May 20th, 2021

Linus van Pelt

27982 Thursday, 20 May 2021 A robin...has very little time to rest.

Time was when you could be interested in everything, and develop your interests in whichever direction took your fancy. Our chemist today was one such. These days, we are inclined to be more narrow, specialised, and resent being expected to know science and arts and theology and French and birds and words from the mustier corners of the dictionary. Our setters (including today’s) rightly say “st*ff that for a game of soldiers” and whack in any words that take their fancy, especially if they fit a tricky space. This one took me just short of 20 minutes of concentrated effort, properly sorting out the clues either to confirm the solution guessed at, or to arrive at an unfamiliar word or chemist. I liked this well, smiled at several clues for their sly wit, and liked the insertion of  a couple of jabs at the very contemporary theme of – um – jabs.
Clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS plus strivings after truth.

1 Weary judge heartlessly put on (5)
JADED J is conventionally short for judge, then put on is ADdED, without its heart.
4 Lift on the other side, with bishops aboard, stalled (6,3)
FOBBED OFF Leave DOFF for lift (one’s cap) until you’ve got the other side, FOE with two B(ishops) aboard.
9 Singular pong surrounding gardens out of place (9)
SKEWWHIFF  Authorities are split on whether it’s hyphenated: I think it looks slightly odd without. Anyway, it's S(ingular) WHIFF for pong, outside KEW Gardens, world famous plant collection in SW London, claiming the "largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world". 
10 Two actors both oddly refused a drink (5)
COCOA Clever. Take one aCtOr and “refuse” the odd letters. Then take another aCtOr and do the same, then add A.
11 Worthless comrade shot (6)
PALTRY Easy. PAL comrade, TRY shot.
12 Constant choler aroused involving mass burial site (8)
CROMLECH Constant gives C, an anagram (aroused) of CHOLER and M(ass) to be “involved”. Either a single dolmen as shown, or a stone circle like Stonehenge, which may or may not be a burial site.
14 Be taken in by bear (3,2,4)
PUT UP WITH Two definitions, the first referring to having a place to stay.
16 Looking for a queen's wrapping paper (5)
AFTER As in in search of. A plus ER (long may she reign) wrapping the FT, Financial Times newspaper
17 Force left behind that is protecting politician (5)
IMPEL So, that is, IE protects MP the politician, with L(eft) behind
19 Limit those inside coach (9)
CONSTRAIN Those inside are CON(vict)S and coach is TRAIN. Technically that has to be the verbal form, as in my book a single coach is not a train.
21 Most unusual small carriage — it's for madame (8)
SCARCEST S(mall) CAR for carriage, plus C’EST, which for any French Madame is their version of it’s.
22 Surplus from old church stores cleared out (6)
EXCESS EX for old, CE for church (of England)  and StoreS with their contents cleared out, which in my experience churches should often and rigorously, but don’t.
25 Pull out most of pages (5)
LEAVE Most of pages is LEAVEs
26 I clean out boils to protect against infection (9)
INOCULATE Curiously not the word we have used to describe the jab we’re all supposed to be receiving (I’ve had my two Phizers) to render us Covid proof. To concoct your dose, be sure to boil (anagram) I CLEAN OUT. Careful attention to the anagram fodder prevents infection with either too many Ns or Cs.
27 Desires profits by close of day (9)
YEARNINGS Place profits, in this case EARNINGS, by the close of daY. Smooth.
28 Conspicuous success of retro cape in story (5)
ÉCLAT Place C(ape) into TALE for story, and reverse (retro) the lot. Chambers: “a striking effect; showy splendour; distinction; applause” from the Old French for break, shine.

1 Chemist treated others' epilepsy, following Jenner's lead (6,9)
JOSEPH PRIESTLEY Phenomenal polymath, discoverer of oxygen (possibly) and creator of fizzy drinks. Check him out on Wiki. Anagram (treated) of OTHERS’ EPILEPSY after the lead in Jenner (which, if you haven’t noticed, is J). Jenner and Priestley overlapped in time, but as far as I can see had no connection.
2 Live carefully, supporting daughter (5)
DWELL Search you thesaurus to find a meaning of carefully that gives WELL, and write it in supporting D(aughter)
3 Moisture finally dried with sprinkling of powder (7)
DEWDROP The last letter of drieD with an anagram (sprinkled) of POWDER. Redolent of talc and bottoms.
4 Pretty good rides to be had here (4)
FAIR Two indications, which together may or may not be true.
5 Be a frequent contributor to rally previously? (10)
BEFOREHAND BE plus FOREHAND, a frequent action in a rally in tennis. Took me ages to see how simple this was.
6 Carbon-capturing plan one set up brings accolades (7)
ENCOMIA Today’s not-terribly-familiar word.  Take AIM for plan, add ONE for – um – one, “capture” C(arbon) and reverse (set up) the lot.
7 Crate bound by stripped narrow raised band (9)
ORCHESTRA A possibly original clue, at least not involving a carthorse, in which CHEST for crate is “bound” in nARROw with its ends stripped off and reversed/raised.
8 Ensure personal comforts by settling down? (7,4,4)
FEATHER ONE’S NEST What birds do when they "settle" down on their bits of twine and twig, tee-hee.
13 Press introducing American backed no 1 sewing aid (10)
PINCUSHION Press is PINCH, insert US for American, add NO I reversed (backed).
15 Better articles penned by graduate for boss (3,6)
TOP BANANA That’s better as in TOP that, plus articles AN and – um – AN within BA fro graduate.
18 Lessons to be had from this large city bird? (7)
LECTERN From which the scripture lesson is read in Church, or in a lecture theatre etc. L(arge) EC for city (of London, its postal code) and the bird is TERN.
20 Writing certain to lose initial consistency (7)
TEXTURE Writing is TEXT, certain is sURE from which the initial is lost.
23 Message I put in flimsy cover returned (5)
EMAIL Flimsy is a lame excuse for LAME, which is reversed (returned) and has I inserted
24 Virtually hopeless wit (4)
NOUS Well, it’s almost NO USe.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1878 by Teazel

11 minutes, with four of those spent - for no good reason - on 9ac, 7d and correcting 12ac. A fine puzzle with good clues aplenty, my favourite I think being 18ac - many thanks to Teazel!

1 Energy wasted upon gadget (3-2-3-2)
GET-UP-AND-GO - anagram (wasted) of UPON GADGET
8 Children’s character strange to find in New York (5)
NODDY - ODD (strange) to find in NY
9 Hit rain, travelling: disappeared into it? (4,3)
THIN AIR - anagram (travelling) of HIT RAIN. I don't know why I was so slow seeing this.
10 Author’s earnings from connections with ruling families (9)
ROYALTIES - ROYAL TIES = connections with ruling families
12 Curtsey for your uncle? (3)
BOB - as in Bob's your uncle. Thankfully not BOW, then, which might just work as a loose cryptic definition in a lesser crossword, as in an obeisance made by an uncle would be a bow (probably). I've seen looser clues elsewhere!
13 Discover tragic figure, forlorn at the last (5)
LEARN - LEAR (tragic figure) N (forlorN at the last)
15 Bottle comes in plainer version (5)
NERVE - comes inside plaiNER VErsion. As in to lose one's bottle. In-depth etymology here.
17 Sort of shirt, one of a set of eighteen? (3)
TEE - double definition, the second in golf.
18 Last drink? Cheers! (7,2)
BOTTOMS UP - BOTTOM (last) SUP (drink)
20 Heart perhaps shown by referee (3,4)
RED CARD - cryptic hint
21 Shy, having injured arm in this? (5)
SLING - double definition
22 Fond glances from one in woolly coat? (6,4)
SHEEPS EYES - cryptic hint

1 Army officers raced for corner shop (7,5)
GENERAL STORE - GENERALS (army officers) TORE (raced)
2 Now notice is put up in miniature (5)
TODAY - AD (notice, bill, etc.) is put up/reversed in TOY (miniature)
3 Settle account, always after pressure (3)
PAY - AY (always) after P(ressure)
4 Fool: a Belfast one? (6)
NITWIT - a twit from Belfast could be an N.I. TWIT
5 Needing to play, sad losing slide (9)
GLISSANDO - anagram (needing to play) SAD LOSING
6 Inoculator’s incomprehensible speech (6)
JABBER - double definition. So there's no word 'jenner' for nonsense.
7 Where to find puzzles in paper? Advice here (7,5)
PROBLEM PAGES - double-ish definition, the first whimsical
11 California city began to collapse into lake (4,5)
LONG BEACH - anagram (to collapse) of BEGAN into LOCH (Lake)
14 A good finish on a list of tasks (6)
AGENDA - A G(ood) END (finish) on A
16 For example, spots upcoming heavy meal (6)
STODGE - EG, DOTS (for example, spots) upcoming
19 Reflective and retiring, keeping at home (5)
SHINY - SHY (retiring) keeping IN (at home)
21 Emergency call very singular (3)
SOS -SO (very) S(ingular)

Times 27,983: Please Do Not Use Thermometers Imprectically

I can't really find much to criticise about a crossword that manages to set the Genius of the Carpathians side by side with the Hero of Pontypandy: some of the clues took a long time to parse fully after the event but there was a reasonable biffability quotient (no difficult *short* clues) which meant that we were unlikely to get bogged down all day. I was actually going great guns until I got bogged down in the SE corner: 21ac and 26ac were proving troublesome to decipher and I optimistically bunged in a placehold TRAINED for 24ac which made 11dn even harder: for some reason I couldn't find my way to CENTER, maybe because it so "clearly" shouldn't be in a UK crossword.

Lots of COD candidates, as I think everything here is really good. I urge the connoisseur of fine cluing to look carefully at how every surface here is a coherent story, with definition parts often meaning quite a different thing in the context of the surface to the answer they are also cluing. The crossword as art: the setter should take a deserved bow. Okay, COD to 26ac, solely because of the groan it elicited when I finally worked out what on earth was going on. A long, long, long time after submission...

1 Stalwart keeps returning as celebrity children’s TV character (7,3)
FIREMAN SAM - FIRM [stalwart] "keeps" reversed AS NAME [celebrity]

6 Paper copy (4)
ECHO - double def. There are lots of Echos, which one were you thinking of? Liverpool Echo for me, I guess.

9 Peers having come up briefly returned drunk (7)
ARISTOS - ARIS{e} + reversed SOT

10 Second rate, poor Aston Villa, losing 5-1 on aggregate (7)
BALLAST - B [second-rate] + (*AST{on v-i}LLA). Complex subtractive anagram, this one!

12 Flat has garden — we hear sound of bees (2-3)
HO-HUM - homophone of HOE [garden] + HUM. FOI

13 Look back and note source, one that is retained (9)
REMINISCE - RE [note] + MINE [source] "retaining" I SC [one | that is (as in scilicet)]

14 Lacking politeness, if innocuous — merely unsettling (15)

17 Whereby some are entitled to celebrate the arrival of the monarch (8,7)
BIRTHDAY HONOURS - birthday honours bestow "titles" on some, and this is part of the celebration of the monarch's birth or arrival. So, a cryptic def, which took some time for me to parse out satisfactorily...

20 Delivery agent returned earthenware vase, filling bottles (9)
LIFESAVER - hidden ("bottled") reversed in {earthenwa}RE VASE FIL{ling}. A delivery agent as in, an agent of delivery, a deliverer.

21 Ecstasy, see, when one’s out for a duck (5)
EVADE - E(cstasy) + V{i->A}DE: take VIDE [see], and swap out I [one] for A

23 Don’t strike boy in hat (7)
STETSON - STET [in editing, keep in, so don't strike] + SON

24 Did coach express disapproval? Nothing radical (7)
TUTORED - TUT O RED [express disapproval | nothing | radical (leftist)]

25 Flap in one’s in-tray (2-2)
TO-DO - double def

26 In time, what’s taken to get one open-mouthed? (10)
TEMPORALLY - This was my LOI and then took forever to parse. If you take someone's TEMP(erature) ORALLY, they will need to open their mouth wide!

1 One used to snap and be tearful, upset by urgent news (9)
FLASHBULB - BLUB [be tearful] reversed by FLASH [urgent news]

2 Lecture man on sex — husband (5)
REITH - RE IT H [on | sex | husband]. BBC DG

3 Merchant at first devious has to promise to give change (13)

4 Solution that’s popular and in no way peculiar (7)
NOSTRUM - NO ST RUM [no | way | peculiar]

5 White loaf to stop a short period of fasting (7)
ALBUMEN - BUM [loaf] to "stop" A LEN{t}

7 Reasons copper’s got to arrest E European dictator (9)
CEAUSESCU - CAUSES CU "arrests" E. This will really help me remember how to spell it in future...

8 Odd or even excerpts from voluntaries (5)
OUTRE - every even letter in {v}O{l}U{n}T{a}R{i}E{s}

11 See about register for US arts venue (7,6)
LINCOLN CENTER - LINCOLN C ENTER [see | about | register]

15 Fred wrangling with Colin: I’m all ears! (9)
CORNFIELD - (FRED + COLIN*). Ref ears of corn

16 I agree twice to cross the road, horse having gone past (9)
YESTERDAY - YES, AY [I agree, twice] "crossing" T{h}E RD

18 Lead Civil Engineer, after promotion, getting rise (7)
ADVANCE - VAN [lead] + C.E., after AD [promotion]

19 Demanding toy car (7)
HARDTOP - HARD [demanding] + TOP [toy]

20 Commentator’s to favour one side’s scorer (5)
LISZT - homophone of LIST [to favour one side]

22 Girl that’s lifted bible getting into trouble (5)
AVRIL - reversed R.V. in AIL