Times 24665 – What does a 500lb canary eat?

Solving Time: 55 minutes

Not much to say for myself except I was waylaid by a 32 page tome and a 500lb canary loose in Slough. Apart from that, the appearance of some old favourites should make for some fast times amongst the cognescenti. Others, like me, will just have to plough their way through.

1 TINSMITH = TIN for “can” + Model inside THIS*
6 BAROQUE for “highly ornate” with the O for “ring” removed = BARQUE
9 FLAXEN = LAX for “loose” in FEN for “slough”. My last in. I thought it could be Slemon loosely clued.
10 VELOCITY = VehiclE + LOCALITY for “district” minus it’s AL (Capone) for “gangster”. AL is a perennial favourite of The Times for any newcomer.
11 Deliberately omitted. I’m expecting an orgy of complaint.
12 PAR for “equality” + Sought inside COWLEY = COW-PARSLEY, Anthriscus sylvestris, not to be confused with cow daisies, although I did for a time.
14 TRI ENNI (“try any”) for “check out whatever” + A for area = TRIENNIA
16 TOYEd for “flirted endlessly” reversed = EYOT, not an Island, but any island, particularly in a river. More assumed knowledge for crossword solvers.
18 I FUSs for “I bother (with) no end” reversed = SUFI.
19 I’M OLDER for “this writer is senior” containing P for power = IMPOLDER, literally, to make into a polder, being a tract of low land, esp. in the Netherlands, reclaimed from the sea or other body of water and protected by dikes. So now you know.
22 CARP = CARPark
24 D for daughter + AY for always + BREAK for “time off” = DAYBREAK
26 BRIDGE, a double definition, the first a reference to the famous piece of military engineering.
27 ATTEST = SETT for “badger’s burrow” inside T.A.(Territorial Army) for “volunteers” all reversed. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the reappearance of sett since 1995. Once bitten…
28 STRAY for “wander” containing GG for “good(plural)” and L for left = STRAGGLY

2 IN for “popular” + LAY for “song” = INLAY
3 XTO for “unknown to” appearing in COMEDIES* = SEXTODECIMO, the book size I always struggle to remember, and today was no exception, not helped by thinking it must be semi-something. It’s sixteen leaves (32 pages) in Latin.
4 INNOCENT = CONNIe reversed + ENT for Otolaryngology Department.
5 HAVE WHAT IT TAKES, a double definition, the second a variant on the “Where does a 500lb canary sit” joke.
6 ALL for “a couple of lines” inside BAD for “naughty” = BALLAD
7 ROC = ROCk
8 UP THE POLE sounds like “Up the poll!”. I haven’t heard this expression for mad since my youth.
13 SHE for “novel” (as in Rider Haggard) + stooL + LACKING for “needing” = SHELLACKING
15 ROUGH for “thuggish” + CAST for “players” = ROUGHCAST. An external plastering technique frequently employed on timber framed houses (according to Wiki), which would explain the supporters.
17 SPACE-BAR, a cryptic definition
20 Deliberately omitted. Er… pungent criticism expected.
23 ELGAR* = REGAL, a small portable reed organ of the 16th & 17th centuries.
25 BEE, a d.d., a nurse bee being one of the positions workers aspire to and a buzzer being a generic bee. Wednesday is wax production, Friday is drone feeding…

43 comments on “Times 24665 – What does a 500lb canary eat?”

  1. Quite tough for a Monday. I spent an hour getting everything apart from 16ac, which I needed a helper to crack. EYOT is one of those words that separates the experts from the amateurs, I guess. If you didn’t know it the cryptic wasn’t much help – although we’ve had AIT a couple of times recently, which should have jogged my memory. Regal organs and nurse bees were also new to me.
  2. Got rather delayed in the SE since I put in BEETLE for 26a. Beetle Bailey is a comic strip, but in retrospect it is too american to be in the Times crossword. But luckily once I got the G of STRAGGLY it looked almost certain that there would be an I in it.
  3. EYOT did for me as well but was not alone. Neither Latin nor anagram solving skills quite up to SEXTODECIMO and thus couldn’t solve FLAXEN. Justified BEE by the letter B being in the word “possibly”. BRIDGE from definition, REGAL and IMPOLDER from wordplay. Dismal and dispiriting.
  4. Well there you are. Put in Ragel at some point for the organ since sounded more likely than Regal and forgot to check. Otherwise sound in 27 minutes. Eyot took a time. Neat puzzle.
  5. 85 minutes. I cheated on three after an hour but may not have solved several others and still be solving if I hadn’t. The three were SEXTODECIMO, TRIENNIA and SUFI.

    This was my worst disaster for some time, even if I include Saturday puzzles, as virtually everything except the 6s, 7dn and 10ac was a struggle. Even BEE at 25dn which I thought of immediately couldn’t go in until I had the checking letters as I’ve never heard of ‘nurse bee’ so couldn’t justify the answer.

  6. I cheated like mad but still got two wrong (‘crab’ for CARP and ‘argel’ for the organ), so if Barry is feeling dismal and dispirited, I feel like Matt Kuchar right now.

    Koro, it’s ‘cognOscenti’. I must get something right today.

          1. I’ve been caught out on Wiki by the suggestions that come up at the search field when you begin to type. What it suggests seems to be anything that previous people have searched on, so if they have misspelled something it could well be listed.
  7. Likewise cheating, finished in 42 min but still had one wrong I see (STRAGGLE instead of STRAGGLY) – then got the 404-of-death when I tried to submit online. And when I tried to retype, both IE *and* Firefox are now giving me incorrect versions of the grid, so I shall never complete this one 🙁
  8. 14:30 here, and a welcome relief from the seriously tough puzzles from the Championship that I’d also taken with me on the train this morning.
  9. 33 minutes. Gangster Al is here again; it’s about time he was locked up for good! I wonder if our own home-grown mobsters such as Reggie and Ronnie Kray might provide a clue or two. I don’t suppose many remember that notorious London gangster of the 1950s Jack Comer, also known as Jack Spot; he’d be very useful to a setter.
  10. What a struggle. home in 45 minutes but had to check on Sextodecimo. thought there were some tough clues here. COD might be Cow parsley or Sufi curiously!
    nice puzzle and well blogged
    i have a problem on one of my three computers that i use to print out the puzzle. Today on my lap lop the puzzle wouldnt print as the pop up was blocked even though the pop up blocker was disabled!? any clues as to what to do next?
    Worked OK on my 2nd computer at work!
    1. I am having the same printing problems. Any advice would be very welcome please!


    2. Depending which version of internet explorer you are using (if you are using it at all) the crossword could be coming up in a separate tab in your browser rather than in a popup as before. The new site seems to have started doing this, unbidden, in my browser at least. I think the crossword club coding has changed in such a way as to take advantage of a default setting in IE options to open new windows in separate tabs, which didn’t seem to happen before although it is the default behaviour with other sites. Worth a check anyway.
  11. 14 minutes, and lucky with the vocab, I guess. I’ve long though it neat that Elgar’s other anagrams are large, lager and glare, making his music big, bright, boozy and REGAL – chose the right one for the organ. SPACE BAR is my way of remembering to say “thank you” in Russian.
    I had milennia for a while, even though it did’t fit the clue and wasn’t spelt right, so ROUGHCAST and SUFI were my last in. IMPOLDER looked made up.
    CoD to URGENT, possibly the oldest and most venerated of cryptic clues, for antique value alone.
  12. I didn’t get a time for this, because after 25 minutes I got off the tube and then dipped in and out for about an hour.
    It turns out I had almost all the answers but it took me that long to decide that I wasn’t going to find anything better than IMPOLDER and SHELLACKING, so they’d better go in even if they patently weren’t proper words.
    Somehow finding out that they were just made me grumpier. I’ve never heard of the bee or the organ either, so all in all there was a bit too much obscurity in here for my liking. And to cap it all my guess of SEXTODEMICO at 3dn makes this a DNF.
    Oh, and I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase “up the pole”.
    Not a good start to the week.
    1. “Up the pole” is in Brewer’s. It appears to refer to the main mast of a ship which one has to be a bit mad to climb.
  13. After 40 minutes I was left with 15, and 16 and later resorted to aids. I should have got 16 but was desperately trying to think of a particular island. As for 15, it was impossible, given that I’d entered a badly misspelled BILENNIA. Rather sleepy today. The rest didn’t present too many problems but didn’t understand 25 until I came here.
  14. Found this pretty hard going today, though a new commute of double the old one, plus the travails of trying to fix a dead in the water laptop may not have been the best preparation for this… It’s probably quite old hat, but I liked 17d.
  15. Straightforward if a bit slow – wind battered after golf is my excuse – home in 25 minutes with no real problems.

    There’s an EYOT (Chiswick) in the Thames and the boat race crews row by it every year!

  16. About 40 minutes in two sessions to complete this puzzle, without aids, so quite pleased. There were some really good clues here, so thanks to the setter. Harder than usual for a Monday!

    UP THE POLE tests the memory (Jewell & Warris BBC c.1950 anyone??)and IMPOLDER seemed highly unlikely. COD to TRIENNIA.

    1. I just knew there was a show or film called this but was unable to track it down until you mentioned Jewel and Warris. It was on The Home Service (now Radio 4)in 1948 and 49 and possibly later. I doubt I ever heard it unless it continued to the mid-50s but I certainly remember it being spoken of. It had a huge audience.
  17. Me and my hangover made a meal of this, but after 25 minutes, it appears all the guesses (COW-PARSLEY, CARP, IMPOLDER, SEXTODECIMO,ATTEST) were all right. First time for everything!
  18. 12 minutes , took a while to get the right —ENNIA and didn’t know the BEE and REGAL but easy to get with a checker or two.If the anagram fodder wasn’t there I would have had a toss-up between SIXTO and SEXTODECIMO. Felt this was slightly above average difficulty but after attempting the 3 final puzzles in the audience at Cheltenham yesterday made it feel a little bit flat at time of solving
  19. Maybe it was a (metaphorical) hangover from yesterday, but I think this may have been my worst effort this year – over 22 minutes, with one mistake (‘impelder’ for IMPOLDER). I struggled badly on the ‘tri’ of TRIENNIA, the ‘parsley’ of COW-PARSLEY, the ‘pole’ of UP THE POLE, EYOT and SHELLACKING. I think I might award myself the rest of the week off.
    1. I reckon you’ll be fine by tomorrow – have a look at the comments on the puzzles of 8 and 9 October 2007 for another “morning after” dip in form, followed by a decent time the next day.
  20. Is ‘ait’ exclusively a US spelling? (Sorry; I don’t have a dictionary to hand at the moment.) I’ve come across it it seems like monthly in the NY Times puzzles; I must have picked up ‘eyot’ from earlier Times cryptics.
    1. No “ait” is an alternative spelling for EYOT and is phonetically how both words are pronounced. It’s also a Scots word for “oats” if you’re into bar crosswords
  21. Late comment, as I only finished Tuesday morning, using aids for the last three (TRIennia, ROUGHCAST, and ATTEST). Why is it that I can get all the hard stuff and miss out on something as easy as TRY ANY A? I also knew that ATTEST had to be right but couldn’t make the wordplay fit. My electronic Chambers does not give the double-T spelling of SETT.

    As for UP THE POLE, I had some unexpected help with that, having read the entries for POLE in Collins and COED in preparation for devising a clue for the Clue Challenge competition. So it’s just luck that that was easy.

    1. Why is it …? Maybe because a simple construction that’s well-disguised ends up as a difficult clue. Or just because one man’s easy is another’s hard. There’s also a recognisable effect where a bunch of hard clues can cause you to wrongly assume that the rest will be hard and stop thinking of the simple ideas.
  22. So much easier than 24664, which I found was a killer but eventually fought my way through.

    This one I failed in Rumi instead of Sufi. I thought the great bard should go close – he is a Sufi great, after all!

    Best wishes to the other anon_in_oz!

    1. Welcome to the site, prospectorinoz. If, like many in Australia, you are solving this via The Australian newspaper, you are some three weeks behind The Times. Since the caravan has moved on, it is unlikely that your comments will be spotted by anyone other than the individual day’s blogger (me in this case). If you want to truly participate in the discussion, you should buy yourself an online subscription to the Crossword Club of the The Times and get the day’s puzzle in real time. There’s a cheap deal until Nov 14 of 20 pounds for the year. Whilst not wishing to sound like a spruiker for the Murdoch empire, this is the best 20 pounds you’ll spend in your life, particularly when you factor in the current exchange rate and the daily cost of the Australian.
      1. Your reply very much appreciated, kororareka. The additional anon comment to the previous day’s blog emboldened me to wonder how many others are 3 weeks behind the van while playing from OZ.

        Mr. Murdoch has my subscription to the newspaper already. I don’t wish to pay him more – I’d like to encourage rather than discourage an up-to-date crossword printed in the paper!

        How many others do you think are in the same boat? Maybe we can start a petition?

        All the best to all bloggers and solvers 😉

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