Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016 — Messy Underwear


I progressed through today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon at a fairly rapid pace until I had but a trio of intertwined clues remaining — 21a, 30a and 14d. I swear that these three took as long to solve as the remainder of the puzzle combined.

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   Flower // came up (4)

ROSE — double definition

3a   Nut debates silly // young socialites (10)

DEBUTANTES* — anagram (silly) of NUT DEBATES

9a   Englander reformed // Danish province (9)

GREENLAND* — anagram (reformed; formed again or in a different manner) of ENGLANDER

Greenland[7] is an autonomous country within the Danish Realm, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Thus the word "province" may not be the most precise description of its status.

Delving Deeper
The residents of Greenland are majority Inuit, whose ancestors migrated from the Canadian arctic beginning in the 13th century, gradually settling across the island. However, Greenland has been inhabited off and on for at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from what is now Canada.

Norsemen settled the uninhabited southern part of Greenland beginning in the 10th century, although Greenland was not formally brought under the Norwegian crown until 1262. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century. Soon after their demise, beginning in 1499, the Portuguese briefly explored and claimed the island, naming it Terra do Lavrador (later applied to Labrador in Canada). In the early 18th century, Scandinavian explorers reached Greenland again. To strengthen trading and power, the united kingdoms of Denmark and Norway affirmed sovereignty over the island. Norway lost sovereignty over Greenland in 1814 when the union between Norway and Denmark was dissolved.

Greenland is the world's largest island (it is smaller than Australia, which is considered a continent). Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside of Antarctica. With a population of about 56,480 (2013), it is the least densely populated country in the world. Vikings set sail from Greenland and Iceland, discovering North America nearly 500 years before Columbus reached Caribbean islands.

11a   Part of a plant holding small // perch (5)

ROO(S)T — ROOT (part of a plant) containing (holding) S (small; abbrev.)

12a   Plan for // mother and brood (3,3)

MA|P OUT — MA (mother) + (and) POUT (brood)

13a   Works out // track runners? (6)

TRAINS — double definition (the second being cryptic as flagged by the question mark)

16a   Torch /and/ whip involved in attempt to escape (10)

F(LASH)LIGHT — LASH (whip) contained in (involved in) FLIGHT (attempt to escape)

Torch[3,4,11] is the British name for a flashlight.

18a   Take care of // plot’s final conclusion (4)

T|END — T (ploT's final [letter]) + END (conclusion)

20a   Creep/’s/ chin busted (4)

INCH* — anagram (busted) of CHIN

21a   Brightly-hued // table put back into service (10)

CHART|REUSE — CHART (table) + REUSE (put back into service)

23a   100 in a love // nook (6)

A|L(C)OVE — C (100) contained in {A (†) + LOVE (†)}

24a   Chat about the French // mountain house (6)

CHA(LE)T — CHAT (†) containing (about) LE (the French; French word meaning 'the')

28a   Arena area containing great // big cat (5)

TI(G)ER — TIER (arena area) containing (†) G (great)

As I recall, this is not the first time that Cox and Rathvon have clued G as an abbreviation for "great". However, having searched my dictionaries, I can find no justification for this practice. The only instance that I can think of where one might find this occurring is in the abbreviation GB for Great Britain. However, it is my understanding that one should not employ such "partial abbreviations" which occur only as part of a longer abbreviation. Of course, a setter could construct wordplay that clues G as "Great Britain without the B", for instance "Great Britain having lost bishop". Should anyone be able to offer a compelling justification for the use of this abbreviation, I would certainly love to hear it.

29a   Cuts // fancy fabric prices (9)

LACE|RATES — LACE (fancy fabric) + RATES (prices)

30a   Moonshine // giving less traction before race (10)

BALDER|DASH — BALDER (giving less traction; said, for instance, of automobile tires) + DASH (race)

Moonshine[3] is used in the informal sense of foolish talk or thought; nonsense.

31a   Fired // a Times editor (4)

A|X|ED — A (†) + X (times; multiplication sign) + ED (editor; abbrev.)

Scratching the Surface
Had this been a British puzzle, I would have said that the surface reading is alluding to The Times[7], a British daily national newspaper based in London. Given that Cox and Rathvon are Americans, the reference may be to  The New York Times[7] .


1d   Urchin // cleaning item with a hand warmer inside (10)

RAG|A|MUFF|IN — RAG (cleaning item) + (with) A (†) + MUFF (hand warmer) + IN (inside)

2d   /Getting/ back treatments at a spa, // doze (5)

SLEEP< — reversal (back) of PEELS (treatments at a spa)

A chemical peel[7] is a technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the skin, especially on the face. Chemical peels are intended to remove the outermost layers of the skin. To accomplish this task, the chosen peel solution induces a controlled injury to the skin. Resulting wound healing processes begin to regenerate new tissues. The dead skin eventually peels off. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin.

Structure of the Clue
Although the word "getting" appears at the beginning of the clue, it is actually a link word. Its unusual positioning is caused by the inverted sentence structure used by the setters in this clue. If one were to rewrite the clue with a non-inverted structure, it would read:
  • Doze /getting/ back treatments at a spa (5)
which has a rather unsatisfactory surface reading but which clearly illustrates the point that the word "getting" is effectively a link word.

4d   Cheese // manufactured the wrong way (4)

EDAM< — reversal (the wrong way) of MADE (manufactured)

5d   Third nurse changed // top garment (10)

UNDERSHIRT* — anagram (changed) of THIRD NURSE

This is referred to as a "top garment" because it is worn on the top part of the body — and obviously not because it is worn on top of other garments.

6d   Air Force attack // worried (6)

AF|RAID — AF (Air Force) + RAID (attack)

I wondered if this might be another instance of a "partial abbreviation" (see discussion at 28a). However, I discover that the abbreviation AF[3,4,6,10,11] for Air Force (or air force) is found in most of my dictionaries. In fact, Collins English Dictionary specifically identifies this a Canadian usage. Furthermore, the term appears only in the US English version of Oxford Dictionaries and not in the British English edition.

7d   Sounding factual, stitch together // wedding outfit (9)

{TROU|S|SEAU}~ — sounds like (sounding) {TRUE (factual) + SEW (stitch together)}
Note: from a homophone perspective, the first "S" in the solution is silent (which the non-bold italic typeface is intended to portray)
8d   Locate // tourist attraction for the audience (4)

SITE~ — sounds like (for the audience) SIGHT (tourist attraction)

10d   Poor Hun got // nothing (6)

NOUGHT — anagram (poor) of HUN GOT

14d   Sloppy // dish the First Lady started (10)

DISH|EVE|LED — DISH (†) + EVE (the First Lady; in the Bible) + LED (started; for instance, played the first card to trick in a card game)

15d   Bum steer David // plugged (10)

ADVERTISED* — anagram (bum) of STEER DAVID

17d   Heavenly being, // going through regular change, laughed (9)

_AR|CHANGE|L_ — hidden in (going through) regulAR CHANGE Laughed

19d   King // arranged going outside Thursday (6)

AR(THU)R — ARR (arranged; abbrev.) containing (going outside) THU (Thursday; abbrev.)

Arthur[5] was a legendary king of Britain, historically perhaps a 5th- or 6th-century Romano-British chieftain or general. Stories of his life, the exploits of his knights, and the Round Table of his court at Camelot were developed by Malory, Chrétien de Troyes, and other medieval writers and became the subject of many legends.

22d   Gather // a ship’s hands in the sound (6)

{A|C|CRUE}~ — sounds like (in the sound) {A (†) + CREW (ship's hands)}

After some deliberation, I have concluded that the A from the clue is part of the homophone rather than a separate element.
Note: from a homophone perspective, the first "C" in the solution is silent (which the non-bold italic typeface is intended to portray)
25d   Paint // at a time well after dark, ten (5)

LATE|X — LATE (at a time well after dark) + X ([Roman numeral for] ten)

26d   Guess // cave dwellers returned (4)

STAB< — reversal (returned) of BATS (cave dwellers)

27d   Nails // new case (4)

ACES* — anagram (new) of CASE


The title of today's review is inspired by 14d and 5d.
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. Not too difficult today, but I did have to circle back a few times to get everything filled in. I was not sure that the answer to 30a actually meant the same word suggested in the clue. Especially liked 21a.

    1. Yes, it does. In fact, in Britain, it is the only meaning of moonshine (aside from being another term for moonlight). Moonshine as illicit alcohol is strictly a North American term.

  2. Good morning,

    Pleasant solve this morning.
    2d must be a word meaning "doze" but I can't work out the rest.
    31a is obvious but took me a while to remember the arithmetic symbol.
    14d has "led" for "started". Not sure that's correct.
    The double definition at 13a was my last in.
    Are 10d, 14d and 20a references to HRC?
    Beautiful fall day in London. Have a good weekend everyone.


    1. Hi Peter,
      For 2d, you are looking for treatments at a spa written "backwards".

    2. Led as in played the first card to a trick in card games.

      See explanation of chemical peel in the review.

    3. Thanks Falcon. That makes sense. The meaning of "peels" is new to me. But, then, I have never spent time in a spa. And thanks again for a terrific blog.

  3. Good day Falcon and folks,
    Agree that the puzzle was not too taxing. My last one in was also 13a, same as Peter. I liked 6d and also the accountant in me appreciated 22d.

    Thank you for posting!

  4. Nice puzzle today. Lots of variety. Ended with 30a which is a new meaning of the word for me. I see from the dictionary this is an obsolete meaning of moonshine.

    1. See reply to Anonymous above regarding moonshine. None of my dictionaries show it as an obsolete meaning (not to say that yours doesn't -- judging by the copyrights, some of the online dictionaries themselves could be deemed obsolete).

  5. A treat of a puzzle! 1d and 30a were especially fun to write in; I also liked the double meaning of "brood" in 12a. Last in for me were 16a and 21a, both of which I got by pattern recognition; for the latter I'd been trying to reverse ("put back") a word for "table" inside another one for "service" - hopeless. For me, 14d came quickly, as I had the V in place and thus could guess who the First Lady had to be.

    1. Carola,
      If you would like a bit of challenge, you might try yesterday's bonus puzzle.

    2. Thank you, Falcon. Nothing better than a brain-racker these days to take one's mind off.... I'll give it a go and report back.

  6. G'Day one and all! (Here is where G is used as an abbreviation for Good. As to the point made by Falcon, it is indeed difficult to find sources that say G can stand for Great. One site - says it does, but is that reliable?
    You can tell this is an easy puzzle when you get the first clue as 1a. My last three were also 14d, 21a and 30a. And as noted above. it was putting the "First Lady" in the middle of 14d that solved them all.
    Falcon - a couple of things. I would have split 7d at the start of the first S in your review, rather than the second. I think that the sound in English leads to this (if we were French, I might have agreed with you).
    Secondly you might want to put the anagram indicator in 3a.
    And, finally, I think Hillary Clinton has been hit hard enough without being singled out in a C&R opus? Peter? ;-)
    Ta-Ta for now.

    1. You do have a sharp eye. I initially thought you were trying to tell me that the anagram indicator "silly" had been omitted. It took a while before I twigged to the fact that you were alluding to the missing asterisk.

      Yes, you have a point regarding how to split 7d. The same difficulty arises at 22d. You will notice that I opted for different approaches in the two clues. So I guess you can say that I am either evenhanded or inconsistent.

      I did agonize over how to split these words. The double-C and double-S at the start of the strings did not look right. On the other hand, the strings AC and TROUS did not look right.

      After some further thought, I have opted to show the first "S" in 7d and the first "C" in 22d in non-bold italic typeface, intending this to portray that these letters are silent from a homophone perspective.

  7. Fun puzzle - also had 13a as last in. Bunged in 17d from the checkers and cluing, totally missing that its a lurker. Duh! Favoured 29a 2/3 rating. thanks to E&H and Falcon for another great blog.