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April 8th, 2019

Time: 52 minutes
Music: Mingus Ah Um

I suspect this puzzle was a bit difficult.  I haven't checked the NITCH yet, but the beautifully smooth clues and the well-hidden literals made it difficult to get a handle on things.  But in the end, there is no obscure vocabulary, and each clue works correctly and efficiently.   I would call this puzzle a minor masterpiece, not quite hard enough or clever enough to really rate, but a cut above the average Monday fare.

I don't often talk policy here, but let me say this.   We have at this site twenty-two active bloggers, plus a couple of substitutes who can be called into action.   They are all volunteers, and they all show up on their assigned day and post their excellent blogs.    Since I took over this blog a little more than two years ago, I have made it a policy to give the bloggers as much freedom as possible, in return for their loyal service as volunteers.    There have been a few blogs that were not to my taste, but that is to be expected with such a varied cast of characters.    So before you take anything to heart, consider that you are getting same-day service from some of the sharpest minds in the solving world, at absolutely no cost to yourself.   EOR.

Across
1 Tree sounding rough, an old one (5,8)
HORSE CHESTNUT -  Sounds like HOARSE, plus CHESTNUT, which this clue is not!
9 After cheers, negative utterance forbidden (5)
TABOO - TA + BOO, a starter clue that I didn't read until I had nearly finished the puzzle.
10 Water was filling empty bath, clean mind? (9)
r BRAINWASH - B(RAIN WAS)H, where 'clean' is a verb.   This is nearly the only clue whee the surface is a little awkward.
11 Quite some voice, good heavens! (10)
ALTOGETHER - ALTO + G + ETHER.
12 One's hairy shoulder (4)
BEAR - double definition, referring to the creature in the bearskin.
14 Lie tenth, not last for a change, so qualify (7)
ENTITLE - anagram of LIE TENT[h].
16 Petrol splashed on back of hood, small amount of liquid (7)
DROPLET - [hoo]D + anagram of PETROL.
17 Taking trouble to break up fight, action rescuing business (7)
BAILOUT - B(AIL)OUT.
19 Greek character, attention-seeker captivating male friend, briefly (7)
OMICRON - O(M)I + CRON[y]. - I was going to biff this, but decided to work out the cryptic - it was quite tricky.
20 Each finally got to work, commute a drag (4)
TOKE - Last letters of GOT TO WORK, COMMUTE, with a beautifully hidden literal in the smooth surface.
21 In lesson, teacher not too serious? (10)
PARDONABLE -  PAR(DON)ABLE, my LOI, and I needed all the crossers.
24 Look sideways round cool street in English city (9)
LEICESTER - LE(ICE + ST)ER.   I'm not sure that 'leer' is 'look sideways' - I would describe it as a bold stare.
25 Spot on end of nose: kiss and turn! (5)
EXACT - [nos]E + X + ACT, where the trick is finding the literal.
26 Author who collected art coloured green, it eclipsing most blue (8,5)
GERTRUDE STEIN - GERT(RUDEST)EIN, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of GREEN, IT.
Down
1 Having trouble with face, one’s taken to one’s bed (3-5,6)
HOT-WATER BOTTLE - HOT WATER + BOTTLE, in entirely different senses from what the clue reads.
2 Capital, that of Russia, a hit (5)
RABAT - R[ussia] + A BAT.
3 Stretching across both ends of ottoman, a leg on it massaged (10)
ELONGATION - anagram of A LEG ON IT around O[ttoma]N.
4 Regular tone, slightly cutting? (7)
HABITUE -H(A BIT)UE, one we've seen before.
5 Plant what may grow to inspire wonderment (7)
SEAWEED - SE(AWE)ED
6 Relative idiot (4)
NANA - double definition, relatively srriaghtforward.
7 Tourist heading for Timbuktu, one getting into a tangle? (9)
TRAVELLER - T[imbuktu] + RAVELLER.
8 Carried by ferryman, then lost at sea, old player (8,6)
CHARLTON HESTON - CHAR(anagram of THEN LOST)ON.   I was very dull on this one, seeing it but thinking Oh, Charleston doesn't fit.   But that's not his name!
13 Still not proposing? (10)
MOTIONLESS - Double definition, another one we've seen before.
15 Second double fifty, man collects (9)
TWINKLING - TWIN + K(L)ING, the chess man, of course.
18 One trying to plug in old kitchen appliance (7)
TOASTER - T(O)ASTER, another one I was very slow on, thinking of 'touter'.
19 Requested gold and scarlet to cover Duke’s case (7)
ORDERED - OR(D[uk]E)RED.   My FOI, as I realized this was not going to be a Monday doddle.
22 Strengthen a couple (5)
BRACE - Double definition, one I am always forgetting.
23 Bottom on a chair in the end (4)
REAR - Double definition, so simple it's confusing....I think.   Maybe there's something I'm not seeing? Yep, RE A [chai]R, that's better.   Don't know why I couldn't see it.

QC 1325 by Grumpy

The blog is here but I am not. I am away celebrating a wedding and extending it into a long weekend so I am solving and posting as quickly as possible in between the festivities and the sightseeing. Necessarily brief therefore.

Just under 10 minutes for me and I think I would have been quicker in normal circumstances, so relatively straightforward. Thanks to Grumpy for an entertaining cup of tea.

FOI should have been 1A. An obvious anagram but the letters wouldn't whirl around fast enough in my mind first time around. As it was I think it was 9A. Then for some reason I didn't write in 8A straight away even though the definition leapt out at me so in the end it was the LOI that I came back to and tapped in last thing.

The neatest clue to my mind was 7D, so that is my COD.

Not even a twitch on the NATRAF needle.

Definitions are underlined as usual and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Associates could make it fail-safe (10)
AFFILIATES - straight anagram ('could make') of IT FAIL SAFE.
8 Outlaw leader revealing career in financial sector (7)
BANKING - BAN (outlaw) + KING (leader).
9 Anger about loud weapon (5)
RIFLE - RILE (anger) 'about' F (loud (musical annotation)).
10 Young man from the right English valley (4)
DALE - DAL = LAD reversed (young man 'from the right') + E (English).
11 Orange for high-ranking bureaucrat (8)
MANDARIN - double definition.
13 The solver's breakfast finally includes good dairy product (6)
YOGURT - YOUR (the solver's) + T (breakfasT 'finally') 'including' G (good).
14 Coming back to dry fish (6)
TURBOT - TO (to) + BRUT (dry, as in Champagne) reversed ('coming back') = TURBOT.
17 Switch positions from time to time (2,3,3)
ON AND OFF - double definition, the potential positions of a switch being 'ON' and 'OFF'.
19 Resident in Highlands cottage? (4)
SCOT - hidden word &lit: HighlandS COTtage, and of course the whole clue is a potential definition of a Scot.
21 Not standing for mendacity (5)
LYING - double definition.
22 Bore, extremely unpopular, stopped outside (7)
ENDURED - ENDED (stopped) 'outside' UR (the extremes of UnpopulaR).
23 Still like clones? (3,3,4)
ALL THE SAME - double definition.
Down
2 Cricketer feeling funny (4,3)
FINE LEG - straight anagram of FEELING ('funny'). For the non-cricketers 'FINE LEG' is a fielding position at a fine angle behind the batsman's legs, as opposed to SQUARE LEG who stands square to the batsman. This is also where the 'Square Leg Umpire' stands to get a good view of any potential run out at the striker's end.
3 Flower from the Emerald Isle? Not quite! (4)
IRIS - IRISh (from the Emerald Isle, but 'not quite' with the end chopped off).
4 Dressed and ready to drive? (2,4)
IN GEAR - double definition.
5 Exhausted solicitor accepts rough ride (5,3)
TIRED OUT - TOUT (solicitor) 'accepting' IRED (anagram of RIDE ('rough')).
6 Fly around Finland's capital — until now (2,3)
SO FAR - SOAR (fly) 'around' F, the capital letter of Finland.
7 Restraint said to be put back (10)
REINSTATED - REIN (restraint) + STATED (said).
8 Pal completely ignoring lead singer in the Fifties (5,5)
BUDDY HOLLY - BUDDY (pal) + wHOLLY (completely, ignoring the 'lead').
12 Extravagant lord with a pig? That's novel (8)
PRODIGAL - straight anagram of LORD A PIG ('novel').
15 Two beastly males providing stiff fabric (7)
BUCKRAM - BUCK + RAM (two 'beastly' males). I seem to remember some stage description in Shakespeare describing "two knaves in buckram suits".
16 Father Edward's first in wood once more (6)
AFRESH - FR (father) + E (Edward's first) 'in' ASH (wood).
18 You may hear a tidier girl (5)
ANITA - homophone: A NEATER (a tidier).
20 Missing leader conceals date in Rome (4)
IDES - hIDES 'mising its leader' gives the famous Roman date (as in the Ides of March).