Times 24,056 – Meat and Drink

Solving time : 26 minutes, so slower than a normal Tuesday. On the other hand I have the dreaded Man Flu, and am far from my sharpest, so I suspect this is a lot more straightforward than the time suggests. Q0.5-E6-D6.

1 AMOS – book of the Old Testament and an intoxicating drink backwards.
4 DOWNSIZING – DOWNS + I + ZING; nobody is sacked these days in modern management speak, they are downsized or “decruited”.
9 ASSEMBLAGE – A + BLAG + E with (MESS)rev inside.
10 TAUT – simple homophone, though experience teaches one there’s always someone ready to argue about that.
11 STINKO – with the strong drink theme, I was at first sure this would be STINGO, but it’s (OK (roger) + NITS)rev, to give one of the many synonyms for drunk.
12 HARD COPY – COP (as in it’s a fair cop, guv) inside HARDY to give a computer printout (“PC paper” makes for a good surface, though I think it’s stretching it as a definition…)
14 CEDE – homophone of SEED, presumably in its sense of seeding tennis players at Wimbledon, and thus judging them.
14 HERE – homophone of HEAR. Yes, much more plausible!
15 SPRING ROLL – double meanings, SPRING=give (as in a gym has a floor with plenty of give) and ROLL=bowl (as in bowling a hoop).
17 COCK A SNOOK – (SNACK+O)* inside COOK.
20 DUFF – this would be my semi-query. I know that these days the most famous Homer worldwide is the one who likes doughnuts and beer rather than the one who wrote about Troy, but should a general audience be expected to know that his favourite beer is called Duff? I knew it myself, and I guess it can be deduced from the checking letters, but it still seems like a big leap into popular culture for a moderately obscure reference.
21 ATTITUDE – (A + 1 + TUTTED)*.
23 LAUNCH – LUNCH around A gives “fire” as in rockets.
24 STEW – double def.
25 BEAUJOLAIS – BEAU+JO+IS around L.A. – JO will be familiar to all Scrabble players as one of those obscure but handy words that uses up an awkward J.
27 TEND – double def.
2 MISS THE BOAT – cryptic def.
3 STEINBECK – i (current) inside (NETS)rev + BECK, which is a literary term meaning “wave”, from, I imagine, the same root as the more everyday “beckon”.
4 DUBIOUS – IOU inside DUBS.
7 IMAGO – one for the entomologists and anglers: (0+GAM(e)+I) reversed gives IMAGO, which is the adult stage of an insect – in the case of the mayfly, this stage is also known as a spinner.
8 GUTSY – GUSTY with T(ime) moved up one place.
16 RED MULLET – ah, the Eighties, home of various crimes against style, including this style of coiffure.
18 STUMBLE – ST(reet) + (r)UMBLE.
19 KILLJOY – (JOKILY+L(ove))*.
21 AT SEA – cryptic def.
22 TIE UP – one of those clues which teeters on the border of scarcely being cryptic at all, really.

Any errors or omissions should be blamed on an excess of over-the-counter cold medication; that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…

Numbers and 14 across edited – all the fault of Sudafed, definitely.

41 comments on “Times 24,056 – Meat and Drink”

  1. One error: I think 14A is HERE (=to hand) which sounds like HEAR (=to judge).

    32 minutes here. So I expect a difficult one tomorrow.
    I got IMAGO from the wordplay – and knew it was an adult insect – but didn’t understand the spinner reference. Thanks for that!

    You will probably want to look at your clue numbers – they are all over the place!

  2. >Any errors or omissions should be blamed on an excess of over-the-counter cold medication; that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…

    I could try and point out where your numbering has gone awry but I wouldn’t know where to start.

    Somewhere between 25 & 30 minutes but with two mistakes – I went for stingo instead of stinko and rede instead of cede, neither of which really made sense but hey-ho.

    After typing a long message yesterday and then losing it when the site crashed I’m going to stop now.

  3. Another straightforward puzzle – about 25 minutes to solve. I decided perversely to start with the down clues and wrote 2 to 8 straight in! Then lost my way a little with the across, held up by STINKO and HERE. Guessed DUFF. The overseas boys and girls may wonder what COCK A SNOOK is all about – it’s hardly common parlance.
  4. 27 mins. Having picked up “steaming” and “ratted” in the past few weeks, I now have another word for “drunk”. I wonder if this particularly rich vocabulary is somehow reflective of British culture.

    I would go further than Tim and venture that 20A is entirely out of place. If the Sun has a crossword maybe they could use it – it certainly wouldn’t pose any problem to their readers.

  5. 15:50 here. I got the long one at 5D straight away but then struggled a bit to get going, without ever completely grinding to a halt. Spent 2 or 3 minutes at the end trying to justify STINGO at 11A before twigging the wordplay.

    I wonder what sotira thought of 18D after yesterday (although it’s a better clue). Another coincidence is HARD COPY, which is the opposite of an answer from last Saturday’s puzzle which I blogged. I had no problem with 20A – it’s welcome to see popular culture in the Times Crossword, and I think the Simpsons have been with us long enough now for most people to be familiar with the reference.

    1. It’s a MUCH better clue! Besides, you know what dear old Oscar said about consistency (wonderful man – had an excuse for most of my shortcomings).
    2. I forgot to mention – COD for me was 16D for using one of Chambers humorous definitions. Without having it in front of me, it goes something like “a hairstyle short at the front, long at the back and ridiculous all over”.
      1. I’ve always liked the description “all business up front, but a party in the back”
  6. It was just a matter of time before Times for the Times was rocked by a doping scandal. And it’s never the ones you expect, is it?

    15:40 – I nearly wrote ‘DEME’ at 14a, wondering if it was some Medieval word meaning ‘close by’ or something, before the rather more commonplace penny dropped. Loved LAUNCH, and liked BEAUJOLAIS and GUTSY.

    I’m an occasional Simpsons viewer but didn’t remember the beer (perhaps an unfair clue as ‘daft’ would have more or less worked – good job I’m not the sort to quibble) but guessed right. Thanks for the link on that, Tim, which gave me a giggle. Clever Simpsons.

    Q-0.5, E-7, D-7 … COD 23ac LAUNCH

  7. ack! Can I have some of your cold medication, topicaltim? While watching the snow swirl I couldn’t come up with a suitable answer for 14 and put in CEDE. This may well be my week of fail…
  8. A longish solve, 45 minutes. There were several answers which I didn’t enter immediately because I didn’t understand the definitions or aspects of the wordplay: DUFF, IMAGO, STINKO, ASSEMBLAGE, TEND. My seasonal cold must be making very dense, because I still don’t see anything but a very loose connection between ‘head’ and ‘tend’. As I never watch The Simpsons, DUFF meant nothing.
    I’m not sure which clue to choose for COD, but I thought 3, 12, 21, 23 were particularly good in a generally good set.
  9. I didn’t get a clear run at this today having several short disjointed stabs at it. Then I ran out of time and had to abandon it with one unsolved at 7. This turned out to be due to putting TORT at 10 even though I had intended to write TAUT.

    I didn’t fully understand 25 as I have not come across JO before.

    I still can’t see how TEND = HEAD though they are together in the thesaurus. Could someone put up an example please as I must be a bit thicker than usual today?

    On suspecting a reference to the Simpsons I went to their Wiki page and searched on DUFF; the word is not even mentioned. I found the reference eventually by Googling both words. Unfair, say I!

    Also I didn’t much care for “Tasty” or “Ridiculous” in 16 as neither is necessary for the clue to work and they add an element of subjectivity to the definitons of the fish and the hairstyle. Presumably red mullet is not always tasty, it will depend on how it has been cooked, and the many people who wore mullet hairstyles did not think they were ridiculous.

    1. Probably only with ‘toward(s)’, as with Yeats’ “All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions”.
  10. A quick 35 minutes, with nothing really to cause alarm. A lot went in just from the definition, which was lucky because the wordplay on a few (1ac / 3d) eluded me before I stopped by here. 16d made me laugh.
    1. Regarding DUFF – no problems with me. Surely this was a lot less obscure than some of the stuff we have to put up with, such as the famous drink referenced in 1ac?
  11. I got there eventually with the checking letter but was slowed down by thinking “what might be” = HUNCH cooked over with A lead to HAUNCH, which is indeed something that might be cooked on a fire. Bar the fact that 19 down provided a “L” at the beginning was there something else in the clue that should have led me to LAUNCH?
  12. About 12 minutes. Thoroughly enjoyable and it’s about time the old literati brigade were given something to mull over (20a). At least they were given a reasonable subsidiary def to help them! My only complaint with this (and the whole crossword) was the use of “so-called”. Homer’s favourite tipple IS Duff isn’t it? There’s no “so-called” about it.
    My sympathies go to Tim and his man flu. Most women don’t understand do they – they only have childbirth to go through.
    23a was my favourite of a long list of cracking clues.
    1. I forgot to mention – The kind of non-homophone at 10a used to bother me, but I’ve mellowed and just don’t care any more.
      1. The tort – taut pronunciation issue may depend on where you come from. I believe that the Home Counties (and the Colonies) would have the two as homophones, while the rest would be more inclined to give the “r” in tort a bit of a roll.
  13. 23:15 here, wirth one mistake – also plumped in a rather baffled way for CEDE at 14. But had also guessed at DUFF, not knowing about Simpson’s beer, and eventually went for TEND at 27, mainly form ‘nurse’.
  14. 13.46. Like linxit, I spent the last few minutes trying to justify STINGO before managing to work out the right answer from the wordplay.

    I enjoyed the reference to Duff beer. I’ve often wondered if the Times’ restriction on using living people just serves as a deterrent to attracting a new generation of solvers, leaving as it does so much of contemporary culture (and contemporary general knowledge) out of bounds.

  15. A fairly regular and enjoyable solve I thought.

    Generally pro modern references although B & H have cropped up I think three times now in as many weeks (de trop). Surely an opportunity missed for an animation double bill with ‘Fudd'(sorry sotira!)?

  16. Thanks for the explanations – a slow solver, not in the Times for the Times league, I got the whole thing (correctly, I think)while understanding almost none of the wordplay. Surprisingly, knew ‘Duff’ despite rarely watching Simpsons and ‘cock a snook’ although North American. John
  17. Finished this in 16 minutes but like some others had ‘cede’ without being convinced of it – is the 2nd ‘to’ in the clue redundant? It certainly baffled me. I got stinko through a totally wrong analysis of the clue , and I have seen Homer with his best friend Duff quite a few times.I am sure I saw Bart in a puzzle as well somewhere the other day?
  18. I would tend to favour 16D as COTD but could be persuaded to head for 9A. It’s a choice thing, isn’t it?
  19. After screwing up yesterday’s I was pleased to course through this in about 30 very enjoyable minutes. I got a real kick out of 16, 23 and DUFF at 20. I note the comment that perhaps ‘tasty’ and ‘ridiculous’ are misplaced in 23, but ‘ridiculous’ makes it an entertaining stunner of a clue, at least to me, probably because I agree with the sentiment. Had to ‘wordplay’ my way through COCK A SNOOK, and got ASSEMBLAGE from definition only, since I never heard of ‘blag’. Nice work by the setter. Only quibble: tort=taut homophone, doesn’t work for me, but not a hindrance to solving. Regards to all.
  20. Half an hour. Put “cede” in reluctantly, and am glad to see I was wrong. No one knows the origin of “cock a snook”, and apparently “snook” as a word on its own is unknown. Probably an erroneous rendering of “snoot” meaning snout or nose.

    Undecided about “duff”, having not seen the Simpsons. It is shown here (NZ), but I know of nobody who watches it.

    1. Not sure my time but around 30 mins I’d guess. Since no one else has complained about taut/tort, I will. In my view this is a particularly egregious (non) homophone: while some questionable homophones may reflect a genuine lack of knowledge of regional variations in pronunciation, I simply don’t believe that a setter would not know that the r in a word like tort would be pronounced in some parts of Britain, principally in Scotland and the north of England, where these two words sound very different from one another.

      If The Times were still a London newspaper this might be acceptable, but is nowadays published in a Scottish edition (among other regional editions) and clearly aspires to be a genuine UK national. Setters do the newspaper no favours by apparently clinging to the snobbish, outdated and historically inaccurate assumption that RP is “correct” pronunciation and that regional pronunciations are inferior deviations that may reasonably be ignored by a setter setting a puzzle for educated solvers.

      Sorry if this seems an over-reaction, but examples of this sort are still much too frequent and it is not just irritating, it is more than a little offensive. As are comments of the “I suppose some thin-skinned person will come along to whine about this perfectly reasonable homophone, but everyone in my in-no-way-smug-or-insular social grouping would pronounce these two words the same so I can’t see what the fuss is all about” variety.

      1. Whether taut/tort sound the same isn’t about RP. If Max on Eastenders calls someone a “worm”, you won’t hear the R in that word. Nor is it about London – the maps in this Wiki article show that non-rhotic accents are much more widespread than that.

        I don’t think setters (or the Times xwd ed) are claiming that any accent is superior – crosswords are a game, not a language campaign. If you’re going to allow homophone clues, there are essentially two choices: restrict them to cases that work in all accents, or use a particular accent – the one reflected by pronunciations in the Oxford and Collins dictionaries. As far as I know, all of the ‘broadsheet’ cryptics in national papers allow “RP homophones” without insisting that the setter puts something like “some say” in cases where the homophone doesn’t work everywhere. Using “some say” or similar seems like a good compromise, but probably leads to “sore thumb indicators” like “initially”, and the implication that the solver needs this help seems potentially insulting too.

        1. Peter my objection is not to clues using words that are homophones ONLY in RP (or in London or the south): I’m not sure that they exist. It is to the assumption that for a homophone to be valid it is both necessary and sufficient for it to be a homophone in RP. It is inconceivable, for example, that two words pronounced the same way in Edinburgh but not in Oxford would be considered a valid homophone. Outmoded cultural snobbery aside, why should the reverse be acceptable?

          It’s not good enough to say that crosswords are only a game, not a language campaign. A southern gentleman who addresses a black waiter as “boy” may intend no offence: he may simply be trying to get a cup of coffee. Nevertheless, consciously or not, he reveals an assumption of superiority that is offensive. The assumption that the pronunciation of a subset of (once) culturally dominant users is more valid than other pronunciations is also offensive; it is not a defence that that assumption is reflected elsewhere, in the attitudes of other broadsheet newspapers or dictionary compilers. In fact, that only makes it worse.

  21. I seem to be swimming against the tide here, but I dislike 20A on two grounds.

    First I think it represents (as Tim suggests) too big a leap into popular cuture. I had no trouble solving it – I have 3 children and have watched The Simpsons often enough to know the answer. It’s just that for me doing the Times crossword provides a means of escape from that sort of thing. I just think it is inappropriate.

    Second it is not even a cryptic clue. Put “Homer’s favourite tipple” as a clue in the Daily Mirror quick crossword and it would cause no problems at all.

    1. I don’t mind some modern culture – there’s plenty of old stuff as an escape. In defence of the clue, it did have two def’s – “Homer’s so-called favourite tipple is no good”, which meant that without knowing about the beer, I could still find DUFF.
  22. The Times very sensibly stops its setters from referring to living people because it is only after someone dies and their name lives on that it can truly be said that they are sufficently well-known. But in the case of something like The Simpsons, how can one make a similar judgment? Obviously we can’t wait for ever and at some point the name has become usable, but with The Simpsons I should have thought a reference to Duff was a bit premature.
  23. I confess I don’t “get” (r)UMBLE for “discover initially over-looked.” I should have said ST(reet) + (t)UMBLE, as in to “tumble” to something–to discover or learn it.

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