April 3rd, 2015

Saturday Times 26058 (March 28)

At 26.37 this took me a bit longer than last week's, for no obvious reason.  Some good misdirection, perhaps aimed at fooling the more experienced solvers into thinking they're looking for the usual crossword cliches.  One clue - 2d - I haven't completely fathomed.  There may just be less there than meets the eye.  Nothing flashy or memorable here but a good solid representation of the setter's craft.  Those who take part in the Christmas Turkey know how difficult this is.  As Vinyl and NY Kevin can attest, "the hounds of spring are on winter's traces" in NY - finally.  Some brave bulbs are poking their heads up in the beds surrounding the street trees and there's the faintest frosting of green on the sycamores in the park down the block.  What a god-awful winter, thank heavens for crosswords.

Across
After circulating papers, sound preoccupied (8)
DISTRAIT - Papers=ID reversed plus sound (as in Nantucket Sound)=STRAIT.  Some pronounce it a la Francaise as if it were spelled "distray".
Extremely minute number dropping ecstasy (6)
MIGHTY - M=minute (as in minnit not mynewt) plus [e]IGHTY.  Tricky.
Account for where something used to be (10)
EXPOSITION - Double Definition.  EX=used-to-be and POSITION.
Complains unofficially about limiting responsibility (4)
ONUS - Hidden in [complain]S UNO[ficially], reversed (about).
10  No quarrels recollected with dead officer (8,6)
SQUADRON LEADER - Anagram of NO QUARRELS  and DEAD.
11  Smallest and narrowest central US state - one annoying person describes (7)
POKIEST - OK (Oklahoma) plus 1 surrounding by PEST.
13  Cops making visits  (5,2)
COMES BY - Double definition.  COPS as in gets or takes.
15  Time in which uniform's no good for nurse (7)
HARBOUR -  HOUR=time surrounding [g]ARB=uniform.  As in nursing a grudge.  Another tricky one.
18  Funny man's name withheld from criminal (7)
GAGSTER - Remove the N (name) from GANGSTER.
21  Supporter pursuing claim in expert fashion (14)
PROFESSIONALLY - Claim=PROFESSION with ALLY=supporter.
22  One brief moment - almost rejected republic (4)
FIJI - 1 JIF[fy] reversed (rejected).  Took me a while to nail which 4-letter republic it could be (Iran, Iraq, Eire etc).
23  Headline: "Drug given backing by policemen" (3,3,4)
TOP THE BILL - The other kind of headline - the verb.  POT=drug reversed with THE BILL=policemen.  I was slow to cop this one.
24 Facing archdeacon, fellow appears powerless (6)
VENEER - VEN (as in venerable which seems to be the way an archeacon is supposed to be addressed or referred to) and [p]EER=fellow, as in a jury of one's peers.  The only archdeacon I know is in Trollope.
25  Turn, heading for exit, during boring comedy (8)
DROLLERY - This took some doing too.  ROLL=turn plus E[xit] contained in DRY=boring.  I think we had "droll" meaning "bizarre" just recently.

Down
Coercion, you, say, escaped from with revolting disguise (5,2)
DRESS UP - D[u]RESS=coercion minus the U (you) and UP=in revolt.
Dupes flier we hear looking for bugs (9)
SAPSUCKER - Two dupes, a SAP and a SUCKER giving us the bird (flier).  It's a kind of North American woodpecker apparently that taps into trees and feeds on the sap (maple syrup anyone?) and insects there.  I don't see a homophone so not sure where "we hear" comes in unless it's something to do with "flier" vs "flyer".  Or it may be redundant....
Remains on team holding United in second half (7)
RESIDUE - RE=on plus SIDE=team containing U.
Elected left-winger welcomes one piece of church music (7)
INTROIT - We've had this quite recently.  IN=elected.  TROT=leftie containing 1.
State of the old lady full of tensionafter breakdown (9)
MINNESOTA - MA=old lady (oh dear) holding an anagram of TENSION.
Northern chap say will turn on soldiers before long (7)
GEORDIE - Chap from Newcastle or thereabouts.  GE=say reversed OR=soldiers (other ranks) and DIE=long (for).
In never-ending race feel sorry for part of body (4,3)
TRUE RIB - RUE=feel sorry for contained in TRIB[e]=race.  "True" because it's one of the pairs attached to the sternum.
12  Resentful about sweet found in bits in hat (9)
SOU'WESTER - Anagram of SWEET contained in SOUR=resentful.  The non indication of the apostrophe was no problem here, but sometimes it can be very confusing when it's a French term (coup d'etat) or an Irish playwright, and is clued as a single unbroken word (which it always seems to be or it would probably be too easy).
14  Subordinate position receives a command (9)
SATELLITE - SITE=position contains A TELL (a command).
16  Inform judge, ignoring second of answers (7)
APPRISE - APPR[a]ISE dropping the second A (answer).
17 Platitude from bishop, I had seen visiting capital (6)
BROMIDE - B=bishop plus I'D (I had) inside ROME (capital).
18  Cheat in America runs into present queen (7)
GRIFTER - US con artist.  R[uns] in GIFT=present with ER=queen.  Dovetails with the nameless gangster in 18a.
19  Terribly polite word on The Weald, oddly enough (7)
GENTEEL - GEN=word (info) plus T[h]E [w]E[a]L[d].  Nothing to do with a famous feature of the S.E. counties.
20  Two boys getting extremely timely payment (7)
ROYALTY - The lads ROY and AL getting together with T[imel]Y.  Do the setters receive these for their work or is it all the property of their employer?