April 5th, 2021

Astarte1

QC 1845 by Hurley

Went through this pretty quickly and almost sequentially. Thank you Hurley for an enjoyable puzzle although it was marred I think by 5D at which my eyebrow went so far up my forehead that it seems to have become permanently lost amongst my hair.

Incidentally, great little one-liner for this community:

"I told my wife she painted her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised!"

FOI was 1A. LOI was the said 5D because I kept looking for some other way in which it might work. I think it might have been my COD if it had worked, but otherwise I don't really think I have one. But as it is traditional to make a choice I will pick 8A as it has the smoothest surface that I can see.

Defini
tions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

Across
1 Bother from unexpected source — swear initially! (4)
FUSS - take the initial letters ('initially') of From Unexpected Source Swear.
3 Polish securing place to sleep by Lake Country (8)
SCOTLAND - SAND (polish, as in sanding a floorboard) 'securing' COT (a place to sleep) + L (lake).
8 A group working in desert (7)
ABANDON - A + BAND (a group) + ON (working).
10 Matching set of furniture in clubs perhaps, ultimately adequate (5)
SUITE - SUIT (clubs 'perhaps' - one of the suits in a deck of cards), + E ('ultimately' inadequatE).
11 Small, mischievous creature at church event in sort of restaurant? (4-7)
SELF-SERVICE - S (small) + ELF (mischievous creature) + SERVICE (church event).
13 Small piece that’s extra about Southern Liberal (6)
MORSEL - MORE (extra) 'about' S (southern) + L (Liberal)
15 We hear unique German article a marvel (6)
WONDER - WON (sounds like ONE (unique)) + DER, one of the many forms of the German definite article.
17 Enrolled compulsorily — odd precincts do (11)
CONSCRIPTED - straight anagram ('odd') of PRECINCTS DO.
20 A complex system of paths creates surprise (5)
AMAZE - A + MAZE (complex system of paths).
21 Mistaken leg name leading to confusion (7)
MELANGE - straight anagram ('mistaken') of LEG NAME.
22 Limit broken by industrious worker, aggressive (8)
MILITANT - anagram of LIMIT ('broken') + ANT (worker. The ANT is one of the main types of worker you meet in Crossworld, the others being BEE and HAND (and there are probably a few others if you think hard enough)).
23 Old actress Mae’s direction (4)
WEST - double definition, as in MAE WEST, whom you will also sometimes meet as rhyming slang for a VEST.
Down
1 Sea for me strangely frightening (8)
FEARSOME - straight anagram ('strangely') of SEA FOR ME.
2 This covering could make tool quiet at first (5)
SHAWL - AWL (tool) with SH (quiet 'at first')
4 Container a railway emptied for flier (6)
CANARY - CAN (container) + A + RY (a RailwaY 'emptied' - i.e. with the contents, the inner letters, removed.) Of course we also often meet RY as a straight contraction for railway but that's not what's happening here as it would spoil the surface.
5 Upset to some extent, civilian omits ethical character statement (11)
TESTIMONIAL -  see preamble. I think this is simply an editorial error. It is nearly a very clever reversed hidden word but it doesn't quite make it: 'upset' (i.e. reversed in this down clue) 'to some extent' civiLIAN OMITS EThical. Except that the I and the A are the wrong way round unless I am just being thick and someone can show me how it really works. Perhaps if it read 'Almost upset to some extent...' it might work?
6 Flavouring from Pakistan, I see — delightful! (7)
ANISEED - hidden word, but no problem with this one: 'from' pakistAN I SEE Delightful.
7 Something done, however you look at it (4)
DEED - i.e. whether you look at it backwards or forwards (or indeed upwards or downwards in this down clue).
9 Judgment of exceptional minds — recent (11)
DISCERNMENT - straight anagram ('exceptional') of MINDS RECENT.
12 Inclination of duke that is seen in funds for student (8)
GRADIENT - D (duke) + IE (id est, that is) 'seen in' GRANT (funds for student).
14 Upset everyone in island (7)
ROCKALL - ROCK (upset) + ALL (everyone). My geography is rubbish but I believe Rockall is a tiny island a couple of hundred miles north of Scotland. Most people have heard of it because there is a sea area named after it that features in the Shipping Forecast.
16 Last word about copper’s insight (6)
ACUMEN - AMEN is the last word. Put it 'about' CU (Cu is the chemical symbol for copper) and you should achieve some insight into the answer.
18 Slight colouring from drinking bout — new start needed! (5)
TINGE - BINGE (drinking bout) with a 'new start'.
19 Friend at outset mentions tree (4)
PALM - PAL (friend) + M (Mentions 'at outset').
New RCA
  • vinyl1

Times 27943 - The devil, you say?

Time: 21 minutes
Music: Elgar, Enigma Variations, Boult/LSO.

Not so easy a Monday, for a change.   I made a decent time only because I biffed like mad, and only used the cryptics when needed.   This setter used a lot of wordy and indirect literals, as you often find in Mephisto and puzzles like that.   I did have a little trouble finishing, though, but then I saw how my LOI worked and finished.   I suspect many beginners would be rather baffled by some of the indirection here, and there are very few chestnuts or obvious anagrams.

Across
1 Clinging drunk associated with southern family (9)
SKINTIGHT - S KIN + TIGHT, where the trick is to get the elements in the right order.
6 In leading clubs one creates talking point (5)
TOPIC - TOP(I)C, not exactly, but close.
9 Fugitive taking cover inside English diocese (7)
ESCAPEE - E S(CAP)EE.
10 We are not starting marathon soon (7)
ERELONG - [w]E'RE LONG.
11 Monkey we might catch in this American city (5)
TAMPA - Sounds like TAMPER - I nearly biffed Tempe.
12 Nuclear scientist appearing as NHS boiler explodes (5,4)
NIELS BOHR - Anagram of NHS BOILER.
13 Having ducks in horses area causes commotion (3-2)
HOO-HA - H(O,O)H + A, a simple single-letter charade.
14 Two possible newspapers coming round see church feature (5,4)
ORGAN LOFT -  ORGAN (LO) FT, newspapers you often see in cryptic clues.
17 Great soldier cross when entering a famous rowing club (9)
ALEXANDER - A LE(X)ANDER,.   The real Leander was a swimmer, not a rower, but the name of the club is easy to guess if you don't know it.
18 Husband involved in manoeuvre for some time (5)
WHILE - W(H)ILE.
19 Hulk perhaps has delightful woman round (9)
SUPERHERO - SUPER HER + O.
22 Irish breaking step in skating competition (5)
PAIRS -PA(IR)S.
24 Bridewell one that would do for Dickens? (3,4)
OLD NICK -  Double definition, the first merely descriptive.
25 Letter attached to old poem about Dubai for example (7)
EMIRATE - ETA + RIME backwards.
26 Rugby man and Lisle the worse for wear (5)
ELLIS - ELLIS, the obvious answer, but who?   Research reveals the answer: William Webb Ellis.
27 Grouse put on pan makes for traditional fare (5,4)
ROAST BEEF - ROAST + BEEF, in various senses.
Down
1 Piano, delivered outside, provides beat (5)
SPENT - S(P)ENT.
2 Hassle as government department cuts pay (9)
INCOMMODE - INCOM(MOD)E.
3 Boss to lead with article, followed by stories (3,6)
TOP BANANA - TO + PB + AN + ANA.  Instinctively, you'll think to lead = top, but that's not it - back to chemistry class.
4 One knocking forest spirits? (5,10)
GREEN WOODPECKER - GREENWOOD + PECKER.   The UK had to hurriedly revise their slang when the GIs showed up.
5 Gay musical in which George Best playing with a harp (3,7,5)
THE BEGGARS OPERA -  Anagram of GEORGE BEST + A HARP, a musical entertainment by John Gay.
6 Something of a shock — tension initially relieved (5)
TRESS -  [s]TRESS, cleverly clued as not the whole shock.
7 Nothing to add to concert advertisement (5)
PROMO - PROM + O.
8 Deceptively great in name, one serving drag performer? (9)
CIGARETTE - CI(anagram of GREAT)TE, with an elaborate bit of misdirection for the literal.
13 Makes tracks for Tyneside region, passing information on here? (9)
HEADSTONE - HEADS TO NE, another clever literal.
15 Times for one on this recent run (9)
NEWSPRINT - NEW SPRINT, where unwary biffers will put newspaper.
16 Start to speak pompously having necked one drink (9)
ORIGINATE - OR(1 GEN)ATE.
20 Reported deal in work with press from Oxford? (5)
PEDAL -  Sounds like PEDDLE, with another tricky literal.   Not the OUP, but the shoe.
21 Hawk-headed god exists to save lake birds (5)
RAILS - RA + I(L)S.    I can't keep my Egyptian gods straight, and nearly biffed Horus.
23 Book-keeper making flesh creep (5)
SHELF - Anagram of FLESH, with more good indirection.