Times 26,255: The Revenge of Michael Fish

Another Friday puzzle that seemed less hard than the Thursday puzzle preceding it, though all things are relative and there were certainly a few clues that I could imagine people having a hard time with (the gloriously classical 2dn, for a start, and 19dn which was a DNK). I finished, using pen and paper, in just over 6 minutes, but since at this point I can’t remember the last time I didn’t make one typo or silly brainstorm let me try and work out where I would have gone wrong if I’d been doing this under club timer conditions: probably 25ac, where I was been sorely tempted to enter POPE (a churchwarden and a half if ever there was one).

As I say, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some grumbling over 2dn, a phrase which I must confess I only knew from a misspent youth reading Asterix books (didn’t it crop up in Asterix the Legionary?). And then secondarily I disappeared down a rabbit hole of trying to calculate how many of the Argonauts could possibly have hailed from Attica – though since Theseus was one of their number, and few could be more Attic than he, I decided the clue definitely passed muster. Nice to see the good Titus as 10ac, which was a bit spooky having been confronted by the POPISH PLOT only yesterday, and given the fact that I went to see a pleasurably horrible staging of Titus Andronicus in Wimbledon last night.

COD-wise 3dn stood out to me as concisely ingenious, but I also liked the unassuming 1dn, just a simple but beautifully turned clue from a setter who very obviously knows what he’s (I think I got a tip off that he was a he?) doing. For which this tired and tested Friday blogger’s great thanks!

1 WEATHERMAN – (NEE{d} [“mostly”] WARM HAT*) [“in a storm”], semi-&lit
6 TRAP – carriage: {ex}TRA P{assengers} “fit in”
10 OATES – conspirator (Titus, fabricator of the Popish Plot!): “hiding regularly among” {r}O{w}A{n} T{r}E{e}S
11 FORTNIGHT – several days: O.R. [soldiers] + T{ake}N [“disheartened”] into FIGHT [battle]
12 ACHILLES TENDON – part of leg: ILLEST [most painful] in A C HENDON [a | cold | part of north London]
14 REAR END – behind: END [goal] after {d}REAR [boring “header’s disallowed”]
15 SILICON – used to make chips: homophone of SILLY [daft-“sounding”] + CON [fool]
17 CUTTING – double def: hurtful / piece from newspaper
19 FIGMENT – fancy: G-MEN [US investigators] wearing FIT [suit]
20 INCONVENIENCES – troubles: IN CONVENIENCES [among | ladies and gents]
23 GLASSWARE – schooners: LASS WAR [miss | fighting] “aboard” EG “retreating”
24 SLACK – coal: L [left] in SACK [appropriate container (for coal)]
25 PIPE – maybe churchwarden: PI P.E. [religious | lesson in school]
26 BEER GARDEN – one could get bitter here: reverse of AGREE [match “over”] between BR DEN [Britain and Denmark]

1 WOOD – maybe deal: D{rugs} [“principally”] behind WOO [court]
2 ATTIC SALT – wit: an “Attic salt” could be an ancient Greek sailor… i.e. an Argonaut
3 HOSTILE WITNESS – one hates hearing: (I WHISTLE STONES*) [“medley”]
4 RAFFLED – offered as prize in draw: R.A.F. FLED [servicemen | took flight]
5 ARRESTS – checks: “what’s included in” {f}AR{e} “before” RESTS [holidays]
7 RAGED – was fuming: RAG ED [scrap material | journalist]
8 PUT AN END TO – squash: (PEANUT* + DON’T*) [“assortment”, “supply”]
9 INTELLIGENTSIA – thinkers: IN [during] + homophone of TELLY [TV “broadcast”] + GENT’S [fellow’s] + reverse of A1 [“upset” top]
13 CRACKING UP – breaking down: in CUP [competition], reverse of CAR [vehicle “overturns”] + KING [champion]
16 CLEVELAND – Democrat leader once (Grover): CLEVE{r} [able “to shake off Republican”] + LAND [win]
18 GRENADE – explosive: DANE [European] in ERG [work unit] all reversed [“picked up”]
19 FRISEUR – hairdresser: FRIS{k} [“endlessly” search] + reverse of RUE [“back” street in Paris]
21 CHAMP – much: C HAM [cold | meat] + P{ickle} [“for starters”]
22 SKIN – film: S [son] with KIN [family]

65 comments on “Times 26,255: The Revenge of Michael Fish”

  1. A steady solve in 13.50, with lots of, well, Attic salt along the way to inspire approving smiles. Elegant clues all round, designed (I think) to make you believe that you were a member of the club at 9 down, just for sort of knowing stuff, like Grover Cleveland and, well, once again, Attic salt. The way the Asterix books used to make you feel when you “got” all the references.
  2. Three corners went straight in but the SE held out for far too long. As Verlaine says, spooky getting Titus Oates so soon after Popish Plot but smiled as always at 20ac. 20:14. Thanks setter and blogger

    (afterthought – is SLACK always NUTTY?)

    Edited at 2015-11-13 09:57 am (UTC)

  3. Fast for me, but at the price of biffing, e.g. 11ac, 12ac,and 9d (a true BIFD, not a checker in sight), although I did parse post-biff. Didn’t understand 14ac, thinking it was some sports-related thing. No problem with 2d, but I thought referring to CLEVELAND as a Democrat presupposed some rather arcane knowledge among British solvers (or me).
    1. I can’t say that the word ‘democrat’ helped me much, but it certainly didn’t hinder.
      I remember CLEVELAND as the reason Hillary will be the 45th of 44 presidents. And for being called ‘Grover’.
  4. About 40mins, but with ‘attic raft’ at 2dn. Never heard of ATTIC SALT. Will try to remember it for next time…

    Thanks for parsing BEER GARDEN and REAR END. dnk who CLEVELAND was, got this one from wp. Thanks, V.

    Edited at 2015-11-13 08:53 am (UTC)

  5. 15m. I found this quite tricky but most enjoyable.
    2dn was my last in. The Attic variety was only vaguely familiar but I remembered ‘salt’ meaning ‘wit’ from past puzzles. I felt rather the same way as z8 about it but I fear this feeling might be described as ‘insufferable smugness’. Personally if I were the editor I would have asked the setter to have another go.
  6. 16:10 … I think perhaps I have met ATTIC SALT before, but at the time of solving I certainly felt cleverer than I am for putting it together. Got a similar feeling with FRISEUR.

    Last in and by far the biggest problem for me was CLEVELAND, mainly because I didn’t know the first thing about him. Actually, I did. The only thing I knew about him was that his first name was Grover. Which it wasn’t. Apparently it was Stephen.

    Looking at it again, the CLEVELAND clue is a belter. Great surface. It might be a reference to Stephen’s first presidential campaign (0.25% edge in the popular vote, illegitimate child controversy and all — sobering to think that had he be running in 2015/16 he would never have made it through the primaries with that skeleton in his cupboard). I am now a Cleveland expert. My thanks to the setter for making this possible.

    1. I live in the US. I now have a new question for my American friends, to go along with “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”.

      “What was Grover Cleveland’s first name?”

      1. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” seems to have acquired cult status thanks to Groucho Marx. Amazing what you learn hanging around here.

        Talking of tombs, you may be interested in this, Paul. My father is tangentially involved in an attempt to restore the graves of the parents of Button Gwinnett, one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence (whose own grave site is unknown). During the recent rugby world cup a delegation from the American embassy, on their way to Kingsholm for a match, stopped by to inspect the site and talk about restoration funding. Gwinnett, Gloucestershire born, is himself quite an interesting character. Died in a duel (what else?). Might be some more material for dazzling your American friends with obscure knowledge about their own country in there somewhere.

        1. The best “dying in a duel” story I know is the mathematician Galois. He got into a duel (not sure quite how that works) and so the night before he wrote down everything he had worked out about the area of maths that now bears his name. Then he went out to the duel and died from his wounds. He was only 20. The stuff he wrote down still forms the basis of a lot of error-correcting-codes used in things like smartphones today.
  7. Around 30 minutes for all bar the non-Laconic sense of humour, which I needed to look up.

    Despite years of Classical studies, I wasn’t aware that the chaps from Lacadaemon had a sense of humour, much like the CCP today.

    1. Plutarch also mentions this comment, but he attributes it to Leonidas I, Dienekes’ general in the battle. According to Plutarch, when one of the soldiers complained to Leonidas that “Because of the arrows of the barbarians it is impossible to see the sun,” Leonidas replied, “Won’t it be nice, then, if we shall have shade in which to fight them?”

      If the Spartans didn’t have a well-developed sense of humour then I’ll eat my pileus.

  8. 21:08. Held up principally by 2d which was unknown, eventually plumping for SALT knowing the Argonauts were sailors. FRISEUR and SLACK were unknown to me too. 26a my favourite.
  9. Made it in just on 30 minutes which would have been 25 but for a last minute delay over 2dn. In the end I spotted ATTIC as Greek related and SALT as sailor, so two direct connection with the Argonauts meant it had to be correct. When I looked it up to check, the dictionary gave ‘Attic wit’ as an alternative, and I had heard of that when I came to think of it.
  10. A fairly mid-range puzzle, which took me about 30 minutes except for the incorrect ANTIC FART at 2D (well it’s as likely as ATTIC SALT seemed to me).

  11. DNK Attic Salt.

    Biffed Friseur no pronlem but would have preferred COIFEUR!

    Haven’t come across SLACK since I was a kid when my dad would go departmental if the coalman delivered too much SLACK (small bits) and not enough COAL (big lumps. Those were the days!

    BEER GARDEN was chewy but COD. FOI WOOD

    horryd Shanghai

    1. I didn’t know SLACK so much as NUTTY SLACK (goodness knows from where!) but that was all the corroboration I needed…
      1. When I was a kid there was a kind of nutty caramelly bar (the real name of which I can’t remember) that we used to call ‘nutty slack’. One day my granddad wanted to give us a treat and he went to a newsagent and asked for four nutty slacks. The newsagent didn’t have a clue what he was on about and he came home empty handed. We thought this more hilarious than granddad did.
        I owe the fact that 24ac was for me an instant bung-in entirely to this childhood memory.
      2. I associate “nutty slack” with comedians of a certain vintage that I probably heard on the radio towards the end of their careers in the 1950s or 1960s. Norman Evans and Al Read come to mind, and possibly (still around) Ken Dodd. I don’t know that they (or whoever else it was) had any particular reference in mind but it sort of sounds funny and is somehow evocative of a bygone era when times were hard i.e. people couldn’t afford the better quality fuels and had to settle for anything that might provide a brief respite from the cold in winter.
  12. Grover Cleveland Alexander (famous baseball player) was portrayed on film by Ronald Reagan – just thought you’d like to know. Speaking of politics – so far I seem to be the only one who found “Democrat leader” slightly jarring in this context. It’s the sort of thing Ted Cruz, for example, might say of Hilary Clinton – meaning it as a slur. It’s more non-partisan to say “Democratic”. 14.18
    1. Re Democrat/Democratic …. I’ve often wondered if they had different shades of meaning. Thanks for clarifying that.
        1. As the D is at the beginning (so automatically capitalised) the use of ‘Democrat’ seems preferable to me just to make the contrast with ‘Republican’ clearer in the surface. But perhaps I’m not sufficiently sensitive to the subtle shades of meaning here. By the same token I’m unclear as to how being insulted by Ted Cruz is a bad thing…
          1. To say Democrat party (see Google) or Democrat leader is the sort of pointless schoolyard thing that the likes of Cruz and Rush Limbaugh go in for because they like to think it’s insulting for some reason. You’re quite right Keriothe about it being no bad thing to be on the receiving end of such! I really didn’t mean to start this much of a hare.
            1. Thanks. I don’t know if it’s too much of a hare: these subtleties of meaning and tone are interesting. Well, I find them interesting.
            2. Thanks Olivia. As a casual follower of US politics I was unaware of this nuance. Politicians eh?
            3. But what would the response be if I started calling them “the Democratical party” or “the Democratical leader”?
              1. Back in the 1970s, I heard a lovely story about a famously taciturn captain who flew for the airline I worked for then. On a flight to Athens from Gatwick and during the cruise, when little happens, the co-pilot and flight engineer conversed at length about the mileage they got from their car tyres. The Captain didn’t join in. Nearing Athens when it got busy, idle chatter ceased. On the way back to Gatwick, all was quiet for a long period of time until the captain flipped the intercom switch and said, without introduction, “I get 24,000 out of mine”….end of communication.
                I just thought that might be appropriate in view of the lengthy (but informative!) discussion on Democrat or Democratic.
                Here endeth this transmission.
        1. To be fair the candidate selected by the Koch brothers does then have to win an actual election.
  13. 20 min – but really DNF as had to resort to aid after failing to think of anything to fit checkers at 16d (had heard of Grover C., but no idea about his politics.) No problem with 2d, having seen it elsewhere.
    I remember ‘nutty slack’ from the 40s when all the best coal went for export, and the good stuff to industry, so that the domestic user only got the rubbish.
  14. DNF as DNK ATTIC SALT, I knew ACTOR was one of the Argonauts, and it fitted with the first two crossers (I hadn’t yet cracked 12 across), and that threw me for ages until I got 12 and gave in on 2 and came here. The rest of the puzzle was nice enough, although I also spent some time trying to make sense of an anagram of ‘with peanut’.
  15. Like most here, I was thrown by ATTIC SALT. I got there in the end (though I spent a while pondering antic-something), but as much by luck as by judgement.

    I agree with Keriothe that the editor ought to have asked the setter to have another go. The phrase is certainly obscure, and the bridge leading from complete ignorance to the solution is at best a rickety one.

  16. Fairly easy for a Friday puzzle until it came to 2d. The phrase did not come to mind, though I have come across it. So 25 minutes with that one got with electronic aid. Other hold-ups were 8d, initially mistaking the anagram fodder, and 19d – surely not a misspellt COIFEUR? I had to wait until I solved 19a before I saw the answer.
  17. Foiled by 2dn (thought it probably involved ATTIC but that was as far as I could get), otherwise all tickety boo and most enjoyable.

    Thought many of the surfaces were very nice – 19dn in particular presenting an appealing image of quiet desperation.

  18. Finished in a leisurely 30 mins except for ATTIC -A-T for which I had no ideas except pure guesswork. Didn’t know the ancient Greeks used the word salt for wit; education too scientific and not classical enough, I suppose, although SILICON is there to balance it a little.
    Verlaine, your express solving, often under morning-after conditions, never ceases to amaze me. And your Classical bent. Bonne courage.
  19. 10.55 but had no idea on ATTIC SALT, either the straight or the cryptic definition. I plumped for ANTIC PART and hoped for the best.
  20. I found this a lot easier than yesterday but that’s probably because there are fewer exciting distractions today – I knew the wit and the hairdresser – what held me up was sorting out the anagram in 8d – sad but true.
  21. All but ATTIC SALT done within the half-hour, then resorted to aids. Tough clue for us numpties, though I’ll grudgingly admit it’s not a bad one. Might have just been able to get a handle on it on a good day. Apparently today wasn’t one of those.

    COD to HOSTILE WITNESS, despite a couple of schooners in a BEER GARDEN sounding good in this (Perth) weather.

    Thanks setter and Verlaine.

    *Edited when I realised I’d used the word “but” four times in three sentences. Appalling.

    Edited at 2015-11-13 02:21 pm (UTC)

  22. 2dn might have been classical for some, but I had never heard of it. I only came across it while searching through the undergrowth in my thesaurus.
    Was Alexander Pope really a churchwarden? I did wonder so read his bio on Wikipedia but didn’t see any mention of that. I did read that he was a strong Catholic. I very nearly put Pope but an expedition to ODO led me to the correct answer, thank goodness. Another one I had never heard of.
    I thought 3d was fairly straightforward as a nanagram. My favourite was that good ole Democratic Democrat, Cleveland. Cleve(r)ly done.
    42m 38s which includes around 12-15 mins for 2d and 25ac
    1. When I smoked a pipe , Martin , I used to have church-warden but it looked a bit silly on ward rounds! I bunged in 2 down on the assumption the argonaut was a greek sailor…lucky!
    2. Noooooo, I don’t think Alexander Pope was a churchwarden… I was thinking of His Holiness the Over-Warden of the Holy See of Rome! (It doesn’t work at all, does it…)
  23. 27 mins with the excuse that I was tired at the end of the working week. I definitely started to drift and I was thinking of things other than the puzzle as I was solving it. Anyway, like plenty of others ATTIC SALT was my LOI with fingers crossed. If I had ever come across it before I had certainly forgotten it. I took way too long over ARRESTS and PUT AN END TO.
  24. About 30 minutes, like others ending with ATTIC SALT. No prior knowledge of that here. Throughout I was trying to make an anagram from Argonauts, which made me resist CUTTING far too long, until later I realized it had to be, and with all the crossers ATTIC SALT was just a guess. Regards.
  25. Didn’t know the coal (got it), the wit (didn’t), or the pipe (didn’t again), and the hairdresser was vague. I, too, liked WOOD. I think the Democrat/ic insult has evolved to the point that the right uses it mostly because they know it irks the left as being childishly pedantic, and that it irks them even more to be irked at something so childish. Nothing more fun in politics than riling your opponents.
    1. Hello Paul. Maybe this should be off line, but I believe I can join you for the NYC based get together. Is it an afternoon thing?
      1. Hi Kevin. I sent you a longish (too long for here) message via the messages page. If it’s not in immediate site on the messages page, there is a spam folder which I seem to get sent to sometimes. Really glad you can make it.

  26. 8:28 here for a pleasant, straightforward solve.

    As you might guess, ATTIC SALT went straight in. Despite past experience, I’m still slightly surprised at how many people aren’t familiar with it.

  27. Hi – I was wondering how “Wood” is equivalent to “deal”.. I am sure I am missing something, but I just can’t seem to figure it out.
    I love this site – am still an amateur but learning so much from you all. And being able to occasionally finish it is a thrill! Many thanks
    FS1997 in Hong Kong
    1. It’s just one (fairly technical) definition of the word “deal”:

      1. (Forestry) a plank of softwood timber, such as fir or pine, or such planks collectively
      2. (Forestry) the sawn wood of various coniferous trees, such as that from the Scots pine (red deal) or from the Norway Spruce (white deal)
      (Forestry) of fir or pine

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