Saturday, September 12, 2020

Saturday, September 12, 2020 — Sad and Lonely


For the most part, I completed today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon fairly expeditiously. However, I became bogged down in the southwest corner and needed a gentle nudge from my electronic assistants to push me across the finish line.

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

Symbols and Markup Conventions
  •  "*" - anagram
  • "~" - sounds like
  • "<" - indicates the preceding letters are reversed
  • "( )" - encloses contained letters
  • "_" - replaces letters that have been deleted
  •  "†" - indicates that the word is present in the clue
  • "//" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when no link word or link phrase is present
  • "/[link word or phrase]/" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when a link word or link phrase is present
  • "solid underline" - precise definition
  • "dotted underline" - cryptic definition
  • "dashed underline" - wordplay
  • "double underline" - both wordplay and definition
Click here for further explanation and usage examples of the symbols and markup conventions used on this blog.


1a   Plans // return of junk e-mail (4)

MAPS< — reversal of (return of) SPAM (junk mail)

3a   Liberal, tormented, // wasted away (10)

L|ANGUISHED — L(iberal) + ANGUISHED (tormented)

9a   Target game // skills, with defence first (5)

D|ARTS — ARTS (skills) preceded by (with ... first) D (defence; position in hockey)

11a   The opposite of experience, // in a sense, you might say (9)

INNOCENCE~ — sounds like (you might say) IN A SENSE

12a   New theme song for a // TV series (4,2,7)

{GAME OF THRONES}* — anagram of (new) THEME SONG FOR A

14a   Band member // is named Rocky (7)

SIDEMAN* — anagram of (rocky) IS NAMED

15a   City // fashionable in the past (7)

CHIC|AGO — CHIC (fashionable) + AGO (in the past)

17a   Audibly said // “Granted” (7)

ALLOWED~ — sounds like (said) ALOUD (audibly)

19a   I’ll be in school contest’s // singing group (3,4)

BEE (GEE)S — GEE (I'll be; exclamation of surprise) contained in (in) {BEE (school [spelling] contest) +S ('s)}

Sometimes serendipity happens. As I was pondering this clue, suddenly "To Love Somebody" began playing. While it was Nina Simone singing and not the Bee Gees, it succeeded in triggering the answer in my mind.

20a   Awfully sad // deer slowing down, we hear (13)

{HEART|BREAKING}~ — sounds like (we hear) {HART (deer) + BRAKING (slowing down)}

Post Mortem
I was hampered here by an incorrect presumption regarding the initial letter of 20d.

22a  Exactly described by “superlative”? (9)

B(RIGHT)EST — RIGHT (exactly; Yes, you are correct!) contained in (described by) BEST (superlative)

I think this is intended to be an &lit. clue[7] in which the entire clue functions as both wordplay and definition. The wordplay is clear enough; the definition somewhat less so.

23a   One of nine sisters // lodged in Sheraton (5)

_ERATO_ — hidden in (lodged in) ShERATOn

In Greek and Roman mythology, Erato[5]is the Muse* of lyric poetry and hymns.

* The Muses[5] are nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.

24a   Very unhappy /being/ bald? (10)

DISTRESSED — double definition; the second whimsical

If 'disrobed' means having removed ones robes, then the whimsical logic of Crosswordland dictates that 'distressed' must mean having removed ones tresses.

It’s a retro // wine (4)

ASTI< — reversal of (retro) ITS A

Asti[7] (formerly known as Asti Spumante) is a sparkling white Italian wine (show more ).

Asti is produced throughout southeastern Piedmont but production is particularly focused around the towns of Asti and Alba. Since 1993 the wine has been classified as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and as of 2004 was Italy's largest producing appellation.



1d   A vehicle filled with fuel east of hot // island off Africa (10)

MAD|A(GAS)CAR — {A (†) + CAR (vehicle)} containing (filled with) GAS (fuel) following (east of [in an across clue]) MAD (hot; angry)

2d   Like a Ponzi scheme // Ma rapidly unravelled (9)

PYRAMIDAL* — anagram of (unravelled) MA RAPIDLY

4d   Friends actress // is enthralled by Chekhov (7)

AN(IS)TON — IS (†) contained in (enthralled by) ANTON (Chekhov; Russian playwright and short story writer Anton Chekhov[7])

American actress Jennifer Aniston[7] rose to international fame portraying Rachel Green on the television sitcom Friends (1994–2004).

5d   Blanket // held by Eugene Richards (7)

_GENE|RIC_ — hidden in (held by) EuGENE RIChards

Blanket[2] (adjective) denotes general; applying to or covering all cases, people, etc ⇒ (i) blanket term; (ii) blanket rule.

Scratching the Surface
While the surface reading might refer to American documentary photographer Eugene Richards[7] or even former Major League Baseball player Eugene "Gene" Richards[7], it is more likely just a convenient name invented by the setters.

6d   Snide reaction, terribly // thoughtless (13)

INCONSIDERATE* — anagram of (terribly) SNIDE REACTION

7d   Oscar-winning actor // gives props to all but the leader (5)

_HANKS — [T]HANKS (gives props to) with the initial letter removed (all but the leader [initial letter])

Props[5,10] is mainly US and Canadian slang meaning proper or due respect ⇒ certain sectors of the music fraternity still refuse to give him props.

Origin: 1990s from proper respect

8d   Legislature // cut back on certain fare (4)

DIET — double definition

Diet[2] is is the name of the legislative assembly of certain countries, e.g. Japan.

10d   Standard, // scattered showery matter (6,7)

{STORMY WEATHER}* — anagram of (scattered) SHOWERY MATTER

Standard[5] is used in the sense of (especially with reference to jazz or blues) a tune or song of established popularity ⇒ He is also working on an album of jazz standards, tunes by Gershwin, Cole Porter and the like.

"Stormy Weather"[7] is a 1933 torch song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem in 1933 and recorded it that year. The song has since been performed by many artists, most famously by Lena Horne and Billie Holiday.

13d   “Bad Moon Rising” // title given to some priests (10)

MONSIGNORI* — anagram of (bad) MOON RISING

Monsignor[5] (plural monsignori) is the title of various senior Roman Catholic posts, such as a prelate or an officer of the papal court.

Scratching the Surface
"Bad Moon Rising"[7] is a song written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was the lead single from their album Green River and was released in April 1969, four months before the album.

16d   Eric joining a guy’s // Western group (9)

A|M(ERIC)ANS — ERIC (†) contained in (joining) {A (†) + MAN (guy) + S ('s)}

18d   This Red radical // doesn’t act decisively (7)

DITHERS* — anagram of (radical) THIS RED

19d   Strange, but tree // scientist’s measuring tube (7)

BURETTE* — anagram of (strange) BUT TREE

A burette[5] (US buret) is a graduated glass tube with a tap at one end, for delivering known volumes of a liquid, especially in titrations.

20d   Praises // cold showers (5)

HAILS — double definition

Post Mortem
I resorted to a bit of electronic assistance having become fixated on the idea that the solution must begin with the letter C.

21d   A second-rate editor // sacked? (4)

A|B|ED — A (†) + B (second rate) + ED (editor)


The song "Stormy Weather"[7] tells of disappointment, as the lyrics, "Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky", show someone pining for her man to return. The weather is a metaphor for the feelings of the singer: "stormy weather since my man and I ain't together, keeps raining all the time."

A number of other clues complement the mood established by the song, in particular 3a, 20a, and 24a.

Key to Reference Sources: 

  [1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
  [2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
  [3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
  [4]   - TheFreeDictionarycom (Collins English Dictionary)
  [5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
  [6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Advanced American Dictionary)
  [7]   - Wikipedia
  [8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
  [9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11]   - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12]   - (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13]   - (Macmillan Dictionary)
[14]   - (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)

Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. Hello Falcon and fellow puzzlers,

    Another enjoyable puzzle from C&R today. No help required although there were a couple of tricky parsings such as 19a and 22a. Really liked 20d and 11a.

    Thank you for posting Falcon. Enjoy the autumn weekend everyone!


  2. Not sure how "Standard" works as definition for 10d, but reasonably easy going today. 17a was interesting as it could be parsed in two different ways for the same answer.

    1. In cryptics, most often in British ones, "standard" can refer to a flag, and there is a "Storm" flag. It's a red square with a black square in its centre. Use 2 to denote hurricane, and tie them tightly!

    2. Except in this case, 'standard' would be used to mean
      A tune or song of established popularity
      Oxford On-Line Dictionary

    3. A standard (especially with reference to jazz or blues) is a tune or song of established popularity.

    4. You beat me to the punch, Henry.

  3. I assume 10d refers to the old popular song as there are other show biz references.
    I chuckled when I finally parsed 19a.
    Have a good week, all.

  4. Pencilling in answers a bit too quickly ended up stifling progress on the right side of the grid.
    Liked the musical theme. Not sure a certain mid-west city would appreciate their reference in 15a. I agree with the comment of parsings for 19a and 22a.
    Thanks for the post, Falcon! And for everybody - it isn't autumn quite yet (astronomically).

  5. Falcon - how about the following parsing for
    24a Very unhappy // being bald? (10)
    Since this is a DD, we don't need a link word, and 'being bald' is a synonym for distressed.

    1. I wouldn't say that your parsing is incorrect; I just prefer a different explanation. The rationale behind my parsing is that one could also say that 'being bald' is a synonym for 'being distressed' (in which 'bald' and 'distressed' are synonyms). So all four terms are roughly synonymous. Adding the word 'being' likely introduces some subtle shade of meaning but it is beyond my grammatical expertise to specify what that may be. Therefore, since it is not necessary to include the word "being" as part of the definition and there is an alternate explanation for its presence in the clue (as a link word), I choose to see the synonyms as being 'bald' and 'distressed'. But to each his own.