April 19th, 2021


QC 1855 by Mara

A good variety of clues here including the use of quite a few anagrams although I think only one was an anagram pure and simple. All the others were elements of larger constructions. Many thanks to Mara for a witty and enjoyable start to the week.

FOI was 1A and LOI was I believe 12D. The answer did cross my mind earlier but I left it to make sure as I don't think I have ever used a 12D in my life (never having seen that there was anything wrong with the written word for communication and having a vague feeling that having gone to all the trouble of evolving it from hieroglyphics it doesn't make a lot of sense to reverse the process). Also they have really now been taken over by emojis haven't they? (Or should the plural of that be emoji by comparison with fish or deer?) So the word already has a slightly retro feel to me even though it is only a few years old and I thought it best just to leave it to the end to give it my full attention. My COD was 3D. I suspect it's a bit of a chestnut but I do like it.

Definitions are underlined as usual and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

1 Note repeated about a city in Florida (5)
MIAMI - MI MI (note repeated - as found in the Do Re Mi scale) 'about' A.
4 Two pieces for minor role (3,4)
BIT PART - BIT + PART (two pieces).
8 Trimmer vessel (7)
CLIPPER - double definition (hair trimmer and a three-masted ship built for speed).
9 Punch a fragile thing (5)
CHINA - CHIN (punch, as in "I'll chin you!") + A.
10 A large nut badly crushed, ultimately in little pieces (10)
GRANULATED - GRANULATE (anagram ('badly') of A LARGE NUT) + D (crusheD 'ultimately').
14 Clean, favourite child, endearingly (6)
MOPPET - MOP (clean) + PET (favourite).
15 As if failed, company in state of disorder (6)
FIASCO - anagram ('failed') of AS IF + CO (company).
17 Get down to business and discuss what to have for Christmas? (4,6)
TALK TURKEY - TALK (discuss) + TURKEY (what to have for Christmas). Alternatively you could look at it as a double definition with the second one being slightly cryptic as indicated by the '?'. So that is pretty clever to have two clues for the price of one but sadly in the end it does make the solution rather easier if you're given two different ways to get there.
20 Cold, cold elevation (5)
CHILL - C (cold) + HILL (elevation).
22 Originally, eight tendons in sheep joint (7)
FETLOCK - ET (the first letters ('originally') of Eight Tendons) 'in' FLOCK (sheep).
23 Just coming up, link for woman's garment (7)
NIGHTIE - NIGH (just coming up, as in 'the end is nigh') + TIE (link).
24 Ladder positioned vertically, build quickly (3,2)
RUN UP - RUN (ladder, as in a stocking or pair of tights) + UP (positioned vertically).
1 Animals, many in central Europe, initially (4)
MICE - Many In Central Europe 'initially'.
2 Keen to have opera star sent up (4)
AVID - DIVA (opera star) reversed. i.e. 'sent up' in this down clue.
3 Tense boast of bighead? (9)
IMPERFECT - a bighead might say "I'M PERFECT".
4 Bear eating nothing bland (6)
BORING - BRING (bear, as in 'we come bearing gifts') 'eating' O (nothing).
5 Brief moment for twitch (3)
TIC - remove the last letter (i.e. make it 'brief') from TICk (moment).
6 Order dictates it's a critical assessment (4,4)
ACID TEST - straight anagram (order) of DICTATES.
7 Sign of grief after race, let down (8)
TEARDROP - TEAR (race, as in 'racing around') + DROP (let down).
11 I select different queen, where Richard III lies (9)
LEICESTER - anagram of I SELECT ('different') + ER (Elizabeth Regina, queen) gives the resting place of the remains of Richard III. Of course, he was the last of the Yorkists but he was found in what is now a car park in Leicester where he was taken after being killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field (the last English monarch to die in battle. I think there is another quiz question as to who was the last English monarch to lead troops into battle (without actually dying in the process) and I think it was one of the Georges but I am notoriously bad on stuff like this so no doubt somebody will put me right). I believe there was a brief tussle between York and Leicester about where his remains (and therefore all the tourist revenue - the Richard III Experience is now the main tourist attraction in Leicester when tourists are allowed) should end up, but I guess possession is nine-tenths of the Law, so barring a daring midnight raid by a team of Yorkists à la Stone of Scone that's where he's probably going to stay.
12 Mysterious notice inscribed with second digital symbol (8)
EMOTICON - anagram ('mysterious') of NOTICE 'inscribed' with MO (second, as in 'wait a mo(ment)')
13 Letter-writing skill of witches and wizards? (8)
SPELLING - witches and wizards cast spells, which could cryptically be rendered as a verb 'to spell', of which the infinitive would be SPELLING.
16 Dessert: it’s insignificant (6)
TRIFLE - double definition. My Mum used to make lovely ones at Christmas with a sponge biscuit base soaked in rum or Madeira or something like that.
18 Thus working shortly (4)
SOON - SO (thus) + ON (working).
19 Avoid container filled with rubbish (4)
SKIP - double definition.
21 Fortune invested in clothing (3)
LOT - hidden word: 'invested in' cLOThing.
  • vinyl1

Times 27955 - The gum-chewing dogs, say??

Time: 29 minutes
Music: Bizet, L'Arlesienne Suites, Morel, Royal Opera House Orchestra

Well, I admit, I'm not usually expecting a challenging puzzle on Monday.   But this one had some elusive answers, and perhaps some over-clever wordplay, so I suspect some solvers may struggle.   Unfortunately, the SNITCH is out of operation right at the moment, so I can't check - I'm sure Starstruck will take care of this shortly.

I was off to a good start by writing in the long answers at both the top and the bottom, which usually gets you going on this grid pattern.   But then I was thoroughly stuck, not being able to use any of the starting letters across the top.   Instead, I had to go chestnut-hunting around the grid, only to come up with a mighty small harvest.   There are some really off-the-wall wordplay tricks here, things that you might expect in Mephisto.

1 Plastic they only peel off (12)
8 Charge for tablet (7)
LOZENGE - I just biffed this while solving, but now I understand - it's a heraldic charge, a device on a shield.
9 Seek dull job with hospital doing longest possible shift in fabrication (7)
UNTRUTH - HUNT RUT, with H (Hospital) moved the maximum possible distance.
11 Like sandstone doubly covered in basilicas’ bricks (7)
SILICIC - [ba]SILIC[as br]IC[ks], another very tricky cryptic.
12 Going down without right piloting (7)
DRIVING - D(R)IVING, where without might be either an enclosure indicator, or a deletion indicator.
13 Always in poetry that is strange (5)
EERIE - E'ER + I.E., the only simple clue in the puzzle.
14 Cooks fruit in packet, perhaps (9)
16 Supporters mostly run restaurant (9)
BRASSERIE - BRAS + SERIE[s], not quite a chestnut.
19 Poorer fretted outside society (5)
21 Drifting, your setter’s in a bar (7)
AIMLESS - A(I'M)LESS.   Less is the equivalent of bar in the sense of without, except for.
23 Newspapers got round belonging to state (7)
24 What canines have lair and can dine without noise? (7)
DENTINE - DEN + TIN + [din}E, with the Mephisto-like letter-removal indicator.
25 Having powerful weapons, some Israel cunningly concealed in turn (7)
NUCLEAR - Backward hidden in [Is]RAEL CUN[ningly].
26 Script producer has to check court document with Her Majesty (12)
1 Parking car heavy on petrol — gallons gone for you (7)
PUZZLER - P + [g]UZZLER, which for many of us might be puzzled!
2 Oxford college relocated in Clare (7)
LINACRE - Anagram of IN CLARE, simple if you know the college, which is not one of the more famous ones.
3 What could make one sexier? Rec fitness equipment (9)
4 Harry’s husband, plump, no Romeo (5)
HOUND - H + [r]OUND.
5 Element burning with smell when current is put into it (7)
6 Promote foreign drama about novelist (7)
NOURISH - NO(URIS)H.   Leon Uris was a big bestseller 60 or 70 years ago, but is probably forgotten today.
7 Bolt rear pads around material applied to walls (12)
10 Drunken bully is very stressing (4-8)
HIGH-PRESSURE -  HIGH + PRESSURE, where bully should be treated as a verb.
15 Something illuminating lid? (3-6)
EYE-OPENER - Double definition.
17 Calendar girl initially nude and clothed (7)
ALMANAC - ALMA + N[ude] A[nd] C[lothed].
18 Unproductive anger after ship’s back without navy (7)
STERILE - STE[rn] + RILE.   I was looking for ire for a long time, and then rage, but rile it is.
19 Picture of timber (7)
WOODCUT - A very terse cryptic definition.
20 Wild animals came by ’orse, reportedly (3,4)
ROE DEER - Sounds like RODE 'ERE.
22 Mug in set gets smashed (5)
STEIN - Anagram of IN SET.