Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017 — West Coast Treat


While I did not find today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon to be overly difficult, a handful of clues did stretch the brain cells a tad. A couple of comments have flagged the northeast as being the most troublesome area although for me, in an ironic twist, 14d was the last one in.

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   Up /in/ arms, the boys are troop’s leaders (2,3)

AT BAT — the initial letters (leaders) of Arms The Boys Are Troop

In baseball, a batter may be said to be up, at bat, up at bat, or batting; in cricket, a batsman would be described as in or batting.

4a   Frolicked, keeping up // with reinforcements (9)

S(UP)PORTED — SPORTED (frolicked) containing (keeping) UP (†)

9a   Sea // snake I put in container (7)

C(ASP|I)AN — {ASP (snake) + I (†)} contained in (put in) CAN (container)

10a   Oscar-winning Jason // sticks around tavern (7)

RO(BAR)DS — RODS (sticks) containing (around) BAR (tavern)

Jason Robards, Jr.[7] (1922–2000) was an American stage, film, and television actor. He was a winner of the Tony Award, two Academy Awards and an Emmy Award as well as being a United States Navy combat veteran of World War II. He was the son of American stage and screen actor Jason Robards Sr.[7] (1892–1963).

Robards received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in consecutive years: for All the President's Men (1976), portraying Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, and for Julia (1977), portraying writer Dashiell Hammett (1977). He was also nominated for another Academy Award for his role as Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard (1980).

11a   Unstable people /in/ unstable countries (9)

NEUROTICS* — anagram (unstable) of COUNTRIES

12a   Follow // the beginning of the competition (5)

T|RACE — T (the beginning [initial letter] of The) + RACE (competition)

13a   Upgrade // public relations in one social trend (11)

I|M(PR)OVEMENT — PR (public relations; abbrev.) contained in (in) {I ([Roman numeral for] one + MOVEMENT (social trend)}

18a   New advertiser’s // upper hand (7,4)

{DRIVER'S SEAT}* — anagram (new) of ADVERTISER'S

Cox and Rathvon even manage to work the apostrophe into the anagram! (although don't attempt to put it in the grid)

21a   Coffee // held by Nanaimo chap (5)

_MO|CHA_ — hidden in (held by) NanaiMO CHAp

Scratching the Surface
Nanaimo[7] is a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Nanaimo is the birthplace of the namesake Nanaimo bar[7], a dessert item of Canadian origin popular across North America [and beyond]. It is a bar dessert which requires no baking. It consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of custard flavoured butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares.

23a   Attack // on street interrupted by guffaw (9)

ON|S(LAUGH)T — ON (†) + ST (street; abbrev.) containing (interrupted by) LAUGH (guffaw)

25a   Formerly sufficient // case (7)

EX|AMPLE — EX (formerly) + AMPLE (sufficient)

26a   Unsuited bid // U.S. president placed behind number (2,5)

NO TRUMP — TRUMP (U.S. president) following (placed behind) NO (number; abbrev.)

Still adjusting to my new glasses, I initially — somewhat ironically — misread the clue as "Unsuited U.S. president ...".

27a   Dorothy’s aunt does some ironing /for/ important women (9)

EM|PRESSES — EM (Dorothy's aunt) + PRESSES (does some ironing)

Aunt Em[7] is a fictional character from the series of fourteen Oz books by American author L. Frank Baum (1856–1919). She is the aunt of Dorothy Gale and wife of Uncle Henry, and lives together with them on a farm in Kansas.

28a   Pull up // flat fish in the sound (5)

RAISE~ — sound like (in the sound) RAYS (flat fish)


1d   Way up // a trail (6)

A|SCENT — A (†) + SCENT (trail)

2d   Listening, enjoy the warmth of // a Pyrenees region (6)

BASQUE — sounds like (listening) BASK (enjoy the warmth of)

The Basque Country[5] is a region of the western Pyrenees in both France and Spain, the homeland of the Basque people[5]. Culturally one of the most distinct groups in Europe, the Basques were largely independent until the 19th century. The Basque separatist movement ETA is carrying on an armed struggle against the Spanish government.

3d   Threesome snack, eating large // old arthropod (9)

TRI(L)O|BITE — {TRIO (threesome) + BITE (snack)} containing (eating) L (large; abbrev.)

A trilobite[5] is a fossil marine arthropod that occurred abundantly during the Palaeozoic era, with a carapace over the forepart, and a segmented hind part divided longitudinally into three lobes.

4d   Biblical mountain // is in a novel (5)

SINAI* — anagram (novel) of IS IN A

Mount Sinai[10] is the mountain where Moses received the Law from God (Exodus 19–20). It is often identified as Jebel Musa, sometimes as Jebel Serbal, both on the south Sinai Peninsula.

5d   Prose epic deconstructed // something coming up in the water (9)

PERISCOPE* — anagram (deconstructed) of PROSE EPIC

6d   Circle, // or segment (5)

OR|BIT — OR (†) + BIT (segment)

7d   Commercial in 3-D // on a string (8)

THRE(AD)E|D — AD (commercial) contained in (in) {THREE (3) + D (†)}

8d   Sweet dishes // taxed in recession (8)

DESSERTS< — reversal (in recession) of STRESSED (taxed)

14d   Patsies // turned up rude people in queues (9)

PU<|SHOVERS — reversal (turned) of UP + SHOVERS (rude people in queues)

15d   Device for removing // addled rat cortex (9)

EXTRACTOR* — anagram (addled) of RAT CORTEX

16d   Novel // plot penned by a lady (4,4)

A|DAM (BED)E — BED ([garden] plot) contained in (penned by) {A (†) + DAME (lady)}

Adam Bede[7], the first novel written by George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Ann Evans), was published in 1859. It was published pseudonymously, even though Evans was a well-published and highly respected scholar of her time.

17d   Kind of pin // lost its place (3,5)

{TIE CLASP}* — anagram (lost) of ITS PLACE

19d   A GI holding out // something like a guinea pig (6)

A|G(OUT)I — {A (†) + GI} containing (holding) OUT (†)

The agouti[5] is a large long-legged burrowing rodent related to the guinea pig, native to Central and South America.

20d   Fix // shattered plates (6)

STAPLE — anagram (shattered) of PLATES

22d   Mac maker/’s/ place taken by monkey (5)

AP(PL)E — PL (place; abbrev. found in street addresses) contained in (taken by) APE (monkey)

24d   Kid’s collecting $1000 /for/ compositions (5)

SON(G)S — SONS (kids) containing (collecting) G ($1000)


The title of today's review is inspired by the scrumptious 8d suggested by the clue at 21a which are a 20d of Canadian social gatherings — and which might well incorporate a 12a of 21a.
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, everyone! An entertaining puzzle today, with initial letters, old book titles, geographic regions making up some of the clues. A few anagrams make life a little easier for those of us who like them. All in all, not too difficult. 17d was a new phrase for me. And 22d, looks like an incorrect anagram at first, but is a charade.

    1. Hi Falcon -
      14d was the second last for me, the book title was the last one. I worked out a different solution (not by much) for 3d
      TRI(L)(O)BITE — {TRI (threesome, as in triplex) + BITE (snack)} containing (eating) L (large; abbrev.) + O (old; abbrev.). Although it is true that 3d is extinct, it is not necessary to modify it as old for the clue. What do you think?

    2. Hi Henry,

      Your suggestion of "old" cluing O could be plausible, but I'm not at all keen on TRI being clued by "threesome". "Threesome" is clearly a noun and I cannot think of any context in which "tri" could be a noun.

  2. Good morning,

    Good fun again today. The NE corner went in last for me. 17d was new to me too.


  3. Nice puzzle again. Took a bit longer. Found the NE corner clues not as clear and precise as usual. Had to get help with 16d, 3d, 16d.

  4. Hello Falcon and folks!
    Enjoyed today's puzzle although I did need a reminder of the title of the novel. 14d was also my last one in - perhaps due to Falcon's subliminal suggestion.

    As a real nit picker, I would suggest that the solution to 28a indicate flat fish as a plural.


    1. Hi MG,

      I would consider your observation on the fish to be far from nit-picking. Due to some carelessness on my part, the explanation was just plain wrong. (It's now been corrected).