Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014 — Small Change


The setters give no quarter in today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon. They are not being merciless — merely parsimonious.

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
- 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.


1a   Strange image including conjurer's ultimate trick on the eyes (6)

MI(R)AGE — anagram (strange) of IMAGE containing (including) final letter (ultimate) of conjureR

4a   Dog food doubled (4-4)

CHOW-CHOW — CHOW (food) repeated (doubled)

9a   Western entertainment was carried by HBO, finally (5)

RODE|O — RODE (was carried) + (by) final letter (finally) of HBO

HBO[7] (Home Box Office) is an American premium cable and satellite television network that is owned by Home Box Office Inc., an operating subsidiary of Time Warner. HBO is the oldest and longest continuously operating pay television service (basic or premium) in the United States, having been in operation since November 8, 1972.

10a   Badly moldering sourdough (4,5)

{GOLD MINER}* — anagram (badly) of MOLDERING

Moldering is the US spelling of mouldering[5].

Sourdough[5] is a North American term for an experienced prospector in the western US or Canada. The term sourdough originally meant (1) a leavening agent for making bread, consisting of fermenting dough, originally that left over from a previous baking or (2) bread made using this leavening agent.

A "sourdough[7]" is primarily a nickname used in the North (Yukon/Alaska) for someone having spent an entire winter north of the Arctic Circle and refers to their tradition of protecting their sourdough starter during the coldest months by keeping it close to their body.

The sourdough tradition was carried into Alaska and the western Canadian territories during the Klondike Gold Rush. Conventional leavenings such as yeast and baking soda were much less reliable in the conditions faced by the prospectors. Experienced miners and other settlers frequently carried a pouch of starter either around their neck or on a belt; these were fiercely guarded to keep from freezing. However, freezing does not kill a sourdough starter; excessive heat does. Old hands came to be called "sourdoughs", a term that is still applied to any Alaskan old-timer.

11a   Parisian daily taking a cool drink (8)

LE|MON(A)DE — LE MONDE (Parisian daily) containing (taking; ingesting) A (†)

Le Monde[7] (English: The World) is a French daily evening newspaper continuously published in Paris since its first edition in December 1944. It is one of two French newspapers of record — the other being Le Figaro.

12a   Agency based in Paris upset U.S. once (6)

UNESCO* — anagram (upset) of US ONCE

The clue is not only cryptically sound but historically accurate.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)[7] is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Its headquarters are located at Place de Fontenoy in Paris, France, now called the World Heritage Centre.

UNESCO has been the centre of controversy in the past, particularly in its relationships with the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and the former Soviet Union. During the 1970s and 1980s, UNESCO's support for a "New World Information and Communication Order" and its MacBride report calling for democratization of the media and more egalitarian access to information was condemned in these countries as attempts to curb freedom of the press. UNESCO was perceived by some as a platform for communists and Third World dictators to attack the West, a stark contrast to accusations made by the USSR in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1984, the United States withheld its contributions and withdrew from the organization in protest, followed by the United Kingdom in 1985. Singapore took the opportunity to withdraw also at the end of 1985, citing rising membership fees. Following a change of government in 1997, the UK rejoined. The United States rejoined in 2003, followed by Singapore on 8 October 2007.

14a   Mailed penny to the auditor (4)

SENT~ — sounds like (to the auditor [listener]) CENT (penny)

In Canada and the US, penny[7] is a commonly used name for the coin that is officially known as a "one cent piece" in Canada or a "cent"[7] in the US — a coin that has been removed from circulation in Canada.

15a   Holding wake, boor partied hard (8)

CA(ROUSE)D — CAD (boor) containing (holding) ROUSE (wake [from sleep])

Note: for cryptic effect, the setters have employed an inverted sentence structure.

19a   Old usher busted for joint (8)

SHOULDER* — anagram (busted) of OLD USHER

20a   Understood novel when read aloud (4)

KNEW~ — sounds like (when read aloud) NEW (novel)

23a   Make a notch in the Spanish coin (6)

NICK|EL — NICK (make a notch in) + EL (the Spanish; masculine singular form of the Spanish definite article)

The nickel[4] is a Canadian or US coin and monetary unit worth five cents.

25a   Small spear in grating (8)

S|TRIDENT — S (small) + TRIDENT (spear)

27a   Starting with a letter from Greece not long ago, collecting stamps (9)

PHI|LATELY — PHI (a letter from Greece) ["starting with" indicating that PHI is the first element of the charade] + LATELY (not long ago)

Philately[5] is the collection and study of postage stamps.

28a   Diner seating the pair eating bagel (5)

B(O)OTH (or BO(O)TH) — BOTH (the pair) containing (eating) O ([letter shaped like a] bagel)

29a   Part of a debate true about cigarette (8)

RE(BUTT)AL — REAL (true) containing (about) BUTT (cigarette)

30a   Made fun of sedate eccentric (6)

TEASED* — anagram (eccentric) of SEDATE


1d   Painter of fog-shrouded mountain range (8)

M(URAL)IST — URAL (mountain range) contained in (shrouded [by]) MIST (fog)

The Ural Mountains[5] (also the Urals) is the name of a mountain range in Russia, extending 1,600 km (1,000 miles) from the Arctic Ocean to the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, and rising to 1,894 m (6,214 ft) at Mount Narodnaya. It forms part of the conventional boundary between Europe and Asia.

I find the use of "Ural" rather than "Urals" to be a touch questionable. To me, the clue would have worked better as:
  • Painter of fog-shrouded river (8)
The Ural River[5] is a river, 1,575 miles (2,534 km) long, that rises at the southern end of the Ural Mountains in western Russia and flows through western Kazakhstan to the Caspian Sea at Atyraū.

2d   Pipsqueaks pocketing 10¢ for starters (9)

RU(DIME)NTS — RUNTS (pipsqueaks) containing (pocketing) DIME (10¢)

A dime[3,4,11] is a coin of Canada or the US worth ten cents.

3d   Pulverized soil (6)

GROUND — double definition

5d   Heard entire gap (4)

HOLE~ — sounds like (heard) WHOLE (entire)

6d   Feminine desire gripping Middle Eastern land (8)

W(OMAN)ISH — WISH (desire) containing (gripping) OMAN (Middle Eastern land)

Oman[5] is a country at the eastern corner of the Arabian peninsula; population 3,418,100 (est. 2009); official language, Arabic; capital, Muscat.

7d   Henry's an actor in "Forrest Gump" (5)

HANKS — HANK ([common nickname for] Henry) + S ('s)

Tom Hanks[7] is an American actor who played the title role in the 1994 American film Forrest Gump[7].

8d   Proceed into urban district with bellicose Olympian (3,3)

WAR (GO)D — GO (proceed) contained in (into) WARD (urban district)

In Greek mythology, an Olympian[5] is any of the pantheon of twelve Greek gods regarded as living on Mount Olympus, a peak in northeastern Greece.

10d   Ducks wander alongside ramparts (8)

GAD|WALLS — GAD (wander) + (alongside) WALLS (ramparts)

The gadwall[5] is a brownish-grey freshwater duck (Anas strepera) found across Eurasia and North America.

13d   Bunch of hags tax English city (8)

COVEN|TRY — COVEN (bunch of hags [witches]) + TRY (tax)

Coventry[5] is an industrial city in the west Midlands of England; population 271,100 (est. 2009).

16d   Threatening, nose guard adjusted (9)

DANGEROUS — anagram (adjusted) of NOSE GUARD

Note: the National Post has mistakenly split the final word.

17d   Predict calcium absorbed by timberland (8)

FORE(CA)ST — CA ([symbol for the chemical element] calcium) contained in (absorbed by) FOREST (timberland)

18d   Around crone, media mogul Rogers quivered (8)

T(WITCH)ED — TED (media mogul Rogers) containing (around) WITCH (crone)

Ted Rogers, Jr.[7] (1933–2008) was the President and CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., and the fifth richest person in Canada in terms of net worth.

21d   Election winners backing each hidden attacker (6)

SNI<|PER — reversal (backing) of INS (election winners) + PER (each)

22d   Eat like a mouse shot in African river (6)

NI(BB)LE — BB (shot; lead pellet used in air rifles) contained in (in) NILE (African river)

The Nile[5] is a river in eastern Africa, the longest river in the world, which rises in east central Africa near Lake Victoria and flows 6,695 km (4,160 miles) generally northwards through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to empty through a large delta into the Mediterranean.

24d   Move up chestnut's first branch (5)

C|LIMB — C (Chestnut's first [letter]) + LIMB (branch)

26d   That lady's a goddess (4)

HER|A — HER (that lady's) + A (†)


HER|A — HER (that lady) + ('s; contraction for has) A (†)

While both explanations are valid, the former is more elegant (less convoluted).

In Greek mythology, Hera[5] was a powerful goddess, the wife and sister of Zeus and the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She was worshipped as the queen of heaven and as a marriage goddess.


The title of today's blog is inspired by 14a, 23a and 2d.
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


  1. Hi Falcon,
    While the setters did not give us a quarter, they did give us some gold. Enjoyed the puzzle - my last solve was gadwalls. Not familiar with the species but easy enough to figure out.

    1. Gadwalls was also among my last solves. As you say, fairly easy to work out -- once one has the checking letters.