Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016 — Old, But Far from Slow


I spent the weekend camping at a rustic campground with little in the way of modern amenities. Today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon was solved while basking in the sun beside a pristine lake.

It is gratifying to see that our regular visitors have dropped by in my absence and that the blog is finally starting to become the forum it was always intended to be.

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   Call for help, catching baby's first // cries (4)

SO(B)S — SOS (call for help) containing (catching) B (baby's first; initial letter of Baby)

3a   Imply Ravel transposed // in a very old-time way (10)

PRIMEVALLY* — anagram (transposed) of IMPLY RAVEL

9a   Hungrily eye // portion of frog legs

_OG|LE_ — hidden in (portion of) frOG LEgs

10a   Drop a net on awfully // old flying reptile (10)

PTERANODON* — anagram (awfully) of DROP A NET ON

12a   Monkeys write funny // newspaper (3,4,5)

{NEW YORK TIMES}* — anagram (funny) of MONKEYS WRITE

15a   Bands keeping at // classes (7)

R(AT)INGS — RINGS (bands; jewelry or criminal organizations) containing (keeping) AT (†)

16a   Ancient Syrian capital // moved to China (7)

ANTIOCH* — anagram (moved) of TO CHINA

Antioch[10] is a city in southern Turkey, on the Orantes River: ancient commercial centre and capital of Syria (300–64 BC); early centre of Christianity. Pop: 155 000 (2005 est).

17a   More disreputable // roller in a casino absorbed by psychic (7)

SEE(DIE)R — DIE (roller in a casino; die is the singular of dice) contained in (absorbed by) SEER (psychic)

19a   Music of Joplin playing behind pop // model (7)

PA|RAG|ON — {RAG (music of [Scott] Joplin) + ON (playing)} following (behind) PA (pop; father)

20a   Yell about having // something in a toilet kit (7,5)

S(HAVING) CREAM — SCREAM (yell) containing (about) HAVING (†)

23a   Teacher experiments with // some collections of pens (10)

RABBI|TRIES — RABBI (teacher) + TRIES (experiments with)

24a   Family // left in prison (4)

C(L)AN —  L (left; abbrev.) contained in (in) CAN ([slang term for] prison)

25a   Totally white-plumed bird almost too // fast (10)

ALL|EGRET|TO_ — ALL (totally) + EGRET (white-plumed bird) + TO (almost too; all but the last letter of TOo)

Allegretto[5] is a musical direction denoting at a fairly brisk speed.

26a   Nothing in punch // missing soldier (4)

AW(O)L — O (nothing; letter that looks like a zero) contained in (in) AWL (punch)

An AWOL[3,11] is a soldier who is absent from duty without leave. US dictionaries show AWOL as being both an adjective and a noun whereas British dictionaries list it only as an adjective. I would say that this is a rather unique circumstance as, in my experience, the Brits are far more likely to "noun" an adjective than are we on this side of the pond.


1d   Breaking promises on // form of wordplay (10)

SPOONERISM* — anagram (breaking) PROMISES ON

2d   Lovely girl, if pronounced // leader (10)

BELL|WETHER — sounds like (pronounced) {BELLE (beautiful girl) + WHETHER (if)}

A wether[5] is castrated ram. A bellwether[5] is the leading sheep of a flock, with a bell on its neck.

4d   Alien among tools in a shed // gets back (7)

R(ET)AKES — ET (alien) contained in (among) RAKES (tools in a shed)

"alien" = ET (show explanation )

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[7] (often referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. He and his siblings help the extraterrestrial return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government.

hide explanation

5d   Can interrupting hurt a // tennis legend's name? (7)

MAR(TIN)A — TIN (can) contained in (interrupting) {MAR (hurt) + A (†)}

Martina Navratilova[7] is a retired Czech and American tennis player and coach. Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 player, said in 2006 that Navratilova is "the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived." In 2005, Tennis magazine selected her as the greatest female tennis player for the years 1965 through 2005. Tennis historian and journalist Bud Collins has called Navratilova "arguably, the greatest tennis player of all time."

6d   Actor // Penny splitting French wine cost (7,5)

VIN(CENT) PRICE — CENT (penny) contained in (splitting) {VIN (French [word for] wine) + PRICE (cost)}

Vincent Price[5] (1911–1993) was an American actor, best known for his performances in a series of films based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe, such as The Pit and the Pendulum (1961).

7d   Deposit // burden in the sound (4)

LODE — sounds like (in the sound) LOAD (burden)

8d   American // jerk (4)

YANK — double definition

11d   Working a second job, // might log on in shifts (12)

MOONLIGHTING* — anagram (shifts) of MIGHT LOG ON IN

13d   Poet/'s/ dream took a plunge that was painful (10)

LONGFELLOW* — LONG (dream) + FELL (took a plunge) + OW ("that was painful!")

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow[5] (1807–1882) was an American poet. He is known for ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ and ‘The Village Blacksmith’ (both 1841) and The Song of Hiawatha (1855).

14d   Great // friend carrying chicken sign (10)

P(HEN|OMEN)AL — PAL (friend) containing (carrying) {HEN (chicken) + OMEN (sign)}

18d   In worship, I // daydream (7)

REVER(I)E — I (†) contained in (in) REVERE (worship)

19d   Biting // form of wit by lady's man (7)

PUN|GENT — PUN (form of wit) + (by) GENT (lady's man)

21d   Song // in Madagascar I admire (4)

_AR|I|A_ — hidden in (in) MadagascAR I Admire

Madagascar[5] is a 2005 American computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation. The film tells the story of four Central Park Zoo animals who have spent their lives in blissful captivity and are unexpectedly shipped back to Africa, getting shipwrecked on the island of Madagascar.

22d   Biblical man // fit to be heard (4)

ABEL — sounds like (to be heard) ABLE (fit)

In the Bible, Abel[5] was the second son of Adam and Eve, murdered by his brother Cain.


The title of today's review is inspired by 3a and 25a.
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. Nice mix of easier and more challenging clues today. Enjoyed it.

  2. Another nice one. Nice clues made 10a relatively easy even though this was an unfamiliar term to me. I knew I should be flying high in 10a but again this is a new word for me. I am "blue" about Janis for the clue for 19a. I will have to see how that one is parsed.

  3. For 19A, think of Scott rather than Janis. The "pop" here refers to something else.

    1. Thank you Anonymous. I see that Janis did not get a bad rap but Scott played on.

  4. I agree with @Anonymous, 9:18 a.m.; overall a very pleasing workout. I got a kick out of the clue for 12a, as some on the right end of the political spectrum probably have that view. Toughest for me to parse were 19a and 26a, but I also have to confess to being faked out by the clever wording in 11d.

    1. Hi Carola,

      I thought 12a was brilliant. And 11d was, as you say, very clever. But I didn't think the answer to 26a was a word.


  5. Good day all!
    Some great clues today with a couple of fake-outs. I kept thinking China referred to a "dish" and couldn't come up with the famous poet. Knew the word at 19A but took a while to parse.
    Cheers to all,

  6. Hi everyone,

    Agree with the comments. Thought the east half was a bit harder than the west half. A little late checking in today. Entertaining visitors from Michigan.

    Thanks to C & R.


  7. Happy beautiful weekend to all! Needed some help from my electronic assistant (25a and 13d) today as I had the cross letters but couldn't derive an answer. I too loved the anagram at 12a (I think I'll try to remember that one for an appropriate time if ever the NYT should come up in a conversation.) Got a few more with the checking letters. Toughest for me was the lower right hand corner, but had a 14d time doing the puzzle.

  8. p.s. Didn't think much of the surface read for 26a. Maybe I'm missing something?

    1. Hi Henry, I parsed the clue after the fact, interpreting "almost too" as meaning "almost all of 'too'," thus "to" for the final syllable of the answer. Not sure if that's right, though! I don't remember that sort of use of "almost," so eagerly await Falcon.

  9. I parsed 25a that way to(o). But I'm with Henry on 26a. The surface reading is rubbish.

    1. Yikes, sorry - I misread it as the clue down in the bottom row I had trouble with! 26a seems okay to me, but I might be missing something: a zero (nothing) in a noun for "punch" = a soldier who's missing.

    2. Yes, I agree with your parsing of 26a. It just seems that the clue doesn't really attempt to make any sense. And, as I said, I didn't think the answer was a word. It's an acronym for four words. But I suppose, like other acronyms, it must have become a word in its own right.

    3. Peter & Henry,

      I agree with your assessment that the surface reading of 26a is rather "weak". The best explanation I can offer is that it refers to someone throwing a weak punch (nothing in it) which misses its intended target -- a soldier.