Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015 — Officers Make No Progress


Even without the help of Sherlock Holmes, I managed to detect a bit of recycling in today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- yet to be solved

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

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (& lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).


1a   Coleridge’s first poem /in/ cipher (4)

C|ODE — C (Coleridge's first [letter]) + ODE (poem)

Scratching the Surface
Samuel Taylor Coleridge[5] (1772–1834) was an English poet, critic, and philosopher. His Lyrical Ballads (1798), written with William Wordsworth, marked the start of English romanticism and included ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Other notable poems: ‘Christabel’ and ‘Kubla Khan’ (both 1816).

3a   Broken candy canes /in/ upper hand (10)

ASCENDANCY* — anagram (broken) of CANDY CANES

9a   Bunch of flowers, // for example, in northern state (7)

NO|S(EG)AY — EG (for example) contained in {NO ([abbreviation for] northern + SAY (state)}

11a   Old evangelist/’s/ blog comment getting into beer (7)

A(POST)LE — POST (blog comment) contained in (getting into) ALE (beer)

12a   The act of pinching // the foot (5)

THE|FT — THE (†) + FT ([abbreviation for] foot)

13a   Weasels // stirred men’s ire (7)

ERMINES* — anagram (stirred) of MENS IRE

15a   Mets ban different // guys swinging sticks (7)

BATSMEN* — anagram (different) of METS BAN

Scratching the Surface
The New York Mets[7] are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City. They play in Major League Baseball's National League East Division.

16a   Sailor’s first surviving // navigation device (7)

S|EXTANT — S (Sailor's first [letter]) + EXTANT (surviving)

18a   One real crazy // queen of England (7)

ELEANOR* — anagram (crazy) of ONE REAL

Eleanor of Aquitaine[5] (circa 1122–1204) was the daughter of the Duke of Aquitaine, queen of France 1137–52 and of England 1154–89. She was married to Louis VII of France from 1137; in 1152, with the annulment of their marriage, she married the future Henry II of England.

21a   Comedian Short captures a // creature from another planet (7)

MARTI(A)N — MARTIN (comedian Short; Canadian-American comedian Martin Short[7]) containing A (†)

23a   Judges’ garb on // star of The Emperor Jones (7)

ROBES|ON — ROBES (judges' garb) + ON (†)

Paul Robeson[5] (1898–1976) was an American singer and actor. His singing of ‘Ol’ Man River' in the musical Showboat (1927) established his international reputation. His black activism and Communist sympathies led to ostracism in the 1950s.

The Emperor Jones[7] is a 1933 film adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play of the same title, featuring Paul Robeson in the title role. Robeson starred in the O'Neill play on stage, both in the United States and England, a role that had helped launch his career.

25a   Say Rx altered // some dental records (1-4)

X-RAYS — anagram (altered) of SAY RX

27a   Game piece // examiner (7)

CHECKER — double definition

As a game piece, checker is the US spelling of chequer. [Remember, the setters are Americans.]

28a   Irons is playing // Italian composer (7)

ROSSINI* — anagram (playing) of IRONS IS

Gioacchino Antonio Rossini[5] (1792–1868) was an Italian composer, one of the creators of Italian bel canto. He wrote over thirty operas, including The Barber of Seville (1816) and William Tell (1829).

29a   Put a stop to man’s // cleaning agents (10)

DETER|GENT|S — DETER (put a stop to) + GENT (MAN) + S ('s)

30a   Recite the story /of/ William the bowman (4)

TELL — double definition

Nice segue from 28a—whether intentional or not.

William Tell[5] was a legendary hero of the liberation of Switzerland from Austrian oppression. He was required to hit with an arrow an apple placed on the head of his son, which he did successfully. The events are placed in the 14th century, but there is no evidence for a historical person of this name, and similar legends are of widespread occurrence.


1d   Prisoners’ charts /for/ lawmen (10)

CONS|TABLES — CONS (prisoners) + TABLES (charts)

2d   Course // locked from the rear (7)

DESSERT< — reversal (from the rear) of TRESSED (locked)

Tressed[5] and locked[5] are used as adjectives meaning haired a blonde-tressed sex symbol; his curly-locked comrades.

4d   Excited, as by one // source of protein (7)

SOYBEAN* — anagram (excited) of AS BY ONE

5d   Problems in addition are brought back /for/ a Dutch scholar (7)

ERASMUS< — reversal (brought back) of {SUMS (problems in addition) + ARE (†)}

Desiderius Erasmus[5] (circa 1469–1536) was a Dutch humanist and scholar; Dutch name Gerhard Gerhards. He was the foremost Renaissance scholar of northern Europe, paving the way for the Reformation with his satires on the Church, including the Colloquia Familiaria (1518). However, he opposed the violence of the Reformation and condemned Luther in De Libero Arbitrio (1523).

6d   Doctor has // to go under (5)

DR|OWN — DR (doctor) + OWN (has)

There would appear to be a bit of a grammatical faux pas here, I'm afraid. Has is a third person singular verb, whereas own is everything but a third person singular verb.

7d   Actress Richardson // has a tan, strangely (7)

NATASHA* — anagram (strangely) of HAS A TAN

The setters have recycled this clue which previously appeared on July 19, 2014 (see here) as:
  • 16a   Actress Richardson has a tan ruined (7)
The clue made me rather uncomfortable then and my reaction is no different today. The use of the present tense seems oddly out of place when applied to someone who is deceased. Yes, it is certainly strange that someone who has lain in their grave for more than six years should have a tan. Here is what I wrote the last time this clue appeared:
Given the circumstances of her death, it struck me as a bit inappropriate to use Natasha Richardson in this clue. However, scanning through the list of people named Natasha, I was surprised when I failed to find anyone else with name recognition even remotely approaching hers.

Natasha Richardson[7] (1963–2009) was an award-winning English stage and screen actress. A member of the Redgrave family, she was the daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave and director/producer Tony Richardson and the granddaughter of Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.

Richardson died tragically on 18 March 2009 from an epidural hematoma suffered two days earlier when she fell while taking a beginner skiing lesson at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Canada.
8d   Actor Montand/’s/ okay about victory (4)

Y(V)ES — YES (okay) containing (about) V (victory)

Yves Montand[7] (1921–1991), born Ivo Livi, was an Italian-born French actor and singer.

10d   Sentry/’s/ ID returned (7)

GATEMAN< — reversal (returned) of NAMETAG (ID)

14d   Stop // Stanley with low-grade moonshine maker (10)

STAN|D|STILL — STAN ([diminutive for] Stanley) + (with) D (low [academic] grade) + STILL (moonshine maker)

17d   Copies // ring possessed by Persian king (7)

XER(O)XES — O ([letter that resembles a] ring) contained in (possessed by) XERXES (Persian king)

Xerxes I[5] (circa 519–465 BC), son of Darius I, was king of Persia 486–465. His invasion of Greece achieved victories in 480 at Artemisium and Thermopylae, but defeats at Salamis (480) and Plataea (479) forced him to withdraw.

19d   Hemingway keeping one // serious (7)

E(A)RNEST — ERNEST (Hemingway) containing (keeping) A (one)

Ernest Hemingway[5] (1899–1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. He achieved success with The Sun Also Rises (1926), which reflected the disillusionment of the post-war ‘lost generation’. Other notable works: A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), and The Old Man and the Sea (1952, Pulitzer Prize 1953). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

20d   Substitute // camper in view again (7)

RESE(RV)E — RV (camper; [abbreviation for] recreational vehicle) contained in (in) RESEE (view again)

21d   Time ran out /for/ a mosque tower (7)

MINARET* — anagram (out) of TIME RAN

22d   Picture // U.S. soldier in one feature on a horse (7)

I|MA(GI)NE — GI (U.S. soldier) contained in (in) {I ([Roman numeral for] one) + MANE (feature on a horse)}

A GI[5] is a private soldier in the US army ⇒ she went off with a GI during the war. Contrary to popular belief, the term apparently is not an abbreviation for general infantryman, but rather derives from the term government (or general) issue (originally denoting equipment supplied to US forces).

24d   A kerb repaired /in/ Sherlock’s street (5)

BAKER* — anagram (repaired) of A KERB

Sherlock Holmes[7] is a fictional character created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930). A London-based "consulting detective" whose abilities border on the fantastic, Holmes is known for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise and his use of forensic science to solve difficult cases.

Beginning in 1881 Holmes has lodgings at 221B Baker Street, London. According to an early story 221B is an apartment at the upper end of the street, up 17 steps.

Scratching the Surface
Kerb[5] is the British spelling of curb—appropriate given the location of the street.

26d   A Spanish hero/’s/ tart (4)

A|CID — A (†) + CID (Spanish hero)

El Cid[5] (also the Cid) is a name applied to the Count of Bivar (circa 1043–1099), a Spanish soldier who was born Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar. A champion of Christianity against the Moors, in 1094 he captured Valencia, which he went on to rule. He is immortalized in the Spanish Poema del Cid (12th century) and in Corneille’s play Le Cid (1637).


The inspiration for today's title comes from 1d and 14d.
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


  1. Hi Falcon!
    Thanks for the puzzle as usual. Not too challenging today.
    By the way, I cannot see your inspired title ;)

    1. Oops! Forgot to add it. Thanks for the poke in the ribs.