May 31st, 2021

Astarte1

QC 1885 by Breadman

Once again I managed to do most of this sequentially, thrown off my stride only by 21A which should have been enough of a chestnut for me by now just to write it in. I even had the elements running through my mind (MAST and EWE) but spent long enough thinking about it for me to flip over to the next clue. Apart from that I should have just biffed it as I do know the term well. Just a momentary blind spot I guess.

FOI was 1A and LOI was the aforementioned buoyancy aid. COD to 6D because there is a good potential misdirection in it that I could have fallen for if I didn't already have some of the checkers: if you were only skimming the clues you might well have taken 'food shop' as the definition and biffed DELICATESSEN (same number of letters as the answer) before reading the rest of the clue.

Many thanks to Breadman for a gentle but occasionally tricky Bank Holiday puzzle.

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

Across
1 Winner to embrace old French writer (6,4)
VICTOR HUGO - VICTOR (winner) + HUG (to embrace) + O (old).
8 Struggle with awful sleet on river (7)
WRESTLE - W (with) + R (river) + ESTLE (anagram ('awful') of SLEET).
9 Ring huge Greek character (5)
OMEGA - O (ring) + MEGA (huge).
10 Plain meal regularly selected somewhere in Peru (4)
LIMA - pLaIn MeAl 'regularly selected'.
11 Parting sports arena after Ballesteros maybe (8)
SEVERING - Severiano 'SEVE' Ballesteros was a highly talented Spanish golfer. SEVE + RING (sports arena) gives the answer.
13 Mountainous region, to the west, Mallory traversed partly (5)
TYROL - reverse hidden word ('to the west' is a signal to us that we should read right to left): malLORY Traversed 'partly'.
14 Chief magistrate once concerned with first woman (5)
REEVE - RE (concerned with) + EVE (first woman).
16 Snail Charlie found amongst storage at sea (8)
ESCARGOT - C (Charlie) 'found amongst' ESARGOT (anagram ('at sea') of STORAGE).
17 Hospital member suffering (4)
HARM - H (hospital) + ARM (member).
20 Classical theatre Oswald's outside a very long time (5)
ODEON - OD (OswalD's 'outside', i.e. the first and last letters) + EON (a very long time).
21 Part of sailing ship contains something woolly and life jacket (3,4)
MAE WEST - MAST (part of sailing ship) 'containing' EWE (something woolly). I don't know the exact origin of this slang term for an inflatable life jacket, but I believe it may be partly rhyming slang (Mae West = vest) and also refer to the actress's famously buxom figure suggestive of pneumatic support while in the water.
22 Conventional image of potter, eyes fixed (10)
STEREOTYPE - straight anagram ('fixed') of POTTER EYES.
Down
1 Perhaps a solemn promise by the Spanish (5)
VOWEL - VOW (solemn promise) + EL ('the' in Spanish).
2 Best item on dinner table at Christmas? A sort of biscuit (5,7)
CREAM CRACKER - CREAM (best) + CRACKER (item on dinner table at Christmas).
3 Ruminant animals lacking good cereal grass (4)
OATS - gOATS (ruminant animals 'lacking' G (good).
4 Type of dog, slippery creature, grabbed by that lady (6)
HEELER - EEL (slippery creature) 'grabbed by' HER (that lady). A type of antipodean sheepdog that herds sheep by biting at their heels.
5 Part of mathematics test beneath George and myself (8)
GEOMETRY - TRY (test) 'beneath' (in this down clue) GEO (George) + ME (myself).
6 Food shop to reproach lady removing contents on purpose (12)
DELIBERATELY - DELI (food shop) + BERATE (reproach) + LY (LadY 'removing contents').
7 Loosely hang fish at end of day (6)
DANGLE - D (one end of Day) + ANGLE (fish).
12 Unusual article about new musical instrument (8)
CLARINET - CLARIET (anagram 'unusual' of ARTICLE) 'about' N (new).
13 Small earthquake damaged Metro railway primarily (6)
TREMOR TREMO (anagram ('damaged') of METRO) + R (Railway 'primarily').
15 One-time pro associated with French sea (6)
FORMER - FOR (pro) + MER (French for sea).
18 Little child obtains right headwear (5)
MITRE - MITE (little child) 'obtaining' R (right).
19 Brave man in the rocket (4)
HERO - hidden word: 'in' tHE ROcket.
New RCA
  • vinyl1

Times 27991 - A pencil with a big eraser, actually!

Time: 61 minutes
Music: Mendelssohn/Schumann Piano Trios, Casals/Thibaux/Cortot

I certainly did not do very well with a puzzle that should not have been very difficult.   Yes, there are tricky bits, but we have seen most of them before.  The iron that's used for decreasing, the barker who is really a dog, the letters that the drug squad is after - nothing really new here.   There is one very unusal clue that could have been worse - the boundaries of Finland, say?   I did note that there is a UK Bank Holiday going on, and they do like to save the meatier puzzles for those with all day to solve them.

Tonight's music is notable for being recorded nearly 100 years ago.   The remastering, although anonymous, is quite good, and the listener can clearly hear how three men born when Brahms and Liszt were still alive performed some of the finest chamber music ever written.

Across
1 Profit greatly in contest, keeping in shape? (5,2)
CLEAN UP - C(LEAN)UP.
5 A good laugh? Pious role model is taken aback (6)
AGHAST - A + G + HA + ST.
8 Such characters a matter for the drug squad? (5,4)
UPPER CASE - That is, a criminal case of amphetamine dealing.
9 On a farm, refuse drink very loudly (5)
CHAFF - CHA + FF.  I had essayed swill as a DD, but spaniel knocked that one out.
11 Figure from writer of some reportage from the east (5)
TROPE - Backwards hidden in [r]EPORT[age].
12 European steals in, after forging key (9)
ESSENTIAL -  E + anagram of STEALS IN.
13 Desert island left having good grounds (8)
RATIONAL - RAT + IONA + L.
15 Picked up little key ring (6)
EYELET -  Sounds like ISLET.
17 Wound up hem here? (2,4)
ON EDGE - Double definition, or cryptic hint if you prefer.
19 Possibly scratch hamstring (8)
HANDICAP - Double definition, the first one from golf.
22 Popular old means of decreasing, not right for an increase (9)
INFLATION -  IN + FLAT I[r]ON, which removes the creases.
23 Recalled primitive weapon being used with drug business (5)
TRADE - DART backwards + E.
24 Muses, say, why fishing might be unsuccessful? (5)
NONET -  NO NET, for the group of nine Muses.
25 Back in pub, saying when about to drink? (7,2)
BOTTOMS UP - PUS(MOTTO)[pu]B backwards......I think.   I made a real mess of this, it's [pu}B + MOTTO backwards + SUP, an &lit, or course.
26 Show criminal in the cooler (3-3)
AIR-CON - AIR CON.   Quite difficult for me, as this is not a US expression.
27 Ex-president failing in style (7)
YELTSIN -  Anagram of IN STYLE, hard to spot without checking letters.
Down
1 Opposing suggestion with token gesture (13)
COUNTERMOTION -  COUNTER + MOTION.
2 Lover once and I getting in bed? It's a bold act (7)
EXPLOIT - EX + PLO(I)T.
3 Languages once spoken and not used — only internally (5)
NORSE - NOR + [u]SE[d].   Modern Icelandic is in fact Old Norse, nearly unchanged from the days of Snorri Sturluson. 
4 Cover on board with fancy metal cap (5,3)
PLACE MAT - Anagram of METAL CAP, and not PLATE CAM either, as I first supposed.
5 Does it hinder people getting on? Answer is set in stone (6)
AGEISM - A + GE(IS)M.   An eliptical literal, but we have seen the like before.
6 Overworked boss at the Shoreditch Times? (9)
HACKNEYED - HACKNEY ED.   Shoreditch is in the borough of Hackney.
7 Barker's sales pitch about auction that's empty (7)
SPANIEL -  SP(A[uctio]N)IEL.
10 Writer considered unbalanced shut up (4-6,3)
FELT-TIPPED PEN - FELT + TIPPED + PEN.
14 One in go-cart is spinning out of control (9)
ORGIASTIC - Anagram of I in GO-CART IS.
16 Old lady wearing corset, finding special staple (8)
MAINSTAY - MA IN STAY[s].   Finding seems like an odd way to indicate losing.
18 Title for gent regularly fined, we hear (7)
EFFENDI - F[i]N[e]D - read out as letters!
20 Charlie not only child in part of car (7)
CHASSIS - CHAS + SIS.
21 Forest dweller turning elephantine head around (6)
GIBBON - BIG upside-down + NOB upside-down, hence two reversal indicators.
23 Republican admitted to charge, a provocateur (5)
TROLL - T(R)OLL, one ejected by the moderators.
verlaine

Monthly Club Special 20,248: Cute Rockney, All British

Another quality MCS with some finely-turned cluing, not a word wasted anywhere. I loved the guest appearances by L. Savage and C. Hodges, the fact that there were a few "normal-strength" clues in here to give every solver a way in (10ac my first), and nothing TOO ridiculous anywhere. Yes, you have to have either some affinity for the shapes of foreign words or else a strong ability to entertain the idea that something completely unpromising-looking could genuinely be the answer... but that's all part of the fun.

Our friend who complains every time an obscure bird turns up in the 15x15 wouldn't have had much fun with this puzzle, with a veritable flock of 'em at 1dn, 4dn and 6dn. COD to 24ac, who would have imagined that you could make a "hidden" of such a Latin phrase with a surface that broadly makes sense, to boot! (In the Latin dub of The (American) Office, does Michael say "ipsa dixit" a lot?) Many thanks to the setter for another bona fide monthly highlight.

1 Struck by church turning sophisticated (2-3)
HI-TEC - HIT by reversed CE

4 In times long ago, recalled Cockney singer gaping (9)
XEROCHASY - in X [times] + reversed YORE [long ago], CHAS [Cockney singer and accomplice of Dave]

9 Belligerent cries from attention seeker getting in the way of large meeting earlier (9)
ALALAGMOI - OI! [attention seeker], after À LA | L | A.G.M.

10 Quote theory that’s been oddly overlooked, say (5)
UTTER - {q}U{o}T{e} T{h}E{o}R{y}

11 Tango: dance seen in Tibetan balls? (6)
TSAMBA - T + SAMBA. This is a foodstuff that you can eat by rolling into balls... probably

12 Home-brew passes around group of drinkers in the family (8)
SKOKIAAN - reversed OK'S [passes] + A.A. in KIN

14 Drug, one drunk, dealing with onset of tetanus in one breaking leg (12)
ISOTRETINOIN - I SOT RE T{etanus} IN + ON "broken" by I

17 Content of alpha rays dispersing across power line (5,2,5)
HAPPY AS LARRY - (ALPHA RAYS*) "across" P + RY

20 Short break in a type of film showing an anteater (8)
TAMANOIR - TAM{e} [break in] + A NOIR

21 Dreams of Scottish women’s charity chasing pennies no longer (6)
DWALMS - W ALMS after D

23 Flooded out after cutting pipe down (5)
AWASH - AWA{y} + SH!

24 Saw centre from Kuwaiti XI despicably pulled back (4,5)
IPSE DIXIT - hidden reversed in {kuwai}TI XI DESPI{cably}

25 Folding altarpiece cloth, twice partially at the edges wrinkled (9)
POLYPTYCH - (CLOTH P{artiall}Y P{artiall}Y*)

26 Weaver attaching arrangement of hair on to which end? (5)
WHYDA - D.A. [arrangement of hair] attached onto WHY? [to which end?]

DOWN
1 Tropical bird with hard, round bill that was unknown at home (8)
HOACTZIN - H O ACT ["bill that was"] Z IN

2 Death of military alliance, seconds after which base abandoned (8)
THANATOS - NATO S, after THA{t}

3 Dictionary happening to contain note in post for steward (15)
CHAMBERLAINSHIP - CHAMBERS HIP, "containing" LA IN

4 Test, cycling up to find seabirds (4)
XEMA - reverse and cycle EXAM

5 Walter’s charming fellow miner Karen’s crazy for (4-6)
REIM-KENNAR - (MINER KAREN*)

6 Shy woman left behind absorbing legal documents and flyer (5-5-5)
CHUCK-WILLS-WIDOW - CHUCK WIDOW [shy | woman left behind] "absorbing" WILLS

7 European magistrate’s time in ME capital (6)
AMTMAN - T in AMMAN [capital of Jordan]

8 After year book, torn and no longer used, incinerated (6)
YBRENT - after Y B, RENT

13 Tip on training one football team’s ability to tighten things up (10)
STYPTICITY - STY on PT + I + CITY

15 Savage, maybe cross at heart with expert using long words so? (8)
PROLIXLY - LILY [Savage], taking X to "heart", with PRO

16 Spartan meal, never filling, scarcely satisfies: inept idea! (8)
SYSSITIA - S{carcel}Y S{atisfie}S I{nep}T I{de}A

18 Cease taking public transport, not to walk around Glasgow (6)
STRAMP - S{to->TRAM}P

19 Once used to talk over one’s friend at first, rudely interrupting (6)
IMPARL - I'M [one's] + PAL "interrupted" by R{udely}

22 Job following this native from Tartu via Lahti? (4)
ESTH - double def with the book of the Bible that precedes Job, Esth.