Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014 — Harsh Language with Close Aquaintances


Spring is almost here and you may detect a few signs of the approaching season in today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon. While the butterflies may be a tad premature, the fish and frogs are surely harbingers of spring.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed
"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue
Definitions are underlined in the clue, with subsidiary indications being marked by means of a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions.


1a   Performing in the third month's Butterfly (7)

M(ON)ARCH — ON (performing) contained in (in) MARCH (the third month)

Could Butterfly be an informal reference to Madama Butterfly[7] (Madame Butterfly), an opera by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)?

5a   Struggle with two pieces of green fruit (7)

GR_|APPLE — GR (two pieces [i.e., letters] of GReen) + APPLE (fruit)

9a   Tourist rigs sheet afresh (9)

SIGHTSEER* — anagram (afresh) of RIGS SHEET

There is a nautical flavour to this clue, with rig[3] meaning to fit sails or shrouds to masts and yards and sheet[3] being a rope or chain attached to one or both of the lower corners of a sail, serving to move or extend it.

10a   Caught the odour of fish (5)

SMELT — double definition

11a   Medical trainee in with the heartless nurse (6)

IN|T_E|RN — IN (†) + (with) TH (the heartless; T[H]E with its heart [middle letter] deleted) + RN (nurse; Registered Nurse)

12a   Non-combatant, provided one's in agreement (8)

PAC(IF|I|S)T — {IF (provided) + I (one) + S ('s)} contained in (in) PACT (agreement)

With only the two central checking letters identified, CIVILIAN looked like a promising choice — although, of course, I was unable to explain the wordplay. Needless to say, this miscue severely complicated attempts to solve 5d and 8d.

14a   Infielders moved around teammates? (10)

FRIENDLIES* — anagram (moved around) of INFIELDERS

For any cricket aficionados present today, an infielder[11] is any of the four defensive players (first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman) stationed around the infield in baseball.

16a   Stare at some frog legs (4)

_OG|LE_ — hidden in (some) frOG LEgs

18a   Tall pine (4)

LONG — double definition

19a   Sabres admitting sport oaths (5,5)

S(WEAR) WORDS — SWORDS (sabres) containing (admitting) WEAR (sport)

22a   Part of a boat available to buy, we hear (8)

FORESAIL — sounds like (we hear) {FOR SALE (available to buy)}

23a   Little frog's eye (6)

PEEPER — double definition

26a   Identify a mostly hot U.S. state (5)

ID|A|HO_ — ID (identify) + A (†) + HO (mostly hot; HO[T] with its final letter deleted)

27a   Fork prong snaring passion fruit (9)

T(ANGER)INE — TINE (fork prong) containing (snaring) ANGER (passion)

28a   Key grasped by crazy fool (7)

M(ISLE)AD — ISLE (key; a low offshore island or reef) contained in (grasped by) MAD (crazy)

29a   Marsh bird nipped sea bird (7)

BIT|TERN — BIT (nipped) + TERN (sea bird)


1d   Spat behind Mom's dog (7)

MA|S|TIFF — TIFF (spat) following (behind) {MA (Mom) + S ('s)}

2d   Almost time for dark (5)

NIGH|T — NIGH (almost) + T (time)

3d   Shy about getting pooped (8)

RE|TIRING — RE (about) + TIRING (getting pooped)

4d   Error in Paul Newman film in colour (4)

HU(E)D — E (error; baseball term) contained in (in) HUD (Paul Newman film)

Hud[7] is a 1963 western film directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal.

5d   Place tor trash fire, after clothes get old (7,3)

GARBAGE CAN — CAN (fire; dismiss from employment) following (after) {GARB (clothes) + AGE (get old)}

For any British readers who might happen to drop by, a garbage can[5] is what you would know as a dustbin.

6d   Trouble following dope attack (6)

ASS|AIL — AIL (trouble) following (†) ASS (dope)

7d   Provincial leader embracing no-good movie director (9)

PREMI(NG)ER — PREMIER (provincial leader) containing (embracing) NG (no good)

While one could further decompose the wordplay into N (no) and G (good; for instance, a grade received on a school assignment or test), NG[3,4,11] and/or its variants N.G., ng, and n.g. are listed in several dictionaries as abbreviations for no good.

Otto Preminger[7] (1906–1986) was an Austrian-born American film director, noted for films such as The Moon is Blue (1953), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), and Bonjour Tristesse (1958).

8d   Deserve name (7)

ENTITLE — [highly questionable] double definition

Here I am going to call foul. Deserve[Chambers Thesaurus] means be entitled to, which is hardly synonymous with entitle.

13d   Like an idiot, scheduled around World War I (4-6)

SLO(W-WI)TTED — SLOTTED (scheduled) containing (around) WWI (World War I)

15d   Concerns of an otologist having debts audited(5,4)

{INNER EARS}~ — sounds like (audited) IN ARREARS (having debts)

17d   Most like honey in second small sample (8)

S|WEE|TEST — S (second) + WEE (small) + TEST (sample)

18d   Political philosophy affected film set (7)

LEFTISM* — anagram (affected) of FILM SET

The Hollywood blacklist[7] — as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known — was the mid-20th-century practice of denying employment to screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals because of their suspected political beliefs or associations. Artists were barred from work on the basis of their alleged membership in or sympathy with the American Communist Party, involvement in progressive political causes that enforcers of the blacklist associated with communism, and refusal to assist investigations into Communist Party activities. Even during the period of its strictest enforcement, the late 1940s through the late 1950s, the blacklist was rarely made explicit or verifiable, but it directly damaged the careers of scores of individuals working in the film industry.

20d   Doctor's boy eating egg (7)

S(URGE)ON — SON (boy) containing (eating) URGE (EGG)

21d   Grey rock on the beach (6)

ASH|ORE — ASH (grey) + ORE (rock)

24d   Balance is maintained by short-story writer (5)

PO(IS)E — IS (†) contained in (maintained by) POE (short-story writer)

Edgar Allan Poe[5] (1809–1849) was an American short-story writer, poet, and critic. His fiction and poetry are Gothic in style and characterized by their exploration of the macabre and the grotesque. Notable works: ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (short story, 1840); ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ (detective story, 1841); ‘The Raven’ (poem, 1845).

25d   Insult hairstyles seen from behind (4)

SNUB< — reversal of (seen from behind) BUNS (hairstyles)
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

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