Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish (verlaine) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish

Times 26,567: Fairytale Politics

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen, to whom I have a special reason to be thankful because, without having invited Tessa down to Seattle on the "wrong" weekend in 2009 that time, under the pretext of having two tickets to his concert, let's just say that I might have held off becoming a parent until later than January 2010. What a year! The wrong President and, well, I won't stir up the hornet's nest of claiming that the *wrong* croaky-voiced 60s singer-songwriter got the Nobel Prize, but now one of the few other truly qualified candidates never will.

For a while it seemed this puzzle too would fall foul of the dreadful curse of 2016, being a game of two halves wherein I had all but one light solved and filled in in about 8 minutes... and then spent a whole other 8 scratching my head over 5ac. The old verlaine would just have slammed in WASH UP or even LASH UP and hit submit but I'm trying to be better than that now. BASH and UP did of course occur very early on but you can't have a clue without a definition part! And it took me an awful long time to convince myself that there really was an adequate one, hidden in plain sight. A very ingenious bit of setting, then, but the source of too much and recent pain to be in contention for my COD, methinks.

Leaving 5 aside, this was a superlatively clever puzzle, arguably too clever in a few places. I really liked 12ac, in my capacity as an employee of the music industry, for the seamless "alternative band", but my tired brain couldn't work out if the "as" wasn't a superfluous word. In a similar vein, 25ac had a nice surface, but all the working out which letter goes "on" and which "near" which other letter was as fiddly and fatiguing as one of my own run-on sentences. I quibble only because in general this was brilliant stuff and, no complaints this time around, a proper Friday challenge. I'll give my actual COD nod to 20ac for being a masterpiece of cluing economy and simplicity that nevertheless manages to conceal its answer a lot longer than you might expect.

And of course I loved that this managed to include what felt like very topical allusions to both Brexit and the US election, as well as grouping AESOP and ANDERSEN, both purveyors of tales which are also more likely on balance to contain dire warnings than happy endings, on the same row. Let's knock half a point off out of pique for how long 5ac took me and call it 4 and a half stars overall. Bravo, whichever evil fiend was responsible, bravo!


1 Please don't panic, clumsily engaging gear (4,2,2)
PACK IT IN - (PANIC*) ["clumsily"] engaging KIT [gear]

5 Do over (4,2)
BASH UP - individually, a BASH is a "do", and UP is "over"; taken as a whole, BASH UP means "do over"

10 Part of Europe where Parisian wears fancy winter clothes (3,3,9)
THE LOW COUNTRIES - OU [where "Parisian", i.e. the French word for "where"] wears (WINTER CLOTHES*) ["fancy"]

11 Note principal features of European referendum: a good deal for the country (7)
GERMANY - G [note] + E{uropean} R{eferendum} ["principle features of..."] + MANY [a good deal]

12 Making comeback as alternative band recruits singular top musician (7)
MAESTRO - reverse ["making comeback"] the whole of OR TEAM [alternative | band] recruiting S [singular]

13 Producer's request: character should omit line (8)
BEGETTER - BEG [request] + {l}ETTER [character "omitting" L for line]

15 Medic at last probes painful scratch (5)
SCORE - {medi}C ["at last"] probes SORE [painful]

18 Fabulous writer circulating main work (5)
AESOP - reverse of SEA ["circulating" main] + OP [work]. Aesop (620-564 BCE) is famous for his fables, hence the "fabulous" here.

20 Author with Irish name (8)
ANDERSEN - AND ERSE N [with | Irish | name]

23 Distilled brandy put in wine (7)
REFINED - FINE [brandy] put in RED [wine]

25 Island on a lake, perched near area in old Gallic region (7)
ALSATIA - I [island], on A L SAT [a | lake | perched], near A [area]

26 Avoided having offer of spacious on-board accommodation? (5,1,4,5)
GIVEN A WIDE BERTH - a literalistic interpretation of the originally nautical, now clichéd phrase.

27 Shoot at wretch knocked over by cop (6)
TARGET - RAT reversed [wretch "knocked over"] + GET [cop]

28 Examiner wanted dunces to have time out of class (8)
ASSESSOR - ASSES [dunces] + SOR{t} [class, having T for time "out"]


1 Soup container: boil without lid (6)
POTAGE - POT [container] + {r}AGE [boil "without lid"]

2 Depressing advice to overenthusiastic supporters? (9)
CHEERLESS - if your supporters are getting out of control, you might advise them to CHEER LESS. But not if you're Donald Trump of course.

3 A long time redeveloping a region (4,3)
IRON AGE - (A REGION*) ["redeveloping..."]

4 Very minor leader deposed, causing sensation (5)
ITCHY - {t}ITCHY [very minor, "leader deposed"]

6 She performs on front of stage, among characters from cast (7)
ACTRESS - RE S{tage} [on | "front of" stage], among (CAST*) ["characters from..."]

7 Jack is outwardly very sexy (5)
HOIST - IS, outwardly HOT [very sexy]

8 Drink up and hang around for a piece of cake (8)
PUSHOVER - SUP reversed [drink "up"] + HOVER [hang around]

9 Spent season meandering at first on lake in south of France (8)
SUMMERED - M{eandering} ["at first"] on MERE [lake], in SUD [south "of France"]

14 Bulldoze each road in urban area (4,4)
TEAR DOWN - EA RD [each | road] in TOWN [urban area]

16 Upsets Open University, with grants being regularly cut (9)
OVERTURNS - OVERT U [Open | University] + {g}R{a}N{t}S ["being regularly cut"]

17 Political extremists fear a Republican will get in (3,5)
FAR RIGHT - FRIGHT [fear], A R [a | Republican] will get in

19 Final character expelled from Cornwall town getting punishment (7)
PENANCE - PEN{z}ANCE [Cornwall town, losing the "final character", i.e. Z]

21 Twice jumping up when bitten by bug? That's ludicrous (7)
RISIBLE - BIS reversed [twice "jumping up"] when bitten by RILE [bug]

22 Club attracts female swimmer (6)
BATHER - BAT [club] attracts HER [female]

24 Financier's case containing this writer's money (5)
FIVER - F{inancie}R ["case"] containing I'VE [this writer's]

25 Inventive fellow in total disarray (5)
ALDIS - hidden in {tot}AL DIS{array}. Arthur Aldis invented the Aldis lamp for Morse code signalling. I read and solved this clue as "incentive fellow", and who's to say he wasn't quite generous with his lamps in return for favours?
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