Toughie No 1357 by Excalibur
The Sword in the Stone and the Stick in the Mud
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BD Rating - Difficulty **** - Enjoyment ****
The more I get into crosswords, the more I realise what a fusspot I can be about strict cluing (at least as I see it). Why, then, do I make an exception for Excalibur? I found this puzzle unnerving and downright unfair in parts, often struggled to see the obvious as a result, and enjoyed every minute of it!
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1a Out when one takes in skirt for alteration (2,6)
ON STRIKE ONE from the clue around (takes in) an anagram (for alteration) of SKIRT.
5a Jokey word for 'discipline'? (6)
PUNISH A verb meaning discipline or chastise looks (or at least sounds) like it could be an adjective meaning jokey or involving a play on words.
9a Find he is bound over (8)
FINISHED An anagram (bound) of FIND HE IS. (Is 'bound' a fair anagram indicator?)
10a Shut up or having been banished, for having a gun (6)
FASTEN FOR from the clue after OR is deleted (having been banished), then A from the clue and a mass-produced British WWII submachine gun.
12a Expurgated version of 'Hit the Jackpot' (7,2)
CLEANED UP A phrase meaning expurgated or edited to be free of offensive material is also a synonym (version) of having hit the jackpot or scooped all the winnings.
13a Covering hot period, it measures heat (5)
THERM A period (in school or prison, say) around (covering) H(ot).
14a Shouted 'Evacuate out from building!' (4)
SHED Remove (evacuate) OUT from SHOUTED.
16a Jumps when rider turns and gives signal (7)
SPRINGS A rider or caveat (traditionally at the end of a letter) in reverse (turns) and followed by a word meaning gives a signal or sounds a bell.
19a Succeed in getting their dithering straightened out (7)
INHERIT A word meaning succeed (to) is given by... IN from clue plus an anagram of THEIR? An anagram of the inner letters of (d)ITHERIN(g)? IN plus an anagram of (s)TR(a)I(g)H(t)EN(ed), where the extraneous letters are just random noise (dithering)? No time to dwell so I'll have to come back to this!
21a Audibly lamented superciliousness (4)
SIDE A homophone (audibly) of lamented, as in: '"I can't make head or tail of 19a," Toro lamented.'
24a Excuse ('Little time') that's tailor-made (5)
PLEAT An excuse or claim in mitigation plus the abbreviation (little) of T(ime).
25a Cuckoo in a cage (4-5)
STIR-CRAZY Nice cryptic definition of the state of mind that afflicts prisoners or others cooped up in one place for a long time.
27a On taking good look round, prepared to absorb (6)
SPONGY ON from the clue plus G(ood), with a verb meaning look or secretly observe on the outside (round).
28a Crass, ranting ludicrously about nothing (8)
IGNORANT An anagram (ludicrously) of RANTING around the symbol for zero or nothing.
29a Mean, having got home, to put back key (6)
DENOTE A home or animal lair, TO from the clue reversed (put back), and a musical note or key.
30a Outside court, ring newly freed subject of court martial? (8)
DEFECTOR ...as a deserter (a word which also fits and is arguably closer to the definition). The abbreviation for court in a street address plus the ring-shaped letter, with an anagram (newly) of FREED on the outside.
1d Rotten being on the rocks, getting job (6)
OFFICE A word for rotten (or starting to get that way) above a slang word equivalent to rocks (referring to something precious).
2d Split second to meet below (6)
SUNDER S(econd) plus a synonym for below or beneath.
3d Hardliners, half crazed, revolted (5)
RISEN ...as in rebelled. One half (you decide which) of HARDL|INERS anagrammed (crazed).
4d Having made bloomer, perhaps, required to speak out (7)
KNEADED A homophone (to speak out) of a word meaning required. Think bloomer loaf. (Definition seems a bit imprecise).
6d Later streaks in nude, tipsy as always (9)
UNALTERED An anagram (streaks) of LATER inside an anagram (tipsy) of NUDE. (Thoughts on 'streaks'?)
7d Finally, then, I will readjust, taking aim (2,3,3)
IN THE END An anagram (will readjust) of THEN I, and a word for aim or objective.
8d Like a tail-ender, devil take it! (8)
HINDMOST An adjective meaning at the very rear, as in the phrase "Every man for himself and the Devil take the ________".
11d Work up parts so uplifting (4)
OPUS UP goes inside (parts) SO, all reversed (uplifting).
15d In short supply, which is almost beyond comprehension (4,2,3)
HARD TO GET A phrase literally meaning in short supply (although as a set phrase it really means feigning unresponsiveness) also means difficult to get one's head round.
17d Willing, given medicine, to swallow odd sip (8)
DISPOSED A word meaning given a measure of medicine around (to swallow) an anagram (odd) of SIP.
18d It encourages stubborn mule to go on (8)
SHOEHORN Cryptic definition that requires knowing that a mule is an item of footwear -- though being an open-backed slipper it would never require one of these!
20d As far as 'Wrap up garbage' (4)
TOSH A preposition meaning as far as plus an expression meaning wrap up or be quiet.
21d One needs an H in 'hairdo' (7)
SHINGLE A synonym for one around (needs) an H.
22d He displays erudition -- a front when finding way around (6)
SAVANT The A from the clue plus a word for the front part of an advancing army, with an abbreviation for a type of road or way on the outside (around).
23d Silly story about egghead and aphrodisiac? (6)
OYSTER An anagram (silly) of STORY around the first letter (head) of E(gg).
26d Finish unfinished cupboard (5)
CLOSE A small room, like a broom cupboard, minus its last letter (unfinished).
Phew, done! Now then, time to take a longer look at 19a...
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