Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016 — Hors d'oeuvres in the Arbour


There seems to be a common thread emerging in the comments on today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon; namely, iIt is 17a and 10d that are giving everyone the most difficulty. I was aware of the gorge at 17a — but I doubt that I could have spelled it correctly without the constraints imposed by the wordplay. As for 10d, with all the checking letters in place, I assembled the remaining letters of the anagram fodder in what I considered to be the most plausible order and pulled out the dictionary to confirm that I had it correct — or that the word even existed.

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   Bow // like a leading villain (4)

ARCH — double definition

The answer went in readily — once I realized that the final word was not "violin"! Must be time to get my eyes tested.

3a   Results of ticking off // outspoken Slav socialist (10)

CHECK|MARKS — sounds like (outspoken) {CZECH (Slav) + MARX (socialist}

Karl Marx[5] (1818–1883) was a German political philosopher and economist, resident in England from 1849. The founder of modern communism with Friedrich Engels, he collaborated with him in the writing of the Communist Manifesto (1848), and enlarged it into a series of books, most notably the three-volume Das Kapital.

9a   Show-biz honcho // to lead a granny (3,6)

TO|P B|A|NANA — TO (†) + PB ([symbol for the chemical element] lead) + A (†) + NANA (granny)

How many of you fell into the trap of thinking that "to lead" is clueing TOP as in top the field (in a sporting event)?

11a   Sticker // fastened with string from the back (5)

DECAL< — reversal (from the back) of LACED (fastened with string)

12a   Mary’s painting strange // insect (7,6)

{PRAYING MANTIS}* — anagram (strange) of MARYS PAINTING

14a   Keep // us in disgrace (7)

S(US)TAIN — US (†) contained in (in) STAIN (disgrace)

16a   Rather big // girl has put in another order (7)

LARGISH* — anagram (put in another order) of GIRL HAS

17a   Ancient horseshoe shifted via // gorge (7)

OLD|U|VAI* — OLD (ancient) + U ([letter shaped like a] horseshoe) + anagram (shifted) of VIA

Olduvai Gorge[5] is a gorge in northern Tanzania, 48 km (30 miles) long and up to 90 metres (300 ft) deep. The exposed strata contain numerous fossils (especially hominids) spanning the full range of the Pleistocene period.

19a   Defense, worn out, // moved slowly (7)

D|RAGGED — D (defense; side in American football — which is evident from the US spelling) + RAGGED (worn out)

20a   Ruin cake, keeping hurried pace with // lifestyle maven (6,7)

MAR|T(HA STE|W)ART — MAR (ruin) + TART (cake) containing (keeping) {HASTE (hurried pace) + W (with; abbrev.)}

Surely a tart is a small pie — not a cake!

23a   Language // encountered in Dutch Indies (5)

_H|INDI_ — hidden in (encountered in) DutcH INDIes

Hindi[5] is the most widely spoken language of northern India, with over 200 million speakers; one of the official languages of India. It is an Indic language derived from Sanskrit and is written in the Devanagari script.

24a   Scottish hillside bearing early Peruvian’s // cranium (9)

BRA(INCAS)E — BRAE (Scottish [word for] hillside) containing (bearing) {INCA (early Peruvian) + S ('s)}

An Inca[5] is a member of a South American Indian people living in the central Andes before the Spanish conquest.

Delving Deeper
The Incas arrived in the Cuzco valley in Peru circa AD 1200. When the Spanish invaded in the early 1530s, the Inca empire covered most of modern Ecuador and Peru, much of Bolivia, and parts of Argentina and Chile. Inca technology and architecture were highly developed despite a lack of wheeled vehicles and of writing. Their descendants, speaking Quechua, still make up about half of Peru’s population. 

25a   Bill returned in rank, // striking a chord (10)

R(ESON)ATING — reversal (returned) of NOSE (bill) contained in (in) RATING (rank)

26a   Foolishly kiss // some runners (4)

SKIS* — anagram (foolishly) of KISS


1d   One hint regarding small // first courses (10)

AN|TIP|AS|TO|S — AN (one) + TIP (hint) + AS TO (regarding) + S (small; abbrev.)

In Italian cookery, an antipasto[2,3,4,5,10,11] is an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre.

Antipastos or Antipasti
When it comes to the plural form of antipasto, dictionaries are split.
  • American dictionaries (American Heritage Dictionary and Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)[3,11] show the plural to be either antipastos or antipasti;
  • Chambers 21st Century Dictionary[2] lists the plural as antipasti;
  • as for Collins English Dictionary[4,10], one version has the plural as antipastos while the second version has two entries — one in which the plural is given as antipastos and one in which it is antipasti;
  • Oxford Dictionaries[5] does not show a plural form — presumably implying that the plural is antipastos.
Of course, I am confident that any Italian will tell you that the plural is antipasti.

2d   Classic Hollywood director/’s/ April in California (5)

C(APR)A — APR (April; abbrev.) contained in (in) CA (California; abbrev.)

Frank Capra[5] (1897–1991) was an Italian-born American film director. He is known for comedies such as It Happened One Night (1934), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). He won six Oscars.

4d   Drying tool // crushed huge ant (4,3)

{HEAT GUN}* — anagram (crushed) of HUGE ANT

5d   Phone about old crone // painter (7)

C(HAG)ALL — CALL (phone) containing (about) HAG (old crone)

Marc Chagall[5] (1887–1985) was a Russian-born French painter and graphic artist. His work was characterized by the use of rich emotive colour and dream imagery, and had a significant influence on surrealism.

6d   Correct stray article in “Cruel // Sea” (13)

M(EDIT|ERR|AN)EAN — {EDIT (correct) + ERR (stray) + AN ([indefinite] article)} contained in (in) MEAN (cruel)

Scratching the Surface
The Cruel Sea[7] is a 1951 novel by Nicholas Monsarrat. It follows the lives of a group of Royal Navy sailors fighting the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II.

The novel was made into a film in 1953, directed by Charles Frend and starring Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden.

7d   Making over // ten cigars, roughly (9)

RECASTING* — anagram (roughly) of TEN CIGARS

8d   One and only // part of your foot (4)

SOLE — double definition

10d   Tossed Samoan diver, in // disapproval (13)

ANIMADVERSION* — anagram (tossed) of SAMOAN DIVER IN

Animadversion[5] is a formal term for criticism or censure ⇒ her animadversion against science.

13d   Result of seeds mixed with earth, maybe? (5,5)

{SHADE TREES}* — anagram (mixed with ... maybe) of {SEEDS + EARTH}

I have shown this as a semi-&lit. clue (or, as some would prefer to call it. a semi-all-in-one clue). The entire clue provides the definition while the portion of the clue with the dashed underline serves as the wordplay. Either "mixed with" or "maybe" is a viable anagram indicator so we in fact have a "belt and suspenders" scenario.

I did consider including the words "result of" in the anagram indicator, but decided against it. Were I to do so, this would become a true &lit. clue (or all-in-one clue) — one in which the entire clue serves not only as the definition but also as the wordplay.

15d   Five hundred and one guys in groups // settled matters (9)

SE(DI|MEN)TS — {D ([Roman numeral for] five hundred) + (and) I ([Roman numeral for] one) + MEN (guys)} contained in SETS (groups)

The deceptive whimsical definition brought a smile when the penny finally dropped.

18d   Bugs in bath I // occupy (7)

INHABIT* — anagram (bugs; crazy) of IN BATH I

As an anagram indicator, bugs[4,10,11] is 1920s-era US slang for crazy or insane.

19d   Sadly, Dad is in // contempt (7)

DISDAIN* — anagram (sadly) of DAD IS IN

21d   First of all, want word of regret (5)

A|LACK — A (first [letter] of All) + LACK (want; to be without)

Alack[10] is an archaic or poetic word for alas.

22d   Blacken // most of graph (4)

CHAR_ — CHAR[T] (graph) with its final letter removed (most of)


The title of today's review is inspired by 1d and 13d.
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 got hung up on 17A and 10D, both of which I derived from the clue but needed electronic aids to confirm that the answer was right, as I had never run across these words before. Otherwise puzzle seemed fairly straightforward.

  2. Good Saturday morning to one and all! Well, this puzzle could be called a "mad version" of the usual C&R offering. It had me hunting for land features in Africa and for words I had never heard of before (10d). You might be more fortunate. The rest of the puzzle was straightforward - lots of anagrams to make it simpler. Alas, it was over too soon.

  3. Hello Falcon and folks,
    I echo the comments about 17A and 10D - both new words for me. I had quite a few challenges today and found I needed a lot of checking letters to solve some of the clues.

    Still a please way to spend Saturday morning.

    Cheers and thank you for posting!

  4. Certainly harder than usual. Got 10d with electronic help.

    Did not get 17a although I certainly tried!!

  5. Other than those "two clues" mentioned, my only snag was misspelling body of water, which held up 16a until I realized the error. Favoured 9a and 24a which raised a chuckle. 2.5 / 3 rating.

  6. Yup, C and R got us all googling today.

  7. Hi Falcon and all,
    I happened to know both 17a and 10d, but I had to rack my brain to parse 6d and 3a, my last two in. I thought the cluing today was enjoyably trickier than recently, with various parts of speech masquerading as others. And it took me a while to locate the "cake" (hmmmm) in 20a.

  8. Hi all,
    Certainly required a bit of educated guessing and finger-crossing on the last few. A bit trickier than some in the last few weeks :)