Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014 — Dry Toast


Once again, I found today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon to be a bit more challenging than I am accustomed to. I did stick with it and was able to solve all but one clue before calling in my electronic reinforcements — although I spent more time that usual to get to that point.

There appears to be no particular theme to the puzzle. The title is drawn from what I envisage would be the result of imposing 15a + 17a.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- yet to be solved

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

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

Definitions are underlined in the clue, with subsidiary indications being marked by means of a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions.


1a   Feeling of irritation after network rejected "Hex" (7)

BEW<|ITCH — ITCH (feeling of irritation) following (after) reversal (rejected) of WEB (network)

5a   Bit male Conservative, consumed by hatred (7)

M|ODI(C)UM — M (male) + {C (Conservative) contained in (consumed by) ODIUM (hatred)}

9a   Stuff used by a gymnast before worn-out old horse (9)

ROSIN|ANTE — ROSIN (stuff used by a gymnast) + ANTE (before)

This is a term that I haven't previously encountered. The word Rosinante[10] means a worn-out emaciated old horse. It comes from the name of Don Quixote's horse, Rocinante[7]  [pronounced Rosinante], in the novel Don Quixote by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (15471616).

10a   Metal edges of saucers seen behind pair of cups? (5)

BRA|SS — SS (edges [outer letters] of SaucerS) following (seen behind) BRA (pair of cups)

11a   Springtime test of a municipal official (7)

MAY|ORAL_ — MAY (springtime) + ORAL (test)

The wordplay works even more effectively as a phrase, with a "May oral" being a "springtime test".

12a   What I found in big pond: big tree (7)

SE(QUO|I)A — {QUO (what) + I (†)} contained in (found in) SEA (big pond)

A sequoia[5] is a redwood tree, especially the California redwood.

Apparently QUO must mean "what" — if not in English, then in some language, at least. 

Despite there being no indication that we are looking for a word in a foreign language. I looked into Latin, where I found that quo can mean 'in which' as in the phrase status quo[3,4,11] or 'where' as in the phrase quo vadis[4]. It does seem that quo can assume a broad range of meanings in Latin, one of them being "what".

I also checked Spanish and Italian to no avail. Quoi[5] does means 'what' in French, but that would leave the "I" unexplained.

After all of this, I am not sure that I have correctly analyzed the clue. Perhaps an astute reader will throw some more light on this.

13a   South African land of birth (5)

NATAL — double definition

Natal[5] is a former province of South Africa, situated on the east coast. Having been a Boer republic and then a British colony, Natal acquired internal self-government in 1893 and became a province of the Union of South Africa in 1910. It was renamed KwaZulu-Natal in 1994. The name comes from Latin Terra Natalis 'land of the day of birth', a name given by Vasco da Gama in 1497, because he sighted the entrance to what is now Durban harbour on Christmas Day.

15a   Flat-topped hill circle spreading (9)

BUTTE|RING — BUTTE (flat-topped hill) + RING (circle)

Butte[3,4,11] is a term used chiefly in the Western US [and, according to some dictionaries, Western Canada] for a hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding area and has sloping sides and a flat top.

17a   Delays returning object with built-in speaker (9)

M(ORATOR)IA — reversal (returning) of AIM (object) containing (with built-in) ORATOR (speaker)

19a   Those who join ranks (5)

TIERS — double definition

The first definition is a whimsical reference to persons who join ropes together by means of knots.

21a   Fifty were paid for having knowledge (7)

L|EARNED_ — L ([Roman numeral for] fifty) + EARNED (were paid)

23a   Similar variety and colour of apples (7)

KIND|RED — KIND (variety) + (and) RED (colour of apples)

25a   Lie level (5)

STORY — double definition

Story is the US spelling of storey[3,4], a floor or level of a building.

26a   Finished carrying weapon, I like chewing gum? (9)

SPE(ARM|I)NT — SPENT (finished) containing (carrying) {ARM (weapon) + I (†)}

27a   Ring seen among pretty bad artisan's wares (7)

P(O)TTERY* — O ([letter that looks like a] ring) contained in (seen among) anagram (bad) of PRETTY

28a   Arranged someday for sled dog (7)

SAMOYED* — anagram (arranged) of SOMEDAY

A Samoyed[10] is a Siberian breed of dog of the spitz type, having a dense white or cream coat with a distinct ruff, and a tightly curled tail.


1d   Famous director and actor named Orson holding manager back (7)

BE(RGM<)AN — BEAN (actor named Orson) containing (holding) reversal (back) of MGR (manager)

Orson Bean[7] (born Dallas Frederick Burrows) is an American film, television, and stage actor. He appeared frequently on televised game shows in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including being a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth.

Ingmar Bergman[5] (1918–2007) was a Swedish film and theatre director. He used haunting imagery and symbolism often derived from Jungian dream analysis. Notable films: Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), and Hour of the Wolf (1968).

2d   Country-clubbish with a secret agent (5)

W|A|SPY — W (with) + A (†) + SPY (secret agent)

Waspy[3,11] is an adjective meaning of, pertaining to, or characteristic of WASPs, a white, usually Protestant member of the American upper social class ⇒ a Waspy country club. The term WASP is an acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

3d   Runner's lacrosse team practice, for the most part (7)

TEN|DRIL_ — TEN (lacrosse team) + DRIL {DRIL[L] (practice) with the final letter deleted (for the most part)}

The sport of lacrosse[7] is played by teams of ten players. Just as a baseball team might be called a nine, a rowing crew an eight, or a cricket or soccer team an eleven, a lacrosse team would be a ten.

4d   Sort of moustache Abner had rearranged around front of lip (9)

HAND(L)EBAR* — anagram (rearranged) of ABNER HAD containing (around) L (front [initial letter] of Lip)

5d   Entering clothing department, one looks (5)

M(I)ENS — I ([Roman numeral for] one) contained in (entering) MENS (clothing department)

6d   Call Quebec about university town in Iowa (7)

DUB(U)QUE — {DUB (call) + QUE (Quebec)} containing (about) U (university)

Dubuque[5] is an industrial and commercial city in northeastern Iowa, on the Mississippi River; population 57,250 (est. 2008).

7d   South American land embracing a mother's medicinal plant (9)

CH(A|MOM)ILE — CHILE (South American land) containing (embracing) {A (†) + MOM (mother)}

Chamomile[2,5,10] is a chiefly North American spelling of camomile, an aromatic European plant of the daisy family, with white and yellow daisy-like flowers; especially Anthemis nobilis, whose dried crushed flowers or leaves are used for their soothing medicinal properties, especially in the form of a herbal tea, or added to some types of shampoo.

8d   Laurel included in cup for horse (7)

MU(STAN)G — STAN (Laurel) contained in (included in) MUG (cup)

Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and Oliver Hardy (1892–1957) made up the American comedy duo Laurel and Hardy[5]. British-born Stan Laurel played the scatterbrained and often tearful innocent, with Oliver Hardy as his pompous, overbearing, and frequently exasperated friend. They brought their distinctive slapstick comedy to many films from 1927 onwards.

14d   Flip-flop with resistance in fish fight (9)

TU(R)NA|BOUT — R (resistance; symbol used in physics) contained in (in) TUNA (fish) + BOUT (fight)

16d   Running through with ankles shackled is unrewarding (9)

_TH|ANKLES|S_ — hidden in (running through) wiTH ANKLES Shackled

17d   Taking classes, Beatles do "Nowhere Man"? (7)

M(ILKS)OP — MOP (Beatles [hair]do) containing (taking) ILKS (classes)

A milksop is a man lacking courage and other qualities deemed manly[3] or a feeble or ineffectual man or youth[4].

"Nowhere Man"[7] is a song by the Beatles, from their album Rubber Soul. The song was written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney). The subject of Nowhere Man "Doesn't have a point of view / Knows not where he's going to".

18d   Tiny pet ruined old photo (7)

TINTYPE* — anagram (ruined) of TINY PET

Historically, a tintype[5] was a photograph taken as a positive on a thin tin plate.

19d   Puzzle using sharpness and memory (7)

TANG|RAM — TANG (sharpness) + (and) RAM (memory; Random Access Memory, a type of computer memory)

A tangram[5] is a Chinese geometrical puzzle consisting of a square cut into seven pieces which can be arranged to make various other shapes.

20d   Under editor, in full (7)

S(ED)ATED — ED (editor) contained in (in) SATED (full)

22d   Chore involving piece of silver in need of cleaning (5)

DU(S)TY — DUTY (chore) containing (involving) S (piece [initial letter] of Silver)

24d   Wet inside, with a bit of sun outside (5)

RA(IN)Y — IN (inside) contained in (with ... outside) RAY (a bit of sun)
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)
Happy Easter — Falcon


  1. bit male conservative, consumed by hatred ... help, I'm stumped. Any which way I cut this up, I cannot solve it

    1. Welcome to the blog. The solution has now been posted above.

    2. Ah, my problem was 7d which I had as AMAZONIAS, except zonia is a butterfly.

  2. A fun puzzle, but I didn't find it hardest of all recent Hexes.

    I had two small quibbles, uncharacteristically, with this puzzle. First, ROSINANTE works fine, but the wordplay is broken up as ROSIN+ANTE, and this breakdown is germane to the derivation of the term (work horse--before) Lots of people do this sort of thing but I rarely see it in a Hex puzzle.

    Then NATAL is used as a double-def between the land and "of birth." But the name of Natal Province comes from the Portuguese word for Christmas, by means of "birth" (as in Christ). Surprising shared root. Not a fatal flaw for the clue, but the connection seems rather direct to me.

    And then I had all or most crossings for 14D,
    T_R_A_O_T and I saw the fish and fight in the clue and wondered for a little while whether you might spell it TURBOUT in Canada. But that's me.

    1. Hi Danchall,

      Welcome back to the blog. I always appreciate comments from readers.