23,550 – Battling with action stations

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Morning, all. I’m your new regular Friday blogger, and, although I don’t ever hope to fill the shoes of my illustrious predecessor, I hope that we’ll get along.

Today’s puzzle wasn’t as difficult as some Friday puzzles have been in the past, with only a couple of obscure, but eminently guessable words. My solving time was about 12 minutes, but had I not filled in BATTLE STATIONS at 5dn without really thinking about it, I might have saved myself a couple of minutes.

1 R-A DISH – nice gentle start
5 SALAAMED – (<=alas)-AM ED – this took me a while because I’d made the mistake mentioned in my preamble. Even once I’d worked out the wordplay, I had to check that SALAAMED was actually a word, because I wasn’t sure that you could use “salaam” as an adjective.
10 CONTINENTAL – (innocent)* + TAL(k)
12 SHOW-OFF – I’m not sure what the accepted cruciverbal term for this type of clue is, but in order to get the answer you have to appreciate that SHOW is an anagram of “who’s” as indicated by OFF.
14 O-INKING – very clever use of “pen”
17 BIRD OF PARADISE – the common name for the Strelitzia genus of brightly-coloured plants, with “time” in the clue referring to time spent in a prison (BIRD)
23 EMS – homophone of Ms (extremes of MilitarisM) – on checking this, I discovered that Ems is actually the old name for Bad Ems, a German town on the river Ems, so I’m not sure about this clue.
24 BANANA S-KIN(d)S – I remember hearing recently that it is actually very difficult to slip on a banana skin, but it is now a common phrase in the Englsih language for something which may cause a downfall.
1 RUCK-SACK – if you see “wine” in a clue, there’s avery good chance that the setter wants you to put SACK or TENT in the answer.
2 DAN – double meaning; one of the 12 tribes of Israel, originally descended from Dan, son of Jacob and Bilhah in the Old Testament, and a degree of expertise in a range of martial arts, including karate.
3 SPIN-OFF – think cricket.
5 ACTION STATIONS – A/C + (is not)* +TA +(is not)* – I quickly put in BATTLE STATIONS for this, and then regretted it later, as I couldn’t think of answers to 4ac and 14ac that would fit in.
6 ATL(ANT)A(s) – like the use of “world record” to define ATLAS.
16 REVERSAL – Mum or Dad reversed stay the same.
18 DUSTBIN – I assume that it is DUN around (BITS)* but I’m not sure why DUN = “fly”. Anyone?
19 ADV(IS)ER(b)

10 comments on “23,550 – Battling with action stations”

  1. Welcome aboard, David.

    5:17 here – stayed out of the BATTLE STATIONS trap, but the caution that made sure of that meant I didn’t write my correct initial guesses for the cryptic defs at 7 and 9 until they were supported by some checking letters.

    Bad Ems: I guess that as with places like Droitwich (twinned with guess where…), the ‘Bad’ or ‘Spa’ in the name often gets dropped. Ems, like Essen, is in my mental list of useful German towns.

    DUN: Collins confirmed that it’s some kind of brown fly, or a fishing fly intended to look like it.

    12A: “Reverse cryptic” is sometimes used, but “wordplay in the answer” seems to be our local preference.

  2. 18D DUN is a mayfly.

    Can’t quite see 14A. Can someone spell it out for me please.

    I’m ashamed to confess the strange lateral thought process that got me to the answer, but for all the wrong reasons. It was something along the lines pen -swan – goose -(h)onking – o(i)nking! But if it works, don’t knock it.


    1. Sound from (pig-)pen = OINKING
      love (tennis) = O, using one (i.e. a pen) = INKING.
      1. Thanks, PB. It’s obvious when explained. I tend to think of sheep in pens and pigs in sties for some reason, which didn’t help. But anyway I was pleased to get the right answer without assistance, by whatever dubious logic.


  3. Was I the only one to get SELF-POSSESSION, rather than SELF-CONFIDENCE for 9D? The “have” in the clue pointed that way, I thought.

    It certainly made the bottom half interesting…


  4. I am well chuffed with my time today – 21 minutes, my fastest ever for the Times. I thought the surface readings were very good on the whole, but I didn’t get sidetracked as often as usual. For example I quickly considered Time=BIRD, after spending a long time going the other way on Monday.

    I spotted a slight error in your comment for 5D: it is AC + (is not)* +TA +(is not)* – you have too many Ts!

    1. Thanks, foggyweb – you’re right – suppose it was too much to ask for me to get it right first time!
  5. If you think ‘battle stations’ was regrettable, try ‘attack stations’. I battled with 14ac (OINKING) for over two minutes before checking the crossing answers and realising what I’d done. 6’26” in the end.
    1. I had no problem with ACTION STATIONS (war books and war films very popular when I was young!), but still took a couple of minutes over OINKING (Sigh!). That and making heavy weather of MULTIPLYING and DAMAGE made for a lousy 10:35.
  6. A few “easies” omitted by the new blogmeister:

    11a Beat innocent child soundly (3)
    LAM (B). I have never heard this used for beat. The word slam tends to be over-used in the media these days with so-and-so slamming the other so-and-so for something they said or did.

    15a Police officer (catches noble if)* going wrong (5,9)

    21a Put together a ship to enter a big sea (7)
    A M A SS ED

    22a At very old and good university, English is fashionable (2,5)
    IN VO G U E

    26a Holding stake, be likely to be occupied (8)

    7d Calculating behaviour producing new issue (11)

    8a Hold back time’s destruction (6)

    9d The kind of assurance others can’t have (4-10)

    13d Evil tendency that’s common in first offence (8,3)
    ORIGINAL SIN. Had to be from checkers and literal but don’t get the cryptic?

    20d Gift of money no longer usable (6)

    25d Doctrine happens to go with mass (3)
    IS M

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