Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014 — Mystery Theme


While today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon
does not seem to have any particular theme, there are plenty of plots, conspiracies, undercover operations, secret agents, and sleuths lurking in the puzzle — in particular, in the upper half.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue


1a   STRATA|GEM — STRATA (layers) + (connected with) GEM (masterpiece)

6a   CA|BAL< — CA (California) + reversal (set back) of LAB (research center)
I suppose — since the surface reading refers to a California institution — we can forgive the use of the American spelling "center".
9a   BASIL — double definition; "a noted Sherlock" & "leaves in a stew"
Basil Rathbone[7] (1892–1967) was a South African-born British actor. He rose to prominence in the UK as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers and, occasionally, horror films. His most famous role, however, was heroic — that of Sherlock Holmes in fourteen Hollywood films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series.
10a   OB(LI)VIOUS — OBVIOUS (pronounced) containing (swallowing) LI ([symbol for the chemical element] lithium)

11a   TANG|RAM — TANG (bite) + RAM (smack into)

12a   SP(RING)Y — SPY (secret agent) containing (catches) RING (group involved in underground activity)

13a   GESUNDHEIT* — anagram (bum) of DENIES THUG

15a   BE|AM — BE (take place) + AM (in the morning)

18a   D|AFT — D (piece [first letter] of Dessert) + AFT (toward the back)

20a   F(LAG|RANT)LY — {LAG (get behind) + RANT (oratorical excess)} contained in (in) FLY (race; figurative verb)

23a   T(ANGEL)O — TO (†) containing (accommodating) ANGEL (financial backer)

24a   GU(MBA)LL — GULL (fool; works as either a noun or a verb) containing (possessing) MBA (business degree)

25a   {RYAN O'NEAL}* — anagram (cast) of NEARLY ON A
Cast[3], as an anagram indicator, is used in the sense of to give a form to or arrange ⇒ decided to cast the book in three parts.
26a   SI<|NEW — reversal (returned) of IS + NEW (unused)

27a   T|EDDY — T (time) + EDDY (current event?; the setters insert a question mark to indicate that they have taken some cryptic liberties in the definition)

28a   NIGH|T(W)EAR — {NIGH (almost) + TEAR (rip)} containing (gaining) W (weight)


1d   SABOT(A|G)ED* — anagram (freely) of BOASTED containing (about) {A (†) + G ($1000 bill)}

2d   _RESENTS — [P]RESENTS (gifts) with the first letter deleted (unopened)

3d   TO|LE(RAN)T —  RAN (hurried) contained in (inside) TO LET (for rent)

4d   G|ROOM — G (gravity) + ROOM (chamber)
In physics, g[5] is the symbol for the acceleration due to gravity, equal to 9.81 m/s2 [which, I suppose, could loosely be considered to represent 'gravity'].
5d   MOLE|STING — MOLE (double agent) + (with) STING (undercover operation)

6d   C|OVERT — C (Conservative) + OVERT (manifest)

7d   BR(OWN)IE — OWN (have) containing (splitting) BRIE (cheese)

8d   L_U_S|_T_Y_ — odd-numbered letters (oddly) of L[o]U[i]S [s]T[a]Y[s]

14d   HALL|O(WEE)N — {HALL (passage) + ON (about)} containing (having) WEE (little)

16d   MAYFLOWER* — anagram (deformed) of WORMY LEAF
Since the clue would seem to work just as well without it, I wonder if the word "native" is intended to have any particular significance in the definition. However, the term mayflower is used for different plants in North America and the UK.

In the UK, mayflower[10] is another name for the hawthorn tree; whereas, in North America, it is the common name for the trailing arbutus. The mayflower (in the latter sense) is the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts.
17d   M(ARM|OS)ET — MET (encountered) containing (gripping) {ARM (branch) + OS (bagels; Os, letters that are shaped like bagels}

19d   F|INLAND — F (failing; a mark on an assignment or test at school) + INLAND (away from the border)

21d   T(RAIN)EE — TEE (golf equipment) containing (taking) RAIN (shower)

22d   M|ELODY* — anagram (funny) of YODEL following (after) M (mass; symbol used in physics)

23d   TAROT_ — TROT (run) containing (circles around) A (†)

24d   G(U|L)AG — GAG (silence; as a verb) containing (about) {U ([symbol for the chemical element] uranium) + L (left)}
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

Signing off for the moment — Falcon

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