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I didn't find this particularly difficult, though my time wasn't blazing-Monday-fast either; but I'd certainly rate it on the gentle side, with all the definitions being entirely straightforward and most of the wordplay involving quite basic cryptic operations, a lot of putting X into Y to find Z. There was a hint of the old-fashioned about this too with the vehicular fly, and duffers getting laced, which made me think it might have been the work of an older setter? Perfectly acceptable fare of course, cheers setter!

FOI was 10ac, LOI 19d. My Clue of the Day was probably the comparatively elaborate 2dn, but for once I have an anti-COD, the slur that is the surface of 22ac. The only way I'm going to countenance "light blues good, dark blues bad!" in these parts is if it's just an Orwellian prelude to "light blues good, dark blues BETTER!" Despite, um, the two most recent boat race results...

ACROSS
1 First stronghold to protect an indefinite number after retreat (8)
FOREMOST - FORT [stronghold] to "protect" reversed SOME [indefinite number].

5 Something surgeon provides for pain (6)
STITCH - double def

10 Artefact of Catholic priest being held? (5)
RELIC - R.C. [Catholic], ELI [priest] being "held"

11 Bound to take chaps into extraterrestrial sort of escape (9)
ELOPEMENT - LOPE [bound] to take MEN [chaps], into E.T. [extraterrestrial]

12 The fellow is entertained by Greek following rationalist philosophy? (9)
ATHEISTIC - HE IS [the fellow | is] "entertained" by ATTIC [Greek]

13 Language of love used by wise man (5)
OSAGE - O [love] used by SAGE [wise man]

14 Stand where gateman has returned (7)
ETAGERE - hidden reversed in {wh}ERE GATE{man}

16 A top man, weak initially, is getting aroused (6)
WAKING - A KING [a | top man], W [weak] initially

18 Old soldiers being gathered came to the same conclusion (6)
AGREED - AGED [old], R.E. [soldiers] being "gathered"

20 Food Rosy brought around as a possible first course? (7)
CHOWDER - CHOW [food] + reversed RED [rosy]. Soup is a good first course

22 Oxford will always be beaten (5)
LACED - double def, Oxford as in a shoe. Outrageous surface

23 Glow of one about to engage in 11? (9)
FIRELIGHT - I RE [one | about] to "engage in" FLIGHT [11 = elopement]

25 Conservative head receiving a guy who lives on an island? (9)
CARIBBEAN - C BEAN [Conservative | head] "receiving" A RIB [a | guy]; guy as in "tease"

26 Part of America with no room for trendy goddess (5)
DIANA - {in}DIANA [part of America, with "no room for" trendy = IN]

27 One going quickly turning miserable, star losing love (6)
DASHER - reversed SAD [miserable] + HER{o} [star, "losing" love = O]

28 Diner travelling in carriage prepared to talk to fellow passengers? (8)
FRIENDLY - (DINER*) ["traveling"] in FLY [carriage]

DOWN
1 Confronts having to collect ash container — they may be very hot (8)
FURNACES - FACES [confronts], having to "collect" URN [ash container]

2 Man perhaps writing half of the letters (5)
RALPH - R [perhaps writing] + ALPH{abet} ["half of" the letters]. Reading, writing and arithmetic are the "three R's"

3 A line became hard to sort out, as only fit for computer input? (7-8)
MACHINE-READABLE - (A LINE BECAME HARD*) ["to sort out"]

4 Son — little couple’s beloved one (7)
SWEETIE - S WEE TIE [son | little | couple]

6 Mad golfer keen to wed — a temptation that should have been avoided? (4,2,9)
TREE OF KNOWLEDGE - (GOLFER KEEN TO WED*) ["mad"]

7 Parent upset over boy getting cut in the head (9)
TREPANNED - (PARENT*) ["upset"] over NED [boy]

8 Instruction to give girl corporal punishment here? (6)
HITHER - or else, HIT HER! [instruction to give girl corporal punishment]

9 Great big bully pursuing maiden in the capital (6)
MOSCOW - OS COW [great big | bully] pursuing M [maiden]

15 Cigars given out with ale and port (9)
ALGECIRAS - (CIGARS + ALE*) ["given out"]

17 Dry area sinking into sea somewhere across the Channel (8)
BRITTANY - TT A [dry | area] "sinking into" BRINY [sea]

19 Minimal length after incompetent person cut cloth (6)
DUFFEL - L ["minimal" length] after DUFFE{r} [incompetent person "cut"]

20 Investigator given a ring in awkward situation (7)
CORONER - O [a ring] in CORNER [awkward situation]

21 Not half thin, like many a birthday cake cut up (6)
SLICED - SL{im} ["not half" thin] + ICED [like many a birthday cake]

24 Delighted to take in Jehan’s last for organ (5)
GLAND - GLAD [delighted] to "take in" {jeha}N. Just discovered that Jehan Alain was a French composer and organist, which does help appreciate this clue

Comments

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
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kevingregg
Apr. 26th, 2019 12:40 am (UTC)
28:16
Slow today, several clues giving me trouble, like LOI FRIENDLY. I took 'brought around' at 20ac as an inclusion indicator, which didn't help. And I had FACES early on at 1d, but could only think of FABINCES, which really didn't help. 14ac is a lovely hidden. I'm tempted to give my COD to 22ac, as a Cambridge fellow, but I'll refrain and choose AGREED.
jerrywh
Apr. 26th, 2019 07:57 am (UTC)
Re: 28:16
"Facpanes" didn't help either...
paulmcl
Apr. 26th, 2019 12:42 am (UTC)
My only problems were not being sure OSAGE was a language (I thought it was a herb or something). And spelling ALGECIRAS wrong which made that corner a bit tricky until I actually went over the anagrist carefully. I didn't know DUFFEL was cloth, but it seems reasonable that a duffel bag might be made out of duffel.
vinyl1
Apr. 26th, 2019 02:18 am (UTC)
No time, solved while eating dinner.....
....with a break afterwards. I got totally stuck in the bottom, so I got up and put on a record (Coltrane, Prestige P-7105), and when I returned I could suddenly see all the answers. It is most remarkable how that works!

If you have never heard of Algeciras, it is difficult to get the correct placement of the three leftover vowels.

We used to get 'etagere' every week, along with Tiepolo. Maybe he'll be back as well.

Is 'atheistic' rationalist? It might be more rational to hedge your bet, just in case....
(Anonymous)
Apr. 26th, 2019 03:44 pm (UTC)
RE: No time, solved while eating dinner.....
Haha-I see your point and I also do rather hope God exists. I agree that the setter has taken a bit of a liberty there. But it used to be the case that in purely philosophical terms to be atheistic was to be ‘rational’ (and vice versa), if only as being opposed to a belief in God which is ‘irrational’. The former view has fallen out of favour though. You can actually hold both positions simultaneously if you don’t subscribe to rationality as the only basis for any given position. Ie you could be an empiricist, many of whom try-or tried-to square their belief in God with the rigours of philosophical study. Next week, I will talk about logical positivism. . .Mr Grumpy
aphis99
Apr. 26th, 2019 03:19 am (UTC)
Oxford blues
Fear not, there is always the chess as consolation (I posted a link to the result in my previous effort, but I believe it has been marked as spam). Oxford aided by fielding the very able Hou Yifan.
jackkt
Apr. 26th, 2019 05:23 am (UTC)
Once again I struggled with some of this for far too long but was pleased to finish all correct eventually. One of my problems was thinking MOONLIGHT at 23 which, whilst ignoring some of the wordplay that the correct answer demonstrates, has a much more pleasing and romantic association with ELOPEMENT than does FIRELIGHT.

Is this the first appearance of DASHER outside a Christmas puzzle, I wonder?

I still had difficulty placing the E and I correctly in 15dn despite being well aware of the name of the Spanish port from history studies many years ago.

Edited at 2019-04-26 05:25 am (UTC)
z8b8d8k
Apr. 26th, 2019 08:23 am (UTC)
I also gave up MOONLIGHT very reluctantly, being an incurable romantic and forgetting that cryptic clues usually have wordplay somewhere.
(no subject) - wilransome - Apr. 26th, 2019 11:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Apr. 26th, 2019 01:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
gothick_matt
Apr. 26th, 2019 06:38 am (UTC)
Haven't been so soundly beaten by a daily puzzle for ages. After staring at about ten left in the bottom half for the last twenty minutes of my hour, and then ten minutes more, I gave up. It did not help that I'd never heard of ALGECIRAS or OSAGE, and didn't know the required meanings of "duffel", "lace" or "fly" (when you're hitting the thirteenth definition down in Chambers, you know you're into obscurities!) Other than that I just wasn't on the wavelength...

Edited at 2019-04-26 06:48 am (UTC)
keriothe
Apr. 26th, 2019 06:40 am (UTC)
11:50. I liked this one a lot. Goldilocks-level difficulty, nothing too obscure but equally not much that was susceptible to biffing.
I wonder if ALGECIRAS will cause problems. It qualifies for my personal definition of GK but it's not exactly the best-known port in the world.
pootle73
Apr. 26th, 2019 06:54 am (UTC)
23:22
I’m not sure if I knew LOI ALGECIRAS or if it just sounded familiar as it sounded like Al Jazeera. Take note setter - there’s a dodgy homophone for a future puzzle!
myrtilus000
Apr. 26th, 2019 07:48 am (UTC)
meet me on the Coroner, when the lights are coming on...
40 mins with yoghurt, banana, granola, blueberry compote.
I have three MERs:
1. 16ac. Is W an abbreviation for weak? If not and the 'initially' indicates the W, what tells you to put it at the front?
2. 22ac. I think this needs: 'always be *this* beaten' or '*As* Oxford will always be..'
3. 15dn. OWAA! Obscure Word As Anagram.
Thanks setter and V.
kevingregg
Apr. 26th, 2019 08:03 am (UTC)
Re: meet me on the Coroner, when the lights are coming on...
I naturally assumed that W was the heavy charged vector boson that is probably the quantum of the weak interaction; I mean, duh!
Whence Goliath? - kevingregg - Apr. 26th, 2019 12:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Whence Goliath? - keriothe - Apr. 26th, 2019 02:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
martinp1
Apr. 26th, 2019 07:59 am (UTC)
31m 20s
Thank you, Verlaine, for RALPH, SLICED and FIRELIGHT, none of which I could parse.
My CODs were AGREED and HITHER although the latter would probably anger the politically correct.
jerrywh
Apr. 26th, 2019 08:03 am (UTC)
Held up by uncertainty over how to spell Algi .. Algei .. the Spanish port. Guessed right in the end, fortunately.
I thought this a noticeably old-fashioned crossword. Nice to see Eli get his weekly outing. He was the very first crossword cliche I noticed, back in the 1960s, and still going strong today.
boltonwanderer
Apr. 26th, 2019 08:04 am (UTC)
Hither and thither
25 minutes with LOI FIRELIGHT when CORONER fell into place. I confidently had 'Moonlight' for the elopement before that. As this site's resident Physicist theist, the MER at ATHEISTIC for 'rational' was of major proportions. DNK OSAGE and was uncertain about ETAGERE but I was bold and entered them in firmly. The order of the vowels in ALGERICAS was the only point where my confidence was challenged. I was happy with ALGE but was it CIRAS or CARIS? Fortunately I decided that the AS endind sounded more Spanish. COD to TREPANNED. Thank you V and irrationalist setter.
z8b8d8k
Apr. 26th, 2019 09:03 am (UTC)
Branches from the Tree of Knowledge
Very pleasant Friday outing, 22+ minutes of congenial (almost) straight through solving.
It took me a while to expand Algiers to fit into the space available, thereby moving it to Spain. If I had been asked to point out ALGECIRAS on a map, that's not where I'd have hazarded. Don't think I'd have looked for OSAGE speakers in Oklahoma either.
Thanks to V for the extra tidbits, especially for Jehan Alain. It's always good to see that the setter has put in that little additional detail to make the clues more aesthetically pleasing.
pserve_p2
Apr. 26th, 2019 09:40 am (UTC)
This was a steady but slow solve: 47 mins. Time lost in entertaining Oguru as a plausible African tribal language and Alcigeras for the Spanish resort (allowing 'accord' for agreement, with embedded OR for soldiers!). Archimedes delayed me for a few minutes, too, in 12a. LOI was FIRELIGHT, with a shrug because I couldn't parse it. Myrtilus is right about the 'weak initially' in WAKING -- a definite boo-boo, but I didn't spot it at the time. My COD to CORONER for its sneaky misdirection.
Thanks for the blog.
pipkirby
Apr. 26th, 2019 09:43 am (UTC)
Duffer bag
Most of this went in smoothly but the last few took another 10 to 15 minutes, notably DUFFEL which was LOI once I saw CARIBBEAN and stopped trying to end 25a with BRIAN. 45 slow but pleasant mins with a couple of interruptions.
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