Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday, September 25, 2021 — On A High


Today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon—while by no means overly difficult—takes us to geographical and intellectual heights.

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
  • "wavy underline" - whimsical and inferred definitions
Click here for further explanation and usage examples of the symbols and markup conventions used on this blog.


1aO man, ski country, maybe?? (5,9)

{ROCKY MOUNTAINS}* — anagram of (maybe) O MAN SKI COUNTRY

This is an &lit. clue[7], a clue in which the entire clue is both wordplay and definition (in this case, the definition being decidedly on the cryptic side).

9a Drama sure misrepresented // attackers (9)

MARAUDERS* — anagram of (misrepresented) DRAMA SURE

10a Leader’s foremost supporter carrying one // sign (5)

L(I)BRA — {L (Leader's foremost [initial letter] + BRA (supporter)} containing (carrying) I ([Roman numeral] one)

11a One M&M containing seaweed // blend (7)

A|M(ALGA)M — A (one) + {M (†) + (&) M (†)} containing (†) ALGA (seaweed)

12a Apt for housing… // apt when housing five (7)

LI(V)ABLE — LIABLE (apt) containing (when housing) V ([Roman numeral] five)

13a Former // monk (5)

PRIOR — double definition

14a Prestigious // prize kitty returned (3-6)

{TOP| DRAWER}< — reversal of (returned) {REWARD (prize) + POT (kitty)}

17a Wild bears hunt // someone scantily clad (9)

SUNBATHER* — anagram of (wild) BEARS HUNT

19a More drastic // alternatives adopted by the two of us (5)

W(ORS)E — ORS (alternatives) contained in (adopted by) WE (the two of us)

20a Illegally copied // page I graded (7)

P|I|RATED — P(age) + I (†) + RATED (graded)

23a Left, dividing hot // pastry (7)

STO(L)LEN or STOL(L)EN — L(eft) contained in (dividing) STOLEN (hot)

25a Sun god with 502 // rays (5)

RA|DII — RA ([Egyptian] sun god) + DII ([Roman numeral] 502)

26a Part of the world // I am occupying while in Oregon (4,5)

AS(I|A M)IN|OR — {I (†) + AM (†)} contained in (occupying) {AS (while) + IN (†) + OR (Oregon)}

27aAn elite listing, perhaps?? (14)


Another &lit. clue, similar to 1a.


1d Liquor and bit of beer before a // dance (5)

RUM|B|A — RUM (liquor) + (and) B (bit [initial letter] of Beer) preceding (before) A (†)

2d Pink // vehicle on land (9)

CAR|NATION — CAR (vehicle) + (on) NATION (land)

Pink[5] is another name for a carnation.

3d Northern German coming after you, // junior (7)

YOU|N|GER — {N(orthern) + GER (German)} following (coming after) YOU (†)

4d Be superior to // Thermo Vac, surprisingly (9)

OVERMATCH* — anagram of (surprisingly) THERMO VAC

5d Aslan turned // snooty? (5)

NASAL* — anagram of (turned) ASLAN

6d Done with // Pacino fan (3,4)

AL|L OVER — AL (Pacino; American actor Al Pacino) + LOVER (fan)

7d Bigwig // reversed prohibition on body odour? (5)

{NAB|OB}< — reversal of (reversed) {BAN (prohibition) following (on) BO (body odour)}

If ever there were a clue where the order of operations is critical, this is surely it.

Flouting Conventions?
The use of "on" as a positional indicator is likely the most widely flouted convention in cryptic crosswords.

In a down clue, "A on B" usually indicates "A preceding B" as A sits on top of B and this is AB when read from top to bottom. An example which adheres to this principle is 2d in today's puzzle.

In an across clue, many would argue that "A on B" indicates "A following B". The rationale for this being that for A to be written on B, B must have already been written. Since English is written left to right, one must therefore first write B and then write A on it.

Some setters—Cox and Rathvon among them—commonly ignore this latter convention and use "A on B" in an across clue to indicate either "A following B" or "A preceding B".

In this clue, we encounter a different issue—what appears to be an across clue construct in a down clue.

8d Happy-go-lucky // tribe taking in a whistle-blower (8)

C(A|REF)REE — CREE (tribe) containing (taking in) { A (†) + REF (whistle blower)}

13d Pop’s fun // official document (8)

PA|S|SPORT — PA (pop) + S ('s) + SPORT (fun)

15d American general, around one, // kicking the bucket (9)

PER(I)SHING — PERSHING (American general; John J. Pershing[7]) containing (around) I ([Roman numeral] one)

16d Military aircraft // distort paths (9)

WARP|LANES — WARP (distort) + LANES (paths)

18d Actor who danced // a step for the audience (7)

A|STAIRE — A (†) + sounds like (for the audience) STAIR (step)

Fred Astaire[5] (1899–1987) was an American dancer, singer, and actor; born Frederick Austerlitz. He is famous for starring in a number of film musicals, including Top Hat (1935), in a successful partnership with Ginger Rogers.

19d Overdose taken by female // friend of Dorothy (7)

WO(OD)MAN — OD (overdose) contained in (taken by) WOMAN (female)

In American author L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz[7], a young farm girl named Dorothy and her pet dog Toto are swept away from their Kansas home by a tornado to the magical Land of Oz where she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion who accompany her and Toto on their journey to the Emerald City to seek help from the Wizard in returning home to Kansas.

21d Managed keeping party // hazard in the basement (5)

RA(DO)N — RAN (managed) containing (keeping) DO (party)

22d Inspire with Liberal // Southern speech (5)

DRAW|L — DRAW (inspire; as in "draw a breath") + L (Liberal; Canadian political party)

24d Roman revised // opera by Bellini (5)

NORMA* — anagram of (revised) ROMAN

Norma[7] is an opera by Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835) first produced at La Scala in Milan in 1831.


In a remark relating to 19d, Richard writes in the Comments below "I’m always impressed where C&R string words together that have a meaning but must often be separated to parse the clue."

His comment prompted me to dredge the following from my archives. It is perhaps doubly appropriate given 10a.

Lift and Separate
The solving technique to which he refers is often described as "lift-and-separate"—an allusion to a phrase that appeared regularly in advertising campaigns for Playtex brassieres in the 1960's.

The term applies to a clue construct in which a seemingly single conceptual unit (which can be either a word or a phrase) must be split into separate pieces playing different roles.

In 19d, a single conceptual unit ("female friend") must be separated into two elements, with "female" comprising part of the wordplay and "friend" being part of the definition.

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)
[15]   - (Penguin Random House LLC/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd )

Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. Good morning on this lovely, sunny fall day north of the GTA. Thanks for posting, Falcon. This C&R puzzle was straightforward and as always, enjoyable. Favourites were 1a and 27a and LOI was 2d. My head was complicating things, thinking of shears. I am confident my answer for 22d is correct but I don't see the parsing with the definition of inspire.
    Have a relaxing day and nice weekend and "see" you again next time.
    Best always, Heather

    1. Hi Heather, for 22d, the definition is at the end, and the parsing is in two parts as a charade (string together the components).

    2. Thanks, Richard (and Falcon and Henry). I never thought of 'inspire' as being the opposite of 'expire.' I know - makes me wonder what else I am missing when I think I am being open-minded. I had 'draw out' and 'draw forth' but no standalone 'draw' for an 'inspire' equivalent and C&R are to me, very clean in their parsing.
      As for the bra commercial, that was a surprise that brought a laugh, and on that, I did get the connection with the puzzle explanation. Taking it literally though, I am not sure that 'lift and separate' is a look we ladies are going for in our more golden years; I think the world is probably glad that we aren't! (No replies necessary. :-) )

  2. Greetings all from sunny NYC where fall temperatures have arrived. Just in time because hockey preseason games start tomorrow at MSG. Best of luck to your favorite teams. For you Leaf fans, I’ll be fine if you make it to the ECF but you’ll pardon me if I’ll be rooting for my Rangers to go further.
    I particularly enjoyed the long entries of 1a and 27a. I’m always impressed where C&R string words together that have a meaning but must often be separated to parse the clue. 19d is an example (as are most any clues probably).
    Thanks for posting Falcon. Saturdays are better as a result.
    Be well everyone.

  3. A jolly romp around the clues on this glorious fall morning. Fav was 25a. I agree with Heather. The link to inspire is a bit loose for me. But I too, do like those long answers.
    Have a good week, all. And thanks, as usual.

  4. Good morning everyone! I enjoyed today's offering from C&R, bit of a rocky start, the bottom half holding out on me. LOI was 23a when I remembered days spent at my German in-laws and the pastry we had with coffee in the afternoon.
    Today we seem to run the gamut from our childhood to the end of our days with some stolen moments in-between.
    I think my favourite is 13d, but really there were a lot of good clues today.
    The best of luck to all! Thanks for the post Falcon - I know I'm sitting at my computer at 8:00 am waiting to see the puzzle pop up!

  5. Good morning,

    I'm home from a sojourn by the largest lake on the largest freshwater island. I found today's offering to be on the easier side but fun nonetheless. I think I might have liked 26a best. Have a good weekend!


  6. Good morning from Winnipeg. A mixed bag for me. Less anagrams than there have been recently which was welcome.

    I really liked 14a and 26a.

    Thanks to C&R and Falcon.