Times 26,159: When Is A Bird Not-A-Bird?

A break from the norm this week – I did this one with pen and paper (though no Tippex – I’m nothing if not a cockeyed optimist). This does mean that none of my answers have been validated, so if I’ve messed up anywhere and am a DNF instead of the 13.52 on my stopwatch, please do sing out!

I found this puzzle slightly odd in places with a touch of clunkiness about a few of the clues – I feel like I must be missing something about 10a, for instance, and 13a ind 26a seem to have proved unamenable to any kind of succinct definition – but overall satisfying, with some pleasingly ornate vocabulary, which always floats my boat. Actually, now that I come to look at it again, aren’t the surfaces mostly absolutely brilliant? Coherent micro-stories that take the mind in a direction that is completely at odds with the cryptic part. Top-notch stuff.

15a was my FOI, a word that I think I have only learned this year – did it feature in a TLS grid perhaps? I was glad 11a had the crossers it did as I badly wanted to biff in METONYM. 17d was a lovely clue which gave me a nice penny-drop moment and I think led to my LOI, the slippery 23a which afforded my brain little purchase till the very end. COD probably to the pleasingly different 5a though. Tack så mycket setter!

Across
1 MADRIGAL – song: MAD [cuckoo] + (A GIRL*) [“moved”]
5 LISTEN – pay attention: L IS TEN = fifty is ten = “this statement is out by a factor of five”
10 ACT OF PARLIAMENT – law: A [answer] before CT OF PARLIAMENT [court | concerned with body found in Westminster] +
11 MERONYM – “faces for people, say” (meronym being the use of a part to signify the whole): (MEMORY*) [“playing up”] about N [name]
12 STOPPER – “closer to the neck”, i.e. that which closes a neck: S TOPPER [small | hat]
13 LIPAEMIA – concentration of fat in the blood: (I’M PALE*) [“unfortunately”] + I A [one (with) a]
15 NAAFI – canteen: “a piece of” {tu}NA A FI{llet}
18 EXEAT – leave: E EAT [note | to dine] “about” X [ten]
20 ANTIPHON – musical piece: A N TIP [a | new | ending] + HON{e} [“mostly” to make sharper]
23 OUTCAST – rejected: OUT CAST [unfashionable | appearance]
25 PASSIVE – yielding: PASS [test success] + IV [intravenous] + {dos}E [“finally”]
26 DIRECT MARKETING – “as happens in factory shops”: (GET IN*) [“orders”] after DIRECT MARK [order | point]
27 BOWLER – double def: supplier of delivery / hat
28 RECLINER – “on which one can relax”: “initially” R{each} E{astern} C{ape} by LINER [ship]

Down
1 MIASMA – unpleasant smell: MI [note] + {g}ASMA{n} [“uncovered”]
2 DETERMINE – resolve: DETER MINE [to prevent | tunnelling?]
3 INFANTA – princess: I N FAN [one | northern | nut] + T{ree} [“initially”] attracts A
4 ALARM – a siren, perhaps: ALAR M [winged | maiden]
6 IDAHOAN – American from east of Washington: (I HAD*) [“turned”] + O [over] + AN
7 TWERP – idiot: ANTWERP minus AN [“losing article” in Belgian city]
8 NOTORNIS – New Zealand bird: NOT OR [never | otherwise] found on N IS [North | Island]
9 CLASS ACT – superior individual: LASS [girl] coming in CACT{i} [“pruned” plants]
14 MEANTIME – for the moment: MEAN TIME is “something associated with Greenwich”. Which is where I’ve recently moved to. Yay!
16 ABOLITION – the chop?: (OBTAIN OIL*) [“for cooking”]
17 LEMON DAB – fish: LE MOND{e} [“a lot of” newspaper for Calais] = A.B. [seaman]
19 TRANCHE – block: TRANCE [unaware state] needs to secure H [hospital]
21 PAS SEUL – a single measure?: PASS EU [enact | EU] + L{aw} [“initially”]
22 LEDGER – register: L EDGE [left | margin] on {pape}R [“bottom edge of…”]
24 THROW – get (i.e. make) confused: “three (letters) leaving from front of” {hea}THROW [London airport]
25 PURGE – atone for: P [parking] on URGE [drive]

59 comments on “Times 26,159: When Is A Bird Not-A-Bird?”

  1. … boogered on this one. I did finish (just about, with a little help). 5ac was a chance write-in. And much the same for NOTORNIS, MERONYM and LIPAEMIA. Still don’t understand the parsing for 26ac. Is this the most obscure Times of the year?
    1. Oh yes, 26a, that’s another one that could have accusations of clunkiness levelled against. Google tells me that a factory shop is “a shop in which goods, especially surplus stock, are sold directly by the manufacturers at a discount” but is that really the same thing as “direct marketing”? Punningly perhaps…
      1. Many in business tend to confuse advertising, selling and marketing – interchanging these words which describe three very different activities. Advertising and selling are subsets of marketing which also includes such things as product design. I would say a factory shop is direct retailing.

        1. Lexicographers too! The Collins definition of DIRECT MARKETING starts ‘selling goods directly…’. Surprisingly poor.
          1. I agree. Collins is a strange dictionary sometimes offering definitions which I and others on this blog like yourself find distinctly odd and here we have another example.
            1. To be fair to Collins, ODO makes the same mistake, and Chambers actually gives ‘direct selling’ and DIRECT MARKETING the same definition.

              Edited at 2015-07-24 08:53 am (UTC)

              1. I have a degree in Marketing (hmmm…wonder where I put it), but I long ago gave up trying to convince people that they were using the term incorrectly. That’s language for you, it has a mind of its own.

                Think my breaking point was when I heard some ladies describing an outing to the shops as “doing some marketing”.

                1. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to be prescriptive: as far as I’m concerned the word ‘correct’ is simply meaningless when it comes to language. If people commonly use DIRECT MARKETING to mean doing the breaststroke, then dictionaries should reflect that. My point is that what I would call the ‘standard’ meaning of DIRECT MARKETING is missing from the dictionary definitions. In lexicographical terms I think this is a mistake.

                  Edited at 2015-07-24 09:23 am (UTC)

                2. In Scotland shopping is “doing the messages” – does that count as marketing as well?
                  1. I’m glad you mentioned that Sawbill. When I was a kid in rural NSW we would often be sent to “do a message”, usually meaning a trip to the shop. I’ve never heard that usage since and was starting to wonder if I my memory was playing tricks on me.

                    Scotland, you say? Makes sense. My little town had a fair bit of Scottish heritage.

                  2. Would Marshall McLuhan agree that “the medium is the market”, I wonder? Most politicians seem to be of that mind these days.
                  3. In a rather horrible businessese, re-nouned verbed noun sort of way, ‘messaging’ is an aspect of marketing.
  2. An odd mixture this puzzle with the simplest of clues like 10A mixed in with unknown medical jargon like 13A. I knew 21D but only as a solo dance in a ballet – don’t quite see “single measure” – but the cryptic was easy enough.

    All in all agreeable enough without ever touching the heights

  3. Probably a good crossword, but the high proportion of Scrabble™ words (played but with no idea as to meaning) was rather distracting.
    Only a true pedant would want to point out that EXEAT doesn’t mean leave but leaves -3rd person singular. I hereby put in my application for the post.
    NAAFI was in a Times Jumbo two weeks ago. I’ve partaken of their orange squash in my time, but preferred not to touch the tea (all those rumours).
      1. “Exeat stage right”, I yelled at the performance containing the terrible actor.
      2. Not just a true pedant. Anyone from my prepschool would recall that whenever one of the 3 exeat days a term approached, the Head would remind us ominously that as well as the command ‘Let him go’, exeat also meant ‘he may go’, the implication being that he may not. Exeats could be cancelled as a punishment.
        1. It would have been nicer, rather than just cancelling the exeat, to replace it with a maneat, I think.
        1. A word that took me back to my grammar school days (King Edward VI School in Southampton). We had to ask for an EXEAT for certain things, although I can’t remember what now, as it was never a boarding school.
  4. 19.20 starting with 13ac, old age having increased my awareness of lipids. Unlike our esteemed blogger, I put in OUTCAST on sight. Strange how some answers materialise in an instant and others remain obscure. If we pooled our best efforts on individual clues how often would we finish before Magoo?
  5. Plenty of unknowns today – NOTORNIS, EXEAT, ANTIPHON, MERONYM, LIPAEMIA. With NOTORNIS in particular sounding unlikely to me, I felt like I was on a wing and a prayer when I finally pressed Done on the ipad, but I had all correct in 27:10. So a good finish to a week in which I think I’ve had more DNFs than Fs.
    1. NOTORNIS looks like a pretty plausible word to a Graecist: notos (south) + ornis (bird). I wonder if the literally meaning of “southern bird” makes the surface even cleverer?
  6. I agree it was a bit strange with several unknowns and some at the outer limits of my GK. Biffed 5ac and didn’t go back to worry what it was all about.
  7. Bit hard for me this one. NOTORNIS, PAS SEUL, EXEAT, LIPAEMIA all unknown and entered with some trepidation.

    But my real problem was entering and removing ALARM, not being able to parse it. Only after looking up the unknown MERONYM was I able to see the correct (and now obvious) parsing.

    So an excellent crossword at the tougher end of the scale I’d have thought.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  8. 19:17. Rather a lot of crossed fingers today: MERONYM, LIPAEMIA, NOTORNIS, PAS SEUL all entered from wordplay. ANTIPHON too, actually, although that was at least a word I knew. I like that sort of thing, as long as you can be confident of the answer, and I think all of these are fair.
    26ac took me a while: this definition is just wrong as far as I’m concerned. DIRECT MARKETING has absolutely nothing to do with selling from factories: the wiki article on the subject is better than most of the dictionary definitions. But wottheheck, I got the answer.
  9. DNK NOTORNIS (or AGAMI earlier) so, in a week when we also had SLINGSHOT, I am inclined to use the proverbial one stone.
  10. 11 minutes, during which I was part of the apparent majority who had their vocabulary extended. Note to self, just because you know a very similar word to the one suggested by the wordplay i.e. METONYM, it doesn’t mean this one doesn’t also exist.

    I also tied my own hands (or feet, perhaps) by thinking for some time that 21dn was (4,3) and a) being baffled by how there could be a special sort of ELL, which was obviously the measure in question b) getting the wordplay correct and unsurprisingly remaining unconvinced there was such a thing as a PASS EUL.

    One of my favourite, possibly apocryphal, radio anecdotes concerns the nervous new announcer on the BBC World Service who opens the bulletin with “It’s eight o’clock, Greenwich. Meantime, here is the news.”

    1. In the same vein … those readers who don’t check the blog late at night or early the following morning may have missed Tony Sever’s EWE LAMB anecdote t’other day. I’ll copy/paste it to save you going to the 26,157 blog:

      “I’ve known EWE LAMB from childhood, having been told of how someone reading the lesson in the church in darkest East Yorkshire where my great-grandfather was vicar had pronounced it EE WEE LAMB.”

  11. 46 minutes for an enjoyable if quirky offering. Was I the only one to have ‘otisma’ as 1d for a while? Or ‘meridian’ at 14d?

    If the dictionary defines DIRECT MARKETING as ‘selling goods directly’ and that’s what factory shops do, then I can’t see the problem with the clue, clunky as it may be. Challenging the dictionary is a bit like tennis players challenging Hawkeye. There is only ever one winner.

    And marketing, like all fields (especially ‘soft’ ones) is given to ambiguity and terminology that differs from place to place (and sometimes within the same place), so that one term can mean two (or more) different things, and two different terms can mean the same thing – to different people…or even the same people at different times.

      1. It seems that in Cardiff, when he was struck on the pad, there was an expectant hush in the press box, followed by enormous cheering and laughing when the inevitable doomed review came, from Aussie correspondents possibly even more than British. This was probably the moment when it became clear that absolutely every report on the match was going to include the words “Watto must go”.
        1. To be fair, he was quite entitled to review on both occasions. But then I’ve been the lone remaining Watto supporter for quite some time, and even I’ve jumped off now.

          So sad. So much ability. He coulda’ been a contender!

          1. if it wouldn’t be inappropriate for the opposition batting coach to do such a thing, Mark Ramprakash must feel like putting an arm round his shoulder and saying “I know, Shane. I know.”
            1. Heh. Perhaps Ramps could get Watto on to one of those celebrity dancing shows.
    1. Sometimes dictionaries are wrong. Not very often, admittedly. The only other demonstrably wrong definition I can remember is the Collins definition of SMOOTHIE.
      In this case DIRECT MARKETING is a common term with quite a specific meaning that is well explained in the wiki article. The dictionary definitions are all incompatible with this meaning, so this is another of those rare cases where I would say they’ve got it wrong.

      Edited at 2015-07-24 11:40 am (UTC)

  12. 21 mins. I had many of the same issues, namely NOTORNIS and PAS SEUL from wordplay and MERONYM as the most likely arrangement of the anagram fodder. Although I’d never come across LIPAEMIA before it was a no-brainer because of the very helpful definition and clue. I actually finished with a biffed LISTEN, although I’m now kicking myself for not being able to parse it.
  13. 32:55 … which I’ll take, as I have a lurgette. In truth, I’m finding these Fiendish Friday puzzles very hard. Didn’t someone suggest they were often the work of the Ed.? If so, can I hope that he will recuse himself from setting for the Champs? (if not, I’m cooked)

    Admittedly, I didn’t help myself by misspelling PARLIAMENT and biffing LIPAEMIC (which led me to a brain addled “glass cut” at 9d for a while … like I said, I’m not well).

  14. 27:21 but with some nervousness about whether the unknown NOTORNIS, MERONYM, LIPAEMIA and PAS SEUL were right. Bunged in ACRONYM for 11a without checking which left me scratching my head on 1d for 5 minutes at the end until I realised. Add me to the list of those who didn’t like 26a… I can find no definition for Factory Shop that includes the word marketing. My COD 20a for making me think of a church choir singing the last verse of such a piece modulating up a tone as if it were a Eurovision song.
  15. Quite a few words borrowed from ‘Mr Manley’s Obscure Words for Crosswords’ today (I have to be careful when I mention this non-existent book as a rookie setter actually went on line to see if he could buy a copy!) but the wordplay was fairly helpful.

    Was surprised to find I’d finished in 8:25 as it seemed longer.

    At the risk of starting another irrelevant thread – don’t think I’ve ever seem a lemon dab, sole yes, but dab no.

    1. It has such a lovely ring to it that it is my COD, if you’d pardon the pun. Despite the fact that it sounds like a dessert. Despite the fact that I’d never heard of it. And still so even if the dictionary has got the definition “wrong”. 🙂

      Oh, and be careful what you wish for…

      Edited at 2015-07-24 12:17 pm (UTC)

  16. This grid is the same one that I used a few weeks ago when I created a science themed Times-like 15 x 15. For some reason, I had difficulty in trying to make it available to the blog community, so thought I’d publish the clues here so if anyone wants to have another crack at today’s grid, please ‘fill your boots’!

    Across
    1. A plan of French origin, whereby a line of soldiers, holding a notice, are protected from crossfire (8)
    5. Short hardy protagonist chasing top hundred. It’s all about the Israelites (6)
    10. Non-aquatic kelp’s variously recognised contribution to quantum mechanics (7,8)
    11. Amateur blue surrender maybe, or save the reds (3,4)
    12. A river, by God! As far away as Io can get from the mother planet (7)
    13. Dire gait is corrected for the cream of the IT industry (8)
    15. Sounds like the span of a famous bridge (5)
    18. The Caine Mutiny, pre-cursor and first of its type (5)
    20. Campaign targets for Christian Era services (8)
    23. A dynamo spun into ten game series (7)
    25. Lady graduates, arranges menu a la mode (7)
    26. Radical said voters exist; causes death of cell (9,6)
    27. Heard mustard, for example, can be found in smelting operations (6)
    28. Dash to replace acidity with anchor and find the source of everything (8)

  17. …and the other half:

    Down
    1. Type of antenna used by European after a little Princess (6)
    2. Lame, I walk iffy! Surfer’s lament when he can’t ride the waves (5,2-2)
    3. Sugar that is reported to be digitally challenged (7)
    4. Special synod that generates a lot of hot air (5)
    6. Planet with ring gives unstable compound (7)
    7. State I would love to visit, get radical group (5)
    8. To change the state of a solid figure around haunts of vice (8)
    9. One, in spirit, after water tank (8)
    14. A particle running the show relating to the structure of life (8)
    16. American linguist and environmentally friendly old German state (9)
    17. Quarks, for example, in ensiform arrangement (8)
    19. Contemporaries in firm backing forced labour employee (7)
    21. Talking disorder that causes a good man to speak out (7)
    22. Apply logic to a treacherous crime without the constraint of time (6)
    24. A software layer and state that leads the user to knowledge or wisdom (5)
    25. Tomfoolery that mimics the sound of a beautiful fairy (5)

    If anyone does bother doing this, I’d be interested in your thoughts and times.

    Edited at 2015-07-24 01:09 pm (UTC)

    1. Rotter, I did it and enjoyed it a couple of weeks ago. Thank you!

      Didn’t record a time, but I recall having one query which now escapes me. I’ll get back to you…

  18. Odd puzzle, and in the end I was wondering between LIPAEMIA and PILAEMIA, both ended up in there at various times.
  19. Hard puzzle today due to a whole series of unknown words. I didn’t know of MERONYM, LIPAEMIA, NOTORNIS, EXEAT or PAS SEUL. I remembered NAAFI from its appearance here before. I did know everything else, but sorting around the unknowns extended me out to 35 minutes. I never parsed LISTEN, so it was biffed as my LOI. Phew. Regards.
  20. 14:27 here for a most interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

    I don’t recall coming across MERONYM before, and was a little nervous of its proximity to METONYM, but plumped for it anyway.

    The boarders at Dotheboys had truly Dickensian haircuts inflicted on us a couple of times a term. To maintain a steady flow of customers, the headmaster gave out a small number of tokens consisting of cards on which he’d written “Exeat ad tonsorem”, which you had to pass to the next victim after you’d been shorn. How pretentious can you get?

    As a sometime baroque dancer, I’ve danced “pas de deux” from the period, but the “pas seuls” (for male dancers at any rate) require a level of technique way beyond mine. (I’ve performed clog dance solos, but these weren’t graced with fancy foreign terminology, which is perhaps why it took so damnably long for me to solve 21dn.)

  21. Late today but I’m celebrating a sub 30 all correct – 28m to be precise. I do like it when I can work out unknowns and obscurities from the clue without needing some arcane general knowledge. Well done setter! I’ve really enjoyed the blog too so thanks V and all of our eccentric souls who liven up every day with their pleasing pedantry, witty winges and amusing anecdotes. Golf club championship tomorrow and Sunday. May that please me as much as this has!
  22. Sincere thanks to all who commented on today’s puzzle. Yes, it was a little more difficult in its vocabulary than usual, and designedly so, though I generally tried to take care that the cryptic indications would lead you through, which several noted. To confess, the real reason for it was that you have been tending to rate my recent puzzles as a bit on the easy side – so you have only yourselves to blame!

    Today’s mystery setter

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