January 30th, 2021

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27882 - Saturday, 23 January 2021. Crosswords in the mist?

There were at least five clues here where I thought, well that must be the answer, although I can’t explain it! I’ll put it in and look up how, who or why before I write the blog. Despite that, it was all solvable (bar the explanations) in reasonable time. Lots of fun, and expansion of my general knowledge. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Notes for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is posted a week later, after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on the current Saturday Cryptic.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Deletions are in {curly brackets}.
Across
1 Damage resistant couch — one may be on it (7,7)
SCATTER CUSHION – anagram (‘damage’) of RESISTANT COUCH. Apparently you can put scatter cushions anywhere, not just on couches.
9 Picture wins international prize finally (9)
LANDSCAPE – LANDS=wins, CAP=international (representative), E=(priz)E ultimately.
10 Beg to avoid two directions in wood (5)
BEECH – BE(SE)ECH=beg.
11 Excellent hairstyle returns to a region of Africa (5)
NUBIA – an A1 BUN, ‘returning’. I didn’t know where Nubia is/was – it’s along part of the Nile river – but vaguely remembered Mandrake the Magician, comic strips that included Lothar the Nubian.
12 Doesn’t accept condensation corrodes (9)
MISTRUSTS – MIST=condensation, RUSTS=corrodes.
13 By end of term I will make rapid progress in the fast stream (8)
MILLRACE – M=end of (ter)M, I’LL, RACE.
15 Most casual officer arresting fellers (6)
LAXEST – LT=lieutenant, ‘arresting’ AXES=fellers of trees.
17 At leisure, one’s put together lecture about India, great stuff to begin with (6)
JIGSAW – JAW=lecture, ‘about’ the first letters of I(ndia) G(reat) S(tuff). Jigsaws are definitely great stuff for surviving lockdowns.
19 A few accepting guidance for solemn oath (2,4,2)
SO HELP ME – SOME=a few, ‘accepting’ HELP=guidance.

Doesn’t the solemn oath need to say, so help me, God? To my ear, ‘so help me’ sounds more like an angry parent’s threat.
22 Pope’s emissary embraced by cardinal and sent down (9)
RELEGATED – LEGATE ‘embraced’ by RED.
23 Matting material covers hard area in cathedral (5)
CHOIR – COIR covers H=hard.
24 A disreputable girl back in OK place (5)
TULSA – A SLUT, ‘back’. An immediate write in for me, since Tulsa is just about the only place I know in Oklahoma.
25 Discharging manager, jolly, but losing head (9)
EXECUTING – EXEC=manager, (o)UTING=jolly. One of the obvious answers where I needed help for the blog. This meaning of ‘jolly’ escaped me!
26 Painter’s remarkably warm bond with Oxford (4,5,5)
FORD MADOX BROWN – anagram (remarkably) of WARM BOND OXFORD. Once the helpers suggested ‘Brown’, I guessed the rest, since I vaguely knew the name of Ford Madox Ford, the writer. I had no idea Ford Madox Brown, the painter, was his grandfather!

Down
1 Unheard of numbers in units briefly given officer rank (6,8)
SILENT MAJORITY – S.I.=(the modern international system of) units, LENT=given, MAJORITY=rank.
2 Miss Lee, aspiring starlet, losing head and gaining pounds (7)
ANNABEL – the aspirant is a (w)ANNABE. Add L=pounds (sterling). I’ve since discovered that Annabel Lee is the subject of a poem by Edgar Allen Poe.
3 Scientist almost entirely fixed up (5)
TESLA – AL=‘almost’ AL(L)=entirely; SET=fixed: all ‘up’=backwards.
4 Get more weapons, to kill? That’s bats (8)
REARMICE – REARM=get more weapons, ICE=to kill. I’d never heard of ‘rearmice’, but it is indeed an archaic name for bats.
5 Difficulty presumably felt by crowned head? (6)
UNEASEuneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Henry IV, Part II. I read the clue carefully to convince myself the answer should be a noun: so, unease, not uneasy.
6 Pass winter quietly, ordering herb tea in (9)
HIBERNATE – anagram (ordering) of HERB TEA IN.
7 Manage to get eyestrain? (7)
OVERSEE – nice pun. Use your eyes too much and look out!
8 Take heroin, Charlie and ecstasy, and (magically) Puff! (5,3,6)
CHASE THE DRAGON – in my innocence, I didn’t know this expression. CHAS=abbreviation for Charles, E=ecstasy, Puff=THE (magic) DRAGON. Puff the Magic Dragon was sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. Peter wrote the song.
14 Right muff of a military formation? (9)
REARGUARD – R=right, EARGUARD=muff.
16 Who mixed colour to make trouble? (3-3-2)
HOW-D’YE-DO – HOW = anagram (mixed) of WHO, DYE=colour, DO=make.
18 Ship leaving the north carrying one scientist (7)
GALILEO – GALLEO(n) ‘carrying’ I.
20 Old bombs in possibly poor condition (7)
PROVISO – V1 was the old (WWII) bomb. So, two VIS in an anagram (possibly) of POOR.
21 Successive top marks for Olympian (6)
ATHENA – a goddess, not an athlete. Her marks were A, THEN A.
23 A bit of bread is not much comfort? (5)
CRUMB – a crumb of comfort, as the saying goes.

Sunday Times Cryptic 4939, by David McLean — A 23ing good time!

As I’m sure was had by all 23ing the codes here! Some of you 23 solvers may have even made 23ing good time. Mine was more of a 6’s pace, but I was savoring the journey all the way. The clue I’m highlighting is truly amazing, and may have set a new world record—someone check Guinness! Clue 24 (across) had already set a high bar, but it’s like 23 (down) said, “Hold my beer!”

I indicate (MAGAs ran)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.


ACROSS
 1 One in gorgeous hat moving around island (5,7)
SOUTH GEORGIA — (I, “One” + gorgeous hat)* An addition to my geographical knowledge, a British Overseas Territory that I guess most of y’all will know
 9 Bit of elastic attached to a jumper? (6,4)
BUNGEE CORD — CD (barely), playing on two senses of “jumper”
10 Talk about a lengthy series of events (4)
SAGA — GAS<=“about” + A
11 Medals hung around one lad for actions (6-2)
GOINGS-ON — GO(I)NG, “Medal[’]s hung around one” + SON, “lad”… This would work just as well, or better, with singular “Medal”; seems either the apostrophe is missing or the pluralization is simply a mistake.
12 Exclude pilot one’s regularly seen in pub (6)
BARFLY — BAR, “exclude” + FLY, “pilot”
13 Large as well as light (4)
LAND — L(arge) + AND, “as well as”
15 Foreign article about one apt to shoot swimmer (3,7)
RED SNAPPER — DER<=“about” + SNAPPER, “one apt to shoot”
17 Toy bible a lord manufactured (6,4)
BARBIE DOLL — (bible a lord)* Odd to see “bible” uncapped; ”biblical,” yes, but…
19 Slightly contrary information (4)
DATA — A TAD<=“contrary”
20 Give out a wave, perhaps, using radio (6)
ASSIGN — “a sign”
22 Former royal a cold-hearted bandit shot (8)
ABDICANT — A + (bandit + C, “cold”)* LOI
24 Attractive and tan Polish expert (4)
BUFF — Four definitions!!!!
25 Cook a lamb with ease, adding new salt (4,6)
ABLE SEAMAN — (a lamb + ease + N)* Spelled out, for a change
26 Cobblers found in Bow and Sweden (12)
FIDDLESTICKS — FIDDLE STICK, ”Bow” + S for “Sweden” in the international vehicle registration code. “Cobblers” in the relevant sense of “nonsense” is British rhyming slang, which I knew, but I didn’t know that it is derived from “cobbler’s awls,” meaning (oh, my goodness) “balls” or testicles. “Bow,” though not at all part of the definition, might nevertheless give a nudge in the right direction.

DOWN
 2 Men on horse held up music producer (5)
ORGAN — OR, “Men,” our old standby “other ranks” + NAG<=“held up”
 3 Might I grab your lime and cut it? (4,7)
TREE SURGEON — CD
 4 Mongrel dog ran around earl and whined (7)
GROANED — (dog ran + E for “earl”)* And we have a winner of this installment’s Creative Anagrind Prize.
 5 Not even funny (3)
ODD — DD
 6 Pat dogs or different creature (9)
GASTROPOD — (Pat dogs or)*
 7 Decoration-wise, one has tree up inside at Xmas! (5)
ANGEL — CD. Ouch!
 8 Car half-made by mostly rubbish robots (8)
AUTOMATA — So hard to get good help these days… AUTO + MA[-de] + TA[-t]
12 National labs heading into distribution (11)
BANGLADESHI — (labs heading)* Unusual anagrind; it’ll do, though “in distribution” would seem more appropriate—but not for the surface.
14 Barperson caught in act is questioned (9)
DEBRIEFED — DE(BRIEF)ED… BRIEF being slang for a barrister
16 Head of school entertained by schoolboy language (8)
ESTONIAN — E(S)TONIAN
18 Old people procuring line for high priests? (7)
ORACLES — O + RAC(L)ES Plural RACES for “people” is unusual.
21 Completely pack up belongings (5)
STUFF — Hit the road, Jack! A merely double definition. How boring (Ha).
23 Try fun class A drug hit: lose it, gag and snap (5)
CRACK — Eight definitions!!!!!!!! The one unfamiliar to me was “fun,” which I found deep inside Collins, where I learned the Irish equivalent craic (about which, it seems, there is some controversy). POI
25 Unopened post creates trouble (3)
AIL — [-m]AIL
New RCA
  • vinyl1

Mephisto 3152 - A George Martin Production!

This one seemed only moderately difficult, but there was a bit of a sting in in tail.   The cryptics were pretty clear, but some of the literals made no sense - until I looked in Chambers.    Since many of the words here are pretty common, the only way to make a real Mephisto was to use obscure meanings for both the cryptics and the literals, and that's what Tim Moorey has done here.   So while I finished, I still had a lot of questions.   Fortunately, the dictionary was able to resolve most of them.   Any remaining questions are indicated in the parsings.

Across
1 Long for British car that’s small (6)
LEETLE -  (-b,+L)eetle.    The 1964 Beetle had 35 HP, which was quite small,  but it did allow teenage boys to drive to school.
7 Lacking respect, Independent MP sacked leaving obligations (4)
IOUS - [I,MP]IOUS.   The I is probably the paper.
10 Religious mystery showing in state capital, nothing less (9)
SACRAMENT - SACRAMENT[o], in California.
11 Rather engaging term used in Queensland (4)
G'DAY - G([queenslan]D)AY, I think....or maybe not.  At least the answer was obvious.
13 Face model after work (6)
OPPOSE -  OP + POSE, one from the Quickie.
14 Tinder provided by one crazy man in Durban (6)
AMADOU - A MAD OU, a bit of Afrikaans at the end.
16 Bridge system in place not entirely backed (4)
ACOL - LOCA[le] backwards, a bidding system in the card game.
18 Cattle pens time after time overturned? Almost (6, two words)
NEXT TO - O(T,T)XEN backwards.
20 Jag seals about right for saloon worker? (9)
BARTENDER - B(A,RT)ENDER.
21 Marshal reloading number of linked mines (9)
GIRANDOLE - Anagram of RELOADING + N, more often a chandelier.
24 No Scottish banks make a loud noise for lady (6)
NADINE - NA(DIN)E, today's random woman.
25 Insect up sticks caught (4)
FLEA - Sounds like FLEE.
28 Free men close ranks originally to be different (6)
CEORLS - Anagram of CLOSE + R[anks].  "Ceorlas ond eorlas" is a common half-line in Anglo-Saxon poetry, indicating men of all ranks.
30 Narrow-minded on large island (6)
BORNEO - BORNE + O, which most solvers will just biff.
31 Opening item in programme not started (4)
VENT - [e]VENT, another starter clue.
32 Work out too much in public, then shower (9)
OVERTRAIN - OVERT + RAIN.
33 Heard order for starter is sweet (4)
SAGO - Sounds like SAY GO.
34 Prearranged call top agent put out for spy (6)
SETTER - SET + TER[m].   Can setter really mean spy?   Yes, it can!
Down
1 Enter vehicle to get home, a rudimentary one (8, two words)
LOG CABIN - LOG + CAB + IN.
2 New ideas leader put out for forensic test (4)
ESDA - anagram of [i]DEAS, electrostatic document analysis, that is.
3 Romeo and a smitten former lover (9)
ENAMORADO - Anagram of ROMEO AND A, with former meaning that the word is not longer used - not surprising.
4 Nearly all having gone north lied about Murrayfield beating (6)
LALDIE - AL[l] upside down + anagram of LIED.
5 Justification for absorbing mature port charges (10)
GROUNDAGES -  GROUND(AGE)S.
6 Coarse snuff apparently in traditional Angus enclosure (6)
RAPPEE - R(APP)EE.   I didn't know ree, but I had heard of the snuff, so in it went.
7 Armed warriors clear, marches banned (4)
IMPI - [l]IMPI[d], marches in the sense of borders, giving us some Zulus beloved of crossword setters.
8 Upset one on bench (8)
UNSETTLE - UN + SETTLE.
9 Troublesome situation in fish pond (4)
STEW - Double definition - you could look it up.
12 Sellers perhaps fastest to make a public statement (10, three words)
GO ON RECORD - GOON + RECORD, as in a record time. 
15 Raising a tax shelter externally (9)
ATTOLLENT -  A T(TOLL)ENT, where those who follow the cryptic get rewarded.
17 Rake over very small area below Italian mansion, bottom of garden (8)
CASANOVA -  CASA + [garde]N + O + V + A.   Those who see where this is going will just biff.
19 Play at once excited? I’m not sure (8)
ONE-ACTER - Anagram of AT ONCE + ER.
22 Witness leaving with oddly small maps in the corner (6)
INSETS - Anagram of [w]ITNESS.
23 Note on raw recruit Republican sent out for Congress (6)
NOOKIE - N + [r]OOKIE.   Possible political jokes abound, but restraint is probably appropriate.
26 Greek money as before left out for bulk carriers (4)
OBOS - OBO[l]S.
27 What’s turned up in morning-after pill box? (4)
INRO - Backwards hidden in [m]ORNI[g-after], a word popular in US puzzles.
29 Judge accommodates number previously cut (4)
SNEE - S(N)EE.