Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017 — Garden Fertilizer


As several readers have already commented,  today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon definitely presents more of a challenge than we have been accustomed to recently.

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   Short // mutt with tail of russet (4)

CUR|T — CUR (mutt) + (with) T (tail [final letter] of russeT)

3a   Talk with Jerry Seinfeld’s friend, // “the Queen of her domain” (10)

CHAT|ELAINE — CHAT (talk) + (with) ELAINE (Jerry Seinfeld's friend)

Elaine Benes is a fictional character on the American sitcom Seinfeld[7] that originally ran for nine seasons on NBC, from 1989 to 1998. She is the ex-girlfriend and later friend of the title character Jerry Seinfeld.

9a   Hit // lousy pitcher (4)

BUM|P — BUM (lousy) + P (pitcher; abbreviation used in baseball)

10a   Doctor wearing dress in an infirmary // robbery (10)

B(RIG)ANDAGE — RIG (doctor; tamper with or falsify) contained in (wearing) BANDAGE (dress in an infirmary)

12a   Peculiar lens distorted // astronomical event (5,7)

{LUNAR ECLIPSE)* — anagram (distorted) of PECULIAR LENS

15a   After the start, liking // charm (7)

_ENCHANT — [P]ENCHANT (liking) with the initial letter deleted (after the start)

16a   Real gun shot // tiny pellet (7)

GRANULE* — anagram (shot) of REAL GUN

17a   I go nuts about part of a sentence: // too weighty (7)

O(VERB)IG* — {anagram (nuts) of I GO (†)} containing (about) VERB (part of sentence)

19a   Criminal // printed in Cyrillic italics (7)

_ILLIC|IT_ — hidden in (printed in) CyrILLIC ITalics

20a   Lenin cabinet revolutionized // a certain anniversary (12)

BICENTENNIAL* — anagram (revolutionized) of LENIN CABINET

Scratching the Surface
Vladimir Ilich Lenin[5] (1870–1924) was the principal figure in the Russian Revolution and first premier of the Soviet Union 1918–24; born Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov.

23a   New art’s models? (3,7)

{OLD MASTERS}* — anagram (new) of ARTS MODELS

This is an &lit.[7] clue (or, as some like to call it, an all-in-one clue). The entire clue is both definition and wordplay — of course, under different respective interpretations.

As a definition, the clue suggests that artists may be influenced by the work of those who have gone before.

24a   Problem // not spoken aloud (4)

KNOT~ — sounds like (spoken aloud) NOT

25a   Race car for one // friend in Rome taking drive (10)

PAL|IN(D)ROME — {PAL (friend) + IN (†) + ROME (†)} containing (taking) D (drive; abbreviation found on a gearshift)

As the definition, "race car" is an example (for one) of a palindrome.

26a   Skirt // row of shrubs with no opening (4)

_EDGE — [H]EDGE (row of shrubs) with the initial letter deleted (with no opening)


1d   Cowboys // hack everything with love (10)

CAB|ALL|EROS — CAB (hack) + ALL (everything) + EROS (love)

2d   Restraint in supporting retrospective // novel (5,1,4)

RO(MAN A CLE)F< — MANACLE (restraint) contained in a reversal (retrospective) of FOR (supporting)

4d   Bean // stuck in with a ricotta (7)

_H|A|RICOT_ — hidden in (stuck in) witH A RICOTta

5d   Labelling // good booze consumed by day in Germany (7)

TA(G|GIN)G — {G (good; abbreviation used by teachers to grade the work of students) + GIN (booze)} contained in (consumed by) TAG (day in Germany; German word for 'day')

6d   Excited, pulling in USA // scientist (5,7)

{LINUS PAULING}* — anagram (excited) of PULLING IN USA

Linus Pauling[5] (1901–1994) was an American chemist. He is renowned for his study of molecular structure and chemical bonding, for which he received the 1954 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. His suggestion of a helical structure for proteins formed the foundation for the elucidation of the structure of DNA.

7d   Chief of Indians had control of // land (4)

I|RAN — I (chief [initial letter] of Indians) + RAN (had control of)

8d   Sheep // employ vocalizing (4)

EWES~ — sounds like (vocalizing) USE (employ)

11d   Stranger arbitrating about Eastern // country (5,7)

{GR(E)AT BRITAIN}* — anagram (stranger) of ARBITRATING containing (about) E (Eastern; abbrev.)

13d   Given provisions about oil, // worked (10)

F(UNCTION)ED — FED (given provisions) containing (about) UNCTION (oil)

14d   Small volume // I illuminated in middle part (10)

CENT(I|LIT)RE — {I (†) + LIT (illuminated)} contained in (in) CENTRE (middle part)

I expect the spelling here may well have been an issue for some American solvers.

18d   Host at the door // rearranged tree with German coat? (7)

G(REET*)ER — anagram (rearranged) of TREE contained in (with ... coat) GER (German)

19d   Meanwhile, // I confused net with basketball hoop (7)

I|NTE*|RIM — I (†) + an anagram (confused) of NET + (with) RIM (basketball hoop)

21d   Lowdown // deck on a ship (4)

POOP — double definition

22d   Celebrity /and/ I make love at first (4)

I|DO|L — I (†) + DO (make) + L (love at first; initial letter of Love)


The title of today's review is inspired by 8d and 21d.
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 found this puzzle to be a little more challenging than others of late. 10A gave me the most trouble - I was able to derive the answer using the letters from the down clues, but I had to look up the resulting word to make sure it meant the same thing as the definition provided. I also really liked 1D.

  2. I agree with Anonymous that this was a somewhat challenging start to the new year beginning with 1d - different use of "hack" and "love" not being the often used O.

    You have to give C&R high marks for ingenious use of clues in 1d and also in 10a, 23a, 2d, 14d for example.

    Cannot be sure I have completed the puzzle correctly with 7d. There seems to be only one answer which I cannot get by parsing the clues.

    1. Hi Carl -
      For 7d you have the chief of the Indians (the head or first letter) and had control of or managed (of a company) to give a name of a country in the middle east.

  3. Good morning,

    I found this one much more difficult than usual. Took me a while to get the clever 2d. I think I have the right answers for 15a and 25a but I can't parse them. Quite liked 13d. So far I've been defeated by 14d.

    Was the rallying cry of the Loyalists "Make America 11d"?

    Have a good day everyone!


    1. It seems like I'm a country doctor making my rounds and helping people out. 14d, ah yes, a good one, think metric for a small quantity of a fluid, with the centre or middle part around the rather obvious I illuminated.
      For 15a, take a word that means liking or wanting (i.e. with for) and drop the first letter (after the start).
      25a I thought was cute too. "Race car" is an example of the answer.

    2. Thanks Henry! I feel like an idiot for not being able to parse 15a and 25a. So obvious after you point them out. I'm not too keen on 14d. I suppose it's a word, but does anyone ever use it?

    3. I've seen it used when ordering wine in a restaurant, I was asked what size of glass I wanted. Of course I had no idea how to judge the volumes the waitress was quoting.

    4. In Canada, we generally measure everything in either litres or millilitres. However, Europeans would prefer to use centilitres where we would use millilitres. Thus a 750 ml bottle of wine would be labelled as 75 cl.

    5. 2d was way too convoluted for my meagre brain

  4. OMG! C&R took out all the stops for this one. It took me close to forever to parse 10a (to doctor something up is to rig it???) and "dress in an infirmary." I thought 13d was the most, dare I say, 'extreme' use of a word meaning oil.
    Hi to everyone!

    1. I read 10a as a 7 letter synonym for doctor starting with "b" around a 3 letter word for dress starting with "r".

    2. If that were the case, the dress would be wearing the doctor!

    3. Yes, yes of course.

  5. Good day all!
    Definitely a head scratcher today. Thought 23a was a superb clue and 10a had me looking for a word starting with "dr". Took quite a while for the lightbulb to go off.

    Falcon, you are missing a letter in your solution to 6d. :)


    1. Thanks, MG

      It's difficult to slip anything past you ;)

  6. 1D was a difficult clue for a Lusaphone

    1. Welcome to the blog Ipanema,

      Yes, cavaleiros would really mess you up on 15a.

      Are you, by any chance, joining us from Brazil?

  7. That was a real treat from E&H. Defeated by 2d, even with all checking letters in (too lazy to use the electronics this w/e) so resorted to the solve - Can't give a solve time, as this one goes unsolved, but a solid 4 for fun. Loved 1D.