 Old Asian maid a poor actor sent up (4)
AMAH - A HAM reversed
7 Air passages booked originally by male Greek character (7)
BRONCHI - B[ooked] RON (male) CHI (Greek letter)
8 Irish county chap accepting lieutenant for civic office (9)
MAYORALTY - MAYO (which should never be forgiven for sending us Westlife) LT in RAY (Ron's mate)
13 Component French artist briefly noted initially in food allowance (10)
INGREDIENT - INGRE[s] N[oted] in DIET; Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres is best known for his depictions of scantily clad females of uncertain reputation
14 Vehicle chosen by male member of religious order (9)
CARMELITE - CAR M (male) ELITE (chosen)
15 Way proficiency produces steadiness (9)
STABILITY - ST ABILITY
17 Agitator possibly reading scripture in prison (7)
STIRRER - R (one of the 3Rs) RE (religious education, AKA scripture) in STIR (slang for prison)
19 Bone constituent of Scotsman, say, touring Channel Islands (7)
CALCIUM - CI in CALUM
22 A variable investigator, one of Mexican Indian extraction (5)
AZTEC - A Z (variable) TEC
23 Algerian port accommodating golf magazine (5)
ORGAN - G in ORAN
24 About end of April money finally comes to bank (4)
RELY - RE (about) [apri]L [mone]Y

Mephisto 3054 by Paul McKenna

Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 10A is a perfect example.

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.



ACROSS
1 Gallon of tea (5)
CONGO: CONG-O; gallon=CONG;
5 Hounds wound up starter (7)
RATTERS: (starter)*;
10 Old quack? Wit I am to proscribe cobalt (11)
SALTIMBANCO: SALT-I’M-BAN-CO; a charlatan;
12 Lace drink guy pushed forward (8, two words)
STAY,TAPE: booze (slang)=TAPE; guy=STAY;
13 Hidden danger behind changing ends (4)
TRAP: behind=PRAT then swap the P and the T;
14 Such as you may get in manuscript headed by Edgar? (5)
POEMS: POE-MS; reference Edgar Alan POE;
16 Virginia left with prayer for stiff escort? (8)
VALKYRIE: VA-L-KYRIE; stiff=dead;
18 Picking up sledge at last I relax here (7, two words)
ICE,HILL: I-C(E)HILL; E from (sledg)E;
20 Jaguar's boast brushing book aside (5)
OUNCE: (b)OUNCE;
22 What Scots farmers avoid is coarse linen (5)
SHARN: ‘S-HARN; cowpats in Cowdenbeath;
23 Howls English held back in ages entering French gents (7)
YAMMERS: ages=years then “hold back” the “e” = YAERS; MM=Monsieurs
24 Place (classy) with sound units for some concertgoers (8)
PLUS-ONES: PL-U-SONES;
27 Icons ducking special procedures (5)
RITES: (sp)RITES;
29 Apostle quietly leaving a Roman hall (4)
AULA: (p)AUL-A;
30 Tramp collecting money in dump finds diamond (8)
RHOMBOID: R(HO(M)BO)ID; a parallelogram in which adjacent sides are of unequal lengths and angles are non-right angled giving a diamond shape.
31 Speak the same lingo as throne and aim to brood no more (11, four words)
SEE,EYE,TO,EYE: SEE-EYE-TO-EYE; throne=SEE;  aim=EYE; a brood of pheasants=EYE
32 Silent about embedded doughboy's kitbag (7)
MUSETTE: MU(SET)TE;
33 Ludicrous false thumbs (5)
LEAFS: (false)*;

DOWN
1 We benefit from trust in being protected by mitre (7)
CESTUIS: CESTU(I)S;
2 Refusing to face facts in resort I risk hotel adding $100 (11)
OSTRICHLIKE: (I risk hotel + c)*;
3 Sculptured character is reassuringly phat (in part) (5)
GLYPH: hidden (reassurin)GLY-PH(at);
4 This pitches high — way too magniloquent about plonk (8)
OTTAVINO: OTT-A-VINO; a piccolo;
5 Rope with noose is up, voice curt term of gratitude (5)
RIATA: AIR reversed – TA;
6 Before noon draw a flask (7)
AMPULLA: AM-PULL-A;
7 Knitted tea cosy? Possibly this Mexican wrap, yes (4)
TACO: (tea cosy – yes)*;
8 Conceal in shell nut near spinning in hull? (8)
ENKERNEL: EN-KE(RN)EL; nut=EN; near=RN then reverse;
9 Wash in southern river (5)
SOUSE: S-OUSE;
11 Rich judge accommodates press for charity event (11, two words)
COMIC,RELIEF: COMIC-RE(LIE)F; Red Nose Day;
15 Dandy lashes purple passages? (8)
BEAUTIES: BEAU-TIES;
17 Mom looks up movement of commies (8)
KOMSOMOL: (mom looks)*;
19 String up over every other bit of gent's boundary marker? (7)
LYNCHET: LYNCH-(g)E(n)T;
21 Especially down about rising matadors (7)
ESPADAS: ESP-(SAD-A reversed);
24 What's on Dark Side of the Moon is in place of old concert (5)
PRISM: concert=PROM then change O to IS; The Dark Side of the Moon is a studio album by the rock band Pink Floyd famous for its picture of a PRISM;
25 Ham is withdrawn after being tipped (5)
EMOTE: (R)EMOTE;
26 Eclectic Persian arts grad Auntie cut short (5)
BABEE: BA-BEE(b);
28 Foil for riposte? It's between sublime and peerless (4)
EPEE: hidden (sublime)E and PEE(rless);
There were no “meh” moments, just much merriment. I particularly liked the definitions so well hidden in plain sight for 1A, !0A and 21A. Definitions elsewhere were sneaky in other ways (“School of note”). I was quite taken with 28, which evokes the surreal transformation of part of a river into the bloom of a plant. Slick surfaces throughout.

I do (nasagarm)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.



ACROSS
 1 One’s really commercial, making final billion (6)
ADVERB — ADVER[T]B. Here a word meaning “commercial” changes its final letter to B(illion)…
 5 Friendly parent heading off for church (6)
CHUMMY — …and that’s “Mummy” removing her head for CH(urch).
 9 Grown men unknown to welcome a flattering (9)
ADULATORY — ”Grown” is ADULT, “men” the timeworn OR (“other ranks”), taking in (“welcoming”) A.
10 Hold on to power with son as a leader (4)
STOP — TO + P(ower) following S(on). This was my LOI, as I didn’t suspect that “to” was simply handing me half the answer (and was not part of the defintion).
11 Governments panic with last of referendums (6)
STATES — Here “panic” is a noun. “I was in a panic…” or “I was in a STATE over my test results,” with (referendum)S for the plural. Governments panicking, and talk of referendums, have been very much in the news.
12 This is a hazard for swingers, of course (4,4)
SAND TRAP — Get yourself tested regularly! CD. That’s a golf course, of course.
14 Guys curse what they might get themselves into (8)
MENSWEAR — A semi-&lit, you might say, as you need “Guys” from the wordplay to see the definition as well.
16 River one’s come across twice (4)
ISIS — I’s, two times. I must have learmed some time ago (here) that the stretch of the mighty Thames where Oxfordians row is, strangely, known by the name of an ancient Egyptian goddess, but at first I wanted IBIS (alas, there is no such river), a bird you might find on the Nile.
18 Greasy or dirty (less satisfactory) (4)
OILY — [-s]OILY 
19 Seize Yorkshire town for pearl-adorned queen (8)
ARROGATE — Sounds like Harrogate, with the Pearly Queen signaling Cockney pronunciation
21 Yo, this is the start of something! (4,4)
YEAR ZERO — The brief greeting at the beginning is an abbreviation for the answer. Brill!
22 One barking? That’s what you call me? (6)
SETTER — DD
24 Red fish you dropped (4)
TROT — TRO[-u]T
26 A bad girl swiped one’s biscuit (9)
GARIBALDI — (A bad girl + I)*
27 White’s fourth blunder creates consternation (6)
TERROR — [-Whi]T[-e] + ERROR
28 White-tipped parts of a flower? (6)
RAPIDS — CD. You will find “flower”, flow-er, meaning “river” exclusively in cryptic puzzles, of course, but I like this clue a lot.

DOWN
 2 Set a limit for what an angler might do? (4,3,4)
DRAW THE LINE — DD
 3 Might broker do this with market finally 100 per cent up? (5)
ERUPT — &lit, with (marke)T + PURE ( “100 per cent”) <— . I originally had EXULT, until corrected by MartinP, and, although LUXE was’t the most obvious equivalent of “100 per cent,” I still find my answer more appropriate for what a broker might do when the market is way up. Major eyebrow raise, actually, at this.
 4 More blaring from support ship that’s close to Dover (8)
BRASSIER — BRA (“support”) + “that’s” (that is, id est, IE) + R (“close to Dover”)
 5 Clubs attempting to ban bit of tasteless shouting (6)
CRYING — C(lubs) + [-t]RYING
 6 Tipping over pint, guest must be smashed (9)
UPSETTING — (pint guest)*
 7 First of martins circles low (3)
MOO — M(artins) + O O (“circles”)
 8 School of note to rear novices in a new way (13)
CONSERVATOIRE — (to rear novices in)* …and a cryptic definition.
13 Robin could be described as one’s secret informer (1,6,4)
A LITTLE BIRD
15 Violently strike wry author of heavenly words (9)
SKYWRITER — (strike wry)* I rather like the cryptic definition. The pilot writing, however, is often not the author of the words briefly seen in the empyrean.
17 Bit of sports equipment in Ford saloon? (8)
CROSSBAR — ”Ford” as in CROSS, “saloon” as in BAR. What makes this surface plausible is thinking that the drinking establishment might be found in a movie directed by John Ford.
20 Book creep held in hands (6)
LEDGER — L(EDGE)R, with “hands” being L(eft) and R(ight)
23 Sheep swallowing half of lily flower (5)
TULIP — TU(LI[-ly])P
25 Regret being naughty, but not bad ultimately (3)
RUE — RU[-d]E

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