Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016 — Bloomers in Peril


For the most part,the grid for today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon filled in quite rapidly with only a couple of clues near the end putting up a bit of token resistance before surrendering.

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 (//).


7a   Red // spy taken in by Mom (7)

M(AGENT)A — AGENT (spy) contained in (taken in by) MA (Mom)

8a   Cornmeal mush // tossed on plate (7)

POLENTA* — anagram (tossed) of ON PLATE

10a   Part of a play // observed through listening (5)

SCENE~ — sounds like (through listening) SEEN (observed)

11a   Counting // Greek character and Danish explorer, about 1000 (9)

NU(M)BERING — {NU (Greek character; thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet) + (and) BERING (Danish explorer [Vitus Bering[7]])} containing (about) M ([Roman numeral for] 1000)

12a   Ancient philosopher // converted to realist (9)

ARISTOTLE* — anagram (converted) of TO REALIST

15a   Sluggish // beaver's tail caught in one trap (5)

I|NE(R)T — R (beaver's tail; final letter [tail] of beaveR) contained in (caught in) {I ([Roman numeral for] one + NET (trap)}

16a   Grating sound // right in the middle of the hustle, maybe (11)

DISCO(R)DANCE — R (right; abbrev.) contained in (in the middle of) DISCO DANCE (the hustle, maybe)

The Hustle[7] is a catchall name for some disco dances (both line dances and partner dances) which were extremely popular in the 1970s. The dance originated in late 1972 in the South Bronx among Puerto Rican teens. A line dance called Hustle became an international dance craze in 1975 following Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony's song "The Hustle". The 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever showed both the line and partner forms of hustle, as well as something referred to as the "tango hustle" (invented just for that film by the cast, according to the DVD commentary). Afterwards, different line dance and couple dance forms of the Hustle emerged. Although the huge popularity faded quickly as the hype that was created by the movie died down, the hustle has continued and is now a "social dance"; it has taken a place beside swing, cha-cha-cha, tango, rumba, bolero, nightclub two step and other partner dances in America.

20a   Part of a flight // going through Paris errantly (5)

_RIS|ER_ — hidden in (going through) PaRIS ERrantly

21a   Mexican misses // snarled assertion (9)

SENORITAS* — anagram (snarled) of ASSERTION

23a   Spread // damage invented about Los Angeles (9)

MAR|MA(LA)DE — MAR (damage) + {MADE (invented) containing (about) LA (Los Angeles)}

25a   Story about biologist's first // chart (5)

TA(B)LE — TALE (story) containing (about) B (Biologist's first [letter])

27a   Hit from behind, // deer ran off (4-3)

REAR-END — anagram (off) of DEER RAN

Note to British readers: Rear-ender is a North American term for a shunt; to rear-end is to shunt.

28a   Serious // article penned by Hemingway (7)

E(A)RNEST — A ([indefinite] article) contained in (penned by) ERNEST (Hemingway; American writer Ernest Hemingway[7])


1d   Eyeball // some frog legs (4)

_OG|LE_ — hidden in (some) frOG LEgs

2d   Eat // for comic effect, we hear (6)

IN|GEST~ — sounds like (we hear) IN JEST (for comic effect)

3d   Flowers // land inside vehicles (10)

CAR(NATION)S — NATION (land) contained in (inside) CARS (vehicles)

4d   Unwanted mail // charts sent back (4)

SPAM< — reversal (sent back) of MAPS (charts)

5d   Certain African // arranged real gain (8)

ALGERIAN* — anagram (arranged) of REAL GAIN

6d   Draw // Tolkien creature with one binder (10)

ENT||I|CEMENT — ENT (Tolkien creature) + (with) I ([Roman numeral for] one) + CEMENT (binder)

Ents[7] are a race of beings in English writer J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world Middle-earth who closely resemble trees. They are similar to the talking trees in folklore around the world. Their name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for giant.

7d   Baryshnikov, before piano // accident (6)

MISHA|P — MISHA (Baryshnikov; Latvian-born ballet dancer Mikhail "Misha" Baryshnikov[7]) + (before) P (piano; abbrev. [musical direction])

9d   Idioms // fit into creative pursuits (6)

AR(GO)TS — GO (fit;a square peg will not go into a round hole) contained in (into) ARTS (creative pursuits)

13d   Asian river test // of manufacturing (10)

INDUS|TRIAL — INDUS (Asian river; the longest river of Pakistan) + TRIAL (test)

The Indus River[7] is a major south-flowing river in South Asia. The total length of the river is 3,180 km (1,980 mi) which makes it one of longest rivers in Asia. Originating in the western part of Tibet, the river briefly crosses the northwestern tip of India and then flows along the entire length of Pakistan to emerge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi. It is the longest river of Pakistan with more than 90% of its length located within the borders of that country.

14d   Eden garden newly // at risk (10)

ENDANGERED* — anagram (newly) of EDEN GARDEN

17d   Tops // breakers with nails (8)

SURF|ACES — SURF (breakers; ocean waves) + ACES (nails; the gymnast nailed her routine finishing with a spectacular dismount)

18d   Border in a pop // textbook for youngsters (6)

P(RIM)ER — RIM (border) contained in (in) PER (a pop; for each)

19d   Climb // a trail (6)

A|SCENT — A (†) + SCENT (trail; one left by an animal that a hunting dog might follow)

22d   Put new wheels on, /or/ quit (6)

RETIRE — double definition

I have marked the first definition with a dotted underline as I expect you are not going to find it in a dictionary. It is an inferred definition obtained by observing that if applying a new coat of paint is to repaint, then by logical extension installing a new set of tires must be to retire. The clue is also questionable from the perspective that wheels and tires are not really the same thing. I think a question mark at the end of the clue would have been highly appropriate.

24d   Assistant/'s/ silly idea (4)

AIDE* — anagram (silly) of IDEA

26d   Made a horn sound // sad to the audience (4)

BLEW~ — sounds like (to the audience) BLUE (sad)


The title of today's review is inspired by 3d and 14d.
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,

    Another pleasant Saturday puzzle from C & R. I was held up a bit by 17d and 18d but they fell into place in the end.


  2. Only one month till Boxing Day! Interesting layout for the puzzle, adding a bit more challenge. I put in the wrong ending for 13d which made 27a difficult, but finally realized what I had done. Some interesting misdirects today. It takes some time to work out what 17d should be.

  3. Found the puzzle a little more challenging today. In the end, I have the across letters for 17d but cannot parse the clues to get the answer.

    1. Hi Carl,

      The definition is "tops". The answer is a combination of a word for "breakers" (on the ocean) and "nails" (as in what a good tennis server can do).


    2. Thanks Peter. That makes perfect sense!

  4. Hello Falcon and all,
    A fun one. I enjoyed seeing the philosopher converted to realist and writing in the spread in 23a. Last in for me, too, was 17d, preceded by 16a (cute) and 9d. And I now can name a Danish explorer.