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Times Quick Cryptic No 1533 by Felix

Well, there is plenty of meat on the bones of this fine offering from Felix, where he has made good use of an unusual grid to tax us this morning.  My time was close on 20 minutes to complete this puzzle, although, unusually for me, some of the parsing and craft of the setter needed the time spent in writing the blog to be fully appreciated.

It seemed to take an age to get a meaningful foothold, with odd isolated answers being entered all over the grid before they started to link up and reveal further secrets as I solved.  I also noted a plethora of letters I and V around the grid (21% and 6% of squares to be filled respectively, versus 7% and 1% expected in random written English).

FOI was IDIOT, LOI was VISION, COD for me is 16a for the unwanted image of small boys being punished (#METOO), and WOD is REFLEXIVE.  Thanks Felix, and good luck to the rest of you!

Across

1  Fool on street is landing (9)
STAIRHEAD – ST (street) and AIRHEAD (fool).  Nice to see that the chestnut of using ‘flight’ to clue STAIR has been avoided.
Simpleton’s one point taking one in (5)
IDIOT – I (one) DOT (point) containing (taking in) I (one, again).
8 A Conservative I defied verbally’s become sour (9)
ACIDIFIED – A (a) C{onservative) and I (I), finishing with DIFIED (sounds like defied, verbally).  To acidify is to become acidic or sour.
9 What’s hard and highly valued about the jumbo? (5)
IVORY – Cryptic definition with misdirection, pointing the solver towards the aeroplane.
10  Brave Pole’s broadcast that can be shown (9)
PROVEABLE – Anagram (broadcast) of [BRAVE POLE].  Often spelled without the first E in my experience.
12  National Insurance in tax year is something worthless (6)
VANITY – N{ational} I{nsurance} inside VAT (tax – Value Added Tax) and followed by Y{ear}.  I was initially unsure why VANITY is considered worthless - my vanity licence plate certainly has a value associated with it.  The nearest I can find is oblique references to an alternative definition of vanity as meaning worthless, but this isn’t in my Chambers under vanity (it does appear as an alternative definition for vain), although I did find it in an old Penguin Dictionary on my shelf.
13  Image of German holding most of 6 down (6)
VISION – The answer to 6 down is ISIS, and most of this is ISI.  Put this inside VON (holding) and one gets VISION.  VON is a common term in German language surnames, meaning ‘from’ or ‘of’, or less commonly, indicating a noble patrilineality.
16  Unfairly punish small boys: one’s contrite, finally (9)
VICTIMISE – VIC and TIM are shortened names for (small) boys, followed by IS (one’s) and {contrite}E (finally = last letter).
19  Once in the middle of kiss, hugged by imbecile (5)
TWIXT – TWIT (imbecile) containing (hugging) X (kiss).  ‘TWIXT is an abbreviation for BETWIXT, an archaic preposition and adverb meaning ‘between’, therefore the ‘once’ in the definition – it used to mean in the middle of.
20  Referring back to subject of Felix, ever cryptic! (9)
REFLEXIVE – Cleverly signalled anagram (cryptic) of [FELIX EVER].  REFLEXIVE is a grammatical term indicating that the action turns back upon the subject, as in ‘he shot himself!’.  OK – I’m expecting someone to quibble with this example!
22  Cancelling hair removal treatment after losing weight (5)
AXING – {w}AXING (losing W{eight}).
23  An unknown obligation’s around that is causing concerns (9)
ANXIETIES – AN (an) X (unknown, as in algebra) with TIE’S (obligation’s) and IE (that is) between them (around).

Down

Don’t split up tasty fragments! (4,3)
STAY PUT – Anagram (fragments) of [UP TASTY] after one has lifted and separated split and up.
2  Stasi moved to hold famous author (6)
ASIMOV – Hidden (to hold) inside {st}ASI MOV{ed}.
Lift light beams that can be picked up (5)
RAISE – Homophone clue (that can be picked up, or heard).  Sounds like rays.
Old priest the Spanish idolised originally (3)
ELI – EL (the in Spanish) and I{dolised} (originally).  It has been said many times before – ELI is worth remembering as the most common priest in Crosswordland.
Resentment once of failure, gone bad (7)
DUDGEON – DUD (failure) and an anagram (bad) of [GONE].  I wondered if the ‘once’ was an indicator that the word DUDGEON was considered archaic, but that isn’t supported by Chambers, so I assume it is just considered a bit old-fashioned.
Goddess: I’m Swiss, oddly (4)
ISIS – Alternate letters (oddly) of I{‘m} S{w}I{s}S.
Like sports drink, one drunk on ice, briefly (8)
ISOTONIC – I (one) SOT (drunk) ON (on) and IC{e} (briefly – drop the last letter).  To be ISOTONIC as a drink is to contain the same concentration of salts and minerals as the human body.
11  Bird is flying around in Italian port (8)
BRINDISI – Anagram (flying) of [BIRD IS] containing (around) IN (in).
12  Oral examination initially routine in all animal enclosures (7)
VIVARIA – VIVA (oral examination) and first letters of (initially) R{outine} I{n} A{ll}.  A VIVARIUM (singular) is an artificial enclosure for keeping living animals.
14  Refreshing drinks cat, I see, has upset (3,4)
ICE TEAS – Anagram (has upset) of [CAT, I SEE].  One of today’s easier clues for a concoction that I personally consider to be an abomination, but that is just my opinion.
15  Black ones containing family’s swimwear (6)
BIKINI – B{lack} and II (ones) containing KIN (family).  Another easier one if you aren’t distracted by a bikini being labelled as swimwear (most are anything but), although I have absolutely no objection to any of them.
17  Passion displayed by north eastern girl (5)
IRENE – IRE (passion) and N{orth} E{astern}.  Three easy ones in a row – was Felix running out of steam?
18  Lass finally catching game, unaccompanied male (4)
STAG – {las}S (finally) and TAG (catching game)
21  Message that’s loud a mark of error (3)
FAX – F (loud, musical notation) A (a) and X (mark of error, as in a cross).
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