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Another challenging Wednesday, with some fine clueing and smart wordplay, enhanced, or spoilt (depending on your knowledge, or lack of it) by a couple of "general knowledge required" answers which were otherwise hard to guess from the wordplay. It took me 21 minutes and I had to check 18a and 25a afterwards to be sure I was right.
CoD awards to 26a and to 5d for the fine anagram and relevant surface.



Across
1 Officer’s plan again to retreat (6)
WARDER - to REDRAW is to plan again, reverse it.
5 Tribe has bewildered language expert (8)
HEBRAIST - (TRIBE HAS)*.
9 Looked at team getting embarrassed after trick (10)
CONSIDERED - CON = trick, SIDE = team, RED = embarrassed.
10 Island for the nobs featured in back issue of periodical (4)
GUAM - U = upper class, for the nobs, inserted into MAG reversed. US run island in the Pacific which Rocket Man has his beady eyes on.
11 Reduce something bloody, having got back in time (8)
DEROGATE - GORE something bloody, reversed inside DATE = time. At first I was trying to parse it with RED and AGO but not so. I thought derogate meant detract from, or deviate, but I can see reduce is a 'more or less' synonym.
12 Endless chatter around a fellow's clubs (6)
LATHIS - TAL(K) reversed then HIS = a fellow's; a lathi is a heavy stick used by angry policemen in Asian countries, and often found in crosswords.
13 Sheep runs that may hold water (4)
EWER - EWE, R.
15 This person is probing your old-fashioned food content (8)
THIAMINE - I AM (this person is) inside THINE (your, old-fashioned). Vitamin B1, otherwise properly named 2-[3-[(4-amino-2-methylpyrimidin-5-yl)methyl]-4-methyl-1,3-thiazol-3-ium-5-yl]ethanol.
18 Poet’s line, one on compassion (8)
LOVELACE - LOVE = compassion, L(ine), ACE = one. I looked at *O*E*A*E for a while with so many options and no poet springing to mind (you will recall I cultivate my ignorance of poetry). Apparently Richard Lovelace was a Cavalier poet and socialite who, when in jail for a year, penned that well known bit about 'stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage'. In your dreams, chum, they were quite effective else you'd have escaped.
19 Bed or mattress? It may be found in here (4)
DORM - Slightly hidden word in BE(D OR M)ATTRESS.
21 Affected by bugs, get cold after first day of month (6)
SEPTIC - SEPT 1 followed by C.
23 Melting tarmac starts to restrict some vehicles (8)
TRAMCARS - (TARMAC)* then R S = initial letters of Restrict Some.
25 Magical power of weaver in story spoken of (4)
MANA - This wins my Obscure Double Definition Homophone of the Year Award. MANA can mean a few things, one of which is supernatural power in Pacific cultures; Pronounced MAR-NA, it sounds the hero of 'SILAS MARNER: the Weaver of Raveloe', the full name of the book by Geogre Eliot. I had never heard of the magical power and I didn't know Mr Marner was a weaver; apart from that... and *A*A would tempt you to bung in SAGA on the basis of 'story spoken of'.
26 Priest and French actor performing? It's uplifting (10)
LEVITATION - LEVI the priest, Jacques TATI the French actor, ON = performing. A refreshing change from the usual priest abbreviations and ET for French 'and'.
27 Base established — cycle around it? (8)
PEDESTAL - PEDAL around EST.
28 Perversion is admitted by unfortunate male (6)
SADISM - Insert IS into SAD M(ale).

Down
2 Pole’s few lines of poetry (5)
ANODE - AN ODE even I can see would be a few lines of poetry. ANODE being one pole of a battery, the other being the cathode.
3 Sure to be upset following party conversation (9)
DISCOURSE - DISCO = party, (SURE)*.
4 Spoke favouring reform — not Conservative (6)
RADIAL - RADICAL = favouring reform, drop the C.
5 Several faiths TV represented in a religious celebration (7,8)
HARVEST FESTIVAL - (SEVERAL FAITHS TV)*. Nice one.
6 Short chum sits on meadow, squashing one plant (8)
BUDDLEIA - I knew today's plant, having one, a butterfly bush, in the garden. BUDD(Y) = short chum, LEA = meadow, insert I.
7 Strong tastes, first to last, creating uncomfortable feeling (5)
ANGST - TANGS would be strong tastes, drop the T from front to end.
8 Trader giving one artist supply (9)
STATIONER - (ONE ARTIST)*. Not the first time we've had a stationer recently.
14 With something large in the environment, lose out completely (9)
WHOLESALE - I see this as an anagram of LOSE inside WHALE = something large in the environment.
16 Resolved to restrict cold with health-giving ingredients (9)
MEDICATED - Insert C for cold into MEDIATED = resolved.
17 Inscribed within church window maybe see knight (8)
LANCELOT - If you BIFD this and didn't parse it, go down a snake. A LANCET (apart from being a top medical journal) is a slim, pointed church window or arch. Insert LO for 'see'.
20 Love appearing in underwear in funny shows (6)
PANTOS - Put O into your PANTS.
22 Traffic needs to speed up heading for Edinburgh (5)
TRADE - DART = speed, up = reversed, E(dinburgh).
24 Cheats and criminals caught out (5)
ROOKS - CROOKS have their C removed.

Comments

( 83 comments — Leave a comment )
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sotira
Feb. 14th, 2018 07:10 am (UTC)
20:55 … but not submitted to the board, thanks to Pip’s Obscure Double Definition Homophone of the Year Award. MANA was the first thing I thought of with an instant weaver=Silas Marner association, but I then spent 5 or 6 minutes trying to convince myself of the magical powers bit. Eventually checked the dictionary.

Some very satisfying stuff elsewhere, especially THIAMINE
verlaine
Feb. 14th, 2018 12:45 pm (UTC)
I thought of magical mana instantly (wasted youth playing Magic the Gathering) but never even got the Silas Marner reference, egad!
(no subject) - glheard - Feb. 14th, 2018 01:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
guy_du_sable
Feb. 14th, 2018 07:13 am (UTC)
MANA of speaking
I wanted it to be SAGA, too, but ultimately settled for MANA, from the definition, without parsing, as I didn't know the occupation of Eliot's Silas. LOI.

Learned a new word: LATHIS. Oh, and that sense of "lancet." That's the one I simply forgot to parse.

Edited at 2018-02-14 07:16 am (UTC)
jackkt
Feb. 14th, 2018 07:24 am (UTC)
Got there in 45 minutes with a few guesses and deciding life is too short to waste it parsing the obvious answer at 17dn when it's not one's own blogging day. Lost time at 25ac wondering how to make Bottom sound like a 4-letter word. Was rather pleased to come up with the correct answer at 12ac using wordplay only to discover that I already knew the unlikely looking result. In the singular it has caught me out before on more than one occasion.

Edited at 2018-02-14 07:25 am (UTC)
astonvilla1
Feb. 14th, 2018 07:29 am (UTC)
19 min 38 secs with one wrong. Saga for Mana.
gothick_matt
Feb. 14th, 2018 07:39 am (UTC)
DNF
No finish for me. Spent so long struggling with 11 DEROGATE, which I thought was my LOI, that I missed 25a! Noticed as I came here, but still couldn't get it, and given that I didn't know the definition or that Silas Marner was a weaver, I probably wouldn't ever have got there. Oh well.
myrtilus000
Feb. 14th, 2018 08:22 am (UTC)
HaHa - the Baba papa raga saga
40 mins (except for Mana) with yoghurt, compote, etc.
But wait - we have to subtract the time spent opening valentine's cards. So that will be 40 mins.
Spoilt (I think) by the doubly obscure one.
Lovelace should be ok - if only via the "Stone walls do not a prison make..." line.
Mostly I liked: Levitation as I am a Jacques Tati fan. Monsieur Hulot's Holiday is genius.
Thanks setter and Pip.
jackkt
Feb. 14th, 2018 09:30 am (UTC)
Re: HaHa - the Baba papa raga saga
There's a first time for everything as it seems it has taken 19 appearances in a Times Cryptic for Tati to be clued as an actor!



On previous outings he has been:
Film director x 8
French director x 3
French film director x 1
French film maker x 2
Film maker x 1
European film director x 1
Old director x 1
Former film director x 1 (must have been yesterday's setter that day!)

I should get out more.


Edited at 2018-02-14 09:31 am (UTC)
RE: Re: HaHa - the Baba papa raga saga - (Anonymous) - Feb. 14th, 2018 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: HaHa - the Baba papa raga saga - ulaca - Feb. 14th, 2018 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: HaHa - the Baba papa raga saga - verlaine - Feb. 14th, 2018 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
kevingregg
Feb. 14th, 2018 08:25 am (UTC)
DNF
Actually knew MANA, sort of, but couldn't come up with it after an alphabet run, perforce incomplete given _A_A. No idea about the weaver bit. Rather TLSish, no? No major prob otherwise, damn it.
dorsetjimbo
Feb. 14th, 2018 08:27 am (UTC)
After years of doing this "weaver" says either "bottom" or "marner" so guessed 25A was MANA, not understanding the rest of it. Awful clue.

At 18A why pick the poet? An opportunity to champion Ada LOVELACE who with Charles Babbage produced the first computer. Why can't setters see beyond their literary blinkers?

Well blogged Pip
sotira
Feb. 14th, 2018 08:45 am (UTC)
Ada
Good point. She deserves an inclusion. There's a blue plaque recalling her in St James' Square, London, on the outside of what I think is now a political think tank, and a few doors away from the memorial to Yvonne Fletcher opposite the old Libyan embassy
Re: Ada - dorsetjimbo - Feb. 14th, 2018 08:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ada - sotira - Feb. 14th, 2018 09:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ada - verlaine - Feb. 14th, 2018 12:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ada - jerrywh - Feb. 14th, 2018 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ada - jerrywh - Feb. 14th, 2018 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: Ada - bigtone53 - Feb. 14th, 2018 11:45 am (UTC) - Expand
LOVELACE - (Anonymous) - Feb. 14th, 2018 09:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: LOVELACE - verlaine - Feb. 14th, 2018 12:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: LOVELACE - jerrywh - Feb. 14th, 2018 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: LOVELACE - dorsetjimbo - Feb. 14th, 2018 03:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
MANA - (Anonymous) - Feb. 14th, 2018 10:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: MANA - dorsetjimbo - Feb. 14th, 2018 03:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: MANA - (Anonymous) - Feb. 14th, 2018 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
paulmcl
Feb. 14th, 2018 08:38 am (UTC)
I thought story spoken of must be ZAGA (dodgy homophone for Saga) since I had no idea what MANA was or that SIlas Marner was a weaver. I think it was a terrible clue, since both ways to get to the answer were so obscure. Or maybe it's just sour grapes, on the usual basis that "obscure" just means "unknown to me". Whereas if LOVELACE had been clued with Ada, it'd have been a write-in for me.
rinteff
Feb. 14th, 2018 08:53 am (UTC)
Another beaten by MANA (I suspect it won’t be a very exclusive club). Double definitions where both elements are unknown are just about unsolvable; even guesswork or an alphabet trawl was unlikely to help as Chambers gives 86 suggestions for -A-A. I agree with Jimbo.
boltonwanderer
Feb. 14th, 2018 09:08 am (UTC)
All is safely gathered in...
... having ploughed and scattered in too many fields, in total for 48 minutes. Is the setter a 28ac practitioner? Dare I now admit to enjoying the challenge? I read and enjoyed Silas Marner once upon a time, and so eventually wrote in the unkown MANA over the top of the biffed 'saga', which never looked right. LOI another unknown, LATHIS, constructed hesitantly. COD to THIAMINE by a short head from the neat PEDESTAL, on which I place all those who did this in under the half hour. I' m usually with Jimbo in wanting more science/ engineering/ technology clues, but I'm pleased the setter went for Richard rather than Ada, who I've never heard of! Thank you Pip and setter.
PS On edit, I feel really bad about not remembering Ada now. I watched that episode of Victoria.

Edited at 2018-02-14 09:36 am (UTC)
janie_l_b
Feb. 14th, 2018 09:18 am (UTC)
50 or so mins...


... but count me in that not very exclusive club. Another 'saga' here... before that I took an age to get ANODE, LOVELACE and an unparsed LANCELOT.
bletchleyreject
Feb. 14th, 2018 09:49 am (UTC)
Maybe Linda?
Missed DEROGATE, which I considered but dismissed as not fitting the def., and MANA which I would never have parsed in a month of Sundays. Down the snake with LANCELOT and guessed LOVELACE which at least fitted the wordplay.

Time off the scale and (partly as a result) can't say that this was one of my favourites but I did like the 'Spoke' def. and learnt a new word in HEBRAIST.

Thanks to setter and blogger.
vinyl1
Feb. 14th, 2018 02:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Maybe Linda?
You want the Private Eye puzzle...
Re: Maybe Linda? - jerrywh - Feb. 14th, 2018 02:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
keriothe
Feb. 14th, 2018 09:52 am (UTC)
DNF. I am genuinely at a loss to understand how setter and editor can look at a clue 25ac and think ‘yeah that’s a good one’.

Edited at 2018-02-14 09:52 am (UTC)
pipkirby
Feb. 14th, 2018 10:00 am (UTC)
25a
I quite agree, especially when there are so many options for *A*A (86 someone said). Editor to comment?
robrolfe
Feb. 14th, 2018 09:58 am (UTC)
another dnf
Defeated by LOVELACE, Ada being the only one (suitable for the Times) that I've heard of, and MANA, a not-in-a-million years answer. Stopped after 35 minutes. Thanks pip and setter.
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