vinyl1 (vinyl1) wrote in times_xwd_times,
vinyl1
vinyl1
times_xwd_times

Times 26923 - That you, Steve?

Time:  40 mins
Music:  Dvorak, New World Symphony, Horenstein/RPO

I found this a very fine puzzle indeed, equal to some of the competition finals that we have recently been treated to.   Deceptive literals and clever word play are the order of the day, and I must admit I had my hands full for quite a while.   These are the sorts of puzzles you think you'll never finish, but if you're paitent and follow the wordplay, you'll get there eventually.   The vocaubulary isn't that obscure, and the cryptics are merely cleverly disguised allusions to things you should know.   My grid was very sparse for a long time, and then everything started to click.   On my first few readings, I note how the clues might work, and what little words might need to be put together, without actually being able to solve anything.   But eventually, when I return for the third or the fourth time, the elements magically rearrange themselves and the answer jumps out.

My New Years Eve music is the conclusion to a forward traversal of the Dvorak symphonies, which followed a backwards traversal of the Tchaikovsky.   I try to listen to a wide variety of conductors, and I certainly have plenty to chose from.   The only time I nearly got stuck was when I thought I couldn't come up with a Dvorak 3rd, and had to take it out of the Kubelik complete set.   Later on this evening, I will play a side of the Vienna Philharmonic New Year's concert, the real New Year's Eve music.   Of course, it will probably already be 2018 by the time you read this.


Across
1 Conservative search for gain (8)
CONQUEST - CON + QUEST, perfectly simply, only I never think of words that start with 'Q' and needed 3 down.
9 Trouble-making horse, one ladies at hotel backed (8)
HOOLIGAN - NAG + I + LOO + H, all backwards.  I thought the horse was the 'H', allowing me to see the answer at once.
10 Girl comes to a celebration of workers of mine (4)
GALA - GAL +_ A.   If the clue had five words, it would be obvious, but I'm not sure what to do with the last four.   That is the answer, however.
11 Smoother, crossing hands here to play (6,6)
RUBBER BRIDGE - RUBBER + BRIDGE, in entirely different senses.
13 Arab enemy I shot (6)
YEMENI - Anagram of ENEMY I.
14 Hated being dropped from international match? (8)
DETESTED - DE - TESTED, an outrageous pun with all kinds of possible applications.
15 Almost engage with wise text (7)
MESSAGE - MES[h] + SAGE.
16 Sorry there’s no proper leader for the paper (7)
ASHAMED - A SHAM ED.   At least they didn't say for the blog....
20 The very thing dividing boy and girl is splitting sides? (8)
HILARITY - HILAR(IT)Y, where Hilary is a common epicene name.
22 Free beer drunk in turn — got it down, not for the first time (6)
RELAID - R(ALE backwards)ID
23 Cooked seafood in hold without oxygen, not with it (3-9)
OLD-FASHIONED - anagram of SEAFOOD IN H[o]LD
25 Old craft has special terminology, but no tips (4)
ARGO - [j]ARGO[n], one we've seen before.
26 Monster deity’s worse, we hear (8)
GODZILLA - Sounds like GOD'S ILLER, for you non-rhotic speakers out there.
27 Endless wine is knocked back, boding no good (8)
SINISTER - RETSIN[a] IS backwards.

Down
2 Cut off a bit, like (2,1,5)
OF A PIECE - OF[f] + A PIECE.
3 Pole who has only three fellow employees? (12)
QUARTERSTAFF - Double definition, one contrived.
4 Making possible showy accessories woman put on (8)
ENABLING - ENA + BLING.
5 In your study, barely noticeable (7)
THREADY - TH(READ)Y.
6 Took, say, cooker and sank teeth in (6)
HOBBIT - HOB + BIT.   I spotted this at once, but was frustrated because 'Peregrine' wouldn't fit.   But as I remarked in the preface, that prepared my mind to see the correct answer.
7 England regularly failing, dammit (4)
EGAD -  E[n]G[l]A[n]D.
8 Special one from among a number ceased to exist: one less (8)
INTENDED - INT + ENDED, I think, only I can't explain the 'one less' part.  Comments welcome.  Yes, it's really IN TEN D[i]ED - only a programmer would think of a number as an int. 
12 Rays steadily caused damage? Not sure yet (3,5,4)
ITS EARLY DAYS - Anagram of RAYS STEADILY.
15 Paper in which John played good game (3-5)
MAH-JONGG - MA(anagram of JOHN)G + G.
17 Wizened personnel in a sort of garden (8)
SHRUNKEN -  S(H.R.)UNKEN.   I was helped here because at my Friday club, we were discussing the fad for sunken living rooms in 50s houses.
18 Oriental canoe changes hands, that’s the last you hear (8)
EPILOGUE - E + PI(-r,+L)OGUE, a very clever hand-changing clue indeed.
19 Turned up miserable, chilling line in poem (7)
LYCIDAS - SAD, ICY L upside-down.   A poem that has rather fallen out of fashion, and is not much read nowadays.
21 Fresh out of good books, one may be under one’s feet (6)
INSOLE - INSOLE[nt], a brilliant removal clue.
24 One not going off with European dandy (4)
DUDE - DUD + E.
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