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

Times 26,831: The Italian Job

That's Job as in "tribulations of", by the way: I should NOT have attempted to stay up and do this one at 1 a.m., after a queasy night of wine and paracetamol. But you can't let being ill stop you celebrating when one of our artists just won the Mercury Music Prize (congrats Sampha!) and another is just about to have both their and 4AD's first UK number one album (well done The National!). Anyway I toiled miserably through this ingeniously clued puzzle with its brilliant marriages of wordplay and surface before crawling home with a miserable sub-800 Club score. Sorry XwdSnitch for massively skewing the numbers on this one, I'm sure it wouldn't have been *that* hard if I'd just waited until morning...

It was the two Italianate clues what done me in, if I can point a finger: 10ac was very unknown so, although ROSSO seemed like a definite good bet, I wasn't getting very far with the first part. And then 22dn is a brilliant example of the great Magoo's number one piece of advice, don't allow yourself to get stuck on an idea, keep on re-examining. I got so obsessed with the idea that P_E_O must be an unknown Italian detective that I just wouldn't let myself think, hang on, perhaps there's a *reason* you can't think of any really famous Italian detectives? If I'd given up that tack a bit earlier and considered other ways that the clue could possibly break down, things would have gone much better for me, I reckon.

Loads of really well-constructed clues, as I said, with very few that aren't doing something a bit cleverer or more deceptive than usual. I'll give my COD to 9ac because I really like the definition being "element one" plus the anagram indicator being not quite where you might expect it. You wouldn't think a clue involving an anagram of H GONE DRY for an element would give an experienced solver much bother in the normal run of things, but I think this setter may be some kind of evil genius. Thanks to the individual concerned for a really traumatic ordeal - exactly how I like to start my weekends!

ACROSS

1 An American possessing endless support you can count on? (6)
ABACUS - A US [an | American] "possessing" BAC{k} ["endless" support]

5 Going on excursion? One can, in posh car (8)
JAUNTING - UN TIN [one | can], in JAG [posh car]

9 Element one sprayed initially has gone dry (8)
HYDROGEN - (H{as} GONE DRY*) ["sprayed"]

10 Milk one loved before turning red? (6)
EXTORT - EX [one loved before] + reversed TROT ["turning" red]

11 Leaves lounge, roughly grabbing sailor (5,5)
LOLLO ROSSO - LOLL [lounge] + OR SO [roughly] "grabbing" O.S. [sailor]

13 Word in carol’s original verse is missing (4)
NOEL - NO{v}EL [original V (verse) "is missing"]

14 Notion one cherished briefly (4)
IDEA - I [one] + DEA{r} [cherished, "briefly"]

15 Dec eighth: roughly about time to join union (3,7)
GET HITCHED - (DEC EIGHTH*) ["roughly"] about T [time]

18 An alternative to the boat, perhaps, that brings riches? (5,5)
GRAVY TRAIN - humorous cryptic definition playing on GRAVY BOAT suggesting a type of transport

20 Something in the middle to cling to, tough (4)
THUG - {some}T{hing} + HUG [cling to]

21 Spot incomplete list of requirements (4)
SPEC - SPEC{k} [spot, "incomplete"]

23 Plateful demolished by army officer very fast (2,4,4)
AT FULL PELT - (PLATEFUL*) ["demolished"] by LT [army officer]

25 For greeting, bow to each side (6)
BEHIND - HI [greeting], BEND [bow] "to each side"

26 Huge college studies spoken of (4-4)
KING-SIZE - KINGS [college] + homophone of EYES [studies "spoken of"]

28 More prominent surrounds by Oriental tree (3,5)
BOX ELDER - BOLDER [more prominent] surrounds X E [by | Oriental]

29 Weak women’s sobbing has moved heart (6)
WATERY - W [women] has TE{<-A}RY [sobbing, with "moved heart"]

DOWN

2 Child prodigy’s heard to raise doubt (3,6)
BOY WONDER - homophone of BUOY ["heard" to raise] + WONDER [doubt]

3 Part of plant climbing wall, or occasionally, fences (7)
COROLLA - hidden reversed ["climbing" ... "fences"] in {w}ALL OR OC{casionally}

4 Drop jaw when upset (3)
SAG - GAS reversed [jaw "when upset"]

5 German OK with students being two-faced (5)
JANUS - JA [German OK] + N.U.S. [students]. The old Roman god with two faces looking forwards and backwards into the New and Old years.

6 Choice of dishes turned one on — a lot re-served cold (11)
UNEMOTIONAL - MENU reversed [choice of dishes "turned"] + (I ON A LOT*) ["re-served"]

7 Huge current stopping at sea intact (7)
TITANIC - I [current] "stopping" (INTACT*) ["at sea"]

8 Shark appearing in harbour (5)
NURSE - double def

12 Permission given, favouring a particular side (5-6)
RIGHT-HANDED - RIGHT HANDED [permission | given]

16 What precedes do: a drink (3)
TEA - TE [what precedes do (the musical note)] + A

17 Goal perhaps of small boy in European competition? I’m not sure... (9)
EQUALIZER - AL [small boy] in E QUIZ [European | competition] + ER [I'm not sure...]

19 Short holiday viewed as sound, healthy preparation (7)
VACCINE - VAC [short holiday] + homophone of SEEN [viewed "as sound"]

20 Family firm providing work in printing house (7)
TYPESET - TYPE SET [family | firm]

22 Italian sleuth leading man out of Whitechapel? (5)
PIERO - P.I. [sleuth] + 'ERO [leading man "out of Whitechapel", i.e. Cockneyfied]

24 Ascetic in the distance crossing Himalayan mountain (5)
FAKIR - FAR [in the distance] "crossing" K1 [Himalayan mountain]

27 Present that’s bagged up (3)
NOW - WON reversed [bagged "up"]
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