March 5th, 2020

Times Quick Cryptic No 1563 by Mara

I expect to see some very fast times quoted here, as I completed this in a PB of 6 minutes, which I think is a record by a long way.  My last blog was also a Mara puzzle that I found relatively easy, but others struggled with, so maybe I am just on the right wavelength, but there appears nothing difficult or obtuse here, and the clueing is beautifully concise in most cases.  OOLONG may be unknown to some, but I doubt it, and surely everyone has heard of Mount FUJI.

Thanks Mara for helping me achieve a personal milestone with a nicely crafted Quick Cryptic.  I hope that you all enjoyed this as much as I did.

Across

Yellow food, or black, say (6)
BUTTER – B{lack} and UTTER (say).
Tablet that’s stuck on teeth (6)
PLAQUE – Double definition
9  Value normally expected with a soldier (4)
PARA – PAR (value normally expected) and A (with a) to give the common abbreviation for a paratrooper (soldier).
10  Conrad is awfully cynical (8)
SARDONIC – Anagram (awfully) of [CONRAD IS].
11  One’s heard on the phone offering to negotiate, to some extent (8)
RINGTONE – Nice hidden answer (to some extent) in {offe}RING TO NE{gotiate}.
13 Implement: also utensil, ultimately (4)
TOOL – TOO (also) and {utensil}L (ultimately = last letter).
15  Unite king and idiot (4)
KNIT – K{ing} and NIT (idiot).
16  Very old figure kept in step (5-3)
STONE-AGE – ONE (figure) inside (kept in) STAGE (step, as in a step / stage in a project).
19  I had backed ally, so shockingly traitorous (8)
DISLOYAL – I’D (I had) reversed (backed) followed by an anagram (shockingly) of [ALLY, SO].
20  Spots all cheetahs need evidently, first of all (4)
ACNE – First letters (first of all) of A{ll} C{heetahs} N{eed} E{vidently}.
21  Penny, say, hugging American relative (6)
COUSIN – Not COUSIN in the John Le Carre sense, but COIN (penny, say) containing (hugging) US (American).
22  Insect in a pickle?  Most delightful (6)
NICEST – Anagram (in a pickle) of [INSECT]

Down

Time taken spreading it around (8)
DURATION – Anagram (spreading) of [IT AROUND]
Hand, honest and level (8,5)
STRAIGHT FLUSH – STRAIGHT (honest) and FLUSH (level), a STRAIGHT FLUSH being a run of five consecutive cards of the same suit in a poker hand, and very nice when it happens!
3  Others entering Italian river quickly (6)
PRESTO – REST (others) inside (entering) PO (an Italian river that is a favourite in Crosswordland).
Scattered boxes on bottom of pile (6)
SPARSE – SPARS (boxes, as in a sparring match) on last letter (bottom) of {pil}E.
Star performer, groom? (3,2,3,5)
MAN OF THE MATCH – Double definition, the first sporting and the second whimsical.
Mountain in Japan, utterly fabulous, initially, to climb (4)
FUJI – First letters (initially) of I{n} J{apan}, U{tterly} F{abulous), reversed (to climb in this down clue).  I don’t know the names of any other mountains in Japan I don’t think, but here ‘IN JAPAN’ is doing double duty as part of both the wordplay and the definition.
12  Catch a number up  (3)
NET – I read it as a double definition, the second being the number TEN reversed (up).
14  Creature roaming randomly round capital in Sudan (8)
ORGANISM – Anagram (randomly) of [ROAMING] and S{udan} (capital letter).
16  A sign that’s confused bearing unknown proverb (6)
SAYING – Anagram (that’s confused) of [A SIGN] and Y (unknown, as in algebra).
17  Tea extended after two ducks (6)
OOLONG – LONG (extended) after O and O (two ducks).  OOLONG is a variety of black tea, with the flavour of green.
19  Flatten metal (4)
IRON – Double definition.

Times 27604 - let's get retro!

Solving time : 12:40. Struggled a little here especially near the end where I was trawling the alphabet for likely candidates for the last few entries.

For the past few years I have been using a blog template provided by mohn2, but for some reason when I try to use it today I get an error (I tried it on the mephisto and also got an error). Not sure what the dealio is, so I am going back to the old blog template, which means you won't get the clues. If the template works in the morning, or I get a message about a fix, I might replace the section under this with the one with the clues.

Away we go...

Across
1MUST HAVE: MUSE(to ponder) surrounding most of THe, and AV(Authorized Version, bible)
9DEADLINE: double definition, the first one kind of cryptic
10REHANG: Spoonerism of HE, RANG (man, contacted)
11LETTING OUT: LETT(N.E. European), IN(at home) and GOUT(painful affliction)
12RAMP: MP(politician) with RA(troops)
13PROSTRATED: PRO(paid player), then STATED(said) containing R(runs)
16BEAR PIT: BIT(part) containing Wyatt EARP (Wild West lawman)
17INFANCY: IN(popular), FANCY(conception)
20OFF THE PACE: if you were removed from a particular post, you could be OFF THE PLACE, then remove the L(liberal)
22CORD: the alternative notes are C OR D
23BUCKET SEAT: EAT(worry) after BUCKETS(a great deal)
26ABLUTION: remove SO from ABSOLUTION(forgiveness)
27ALL ALONG: anagram of GALLON after PAL missing P(pressure)
 
Down
2USERNAME: anagram of MEASURE containing N(new)
3TEAM SPIRIT: SPIRIT(drink) after TEA(another drink) and M(male)
4ANGLOPHILE: anagram of HOPING,ALL and the last letter of batS
5EDITION: NO(number), I(current) and TIDE(current) all reversed
6MAXI: the gnome is a MAXIM, remove the last letter
7PIG OUT: GI(soldier) reversed with POUT surrounding it
8HEATEDLY: anagram of THEY,LEAD
14TANGENTIAL: GENT(toff) inside an anagram of A,LATIN
15ANARCHICAL: AN ARCH(a bridge) then CALL(bid) missing the last letter surrounding I(one)
16BROWBEAT: BEAT(regular route for a policeman) after BROW(summit)
18CAROLEAN: A, ROLE(duty) in CAN(prison)
19TAVERNA: ANT(colonist) reversed, containing AVER(state)
21FACILE: IL(the in Italian) inside FACE(front)
24TRIM: first letter of Troops, then RIM(edge)
verlaine

Times 27,605: A Surfeit of Typos

9.5 minute, but with a dumb typo of FORTNIGHTIY at 8d - I was so concerned about spelling TIDDLYWINKS right, and not as TIDDLIWINKS as I somehow managed on its last outing, that I failed to cast my gaze over other quadrants of the grid!

This was Fridayish enough for my tastes though, as a whole, with the setter definitely showing willing to throw in a bit of extra deviousness just to mess with us a little. Along with the tiddlywinks, 6dn seemed strangely familiar, perhaps because once again the theoreticalness of the particle was highlighted, a little to the detriment of the conciseness of the clue. Even if tachyons don't actually exist, is it that important to rub their fictional status in every time they appear? Answers on a postcard, posted into a box which contains a cat that's alive and dead at the same time, please.

COD to 11dn I think for the combined man-hours of our time I bet it wasted, as we all tried to find a word for a ship with the letters EM somewhere in it. Thanks setter!

1 Mix with general public as royal personage? Get lost! (2,9)
GO WALKABOUT - double definition

7 Assimilating conclusion of case, father backs judge (3)
REF - reversed FR "assimilating" {cas}E. FOI

9 West perhaps welcoming reversal of brief glitch in automated communications device (4,5)
MAIL MERGE - MAE [West perhaps] "welcoming" reversed GREMLI{n}

10 Head of course again in position on cricket field (5)
COVER - C{ourse} + OVER [again]

11 Rent-collecting ministry was fast and effective (7)
MOTORED - TORE [rent] "collected" by M.O.D. My LOI.

12 Something added in assayin' enzyme (7)
TRYPSIN - P.S. [something added] in TRYIN'

13 Dashing like a fly, arguably, did you say? (5)
NATTY - homophone of GNATTY

15 Inaccurate summing-up, being disagreeable (9)
OFFENDING - or OFF ENDING

17 Here's our staggering, overwhelming power, as Spider-Man or Batman? (9)
SUPERHERO - (HERE'S OUR*), with P "overwhelmed" by it. Spider-Man and Batman are actually some of the less ridiculously-powered heroes in their respective universes.

19 Hideous thing witnessed, I'm exasperated and traumatised initially (5)
SIGHT - SIGH [I'm exasperated] + T{raumatised}

20 Fire, when wire in copper frayed at the edges (7)
ENLIVEN - LIVE [wire] in {p}ENN{y}

22 Formal residence for the swine accommodating chief (7)
STARCHY - STY "accommodating" ARCH

24 Leaves in spring gather against ledge, usually every second (5)
PAGES - {s}P{ring} {g}A{ther} {a}G{ainst} {l}E{dge} {u}S{ually}

25 I'm off to work, boxes piled high (6-3)
TOODLE-PIP - TO OP "boxes" (PILED*) ["high"]

27 Lack of practice, with son no longer in the groove (3)
RUT - RU{s}T, with S no longer in

28 Game lit up, moments later (11)
TIDDLYWINKS - TIDDLY [lit up] + WINKS [moments]

DOWN
1 Something sticky kisser served up (3)
GUM - reversed MUG [kisser]

2 Bridge player has rubbished this game (5)
WHIST - W [Bridge player] + (THIS*) ["rubbished"]

3 Hit on victim, sucker (7)
LAMPREY - LAM on PREY

4 A European bar somewhere in Italy where trip abroad might begin (9)
AERODROME - A E ROD ROME [a | European | bar | somewhere in Italy]

5 Open entrance in orange and green (5)
OVERT - O{range} + VERT

6 High-speed traveller in theory on yacht at sea (7)
TACHYON - (ON YACHT*)

7 Great stocking is ending on thigh — lovely! (9)
RAVISHING - RAVING [great] "stocking" IS {thig}H. Is "raving" really "great"?

8 Figure touring near capitals of troubled lands at regular intervals (11)
FORTNIGHTLY - FORTY [figure] "touring" NIGH T{roubled} L{ands}

11 Ship takes me back across current (11)
MINESWEEPER - ME SWEEPER [back, as in a sportsball position] "across" IN [current]

14 Excellent access to penthouse suite? (3-6)
TOP-FLIGHT - or the TOP FLIGHT of stairs in a building

16 Low-down supporter, puppet of an old Labour leader? (9)
FOOTSTOOL - or (Michael) FOOT'S TOOL

18 Again, call on minister is exactly what's needed (7)
REVISIT - REV IS IT [minister | is | exactly what's needed]

19 Flier put away (7)
SWALLOW - double def

21 When so decrepit, the steed finally put down (5)
NOTED - {whe}N {s}O {decrepi}T {th}E {stee}D

23 Restriction applying to poultry (5)
CAPON - CAP ON [restriction | applying to]

26 Step twit has climbed (3)
PAS - reversed SAP