Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009 (DT 26000)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, August 6, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Readers should take careful note of the milestone number of today's puzzle as it figures prominently in the puzzle itself. This puzzle also boasts an unusual feature described in 16a and 1a.

I quite enjoyed the challenge posed by this difficult puzzle. I failed to solve one clue, and some of the wordplay left me scratching my head.

Marking a Milestone

Today's puzzle is number 26000 for the Daily Telegraph. Although there is a very long litany of comments on Big Dave's site in response to this puzzle, it was well worthwhile plowing through to the end where the setter himself dropped by to explain the puzzle. I reproduce here his remarks for the benefit of those who may not have the stamina to follow the thread to its conclusion.
As the setter of the puzzle, may I thank everyone for the input. To mark a number like 26,000, my idea was to do something a little out of the ordinary, but to give plenty of other clues in the quick crossword that accompanied it.

Yes it was harder than usual, but it wasn’t intended to be, given that there were various hints. I guess you had to notice the number of the puzzle.

For everyone, here are the compiling steps:

Grid (the Telegraph has a finite set) was selected because THOUSAND went in at answer 26.

Then LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET (a group of 26).

Then DOUBLE at 13ac. (2×13, no-one’s mentioned that).

Then, all the letters of the alphabet.

Then realised TWENTY could fit, and then, after email with editor, the clue for PRAXIS was written to incorporate SIX.

It’s great to have the feedback, for which I thank you all.

Elgar on Friday is far, far easier, and I never went on “holiday” to avoid you!



By the way, I suspect that the "the quick crossword" referred to in John's remarks might be a parallel set of non-cryptic clues to the puzzle. If I am correct, then readers of the Telegraph would have the option of solving the same puzzle using either the cryptic or non-cryptic clues (or "cheating" by using the non-cryptic clues as additional hints). However, as that would hardly seem to be cricket, especially for the "Saturday" prize puzzles, I may well be mistaken.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

foursome - a Scottish reel for four dancers

shriek - an exclamation mark

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26000].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

13a Like word with two meanings, and big clue to anagrams? (6-6)

The wordplay here is hiding in plain sight - with the anagram being so obvious that I completely missed it. Luckily, I was able to solve the clue based on the definition alone.

24a This sound pierces! (6)

I have to admit that I was unable to solve this clue. I thought the solution might be SCREAM or SCRAPE (e.g., the shrill sound of fingernails on a blackboard or a scrape that pierces the skin), or even SIRENS (although the wording of the clue seemed to rule out a plural).

As it turns out, the punctuation is important to this clue. A SHRIEK is a term used by computer programmers (and perhaps also by typesetters and printers) for an exclamation point. As described by Wikipedia, "Several computer languages use '!' for various meanings, most importantly for logical negation; e.g. A != B means 'A is not equal to B', and !A means 'the logical negation of A' (also called 'not A'). In this context, the exclamation is named the bang character; other programmers call it a shriek or screech. Invented in the US, it is claimed that bang is from Unix and shriek from Stanford or MIT; however, shriek is found in the Oxford English Dictionary dating from the 1860s. Also, bang was used in typesetting or printing and therefore when spelling text out orally the exclamation mark could be called, 'a screamer or a bang.'"

16a & 1a. 26 all in attendance herein for today's 3 6dn (7,2,3,8)

There are lots of cross-references in today's puzzle, but the Arabic numeral "26" is not one of them.

21a Parasite exercising power to spear Burns' hero (8)

Again, I found the solution (TAPEWORM) using only the definition. As for the wordplay, I got no further than mistakenly thinking that "exercising" might be PE (physical education) and "power" might be W (watt).

5d London thoroughfare not entirely blessed by Vera Lynn? (3,4)

A big thank you to Gazza for explaining the connection between THE MALL and Vera Lynn (who sang, "Bless 'em all, bless 'em all").

8d Doctor's aim: get train going west! (8)

"Going west" often appears as a reversal indicator (in a horizontal clue). However, today it plays the role of an anagram indicator - although I'm not sure why it feels it is qualified for the part.

13d Complete trademark at 9, employing computer's ultimate printing method (3,6)

Once again, as at 16a, we find an Arabic numeral (in this case, "9") that is not a cross reference.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009 - Legendary Archer


Today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon features a legendary Swiss archer who is the subject of an opera by Rossini.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

12a Shoemaker hurt returning baking dish (7)

It was fairly easy to figure out the correct solution (RAMEKIN) from the definition (baking dish). However, the wordplay was somewhat more difficult to fathom as I got hung up on the mistaken notion that RAMEK must be an anagram of MAKER. The correct wordplay is provided below.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

"*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted

1a IN|CUB|ATE - IN (at home) CUB (youngster) ATE (consumed)

5a O|TTAW|A< - reversal of (backing) A WATT (power unit) with O (zero)

9a SP|READ OUT - SP (Spanish) READ OUT (data display)

11a _OTHER - bOTHER (trouble) with first letter deleted (after the debut)

12a RAM|EKIN< - reversal of (returning) NIKE (shoemaker) MAR (hurt)

13a RE(GAL)ED - GAL (lass) contained in (in) REED (straw)

14a WILL|I|AM TELL - WILL (desire) I (one) AM (morning) TELL (to give an account of)

19a BO(W AND| A)RROW - BORROW (plagiarize) containing (about) {WAND (wizard's aid) A}

22a R|UDOLPH* - anagram of (roaming) {HOLD UP} after R (mid-March; i.e., middle letter of March)

24a SLIT|HER - SLIT (cut) HER (that lady)

25a AT|LAS_ - AT LASt (finally) with last letter deleted (abridged)

26a R(YE WH*)ISKY - RISKY (dangerous) containing (imbibing) an anagram of (doctored) WHEY

27a TO (DA)TE - TOTE (carry) containing (around) D (Roman numeral for five hundred) and A (one)

28a {STAYED ON}* - anagram of (changed) {SO AND YET}


1d IN(S)ERT - INERT (still) containing (eating) S (piece of steak; i.e., first letter of steak)

2d CH|ROME - CH (church) next to ROME (Vatican site)

3d B|LACK S|WAN - B (bishop; chess piece) LACKS (is missing) WAN (pale)

4d T|HORN - T (tenor) HORN (brass instrument)

6d _THON|G_ - hidden word in (among) maraTHON Gear

7d ACH(ILL)ES - ACHES (is sore) containing (getting) ILL (sick)

8d AIRED|ALE - AIRED (exposed) ALE (beer)

10d T(ER)RIER - ER (hesitation) contained in (in) TRIER (one who tests)

15d LEA(THE)R - THE (article) contained in (received by) LEAR (king)

16d MAWKISHLY* - anagram of (turned) {WASH MILKY}

17d A(BERRA)NT - ANT (insect) containing (circling) BERRA (Yogi Berra: former Major League Baseball player and manager)

18d S|WADDLED - S (son) WADDLED (walked like a duck)

20d CHASED~ - sounds like (in audition) CHASTE (virgin)

21d CR(A)Y|ON - CRY ON (weep continuously) containing (about) A

23d LISZT~ - sounds like (heard) LIST (catalogue); Franz Liszt: Hungarian composer

24d SMELT - DD

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009 (DT 25999)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, August 5, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


The puzzle today was a fair bit easier than some that we have seen recently - but quite enjoyable to do, just the same.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

garden - Brit. a piece of ground adjoining a house, typically cultivated to provide a lawn and flowerbeds (known in North America as a yard)

TA - abbrev. Territorial Army: British volunteer force

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25999].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10a I retain control through lack of any motion (7)

In popular usage inertia is used to mean "lack of any motion". However, to a scientist it has a different meaning, where inertia is "[t]he resistance of a body to changes in its momentum. Because of inertia, a body at rest remains at rest, and a body in motion continues moving in a straight line and at a constant speed, unless a force is applied to it." So, to a scientist, inertia is not a lack of motion, but resistance to a change in motion.

2d An easy win makes you cross (4,4)

Incorrectly choosing PUSH OVER disrupted my progress in the northwest quadrant for a while. I should have known better, as pushover is a single word, is it not - but then again, Oxford shows walkover as a single word.

15d Priority for coppers admitting breaking creed (10)

Either PREFERENCE or PRECEDENCE matches the definition and the checking letters. However, only one satisfies the wordplay.

16d Standard by which to judge American garden staff (9)

The wording of this clue puzzled me, and I was even more confused when I found that Chambers defined yard as "noun 3 N Amer a garden". I thought to myself, "There is no way that a yard is the same thing as a garden". Things eventually became clear when I discovered that what we in North America call a yard, the British would apparently call a garden. For the benefit of British readers, in the context of a North American home, the term garden is generally applied to an area of land specifically used to grow flowers or vegetables - and typically would not include the lawn. A yard is "noun 1. the ground that immediately adjoins or surrounds a house, public building, or other structure", and may consist of the lawn, the garden and even the driveway.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009 (DT 25998)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, August 4, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I managed to solve today's puzzle, but not without considerable effort. Like the Brits, I found the enjoyment factor to be fairly high - but they seemed to find the difficulty of the puzzle much lower than I did.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

chippy - noun Brit. colloq. 2 a carpenter or joiner

CID - abbreviation Criminal Investigation Department, the detective branch of the British police force

DI - abbreviation 2 Detective Inspector

give the bullet to - Collins Thesaurus of the English Language, verb Brit. slang dismiss (thus, getting the bullet would be a dismissal)

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25998].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

13a Cardiopath, robed, taking pulse (5)

Since a cardiopath is "one who suffers from heart disease", did you ever wonder why an osteopath isn't one who suffers from bone disease?

22a He lives, bizarrely, for some people (5)

I definitely agree with Gazza that this is an excellent clue, and my initial impression was that it is - as he characterizes it - an all-in-one clue. However, the more that I think about it, the less convinced I become on that point. In an all-in-one clue, the entire clue can be read in two different ways to produce the solution (as compared to most other clues - cryptic definitions excepted, which must be split into two parts, each of which independently provide the solution). In this clue, the entire clue can be read as a cryptic definition having the solution ELVIS. Furthermore, ELVIS is an anagram of LIVES as flagged by the indicator bizarrely. However, since (as far as I can see) the rest of the wording in the clue is not needed as part of this latter wordplay, this may not qualify as an all-in-one clue. Rather, it might more accurately be classed as a cryptic definition with an anagram embedded within it. I know some would say that one shouldn't get too hung up on rigourously classifying clues, but rather just enjoy solving them - but I guess some of us are just born pedants, I'm afraid. In any event, I believe that the clue at 3d is definitely an all-in-one clue.

23a Cutting tart (9)

This seems to be one of those questionable (in my mind) double definitions where the setter has chosen to use a pair of synonyms in the clue (i.e., tart[3] adjective 2 (of a remark or tone of voice) cutting, bitter, or sarcastic). I believe the most vehement cryptic purists subscribe to the philosophy that, in a double definition, the solution should be a synonym to each of the definitions in the clue without the definitions in the clue being synonyms of each other. However, not all setters adhere to this practice.

I did check in several dictionaries to see if trenchant could possibly take another meaning but could find none.

24a Knaves with Queen in poker, for example (5)

I must confess that I missed the wordplay involving CADS (knaves) with R (Queen) contained within (in) to give CARDS. But once I became aware of that wordplay (from Big Dave's site), I was prompted to wonder if this clue could be considered an all-in-one clue. In one reading, the entire clue could be read as a definition (Knaves - or, in other words, Jacks - and a Queen in poker are examples of CARDS). In the second reading, it can be read as a two-part cryptic clue, where the first part is the R in CADS container-type clue previously mentioned and the second part is "poker, for example" which would be (a game of) CARDS. To answer my own question, I doubt that this qualifies as an all-in-one clue, as I would think to be one that both readings of the clue would likely have to encompass the entire clue as a single entity.

26a Hound bank admitting blunder (7)

Is a terrier a hound? I didn't think so (and can find no evidence of it), but I will leave it to the dog experts to rule on this point.

3d Starts to dole out sedative, easing sickness (5)

This, without doubt, is an all-in-one clue. In one reading, the indicator starts tells as to take the first letter of the words in the phrase "Dole Out Sedative Easing Sickness" to give the solution DOSES. In the second reading, the entire phrase can be interpreted as a definition of DOSES. While "dole out sedative" by itself could mean DOSE, that would put the verb in the wrong person. Therefore "starts" is a critical part of the wordplay to show that the solution is the 3rd person singular of the verb (i.e., DOSES).

4d Detectives lose gangster, getting bullet (9)

I originally thought the solution might be DISMISSED and I spent several minutes in a fruitless attempt to identify a gangster named Ed. Eventually the light went on, when I realized that I should have focused my attention on the ubiquitous crossword gangster Al (Capone).

8d From the start, is a novice mechanic (7)

The solution is hidden (flagged by the indicator from) in the phrase "the stART IS A Novice". However, I have never considered a mechanic ("a skilled worker who repairs and maintains machinery") to be an artisan ("a skilled worker who makes things by hand"). The foregoing definitions come from Oxford and correspond closely to my understanding of the terms. The definitions in Chambers seem to be a bit looser and perhaps give the setter enough wiggle room to make somewhat of a case for the clue. According to Chambers a mechanic is "a skilled worker who repairs, maintains or constructs machinery" and an artisan is "someone who does skilled work with their hands". The definition of mechanic in Chambers would seem to incorporate the duties of a machinist, but I'm not sure I would consider a machinist to be an artisan.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 (DT 25997)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, August 3, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


The National Post today continues its recent practice of skipping the puzzle published in the UK on Saturday. Thus, we leap over DT 25996 which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, August 1, 2009.

Compared to yesterday's puzzle, I must say that the one today was certainly less difficult. Although the Brits seem to have rated today's puzzle as easy, I thought it was still difficult enough to provide an interesting challenge and it did contain some excellent wordplay. And what's not to like about a puzzle that gives us a model, a tart, a pair of tits and some hugging and kissing!

Some Thoughts on Blogging

In writing this blog, I often compose parts of it as I solve the puzzle - and while the ideas are still fresh in my mind. I usually don't visit Big Dave's site until I have completed the puzzle (other than on the occasional instance where if I have reached a complete impasse, I may peek at one or two hints to get me past the roadblock). Thus, I sometimes find myself in a situation where my comments seem to echo those expressed either in the review or in the comments at Big Dave's site. While I could wait until after reading Big Dave's blog to compose my own, I fear that by that time some of the thoughts would have escaped me. If I find that the comments are too similar, I will often delete mine. However, at other times, I will retain them if I think that they elaborate on or emphasize a point that may be unfamiliar to North American readers.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

ancient - (noun, defn. 1) people who lived in ancient times, especially the Greeks, Romans and Hebrews

Sir Charles Blyth - known as Chay Blyth; a Scottish yachtsman and rower, the first person to sail non-stop westwards around the world (1971)

pyjamas - Brit. spelling of pajamas

tanner - Brit. a sixpence (a coin formerly used in Britain)

Today's Links

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25997].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10a Rendered a tune in return for a drink in Spain (7)

Should you think that rendered might be an anagram indicator and that the tune in question might be an ARIA, you need to back up and take another look.

15a PM comes out of No Ten for a break (9)

I enjoyed this clue with its surface reading that mischievously misdirects us to No. 10 Downing Street, the residence and office of the British Prime Minister.

While Tilsit expresses some dissatisfaction with this clue ("'PM comes out' is the definition, although it is a bit contrived, but we’ll allow it as it’s Monday!"), I interpreted the clue a bit differently and had no issue with it. I thought that "PM" was the definition which "comes out of" (equivalent to saying "is contained in" or "is produced by") an anagram (break) of NO TEN FOR A.

Postscript: I note that a couple of similar comments have been left at Big Dave's site.

28a Statesmen may wear them with black ties (7)

In Britain, tuxedos are known as dinner jackets. Thus, in this clue, "statesmen" refers to "men from the United States" who wear TUXEDOS with black ties, whereas in Britain one wears a dinner jacket with a black tie.

24d Join a girl and kiss (5)

I must say that I am not sure that I understand (or agree) with Tilsit's comment "The whole word [ANNEX] can mean to join or separate." The only explanation that I can think of is that he may be considering that territory that is annexed to one country may have been separated from another country (assuming that the totality of the latter country is not annexed to the former country). However, to my way of looking at things, the term annexation (in a linguistic sense) would apply only to the joining of the territory to the conquering country and would have nothing to do with the preceding (or coincidental) separation of the territory from its previous owner.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 (DT 25995)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, July 31, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


It was quite a challenging undertaking today - and especially so for a North American, due to the numerous Briticisms the puzzle contains. But even the Brits found it difficult - Big Dave's site awards it four stars for difficulty, so I feel quite a sense of accomplishment at not only having completed it, but at having understood the wordplay. In the words of Libellule, who writes the review of today's puzzle on Big Dave's blog, "Giovanni [the setter] returned with a vengeance today, and woke all of us up".

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

bob - Brit. shilling, a former unit of currency in the UK

boffin - Brit. a scientist or technical expert

gong - (noun, defn. 2) Brit. a medal or decoration

Hampshire - a county on the south coast of England

Maine Road - former stadium in Manchester, England and once home to Manchester City F.C. (Football Club)

maths - Brit. short for mathematics (the equivalent term in North America would be math)

John Stuart Mill - English philosopher

millpond - (noun, defn. 2) Brit. (?) a very still and calm stretch of water (a possible Briticism as I only found this sense of the word appearing in British dictionaries - Chambers, Oxford and Collins)

OBE - Brit. (Officer of the) Order of the British Empire, an award given to honour personal or professional excellence, or services to the country

Oberon - a legendary king of the fairies in medieval and Renaissance literature

poly - (noun, defn. 2) Brit. a polytechnic: an institution of higher education offering courses at degree level or below (little used after 1992, when British polytechnics became able to call themselves ‘universities’)

post - Brit. letters and parcels delivered (or to be delivered) by the Post Office (i.e., mail in North America)

s - abbreviation (defn. 2) formerly in the UK: a shilling or shillings

scruff - Brit. a scruffy person

signpost - verb Brit. to indicate (a place or feature) with a signpost

Marie Stopes - Scottish campaigner for women's rights and pioneer in the field of family planning

sundry - (Collins English Dictionary, noun, defn. 2) an Australian name for extra (while the definition in Collins points to definition [6] for extra "something that is better than usual in quality", Collins English Dictionary, noun, defn. 6, I would conclude from Libellule's remarks on Big Dave's blog that the cross-reference is incorrect and it should actually point to definition [5] for extra "Cricket a run not scored from the bat, such as a wide, no-ball, bye, or leg bye" Collins English Dictionary, noun, defn. 5)

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25995].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

11a Appear "lacking," as one might say, without a stitch on (8)

Here the wordplay is:

SEEM (appear) LESS (lacking) sounds like (as one might say) SEAMLESS

As for the meaning of the remainder, there is some discussion at Big Dave's site on that topic. Libellule wonders, "Hmmm, not sure if this works…." One writer suggests "If you “stitch on” a piece of cloth to another you form a seam. A piece of cloth with no seams has no “stitch on”."

I did check to see if "stitch on" might be a noun meaning something stitched on, but failed to find such a meaning in any dictionary that I consulted.

For me, "seamless material" would be "material with no stitch on it". Therefore the wording appears incomplete to me without the final pronoun "it". But including the "it" would mess up the surface reading, which evokes the image of nakedness ("without a stitch on").

Although unlikely, perhaps this an example of a regional dialect. People from the Lunenburg area of Nova Scotia typically omit final pronouns. I always find it a bit strange to hear them say things such as "If you're going downtown, can I come with?", dropping the pronoun "you".

21 Indicate what executive must do before letters can go out? (8)

One responsibility of an executive is to "sign post" before it is posted (mailed). The British also use "signpost" as a verb meaning "to indicate" - a meaning not common (if it exists at all) in North America. This is worth noting since Libellule, in his review, refers to "an indicator that displays information" (i.e., a noun). While this may be perfectly acceptable, given that it is merely intended as a hint, the clue actually calls for a verb, not a noun. North Americans should take note that "signpost" can also be a verb in the UK.

25a In Oz, an extra source of heat - what it will do! (6)

Libellule indicates that the Australian use of "sundry" in the sense of "extra" is a cricket term. Since I would never purport to contradict the Brits on anything to do with cricket, I must assume that the definition for this Australian term in Collins English Dictionary (see Today's Glossary) is cross-referenced to the wrong definition of "extra" as the the meaning to which one is referred has nothing to do with cricket. Assuming Libellule is correct, the cross-reference in Collins should point to meaning [5] of extra rather than meaning [6].

8d Tall building I look to go up in August? (8)

Libellule questions this clue "How you can equate a large block of stone with a “tall building” is I think pushing it a bit.". However, Chambers defines "monolith" as "1 a single, tall block of stone, especially one shaped like or into a column or pillar. 2 anything resembling one of these in its uniformity, immovability or massiveness. " Thus, under the latter definition, a tall building could certainly be a monolith.

While I had no problem with the definition, I did briefly question the arbitrary use of August to mean month. However, upon reflection I realized that August has been chosen to support the surface reading and the fact that it is capitalized should be a flag that it is the name of a month.

14d Monstrous guise ogre conjured up (9)

The principal hurdle here may be deciding whether "monstrous" is the anagram indicator and "conjured up" the definition or vice versa.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009 (DT 25994)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, July 30, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Today the National Post skips over a couple of puzzles (DT 25992 and DT 25993, published in the UK on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 and Wednesday, July 29, 2009 respectively).

One might say that it was a rather gentle puzzle today. However, one that generated a lot of controversy about some of the unusual (to put it charitably) anagram indicators to be found in this puzzle. I had marked this as an item worth commenting on - but the Brits have already said everything I had in mind - and more.

Making a Case ...

Today, we see several examples of clues which indicate that one should discard all but the first and last letters of a word. In 3d, we have "court case" signifying that we need the exterior letters of "court" (i.e., CT). In 18d, "refuse to be disheartened" indicates that the interior letters of "refuse" are to be deleted, leaving RE. Finally, in 19d, "those outside" tells us to use the outer letters of "those", namely TE.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Inspector Morse - Fictional British detective

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25994].

My apologies for the screw-up on Friday's blog in the link to Big Dave's site. The problem has now been rectified.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

24a Pollution caused by cats and dogs? (4,4)

This clue generated a fair amount of negative comment from visitors to Big Dave's site. The major complaint seemed to be that while "cats and dogs" effectively clued the "rain" part of ACID RAIN, there seems to be no wordplay to account for "acid". May I dare to suggest that reworking the clue a bit to give "Pollution caused by biting cats and dogs?" might satisfy the critics.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009 - Songbirds


In today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon, we are presented with a quartet of songstresses, two of whom hail from Canada and two from the U.S.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

22a Cherub goes inside for fruit (7)

While "to" can be used in many senses (with Infoplease listing 22 as a preposition and five as an adverb), I had some difficulty convincing myself that "to" might mean "for". I finally settled on definition 13 as a preposition, in which the example "Where is the top to this box?" could equally be phrased as "Where is the top for this box?".

14d Singer from Johnson era in new arrangement (5,5)

The surface reading of this clue may be a bit fanciful, as Norah Jones was born in 1979 - long after the Johnson era had passed. Lyndon B. Johnson was President of the United States from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 until he was succeeded by President Richard M. Nixon in January 1969.

16d Mister Glass's last hope (7)

I thought Mister Glass might be a chain of auto glass repair shops (similar to Speedy Glass). However, a Google search turns up only a few independent auto glass repair shops around the U.S. and Canada bearing this name, which are unlikely to be well known outside their immediate vicinity. Thus this name would almost certainly appear not to belong to a major chain. Perhaps the name was just contrived by the setters to suit the surface reading.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

"*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted

1a {CELINE DION}* - anagram of (convertible) {NIECE IN OLD}; Celine Dion: Canadian singer

6a _ARIA_ - hidden in (covered by) mARIAh; possibly Mariah Carey: American singer

9a L(UP)INES - UP (arisen) contained in (in) LINES (rows)

10a DISDAIN* - anagram of (revamped) {IN ADS ID}

12a O|RATION - O (doughnut) RATION (allotment); Cicero: Roman orator

13a I(DIO)M - IM containing (embracing) DIO (God in Italian)

15a O|VERSE|E - O (love) VERSE (poetry) E (Eliot's first; i.e., first letter of Eliot)

17a LEANDER - hidden in (in) sabLE AND ERmine; Hero and Leander: tragic lovers of Greek myth

18a A|P(PARE)L - PARE (strip) contained in (in) A PL (place)

21a MA(HAT)MA - MAMA (mom) containing (is boxing) HAT (headwear)

23a JETTY - DD

24a RUSSIAN* - anagram of (crazy) {AS IS RUN}

27a NAT<|URAL - URAL (river to the Caspian) following (after) {NAT = TAN (brown) reversed (turning) }

28a A(C)CRETE - C (Roman numeral for 100) contained in (in) A CRETE (Greek island)

29a SAPS< - reversal of (brought back) SPAS (health resorts)

30a {DINAH SHORE}~ - sounds like (said) DINE ASHORE; Dinah Shore: American singer


1d CELL_ - CELLO (Yo-Yo Ma's instrument) with last letter deleted (almost); Yo-Yo Ma: French-born American cellist

2d LA|P ROBE - LA (Los Angeles) PROBE (search)

3d _NINJA_ - hidden in (conceals) maN IN JAil

4d DESPITE - DD; despite: noun spite, malice

5d OR(DIN)AL - ORAL (kind of test) containing (interrupted by) DIN (noise)

7d RE(A|DIE)D - A DIE (cube) contained in (in) RED (crimson)

8d {ANNE MURRAY}* - anagram of (lousy) {A MERRY NUN A}; Anne Murray: Canadian singer

11d SPINACH* - anagram of (flying) {CHAPS IN}

14d {NORAH JONES}* - anagram of (in new arrangement) {JOHNSON ERA}; Norah Jones: American singer

16d S|PRAYER - S (glass's last; i.e., last letter of glass) PRAYER (hope); see also Comments on Today's Puzzle

19d PIT STOP< reversal of (back) {POTS (vessels) TIP}

20d LORE|LEI - LORE (learning) LEI (wreath of flowers); Lorelei: a siren, in German legend, said to dwell on a rock at the edge of the Rhine south of Koblenz, who lures boatmen to destruction

21d M(A|SCAR)A - A SCAR (flaw) contained in (in) MA (Mom)

22d T(ANGEL)O - ANGEL (cherub) contained in (goes inside) TO (for); see also Comments on Today's Puzzle

25d INCAS* - anagram of (trash) {CAN IS}

26d GERE - sounds like (vocal) GEAR (equipment): Richard Gere: American actor

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009 (DT 25991)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, July 27, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


In accordance with its practice of recent weeks, the National Post has skipped over DT 25990 which was published in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, July 25, 2009.

It was, on the whole, a somewhat easier puzzle today. However, I got stuck it the northeast quadrant with a series of intersecting clues that defied solution. To break the gridlock, I peeked at a hint at Big Dave's site. Once I had the answer to that clue, the remainder of the puzzle fell into place quite easily.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Sir Donald Bailey - English civil engineer who invented the Bailey bridge

fly - (entry 3) Brit. cunning, smart

half - (noun, defn. 3) Brit. half a pint of beer

Old Bailey - the Central Criminal Court in London, where the most serious cases are usually tried

scene-shifter - a person who changes the scenery in a theatre (similar the reference cited, most sources spell this word without a hyphen)

Today's Links

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25991] (apologies for the incorrect link that was originally posted and thank you to Big Dave for bringing the error to my attention - Falcon).

In case you are wondering, B&Q is "a British retailer of do-it-yourself and home improvement tools and supplies".

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

20a A bit to drink? (4,2,6)

Whereas I would order "half a pint of beer" to drink, the Brits would ask for "half a bitter". In the wordplay, of course, "bit" is also "half of bitter". Not being familiar with this expression, I struggled to find the solution here. I was fairly confident that the answer was of the form HALF XX BITTER, but I had trouble figuring out what XX is. The intersecting entry (5d) was of no help as it was causing me grief also.

24a Go in for chips without fish (5)

The wordplay, which is explained by Tilsit in his review, relies on the "fact" that Chips is apparently a common nickname for a carpenter - something I would never have guessed in a month of Sundays.

25a Low joint where a cap is worn (4)

I thought this clue might have been more effectively worded "Low joint where a cap may be worn" (i.e., damaged). The clue, as worded by the setter, seems to be merely suggesting that a cap exists on the knee (but does a knee "wear" a cap?). Altering the wording ever so slightly, allows the wordplay to encompass the idea of damage to the kneecap.

31a Exclude crafty frequenter of pubs (6)

Tilsit identifies fly as "a word more often used in the USA to mean 'crafty'". However, I have no idea from where he draws this notion. I have certainly never encountered the word used in this sense and several dictionaries clearly indicate that this meaning for the word is of British origin:
5d He has a moving part to play in the theatre (5-7)

I saw through the wordplay, but I had never heard of a "scene-shifter" (or sceneshifter, as it would appear to be more commonly spelled). I initially thought that the first part might be STAGE, but later was also considering SCENE. STAGE-MANAGER for a while seemed to be a pretty good fit; and then, for a time, I thought it might be SCENE-CHANGER. When I got really desperate, I even briefly considered STAGE-WHISPER.

7d Bridge expert in court (6)

With 7d, 8d and 10a unsolved, I was at an impasse. A hint from Tilsit allowed me to solve 7d, and the other two clues were then easily solved. I think that knowing the solution to any one of these three clues would have made the remaining two solvable.

By the way, there is a fair amount of discussion on Big Dave's blog concerning this clue - including a contribution from the setter himself. However, in the end, the reader may be left a bit confused as there appears to be no clear outcome to the discussion. My conclusion, after having read through it all, is that this is a cryptic definition that takes the form of an indirect hidden word clue with the word "in" being the hidden word indicator. The "bridge expert" is BAILEY (Sir Donald Bailey, inventor of the Bailey bridge) and "court" is Old Bailey. Consequently, BAILEY (the bridge expert) is clearly found "in" Old Bailey (the court).

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009 (DT 25989)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, July 24, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


It was quite a difficult puzzle today, especially for those not familiar with the myriad (5a) British terms and expressions it contained. Upon completion, I was left wondering about the wordplay in 18d.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

A-level - Brit. The later of two standardized tests in a secondary school subject, used as a qualification for entrance into a university

barney - Brit. a noisy quarrel

chronic - Brit. very bad (e.g., "The film was chronic.")

con - (entry 2) to read over and learn by heart

Ernesto "Che" Guevara - Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary

jotter - Brit. a small notebook

M - abbrev. cricket maiden (or, more formally, maiden over): an over (a series of six balls bowled by the same bowler from the same end of the pitch) from which no runs are scored

OM - abbrev. Brit. (Member of the) Order of Merit

pins - (noun, defn. 10) legs

postcode - Brit. a group of letters and numbers added to a postal address to assist the sorting of mail (known in Canada as a postal code and in the US as a ZIP code)

public school - Brit. a private fee-paying secondary school (known in North America as a private school)

Radley College - an English public school in Radley, Oxfordshire, England

S - (entry 2, defn. 2) abbrev. saint

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25989].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

18d Like a flat perhaps with nurse, awfully neat inside (8)

The wordplay is TEND (nurse) containing (with ... inside) an anagram (awfully) of NEAT (i.e., ANTE) to give the solution TENANTED. However, sometimes one can't seem to see the obvious - or, as my mother used to say, "If it were any plainer, it would jump up and bite you". While I saw that there must be an anagram of "neat" in the solution, there are several possible sets of letters that could qualify. For nurse, I was looking for RN, but failing that I settled for N. That left TED unaccounted for, and despite the teeth marks on my leg, I still could not see where it fit in. After discovering the solution on Big Dave's blog, I now have self-imposed kick marks to go with the bites.

30a Boy gets led astray inside public school (6)

Don't be led astray thinking that the public school must be the virtually ubiquitous Eton, for today it is not. There is a fair amount of discussion on Big Dave's blog regarding the "fairness" of this clue, with one writer commenting "Sadly for the people living in other countries they haven’t [lived near Oxford for a while and knew 30a existed], and the Telegraph is read all over the world!" However, speaking for myself, Radley was the least of my problems, as I was able to identify it with merely two or three clicks of the mouse. Far more difficult, were Briticisms like jotter, barney, and most especially chronic.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 (DT 25988)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, July 23, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I initially thought that today's puzzle was going to be relatively easy (at least when compared to what was served up to us yesterday). I got off to a great start, rapidly completing most of the bottom half. But, as for the upper half, I found it to be almost as difficult as yesterday's puzzle. Since the Brits thought today's puzzle was much easier, perhaps my problem was due to the fairly large number of British terms (and British spellings, e.g., whinger) with which I was unfamiliar. I completed the puzzle - but with somewhat of a question mark regarding the wordplay at 7d.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

bung - Brit. slang a bribe

feel the draught - to be short of money

flexitime - Brit. (?) alternative spelling of flextime

may - (entry 2 or 3 - depending on how one chooses to count, defn. 1) the blossom of the hawthorn tree. Also called mayflower in the UK. In North America, the trailing arbutus (which you may recall from yesterday's puzzle) is what we call a mayflower.

May queen - a young woman crowned with flowers, chosen to preside over May Day festivities

po-faced - Brit. humourless and disapproving

pull - (verb, defn. 16) Brit. (?) slang to pick up (a sexual partner)

tin - (noun, defn. 6) Brit. slang money

the tube - (noun, defn. 4) Brit. the underground railway system in London, England

underground - (noun, defn. 1) Brit. an underground railway (i.e., subway)

whinger - Brit. one who complains persistently and peevishly (spelled whiner in North America)

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25988].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

17a Pretty girls seeing bees on blossom (3,6)

Gazza indicates in his review that May 1 is "the day when workers are honoured all over the world". Maybe everywhere but North America, where Labour Day is celebrated in Canada and Labor Day in the U.S. on the first Monday in September. Furthermore, May Day in its other sense is also not widely celebrated in North America. That is such a pity, as I could definitely go for a holiday where pretty girls wear flowers in their hair and dance around a maypole.

Apparently, May Day is (or was at one time, at least) celebrated in some parts of the U.S. Wikipedia says "May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the United States, May Baskets are made. These baskets are small and usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone's doorstep. The basket giver would ring the bell and run away. The person receiving the basket would try to catch the fleeing giver. If they caught the person, a kiss was to be exchanged." Definitely, a custom worth reviving.

19a Rumoured to be full of promise initially, and tasty (5)

I have always had difficulty with the word "sapid" as, for some unknown reason, just the sound of the word conveys to me the exact opposite sense to what the word actually means.

4d Contract on single enemy - hours to suit! (9)

The solution is FLEX (contract) before (on, in a down clue) I (single) TIME (enemy) produces FLEXITIME (hours to suit).

According to the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898), "How goes the enemy?" or "What says the enemy?" are (or were at the end of the 19th century) ways of asking "What time is it?" (or, apparently in the language of the day, "What o'clock is it?"). This allusion seemingly arises from the adage, "Time is the enemy of man, especially of those who are behind time." I presume that E. Cobham Brewer was the compiler of the Dictionary and not the originator of the expression. As no other attribution is provided, perhaps the origin of the phrase is unknown.

7d Material for publication, for example, on South Africa (7)

If only I had taken the trouble to visit Big Dave's Mine, my question would have been answered. ZA is the international vehicle registration code for South Africa.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 (DT 25987)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, July 22, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Either the clues were especially obscure or I was particularly obtuse but I found most of today's puzzle to be extremely difficult. I finished about a third of the puzzle fairly readily but at that point I seemed to hit a brick wall. Although I did eventually complete the puzzle, it was only done through a lot of hard work and I was left with questions about some of the wordplay. I must say that on completion I felt more a sense of relief than of accomplishment. It was indeed gratifying to read Big Dave's assessment, "Even the seasoned pros amongst you will find this difficult!".

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

duck - (noun, defn. 5) cricket a batsman's score of zero

ducks - (noun, defn. 4b) Brit. a term of endearment or (loosely) of address

How's your father? - Brit. slang euphemism for sexual intercourse

Peter Oosterhuis - English golfer

Little Venice - nickname for part of the Maida Vale area of central London. "The southern part of Maida Vale around Paddington Basin, a junction of three canals with many houseboats, is known as Little Venice".

the other - Brit. slang euphemism for sexual intercourse (while the reference is Irish, I am quite sure that this term is also used in the UK)

Porterhouse Blue - a 1974 satirical novel by Tom Sharpe dealing with life at Cambridge University

Spurs - Tottenham Hotspur F.C., an English football (soccer) club

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25987].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

4a Your crooked mates smuggled in a gem (8)

Like Big Dave, I always find the style of construction used in this bit of wordplay to be counter-intuitive. That is, it is my natural inclination to expect THY (your) to contain AMEST (crooked mates) rather than vice versa. However, when one thinks carefully about it, the structure of the wordplay is pretty much equivalent to the phrase "Contraband smugglers concealed" where I don't think there is any ambiguity about who is concealing what.

12a One Roman assassin's head turned by something creepy in the garden (7)

The solution ARBUTUS (or more fully, creeping arbutus) is commonly known as the mayflower and is the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. Given that this is a North American plant, I had to wonder how the ship known as the Mayflower (on which the Pilgrims sailed) got its name. It seems that in Britain there are various other plants, including the hawthorn, which are known as mayflower.

18a Tripe from hand to mouth (8)

Big Dave foresees "trouble in store for overseas solvers with this slang term for mouth!". Not at all, trap is a very common term in North America for mouth, as in "Shut your ugly trap, or I'll shut it for you!" meaning "Shut up or I'll punch you out.".

26a Darling, we won't trouble the scorers (5)

I presume that ducks (scores of zero in cricket) won't trouble the scorers because they don't have to go to the trouble of changing the figures on the scoreboard.

5d Giver and taker of orders, I'm first to read Porterhouse Blue? (6,8)

As Big Dave so aptly surmised ("I bet you didn’t get this one from the wordplay!"), I found the solution from matching the checking letters and then reverse engineering the wordplay (or at least part of it). Even with the correct solution in hand, I wasn't able to completely sort out the wordplay. I could see that there was obviously some connection to "religious orders". Furthermore, while I did recognize the existence of the anagram, I'm not sure what (aside from the fact that Big Dave seems to have enjoyed the novel) qualifies "blue" to be an anagram indicator; certainly, "orders" would appear to be a far more logical (though incorrect) choice. For a brief moment, I also thought that "I'm first" might be suggesting "superior", but that also seems not to be the case. But thankfully Big Dave explains all in his blog.

7d The elderly admitting dreadful drag covers a measured area (7)

Surely "yardage" is a measured length and not a measured area. In fact, that is the way it is defined in most dictionaries. However, Chambers (seemingly the Holy Bible to DT crossword setters) does define yardage as "the length (or (rare [emphasis theirs]) the area or volume) of something, measured in yards".

9d The other relative question for art house - why fake? (4,4,6)

The solution, HOW'S YOUR FATHER, is an anagram of FOR ART HOUSE WHY which is signalled by the anagram indicator "fake". "How's your father?" seemingly is a British euphemism for sexual intercourse. Gazza, in his comments on Big Dave's Blog, provides a most amusing explanation of the "alleged" origin of this phrase. "The other" is yet another British slang term for sexual intercourse. Thus "the other relative question" can be interpreted as "a question involving a relative concerning the subject of sexual intercourse" or, in other words, "How's your father?".

Of course, I was not aware of the above while I was attempting to solve the clue. As a result, I expended a great deal of time on it, and even though I seem to have spent most of it off on a wild goose chase, the experience perhaps serves as good fodder for the blog. While it didn't take me too long to find what I thought was the solution to this clue, my answer turned out to be incorrect. This error caused me to spend a lot of time fruitlessly trying to decipher the wordplay for this clue, and a lot more time on attempting to solve the intersecting clue 10a. My initial (incorrect) answer was WHO'S YOUR FATHER - my thinking being that "other relative" was signalling a change from the expression "Who's your mother". Despite there being countless references on the Internet to "Who's your mother?", "Who's your mama?", "Who's yo' mamma?", and many other similar permutations and combinations, I could find no reference that actually defined what this expression meant or from where it was derived. The most interesting and informative reference I found is this one from The Washington Post which deals with the expression, "Who's your daddy?".

Anyway, after spinning my wheels for a long while on 10a, I eventually discovered that the correct solution to 9d is HOW'S YOUR FATHER rather than WHO'S YOUR FATHER.

After subsequently solving 5d, it occurred to me that the setter might have intended clues 5d and 9d to be viewed as a pair, being the two longest clues and occupying a central position in the puzzle. Thus since 5d dealt with "mother", it might seem appropriate that 9d deals with "the other relative", namely "father". If this indeed was the intent, it failed to help me as I tackled the clues in the reverse order (9d before 5d). However, based on Gazza's comments, I suspect that I may be reading something into the puzzle that was not intended by the setter.

By the way, I have no idea what Big Dave means in his review by the statement "the other as in something that you can’t remember what it is called".

16d Suitable output for the Stones? (4,5)

I know The Who composed a rock opera (Tommy) but what about The Rolling Stones? I suppose that the question mark at the end of the clue might suggest the scenario is hypothetical.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009 (DT 25986)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, July 21, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


My performance on today's puzzle was somewhat less than stellar. However, I can take satisfaction from the fact that the clues with which I had problems were also the ones with which many of the Brits had difficulty. Like many of those who left comments on Big Dave's blog, it was the north-east quadrant that caused me grief. If you follow the link to Big Dave's Blog, you will actually find a couple of clues explained by the setter himself.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

David Cameron - leader of the British Conservative Party

newmarket - Brit. a card game named after Newmarket, the Suffolk racing town

on the pull - Brit. attempting to attract someone sexually

pontoon - Brit. a card game in which players try to acquire cards with a value totalling twenty-one (known in North America as blackjack, twenty-one or vingt-et-un)

shower - (noun, defn. 6) Brit. an incompetent or worthless group of people

tenner - Brit. a ten-pound note

tombola - Brit. a game in which tickets are drawn from a revolving drum to win prizes

wenching - (verb, defn. 2) going courting or associating with girls

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25986].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

1a Character study, perhaps (11)

I believe that I initially solved this clue on the basis that COMPOSITION is the only word that matches the checking letters (and, even with one of the checking letters missing, there was really no other viable option). My explanation for the wordplay was similar to that put forward in Gazza's review. However, as the setter explains in his reply to Gazza's post, the clue is actually a double definition. In the first definition, composition is used in the sense of character, constitution, or make-up (as in "One's composition may be tested by trying times"). In the second definition, composition is used in the art world sense of a study (as per Gazza's explanation). I think this is one of those cases where one either "gets it" or not. Many of the Brits seemed to remain sceptical even after receiving the explanation from the setter - who admitted that it was perhaps not the best of clues!

10a Come to from anaesthetic? (7)

I failed to recognize that "come to" could mean number. Therefore, I attempted to construct a rather convoluted explanation of the wordplay, along the lines of "Come to [this state] through the use of (i.e., from) an anaesthetic". That is, after using an anaesthetic, one is in a number state than before using it. Not elegant - but the best I could manage to do.

17a Walk beside the seaside (9)

While the "correct" answer is ESPLANADE, there were many (including myself) who originally supposed the solution to be PROMENADE. In fact, the latter seems to better match the clue than the "real" solution. Again the setter provided an explanation on Big Dave's Blog, in which he states that Chambers shows esplanade as a synonym of walk. If my inference is correct, he seems to imply that there are two elements to this clue - ESPLANADE as a walk (based on Chambers) and ESPLANADE as being beside the seaside. However, given that an esplanade is a particular kind of walk (i.e., one beside the seaside), this argument breaks down and there really are not two parts to this clue. By the way, it is interesting to note that one of the major office complexes in downtown Ottawa is called L'esplanade Laurier and it is neither a walk nor beside the seaside.

4d Small butts providing thrills (5)

I kicked myself in the butt for not being able to see the answer to this clue. After an endless search for the answer, I had to fall back on Gazza's hints for the solution.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009 - Astronomy 101


Today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon presents a pantheon of astronomers and related scientists.

Today's Glossary

Abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions found in today's puzzle that may be unfamiliar, especially to overseas readers

tosspot - a drunkard

Today's Astronomers and Other Scientists

Hipparchus - (second century BCE) Greek astronomer who mapped the position of 850 stars in the earliest known star chart. His observations of the heavens form the basis of Ptolemy's geocentric cosmology.

Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus) - (2nd century CE) Alexandrian astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who based his astronomy on the belief that all heavenly bodies revolve around the earth.

Nicolaus Copernicus - (1473-1543) Polish astronomer who advanced the theory that Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun, disrupting the Ptolemaic system of astronomy.

Galileo Galilei - (1564-1642) Italian astronomer and mathematician who was the first to use a telescope to study the stars. He was forced by the Inquisition to recant his support of the Copernican system.

Johannes Kepler - (1571-1630) German astronomer and mathematician. Considered the founder of modern astronomy, he formulated three laws to describe how the planets revolve around the sun.

Sir Isaac Newton - (1642-1727) English mathematician and scientist who invented differential calculus and formulated the theory of universal gravitation, a theory about the nature of light, and three laws of motion.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

12a Boozers as far as southern locales (8)

I'm not sure if the British use tosspot in the sense of drunkard, a meaning which seems to found in pretty well all of the American dictionaries. The word is not to be found in the online Oxford, Chambers or Macmillan dictionaries. However, it is in the Collins which gives the following definitions, "1. Archaic or literary a habitual drinker" and "2. Brit slang a stupid or contemptible person".

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

"*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted

1a NEWT|ON - ON (running) after NEWT (amphibian)

4a F(J)ORDS - J (jack, in a deck of cards) contained in (goes into) FORDS (shallow places)

9a P(OTHER)B - PB (chemical symbol for the element lead) containing (about) OTHER (additional)

10a G|ALI|LEO - G (general, military rank) ALI (boxer Muhammad Ali) LEO (name of numerous popes)

11a R|OUST - R (right) OUST (boot)

12a TO|S|SPOTS - TO (as far as) S (southern) SPOTS (locales)

13a HIPPARCHUS - HIP (cool) and PARCH (dry) US (American)

15a I|DO|L - I DO (exchanged vow) with L {first letter of lady (lady at the front)}

18a TAP|E - TAP (knock) E (English)

20a COPE(RN)ICUS - COPE (manage) ICUS {Intensive Care Units (hospital wards)} containing (engaging) RN {Registered Nurse (nurse)}

23a CAST|A|NET - CAST (registered) A NET (profit)

25a MERIT* - anagram of (new) TIMER

27a PT(O|L)EMY* - O (nothing) L (left) contained in (in) anagram of (plastic) EMPTY

28a A|R(CAN)UM - contained in (in) A RUM (form of liquor), CAN (preserve)

29a CINEMA* - anagram of (reworked) ICEMAN

30a KE(PL)ER< - PL (place) contained in (in) KEER {REEK (stink) reversed (reversing)}


1d NO T|RUMP - NOT (other than) RUMP (bottom)

2d WHEAT|EAR - WHEAT (some cereal) and EAR (some corn)

3d OR|BIT - OR BIT (routine)

5d JA(LOP)Y - LOP (cut) contained in (into) JAY (bird)

6d RE(LATE)D - RED (communist) containing (about) LATE (past)

7d S|TOW - S (small) TOW (tug)

8d OP(E)RA H|A|T - E (error, baseball term) contained in (in) OPRAH (talk show, hosted by American television personality Oprah Winfrey) A T (true)

10d GESTURE* - anagram of (excitedly) GREET US

14d CLO(ONE)Y - CLOY (get treacly) containing (about) ONE (single); CLOONEY (movie and television heartthrob George Clooney, actor in Ocean's Eleven)

16d L(O|SE T)IME - O (hoop) SET (placed) contained in (in) LIME (green)

17d INIMICAL* - anagram of (novel) I (one) CLAIM IN

19d PLATO|ON - PLATO (philosopher) ON (active)

21d COR(O)NER - CORNER (angle) containing (about) O (cipher)

22d STREAM* - anagram of (dancing) MASTER

24d T|RACE - T {last letter of (end of) great} RACE (contest)

26d EPIC - hidden word (in) found in "thE PICture"

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009 (DT 25985)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, July 20, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Once again, the National Post has skipped the puzzle appearing in the UK on Saturday (which possibly may be confirmation of a new pattern of publication). The missing puzzle is DT 25984, published in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, July 18, 2009.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, although it seems to have drawn mixed reviews from the Brits. However, I was not able to complete the puzzle, as - having made an error at 3d - I was totally flummoxed by 10a.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

the gods - Brit. theatre the highest areas of a theatre such as the upper balconies

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25985].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10a Uttered in a death rattle (10)

This is definitely a very nice clue - one that many of the Brits picked as their clue of the day. Unfortunately, my error at 3d totally handicapped me on this one.

15a Staff dance centre (7)

Having got the first two letters from the intersecting down entries, I thought the solution might begin with MAN (staff). It took a while to discover that I had the wrong type of staff in mind.

16a Become entangled with a writer of music (5)

Strangely, this clue could equally well have been worded "Become unentangled from a writer of music"! The solution, RAVEL, is one of those words in the English language that is its own antonym. Ravel can mean to unravel; it can mean either to entangle or to disentangle, to clarify or to confuse. Words like this must drive ESL students absolutely bonkers!

18a A natural aptitude is present (4)

What is a four-letter word meaning present? Maybe here, but not in this case.

27a Printer is kind to a crossword compiler (10)

Once I had eliminated typewriter, I was on the right track.

3d Stop and have a drink (6)

My solution here fit so well that I unfortunately never considered the possibility that it might be wrong. Squash is a British fruit drink (remembered from a previous puzzle) and also means to suppress or put down (i.e., stop).

4d Letter from America? (7)

Letter here is used in the sense of "one who lets", or in other words, one who rents out property. It would seem that "estate agents" in Britain are involved in both the sale and rental of property. The basis of the clue seems to be that the equivalent profession in American would be a Realtor. Realtor is actually a trademarked term for a real estate broker or agent belonging to a particular industry association, although (like many other trademarks such as Kleenex) it has virtually become a generic term. For residential properties, I would say that the two functions of a British estate agent are largely separated in North America, with the sale of property handled by real estate brokers and agents (realtors) and the renting of property the purview of rental agents or property managers. However, perhaps realtors might be more involved in the rental of commercial properties.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009 (DT 25983)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, July 17, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I found today's puzzle to be a bit toward the more difficult side of the scale - certainly a much greater challenge than yesterday's. However, I did very much enjoy this puzzle, and I definitely felt a strong sense of satisfaction on having completed it.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

CH - abbrev. Companion of Honour: member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, an order of the Commonwealth realms; despite the impression one might get from most dictionaries, this is apparently not an exclusively British decoration - a point on which I recently elaborated in my Ottawa Citizen Cryptic Crossword Forum blog.

Hyde Park - a large park in London, England, famous for its Speakers' Corner

shattered - completely exhausted (this may well be a Briticism, as this meaning seems to appear only in the British dictionaries)

Wesleyan - relating to or denoting the teachings of the English preacher John Wesley (1703-91) or the main branch of the Methodist Church which he founded

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25983].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

1d What may be trumpeted as the ultimate appointment (4,4)

This would have been a most appropriate clue to have appeared yesterday, Remembrance Day in Canada.

Signing off for today - Falcon