May 28th, 2020

Times 27676 - where a factotum meets a teetotaller

Time taken:  12:58, but with one very silly typo.

What a difference a day makes? Yesterday was a biff-fest that led to my fastest time ever, today was a day where many of the answers had to be pieced together from the wordplay, and there was misdirection and some clever hiding of the definition. I really enjoyed this puzzle (even though I got the dreaded pink square).

I hope everyone is keeping safe and sane.  We just entered "phase 2" here and I sat at an outside table at a brewery on Monday and had a beer from a tap for the first time in nearly three months! Wearing a mask of course.

Away we go...

Across
1 Buddy maybe sharing a lift in a sort of tunnel? (6)
CARPAL - the buddy sharing a lift could be a CAR PAL - an anatomical tunnel
4 Vehicles going head to head at game (8)
BACCARAT - CAB and CAR (vehicles), the first one reversed, then AT
10 Runs away at bedtime? (6,3)
LIGHTS OUT - double definition
11 Run across traveller (5)
ROVER - R(run), OVER(across)
12 Helpful-sounding woman (3)
ADA - sounds like AIDER(someone who helps)
13 Fortune-telling character, fantastic (11)
CHIROMANTIC - CHI(character), ROMANTIC(fantastic) - got this one from wordplay alone
14 Manager retains old craftsman (6)
COOPER - COPER(manager) containing O(old)
16 Box female soldiers, with police car outside (7)
PANDORA - OR(soliders) with PANDA(police car) surrounding - by far my favorite clue for the definition
19 Find a description of each other planet? (7)
UNEARTH - other planets would be UN-EARTH
20 Finish off better stand-up routine (6)
IMPROV - remove the last letter from IMPROVE(better). There's a legion of actors that will tell you improv is not stand-up, but plenty of stand-ups don't do rehearsed material and rely on audience cues.
22 Endlessly fooling around in fun, I admit (2,9)
AD INFINITUM - anagram of IN,FUN,I,ADMIT
25 Computer obsessive’s good to go — that’s scary! (3)
EEK - GEEK(computer obsessive) with the G(good) removed
26 One’s under canvas to relax at length (5)
EASEL - EASE(relax), L(length)
27 Very simply, the opposite of a surrender demand? (5,4)
HANDS DOWN - the surrender demand would be HANDS UP so this is the reverse. Silly me didn't check properly and had HANDS SOWN
28 Top driver’s support to corporation (8)
TEETOTUM - TEE(driver's support in golf), TO, TUM(corporation) - another one from the wordplay. A spinning top
29 Inducement to serve in unhappy ship (6)
BOUNTY - double definition, the second referring to a mutiny
Down
1 Wine collection merchant picked up (6)
CELLAR - sounds like SELLER(merchant)
2 Fix function for parent that’s boringly complicated (9)
RIGMAROLE - RIG(fix), and the function for a parent could be a MA ROLE
3 Room’s window having no frame (5)
ATTIC - LATTICE(window) missing the outer letters
5 Drippy work of war artist? (6,8)
ACTION PAINTING - a war artist could produce an ACTION PAINTING, but it is best known as the Jackson Pollock style
6 From rudely impatient indigenous people, pressure for start of entertainment (7,2)
CURTAIN UP - CURT(rudely impatient), AINU (indigneous people of Japan), P(pressure). A close second in favorite clue
7 Firmly fix hedge, trimming the top (5)
RIVET - a PRIVET hedge missing the start
8 Move round bed to corner a rat (8)
TURNCOAT - TURN(move round), COT(bed) containing A
9 Patronising houri, health not suffering (6-4-4)
HOLIER-THAN-THOU - anagram of HOURI,HEALTH,NOT
15 Extent of responsibility left one fool struggling (9)
PORTFOLIO - PORT(left) then an anagram of I(one),FOOL
17 Working at the double, circle in all directions unaided (2,4,3)
ON ONES OWN - ON and ON(double working) then O(circle) in the directions E,S,W,N
18 Call up to have a trial for City (8)
BUDAPEST - DUB(call, name), reversed, then A, PEST(trial, annoyance)
21 Hotel where there may be pie? But without fat (6)
SKINNY - INN(hotel) inside the pie in the SKY
23 Can woman be producing children? (5)
ISSUE - IS(can), SUE(woman)
24 Do wrong, offering paste, pocketing diamonds (5)
MISDO - MISO paste containing D(diamonds)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1623 by Oink

A nicely accessible puzzle from Oink, which took me 14 minutes to complete.  I had to write the anagrist down before seeing the answer at 10a, but otherwise it was all plain sailing, if slightly slow.

I thought I detected a slightly dark mood with the inclusion of setbacks, abuse, torture, cocaine, opium, tramp, scoundrel, choke, dreariest, pirate, et al in both clues and answers, but maybe I am being overly-sensitive.

Thanks Oink.  Readers, I look forwards to my fortnightly feedback on your experiences in your comments.

Across

Dripping, a kind of fat (9)
SATURATED – Double definition, the first an extreme of wetness, the second referring to saturated fats, which like most things at the moment divide scientific opinion.  Somewhere, there will be a university research team researching to find a topic that doesn’t divide scientific opinion.  The nearest I can think of is pepper – I’ve never heard anyone with a bad word for the stuff!
6  Party hard? What an idiot I am! (3)
DOH – DO (party) and H{ard}.  I think this is an expression popularised by the Simpsons cartoon series, but I can’t be sure, as I have never seen a minute of it.
8  Choke, spitting out large rum (7)
STRANGE – STRANG[l}E (choke) with the L removed (spitting out L{arge}).
9 Start to plead: I must have name (5)
BEGIN – BEG (plead) with I and N{ame}.
10  Confirm aunt is at best confused (12)
SUBSTANTIATE – Anagram (confused) of [AUNT IS AT BEST]
12 Appear to notice favouritism, finally (4)
SEEM – SEE (notice) and {favouritis}M (finally).
13  Stern bachelor meeting cook on vacation (4)
BACK – BA (bachelor) and C{oo}K (on vacation, i.e. removing the inner letters).  Did anybody else get caught out by the typeface and read this initially as “S t e m bachelor…”?
17  Ability to reason at the heart of MI6 (12)
INTELLIGENCE – It’s what the ‘I’ stood for in the abbreviation MI6 (Military Intelligence Section 6), although now more often referred to as the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service).
20  Found black stuff in the street (5)
START – TAR (black stuff) inside ST (street).
21  High-rise accommodation for social workers (7)
ANTHILL – Cryptic clue describing ants as social workers.  I suppose if one had no checkers, one may be tempted to biff BEEHIVE, but ANTHILL better fits both the checkers and the cryptic.
23  Go on to suffer setback (3)
YAP – To YAP is to go on, whilst to suffer can be to pay (reversed – setback).
24  Extremely dull criminal I arrested (9)
DREARIEST – Anagram (criminal) of [I ARRESTED].

Down

Cheek of son visiting famous regiment (4)
SASS – S{on} inside SAS (Special Air Service – famous regiment).
2  Tutor upset about abuse (7)
TORTURE – Anagram (upset) of [TUTOR] followed by RE (about).
Scarper, arguing occasionally (3)
RUN – Alternate letters (occasionally) from {a}R{g}U{i}N{g}.
4  Article on drinking den for barristers? (3,3)
THE BAR – THE (the definite article) and BAR (drinking den).  THE BAR is a term for the legal profession generally, but is also a collective noun for Barristers.
5  Posh girl acquiring top-class place to eat?  That’s a matter of opinion (9)
DEBATABLE – DEB (posh girl – debutante) with A (top-class) and TABLE (place to eat).
6  Follow only half of Marx’s doctrine (5)
DOGMA – DOG (follow) and half of MA{rx}.
Composer’s name announced  (6)
HANDEL – Homophone, sounds like (announced) HANDLE (name) as in my HANDLE / name on this blog is ‘therotter’.
11  Pretend to be excited, wasting time (9)
SIMULATED – S{t}IMULATED (excited) losing / wasting T{ime}
14 Illegal substance CIA once concocted (7)
COCAINE – Anagram (concocted) of [CIA ONCE].
15  Untidy room from which Oink might emerge? (6)
PIGSTY – Here we have Oink’s usual self-referential trademark in a cryptic definition.
16  Nick dangerous chap in the main (6)
PIRATE – double definition, as in to nick something might be to PIRATE it, and a PIRATE is a dangerous chap to meet at sea (in the main!).
18  Loose woman putting last of opium in gin (5)
TRAMP – TRAP (gin, as in a gin trap) containing last of {opiu}M.
19  Charlie leaping initially into bed (4)
CLOT – L{eaping} (initially) inside / into COT (bed).
22  Sailor putting scoundrel up (3)
TAR – RAT (scoundrel) reversed (putting up).
verlaine

Times 27,677: Put Through Our Paces

No complaints from me at all this Friday, though perhaps I have been softened up by being 7.4 miles away from 1dn as the birdman flies, as I type (or perhaps 5dn?) this. Great crossword with chewy cryptic components intermingled with a good test of both GK and vocab. Peculiarly I was talking about 12acs and the differences/similarities between them and "cape gooseberries" only a couple of days ago. Always nice when that happens.

COD to the only-fully-parsed-afterwards 6dn - it scarcely seems conceivable that such a silly-looking word could yield such a cogent surface. Great great puzzle setter - keep 'em coming!

ACROSS
1 Leading parade, miles away (4)
ARCH - MARCH [parade] minus M [miles]. As in arch nemesis.

3 Disapproving gossip about fellow drama queen (5,5)
PRIMA DONNA - PRIM ANA about DON

9 Gossip when pal tailed by celebrity’s girlfriend? (7)
CHINWAG - CHIN{a} by a singular W.A.G.

11 Mustard? You might pick up the seed (7)
COLONEL - homophone of KERNEL. That's Colonel Mustard from Clue(do).

12 Mother with work that also bears fruit (9)
TOMATILLO - MA with TILL, borne by TOO [also]

13 One’s entirely a hoodlum? Or not? (5)
YAHOO - hidden in {entirel}Y A HOO{dlum}, very nice semi-&lit. I'm not sure how to underline the definition part of this one to be honest... just thinking about the role of the word "entirely" in the clue makes my brain hurt.

14 8 rand a large shot? That’s a huge charge! (8,4)
ABNORMAL LOAD - (ABLOOM RAND A L*)

18 Books or copper pennies to follow as Charlie’s prize (5,4,3)
ASCOT GOLD CUP - O.T. GOLD CU P [books | or | copper | pennies] following AS C

21 Imperial edict from this country when close to catastrophe (5)
UKASE - U.K. AS [this country | when] + {catastroph}E

22 Sometime in the morning I spotted returning candidates (9)
EXAMINEES - EX A.M. I [sometime | in the morning | I] + reversed SEEN

24 Car manufacturer’s obsession with endless space up top (7)
BUGATTI - BUG [obsession] + ATTI{c} [space up top]

25 Sound coming from American serving in bar (7)
LOGICAL - G.I. [American serving] in LOCAL

26 Film made of one’s defeat (4,2,4)
EAST OF EDEN - (ONE'S DEFEAT*)

27 One’s composed — there’s nothing the matter? (4)
OPUS - O PUS [nothing | matter]

DOWN
1 Old can of talc thrown in a drawer with letter at the end (8)
ALCATRAZ - (TALC*) in A R.A. with Z [letter at the end (of the alphabet)]. Can as in prison.

2 Rodent brother heard under the counter (8)
CHIPMUNK - homophone of MONK [brother] under CHIP [counter, in e.g. a game]

4 Star of stage — in rep originally — on the up (5)
RIGEL - LEG + I{n} R{ep}, all reversed

5 Set of small posts made fantastic Crimbo firewood! (9)
MICROBLOG - (CRIMBO*) + LOG

6 In no hurry, CID officer’s going to Yard and forming team (5-8)
DILLY-DALLYING - D.I.'LL YD [CID officer's | going to | yard] + ALLYING [forming team]

7 Intervals at home? Time to visit our doctors and nurses (6)
NINTHS - IN T [at home | time] "visiting" the N.H.S.

8 Bachelor imprisoned in a tower gets out (6)
ABLOOM - B "imprisoned" in A LOOM [a | tower, as in "tower over", like some crossword bloggers are wont to do]

10 Pace about (4,7,2)
WITH RESPECT TO - double def. That's pace in the Latin, pronounced pah-chay, innit.

15 A style issue that’s been raised previously (2,3,4)
AT ONE TIME - A TONE + reversed EMIT

16 Top side initially team to beat (5,3)
SCREW CAP - S{ide} + CREW CAP [team | to beat]

17 First-rate display by the French champions (8)
APOSTLES - A POST [first-rate | display] by LES [the French]

19 No good turning to doctor to transform rainforest disorder (6)
JUMBLE - JU{ng->MB}LE; JUNGLE is transformed by its N.G. [no good] turning to M.B. [Bachelor of Medicine]

20 Pack’s overtaking East Asian runner (6)
GANGES - GANG'S "overtaking" E. That's a runner as in, er, a flower.

23 Lake encircled by a sheltered walkway (5)
ALLEE - L "encircled by" A LEE