September 10th, 2020

Linus van Pelt
  • z8b8d8k

27766 Thursday, 10 September 2020 Questa o quella per me pari sono

Another in my series of Puzzles That Took Longer Than Perhaps They Should, occupying me for almost 30 minutes, but I liked it a lot. Throughout the surfaces are clean and plausible, and the wordplay offers a good variety of methods for getting to the answer, which I hope I have made plain enough in my analysis.
I’m particularly appreciative of clues like 5d, which draws all its bits out of its common subject matter, and 20 across which is as succinct a synopsis of an interminable book as you would want to see, while behaving as an immaculate piece of wordplay.
We even have a cheeky bit of commentary on contemporary politics at 13ac, which of course the setter can innocently claim is purely wordplay.
Some may struggle with Foreign Words Clued By Anagrams (5d again), but at least today’s bird is not particularly obscure.
I do clues in italics, definitions in underlined italics, and solutions in BOLD CAPITALS. Enjoy.

1 Former railway food in the buffet? (6)
PASTRY Former: PAST, R(ailwa)Y. I lost time here assuming the attractive surface of the buffet car was disguising some sort of blow.
4 Short time “visiting” jug? That’s interminable bird! (8)
FLAMINGO The short time is MIN(ute) which finds its way into a jug masquerading as a FLAGON, which itself loses its end (interminable)
10 Like some roads teen idler vandalised (4-5)
TREE-LINED An early anagram (vandalised) of TEEN IDLER
11 Daughter with bad back and slouch (5)
DROOP D(aughter) plus POOR for bad back(wards)
12 Try getting front off organ (3)
EAR To HEAR is to try in court, lose the front
13 Sterility of inadequate policies embraced by Civil Service (11)
CLEANLINESS Inadequate policies are LEAN LINES, and the embracing Civil Service lends its initial letters. I initially looked for a more negative version of sterility
14 Instant benefit, getting hold of singular hair styler (6)
MOUSSE Instant is MO, benefit USE, and S(ingular) is inserted
16 Draw dustcart, taking back bottles (7)
ATTRACT Another rather good surface, this one concealing a reversed hidden indicated by back (again) and bottles. DusTCART TAking
19 Surprising movement in platform in Embankment? (7)
DADAISM Chambers offers “a short-lived (from 1916 to c.1920) movement in art and literature which sought to abandon all form and throw off all tradition,” So rather well defined here as a surprising movement. DAIS for platform is enclose in DAM for embankment
20 Sam and Frodo together did finally get gold here (6)
MORDOR Those familiar with the Lord of The Rings will be alright here, selecting the last letters of SaM, FrodO togetheR diD and adding OR for gold, for the place that the Hobbits got the gold ring to to destroy it
22 What labs might do for unstreamlined transport (3-2-3-3)
SIT-UP-AND-BEG bicycles feature handlebars which keep the rider in an upright position rather than bent forward, so more affected by opposing winds. LAB(radors) (and other dogs) might equally be trained to sit up and beg if you’re either lucky or Barbara Woodhouse
25 Revolutionary English, say? I’m surprised that’s heard in Ohio (3)
GEE Just E(nglish) and EG (say, for example) reversed (revolutionary) Ohio is a random state picked from the 50 to indicate it’s an American usage
26 Girl blowing a million in the States (5)
ERICA Caused me most trouble because I couldn’t get away from Eliza. If only I’d done the obvious thing and realised that the States is just AMERICA It would have been easy to knock off a M(illion) as instructed
27 Rolling account left unpaid (9)
BILLOWING If your BILL is OWING, it’s unpaid
28 One who tolerates free furs being distributed (8)
SUFFERER Our second anagram, (being distributed) of FREE FURS. This is suffer less in its meaning as painfully undergo and more in the Authorised Version “suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not”. Many parents in lockdown over the last few months might argue there’s precious little difference
29 Threaten troublemaker with ruin (6)
IMPEND Trouble maker IMP, ruin END. Simples

1 Basil perhaps gets bowled out in bit of trouble (6)
POTHER Most often encountered these days as indistinguishable from bother, but with different etymology. Basil is one of many POTHERBs from which the B(owled) (cricket, of course) is outed.
2 What may be offensive clothes get wrapped in foil, perhaps (9)
SWEARWORD Another which took way longer than it should. WEAR stands in for clothes, and SWORD as indicated by foil wraps.
3 Revered object priest installed in church (5)
RELIC The priest is the commonplace (in these circles) ELI, and church is (rather less commonly) represented by R(oman) C(atholic)
5 Verdi aria from noble Amelia mad about Carlos, perhaps (2,5,1,6)
LA DONNA E MOBILE Stuff you don’t need to know: Amelia is a courtly character tormented by love in Un Ballo In Maschera by Verdi, and Don Carlos is a separate opera by the same composer. The aria La Donna comes from Verdi’s Rigoletto. None of that matters other than that it shows a certain elegance in the setter’s –um- setting. An anagram (mad) of NOBLE AMELIA surrounds that DON. Here’s Luci singing the thing.
6 Shivering time with wind, right? (9)
MIDWINTER Rather a neat &lit, an anagram (shivering) of TIME, WIND and R(ight)
7 Beak retaining old form of capital punishment (5)
NOOSE Beak is NOSE, and O(ld) is retained therein. It would be good to say that it’s an old, obsolete form of capital punishment, but many countries still retain the practice.
8 Work needed on Post Office location over the road (8)
OPPOSITE Work OP(us) P(ost) O(ffice) and location: SITE
9 Long without drugs, initially ecstasy, not allowing a fix? (14)
INDETERMINABLE Long is represented by INTERMINABLE, and D(rugs) (initially) and E for ecstasy are inserted, without being the inclusion indicator in its sense of outside
15 Reportedly auction unmarked aircraft (9)
SAILPLANE Today’s Perfectly Good Homophone (reportedly) of auction SALE and unmarked PLAIN
17 What scalene triangle must have adjacent (9)
ALONGSIDE A scalene triangle as three unequal sides, one of which therefore is A LONG SIDE, natch.
18 Greek hero’s body is as Zeus decapitated (8)
ODYSSEUS Another in our series of execution methods, but really rather clever. bODY, iS aS zEUS are all decapitated
21 Failed to answer what some eat for breakfast before rising? (6)
BEGGED As in the question. Some might have an EGG for breakfast, and if they have it before rising, they have it in BED
23 One getting time if he messed up? (5)
THIEF Another with an &littish flavour, the “messed up” anagram being of T(ime) IF HE
24 Good to take on threatening shape in darkness (5)
GLOOM G(ood) plus LOOM for take on threatening shape.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1698 by Felix

A top-notch QC, pitched towards the easier end of medium difficulty. I came in two minutes under target, about half the time it took for Tuesday's done just beforehand. But that was without noticing the nina until it came to writing up the parsings for the blog: like all good ninas, the theme was unobtrusive to the solve, and if you haven't read the book (like me), you could easily miss it and still perfectly enjoy the puzzle. I see it's described as the author's masterpiece; alas I'm using the Wikipedia entry for any explanations below, so I look forward to seeing any subtleties/glaring gaps I've missed in the comments. Many thanks to Felix!

1 In British Library’s not above making awful errors (8)
BLUNDERS - Inside BL'S (British Library's) goes UNDER (not above)
5 Sound quality coming from south west? (4)
TONE - if you're coming from SW, you're going "TO NE". We've had similar things before, but I always like this type of clue.  A small part of the full title of today's book is: David Copperfield the Younger, of Blunderstone Rookery. We have Blunderstone in row 1 and Rookery at 10ac. (We also have a "buttock face" in column 1, but that's probably a coincidence.)
9 Criminal one captured by the force (5)
THIEF - I (one) captured by THE F(orce).
10 Stony garden has circle for a hundred nesting birds (7)
ROOKERY - ROCKERY (stony garden) has O (circle) for C (a hundred)
11 Excited exclamation Dorothy regularly let out (3)
OOH - d O r O t H y "regularly" let out. No Dorothy in the book as far as I can see; there are possibly some excited exclamations.
12 Make racket, with lorry briefly stuck in street (9)
CONSTRUCT - a CON = a racket, TRUCk (lorry, "briefly") stuck in ST(reet)
13 Shower of affection coming out of Barkis — seriously! (6)
KISSER - "coming out of" barKIS SERiously. I liked the "shower of affection", and had I read David Copperfield, the clue would have been even better: I see Mr Barkis is an aloof and miserly character.
15 Father and I with close companion (6)
FRIEND - FR (Father in the priest sense) and I with END (close). I was trying to make "paisan" work somehow.
17 Girl from W European country’s chartered accountant (9)
FRANCESCA - a random girl's name ending in CA (chartered accountant) with a west European country at the start - not too many options in fairness.
19 Desperate or fancy fellow, expert in karate? (3)
DAN - double/triple definition: Desperate Dan or fancy dan could be the fellow, the latter being a flashy person.
20 Reddish-brown ape hugging retreating salesman (7)
COPPERY - COPY (ape) hugging PER (rep = salesman, "retreating"). And of course our Copper(field)y theme.
21 Lift, tho’, is out of order (5)
HOIST - anagram (out of order) of THO IS
22 Left-winger to make brisk progress (4)
TROT - double definition. Trotwood, or Trot for short, is a nickname of David's.
23 Wager Ed, stocking fish, is sold out (8)
BETRAYED - BET (wager) ED stocking RAY (fish). The word "betray" crops up a couple of times in the Wikipedia article, and I won't presume to comment in any greater depth than that.

1 Bottom half of barrel old cook emptied (7)
BUTTOCK - BUTT (barrel) O(ld) CK (CooK "emptied"). Great clue. I was almost surprised to see there wasn't a drunk old chef called something like Feelgood Buttock.
2 ’umble villain from superior sixties musical recalled (5)
URIAH - U (superior) HAIR (sixties musical) "recalled"/taken back. The self-styled "umble" Uriah Heep is one of the main villains of the piece. Likely based on a fraudster and 9ac who "ingratiated himself into the Dickens household."
3 Nice edifices, sadly displaying shortcomings (12)
4 Series of Wayfarer — unnecessary to televise again? (5)
RERUN - "Series of" letters in wayfaRER UNnecessary
6 In the past, American English being employed too much (7)
OVERUSE - OVER ( in the past) US (American) E(nglish)
7 Country, for example, base for army training (5)
EGYPT - EG (for example), base/bottom for armY, PT (Physical Training)
8 Female Steerforth corrupted embracing a new dad? (6,6)
FOSTER FATHER - F(emale) and an anagram (corrupted) of STEERFORTH, embracing A. The book appears to have both a Steerforth or two and a foster father.
14 Fake, largely inferior, hair preparation (7)
SHAMPOO -SHAM (fake) POOr ("largely" inferior)
16 Gave dad note for translation (7)
DONATED - anagram (for translation) of DAD NOTE
17 Aspect ultimately tiresome, in truth (5)
FACET - E ("ultimately" tiresomE) in  FACT (truth)
18 Approach steps in wall, perhaps, speaking (5)
STYLE - when "speaking", sounds the same as STILE (steps in wall, perhaps)
19 Flower one’s seen in the light (5)
DAISY - I'S (one's) seen in the DAY (light). Another of the many nicknames for our titular hero.

Times 27,767: Liblab Thug

Cracking Friday puzzle I thought, with lots of interesting GK require to successfully negotiate its nuances: just look at the triple bill from 12 through 16 down...

I enjoyed "mug's hot!" and "behind houses" but I think my COD may just be the CD at 9ac, as it has a lovely surface, lacking in any crypto-garble. But there are many many super clues in this mix: very much obliged to the setter for this offering. And that's all I have to say for now!

1 Cost singular to get to Mars (7)
DAMAGES - DAMAGE [cost, familiarly, as in "what's the damage?"] + S(ingular), to find a synonym for the, here deceptively capitalised, "mars".

5 Put out leg to trap bird in port (7)
KOWLOON - K.O. [put out] + ON [(cricket) leg], to "trap" an OWL. Kowloon is part of Hong Kong and so one would assume quite porty.

9 Glower, being the subject of jokes? (9)
LIGHTBULB - a cryptic definition, where the glower is something that glows rather than an evil stare, and the subject of jokes is not a human one. How many setters/solvers does it take to change a lightbulb? Answers below the line please.

10 Hastily make approach (3-2)
RUN-UP - double def with RUN UP [hastily make]

11 Bag and basket for lifting rubbish — everyone in favour (3-3,7)

13 Manage to expose less of that! (3,2,3)
CUT IT OUT - CUT IT [manage] + OUT [to expose]

15 Bright students turning away from books (6)
SUNLIT - The N(ational) U(nion of) S(tudents) turning away from LIT, to head to the pub probably.

17 Put up after with welcome drink (6)
WHISKY - SKY [put up], after W(ith) HI

19 Reserve’s virtually shelved, being not the quickest (8)

22 Rare being casually dressed in court? Carry on (2,5,6)
IN SHORT SUPPLY - IN SHORTS [casually dressed] + UP [in court] + PLY [carry on]

25 Back-to-back golds by previously unknown Spanish hero (5)
ZORRO - OR + reversed OR, with the last but surely not least of the unknown triplets (X Y and Z) coming previously.

26 European most of the way flanked by keeper, presumably? (9)
FINLANDER - LAN{e} "flanked" by FINDER, because "finders keepers".

27 Right and left-wingers penning notes (7)
REDRESS - REDS "penning" RE'S

28 Member that comes across price for delivery on time (7)
TRANSOM - RANSOM [price for delivery] on T. A transom is a crosspiece, perhaps best known as the horizontal divider thingy sported by some windows.

1 Fool to impersonate an army officer (4)
DOLT - DO [impersonate] L(ieutenan)T

2 Maybe barista’s warning, still, of criminal? (7)
MUGSHOT - a barista might warn you that the MUG'S HOT. "Still" as in picture, here.

3 To annoy persistently is mean! (3,2)
GET AT - double def, the second as in "just what are you getting at?"

4 Cramming lots from university into apartments (8)

5 Runs through Kansas to catch baseball player up (6)
KEBABS - K(ansa)S "catching" reversed BABE (Ruth)

6 Battered cars would smoke on field (3,6)

7 Bad mistake to have ambition (3,4)
OWN GOAL - OWN [to have] + GOAL [ambition]

8 Perhaps a little brandy, with food, even (3,3,4)
NIP AND TUCK - NIP [a little brandy?] AND [with] TUCK [food]. Apparently "nip and tuck" can mean "neck and neck".

12 Missionary’s motley crew, the size reduced (10)
SCHWEITZER - (CREW THE SIZ{e}*). This is Albert Schweitzer, the winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize. He set up a namesake hospital in French Equatorial Guinea, now Gabon.

14 So-called propagandist’s excessively outspoken lines about Kennedy on vacation (5,4)
TOKYO ROSE - TOO [excessively] + homophone of ROWS, "about" K{enned}Y. A Tokyo Rose was any female English-speaking radio broadcaster of Japanese propaganda in WW2. This was very much my LOI because I didn't know the term, leading to a bit of an alphabet trawl to crack _O_E.

16 Embrace superior manner that’s upset French protestant (8)
HUGUENOT - HUG [embrace] + U [superior] + reversed TONE

18 Not all, on reflection, consider us nicely covered (7)
INSURED - hidden reversed in {consi}DER US NI{cely}

20 Drownings done, say, at sea (7)
NOYADES - (DONE SAY*). I think this was one of the first words I can remember learning from the Times Crossword, in the 80s when I was a tiny nipper!

21 Man’s more than a crook maybe (6)
STAFFS - to man is to STAFF. A crook is a STAFF, add the S to get more than one.

23 Square loaf mostly devoured by old man (5)
PLAZA - LAZ{e} "devoured" by PA

24 Familiar form of English city rising initially behind houses (4)
BRUM - R{ising} "housed" by BUM [behind]. This is what Brits call England's (second?) city Birmingham, in case any foreigners are confused.