Times 23848. Don’t drink and solve

Solving time : 45 minutes, with one break, and a lot of deliberation, and there’s two I’m not 100% on.

Thanks for the emails and comments about my new Listener blog. I’ll be updating it on Fridays, some weeks will be glorious triumph, some utter defeat. Speaking of utter defeat, it may be just me, but I’ve been finding some recent Times puzzles a real slog, and today is no exception. Lame excuse is that it’s well past midnight and I’ve been drinking in a snowstorm that is set to render me a shut-in for the next few days. Here goes nothing…

Across
1 G(E,OR,GET)OWN – a nifty construction to get us going
6 fOr,B,lO,wEr – cute
10 S,ODOR(=American form of “odour”) – may be easier for those who have kids, worked it out from the wordplay. It’s where Thomas is from… Thomas being of the tank engine variety!
11 LARCENIST = L+ARSONIST(homophone)
12 UN,HES,IT,A,TINGLY – long construction, thankfully a pretty straightforward definition (note from the comments, I had left off here that the “A” is from the unit of measure “are”, which is popping up regularly)
17 SHE(RG=King George backwards)AR – a famed winner of the Epsom derby, and a horse that caused me problems in a Listener last year
19 HOT WIRE: (E(=key),OR,WITH)*
20 BUTTERFINGERED: UTTER in B+FINGERED. This took a while
23 OBLIVIOUS: L(=last of all),I in OBVIOUS – also took a while
26 DEATH,KNELL: (KATHLEEN)* in D,L (ends of DEVIL). Another twist on an anagram
 
Down
1 GASH: H,SAG(<=)
2 O(u)R,D(IN)ANCE – another complex construction, nice clue though
3 GARDENING LEAVE: (NEEDING,ALGARVE)*. OK, well it was pretty obvious what needed to be anagrammed here, LEAVE I spotted straight off, GARDENING took until most of the checking letters were in place. It’s the leave you take immediately before getting fired, apparently.
4 T,ALL,INN – capital of Estonia
7 BOING – OK removed from BOOKING. Very cute, got a smile out of this
13 FIR,ST(BL)OOD – many part constructions continue today.
16 DRIVE,HOME – double meaning, and in the snow tonight, it was a bit of stress
18 REFROZE??? – fits the definition, wordplay is eluding me. (addemdum – the power of the blog continues – wordplay is explained in the first comment!)
22 ZEAL – nicely done… blaZing briEfly damAges utiLity

25 comments on “Times 23848. Don’t drink and solve”

  1. In 18D, REF(eree) is the man in the middle, then ROZE is a homophone for ‘rows’. I found this very tough as well, also about 40 mins. I liked 16D a lot and nominate it as COD. BTW, ‘gardening leave’ is enjoyed by those serving a notice period between jobs, where the original employer finds their presence in the office inappropriate.
    1. Thanks for pointing those two out for me, wouldn’t have gotten 18d wordplay that way, nice work, and thanks for a usage on “gardening leave” – I hadn’t heard of it before, and peeked at it in Chambers before starting the blog.
  2. I agree with you about some puzzles being a real slog recently and as with today’s effort I seem to start well and then get bogged down, missing the odd word or two in several corners at a time.

    I was beaten by 10, never having heard of it despite being aware of Thomas the Tank Engine for as long as I can remember, and 18, which caused me a lot of trouble because I had pencilled in REFEREE early on though I couldn’t really justify it. Even with the ‘O’ in place eventually I couldn’t see it.

    Where does the ‘A’ come from in 12?

    Also I’m not totally convinced by the definition in 25 or, in 21, that “moor” = “tie” rather than “tie up”.

    1. In 12, the “a” in the answer comes from “are” unit of area
      In 25, it’s a reference to the saying “two’s company”
      In 21, moor=tie seems ok as it fits the “substitution” rule. Another of those ones that probably wouldn’t do in a Times 2 context, though.
      1. We posted simultaneously so I hadn’t seen your explanation of the a in 12A which I prefer my own. Jimbo.
    2. “Are” meaning a unit of area is one that keeps catching me. I will bear it in mind for a day or two but if it’s a month before it shows up again it will probably beat me.

      I agree moor/tie would be very bad in a Times 2. There is no direct connection between the two words in Chamber or Collins dictionaries, and in Collins thesaurus it’s listed as moor/tie up.

      BOING is my COD but I forgot to mention it above. I also like 19 very much.

      1. I ticked several clues, but at 19 it was, shall we say, a wiggly tick. It’s a very good clue but I couldn’t help but feel “fresh” was a bit of a wasted opportunity given the surface reading. It begged for something along the lines of forged/makeshift/bent etc.
  3. Two throw backs to raising my kids today with Thomas and didn’t Zebadee in The Magic Roundabout go “boing”. 35 minutes to solve. At 12A I think its “ATINGLY” from atingle rather than just tingle (to account for the a). Lots of nice clues. I particularly liked 19A, 23A, 2D, 16D and 22D but my favourite is 6A which is very good. Jimbo.
    1. Jimbo, just to let you know that you were not alone in considering ATINGLY. In fact I had thought it the only possible explanation until a=are was pointed out above.
      1. Thanks Jackkt. I’m annoyed with myself for not spotting the more obvious correct answer but I’m not chastened. The standard of The Times cryptic these days is such that atingly didn’t seem so far fetched. When Mephisto can believe that “piper” sounds like “paper” nearly anything is possible! Jimbo.
  4. Glad I’m not the only one struggling recently.
    This is the first I finished unaided for a few days.
    Loved Boing, got Sodor with the wordplay and checked afterwards.

    And technically, the tilde (as in ñ) isn’t an accent – but I don’t mind as I solved it.

  5. I took a while to get in my stride, only making progress when I got onto the downs. After my fiasco yesterday I thought I might not finish again, but did make it this time. SODOR (which meant nothing to me), REFROZE and HOT WIRE were the last to go in. There are some nice clues with tricky wordplay: 23 and 19 in particular. 19 is C.O.D. for me.
  6. Attended quack and then chemist to try kill off a persistent cough, so ended up solving this in three bursts, the first two while waiting. Total time 15:49. Unlike eldesdichado, I thought this was the toughest of the week. I think that’s because it contains many original tricks which memory of previous puzzles doesn’t help with. Missed the wordplay on BOING and REFROZE (the rows part) while solving.
  7. 25:05. By far the hardest of the week so far, but most enjoyable. 19d gets my nomination for COD, with special mention for 2d and 16d
  8. Quite an odd experience solving this one. Breezed through it in a remarkable (for me) 20 minutes but, along the way, found myself constantly praising the setter for ingenuity – lots of imaginative, difficult but fair clues.
    And then I ground to a halt at 25/21 – still stuck!
    COD 7D because it’s just a great word to use in a puzzle, nicely clued too.
  9. I’m not sure if I’m just on form, or PB’s comments on previous puzzles not helping is relevant, or I’m just on the same wavelength as the setter, but I clocked in at 25 minutes which is pretty quick for me. It would have been even quicker had I just put in the answers to the 14-letter clues without fretting over the wordplay and realised sooner that I knew that ~ was a tilde.

    As has been noted, a lot of clever tricks and good clues. I particulary liked 26 but agree that BOING was the pick of the bunch.

    1. It’s curious how some puzzles split solvers. I thought this was excellent, the best of the week, but (like Penfold) far from the hardest (6:00 for me). Yet some days when I think it’s really tough, I find others were twice as fast as me.

      Very hard to pick the best clues – I liked GASH,
      ORDINANCE, INN SIGN, LARCENIST and several others.

      1. I’m hoping that the interrupted solving was part of the reason for a slow time, but 6:00 still feels very quick for this!
  10. I also thought this pretty hard, and never caught ‘refroze’ until reading here. Oh well. I’m still pleased to have gotten the rest, chalking up ‘Sodor’ to recent Christmas shopping for young ‘uns. I also agree with Anax that this puzzle has many many clever and fun clues, like 3, 7, 23, 20, 25 13 and 22. I think 22 best, 7 and 23 honorable mentions.
  11. I thought these were the best, and they don’t seem to have been mentioned much, if at all. “Wound” in its two pronunciations threw me cleverly, and “Passing on ring” is a magnificent definition.
  12. 15:20 for me for what I thought was a fairly tough puzzle. (I’m most impressed by Neil’s 6:00, particularly after his rather poor day at RTC.)

    I got SODOR from the word-play and assumed it must be referring to some saintly bishop of Sodor and Man whom I’d never heard of – however, the Thomas the Tank Engine connection rang a faint bell after I’d looked up Sodor in the wikipedia.

    I’ll go for 14A (INN SIGN) as my COD.

  13. I think only two posters have mentioned the clue for INN SIGN, Tony Severs picking it as COD. I should have included it in my shortlist, since it’s a very neat &lit clue. Initially I saw it simply as a cryptic definition, but it’s much cleverer than that.

  14. All very well to have these &lit clues and aha! moments but when you stick in the wrong option it can cause problems. Either 2d or 13d showed me that I had chosen the wrong one at 14a.

    This was a very good puzzle with some varied vocab and clue types. There are 9 omissions from the blog. One or two mentioned above but here they are together:

    14a One names “The Bull” perhaps (3,4)
    INN SIGN

    15a After tampering with (diary he)* means to change the locks (4,3)
    HAIR DYE

    24a Recall taking part in trEK OVEr to the west (5)
    EVOKE

    25a Performance by company, perhaps, expected ahead of time (4)
    DUE T. Two’s company three’s a trio!

    5d Brave course of action (7)
    WARPATH

    8d For starter flat, first you need door (5-5)
    ENTRY LEVEL

    9d Be severely criticised after (kitchenette)*’s spattered with gin (3,2,2,3,4)
    GET IT IN THE NECK

    19d Dealer’s end-product ready for receiver (7)
    HAND SET

    21d Lord enthralled by Moor’s Spanish accent (5)
    TI LD E. This has caused some ruffled feathers above with some not liking TIE = MOOR and also at least one saying that TILDE isn’t an accent. As far as I know is that it is that ~ squiggly thing that makes N into NYA in Spanish?

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