Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016 — Ships of the Desert


I breezed through today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon until I got slowed down in the southwest quadrant. After a bit of fruitless head-scratching, I set the puzzle aside — from a solving perspective — and set to work on composing the review. By the time I had worked my way through to the clues in question, the solutions came to me quite readily.

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   Fruit // tree with bark on the inside (3,5)

MA(Y AP)PLE — MAPLE (tree) containing (with ... on the inside) YAP (bark)

The may apple[3,4,11] (or mayapple) is:
  1. a rhizomatous plant (Podophyllum peltatum) of the barberry family native to eastern North America, having large umbrellalike leaves, a single, nodding white flower, and yellowish, egg-shaped fruit. The ripe fruit is edible though insipid, but the roots, leaves, and seeds of the plant are poisonous; or
  2. the fruit of this plant.
5a   Casper revised // astronomical distance (6)

PARSEC* — anagram (revised) of CASPER

The parsec[5] is a unit of distance used in astronomy, equal to about 3.26 light years (3.086 × 1013 kilometres). One parsec corresponds to the distance at which the mean radius of the earth’s orbit subtends an angle of one second of arc.

9a   Raps cane, playing // organ (8)

PANCREAS* — anagram (playing) of RAPS CANE

10a   Homer kept in improbable // bondage (6)

T(HR)ALL — HR (homer; informal term for a home run in baseball) contained in (in) TALL (improbable; as a tall tale)

Thrall[5] is a literary term denoting the state of being in someone’s power, or of having great power over someone ⇒ she was in thrall to her abusive husband.

Scratching the Surface
Take your pick:

Homer[5] (8th century BC) was a Greek epic poet. He is traditionally held to be the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, though modern scholarship has revealed the place of the Homeric poems in a preliterate oral tradition. In later antiquity Homer was regarded as the greatest poet, and his poems were constantly used as a model and source by others.

Homer Simpson[7] is one of the main protagonists in the American animated television series The Simpsons as the patriarch of the eponymous family. The series. a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle, parodies American culture, society, television, and many aspects of the human condition.

11a   Imagine // five hundred and twenty quires (5)

D|REAM — D ([Roman numeral for] five hundred) + (and) REAM (twenty quires)

A quire[5] is 25 (formerly 24) sheets of paper; one twentieth of a ream. [A rare instance of the size of packaging being adjusted upward!]

12a   David’s wife // breaking Sabbath with the guy inside (9)

BATHS(HE)BA* — anagram (breaking) of SABBATH containing (inside) HE (the guy)

"The guy" she was fooling around with was, in fact, King David.

In the Old Testament, Bathsheba[10] is the wife of Uriah, who committed adultery with David and later married him and became the mother of his son Solomon (II Samuel 11–12).

Delving Deeper
The story of David's seduction of Bathsheba[7] is told in 2 Samuel 11. David, while walking on the roof of his palace, saw Bathsheba, who was then the wife of Uriah, having a bath. He immediately desired her and later made her pregnant.

In an effort to conceal his sin, and save Bathsheba from punishment for adultery, David summoned Uriah from the army (with whom he was on campaign) in the hope that Uriah would re-consummate his marriage and think that the child was his. Uriah was unwilling to violate the ancient kingdom rule applying to warriors in active service. Rather than go home to his own bed, he preferred to remain with the palace troops.

After repeated efforts to convince Uriah to have sex with Bathsheba, the king gave the order to his general, Joab, that Uriah should be placed in the front lines of the battle, where it was the most dangerous, and left to the hands of the enemy (where he was more likely to die). David had Uriah himself carry the message that ordered his death. After Uriah was dead, David made the now widowed Bathsheba his wife.

David's action was displeasing to the Lord, who accordingly sent Nathan the prophet to reprove the king. Nathan foretold that David's house would be punished in revenge of this murder. Not only would Bathsheba's child by David be struck with a severe illness and die a few days after birth, but years later one of David's much-loved sons, Absalom, led an insurrection that plunged the kingdom into civil war. Moreover, to manifest his claim to be the new king, Absalom had sexual intercourse in public with ten of his father's concubines, which could be considered a direct, tenfold divine retribution for David's taking the woman of another man. (II Samuel 16:20–23).

Strange, I must have dozed through that latter episode in Sunday School.

14a   Nomadic emirs adored // camels (11)

DROMEDARIES* — anagram (nomadic) of EMIRS ADORED

A dromedary[5] is an Arabian camel, especially one of a light and swift breed trained for riding or racing. The Arabian camel[5] is the domesticated one-humped camel, probably native to the deserts of North Africa and South-west Asia.

Scratching the Surface
Emir[5] (also spelled amir) is a title of various Muslim (mainly Arab) rulers ⇒ HRH the Emir of Kuwait.

18a   Carrying // last of luggage inside ought to resonate (11)

SHOULD(E)RING — E (last [letter] of luggagE) contained in (inside) {SHOULD (ought to) + RING (resonate)}

21a   Trapping // prisoner outside of a European capital (9)

C(A|PARIS)ON — CON (prisoner) containing (outside of) {A (†) + PARIS (European capital)}

A caparison[5] is an ornamental covering spread over a horse’s saddle or harness.

23a   StarTrek actor // back in Wyoming (5)

NIMOY< — reversed (back) and contained in (in) WYOMINg

Leonard Nimoy[7] (1931–2015) was an American actor, film director, photographer, author, singer, and songwriter. He was known for his role as Mr. Spock of the Star Trek franchise, a character he portrayed in television and film from a pilot episode shot in late 1964 to his final film performance released in 2013.

24a   Popular, like “Love /is/ Blue” (6)

IN|DIG|O —IN (popular) + DIG (like; I Dig Rock and Roll Music, Peter, Paul and Mary [1967]) + O (love; nil score in tennis)

Scratching the Surface

"L'amour est bleu"[7] (English title: "Love Is Blue") is a song whose music was composed by André Popp, and whose lyrics were written by Pierre Cour, in 1967. Brian Blackburn later wrote English-language lyrics for it. First performed in French by Greek singer Vicky Leandros (appearing as Vicky) as the Luxembourgian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1967, it has since been recorded by many other musicians, most notably French orchestra leader Paul Mauriat, whose familiar instrumental version became the only number-one hit by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America.

The song describes the pleasure and pain of love in terms of colours (blue and grey) and elements (water and wind). The English lyrics ("Blue, blue, my world is blue …") focus on colours only (blue, grey, red, green, and black), using them to describe elements of lost love.

25a   Pal taking in // government official (8)

M(IN)ISTER — MISTER (pal; informal terms ironically used by uncouth persons to address men one neither knows nor respects) containing (taking; ingesting, as a medicinal substance) IN (†)

26a   Require the French // pointer (6)

NEED|LE — NEED (require) + LE (the French; in the French language, the masculine, singular form of the definite article)

27a   Converted, suiting a // saint of old (8)

IGNATIUS* — anagram (converted) of SUITING A

Depending on how far back one wishes to delve, St. Ignatius[7] could refer to any of four people:
  • Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 or 50 – between 98 and 117), third Patriarch of Antioch, considered a saint by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches
  • Patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople (c. 797–877), Patriarch of Constantinople, considered a saint by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches
  • Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), founder of the Society of Jesus, considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church
  • Ignatius of Laconi (1701–1781), Capuchin friar, canonized in 1951, considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church


1d   Clean Edward’s // minibikes (6)

MOP|ED|S — MOP (clean) + ED ([diminutive of] Edward) + S ('s)

2d   Rodney moved // over there (6)

YONDER* — anagram (moved) of RODNEY

3d   Amply arid with adjustments, // like a pharaoh’s tomb (9)

PYRAMIDAL* — anagram (with adjustments) of AMPLY ARID

4d   Meadow blooms surrounding second-rate // yard tools (4,7)

LEA|F (B)LOWERS — LEA (meadow) + {FLOWERS (blooms) containing (surrounding) B (second-rate)}

6d   A famous guerrilla’s // pains (5)

A|CHE|S — A (†) + CHE (famous guerrilla; Che Guevara[7]) + S ('s)

7d   Bro or sis holding kitchen utensil // rack unit (5,3)

S(PARER)IB — SIB (bro or sis) containing (holding) PARER (kitchen utensil)

A rack[10] is the the neck or rib section of mutton, pork, or veal.

8d   Fall // completely the wrong way in thicket (8)

CO(LLA<)PSE — reversal (the wrong way) of ALL (completely) contained in (in) COPSE (thicket)

13d   Disney movie // nothing like Wild (3,4,4)

{THE LION KING}*_ — anagram (wild) of NOTHING LIKE

The Lion King[7] is a 1994 American animated epic musical film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

Scratching the Surface
Although there are plenty of other possibilities, the clue could possibly be referring to The Wild[7], a 2006 Disney computer animated adventure family comedy film. The film received generally negative reviews from critics and garnered a meagre return on investment at the box office — unlike The Lion King.

The Lion King[7] was released on June 15, 1994, to a positive reaction from critics, who praised the film for its music, story and animation; it finished its run as the highest-grossing release of 1994. Following a 3D re-release in 2011, with earnings of over US $987 million worldwide as of 2011, the film is the highest-grossing hand-drawn animated film in history, the highest-grossing 2D animated film in the United States, the fourth highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the 24th-highest-grossing feature film of all time. The Lion King garnered two Academy Awards for its achievement in music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

15d   Run into a fellow in a // Spanish-speaking country (9)

A(R)GENT|IN|A — R (run; baseball, or cricket, term) contained in (into) {A (†) + GENT (fellow) + IN (†) + A (†)}

16d   Delivery of sorts // to scenic Mobile (1-7)

C-SECTION — anagram (mobile) of TO SCENIC

Scratching the Surface
Mobile[7] is the county seat of Mobile County, Alabama and Alabama's only saltwater port. The population within the city limits was 195,111 as of the 2010 United States Census, making it the third most populous city in the State of Alabama and the largest municipality on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

17d   Taking defense, size up // buddy (8)

COMPA(D)RE — COMPARE (size up) containing (taking; ingesting [a second dose of medicine]) D (defense; abbrev. used in sports)

19d   Admit riders, including // one of the Karamazovs (6)

_DMIT|RI_ —hidden in (including) aDMIT RIders

The Brothers Karamazov[7] is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was completed in November 1880. The author died less than four months after its publication. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in world literature.

Major characters in the novel include Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, the father, a 55-year-old "sponger" and buffoon who sires three sons (Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov, Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov, and Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov) during his two marriages. He is also rumored to have fathered an illegitimate son, Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov, whom he employs as his servant.

20d   Mediterranean island // tree, by the sound of it (6)

CYPRUS~ — sounds like (by the sound of it) CYPRESS (tree)

The cypress[5] (also cypress tree) is any of many species of evergreen coniferous tree with small rounded woody cones and flattened shoots bearing small scale-like leaves.

Cyprus[5] is an island lying in the eastern Mediterranean about 80 km (50 miles) south of the Turkish coast; population 1,084,700 (est. 2009); official languages, Greek and Turkish; capital, Nicosia.

22d   Splendid // tavern quaff brought back (5)

REGAL< — reversal (brought back) of LAGER (tavern quaff)


The title of today's review was inspired by 14a.
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. Good morning everyone,

    I found that most of today's puzzle was quite straightforward. But there were a few that really held me up. They were 10a, 21a, 7d and 17d. Of those 7d took me the longest but when I finally figured it out I thought it quite clever.

    If I got the right answer to 10a then "hr" needs to be an abbreviation for "homer". That would be a new one for me.

    Thanks to C & R.


    1. Homer is an informal term for a home run in baseball which would be indicated as HR on baseball scoresheets.

  2. Hi Falcon, Peter and Everyone!
    This week's offering wasn't a R&W as we have had sometimes, but it had some easy clues (e.g. 13d, a blast from the past) so, overall a good romp for a Saturday morning.
    Peter, I think Home Run might be the basis for the "hr", so yes, you did get the right answer.
    I struggled with 7d, 8d, 15d, but got them from the checking letters.
    Didn't like the clue for 25a, thought it could be better.
    Falcon - as a possible title for today, how about "Brothers and sisters, pals and buddies"?

    1. Hi Henry,

      Having struggled to come up with a title for the review, I do like your suggestion — though I might shorten it to "Friends and Relatives". Wish I had seen your comment before I posted the review.

  3. I found this week's E&H tricky in places and rather slow going, held up by the NE and SW corners. Loved 7D. 4/3.5 rated. Thanks to the setters for a good challenge, and Falcon for a great review.