Monthly Club Special 20,254: Pika Boo

Sometimes the agenda of an MCS is to throw as many truly absurd-looking words at us as possible – “THAT’S in the dictionary somewhere? REALLY?” but the order of the month this time was really intricate and challenging wordplay. Even correctly untangling these in the post-solve blog took a while. Thank you so much to the setter for a cryptic gift that kept on giving.

In the pre-parse solve I made a big rod for my back by inventing COKY for 23ac. WOD might be “skinker” as I really want to use that on the staff the next time I’m in the pub, but COD has got to be to 19dn for sheer groanworthiness. Runner-up prize to 14dn for attempting to construct a KEYHOLE SAW out of COLESLAW, an Ig Nobel worthy endeavour if ever I saw one!

Definitions underlined, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Local outside has left hosts well-informed about burrowing mammals (8)
OCHOTONA – {l}OCA{l} [local, its “outside” having left] “hosts” HOT ON [well-informed about]. Ochotona turn out to be the same thing as “pika” and much cuter than they at first sounded.
5 Minor fiction genre, mostly recalled term at Nanterre for Oxonian? (6)
ROSBIF – FIB SOR{t} [minor fiction | genre, “mostly”] reversed. A French person might call an English person this mildly derogatory term, seems like an elaborate way of putting that though…
9 Grade for one barely warmed up (3)
LEW – Sir Lew Grade was a British entertainment impresario. The word also means something like lukewarm.
10 A set right out of eg Oliver Twist in New York making appearance in such as It’s A Wonderful Life? (11)
ANGELOPHANY – A + GEL [set] O{r}PHAN [eg Oliver Twist, with R(ight) removed] inside N.Y. It’s A Wonderful Life obviously features Clarence Odbody, the angel.
12 Leaves arrangement of pub chain in the main, after retiring: ten acquired by Yankees (10)
PHYLLOTAXY – P(ublic) H(ouse) + reversed ATOLL [chain in the main] X [ten] “acquired” by Y(ankee) Y(ankee)
13 Indian’s one to beat: keep cycling? (4)
DHOL – “cycle” HOLD [keep] to find this double-sided Indian barrel drum.
15 Empty casino with gym needed by a climber in the tropics (6)
COWPEA – C{asin}O W(ith) P.E. + A
16 Duck to release, with one taking turn to catch bird (4-3)
OVEN-TIT – O [duck] + VENT [to release] + IT [one taking turn to catch, in the children’s game]
18 One dropping bottles close to work old drinks dispenser (7)
SKINKER – SINKER [one dropping] “bottles” {wor}K. An excellent former name for a bartender
20 Scene on which to direct one acting up in East London? (6)
SCHELM – SC(ene), on which HELM. A word for a rascal in South Africa, where one will find the city of East London
23 Reserved a thousand blocks — gross appearing (4)
ICKY – K [a thousand] “blocking” ICY [reserved]
24 Husband being with wife’s family’s universal sort of logic: “I like a healthy diet?” (10)
UXORILOCAL – U XOR I LO-CAL [universal | sort of logic | I | like a healthy diet]
26 Expert diners grasp host so roughly (11)
27 Dun horse? (3)
NAG – double def
28 Stand guarding singer originally in One Direction, in Dollar? (6)
EASSEL – EASEL “guarding” S{inger}. This means “eastwards” in Scots and Dollar is of course a place in Clackmannanshire.
29 Measure for travellers that was considerably smarter (8)
WAYWISER – or WAY WISER. A (very) primitive version of a Fitbit
1 Hold covers with both hands — it was careless to grasp that (6)
ORLOPS – R(ight) and L(eft) “grasped” by OOPS!
2 Pickle welcome at party (5-2)
HOWDY-DO – HOWDY at DO. Well this is a fine howdy-do
3 The first course? Fish, to serve once (5,1,4)
TRAIL A PIKE – TRAIL ‘A’ [the first course] + PIKE. To serve as a soldier. Though all the cool youngsters in the Sealed Knot joined the musketeers instead
4 Old women at summit maybe to get in a buggy: the other one runs up (13)
NEGOTIATRIXES – (TO GET IN A*) + SEX [the other] I R(uns) reversed
6 Old fellow in SA oddly missing for US play (4)
OUPA – {f}O{r} U{s} P{l}A{y}
7 Pup taken from counter, missing a long time (7)
8 Unknown boxer punching what must be something naturally containing iron (8)
FAYALITE – Y ALI “punching” FATE
11 Princeton’s lax when reforming rules handed down? (3,3,7)
14 Tool for cutting vital with hot, not cold, salad getting left out (7,3)
KEYHOLE SAW – KEY [vital] + H(ot) {c}OLES{l}AW
17 Notices with delight that bases have been removed from French arch (8)
ESPIEGLE – EPIE{s} + GLE{e}, both “bases” removed
19 Unhealthy condition of writing material, one might suppose, for Zulu leaders (7)
INKOSIS – if PSYCHOSIS is an unhealthy condition of the psyche, then clearly INK-OSIS is an unhealthy condition of INK
21 Plant to hang without trying to put down new ones (7)
LYCHNIS – take LYNCH [to hang without trying/trial], move the N(ew) down to the bottom, and add I’S to find these lovely campions
22 Article on a king is sour stuff (6)
ALEGAR – A LEG A R [article | on | a | king]. That “on” meaning a cricket leg eludes me for ages every time
25 Turned up three or four contracts for woodcutter (4)
FROE – hidden reversed in {thre}E OR F{our}. AKA a shake axe or paling knife, so now you know.

3 comments on “Monthly Club Special 20,254: Pika Boo”

  1. Well, I made it through in just over the hour. ROSBIF my last in, that definition being as unnecessarily verbose as it was misleading. And I never did sort out the wordplay.
    Curious that the report on this one gave me a start on the latest one (published a day late?) for which many thanks.

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