Times 24663 – Bird strike!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
This took me 75 minutes of hard graft which I did not much enjoy and I was not helped by a very tough 1ac which after an hour had passed I decided to look up. Reviewing the completed puzzle I’m not sure what my problem was apart from 3 words I didn’t know which I’ll mention as we go…

1 METTERNICH – MET,ThE,R(N)ICH – Von Metternich  was a German-Austrian politician and diplomat. I’ve heard the name but knew nothing about him.
7 URGE – sURGEon
9 RESERVED – Re-served, as one did after a ‘let’ in tennis
10 TATAMI – TATA,MI – Goodbye followed by I’M reversed. It’s a rush mat apparently, unknown to me before today.
11 MUSLIN – Mulim changes its last letter to make the fabric
13 PLUG-UGLY – I spotted UGLY as an anagram of Large GUY long before I remembered a PLUG of tobacco
14 DOWN THE HATCH – Yet another of those weird British toasts said before drinking. Not sure if it is known much outside these islands.
17 DING DONG BELL – A DING-DONG is a fight and the BELL ends a round or match in boxing etc. The old rhyme is: ‘ Ding, dong, bell, Pussy’s in the well. Who put her in? Little Johnny Green. Who pulled her out? Little Tommy Stout’. These days he would have put her in a wheelie-bin.
20 WHINCHAT – WH(INCH)AT – I’ve probably met this bird before but I only got this from the wordplay
21 BREAST – B(R)EAST – One ‘breasts’ a hill when one reaches its summit
22 PATINA – Anagram of ‘paint’ + a
23 ABLATIVE – Yet again I took ages to spot this reversed and hidden answer
25 SHAG – S(H)AG – another bird
26 KINGS CROSS – KING’S, CROSS – The rail terminus in London is famous enough but it’s also the name of a whole  area nearby that for a long time was considered rather run-down and seedy but it is currently undergoing regeneration. There are a number of KING’s colleges to think of including one in London, but probably the most widely known is in Cambridge which has a chapel where they hold the carol service broadcast throughout the world on Christmas Eve.
3 Deliberately omitted. Please ask if baffled.
4 RAVEN – V in NEAR reversed. Yet another bird from this setter – the third individual plus the whole young brood at 14ac!
5 IN-DEPTH – Double definition, one of them cryptic
6 HOT BUTTON – HOT (as in hot off the press), BUT,NOT(rev)
7 UNTOUCHABLE – Those outside the Indian caste system are ‘untouchable’ as are sacred cows.
8 GAMBLE – GA(M)BLE – The film actor being Clark of that name. I’m glad ‘punt’ turned out not to be another reference to boating so we don’t need to get back into all that argy-bargy.
12 LINE DANCING – DEN, I reversed inside LANCING. I got this from the definition (Movement in formation) and a couple of checking letters. The school makes a change from the more regular Eton College but I’m not sure how well-known it is around the world.
16 PLOSIVES – P,LOS,IVES – I wasted time thinking P,EL plus a 5-letter composer.  Ives is Charles. I briefly considered Burl but I don’t think he actually composed anything.
18 Deliberately omitted. Please ask if baffled.
21 BOLUS – Sounds like “bowl us” so we have our usual daily reference to cricket at last
24 TAR – TARn – A mountain lake

46 comments on “Times 24663 – Bird strike!”

  1. Time for this one: 8:08 (online solving, rather than my previous paper times – I suspect I’ll make this my normal solving method, so my times may improve a little bit as I get used to the user interface).

    Quite pleased with that time as there was some fairly tricky stuff here – I also struggled with Metternich (though “diplomat” just rang a bell), and didn’t notice Lancing until I came here. I have a vague memory of seeing it in another crossword, maybe a Mephisto or Azed.

  2. 28 minutes but my last in, after puzzling at it for a time, was wrong. I can’t believe I didn’t see Muslin and finally went for Dublin hoping it was a kind of cotton. Didn’t know of one or two others (tatami, winchat, hot button) but they looked/sounded right. An enjoyable exercise.
  3. Slow solve although felt reasonably in charge but for 3 in NW corner only resolved after cheating my way to METTERNICH, a clue not helped by cumbersome construction. Had been thrown by “junior” in 2 and “Yes and no” in 4. Expect I was not he only one carelessly to stick HOT POTATO in but quickly cured wih PLUG UGLY. HOT BUTTON, PLOSIVES and TATAMI from wordplay. Too many of our feathered enemies for my liking.
    1. I wasn’t thrown by it, as I didn’t pay it any attention. I believe I have worked it out now, though, and it was scarcely worth the effort.
  4. Don’t have a time, as I did it in several places sans clock. But I thought quite difficult and I’d have been lucky to finish under the hour. No problem with Metternich as he was a fave of Spanner Gob (our old history teacher). Remembered from the old joke in which the German ends up loudy exclaiming “Und vat’s wrong mit Schmetterling?!”
    My problems were in the diagonally opposite corner where I couldn’t work out the 16/23/21s overlaps, despite two of the answers being linguist-ish. Sometimes it’s the things closest that elude. That’s why I never see “don” or “professor”.
  5. I needed to be on top of my game for this one and unfortunately today I was more Harrington than McDowell. Had to resort to aids with just half the grid completed. Joint CODS to DOWN THE HATCH and HOT BUTTON (waylaid by ‘hot number’), two excellent multi-word clues. Twitching not being a major pursuit of mine, I got the -CHAT but not the WHIN-, and am a bit unhappy with SHAG. ‘What dipper does’ would normally be ‘sags’; in a context such as ‘what [a] dipper does [is to] sag’ the infinitive would be okay, but that seems to be stretching the crypto-grammar a bit.

    BOLUS is a particularly clever clue for us cricket fans, as Brian of that name was a stalwart for Yorks, Notts and Derbyshire in the 60s and 70s.

    Warming up nicely for Cheltenham, Peter.

      1. I don’t think you should be shy to raise questions/reservations if you have them. I rather enjoy the back and forth here about the wording of the clues.
  6. Couple of small things jackkt, in 20ac it is not necessary to cross out the H in INCH, as it is whinchat not winchat. And in 2dn there is a redundant R in “exercut..”
    I didn’t time this but it wasn’t hard, not even got the coffee on yet, never mind drunk any. No problem with Metternich, having read many good history books such as Royal Flash
    1. Thanks, Jerry, I have amended both. Actually I spotted the first one amongst three or four corrections that were needed immediately after the original posting but when I went into Edit I got a blank display in Rich Text view and I had to switch to the Html view and try to edit there amongst the distractions of the codings. In all the muddle I managed to overlook this one.

      If any other bloggers experience the problem viewing Rich Text I eventually solved it by refreshing the page without using the content of the browser cache. If you’re using Firefox you can download a button that does this.

  7. With HOT BUTTON and PLUG UGLY crossing, I was held up for quite a while working out which of the two was the lesser known variant, as I too wanted POTATO. Just lucky to get the PLUG first.
    Less lucky on 11, where I confidently entered POPLIN, the Pope’s ending changing to L and IN from into. Since it made my last in, 1d, impossible, I corrected it in the end. I see from later research that poplin is only imitation cotton.
    Time today around 20 minutes, including the change of trains, spent furiously thinking what might go in 1d. CoD to the lift and separate festival on PLOSIVES.
  8. Middling difficulty for me once I’d managed to penetrate the new crossword site. A real mix of clues from quite hard to very easy and some UK centric stuff that I suspect overseas folk may struggle with.
    Got a bit fed up with all those birds.

    Isn’t there some reasonable doubt these days that Richard 111 really was a hunchback? Isn’t it a myth perpetrated after his death to malign his memory? That Waggledagger has much to answer for.

    1. Yes, I believe after his death, the Lancastrians proceeded with a character assassination by portraying him as deformed and ugly. Specifically in an account of his reign by Sir Thomas More. This account is believed to have been used as a source by Shakespeare, and the rest is history.

      I think there are several portraits of him (those that weren’t doctored after his death) that show him as quite decent-looking, upstanding chap.

  9. As usual I solved on-line in the office in short spells interspersed with work and lunch. I had nearly finished when I realised there was a timer going (this is new) so I hit “Pause” – and promptly lost the lot. Finally completed in 4h 29mins (according to the timer). Another puzzle I haven’t even started has over 8hrs on the clock!

    Memories of skinny-dipping at the end of the beach at night gave another meaning to 25ac.

  10. 51 minutes. Did most of it in well under 30 minutes, then the old brain tired and it took me a ridiculous time to get EXECUTOR, RESERVED and MUSLIN. (Shouldn’t the clue have been “person of religion”, in these inclusive times?) These days, I often run out of steam after a flying start and wonder whether it is best to oxygenate the little grey cells with vigorous physical exercise, or to relax with the aid of a stiff brandy.
  11. 22m. Quite pleased with this time as it felt harder than that as I solved it.
    WHINCHAT and PLOSIVES were unknown, and I hadn’t heard of LANCING but it was all gettable with a bit of effort.
    Can someone explain “yes and no” in 4dn?
    1. Yes, that’s how the clue works, and no, the raven is not a “bird very small”?
    2. I read it as

      “Very small in close up” – Yes, because that’s the wordplay but No, because the raven is a very large bird when seen close to.

  12. Not for me today, picked the wrong note and thought the name was METTEREICH, and couldn’t figure out the other other bird and opted for THUG. I’ve known a few birds what were thugs know wot I mean.
  13. Left with 7 after 30 minutes, mainly in the NW, but in the next 30 minutes I only put one more in and took one out, so resorted to aids.

    I had gone for BUTT-UGLY at 13 which hampered my solve somewhat.

    I see that some of the printing issues have been addressed. Let’s hope that the other more serious problems are resolved with similar haste.

  14. Yes, I was BUTT UGLY for a while too and also had OPERAT(ive)OR at 2d which didn’t help with 1ac, not that the answer to that would have sprung to mind.

    There are (five) other cases: ABLATIVE seems to get more than it’s fair share of outings.

    1. Cliens, unless posting anonymously and as long as nobody has yet replied, contributors can delete and re-post. Remember to copy the original to the clipboard first so that you can paste back and edit before posting it again.
  15. Ah, looks like I picked the wrong day to give up Ritilin. Another dismal failure in something of a catalogue of them notched up of late.

    This time it was METTERNICH who undid me – the sort of name that is wheeled out as an answer by the little chap who hasn’t started shaving on a University Challenge team with a look that says “Is there anyone alive who doesn’t know that?” and always, no matter how many times I hear it, comes as news to me. Wrong sort of knowledge.

    Not being able to make head or tail of EXECUTOR and not seeing the obvious MUSLIN didn’t help.

    Anyone got any nootropics?

  16. Just over 30 min. using the new timer (including the pause button – a good feature of the new site that I hadn’t spotted before). Managed to submit, but the site tells me I still have 0 correctly completed puzzles, even though as far as I can tell all my answers were correct this time – even the guesses. Ho hum. Maybe they don’t register until the following day? There don’t seem to be any 24663’s on the leaderboard.

    There were some nice surface readings in this one, e.g. 7 ac.

    1. I’m sure you’re right about the next day – the timings for 24662 didn’t appear until today, and my time for Jumbo 891 will presumably appear when the solution is made public next weekend.

      This may be partly my fault – when I saw an early test version, the dialog where you can currently request performance stats for today’s puzzle just showed you those stats with the Play and Print buttons. I thought some (including me) would prefer to choose whether they saw this inforation. I suspect they’ve decided I wouldn’t want to see times for active puzzles on the leaderboard either – true for the default version.

      I hope that when it’s possible to view solving performances for one puzzle at a time, you’ll be able to do so for “active” puzzles.

      1. It did come up the following day, but the time shown on the leaderboard must have included the period when I had the pause button on, which is a black mark against what was otherwise going to be a genuinely useful change.

        Today I managed to finish the Saturday puzzle, but couldn’t submit it at all. Go figure (or fo gigure as my ginfers keep wanting to type!)

  17. Fairly tough (as seems to be becoming usual for a Friday?)

    After 45 minutes I was left with 1ac and 2d in one corner, 7ac and 8d in another corner, and 20ac / 21d scattered elsewhere. 8d I should have got earlier, so it and 7ac swiftly fell into place. Light eventually dawned over all but 1ac, which I never did get, falling into the extremely wealthy = rich trap, so the wordplay eluded me. For what it’s worth, my best guess was that well known german diplomat the MESTEREICH. Total time about an hour.

  18. 14:30 here, which seemed a bit slow. I found myself getting a bit bogged down a couple of times, then seeing an easy clue that I hadn’t even read yet, which got me going again. I think BREAST, SHEATH and GAMBLE all fell into that category. I’d never heard of a HOT BUTTON but the wordplay was very specific so no problems there. I also guessed at PASSIVES just before seeing DING DONG BELL so that didn’t hold me up much at all. Last in was METTERNICH as I only went back to it at the end.
  19. Regards to all. Returning from a sojourn in the American SW desert area, so sorry to be absent of late. This took about 20 minutes, ending with the relatively unknown PLOSIVES, where I was fooled for a long time by the Spanish article being ‘los’ rather than ‘le’, and by BOLUS appearing too simple to actually be correct. Remembered Count METTERNICH from long ago history class, and appreciated the tricky wordplay. The birds WHINCHAT and SHAG from wordplay only; they must be European birds? Best to everyone.
  20. I thought the second part of the clue could be either wordplay or a second definition. I know it’s a bit near the knuckle for the Times but maybe the setter sneaked it past the editor!
  21. I’m with George on METTEREICH, a middle ranking diplomat of the Bavarian foreign department. Apart from that WHINCHAT, HOT BUTTON & LANCING were completely unknown (I hope the latter doesn’t set a precident). Speaking of which, doesn’t aURGEon set one? What happened to the principle of adjacency?

    Shags are found in Australia as well as Europe, kevin, attested to in the common phrase “like a shag on a rock”, which roughly translates as “like Piffy on a rock bun”.

    1. Thank you koro, although I have to admit that, to me, the translation seems as obscure as the original.
  22. I dont normally read this blog until the evening, so never have anything different to add – hence my rare forays, even though it gets a thorough read every day.

    Today was a very odd one though as I completely failed to see the (4,7) in 12D for the entirety of the solve, even until giving up and coming on here with 11&12 unsolved.

    I thought I did quite well on the rest in about 15 mins, given I percieved it to be quite a tricky grid, however I hit a brick wall on the two mentioned even though i had pencilled in -INED- and was looking for a school of 7 letters. I have no idea why my eyes never focussed on the enumeration, I suppose I had assumed it as an eleven letter word at the outset, so never thought to check. You would think after ten minutes of gazing at the paper gormlessly and studying every facet of the two clues it would have dawned on me what was going on, but no.

    I have absolutely no idea why that happened – has anyone had similar? I assume that 11A would have fallen when the L went in, so in essence this was a one clue problem, but I am gobsmacked.

    Doesnt bode well for Sunday!

  23. I always remember Metternich from the story that, when told of the death of Talleyrand, he said, “I wonder what he meant by that?”
    Tatami is the traditional flooring for a Japanese home, and even Western-style houses and apartments standardly have one tatami room.
  24. Funny how METTERNICH was such a problem to so many, but nobody apart from me seems to have stumbled over PLOSIVES. For what it’s worth I saw an EL and an IVES and figured the middle part must be IS, something to do with isobars. Hence ELISIVES. Neat, logical, and totally wrong. No problems apart from that, 48 minutes.
  25. This clue reminded me that back in the 80s I was marking A-level exam papers in German from Eton College, and the batch I was marking included one candidate called Metternich and another called Bismarck. Surreal.

    I also post rarely here, but it’s because I’m so slow at solving that everything has been said by the time I arrive.

  26. Time today: forever, but at the end things improved when I reprinted and restarted the puzzle in the evening, having gotten almost nowhere earlier on. I needed aids for MUSLIN (shame on me!) (having seen MULLAH as the man of religion and convinced myself that MULLAN was cotton as an adjective!) and for BOLUS (after looking frantically for a ball pronounced BAIL US, which of course would also get us out, say — once again a cricket problem, but many thanks to ulaca for the comment and advice on cricket for Americans provided yesterday). As a square dancer, I’m ashamed about how long it took me to see LINE DANCING. COD to EXECUTOR (for “will I deal with” as the definition, and some good wordplay).

    Some hairs to split: what’s the apostrophe doing in 7d (as the definition cannot possibly be: Like some Indians’), although I don’t see how to rescue the clue if it’s removed. And who am I in 9ac?

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