Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saturday, September 26, 2020 — Grasping the Point


As a number of readers have commented, today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon is on the gentle side.

The review is a bit delayed this week. I took advantage of the glorious weather this weekend to get in one final camping trip. My gear is now home from the lake and in the process of being stowed away for the winter.

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


Here is 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

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   Attire // Gale and Sally? (7,3)

WIND|SOR TIE — WIND (gale) + (and) SORTIE (sally)

6a   Some sailors mutter // foul language (4)

_S|MUT_ — hidden in (some) sailorS MUTter

9a   Misplaced brew, so brew // something for surfers (3,7)

{WEB BROWSER}* — anagram of (misplaced) BREW SO BREW

10a   Outspoken star // not working a job (4)

IDLE~ — sounds like (outspoken) IDOL (star)

12a   One who explored the Pole // via road (4)

BY|RD — BY (via) + RD ([abbreviation for] road)

Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd Jr.[7] (1888–1957) was an American naval officer and explorer. Byrd claimed that his expeditions had been the first to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole by air although his claim to have reached the North Pole is disputed.

13a   Old tune // recited aloud? (4,3)

{AURA LEE}~ — sounds like (recited) ORALLY (aloud)

"Aura Lea"[7] (sometimes spelled "Aura Lee") is an American Civil War song about a maiden. It was written by W. W. Fosdick (lyrics) and George R. Poulton (music). The melody was used in Elvis Presley's 1956 hit song "Love Me Tender".

16a   Ned keeps rats and such— // forget about it (5,4)

NE(VER MIN)D — NED (†) containing (keeps) VERMIN (rats and such)

18a   Norm is // where the Metro runs (5)

PAR|IS — PAR (norm) + IS (†)

The subway system in Paris is known as the Paris Metro[7] (Métro de Paris).

19a   Launch without a // meal at noon (5)

L_UNCH — L[A]UNCH (†) with the letter A removed (without A)

21a   Interest in World War I general // expiring (9)

PERISHING — I(nterest) contained in (in) PERSHING (World War I general)

US General of the Armies John J. Pershing[7] (1860–1948) served as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the Western Front in World War I, 1917–18.

23a   Feature of a whale // cry (7)

BLUBBER — double definition

24a   Letters // Neeson sent back (4)

MAIL< — reversal of (sent back) LIAM (Neeson; UK actor Liam Neeson[7] [from Northern Ireland])

27a   Place to soak a // kind of brass (4)

TUB|A — TUB (place to soak) + A (†)

28a   Lodging // date kept by Marie’s husband (4-1-5)

PIE(D-À-TE)RRE — DATE (†) contained in (kept by) PIERRE (Marie's husband)

French physicist Pierre Curie[7] (1859–1906) shared the 1903 Noble Prize in Physics with his wife Marie Curie[7] and fellow French physicist Henri Becquerel. Marie, a chemist as well as a physicist, also received the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields.

A pied-à-terre[5] is a small apartment, house, or room kept for occasional use.

29a   Uncommon // stretch of disaster areas (4)

_R|ARE_ — hidden in (stretch of) disasteR AREas

30a   Narcissists // rigged casino game (10)

EGOMANIACS* — anagram of (rigged) CASINO GAME


1d   Initially, walking on water sure // makes jaws drop (4)

WOWS —  initial letters of (initially) Walking On Water Sure

2d   Points /at/ the sides of nightclubs (4)

NI_BS — the initial two letters and the final two letters of (sides of) NI[GHTCLU]BS

A nib[5] is the pointed end part of a pen, which distributes the ink on the writing surface.

3d   Mister // Spock’s first bedtime ritual (7)

S|PRAYER — S (Spock's first [letter]) + PRAYER (bedtime ritual)

4d   Moved a boat // due after mid March (5)

R|OWED — OWED (due) following (after) R (mid March; middle letter of MaRch)

5d   Reykjavik native // I bad-mouth, in a manner of speaking (9)

ICELANDER~ — sounds like (in a manner of speaking) {I (†) + SLANDER (bad-mouth)}

Reykjavik[5] is the capital of Iceland.

7d   Toy // an old-timer repaired (5,5)

{MODEL TRAIN}* — anagram of (repaired) AN OLD-TIMER

8d   What understanding people get, // topics-wise (3,7)

THE MES|SAGE — THEMES (topics) + SAGE (wise)

11d   Police officer carrying red // whip (4)

C(R)OP — COP (police officer) containing (carrying) R(ed)

14d   Little kid // fixed rental bike (5,5)

{ANKLE BITER}* — anagram of (fixed) RENTAL BIKE

15d   Odd figure’s counterpart, // with still less feeling (4,6)

EVEN NUMBER — double definition [with differ pronunciations of the second word]

17d   Revealing // some chimp art in gallery (9)

_IMP|ART|IN|G_ — hidden in (some) chIMP ART IN Gallery

20d   Hoboken, after Ken leaves // bum (4)

HOBO_ — HOBO[KEN] (†) with the final three letters removed (after KEN leaves)

Scratching the Surface
Hoboken[5] is a city in New Jersey situated across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Hoboken is the location of the first recorded game of baseball and is also known as the birthplace and hometown of Frank Sinatra.

22d   Struck // small hand warmer (7)

S|MITTEN — S(mall) + MITTEN (hand warmer)

24d   Access to cyberspace // tribute in 2000 (5)

M(ODE)M —  ODE (tribute) contained in (in) MM ([Roman numeral] 2000)

25d   Sight in Puget Sound // or California (4)

OR|CA — OR (†) + CA (California; abbreviation)

Puget Sound[7] is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean located along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington. Orca (killer whales) are famous throughout the Sound, and are a large tourist attraction. Although orca are sometimes seen in Puget Sound proper they are far more prevalent around the San Juan Islands north of Puget Sound.

26d   Flipping, check // New York team (4)

METS — reversal of (flipping) STEM (check; stop)

The New York Mets[7] are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of Queens. The Mets compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division.


I struggled to find a theme in this puzzle — only to see one staring me in the face at 8d. Henry has pointed out in a comment that there are a number of body parts hiding in the solutions to the clues. To his list, we might add "mitt" (hand).

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]   - Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries Online) (Oxford Dictionary of English)
  [6]   - Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries Online) (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. Generally pretty straightforward today. The line break in 17d concealed what should have been obvious for a while. 13a was the hardest, as I had never heard of the song. 15d was my favourite as ther was no change in word breaks as ther often is in this clue type. Last in was 28a, due too some a potential parsing almost matching the cross letters.

  2. Thanks, Falcon. Agree with Chris about 13A, which was last to go in for me. Particularly enjoyed 8D, 24D and of course 15D. Low 70s and partly sunny toady in NYC.

  3. Hello Falcon and fellow puzzlers,

    Almost felt like an intern created the puzzle today, seemed a bit too easy. My last one in was also 13a but I definitely know the song. Favourites were 15d and 1a.

    Thank you for posting as always. Have a nice weekend everyone!


  4. Good afternoon, everyone! Maybe the last warm weekend of 2020? Although this was the hottest summer on record for North America, or so I've heard.
    Went through the bottom half without much difficulty. The top (1a, 12a, 13a, 3d, and 8d) held me up for a little while. Liked 8d. I also know 13a (heard it many years ago) and only got it using the checking letters (not 24a).
    Well, this puzzle was a 4x4, and I felt 15d after finishing.
    Anyone notice the body parts today (ankle, shin, brow, mind)? There may be others.
    Thanks for the post, Flacon.

  5. I was slowed by two things I didn't know. One was the old song, although nice that now I know the origins of "Love Me Tender." The other was "Marie," but then as a New Yorker I know that there will always be Canadian clues for others to feel at home.

    1. Welcome to the blog, John

      Yes, there are sometimes specifically Canadian references in the puzzles. However, I hardly think that Pierre and Marie Curie are among them.

  6. First time in ages that I just went through the entire puzzle very fast. I wondered if it was unusually straightforward ... or maybe my brain training exercises are finally paying off. Anyone else find it easier than usual?

  7. Nice to see several new contributors to the Comments section. Welcome to all the new faces. Hope you make it a regular practice to share your thoughts on the puzzle with us.

  8. Hello Falcon,

    A couple of minor edits required. You need to bold and underline the letter "O" in 1d and there seems to be a typo in the solution to 15d.

    Thanks for posting,