Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015 — Painting Over the Writing on the Wall


I thought today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon was a cut above any we have seen in quite some time — more challenging with better composed wordplay.

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. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).


1a   Grand temper tantrum about a // place to park (6)

G(A)RAGE — {G ([abbreviation for] grand; slang for a thousand dollars) + RAGE (temper tantrum)} containing (about) A (†)

4a   Would-be // pain reliever suitable for children (8)

ASPIRIN|G — ASPIRIN (pain reliever) + G (suitable for children; film classification)

9a   All but the foremost of fans were missing the final // comeback (6)

_ANS|WER_ — ANS (all but the foremost [first letter] of [F]ANS) + WER (WER[E] missing the final [letter])

10a   Tin pot so foul! (8)

SPITTOON* — anagram (foul) of TIN POT SO

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

11a   Driver's low // after rig's modified (5,4)

{FIRST GEAR}* — anagram (modified) of AFTER RIGS

13a   Dodge // brink, taking notice (5)

EV(AD)E — EVE (brink) containing (taking) AD (notice)

14a   Fluff // started in this city (11)

THIS|T(LED)OWN — LED (started; made first play in a hand of cards) contained in (in) {THIS (†) + TOWN (city)}

18a   Exit toward Canada from the U.S., circling Western // U.S. penitentiary (11)

LEAVE|N(W)ORTH — LEAVE (exit) + NORTH (toward Canada from the U.S.) containing (circling) W ([abbreviation for] Western)

The United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth[7] (USP Leavenworth) is a medium-security United States federal prison for male inmates situated in Leavenworth, Kansas (25 miles northwest of Kansas City, Kansas). The prison is located on the property of  Fort Leavenworth, a United States Army post which is also the site of two military prisons — the United States Disciplinary Barracks[7] and the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility[7].

21a   Cowpoke at times // running through property (5)

_ROPER_ —  hidden in (running through) pROPERty

22a   Gossip with a single saint, // lying (9)

DISH|ONE|ST — DISH (gossip) + (with) ONE (a single) + ST ([abbreviation for] saint)

24a   Expecting // panel's initial ruling (8)

P|REGNANT — P (Panel's initial [letter]) + REGNANT (ruling)

25a   Pair of creases in spotted // partition (6)

S(CR)EEN — CR (pair [initial two letters] of CReases) contained in (in) SEEN (spotted)

26a   Officer // material: soldier in a colony? (8)

SERGE|ANT — SERGE (material) + ANT (soldier in a colony)

27a   Red Sea swimming // eliminated (6)

ERASED* — anagram (swimming) of RED SEA


1d   Agassi's partner carefully placed love // message on a wall (8)

GRAF|FIT|O — GRAF (Agassi's partner) + FIT (carefully placed) + O (love; nil score in tennis)

Steffi Graf[7] is a German former World No. 1 professional tennis player. She is married to Andre Agassi[7], an American retired professional tennis player and former World No. 1.

2d   Check note and melody (8)

RE|STRAIN — RE ([musical] note) + STRAIN (melody)

3d   For the audience, took a shot at // talk show interviewee (5)

GUEST~ — sounds like (for the audience) GUESSED (took a shot at)

5d   Fashion icons // dine seldomer, sadly (11)

SUPERMODELS* — anagram (sadly) of DINE SELDOMER

Okay, let's try this one more time:

SUP|ERMODELS* — SUP (dine) + anagram (sadly) of SELDOMER

An allusion, perchance,to anorexia in the fashion industry.

6d   Hot new ink surprisingly // up to date (2,3,4)

{IN THE KNOW}* — anagram (surprisingly) of HOT NEW INK

7d   Sign of pressure: // I cry a river (6)

I|SOB|A|R — I (†) + SOB (cry) + A (†) + R ([abbreviation for] river)

... on a weather map.

8d   Red horse returned // look (6)

{GAN|DER}< — reversal (returned) of {RED (†) + NAG (horse)}

12d   In the veranda, no noise // from time to time (4,3,4)

E|VER AND A|NO|N — hidden in (in) thE VERANDA NO Noise

15d   In dazed state, cheer // ability to endure (9)

T(OLE)RANCE — OLE ([Spanish] cheer) contained in (in) TRANCE (dazed state)

16d   Like a plain // reel in Polanski movie (8)

T(REEL)ESS — REEL (†) contained in (in) TESS (Polanski movie)

Tess[7] is a 1979 romance film directed by Polish and naturalized-French film director Roman Polanski, an adaptation of the 1891 novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles by English novelist Thomas Hardy (1840–1928).

17d   When diet changed, // got lighter (8)

WHITENED* — anagram (changed) of WHEN DIET

19d   Doctor copies // window decor (6)

DR|APES — DR ([abbreviation for] doctor) + APES (copies)

20d   Show // short program with musical talent (6)

APP|EAR — APP (short [computer] program; short for application) + (with) EAR (musical talent; ear for music)

23d   Award // rings and automobile (5)

OSCAR — OS (rings; Os) + (and) CAR (automobile)


The title of today's piece was inspired by 1d and 17d.
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. A more difficult Saturday solve. SW corner last to go in, 24A took some time and dictionary assistance. Learnt a new word for ruling today. Hence the increased difficulty rating 3/3. Enjoyed 18A - very clever

    1. Thanks for dropping by.

      Aside from the "word for ruling" (which I knew thanks to my high school Latin), I could respond "Ditto" to everything you said!

  2. I agree with your assessment of the puzzle - it afforded me some pleasurable brain-racking. In the "when will I ever learn" department, I continue to have trouble recognizing clues of the "hidden" variety: I got 9A, 21A, and 12 D from the definitions + letter patterns but had to go back in order to see them in the clue. I also had to go back and parse 14A - lovely word. I always enjoy clues/answers like 22A where the finished answer sounds so different from its clue components. I remembered a previous helpful post of yours regarding the exclamation point in 10A. Fun clue.

    1. Hi Carola,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I expect everyone has a particular type of clue that is their personal nemesis. 9A (which you mention) is an interesting clue. Although the solution is, in fact, hidden in two adjacent words of the clue, it is not clued in that manner. Rather it is clued as a decapitation of the first word, followed by the curtailment or truncation of the second word.

  3. Hi Falcon and everyone!

    Sorry for the lateness of this note, I have trouble from time to time getting this system to accept my entry. (nothing personal, I hope!) -

    Well, all I can say is, Hubris, thy name is cryptic crossword solver.

    Saturday morning, rain sleeting down, was a perfect time to zip through the week-end offering. And, as already noted, it was refreshingly challenging, I needed help only with 16d as I couldn't think of the appropriate Polanski film.

    Then later, as is my wont, I checked what you had in the solutions, and urk! I made three mistakes!

    Used the plural for 1d (looked ok at the time), misspelled 26a (I know the right way to spell it, but I was being phonetic?), and thought that Thistletown was the answer for 14a (there IS a Tinseltown, so why not a Thistletown?)

    That's what you get for trying to be fast.

    I thought 9a was interesting, in that the answer was hidden in the clue, in spite of the charade around it (noted above as well).

    And, it seems Falcon that perhaps you too were hasty in filling in the parsing for one of the solutions. For 5d, dine is a synonym for sup, and the second word, seldomer, is the anagram, sadly, for the rest of the solution. I mean, who uses seldomer, anyway?

    I remain, more chagrinned, your faithful servant,


    1. Hi Henry,

      Thank you for your comments.

      Ironically, I made two of the same errors that you report making -- the plural at 1D and the misspelled officer at 26a. I discovered both errors while writing the blog. Having to explain the parsing of a clue in writing really imposes discipline on one.

      As for 5d, I obviously got rather sloppy there. Likely a case of too much time passing between solving the puzzle and composing the blog entry. I could argue that it is a rare occurrence based on the evidence that "people seldom report I make mistakes". However, I expect the words in that statement might more truthfully be ordered as "People seldom report mistakes I make".

  4. Hi Falcon,
    Thank you as usual for posting the puzzle and providing my regular Saturday morning fix.

    I must have tried 3 or 4 times to leave a comment yesterday and "report your mistakes" but alas was unable to. Must have been gremlins.

    My favourite clue was 10a.


    1. Hi MG,

      It's comforting to know that you were on patrol -- even if you were not able to report in.