Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016 — Dirty Dancing and Beyond


I found today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon to be on the gentle side. Even the flawed clue at 28a (see below) did not hold me up. Were the setters so distracted by all the twerking that they failed to notice that the clue didn't parse?

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Error in Today's Puzzle

The clue at 28a does not parse. As an alternative, I offer the following substitute clue:
  • 28a   Lean right upsets someone from our home (9)

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   Saving me, smashed // priceless piece of porcelain (4,4)

{MING VASE}* — anagram (smashed) of SAVING ME

5a   Unwavering // saint qualified (6)

ST|ABLE — ST (saint; abbrev.) + ABLE (qualified)

9a   Picture // beam inside entrance (9)

PORT(RAY)AL — RAY (beam [of light]) contained in (inside) PORTAL (entrance)

11a   Leader of tribe occupying Algonquian // island (5)

CRE(T)E — T (leader [initial letter] of Tribe) contained in (occupying) CREE (Algonquian)

The Cree[3] are a Native American people inhabiting a large area from eastern Canada west to Alberta and the Great Slave Lake. Formerly located in central Canada, the Cree expanded westward and eastward in the 17th and 18th centuries, the western Cree adopting the Plains Indian life and the eastern Cree retaining their woodland culture. Cree is also the name of the Algonquian language of the Cree.

12a   Take a puff on // something dangerously fiery (6)

DRAG|ON — DRAG (take a puff) + ON (†)

13a   Disciplined // bit of wordplay I let drop (8)

PUN|I|SHED — PUN (bit of wordplay) + I (†) + SHED (let drop)

15a   Doubters // continued interrupting orders to attack (8)

S(KEPT)ICS — KEPT (continued) contained in (interrupting) SICS (orders [to a dog] to attack)

16a   Delivery vehicle following one // Karamazov brother (4)

I|VAN — VAN (delivery vehicle) following (†) I ([Roman numeral for] one)

The second Karamazov brother in as many weeks!

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.

Should we be on the lookout for Alexei and Pavel in upcoming puzzles?

19a   Top // ten at the end of parody (4)

APE|X — X ([Roman numeral for] ten) following (at the end of) APE (parody; as a verb)

20a   Bugs and Elmer, // council members (8)

ALDERMEN* — anagram (bugs) of AND ELMER

Scratching the Surface
Bugs Bunny[7] is an animated cartoon character, best known for his starring roles in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated short films, produced by Warner Bros. during the golden age of American animation.

Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray hare or rabbit who is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality; a pronounced New York accent; his portrayal as a trickster; and his catch phrase "Eh... What's up, doc?", usually said while chewing a carrot.

Bugs Bunny has appeared in more films than any other cartoon character, is the ninth most-portrayed film personality in the world, and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Elmer Fudd[7] is a fictional Looney Tunes cartoon character who is the de facto archenemy of Bugs Bunny. His signature catchphrase is, "Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits".

23a   Kick around a football official // with no shoes on (8)

B(A|REF)OOT — BOOT (kick) containing (around) {A (†) + REF (football official)}

24a   Influence // shellfish in the sound (6)

MUSCLE~ — sounds like (in the sound) MUSSEL (shellfish)

Muscle[5] is used in the sense of power or influence, especially in a commercial or political sphere ⇒ many companies lack the financial muscle to adopt a more hard-nosed relationship with buyers.

27a   Vocally flatten /or/ make higher (5)

RAISE~ — sounds like (vocally) RAZE [or RASE] (flatten)

28a   Light rain splattered // someone from our home (9)

I presume that the solution to the clue is intended to be (which clearly does not parse):

EARTHLING* — anagram (splattered) of LIGHT RAIN

As an alternative, I offered:
  • 28a   Lean right upset // someone from our home (9)
which parses as:

EARTHLING* — anagram (upset) of LEAN RIGHT

29a   Hate // to take away a quiz? (6)

DETEST — double definition; the second being whimsical

The question mark alerts us to the fact that the second definition is whimsical. The setters extrapolate from words such as deice (to remove ice), delouse (to remove lice) and debug (to eliminate bugs in computer programs) that detest must mean to remove a test.

30a   Leaving out // nothing in front of embassy (8)

O|MISSION — O (nothing; letter that looks like a zero) + (in front of) MISSION (embassy)


1d   Clean Ed’s // bikes with power (6)

MOP|ED|S — MOP (clean) + ED (†) + S ('s)

2d   Bellini opera // involved in minor masterpiece (5)

_NOR|MA_ — hidden in (involved in) miNOR MAsterpiece

Norma[7] is an opera by Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835) with libretto by Italian poet Felice Romani (1788–1865). It was first produced at La Scala in Milan in 1831.

3d   Bent-over dancing // not allowed (8)

VERBOTEN* — anagram (dancing) of BENT OVER

4d   Place to see pigs by // a hellish river (4)

STY|X — STY (place to see pigs) + X (by; times [denoting multiplication], 2 [multiplied] by 3 equals 6)

In Greek mythology, the Styx[5] is one of the nine rivers in the underworld, over which Charon ferried the souls of the dead.

6d   Jerk accepting routine // plan (6)

T(ACT)IC — TIC (jerk) containing (accepting) ACT ([theatrical] routine)

7d   Seem fifty-fifty about hot new // composer (9)

BE|E(THO*)VEN — BE (seem) + EVEN (fifty-fifty) containing (about) an anagram (new) of HOT

Ludwig van Beethoven[5] (1770–1827) was a German composer who, despite increasing deafness, produced nine symphonies, thirty-two piano sonatas, sixteen string quartets, the opera Fidelio (1814), and the Mass in D (the Missa Solemnis, 1823).

8d   Emily, finishing // editing (8)

EM|ENDING — EM ([diminutive for] Emily) + ENDING (finishing)

10d   Starts // meals around one (8)

L(A)UNCHES — LUNCHES (meals) containing (around) A (one)

14d   Rambo actor // completely getting into rock (8)

ST(ALL)ONE — ALL (completely) contained in (getting into) STONE (rock)

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

15d   Sleeve I stuck in used-up // flavour of toothpaste (9)

SPE(ARM|I)NT — {ARM (sleeve) + I (†)} contained in (in) SPENT (used up)

17d   Tangled beard reb // groomed (8)

BARBERED* —anagram (tangled) of BEARD REB

18d   Surprises // in the morning shrubbery (8)

AM|BUSHES — AM (in the morning) + BUSHES (shrubbery)

21d   Presents // heartless members of the force (6)

OFF[_]ERS — OFF[IC]ERS (members of the force) with the middle letters removed (heartless)

22d   Foolishly anger a // former U.S. president (6)

REAGAN* — anagram (foolishly) of ANGER A

Ronald Reagan[5] (1911–2004) was an American Republican statesman, 40th President of the US 1981-9. He was a Hollywood actor before entering politics. His presidency saw the launch of the Strategic Defense Initiative and cuts in taxes and social services budgets, as well as the Irangate scandal and the signing of an intermediate nuclear forces non-proliferation treaty, both in 1987.

25d   Greek character left with one // Mexican dish (5)

CHI|L|I — CHI (Greek character; twenty-second letter of the Greek alphabet [Χ, χ]) + L (left; abbrev.) + I ([Roman numeral for] one)

26d   First of taxis crash into // streetcar (4)

T|RAM — T (first [letter] of Taxis) + RAM (crash into)


The title of today's review was inspired by 3d.
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. Fun offering from E&H today. Enough anagrams to assist new solvers, with a good smattering of lego-clues. No lurkers today, though kept hunting for one throughout. 12a was a gift, genetically speaking, but favoured the clever 15a. 2/3 rating for me, with thanks to Falcon for the alternative 28a cluing.

    1. No lurkers? How about the Bellini opera? Or were you distracted too?

  2. Good morning Falcon, Smaug, et al.,

    I agree with Smaug's assessment.
    Quite sure I have the correct answer for 4d but I don't get the reference to pigs.
    Didn't really like 15d. Isn't there a difference between 'arms' and 'sleeves'? Reminds me of the old children's joke: where do generals keep their armies? In their sleevies.
    Excellent alternate clue for 28a Falcon.


    1. Hi Peter,

      If you have the correct answer to 4d, where do pigs live?

      Re 15d, an arm is a sleeve of a garment.

    2. Hi Falcon,

      Re 4d: d'oh!! I did have the river from Hades. But in parsing it I was mis-led by the "by" which I forgot can be an arithmetic operation symbolized by "x".

      Re 15d - not sure I'm convinced.

      Thanks again.


    3. Hello everyone!
      I welcome the continuing references to the Brothers Karamazov, too. But didn't anyone latch on to 1d? Same answer in the same place as last week, and almost the same clue. Talk about a gift!
      Falcon, your alternate clue for 28a does have the correct letters, but I'm not wild about the surface read. Political right, maybe?
      Here's an idea I was working on:
      Eight left NRA, confused neighbour (9)
      Ok, it's not the greatest clue, but I'd be confused too if anyone left the NRA!

    4. Hi Henry,

      Yes "lean right" was intended to refer to the political right (with "lean" being a noun).

      I later thought it might have been better to make "lean" a verb, phrasing the clue "Lean right upsetting someone from our home".

      I did think that I had seen a version of 1d before but did not realize that it was in a Cox & Rathvon puzzle (and a recent one to boot). I have observed that the setters do appear to "borrow" ideas from British puzzles, so it is not uncommon for me to see clues in their puzzles that look familiar -- although usually with some minor alteration.

  3. Falcon - Oops - I forgot, wasted lots of time later in the solve looking for one after banging in 2d - my bad.