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Times 25,671

Well, maybe it's the excesses of the holiday season catching up with me, or simple incompetence, but I had enormous trouble getting to grips with this puzzle. Possibly a perfect example of not being on the right wavelength, as I can't see anything wrong with the clueing now I come to write the blog: certainly not a simple puzzle, but not absolutely diabolical either; and all perfectly fair, albeit with the odd slightly obscure bit of vocabulary, and a variety of inventive ways to describe one word going inside another.

Other observations: I thought it might be a pangram after getting an early Z, but it wasn't; obviously that long answer across the top would be brilliant if you got it at first sight instead of it being last one in; there was a plant, but even I had heard of this one. As you can probably imagine, with such powerful insights it's a miracle I didn't take even longer than my actual 32:17.

Happy New Year to one and all!

1MISALIGNMENT - [1,Small in MALIGN] MEN, Toilet.
8LEGWORK - LEG(="stage"), WORK(="prove effective").
11TRACHEA - aircrafT, (REACHA)*.
13SPEND - SUSPEND without the US.
19FUSED - Forces USED.
21ERRATUM - (RARE)*, TUM(as in pot belly). After much consideration, I was forced to conclude that the junior Roman official the PRAETOR couldn't be forced in here.
23CORSAIR - CORPS without Power, AIR.
25EXORDIA - European, X(="unknown"), (RADIO)*. The exordium is the beginning part of a speech; true fans of one-hit wonders will remember the full title of Zager and Evans' 1969 effort "In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)".
1MAGNATE - Gallons in MAN, ATE.
2SOOTHED - (TOO)rev. in SHED.
3LIKE A SHOT - suggesting that hardened drinkers will be hitting the spirits shelf; my ill-advised initial effort was "TAKE A SHOT", probably as a result of watching darts on TV, and thinking of another sort of double.
4GAMED - GAME(="feisty") Daughter.
5MILITIA - I LIT in (AIM)rev.
6NODDING - (DON)rev. on DING.
7OLD TESTAMENT - i.e. OLD(="familiar") STATEMENT with the TE moved.
10CUSTARD CREAM - two possible toppings for your Christmas pudding; for overseas solvers who may not have encountered one, the custard cream is a very popular biscuit in the UK (though not with me).
15DIRT CHEAP - (HATPRICED)*. Nice surface.
18MOTLIER - Time in MOLIERE. You often hear of a motley crew, but rarely a motlier one.
19FORBORE - FOR(="because of") BORE(="pain").
22MATZO - MAT("dull"), ZOO without an Over.


( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
Harder work for me at 50 minutes but a nice steady leisurely solve with no major hold-ups along the way. Nothing unknown but I relied on the wordplay for THERMOSPHERE.
Dec. 31st, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
Obviously a day for miracles ... if I can do this in less than Tim's time. A great puzzle with some very cunning wordplay, hidden defs and no obvious way in. All my troubles in the SE until I twigged on to SWADDLE.

First prize to anyone whose first in was 13ac. So many semantic possibilities in such a short clue. My fave today: Molière mixed with heavy metal at (18dn).
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:34 am (UTC)
Re: 26:30
McText, I shared your amazement in being able to beat Tim's time. Wasn't going to mention it though, for fear of Ulaca pulling out the "gloating Aussies" label (insert wink-face here).

Clearly an off-day for TT.
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:51 am (UTC)
Mental disintegration
With you Aussies, it's the Greek thing ('Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes') writ large. I can stand being vilified, but praised - no, I prefer the rack.

[Big winky thing]
Dec. 31st, 2013 04:24 am (UTC)
[Big winky thing]
No need to sign your posts!
Dec. 31st, 2013 04:52 am (UTC)
Re: [Big winky thing]
Like your work! Just as well I didn't make one of my characteristic typos in the second word.
Dec. 31st, 2013 05:17 am (UTC)
Oh ... so you don't have a New Zealand accent? My mistake.
Dec. 31st, 2013 10:52 am (UTC)
Re: 26:30
I should known it was a mistake to follow the advice of that book I got for Christmas: Solve Cryptic Crosswords the Andy Flower Way - with Full 360 Degree Reviews, Accrued Incremental Gains, and Tips for Executing Your Skills.

Dec. 31st, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
18:36 .. nothing to scare the horses but plenty of thought required. I especially liked ALTIMETER with that “Stretch parts”.

Away for a couple of days so ..

Happy, healthy and prosperous new year to all.
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:00 am (UTC)
65 minutes, with, like McT, my main hold-ups in the SE. Not helped by not knowing THERMOSPHERE and by trying not only, like Tim, to make an anagram out of RARE POT at 21ac, but to make one out of MOTHER'S, which left me sratching my head for a ball. As it were.

Very fine puzzle, with my nod also going to MOTLIER, not least, because it's such a grand word.
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:09 am (UTC)
Yes, it was a bit difficult...
...as I struggled for about an hour, with my last one in the same as Tim's. Most annoyingly, I had thought of 'swaddle' early on and rejected it, only to find it perfectly correct.

I don't think the clue for 'erratum' is correct, since the slip of paper formerly included by typo-plagued printers almost always included a fix for more than one error, and was thus called the 'errata' or, as Spenser's printer charmingly put it, 'Faults Escaped'.
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: Yes, it was a bit difficult...
But isn't the slip in the clue referencing the error rather than the piece of paper?
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
I've upgraded my self-diagnosis from cold to flu, but still thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. LOI MATZO took about eight minutes to complete the grid.
Dec. 31st, 2013 09:10 am (UTC)
25 minutes, one of those where clues got part-solved (OOT in 2, T/DING in 6, WORK in 8) without leading directly to the full answer. Also tried for an anagram of RARE POT but didn't get as far as praetor. Many a slip...
SE caused most trouble for me too, despite having actually used the word SWADDLE and its derivatives frequently in the festive period. Might have been a bit quicker if I'd taken note of the numbering on 15, and not tried to recall my collection of nouns, adverbs and such at 25.
For a word invented entirely for crosswords, MOTLIER is very attractive, and gets my CoD.

Dec. 31st, 2013 09:29 am (UTC)
Very glad you got this one Tim and not me. It's a tough puzzle on blogging day because the surface readings are so good - making it difficult to get going. That induces a sort of mild hysteria when it's your turn to do the blog - so well done mate.

Excellent puzzle full of inventiveness that was a pleasure to solve in 25 minutes

It's still raining here and more than 30mm forecast for today
Dec. 31st, 2013 10:50 am (UTC)
30 minutes but a ridiculous altometer wrote itself in, and went for matto not knowing matzo so not good. A neat puzzle though. I find motlier ouchier than edictal. Where's it going to stop? Happy New Year to all and especially to those met in Penderel's Oak.
Dec. 31st, 2013 01:39 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2013 11:56 am (UTC)
This didn't feel particularly tough, since I made steady progress with no real hold-ups, but when I checked the time at the end I found I'd spent 45 minutes on it. There were some excellent clues, particularly 16, and a nice anagram for 15.
Andy Borrows
Dec. 31st, 2013 12:31 pm (UTC)
20 mins all parsed, which I am quite happy with considering the puzzle felt tough as I was solving it. A few years ago I would have really struggled with this one because of all the creative containment indicators, but I have definitely become more adept at identifying them.

FORBORE was my LOI after I had been held up a bit by the OLD TESTAMENT/LEGWORK crossers. I didn't think about the parsing of 7dn properly and initially wrote in "New Testament" because I thought the "familiar" part of the clue was "newt", as in a witch's familiar.
Dec. 31st, 2013 01:13 pm (UTC)
31 minutes, not convinced about FORBORE or SWADDLE until I read the blog, still not convinced about bore = pain. Also had to check EXORDIA.
MOTLIER indeed a crosswords-only specimen I suspect.
Bonne année à tous.
Dec. 31st, 2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
Chambers has 'tiresome or annoying person', which I think is close enough, Pip.
Dec. 31st, 2013 01:14 pm (UTC)
"Motlier" is not in Chambers because it is plain wrong like the illiteracy "trollies" for "trolleys". True, Chambers does record a rare "trolly", plural "trollies", but not a rare "motly", comparative "motlier".
Dec. 31st, 2013 02:02 pm (UTC)
Re: 18d
You may be interested to know that the traditional primary source dictionaries for the Times daily puzzle are Collins and the Concise Oxford. Motlier is in the latter, so the setter's use of it is perfectly valid.

Arguments about trollies/trolleys and roofs/rooves and dwarfs/dwarves have all been done to death here in the past.

Edited at 2013-12-31 02:05 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2013 02:33 pm (UTC)
Re: 18d
(From a different "anon")
"smaller" isn't in Chambers either, for example.
I think it's a case of the Concise Oxford actually being helpful and spelling out a comparative form where there might otherwise be some doubt.
Dec. 31st, 2013 02:13 pm (UTC)
Re: 18d
It is, however, supported by Oxford...I have no access to OED of any great size in print form right now, but the online resource certainly gives "motley, motlier, motliest".

ETA Computer crashed mid-post, so I see the point is already made.

Edited at 2013-12-31 02:14 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2013 02:24 pm (UTC)
The Times Archive shows that "trollies" appeared 478 times in that newspaper between 1852 and 1985, so it seems that the absence to record it is an error on the part of the compilers of Chambers.

Edited at 2013-12-31 02:25 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2013 01:20 pm (UTC)
I would say 'tough' especially the SE corner, although reading it through now, the majority of the wordplay is very clear. 22:42 for me
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:01 pm (UTC)
Up against it as I had to take my boy back to Uni (hardworking lad!) but no real problems. And there was me thinking that trolleys are Northern underwear.
Dec. 31st, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
Fine tough puzzle. Nothing went in easily for me, but all clues were absolutely fair. Much clever deception and misdirection, enhanced, as Jimbo says, by the excellence of the surface readings which made the cryptic parsing all the more difficult to spot. 21A (ERRATUM) was a case in point, a clue which shrieked "anagram" - and indeed it was, but cunningly only in part. Similarly, 16A (ALTIMETER) combined a great surface reading with an ingenious use of "parts" and required a synonym for "stretch" that was by no means the first that leapt to mind.

Well-blogged, Tim. 32:17 seems to me an eminently respectable time for this puzzle. I had to abandon the struggle and then return to it at various points during the day in order, eventually, to finish.
Dec. 31st, 2013 06:10 pm (UTC)
45m for me but had FORGONE so a DNF in the end. But an enjoyable solve though had unnecessary doubts over MOTLIEST. I enjoyed the mention of one of my favourite biscuits so that gets my COD! Many thanks for the excellent blog. Much appreciated as always and so a particular Happy New Year to all of the blogging team. My 2014 would be the poorer without your online company.
Dec. 31st, 2013 06:39 pm (UTC)
DNF. As yesterday I started zooming through only to come to a complete stop - this time in the SE corner - no complaints and happy to learn the word exordia. Must be getting somewhat better to 'zoom' at all. Happy thought to end the old/ start the new year. Cheers everyone!
Dec. 31st, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
Whew. Not easy to say the least. It took me about an hour to finally finish with the unknown EXORDIA, from the wordplay. Very clever puzzle, of which I liked MOTLIER and FORBORE best. Best wishes to all, and thanks to Tim for the blog. Happy New Year.
Dec. 31st, 2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
A nice crunchy one to end the year on. About 45 minutes off and on, going SW,NE,NW,SE with LOI FUSED. Some rather fiendish, but absolutely fair, clueing. One or two oddish words, but deducible from the wordplay. SPEND was a cracker.

Happy New Year, everyone!
Dec. 31st, 2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
23m 30s
Very enjoyable puzzle, and happy that I completed in a decent time. A good end to the crossword year, so best wishes to all setters, bloggers and solvers, and especially to the blog site administrators, without whom we would not be able to enjoy the online companionship of other crossword enthusiasts. Sincere thanks.
Dec. 31st, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC)
A few stupid hold-ups as usual, but for once I'm not too unhappy with my 9:53 - particularly in view of your time, Tim!

A nice final puzzle before my access to the Times Crossword Club ends. (Though in theory it should have ended three months ago, so who knows?)

Edited at 2013-12-31 11:27 pm (UTC)
Jan. 1st, 2014 11:34 am (UTC)
I've got used to your inspirational single digit times at the foot of the blog - you'll be sadly missed - but I hope to catch you at the next 'do'.
Jan. 1st, 2014 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that, Chris, but it turns out I still have access - at least for the moment, though I've no idea how long it will last.
Jan. 1st, 2014 01:37 am (UTC)
Oh dear...
...has everyone else moved on to 2014? I seem to be the only one left here. Ah well.

MOTLIER held me up inordinately, and I failed to parse a few (including CORSAIR), but otherwise just a steady solve. My only quibble would be with 1ac - I'm not convinced with MISALIGNMENT being synonymous with "[being] out of order". So either I've missed something or the definition was bit sloppy.

I liked MATZO, though I was convinced that a dull finish was "MATTE". Interestingly, few of the online dictionaries seem to give "MAT" as "dull" - it seems to be an American thing.

Solving would have been faster had it not been for the constant influx of customers at A&E tonight. We drew straws to work out who'd be on tonight, and I drew the short one. However, I insisted on coming in rather than face a night of bonhomie, cheap fizz and Twiglets with the neighbours. Besides, there's a greater range of recreational drugs available here than at home.

Tonight's award for Most Amusing Injury goes to a young gentleman in whose trouser pocket someone had placed, and then lit, a firework. Still, she should make a full recovery.

The last of tonight's revellers ought to be trickling in some time between now and 6am. I'm hoping that we get the odd RTA amongst the slew of PFOs - nothing like a bit of blood and gore to sober one up.

Happy New Year to one and all.
Jan. 1st, 2014 03:38 am (UTC)
Re: Oh dear...
I'll probably regret this, but....PFOs?

My best guess is People Falling Over?
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh dear...
Close - PFO = "pi**ed, fell over". I bet that one never makes it into a crossword. Happy New Year!
( 41 comments — Leave a comment )

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