Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017 — Drenched and Angry


I progressed smoothly through today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon until I arrived in the southeast quadrant where I spent as much time working on three or four clues alone as I did on the entire remainder of the puzzle.

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   Brownish-yellow, // wet dirt covering top banana (7)

MU(STAR)D — MUD (wet dirt) containing (covering) STAR (top banana)

5a   Links including radical // outbursts (7)

TI(RAD)ES — TIES (links) containing (including) RAD ([shortened form of] radical)

9a   Sort of power // loss absorbed by rocket (5)

SO(L)AR — L (loss[3]; abbrev. from the sports pages) contained in (absorbed by) SOAR (rocket)

10a   Knew of LA’s freakish // bit of wintry weather (9)

SNOWFLAKE* — anagram (freakish) of KNEW OF LAS

11a   Wind direction // set relay moving (8)

EASTERLY* — anagram (moving) of SET RELAY

12a   Fair // fall, except for the first of September (6)

DECENT — DE[S]CENT (fall) with S (the first [letter] of September) removed (except for)

Scratching the Surface
In the surface reading, fall is the US term for what the British know as autumn. Of course, in Canada, I would say that the terms are used interchangeably.

14a   Certain about great // big wave (5)

SUR(G)E —SURE (certain) containing G (great; abbrev.)

Uncertain about Great
This is not the first time that Cox and Rathvon have clued G as an abbreviation for "great". Nevertheless, having scoured my dictionaries, I can find no justification for this practice. The only instance that I can think of where one might find this usage  occurring is in the abbreviation GB for Great Britain. However, it is my understanding that setters should not employ such "partial abbreviations" which exist only as part of a longer abbreviation. Should anyone be able to offer a compelling justification for the use of this abbreviation, I would certainly love to hear it.

16a   Glow surrounding metallic rock left // where waves break (9)

SH(ORE|L)INE — SHINE (glow) containing (surrounding) {ORE (metallic rock) + L (left)}

18a   Star-shaped flower in place Ed // soaked (9)

PL(ASTER)ED — ASTER (star-shaped flower) contained in (in) {PL (place[4,11]; abbrev. found in street addresses) + ED (†)}

Soak[3] (slang) means to drink to excess.

19a   Vocally forecast // something boring? (5)

AUGER~ — sounds like (vocally) AUGUR (forecast)

21a   Aussie hopper given food, // protected from the elements (6)

ROO|FED — ROO (Aussie hopper; short for kangaroo) + FED (given food)

23a   Water he’s sprayed // goes around (8)

WREATHES* — anagram (sprayed) of WATER HES

26a   I can still roughly // trace (9)

SCINTILLA* — anagram (roughly) of I CAN STILL

27a   Like a wet hen, // I have merit (5)

I|RATE — I (†) + RATE (have merit)

How Mad Do You Get?
Mad as a hornet, mad as hell, mad as hops and mad as a wet hen are all expressions meaning very angry or enraged as in Mary was mad as a hornet when her purse was stolen, or Upset? Dan was mad as hell, or The teacher was mad as a wet hen.

The use of mad for "angry" dates from about 1300, but these similes are of much more recent vintage (1800s, early 1900s). The allusions to a hornet, which can launch a fierce attack, and hell, with its furious fires, are more obvious than the other variants. Mad as hops was first recorded in 1884 and is thought to have been the writer's version of hopping mad; mad as a wet hen, first recorded in 1823, is puzzling, since hens don't really mind water.

28a   Shackle // large group taking in first sign of rain (3,4)

LEG I(R)ON — LEGION (large group) containing (taking in) R (first sign [initial letter] of Rain)

29a   In return, get mad about good // thermometer readings (7)

{DE(G)R|EES}< — reversal (in return) of SEE RED (get mad) containing (about) G (good[4,11]; abbrev. used by teachers to grade student's work)


1d   Fellows /produce/ moisteners (7)

MISTERS — double definition

2d   Openers of some attractions love the sunny // seasons (5)

SALTS — initial letters (openers) of Some Attractions Love The Sunny

Although this is a fairly common style of clue in British cryptic crosswords, I believe this may be the first time that I have seen it used by Cox and Rathvon.

3d   Understanding // guys caught in a hail (9)

A|GREE(MEN)T — MEN (guys) contained in (caught in) {A (†) + GREET(hail)}

4d   Revelation /of/ cloud’s rise, strangely (10)

DISCLOSURE* — anagram (strangely) of CLOUDS RISE

5d   Maker of thunder // in youth orchestra (4)


In Norse mythology, Thor[5,7], the son of Odin and Freya (Frigga), is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility. Thursday is named after him.

6d   Source of reports, // widespread, about lake (5)

RIF(L)E — RIFE (widespread) containing (about) L (lake)

7d   Awfully loud // bell sound outside of each wetland (9)

D(EA|FEN)ING — DING (bell sound) containing (outside of) {EA (each[11]; abbrev.) + FEN (wetland)}

8d   Cover // the female packing heat (7)

S(HEAT)HE — SHE (the female) containing (packing) HEAT (†)

13d   Calm in mild, // peripheral spot (10)

B(ORDER)LAND — ORDER (calm) contained in (in) BLAND (mild)

15d   Thinking // rain’s gone off (9)

REASONING* — anagram (off) of RAINS GONE

17d   Online journal about National election winner // coming out (9)

EMA(NAT|IN)G — EMAG (online journal; shortened form of electronic magazine) containing (about) {NAT (national[11]; abbrev.) + IN (election winner)}

An in[3] is one that has position, influence, or power ⇒ the ins against the outs.

18d   Protection from rays // or a slap shot (7)

PARASOL* — anagram (shot) of OR A SLAP

Judging from the rest of the puzzle, one might have expected an umbrella.

Scratching the Surface
A slap shot[10] is a shot in ice hockey made with a full backswing and extended follow-through.

20d   Lists // many a turkey, missing one (7)

ROSTERS — RO[A]STERS (many a turkey) with A (one) removed (missing)

A roaster[2] is a vegetable, fowl, etc. suitable for roasting.

22d   A tree damaged // diner (5)

EATER* — anagram (damaged) of A TREE

24d   Experience holding empty // cast (5)

H(E)AVE — HAVE (experience) containing (holding) E (empty[12]; abbrev. found on fuel gauges)

25d   50 involved in pot // scheme (4)

P(L)AN — L ([Roman numeral for] 50) contained in (involved in) PAN (pot)


The intense April showers that we have experienced recently have left behind wet dirt (1a) and angry outbursts (2a). The lack of sun has caused a loss of power (9a) and LA has experienced freakish winter weather (10a). The wind direction (11a) forebodes large waves (14a) breaking on the coast (16a) and damaged trees (22d). However, once we get past the first of September we hear that we can expect (19a) a fair fall (12a). In the meantime, though, we are going to get soaked (18a) and thus should be glad to be protected from the elements (21a). All this rain has made us irritable, with the mere act of spraying water around (23a) causing us to get angry as a wet hen (27a). Even the first sign of rain (28a) causes an angry reaction despite the good thermometer readings (29a). Fellows continue to produce moisteners (1d), although with all this rain one would hardly expect that they are needed. While tourist operators hoping to open their attractions would love sunny weather (2d), instead we get hail (3d), clouds (4d), and thunder (5d), with widespread thunder claps around the lake (6d) which are especially loud outside the wetland (7d). Finally, a respite, as we encounter heat (8d), calm (13d), and the need for protection from the sun (18d) now that the rain's gone (15d). In fact, it is a roaster of a day (20d).
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. Good morning,

    Enjoyable straightforward puzzle today. All about weather. C & R use 'g' as an abbreviation for 'great' in 14a. I think they've done this before. I'm not sure they're correct. And I seem to recall Falcon making a similar observation before. But I might be wrong. Held up a bit by 3d because I read 'hall' in the clue instead of 'hail'. Have a good day all!


    1. Re: 'G' as an abbreviation for 'great'

      Great memory!

  2. Good day Falcon et al!
    I actually found the puzzle a little more challenging than Peter. Some easy clues and some took awhile to parse, even with all the cross-checking letters. Last one in was 13d.

    Thanks for posting Falcon.
    Enjoy the dry weekend!

    1. Hi MG,

      13d called to my mind an interesting new TV crime series from Finland available now on Netflix. It's worth a look if you're into that sort of thing.

    2. Hi MG,

      I'm with you. 13d was also my last one in.

  3. Hands up everyone who bunged in "plot" and thought, "Gosh, that was suspiciously easy"?

    Agree with MG; a little trickier than the usual C&R puzzle. And all the more enjoyable for that.

  4. Struggled with this one - needed help with five to go in bottom right. Couldn't see 25a at all, and 17d pursing is still elusive. And 20d not sure I follow chickens and turkeys, and "o" for one? Probably have misunderstood clueing. Definitely not on the C&R wavelength this week.

  5. Sorry, meant 23a, not 25. Though of course I plonked "plot" in for the latter, before working it out.

    1. Hi Jonathan,

      Re 17d: definition is "coming out". Emag around nat and in.

      Re 20d: definition is "lists". Subtract "a" (one) from what a turkey might be an example of.

  6. Thanks Peter. I got 17d, but "nat in" for National election winner? - ok, but seems a tad weak to me. And 20d, I missed that, but, wow, that's tough, to reference turkey a la river being a flower. Normally the reference is straightforward once determined. But I'm finding excuses for my failings this week!

  7. I plonked in PLOT as well, but didn't think it was suspiciously easy! Missed the 'openers' in 2d. Good job on the blog, Falcon. Loved the run-on in the epilogue. You might want to put the anagram marker in for 15d.

    1. Consider the omission in 15d the "Waldo" in today's review :)

    2. By the way, the "openers" clue in 2d was not the first occurrence of this type of clue for C&R - although they did use it more frequently in years past. I know this because I only ever do C&R cryptics. ;)

    3. MG,

      That is interesting to know. This type of clue appears fairly frequently in British puzzles. Ray Terrell (one of the setters of The Daily Telegraph puzzles which appear weekdays in the National Post) includes a clue like this in virtually every puzzle he compiles.

  8. On the challenging side for me. Last in were 13d, followed by 20d (incorrectly parsed: my tom turkeys became roosters, with a shrug at the "o" for "one"), and finally 8d: it seems so obvious now, but I just couldn't parse the clue - I was sure "the" was part of the answer. Thanks as always for the detailed explanations.