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March 11th, 2019

QC 1305 by Oink

I believe this is the first time I have blogged an Oink puzzle. Pleased to meet you, Sir or Madam, and I enjoyed your puzzle very much. I think because the 'handwriting' was unfamiliar I read it through first time without filling in much, but all went in pretty quickly after that and provided a very gentle start to the week, with everything fitting in quite smoothly in just under 7 minutes.

FOI was 5A I think. Should have been 1A looking back, but it was so obvious that I couldn't see it first time. I believe my LOI was BATHE, because once I got into my stride most of it happened quite sequentially. No particular clue stood out for difficulty so my COD goes to 8D for smoothness of surface and general tidiness.

I am very pleased to report that at some point towards the end of the week before last I managed to catch up with all my 15x15s. When I tell you that my two standout clues were "Line that stops tongue moving, twisted in knots? (8)" (27243) and "
Online dealer; as announced (9): (27246), you will realise how long I had been letting them stack up. I am sure there must have been a load of better clues during the accumulated backlog of 20-30 puzzles but those are just the random two that really stand out for me as I look back. Maybe now I can get back to doing the QC daily as well.

And while I am on the subject of favourite clues I wonder if this might be an excuse to invite everybody to post their all time golden nuggets? I always find that sort of thing fascinating (but I realise I may be in a minority and all the rest of you might have been there before and find it a bit boring).

While I am at it though I do remember that when I first started doing this blog somebody posted one of their favourite clues. I thought about it briefly and moved on, intending to come back to it later but now I realise I completely forgot. If you can remember who you were would you mind posting it again? I think it had something to do with a square.


Finally I did remember to whip out my NATRAF (Nina And Theme Radar And Filter) at the end and scanned the final grid, but I could detect no evidence of unusual activity.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

Across
1 A country pile? (8)
HAYSTACK - cryptic definition.
5 Henry’s in great pain (4)
ACHE - H (Henry) 'in' ACE (great).
9 Timid chap getting married by river (5)
MOUSE - M (married) + OUSE (Yorkshire river).
10 One who weeps about resistance fighter (7)
BRAWLER - BAWLER (one who weeps) 'about' R (resistance).
11 Occasionally arrange fundraising event (3)
RAG - 'occasional' letters of aRrAnGe.
12 Partner is in trouble, that’s become apparent (9)
TRANSPIRE - straight anagram ('in trouble') of PARTNER IS.
13 Briefly follow popular Soviet leader (6)
STALIN - STAL (STALk (follow) 'briefly') + IN (popular).
15 Remarkable dramas in Indian city of old (6)
MADRAS - straight anagram ('remarkable') of DRAMAS.
17 England going mad? That’s the impression (9)
ENGRAVING - ENG (England) + RAVING (going mad).
19 Legal profession's drinking den (3)
BAR - double definition.
20 Primate's a partisan, it’s said (7)
GORILLA - sounds like ('it's said') GUERRILLA (partisan).
21 Sum to put back (3,2)
TOT UP - TO + TUP (PUT backwards).
22 Travel in part of Hebrides (4)
RIDE - hidden word: HebRIDEs.
23 Beyond compare, as House of Lords when empty? (8)
PEERLESS - an empty House of Lords would have no PEERS in it and so could be described as PEERLESS.
Down
1 Reporter's funny bone (7)
HUMERUS - sounds like ('reporter's') HUMOROUS (funny). But I would say this is hardly a clue really at all because that is why the upper bone of your upper limb is popularly referred to as your 'funny bone' anyway.
2 Immature, year-old gnu heading north (5)
YOUNG - Y (year) + O (old) + UNG (GNU 'heading north' in this Down clue).
3 Tear city hall apart in dramatic fashion (12)
THEATRICALLY - straight anagram ('apart') of TEAR CITY HALL.
4 Emergency committee needs firm support (5)
COBRA - CO ('company', commonly used in Crossword Land to mean a 'firm' although in strict legal terms a firm is a partnership as distinct from a company) + BRA (support).
6 Coal miner runs after dog (7)
COLLIER - COLLIE (dog) + R (runs).
7 Strange place for an eagle, they say (5)
EERIE - sounds like EYRIE ('they say'), an eagle's nest.
8 Servant's amusement causes serious offence (12)
MANSLAUGHTER - MAN'S (servant's) + LAUGHTER (amusement).
14 Terribly enraged? (7)
ANGERED - anagram &lit. ENRAGED 'terribly' = ANGERED, of which the whole clue is also a possible definition.
16 Fights about European difficulties (7)
SCRAPES - SCRAPS (fights) 'about' E (European).
17 Keen to be a long time in Her Majesty's embrace? (5)
EAGER - AGE (a long time) 'in ER's ('Her Majesty's') embrace'.
18 Fatuous characters in Twain anecdote (5)
INANE - hidden word: TwaIN ANEcdote.
19 Bill turned up with ambassador to have a swim (5)
BATHE - BAT (TAB (bill) 'turned up' in this Down clue) + HE (His or Her Excellency, formal title of an ambassador).

Times 27295 - The metronome mazurka!

Time: 39 minutes
Music: Shostakovich, Symphony 14, Ormandy/Philadelphia

I found this a refreshing puzzle, with unusual clues and novel cryptic technique.   At first it seemed almost unapproachable, but I found a few Quickie-style clues scattered around the edges, and was able to just get a foothold.   Once you have a few crossing letters, it is possible to biff some of the longer answers and really get going with good speed.   A good bit of general knowledge is required, mostly of the sort that can be picked up from doing these puzzles for a few years.

I was left in the end with a few that were more difficult to crack, and I really had to think hard to see how the cryptic worked.   I ended up with 'Sudanese', which was the obvious answer, but I had a blind spot for the cryptic for the longest time.   So I was perhaps not as quick as I should have been - but I did enjoy the puzzle.

Across
1 Glue rifle butt, not taking seconds. That’s sound for some time (8)
TICKTOCK - [s]TICK + [s]TOCK,    Definitely a novel cluing technique right at the start.
5 Composer writing feature about opus (6)
CHOPIN - CH(OP)IN.
9 Badly sung idea for a religious piece (5,3)
AGNUS DEI - Anagram of SUNG IDEA, which took me a little while to see.
10 Died down and burned away, last of coal not needed (6)
ABATED - AB[l]ATED.   'Ablated' does not usually meaned 'burned away', but the idea is clear enough.
12 Soldiers beheaded Achilles’ foe — not state business (7,6)
PRIVATE SECTOR - PRIVATES [h]ECTOR.
15 In a spot, perhaps, the man is flexible (5)
LITHE - LIT + HE, spotlit, that is, not drunk.
16 Dish inducting fool into Creole cooking (9)
CASSEROLE - C(ASS)EROLE, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of CREOLE.
17 German town burger men upset (9)
NUREMBERG - anagram of BURGER MEN.
19 Eye work that gets a lot of credit (5)
OPTIC - OP + TIC[k], without the drinks dispenser for a change.
20 Rocks here seething with male fish (5,8)
HORSE MACKEREL - Anagram of ROCKS HERE + MALE.
22 True Australian is mostly stupid about tattoo (6)
DINKUM - D(INK)UM[b], where some little knowledge of the Australian lingo is needed.
23 People in country to appeal about invading Vikings (8)
SUDANESE - SU(DANES)E.   I had a lot of trouble because I was attempting the opposite construction, with a word for 'appeal' invading a word for 'Vikings'.
25 Sound is harsh, missing out on gold disc (6)
STEREO - [au]STERE + O.   A rather loose definition, but the cryptic should give it to you.
26 Where film stage went for useless employees (8)
DEADWOOD -  double definition, I believe - there were a number of films and TV series set in Deadwood, South Dakota. I would like to thank our honorable correspondent from Shanghai for the additional information on how this clue works - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_xmujSyxkU
Down
1 Spring up from vagrant, old and rank (10)
TRAMPOLINE - TRAMP + O + LINE, i.e. a tier or a row.
2 Company gets on top of new scam (3)
CON - CO + N, one from the Quickie.
3 Where there’s a will, there’s a — (7)
TESTATE - Cryptic definition, not very cryptic.
4 Artful Charlie going to bar more than once (6-6)
CLEVER-CLEVER - C + LEVER twice.  A UK-centric expression that it is important for overseas solvers to know.
6 Regular visitor put somewhat in shade (7)
HABITUE - H(A BIT)UE, another chestnut.
7 Prayer gives one lift (11)
PATERNOSTER - double definition, referring to the continually-moving elevator.
8 Where conductors meet to agree on technique, ultimately (4)
NODE - NOD + [techniqu]E.  Another rather loose literal where most solvers will just use the cryptic.
11 This fixes pitches, yet using rake is wrong (3,9)
KEY SIGNATURE - Anagram of YET USING RAKE.
13 Bury coins where roads meet (11)
INTERCHANGE - INTER CHANGE, of course.
14 What draws little money to protect unwell these days (6,4)
PENCIL LEAD - PENC(ILL)E + A.D.
18 Damage most of camping man’s tent (7)
MARQUEE - MAR + QUEE[n], presumably 'camp' in a much different sense
19 City tree has to come down (7)
OAKLAND - OAK + LAND, another easy one.
21 Team’s cancelling southern date in Rome (4)
IDES - [s]IDES, another one from the Quickie.
24 I pass after end of course (3)
EGO -  [cours]E + GO.