Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017 — Shark Infested Clues


I found that today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon demanded a bit of mental exertion. However, I did eventually manage to successfully navigate the treacherous waters.

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   Shark // overdid the act, swallowing big bird (10)

HAMME(RHEA)D — HAMMED (overdid the act) containing (swallowing) RHEA (big bird)

The rhea[5] is a large flightless bird of South American grasslands, resembling a small ostrich with greyish-brown plumage.

The hammerhead[5] is a shark of tropical and temperate oceans that has flattened blade-like extensions on either side of the head, with the eyes and nostrils placed at or near the ends.

6a   Wild // mako swimming around (4)

AMOK* — anagram (swimming around) of MAKO

Scratching the Surface
The mako[5] (also mako shark) is a large fast-moving oceanic shark with a deep blue back and white underparts.

9a   Drops a line with a hook behind sort of square // knots (7)

T|ANGLES — ANGLES (drops a line with a hook) following (behind) T (sort of square; T-square[5], a T-shaped instrument for drawing or testing right angles)

10a   Guys in boats // floating around San Remo (7)

OARSMEN* — anagram (floating around) of SAN REMO

Scratching the Surface
Sanremo[7] or San Remo is a city on the Mediterranean coast of western Liguria in north-western Italy. Founded in Roman times, the city of 57,000 is a tourist destination on the Italian Riviera.

12a   Leave me in tiny worker/’s/ dwelling (9)

A(PART|ME)NT — {PART (leave) + ME (†)} contained in (in) ANT (tiny worker)

"tiny worker" = ANT (show explanation )

The word "worker" and the phrase "social worker" are commonly used in cryptic crossword puzzles to clue ANT or BEE.

A worker[5] is a neuter or undeveloped female bee, wasp, ant, or other social insect, large numbers of which do the basic work of the colony.

In crossword puzzles, "worker" will most frequently be used to clue ANT and occasionally BEE but I have yet to see it used to clue WASP. Of course, "worker" is sometimes also used to clue HAND or MAN.

hide explanation

13a   Rodents eating last of mutton // chop (5)

MI(N)CE — MICE (rodents) containing (eating) N (last [letter] of muttoN)

14a   Seen from astern, smooth // boat bottoms (5)

KEELS< — reversal (seen from astern) of SLEEK (smooth)

16a   Biased writing // left in revised Act II (6)

{ITA(L)IC}* — L (left; abbrev.) contained in (in) anagram (revised) of ACT II

20a   Saint gets more advanced // degrees (6)

ST|AGES — ST (saint; abbrev.) + AGES (gets more advanced [in years])

21a   Trauma centre receiving the // old anaesthetic (5)

E(THE)R — ER (trauma centre; emergency room) containing (receiving) THE (†)

Ether[5] is a pleasant-smelling* colourless volatile liquid that is highly flammable. It is used as an anaesthetic and as a solvent or intermediate in industrial processes.

* Having been "put under" with ether on a number [no pun intended] of occasions as a child (many decades ago), my recollection is that the experience was anything but pleasant.

Delving Deeper
Diethyl ether[7] or simply ether, is an organic compound in the ether class. It is a colorless, highly volatile flammable liquid. It is commonly used as a solvent in laboratories and as a starting fluid for some engines. It was formerly used as a general anesthetic, until non-flammable drugs were developed, such as halothane. It has been used as a recreational drug to cause intoxication.

Here and There
For the benefit of British visitors, emergency room[5] (abbreviation ER[5]) is the North American term for what you would call either the accident and emergency[5] (abbreviation A & E[5]) or casualty department[5] (also casualty ward).

24a   Weird // sound from a Great Lake (5)

EERIE~ — sounds like (sound from) ERIE (a Great Lake)

25a   Guy with a pole // in farm he’s cultivated (9)

FISHERMAN* — anagram (cultivated) of IN FARM HES

27a   Raised farm building with northern // Greek character (7)

UP|SILO|N — UP (raised) + SILO (farm building) + (with) N (northern; abbrev.)

Upsilon[5] is the twentieth letter of the Greek alphabet (Υ, υ).

28a   Based on logic, // Brazilian city invested in April 1 (1,6)

A P(RIO)RI — RIO (Brazilian city) contained in (invested in) {APR (April; abbrev.) + I ([Roman numeral for] 1)}

A priori[5] is an adjective that means relating to or denoting reasoning or knowledge which proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience ⇒ a priori assumptions about human nature.

29a   Good // punishment (4)

FINE — double definition

30a   Dispenser /of/ strange shark tales (4,6)

{SALT SHAKER}* — anagram (strange) of SHARK TALES


1d   Places where you might see a Panama // shark act strangely (8)

HATRACKS* — anagram (strangely) of SHARK ACT

A panama[5] (also panama hat) is a man’s wide-brimmed hat of straw-like material, originally made from the leaves of a particular tropical palm tree.

2d   Mom pursued by sharper, // aggressive shark (3-5)

MA|N-EATER — MA (mom) followed by (pursued by) NEATER (sharper; more dapper)

3d   Key /for/ the rear of executive suite (1,4)

E FLAT — E (the rear [final letter] of executivE) + FLAT (suite)

Flat[5] is the British term for what would be called an apartment[5] in North America.

4d   Running // possesses softball team in beginning of game (9)

HAS|TEN|IN|G — HAS (possesses) + TEN (softball team) + IN (†) + G (beginning [initial letter] of Game)

Softball[7] is a variant of baseball played with a larger ball on a smaller field. In the most common variant of softball, the fielding team has 10 players on the field at once.

Delving Deeper
Softball rules vary somewhat from those of baseball. Two major differences are that the ball must be pitched underhand and that seven innings instead of nine constitute a regulation game. Despite the name, the ball used in softball is not very soft.

There are three types of softball. In the most common type, slow-pitch softball, the ball must arch on its path to the batter, and there are 10 players on the field at once. In fastpitch softball, the pitch is fast, there are nine players on the field at one time, and bunting and stealing are permitted. Modified softball restricts the windmill windup of the pitcher, although the pitcher is allowed to throw as hard as possible with the restricted back swing.

Softball was invented in 1887 in Chicago, Illinois, United States as an indoor game. It was at various times called indoor baseball, mush ball, playground, softball, kitten ball, and because it was also played by women, ladies' baseball. The name softball was given to the game in 1926, because the ball used to be soft.

5d   Roughly // a match between pugilists (5)

A|BOUT — A (†) + BOUT (match between pugilists)

7d   Second // sign framed by mountain (6)

M(OMEN)T — OMEN (sign) contained in (framed by) MT (mountain; abbrev.)

8d   Nicer // children in Essen (6)

KINDER — double definition

Essen[5] is an industrial city in the Ruhr valley, in northwestern Germany; population 583,200 (est. 2006).

Kinder[8] is the German word for 'children'. The word kindergarten[5] comes to us from German and literally means 'children's garden'.

11d   Cardinal getting into caviar /and/ lettuce (7)

RO(MAIN)E — MAIN (cardinal) contained in (getting into) ROE (caviar)

15d   English poet // keen about the thing in question (7)

SITWELL — SWELL (keen[3]; great, splendid what a keen day) containing (about) IT (the thing in question)

Dame Edith Sitwell[5] (1887–1964) was an English poet and critic. Her early verse, with that of her brothers Osbert (1892–1969) and Sacheverell (1897–1988), marked a revolt against the prevailing Georgian style of the day. In 1923 she attracted attention with Façade, a group of poems in notated rhythm recited to music by William Walton.

17d   Aide // bassist antagonized somewhat (9)

_ASSIST|ANT_ — hidden (somewhat) in bASSIST ANTagonized

18d   Phony pop music /is/ something dear to the Irish (8)

SHAM|ROCK — SHAM (phony) + ROCK (pop music)

19d   More popular // outcome accepted by judge, often (8)

TR(END)IER — END (outcome) contained in (accepted by) TRIER (judge, often)

22d   Polish again // turn back (6)

REBUFF — double definition

23d   Stir // or spin, getting mixed up (6)

PRISON* — anagram (getting mixed up) of OR SPIN

Stir[5] is an informal term for prison ⇒ I’ve spent twenty-eight years in stir.

25d   Doting on a // star in On Golden Pond (5)

FOND|A — FOND (doting) + (on) A (†)

On Golden Pond[7] is a 1981 American drama film starring Henry Fonda who won the the Academy Award for Best Actor in what was his final film role.

26d   What was that about painting // big revolver? (5)

E(ART)H — EH (what was that[?]) containing (about) ART (painting)


Should you fail to see the inspiration for the title of today's puzzle, as my mother would have said ⇒ it just might jump out and bite you. To complement the theme, we also have lakes and ponds, boats and boaters, fishermen and anglers, caviar and fish eggs.
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)
[12] - (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13] - (Macmillan Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. I found this week's puzzle to be very enjoyable and not too difficult. I guess it is shark season this week.

  2. Happy Easter to all, eh!
    We're served up a feast of shark meat by a number of trollers today. 9a was my last one in, proving to be a knotty problem. Favourite was 3d. Let's just say it was key to solving the upper left quadrant.

  3. Good morning,

    And a blessed Easter! I found this one to be a bit more challenging than usual. But looking back at it now, I don't know why. I'm not sure that the answer to 16a means 'biased writing'. It could mean 'slanted writing' which could also mean 'biased writing'. I was held up a bit on 22d because I stupidly put 'epsilon' in 27a. Good fun.


  4. Still haven't solved 23 down. I get an obvious word if I take Stir "or spin" as wordplay, but can't seem to make the definition fit. In general, I found this to be a bit more challenging than usual, but ultimately solvable. Like Henry, I liked 3d, but 4d was my favourite.

    1. Hi Chris,

      "Or spin" is an anagram for a slang word that means 'stir'.

    2. Correction: 'stir' is the slang word for the answer. "Or spin" is an anagram of the answer.

    3. If a judge might send me to the stir, then that's what I'm getting. But I can't find a reference for that anywhere.

    4. Finally found confirmation. Obscure for us law-abiding citizens

    5. Folks who are in stir have been known to go stir-crazy!


  5. Good day Falcon and company!

    A bit of a challenge today. I actually had to google the English poet. And a few fishy clues...


  6. Happy Easter to all! Enjoy the beautiful SW Ontario sunshine.

    Nice puzzle today. Had to google the English poet as well. Otherwise, I believe that I am all ok.

  7. Falcon - Great job on the blog today. Just so you'll know I don't only help with proofreading.
    Re 3d, I have heard the term 'flat' refer to an apartment most of my life (maybe it was only from English immigrants? But, I did find that online dictionaries seemed to avoid this meaning of flat.
    Re 25d, I hope Jane doesn't feel offended you left her out!

    1. Henry,

      Re flat, to find the British meaning (also apparently used in Australia and New Zealand), you will likely need to consult a British dictionary (Oxford, Collins, Chambers). The US version of Oxford Dictionaries defines flat as the British term for apartment. The British version of Oxford Dictionaries has a somewhat more lengthy entry which is, of course, identical to what one would consider to be the definition of an apartment.

      Re 25d, dreadful oversight! And she was the one that I was doting on.