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

Times 26,993: Guess Who's Back, Friday's Back

Be careful what you wish for, eh? I think, pending horryd's verification of course, that this was the long-awaited stinker. I was very grateful to have tackled this on paper because it wouldn't have done my club leaderboard position many favours: I think we could be talking in the 20 minute region here, ulp!

The funny thing is, parsing it, it wouldn't appear there's anything too upsetting in and of itself to deal with, but you do have to be on the ball throughout as there are small misleads and clevernesses everywhere. I'd also note, and to me this is the mark of a proper Times crossword, that the puzzle expects you at every turn to have a good grounding in literary classics and a decent grasp of vocabulary. (The 20ac/16dn crossing may be a little bit eye-watering, both being obscurer variants of what were quite obscure words to start with, but nothing an imaginative solver shouldn't be able to handle.)

There are some reasonable entry points into the fray: it didn't take me long to derive 10ac from its enumeration, and as an aside Micronesia seems like an old friend to me now because I've been doubling down on learning geography for quizzing purposes lately; though you clever lot all knew that the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia is Palikir already, of course. But just looking down a bit further, clues like 15ac and 16ac probably shouldn't take anyone very long. (I was also delighted to see M. Flaubert as I read Madame Bovary for the first time only last year, and it lived up to every bit of the hype.)

1dn was a very clever clue indeed and certainly literary enough for my rarefied tastes, but I'll give my COD to 9dn as the ambiguous sense of "into solid form with a point" is a thing of absolute beauty. Top marks to the setter from this judge, then, and I think all that remains is to confirm that myrtilus000 had chickpea and allspice canapés with parfait to follow for breakfast this morning? I'll be very disappointed if not...

1 Powdered fruit tablets, first couple taken last, swallowed by champion (8)
ALLSPICE - PILLS [tablets], its "first couple" of letters "taken last" so becoming LLSPI, "swallowed by" ACE [champion]

5 Roughly where mother picks up pup to get a snack (6)
CANAPE - CA [roughly] + NAPE [where mother picks up pup]

10 Micronesian hero adaptable in any circumstances (4,4,2,5)

11 Old Arab king behind time with American exhibitionist (7)
TUSSAUD - SAUD [old Arab king] behind T [time] with US [American]. Exhibitionist as in woman with a famous (waxworks) exhibition.

12 Cook crumble crust for holiday visitor to Oz (7)
DOROTHY - DO [cook] + ROT [crumble] + H{olida}Y. Oz as in L Frank Baum's magical land, not Australia.

13 Keep gasping about the man's divine collection (8)
PANTHEON - PANT ON [keep gasping] about HE [the man]

15 Trouble with old lady's inflexible views (5)
DOGMA - DOG [trouble] with MA [old lady]

18 Subgroup of oligarchy enabling predator (5)
HYENA - hidden in {oligarc}HY ENA{bling}

20 Satie mistakenly rounds on downbeat composer (8)
ELEGIAST - (SATIE*) ["mistakenly"] "rounds" LEG [on]

23 Pours dry type of wine over sink (7)
CESSPIT - TIPS SEC [pours | dry type of wine] reversed

25 Dance recalled in church with similar origins (7)
COGNATE - TANGO [dance] reversed inside CE [church]

26 Reports of shots (15)
PHOTOJOURNALISM - cryptic def, photojournalism being news reports via the medium of shots as in pictures.

27 Hill-dweller trapping deer pulled back chain (6)
ANKLET - ANT [hill-dweller] "trapping" a reversed ELK [deer]

28 Cases of pastry rise: nice automation from a range (8)
PYRENEAN - P{astr}Y R{is}E N{ic}E A{utomatio}N

1 Author off the booze, hiding last three bits of it (6)
ALCOTT - ALCO{hol->TT}. Take a word for booze and replace its last three letters with a common (in crosswordland) shorthand for teetotal.
Louisa May whose Little Women you may have caught in the latest BBC adaptation last Christmas.

2 Light coverage of US city politicians duped earliest of electors (9)
LAMPSHADE - LA [US city] + MPS [politicians] + HAD [duped] + E{lectors}. Light coverage as in, that which covers a light.

3 Criminal charge overturned and conviction not completed? Sweet! (7)
PARFAIT - reversed RAP [criminal charge "overturned"] + FAIT{h} [conviction "not completed"]

4 Check for what kicks off uncivilised youth (5)
CHILD - {w->CH}ILD. WILD is uncivilised; replace its first letter ("what kicks it off") with CH for check.

6 Nancy's from big country to the north: I must leave with composure (7)
ASSURED - DE [Nancy's, i.e. the French word for, from] + RUSS{i}A [big country], all written from south to north, minus an I.

7 Crooked law's introduction fills in the act (5)
ATILT - L{aw} "fills" AT IT [in the act]

8 Celebrity turns introducing actual generic sort (8)
EVERYMAN - reversed NAME [celebrity "turns"] "introducing" VERY [actual]

9 Distil studies into solid form with a point (8)
CONDENSE - DENS [studies] into CONE [solid form with a point]

14 Labour a long time to dress one glam band up (8)
EXERTION - EON [a long time] "to dress" reversed I + T. REX [one | glam band]. Over 40 years since Marc Bolan left us now, but never forgotten.

16 Note interpolated by Flaubert, maybe concerned with taste (9)
GUSTATIVE - TI [note] interpolate into GUSTAVE [Flaubert, maybe]

17 Pace restlessly, crushing rustic seed (8)
CHICKPEA - (PACE*) ["restlessly"] "crushing" HICK [rustic]

19 Give permission to mobile tool to do roaming (7)
APPROVE - APP [mobile tool] + ROVE [to do roaming]

21 Sore winner perhaps elected to be annoying (7)
INGRATE - IN [elected] + GRATE [to be annoying]

22 I'm not sure Mass held by boy is what's heard in church (6)
SERMON - ER M [I'm not sure | Mass] "held by" SON [boy]

24 Lack of acceptance underlies small gesture of defiance (5)
SNOOK - NO OK [lack of acceptance] "underlies" S [small]. Only ever found in the phrase "cock a snook", as far as I know.

25 Some knitwear to suit an eccentric? (5)
CARDY - an eccentric is a CARD, something CARD-Y would presumably be fit for an eccentric. The knitwear is an informal cardigan.
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