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August 21st, 2019

Times Quick Cryptic No 1422 by Wurm

Introduction

Perhaps I'm out of practice, or perhaps I'm tired from organizing a one-year-old's birthday party this weekend, or perhaps I was groggy from the nap I'd just woken up from, but this one gave me a tough time. In the end, I needed to look up some synonyms for 'emperor' to get a hint on 17 Across (a clue I rather liked, in the end). There was plenty to like here, even though it wasn't my finest solving effort.

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Another fine Wednesday puzzle, not a 'love-it-or-hate-it was last week's, but very enjoyable. Quite a mix of easy clues, BIFFable clues and ones requiring a modicum of GK to satisfy the judges without guesswork. The only two to give me pause for thought were 17a - a firework I'd seen demonstrated but had heard called another name - and 5d which was buried in a far corner of the grey matter and hard to dredge up.




Across
1 Nearest one gets to star for each current male celebrity (10)
PERIHELION - PER = for each, I = one, HE = male, LION = celebrity. The star for example being the sun, and the perihelion being the point on Earth's orbit when it is closest (as opposed to the aphelion). Fortunately I knew this as I'm quite into astronomy.
6 Group of fighters is clear when uncovered (4)
IMPI - I needed some checkers before getting this. An IMPI is a band of Zulu warriors and I'm sure I've seen them before in a puzzle. LIMPID = clear loses its outer letters.
9 Left a wife with set of clothes in case (7)
LAWSUIT - L, A, W(ife), SUIT = set of clothes. My FOI.
10 Carpet laid badly for follower of waltzing? (7)
MATILDA - MAT = carpet, (LAID)*. A swagman's belongings slung on a stick were his "matilda" and "waltzing" meant walking through the bush. Now you've got the earworm all day.
12 A suggestion can get detailed (5)
TINGE - TIN = can, GE(T) = get detailed.
13 State game needs energy for one to learn (9)
TENNESSEE - E replaces I in TENNIS, then SEE = learn.
14 Choosing system to change local time in Orkney bay (11,4)
ALTERNATIVE VOTE - ALTER = change, NATIVE = local, VOE is a word for a bay in Orkney, e.g. Sullom Voe a well known oil port, insert T for time.
17 Firework pops with rather ashen swirling (8,7)
PHARAOHS SERPENT - A firework I'd never heard of with that name, and a rather nonsensical surface, but the anagram fodder and the checkers led me there. (POPS RATHER ASHEN)*. There's a striking demo of it here, where someone sets fire to a pile of mercury thiocyanate on a plate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dhHpHOgrUI. I like the spooky music.
20 Reverting to older form of Greek without classical name for bird (9)
ATAVISTIC - ATTIC = form of Greek, goes around AVIS the Latin for bird. "Reverting to older" is a sort of truncated definition of atavistic, a clever clogs word I'll try to use more often.
21 We must cross a street for litter (5)
WASTE - A ST(reet) inside WE.
23 Simple weapon like one a long time back (7)
ASSEGAI - AS = like, I AGES (one, a long time), reversed.
24 When a king could be under pressure to kill pheasants, perhaps (7)
ENDGAME - referring to chess; if you END GAME you could be killing pheasants.
25 Rifle fire (4)
SACK - Double definition.
26 Projected drama featured tortured POW in murder (6,4)
SHADOW PLAY - SLAY = murder; insert HAD (featured) and (POW)*. S (HAD) (OWP) LAY.

Down
1 Plan installing current circuit broken by minute indicator (5,4)
PILOT LAMP - PLOT with I inserted, then LAP with M inserted.
2 Member of rose family Rosa, but it’s become pale and sickly (5)
ROWAN - ROSA has her SA (it, sex appeal) replaced by WAN meaning pale and sickly.
3 Exploit holiday island in part of Hong Kong for criminal activity (13)
HOUSEBREAKING - HONG is the part you need. Into that insert USE (exploit), BREAK (holiday) and I (island).
4 A title abandoned outside of university in old Paris (7)
LUTETIA - (A TITLE)* with U inserted. I know LUTETIA is the Latin name for Paris because I know the element Lutetium was named after Paris, as one of its discoverers was a French chap, Georges Urbain. Lutetium is one of the so-called rare earth metals although it is actually more abundant than silver in the Earth's crust.
5 Turkish chap covered in exotic oils (7)
OSMANLI - Another one got from wordplay. MAN goes inside (OILS)*. It means Turkish or Ottoman, named after Osman I who founded said Empire.
7 Mass troubles to Tyneside perhaps can be a burden (9)
MILLSTONE - M(ass), ILLS (troubles), TO NE (to Tyneside).
8 Vegan eats this up to make vegetarian angry (5)
IRATE - Irate reversed inserted into vegan gives you vegetarian, thus: VEG (ETARI) AN.
11 Operetta tune “Romeo, Romeo”, unknown text overleaf? (3,5,5)
THE MERRY WIDOW - You are allowed to BIFF this, and then see how it works; THE ME = tune, R, R, Y = Romeo, Romeo, unknown; then a WIDOW in typography is a lonely line of text which joins up with another paragraph on the next page, an undesirable piece of typesetting.
15 Of the sea, it’s mostly stupid putting a girl in (9)
THALASSIC - THIC(K) = it's mostly stupid, insert A LASS. From the Greek word Θάλασσα meaning sea.
16 Really how it appears for idealist? (9)
EXTREMELY - I and T (it) appear as the first and last extremes of IdealisT.
18 Rather warm house, always dry one, shut up (7)
HOTTISH - HO = house, TT = dry, I, SH = shut up.
19 Come after County Council, note, prosecuted for housing (7)
SUCCEED - SUED = prosecuted, insert CC for county council and E a note.
20 Collect is a church form of worship (5)
AMASS - A, MASS. Can't say much more about it.
22 Stop running market booth (5)
STALL - Double definition.