Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016 — Colourful Revolutionaries


Today's colourful puzzle from Cox & Rathvon makes me wonder if they may have been inspired by having hooked up a home entertainment system — most of the cables certainly seem to be included.

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   Heard you're // old (4)

YORE~ — sounds like (heard) YOU'RE

I suppose these two words sound alike when spoken by some people!

3a   Prize // bulb O'Brien developed (4,6)

{BLUE RIBBON}* — anagram (developed) of BULB OBRIEN

In the US, a blue ribbon is awarded for a first place finish whereas in Canada it is awarded for a second place finish. First place in Canada is signified by a red ribbon which denotes a second place finish in the US.

Delving Deeper
The blue ribbon[7] is a symbol of high quality. The association comes from The Blue Riband, a prize awarded for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by passenger liners and, prior to that from Cordon Bleu, which referred to the blue ribbon worn by a particular order of knights. The spelling blue riband is still encountered in most English-speaking countries, but in the United States, the term was altered to blue ribbon, and ribbons of this color came to be awarded for first place in certain athletic or other competitive endeavours (such as county and state fairs). It also may be applied to distinguished members of a group or commission who have convened to address a situation or problem; the usual usage is "blue ribbon commission" or "blue-ribbon panel".

9a   Confined // little bug inside hat (7)

LI(MITE)D — MITE (little bug) contained in (inside) LID (hat)

11a   Bit // through sprout in entree (7)

_ROUT|IN|E_ — hidden in (through) spROUT IN Entree

A bit[3] is an entertainment routine given regularly by a performer; in other words, an act.

12a   Neighbour behind the first // group of monks (5)

_ORDER — [B]ORDER (neighbour) with the initial letter removed (behind the first)

13a   Story put back in plot // after the fact (7)

B(ELAT<)ED — {reversal (put back) of TALE (story)} contained in (in) BED ([garden] plot)

15a   Secretly holding // friend with Flash Gordon's foe (7)

PAL|MING — PAL (friend) + (with) MING (Flash Gordon's foe)

Flash Gordon[7] is the hero of a science fiction adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip.

The comic strip follows the adventures of Flash Gordon, a handsome polo player and Yale University graduate, and his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov. The story begins with Earth bombarded by fiery meteors. Dr. Zarkov invents a rocket ship to fly into space to find where the meteors originate. Half mad, he kidnaps Flash and Dale and they travel to the planet Mongo. The meteors are weapons devised by Ming the Merciless[7], Mongo's evil ruler.

16a   French chemist // tears up Mad (7)

PASTEUR* — anagram (mad) of TEARS UP

Louis Pasteur[5] (1822–1895) was a French chemist and bacteriologist. He introduced pasteurization and made pioneering studies in vaccination techniques.

Scratching the Surface
Mad[7] is an American humor magazine founded in 1952. It was widely imitated and influential, affecting satirical media as well as the cultural landscape of the 20th century, with editor Al Feldstein increasing readership to more than two million during its 1974 circulation peak.

18a   Not Guevara's // tally marks (7)

NOT|CHE|S — NOT (†) + CHE (Guevara; Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara[5]) + S ('s)

21a   Purple and silver grebe's middle // feathers (7)

PLUM|AG|E — PLUM ([shade of] purple) + (and) AG ([symbol for the chemical element] silver) + E (grEbe's middle [letter])

23a   Desert beast eating one bit of rock // candy (7)

C(A|R)AMEL — CAMEL (desert beast) containing (eating) {A (one) + R (bit [initial letter] of Rock)}

25a   Family Guy's opening // bell sound (5)

CLAN|G — CLAN (family) + G (Guy's opening [initial letter])

Family Guy[7] is an American adult animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their anthropomorphic pet dog Brian. The show is set in the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island, and exhibits much of its humor in the form of cutaway gags that often lampoon American culture.

27a   Officer/'s/ corny bit for the audience (7)

COLONEL~ — sounds like (for the audience) KERNEL (corny bit)

28a   Preserve farewell // musical piece (7)

CAN|TATA — CAN (preserve) + TATA (farewell)

Ta-ta[3] is a chiefly British expression of farewell.

A cantata[5] is a medium-length narrative piece of music for voices with instrumental accompaniment, typically with solos, chorus, and orchestra.

29a   Distraction // about offensive baseball player making a mistake (3,7)

RE|D H|ERRING — RE (about; concerning) + DH (offensive baseball player; designated hitter) + ERRING (making a mistake)

A designated hitter[3,11] (abbreviation DH or dh) is a player on a baseball team, selected prior to the game, who substitutes for the pitcher at bat but does not take the field defensively.

30a   Diplomat's gift // stuck in speech (4)

TACT~ — sounds like (in speech) TACKED (stuck)


1d   Outcry that hurts long // needle bearer (6,4)

YELL|OW| PINE — YELL (outcry) + OW (that hurts; cry of pain) + PINE (long)

Yellow pine[5] is any of several North American pines having a strong yellowish wood.

2d   Demerol altered // shape again (7)

REMODEL* — anagram (altered) of DEMEROL

Scratching the Surface
Demerol[5] is a trademark for pethidine, a synthetic compound used as a painkilling drug, especially for women in labour.

4d   Horribly bad, ugly // insect (7)

LADYBUG* — anagram (horribly) of BAD UGLY

5d   Leap far, shifting // part of a hat (7)

EARFLAP* — anagram (shifting) of LEAP FAR

6d   Arctic native/'s/ one night in Quebec (5)

I|NUIT — I ([Roman numeral for] one) + NUIT (night in Quebec; French word meaning 'night')

The Inuit[5] are the members of an indigenous people of northern Canada and parts of Greenland and Alaska.

7d   Streaky horse/'s/ harness, in part, including end of rein (7)

BRI(N)DLE — BRIDLE (harness, in part) containing (including) N (end [final letter] of reiN)

Did you split the clue at the correct spot?

A brindle[3,4,11] is a brindled animal, brindled[3,4,11] meaning brown or grey streaked or patched with a darker colour a brindled dog.

8d   Carol // Trotsky returned (4)

NOEL< — reversal (returned) of LEON (Trotsky; Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky[5])

10d   Grow dull, // like a mountain lake? (7)

TARN|ISH — TARN (mountain lake) + ISH ([suffix denoting] like a)

The question mark indicates that the latter construction is whimsical.

14d   Frozen veggie brand // generating riots (5f5)

{GREEN GIANT}* — anagram (riots) of GENERATING

Green Giant[7] and Le Sueur are brands of frozen and canned vegetables owned by General Mills. The company's mascot is the Jolly Green Giant.

Delving Deeper
The Minnesota Valley Canning Company was founded in 1903 in Le Sueur, Minnesota. "The Valley of the Jolly Green Giant" refers to the Minnesota River valley around Le Sueur. The company was renamed to the Green Giant Company in 1950. In 1979 it merged with the Pillsbury Company; in 2001, the group was acquired by General Mills.

The company used the brand name "Le Sueur Z" for canned vegetables starting in 1903; "Le Sueur" by itself was first used in 1933. The brand "Green Giant Great Big Tender Peas" was first used in 1925.

In Canada the brand Le Sieur (= 'Sir' or 'Mister') has been used since at least 1964, instead of Le Sueur – presumably to avoid the implications of the French word sueur (= 'sweat').

17d   Pinch // truly improving jailbird (7)

SO|UP|CON — SO (truly; I am so glad) + UP (improving; her grades are up) + CON (jailbird)

19d   Amused // little pest went first (7)

TICK|LED — TICK (little pest) + LED (went first)

20d   Second, more abundant // collection for tasting (7)

S|AMPLER — S (second; abbrev.) + AMPLER (more abundant)

21d   Bird // shifted a pencil (7)

PELICAN* — anagram (shifted) of A PENCIL

22d   At a signal to pause, listened to // desert (7)

AT|A|CAMA~ — AT (†) + A (†) + CAMA {sounds like (listened to) COMMA (signal to pause)}

Another tenuous homophone that may well depend more on who's speaking than who's listening.

The Atacama Desert[5] is an arid region of western Chile, extending roughly 965 km (600 miles) southwards from the Peruvian border.

24d   Get up around quarter of nine /and/ wash (5)

RI(N)SE — RISE (get up) containing (around) N (quarter of nine; first — or, arguably, third — of four letters comprising the word NINE)

26d   Damage // small vehicle (4)

S|CAR — S (small; abbrev.) + CAR (vehicle)


The title of today's review is inspired by 3a, 29a, 1d, 14d, 18a, and 8d.
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. I had it done, but just couldn't fully parse 29a.

  2. Hello Falcon and everyone!
    Happy, easy, (need I say colourful) Saturday. I mostly breezed through this one, needing electronic assistance with 22d, I had never heard of it before. And combined with my prononciation which didn't include "comma" meant I totally missed that one.
    Falcon, in 7d the setters added "in part" to harness. Now if they meant that the word should be in pieces (i.e. in parts) then part should be plural. If they mean that the "n" is inserted, that meaning is already there with "including". So, I feel the phrase in part is redundant. In your answer you sort of gloss over this, and I was wondering what your thoughts (and of course, anyone else) were on this.

    1. Hi Henry,

      I think "in part" simply means that a bridle is part of the harness.

    2. I guess I should look up exactly what "harness" does indeed cover.

    3. I agree with Richard, a bridle is part of the harness. In the case of a riding horse, it does not include the reins or bit. In the case of a draught horse, it also excludes all the straps used to attach the horse to a wagon or plough, for instance.

  3. Hello Everyone,

    I'm late for this one because I returned today from warmer climes out of the Post's orbit. I found this one easy with a couple of exceptions. The exceptions? The ones already noted of course: 7d and 22d. For some reason I found 14d particularly clever even though I object to the use of brand names. Thanks to Falcon and C & R.