Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016 — No Bench Warmers Today


Today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon is like the NBA All-Star game — everyone gets a chance to play. It is a pangram, a puzzle in which every letter of the alphabet appears at least once in the solution.

Given the -40° C windchill today, it is a good day to stay in and relax in front of the tube. If basketball is not your passion, there are some good suggestions in the puzzle for the cinephile.

I thought the puzzle to be of middling difficulty — not super easy but far from being as challenging as some we have had — with some interesting 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   Six agitate // like he-men (6)

VI|RILE — VI ([Roman numeral for] six) + RILE (agitate)

4a   Groups of dogs outside bay wildly /for/ rewards (8)

PA(YBA)CKS or P(AYB*)ACKS — PACKS (groups of dogs) containing (outside) anagram (wildly) of BAY

9a   Talk about an African country (5)

GAB|ON — GAB (talk) + ON (about; regarding, on the subject of)

Gabon[5] is an equatorial country in West Africa, on the Atlantic coast; population 1,515,000 (est. 2009); languages, French (official), West African languages; capital, Libreville. Gabon became a French territory in 1888. Part of French Equatorial Africa from 1910 to 1958, it became an independent republic in 1960.

10a   A term in Shakespeare /for/ “grinding machine” (5,4)

W(A|TER M)ILL — {A (†) + TERM (†)} contained in (in) WILL ([William] Shakespeare; Will is a diminutive form of the given name William)

11a   Disallow building support /for/ a bluegrass musician (8)

BAN|JOIST — BAN (disallow) + JOIST (building support)

12a   Ted keeps chopper I // rolled down the tarmac (6)

T(AX|I)ED — TED (†) containing (keeps) {AX (chopper) + I (†)}

14a   Beginning of New Age--/it’s/ a gas (4)

N|EON — N (beginning [initial letter] of New) + EON (age)

Neon[5] (symbol Ne)  is the chemical element of atomic number 10, an inert gaseous element of the noble gas group. It is obtained by the distillation of liquid air and is used in fluorescent lamps and illuminated advertising signs.

15a   Manages to get // grand in closing scenes (8)

FINA(G)LES — G (grand; gangster speak for $1000) contained in (in) FINALES (closing scenes)

19a   Ridicule // Ironside crudely (8)

DERISION* — anagram (crudely) of IRONSIDE

Scratching the Surface
Ironside[7] is an American television crime drama that ran on NBC from 1967 to 1975 The show starred Raymond Burr as Robert T. Ironside, a consultant for the San Francisco Police who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the line of duty.

In 2013, a short-lived remake with the same name aired on NBC. Actor Blair Underwood took on the title role (with none of the other characters from the original series being used), while the action was relocated from San Francisco to New York City. This version of the character was more in the tough cop mold, often at odds with his superiors over his unrelenting, even violent approach to police work. The series was panned by critics and ignored by viewers, and was canceled and pulled after the airing of just four episodes (out of nine produced).

20a   Ocean’s hue // observed in seaquake (4)

_AQUA_ — hidden in (observed in) seAQUAke

Scratching the Surface
A seaquake[5] is a sudden disturbance of the sea caused by a submarine eruption or earthquake.

23a   In Z, the surprising // climax (6)

ZENITH* — anagram (surprising) of IN Z THE

Scratching the Surface
Z[7] is a 1969 Algerian-French political thriller film directed by Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras, with a screenplay by Gavras and Jorge Semprún, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos. The film presents a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. With its satirical view of Greek politics, its dark sense of humor, and its downbeat ending, the film captures the outrage about the military dictatorship that ruled Greece at the time of its making.

The film was the 4th highest grossing film of 1969 in France and the 12th highest grossing film in the U.S. Z is also the first film — and one of the few — to be nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture.

25a   Chisel wooden bench with a // Great Lakes tribe (8)

CHIP|PEW|A — CHIP (chisel) + PEW (wooden bench) + A (†)

Chippewa[5] is another name for the Ojibwa[5], an American Indian people inhabiting a wide area around Lake Superior.

27a   Depressing // mating game involving sick leer (9)

CHE(ERLE*)SS or CH(EERL*)ESS — CHESS (mating game) containing (involving) anagram (sick) of LEER

28a   Houston ballplayer, // a bad sort (5)

A|STRO* — A (†) + anagram (bad) of SORT

The Houston Astros[7] are an American professional baseball team located in Houston, Texas. The Astros are members of the American League (AL) West division in Major League Baseball (MLB), having moved to the division in 2013 after spending their first 51 seasons in the National League (NL).

29a   Satisfactory, until // outlay of money (8)

S|PENDING — S (satisfactory[10]; abbrev.) + PENDING (until)

30a   Baby bear embraces her // chubby angel (6)

C(HER)UB — CUB (baby bear) containing (embraces) HER (†)

A cherub[5], regarded in traditional Christian angelology as an angel of the second highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy, is depicted in Western art as a chubby, healthy-looking child with wings. However, this winged angelic being, described in biblical tradition as attending on God, is represented in ancient Middle Eastern art as a lion or bull with eagles' wings and a human face.


1d   Hobo // going back through had no bag available (8)

{_VA|GAB|ON|D_}< — reversed (going back) and hidden (through) in haD NO BAG AVailable

2d   Legendary outlaw // hobo Rodin sculpted? (5,4)

{ROBIN HOOD}* — anagram (sculpted) of HOBO RODIN

Auguste Rodin[5] (1840–1917) was a French sculptor. He was chiefly concerned with the human form. Notable works: The Thinker (1880) and The Kiss (1886).

Being the eve of Valentine's Day, I think it only fitting to revisit a previous dissertation on the later work.

Marble version of The Kiss in the Musée Rodin, ParisBronze version of The Kiss in the Tuileries Garden, Paris

Delving Deeper
The date of The Kiss seems to be somewhat unclear. Oxford Dictionaries lists it as 1886 while Wikipedia — within a single article — shows it variously as 1882 and 1889. The confusion may relate to the fact that several versions of the sculpture in various sizes and materials exist.

Rodin indicated that his approach to sculpting women was of homage to them and their bodies, not just submitting to men but as full partners in ardor. The consequent eroticism in the sculpture made it controversial. A bronze version of The Kiss (74 centimetres (29 in) high) was sent for display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The sculpture was considered unsuitable for general display and relegated to an inner chamber with admission only by personal application.

The Kiss figured into the plot of the All in the Family episode "Archie and The Kiss," where Archie tries to make Gloria give back a reproduction of the sculpture she had been given by the Bunkers' friend, Irene Lorenzo. Archie expresses his disgust over the morality of the sculpture and sexuality in artwork.[7]

Robin Hood[5] was a semi-legendary English medieval outlaw, reputed to have robbed the rich and helped the poor. Although he is generally associated with Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, it seems likely that the real Robin Hood operated in Yorkshire in the early 13th century.

3d   Chaney put on // famous tower’s site (6)

LON|DON — LON (Chaney) + DON (put on)

Lon Chaney[7] (1883–1930) was an American actor during the age of silent films. He is regarded as one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema, renowned for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with makeup. Chaney is known for his starring roles in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). His ability to transform himself using makeup techniques he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces."

The Tower of London[5] (or merely The Tower) is a fortress by the Thames just east of the City of London. The oldest part, the White Tower, was begun in 1078. It was later used as a state prison, and is now open to the public as a repository of ancient armour and weapons, and of the Crown Jewels.

5d   Dizzy ain’t // opposed (4)

ANTI* — anagram (dizzy) of AINT

6d   Salt found inside simple // sea creature (8)

BAR(NACL)E — NACL (salt; NaCl is the symbol for the chemical compound sodium chloride, the scientific name for table salt) contained in BARE (simple)

A barnacle[5] is a marine crustacean with an external shell, which attaches itself permanently to a surface and feeds by filtering particles from the water using its modified feathery legs.

7d   Hot food that sounds like it’s cold (5)

I also considered marking the clue as:
  • 7d   Hot food // that sounds like it’s cold (5)
but opted to go with the cryptic definition with embedded wordplay.

CHILI~ — sounds like (†) CHILLY (cold)

8d   Three-dimensional shapes, // thus, with tops (6)

SO|LIDS — SO (thus) + (with) LIDS (tops)

10d   Slightest // intelligence about secret agents (8)

WI(SPIES)T — WIT (intelligence) containing (about) SPIES (secret agents)

13d   Carelessly gash sole /in/ footwear (8)

GALOSHES* — anagram (carelessly) of GASH SOLE

16d   Prophet having quest // set apart (9)

SE(QUEST)ER — SEER (prophet) containing (having) QUEST (†)

17d   Strangely terraced, // like the surface of the moon (8)

CRATERED* — anagram (strangely) of TERRACED

18d   Search following feline alongside a // burial chamber (8)

CAT|A|COMB — COMB (search) following (†) {CAT (feline) + (alongside) A (†)}

21d   Vocally halts // some Europeans (6)

CZECHS~ — sounds like (vocally) CHECKS (halts)

22d   Spanish whip/’s/ big impact (6)

SP|LASH — SP (Spanish; abbrev.) + LASH (whip)

24d   Relative /from/ England’s capital in French city (5)

NI(E)CE — E (England's capital [initial letter]) contained in (in) NICE (French city)

Nice[5] is a resort city on the French Riviera, near the border with Italy; population 348,721 (2007).

26d   Director of Lawrence of Arabia // having very little fat (4)

LEAN — double definition

Lawrence of Arabia[7] is a 1962 epic historical drama film based on the life of British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the title role. It is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential films in the history of cinema. The dramatic score by Maurice Jarre and the Super Panavision 70 cinematography by Freddie Young are also highly acclaimed. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven in total including Best Director, Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture.

The film depicts Lawrence's experiences in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I, in particular his attacks on Aqaba and Damascus and his involvement in the Arab National Council. Its themes include Lawrence's emotional struggles with the personal violence inherent in war, his own identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his new-found comrades within the Arabian desert tribes.


The title of today's review was inspired by the fact that the puzzle is a pangram as well as by the NBA All-Star game taking place this weekend in Toronto.
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)
Happy Valentine's Day (tomorrow) — Falcon


  1. I found this week's crossword to be quite good - a mix of simple clues and ones that made me really think. Quite enjoyable overall.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. I hope you continue to do so.

      Perhaps, in future, you might consider signing your contribution (with a pseudonym if you wish) so that we can keep the various Anonymous contributors separated.

  2. Good morning everyone,

    I agree with the assessment by Anonymous. Took me a while to parse 6d and 10a. This puzzle contains all the letters of the alphabet. Thanks to C & R. Lots and lots of snow in London today.


    1. In Ottawa, we had a light snowfall overnight but the windchill was -45° C when I awoke this morning.

  3. Happy Valentine's to all as well!
    Falcon - was it the low temperature in Ottawa this morning that encouraged you to post the solution at 8:03am? Or perhaps using the word "warmer" in the title?
    I breezed through this, but got stuck on 29a - I had the rather obvious solution, but couldn't parse the clue. Until, I thought of what might a short form for "satisfactory". Plausible, I guessed, but I don't recall every seeing it used like that.
    With that - hope to hear from you all next week!

    1. I'm afraid that I'm not quite capable of posting the solution at 8:03 am. That would actually be the time at which I published the preliminary post and settled down with my coffee to begin solving the puzzle. I cut and paste the solution into the initial posting so as to retain any comments that may have been submitted. However, that means that the time on the post is shown as the time of the preliminary posting.

  4. Some excellent clues, with opportunities to run down blind alleys - Love 25a. Once I hit the Q, I was looking for the Z to complete the panagram. Thanks to E&H and Falcon for the review. 2.5/3.5 rating. Nice puzzle for a bitterly cold day!

  5. A rare one that I solved top to bottom with no skipping around, albeit with a few clues that I was only able to parse after filling in the answers (1D, 10A, and 14A, where I got hung up on "neo" + ?). Mostly, though, I found the clues fairly straightforward (for a cryptic, of course). I'm thinking of trying to get my brother hooked and thought this would be a good one to set aside as a "demo."

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