Times 23956 – pick your poison

Solving time : 15 minutes

The setter seems to have damage on the mind – you can kill yourself with 4D, face madame 11A, or just after a 5D get 19A until a 16D. 1A you could 2D with 20D. 15D.

1 AT THE WORST: Take MAN out of Matthew and Stan
8 REYNOLDS: (ONLY REDS) – got this from the wordplay. A little post-solve gumshoeing suggested Joshua Reyonlds as the likely candidate
10 PATE(r)
11 GUILLOTINE: LO in GUILT + IN, cas(E) – originally got this from the definition, but the wordplay is pretty straightforward
12 LINEAMENT: MEN(=people) in (ENTAIL)* – also guessed by the wordplay and checking letters, it is a distinguishing mark, especially of the face
17 SUNUP: First letters in Sight Urban Neightbours Usually Pass
19 POUND,EDON(=NODE<=): My last entry, had the EDON part at the end, but wasn’t sure what word that means “beat” went with it. Edit: Doesn’t look like I’m right, apparently it’s ROUND,EDON
22 PHILATELIC: (PATE,I,CHILL)*, PATE being the answer to 10A
23 NA(v)VY
24 BOLERO: starts of Long Ermine Robe in BOO. A bolero is a waistcoat that doesn’t reach the waist nor meet in front, which reminds me it must be diet time
26 PSST: SS in P(hysical) T(herapy).
27 SWEETHEART: WEE(petite) in S,THE,ART. Nice construction.
1 A,CROP,OLIS(=SILO<=): another nice construction
2 TRY,IT,ON – (forger)Y in TRITON
3 WALL,GAME: ALL,GAM in WE – GAM is a school (of Whales?). An “Eton Wall Game” is soccer played against a wall. My money’s on the wall. Edit: typo taken care of
7 ABSENCE: Guessed from the definition, not sure of the wordplay here. See comments – ABSTINENCE without TIN
15 FANCY,T,HAT: hardyharhar
18 UNHOOKS: I think there may be a misprint here – should it be Captain HOOK in headless (h)UNS? Edit: not headless, but (H)eartless, my apologies for calling the clue into question
20 DRACULA: CAR in A,LUD all reversed

23 comments on “Times 23956 – pick your poison”

  1. A breezy 11 minutes.

    George, I think the ‘heartless’ in 18d must mean HUNS minus the ‘H’ for ‘hearts’. A sneaky trick.

    A rare easy Thursday puzzle. I was unsure about 19 POUNDED ON, too. And still am, since ‘pound’ for ‘beat’ seems to repeat the definition, as “Laid into and lay into, bringing back swelling.” Maybe. It’s 1.30am so I’ll see what bears of larger brain say in the morning. Thanks for the early blog and the entertaining intro. Funny how these setters have a taste for the macabre. I wonder why that is…

  2. I thought 19A was ROUNDED ON, a round being a beat (eg of policeman).

    Tom B.

    1. That makes a lot more sense, really. I rejected ROUNDED because I couldn’t explain it, but you have. In which case, I flunked this one.
  3. Solved in 9:45 which suggests it’s harder than yesterday’s, but the main difference was the couple of minutes spent finding the right ?O?N?ED word for 18A. After coming up with a short list of MOUNTED, FOUNDED, HOUNDED, POUNDED, BOUNCED and ROUNDED, just from fitting the letters and having vaguely the right meaning, most of these were rejected because they didn’t fit “?????ED ON”, and the choice was ROUNDED or POUNDED. The clincher for me was that I could remember “rounded on” as an expression meaning “laid into” = attacked, but not “pounded on”. The dictionaries agree, but if you’re solving without peeping, the best I can suggest is to try out the expressions – “they rounded on him” might sound more convincing then “they pounded on him”, or this might bring up a vague memory of “rounded on”. Sotira’s repetition point is another reason to be wary of ‘pounded on’. Sotira and Tom are right about the hearts and tin respectively.

    All I know about the Eton Wall Game is that the last goal seen in the main annual match preceded what used to be called the Great War.

    COD for me is 1A. And the quality is up to yesterday’s high standard.

    1. Unfortunately for some reason I was thinking of something inanimate, a door perhaps, where “pounded on” makes perfect sense but “laid into” maybe less so.
  4. Another very enjoyable solve that took me about 45 minutes with one possible error at 19. I had considered POUNCED (but ruled it out), then POUNDED and ROUNDED and settled on the former. Whichever it is I don’t like the clue as it’s clearly ambiguous (at least until Peter arrives and proves it isn’t).

    As I was commuting today I wasn’t able to check anything immediately on completion and I was left with six that needed further research to explain. These are all tidied up now though I have never heard of GAM (BTW, “whales”, GLH, unless that was an intentional misspelling).

    My COD is 15dn, but special mention also for 1ac which I didn’t spot was “hidden” so wasted time trying to work out exactly what the anagrist was before giving up the ghost.

  5. Very enjoyable crossword, with some neat clues. I like 10a best just because the surface is so slick.

    I too carelessly thought the barbarians should have been headless not heartless; I am pleased to discover the elegant truth of the matter..

  6. I went for ROUNDED ON on the grounds that POUND ON doesn’t seem to me a likely dictionary entry, whereas ROUND ON definitely is. Despite the arbitrary names on the surface I thought 1a was quite a cleverly disguised hidden answer, which I didn’t get immediately. 5 and 27 were neat. I wasn’t very keen on ‘I’m’ in 9. Is the setter the only one to note the similarity of sound? I was held up in solving this clue because I felt a sound like IME had to be part of the answer. I also wondered initially about ‘appearing’ in 6a, since the clue seems to be a straight double definition, but I suppose someone who’s flagging is giving signs of declining, so in the end I decided it was OK.
    1. I think this use of “appearing” just means that the word ‘appears’ as the answer to the clue, or in the grid. I think this is used by some Times setters when it helps the surface.
      1. You’re probably right. ‘Appearing’ often appears as a link between parts of the wordplay or between wordplay and definition, so there’s no reason to rule it out here, but it’s very unusual for a double definition to have a linking word or surface decorator such as this, which is why it grabbed my attention.
  7. I’ll admit I didn’t look up “pounded on” in the dictionary, as it is a pretty common expression here in the U.S., whereas I have never heard of “rounded on” but it sounds more likely from the comments above.
  8. 35-40 minutes here, which is a big improvement on yesterday’s dismal attempt, although at no stage did I find this one particularly easy… I was struggling a little until I got 1ac, 8c, and then the long anagram in 4d, and everything began to fall slowly into place. Last in were 19ac and 15d. POUNDED ON still doesn’t sound right to my ear, but the wordplay fits so, hey! I also thought 17ac was two words and not one… COD for me 25ac or 23ac.
  9. There’s an expression among the ‘men of honour’ (those of Campania, I believe): “Never sow black seeds on white soil” – things written down tend to come back and bite you on the ass. My “A rare easy Thursday puzzle” above would appear to illustrate the point. I guess that rules me out for consiglieri.

    Thanks, Peter and Tom B, for clarifying.

  10. I landed in the ‘pounded’ camp, since, as GLH noted above, that is a common expression here in the US, while ’rounded on’ doesn’t mean ‘laid into’ in American. We Yanks round up, we round down, but we do not round on, at least as far as I can remember. Nevertheless, I’ll cede the issue to the natives; if it’s ‘pounded’, the clue and answer are too similar, I agree. Took me 25 min.’s, and I liked 15, and 26. I’ll be enjoying a long holiday weekend, so Happy 4th of July to all!
    1. Although I can see from Google searches that “pounded on” is in use, the American dictionary at m-w.com matches British ones by listing “round on” but not “pound on”. Onelook does much the same.
      1. Thanks Peter, in this case my answer was clearly guided by usage, having never heard of ’round on’ in this sense. So when seeing this comment I also consulted my usual source, dictionary.com, and found that ’round on’, defined as ‘to turn and assail’, had one listing from the American Heritage Dictionary, and ‘pound on’ had one listing also, defined as ‘bang on’, in that well known reference, the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing. Now equipped with the new sense of ’round on’, I agree it’s the better answer, despite not being a common phrase to Americans. Doing these puzzles, I’m continually amazed at how much variety our common language contains. Regards.
  11. Last to go in was “rounded”. Only delays were on 22 where I tried to get a anagram of “as ten I chill” notwithstanding there were too many letters, and 18 where the ‘heartless’ setter confused me too. Noted the deceptive of use of ‘my’ in 15 – seem to have a seen a few similar types recently, 10.45 today.
  12. See other comments (and the official solution, just in case …) on ROUNDED/POUNDED ON. Both Collins and COD, have “sunup” as one word – described in both as N American. Moral: don’t rely on your expectations about word-breaks in answers, however logical they may seem.
  13. An example of this in 20dn – the same as recently, estate for car. It needs pointing out for those like me who don’t like such things.
  14. It has been fascinating reading about this one and it seems that “rounded on” is correct, but I’m afraid I must maintain my original view. It is a poor clue that leaves so much room for discussion on its solution.
  15. Reasonably quick solve – very satisfying puzzle. Sadly no time to add to the blog yesterday, just a few moments available this morning.
    FWIW 19A gave me no trouble at all and seems utterly explicit – Laid into = ROUNDED ON. ROUND = beat + reversal NODE (swelling). POUNDED ON will fit but can’t be justified by wordplay.
    My COD is 5D; simple but perfect. Close second to 21D.
  16. Another cracker – it has been a good week. Hurrah for being British as I had ROUNDED ON at 19a from “Laid into” having understood the reverse swelling = EDON but I not managing to understand ROUND = BEAT.
    Likewise I had UNHOOKS at 18d from Cap’n Hook but did not fully understand the Heartless Huns. Doh!

    There are just the 5 “easies”:

    Standard appearing to decline (4)
    FLAG. Double definition – the “appearing” maybe saying that you can be appearing to decline if you are flagging – at the back of a race for example?

    9a Track is rough, I’m told (6)
    COURSE. I don’t think the setter is implying that this only sounds like COARSE to him/her?

    14a Lawyer using few words (5)

    5d Get to grips with things (6)

    16d Fell in competition (8)

    21d Absorbing oxygen prevents bends (6)
    STO O PS. This may be technically correct? As far as I know the bends are bubbles of nitrogen in the blood vessels if a diver decompresses to quickly?

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