Times 24038 Garrulous Gyrfalcons

Solving time : 40 minutes

I struggled with this at times and never felt I was really on the setter’s wavelength. I was put off right at the start by 1A, a clue I didn’t like although I saw the anagram through the padding. Some of the vocabulary is obscure and I doubt that many headmasters still wear gowns and mortarboards. There are some nice touches, such as the use of “mister” at 20D and my favourite 12D

1 CASELOAD – (a cold sea)*; Everyone (who is a) patient; “with me today” and “in” is padding; poor clue in my opinion
5 LEAD,ON – two meanings; LEAD=metal and LEAD=be first
8 SHORTENING – two meanings again; SHORTENING is fat used to make short pastry
10 A,SHROPSHIRE,LAD – A SH(R)OP’S-HIRE-LAD; R=Rex or Regina=Royal; why a bookstore? poem by A E Housman
11 STRINGY – ST(R(oast))INGY;
13 CHAMFER – CHA(M)FER; a “chafer” is a beetle
15 MEDULLA – ME(DULL)A(mputate); the centre of an animal organ such as bone marrow
18 RAPTORS – (parrots)*; a raptor is a bird of prey
23 INCAPACITY – INC(A-P)A-CITY; P=penny; Machu Picchu is the lost Inca City of Peru
24 ODENSE – O-DENSE; if none are dense all have intelligence; Danish city
25 HEADGEAR – HEAD-GEAR; HEAD=headmaster who when I was at school wore both a gown and a mortarboard; a “once” in the clue would have helped
1 CASUALS – CAS(U)ALS; reference Pablo Casals 1876-1973
2 SMOTHERED – S-MOTHERED; a chess term for mate by a knight, the king being smothered by his own pieces
3 LET-DOWN – LET-DOW-N(asty); reference the Dow Jones index
5 LOGORHEA – LOG-OR-RHEA; an endless flow of words
6 ABSALOM – A-B-SALOM(e); one of David’s many sons
7 OVERDUE – O-VERDU(r)E; “verdure” is greenery
12 GELIGNITE – GEL-IGNITE; GEL=set; IGNITE=explode; nice clue
16 ELFLAND – (fell)*+AND; AND=with
17 UNEATEN – UN(b)EATEN; Left=definition
18 RED,TAPE – RED(TAP)E; REDE=old word for advise (well known to bar crossword solvers); I like “binding”
19 PLACARD – (ALP reversed)+CARD; heart perhaps = CARD; thankyou setter for the “perhaps”
20 SPRAYER – S-PRAYER; S=shilling (old UK currency); “mister”=one who produces a mist=SPRAYER; nice clue

32 comments on “Times 24038 Garrulous Gyrfalcons”

  1. A real struggle. Am not sure about 25 Ac. I went for headgear as well. But why not headwear? COD 23 Ac.
    1. I hadn’t spotted that Jimbo has HEADGEAR. I went for HEADWEAR which I think is more likely.
      1. I thought either were possible so I consulted Collins. It gives HEADGEAR as one word but not “head wear”
        1. You’re quite right, Jimbo, and I should have known better than to comment without checking the books first.
  2. 75 minutes slog for me then resorted to a solver for the last two 1A and 24. I started well enough in the NE corner but then slowed to a crawl. I agree with Jimbo that the first clue was poor. “Me” is unspecified by anything else in the clue therefore it must refer to the setter, not a medical practitioner of some sort. And a case-load is not defined as a day’s work, so why the reference to “today”?

  3. Feelings and thoughts echoed here which is true on a regular basis and why i don’t often comment but my theory on 1A is that the setter is a retired doctor who has a consultancy on Tuesdays. 5D reminds me that a rhea escaped from somewhere over the weekend frightened by a fox but i didn’t hear a follow-up story to say whether it was found alive or not.
  4. Struggled to finish this one – 26 mins after nearly giving up. 3D was topical with reference to Dow Jones and “nasty disappointment”! 20D was my COD with the mischievous use of Mister. One or two quibbles, though – I can recall HEADGEAR v HEADWEAR as an issue in another crossword some time back (when HEADGEAR won the post mortem, I think) but maybe setters should avoid the word. Is RED TAPE necessarily legally binding?
  5. 24 minutes but I’m not sure about one clue. Agree with all the above on CASELOAD. INCAPACITY and SPRAYER were my real hold-ups.

    Query: Can someone confirm 9ac? The only thing I can see is STEW – ‘wets’ reversed. But “are nervous” doesn’t exactly convince as a def. What am I missing?

  6. 15.54. Made life difficult for myself by putting LEAD UP at 5a initially; not sure why other than a roof is generally upward, and it seems sometimes that UP can go after almost any verb, in the US especially.

    STEW: to be in a state of worry or agitation (Chambers).

    1. Thanks, Sabine. I think it’s more the use of the finite verb form that bothers me, especially with the auxilliary in the definition. But I guess it works on the substitution basis. I just flipped back through a few puzzles and realised how rarely the solutions are verbs. When they are, they seem mostly to be infinitives of one sort or another. Perhaps Anax could confirm if setters consciously avoid verbs, especially finite ones.
      1. I can only speak personally but, no, there isn’t really anything I avoid if – being the utterly devious scoundrel I am – it offers scope for using a def that makes a verb (or any other part of speech) look like something else.
  7. Binding has 2 meanings – obligatory and securing. Red Tape is used in the legal profession to secure documents.

  8. Another 9 minuter and an experience similar to yesterday, several enjoyable clues and a few doubts all centred on the first handful of clues.

    The def at 1A doesn’t feel so much wrong as a struggle to make it read with the wordplay. At 5A “Church roofs have” is a lead-in to LEAD ON rather than a def, but I get the impression this may be a def form that is deemed acceptable by the ed and solvers. And at 10A I was thrown by bookstore=shop which seems somewhat generous.

    BUT – in the end I solved without too much difficulty and sometimes you take the attitude that apparently dodgy clues would only be truly so if they prevented solving, and these minor aberrations were made up for by 13, 15, 1D, 20 and my COD 4 AMNESTY.

    Q-1.5 E-6 D-7 COD 4

  9. ugh – in a self-inflicted mess this morning and I made a bigger one of this. Put HEADWEAR, slogged through for 34 minutes, but eventually had a full grid. Not sure where I dredged up A SHROPSHIRE LAD from but it helped get the almost empty top together.
  10. 43 minutes. After a PB of 11:30 last monday I haven’t finished one in under 25 minutes since. The storm after the calm or something.

    Agree that bits of 1ac are unhelpful and I also wondered why bookstore? Is Elfland a real word?

    Q-2, E-6, D-8.5, COD 20.

    1. Elfland is in one of the books, Collins, I think, defined as an alternative to fairyland.
  11. Made a meal of this at 18:45, with 1A, 8, 21, 1D, 12 and 19 among those that took too long.
  12. I struggled through this last night, needing 60-70 minutes. I was not thinking the same way as the setter, evidently, but when I solved various of these they raised a smile, such as SPRAYER, ODENSE, AMNESTY. ABSALOM, OVERDUE, INCAPACITY, UNEATEN. LET DOWN seems very apropos today. So I give it high marks for both difficulty and entertainment, despite the unease about 1A, which I think has altogether too many things happening at once. Regards all.
  13. Liked 5 and 20. Didn’t like 1 which I also felt became obscure in the padding.
    Was a bit slow getting going but finished reasonably quickly once I got to half-way point.
    15.11 seemed not to bad
  14. My experience and feelings echo many of those above. I thought this was going to take me 30 minutes because I solved quite a few clues straight off, including the useful long answer to 10. But after 50 minutes I still had 19, 20, 23 and 25 unsolved. I had a tentative entry of PLATOON for 19, which didn’t help. I resorted to aids after this.
    It seemed a strange mixture of some very good clues and some distinctly dubious ones. 1a had a very oddly worded definition, that still fails to make very precise sense to me. I didn’t like the wordplay gimmick in 2a; think of a sentence ending with the two words of the answer and make that the first part of the clue. I know there’s a bit more to it than that, with the double meaning, but that’s more or less what it amounts to. And in 4d why is amnesty the right response if a girl is wrongly imprisoned?

    On the other hand, 20, which defeated me, was brilliant, and 19 wasn’t far behind.

  15. with all the doom and gloom i spent most of the day worrying about bank deposits, borrowings and commitments…and to cap it all a real toughie of a crossword…(90 minues off and on)
    SOme of the words were rather obscure like Logorrhea…Agree with the comments about Headgear and Headwear but plumped for headgear…correctly…O-Dense i thought was might cryptic and Red tape took me ages…I thought that 20 down was a brilliant clue and it took me ages to see the double menaing of mister..and talking of prayer..lets hope for a sensible real solution to the banking crisis in the UK
  16. Well, ended up with more white bits than words, again. Maybe I don’t have the right sort of twisted bits in my brain. There is however a perverse fascination about banging my head against the proverbial wall, even if it’s just that its nice when I stop – a pleasure most of you must have lost out on years ago once you got used to knocking those answers out at ridiculous speed.
    However, I did go off on a ramble into the various other blogs and sites listed down the right hand side, and thence to the blogs/sites they link to… Gosh, what a lot of xwordy types there are out there. Fascinating. Didn’t get me any further with today’s xword, but kept me entertained!
    1. Keep at it. It is well worth the frustration and head-banging. This was a hard one to break into, particularly if you could not get the long ones 10 Ac and 21 Ac fairly quickly. And many of the others very devious.
    2. Welcome, and I hope you will stay around IanD. I’m one of the tortoises here and there is a lot to enjoy without trying to compete with others on solving times.
  17. I think the reason why “bookstore” in 10ac was such a problem is that it’s a case of definition by example, and shows why d by e is such a bad thing. But perhaps I’m wrong, since the setter was quite correct in 19dn (“heart perhaps”).
    1. I’m with you Wil. If we keep drawing attention to what a bad practice d by e is who knows perhaps something will get done. I thought “bookstore” without say “perhaps” was poor.
  18. I had 15 minutes to look at this at lunchtime, only got it half done. Needed another 20 minutes or so tonight to finish it, not helped by putting HONESTY for 4D (Honesty can be a girl’s name and “hoy” is a call), LEAD IN for 5A, and I also had HEADWEAR for 25A.

    1A the last to go in, just because it fit. I agree with Jimbo that this was a bad clue.

    With Cheltenham only 5 days away I could do without this kind of puzzle putting the wind up me!

  19. I had HEADWEAR at 25a and not HEADGEAR, which I considered but opted randomly for the former. It is impossible to tell from the clue and if HEADGEAR can be one word then surely, by the same rules, HEADWEAR can be. Just recently we have had BATTLE BUS and BATTLEBUS so it seems that concatenation of words is rife. I don’t really care if one dictionary has one but not the other – so there. Fortunately this will never be a dilemma for me under championship conditions.

    There are 5 “easies”:

    9a Feeble people when rebuffed are nervous (4)
    STEW. Wets are not necessarily feeble. The political connotation of the word may have been coined by Margaret Thatcher to refer to colleagues who had the guts to stand up against her?

    22a Grain some animal took (4)
    MALT. Hidden in the last 2 words.

    4d Girl wrongly sent inside: call for this? (7)
    AM NEST Y. AMY with scrambled SENT inside.

    6d Son of David, a second rate Strauss opera that closes early (7)
    A B SALOM (E). I thought it was quite good 😉

    14d Extremely dangerous cold – best for it to be treated (9)
    FROSTBITE. Anagram of (BEST FOR IT).

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