Times Cryptic Crossword 26,714 – Animal Magic

Solving Time: A rare excursion for me these days, returning to blogging the daily cryptic – standing in for Jackkt, who tells me he is recuperating well.
This took me a fraction over 20 minutes, which seems to be about par for my course these days. A steady, enjoyable solve with some tricky clues but nothing unfair and I never quite ground to a halt. Seems to have a slight animal theme with ducks, several other birds, dogs etc. This crossword also has one of my favourite characteristics, really good surface readings, always (it seems to me) a mark of a top notch setter

cd = cryptic definition, dd = double definition, rev = reversed, anagrams are *(–), homophones indicated in “”
definitions are underlined
ODO means the Oxford Dictionaries Online

1 Queen is aboard newer boat at sea or on river? (10)
waterborne –  R (queen, ie Regina as in ER) in *(NEWER BOAT). Arguably, the “at sea or” forms part of the def. as well as the wordplay (and why not?) but the ? means it doesn’t have to.
7 Britain has rejected private sort of prison (4)
brig – BR(itain) + GI (private) rev.
9 Good following girls on Twitter (8)
birdsong – BIRDS (girls) + ON + G(ood)
10 Digger reversing into Isleworth (6)
trowel – hidden, rev., in (is)LEWORT(h)
11 Chopped nuts next to a new drinks dispenser (6)
barman – BARM(y) + A + N
13 Agency worker, former model (8)
template – TEMP (agency worker) + LATE (former, as in “Late editor of the Grauniad”)
14 Happy just for men to carry a single black case (9, 3)
Gladstone bag – GLAD (happy), + ONE + B(lack), in STAG (just for men). Does anyone still use those, I wonder?
17 Where religious person is sheltering knight? That is awkward (12)
inconvenient – N (knight) + IE (that is) in IN CONVENT. A very neat clue, I thought
20 Bird and dog, a small animal (8)
curassow – CUR (dog) + A + S(mall) + SOW (animal). An unusual bird .. dare I say obscure? – but the wordplay made it solvable, especially when the checkers s and w arrived. As is my habit with an unfamiliar word I looked it up, in the hope of remembering it next time .. its most unusual feature seems to be how many different species there are, enough to be classed as a subfamily.
21 I travel through place: gorge (3, 3)
pig out – I GO in PUT (place). Not something I do much of these days, weight seems so much easier to put on than to lose again
22 Topping with cake rejected by North African (6)
Nubian – AI (topping) + BUN (cake) both rev., + N. Wasted time here looking for North Africans, which Nubians of course are, really, but I didn’t think of them as such
23 Reading matter a writer put on page ten in Le Monde (8)
appendix – A + P(age) + PEN (writer) + DIX (10 in French). Another extremely neatly constructed clue
25 Brand new home overshadowed by mountain (4)
mint – IN (home) in MT (mountain)
26 Making public cuts, as it were, is burdensome (10)
overtaxing – OVERT AXING .. public cuts, as it were!

2 Friendly email sent about place for advice (8)
amicable – CAB in *(EMAIL). CAB stands for Citizens’ Advice Bureau, a UK organisation mainly though some other countries have them or similar
3 Periods oddly unavailable for religious festival (3)
Eid – alternate even letters of pErIoDs. Either of two Islamic holidays, quite familiar to me from having a daughter living in Qatar, and also a sister living in Leicester…
4 With starter portions of breakfast, have toast (5)
brown – BR(eakfast) + OWN (have)
5 PC’s sardonic-sounding expression, largely (5-2)
right-on – hmm, I think this must be a homophone for WRY TON(E), ie a sardonic- sounding expression, largely .. the def. being PC, ie politically correct. Seems a slightly awkward sort of a clue to me, though not hard to solve. But then political correctness leads to all sorts of awkwardness.
6 Employed by European firm, this person’s highly rated (9)
estimable – I’M (this person’s) in E(uropean) + STABLE (firm). Another neat surface
7 Illegally disposing of footwear and short trousers (11)
bootlegging – BOOT (footwear) + LEGGING(s). Are leggings trousers?
8 Imagine current discussion without involvement of Brexiteers’ leader (6)
ideate – I (current, more properly i) + DEBATE without the B(rexiteers). Anyone wishing to claim this admittedly strange word as being unfamiliar or obscure should be advised that it is not its first appearance by any means .. it was in a cryptic last July, and also a jumbo and a Mephisto .. to boot.
12 Crazy outfit seen on celebrity singer (11)
madrigalist – MAD (crazy) + RIG (outfit) + A LIST (celebrity)
15 Eats duck, rejecting initial portion: it’s not cooked (5, 4)
tucks into – *((d)UCK + ITS NOT). I can’t see an insertion indicator so I think we must treat it overall as an anagram even though the duck portion is not changed
16 Tex-Mex, say, after cool drink (8)
infusion – IN (cool, ie fashionable) + FUSION, a modern style of cooking, M’Lud, involving more than one ethnic cuisine. Sadly not my cup of infusion
18 Geordie wives greeting 70s-style music (3,4)
new wave – NE (Geordie, ie Tyneside or thereabouts) + W(ives) (as in eg WAGS) + WAVE,  a greeting. What might be played as you eat in a Fusion restaurant [on edit: see Kevin Gregg’s comment below for a different and arguably a better parsing]
19 No end of confusion over island’s burial sites (6)
tumuli – TUMUL( t ) + I(sland). Can’t move for tumuli around where I live, in Kent
21 Singer’s held up gratuity — smallest amount possible? (5)
pipit – TIP IP, ie gratuity 1p, all rev. Pipits are small birds related to the wagtail, and also have lots of species, mostly lbjs (little brown jobs)
24 Sounds like score’s nil (3)
nix – sounds like nicks, ie scores, though it only means nil if you are North American, I would have thought.

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

44 comments on “Times Cryptic Crossword 26,714 – Animal Magic”

  1. I read this as NE + WW (wives, plural) + AVE; a distinction without a difference, I suppose.
    1. Yes.. on the whole I prefer your parsing I think, Kevin.. but both seem to work
  2. I could repeat, just about word for word, Jerry’s introduction (especially the comment on surfaces), but I’ll spare you. DNK CURASSOW, of course. LOI BOOTLEGGING, I’m not sure why it took so long. I’ve never heard NIX used to mean nil.
    1. I’m just a girl who cain’t say ‘No’
      I’m in a terrible fix!
      I always say ‘Come on, let’s go’
      Just when I oughta say ‘…’
        1. Er, yes, you’re right of course. Quotation marks surplus to requirements. Cain’t get the tune out of my head now either.
        2. To be fair Chambers has nix as a noun meaning nothing, “old US slang,” so there ought to be a sentence that works. How about “Nil/nix by mouth” .. still and all, it strikes me as a slightly loose clue, esp. by comparison with the rest
  3. Just under the hour. Never heard of TUMULI, and CURASSOW only vaguely. Defeated by the parsing of RIGHT ON which I tried to make out as a triple def, though ‘largely’ doesn’t fit. I liked BOOTLEGGING (I think ‘leggings’ are OK for ‘trousers’) and MADRIGALIST, both for the surface and the word itself.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. I used to live in, and now live next door to, the tumulus capital of Japan (Sakai). When I first took Japanese 50-some years ago from an incompetent idiot–who on retirement became a waiter, I’m told–*kofun* 古墳 was one of the hundreds of useless words I had to memorize.

      Edited at 2017-05-02 05:50 am (UTC)

  4. Battled away today, but was ultimately no match for the capybara aversant.

    Main problem was where CURASSOW and NUBIAN intersected with TUMULI and MADRIGALIST. Well it would be, wouldn’t it?

    I see you guys had a holiday yesterday. Hope that means they’re holding back the Mondayish puzzle for later in the week. Need a confidence booster.

    Thanks setter and Jerry.

    Edited at 2017-05-02 03:05 pm (UTC)

  5. Thanks for covering for me this week, Jerry. The old brainbox has slowed down a bit but I’m hoping to return to blogging next week.

    I’m encouraged that Jerry, like me, was looking for an insertion indicator at 15dn but couldn’t find one. I thought I had missed something obvious.

    I relied on wordplay a lot to get this completed without resorting to aids, NUBIAN, IDEATE, NEW WAVE and my LOI CURASSOW being four examples. The last one was completely unknown although it’s how I pronounce the liqueur Curacao. Missed the sound-alike at 5dn so was somewhat puzzled by “sardonic”.

    Edited at 2017-05-02 04:57 am (UTC)

    1. It was my pleasure .. and dang it, I meant to mention the Curacao homophone, I’m only surprised the setter managed to resist using it.
  6. 29 minutes, ending with the unlikely sounding bird. Particularly enjoyed 9 and 11 across. Thanks to Jerry for stepping in.
  7. 10:40 … nice puzzle. Top marks to BIRDSONG.

    Nice to see you with you blogging hat on, Jerry. Like you, I struggle to think of NUBIANs as northern anything, though they absolutely are. And southern something. It’s all relative.

  8. … and that One Error was, unsurprisingly, at 20ac, where I mombled pugassow. Well, it had to be that or pupassow, didn’t it? Never even thought of cur (or indeed mut…) for the u/k bird.

  9. Another high standard puzzle where wordplay is important and very well compiled. Pity about NIX which I agree is a bit loose. Well done Jerry.
  10. 17m. A puzzle of two halves, this, the top very easy, the bottom much tougher. The SW corner with CURASSOW, NUBIAN, MADRIGALIST and TUMULI all crossing is particularly tough. All gettable from wordplay though.
    The way I read 5dn only wry/RIGH is indicated by the homophone.
    CURASSOW unknown, of course, and it reminded me of the liqueur too. I imagine the Blue CURASSOW as a pet bird that lives a neglected life in a hidden corner of the house, having been bought on a whim by its owner.

    Edited at 2017-05-02 06:47 am (UTC)

  11. Thoroughly enjoyed, although held up by thoughtlessly stuffing in CREATE instead of IDEATE, causing a big delay for BRIG. Other than that, came a-cropper at the points everyone else appears to have done.

    FOI 1a (for once). A bit of a ‘get with the times’ Times crossword, with Brexit, fusion, celebrity, email and twitter all referenced somewhere. COD: OVERTAXING, with many contenders.

  12. Just under 18′, relieved to get an error free result: TLS, Saturday, Sunday, Monthly, Monday all with a 1 in the column. There are days when I would give anything (except, apparently, due care and attention) for a nix.
    Like everyone else, relied on the wordplay (and the fact that it sounds like the island/liqueur) for CURASSOW. Chambers gives me to understand the island is the derivation, common sense gives me to understand the bird is the better spelling.
    NIX did’t even cause the beginnings of a twitch of the eyebrow, though I did already have the X. Almost got to “letter to the Editor” stage with NUBIAN/North African before realising where the N came from. As Sotira says, it’s all relative anyway.
    Decent crossword, classily blogged
  13. Under 30 mins with porridge. Curassow only got from the wordplay. Liked the surface readings especially the foodie ones: 11ac, 4dn, 15dn, 16dn. I enjoyed the Fusion reference and the Chopped nuts in COD for me: Barman.

    Yesterday’s Anagram clue reminded me of another from a while back:
    One is somewhat tired of waiter’s method
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  14. Too hard for me. I gave up at about 75 minutes with the unknown crossers of TUMULI, NUBIAN and CURASSOW left to get. (Well, actually I think TUMULI might have come up once before; it did ring a very vague bell…)

    Galling to have recently learned the map of countries of Africa, encouraged by crossword-GK requirements, only to have an ancient region that wasn’t on my list come up. It just meant I had far more on my mental list to go through that weren’t the right thing.

    I enjoyed OVERTAXING, but also found that to be the theme of the puzzle in general.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  15. No time today due to frequent work interruptions (this is meant to be a quiet week in the UK). I agree with Keriothe. All gettable from wordplay. Good surfaces. Birds are one of my strong (less weak) points but never heard of this one.
  16. Stopped after 30 minutes with TUMULI and NIX/OVERTAXING not done. Isn’t BIRDS for girls a bit too much, even for the Times? COD 18d. Thanks jerry and setter, and best wishes jack.
  17. Yep, I’m still in raptures over the brilliance of his Bobship at the Palladium and Wanderers going up while under a transfer embargo all season. That’s making an art form out of ‘borrowing’ material. 50 minutes today before penultimate-in OVERTAXING stopped me from overtiring myself. Nix nought nothing then hit me from somewhere, and not North America. I think the middle term when I heard it was pronounced ‘nowt’, which when you think about it is good Saxon pronunciation. Never heard of a CURASSOW and I needed all the crossers including fingers to put that in. COD GLADSTONE BAG. I would have gone for BIRDSONG but I trained myself about 40 years ago not to call girls ‘birds’. Was that unnecessary? Thank you setter for a snorter and Jerry for the blog.

    Edited at 2017-05-02 09:26 am (UTC)

    1. Saw his Bobship at Blackbush airport centuries ago. In the days before video screens he appeared about one inch tall (with his hat on). He should sing a song about the Sunday version of this paper changing font… the Times they are a changing! Well done Notlob – a perfect day for me. Oh – the puzzle. Definitely on the wavelength for this and a respectable (for me) time of around 30 minutes. Thanks setter and blogger
    1. It’s just ‘topping’ as in ‘excellent’. A bit of a Bertie Wooster usage: ‘good lord, Jeeves, how absolutely topping/spiffing’.

      Edited at 2017-05-02 12:20 pm (UTC)

  18. Well blogged jerry, and thanks for looking up the bird for me, I wondered between pug and cur and guessed right. 25 minutes.
    I spent my childhood every weekend at Durdle door (jimbo will know) where the hill between it and Lulworth was called “pimple hill” because it had a tumulus on top, so I was in no doubt.
    1. The iconic Durdle Door arch which many will have seen pictures of and the excellent beach are part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
  19. Pleased to finish all correct in 41:13 as there were a couple of unknowns in this for me. The bird and IDEATE. I was also unable to dredge TUMULI from the depths until CURASSOW gave me the final crosser, making it my LOI. Glad I didn’t think of PUG, PUP or MUT! FOI was EID. Liked INCONVENIENT, GLADSTONE BAG and OVERTAXING. Raised an eyebrow at 9a. Thanks setter and Jerry.
  20. Thank goodness CURASSOW wasn’t anagrammed. USA crows for example 🙂
  21. 23 mins, but in mitigation this was the first of the main puzzles I’d done at lunchtime in an open-plan office, and I found the environment a little distracting. I normally only do the Quickie at lunch and because that needs far less brainpower the background noise isn’t usually an issue. I eventually finished with the OVERTAXING/NIX crossers. It took me a lot longer than it should have done to get BOOTLEGGING, probably because the “disposing of” in the clue initially made me try and think of a variant of fly-tipping, and I’m still not convinced it’s an entirely fair way to define “selling”.
  22. I thought I was doing well (for me) but got completely stuck in the SW corner. Guessed CURASSOW but flummoxed on TUMULI and NUBIAN, as, it seems were a number of other estimable bloggers. A number of very good clues though so well done setter and solver. I liked 14 and 17 ac.
  23. Just over 20 mins. CURASSOW was put in on a wing and a prayer but I knew TUMULI (although not the Lulworth Cove/Durdle Door connection although having walked that walk many times). I went to a Nubian wedding once in Egypt which involved us non-Nubians sitting around for quite a while on our own before compulsory and extended dancing. Nice puzzle setter and nice blog jerry.
  24. Nice puzzle, about 25 minutes here. DNK CURASSOW, but it looked more likely than the other possibilities. LOI’s were NIX and OVERTAXING; over here, NIX is more of a verb these days. I liked MADRIGALIST – nice word. Did not like INFUSION as a drink. That’s a stretch to me. But enjoyable. Regards.
  25. After 24mins on the train and only a handful of answers entered I thought this was going to be a struggle. However, a second wind saw all complete in another 22mins at lunchtime. Only hold ups were entering “brand” at 4dn until barman sorted that out and pondering “pupassow” or “curassow” (small sigh of relief to find that I chose correctly). FOI 10ac. LOI 20ac. COD the un-5dn 9ac. I thought this a well-crafted puzzle.
  26. 13:46 for me, failing to find the setter’s wavelength yet again.

    No complaints about the puzzle though. Fortunately I knew CURASSOW. And I was quite pleased with myself for going straight to the foodie FUSION in 16dn.

  27. 16:02 with a bit of a guess at the South American bird, but it did tickle a memory from some documentary many moons ago. I was surprised to find others found it harder… i must have been on the wavelength. COD to 17a, but the chopped nuts at 11a a close second. I enjoyed the foodie theme.

    Edited at 2017-05-03 07:48 pm (UTC)

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