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Times 25850 – Biological charades

31 minutes for a very nice Monday offering with just enough to keep the seasoned solver honest. When was the last time a puzzle had five hyphenated double-word clues, all in the acrosses? Oh, and I managed one of the most embarrassing mombles of all time.


1 HEART-THROB – anagram* of BOTH RATHER.
7 AFRO – A[bnormal] + FRO (not ‘to’).
9 WATER-SKI – I wanted this to be ‘apres-ski’ despite the helpful Mitty stuff; it’s WALTER’S minus the L[ake] + KIN minus the last letter, and an &lit, I reckon.
10 INTEND - 'mean'; [ratio]N in I TEND ('I'm apt').
11 STOCKY – ‘solid and thickset’ is the literal; STOCK (‘conventional’ as in stock figures, expressions or responses) + Y[outh].
13 CHARCOAL – ‘sketch’ (as in a drawing made with charcoal); and not ‘coalchar’ as I entered with a puzzled backward glance: it’s our old friend CHAR for daily (as in she who does or Mrs Mopp) followed by A in COL. But YOU all knew that anyway.
14 COURT-MARTIAL – ‘one tries’; COURT as in suck up to plus MARTIAL, the Roman poet who is to epigrams as Juvenal is to satires and Horace to odes.
17 ALLITERATION – I’m not sure what to call this, especially given the form I’m in, but is it maybe, perhaps a semi &lit? The literal is ‘device used a lot in Lear’ with the wordplay element provided by A LOT IN LEAR IT anagrammised by ‘turns out’.
20 REALISED – ‘brought in’ (realised in its financial sense); simple but elegant wordplay REAL + ED around IS.
21 ODDS-ON – unless I’m wrong again, this time the faux pas is the setter’s, as the godparent is the sponsor not the godchild; anyway, the wordplay as given is [g]ODSON around D[aughter].
22 BOLERO – I dabbled with various invented steps, before the Frenchman Ravel’s most famous piece came to my rescue via Torvill and Dean; a BOLERO is also a short jacket.
23 OXTONGUE – you get quite a few plants for your money with this name, as it covers a dandelion-like thing as well as various sharp-leaved things, such as mother-in-law’s tongue, surely the most evocatively named plant of them all. Also available in hyphenated and two-word forms; it’s X in O + TONGUE.
25 ADIT – ‘entrance to mine’ from the Latin for approach; it’s ADMIT minus its M (miners’ leader).
26 ELEVEN-PLUS – the exam ushered in by the Education Act of 1944 (AKA the Butler Act), which did so much for the independent schools; it’s PL in ELEVEN + US (where US is British slang for unserviceable or useless).


2 EXACTION – I liked this clue, which focuses on the demand for money when it slips over the borderline of legality and becomes extortion; simple and elegant again: EX + ACTION.
3 RUE – another plant, this time a perennial, which shares its name with the French word for road.
4 TESTY – hidden.
5 RAILCAR – another charade: RAIL + C + A + R.
6 BRIGADIER – A (an) + DIER (sounds like ‘dear’) after BRIG.
7 ARTICULATED – double definition – clearly enunciated and segmented.
8 RENTAL – REAL around NT.
12 CURTAILMENT – another charade CURT (short) + AILMENT (illness) with an extended tongue-in-cheek definition.
15 MILLSTONE – ‘heavy burden’; JS MILL shows he has his uses by joining in the charades and taking TO and NE.
16 HONOLULU – ‘port’; the slightly more intricate wordplay is HON (unpaid) + LULU around O[ld]. My dictionary sweep shows outstanding and remarkable rather than marvellous for Lulu, but that’s probably trumped in one I haven’t seen and is arguably close enough anyway.
18 TADPOLE – ‘one that’s legless’, indeed; another charade: TAD + POLE.
19 SECOND – ‘tick’ as in ‘I’ll have this posted in a tick’; put ON on D (‘dog’s head) and SEC on top of that.
21OUTRE – ‘unusual’; T[ime] in OUR (“yours and my’) + E[ast].
24 NAP – double definition.


Jul. 28th, 2014 07:20 am (UTC)
20.46, most of the time accounted for by panicking over OXTONGUE. Arrgh! A bloomer! I probably don't know it! -U- at the end, must be -EUM or -IUM. Unknown person: that accounts for the N. So all I need is a language that goes -T--UM after O for old. Or possibly an old language like Oscan, but fitting the checkers.
The panic ripples spread outward to clues that I was only just sure of: OUTRE and HONOLULU, and maybe ODDS-ON which surely had to be right even though it's obviously wrong. Eventually resorted to electric Chambers, but got a null response. Which is (more or less) when the penny dropped. Is it still a technical DNF if you resort to aids and the aids don't help and then you get the answer anyway?
The rest of the puzzle not particularly easy but good quirky fun: I liked the short illness and "one tries". Could have done with one more L in the Lear clue somewhere for better effect.
So nearly had COALCHAR myself. Boy George, anyone?
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:59 am (UTC)
Excellent description of my mental processes when 'plant', 'bloomer', or one of their siblings appears. Apparently you didn't waste time trying to fit (John) Doe in. And, of course, liked CONSUMPTION until it clearly didn't work