August 12th, 2020

Times Quick Cryptic 1677 by Izetti

I was told when starting crosswords that The Times was perhaps not the best to cut your teeth on (but obviously the superior puzzle), and if you're starting out with this tricky little number, I'll extend that advice to you. This is a great example of the sort of QC that is totally fair, teaches you something, and has a bit of a sting in the tail. Classic Izetti. It is very easy, however, to throw in the towel and convince yourself that this just isn't your game. Persevere!

I understood 1ac straight away, but had to figure out the rest of the anagram at the same time as writing in the -TION. The rest followed with just a bit of effort, except for the unknown shrub, the African/Asian mammal, and the drunkard. All but the last rang no bells whatsoever, and each was deduced painfully from the wordplay and checkers. I imagine many more will cause some trouble.

COD to 6dn for its semi-&lit-ishness, and being a lovely long clue for a lovely short word.

Definitions underlined.

1 Arguments in studios apt to get out of control (12)
DISPUTATIONS - anagram of (to get out of control) IN STUDIOS APT.
8 Picture of prisoner brought to India (4)
ICON - CON (prisoner) next to (brought to) I (India, NATO alphabet).
9 Fool nabbed by servant in corridor (7)
PASSAGE - ASS (fool) contained by (nabbed by) PAGE (servant).
11 Former member of the Lords? That is right (7)
EARLIER - EARL (member of the Lords), I.E. (id est, that is), and R (right).
12 Part of flight from Budapest airport (5)
STAIR - hidden in (from) budapeST AIRport.
14 Those people, leaders of English Society, offering ideas (6)
THEMES - THEM (those people), then the first letters from (leaders of) English and Society.
15 Decay in small green vegetable or shrub (6)
PROTEA - ROT (decay) contained in (in) PEA (small green vegetable). A quite pretty southern African plant.
18 Badger-like creature surprisingly alert (5)
RATEL - anagram of (surprisingly) ALERT. Another name for a honey badger.
20 Soldiers having drinks with recreational drug get ill again (7)
RELAPSE - RE (Royal Engineers, soldiers), with LAPS (drinks) and E (ecstasy, recreational drug).
21 Having no weapons and lacking ability to punch, say? (7)
UNARMED - one of those awkward-to-define double definitions where one of them is cryptic. Not a double definition, not a cryptic definition. One of them.
23 Too restricted by ceremonial sometimes (4)
ALSO - hidden in (restricted by) ceremoniAL SOmetimes.
24 Her good faith sorted out answer to alcohol problem? (4,2,3,3)
HAIR OF THE DOG - anagram of (sorted out) HER GOOD FAITH.

2 Trendy church's leader, silly rector is wrong (9)
INCORRECT - IN (trendy), the first letter from (...'s leader) Church, and an anagram of (silly) RECTOR.
3 Broody writers this writer's taken after (7)
PENSIVE - PENS (things that write, writers) and I'VE (this writer's).
4 Top lady entertained by excellent boozers (6)
TOPERS - ER (The Queen, top lady) contained by (entertained by) TOPS (excellent). A toper is a drunkard.
5 Street set up trial runs (5)
TESTS - ST (street) and SET reversed (up).
6 Cells with circular shape, having very small area (3)
OVA - O (circular shape) with V (very) and A (abbreviation for (small) area).
7 Where a rat's destroyed a bird (10)
SHEARWATER - anagram of (destroyed) WHERE A RATS.
10 Perceive the true nature of what must be transparent? (3,7)
SEE THROUGH - double definition.
13 Asti on tap — novel provision for start of Italian meal (9)
ANTIPASTO - anagram of (novel) ASTI ON TAP.
16 Full relief after only 50 per cent relief brings freedom (7)
RELEASE - all of the (full) word EASE (relief) after only 50% of the word RELief.
17 Acclaim — Conservative meeting left-winger gets it (6)
CREDIT - C (conservative) with RED (left-winger) and IT.
19 Dance in a state of oblivion (5)
LIMBO - double definition.
22 Boxer went to ground briefly (3)
ALI - ALIt (landed, went to ground) without the last letter (briefly).

Times 27741 - Is it a bird? Is it the TLS? It's certainly different.

It took me far too long to untangle all this, I needed Wiki afterwards to check a couple, and it had a feeling that I was wrestling with a TLS puzzle by mistake at times. Shakespeare, Greek Classics, Greek geography, linguistics, musicology, and - if I'm correct at 5d - a memory of Dylan lyrics, all were called upon if you were to get through this fully parsed and ship shape. Fortunately, there were some easy clues like 11a, 2d, and the anagram at 21a to give us some early checkers, else I'd probably still be chewing the pencil. I look forward to your wise comments.

1 Stop working because of line in operating system (4,5)
DOWN TOOLS - DOWN TO = because of, then L inside OS.
6 One shoe, not quite the pair, going with it (5)
SABOT - SA (it, sex appeal) BOT(H) = not quite the pair.
9 Run away from anger and depression in Greece (5)
TEMPE - TEMPER (anger) loses its R. The wordplay is simple but you'd have to be a fan of Greek geography to know the reference. I lived for nearly 4 years in Greece (the Peloponnese, not the northern region where the Valley of Tempe is to be found), and I'd not heard of it. Maybe it's famous in the Classical canon. OHO! I see, on reading Wiki, it is.
10 Ladies, staying on, visit New Zealand tourist attraction (6,3)
LONDON ZOO - LOO (ladies) has ON, then DO NZ (visit New Zealand) inserted. Seems not quite right to me, the 'staying' piece, to indicate it's all inserted, but that's the answer.
11 Easy reward from getting on line? (5,3,3,4)
MONEY FOR OLD ROPE - Cryptic definition.
13 Laments day-old fails (8)
MONODIES - MON(day), O(ld), DIES = fails. A monody is an ode of lament by one person e.g. in a Greek tragedy.
14 One outlet accepts new coin (6)
INVENT - I (one) VENT (outlet) accepts N(ew). Coin, as in coin a new word or expression.
16 Stupid that hotel do only flipping sandwiches! (6)
NOODLE - Hidden word reversed in HOT(EL DO ON)LY. Well, stupid is an adjective, and noodle is a noun (at least I can't find it listed as an adjective) but doubtless someone else will. Or is stupid a noun here?
18 Press chief with another cider, too inebriated! (8)
21 New MP, one come to help folk in general (3,6,6)
23 Fights to finish or to drive out soliciting? (9)
SHOOTOUTS - If you said "Shoo, touts!" you could be driving out soliciting people.
25 Sound unstressed after chief visiting was abused (5)
SCHWA - Insert CH for chief into (WAS)*. SCHWA, symbol (), is the indistinct vowel sound of an unstressed syllable, e.g. the 'e' in 'the' in rapid speech. As opposed the e in 'the' pronounced 'thee'. Hope you followed that. Did you have S-H-A and wing it from wordplay?
26 Refuse when beginning to recycle to break bed down (5)
DROSS - First letter of Recycle goes into DOSS = bed down.
27 Moderating playtime instruction often led by ma (3,6)
NON TROPPO - a clue for musicians; e.g. ALLEGRO MA NON TROPPO is a common marking meaning 'fast but not too fast' in Italian.
1 Lady briefly taking you for a Parisian in fact (5)
DATUM - DAM(E) = lady briefly, insert TU being French for you singular; a piece of information, Latin for 'a thing given'.
2 Book token given by wife — and with it, nothing (5,2,4)
WOMEN IN LOVE - W (wife) OMEN = token, sign; IN (with it, trendy), LOVE (nothing, zero). Seems a complicated way to clue this example of a novel.
3 Drawing you had coloured a certain way (3-4)
TIE-DYED - TIED (drawing, all square), YE'D (you had), punctuation revised to suit.
4 Witness, removed from case, won’t peach (8)
ONLOOKER - WON'T has its 'case' removed, giving ON, LOOKER = peach, good looking lady.
5 Narrator’s understood the reader’s older (6)
SENIOR - I think this is a homophone clue, we're due for one. SENIOR sounding like SENOR addressed by the narrator as in the song lyric by Bob Dylan? Seems a long shot but I can't see another reference that fits the surface. No doubt it's not that obscure?
6 Fellow with TV spots royal photographer (7)
SNOWDON - DON a fellow goes on the end of SNOW = white noise, TV spots. AKA Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, snapper who married Princess Margaret.
7 Bachelor place Dorothy visits to see sketch writer (3)
BOZ - B plus OZ. Sketches by Boz were by Dickens.
8 Once on the outside, we start to work in tandem? (3-6)
TWO-SEATER - (O E WE START)*, where O E is 'once on the outside'.
12 A person ends short trip in general store (3-4,4)
ONE-STOP SHOP - ONE (a person) STOPS (ends) HOP (short trip).
13 Painter papers around bottom right corner made ready (9)
MONETISED - MONET (painter) ID (papers) around SE (south-east, bottom right corner).
15 Leaving possible heir a dodgy business? (6-2)
GOINGS-ON - GOING (leaving) SON (possible heir).
17 Paranoid old ruler putting Trotsky on trial briefly (7)
LEONTES - LEON Trotsky + TES(T). As TLS solvers will know, King Leontes was the paranoid character in A Winter's Tale. I didn't know it though, I've never seen or read it.
19 Furniture you’ll find in different sorts of theatre (7)
DRESSER - Double definition, you have dressers in theatres. I'm not a luvvy so I don't understand why 'different sorts of'. That sounds like an anagrind, but it isn't.
20 Challenge on reflection no good: how to go from London to Leeds? (6)
IMPUGN - All reversed; NG, UP M1.
22 Retroaction not oddly one to inspire (5)
ERATO - Even letters of rEtRoAcTiOn, Erato was the Muse of love poetry so can inspire you.
24 That’s a surprise, the Hoops eclipsing Hearts (3)
OHO - O O (hoops) around H(earts).