Times 28311 – where is a duck not a duck.

Quite a lot of rather clunky wordplay in this one, with two homophones, and nothing unknown, unless you don’t know your breeds of cattle. I hope nobody complains about an anagram of that ‘foreign’ word. And I’m metaverse averse.

Definitions underlined in bold, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, anagrinds in italics.

1 Recess for violinist? (5)
BOWER – double definition; shady bower, and one who uses a bow.
4 Atlas, for example, might indicate eastern deserts (9)
MUSCLEMAN – I think this is might = MUSCLE, MEAN = indicate, remove E for eastern (deserts as a verb).
9 Virtual world with a dislike of the police? (9)
METAVERSE – MET averse would be disliking the London force; metaverse as in where Mr Zuckerberg would like us to be, making him richer.
10 Old actor in family pairing? (5)
MASON – MA and SON paired, presumably James Mason, not Perry Mason.
11 Design of hat peculiar, an arrangement light years away(5,8)
14 Usual intake for legislative assembly? (4)
DIET – double definition.
15 Thus newspaper publication features leader in the flesh? (4,6)
SOFT TISSUE – SO (thus) FT (newspaper) ISSUE (publication) insert T (leader in The).
18 Am I not able to handle a type of spanner? (10)
CANTILEVER – Can’t I, lever = handle; spanner as in bridge.
19 Box held in reserve, not closing (4)
21 Steps taken, not necessarily in tossing of the caber? (8,5)
HIGHLAND FLING – cryptic definition.
24 Every second counting, pair is doing something illegal (5)
ARSON -alternate letters of p A i R i S d O i N g.
25 Bird of prey pursuing grub, as wriggling in receptacle (5,4)
SUGAR BOWL – (GRUB AS)* followed by OWL.
27 Same reforms with party treasurer (9)
28 Crop in meadow originally changed (5)
YIELD -FIELD changes its original letter.
1 Fish always smothered in mint dip (6,4)
BOMBAY DUCK – BOMB = mint, as in it cost a mint/bomb; AY = ever; DUCK = dip.
2 Temple, dictator’s eh? (3)
WAT – sounds like WHAT? As in Angkor Wat.
3 Celebration taking in a show (6)
REVEAL – insert A into REVEL.
4 Way to maintain high score, flashy system? (5,4)
MORSE CODE – insert (SCORE)* into MODE.
5 Grain clearly indicated (5)
SPELT -double definition, spelt out could mean clearly indicated.
6 French beef cooked minus oil (8)
7 Lady, is drink good in place of mud pie? (11)
8 Cardinal visiting London in Ealing (4)
NINE – hidden as above.
12 False hope in dish served by airline? (3,2,3,3)
PIE IN THE SKY – witty cryptic second definition.
13 Scruffy mattress in tatters, loot initially stuffed inside (10)
BEDRAGGLED – BED (mattress) RAGGED (in tatters) insert L(oot).
16 Junior say sent up: we aren’t upset about that (9)
TWEENAGER – EG (say) reversed inside (WE ARENT)*.
17 State feeling upset about trap, doodlebug overhead (8)
VIRGINIA – VI (V1 rocket) RIA (air = feeling, upset) insert GIN = trap.
20 Head sliced from tasteless fish, for scrap (6)
AFFRAY – (N)AFF = tasteless, head removed; RAY = fish.
22 Great player giving tip to the audience? (5)
LISZT – sounds like LIST as in tilt, tip.
23 River pollution originally affected (4)
CAMP – CAM (river in Cambridge) P(ollution).
26 Odd numbers? Essentially the first of all(3)
ONE – first letters of Odd Numbers Essentially, and the first odd number.


79 comments on “Times 28311 – where is a duck not a duck.”

  1. I couldn’t remember the fish and put SMELT instead of SPELT, so DNF. Otherwise I don’t remember anything especially noteworthy. I had no clue about the MAN part of MUSCLEMAN when solving, but Atlas and the checkers were enough for me not to think too much about it. I remembered BOMBAY DUCK is a dried fish not a duck. Held up for a minute when I realized TEENAGER didn’t fit and had to regroup, then I realized it was TWEENAGER (usually I don’t like cute made-up words but this one I think is quite clever).

  2. 16:53
    I couldn’t figure out MUSCLEMAN, but I thought of Charles Atlas as well as the guy who holds up the earth, who wasn’t a man, but. DNK LIMOUSIN. If I knew BOMBAY DUCK, I didn’t know much, e.g. that it was a fish. I don’t think I knew the mud pie, and I biffed MISSISSIPPI from the S’s, and thinking of where it’s a treat to beat your feet; the parsing came to me later. Is a junior a TWEENAGER? Is MORSE CODE a flashy system?

    1. A flashlight may be used to transmit Morse Code – NB opening scenes of the film ‘Sink the Bismark’!!

      1. Didn’t Monty Python use an Aldis lamp? But that doesn’t make Morse Code flashy.

        1. A signal lamp (sometimes called an Aldis lamp or a Morse lamp) is a semaphore system using a visual signaling device for optical communication, typically using Morse code. The idea of flashing dots and dashes from a lantern was first put into practice by Captain Philip Howard Colomb, of the Royal Navy, in 1867. Colomb’s design used limelight for illumination, and his original code was not the same as Morse code. During World War I, German signalers used optical Morse transmitters called Blinkgerät, with a range of up to 8 km (5 miles) at night, using red filters for undetected communications.

  3. 42 minutes. My thoughts echoed those of the title of this blog, but I was glad to have obediently followed the wordplay recipe for 1d, even if I didn’t see how a DUCK could be a ‘Fish’.

    I wondered what sort of tool a CANTILEVER was, missed the (too) obvious parsing of ONE and biffed AFFRAY. Favourites were the sort of double def, but not quite, HIGHLAND FLING and the surface and parsing for SOFT TISSUE.

  4. I really enjoyed puzzle 28311 – right on my wavelength at 27 minutes.

    FOI 1dn BOMBAY DUCK – delicious but sadly no longer served in most Indian restaurants as this is the preserve of Bombay and not Bangladesh or Bangalore. Originally these restaurateurs hailed from Bombay to London/Birmingham/Manchester in the fifties.
    LOI 19ac SPAR
    COD 25ac SUGAR BOWL which at first I thought might just be SUGAR BABE/CUBE!!

    The setter used a host of interesting words from 11ac ALPHA CENTAURI to 16dn TWEENAGER which has appeared before. But 12dn PIE IN THE SKY belonged in the QC – IMO.

  5. 35 minutes with MUSCLEMAN unparsed and METAVERSE unknown but assembled form wordplay.

    I must admit the ‘foreign word as anagram’ thing did pass through my mind when solving 6dn but fortunately I recognised the answer when I spotted it as a possibility, so in it went with confidence. This doesn’t mean it was necessarily fair on others, of course.

    Very pleased to dredge up SPELT from somewhere as my LOI.

    1. My last in too, by quite a margin, even after 4A gave me the S. I had to go away and come back to it.

  6. I agree with our blogger that this was clunky in places (perhaps the QC was by the same setter?). However, finished it in 30 minutes.

  7. 17:04. My FOI was a confident STRONGMAN. I didn’t stop to think that “might” would give you “strength” rather than “strong”. As a consequence my last three in were MORSE CODE, SPELT and LIMOUSIN, after spending considerable time trying to think of alternatives that fitted the letters I had in place!

  8. 25 minutes here, fairly straightforward top-to-bottom. METAVERSE perhaps a tribute to Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the origin of the word, published almost exactly thirty years ago? The book also popularised “avatar” as a person’s online representation; I think that’s come up fairly recently, too…

  9. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to Yield.

    15 mins of gentle fun pre-brekker.
    I think Bombay Duck has a brilliant surface… smothered in mint dip.. brilliant.
    And Affray is almost as good. Top clueing IMO.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  10. Very enjoyable – starting with ALPHA CENTAURI and a descrambled LIMOUSIN (which felt right, even though the meaning was unknown). METAVERSE raised a smile, and 7d reminded me of good ol’ Bix Beiderbecke’s wonderfully exuberant “Mississippi Mud”. Ended with a bit too much biffing (YIELD, LISZT) followed by last pair PAYMASTER and CAMP (which for too long I though must end in an A).

    Great to get a tick in the box after yesterday’s chaotic effort, in 39:35 – thanks P and setter

  11. 31:10
    NE corner took ages. Once I got spelt I was in business, though.
    Thanks, pip.

  12. 26.15 for me. My last two were MUSCLEMAN AND SPELT. Having entered MUSCLEMAN without parsing it, SPELT followed quite quickly. I also thought BOMBAY DUCK was a great clue.

  13. 34 minutes with LOI LISZT. I didn’t parse MUSCLEMAN, so thank you for that, Pip. There were many good clues and I liked METAVERSE and HIGHLAND FLING particularly. I just assumed there was a flashy version of MORSE CODE. I’ve never actually heard anyone say TWEENAGER, I’m pleased to say. Good puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

    1. 25 mins with one NHO biff (the French beef) and one un-parsed (Bombay Duck). I seem to be in the minority because I really enjoyed this – some very clever clueing and several chuckles along the way. Got bogged down in the NW corner but not sure why. COD to Bombay Duck now I know how it works! Thanks setter and blogger.

          1. Because if you “bung it in from definition” you have to know the definition. If you don’t know the word you’ve put in an answer based on wordplay, checkers, guesswork, a hunch, whatever, but not from the definition.

            1. Well, a) that’s BIFD, and b) why can’t you know (or think you know) the definition without knowing the word?

              1. You’ve lost me. All I was saying was that Coxburglar can’t have solved the LIMOUSIN clue from knowing that LIMOUSIN is a type of “French beef” because he admitted to never having heard of it. I rather suspect he solved the clue by unscrambling the anagram and using whatever checkers he had to construct a likely looking word. That certainly isn’t a BIFF.

              2. ‘Biff’ is just a variant of BIFD. So as the word was originally coined you can’t, as Penfold says, biff a word you don’t know. But people increasingly seem to use it just to refer to bunging something in without complete understanding.

                  1. Yes it describes most of my solving! But when I say I biffed something I mean specifically that I put it in from the definition without bothering with the wordplay.

          2. Correct! Thanks for the clarification. It was a BIFAF I think. Bunged in from anagram fodder.

  14. Didn’t know spelt and forgot wat was a Cambodian temple My last two in
    I also had strongman until I got limousine which delayed the NE corner
    Chuckled at the metaverse clue
    40 mins which is my worst for a while

  15. METAVERSE eluded me for the longest time, holding up the NW corner, but everything fell into place once I’d seen it. LIMOUSIN cattle are simply beautiful, and a pleasure to see them crop up in the crossword. Liked SUGARBOWL and AFFRAY.

      1. I spent my younger years in the Fylde. It’s always been a Friesian cow for me.

  16. 33m 31s
    I thought this was a pleasant enough puzzle. Thanks, Pip for MUSCLEMEN (couldn’t work out MEN) and BOMBAY DUCK (couldn’t sort out the BOMB bit)
    Not that amused at ‘high’ being used as an anagrind but I’m sure it must have been used before.
    When we lived in western France we had a herd of Limousin cattle in the field nearly opposite our house.
    COD to METAVERSE. Is this the first sighting in Crosswordland?
    Thanks again, Pip.

  17. Lots of fun here, especially the excellent cluing for BOMBAY DUCK (and thanks for the back story Horryd!). All correct in 38:50 held up in the SW by not seeing LISZT (whom I would always describe as a composer, albeit a virtuoso like many other great composers) and trying to believe a JAGER FOWL was a real bird of prey.

    Thanks setter for the entertainment and Piquet for the blog.

    1. A jager is a seabird, a type of gull, of which there are two types – Richardson’s and the Pomerine Jager. (see Audubon)

      1. Aghast at the avian wisdom. Thank you. Lucky I didn’t know that or I would have been stuck there even longer trying to make that work.

  18. Our setter used multiple schemes
    And we then seemed to visit extremes
    Some answers malign
    But some quite benign
    And eleven’s the clue of my dreams

  19. DNF. Foiled by LISZT – despite having all three checkers, I decided both the remaining letters had to be vowels, and one reason Liszt never occurred to me is (like Pleasuredome8 above) because I always think of him as a composer rather than a player, though of course he was one.

    Enjoyable enough otherwise. I didn’t parse the ‘spanner’ bit in CANTILEVER, I didn’t know the actor MASON, and it was a long time before I dredged up LIMOUSIN from I’ve-no-idea-where.

  20. 11:16. After a bit of a slow start on the acrosses the downs got me going. I failed to parse AFFRAY, not seeing NAFF for tasteless, so thanks for that Pip. A pleasant enough crossword, although I didn’t care for HIGHLAND FLING much. Thank-you setter too.

  21. Well I started to read the other comments and thought yes, clunky, that’s right .. then I read some more and thought yes, some clever stuff here, like 1dn .. and now I’m just confused.
    But I did quite like it.
    I think …
    Only 10 days since I was in Limousin

  22. 32:09. Half yesterday’s time so I feel much better today. FOI not until 14ac DIET. LOI 13dn BEDRAGGLED. COD 11ac HIGHLAND FLING

  23. Couldn’t parse 4a MUSCLEMAN, thanks to our esteemed blogger for that. Took a looooong time to see why 26d was ONE, so congrats to the setter. CODs to 1d BOMBAY DUCK and 17d VIRGINIA.

  24. Almost finished in 28 minutes but then took 12 minutes over MUSCLEMAN, SPELT and MORSE CODE. Does spelt = spelt out? I couldn’t see what mud had to do with MISSISSIPPI, but evidently it’s my lack of Beiderbecke knowledge. I was glad that it was clear how to spell LISZT, because I often slip up with him.

  25. 10:51. I have somehow got this far in life without discovering what BOMBAY DUCK is.
    4ac MUSCLEMAN is one of those clues where the wordplay and answer seem to be more or less the same thing, which I always find slightly unsatisfactory.
    Overall I liked this one though, a good challenge and I didn’t find it clunky.

  26. Smelt wrong
    I was so exercised by forcing SMELT to mean clearly indicated I forgot it was fish not grain. Pretty in pink.
    The rest was amenable, occupying 15.31, but I bounced off the wordplay for MUSCLEMAN, rather densely not even seeing might the noun and wondering what MAN was east of.
    My usual sniff at “substitute any random letter” for YIELD: always feels (sorry setter) like lazy cluing.

  27. 27:31

    Held up for a while by bunging in STRONGMAN quite early on. Wasn’t until I was stumped on 4d, 5d and 6d that I took another look – 6d was clearly an anagram but I couldn’t make anything of N_M_U_I_ plus the remaining letters. Not really very up on French beef!

    MORSE CODE pointed the way forward – I’ve seen Sink The Bismarck and assumed that was what they were conveying with the lamps. Once I’d replaced STRONG with MUSCLE, even LIMOUSIN fell into place.

    Enjoyable puzzle.

  28. Well I completed it. No time, but well within my target. LOI AFFRAY, but not properly parsed.

  29. WAT got me going in this enjoyable puzzle, and led immediately to BOWER. BOMBAY DUCK arrived later in the proceedings, once METAVERSE and ALPHA CENTAURI were in place. I did the HIGHLAND FLING after a DIET of PIE IN THE SKY and SOFT TISSUE. LIMOUSIN, MISSISSIPPI and NINE were no trouble, but MORSE CODE and SPELT were slow to come, leaving an unparsed MUSCLEMAN as LOI. CANTILEVER as a spanner made me smile, as I was messing with spanners inside my washing machine on Monday. 26:16. Thanks setter and Pip.

    1. You mean you actually worked on the machine from inside ? It must be a very big drum 🤣

  30. 09:33, and I didn’t find this one especially clunky while I was solving – but cryptic solving is, after all, very much a question of putting this bit here, turning this part of the word round, replacing that letter, so perhaps different elements seem more or less mechanical to different people (and quite probably on different days). James MASON is going back a while but at least he isn’t the wretched Beerbohm Tree, which relieved me, and going completely the other way, I, too, wonder if this is the first appearance of the METAVERSE (although as pointed out in comments, the concept has been around a bit longer than Facebook).

  31. “What’s her name ? VIRGINIA Plain” (Roxy Music). I didn’t enjoy this one “Ferry” much. NHO of METAVERSE, and biffed MUSCLEMAN, BOMBAY DUCK, BEDRAGGLED, and (I’m ashamed to admit) my LOI.

    TIME 10:09

  32. 5m 29s finishing on MUSCLEMAN (unparsed), having tried to justify MIDDLEMAN without success. Only after getting SPELT did the penny drop – and even then I was thinking of the god rather than Charles.

    Atlas, of course, held up the heavens rather than the earth, but whoever made that first atlas book really messed up his legend from there on out.

  33. Took a while to retrieve MASON from the depths – he was very good as the villain in North By Northwest. I knew it had to be a duck (which brought to mind some Marx Brothers dialogue involving a viaduct) but I got stuck on Peking – another city with a new name and nothing to do with fish. 15 and change.

    1. Same name, different spelling. James MASON I remember from N by NW, of course, but also ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’, ‘Lolita’, ‘Odd Man Out’. And I remember him from I think Jack Paar or Johnny Carson, recounting how some young Irishman approached him and asked, “Excuse me, but aren’t you James Mason in later life?”

      1. Ah yes, fish – the dinner scene in 20,000 Leagues with filet of sea snake and sorbet of unborn octopus.

  34. 18.30. I found this mostly a straightforward solve but I was very hesitant over LOI muscleman where the parsing of ‘indicate eastern deserts’ proved to be beyond me so bunged in the answer on the basis of Atlas and muscle for might.

  35. Had no idea how to parse MUSCLEMAN, and MORSE CODE took a while. I did like BOMBAY DUCK and HIGHLAND FLING.

    Tomorrow I’m going to Limoges which is in Limousin. Just a day trip, as it’s not far from Poitiers. I spent a night there about thirty years ago, and it struck me then as one of the most boring places I’d ever been to. My needs are simpler these days, and I figure it’s time to give it a second chance.

    Thanks to Piquet and the setter.

    1. I thought much the same about Limoges. And their fixation with hugely overdecorated and overpriced pottery doesn’t help…

  36. Nice crossword, with morse code my LOI. Didn’t parse muscle man so thanks for that. Thanks setter and blogger.

  37. 45:03. Really enjoyed many short answers- WAT, LISZT, SPELT, BOWER and MASON ( very creepy in The Pumpkin Eater). COD to CANTILEVER with METAVERSE close behind. Like Mauefw I thought of MIDDLEMAN first as Atlas was stuck between heaven and earth(also considered Mussulman for a few minutes). Put in SOFT TISSUE, VIRGINIA, and MUSCLEMAN without seeing most of the parsing- so very grateful to blogger for these and other explanations.

  38. 16:25 with the parsing of MUSCLEMAN being as unclear to me as to others. I found myself wondering if there could be a Musc Desert in some eastern part of the world that has hitherto escaped me known as Leman. I’d never admit to something so daft, of course.

  39. I always add some spelt flour to the mix when making bread. I believe the Romans were keen on it, too.
    Nothing too taxing here.

  40. 13.35. Nothing too taxing but enough to make me stop and think first. NHO tweenager and was almost going to put in teennager until the anagram presented. Highland dance made me stutter till fling came to mind as well.

    The rest went in reasonably quickly. COD to muscleman.

  41. No time for this one as it was stop go in three sessions, but estimated at about 45 minutes. Like many others couldn’t parse MUSCLEMAN, and although I’ve heard of LIMOUSIN didn’t know what it was, and only vaguely heard of the expression TWEENAGER.
    Tried BOMBAY DUCK as a starter course in an Indian restaurant many years ago, a culinary experience not worth repeating. Something of nothing as my old mum used to say.

    1. Cooked Bombay duck once. Stank the house out and my wife would never allow it again.

  42. 21.08

    Liked it (but agree with Sawbill that the clunkage rating was higher on the Quickie. Also was waiting for Zabadak’s inevitable comment on the YIELD thing, as remembered that wasn’t his favourite device)

    Went through the clues afterwards to establish the smoothness rating and that seemed quite high to me. And like others thought MUSCLEMAN was rather clever as I was trying to fit mountains of some sort in there until the pdm. Eastern deserts was good

    Thanks Piquet and setter

  43. As others have commented, some of the wordplay was a bit clunky, but that did not detract from an enjoyable solve. Held up in the SE corner by biffing GAMES at 21a and then DANCE, before the rather neat FLING revealed itself.
    Fortunately Mrs Shabbo knew of the mud pie.
    Good puzzle.

  44. At 40 minutes, this was somewhat quicker than yesterday’s. Lots of quirky definitions, but none of them stumped me, although I didn’t quite understand all of the wordplay. I am not good at old actors or anything else of the sort, but I did finally plump for MA SON rather than ME SON (also a family pairing) or even MY SON (that wouln’t be a pairing, I suppose). I was METAVERSE averse, but not averse to the definition. Otherwise a fair to middling puzzle, I would say.

  45. Clunky? Not for me: enjoyed it immensely, especially the PDMs at METAVERSE and CANTILEVER.
    Well done setter and blogger.

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