Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014 — Frightful Fantasies


Today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon is a pleasant diversion with a nicely balanced mix of clue types. There are ten full or partial charades, nine full or partial anagrams, 6 container type clues, three full or partial reversals, and two each of double definitions, homophones and hidden word clues.

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   Chuck eats pie: /that’s/ surprising (9)

S(TART)LING — SLING (chuck) containing (eats) TART (pie)

6a   Family group’s first // ring (5)

CLAN|G — CLAN (family) + G (Group's first [letter])

9a   Summer // snake (5)

ADDER — double definition, the first being whimsical

Summer is a whimsical name for someone who totals up numbers.

10a   Talk // Diana’s way (9)

DI|S|COURSE_ — DI (nickname for Diana) + S ('s) + COURSE (way)

11a   MASH unit upset // a “people person”? (8)

HUMANIST* — anagram (upset) of MASH UNIT

MASH[3,4,11] is a US military acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

MASH[7] (stylized as M*A*S*H on the film's poster art) is a 1970 American satirical black comedy film based on Richard Hooker's novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors.

The film depicts a unit of medical personnel stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War; the subtext is about the Vietnam War. The film inspired the popular and critically acclaimed television series M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983.

12a   Monitor // observed taking chromium (6)

S(CR)EEN — SEEN (observed) containing (taking) CR (chromium)

Chromium[5] (symbol Cr) is the chemical element of atomic number 24, a hard white metal used in stainless steel and other alloys.

14a   Penny // said, “Perfume” (4)

CENT~ — sounds like (said) SCENT (perfume)

15a   Something to jump on, // stomp, and lie on askew (10)

TRAMP|OLINE* — TRAMP (stomp) + (and) an anagram (askew) of LIE ON

18a   Be persnickety, // altering ship’s trail (5,5)

{SPLIT HAIRS}* — anagram (altering) of SHIPS TRAIL

19a   Correct // current reversed (4)

EDIT< — reversal (reversed) of TIDE (current)

21a   Some hesitation to talk wildly // out of line (6)

ER|RANT — ER (some hesitation) + RANT (to talk wildly)

23a   Injured // pair of sprinters showered (8)

SP|RAINED — SP (initial two letters (pair) of SPrinters) + RAINED (showered)

26a   Best // prize kitchenware returned (3-6)

{TOP|-DRAWER}< — reversal (returned) of {REWARD (prize) + POT (kitchenware)}

27a   Just a stealthy sample?? (5)

_T|A|STE_ — hidden in (sample) jusT A STEalthy

A question mark (or an exclamation point) is often a signal that there is something a bit out of the ordinary about the clue. Here the setters emphasize the point with a double question mark.

This is as an &lit.[7] clue (sometimes called an all-in-one clue). The entire clue (when read one way) is the the definition, but under a different interpretation takes on the roll of wordplay.

The entire clue (when read as the definition) suggests perhaps someone furtively dipping her finger into the icing on the cake when she thinks no one is looking.

28a   Stallone takes notice, // unfortunately (5)

S(AD)LY — SLY ([nickname for American actor Sylvester] Stallone) containing (takes) AD (notice)

Sylvester "Sly" Stallone[7] is an American actor best known for his portrayal of the characters boxer Rocky Balboa and soldier John Rambo.

29a   Fanciful ideas // made yards different (9)

DAYDREAMS* — anagram (different) of MADE YARDS


1d   Hide // some of pasta shells (5)

_STA|SH_ — hidden in (some of) paSTA SHells

2d   Dancing limbo, Dana /is/ gutty? (9)

ABDOMINAL* — anagram (dancing) of LIMBO DANA

3d   Monarch’s chair // tossed in the audience (6)

THRONE~ — sounds like (in the audience) THROWN (tossed)

4d   Asian river test // of manufacturing (10)

INDUS|TRIAL — INDUS (Asian river) + TRIAL (test)

The Indus[5] is a river of southern Asia, about 2,900 km (1,800 miles) in length, flowing from Tibet through Kashmir and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. Along its valley an early civilization flourished from circa 2600 to 1760 BC.

5d   Fuel pump’s first // loud intake of air (4)

GAS|P — GAS (fuel) + P (pump's first [letter])

Note to British readers: Gas (short for gasoline) is the North American term for petrol.

6d   Dog // food doubled (4-4)

CHOW|-CHOW — CHOW (food) + (doubled) CHOW (food)

7d   Terribly eager // to concur (5)

AGREE* — anagram (terribly) of EAGER

8d   Engelbert improved // an undeveloped area (9)

GREENBELT* — anagram (improved) of ENGELBERT

Engelbert is a German male given name. Engelbert Humperdinck[7] (1854–1921) was a German composer, best known for his opera Hänsel und Gretel. The name Engelbert Humperdinck was appropriated as a stage name by English pop singer Arnold George Dorsey (who had previously performed under the name Gerry Dorsey). He is best known for his UK number-one hits "Release Me" and "The Last Waltz", as well as "After the Lovin'" and "A Man Without Love".

13d   Wrongly // insinuate about lasso user (10)

IMP(ROPER)LY — IMPLY (insinuate) containing (about) ROPER (lasso user)

14d   Tapes // doctored test cases (9)

CASSETTES* — anagram (doctored) of TEST CASES

16d   Individuals found in Asian country/’s/ group of islands (9)

IND(ONES)IA — ONES (individuals) contained in (found in) INDIA (Asian country)

17d   Fish // straying off (8)

STINGRAY* — anagram (off) of STRAYING

20d   Someone abstaining from food // more abruptly (6)

FASTER — double definition

22d   Swift // attack catching chief of police (5)

RA(P)ID — RAID (attack) containing (catching) P (chief [initial letter] of Police)

24d   Oceans’ // rate of movement receding (5)

DEEPS< — reversal (receding) of SPEED (rate of movement)

25d   Nothing we had // remaining (4)

O|WED — O (nothing; letter that looks like a zero) + WED ([contraction (we'd) for] we had)

Owed might be used in the context ⇒ After two years of payments, $10,000 was still owed on the loan.


The title of today's blog is inspired by the solutions to 1a and 29a.
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!
    Great little puzzle today. Found 9A to be very clever indeed.


    1. Hi MG,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Ah yes, 9a, a whimsical take on "summer". Its certainly not summer-like in Ottawa today. I am looking out the window to see snow falling gently outside.

  2. I managed to get 9 of the 16 Acrosses on first pass, followed by all of the Downs. Going back to the Acrosses, I had the most difficulty with 1, 21, and 27 - got them all but had to work backwards (from answer to clue) to understand 1 and 27. I'd seen 9 before, many years ago in a Puns and Anagrams puzzle by Mel Taub in the New York Times (I remember it because I was just a beginner at those puzzles at the time, and each answer I got was a small triumph). Thanks for explaining the &lit clue.

    1. Hi Carola,

      Thank you for leaving a comment. It is always interesting to see which clues proved troublesome for others.

      As for &lit. clues, one does not see them often in Cox & Rathvon puzzles. However, they make more frequent appearances in The Daily Telegraph puzzles which are published in the weekday editions of the National Post.