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May 16th, 2019

Times 27352 - a number and a number

Time taken: 13:09.

The last two daily puzzled I blogged each had something I didn't like about them, but the setter has come through today with a rather fun offering that I enjoyed immensely. It took me a little while to pore through some of the anagrams (one for a word that I often mis-spell), and I didn't record the fastest time, but not too far out of my normal range.

The first definition is underlined - away we go...

Across
1 Possible mafioso’s crime — receiving lashes? (8)
SICILIAN - SIN(crime) contatining CILIA(a lash on a cell). Reference to the mafia family in Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather
5 Small harbour without locks (6)
SHAVEN - S(small), HAVEN(harbour). I am not without locks at the moment, having grown a beard for a role. I am counting down the days until the ratty face plague can be removed.
9 The spirit of Trafalgar, Magna Carta (8)
ARMAGNAC - hidden inside tragalgAR MAGNA Carta
10 Nation grew, say, every second? (6)
RWANDA - Cute clue - the alternating letters in GREW, SAY are R, W, AND A
12 Possible range, to some degree (2,3,2,2,4)
AS FAR AS IT GOES - double definition
15 Double to host a US writer (5)
TWAIN - TWIN(double) containing A
16 Food in some countries the same, or different (9)
HORSEMEAT - anagram of THE,SAME,OR
17 Score also broadcast as mark made on pitch (6-3)
TWENTY-TWO - TWENTY(score), then sounds like TOO(also) - a mark on a rugby pitch
19 Asian's heading to the Far East, heart of big country (5)
HAITI - the Asian is THAI, move the T to the end, then add the middle letter of bIg
20 Trousers with hole repaired, tailor initially wears the trousers! (5,3,5)
RULES THE ROOST - anagram of TROUSERS and HOLE, then the first letter in Tailor
22 Harpy's head covered by artist with a plant (6)
DAHLIA -  first letter in Harpy surrounded by Salvador DALI, then A
23 Craft used near submarine (8)
UNDERSEA - anagram of USED,NEAR. Submarine is an adjective here
25 Motorway madness? See it to believe it? (6)
MIRAGE - M1(motorway) then RAGE(madness)
26 Footwear — a slipper? (3-5)
ICE-SKATE - double definition

Down
1 Off masking pretence with it, a hanger-on? (10)
STALACTITE - STALE(off) containing ACT(pretence), IT. A hanger-on of cave roofs
2 River where coat hauled up (3)
CAM - MAC(coat) reversed
3 Shackle on press (3-4)
LEG-IRON - LEG(on, in cricket), IRON(press)
4 Number Ten at sea, this proving disastrous (12)
ANAESTHETIST - anagram of TEN,AT,SEA,THIS
6 Residence fitted with old loo — why? (3,4)
HOW COME -  HOME(residence) containing O(old), WC(loo). This was my favorite clue of a good bunch
7 A disarmingly beautiful work of art? (5,2,4)
VENUS DE MILO - cryptic definition
8 Clean without water (4)
NEAT - double definition
11 As noise all around here, opt for a change in sound (12)
STEREOPHONIC - SONIC(as noise) containing an anagram of HERE,OPT
13 Recent parts more distant, one's out of touch (4-7)
FLAT-EARTHER - LATE(recent) inside FARTHER(more distant). Out of touch? I live in a land packed with them!
14 Drinks guzzled by band, performance taking off (10)
STRIPTEASE - TEAS(drinks) inside STRIPE(band)
18 Significant relation (7)
TELLING - double definition
19 Control speed rounding bow of naval ship (7)
HARNESS - HARE(speed) containing the first letter(bow) of Naval, then SS(ship)
21 God's first son on Jesus' first morning? (4)
ADAM - the first morning of Jesus would be an AD(anno domini) AM
24 Music genre, origins in sunny Kingston apparently (3)
SKA - first letters of In Sunny Kingston

Times Quick Cryptic No 1353 by Oink

At 7 minutes start to finish this puzzle was close to a personal best for me, and I really can’t get through them any quicker than that sort of time – I just can’t read and think and write quickly enough to approach the sort of times that I suspect some will show for this puzzle.

Hopefully, this is an accessible puzzle for all standards.  Most of the clueing was concise and clear, and there was much to admire in the surfaces and clever wordplay, though some of the good stuff may have been missed on first reading.  Congratulations to Oink – a lovely example of the Setter’s craft.

I am returning from the wilds of western Scotland today, so may not be able to respond quickly to any questions or comments that you may post.  I’m sure that one or more of the old hands will be able to help though, in my temporary absence.

Across
Husband straying?  He might catch this! (7)
HERRING – The whole clue is the cryptic definition.  The wordplay is H for husband, and ERRING for straying. 
Very nice meal.  Only 1 p (5)
SUPER – The meal is a SUP{p}ER, and as instructed, it is spelled with only 1 p to give SUPER – very nice!
8 Killing of one donkey after another by island people (13)
ASSASSINATION – ASS is repeated to give both the first and second donkeys, followed by I{sland} and NATION (people).
Beg Parisian in hospital to abandon threat (7)
ENTREAT – EN (French (or Parisian) for ‘in’ followed by T{h}REAT (threat without the H{ospital}, or letter H removed (abandoned)).
10  Ethel regularly chewed the things in her mouth (5)
TEETH – TE (alternate letters (regularly) in {e}T{h}E{l}) followed by an anagram (chewed) of [THE].
11 Punt unsteadily, drinking old whiskey in residential area (6)
UPTOWN – Anagram (unsteadily) of [PUNT] with O{ld} and W{hiskey}.  In the USA, UPTOWN refers to the residential quarters of a town, whilst DOWNTOWN refers to the centre or core of the town or city.
13 Older Spanish gentleman touring India (6)
SENIOR – SENOR (Spanish gentleman) touring (outside) I{ndia}.
15  Reporter’s dispatched perfume (5)
SCENT – Homophone of SENT (dispatched).  Reporter’s refers to the person speaking the word, and is the soundalike indicator (soundarind?)
16  Fabric in ashes after explosion (7)
HESSIAN – Anagram (after explosion) of [IN ASHES].
19  Thracian coins misrepresented as belonging to another time (13)
ANACHRONISTIC – Anagram (misrepresented) of [THRACIAN COINS].
20  Rubbish written by Her Majesty – or King Edward (5)
TATER – TAT (rubbish) and ER (Her Majesty).  A TATER is an informal name for a potato, which is what a King Edward is!
21  Released gang without charge (3,4)
SET FREE – SET (gang) and FREE (without charge).

Down
1         Leave Henry for large Yank (5)
HEAVE – Take the word LEAVE and replace the L{arge} with an H{enry} to get a tug or yank (rather than a Yankee which is the misdirection here).
Respond to provocation, as creature of the deep may do? (4,2,3,4)
RISE TO THE BAIT – Another clue where the whole clue gives the cryptic definition.
Kids can be a problem (5)
ISSUE – Double definition.
4 Investigate  doctor in Togo (2,4)
GO INTO – Anagram (doctor) [IN TOGO]
5 Surprise the French after kick-off (7)
STARTLE – LE (‘the’ in French) after START (kick-off).
6  Prepare clergyman for the highest office? (5,8)
PRIME MINISTER – PRIME (prepare) and MINISTER (clergyman).  Whether or not the PRIME MINISTERship is indeed the highest office is questionable these days, with The Speaker and others perhaps laying claim to that title!
7  Overran Cherokees holding cowboy (7)
RANCHER – Hidden word (holding) in {over}RAN CHER{okees}.
11  Nobody put rats out (7)
UPSTART – Anagram (out) of [PUT RATS].
12 One who observes criminal a wretch (7)
WATCHER –  Anagram (criminal) of [A WRETCH]
14  Doctor overlooking procedures?  Oh dear! (6)
WHOOPS – WHO (doctor, as in the popular TV series) and OPS (procedures).
17  Penniless family thrown into street (5)
SKINT – KIN (family) inside S[tree}T.
18  Ideal position of hotel in French resort (5)
NICHE – H{otel} inside NICE (French resort)

Times 27,353: The Laconian Muse

A not overly strenuous (by Friday standards) puzzle to cap off a not overly strenuous crossword week. There was a fair bit of low (ie good) cunning to the wordplay here, but essentially, if you're comfortable with putting words inside other words or occasionally taking them out or jiggling them around, you have all the tools required to solve this puzzle.

Maybe it's not just me who sometimes finds shorter clues harder than the ones that give you plenty of information to work with? Here if you didn't see the answer straight away, you might be in a bit of trouble on any given clue. I made a rod for my own back by throwing in an only partially convincing stab at 15ac, and ended up with a time of around 8 minutes. I liked the "single-digit growth", the tricksy "I can see what the answer must be but how does it work?" clue at 20ac, and the generally highly convincing surfaces throughout. Thanks to the setter!

ACROSS
1 Ring head about one dope (6)
OPIATE - O PATE [ring | head] "about" I [one]

5 This writer's pursuing very old man's case (8)
VOCATIVE - I'VE [this writer (ha)s], pursuing V O CAT [very | old | man]

9 Marine line's pump (8)
PLIMSOLL - double def

10 Woman possessed a nut found among bananas (6)
MAENAD - A EN [a | nut], found among MAD [bananas].
A "nut" is another word for the printing "en" (that's half of an "em").

11 Does salt always stick to this big dish? (4,6)
MAIN COURSE - a double def of a sort. A salt being a sailor, the main being the sea: if you squint you can just about see how a "salt" would always stick to a "course" across the "main".

13 Second pin number maybe in A&E (4)
AIDE - I.D. [pin number maybe] "in" A and E. First one in.

14 In Yorkshire, the tavern that provides lifts? (1-3)
T-BAR - or alternatively punctuated, t'bar, where a Yorkshireman might go for his pint.

15 Yield from a mine drilling copper overdue (10)
CAPITULATE - A PIT [a mine] "drilling" CU LATE [copper | overdue].
I made heavy weather of this one by bunging in ACCUMULATE at first...

18 Former Bond loaded with what's needed for passion (10)
EXCITEMENT - EX CEMENT [former | bond] "loaded" with IT [what's needed]

20 Twice loses unemployment benefit? Just that! (4)
DOLE - DO{ub}LE [twice] "loses" U.B. for a synonyms of U.B.

21 Runner goes around a Munro (4)
SAKI - SKI [runner] "goes around" A, to arrive at H.H. Munro, who may have died in 1916 but who is still a regular habitue of Crosswordland.

23 Bar culture somehow related to consumption (10)
TUBERCULAR - (BAR CULTURE*) ["somehow"]

25 Ray comes across right word to help concentration (6)
MANTRA - MANTA [ray] "comes across" R [right]

26 To surpass in work, I trust mobile (8)
OUTSTRIP - in OP [work], (I TRUST*) ["mobile"]

28 Firm in the past briefly occupying island (8)
CONCRETE - ONC{e} [in the past "briefly"] "occupying" CRETE [island]

29 Missing leader, draws lots (6)
OODLES - {d}OODLES ["missing leader", draws]

DOWN
2 Where to put post and support shrub (6,3)
PILLAR BOX - PILLAR [support] + BOX [shrub]

3 A recluse hosts male welfare worker once (7)
ALMONER - A LONER [a | recluse] "hosts" M [male]

4 I must display energy in different ways (3)
EGO - E + GO [energy "in (two) different ways"]. Last one in.

5 A piece of oral evidence turns up describing part of mouth (5)
VELAR - hidden reversed in {o}RAL EV{idence}

6 Committee adviser bridles at pundit (11)
COMMENTATOR - COM. MENTOR [committee | adviser] "bridles" AT

7 Single-digit growth worried one in the end (7)
TOENAIL - (ONE*) ["worried"] in TAIL [the end]

8 Food item with rocket on top (5)
VIAND - AND [with], V-1 [rocket] on top
Thanks to those who corrected my cold-ridden misapprehension of the parsing here!

12 Arrange scores or bust judge (11)
ORCHESTRATE - OR + CHEST RATE [bust | judge]

16 Author's lyrical work lacking effort (3)
POE - POE{try} [lyrical work, "lacking TRY (= effort)"]

17 Garrulous, like a TV lunatic absorbing atmosphere (9)
TALKATIVE - (LIKE A TV*) ["lunatic"] "absorbing" AT [atmosphere].
Would've thought that "atmosphere" would've been "ATM"? But oh well...

19 Fatuous one follows papers to do with hearing (7)
IDIOTIC - I [one] follows I.D. [papers] + OTIC [to do with hearing]

20 Put off foreign one wearing old hat (7)
DAUNTED - UN [foreign (= French) one] "wearing" DATED [old hat]

22 Last pair abandoning fashionable, ill-fated mission (5)
ALAMO - A LA MO{de} ["last pair (of letters) abandoning" fashionable]

24 Audibly demonstrates contempt for sauce (5)
BOOZE - homophone of BOOS [demonstrates contempt for]

27 Sort of square rings on top of that (3)
TOO - T [sort of square] + O O [(two) rings]