Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish (verlaine) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Cityish Alt-ish Fortyish

Monthly Club Special 20,226: A Void (Lik Th Plagu)!

As usual I feel mildly sorry for those who spurn the MCS because the vocabulary is too difficult - they are missing some of the best clues of the month, every month. As usual there were surfaces, definitions, devices and cryptic inventions in here that made my jaw drop. I think 14dn, my last one parsed, may be my favourite clue, for its sheer ambition, but there was so much else here to love. And on top of it all, we have what is presumably the hardest type of nongram to pull off - every letter of the alphabet but the daddy, the big E. Georges Perec would be proud.

Word of the day to 12dn in the face of stiff competition from 1ac and 9ac, surface of the day to 21dn or 3dn or 10ac or 16ac or... oh dammit, they're all amazing. Massive kudos to the brilliant setter and if anyone else was sensible enough to do this last month... which clues did you like the best?

1 Oddly lazy opinion took off — Aristotle’s one of us? (4,9)
An Aristotelian term for a human being - literally "the political animal".

8 Pointed way leaving firm (4)
URDY - {st}URDY. Remove ST [street = way] from a word for firm.
Heraldically pointy.

9 Big Apple contingent, latterly accommodated as eg Tamworth sleeper movement (10)
NYCTINASTY - NYC [Big Apple] + {contingen}T + IN A STY [accommodated as a pig (eg Tamworth)].
Nyctinasty is what plants do as it grows dark, in a manner reminiscent of "going to sleep".

10 Too much Lambrusco? That’s about a flute (8)
OTTAVINO - OTT VINO [too much | Lambrusco], about A.
An ottavino seems to be another word for a piccolo.

11 Gold chain worn by old paramilitaries in that particular role (2,4)
AS SUCH - AU CH [gold | chain] "worn" by SS [old paramilitaries]

13 Asking to be released from Eng Lit briefly to visit motoring group’s festival (10)
QUIRINALIA - {en}QUIRIN{g}, once released from the enclosing ENG, + LI{t} to "visit" AA [motoring group]

16 Cross in second area burned down (4)
MOXA - X [cross] in MO A [second | area]. A downy substance burned in Eastern medicinal practice, making this an unusually brilliant misleading definition...

17 Walk covered in Packer broadcast (4)
STOA - homophone of STOWER [packer]

18 Condition of Rex after treatment “doing ok”, I left hospital (10)
KINGLIHOOD - (DOING OK I L H*) ["after treatment"]

20 Drumming and cheers perhaps having kicked bottle round and round (6)
TATTOO - TA [cheers] + TT [perhaps having kicked bottle] + O [round] + O [round]

22 Charlie stuffs party bags for little nippers (3-5)
DOG-CRABS - C "stuffs" DO GRABS [party | bags]

24 Put an end to gossip — and stop one tweeting (10)
BANANAQUIT - BAN ANA [put and end to | gossip] + QUIT [stop].
One of our household's very favourite bird names.

26 Killer at sea, maybe 30 seconds from holiday island (4)
ORCA - {min}ORCA is the holiday island, remove 30 seconds = half a minute = MIN from it.

27 Live bar music’s ending — and tricolour’s waving (9,4)
CONDUCTOR RAIL - {musi}C + (AND TRICOLOUR*) ["waving"]

1 Spiritual leader and Zulu consequently tango in a sort of skirt (11)
ZARATHUSTRA - Z + THUS T [consequently | tango] in A RARA [sort of skirt]

2 Grasses up lazy robber, not all there (5)
ORYZA - hidden reversed in {l}AZY RO{bber}

3 Rubber of bridge in Monaco: Scotsman leads top cards (9)
PONTIANAK - PONT [bridge, in French] + IAN [Scotsman] + A K = Ace King = top cards

4 Scoff after one probes ally’s body for old death portent? (4-3)
LICH-OWL - CHOW [scoff] after I [one] "probes" {a}LL{y}

5 Unsuitable as fare: halve that after journey’s abandoned quietly (5)
TRIFA - FA{re} after TRI{p}. An unusual spelling of treif, which is non-kosher food.

6 Ask a man who’s inside, twice, to rouse the butler (9)
KHANSAMAH - (ASK A MAN {w}H{o} {w}H{o}*) ["to rouse"]

7 Politician that fans of The Sun would want if returned? (3)
NAT - fans of the sun might want a TAN, fans of The Sun might want a nationalist in power! So &lit.

12 Helmsman, absurd, taking front of boat in vain (11)
COXCOMBICAL - COX [helmsman] + COMICAL [absurd] taking B{oat} in

14 To go off carrying trailer, something long Victoria had picked up: this? (4,5)
ROAD TRAIN - ROT [to go off] "carrying" AD, + homophone of REIGN [something long (Queen) Victoria had];
*or* Victoria being in Australia, the entire clue can be a straightish description of Aussie road trains. Absurd levels of cluing genius!

15 Snapper needing a breather after climbing a peak (9)
ALLIGATOR - A + reversed GILL [breather] + A TOR [peak]

19 Surely where French, not English, is in credit? (2,5)
NO DOUBT - OU [where, in French], instead of E, is in NO DEBT [credit]

21 Regularly failing ports? Ask our computer geeks (5)
OTAKU - {p}O{r}T{s} A{s}K {o}U{r}

23 After cycling, able to hold ten glasses of beer, maybe, or wine (5)
RIOJA - I think 10-JAR may imply "being able to hold ten glasses of beer"? Cycle the letters to R10JA.

25 Husband denied knowing development of plot (3)
ARC - ARC{h} [knowing], with H for husband "denied" to it.
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