Times 23529/Fear and loathing

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 45’

Maybe it was my mood or maybe the setter’s, but there seemed to be a lot of anxiety and worry in this puzzle: engineers feeling uncertain in a nation gripped by fear, their dogs getting spayed, being squeezed by the rent, entering dangerous territory, not being welcome abroad, meeting heartless sailors with miserable records and, to top it off, getting just beaten by a SHORTHEAD.

Some clever puns and as per usual one or two wordplays that I’m a bit shaky about. The bottom held the most challenges for me (15D, 25A, 26A, 27A, 16D).


3 WAT,CH,TOWER=(wrote)* – I suppose if Che’s always our revolutionary why shouldn’t WAT Tyler be our rebel? I was held up for a bit since “Church leaders” seemed redundant for CH (I’m conditioned to substitute CH or CE for Church anyway) but it’s perfectly accurate.
11 SNIP,PET – clever double/cryptic def. I tried to fit some variant of spay in at first.
12 RING, FENCE – Excellent clue! Was hard to separate “telephone receiver” into verb/object with “receiver” taking on its underworld meaning.
13 L,A.T.,IN
14 TAG WRESTLING – (girls want, get)*
18 REN(OUNCE,MEN)T – Worth noting that “to” indicates “beside” in “little weight to people”.
21 ROUST – hidden in: “dangeROUS Territory”.
22 THE,O(RISE)R – nice clue: RISE is “increase of value” not just “increase”.
25 FOR,MO,S.A. – Former name of Taiwan. Note how X “backed” Y means X comes after Y.
26 DESC(END)ANT – This was a really tough clue for me: I spent a lot of time thinking the def was “talk at length” but it turns out that DESCANT also means that (see Chambers). Also, separating “close” from “member” was hard. Ultimately I think this is a good clue with a subtle definition.
27 ENOS – I know he’s Seth’s son but… I’m sure someone will tell me what the wordplay is: “Seth’s lad is not welcome in union abroad”. Mr Magoo notes below that it’s ENOS[is] where enosis is the Greek Cypriot hope for union with Greece


1 TART,RATE – I smiled when I worked this out from the wordplay.
4 A,NT,ON – My first clue. Chekhov’s first name – nice to see the New Testament clued as “a series of books”.
5 CAS(TELL)A,N – worked out from assuming that a “Spaniard’s place” is CASA rather than hacienda which was my first guess at a cold solve.
6 T(RIA,L AND) ERROR – TERROR contains rev(air=wind) and LAND for “nation”. Not a bad clue which I needed some TRIAL AND ERROR myself to solve.
7 W(A,PIT)I – a kind of large deer I think.
8 RATING – It’s a “sailor” but I could do with some help on the wordplay: “Sailor with no heart for hunting with dogs, perhaps”. Mr Magoo hazards RAT[t]ING which I wonder about since are rats really hunted by dogs?
10 UNFORGETTABLE – My second clue: for me a very thinly masked cryptic def of the Nat King Cole song.
15 SHORT HEAD – My last clue: (Had horse, t)* with “beaten” as the anagrind. I found this tough: I kept looking for something to do with a nose or a neck. I guess being beaten by a SHORTHEAD means being beaten by a nose.
16 SETS DOWN – great clue: “records” shifts from a noun to a verb and when your SET’S DOWN they’re “miserable”.
17 STAR, WA(R)S=rev(saw) – I think the first one released was actually called just STAR WARS (which I’m probably the last person on the planet not to have seen). Only some actors are STARs so I think a question-mark would have been in order.

7 comments on “Times 23529/Fear and loathing”

  1. Good analysis. I found the SE corner very hard.

    The two wordplays you are looking for are 27 ENOS(is), which took me several minutes after my time of 7m01s to figure out (I was quite surprised at myself for being confident about the biblical name), and 8 RAT(t)ING.

  2. 9:08 here – stumbled over some of the “easy” top half before sorting out the SE corner – got Enos from enosis.

    8: Magoo is dead right about ratting – terriers were bred for catching and killing burrowing animals, and were later used for catching and killing rats.

    15: Yes, a short head on a British racecourse is the same as a nose on an American one.

  3. Just to marvel once again at the sheer breadth of vocab of you sub 10 minute guys. I didn’t know any of the following before today: CASTELLAN = governor, REDOUBT = temporary defence work, ENOS = Seth’s son, ENOSIS = Greek Cypriot hope for unity with Greece, WAPITI = elk. But as a gambling man, SHORT HEAD was the first answer I put in! Thanks to all for their work on this blog. Peter F
    1. You’re very kind, but you should be marvelling at something else – the skill of the setter in writing clues that read so well. Looking back, this is a very good set. Only the clue for BADINAGE felt like repetition of familiar stuff, and except for ENOSIS and possibly CASTELLAN, the difficult words could be worked out from the clue and checking letters.
  4. I found this far easier than Tuesday’s normal offering, filling three-quarters of the grid in 20 minutes (that is quick for me), but the last handful of clues slowed me up a lot so in the end my time was 35 minutes. I didn’t understand the clue for ENOS and initially thought the entry was UN_S, with US being the “union abroad”, but then I dredged ENOSH from the recesses of my mind and recalled the alternative ENOS.
    I thought 3 across was a very nice clue, with the definition blending very nicely with the wordplay in the surface reading.
  5. My first clean sweep of the year (solving each clue at its first reading) – not terribly fast (6:35), but very satisfying. I’d only vaguely heard of ENOS, but knew ENOSIS, and luckily this was the last clue I tackled so I had both crossing letters. (Actually, I see now that I was faster than both Magoo and Peter B, so that makes it even more satisfying, particularly after another lousy day with RTC.)

  6. Most enjoyable and quite a challenge. Having been to Cyprus a few times I was aware of ENOSIS but had never heard of ENOS before – Seth being the creator of Family Guy in my world. Are the Cypriots so keen to join mainland Greece these days after the recent financial situation?

    Anyway – the “easies”:

    1a Train and boat, heading for Europe (4)
    TUB E

    9a Engineers feel uncertain about temporary defence work (7)

    24a Worth quoting it in message (7)

    2d Playful banter inappropriate during one’s twilight years (8)

    19d Favoured group of people within Greenland’s borders (6)
    G RACE D

    20d Usurping groups needing a month and a day to set up (6)

    23d Small mischievous (felin)*e playing endlessly (5)
    ELFIN. The small mischievous bit is not so easy to conjour up these days if you are a Lord of the Rings fan. Elrond, Legolas, Arwen & Galadriel just don’t seem to fit that description.

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