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Times 27241 - Et Tu, Duodecime!

A puzzle with enough quirk to keep things interesting, with one word ready to take its place in the competition for ugliest word in English alongside moron, bigot, numeronym (thanks to Paul in the comments) and cognitive dissonance.

27 minutes.


1 Very dry American senator in Rome once (6)
5 Steal whiskey for large singer (8)
HAWFINCH - HALF-INCH (Cockney for 'pinch', knowaddimean?) wiv da L changed to a W. Awigh'?
9 Protestant with stringed instrument managed to capture hearts (8)
10 Judge’s wine imbibed by molecular biologist briefly (6)
CRITIC - IT ('It' is a rather dated way of referring to vermouth, which is a fortified white wine) in CRIC[k] - Francis of double-helix fame.
11 Arty type recalled main article, having time and energy (8)
AESTHETE - SEA reversed (main recalled) THE (article) T E
12 High wind trapping fighting men in great numbers (6)
GALORE - OR (Other Ranks) in GALE
13 Old word revealing a right rift around India! (8)
15 Aquatic bird shot for speaker (4)
TERN - sounds like 'turn' (shot in golf or snooker, say)
17 Lamb primarily associated with priest (4)
ELIA - ELI A (first letter of associated); besides being a crossword staple, Charles Lamb (AKA Elia) is well worth reading for his gentle yet insightful reflections. His New Year's Eve is a particular favourite of mine.
19 Dealings shelved? It’s a compromise (5-3)
TRADE-OFF - a charade of TRADE (dealings) and OFF (shelved)
20 Posh headgear rejected by a North American statesman (6)
UTAHAN - A HAT reversed A N
21 Drove back the Spanish in place surrounded by grass (8)
22 Lyrical piece a Portuguese-speaking city thus presented (6)
23 Book couple’s got about little folk mostly male (8)
TWELVEMO - A horrible back-formation (presumably) from duodecimo: ELVE[s] (little folk mostly) M in TWO. If you're still mixing up your elves and your pixies, it's time you sat at the feet of David Brent and co.
24 Exciting item in sports programme for unfit layabouts originally (8)
EVENTFUL - EVENT (item in sports programme) F[or] U[nfit] L[ayabouts]
25 Game in farm vehicle caught by East European? (6)
ECARTE - CART in E E. It is rumoured that some people play it outside crosswords.


2 Native of Baltic State stopping debauchee’s game (8)
ROULETTE - LETT (Latvian who made his fortune producing desk diaries) in ROUE (as in eager young lads and roues and cads).
3 Islander’s cry of pleasure welcomed by famous artist (8)
4 Desire the name of this transport across the pond? (9)
STREETCAR - this side of the pond a tram; a reference to Tennessee Williams's play
5 Fairy-tale siblings represented in Helen’s grand tale? (6,3,6)
6 Sack member producing dangerous weapon (7)
FIREARM - simple charade of FIRE ARM. First thing I would do if I became POTUS would be to rescind the 2nd amendment.
7 Knight of sound mind beheaded citizen (8)
NATIONAL - N (knight in chess) [r]ATIONAL
8 Eccentric had a nice ranch — in Mexico, possibly (8)
14 Turn up with baked food at church? A fine example! (9)
15 Bill you reportedly delayed, set out systematically (8)
TABULATE - TAB (bill) U (you reportedly) LATE
16 Single verse cutting about deceased kinsman (8)
RELATIVE - I V in ('cutting') RE (about) LATE
17 Finally diagnose brief illness through smells? (8)
EFFLUVIA - [diagnos]E [brie]F FLU (short for INFLUENZA) VIA (through)
18 During school time it’s temporarily suspended (8)
19 Poles carried in characteristic conveyance (7)
TRANSIT - N&S (poles) in TRAIT


( 73 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 7th, 2019 09:44 am (UTC)
Floreat Effluvia
A nearly straight through 15 minute solve, the lower right proving slightly more resistant. I've met 12mo before, temporarily suspended grammar for INTERMIT, and had SHOWPIECE as my last in. Though Mrs Z might disagree, my EFFLUVIA are sweet and fragrant, but then the clue doesn't insist the smells are unpleasant.
Fairy-tale siblings? Remind me, what was the rest of the clue? Thanks, U for noticing, and for an informative and entertaining report.
Jan. 7th, 2019 09:47 am (UTC)
Re: Floreat Effluvia
Somehow Helen induced a crossed wire in my brain and I spent a little bit of time trying to think of siblings from antiquity. Then I reread the clue.
Jan. 7th, 2019 10:06 am (UTC)
Very fast, despite the unfamiliar words, but with a careless mistake that I am too embarrassed to admit.
I thought the whole puzzle was a bit of a 13a with no evidence that the last 40 years actually happened.
Mike Harper
Jan. 7th, 2019 10:29 am (UTC)
Half Inch
There was a small chap in my form at school called Halfacre who was invariably called Halfinch (similarly but slightly off piste, the unfortunate Fernando Burgarolas was simplified to Fred Bogroll).

Anyway, though I saw both HAWFINCH and HALFINCH, I opted for the latter rendering my first day back 55 minutes somewhat pointless. Did learn some new words though....
Mike Harper
Jan. 7th, 2019 10:36 am (UTC)
Half Inch
There was a small chap in my form at school called Halfacre who was invariably renamed Halfinch. He was luckier though thsn Fernando Burgarolas who became Fred Bogroll.

I went for Halfinch over HAWFINCH rendering my 55 minutes somewhat pointless though I did learn a few new words
Jan. 7th, 2019 10:50 am (UTC)
Enjoyed this gentle, but not too easy, Monday puzzle. 25 mins. Paulmcl was spot-on, I think, in noting that though several of the solutions were rare or unusual words the mechanistic clueing enabled most of us to get them without much difficulty. Like everyone else's eyebrows, mine lifted slightly at INTERMIT, but it just had to be.
Ulaca: I assumed that your candidate for the most ugly word in the English language would be UTAHAN -- eeugh -- rather than 12mo; that was the word that jumped out at me in its awfulness. I think we've had OHIOAN fairly recently, haven't we? What can you do with these New World names? (Well, you can use 'em in crosswords, I suppose...) Yes, with ELIA, AESTHETE, ARIOSO, ARCHAISM, TWELVEMO and CRITIC, this definitely had a belles-lettres feel about it.
Thanks, U, for the excellent blog.
Jan. 7th, 2019 10:51 am (UTC)
I spent the last two minutes on the obscure twelvemo.

COD: Hawfinch.
Jan. 7th, 2019 10:53 am (UTC)
Sub 10 minute effort rendered fruitless....
....by entering HALFINCH. Wondered why there was no hyphen indicator. Sheer carelessness.

CRITIC parsed post-solve.

Jan. 7th, 2019 11:31 am (UTC)
19 mins. Started confidently with ESTONIAN and KNOT without reading the rest of the clues (it is a Monday puzzle after all), and promptly and inevitably seized up. Fortunately I was able to rattle through the NE which brought me back to 1D, where I realised that I had missed our very old friend, the LETT.
Jan. 7th, 2019 12:11 pm (UTC)
subito doloroso
Whisking along but spent the last 15+ minutes on intermit which I couldn't help trying to puzzle out the grammar of, and don't believe it's legit., and twelvemo, ending in a bit short of the half-hour. Cheered by the thought of the magical T. Williams play nonetheless.
Jan. 7th, 2019 12:24 pm (UTC)
First full week of the New Year and my benchmark is set - 8.32 and I doubt if I'll match it in the next TWELVEMO. I'm pretty sure we've had the word before but not at all recently.

I recognized Crick quickly because his partner Watson has been in the news again very recently thanks to a new documentary about him (Decoding Watson) and his unreconstructed views about race and intelligence. "Double helix" is the term that was coined on the Club forum for a certain type of crossword clue in which it's difficult to see which of the 2 possible strands is intended by the setter. Recent editors seem to have got wise to the problem and it now happens much more rarely. I was trying to recall an example but came up blank.
Jan. 7th, 2019 12:59 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on the impressive time!
(no subject) - oliviarhinebeck - Jan. 7th, 2019 01:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Automatic? - isla3 - Jan. 7th, 2019 01:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Automatic? - oliviarhinebeck - Jan. 7th, 2019 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Automatic? - vinyl1 - Jan. 7th, 2019 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Automatic? - starstruck_au - Jan. 8th, 2019 02:08 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Automatic? - isla3 - Jan. 8th, 2019 04:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Automatic? - oliviarhinebeck - Jan. 8th, 2019 12:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Automatic? - isla3 - Jan. 8th, 2019 12:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - starstruck_au - Jan. 9th, 2019 07:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 7th, 2019 12:50 pm (UTC)
I started off at a gallop with the NW and our domicile munching children entered very quickly. The NE went in more slowly, with TRADE OFF precluding lama, and ELIA eventually surfacing. I didn't know the HAWFINCH, but the wordplay was clear. The SE found me becalmed so I moved on to the SW which succumbed apart from ARIOSO, which was my antipenultimate, before INTERMIT and finally TWELVEMO, which was constructed purely from wordplay. An enjoyable start to the week. 22:01. Thanks setter and U.
Jan. 7th, 2019 12:54 pm (UTC)
13m 07s. I made heavy weather of a number of these, spending far too long on EVENTFUL, RELATIVE & NATIONAL, none of which should have caused as much trouble as they did. Getting NATIONAL opened up the NE corner, which fell pretty quickly after that.

TWELVEMO is indeed horrible, but I might vote UTAHAN as the least pleasing word of the day. Something about it.
Jan. 7th, 2019 01:44 pm (UTC)
I think TWELVEMO (and EIGHTEENMO etc) came about because they are long in Latin, so actual printers trying to get things printed would just write 12mo or 18mo. People seeing that would just pronounce it "twelve-mo". So i don't think it was back-formed directly from the Latin word.

We do something similar in computer science with words like INTERNATIONALIZATION which becomes i18n (and LOCALIZATION becomes l12n). There is a well-known venture capital company here in Silicon Valley called Andreessen-Horowitz, or more commonly just a16z (ay-sixteen-zee in American). Apparently, these are all known as numeronyms.
Jan. 7th, 2019 02:56 pm (UTC)
Nowt new - in 1939 Ian Fleming became 17F and signed himself thus throughout WWII - from memory he worked in section 17z (Z Section)
(no subject) - keriothe - Jan. 7th, 2019 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 7th, 2019 02:00 pm (UTC)
17 and a bit
A third of which time was taken up with the last two - twelvemo and intermit - which I have to admit I ended up checking. What a horrid word is twelvemo. Does it really exist? Elia I put in out of some vague association in my brain with a writer called Lamb, but I couldn't have said what. Otherwise it all slotted in very easily, and at one point I thought I was heading for one of my rare under 10-minuters.
Mike Cowking
Jan. 7th, 2019 10:55 pm (UTC)
RE: 17 and a bit
Exactly the same holdups as you. Twelvemo indeed!!

Edited at 2019-01-07 10:56 pm (UTC)
Jan. 7th, 2019 02:12 pm (UTC)
Did it all bar 1 ac and 2dn in about 8 mins. Then - couldn't get brut. As the clue said very dry, and there was a T as the 4th letter, I was up for putting SO (very) + TT (dry) + US to give SOTTUS. All of which meant I couldn't get ROULETTE. Ridiculous really; brut is pretty obvious, but there it is.
Jan. 7th, 2019 02:58 pm (UTC)
harmonic row
Re: harmonic row - harmonic_row - Jan. 7th, 2019 04:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paul_in_london - Jan. 7th, 2019 03:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - harmonic_row - Jan. 7th, 2019 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 73 comments — Leave a comment )

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