March 23rd, 2020

Astarte1

QC1575 by Orpheus

Obviously there is so much happening at the moment that I don't have much time for a preamble. This was a medium difficulty puzzle and I can't say much more than that as my eyeseight is getting so annoyingly bad at the moment that I am finding it easier to see the answers than the clues. I think a visit to the ophthalmologist is out of the question though at present; I mean how can you operate 'social distancing' while someone is sticking their fingers in your eyes?

My FOI was the obvious 1A. My LOI was 12A. I could see what the answer was right from the start but my reverse-parsing kept suggesting that the tree involved was ASH rather than ALDER. Many thanks to Orpheus for that bit of misdirection and for an enjoyable quickie that relied on fewer than the usual number of stock clues (only a couple of anagrams, one hidden word and no double definitions). 12A probably gets my COD too.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Loose hood wife found in pass (4)
COWL - W (wife) in COL (pass).
7 Grim fellow visiting one-time sweetheart initially without bouquet (9)
ODOURLESS - DOUR LES (a possible 'grim fellow') 'visiting' OS (One-time Sweetheart 'initially').
9 Fish in pool in Gloucester (4)
LING - hidden word ('in') pooL IN Gloucester
10 Controlling chap meeting duke in Advent? (10)
COMMANDING - MAN (chap) + D (duke) in COMING (Advent).
11 Greek character bugged at first by another (4)
BETA - B (Bugged 'at first') + ETA (another Greek character).
12 Tree finally planted during party? Nonsense (10)
BALDERDASH - ALDER (tree) + D ('finally' planteD) in BASH (party).
16 Remarkable help one man arranged (10)
PHENOMENAL - straightforward anagram ('arranged') of HELP ONE MAN.
19 Curved structure builder ultimately installed in a church (4)
ARCH - R (buildeR 'ultimately') 'installed' in A CH (a church).
21 Useful note that is received by religious community (10)
CONVENIENT - N (note) + IE (id est, that is) 'received by' CONVENT (religious community).
23 Candid work in French (4)
OPEN - OP (opus, work) + EN (French for 'in').
24 Way park-keeper restrains large murderer (9)
STRANGLER - ST (street (way)) + RANGER (park-keeper) 'restraining' L (large).
25 It may be spun, in either sense of the word (4)
YARN - you can spin a YARN as in a tale or YARN as in cloth.
Down
2 Be suppressed by old woman (5)
OLIVE - LIVE (be) 'suppressed by' (i.e. 'underneath' in this down clue) O (old).
3 Primitive building primarily captured in a blog, oddly (3,5)
LOG CABIN - C (primarily Captured) 'in' an anagram ('oddly') of IN A BLOG.
4 Starchy class at Lancing originally (6)
FORMAL - FORM (class) + A + L (At Lancing 'originally').
5 Make large container carrying eggs, principally (6)
CREATE - CRATE (large container) 'carrying' E (Eggs 'primarily').
6 Sell archdeacon diamonds (4)
VEND - VEN (Venerable, title of an archdeacon) + D (diamonds, as in the card suit).
8 Most balanced article plugging southern shelter (6)
SANEST - A (indefinite article) 'plugging' S (southern) + NEST (shelter).
13 Colouring unknown in centre of Aden (3)
DYE - Y (unknown, as in algebraic x, y and z) in DE (centre of aDEn).
14 Hat raised by a politician given to delay (8)
DILATORY - DIL (LID (hat) reversed, i.e. 'raised' in this down clue) + A TORY (a politician).
15 Dispatches drunkards outside house (6)
SHOOTS - SOTS (drunkards) 'outside' HO (house).
17 Digging up Chinese porcelain around home (6)
MINING - the Chinese MING dynasty is famous for its porcelain. Place this around IN (home) and there you have it.
18 One with an eye for sewing? (6)
NEEDLE - cryptic definition.
20 Applaud guerrilla leader with hesitation (5)
CHEER - CHE (the most famous guerilla leader in Crossland, Che Guevara) + ER (hesitation).
22 British minister turning up for part of speech (4)
VERB - B (British) + REV (Reverend (minister) all reversed, i.e. 'turned up' in this down clue).
New RCA
  • vinyl1

Times 27619 - Silent as the deathless gods!

Time: 27 minutes
Music: Beethoven Piano Concerto 2, Fleisher/Szell/Cleveland Orchestra

I thought this was going to be difficult at first, as I could not see any obvious answers in the top half of the grid.   Skipping down the bottom, I saw 'nugatory' and worked my way up from there.  I had the whole bottom half done in less than ten minutes, but the top proved a little more difficult.   While there were some chestnuts here, there were also some novel cryptic techniques that forced the solver to think outside the box.   If there had been any unusual vocabulary or obscure references to a UK-specific comedian or TV show, I would have been stuck.    However, in the end, I found that you could let the cryptics be your guide.

I have nothing else to report, except that I have made steady progress on my income tax, and all ten forms I have to file are now seem to be totally correct.  When I am done, I will start digging up and reseeding my lawn.  So on we go....

Across
1 Spies following lead casing the French port (8)
VALENCIA - VA(LE)N + CIA.   Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of time on PB.
6 Look — a ghost about to vanish! (6)
ASPECT - A SPECT[re]. 
9 A United Nations programme? (3,5,2,3)
THE WORLD AT ONE - The obvious answer, even though as an American I NHO the literal, since we can't listen to the BBC here.
10 Get out with this key (6)
ESCAPE - Double definition referring to what you've got on your computer keyboard, which may or may not allow you to escape what you're in. 
11 Fruit punch included black mineral (8)
GRAPHITE - GRAP(HIT)E - there's no B in it!
13 Boisterous enough to render sailor unconscious? (10)
KNOCKABOUT - KNOCK AB OUT, presumably more boisterous than is needed to knock out an OS.
15 Writer in bloom having to drop empty idea (4)
DAHL -DAHL[ia], where I[de]A is what is dropped.   Roald Dahl has been appearing frequently recently.
16 Italian town’s main road crossing smaller thoroughfare? (4)
ASTI - A(ST)I, a new clue for an old answer.
18 Extremely happy being in charge, likely to boom? (10)
HYPERSONIC - H[app]Y PERSON + I.C, causing a sonic boom
21 Margaret keeping one next to Nancy's black robe (8)
PEIGNOIR - PE(I)G + NOIR, which is black in Nancy, France.
22 Chinese religious system Maoist altered (6)
TAOISM - Anagram of MAOIST, an easy starter clue.
23 Remembering career as bodyguard? (7,2,4)
CALLING TO MIND - Double definition, one semi-jocular.
25 Coat to take to the cleaners (6)
FLEECE - Double definition, this one straight. 
26 Turning over weapon, a politician is useless (8)
NUGATORY - GUN backwards + A TORY, the most like sort of politician in these clues.
Down
2 Technician denies power to ardent supporter (7)
ARTISAN - [p]ARTISAN, a well-hidden chestnut.
3 Remarkable as Odyssey evidently is? (3-8)
EYE-CATCHING - A derivitave of a hidden in [odyss]EY E[evidently],  an indirect cryptic.
4 Vital to tour hospital as part of routine (5)
CHORE - C(H)ORE. 
5 Completely self-obsessed Romeo breaks fast (7)
ALLEGRO - ALL EG(R)O, more Nato alphabet shenanigans. 
6 White substance provided as one preparing joint? (9)
ALABASTER - ALA BASTER, well-deserving of a question mark!
7 Player earning roubles invested with Italian banker (3)
PRO - P(R)O.
8 Fast runner no sporting type we're told (7)
CHEETAH -  Cheetah, a chestnut.
12 Go to mess with shirty old scientist (11)
HYDROLOGIST -  Anagram of GO + SHIRTY OLD.
14 Goddess in Paphos, undressed, tried to change (9)
APHRODITE - Anagram of [p]APHO[s] + TRIED.
17 Plain concept is revolutionary, used regularly as template (7)
STENCIL - [p]L[a]I[n] C[o]N[c]E[p]T [i]S backwards, a bit tricky.
19 Journey north to support soldier reveals pattern (7)
PARAGON - PARA + GO + N, a 'pattern' in the sense of a ideal to follow, an older usage. 
20 Privileged member wearing crimson is on the rise (7)
INSIDER - IN + RED IS upside-down.
22 Ton pig eats new leather strip (5)
THONG - T + HO(N)G, readily biffable.
24 Caustic liquid left, yet unfinished (3)
LYE - L + YE[t], another easy one.