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A gentle offering, with evenly paved surfaces slick enough to trip you up as to the cryptic parsing. I have a two or three quibbles, but no major complaint—nothing nearly so troublesome as my problems with the postal service, here and/or in France, which I ramble on about (again) quite irrelevantly below.

It’s going to be a big day for blogs, so I hope this doesn’t get slighted in the shuffle.

I do (sanamgra)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues. Five of ’em this time!

Across
 1 Talk about a long story (4)
SAGA — GAS<— + A
 4 European gripped by bad splenetic disease (10)
PESTILENCE — (splenetic + E)*
 9 Negligent first couple of reports by teacher (6)
REMISS — RE[-ports] + MISS. As Keriothe confirmed the last time it came up on my watch, female schoolteachers are still called “Miss” over there in Merrie Olde. Quaint.
10 Idiot husband wearing golf trousers? (8)
CLOTHING — DBE. “Idiot” is CLOT, + H[usband] + IN, “wearing”  + G[olf]
11 A child star upset with all in chorus? (2,3,3)
AS ONE MAN — A SON (“child”) + NAME (“star”) <— (“upset”) Not sure why there is a question mark.
13 Strange old jerk pursuing old flame (6)
EXOTIC — O TIC after EX
14 Awfully indecent and best-limited inclinations (10)
TENDENCIES — (indecent + [-b]ES[-t])*
16 Couple I encountered from the East? (4)
ITEMOne of the Wise Men got lost? I + MET<—
17 Chances of dying do soar at the front (4)
ODDSHow true!
18 European dominance upset grasping American leader (10)
MACEDONIANAnd that’s a kind word for the leader I’m thinking of…! (dominance + A)* Second clue with “upset” in the wordplay, a “redundancy” one, at least, of the setter team at The Nation would want to “correct.” On the other hand, it makes a connection between “grasping American leader” here and “child star” above, which seems apt.
20 Relish October’s final on which the cup rests (6)
SAUCER — SAUCE + R. If memory serves, this was my LOI, for no clear reason.
21 Investment minister has secured in error (8)
MISTAKENOr so (s)he says! MI(STAKE)N
23 Miss when in Madrid, part of Essen, or Italy (8)
SENORITA — But this doesn’t mean she’s a teacher.
24 Release hawk on Lahore’s outskirts (3,3)
LET OUT — L[-ahor]E + TOUT
26 When one might suffer an awful shock? (3,4,3)
BAD HAIR DAY — Static electricity could be at fault!
27 Instrument animal knocked over (4)
REED — DEER<—


Down
 2 Good performer’s excellent service (3)
ACE — Double Definition.
 3 Side with a band that’s heard (5)
ALIGN — A + “line” (“heard”). Underline “with”? But you generally need to add “with” to “align,” in this sense, too,
 4 Chap with letters after name welcoming graduate (7)
POSTMAN — POST is “after” and N “name,” with a Master of Arts in between. It took me too long to separate “letters” from “after name.” By the way, my postal carrier (a man, as it happens) just came by, and I am very upset that he had no Canard Enchaîné for me. I haven’t gotten an issue since the one for novembre 28. Their distributor changed the packaging to little plastic envelopes that tend to get stuck together so that stacks of several for all over the country get sent to one person. Meanwhile, they are pushing their new digital edition, for overseas subscribers only, but it requires paying for a whole new abonnement. I’ve talked to the USPS and written to the Canard repeatedly…
 5 Position that Oscar holds? Deputy (6-2-7)
SECOND-IN-COMMAND — Clever. “Oscar” is O in the NATO alphabet, the second letter in the word COMMAND.
 6 Those who press to see the Queen in restraints (7)
IRONERSWhy? She isn’t doing anything! IRON (ER) S. This is the weakest part of the puzzle, just pure filler. Has anyone ever used this word or heard it used? Surely there’s a more elegant term for those who press clothes.
 7 African playing the piano all round India (9)
ETHIOPIAN — (the piano + I[ndia])*
 8 Kind of second-rate pants one must wear (11)
CONSIDERATE — (second-rate + I)*
12 One likely to snap at those driving over limit (5,6)
SPEED CAMERA — Cryptic Definition.
15 Child host ordered to become washing-up helper? (9)
DISHCLOTH — (Child host)* Slightly cryptic definition, hence the question mark (used to be called a “quirk” in the Nation copy department; I wonder if I could get away with that here… And exclamation points were “sclams”!)
18 Cocktail party at centre held by midget (7)
MARTINI — M ([-p]ART[-y] )INI. Surface-wise, it isn’t clear whether the midget is holding the party or the centre. Also merely surface-wise, it is now widely considered offensive to refer to any particular smallish person as a “midget,” as we all know. Yet you still hear terms such as “moral midget.”
19 Showcase sample of pop in Underworld song (7)
DISPLAYAnother band I haven’t heard of?! DIS (P[-op]) LAY. Seems “Dis” has been a popular reference in our puzzles lately, the devil knows why.
22 Rhubarb served up following a cold ham (5)
ACTOR — “Rhubarb” is ROT <— served up, after A C.
25 Do drugs lead to untold sadness and woe ultimately? (3)
USEMy answer is, “Not necessarily.” I thought this clue was a little faulty, until Kevin pointed out how it works.

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
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punnedit
Jan. 6th, 2019 12:23 am (UTC)
Thanks to the blogger for the excellent explanations, especially for 5dn.

One question: for 10ac, where does the “IN” in the answer occur in the wordplay?
guy_du_sable
Jan. 6th, 2019 01:32 am (UTC)
Sorry!
I reviewed this one too hastily today! Corrected!
kevingregg
Jan. 6th, 2019 12:35 am (UTC)
USE
Lead to Untold, sadnesS and woE ultimately.
guy_du_sable
Jan. 6th, 2019 01:34 am (UTC)
Re: USE
Oh, yes, “sadness” begins and ends with the same letter doesn’t it! I may have realized this last Sunday… Thanks!
kevingregg
Jan. 6th, 2019 12:38 am (UTC)
CLOTHING
wearing=IN
kevingregg
Jan. 6th, 2019 12:53 am (UTC)
12:04
Rather disappointingly easy one from Harry. I didn't know, although I'm not particularly surprised, that 'midget' had been put on the Index; how does one refer to a midget, and how does that expression, whatever it is, cause less offense? I'm not clear as to your animadversion on IRONERS; the Queen (ER) in restraints (IRONS).
guy_du_sable
Jan. 6th, 2019 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: 12:04
Well, one doesn’t “refer to a midget,” please! Ha.
The term accepted by those people who are congenitally smaller than the norm is “dwarf” or “little person.”
Thanks for the reminder of my omission (oops… another!) of the parsing for IRONERS. (It’s rather obvious, though, isn’t it?)
I’ve just never heard anyone’s being referred to by that term. You can make an acceptable English word by adding -er to a verb, but that doesn’t mean it’s part of the popular parlance. It seems a little “green paint,” though not quite the same thing. Maybe this is just me.

Edited at 2019-01-06 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: 12:04 - guy_du_sable - Jan. 6th, 2019 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 12:04 - kevingregg - Jan. 6th, 2019 06:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 12:04 - jerrywh - Jan. 6th, 2019 09:48 am (UTC) - Expand
john_dun
Jan. 6th, 2019 12:59 am (UTC)
I also found this one less than difficult, but enjoyable all the same. With the plethora of puzzles over the last week, I have no idea where I started or finished, but I did finish in 22:17. Liked SECOND IN COMMAND. No problems with IRONERS. Thanks Harry and Guy.
keriothe
Jan. 6th, 2019 03:40 am (UTC)
7:41. As Kevin says, a bit easier than is ideal on a Sunday, but fun.
I had exactly the same though about IRONERS: not a proper word. ISOMERS also fits.
I certainly wouldn’t use the word ‘midget’.
kevingregg
Jan. 6th, 2019 06:27 am (UTC)
I wasn't sure if that was what Guy was getting at about IRONERS. In principle, I share his and your objection, and I may even have voiced it here. (Guy's "green paint" is a similar problem--a phrase that is not a lexical item--and I have objected to that here, at some length.) (Someone who enjoys X is a (X-)enjoyer, someone who describes X is a (X-)describer, etc., but I would object to ENJOYER or DESCRIBER as solutions to clues; IRONERS seemed OK to me, at least OKish.

Edited at 2019-01-06 06:32 am (UTC)
(no subject) - jerrywh - Jan. 6th, 2019 09:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevingregg - Jan. 6th, 2019 11:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jerrywh - Jan. 6th, 2019 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevingregg - Jan. 6th, 2019 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
horryd
Jan. 6th, 2019 06:02 am (UTC)
IRONERS
6dn terrible clue but there are such machines as 'flatwork ironers' or 'flatbed ironers' that deal with decreasing on an industrial scale such as pillows and sheets from hospitals and hotels etc. My LOI!

Time 13 mins which just shows how easy it was!

FOI 24ac LET OUT

COD 8dn SECOND-IN-COMMAND

WOD 26ac BAD HAIR DAY

Guy, Pink Floyd - 'Dark side of the Moon'? Mine was 'Drinking with Dolly'.
guy_du_sable
Jan. 6th, 2019 06:41 am (UTC)
RE: IRONERS
Oh, I didn’t even think about machine, thanks.
I found a track on YouTube from the album I named the blog for and then let auto-play rule.

Edited at 2019-01-06 06:44 am (UTC)
RE: IRONERS - keriothe - Jan. 6th, 2019 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
jackkt
Jan. 6th, 2019 07:59 am (UTC)
Dead easy. 18 minutes - I've taken longer over QCs!
johninterred
Jan. 6th, 2019 08:32 am (UTC)
9:34. A rare sub-10 minutes for me, I raced through this with only a couple taking a while to parse or worry about. Like our blogger, 'side with' for ALIGN seemed odd and ROT for rhubarb was unfamiliar to me. Lots of nice clues, as ever, from David. POSTMAN my COD.
boltonwanderer
Jan. 6th, 2019 09:11 am (UTC)
Not a bettor
Zipped through this in 14 minutes with LOI ALIGN. COD to BAD HAIR DAY. Only hold-up was trying to parse MISTAKEN with an ISA rather than a STAKE. Thank you Guy and David.

Edited at 2019-01-06 09:11 am (UTC)
rinteff
Jan. 6th, 2019 10:50 am (UTC)
My note says ‘very easy, rather dull’. Not much more to add really.
astonvilla1
Jan. 6th, 2019 11:28 am (UTC)
11:01
A quick time for me, so I’m happy enough. If I’d not typed in Ethiopian incorrectly I might have got under 10 mins.

We had “Second-in-command” last year in The Times Xword and on the blog I suggested an alternative clue of my own. O vice! Interestingly the clue in this puzzle is along the same lines.

COD: Speed Camera.
special_bitter
Jan. 6th, 2019 02:47 pm (UTC)
17:10 a nice, gentle, straightforward solve.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 6th, 2019 11:45 pm (UTC)
DISPLAY
Still dont get19Dn can you elucidate? Thanks
guy_du_sable
Jan. 6th, 2019 11:56 pm (UTC)
Re: DISPLAY
DIS is a god of the underworld, LAY is a song, with “a sample of pop,” i.e., the first letter, P, between them.
Re: DISPLAY - (Anonymous) - Jan. 7th, 2019 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: DISPLAY - guy_du_sable - Jan. 7th, 2019 05:10 am (UTC) - Expand
ulaca
Jan. 7th, 2019 01:15 am (UTC)
11 minutes. I think we would be well advised to let David Brent's Scouse mate have the last word on midgets.
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