August 27th, 2020

Linus van Pelt
  • z8b8d8k

27754 Thursday, 27 August 2020 "David and Solomon lived very merry lives"

My time shows up on the board as 18.48, but that’s only because I had to sort out an internet fubar which delayed the submission of my pink square blemished grid by some 4 minutes. I guess you’ll have to say I found this pretty straightforward, but there are enough TLS bits and pieces to keep it interesting and less arty types may have found it opaque in places.
There are a lot (a lot!) of single letter additions and subtractions throughout the grid which rather gets wearing as you work through.
For reasons stated, I liked the clue for 4ac, and that occasional visitor, the definition as punctuation mark which puts in a cheerful appearance.
I’ve given the clues below in italics, the definitions in underlined italics, and the solutions in BOLD CAPITALS

1 City university in Zambia originally having money to burn? (6)
ZURICH Zambia originally is Z, having money to burn is RICH, and U(niversity) is found therein
4 Clairvoyant visited by Saint David, most famously (8)
PSALMIST A rather nice confusion of Bible stories disguises the wordplay, in that the person who visited a clairvoyant, the “witch of Endor” was David’s regnal predecessor Saul. Of course, you don’t need to know that to solve the clue, but you do need to know that, traditionally at least David is celebrated as the writer of (some of) the Psalms, and insert a S(aint) into PALMIST for clairvoyant.
10 A second individual torn apart by current slur (9)
ASPERSION “Torn apart” is rather excessive as a containment indicator, but that’s what it is. A S(econd) PERSON (individual) has an I, for (electrical) current placed gently at an appropriate point.
11 Explosive material in container brought back by sappers (5)
NITRE Potassium nitrate or saltpetre, a component of gunpowder, here represented by a TIN container reversed and added to the R(oyal) E(ngineers), known as sappers
12 Keep wife in cricket side (3)
OWN For cricket sides, you can select from ON, OFF and LEG. Pick the two letter one and insert W(ife)
13 Extremely brazen, his sister’s cultivated national identity (11)
BRITISHNESS An anagram (cultivated) of the extremes of BrazeN, HIS and SISTER (ignore the ‘s, here it’s just “is”)
14 Chatting with judge in flight? (6)
JAWING Judges are often shortened to J in this court, here added to A-WING for in flight
16 One who gives out marks missing in term-time mix-up (7)
EMITTER Another anagram (mix-up: anagram indicators don’t come more blatant). Create the letter salad from TERM-TIME with one of the M(arks) missing
19 Latvian allows husband to pen note (7)
LETTISH I wish I could say it was Sean Connery’s nationality in The Hunt for Red October, which would allow me to say something frightfully witty about his salad, but he was Lithuanian. Drat. Allows: LETS H(usband) “penning” the note TI
20 Choirboy to shake with fear, having missed Mass (6)
TREBLE Shake with fear TREMBLE, delete the M(ass). Decent surface
22 Mind food shop, taking first of compounds like LSD? (11)
PSYCHEDELIC Still looks wrong to me, but isn’t. PSYCHE for mind (not psycho, then), DELI for food shop, add the first of Compounds
25 See about providing shelter for western bird (3)
OWL See provides LO to be reversed (about) and become a shelter for W(estern)
26 Gather in a New England state, briefly (5)
AMASS A in plain sight, MASS(achusetts)
27 Relaxed midshipman, one captivated by medal (4-5)
EASY-GOING Perhaps the best known of all midshipmen, EASY from the novel by Frederick Marryat. I (one) is “captured” by GONG for medal
28 Generous with funds ultimately invested in refuge, perhaps (8)
HANDSOME where it helps to remember that “with” sometimes is more than a filler word, here translating to AND. Add S for the end of fundS and insert into HOME which might as well be a refuge
29 Some unhealthy phenomenon that’s in centre of Guinea-Bissau (6)
HYPHEN Today’s hidden in unhealtHY PHENomenon, also hidden in plain sight in the dead centre of Guinea-Bissau

1 Unknown European group infiltrated by a fanatic (6)
ZEALOT The unknown this time is Z, with a E(uropean) LOT (group) and an A inserted
2 Contrite worker who’s been confined again? (9)
REPENTANT Worker is a worker ANT, and if he’s confined again he is (fancifully) RE-PENT
3 Native American in hired vehicle touring Rhode Island (5)
CARIB The hired vehicle is a CAB, “touring” R(hode) I(sland)
5 Soft-hearted type’s feeling about first of many top people? (14)
SENTIMENTALIST Feeling is SENTIENT with the first of Many inserted and added to the A-LIST top people
6 Vessel dropping off a US magazine in midday break (9)
LUNCHTIME The vessel is a LAUNCH which drops it’s a before accepting TIME, the US magazine. “All time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so”
7 Girl regularly leaves tough meat, finding fibre (5)
ISTLE So tough meat is GRISTLE, and the odd letters of GiRl are subtracted
8 Time to restore confidence to a son missing love? (8)
TREASURE T(ime), restore confidence to REASSURE, remove an S(on)
9 Enjoying realised ambition, having led with merit at sea (6,3,5)
LIVING THE DREAM An anagram (at sea) of HAVING LED and MERIT. What competitors in the X-Factor do before crashing out in the semi-finals to someone with a more heartbreaking back-story
15 National idioms a woman found going over a chap’s manuscript (9)
IRISHISMS “Why do Irish people say everything twice? To be sure, to be sure” Today’s random woman is IRIS, over the top of HIS (a chap’s) MS for manuscript
17 Like some fat Tudor composer keeping old wife and horse (9)
TALLOWISH Thomas TALLIS (c. 1505 – 23 November 1585, so definitely Tudor) composed some magnificent music, including the incredible motet Spem in Alium for forty (40!) different voices. Place O(ld) W(ife) at a point to be deduced and add a H(orse) at the end
18 Slovenly hotel dejected chums are upset over (8)
SLAPDASH So it’s H(otel) SAD PALS all reversed, though more precisely in the wordplay the SAD PALS are reversed over the H(otel). Same difference
21 Attempt to divide open tart and a measure of wine (6)
FLAGON GO is attempt and FLAN the open tart it divides. I thought of flagon as any large jug or tankard of indeterminate size, which it is, but is also a bottle of 2 pints capacity, so a specific measure
23 Long story about Eeyore, primarily (5)
YEARN The story is a YARN, and you only need the first letter of Eeyore
24 Wary when star of US gangster movies drops in at last (5)
CAGEY James CAGNEY, pretty much the quintessential gangster actor, usually impersonated by a breathy "You dirty rat, you killed my brother" (which he never said). The last letter of in is N, remove it.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1688 by Monty

A second outing for Monty today, his first being a fortnight ago to the day. Looking back over the previous comments, it was a puzzle that divided opinion, with some fairly tough clues, a dash of obscurity and an original style. I really liked it, and did so again today with what was a similar solving experience (reflected by my time, again coming in around three minutes over target). Again I learnt a few things, but none of the obscurity proved essential to the solve, and some of it even merited a closer look - just the way it should be! An array of fine clues, several pitched at the trickier end for a QC, all well worth it - many thanks to Monty!

1 Turkey leg Bob demolished? Right! (7)
GOBBLER - Anagram (demolished) of LEG BOB, and then R(ight). Originally a US term for a male turkey, with 'gobble' being imitative of the gurgling noise they make.
5 Row after catching grand, wild cat (5)
TIGER - TIER (row) catching G(rand)
8 Ermine Street coming across to Alconbury at first (5)
STOAT - ST. (Street) coming across TO A (TO, Alconbury "at first"). Ermine can be both the animal and the fur; Ermine Street was a very ancient road from London to York, predating the Romans, and was later named by the Saxons after a tribe of people living near a part of the route. And yes, apparently it does pass through Alconbury. All news to me - lovely stuff! See here.
9 Artist’s pants (7)
DRAWERS - DRAWER'S = Artist's. LOI - was stuck on the idea of rubbish/pants instead of underwear/pants.
10 Gather idiot has badge with end missing (8)
ASSEMBLE - ASS (idiot) has EMBLEm (badge, with end missing). I was slow seeing this and needed it for 11d.
12 Overheard couple too much (3)
TOO - sounds like ("overheard") as TWO (couple). I was sufficiently unsure of this not to enter it on a first read through of the acrosses, as I don't ever recall seeing the answer so blatantly in the definition. I think what's happening here is that "too much" is an old way of simply saying "too", as in Richard II, "Your majestie is too much sad." (Thank you OED!) Quite a confusing clue without this knowledge, but thankfully not necessary for solving it. Well, at least Monty wasn't in an even cheekier mood with "Couple overheard too much", eh? ;-)
14 Bald Ulsterman moved item of hall furniture? (8,5)
UMBRELLA STAND - anagram (moved) of BALD ULSTERMAN. Nicely disguised umbrella, I thought, that initially got me wondering who or what a MURLAND was, and what function their TABLE performed in a hallway.
16 Struggle avoided, ignoring the odds (3)
VIE - a V o I d E d "ignoring the odds"
17 Celeb briefly backed into corrupt poll (8)
ELECTION - CELEb (celeb, "briefly") backed = reversed; anagram (corrupt) of INTO
20 Those people must accept rebuke for this treatment (7)
THERAPY - THEY (those people) must accept RAP (rebuke)
23 Boy trapped back in concrete pillar (5)
PETER - trapped back in the letters of concRETE Pillar
24 Forger sends money in two holdalls first of all (5)
SMITH - Sends Money In Two Holdalls, "first of all"
25 Chap’s local refurbished in 2000 (7)
MALCOLM - anagram (refurbished) of LOCAL in MM (2000). I share the common dislike for random name clues but this was neatly done.

1 Point, when American soldier’s on the way (4)
GIST - GI (American soldier) is on the ST. (Street/way)
2 Top, black, suitable for surfers? (9)
BROWSABLE - BROW (top) SABLE (black); as in a browser for surfers of the net. Tricksy stuff: the B/BL for Black had me looking for a top via a wave.
3 Volume was illuminating, with accompanying note (5)
LITRE - LIT (was illuminating), with accompanying RE (note - as in do, re, me)
4 Communist: the German revolutionary (3)
RED - DER (the, German), revolutionary = reverse. (The only revolutionary in today's puzzle, 1688.)
5 Violinist’s last seen on composer’s journeys (7)
TRAVELS - T (violinisT's "last") seen on RAVEL'S (composer's)
6 My half of child’s horse (3)
GEE - a GEE-GEE being a child's horse.
7 Comes back on steamship going round small lake (8)
RESPONDS - RE (on) SS (steamship) going round POND (small lake)
11 Bottom of ship’s bunk (5)
BILGE - double definition, and nicely done. Another unknown for me: the bilge is the bottom of a boat; it later came also to mean "the foulness that collects in the bilge", and was thence but a short hop to rubbish more generally.
12 Tango with novel footwear in song from musical (3,3,3)
TEA FOR TWO - T (Tango in the NATO phonetic alphabet) with an anagram (novel) of FOOTWEAR
13 Oust violently with veto to achieve defeats democratically (8)
OUTVOTES - anagram (violently) of OUST with VETO
15 Rubbish solution for irritated viewers (7)
EYEWASH - double definition, the first somewhat dated; boat bilge not recommended for the second.
18 Part of flower — and of date palm (5)
TEPAL - "part of" daTE PALm. Another unknown: the outer part of a flower, which wiki says is used when you can't work out if something is a sepal or a petal. It's a bit more technical than that, but potentially very useful if you want to confirm your ignorance of such matters in a fancy way.
19 Daughter’s head: strange place to do tattoo (4)
DRUM - D (Daughter’s "head") RUM (strange). A tattoo being a tapping on a drum.
21 Old priest: the Spanish one (3)
ELI - EL (the, Spanish) I (one)
22 Yours truly’s up for eating a potato (3)
YAM - MY (yours truly's) up = reversed, eating A

Times 27,755: Two Jags Before The Mast

Cor blimey, there was some hard stuff in here and no mistake. If you hadn't heard of the American historian or the colonial-era slang for "hired" or the wartime hidey-hole, you, like me, might just have had to desperately scrabble for some combination of letters that might sensibly fit and then work out if the cryptic could be made to justify that. I think 1ac is a rather brilliant GK-centric clue but are its components too obscure even from Friday consumption? I shall let a democratic show of hands decide.

Some great coherent surfaces, I will say, with immaculate balance between the cryptic and definition parts: "tail"..."tailless" and "slippery"..."slippery" being just two very blatant examples. I think my COD might be the simple but effective 8dn though. Nice job setter and more of this kind of chewy madness on a Friday I say you you, Mr Ed!

1 US historian’s description of Amundsen’s arrival at Pole? (8)
PRESCOTT - as in William H Prescott, the first American scientific historian, back in the 19th century. Amundsen's was the first expedition to arrive at the South Pole in 1911, PRE-SCOTT by 34 days.

5 Agree to study remedy briefly (6)
CONCUR - CON [to study] + CUR{e} [remedy, abbreviated]. FOI

10 English town ultimately counted cost of untilled ground (6,9)
SUTTON COLDFIELD - ({counte}D COST OF UNTILLED*) ["ground"]. Biffable given a few crossers

11 Rich soil with, close by, stock all around (5,5)
BROWN EARTH - W NEAR [with | close by], BROTH [stock] all around that

13 Activator, oddly inactive for so long (4)
CIAO - {a}C{t}I{v}A{t}O{r}, with the odd letters deactivated

15 Rail, perhaps: one to put in shed (3,3)
HIT OUT - I TO "put in" HUT

17 Little drama in Wimbledon umpire’s words? (7)
PLAYLET - I understand a tennis umpire might shout things like PLAY! and LET!

18 Christian was one turning cheek, resolute (7)
PILGRIM - reversed LIP [cheek] + GRIM [resolute]. Christian being the eponym of Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress"

19 Dramatist needing writing instruments of old (6)
SHAWMS - SHAW needs MS. A shawm is a primitive oboe of some kind.

21 Pat of butter in large glass, just starting to turn (4)
GLIB - reversed B{utter} I{n} L{arge} G{lass}

22 Royal grant treated with disdain (10)

25 Feature from wartime film director Lee (8,7)
ANDERSON SHELTER - is ANDERSON Lindsay? Wes? Paul Thomas? Michael? Pick your favourite film director. The lee side is the one SHELTERed from the wind. Put them together to create a structure you might hide in during an air raid.

27 Sheriff, courtesy of grass, arresting old woman (6)
LAWMAN - LAWN [grass] "arresting" MA [old woman]

28 Old tracks supposedly set for broadcast by large Spanish lady (3,5)
LEY LINES - homophone of LAY [set] + L INES [large | Spanish lady]

1 Disregard “X” placed under warrant (4,2)
PASS BY - BY [X, as in "times"], under PASS [warrant]

2 Scoff as leader eliminated from qualifier (3)
EAT - {h}EAT

3 Seek to take top off first in public building (5,5)
CROWN COURT - COURT is to seek [as in courting fame or disaster]; CROWN is to "top off" [as in crowning glory]. Arrange appropriately.

4 Hired parts necessary for automatic camera (5)
TICCA - hidden in {automa}TIC CA{mera}. Less "cleverly hidden" than "a word I'd never heard of"! But maybe some of your good selves have come across or even used it in the wild?

6 Tender, when speaking, for one for whom the earth moved? (4)
OFFA - homophone of OFFER, or you may vehemently disagree, along with my live-in Scot. Offa of Mercia is best remembered for building a big dyke to keep the Welsh in their place; I grew up on the Welsh side of it so can completely understand his point of view.

7 One’s advanced only so far (6,5)
CREDIT LIMIT - cryptic definition. The limit to which one can receive an advance or loan.

8 Art deco pieces entertaining camper (7)
REDCOAT - (ART DECO*). Hi-de-hi!

9 Odd creature with tail also includes a tailless variety (8)
PLATYPUS - PLUS [also] "includes" A TYP{e}. Sadly I basically biffed this in from "odd creature".

12 Detonating on IOW left weird light in bay (5,6)
ORIEL WINDOW - (ON IOW L WEIRD*) ["detonated"]

14 Pile in to stop a slippery customer producing something slippery? (6,4)
BANANA PEEL - NAP [pile] in BAN A EEL [to stop | a | slippery customer]. Biffable from EEL.

16 What’s to come from retiring second time — gold chain (8)
TOMORROW - reversed MO T [second | time], plus OR ROW [gold | chain]

18 The twist in Animal Farm, perhaps, as told (7)
PIGTAIL - which sounds a lot like PIG TALE [Animal Farm, perhaps]

20 State syrup, heading off cough, has worked (6)
CYPRUS - (SYRUP C{ough}*), worked over

23 Boy having file removed from case of doctor (5)

24 A long number of answers, including right one (4)
ARIA - A A [(two) answers] "including" R I [right | one]

26 Style of cryptic down clue? (3)
TON - reverse cryptic, where TON is "not up", ergo a cryptic clue for "down".