August 10th, 2020

Astarte1

QC 1675 by Orpheus

Sorry, nothing at all to say this week except look at the explanations below. I can't stand this awful weather where every keystroke is a miniature expenditure of energy too far so I'm bailing out as quickly as possible.

The usual statistics: FOI 1A, a straight read and write clue. LOI I can't honestly remember but think it might have been 19A. I could see the answer but had to wade through the geographcical cryptic (never my strong point) before writing it in so I think that pushed it back in the queue. As usual for the COD there is no clue that stands out for difficulty so I normally just pick the one whose surface reads most naturally and this week the award goes to 9A. Thanks Orpheus for an entertaining puzzle that was probably about the same medium level of difficulty as the last one I blogged two weeks ago (and just a bit more difficult than the run of very easy fare that I had encountered in the previous few weeks).

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

Across
1 Appreciative, having this much coal? (8)
GRATEFUL - having a GRATEFUL of coal. (The question mark indicates that you wouldn't normally talk about a 'GRATEFUL' of something, but the possibility can be derived by comparison with established phrases such as a POCKETFUL of mumbles or a SACKFUL of woe).
5 About to demand a strong wooden barrel (4)
CASK - C (circa, about) + ASK (demand).
7 Bag for Falstaff’s wine! (4)
SACK - double definition. Shakespeare's degenerate knight Sir John Falstaff was renowned for his love of SACK, a dry white wine popular at the time.
8 One who conveys news about alcoholic drink (8)
REPORTER - RE (about) PORTER (alcoholic drink).
9 Wobbly: lacking capacity to cross street (8)
UNSTABLE - UNABLE (lacking capacity) 'to cross' ST (street).
11 Reportedly outstanding lyric poem (3)
ODE - Sounds like ('reportedly') OWED (outstanding).
13 Mistakes made by English kings at start of actions (6)
ERRATA - E (English) + RR (kings) + AT + A (start of Action).
16 Groans frightfully, finding skirtlike garment (6)
SARONG - straight anagram ('frightfully') of GROANS.
18 Scottish port involved in Hogmanay revels (3)
AYR - hidden word: 'involved in' hogmanAY Revels.
19 The commercial centre of Banbridge, for example? (8)
DOWNTOWN - Banbridge is a town in County Down, NI, and is therefore a 'DOWN TOWN'.
20 Put off carrying container, a stoppered glass (8)
DECANTER - DETER (put off) 'carrying' CAN (a container).
22 Unemployed superstar given a hearing (4)
IDLE - sounds like ('given a hearing') IDOL (superstar).
23 Boss demanding endless academic application (4)
STUD - academic application = STUDy - remove the end ('endless') and there you have it.
24 Former exam relating to rural life (8)
PASTORAL - PAST (former) + ORAL (exam).
Down
1 Signal from visitor dropping union leader on river (7)
GESTURE - GUEST (visitor) 'dropping' U (Union leader) 'on' (in this down clue) URE (river).
2 A northern church’s attempt to establish origin (8)
ANCESTRY - A + N (northern) + CE'S (church's) + TRY (attempt).
3 Troublemaker sacked for pinching grain husks (9)
FIREBRAND - FIRED (sacked) 'pinching' BRAN (grain husks).
4 Cut Liszt’s first work (3)
LOP - L (Liszt's first) + OP (opus, work).
5 Abrupt old Republican ringing a museum boss (7)
CURATOR - CURT (abrupt) + O (old) + R (republican) 'ringing' A.
6 Pacify son, very small, just into double figures (7)
SWEETEN - S (son) + WEE (very small) + TEN (just into double figures).
10 Unhappy as steward, going in this direction? (9)
EASTWARDS - straight anagram ('unhappy') of AS STEWARD.
12 Well-meaning type taking pet initially over European river (2-6)
DO-GOODER - DOG (pet) + O ('initially' Over) + ODER (European river).
14 First-class male in torn clothing (7)
RAIMENT - AI (first-class) + M (male) 'in' RENT (torn).
15 A Royal Marines orchestra’s form of identification (7)
ARMBAND - A + RM (Royal Marines) + BAND (orchestra).
17 Refined chap set up shelter (7)
GENTEEL - GENT (chap) + EEL (LEE (shelter) reversed, i.e. 'set up' in this down cue).
21 Most superior upper garment (3)
TOP - double definition.
Decca
  • vinyl1

Times 27739 - What Uncle Toby was looking for?

Time: 45 minutes
Music: Albeniz, Iberia

I was definitely off the wavelenght here, and struggled with a lot of the clues.    There is a lot of original cluing here, which makes it difficult to lean on your vast experience and put in the same answer you have put in many times before.    I had a fair idea how most of the clues worked after reading them, but I still took a long time to find the answer.   Having an idea or two does help when you get a checker, which often results in getting nowhere for 20 minutes and then having the answers pour in during the final 10.

Still, it should not have been that hard, and I would not be surprised if the SNITCH ends up at an even 100 or less. 

Across
1 Spark is appropriate around Scottish chimney, on reflection (8)
STIMULUS - SU(LUM)ITS, all backwards.   At least I got lum quickly enough.
6 Uninspired old head of BBC grasping pen? On the contrary (6)
STODGY - ST(O D.G)Y.   I put in the answer, erased it, and then saw how it worked and put it back in.
9 Supporting company agreement after some strain? That is indicator of future prospects (7,6)
FORTUNE COOKIE - FOR + TUNE + CO OK + I.E.   I couldn't read my own K, and thought the second element must be course for a long time.
10 This is the ultimate in blasphemy? (6)
HERESY -  HERE'S Y.    A nice &lit, and a very clever clue.
11 Objective of female coming on board for departures (4-4)
SEND-OFFS - S(END OF F)S. 
13 Activist theatrical in rage, going wild (10)
CAMPAIGNER - CAMP + anagram of IN RAGE.
15 Unemployed one gets appropriate payment, nothing less (4)
IDLE - I + D[o]LE.
16 Suggestion assistant should postpone article (4)
IDEA - AIDE with the A moved to the end - an inversion of this clue appeared in a recent Mephisto.
18 See Yorkshire river beside event in Sheffield, say (5,5)
LOCAL DERBY - LO + CALDER + BY, a river I've never heard of, but the obvious answer.
21 No shift involving doctor in thirty days (8)
NOVEMBER - NO + VE(MB)ER.
22 Unequivocal gossip gets investment from City (6)
DIRECT - DI(EC)RT.
23 What produces reduction of scale in floods more frequently (5,8)
WATER SOFTENER -  WATERS + OFTENER.
25 Mark, my son, turned to run, losing time (6)
SYMBOL - MY S backwards + BOL[t]
26 Hitch after cat does for small performer (3,5)
TOM THUMB - TOM + THUMB in entirely different senses.
Down
2 Delicate stuff, oil turning up on cheese (7)
TAFFETA - FAT upside-down on FETA.     They're using fat for oil a lot these days, even thought they're not exactly the same thing.
3 Horse carrying pack let loose in town square (11)
MARKETPLACE -  MAR(anagram of PACK LET)E.
4 Start of last over — our players end in ignominy, being dreadful (5)
LOUSY - L(ast) + O + US + [ignomin}Y
5 Family member hurries to get rid of it (7)
STEPSON - STEPS ON [it].
6 A French duke brought in twenty pounds for a rascal (9)
SCOUNDREL -  SCO(UN D)RE + L.
7 Reasonable to secure a source of wood (3)
OAK -  O(A)K, a Quickie clue.
8 Ear about to sense upset with great pleasure (7)
GLEEFUL -  LU(FEEL)G, all upside-down.
12 Conciliatory gesture, as it happens, in outside broadcast on farm (5,6)
OLIVE BRANCH - O(LIVE)B + RANCH.
14 Prejudiced and wrong about African country from which one’s deported (9)
ILLIBERAL - IL(LIBER[i]A)L, where ill is not the first word you think of when you see wrong.
17 Behave as we do after ignoring University opening (7)
DOORWAY -  DO O[u]R WAY.
19 Vehicle staying outside reduced opening in garage (7)
CARPORT - CAR(POR[t])T.   In the US, at least, a carport is different from a garage, but the cryptic gives you the obvious answer.
20 Coarse stuff from males (7)
BUCKRAM - BUCK + RAM, a cheastnut.
22 Corporation supporting US lawyer in fact (5)
DATUM - DA + TUM, another chestnut.
24 Flutter taken up? There’s an amount to pay (3)
TAB - BAT backwards, one we had recently in the Quickie.