Saturday, May 6, 2017

Saturday, May 6, 2017 — Mmmm!


You might might find today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon to be rather delicious.

I am away from home and working on my laptop, hampered by having to work with a single screen and struggling with a recalcitrant trackpad. Thus it would not surprise me to find that I have left plenty of fodder for MG and Henry, my resident proofreaders.

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   Italian city // ramble through a labyrinth? (4)

ROME~ — sounds like (through a labyrinth) ROAM (ramble)

The labyrinth[5] is a complex structure in the inner ear which contains the organs of hearing and balance. It consists of bony cavities (the bony labyrinth) filled with fluid and lined with sensitive membranes (the membranous labyrinth).

3a   A bookish sort, Margaret returned Robin’s love (10)

GRAM<|MARIAN — reversal (returned) of MARG (diminutive of Margaret) + MARIAN (Robin's love; Maid Marian[7], in English folklore, the love interest of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood)

9a   Fix // a musical’s opening and finale (5)

A|M|END — A (†) + M (musical's opening; initial letter of Musical) + (and) END (finale)

11a   Idiocy about masculine // teachings of Joseph Smith (9)

MOR(M)ONISM — MORONISM (idiocy) containing (about) M (masculine; abbrev.)

Joseph Smith[5] (1805–1844) was an American religious leader and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons).

12a   A permanent blemish covered by Mom/’s/ makeup (7)

M(A|SCAR)A — {A (†) + SCAR (permanent blemish)} contained in (covered by) MA (Mom)

13a   Hate // what’s in salt, but not salt (5)

_ODIUM — [S]ODIUM (what's in salt; table salt is the chemical compound sodium chloride) with S (salt; symbol found on a salt shaker) removed (but not)

15a   Spread // of the sea including needlefish (9)

MAR(GAR)INE — MARINE (of the sea) containing (including) GAR (needlefish)

Needlefish[5] is a North American term for garfish.

Gar[5] is another name for the freshwater garfish of North America — garfish[5] being a name given to a number of long, slender saltwater and freshwater fish with elongated beak-like jaws containing sharply pointed teeth.

17a   Pound down a // Florida town (5)

TAMP|A — TAMP (pound down) + A (†)

19a   What people call each other // in Vietnamese (5)

_NAMES_ — hidden in (in) VietNAMESe

21a   Amulets /for/ Latin mass redistributed (9)

TALISMANS* — anagram (redistributed) of LATIN MASS

23a   Primate // right behind large Aussie bird (5)

L|EMU|R — R (right; abbrev.) following (behind) {L (large; abbrev.) + EMU (Aussie bird)}

A lemur[5] is any of a number of species of arboreal primate with a pointed snout and typically a long tail, found only in Madagascar.

24a   Backing up, unfortunately bump into // dessert wine (7)

{MAR|SALA}< — reversal (backing up) of {ALAS (unfortunately) + RAM (bump into)}

Marsala[5] is a dark, sweet fortified dessert wine that resembles sherry, produced in Sicily. It is named after Marsala, a town in Sicily where it was originally made.

26a   Friendly // radical in the middle of fair (9)

COM(RAD)ELY — RAD (radical; informal short form) contained in (in the middle of) COMELY (fair)

27a   Name of a girl /in/ Sondheim’s last song (5)

M|ARIA — M (Sondheim's last; final letter of SondheiM) + ARIA (song [in an opera])

Scratching the Surface
Stephen Sondheim[7] is an American composer and lyricist known for more than a half-century of contributions to musical theatre. Sondheim has received an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer, including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre), eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As he wrote the lyrics for West Side Story, Maria is actually the name of a girl in a Sondheim song — although definitely not his last song.

"Maria"[7] is a song from the Broadway musical West Side Story. The music was written by Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim. The song was published in 1956. "Maria" is sung by the male lead Tony when he learns the name of the girl he's fallen in love with is "Maria". The name "Maria" is spoken or sung in the song 27 times.

28a   Something fruity: // playing harmonicas (10)

MARASCHINO* — anagram (playing) of HARMONICAS

Maraschino is:
  • a liqueur made from marasca cherries and flavoured with the kernels, having a taste like bitter almonds[10]
  • a maraschino cherry[5], a cherry preserved in maraschino or maraschino-flavoured syrup[5]
29a   Wise guy endlessly // did laps in a pool (4)

SWAM_ — SWAM[I] (wise guy) with the final letter removed (endlessly)

In North American English*, a swami[12] is a learned person.

* Swami[12] is originally a Hindu term meaning lord or master used as a title of respect, especially for a Hindu religious teacher.


1d   Guys in back get tangled up /in/ treaty violation (10)

REAR|MA(MEN)T — MEN (GUYS) contained in (in) {REAR (back) + MAT (get tangled up)}

2d   Alert moms stirred up // turbulence (9)

MAELSTROM* — anagram (stirred up) of ALERT MOMS

4d   Odd couple starting ballroom // dance (5)

RUM|BA — RUM (odd) + BA (couple starting ballroom; initial two letters of BAllroom)

Rum[5] is a dated informal British term meaning odd or peculiar ⇒ it’s a rum business, certainly.

5d   Like some statuary stone, // spoil with added aluminum (9)

MAR|MORE|AL — MAR (spoil) + (with) MORE (added) + AL ([symbol for the chemical element] aluminum)

Marmoreal[5] is a literary term meaning made of or compared to marble ⇒ the marmoreal skin took on the flush of colour.

6d   Lover, // on the other hand, in a fog (7)

A|M(OR)IST — OR (on the other hand) contained in (in) {A (†) + MIST (fog)}

An amorist[5] is a person who is in love or who writes about love.

7d   I had one mantra syllable, /in/ a manner of speaking (5)

ID|I|OM — ID (I had; contracted as I'd) + I ([Roman numeral for] one) + OM (mantra syllable)

Om[5] is a mystic syllable, considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. It appears at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitations, prayers, and texts.

8d   Sub captain/’s/ sign turned around (4)

NEMO< — reversal (turned around) of OMEN (sign)

Captain Nemo[7] (Latin for "Nobody")—also known as Prince Dakkar—is a fictional character created by the French science fiction author Jules Verne (1828–1905). Nemo appears in two of Verne's novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874) as well as making a cameo appearance in Verne's play Journey Through the Impossible (1882).

Nemo, one of the best known antiheroes in fiction, is a mysterious figure. The son of an Indian Raja, he is a scientific genius who roams the depths of the sea in his submarine, the Nautilus.

10d   Little drink before a // play (5)

DRAM|A — DRAM (little drink) + (before) A (†)

14d   Needless scare // ruined a safer mall (5,5)

{FALSE ALARM}* — anagram (ruined) of A SAFER MALL

16d   Bury me with a pair of sheets /in/ lace together (9)

INTER|ME|SH — INTER (bury) + ME (†) + (with) SH (pair of sheets; initial two letters of SHeets)

18d   Film star /and/ soldier who’s gone a long way to fight (3,6)

MIA| FAR|ROW —MIA (soldier who's gone; abbreviation for Missing In Action) + FAR (a long way) + ROW (to fight)

Mia Farrow[7] is an American actress.

20d   Monkeys // without clothing I note (7)

S(I|MI)ANS —SANS (without) containing (clothing) {I (†) + MI ([musical] note; )}

In sol-fa notation,  mi*[3,11] is the third note of a major scale.

* With respect to spelling, two British dictionaries list me[2,5] as the primary spelling with mi[2,5] as an alternative spelling while two other British dictionaries take the contrary position, listing mi[1,10] as the principal spelling with me as a variant[10] or anglicized[1] spelling. The US dictionaries list only one spelling — mi[3,11].

Sans[3,4,11] (preposition) is an archaic* word meaning without ⇒ a bird sans feathers.

* While the word may well be deemed to be archaic in English, it is not at all archaic in French from whence it came.

22d   Medical fluid /for/ emergency room, in addition (5)

S(ER)UM — ER (emergency room; abbrev.) contained in (in) SUM (addition)

23d   Less convincing // version of “The Sea” in Quebec (5)

LA|MER — LA MER (version of “The Sea” in Quebec; French words meaning "the sea")

24d   Month with an // inhabitant of Yucatan (5)

MAY|AN — MAY (month) + (with) AN (†)

Mayan is another term for Maya[10], a member of an American Indian people of Yucatan, Belize, and northern Guatemala, having an ancient culture once characterized by outstanding achievements in architecture, astronomy, chronology, painting, and pottery.

25d   Short rascal/’s/ hoax (4)

SCAM_ —SCAM[P] (rascal) with the final letter removed (short)


The title of today's review is inspired by the observation that every solution in this puzzle includes at least one instance of the letter 'M'.
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 a little more challenging than usual, but eventually everything fell into place. I had to verify the meaning of 5D - I was able to derive the word from the clue, but I was not familiar with the term.

  2. Good morning all,

    Much, much enjoyment from morning cryptogram. Many meaty mindbenders. Maybe muddled mind from Edmonton meltdown.

    18d especially was terrific. But not so sure about 1a and 4d.

    Have a good day!


    1. Try odd + (couple starting ballroom) = dance.

  3. Robert of OttawaMay 6, 2017 at 11:14 AM

    Can anyone explain to me how the answer to 20 down is what it is.

    1. A word meaning "without" that is "clothing" I and a musical note, when put together is a synonym for monkeys.

    2. That would be a French word meaning "without".

  4. Nice puzzle today. 15a and 18d were really great clues. 3a took a while as I mistook robin's love for "rain". But scribbling it out in the margin soon showed me the correct parsing. Still stuck on 1a. It appears pitifully easy from the definition, but I just can't parse it.

    1. Hi Chris,

      I'm having the same problem with 1a. Best I have so far is a synonym for "ramble" rearranged to get the capital of Italy spelled the Italian way.

    2. I'm thinking "through a labyrinth" might be an anagram cue, with the synonym for ramble as fodder.

  5. Also looking for explanation to 1A and 4D.

  6. Re 1a, Chambers has labyrinth as meaning the cavities of the inner ear, so maybe it parses as sounds like roam.

    Enjoyable puzzle today, favorite 13a.

    1. My first instinct was a sound alike. But this is a very obscure cluing.

  7. Hello Falcon and company,
    I agree with the comments about 1A in terms of obscure cluing. Last one in was 5d, a new word for me but derived from parsing the clue. Favourite was 15a - definitely a LOL when I got it. Have seen 18d before, actually an old standby for C&R.

    Thank you for posting Falcon.

  8. A fun one, demanding some enjoyable post-entry parsing (especially 20d and 26a). I didn't understand them all, though. So, thanks, Chris Cudmore for unraveling 4d; for 1d I have the word but can't account for all of its letters. For 1a, I also assumed the labyrinth referred to the inner ear. Last in, 28a - the cherry on top of this Saturday treat.

    1. Think hair or fur that is all tangled up. Back + tangle , then insert guys.

    2. Thank you! It didn't occur to me to think of my three "extra" letters as a verb!

  9. Was I the only one who noticed that every answer contains an "m"? I think I count 23 "m's" in total.

    1. I noticed a lot of "ma". MAybe it's a MAy puzzle.

  10. Hi, everyone! Whew! Finally got it all in. Started early this morning (thanks, Falcon) and had to run errands so just got back to it now. I had the wrong letters in 2 places - 3a ending in IST, and 2d ending in ORM, so of course, had no idea how to get the intersecting words. A lot of help from Google found out the alternate name for needlefish, and Robin's lover, which helped me straighten out the answers. Did I mention I needed a lot of help from our electronic assistants?? I don't know if I would have noticed that 'M' appears in all the answers if I hadn't read it above. So that make's this puzzle mm-mm good?

  11. Hi Falcon!
    Hope this finds you doing well. I had to laugh at your comment re the "resident proofreaders" as the first answer had a error. I guess MG must be on vacation, so here are some things to fix up:

    1a ~ sounds like indicator to be added
    21a * anagram indicator
    28a * anagram indicator
    5d is not an anagram, but add the syllable separation marks
    22d add the inclusion brackets
    Otherwise, not too bad considering the circumstances!

    1. Henry,

      As always, your keen eye is greatly appreciated.