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March 1st, 2019

I thought this was a super MCS with two wonderful 15-letter highlights at 2dn and 7dn propping up the whole puzzle. 2dn in particular is almost certainly the most perfect clue I've seen this year - huge kudos to the setter for locating that anagram.

Amazingly this is quite far from being a pangram, despite what a quick glance at the SE corner would suggest to anyone. Remarkable restraint on the part of the settter!

ACROSS
1 Stepney’s rough but not affected by mouse activity, last couple being sent west (5,4)
UNCLE DICK - take UNCLICKED [not affected by mouse activity, of say a webpage], and move ED, its "last couple" of letters in a westward direction, to end up with the Cockney rhyming slang for "sick".

6 Tolstoy’s margins still illustrative of poetry (5)
TYPIC - T{olsto}Y's "margins" are adding to PIC [still], to result in a more poetic variant form of TYPICAL.

9 What helps make ermine vermin? Its fur (7)
MINEVER - the winter coat of an ermine, hidden in {er}MINE VER{min}.

10 Wheeling Russian sandpiper like a big old falcon (7)
SAKERET - reverse TEREK AS [Russian sandpiper | like] to find another obscure word for a bird. Fortunately I did this just after a Listener crosssword called "Migratory Birds" so the Russian sandpiper was a write-in!

11 Worms’ dwelling with 500 in Glaswegian’s clutches (5)
HAUDS - Worms is a place in Germany where a house is a HAUS, stick in a Roman D for 500 and you have a Scottish word for holds or clutches.

12 Display sacred cross that may cause itchy palms (9)
POMPHOLYX - POMP HOLY X [display | sacred | cross]. From a subset of the crossers I initially biffed a semi-confident PEMPHIGUS, but should have known better!

13 I lie in excessively idle talk, getting twisted awkwardly around (8)
SLUG-A-BED - GAB [idle talk], getting SLUED [twisted awkwardly] around. My LOI, presumably to a complete lack of ability to identify with this indolent individual.

14 Perhaps a summer of heartless pandemonium (4)
BEAM - BE{dl}AM ["heartless" pandemonium]. I did not know that a "summer" or a "summer-tree" was a great horizontal beam, but it's a lovely thing to learn.

17 It’s plain Mary stuffing mouth (4)
OBVS - BV [Beata Virgo or possibly Blessed Virgin Mary] "stuffing" OS [mouth]. From the sublimest to the most ridiculous vocabulary - and both are good!

18 Elizabethan fragrant plant eater’s absorbing English book (4-4)
NOSE-HERB - NOSHER [eater] is "absorbing" E [English] + B [book]

21 Five clean up the spout with poisonous effect (9)
VENEFICAL - (FIVE CLEAN*) ["up the spout"]

22 Climax of haj in Muslim festival over communal farm (5)
EJIDO - {ha}J in EID [Muslim festival] + O [over]. I assumed this might be a Japanese communal farm, but it's a Mexican one.

24 Lazy, outdated British leaving to smear European (7)
LURDANE - {b}LUR [B for British leaving "to smear"] + DANE [European]. I tried for an optimistic LURPOLE at first, but other Europeans are available.

25 Smaller seabirds allowed to stop large one returning (7)
AUKLETS - LET [allowed] to "stop" reversed SKUA [large seabird]

26 Will’s put in vault, trying to lose page containing name (5)
ENSKY - {p}ESKY [trying, losing P for page] "containing" N [name]. A Shakespearean word meaning to put in the vault of the heavens, not underground.

27 Long Island team quickly accepts lead for Archibald Leach (9)
LIXIVIATE - LI XI VITE [Long Island | team | quickly] "accepts" A{rchibald}. Nothing to do with Cary Grant.

DOWN
1 I’m hesitant to take mixed martial arts in religious community (5)
UMMAH - UH [I'm hesitant] to take MMA [mixed martial arts] in. Not UMMAM as I originally surmised.

2 Curving semilune showing hysterical disposition? (8,7)
CINGULUM VENERIS - (CURVING SEMILUNE*) ["showing hysterical disposition"], one of the most beautiful &lit's I can recall seeing, and insta-COD.

3 No longer make a subordinate see dope blocking road to the north (8)
ENVASSAL - V ASS [see | dope] "blocking" reversed LANE [road]. "No longer" as in "an obsolete word meaning".

4 Broke in to express pleasure over cutting crazy diet (8)
IRRUPTED - reversed PURR [to express pleasure] "cutting" (DIET*) ["crazy"]

5 Veil of doom almost engulfing society (4-2)
KISS-ME - KISME{t} [doom "almost"] "engulfing" S [society]

6 NZ rail travel regularly covers kilometres — I get it (6)
TAKAHE - T{r}A{v}E{l} "overs" K AH! [km | I get it]. The avian kind of rail.

7 Standard gene variant transmitted by duct primarily affects solid figures (15)
PARALLELEPIPEDA - PAR ALLELE PIPED [standard | gene variant | transmitted by duct] + A{ffects}. Easy WOD.

8 Free advisory organisation admits endless confusion with note brought up for cancer drug (9)
CETUXIMAB - C.A.B. [free advisory organisation] "admits" reversed MIX-U{p} TE. Not sure how you choose between CETUXIMAB or CITUXIMAB without recourse to a dictionary, if you're not lucky enough to be an oncologist...

13 Fresh bun and loaves worth relating to cost (4,5)
SNOB VALUE - (BUN + LOAVES*) ["fresh"]. Brilliant clue with a superlatively camouflaged definition part.

15 Liberace emptied gold into thickening stacks of money (8)
ROULEAUX - L{iberac}E + AU [gold] "into" ROUX [thickening]

16 Russian recipient of prize for physics, forced over neck (8)
CERENKOV - (OVER NECK*) ["forced"]. Sci-fi fans like me may associate him or Cherenkov with radiation, and that was good enough for me to write it in.

19 Internal organs ultimately destroy neighbour of Kildare (6)
OFFALY - OFFAL [internal organs] + {destro}Y. Nice suggestion of Dr Kildare but of course it's just Irish counties here. Also neighbour to Galway, Roscommon, Westmeath, Meath, Laois and Tipperary, so Kildare needn't think itself so special.

20 Dance scene goes on to create a shrill cry in WI (6)
SCREEL - REEL [dance] that SC [scene] goes on. Nice to see WI English getting a nod, over the more usual Scots.

23 East German and eastern Australian in less familiar guise (5)
OSSIE - OSSI [East German] + E [eastern]. What kind of monster would spell it this way instead of AUSSIE or at least OZZIE?

Times Quick Cryptic No 1299 by Izetti

Oh my goodness, March already! Well I just had to say that after my introduction to my blog before last when one of my friends reminded me that February, this year at least, has only 28 days. This is my first Izetti to blog for a while and I was glad to get to blog another one as we always get a good challenge from the Don. A couple of less common words in the answers, but the wordplay and checkers should help. One clue appears to have a misprint, but should still be solvable. I liked 8A, 16A and 20A but COD to 3D. All done and dusted for me in a sub-average time of about 5 1/2 minutes, but I foresee a couple of obstacles for the less experienced Thanks Izetti for the fun. How did you all get on?
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