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July 4th, 2019

Times Quick Cryptic No 1388 by Teazel

I am filling in for Rolytoly today, who is on holiday at the moment – I know not where!  Roly will do the next two Thursdays after he gets back. 

I found that I wasn’t on the wavelength today for this puzzle from Teazel, and took 17 minutes, two over my target.  My first pass through the across clues didn’t fill many squares, and I needed to dot about a bit to make any progress.  9a was my LOI and COD – a well disguised anagram, and I also liked 8d.

Enjoy your break Roly, and we look forward to seeing you back next week.

Across
1         Fish that swells you up? (7)
BLOATER – Cryptic clue to the fish that is smoke dried, and traditionally hails from Yarmouth.
Oxygen, for example, just a hint? (7)
ELEMENT – Double definition, the first by example and the second referring to a trace or smidgeon of a thing.
9 Person’s extreme elation breaks out (7)
TOENAIL – Anagram (breaks out) of [ELATION].  Despite the ugliness of the answer, I like this clue!
10  Eastern, rockier-sounding land (7)
Estonia – E{astern} and STONIA (sounds like stonier – rockier sounding).
11 Advantage of clipping front of boundary shrubs (4)
EDGE – The boundary shrubs are a {h}EDGE, with the aitch dropped (clipping front).  To have an EDGE is to have an advantage.
12 Strangely certain it is complicated (9)
INTRICATE – Anagram (strangely) of [CERTAIN IT].
14 Broccoli sample from rustic a lab re-sent (9)
CALABRESE – Hidden in (sample from) {rusti}C A LAB RE-SE{nt}
16  Catch small horse (4)
SNAG – S{mall} and NAG (horse).
17  Current is most important, I state (7)
TOPICAL – TOP (most important) followed by I (I) and CAL{ifornia} (state).
20  Smooth fellow, a powerful athlete (4,3)
IRON MAN – IRON (smooth) and MAN (fellow).  An IRON MAN can be either a man of extraordinary strength, or a winner of an endurance test comprising of surfing, swimming and running events (both Australian in common usage) or (when a single word - IRONMAN) a long distance triathlon race consisting, usually, of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run.
21  Cuts roughly round extremely loose dog hairs (7)
HACKLES – HACKS (cuts roughly) outside of (round) L{oos}E (extremely loose, i.e. first and last letters).
22  African party enters ten year rental agreement (7)
TENANCY – ANC (African National Congress – African party) between (enters) TEN (ten) and Y{ear}.

Down
1         Toffee spread with whisky (12)
BUTTERSCOTCH – BUTTER (spread) and SCOTCH (whisky).  This clue wouldn’t work with whiskey, as whiskey isn’t SCOTCH!
2  Exercise in muddy lagoon – it shouldn’t be missed (4,4)
OPEN GOAL – P{hysical} E{xercise} (exercise) inside (in) an anagram (muddy) of [LAGOON].
3  What awful weather! (4)
THAW – Anagram (awful) of [WHAT].
4  Engineers take forty days to ease off (6)
RELENT – RE (Royal Engineers) and (take) LENT (forty days).  LENT is the name given to the forty days of fasting in the Christian religion between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
5 Woman threshed grain (8)
BEATRICE – BEAT (threshed) and RICE (grain).
Intend to be average (4)
MEAN – Double definition, the second referring to the mathematical MEAN.
Come here for a holiday? (6,6)
TRAVEL AGENCY – Cryptic definition with mis-direction pointing you to a holiday resort, rather than the place one might go to procure a holiday.
12  One doctor picked up infestation on head of envoy, the idiot! (8)
IMBECILE – I (one) MB (doctor – Bachelor of Medicine) followed by LICE (infestation) reversed (picked up) on E{nvoy} (head of).
13  A boy lifting title, unanimously (2,3,3)
AS ONE MAN –  A (a) SON (boy) and NAME (title) reversed (lifting).
15  Join up two points on catalogue (6)
ENLIST – E{ast} and N{orth} (two points – of the compass) on LIST (catalogue).
18  Kiss Gregory? (4)
PECK – Referring to the famous actor Gregory Peck.
19  Continue being a thug (4)
GOON – GO ON (continue), when concatenated makes a GOON (thug)
Happy 4th July to our transatlantic friends: if you happen to be anywhere near the Lincoln Memorial do try to enjoy the parade of tanks (so far I’ve spotted two), other military hardware and whatever 45 has to say. I think this crossword was (most likely) more entertaining, at least for my 20 minutes’ worth. Though there’s a few proper names scattered around, they’re kindly clued and shouldn’t present too many problems. I trundled steadily from top to bottom taking time out to make sure I had the wordplay right.
I’ve not spotted any theme, apart from the fact that there are more Austrians on display than we usually see.
My workings are presented with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS: have fun.



ACROSS
1 Felicity initially lacking flexibility (9)
LITHENESS Felicity is happiness is BLITHENESS, which without its initial F provides our answer
6 Star of French New Wave's last book (5)
DENEB  Oddly enough, I today tried to insert this star into a word game I play but failed to gain approval. Pity: Chambers tells me it’s the brightest star in Cygnus. Of French DE, N(ew) (wav)E’s last B(ook)
9 Uncle Sam welcomes more reliable loan sharks (7)
USURERS Possibly with a nod to Independence Day U(ncle) S(am) takes SURER, or more reliable, into its firm embrace
10 Break nail on inverted curve of skull (7)
CRANIAL The curve to be inverted is ARC, and attach the anagram (broken) of NAIL
11 I teach trim jockeys some maths (10)
ARITHMETIC Our anagram indicator here is “jockeys”, and the bits to fling around are I TEACH TRIM
12 Singer found in conversation (4)
BASS  A soundslike (“in conversation”) clue: found as a verb is BASE
14 Withdraw personnel from Kurt Waldheim? (5)
UNMAN You need to know that former Nazi Waldheim was Secretary General of the United Nations, qualifying for inclusion in this puzzle by dying in 2007. He was therefore a U.N. MAN
15 Retired contractor missing bachelor friend in particular (9)
SPECIALLY The contractor you seek is the BICEPS. Remove the B(achelor) and tag on ALLY for friend
16 Songwriter with mature bearing (9)
PORTERAGE As well as being the charge for carriage, it’s the carriage itself, so bearing is OK. The songwriter is Cole PORTER (believe me, you know loads of his songs) and mature as a verb gives you the AGE.
18 Watering hole of Aussies scrubbed periodically (5)
OASIS Today’s every other letter clue in Of AuSsIeS
20 Rapturous state, moving right to the front (4)
RAVE The nearest I can get to a parallel definition of “rapturous” is extravagantly enthusiastic, so it will have to do; I think the setter has rave review in mind. State (not one of the 4th July set) is AVER, in which the R(ight) migrates to the front
21 See head of state wearing majestic old crown (10)
EPISCOPATE See is the seat of a bishop, and so is our answer. Construct from head of S(tate) enclosed in EPIC (majestic) plus O(ld) and PATE for crown (of head)
25 Pardon daughters ejected from accursed, filthy place (7)
AMNESTY Rather fun, this. An accursed, filthy place is a DAMNED STY. Knock out both occurrences of D(aughter)
26 It makes one wing of chateau timelessly smarter (7)
UNIFIER One wing of a chateau is the east wing, U. Add NIFTIER for smarter, but forget about the T(ime)
27 Disheartened drunk chasing last of the hard stuff (5)
EMERY I tried to make ebony work at first, but “drunk” is MERRY, from which you extract the heart, and tack it on to the last of thE. Emery is a variety of corundum, and well hard.
28 Girl coming out of westbound Underground pinched by poet (9)
DEBUTANTE QEII put an end to royal patronage of the “coming out” of young gels in 1958, but you can see one here by viewing TUBE (underground) backwards in DANTE, an infernally good poet.



DOWN
1 Praise ace racing driver (5)
LAUDA Must be the first appearance of Niki, as he became eligible for inclusion scant weeks ago. Praise LAUD plus A(ce)
2 Business belonging to us is protected by trademark in America (7)
TOURISM Well it is a business. Belonging to us: OUR plus IS protected by ™. Did the setter know it was my turn? That would be nice. Not sure why “in America”, though. Perhaps I should be
3 Just finished going round New Haven (4-6)
EVEN-HANDED Here we have ENDED derived from finished encompassing a new version of HAVEN
4 Remove it from bathroom, then proceed (5)
ENSUE  Presumably the bathroom is the increasingly common EN SUITE. Take out the IT
5 Impious act of plunder endlessly upset revolutionary say (9)
SACRILEGE Plunder is SACK, but its end is discarded. Upset is RILE and our revolutionary isn’t Che but an instruction to reverse EG, say.
6 Cases of listeria had raised pulse (4)
DHAL Cases here means the first and last letters, of ListeriA and HaD. Reverse them, for they are raised.
7 Return of bees at first unnerves leading novelist (7)
NAIPAUL Not a novelist I would confidently spell, but VS is clued by “of bees” APIAN returned plus “at first” both Unnerves and Leading
8 Sweets unsettle Sue's belly (5-4)
BULLS EYES just “unsettle” SUE’S BELLY
13 Chinese scholar alone grasps mind's interior essence (10)
SINOLOGIST Not some Confucius you’ve never heard of, thankfully, but a student of all things Chinese. Alone: SOLO grasps the interior of mINd and adds essence, as John Cleese would say, the very nub of my GIST
14 Something that stimulates action in capital (5-4)
UPPER CASE A disingenuous punctuation rather than geography clue. A stimulant is an UPPER, and a (legal) action is a CASE
15 Quick to notice dog without tail regularly yields (5-4)
SHARP-EYED Pay attention at the back. The SHAR PEI turned up on Tuesday, so you have no excuse for not knowing the vicious little brute. Rip its tail off, and attach the odd letters of YiElDs
17 Return from Europe not at all uplifted (7)
REVENUE Europe abbreviates to UE, not at all translates to NEVER. Conjoin and reverse both.
19 It's not a foreign channel (7)
STATION Sneaky anagram which doesn’t look like one but which is cued by “foreign". Mix up IT’S NOT A for a (radio) channel.
22 Dumpy individual succeeded by virtue of being British (5)
SQUAB I’m more familiar with this as a pigeonlet, but it can just mean fat. S(ucceeded) QUA (by virtue of being) B(ritish)
23 Ontario neighbour keeping Japanese currency in inaccessible place (5)
EYRIE So this will be Lake Ontario and its neighbour ERIE “keeping” Y(en). If you’re doing this on treeware, you can add the extra lines ¥: your OCD secret is safe with me.
24 Wife shuns fine game (1-3)
I-SPY “Game” and (1-3) doesn’t present many options. This will be WISPY pretending to be fine with the W(ife) missing

Times 27,395: Clues Over Easy

No complaints about this very entertaining nongram (with 9ac and 16ac in there, you'd think it was going to be a pangram, but it's missing both X and Z), which I polished off relatively quickly apart from having to hesitate a while at the end over the unknowns at 2dn and especially 19ac - nothing more unnerving than having to press submit on an answer you're not sure is a thing, clued with a cryptic definition.

But other than that this was a crossword that had a bit of everything, obscure words, interesting GK, the correct level of smut (that being, marginally lower than that of a saucy seaside postcard) and really great "storytelling" in pretty much all the surfaces. Two thumbs up from me, and not just because I'm in a good mood from having a day off work today. Happy 3^5th birthday, America!

FOI 9ac, which fortunately I knew how to spell off the bat, favourite clue probably 11ac even though I as the definition of iodine is a well-trodden path at this point. But that's only because it's such a seductive road! Thanks to the setter for taking us on a ramble down it and the others.

ACROSS
1 Subject that’s closed, still (5)
TOPIC - TO [closed, as in a door] + PIC [still, as in a photo]

4 Part of shop makes fast returns on singular beer (9)
SALESROOM - MOORS [makes fast] returns on/after S ALE [singular | beer]

9 The city of Kyiv a jerk misspelled (9)
REYKJAVIK - (KYIV A JERK*) ["misspelled"]

10 Fought to be heard with a gong (5)
AWARD - homophone of WARRED [fought] with/after A

11 I must have both bits to eat (6)
IODINE - 1 and 0 [both bits, in computing] + DINE [to eat]

12 Store up memoir for play (8)
EMPORIUM - (UP MEMOIR*) ["for play"]

14 Crime occurring without judge hearing a thing (9)
OBSESSION - {j}OB [crime, minus J] + SESSION [hearing]

16 Veil’s collar containing a measure of brightness (5)
NIQAB - NAB [collar] containing IQ [a measure of brightness]

17 Boy dispatching daughter in place of Clare (5)
ENNIS - {d}ENNIS [boy, minus D]. Ennis is the county town of Clare.

19 Does it constitute a blanket ban on unhealthy food? (4,5)
DIET SHEET - cryptic def, playing on sheets and blankets as in bedclothes.

21 Radical’s irritatingly cosy life diminished (8)
GLYCOSYL - hidden in {irritatin}GLY COSY L{ife}

22 Female hit gym, then chilled (6)
FRAPPE - F RAP P.E. [female | hit | gym]

25 Inclined to be having relations round last of all (5)
ATILT - AT IT [having relations] "round" {al}L

26 Bid at cards by fellow expert concealing nothing? (2,3,4)
IN THE BUFF - 1NT [bid, in Bridge] by HE BUFF [fellow | expert]

27 Like some Arabs, having weekend break outside the city (3-6)
EWE-NECKED - having (WEEKEND*) "break", outside EC [the city].
A ewe-necked horse has a thin concave neck. Not to be confused with a V-necked sweater.

28 Spouse seen in activity centre at times (5)
HUBBY - HUB [activity centre] at/before BY [times]

DOWN
1 Go to bed — we’re not joking — and rest uneasily (4,2,4,5)
TURN IN ONE'S GRAVE - TURN IN [go to bed] + ONE'S GRAVE [we're | not joking]

2 Stuff, which you will have opened, sealed (5)
PAYED - PAD [stuff] which YE [you] will have opened.
To "pay" is to waterproof a boat by sealing it with tar.

3 Bottle of harmful gas found by Welshman (7)
COJONES - CO [carbon monoxide = harmful gas] found by JONES [Welshman]

4 Destroyer shelled navy, one’s recalled (4)
SIVA - {n}AV{y} + I'S [one's], all reversed for this Hindu deity.

5 Liberal president tended to be naturally sympathetic? (4-6)
LIKE-MINDED - L IKE MINDED [Liberal | President (Eisenhower) | tended]

6 Argument to have in Cheltenham, perhaps (3,4)
SPA TOWN - SPAT OWN [argument | to have]

7 Spaniard who painted, in place of worship, topless concubine (9)
ODALISQUE - DALI [Spaniard (Salvador) who painted] in {m}OSQUE [place of worship, "topless"]

8 Out to lunch, unexpectedly met by tearful officer’s wife (6,9)
MADAME BUTTERFLY - MAD [out to lunch] + (MET BY TEARFUL*) ["unexpectedly"].
Madame Butterfly was the unfortunate Japanese teenage wife of US naval officer Pinkerton.

13 Happy to land close to snack counter! (10)
TIDDLYWINK - TIDDLY [happy, as in tipsy] + WIN [to land] + {snac}K

15 What’s up with your egg? (5,4)
SUNNY SIDE - cryptic definition, referring to the common way of frying an egg, sunny side up.

18 Little fellow tore his pants (7)
SHORTIE - (TORE HIS*) ["pants"]

20 Cry that is about to reverberate endlessly (7)
SCREECH - SC [this is] + RE [about] + ECH{o} [to reverberate, "endlessly"]

23 Dead weight (5)
PLUMB - double def. "Dead" as in, precisely.

24 A lot of horses bolt (4)
STUD - double def.