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A pretty easy start with the top line going straight in flattered to deceive, and I took a hard-worked 29 minutes over this. Wordy clues needed much wrangling especially to tease out the wordplay, which I needed to do to verify sometimes flaky entries. I knew one of the two composers, but the other only as the first name of the Russian Ripsmecorsetsoff, who spelled it differently. There’s some petrology you may have to make up from available fragments, some Latin you may have to take a running jump at, and a couple of other words which might increase the scope of your vocabulary. I have tried to supply relevant dictionary and Wiki notes to back up my assumptions. I did like the furniture company undercutting the most end of end of season DFS sale.
Clues are thus, definitions so, and solutions WRIT LARGE

Across
1 A poignant novel about a South American (10)
PATAGONIAN A nice, cheerful anagram (novel) to start us off: A POIGNANT and A your letters to reshape
6 Go to the Highlands for a party (4)
GANG Some Scots for you, might as well be Burns: “And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry.” Whatever, go translates to gang, and I suppose a party of (say) bricklayers is a gang
10 Calendar produced by charity — short collection about to follow (7)
ALMANAC Charity is ALMS which you cut short, and add ANA for collection (of someone's table talk or of gossip, literary anecdotes or possessions – Chambers) and C for about, as in Circa
11 Smaller region of Australia recalled when crossing plain (7)
SUBAREA Australia is represented by AUS, reversed and “crossing” BARE for plain.
12 Impressive sticker backing large theatre university inserted in petition (9)
SUPERGLUE I think this works as LG for large, REP for theatre and U for University all reversed (backing) in SUE for petition. Only resolved post solve, partly because of the unusual (but verified in sources) abbreviation for large
13 Girl staying in until daybreak (5)
TILDA Today’s hidden (and first random female) “staying in” unTIL DAybreak. Swinton the only one to spring to mind.
14 Something in the blood, etc, stirring Laurel on vacation (1-4)
T-CELL “A type of lymphocyte involved in cellular immunity, that matures (in mammals) in the thymus gland” An anagram (stirring) of ETC plus the LL that results when you empty Laurel. Only CELL emerges as a likely word, leaving the T to be the introductory letter.
15 By that time, opening a ridiculously cheap furniture business! (4,5)
IPSO FACTO your ridiculously cheap furniture business is a IP SOFA CO., T(ime) opens by finding a place towards the end. Today’s Latin
17 Masses of religious lessons to be taken from Plato’s work (3,6)
THE PUBLIC  Today’s (sort of) Greek is Plato’s THE REPUBLIC, from which you remove R(eligious) E(ducation)/lessons
20 Brit abroad disregarding British, goodness me! (5)
LIMEY Abroad being the US of A, primarily. Goodness me is BLIMEY from which the B for British is “disregarded”
21 In intelligence matters, not reaching Q? (2,3)
UP TOP, the definition closely mirroring Chambers “in the head, in respect of intelligence”. Not reaching Q is UP TO P, of course.
23 Leaves factory’s daily grind (5,4)
PAPER MILL I have visited Glen Mills PA, site of the paper mills that “supplied the United States government with a special, patented paper for the printing of government bonds and notes”. Nothing much remains of this once-significant site but a few broken walls and a plaque. Here we have a charade of daily (news)PAPER and grind: MILL (as in pepper)
25 Special forces, mostly veteran, supplying fairweather protection (7)
PARASOL The special forces are PARAS, and most of veteran is OL(d)
26 Major venue, part of summer activity in the West End (7)
AUGUSTA Home of The Masters golf tournament, one of the four “majors”. Part of summer is AUGUST, and the rest of the clue is a convoluted way of indicating A, on the west end of Activity.
27 Reflecting ruby, ultimately linked with pearls (4)
DEWY Reverse (reflecting) of the last letter (ultimately) of ruby plus WED for linked. That leaves the definition as “with pearls”. I have found an image of a “dewy cobweb with pearls from raindrops”. Will that do?
28 Like piper getting a note right: another is flat (4-1-5)
PIED-A-TERRE A rather famous piper was PIED, add A note: TE, R(ight) and another note RE

Down
1 Is solicitor’s power something 25 deflects? (5)
PRAYS P(ower) plus RAYS which would be deflected by 25’s PARASOL. This helped me get 25 rather than the other way round
2 Magazine article one reads for hours (9)
TIMEPIECE The magazine is the venerable TIME, and article just PIECE. A rather whimsical definition
3 Versatile soldier and sailor breaking contract (7-7)
GENERAL-PURPOSE Which makes the soldier a GENERAL, the sailor a PO (Petty Officer) and (to) contract PURSE (as lips)
4 German who scored Bayern’s last two clutching fizzy drink (7)
NICOLAI Scorers are often composers hereabouts. Bayern’s last is N, two is (are?) II, and COLA the fizzy drink “clasped”. Contemporary with Verdi, though he died 50 years before the master, he was at one time more popular in Italy than Giuseppe. Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai, three quarters of whose name looks much more German, was most famous for his opera “Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor” based on guess which Shakespeare play.
5 One has matter in hand? Shilling on tax (7)
ABSCESS I think the hand is an AB (seaman) S is from Shilling and tax is CESS, rather an obsolete version. In medical terminology, matter is pus, content of an abscess.
7 Hearing warning of attack, left (5)
AURAL I wasn’t at all sure of AURA as a synonym for warning of attack, but Chambers gives “the peculiar sensations that precede an attack of epilepsy, hysteria, or certain other ailments” so that’s fine. Add L(eft)
8 Flight of Greek girl affected Troy (9)
GRADATORY The wordplay is GR(eek) ADA (random girl) and affected/anagram TROY the rest. Collins gives what Chambers doesn’t, the noun as a flight of stairs
9 Outstanding leader deserting Labour: one to sink the Tories (1,3,2,3,5)
A BIT OF ALL RIGHT Respaced, it’s leaderless LAB I (one) TO FALL (sink) RIGHT  (the Tories). I’ll leave you to work out who the outstanding Labour leader capable of trouncing the Conservatives might be. I could not possibly comment.
14 I got in three tangos and Rose pranced (9)
TITTUPPED Other spellings are available, but the sort of prancing that horses in particular do. I is (am?) inserted into TTT (three NATOs), and rose (ignore the capital) represents UPPED: “he upped/rose and went.”
16 Official party had launched 2001 Oscars (9)
COMMISSAR “Launch” MMI (2001 in Latin) with OSCARS
18 Rock fragments thrown from stage indisposed one (7)
LAPILLI Bits of rock chucked out of volcanoes, apparently. Trust the wordplay, stage is LAP, indisposed ILL and yet another I one.
19 The world of the busy composer (7)
COPLAND Old hands will know a busy is a police officer (19th century slang) so the world of the busy is COPLAND. Aaron (Fanfare for the Common Man) is the American composer.
22 Rattle, blanket or sling (5)
THROW A triple definition, a throw being a blanket designed to cover a piece of furniture.
24 Let out of jail, finally relax (5)
LEASE That sort of let out. Last letter (finally) of jaiL plus relax: EASE

Comments

( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
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horryd
Sep. 12th, 2019 03:17 am (UTC)
SUBAREA RANT!
All was well until a strong nor'easterly blew me away.

My downfall was 8dn where I opted for MIGRATORY - MIA (girl) 'around' GR (Greek) + TORY
= something to do with flight! GRADATORY is new to me and I shall endeavour never to use it. Initially I was hoping for a STAIRCASE!

Thus 6ac GANG was not on and neither 11ac SUBAREA (with hyphen surely!?) 7dn appeared to be TRIAL..... so DNF!

FOI 28ac PIED-A-TERRE

COD 1ac PATAGONIAN

WOD 19dn LAPILLI

Some awkward setting hereabouts, but that may just be trauben-saur.



Edited at 2019-09-12 03:18 am (UTC)
z8b8d8k
Sep. 12th, 2019 07:40 am (UTC)
Re: SUBAREA RANT!
You can find SUB-AREA if you look long enough, but the usual sources all have it without the hyphen and don't subscribe to the (possibly better-looking) alternative.
jackkt
Sep. 12th, 2019 05:42 am (UTC)
I think the definition of ABSCESS is 'one has matter in' and I'm wondering if COMMISSAR is 'official party'.

Large = LG was new to me. I didn't get the 'major' reference re AUGUSTA but the answer fitted and I bunged it in hoping for the best. Didn't understand WED in DEWY and wasn't 100% confident of 'with pearls' as the definition. T-CELL was news to me as was TILDA but I assumed it is a diminutive of Matilda. Was delighted to find that TITTUPPED, arrived at from wordplay, is a real word!

One error, the unknown GRADATORY. I went for AVA as the random girl.

Edited at 2019-09-12 05:51 am (UTC)
z8b8d8k
Sep. 12th, 2019 07:25 am (UTC)
I think you're right about ABSCESS, otherwise the "in" is redundant, and I think you're nearly right about COMMISSAR, except on reflection I think the definition is "official party had": I didn't look up the definition, and Chambers goes on at length about Commissars being specifically "in the former USSR" Communist party officials. I'll amend accordingly - thanks
COMMISSAR - jackkt - Sep. 12th, 2019 08:33 am (UTC) - Expand
gothick_matt
Sep. 12th, 2019 06:59 am (UTC)
Gosh. About an hour, and I'm glad I got everything right, because I really wasn't sure about several of them. NHO LAPILLI, either of the composers, a gradatory or even a hint of a tittup. Also had no clue about the golfing connection at 26. On the whole, my lack of GK made things more enjoyable, but I'm not sure I'd be feeling the same way if I'd got a single letter wrong...

Thanks for the parsings and clarification of obscurities, Z. PS: You've got a typo in the answer at 18d.
z8b8d8k
Sep. 12th, 2019 07:26 am (UTC)
LAPILLI - thanks, fixed
sotira
Sep. 12th, 2019 07:06 am (UTC)
24:58 … and I have no idea if I enjoyed that. It was certainly a challenge.

Last in GRADATORY, which somehow felt plausible for a staircase. Web searching suggests it’s a churchy word, as in this description of an Eastern Orthodox church in Hrdona: “The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear.”

Thanks, Z8, for the urbane intro and the untangling of all the tentacles, and the setter for an unusual puzzle
sawbill
Sep. 12th, 2019 07:24 am (UTC)
DNF in 30 minutes
ABSCESS and AURAL eluded me. Hard work throughout so not one to enjoy rather to suffer with the exception of the furniture business.
dorsetjimbo
Sep. 12th, 2019 07:41 am (UTC)
Very hard work with a lot of looking up references to check spellings and meanings, including GRADATORY which I've not come across before.

Excellent blog z8 - thank you.
myrtilus000
Sep. 12th, 2019 07:47 am (UTC)
And Aural that's best of dark and bright...
35 mins. Phew, that was tough but satisfying.
Mostly I liked pied-a-Terre and superglue.
Thanks clever-clever setter and great blog Z.
tringmardo
Sep. 12th, 2019 08:16 am (UTC)
Pretty hard stuff today and I too fell into the gravatory trap. Also spent ages trying to justify 'subzone' for 11ac as it had 'Oz' reversed in the middle. Oh well. About 45m with that one letter error.
boltonwanderer
Sep. 12th, 2019 08:29 am (UTC)
My Autumn Almanac
My comeuppance after a good run. DNF in 55 minutes, missing ABSCESS and SUBAREA. I'd already made too many constructions or outright guesses, which surprisingly all did turn out to be right but which I thought were bound to be wrong, including NICOLAI, T-CELL, DEWY, LAPILLI, to feel up to spending any longer. I'll blame my poor rheumatic back. I did like UP TOP so I'll make that COD. Thank you Z and setter.
robrolfe
Sep. 12th, 2019 09:40 am (UTC)
39' but without DEWY, opted for DAWN which was wrong.

Tough today, lots of unknown words: TITTUPPED (just rejected by spellchecker), GRADATORY (ditto), LAPILLI.

Liked AUGUSTA, UP TOP, A BIT OF ALL RIGHT.

Thanks z and setter.
keriothe
Sep. 12th, 2019 09:40 am (UTC)
17:25. I like puzzles that are challenging without resort to silly obscurities. I didn’t like this one, even before discovering that I had failed in today’s game of ‘guess the obscure word with ambiguous wordplay’.

Edited at 2019-09-12 09:42 am (UTC)
harmonic_row
Sep. 12th, 2019 10:35 am (UTC)
8 dn is quite simply an unfair clue. If you don't know the obscure GRADATORY you have to flip a coin for AVA/ADA. 41 mins. Thanks z.
joekobi
Sep. 12th, 2019 10:53 am (UTC)
You don't have to flip a coin. You have to have a word-sense of grav- as opposed to grad-, the former more likely to suggest heaviness as opposed to steps/stages which go better with flight.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 12th, 2019 11:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - harmonic_row - Sep. 12th, 2019 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gothick_matt - Sep. 12th, 2019 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - DavidJBodycombe - Sep. 12th, 2019 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
john_dun
Sep. 12th, 2019 10:52 am (UTC)
Phew, another hour plus I'll never get back! Felt like a struggle all the way through, except as Z says, for 1a. 27a held out for ages even with the crossers until I linked pearls with tears and saw DEWY eyed. The NE was my final sticking point, with the unknown GRADATORY postulated, which led to GANG, confirming the G, and GANG indicating the suspected AURAL, which went in with fingers crossed. GRADATORY seemed to indicate something rising so in it went. Didn't see the parsing for IPSO FACTO, but biffed it from checkers and definition. Very good now it's pointed out! This puzzle seemed so off the wall that I briefly biffed ZONETTE at 11a, but of course it wouldn't parse so was reluctantly removed. Knew the Major course and managed the mental calisthenics to derive the A. Was astonished to find that the assembled TITTUPPED was actually correct. A bit of a grind at 71:11. Thanks setter(I think) and Z.
oliviarhinebeck
Sep. 12th, 2019 11:04 am (UTC)
Very glad I wasn't blogging this - thanks Z. I think practice with the TLS was some help here. There's a TILDA in Nicholas Nickleby and Browning suggested DEWY from the dew-pearled hillside in "God's in his heaven, All's right with the world". Rather convoluted clue that. 25.07
philjordan
Sep. 12th, 2019 11:34 am (UTC)
An absolute nightmare
I still had a blank grid 5 minutes in, and my true FOI was actually the "illi" of 18D.

NHO T-CELL, NICOLAI, LAPILLI, GRADATORY, the sense of "aura", or the use of "lg" to indicate large.

Didn't help myself by biffing "hoi polloi" since it was Greek to me (like most of the puzzle) so could be something to do with Plato, of whom I know little.

I thought TILDA was simply awful - it would have been FOI if I'd not been so convinced that it couldn't possibly be right, even though I knew Ms.Swinton.

Thanks to Z for parsing no less than eleven clues that I didn't really understand. It was an act of faith to keep going past my 20 minute target, but I eventually battered the beast into submission. I think I deserve a beer !

FOI (in full) PIED-A-TERRE
LOI AURAL
COD IPSO FACTO (I cracked a smile)
TIME 34:39
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