Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010 (DT 26161)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, February 11, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


Despite it being a relatively easy puzzle today - Big Dave's site awards it two stars for difficulty - I once again hit the wall with two clues remaining unsolved. However, the solutions to those clues were easily found with the aid of a word search tool from my Tool Chest. Interestingly, these clues (27a and 17d) are the same ones that several visitors to Big Dave's blog identify as their final clues to be solved.

The setter may have been sitting on the fence today as I note he (or she) puts forward views from various angles (at 30a and 23d).

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Solutions:

Seve Ballasteros - Spanish professional golfer

cub - noun 3 old use, derogatory an impudent young man

fit1 - adjective 4 Brit. informal sexually attractive

minster - noun a large or important church, typically one of cathedral status in the north of England that was built as part of a monastery

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26161].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

13a Boy and father returned to confess (5)

Although I haven't found it in any dictionary, I believe that "da" meaning father is probably a British expression - perhaps chiefly Scottish or Irish. It may well be a contraction of dad and written da'. It is certainly an expression that one often hears in British films and television programs. As I recall, it also appeared in another puzzle not long ago.

27a Reveal highly attractive dress (6)

In Britain, apparently, the word fit is used to describe someone who is sexually attractive (see Today's Glossary). In North America, describing someone as being "fit" merely means that they are in good physical condition - and does not carry a strong sexual connotation. Here, someone who is especially sexually attractive might be said to be "hot".

29a In front of son, Ballasteros, holding driver finally, puts the ball into play (6)

Having retired from professional golf (at least, temporarily), it would appear that Spanish golfer Seve Ballasteros has moved from the links to the courts. However, he would be well advised to ditch the driver for a tennis racket.

8d Times quoting E-lister initially on the front - sensational! (8)

I didn't know what the setter intended by the term "E-lister", although it really didn't seem to matter as the clue would work with any word beginning with "E" replacing this word. Wikipedia redirects searches for "e-list" to an entry for electronic mailing list while search engines return results which suggest a variety of possible web-related meanings for "e-lister" including someone who lists items for sale on electronic auction sites such as eBay. It also occurred to me that it might have some connection with the term "A-list" as used when referring to celebrities. As it turns out, the latter is, in all likelihood, the the correct interpretation. Several correspondents on Big Dave's site suggest that an E-lister is a minor celebrity, one who ranks a few notches below those on the A-list but certainly ensconced well above the Z-listers.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010 - Star Gazing


Today's puzzle from Cox and Rathvon presents us with an octet of constellations. So, in addition to your pencil and dictionary, a star chart may come in handy.

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Clues:

dive - [American Heritage Dictionary] noun 2b A run-down residence

Used in Solutions:

rattrap - [American Heritage Dictionary] noun 2. Informal A dilapidated or unsanitary dwelling

Saint Columba - [American Heritage Dictionary] Irish missionary who established a monastery on the island of Iona and subsequently Christianized northern Scotland

Constellations appearing today:

Andromeda - a constellation in the northern sky named after Andromeda, the princess in the Greek legend of Perseus who was chained to a rock to be eaten by the sea monster Cetus

Aquarius - a constellation of the zodiac, whose name is Latin for "water-bearer" or "cup-bearer"

Capricorn - common name for Capricornus, a constellation of the zodiac, whose name is Latin for "horned male goat" or "goat horn", and is commonly represented in the form of a sea-goat: a mythical creature that is half goat, half fish

Centaurus - a bright constellation in the southern sky, traditionally identified as a centaur, a mythological creature, half man, half horse

Columba - a small, faint constellation, located just south of Canis Major and Lepus, whose name is Latin for dove

Eridanus - a constellation that is represented as a river, its name being the Ancient Greek name for the Po River

Pegasus - a constellation in the northern sky, named after the winged horse Pegasus in Greek mythology

Ursa Minor - a constellation in the northern sky, often called the Little Dipper, whose name is Latin for "little bear"

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

21a Leave sailor doing a flip and dive (7)

The term dive in North America can be applied to either "a disreputable or run-down bar or nightclub" or "a run-down residence". The definition of dive in Oxford ("a disreputable nightclub or bar") might lead one to conclude that only the former usage is found in the U.K., although Chambers defines dive as "any dirty or disreputable place, especially a bar or club".

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a AQ(U)ARIUS* - AQARIUS {an anagram (mistaken) of IRAQ USA} containing (about) U (uranium); Aquarius: a constellation and sign of the zodiac [Note: you are free to choose which letter "U" stands for uranium]

5a SCALES - double definition; "climbs" and "balanced pans" (as on a balance scale)

9a BASIL - double definition; "portrayer of Sherlock" is a reference to Sir BASIL Rathbone, a South African-born British actor who portrayed Sherlock Holmes in fourteen Hollywood films

10a AND|ROME|DA - AND (along with) + ROME (Eternal City) + DA (father); Andromeda: a constellation named for a princess in Greek mythology [Note: although I have shown the wordplay as a charade, I think "along with Eternal City" (meaning AND ROME) works better as a phrase than as a charade]

12a RAM|PAGE - RAM (hit) + PAGE (sheet on one side)

13a PEG|AS(U)S - PEG (pin) + {ASS (donkey) containing (with) U (tail of caribou; i.e., last letter of the word "caribou")}; Pegasus: constellation representing a winged horse from Greek mythology

14a NOTICES* - an anagram (rough) of SECTION

16a DECAL< - a reversal (from behind) of LACED (spiked, as in "spiked the drinks") 19a THREW~ - sounds like (in audition) THROUGH (over)

21a RAT|TRAP< - a reversal (doing a flip) of {PART (leave) + TAR (sailor)} 24a COLUMBA* - an anagram (off) of BUM COLA

26a MES(SI|A)H - {SI (Sports Illustrated) + A (article)} contained in (covered by) MESH (network); Sports Illustrated: an American sports magazine published by Time Warner

27a CENTAURUS* - an anagram (flying) of SAUCER NUT; Centaurus: a constellation representing a mythological creature that is half man, half horse

28a MOORS - double definition; "ties up" and "conquerors of Spain"; Moors: people from North Africa who conquered and occupied the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years

29a _REL|IS|H_ - hidden in (in) doggeREL IS Human

30a ERIDANUS* - an anagram (deviating) of USE DRAIN; Eridanus: a constellation that is represented as a river


1d AU|B|URN - AU (chemical symbol for gold) + B (blue) + URN (vase)

2d URS|A MINO|R - URS (ancient city's; i.e., Ur's) + AMINO (acid) + R (rain initially; i.e., first letter of the word "rain")

3d R(ELI)ANT - RANT (rave) containing (about) ELI (biblical priest)

4d US|AGE - US (American) + AGE (era)

6d C|LOGGED - C (Conservative) + LOGGED (noted for the record)

7d L(O)ESS - O (chemical symbol for oxygen) contained in (added to) LESS (not so)

8d S(PARSE)LY - SLY (cunning) contains (bears) PARSE (analyze grammar)

11d DEPOSIT* - an anagram (crackpot) of TOPSIDE

15d C(OR)S|AIR - {CS (Captain's) + AIR (tune)} containing (about) OR (alternative)

17d CAP|RI|CORN - CAP (top) + RI (Rhode Island) + CORN (grain); Capricorn: a constellation representing a goat

18d S(TOCK) CAR - cryptic definition, as signalled by the question mark; SCAR (wound) containing (around) TOCK (second announcement); tock: "second" sound made by a clock (tick-tock, tick-tock) announcing the seconds as they tick by [Note: being a cryptic definition, one should not necessarily expect the clue to parse rigorously]

20d WOMB(AT)S - {A (one) + T (time)} contained in (found in) WOMBS (gestational places)

22d RE(SUM)ED - REED (grass) containing (keeping) SUM (amount)

23d THE|S|IS - THE + S (symbol of Superman) + IS

25d LEND|L - LEND (advance) + L (loss); Ivan Lendl: Czechoslovakian-born professional tennis player

26d MIS_ER - MISTER (Mr.) timeless (i.e., without the letter "T")

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010 (DT 26160)

This puzzle, by Jay, was originally published Wednesday, February 10, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


Oh, I came so close to completing today's puzzle unaided. I finally had to flip open the Tool Chest with only one clue left to solve. It turned out that one little snag stymied me - a snag in a pair of nylons.

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Clues:

form - noun 6 chiefly Brit. a class or year in a school

queen - an unspayed female cat

Used in Solutions:

free house - noun Brit. a public house not controlled by a brewery and therefore not restricted to selling particular brands of beer or liquor

ladder - noun 2 chiefly Brit a long narrow flaw, especially in a stocking, tights or other knitted garment, where a row of stitches has broken; also called run

pence (abbreviation p) - Brit. plural of penny (used for sums of money)

RA - abbreviation 1 (in the UK) Royal Academician or Royal Academy

U2 - adjective Brit colloq said especially of language: typical of or acceptable to the upper classes

Today's Links

Prolixic's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26160].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

28a Provide food for a couple of queens (5)

The online version of Chambers provides, as one definition of queen, "a large fertile female ant, bee or wasp that lays eggs". Apparently, the unabridged version extends that definition to include cats - although presumably not ones that lay eggs!

8d Means of raising one's pace on a run? (10)

I used a wordfinder to ferret out words matching the checking letters and then needed to undertake further research to figure out why a ladder is a run. Although I have encountered that term before, it seems to have been buried so deeply in my subconscious that the association never popped to mind until I found the meaning in a dictionary. The definition is "means of raising one" with the solution being STEPLADDER. The "'s (apostrophe-s)" is a contraction for "is" and serves as a link-word between the definition and wordplay which is STEP (pace) + (on) LADDER (a run, as in a pair of stockings).

It would appear that where the term ladder is virtually non-existent in North America (we would call it a run), the British may use both terms (with ladder perhaps being the more commonly used).

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010 (DT 26159)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, February 9, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


I must confess that I struggled with many of today's clues, finding them to be rather tricky - yet they appeared so obvious when observed in the rear-view mirror. The Brits generally seemed to feel that this puzzle was a rather uninspired effort, an assessment which is supported by the fact that I could find very little material to include in the blog today.

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26159].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

19a Criminal, one on course causing refusal? (5)

In a comment to a recent blog at Big Dave's site (Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26156]), Fi wrote "... I have been known to watch the show jumping – not that you get many crossword clues referring to that!". I guess the crossword gods were listening - and determined to prove her wrong.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 (DT 26158)

This puzzle, by Rufus, was originally published Monday, February 8, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26157 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, February 6, 2010


It was a fairly typical "Monday" puzzle today. I completed it - but needed help from Rishi to understand the wordplay in 2d. While I now know what the setter intended, I still have reservations about the accuracy of the clue.

Today's Error

1a Top man realizing some manoeuvring is required (13)

It took me a long time to realise that some undoubtedly well-meaning ignoramus in the production cycle had taken it upon himself (or herself) to Americanize the spelling of the word "realising" in this clue. The clue should read:
  • Top man realising some manoeuvring is required (13)
Today's Glossary

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

Used in Clues:

cert - noun Brit. informal 1 an event regarded as inevitable. 2 a competitor, candidate, etc. regarded as certain to win.

Used in Solutions:

Bleak House - a novel by Charles Dickens

Elector (or Prince-elector) - a member of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Holy Roman Emperors.

snip - noun 4 informal a thing that is easily achieved.

Today's Links

Rishi's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26158].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

2d He votes for a European king (7)

I believe this may be intended to be a double definition, where the first definition is "he votes" having the solution ELECTOR and the second definition is "European king". However, according to Wikipedia, the Electors (or Prince-electors) were not necessarily kings. On the other hand, it may be meant to be a cryptic definition - in which case it would seem to be neither cryptic nor correct (as the Prince-electors voted for an emperor, and not a king).

3d Forced to bring up the cheese (4)

Like Rishi, I initially had the solution reversed, with the cheese heading up. In his review, he questions whether the phrase "bring up the cheese" is meaningful. Perhaps the cheese is stored in a cellar and must be brought up to the kitchen before being served.

15d Turf out? Of course (5)

Early this morning, I could make no headway with this clue. Strangely, after spending most of the day at the golf course, the answer came easily. In response to Rishi, I wouldn't say that a divot is necessarily the sign of a bad shot.

22d News item - though a cert favourite comes last (7)

In this clue, not only must we substitute one Briticism for another, but the Briticism in the clue takes on slightly different meanings in the surface reading and cryptic analysis.

The definition is "news item" with the solution being SNIPPET. The wordplay is SNIP (cert) + (comes last) PET (favourite).

In the surface reading, cert takes on the second meaning shown in Today's Glossary ("a competitor, candidate, etc. regarded as certain to win"). However, in the cryptic analysis, cert takes on the first meaning ("an event regarded as inevitable") which is equivalent to snip ("a thing that is easily achieved").

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 (DT 26156)

This puzzle, from Giovanni, was originally published Friday, February 5, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26155 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Thursday, February 4, 2010


An interesting and enjoyable puzzle today, but I found it to be a bit on the more difficult end of the scale - perhaps, in part, due to the relatively high incidence of Briticisms contained in it. I was able to complete it - albeit with unanswered questions on the wordplay in a couple of cases. I even managed to track down the name of the former Australian cricketer - which I considered to be a bit of an achievement in itself.

I did note that the two clues for which I encountered particular difficulty in deciphering the wordplay both dealt with "good" individuals ("person who's good" in 14d and "good man" in 17d). Is there a message in the fact that I could solve clues dealing with prisons (24a), illegal dumping (10a) and seedy cinemas (15a) but not one dealing with good people?

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Clues:

pound - see "Used in Solutions" section below

spin bowler - noun cricket a bowler whose technique involves importing variations to the flight and/or spin (noun 2) of the ball.

Used in Solutions:

A. J. Ayer - British philosopher

brick - noun 3 Brit. informal, dated a generous, helpful, and reliable person

fleapit - noun chiefly Brit. a dingy, dirty place, especially a run-down cinema

Ken Livingstone - the first Mayor of London, a post he held from its creation in 2000 until 2008

Newgate Prison - a prison in London, England

owl - [Collins English Dictionary] noun 3. a person who looks or behaves like an owl, esp in having a solemn manner; also [Chambers] noun 3 someone thought to look or behave like an owl, especially by looking solemn or wise, or sitting up late at night [Note: judging by the dictionaries in which this definition was found, it would appear that this usage in commonplace speech may be chiefly British, though I can easily see this image being used in a literary setting]

puppy fat - noun U.K. ( informal ) Same as baby fat

pound1 - noun 1 (symbol £, which is often approximated by the letter "L") the standard unit of currency of the UK. Also called pound sterling.

read - verb 9 chiefly Brit. study (an academic subject) at a university

tip-and-run - adjective U.K. striking and retreating: striking quickly then withdrawing immediately

tip-and-run (also called tippy-go, tippity, tip-hit, hit and run, tipsy, tipneys, one tip or similar) - a variation of "backyard cricket" in which if the batsman hits the ball he or she must run regardless of the distance or quality of the shot played

Shane Warne - a former Australian international cricketer, widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game, whose specialty was leg spin bowling

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26156].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

23a Bird to relax, having eaten various bits of bread (9)

While the end result is the same, I (unlike Gazza) did not interpret "various bits" to be an anagram indicator. I presumed that the "various bits" were D (formed from the last letter in the word "bread") and BREA (the string formed by the first four letters in the word "bread"). I felt that the clue was a charade within a container, being REST (relax) containing {D + BREA} (various bits of bread).

25a Blond to have boss being dragged along behind (3-4)

According to Chambers, a tow-head is "someone who has very fair hair or tousled hair".

I suspect that the term (which Gazza indicates is new to him) derives from the following meanings:
  • tow2 - noun 1 the coarse and broken part of flax or hemp prepared for spinning. 2 a bundle of untwisted natural or man-made fibres.
I would suggest that the "fair haired" version might relate to the first definition of tow and the "tousled hair" version to the second. Thus the version of tow-headed meaning "fair haired" would seem to be somewhat synonymous with flaxen haired, with the former expression often being used for boys and the latter for girls.

Like Gazza, many of the Brits indicated that this term was unknown to them. However, I do recall having encountered this term. The idea crossed my mind that this might be chiefly an American expression. I thought that I might be onto something when a search revealed that Chambers seemed to be the only British dictionary in which it is found, but it apparently appears in at least seven American dictionaries (based on a search using Onelook Dictionary Search). However, further investigation showed that each of these dictionaries is merely a repackaging of the contents of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 Edition.

14d Person who's good with Latin, philosopher who may erect barriers (10)

I found the solution as it was possible to do so based solely on the definition (who may erect barriers) and the checking letters. However, the wordplay eluded me until it was explained by Gazza. My first thought had been that a "person who's good" might be a saint. However, this became obviously incorrect as soon as I had determined the solution.

17d Avarice shown by head of company, and folly - not a good man (8)

After my experience with 14d, I decided to take one more crack at the wordplay here before looking at Gazza's review. Perhaps it was the benefit of several hours away from the puzzle, but I realized that the key to the solution is recognizing that one should be looking for the absence of a saint, rather than the presence of one.

19d This person in firm gets hurt. (6)

As we see here, the setter may use phrases such as "this person" to refer to himself (or herself), with the solution often requiring the substitution of a pronoun such as "I" or "me" for the phrase.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010 - Victoria Day Holiday


As Canada is today celebrating Victoria Day, the National Post did not publish.

Please drop back tomorrow.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010 - Devil or Angel


In today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon, we find an appearance by Dion. However, perhaps a performance by Bobby Vee would have been more appropriate.

There is a bit of a macabre connection between Dion and Bobby Vee. An article in Wikipedia reports that "[A string of hit records in 1958] won Dion and the Belmonts a place on the "Winter Dance Party" tour with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On February 2, 1959, after playing in Clear Lake, Iowa, Dion decided that he could not afford the $36 cost of a flight to the next venue -- this was the same monthly rent his parents paid for his childhood apartment, and Dion decided he couldn't justify the indulgence. The plane crashed, and Holly and the other stars were killed, still the tour continued with Jimmy Clanton and Bobby Vee being added to the bill as replacements. Dion and the Belmonts continued to perform until the end of the tour."

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Clues:

The Waltons - a 1970s era American television series

Used in Solutions:

Angel Cordero - Puerto Rican-born thoroughbred horse racing jockey

Celine Dion - Canadian singer

Dion DiMucci (known professionally simply as Dion) - American singer/songwriter

Teri Garr - an American actress and comedienne

Go - an ancient board game originating in the Orient

Eugene O'Neill - an American playwright

Sacramento Kings - a National Basketball Association team based in Sacramento, California

William Archibald Spooner - famous Oxford don after whom the spoonerism is named

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a SUP|PORT - SUP (dine) + (with) PORT (wine)

5a GRAPHED~ - sounds like (by audit) GRAFT (fiscal crime)

9a CR_|ATE - CR (a couple of crackers; i.e., the first two letters of the word "crackers") + ATE (devoured)

10a TEMP|TRESS - TEMP (part time worker) + TRESS (lock, as lock of hair)

11a {ANGEL CORDERO}* - anagram (off) of RANGER COOLED; jockey Angel Cordero

14a ETNA< - reversal of (taken back) ANTE (bet) 15a HEAR|T(S)EASE - {HEAR (listen to) + TEASE (kid)} containing (about) S (small)

18a {TALENT SHOW}* - anagram (arranged) of THE WALTONS

19a WELL - double definition; "fine" (as one might respond to the question, "How are you?") and "place for a bucket"

21a {DEVIL-MAY-CARE}* - anagram (mixed) of CAVIAR MEDLEY

25a R(AINT)IGHT - RIGHT (proper) containing (cl0thing) AINT (isn't commonly; i.e., ain't)

26a AMISH - cryptic definition which applies the suffix "-ish" (denoting "rather like") to AM (the morning)

27a MIN(ARE)T - ARE (live) contained in (in) MINT (brand new)

28a S(P)OONER - P (parking) contained in (taken by) SOONER (earlier); "watched his birds" is a Spoonerism for "botched his words"


1d SACRAMENTO* - anagram (anagrammed into) of ACTORS NAME; Sacramento: home of the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association

2d PLAN|GENTLY - PLAN (scheme) + GENTLY (nicely)

3d ONEILL - ONE (a) + ILL (bad); playwright Eugene O'Neill

4d TATT(OO)ERS - OO (two loops) contained in (in) TATTERS (shreds)

5d GO (M)AD - GOAD (egg) containing (inside) M (first of mallards; i.e., first letter of the word "mallards")

6d AS(TERIS)K - ASK (question) containing (about) TERIS (Ms. Garr's; i.e., Teri's); actress Teri Garr

7d HEED~ - sounds like (said) HE'D

8d DASH - double definition; "hastily write" and "punctuation"

12d LACE|RATION - LACE RATION {allotment (ration) of frilly stuff (lace)}; Note: this clue definitely works best by substituting the phrase "lace ration" for the phrase "allotment of frilly stuff"

13d {BELL|WETHER}~ - sounds like (pronounced) {BELLE (beauty) + WHETHER (if)}

16d ROOMMATES* - anagram (in ruins) of STORE AMMO

17d _ANCES|TO|R_ - hidden in (some) chANCES TO Rescue

20d D(YNAM"<")O - DO (party) containing (keeping) YNAM {a reversal (coming back) of MANY}

22d IN|GO|T - IN (popular) + GO (Japanese game) + T (tee)

23d G|RAM - G ($1000) + RAM (sheep)

24d DI(O)N - DIN (racket) containing (about) O (love; i.e., a score of 0 in tennis); Dion: perhaps intended to be Canadian singer Celine Dion, although I would like to think it may be American singer/songwriter Dion DiMucci

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010 (DT 26154)

This puzzle, created by Jay, was originally published Wednesday, February 3, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


Today is a red letter day, as I completed the puzzle completely unaided. This was especially satisfying as I thought some of the clues were rather difficult and I also managed to decode a couple of terms (one of them a Briticism) that I had never before encountered.

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Solutions:

down3 - noun 1 a gently rolling hill. 2 (the Downs) ridges of undulating chalk and limestone hills in southern England.

glen - noun a narrow valley, especially in Scotland or Ireland.

point - noun Cricket a fielding position on the off side near the batsman.

transport cafe - noun Brit. a roadside cafe for drivers of haulage vehicles. [Note: the equivalent term in North America is truck stop]

water dog - [American Heritage Dictionary] noun 1. A dog that takes easily to the water, especially one trained for hunting waterfowl; [Collins English Dictionary] noun 1. a dog trained to hunt in water. [Note: obviously not a Briticism, but certainly a new term to me]

Today's Links

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26154].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

5d Assume iron signs have no cover (5)

I assume you will have no difficulty with this clue, as long as the initial word in the clue assumes its proper meaning. Here, assume does not mean "accept as true without proof", nor "take (responsibility or control)", not even "begin to have (a quality, appearance, or extent)", but rather "pretend to have; adopt falsely".

16d Wet track means one retrieves the game (5,3)

Here "wet" is a verb, not an adjective, so it means water, as in "to water the garden". "Track" is also a verb, not a noun, and means "to dog". Thus the solution is WATER DOG. While the discussion on Big Dave's site seems to centre on one particular breed, the Portuguese Water Dog, a number of dog breeds are included in the category of water dogs - including the Standard Poodle (illustrated) as well as various spaniels and retrievers.

Paring and Extracting

In today's puzzle, we see several examples of expressions which are used to indicate that only a portion of a word either constitutes the solution or is to be used in the wordplay.
  • In 15a, "risks ignoring leader" indicates that we are to drop (ignore) the initial letter (leader) of the word "dangers" (risks), leaving us with ANGERS (gets annoyed).
  • In 26a, "source of rumour" indicates that we are to use the initial letter (source) of the word "rumour" (i.e., R) in the wordplay.
  • In 1d, "finally remove" indicates that we are to use the final letter (finally) of the word "remove" (i.e., E) in the wordplay.
  • In 5d, "signs have no cover" indicates that we are to use the interior letters (have no cover) of the word "signs" (i.e., IGN) in the wordplay.
  • In 23d, "dropped case" indicates that we are to use the exterior letters (case) of the word "dropped" (i.e., DD) in the wordplay.
Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010 (DT 26153)

This puzzle, set by Ray T, was originally published Tuesday, February 2, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


Gazza rates today's puzzle as 4 stars for difficulty and 4 stars for enjoyment. I must say that I did enjoy doing this puzzle. Although, I completed it in a fairly respectable time, I was left with one clue that I really did not comprehend and one where I blundered.

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Solutions:

mo - noun informal, chiefly Brit. a moment

OM - abbreviation (in the UK [and Commonwealth realms]) Order of Merit: an honour bestowed by the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms upon citizens of those countries

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26153].

After the appearance of American General Ulysses S. Grant yesterday, when I saw yet another U.S. general, not to mention Canadian police officers, in today's puzzle, I was expecting an outcry arising from visitors to Big Dave's site. However, it did not materialize. Perhaps the Brits are becoming inured to the occasional North American reference.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

12a Old are going to diminish (4)

I needed help from Gazza on this clue. where "old are going to" is equivalent to saying "archaic word meaning are going to", as in the Wiccan Rede, "An it harm none, do what thou wilt".

18a Agent's cover holding gun (6)

Although I saw the wordplay in this clue almost immediately, I was held up for a long time thinking that "cover" must be referring to lid. Eventually, I realized that we actually need a different 3 letter word starting with L - one meaning cover of quite another sort.

20a General accepting medal for regular (8)

We last saw this medal in Monday's puzzle. Not only did this general die more than 25 years before this honour was first bestowed, but being an American, he would not have been eligible for full membership - although he perhaps could have been granted honourary admittance.

1d Howl with pain (4)

My first stab at a solution here caused me some pain. I thought that the solution might be OUCH (a howl one may make when in pain), which definitely slowed me down for some time in the northwest quadrant.

4d Cause and effect (8)

It is generally frowned upon in a double definition for both definitions to have the same meaning. That is, the two parts of the double definition are expected to each be a meaning of the solution without meaning the same thing themselves. Before reading Gazza's review, I thought that this principle might have been violated by this clue. The solution is OCCASION, a verb meaning "cause". The first definition is cause and the second is effect, which can also be a verb meaning "cause to happen; bring about". Thus, it would seem that the two definitions and the solution are all verbs being either cause or a word meaning cause. However, it seems that I have no cause for concern, as cause can also be a noun meaning reason or occasion (in the sense that I have just used it). So, although the reasoning may be a bit convoluted, the two definitions are "cause = reason = occasion" as a noun and "effect = cause = occasion" as a verb.

22d Stretch from detective's overdue (6)

Oops! I made a major blunder here by having the detective as a PI (private investigator). This produced PILATE which I thought might be a singular form related to the exercise system known as Pilates (and which might involve stretching). When I tried to verify my theory, I discovered that Pilates is the surname of Joseph Pilates, the developer of this physical fitness system. That left two choices, either I had the wrong solution or the setter had made an error. At that point, I should have accepted the inevitable, recognized that I was at fault and reopened the investigation.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 (DT 26152)

This puzzle, by Rufus, was originally published Monday, February 1, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26151 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, January 30, 2010


Today's puzzle is considerably more difficult than the typical "Monday" puzzle. Despite getting the correct solution at 19d, I didn't completely understand the wordplay until I read Rishi's review. I had some difficulty with 15d as well, and I think the clue may rely on a British usage of the word - anyway, that's my excuse.

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Clues:

Cresta Run - a skeleton racing sled track in St. Moritz, Switzerland

Today's Links

Rishi's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26152].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

31a Friend goes to States for talks (8)

In a comment, Rishi states "In the clue ‘talks’ is a noun in plural form. But as definition for word required it does a switcheroo as a verb ..." While one may choose to interpret the clue in this fashion, I certainly don't think it is the only way to interpret the clue. Palaver can just as easily be a noun as a verb, in which case it could mean "noun 2 dated a parley or improvised conference between two sides". I seem to recall from Western novels I read as a boy that the commanding officer of the cavalry was always holding palavers with Indian chiefs (those of the North American variety).

15d A record number of contestants in the field (5)

An ENTRY can be either a "record" (as an entry in a log book, for example) or the "number of contestants in the field". This latter shade of meaning may be more prevalent in Britain than in North America. One of the tools that I like to use to gauge whether a particular usage is British is The Free Dictionary web site. That site usually provides definitions from both an American dictionary (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language) and a British dictionary (Collins English Dictionary). By comparing the respective entries (how appropriate) in the two dictionaries, I hope to get some indication whether a particular usage may be British. I'm not sure how reliable this method is - it may just be that Collins provides a more comprehensive range of different shades of meaning.

For entry, the American Heritage Dictionary gives "one entered in a competition" while the Collins English Dictionary, in addition to the aforementioned meaning, also provides "the competitors entering a contest considered collectively". I am sure that were I to encounter the example given ("a good entry this year for the speed trials"), I would understand its meaning. However, I would undoubtedly be inclined to use the word field to refer to the competitors collectively rather than entry.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 (DT 26150)

This puzzle, created by Giovanni, was originally published Friday, January 29, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


Gazza rates today's puzzle as four stars for difficulty, so I must have been tuned to Giovanni's wavelength today as I was able to make excellent progress in solving it. I did end up with an error in one solution.

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Solutions:

coil2 - noun old use trouble and tumult; this mortal coil the troubles of life and the world

André Gide - a French author who was the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947

mixer tap - U.K. faucet mixing hot and cold: a faucet with separate controls for hot and cold water and a single outlet that combines both flows

mo - noun informal, chiefly Brit. a moment

post chaise - noun historical a fast, usually four-wheeled, coach carrying up to four passengers and mail, drawn by posthorses

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26150].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

25a & 26a Several things that could make one cry? (6,2,6)

Although there really was no other possibility than STRING and ONIONS for the two 6 letter words, I mistakenly put in OR for the 2 letter word. Obviously, that attempt at a solution left me quite confused until I was set straight by Gazza.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010 (DT 26149)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, January 28, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


It was a relatively easy, but quite enjoyable, offering today. For a while, I thought that I might actually complete it unaided. Alas, a minor Shakespearean character proved to be my undoing and I had to crack open the Tool Chest to finish the southwest quadrant.

In the last few days, you may have noticed a minor refinement in the Today's Glossary section, which now has separate lists for entries that appear in clues and solutions. The former list may help readers better understand the clues without giving away the solutions. The glossary is a compilation of items that may be unknown to readers (in particular, those from North America). You may find contained therein explanations for obscure or archaic words or expressions, Briticisms, British geographical references, personalities, etc. I sometimes include personalities (as today with Fred Astaire and Loretta Young) who I consider well-known, as I've discovered that names that are familiar to one generation are not necessarily known to other generations.

Today's Glossary

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

Appearing in clues:

Fred Astaire - an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor

Portia - the heroine of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Appearing in solutions:

Richard Estes - an American painter who is best known for his photorealistic paintings

Eton College - British independent school for boys [Note: It seems that boys in Crosswordland have little choice in where to pursue their education]

golden hello - Informal a payment made to a sought-after recruit on signing a contract of employment with a company (see also Wikipedia article on Golden hello)

OM - abbreviation (in the UK [and Commonwealth realms]) Order of Merit: an honour bestowed by the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms upon citizens of those countries

Nerissa - Portia's waiting maid in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

NT - abbreviation 1 National Trust: in full, the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, a conservation organisation in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Reigate - a historic market town in Surrey, England

Bertie Wooster - a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves novels of British author P. G. Wodehouse

Loretta Young - an American film and television actress who performed from 1917 to 2000

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26149].


The day that this puzzle appeared in the U.K. marked the One Year Anniversary of Big Dave's Crossword Blog. I would like to offer Big Dave and his team my somewhat belated congratulations on having reached this milestone. May your outstanding website enjoy a successful future (and I'll continue to ride your coat-tails as long as I can).

On seeing that Big Dave's site had celebrated its first year of operation, I realized that the one year anniversary of my own site had slipped by unnoticed earlier this month. The first edition of my blog appeared on May 2, 2009.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

24a Well-known college rejected daughter (5)

As is almost always the case, the "well-known college" is ETON. Eton was once known as a public school which is "(in the UK) a private fee-paying secondary school", quite different from the meaning of the term in North America ("a school supported by public funds"). It seems that these schools now prefer to style themselves as independent schools. In his comments on Big Dave's blog, Yoshik says "I am English, public school educated, and detest the adulteration of the language" which means he attended what we would call a private school.

6d Strongly disliked bowler, English, opener for Derbyshire? (5)

The surface reading of this clue relies on at least a passing knowledge of the game of cricket. A bowler is a cricket player, the one who delivers the ball to the batsman. The opener is the first player to bowl in the match. The opener, or opening bowler, would be akin to the starting pitcher in baseball. The clue suggests that a player, an Englishman who is the opening bowler for the Derbyshire cricket team, is not very popular.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010 - Dancing with the Stars


In today's puzzle, Cox and Rathvon present four of the most eminent choreographers in the history of American dance. They are joined by a trio of famous sports stars - two from the baseball diamond and one from the horse racing track. Fittingly, if our crossword puzzle grid were overlaid on a baseball diamond, we would have all bases covered, with George Balanchine behind the plate, Paul Taylor at first base, Merce Cunningham at second, and Twyla Tharp at third. It seems that only Martha Graham is missing - perhaps she is performing on the mound today.

Today's Glossary

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

castle - [Collins English Dictionary] verb Chess to move the king two squares laterally on the first rank and place the nearest rook on the square passed over by the king, either towards the king's side (castling short) or the queen's side (castling long)

Today's Personalities

Appearing in today's puzzle are a quartet of iconic choreographers, a brace of renowned baseball stars, and a legendary jockey.

Felipe Alou - a former outfielder and first baseman with several Major League Baseball teams and former manager of the San Francisco Giants and Montreal Expos; his brothers, Matty and Jésus, and his son, Moises, also played in the major leagues

George Balanchine - Russian-born American choreographer, co-founder of the New York City Ballet

Yogi Berra - a former Major League Baseball player and manager who played almost his entire career with the New York Yankees; a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, he is regarded as one of the greatest catchers of all time

Merce Cunningham - American dancer and choreographer, who was at the forefront of American avant garde for more than fifty years

Paul Taylor - one of the foremost American choreographers of the 20th century, he performed in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine before founding the Paul Taylor Dance Company
In addition to being an iconic figure in American dance, Paul Taylor was also seemingly laconic (see 18a). According to Wikipedia, he "[c]laimed notoriety when he performed "Duet," where he and his pianist walk on stage, stand there for four minutes, then walk off. The newspaper review for this piece (written by Louis Horst) was four inches of blank space with just 'L.H.' at the bottom."
Twyla Tharp - American dancer and choreographer, who studied dance under Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham and danced in the Paul Taylor Dance Company before forming her own dance company; her work Come Fly Away, set to the vocals of Frank Sinatra, is currently playing on Broadway

Ron Turcotte - Canadian Hall of Fame thoroughbred race horse jockey best known as the rider of U.S. Triple Crown Champion Secretariat

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

17a Teach punk about male cat (7)

Although I was able to find many meanings for the word "punk", I failed to find a really compelling one to qualify it as an anagram indicator. Punk can mean a youth movement of the late 1970s, characterized by anti-Establishment slogans and outrageous clothes and hairstyles; a young person, especially an adherent of this rebellious counterculture movement; an inexperienced young man; in music, short for punk rock or a punk rocker; a petty criminal or hoodlum; a young man who is the sexual partner of an older man; a prostitute; an inferior, rotten, or worthless person or thing; worthless articles collectively; dry decayed wood, used as tinder; any of various substances that smolder when ignited, used to light fireworks; Chinese incense; of poor quality; inferior, rotten, or worthless; weak in spirits or health. Perhaps the best choice of the lot may be "decayed" indicating that the structure of the word TEACH breaks down, allowing the letters to form another pattern?

16d Idiot's humour about northern antelope (4,3)

It would seem that wing nut (or wingnut) was originally a term meaning an eccentric person or someone holding extreme political views. However, the word appears to have taken on a variety of slang meanings such as an uneducated person or a mentally ill person. At least one contributor to the Online Slang Dictionary could be an unintentional poster boy for wingnuts, who (in attempting to differentiate wingnuts from the mentally ill) states "Mentally handicapped person has no control over their circumstances, where as the "Wingnut" is completely responsible for their lack of intelligents".

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a BALANC(H|IN)E - BALANCE (poise) containing (disrupted by) {H (husband) + IN (at home)}; choreographer George Balanchine

6a EMIT< - reversal (in reversal) of TIME (prison sentence) 9a WAGE (W|A)R - {W (with) + A (one)} contained in (involved in) WAGER (bet)

10a MA(JEST)Y - JEST (kid) contained in (surrounded by) MAY (might)

12a CAST|LED - CAST (acting group) + LED (went ahead)

13a B(ER)RA - ER (um) contained in (wearing) BRA (lingerie item)

15a ALLOWED~ - sounds like (said) ALOUD (audibly)

17a C(HE)ETAH* - anagram (punk) of TEACH containing (about) HE (male)

18a LA(CON)IC - CON (against) contained in (entering) LAIC (non-clerical)

21a VI|SIT|OR - VI (six; i.e., Roman numeral for six) + SIT (pose for an artist) + OR

23a A(PRO)N - AN (article) containing (wrapping) PRO (expert)

24a ARTISAN* - anagram (developed) of A STRAIN

27a LU(NET)TE - NET (web) contained in (seen in) LUTE (instrument)

28a COLLIE|R - R (right) following (behind) COLLIE (dog); collier: a coal miner (worker with a pickaxe)

29a ROCK - double definition; "pitch" (shake) and "stone"

30a CUNNING|HAM - CUNNING (clever) + HAM (mug); choreographer Merce Cunningham


1d BOWL - double definition; "try to get strikes" and "stadium"

2d LO(GI)CAL - LOCAL (neighbourhood) containing (embracing) GI (soldier)

3d NEW(T)S - NEWS (broadcast information) containing (about) T (true)

4d HURT|L|ED - HURT (wound) + L (left) + ED (Edward)

5d _NOMADIC_ - hidden in (through) soNOMA DICtate

7d MUSKRAT* - anagram (of a sort) of US KMART; Kmart: U.S. department store chain

8d {TWYLA THARP}* - anagram (disturbed) of WHAT PARTLY; choreographer Twyla Tharp

11d JO|BLESS - BLESS (favour) following (going after) JO (one of the March girls); Jo March: one of four sisters who are the principal characters in Little Women, a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott

14d {PAUL TAYLOR}* - anagram (upset) of ALOU PARTLY; choreographer Paul Taylor

16d WI(N|G NU)T - WIT (humour) containing (about) {N (northern) + GNU (antelope)}

19d CH(RON)IC - RON (jockey Ron Turcotte) contained in (in) CHIC (elegance); Note: the setter employs an inverted sentence structure

20d C(HATE|A)U - {HATE (despise) + A} contained in (clad) CU (chemical symbol for copper)

21d VAT(I)CAN* - anagram (strangely) of VACANT containing I (one)

22d TENNIS|H - H (hot) following (after) TENNIS (game on a court)

25d SO|LON_ - SO LONG (farewell) without the G (nearly finished); Solon: Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet

26d CRAM< - reversal (brought back) of MARC (Roman politician and general Marc Antony)

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010 (DT 26148)

This puzzle, set by Jay, was originally published Wednesday, January 27, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


I made very good progress on this until I reached 27a, which caused me some agony. I was down to about the final half dozen clues before resorting to my Tool Chest.

Today's Glossary

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

agony aunt (or agony uncle) - noun Brit. informal a person who answers letters in an agony column

agony column - noun Brit. informal a column in a newspaper or magazine offering advice on readers’ personal problems

cable - a shortened form of cablegram, an international telegram (and, based on Tilsit's comments, apparently an Americanism); originally, a telegram sent by submarine cable, but the meaning seems to have been extended to also include those sent via other media such as radio or satellite

River Trent - one of the major rivers of England

Today's Links

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26148].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10a Rock offering shade on beach (9)

This is an example of a clue where the syllabication of the solution produced by the definition varies from that produced by the wordplay. For the definition "rock" the solution is SAND·STONE. However, for the wordplay, we have TONE (shade) following (on) SANDS (beach) producing SANDS·TONE.

27a Columnist shot in a city in front of relative (5,4)

This clue will teach me never to discount any possibility - no matter how improbable it may appear to be. From the checking letters, I did see that the words agony and aunt would fit - but was on the verge of dismissing this as being just too ridiculous. However, when I did a web search, I discovered that agony aunt is a British term for a newspaper advice columnist. The wordplay is GO (shot, meaning attempt) contained in (in) A NY (city) + (in front of) AUNT (relative). See also commentary for 26d.

2d What a musician may do is express relief and walk (5-4)

Like 10a, this clue has a solution where the syllabication varies between that produced by the wordplay and that produced by the definition. The definition is "what a musician may do", for which the solution is SIGHT-READ. The wordplay is SIGH (express relief) + (and) TREAD (walk) producing SIGH·TREAD.

3d Density found in sort of rice beverage (5)

This is an example of what some of the British bloggers like to impishly refer to as a "lift and separate" clue (the expression comes from an old brassiere commercial). That is, although the phrase "rice beverage" would appear to be an entity (and it is intended to be such in the surface reading), we must separate the two elements in the phrase in the cryptic analysis. Thus, the clue is read cryptically as "Density found in sort of rice /\ beverage" (where the fulcrum symbol "/\" is used to show the dividing line between the wordplay on the left and the definition on the right. It turns out that we are not looking for a rice beverage (sake, as I initially suspected) at all, but rather an apple beverage.

Perhaps "d" is a symbol for density in some field of endeavour. While it does not appear in the online version of Chambers, I take solace in the fact that it undoubtedly appears in some edition of the unabridged version of Chambers. When I studied physics and engineering, the symbol for density was ρ (the Greek letter rho).

8d Sporting knowledge? (5,5)

Here "sport" has little, if anything, to do with athletic endeavours, but rather takes the meaning "to wear or display, especially proudly".

26d Go and get fired (4)

In this double definition, the solution is SHOT. One definition is "go" (attempt) and the second is "get fired" (as a gun might get fired or shot). Note that in 27a we see "shot" = GO and here we see just the reverse.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010 (DT 26147)

This puzzle, created by Shamus, was originally published Tuesday, January 26, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph


Gazza may have thought that this was a fairly easy puzzle, but I had to dig into the Tool Chest early and often. Although I managed to complete the puzzle (with the exception of one clue where I was unable to decide between two possible solutions), I was left with question marks in my mind concerning the wordplay in a couple of clues.

Today's Glossary

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

motorway - noun Brit. a road designed for fast traffic, typically with three lanes in each direction (abbreviation M)

River Aire - a river in Yorkshire, England

airer - noun Brit. a frame or stand for airing or drying laundry

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

John Reith - first Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation

squash rackets (or squash racquets) - noun a game for either two or four players who use small-headed rackets to hit a little rubber ball around an indoor court ... Often shortened to squash.

swell - noun 5 informal, dated a fashionable person of high social position

Paris Commune

20d Talk one's associated with Paris? (7)

The solution to this clue is COMMUNE, a word meaning "talk" as well as a word seemingly having several possible associations with Paris, although Gazza chooses to focus on the first one listed below.

The first Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 (more formally, from March 28) to May 28, 1871.

The second Paris Commune (during the French Revolution) was the government of Paris from 1789 until 1795.

Finally, a commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the present-day French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or cities in the United States and Canada or Gemeinden in Germany. French communes have no exact equivalent in the United Kingdom, having a status somewhere in between that of English districts and civil parishes.

A French commune can be a city of two million inhabitants as in Paris, a town of ten thousand people, or just a ten-person hamlet.

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26147].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

27a Smart vehicle? Change oil in use circling motorway (9)

Here "smart vehicle" is not a Smart Car; rather "smart" means stylish and a "smart vehicle" is a LIMOUSINE. The wordplay is an anagram (change) of OIL IN USE containing M (motorway).

2d It might arise from some celeb I lampooned (5)

This is an & lit. clue (or as Big Dave prefers to call it, an all-in-one clue). The entire clue can be read two ways. In the first reading, the clue is a description of LIBEL, something that could arise should one's lampoon contain false statements that were damaging to a celebrity's reputation. In the second reading, "it" (the solution) is a reversal (indicated by "might arise", this being a down clue) of a string contained in (indicated by "from some") the phrase "ceLEB I Lampooned".

14d A native overlooking a lake that's private (8)

I didn't understand the wordplay completely - but I take some solace from knowing that neither did Gazza. In this clue, the first A signifies PER (as in "Gasoline, or petrol to the Brits, is 99 cents a litre" or "99 cents per litre"). I bet the Brits wish they could get it for that price - they pay in the order of 120 pence per litre (or about $1.80 per litre) which is nearly double what we pay here.

The definition is "private" with the solution being PERSONAL. The wordplay in this charade is {PER (A) + SON (native)} + (overlooking) {A + L (lake)}. I have indicated the joins in the charade by plus signs. Note that there are three joins - two of which are implicit and one of which is explicit (indicated by "overlooking"). I have chosen to show this clue as two mini-charades (each containing two elements) which in turn form the elements of an overall charade [i.e., {A + B} + {C + D}], although I think one would probably be equally correct to view it as a single four-element charade [A + B + C + D].

21d Broadcasting bigwig reportedly getting mark of honour (6)

Although I recognized that this is a homophone type clue and suspected that the "broadcasting bigwig" might be a senior executive with the BBC, I failed to identify the proper individual. Either BROOCH or WREATH could fit the grid and either might match the definition "mark of honour". The "broadcasting bigwig" for whom we are searching is John Reith, the first Director-General of the BBC, while I was only able to come up with the current BBC Director-General, Mark Thompson (which, coincidentally, might have had a tie-in to "mark of honour").

Signing off for today - Falcon