Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016 — It's a Fantasy World


You should get through today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon with plenty of time remaining to pursue your other activities for the day.

In his comment below, Peter points out that there seems to be a theme in the puzzle. While no doubt obvious to devotees of English writer J. R. R. Tolkien, it will likely be missed by those like me who have never read the novels nor seen the films.

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   Greek character judges // buccaneers (7)

PI|RATES — PI (Greek character; sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet) + RATES (judges)

Beneath the Surface
The Corsairs of Umbar[7] were a fleet of Men of Umbar in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, allied to Sauron in his war against Gondor.

5a   $100 of charges /for/ breakfast drinks (7)

C|OF|FEES — C ($100) + OF (†) + FEES (charges)

9a   General Electric terminal/'s/ slow development (9)

GE|STATION — GE (General Electric[7]; American multinational conglomerate corporation) + STATION (terminal)

10a   Forest // near Denmark's interior (5)

_AR|DEN_ — hidden in (interior) neAR DENmark

The Forest of Arden[10] is region of northern Warwickshire, England. Part of a former forest, it is the scene of William Shakespeare's play As You Like It.

11a   Doctor has // sink (5)

DR|OWN — DR (doctor; abbrev.) + OWN (has)

12a   Capsizes // plain vessels full of tea, perhaps (9)

OVERT|URNS — OVERT (plain) + URNS (vessels full of tea, perhaps)

13a   Urges // military tours after the first (6)

_ITCHES — [H]ITCHES (military tours) with the initial letter removed (after the first)

15a   Elbert scrambled around // high range (6)

TREBLE* — anagram (scrambled around) of ELBERT

19a   Sort of vegetable // gum kept in shelter (6)

LE(GUM)E — GUM (†) contained in (kept in) LEE (shelter)

20a   Arachnid // goes down again from the rear (6)

SPIDER< — reversal (from the rear) of REDIPS (goes down again)

23a   Keeping time, change // device in a cockpit (9)

AL(TIME)TER — ALTER (change) containing (keeping) TIME (†)

25a   Shot a // play (5)

DRAM|A — DRAM (shot; of liquor) + A (†)

26a   One point to // residence (5)

A|BODE — A (one) + BODE (point to)

27a   Bird // a short distance behind wheat husks (9)

CHAFF|INCH — INCH (a short distance) following (behind) CHAFF (wheat husks)

The chaffinch[5] is either of two species of Eurasian and North African finch, typically with a bluish top to the head and dark wings and tail.

28a   Author /and/ stranger loot sty (7)

TOLSTOY* — anagram (stranger) of LOOT STY

Count Leo Tolstoy[5] (1828–1910) was a Russian writer. He is best known for the novels War and Peace (1863-9), an epic tale of the Napoleonic invasion, and Anna Karenina (1873-7).

29a   Purposeful pedestrian // street, one on a mount (7)

ST|RIDER — ST (street) + RIDER (one on a mount)

Beneath the Surface
Strider is an alias of Aragorn[7], a character from The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Aragorn II, son of Arathorn is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He is one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. Aragorn was a Ranger of the North, first introduced with the name Strider at Bree, as the Hobbits continued to call him throughout The Lord of the Rings. He was eventually discovered to be the heir of Isildur and rightful claimant to the thrones of Arnor and Gondor. He was also a confidant of Gandalf and an integral part of the quest to destroy the One Ring and defeat the Dark Lord Sauron.

He led the Fellowship of the Ring following the loss of Gandalf in the Mines of Moria while fighting the Balrog of Morgoth. When the Fellowship was broken, he tracked the hobbits Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took with the help of Legolas the elf and Gimli the dwarf to Fangorn Forest and fought in the battle at Helm's Deep and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. After defeating Sauron's forces in Gondor he led an army of Gondor and Rohan against the Black Gate of Mordor to distract Sauron's attention so that Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee would have a chance to destroy the One Ring.

At the end of The Lord of the Rings he was crowned King Elessar Telcontar ("Elfstone Strider") of Gondor. He married Elrond's daughter, Arwen, and assumed the Sceptre of Annúminas as King of Arnor, uniting the two kingdoms for the first time since the reign of Isildur.


1d   Father figure of Olympus in front of a // temple (6)

PA|GOD|A — PA (father) + GOD (figure of Olympus) + (in front of) A (†)

2d   At ease outside or // doing museum work (9)

REST(OR)ING — RESTING (at ease) containing (outside) OR (†)

3d   Public transport // coach (5)

TRAIN — double definition; the second being a verb meaning to teach

4d   Winter sports gear /for/ politician in high places (3,5)

SKI (POL)ES — POL ([informal short form of] politician) contained in (in) SKIES (high places)

5d   Breaking trance, // run (6)

CANTER* — anagram (breaking) of TRANCE

6d   Overly praised // latte consumed by Fred (9)

F(LATTE)RED — LATTE (†) contained in (consumed by) FRED (†)

7d   Bush, // senior (5)

ELDER — double definition

8d   Nun keeping in // dark (8)

S(IN)ISTER — SISTER (nun) containing (keeping) IN (†)

14d   Cheese /in/ part eaten by kitty (9)

CA(MEMBER)T — MEMBER (part) contained in (eaten by) CAT (kitty)

16d   Profited after lawyer group // negotiated (9)

BAR|GAINED — GAINED (profited) following (after) BAR (lawyer group)

17d   Nice // peon has left (8)

P(L)EASANT — PEASANT (peon) containing (has) L (left; abbrev.)

18d   Old Greeks/'/ skill in bridges (8)

SP(ART)ANS — ART (skill) contained in (in) SPANS (bridges)

A Spartan[2] was a citizen or inhabitant of ancient Sparta. Sparta was a city in ancient Greece that was noted for its austerity and whose citizens were characterized by their courage and endurance in battle and by the simplicity and brevity of their speech.

21d   Like glue /or/ like a twig? (6)

STICKY — double definition

22d   Appliance // was that woman's (6)

WAS|HER — WAS (†) + HER (that woman's)

24d   Middle-earth baddie /in/ Mordor finally wearing ring (5)

T(R)OLL —R (Mordor finally; final letter of MordoR) contained in (wearing) TOLL (ring)

Middle-earth[7] is the setting of much of English writer J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. The term is equivalent to the term Midgard of Norse mythology, describing the human-inhabited world, i.e. the central continent of world of Tolkien's imagined mythological past. Tolkien's most widely read works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, and Middle-earth has also become a short-hand to refer to the legendarium or its "fictional-universe".

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Trolls[7] are large humanoids of great strength and poor intellect.

While in Norse mythology, the Troll was a magical creature with special skills, in Tolkien's writings they are portrayed as evil, stupid, with crude habits, although still intelligent enough to communicate with a known language.

Scratching the Surface
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor[7] was the region occupied and controlled by Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring (and later Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee) in the quest to destroy the One Ring.

Mordor has three enormous mountain ranges surrounding it, from the north, from the west and from the south. The mountains both protected the land from an unexpected invasion by any of the people living in those directions and kept those living in Mordor from escaping. Tolkien was reported to have identified Mordor with the volcano of Stromboli off Sicily.

25d   Foragers going around full // table (5)

DE(F)ER — DEER (foragers) containing (going around) F (full; abbrev. found on a fuel gauge)

The setters have slipped in an Americanism here. In British [and Canadian] usage, table[5] means to present formally for discussion or consideration at a meeting ⇒ more than 200 amendments to the bill have already been tabled. In the US, table[5] means to postpone consideration of ⇒ I’d like the issue to be tabled for the next few months.


The title of today's review was inspired by Peter's comment pointing out the multiple references in today's puzzle to J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth.
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,

    Most of today's offering I found to be quite straightforward. I was briefly held up by 23a where I thought the second letter was going to be a "u", by 26a where the answer was obvious but it took a while to parse, and by 27a where the clues easily yielded an answer that I had to look up to be sure that it was a type of bird (it was).

    The one that has me stumped is 13a. The answer is obvious from the checking letters and the definition (urges) but I don't understand the clues.

    Characters from Middle Earth at 1a, 29a, and 24d might amuse one of our regular contributors.

    Thanks to C & R and to Falcon.


    1. Hi Falcon,

      Thank you for your usual excellent hints and explanations. The term "hitch" as a military tour is new to me. Live and learn.

      I remarked the 'Americanism' at 25d too. Fortunately I was familiar with it.


  2. Good morning all - I enjoyed this crossword - a nice morning challenge to get the brain jump-started on a dreary day. Favored the misdirection in 23a and the clever 8d. Thanks to E&H (minus the misdirect USAnism in 25D) and Falcon for an excellent review. 2.5/4 rating.

  3. Hello Falcon and everyone! It was indeed an easy puzzle this week, I was stuck a bit in the lower right hand corner, until I saw the puns in 25a and 25d. I also had a problem with parsing the clue for 13a until I 'hitched' onto the answer.

    I'm a great Tolkien fan, but I missed that 29a was a reference, I think I was trying hard to parse the clue correctly.

    Falcon, I really enjoyed your in-depth review of middle-earth and the cast of characters in Lord of the Rings. Are you thinking maybe it's time you delved into the books themselves? I do highly recommend it.

    1. Perhaps, if I could find the time ...