Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014 — Ragtime at the Ballpark

Introduction

While not overly challenging, today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon may be a shade more difficult than those that have appeared in the last couple of weeks.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
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Legend:
- 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

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (& lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions.

Across

1a   Sheep leave fortified area (7)

RAM|PART — RAM (sheep) + PART (leave)

5a   Money pit between California and Alabama (7)

CA(PIT)AL — PIT (†) contained in (between) {CA ([US Postal Service abbreviation for] California) + AL ([US Postal Service abbreviation for] Alabama)}

9a   Dog disrupted tea garden (5,4)

{GREAT DANE}* — anagram (disrupted) of TEA GARDEN

10a   Con game involving red bolt (5)

SC(R)AM — SCAM (con game) containing (involving) R (red)

11a   Coy comedian travelling for holiday in Mexico (5,2,4)

{CINCO DE MAYO}* — anagram (travelling) of COY COMEDIAN

Cinco de Mayo[7] (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a celebration held on May 5 in parts of Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla). The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

The date is also observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. This observance originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War.

14a   Ed's poise lost in chapters of a serial (8)

EPISODES* — anagram (lost) of EDS POISE

15a   Ancient Greek article by outlaw (6)

THE|BAN — THE ([definite] article) + (by) BAN (outlaw; as a verb)

A Theban was an inhabitant of Thebes[5], a city in Greece, in Boeotia, north-west of Athens. Thebes became a major military power in Greece following the defeat of the Spartans at the battle of Leuctra in 371 BC. It was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 336 BC.

18a   Five-lane low spot (6)

V|ALLEY — V ([Roman numeral for] five) + ALLEY (lane)

19a   In French sea, a certain yardstick (8)

ME(A|SURE)R — {A (†) + SURE (certain)} contained in (in) MER (French [word meaning] sea[8])

21a   Some insecure freshmen tried something to eat (11)

_RE|FRESHMEN|T_ — hidden in (some) insecuRE FRESHMEN Tried

25a   Love buddy's precious stones (5)

O|PAL|S — O (love; a score of nil in tennis) + PAL (buddy) + S ('s)

26a   Swimming, I can't lose the contour of the shore (9)

COASTLINE* — anagram (swimming) of I CANT LOSE

27a   Stiller breaking garden structure (7)

TRELLIS* — anagram (breaking) of STILLER

This week, it is not Ben Stiller[7] — then again, maybe the surface reading is an allusion to the American actor who appeared in the puzzle two weeks ago.

28a   Charms listeners after finale (7)

END|EARS — EARS (listeners) following (after) END (finale)

Down

1d   Piano piece by Joplin, a musical work (4)

RAG|A — RAG (piano piece by [Scott] Joplin) + A (†)

Scott Joplin[7] (c. 1867/1868–1917) was an African-American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions, and was later titled The King of Ragtime. During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the Maple Leaf Rag, became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.

In Indian classical music, a raga[5] is (1) each of the six basic musical modes which express different moods in certain characteristic progressions, with more emphasis placed on some notes than others or (2) a piece using a particular raga.

2d   Encounter me and extraterrestrial (4)

ME|ET — ME (†) + ET (extraterrestrial)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[7] (often referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. He and his siblings help the extraterrestrial return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government.

3d   Arthur and I squeeze the life out of a vegetable (9)

ART|I|CHOKE — ART (Arthur) + (and) I (†) + CHOKE (squeeze the life out of)

4d   Learners shower, wearing shirts (8)

T(RAIN)EES — RAIN (shower) contained in (wearing) TEES (shirts)

5d   Company's embracing communist statements of belief (6)

C(RED)O|S — {CO (company) + S ('s)} containing (embracing) RED (communist)

6d   Audibly walked with stick (5)

PASTE~ — sounds like (audibly) PACED (walked)

7d   Trio outside a low-grade bar in a shabby condition (10)

THRE(A|D|BAR)E — THREE (trio) containing (outside) {A (†) + D (low-grade; poor academic result} + BAR (†)

8d   Satirists twisted normal pose (10)

LAMPOONERS* — anagram (twisted) of NORMAL POSE

12d   Vets ponder new Colorado city paper (6,4)

{DENVER POST}* — anagram (new) of VETS PONDER

The Denver Post[7] is a daily newspaper that has been published in Denver, Colorado, United States, since 1892.

13d   Menu turned off liberal (4,2,4)

{BILL OF FARE}* — anagram (turned) of OFF LIBERAL

16d   Take a chair by Edward, after he paused uncertainly (9)

HE|SIT|AT|ED — {SIT (take a chair) + AT (by) + ED (Edward)} following (after) HE (†)

17d   Make strange green tea (8)

GENERATE* — anagram (strange) of GREEN TEA

20d   Investigates some Europeans for audit (6)

CHECKS~ — sounds like (for audit) CZECHS (some Europeans)

22d   In Leeds, wrecked a certain Ford (5)

EDSEL* — anagram (wrecked) of LEEDS

Leeds[5] is an industrial city in West Yorkshire, northern England; population 441,100 (est. 2009). It developed as a wool town in the Middle Ages, becoming a centre of the clothing trade in the Industrial Revolution.

The Edsel[7] was an automobile marque that was planned, developed, and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company during the 1958, 1959, and 1960 model years. With the Edsel, Ford had expected to make significant inroads into the market share of both General Motors and Chrysler and close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market. But contrary to Ford's internal plans and projections, the Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. The Ford Motor Company lost millions of dollars on the Edsel's development, manufacturing and marketing. The very word "Edsel" became a popular symbol for failure.

23d   Lend a hand with a classic opera (4)

AID|A — AID (lend a hand) + (with) A (†)

Aida[7] is an opera by Italian  composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) which was first performed in 1871.

24d   New York ballplayers stalk about (4)

METS< — reversal (about) of STEM (stalk)

The New York Mets[7] are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City. They play in Major League Baseball's National League East Division.

Epilogue

The title of today's blog was inspired by 1d and 24d.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (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] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

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