February 21st, 2019

Times Quick Cryptic No 1293 by Orpheus

Nothing controversial or difficult this week from Orpheus, just good concise clueing which entertained me for just short of 8 minutes, so should be comfortably accessible for most of us.  Thanks Orpheus for a gentle workout.  I didn't know WELLINGTONIA, but it was very generously clued

Whilst my time was close to a personal best, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the smooth surfaces.  However, I do feel that I have done a short shift with only 12 across clues (about normal) and 10 down clues (a few fewer than usual).  It made me start to wonder how many of the 169 available squares in a 13 x 13 grid are usually black.  Based on a very limited survey, today’s grid does look overborne with black ones (57).  I wonder if anyone has done an analysis to determine the averages (number of clues and number of black spaces v those that require filling).

Greeting the Spanish commended at first – in women, mostly (7)
WELCOME – EL (the in Spanish) and C{ommended} (at first) inside WOME{n} (mostly, drop the last letter)
Persian ruler’s quiet expression of satisfaction (4)
SHAH – SH (quiet) and AH (expression of satisfaction).  Of course, Persia is now roughly equivalent to Iran, and there hasn’t been a Shah in power since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
8 Resilient young male worker inspiring union leader (7)
BUOYANT – BOY (young male) into which is slipped (inspiring) U{nion} (leader – first letter) and ANT (worker)
9  Some strapping lad entering forest clearing (5)
GLADE – Hidden inside (some) {strappin}G LAD E{ntering}.
11  Military tribunal heard top officer when speaking (5,7)
COURT MARTIAL –  Part homophone (when speaking) sounds like caught (heard) and Martial (Marshall) (thanks to Des - see comments below)   Marshal is variously defined as a law-court officer or the highest military rank (in France).  A COURT MARTIAL is a tribunal or court held by officers of the Army, Navy or Air Force.
12 Slight breeze extremely rare in Somerset city (6)
BREATH – R{ar}E (extremely – first and last ketters) inside (in) BATH (Somerset city), as in the expression ‘a BREATH of wind’.
14 Scavenge at great length, never finishing (6)
FORAGE – At great length would be FOR AGE{s} (never finishing – drop the last letter).
15  Big tree a jazzman originally identified in Washington (12)
WELLINGTONIA – {Duke} ELLINGTON (jazzman) and I{dentified} (originally) inside (in) WA{shington} – the state not the city in the District of Colombia (DC).
17  Control male ox (5)
STEER – Double definition.
18 Trembling, seeing second colony of bees by railway (7)
SHIVERY – S{econd} and HIVE (colony of bees) by RY (R{ailwa}Y).
20  Time to abandon hackneyed ceremony (4)
RITE – Take the first T (time to abandon) out of {t}RITE (hackneyed}
21  Fawn upon grown-up relative finally touring area (7)
ADULATE – ADULT (grown-up) (touring) A{rea} and finally (last letter) of {relative}E.

2 Flightless bird in Prague museum (3)
EMU – Hidden in {pragu}E MU{seum}.  They don’t come much easier than this!
Rodent initially caught on yellow plant, unfortunately (5)
COYPU – First letters of (initially) C{aught} O{n} Y{ellow} P{lant}, U{nfortunately}. 
Tiny worker marking time on watch, perhaps? (6,4)
MINUTE HAND – Double cryptic definition, the first pronounced MY NEWT where HAND is a worker, and the second MINNIT where HAND is a hand (or pointer).
6  Composer upset about pistol case (7)
HOLSTER – The composer is Gustav HOLST (famous for the Planets Suite), and HOLST is followed by RE (about) but reversed (upset).
7 Shrub in untidy garden surrounded by fresh hay (9)
HYDRANGEA – My heart usually sinks when I see flowers or plants defined, but this was relatively easy.  An anagram (untidy) of [GARDEN] inside another anagram (fresh) of [HAY]
10  Brought from a distanceThat’s unbelievable! (3-7)
FAR-FETCHED – Almost a double definition.  Something brought from a distance would have been FAR-FETCHED, as would something improbable, unlikely or unbelievable.
11  Woodworker’s writing instrument pinched by carrier(9)
CARPENTER – PEN (writing instrument) inside (pinched by) CARTER (carrier)
13  Sick inmate nursing ultimately fatal illness (7)
AILMENT – Anagram (sick) of [INMATE] containing (nursing) last letter (ultimately) of {fata}L.
16 Original, having first half of month on lake (5)
NOVEL –  NOVE{mber} (first half of month) on L{ake}.
19  Dreary routine involving stags in autumn (3)
RUT – DD.  Something that sexually stimulated stags do in the autumn, and a tedious routine from which it is difficult to escape.
Linus van Pelt
  • z8b8d8k

27280 Thursday, 21 February 2019 In our district yaks are quite rare

I am away for the next two weeks floating around the Caribbean with Mrs Z and suspect a lack of reliable communications, so George has kindly swapped dates with me, which means you get both of us, sequentially, for two weeks running.
This was a not-difficult puzzle, at least for me, because I breezed through in a time of 14.16, quite a bit of it trying various combinations to complete 15d. There is a fair bit of parochial culture knocking around which may not be wholly familiar to all of our diaspora of solvers, though I believe the Society at 6d is internationally known. I had to peer closely at 9a before deciding, regretfully, that it was not some jarring misprint.
I have endeavoured to shed light on what I have guessed might be seen as obscurities, and have decorated my exposition variously with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS Press the appropriattely marked button below:

[Open sesame]

1 Dined out, having photo taken? (9)
PICNICKED For which read “dined outdoors”. Picture abbreviates to PIC, and NICKED is taken either as purloined or, if you happen to be chummy up to no good on my manor, arrested.
6 US agent without hesitation vented anger (5)
FUMED Two stock pieces of clue combine: our FED agent, and –um- UM
9 Yr nose's constructed to be this? (7)
SENSORY I’ve never seen your abbreviated to yr in a Times crossword, and can only hope it’s not the thin end of the wedge leading to ur. Please don’t. Just don’t. Anyway, the ugly opening part of the clue, and “constructed” suggest an anagram in what I suppose we must call an &lit.
10 Painters given copper coins outside front of shop (7)
CUBISTS Copper is CU (Cu if purists insist) coins are BITS, which you place outside front of Shop. I never knew until today that the US bit is 12½ cents, two bits therefore being a quarter.
11 Devon swimmer cheers when rescue vessel comes in (5)
TARKA the Otter is a highly influential book about the eponymous inhabitant of the Taw and Torridge rivers, not to be confused with Ring of Bright Water, which happens in Scotland and has an otter called Mijbil. You may say thank you, cheers, or as necessary here, TA and insert the ARK from a completely different animal rescue story.
12 Child brought before head, one to get child removed? (9)
KIDNAPPER Child is easily KID, and the head bit leads to NAPPER via 18th century thieves’ slang, or more likely for some of us from “Any Old Iron” by Peter Sellers: “you look dapper from your napper to your feet”.
13 Getting to the heart of money people engaged in illegal activity? (8)
CENTRING  Money CENT and the following section just RING.
14 Wadi may be this little river needing help to get across (4)
ARID Little river is just R, and when the clue says get across it means the word (in this case AID for help) should embrace it.
17 Learner, fool — what one isn't using? (4)
LOAF Use your loaf means “think” in Cockney (loaf of bread, head).  OAF is variously interpreted in Chambers as a lout, an idiot, a dolt, a changeling, so I suppose fool will do. Learner contributes its L to this almost &lit
18 At end of month engineers coming to mine ruined by neglect (8)
DECREPIT I wondered if the “end of month” was supposed somehow to point explicitly to DECember, but I can’t make the grammar work. So at the end of DEC, place R(oyal) E(ngineers) and mine: PIT.
21 Feature of eastern churches making one in mood change (5,4)
ONION DOME  An anagram (change) of ONE IN MOOD
22 Climbers struggle with first sign of snow on island (5)
IVIES Struggle is VIE, add the first letter of Snow, and attach both to I(sland)
24 Hospital not functioning in seaside town (7)
SANDOWN The one I know is on the Isle of Wight: there may be others. Hospital is SANatorium (sanitarium in US) and if it’s not functioning it’s DOWN
25 An extreme part of the world penetrated by saint and missionary (7)
APOSTLE A POLE is about as extreme as this world affords (go any further and you fall off the edge). Insert the standard abbreviation for Saint, ST.
26 Witty comment succeeded, with person cooperating (5)
SALLY Might not be familiar as a witty remark, but S(ucceeded) plus ALLY for person co-operating gives it easily enough.
27 Attending party in NI, doctor by nature smart (7,2)
DRESSED UP Sometimes “attending” is an inclusion indicator, but not here. The DUP are currently keeping Theresa May’s mutinous ship afloat in Parliament, at a cost of £1b. Tag them onto your DR and ESSE, approximately “nature” via essence or existence.

1 Optimistic, I have to go out, advance (5)
POSIT as in advance an idea. Optimistic translates to positive, from which I’(ha)VE is to go out.
2 I control a fan, not somehow wanting to encourage hostility (15)
CONFRONTATIONAL A nice, meaty anagram (somehow) of I CONTROL A FAN NOT
3 Unusual language with which the French attempt to convey adulation (8)
IDOLATRY You may or may not know that IDO is a development of Esperanto, and about as successful. Add LA for “the” in French and TRY for attempt
4 Monarch bags a hairy beast in sport (8)
KAYAKING A hairy beast is A YAK, “bagged” by a KING, this clue’s monarch
5 Explain sea fish being found in fresh water (6)
DECODE Sea fish  might well be COD, and the River DEE, of which there are many, is the unlikely fresh water habitat
6 Great guy who belongs to a left-wing society (6)
FABIAN Left wing, but not militantly so, and named for Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, an advocate of gradual and persuasive change. Great: FAB, guy: IAN, today’s random chap
7 Stolen data — I promise, when grilled, to keep very quiet, right? (15)
MISAPPROPRIATED An anagram+ using the letters DATA I PROMISE “when grilled”, ie cooked, plus PP very quiet and R(ight)
8 Resistance in party with nothing to lose to change? Shame! (9)
DISCREDIT Take DISCO for party, lose the nothing 0, add EDIT for change and insert R(esistance)
13 They are hard to name, having zero applications (9)
CALLOUSES Separate hard and to name.  To name gives CALL, which then has 0 USES, standing in for zero applications
15 Influence of guy in bank (8)
LEVERAGE My last in: the crossing letters offer a very large number of possibilities. Eventually LEVEE for bank and RAG for guy (not another random bloke but a verb this time) gave a plausible solution.
16 Bad eggs showing certain characteristics, stealing gold (8)
TRAITORS Certain characteristics are TRAITS, purloining OR, one of the abbreviations for gold.
19 Curious type like Bond trapping his adversary with love (6)
SNOOPY My avatar’s friend’s dog, of course but also someone who’s curious or downright nosy. Type like Bond is of course SPY, love accounts for one of the Os. The NO is presumably Dr No, the villain in the book of the same name.
20 Rocker's enemy, imprisoned individual, languished (6)
MOONED MODs  wore smart clothes, parkas when riding their richly modified Lambrettas, and listened to The Who. Rockers wore Brando-style leather, rode proper motorcycles and preferred rock ‘n’roll as exemplified by Eddie Cochran. For obvious reasons, these differences led to violent clashes in Clacton and Hastings in 1964, and everyone got terribly worried. But we were happy. Anyway, put ONE in a MOD
23 Victorian child labourer? Little son to cry (5)
SWEEP Thanks to Charles Kingsley's Waterbabies, the chimney sweep is the epitome of Victorian child industrial abuse. Here, it’s thanks to S(on) obligingly qualified by ”little” plus WEEP for cry

Times 27,281: More Than Parts Of Which Are Excellent

The kind of puzzle that makes setting look effortlessly easy when of course know it's very hard indeed; pretty much every clue here combines perfect marriages of wordplay and surface with a magician's talent for misdirection, and it's even a pangram too. The best Friday crossword in ages for my money, bravo to the setter! FOI 11ac, LOI the cunning 4dn, as I finally realised I wasn't
needing to justify RISES = "picks up"; I scraped in just under the 10 minutes bar, but it was a close run thing.

Clue of the day, and runner up COD, to 7dn and 15dn; both only fully parsed after submission, but both amazing. But 7dn pips the brilliantly maintained surface of the park keeper thanks to its beautiful "Duke of Wellington". Beginner cluers might assume that you can have a random "of" floating about "to improve the surface" but of course you really can't, and the moment of noticing that it provides the S after "BOOT" was pure cruciverbal joy. And then "fair" fits perfectly with the queen and "porter" so well with the Duke of W. Just a perfect clue really, in a really stonking puzzle. Up with this kind of this thing!

1 Time to put up and shut up, almost (7,2)
QUARTER TO - QUARTER [to put up] + TO [shut up, almost]. "To" as in "he pulled the door to".

6 Brief to raise over a drink (5)
COCOA - COC{k} ["brief" to raise] + O A [over | a]

9 Refurbished front of tourist base in resort (7)
ANTIBES - (T{ourist} BASE IN*) ["refurbished"]

10 Very little right to be said about sisters (7)
SORORAL - SO [very] + R ["little" right] + ORAL [to be said]

11 Retriever after day’s lost more ground? (5)
FINER - FIN{d}ER [retriever, after D for day is "lost"]

13 Sophisticated weapon to burn and fail disastrously (5,4)
SMART BOMB - SMART [to burn] + BOMB [fail disastrously]

14 Daughter has one final letter — the long version — made shorter (9)
DOWNSIZED - D OWNS I ZED [daughter | has | one | final letter - the long version]. As opposed to just Z, the short version.

16 Underground river no longer flows from the mouth (4)
STYX - homophone ("from the mouth"_ of STICKS [no longer flows]

18 Not exactly cut out for work with canines (4)
CHEW - C HEW [not exactly | cut out]. Canines as in teeth, not dogs.

19 Unusual map is only for those seeking gold? (9)
OLYMPIANS - (MAP IS ONLY*) ["unusual"]. Gold as in medals, here.

22 Surrounding some bridge, modest collection of plants (9)
SHRUBBERY - surrounding RUBBER [some bridge], SHY [modest]. Bridge the card game.

24 Jump, but don’t bounce? (5)
CLEAR - double def. Clear as in "get over"; don't bounce like a cheque doesn't.

25 Exercise before small drink (5-2)
PRESS-UP - PRE S SUP [before | small | drink]

26 Get down a word in French, the first word penned (7)
UNMOUNT - UN MOT [a word, in French], "penning" UN [the first word (of the previous)]

28 SE Asian hotel talked of providing commercial extra (3-2)
TIE-IN - homophone ("talked of") of THAI INN [SE Asian | hotel]

29 Chestnut kid keeps in grand Indian dish (5,4)
ROGAN JOSH - ROAN JOSH [chestnut | kid] "keeps in" G [grand]

1 Yard arresting very loud English drunk (7)
QUAFFED - QUAD [yard] "arresting" FF E [very loud | English]

2 Top class training makes us fit (3)
APT - A P.T. [top class | training]

3 TV set, advanced, with knobs (8)
TUBEROSE - TUBE ROSE [TV set | advanced]

4 Picks up brown coat leader of hospital body’s dropped (5)
RUSTS - {t}RUSTS [hospital body's, with its leading letter "dropped"]

5 Regularly taking position, boy’s outside ready (2,5-2)
ON STAND-BY - ON [regularly taking] + STAND [position] + B{o}Y. "On" as in "on medication".

6 Rotten egg scoffed? His wasn’t all bad (6)
CURATE - CUR ATE [rotten egg | scoffed], semi-&lit. Referring to the proverbial curate's egg.

7 Fair queen possibly shunning Duke of Wellington and porter (3,4,4)
CAR BOOT SALE - CAR{d} [queen possibly, "shunning" D for Duke] + BOOT'S [of Wellington] + ALE [porter]

8 One on train fell after receiving large punch (4,3)
AXLE BOX - AXE [fell] after "receiving" L [large], + BOX [punch]

12 Spoils were even, say, this time (3,5,3)
NEW YEAR'S EVE - (WERE EVEN SAY*) ["spoils..."]

15 Raising tip of your sword, strike down Australian park attendant? (9)
ZOOKEEPER - reverse all of: {you}R + EPEE [sword] + K.O. [strike down] + OZ [Australian]

17 Astronaut on reflection best among the stars (8)
SPACEMAN - reverse all of: CAP [best] among NAMES [the stars]

18 What’s replaced septic tanks, finally? (7)
CESSPIT - (SEPTIC {tank}S*) ["replaced"], &lit

20 Tax period (7)
STRETCH - double def

21 Fight organisers with issue the cause of weak interaction? (1,5)
W BOSON - WBO [fight organisers] + SON [issue]. Fortunately basketball player Zach Randolph, aka Z-BO, seems to be both a peaceable sort and singular rather than plural, or else this clue might have proven to have two possible answers!

23 Guy on ornate litter? (5)
YOUNG - (GUY ON*) ["ornate"]

27 Something mysterious appearing periodically in outflow (3)
UFO - {o}U{t}F{l}O{w}