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June 1st, 2018

There are some Club Monthlies whose sole agenda seems to be to use as many of the "fun" letters of the alphabet as possible, and this puzzle seems to be firmly in that school. COENZYME Q, at one down, is a dead giveaway, but the fun doesn't stop there: while there are a few clues below that use no Scrabble tiles valued at 4 or greater, but they are vastly outnumbered.

I thought this was a jolly good MCS, with playfulness and inventiveness throughout. Loved the surface of 1ac, the 25-character definition of a single letter in 2ac, "these rodents bound", Anthony & Thomas, the ingenious "Manx cat", the silly definition at 27ac: lots to enjoy, really. And loads of clues that could happily have graced a standard-strength 15x15, which is probably for the best really! COD to 26ac, combining well-concealed definition, fun cluing of "quiff" and being a crossword clue about crossword clues into one succinct and pleasing package. Thanks setter!

ACROSS
1 Gang of thirteen youths, initially five, turning into ninety-nine? (6)
COVYNE - Y{ouths} + V [five], reversed inside CONE [ninety-nine? (i.e. an ice cream)]

4 Character making central dip in grass, in order to see antelope (7)
BLAUBOK - U [character making central dip] in BLAB [grass], + OK [in order]

9 Nick in Muslim country, close to the Baltics, oddly (5)
EBLIS - {th}E + B{a}L{t}I{c}S

10 Once all over, we cheer a first for Henry wildly (9)
EACHWHERE - (WE CHEER A H{enry}*) ["wildly"]

11 These rodents bound to strike, turning a tragic old queen bee’s wing (9)
ZAPODIDAE - ZAP [to strike] + A DIDO reversed ["turning", a tragic old queen] + {be}E

12 Worry about appeal to umpire peeling off hat, note
TOWZE - about {h}OWZ{at} [appeal to umpire, "peeling off HAT"], TE [note]

13 Force to cut down old NZ tree (4)
MAKO - MAK{e} [force to, "cut down"] + O [old]

14 Old king’s craft: one firing, the other reversing (10)
ARTAXERXES - ART [craft] + AXER [one firing] + reversed SEX [the other, "reversing"]

18 Source of drug not quite enough for Anthony or Thomas (10)
QUINAQUINA - QUIN{n} AQUINA{s}

20 What an orphan might wish for individually (1,3)
A POP - double def

23 Windows computer upgrade — Linux originally — interrupting you there! (5)
OCULI - C{omputer} U{pgrade} L{inux}, interrupting OI! [you there!]

24 Angus’s riotous behaviour gave a girl spasms (9)
GILRAVAGE - (GAVE A GIRL*) ["spasms"]

25 Militia, after a month, were going on to tour east (9)
JANJAWEED - after JAN [a month], JAWED [were going on] to "tour" E [east]

26 Something to brush up on taking answer for one down (5)
QUAFF - QU{i->A}FF [something to brush up on, taking A instead of I ("answer for one")]

27 Poor Roy: he is the object of much leg-pulling (7)
HOSIERY - (ROY HE IS*) ["poor"]

28 Unlucky former Northern Ireland radio presenter hosts retrospective (6)
JINXED - EX NI [former | Northern Ireland] that DJ [radio presenter] "hosts", the whole reversed ["retrospective"]

DOWN
1 Since informally retaining French in speaking, the writer’s signal is complex (8,1)
COENZYME Q - COZ [since, informally] "retaining" EN [French in] + homophone of I'M CUE [the writer's | signal]

2 Short work a Manx cat’s tongue made! (7)
VOLAPUK - VOL [short work] + A + PUK{e} [cat, as in to vomit, but "Manx", i.e. tailless]

3 Treatment of numbers and lines of address (6)
NOSODE - NOS [numbers] + ODE [lines of address]

4 Clubs in green and black, up for Italian game (5)
BOCCE - C [clubs] in ECO + B [green + black], the whole reversed ["up"]

5 Engaged in comic expression, mostly very chirpy? (8)
ATWITTER - AT [engaged in] + WIT [comic] + TER{m} [expression, mostly]

6 Polish working party, small, to increase in size (7)
BEESWAX - BEE S WAX [working party | small | to increase in size]

7 Holder of invitation initially shunning President and First Lady (5)
KEEVE - {i}KE [I{nvitation} shunning Ike (President Eisenhower)] + EVE [the first ever lady]

8 Red flag flying over uniform that was once worn by German soldier (8)
FELDGRAU - (RED FLAG*) ["flying"] over U [uniform]

15 Top: article sat on by girl in class with numerous rings (5)
ANNELIDA - LID A [top | article] sat on by ANNE [girl]

16 Pest fed first of marigolds — I specially like the summer gentian! (9)
SEPTEMFID - (PEST FED M{arigolds} I*) ["specially"]

17 Foolhardy spirit climbing Himalayan mountain in state of confusion (8)
KAMIKAZE - KA [spirit] + K1 reversed ["climbing" Himalayan mountain] in MAZE [state of confusion]

19 Monitors briefly dropping in heading off prejudice (7)
IGUANAS - GUAN{o} ["briefly" dropping] in {b}IAS ["heading off" prejudice]

21 Friend, concerned to conceal evidence of debts, getting round hospital body (7)
PHALANX - PAL [friend] + ANX{ious} [concerned, "concealing" its IOUs ("evidence of debts")], getting round H [hospital]

22 Refusal to rear child of five, nameless Spanish American (6)
YANQUI - reversed NAY [refusal "to rear"] + QUI{n} [child of five, without N for name]

23 Thingummy, sound representative of military brass, taking judge for politician (5)
OOJAH - OO{mp->J}AH [sound representative of military brass, with a J instead of an MP]

24 Boy Belgian holds up no more like a clod (5)
GLEBY - hidden reversed in {bo}Y BELG{ian}

Times 27,053: The Thriller in Vanilla

A very competent and concisely clued crossword, but almost unnecessarily straightforward for a Friday - oh well, if you find yourself craving convolution there's always my Club Monthly blog, also live today.

I quite liked 2d for being the quirkiest clue of the day and also 3d for a fun cryptic device resulting in a nice surface. Having done this on paper I don't have an exact time, but I know I didn't have to pause long at any point: a "steady, pleasant solve". Thanks setter!

ACROSS
1 Arrangements for action aborted, or left out (5,2,6)
ORDER OF BATTLE - (ABORTED OR LEFT*) ["out"]

9 Maybe kilos wife's shed, showing figure (5)
EIGHT - {w}EIGHT. WEIGHT is "maybe kilos", shedding W for wife.

10 Moving a line at the end of proposal on the internet? (9)
EMOTIONAL - A L [a | line] at the end of E-MOTION. MOTION is a proposal, and you can jocularly internet anything by putting an E- in front of it.

11 One dealing with gender-fluid performer (10)
TRANSACTOR - TRANS [gender-fluid] + ACTOR [performer]. Is "trans" necessarily "gender-fluid"? You might be trans and very firmly committed to your gender. Probably best not to start arguing about these things on the internet though...

12 Asian bands love ending with encore (4)
OBIS - O [love] ending with BIS [encore]. A familiar word in crosswords, like its friend the ibis, an obi is a Japanese kimono sash.

14 Ruler in east, one out of Shanghai (7)
EMPRESS - E [east] + {i}MPRESS [shanghai, losing I for "one"]

16 Language's current rules about welcoming greeting (7)
SWAHILI - I LAWS [current | rules], reversed and then "welcoming" HI [greeting]

17 Old writing, wanting a new start (7)
OPENING - O [old] + PEN{n}ING [writing, wanting "a new" = one of its Ns]

19 Pupil once misleads about spearhead of ground forces (7)
OBLIGES - OB [= old boy, pupil once] + LIES [misleads] about G{round}

20 Losing heart, book holiday period (4)
NOEL - NO{v}EL [book, losing "heart" = its central character]

21 Leader with due respect to me (10)
PACESETTER - PACE SETTER [with due respect to | me]. PACE, from the Latin, is a word that I've never quite known how to pronounce. I tend to gravitate to saying it so it sounds quite similar to an r-less "padre" - what about you?

24 Radical message, not the first on film (9)
EXTREMIST - {t}EXT [message, "not the first"] + RE MIST [on | film]

25 Once again, make fast retreat — run off (5)
RETIE - RETI{r}E - a word for retreat, losing one R for "run".

26 Pan for some food maybe being the wrong size (13)
DISPROPORTION - DIS PRO PORTION [pan | for | some food maybe]

DOWN
1 Say how to buy drug patent with two drugs — the wrong way (4-3-7)
OVER THE COUNTER - OVERT [patent] with H + E [two drugs] + COUNTER [the wrong way]

2 Belief one may be a source of litter? (5)
DOGMA - convert the word laterally into DOG MOTHER and you will have the proud source of a litter of pups.

3 Sozzled, rise twice to spit (10)
ROTISSERIE - (RISE RISE TO*) ["sozzled"]

4 Rob's put on small garments (7)
FLEECES - FLEECE [rob] is put on S [small]

5 Way of working in thrill, almost erotic (7)
AMOROUS - M.O. [way of working] in AROUS{e} [thrill, "almost"]

6 Grasp tip of throw rug (4)
TWIG - T{hrow} + WIG [rug]. Was hoping this to be something to do with syrup again, but that was probably a one-off.

7 Giving title to book and nine long works (9)
ENNOBLING - (B + NINE LONG*) ["works"]

8 Doctor stops neuralgic spasms (7,7)
PLASTIC SURGEON - (STOPS NEURALGIC*) ["spasms"]

13 Does one hold up one who is late? (4-6)
PALL-BEARER - cryptic definition, "late" meaning "deceased" in this case.

15 Introduced now dominant figure on paper (9)
PRESENTED - PRESENT [now] + ED [dominant figure on paper]

18 Tradesman more likely to avoid work after golf (7)
GLAZIER - LAZIER [more likely to avoid work] after G [golf]

19 Henry leaves Frank a record for dance (3-4)
ONE-STEP - {h}ONEST [H for Henry leaves a word meaning "frank"] + EP [record]. When you see dance in a clue and a 3-4 enumeration, it's very often ONE or TWO-STEP...

22 Show disapproval over note in noted passage (5)
TUTTI - TUT [show disapproval] over TI [note]

23 Place to eat in Times Square (4)
MESS - hidden in {ti}MES S{quare}

Quick Cryptic 1104 by Felix

Well, what to say here? I expect all will find this straightforward for the most part, given the number of parsings that are just A+B+C. I suspect it is deliberately so after a recent series of more challenging puzzles. Most of the anagrams clearly telegraph themselves as such, but the surfaces suffer a bit as a result - compare the rather clunky 1ac, with the elegant 4dn . I was thrown momentarily by 20ac with its quite unnecessary E on the end, and despite the fact that I pretend to be fluent in French, I stared at 6dn for what seemed like an hour. I reckon that's at the limit of what should be expected of crossworders' french vocab, n'est-ce pas?


Across
1 Cuckoo flying sees L Ness (9)
SENSELESS - anagram ('flying') of SEES L NESS
6 Bath for one son, given by father (3)
SPA - S + PA
8 Parvenu’s good times with prostitute (7)
UPSTART - UPS (cf downs) + TART
9 Man after a kiss in principle (5)
AXIOM - A + X + IOM (Isle of Man)
10 Tanner’s knife fashioned a work of horror (12)
FRANKENSTEIN - anagram ('fashioned') of TANNER'S KNIFE
12 Disney: no flipping composer! (6)
WALTON - WALT + NO backwards
13 Lake some have negotiated coming west (6)
GENEVA - hidden word, reversed ('coming west'):  hAVE NEGotiated
16 Admiral’s mistress and boy meeting YHA poet (4,8)
LADY HAMILTON -  LAD + YHA + MILTON
19 At home, prepared small picture? (5)
INSET - IN + SET
20 A very loud tune ending in fine fling (7)
AFFAIRE - A + FF + AIR + E
22 Conclusion of research, indeed, something cut and dried (3)
HAY - H (end of research) + AY
23 SMS menu, so confused, displaying calls (9)
SUMMONSES - anagram ('confused') of SMS MENU SO

Down
1 Self-satisfied son, gullible chap (4)
SMUG - S + MUG
2 Some flirt so naughtily lifting part of body (7)
NOSTRIL - another reversed hidden word: fLIRT SO Naughtily
3 In French article, presenting girl (3)
ENA - EN + A
4 Book three’s complicated (6)
ESTHER - anagram ('complicated') of THREE'S
5 American visiting country left large Cornish town (2,7)
ST AUSTELL - US inside STATE with LL (left and large)
6 Take sixteen to Paris (5)
SEIZE - French for 16
7 Song about chaps in a foreign land (7)
ARMENIA - ARIA outside MEN
11 Phone’s yet to be adapted for novices (9)
NEOPHYTES - Anagram ('adapted') of PHONES YET
12 Rapacious noise from cow upset sea creature (7)
WOLFISH - Noise from cow is LOW, upset is WOL, add FISH
14 Bees flying about on island’s trees (7)
EBONIES - anagram ('flying') of BEES arranged around ON I
15 Preserve of English doctor, endless charity (6)
EMBALM - E + MB + ALM (short for ALMS)
17 Good-looking girl, timid (5)
DISHY - DI + SHY
18 Caribbean islands: Skye is quite different (4)
KEYS - anagram of SKYE
21 Nightingale’s familiar form, fairly like owl initially (3)
FLO - first letters of Fairly Like Owl