January 2nd, 2020

Linus van Pelt
  • z8b8d8k

27550 Thursday, 2 January 2020 The Sound of Meeoosic

At the time of writing my 16.44 looks pretty slow, so I would appreciate some of you coming up with some dragged out times to make me look more the second division player I contrived to be in the new format for the Champs.
I made a brief dip into the world of phonetics to clear up a query I had over 9ac, more or less to my satisfaction, and have learned why rubella has the alternative epithet it has at 10d, lest I offend our erstwhile European partners by repeating an unjust slur.
There's the rare appearance of a flower that isn't a river!
I liked the playing with matches at 24ac, which most appealed today to my sense of humour.
Clues are thus, definition so and solutions IN THIS MANNER

1 A maiden leaves surprise new arrival, a small primate (8)
BUSHBABY Take away A M(aiden) from AMBUSH for surprise, then add new arrival, a BABY
5 A criminal admits beginning to sell out (6)
ABSENT A is just A, the adjective criminal gives BENT, insert the beginning of Sell
9 Swim with hot skimpy garment: Kate has one! (9)
DIPHTHONG Well, the wordplay’s okay. Swim is DIP, hot provides its H, and a THONG is usually pretty skimpy. But I think a diphthong is two vowels producing one sound: Chambers gives out and loin as examples, by which measure Kate doesn’t have one. But it seems that’s misleading. Here’s another definition: “a vowel sound in which the tongue changes position to produce the sound of two vowels”, in which case the single letter A in Kate is a diphthong, because it sounds like two vowels.
11 Old magistrate constantly returning to drink last of wine (5)
REEVE Constantly is EVER, which you reverse (returning) and allow to imbibe the last letter of winE
12 Cow caught fly (7)
CHASTEN A verbal cow, and the first use of fly to indicate speedy movement: C(aught) plus HASTEN
13 Frenchman backing legislation for redevelopment (7)
RENEWAL The Frenchman is the café owner of Nouvion RENÉ, and the backing is what you do to LAW for legislation. Other Renés are available.
14 Gibraltar sent new threat of military action (5,8)
SABRE RATTLING A rather decent anagram (new) of GIBRALTAR SENT
16 Interview a revolutionary on the radio??? (8,5)
QUESTION MARKS  There at the end of the clue in triplicate, which ought to have been more blindingly obvious than I made it. Listen on the wireless as the interviewer tries to question Marx, one of many revolutionaries that isn’t Che
20 Hoping not to finish pain medication (7)
ASPIRIN Just a word for hoping that doesn’t finish.
21 State where scientists may work with a master’s degree (7)
ALABAMA Some scientists work in A LAB, though if they have a masters degree its unlikely to be A MA. Except here.
23 Marched president into empty helipad (5)
HIKED “I like IKE” Eisenhower squeezed into HelipaD without its contents
24 So started a blaze, cutting first bit of fresh game (9)
SOLITAIRE Rephrase the first four words as SO LIT A FIRE and scratch the first letter of Fresh
25 Fly around in returning from Scandinavia (6)
DANISH  The second speed related version of fly, in this case DASH, with IN “returning therein
26 Energy beginning to soar, keep going without finishing coffee (8)
ESPRESSO E(nergy), first letter of Soar, PRESS ON for keep going, not finishing.

1 Garment featuring in ripping drama? (6)
BODICE (-ripper) makes it into Chambers as a genre, “a romantic (historical) novel involving sex and violence". Miles Kington, of blessed memory, invented the publishing house Mills and Bang to allow the genre to appeal to both female and male readerships
2 Reddish-brown parrots heading north across India (5)
SEPIA Not sure I would include the reddish bit, but Wiki does, so what do I know? Parrots is a verb here, translating to APES and “heading North”, reversed in a down clue, and including NATO India
3 Where to wash tiger's head in animal centre (7)
BATHTUB Your Tiger’s head T is embedded in BAT HUB, which if it existed would be an animal centre.
4 Chocolate cake indicates what good deeds can earn you? (7,6)
BROWNIE POINTS A straight charade for the first three words
6 Noble fellow from a Bronte novel (7)
BARONET The lowest rank of British nobility, found in a reworking (novel) of A BRONTE
7 Flower I planted in weedless ground (9)
EDELWEISS As sung, allegedly reluctantly, by Christopher Plummer. And anagram (ground) of WEEDLESS plus the I
8 Study of the Divine Comedy finally follows the old official account (8)
THEOLOGY Get the Y from the end of comedY, add it to THE standing in for – um – the, O(ld) LOG for official account.
10 Microbe spread a nameless disease (6,7)
GERMAN MEASLES Take a microbe to be a GERM, then add a “spread” of A NAMELESS. Rubella is known as German Measles not as a slur on the Teutonic peoples, but because German physicians first identified it as a separate disease.
14 Warm garment initially sheltering Uriah's family? (9)
SHEEPSKIN For old times sake, here’s the immortal John Motson in his. It helps if you know the oily and “very ‘umble person” in David Copperfield is Uriah HEEP, because then his family is HEEP’S KIN, and you have the S from the initial of Sheltering.
15 Son rejected flat (8)
SQUASHED Just S(on) and QUASHED for rejected
17 Put radical in chains for inflammatory speeches (7)
TIRADES Radical is abbreviated to RAD and put into TIES for chains. Tying with chains doesn’t feel quite right to me, but hey ho.
18 University official holding a dangerous part of plant (7)
REACTOR the university RECTOR holds A. I spent too long pondering the stingy scratchy bits of the wrong sort of plant.
19 Manage to attend party (4,2)
MAKE DO Two takes on the same pair of words
22 Wrong a lady (5)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1518 by Pedro

Quite a tricky one from Pedro (although I mightn't be in peak solving condition), holding me to the 18 minute mark. The last couple in particular (21ac and 19d) required a few minutes teasing out, delayed further by having to go back and check the parsing of the biffed 24ac. I was glad I did, as it turned out to be a lovely clue - I'm always a fan of this type of device. I wasn't particularly quick elsewhere, with the grid looking rather sparse after a first sweep of the acrosses but a most enjoyable puzzle with a bit of extra pep to kick us into the new year, so many thanks to Pedro, and of course best wishes for the new year to all.

1 Serving of food? Paul felt upset (8)
PLATEFUL - anagram (upset) of PAUL FELT
6 Eccentric item that could be removed from deck (4)
CARD - double definition - the first, an eccentric person, derives from playing cards.
8 Married, surrounded by champagne? Splendid stuff (4)
POMP - M(arried) surrounded by POP (champagne)
9 Reprimand male on tucking into a meal (8)
ADMONISH - M(ale) ON tucking into A DISH (meal)
10 Marine creature in position, almost adjacent to bay? (3-5)
SEA-HORSE - SEAT (position) almost = dock the last letter, adjacent to HORSE (bay - a russet-hued horse)
12 Harvest some more apples (4)
REAP - "some" of the letters of moRE APples
13 Prevent most of the skin blemish (6)
THWART - "most of" THe, WART (skin blemish)
16 Close on two soccer teams departed after end of last year (6)
TWENTY - WENT (departed) after T ("end" of lasT), Y(ear). Odd clue: the definition is more like the cryptic part (what's wrong with "Both sides nearly score", or similar?); and an odd surface as well - is "close on two soccer teams" not, well, one soccer team?
17 Unexciting sort of note (4)
FLAT - double definition
18 Supposed place local resident loses head (8)
PUTATIVE - PUT (place) NATIVE (local resident) minus the leading character.
21 Nothing, behold, sailors abandoned? (8)
LOVELORN - LOVE (nothing, e.g. in tennis) LO (behold) RN (Royal Navy = sailors). I eventually got this after idling over FORELORN, in the forego/forgo vein, not that it parsed. It doesn't exist, but it should - I see forlorn is the past tense of the obsolete forlese, to lese meaning to lose - so forelorn could usefully mean something along the lines of "it was over before it started", or a bit worse than a forlorn hope.
22 I must be ousted from Italian city in revolution (4)
TURN - I must be ousted from TURIN (Italian city)
23 Source of special gear for comedy performance (4)
SKIT - "Source" of Special, KIT (gear)
24 Leading character in Sussex and surrounding area showing generosity (8)
LARGESSE - Capital S or LARGE S is the leading character in Sussex, also situated in the SE (South East).

2 Free toilets on end of promenade (5)
LOOSE - LOOS (toilets) on E ("end" of promenadE)
3 Suggestion: mine is taken up (3)
TIP - PIT (mine) reversed/taken up.
4 Moderately good penning line, showing skill (5)
FLAIR - FAIR (moderately good) penning/enclosing L(ine)
5 Mostly hobbling and crooked, but dazzling (7)
LAMBENT - LAME (hobbling) mostly = dock the tail, BENT (crooked). Nice word - from Latin to lick (as in flames) - which I'd have taken more as glowing or softly radiant than dazzling, but I see it has a figurative sense, applied to style or wit, etc., which includes this sense of brilliance.
6 Compatible study on urgent reforming (9)
CONGRUENT - CON (study) on an anagram (reforming) of URGENT. I think I first encountered con for study in crosswords - it's the same idea as "ken", from the Germanic kann, to know.
7 Again power up craft following the others (7)
RESTART - ART (craft) follows REST (others)
11 Deep earth left turned over (9)
HEARTFELT - anagram (turned over) of EARTH LEFT
14 Hostilities in Lancashire initially to secure small upland area (7)
HILLOCK - HIL (Hostilities In Lancashire "initially") to LOCK (secure)
15 Work involving operations in part of garden (7)
TOPSOIL - TOIL (work) involving OPS (operations). Fittingly, topiary had to be discarded before topsoil was revealed.
19 Singer’s theme (5)
TENOR - double definition. LOI and tricky enough - until I had the N, I was sure there was some very famous bird T_ _ _ R that Horryd would 9 across me for not having heard of!
20 I engaged in virtual reality leading to American computer problem (5)
VIRUS - I engaged in VR (virtual reality) leading to US (American)
22 Tournament match in which there’s no winner? (3)
TIE - double definition cum cryptic definition, and a nice one at that.

Times 27,551: Cor Blimey Luv A Duck

A very enjoyable, demotic-heavy puzzle that I didn't find *too* hard thanks to a high biffability factor, but was by no means too mimsy for its Friday slot. My favourite clue was 23dn - where do you think I first learned of the allure of a black top hat? - especially as it didn't yield up its gleaming silver penny too quickly.

I've expatiated more than usual in the clue-parsings so I'll keep the preamble brief for once! My thanks to the setter for a great Bertrand (if I may be permitted to coin a CRS?)

1 On which knives may be drawn in both Lancashire and Yorkshire? (11)
CHEESEBOARD - we begin with a cryptic def, nothing to do with the Wars of the Roses, Lancashire and Yorkshire here being two types of cheese, succumbing to the diner's eager cuts.

7 Pulse of boy after being knocked over (3)
DAL - LAD reversed. My FOI.

9 Lug case left by old president (5-4)
SHELL-LIKE. SHELL L by IKE [case | left | old president]. "A word in your shell-like", as our American friends probably have never heard anyone say.

10 Loot regularly hidden by idiot Egyptian resident? (5)
NILOT - L{o}O{t} "hidden" by NIT

11 Contribution towards ultra-cheap passage (7)
TRACHEA - hidden in {ul}TRA-CHEA{p}

12 Poor Muslim is on diesel — hospital needed (7)
DERVISH - IS on DERV, with an added H. Do all dervishes have to whirl or is that just an option for them?

13 Secret initially suppressed in public (5)
OVERT - {c}OVERT with its block knocked off.

15 Persistent girl stuffing shelled crustacean (9)
OBSTINATE - TINA "stuffing" {l}OBSTE{r}, which is a nice wordplay spot by the setter.

17 £25 includes charges for returning minute new handle? (9)
PSEUDONYM - PONY [twenty-five nicker] "includes" reversed DUES [charges] + M

19 Board’s strategy number eleven? (5)
PLANK - ENID, the other other day, left me wise to this clue's game. "PLAN K" would be strategy number eleven in an alphabetised list, and probably rubbish, if it came From Outer Space.

20 Regulars in shore leave getting blotto in port (2,5)
LE HAVRE - ({s}H{o}R{e} LEAVE*) ["getting blotto"]

22 Bound dictionary with half-ruined contents (7)
OBLIGED - OED [dictionary] "containing" BLIG{hted}. LOI, on a prayer, as I didn't see how BLIG was half-ruined until just now, in fact.

24 Senior Cockney grabbed that girl (5)
ELDER - or 'ELD 'ER, back in Laandon Taan.

25 Upped sticks in ground by unopened house (9)
EMIGRATED - GRATED [ground] by {s}EMI

27 Pooh’s chum moving his tail down (3)
LOW - I think of Pooh's chum as WOL but in fact it is OWL who must move his "tail" to make a word for what Eeyore usually is. Confusing!

28 Girls gee you up flagrantly (11)

1 A function that begins explanation informally? (3)
COS - as in COSINE, double def with 'COS as in BECAUSE.

2 Servants in attendance extremely upset, as behind procedure? (5)
ENEMA - MEN [servants] in A{ttendanc}E, the whole reverse. A procedure enacted upon one's bum, posterior or derriere.

3 Kind husband has brooded about one coming down on the head at Eton once? (4,3)
SILK HAT - ILK H [kind | husband] has SAT [brooded] "about". The toffs are back in power for the foreseeable, I hear, so it's silk hats all round I guess. My icon cannot help but approve.

4 Musical gear having trouble within a short radius? (9)
BRIGADOON - RIG + ADO [gear | trouble] within BON{e}. Again this had to be the answer, but I only just worked out that it was a bony radius I was looking for; my initial sluggish thought process only extended as far as BOUND, to which BON{d} was probably close enough.

5 Correct interpretation of noon? (5)
AMEND - noon is, pun-tastically, A.M. END (and P.M. START)

6 Old coins from revolutionary republic found in improvised explosive device (7)
DENARII - IRAN [republic] found in IED, the whole reversed. But you didn't really need to bother working any of that out given the crossers and the "old coins" definition.

7 First Buddhist artist to capture a creature, reportedly (5,4)
DALAI LAMA - DALI [artist] "to capture" A, + homophone of LLAMA in some pronunciations.

8 Minor issue not admitted during working hours (8,3)
LATCHKEY KID - a nice cryptic def. Latchkey kids have to let themselves in while the 'rents are at work.

11 Promote lie when spinning large media illusion (6-5)
TROMPE-L'OEIL - (PROMOTE LIE*) ["spinning"] + L. I'm listening to the Pixies album Trompe le Monde right now in this clue's honour.

14 War paint certainly used in English borders — a form of woad (3,6)
EYE SHADOW - YES [certainly], "bordered" by E{nglis}H + (WOAD*) ["a form of..."]. I didn't bother to parse this when I saw the first word must be E_E, frankly.

16 Gossiping fool with zero vitality (9)
SHMOOZING - SHMO + O ZING [fool | zero | vitality]. I feel like I might have seen a clue very like this one recently? It would have been harder if I hadn't, especially as I would spell both SCHMOOZE and SCHMO with a "C" personally.

18 Differ over making unlimited contribution to sad song (7)
DIVERGE - {o}VE{r} "contributing" to DIRGE

19 Port or beer in school dance with a twist at the end (7)
PALERMO - ALE [beer] in PROM [school dance], but "twisted at the end" into PRMO.

21 King Edward fencing short, timid eastern ruler (5)
EMEER - ER [King Edward] "fencing" MEE{k} ["short" timid]. Not a word you see often, except in crosswords, where it should spring to mind quite readily with a bit of experience.

23 Mum has to dress up some gloomy youth? (5)
GOTHS - SH + TOG [mum | to dress], all reversed. My early-90s self feels personally attacked by this clue.

26 Tory hard-liner is dirty, having lost it after split (3)
DRY - D{i}R{t}Y, losing IT, but non-consecutively. As opposed to WETS, who will presumably have been purged along with the non-silk hats now that Bostin Boris reigns supreme!