Pip Kirby (pipkirby) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Pip Kirby
pipkirby
times_xwd_times

Times 26759 - Very Verlainable

I've flown in today as Verlaine is off in Glastonbury doing something with henges and probably covering himself in woad, or worse. This was a puzzle he'd have enjoyed blogging, so I'll try to do him justice, after he kindly stood in for me on Wednesday.
It took me about 25 minutes to finish and understand, with the pennies dropping on 19d and 23d at last having biffed them initially.
Some witty clueing here; I especially liked the bit of chemistry at 7d, the classical bit I actually knew at 27a, and my CoD 28a. I'm trying to find a way to link 12a, 17a and 20a as one thought bubble.

Definitions are underlined.

Across
1 Stew of rice and basil getting heated quickly (9)
IRASCIBLE - (RICE BASIL)*. Nice easy starter.
6 Restrain European dressed in thong (5)
LEASH - Insert E (European) into LASH (thong). So, leash can be a verb, it seems. The bizarre fashion for ladies wearing thongs with the fishtail bit sticking up at the rear above the hip-level jeans or shorts seems to have passed, or am I just not looking as closely these days?
9 Cut out third of fatty food and port for your health (7)
CHEERIO - Take CHEESE, cut out the last third to get CHEE, add RIO as in de Janeiro.
10 It's best the writer's lodged by plump old lady (7)
OPTIMUM - OPT = plump (for), MUM = old lady, insert I = the writer.
11 Observes egg in cuckoo nest (5)
NOTES - O for egg, goes into an anagram ('cuckoo') of NEST.
12 Track names put in ship’s outside accommodation (3,6)
DOG KENNEL - DOG = track, KEEL = ship's outside (well, underneath). Insert NN being names. I thought this was going to be DOG HOUSES at first, until it ended in L.
14 Twelve months in northern port (3)
AYR - A YR = twelve months. AYR is a rather sad Scottish west coast town near the golfing wonders of Troon and Prestwick.
15 One's filling a carrycot, moving top layer (11)
ARISTOCRACY - I'S = one's, inside anagram of (A CARRYCOT)*. Nice definition!
I was initially thinking, a strata-thing, or best egg producer.
17 Policeman, getting stoned, is the worse for wear (11)
DILAPIDATED - DI = policeman, if you lapidate someone you throw stones at them. As a Friday bonus, here's a link to the best lapidating scenes in movies; for me Life of Brian is way ahead. https://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/3so2a0/monty_pythons_life_of_brian_features_the_best/
19 Maybe castle's staff (3)
MAN - Double definition, man = piece in chess, man = verb to staff.
20 Where punters are withdrawing computer game (9
CAMBRIDGE - Well, some punters, those who stand on the wrong end of the punt and drive it backwards. And the Cam is hardly as much fun as the Cherwell or the Isis, but that's enough one-upmanship.
MAC is your computer, withdrawing = CAM, BRIDGE is the game.
22 What officer has shortened in kit (5)
STRIP - Officers have STRIPES, shortened to (football) kit.
24 Person satirising press one way (7)
IRONIST - IRON = press, I ST = one way.
26 Simulated affection is a risk to doctor (3,4)
AIR KISS - (A RISK TO)*, anagrind 'doctor'.
27 Returning home, one honoured proud Greek mother (5)
NIOBE - IN = home, returning - NI; OBE = one honoured. Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus. She boasted about having 14 children, all worthy of marriage to high end suitors; because of her excessive pride, a chap slaughtered seven or so, or maybe all, of her kids and left them unburied. As she was turned into a stone afterwards, she didn't have a lot more to say. You couldn't make this stuff up. I only remember who she was because I once spent some time studying the chemistry of Tantalum and Niobium which are metals together in Group V of the periodic table.
28 Back room for scientist with a space traveller's instrument(9)
BALALAIKA - A LAB is a room for scientist; 'back' = BAL A; LAIKA was the stray dog from the streets of Moscow who was sent into orbit in 1957. The idea was that a stray was more used to surviving extreme conditions. Yeah, like zero G and overheating? The American press, I learn, dubbed the dog "Muttnik" at the time. Brilliant clue, IMO.

Down
1 Popular preserve of old people (5)
INCAN - IN = popular, CAN = preserve, verb; INCAN = of the Inca people.
2 A more desirable accessory (7)
ABETTER - A, BETTER = more desirable. Someone who aids and abets.
3 Villain around deck had scrap at sea, overwhelming resistance (9)
CARDSHARP - I was misled into looking for pirates or mutineers initially, like Christian; it's an anagram of (HAD SCRAP)* with R inside.
4 Liberal protested, following less travelled path? (5-6)
BROAD-MINDED - MINDED = protested, after B ROAD a less travelled path than an A ROAD.
5 For one - nil, this is excessive pride (3)
EGO - E.G. = for one, O = nil.
6 Having good physique, unconcerned to go topless (5)
LITHE - BLITHE would be unconcerned, topless = remove the B. You can wear a thong if you are lithe. I'm not. Nice surface.
7 After what's in magazine, great new twists? It's a gas (7)
AMMONIA - AMMO is in the magazine, then A1 N (great new) reversed.
8 Greeting Asian from Peak District? (9)
HIMALAYAN - "Hi Malayan" would be greeting an Asian chap. Have we seen this before? Seems likely.
13 Fail to do some sightseeing in Northern China? (2,2,3,4)
GO TO THE WALL - Easy write-in double definition.
14 Job for summer, holding Head of Convent's habit (9)
ADDICTION - Insert C being head of Convent, into ADDITION being what a 'summer' does, he sums.
16 Immoral type of stars revealing value of land (9)
CADASTRAL - CAD is the immoral type; ASTRAL = of stars; I am looking at the cadastral plan of our village on my desk, lots of little numbered box shapes showing who owns what, but thankfully it doesn't mention their value as such.
18 African runner's beverage stored in vehicle (7)
LIMPOPO - POP inside LIMO. See 'runner' think river. Say after me, "the grey-green greasy Limpopo river, all set about with fever trees". Even though I hate poetry, I remember that one. Do kids read Kipling these days?
19 Right in sea, island’s in the drink (7)
MARTINI - RT = right, inside MAIN = sea, then I = island.
21 Extra is earned, receiving this (5)
RAISE - Today's hidden word clue; EXT(RA IS E)ARNED.
23 Yearly gathering remains official in Turkey (5)
PASHA - P A = per annum, yearly, insert ASH = remains.
25 VAT only goes up (3)
TUB - BUT reversed.
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