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Times 27,449: Surface Pro

There's nothing *too* elaborate about the cluing in this puzzle, providing one can handle multiple flipped containment indicators (knife left cuts, &c), but the surfaces are all so smooth that it is quite often difficult to make out where the definition ends and the wordplay begins, so I imagine the SNITCH isn't going to sink far below its current intimidating level of 141.

An unusual preponderance of homophones here - rarely anyone's favourite type of clue, I imagine, but these were all excellent, and 6dn was I think my LOI and a great PDM. Lots of treasurable moments, including "trembling post-coitally", the great lift-and-separate problems like "unit of time", "dotty relative", "channel surface"; but I think I'll give my COD award to 4dn which is such a limpid surface. Bravo to the setter for this proper Friday puzzle!

1 Playing role subtly, one moves the masses (10)

6 Beater caught hunted creature (4)
HART - homophone of HEART [beater]. Woe betide any inveterate biffer who just bunged in HARE!

8 Precise sort of knife left cuts (8)
STICKLER - STICKER [knife], (which) L [left] "cuts"

9 Show ability to take off party food (6).
CANAPE - or, alternatively CAN APE, as in "they can ape", "they show ability to take off (as in, mimic)".

10 Paper bags over old soldiers (4)
FOOT - FT [paper] "bags" O O [over | old]

11 Trembling post-coitally, without way to hide emotion (4,2,4)
PLAY IT COOL - (PO{st} COITALLY*) ["trembling"]. Remove ST [way] from the anagrist before grinding.

12 Tough on one mum protects (9)
RESILIENT - RE [on] + I [one] (which) SILENT [mum] "protects"

14 Slip home, by the sound of it (5)
GAFFE - homophone of GAFF [home]. I really wanted this to be LAPSE even though I am not a member of the Sami people.

17 Raise the rate to screen Sky (5)
ETHER - "screened" in {rais}E THE R{ate}

19 Break down piece by Spanish composer (4,5)
FALL APART - PART [piece], by [Spanish composer] Manuel de FALLA

22 Debussy's opening with E flat, cutting a section (10)
DEPARTMENT - D{ebussy} + E + {a}PARTMENT [flat, "cutting" A]

23 Stop suffering on the phone (4)
WHOA - homophone of WOE [suffering]

24 Literary heiress left capital around (6)
PORTIA - PORT [left] + reversed A1 [capital]. Merchant of Venice, innit.

25 Short cut from port, once in motion (4,4)
ETON CROP - (PORT ONCE*) ["in motion"]

26 Picked up hamper for country club (4)
BLOC - homophone of BLOCK [hamper]

27 Vehicle passes through rock in a line (10)
TETRAMETER - TRAM [vehicle] "passes through" TEETER [rock]

1 Specialised unit of time? Request this in Paris (4,5)
TASK FORCE - T + ASK FOR + CE [time | request | this, in Paris]

2 Ring operator, ringing round and hinting at trouble (7)
OMINOUS - O [ring] + MINUS [operator] "ringing" O [round]

3 Something dotty relative with tablets brought over (8)
ELLIPSIS - reverse all of SIS + PILL E [relative + (two) tablets]

4 Interest rising then lowering keeps home cheap (7-8)
BARGAIN-BASEMENT - reversed GRAB [interest], + ABASEMENT [lowering] "keeps" IN [home]

5 Staff taking time out — in other words, a possible skive? (6)
SICKIE - S{t}ICK [staff, taking out T = time] + I.E. [in other words]

6 Give acclaim, receiving small gesture of welcome (9)
HANDCLASP - HAND CLAP [give | acclaim], "receiving" S [small]

7 Criticism which goes over actors’ heads? (7)
REPROOF - and it is a REP ROOF that goes over actors' heads... *groan*

13 Not giving in, ruined castle defends island (9)
INELASTIC - IN + (CASTLE*) ["ruined"] "defends" I [island]

15 One who may snare you with record including music on piano (9)
ENTRAPPER - ENTER [record] "including" RAP P [music (on) piano]

16 “Heap” and “lot” could be about right for this? (8)
PLETHORA - (HEAP + LOT*) ["could be..."] "about" R [right], semi-&lit

18 Official work clothes for plant (7)
TREFOIL - REF [official] (which) TOIL [work] "clothes"

20 Initially, female becoming hot and dry (7)
ATHIRST - AT {f->H}IRST; Take AT FIRST [initially], and turn the F [female] into H [hot]

21 Channel surfing's primary feature (6)
STRAIT - S{urfing} + TRAIT [feature]


( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 6th, 2019 07:05 am (UTC)
33:41 but
Woe betided me, although I didn't bung in HARE; I finally typed it in in desperation, having failed to get away from 'caught'=C, and only twigging when I saw the pink E. Some others went in with a shrug, as I'd never heard of GAFF=house, DNK ETON CROP, wasn't sure of 'skive' and DNK SICKIE. I only figured out BARGAIN-BASEMENT after submitting; I biffed it on the basis of the hyphen and a checker or two. I think I'll join V in giving it the COD, although I did like BLOC ('country club'!), PLAY IT COOL for the wordplay, and, damn it, HART.
Sep. 6th, 2019 10:34 am (UTC)
Re: 33:41 but
We had GAFF for house in a recent Mephisto.
Sep. 6th, 2019 07:29 am (UTC)
I started to lose interest in this one quite early in the proceedings. I managed to get footholds in the NW, NE and SW quarters of the grid but found it very to hard to build on the checkers they provided so there was no satisfaction to be had completing one section of the puzzle before moving onto another.

The SE corner proved to be even more difficult and as the hour approached I started resorting to aids just to get it all finished. Not much fun.

Speaking of homophones, one of the most outrageous I have ever seen is in the current Everyman (available on the Guardian Crossword site). I won't say more now because it's a competition puzzle, but it's in an Across clues.
Sep. 6th, 2019 07:54 pm (UTC)
Re: 38:45
My interest is strangely piqued...
Re: 38:45 - verlaine - Sep. 6th, 2019 10:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 6th, 2019 07:35 am (UTC)
times xwd championships 2019
Sorry to gatecrash the blog with no direct comment, especially since I havent said anything for many years on here, but it just dawned on me that we are now in September and I have not seen a thing about the championships. I can only assume that they have been cancelled for this year (or forever).

Can someone shed some light on this?
Sep. 6th, 2019 07:39 am (UTC)
Re: times xwd championships 2019
They are to take place with announcements promised soon, I think. Others here may know details.
Re: times xwd championships 2019 - fathippy2 - Sep. 6th, 2019 07:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: times xwd championships 2019 - (Anonymous) - Sep. 6th, 2019 09:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 38:45 - verlaine - Sep. 6th, 2019 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 6th, 2019 07:42 am (UTC)
DNF after 30 minutes
I have lost track of how many times I haven't finished this week. Another tough but clever crossword. CODs to BARGAIN BASEMENT and PLAY IT COOL. Not a lover of homophones. Thanks setter and V.
Sep. 6th, 2019 08:03 am (UTC)
Hart of Ruth, when, Sickie for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn...
45 mins with yoghurt, granola, blueberries, etc.
Excellent puzzle IMHO.
Mostly I liked: post-coitally, resilient, hamper for country club, plethora, Rep roof and COD to the sublime Inelastic.
Thanks excellent setter and V.

Edited at 2019-09-06 08:04 am (UTC)
Sep. 6th, 2019 08:30 am (UTC)
As pants the hart for cooling streams...
Wow, this was tough. Finished in just under the hour with LOI ATHIRST a total biff, too tired to see the obvious parsing. COD to PLAY IT COOL, something I've never learnt and am not likely to now. I did go for the right prey, with Hymns Ancient and Modern, as ever, my inspiration. I suppose MINUS is an operator but I've tended to use the term for more complex things like a Hamiltonian in quantum mechanics long forgotten and never understood. I could only think of one Spanish composer and fortunately it was Falla. A proper Friday puzzle. Thank you V and setter.

Edited at 2019-09-06 08:30 am (UTC)
Sep. 6th, 2019 08:44 am (UTC)
No time as I had a snooze as I was getting near the end, but it would have been 60-70 minutes. I had trouble in the NE and SE where answers such as the beating HART, the REP ROOF and TETRAMETER held out longest.

I liked the 'Something dotty' and 'Not giving' refs, and, yes, the surface for 11a. Good to see Manuel de FALLA getting a guernsey, followed immediately by Debussy who was apparently a great influence on his music.

I was interested that SICKIE is now a term in the UK - just one more memorable Antipodean contribution to the English language.

Thanks to blogger and setter.
Sep. 6th, 2019 08:47 am (UTC)
Oh yes, El Guapo. You have a plethora!
Not quite the hardest of the week if my personal SNITCH is anything to go by but only a couple of minutes off. I'd like to say I got the long one via the wordplay, but I didn't, though I did reverse engineer it for satisfaction.

I got the HART the same way Boltonwanderer did: A&M is more Timesy than the modern versions, where the Marks and Spencer song "As the deer pants" doesn't help at all.

Credit to setter for working in post-coitally, and to V for a classy blog from whatever temporary gaff he finds himself in.
Sep. 6th, 2019 09:34 am (UTC)
22m on the nose. A very tough but thoroughly excellent puzzle. Lots of clues where the structure of the clue is impossible to see... until it isn’t. Right up my street.
Thank you setter and v.
Sep. 6th, 2019 10:08 am (UTC)
19A . .
Too posh for the likes of me - the only Spanish composer I know is Julio Iglesias . . .
Sep. 6th, 2019 01:36 pm (UTC)
Lebanese fast food
I've never heard of that Falla fella either.
Sep. 6th, 2019 10:26 am (UTC)
It's been many years since....
....a TROLLEYBUS moved the masses in this country. Still my favourite form of public transport 50 or so years after they were abandoned in the UK because, largely, of the cost of renewing overhead wiring. Well, of course, cheap diesel engined buses were such a good idea, weren't they ? And the cost of setting up urban trams in such places as Edinburgh these days.....

My love of the TROLLEYBUS is inversely proportional to my love of this puzzle I'm afraid.

Only sheer bloody-mindedness persuaded me batter it into submission after my target time had passed. Thanks to Verlaine for parsing ELLIPSIS and ENTRAPPER (to which I say "Rap ? Music ? My ****")

TIME 22:54
Sep. 6th, 2019 07:56 pm (UTC)
RE: It's been many years since....
There are many Muses of differing levels of loftiness. Perhaps the Muse of Rap is Kanyeia?
Sep. 6th, 2019 10:44 am (UTC)
Today was clearly not the day to be faced with a puzzle that's both hard and at the opposite end of my wavelength. I persevered for 40 minutes before giving up with only five answers filled in. I came back to it later and didn't get any more... This is the kind of day where I wonder if I'm really cut out for the whole crossword lark at all!
Sep. 6th, 2019 02:18 pm (UTC)
Onwards and upwards (across and down).
Do not give up. I rely on you as ‘Custodian of the Long List’. When you produce it as a poster for the back of the toilet door you will make millions (I am on 10% right???).
Sep. 6th, 2019 10:45 am (UTC)
Trolleybuses and Trams
30:38. I approached this with some tredipation having seen the SNITCH. I was delighted to complete it without aids and fully parsed, although I was somewhat becalmed for a while with it only half done. Fortunately I knew the composer of the three-cornered hat and remembered GAFF from the recent Mephisto. Lots of lovely clues. I liked TROLLEYBUS and TETRAMETER and groaned at REPROOF too. COD to 13D for the neat misdirection over the definition.
Sep. 6th, 2019 11:17 am (UTC)
A term for a line in maths. Well, I knew it wasn't really, but couldn't get past totter rather than teeter.
Sep. 6th, 2019 11:29 am (UTC)
With the RHS filled after 25 minutes and nothing at all on the left, resorted to aids to resolve 1ac, and when that gave me a few downs, looked for suggestions to fit the checkers from them. Eventually finished, but well over an hour. 11ac worthy of the G's Paul ! Thanks Verlaine for clarifying parsing of several I'd only partially solved.
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