Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014 — Disturbing A Medusa


Today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon  — featuring a pair of rival contemporaries from the 18th century music scene — started out as a gentle jog on the flat but finished on a bit of an uphill grade causing me to work up a mild sweat.

There do seem to be more than the usual number of anagrams in the puzzle. However, a close count shows that there really are not that many more than usual. I think it may just feel like a lot since they make their appearance droves. And we certainly can't say that we weren't warned going in of their presence.

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   Sheep, following a hound, // shuffle (7)

A|NAG|RAM — RAM (sheep) following (†) {A (†) + NAG (hound)}

5a   Legion’s mixed // drink (4,3)

{SLOE GIN}* — anagram (mixed) of LEGIONS

9a   Lunatic trounces a // paramour (9)

COURTESAN* — anagram (lunatic) of TROUNCES A

10a   One who’s far from a lover/’s/ broken heart (5)

HATER* — anagram (broken) of HEART

11a   Package deliverers desire // improvement in business (7)

UPS|URGE — UPS (package delivers) + URGE (desire)

United Parcel Service of North America, Inc.[7], typically referred to and branded as UPS (stylized as ups), is the largest shipment and logistics company in the world. The American global package delivery company is headquartered in Sandy Springs, Georgia, which is part of the Greater Atlanta metropolitan area. UPS delivers more than 15 million packages a day to more than 6.1 million customers in more than 220 countries and territories around the world.

12a   New arrangement of Israeli // composer (7)

SALIERI* — anagram of (new arrangement of) ISRAELI

Antonio Salieri[5] (1750–1825) was an Italian composer. His output includes over forty operas and four oratorios. Salieri lived in Vienna and taught Beethoven, Schubert, and Liszt. He was hostile to Mozart, whom he considered his rival, but a rumour that he poisoned him is now thought to be without foundation.

13a   Dismisses // jazz combo member in audition (5)

SACKS~ — sounds like (in audition) SAX (jazz combo member)

15a   Young lady running easily /and/ running fast (9)

GAL|LOPING — GAL (young lady) + LOPING (running easily)

17a   Cattle // are finally in favour of going in droves (9)

HER(E|FOR)DS — {E (are finally; final letter of arE) + PRO (in favour)} contained in (going in) HERDS (droves)

A Hereford bull
Hereford[5] is a breed of red and white beef cattle.

19a   Hangs ten, exhibiting // a feeling of nervousness (5)

_ANGS|T_ — hidden in (exhibiting) hANGS Ten

Hang ten[5] is a surfing term meaning to ride a surfboard with all ten toes curled over the board’s front edge.

21a   Cut // portion of corn in outbuilding (7)

SH(EAR)ED — EAR (portion of corn) contained in (in) SHED (outbuilding)

23a   Matron’s shattered // window (7)

TRANSOM* — anagram (shattered) of MATRONS

25a   Promises // bit of hay in feed for horses (5)

OAT(H)S — H (bit [first letter] of Hay) contained in (in) OATS (feed for horses)

26a   Nice // conga-line dancing (9)

CONGENIAL* — anagram (dancing) of CONGALINE

27a   Outspoken officers’ // corny stuff (7)

KERNELS~ — sounds like (outspoken) COLONELS (officers)

28a   Mozart, // upon returning, took an old lady to court? (7)

{AM|A|DEUS}< — reversal (upon returning) of {SUED (took ... to court) + A (†) + MA (old lady)}

Hint: to experience the full effect of the wordplay, read it as an entire phrase. Thus "took an old lady to court" clues "SUED A MA".

Amadeus is a name associated with the composer Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart[5] (1756–1791) was an Austrian composer; full name Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Amadeus[5] is a play by Peter Shaffer, which gives a highly fictionalized account of the lives of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. First performed in 1979, Amadeus was inspired by a short 1830 play by Alexander Pushkin called Mozart and Salieri (which was also used as the libretto for an opera of the same name by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1897).

In the Shaffer play, significant use is made of the music of Mozart, Salieri and other composers of the period. The premieres of Mozart's operas The Abduction from the Seraglio, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute are each the setting for key scenes of the play.

Amadeus won the 1981 Tony Award for Best Play. It was adapted by Shaffer for the 1984 Academy Award winning film of the same name.


1d   Collects /for/ a sail in the sound (7)

ACCRUES~ — sounds like (in the sound) A CRUISE (a sail)

2d   Neighbours // playing tubas (5)

ABUTS* — anagram (playing) of TUBAS

3d   Withdraws, /and/ changes a car’s wheels? (7)

RETIRES — double definition; the second possibly being a bit cryptic — as appropriately marked by a question mark

To be pedantic, tires and wheels are separate components with the former fitting onto the latter. However, this distinction is often lost in common speech.

4d   Envoy // in from Essen, Germany (9)

_M|ESSEN|GER_ — hidden in (in) froM ESSEN GERmany

Essen[5] is an industrial city in the Ruhr valley, in northwestern Germany; population 583,200 (est. 2006).

5d   Taking in fluid from a well, ship // goes under (5)

S(INK)S — SS ([steam]ship) containing (taking in) INK (fluid from a well; from the days of fountain pens — or even quills)

I have observed that, in Crosswordland, a ship is almost invariably a steamship. However, there is always an exception to every rule — as we will discover at 16d.

In this clue, the setters have employed an inverted clue structure for cryptic effect or, as they might have put it "For cryptic effect, the setters have employed an inverted clue structure".

6d   Shakespearean character/’s/ Old Testament greeting (7)

OT|HELLO — OT (Old Testament) + HELLO (greeting)

Othello[7] is the title character in The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, a tragedy by English playwright William Shakespeare (1564–1616).

7d   Joke about her tin cuckoo // collection (9)

GA(THERIN*)G — GAG (joke) containing (about) an anagram (cuckoo) of {HER (†) + TIN (†)}

8d   Run back and make music, // caring for people (7)

NUR<|SING — reversal (back) of RUN (†) + (and) SING (make music)

14d   Grouse go in /for/ a type of ant (9)

CARP|ENTER — CARP (grouse) + ENTER (go in)

A carpenter ant[5] is any of numerous species of large ant which burrows into wood to make a nest.

16d   Wrecked U.S.-Italian // ship (9)

LUSITANIA* — anagram (wrecked) of USITALIAN

In a departure from the cluing that we customarily see, this ship bears not the designation SS (steamship), but RMS (Royal Mail Ship).

RMS Lusitania[7] was a British ocean liner, holder of the Blue Riband [an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed] and briefly the world's biggest ship. She was launched by the Cunard Line in 1906, at a time of fierce competition for the North Atlantic trade. In 1915 she was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, causing the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew.

17d   Furniture // packs punch (7)

HAS|SOCK — HAS (packs) + SOCK (punch)

This is probably another instance where the wordplay is a bit more effective when read as a phrase.

18d   Anticipate // valuable deposits in charge (7)

F(ORES)EE — ORES (valuable deposits) contained in (in) FEE (charge)

19d   One hobbled next to a // boulevard (7)

A|LAMED|A — A (one) + LAMED (hobbled) + (next to) A (†)

In Spain and Spanish-speaking areas, an alameda[5] is a public walkway or promenade, shaded with trees.

20d   Mexican food /and/ beers behind Scottish lid (7)

TAM|ALES — ALES (beers) following (behind) TAM (Scottish lid; hat typical of Scotland)

A tamale[5] is a Mexican dish of seasoned meat and corn flour steamed or baked in corn husks.

22d   Chops up // 500 frozen treats (5)

D|ICES — D ([Roman numeral for] 500) + ICES (frozen treats)

Having nearly created an international incident a couple of days ago with my explanation of the British usage of the word "ice", I hesitate to weigh in here.

While I would be more apt to think of "treat" as meaning something like candy or ice cream eaten as a snack as opposed to a dessert eaten at a meal, "treat" may be used here in just this latter sense.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, ice[5] is a frozen dessert consisting of water, sugar, and a liquid flavoring, often fruit juice. To me, this sounds like a popsicle in a bowl!

24d   Small green fruit // muck (5)

S|LIME — S (small) + LIME (green fruit)


The title of today's blog is inspired by the solutions to 28a and 1a.
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,
    Cute title - took me a second to get it. I don't believe the solution to 27a should include the letter "a".


    1. Re: the letter "A" -- right you are. Now fixed.