Saturday, December 4, 2021

Saturday, December 4, 2021 — Well Versed in New England


I must have been tuned to the right wavelength, as today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon was quickly put to bed. Much appreciated as I have a long backlog of deferred tasks to tackle.

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.


1a Monitored zone // quickly filled by US tax agency (8)

A(IRS)PACE — APACE (quickly) containing (filled by) IRS (US tax agency; Internal Revenue Service)

5a Listing item // lower in fat (6)

LEANER — double definition; the first being an object exhibiting a tilt

9a Honeybunch // does some math around recess (8)

S(NOOK)UMS — SUMS (does some math) containing (around) NOOK (recess)

10a Burn adorning // Hades boatman (6)

CHAR|ON — CHAR (burn) + ON (adorning)

In Greek mythology, Charon[5] is an old man who ferried the souls of the dead across the Styx and Acheron Rivers to Hades.

11a Best // carbon paper bundle (5)

C|REAM — C ([chemical symbol for] carbon) + REAM (paper bundle; 500 [formerly 480] sheets of paper)

12a Making a comeback, // egrets run wild (9)

RESURGENT* — anagram of (wild) EGRETS RUN

14a Lacking a magic stick? A benefit // sometimes (3,3,5)

NO|W AND| A|GAIN — NO WAND (lacking a magic stick) + A (†) + GAIN (benefit)

18a Ben roaming a ruined // Penobscot River port (6,5)

{BANGOR MAINE}* — anagram of (ruined) BEN ROAMING A

Bangor[7] is a seaport of south-central Maine on the Penobscot River. Settled in 1769, it was occupied and sacked by the British during the War of 1812.

21a In daze, cheer // openmindedness (9)

T(OLE)RANCE — OLE (cheer) contained in (in) TRANCE (daze)

23a Italian island ousting its leader // without much warmth (5)

_ICILY — [S]ICILY (Italian island) with the initial letter removed (ousting its leader)

24a Check // to put in trouser part (3,3)

CU(T O)FF — TO (†) contained in (put in) CUFF (trouser part)

25a Headwear // Arthur’s returned, eh? (5,3)

{S|TRA}<|W HAT — reversal of (returned) {ART ([diminutive of] Arthur) + S ('s)} + WHAT (eh?)

26a Dutch artist // cheers madly (6)

ESCHER — anagram of (madly) CHEERS

Waterfall (1961)
M. C. Escher[7]
(1898 – 1972) was a Dutch graphic artist who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. His work features impossible objects, explorations of infinity, reflection, symmetry, perspective, truncated and stellated polyhedra, hyperbolic geometry, and tessellations.

27a Ornamental // ring beloved of Hero (8)

O|LEANDER — O ([letter that looks like a] ring) + LEANDER (beloved of Hero)

Hero and Leander[7] is a Greek myth relating the story of Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower in Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont (show explanation ), and Leander, a young man from Abydos on the opposite side of the strait. Leander fell in love with Hero and would swim every night across the Hellespont to be with her. Hero would light a lamp at the top of her tower to guide his way.

Hellespont[5] is the ancient name for the Dardanelles, a narrow strait between Europe and Asiatic Turkey, linking the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea. It is named after the legendary Helle, who fell into the strait and was drowned while escaping with her brother Phrixus from their stepmother, Ino, on a golden-fleeced ram.


Succumbing to Leander's soft words and to his argument that Venus, as the goddess of love, would scorn the worship of a virgin, Hero allowed him to become "special friends" with her. These trysts lasted through the warm summer. But one stormy winter night, the waves tossed Leander in the sea and the breezes blew out Hero's light; Leander lost his way and was drowned. When Hero saw his dead body, she threw herself over the edge of the tower to her death to be with him.

An ornamental[5] is a plant grown for its attractive appearance.

Oleander[5] is a poisonous evergreen Old World shrub grown in warm countries for its clusters of white, pink, or red flowers.


1d Scale a rocky // French area (6)

ALSACE* — anagram of (rocky) SCALE A

Alsace[5] is a region of north-eastern France, on the borders with Germany and Switzerland. Alsace was annexed by Prussia, along with part of Lorraine (forming Alsace-Lorraine), after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1, and restored to France after the First World War.

2d Greek island // highways and byways recited (6)

RHODES~ — sounds like (recited) ROADS (highways and biways)

Rhodes[5] is a Greek island in the southeastern Aegean, off the Turkish coast, the largest of the Dodecanese and the most easterly island in the Aegean.

3d Augmented reality game // occupying cowpoke Mongolians (7,2)

_POKE|MON GO_ — hidden in (occupying) cowPOKE MONGOlians

Pokémon Go[7] is an augmented reality (AR) mobile game for iOS and Android devices.

4d Some shooters // arrived with green sign (11)

CAME|RAW|OMEN — CAME (arrived) + RAW (green; inexperienced) + OMEN (sign)

6d Upper atmosphere // article found in well (5)

E(THE)R — THE ([definite] article) contained in (found in) ER (well)

Well[5] is an exclamation used when pausing to consider one's next words, to mark the resumption or end of a conversation, etc. ⇒ well, I suppose I could fit you in at 3:45.

7d Old Scandinavian // calls Hollywood’s Howard back (8)

{NOR|SEMAN}< — reversal of (back) {NAMES (calls) + RON (Hollywood's Howard; American film director and former child actor Ron Howard[7]}

8d Nitrogen altered // cell’s signal (8)

RINGTONE* — anagram of (altered) NITROGEN

13d Nostalgic, // posted “I like some gymnastics” (11)

SENT|I|MENTAL — SENT (posted) + I (†) + MENTAL (like some gymnastics)

While I failed to find either term in any of my reference sources, to my mind mental gymnastics is another term for leaps of logic which are tenuous (at best)—and often outright ridiculous—explanations, rationales or justifications.

15d Smithsonian displays // volunteer’s words in morning time segment (9)

AM|ER(I|CAN)A — I CAN (volunteer's words) contained in (in) {AM (morning) + ERA (time segment)}

The Smithsonian Institution[7], or simply, the Smithsonian, is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge".Called "the nation's attic" for its eclectic holdings of 154 million items, the Institution's 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and zoo include historical and architectural landmarks, mostly located in the District of Columbia.

* Founded in 1846, the institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. It was originally organized as the United States National Museum, but that name ceased to exist administratively in 1967.

16d Hitch // cables to convertible (8)

OBSTACLE* — anagram of (convertible) CABLES TO

17d Rational, // very meticulous mayor’s domain making a comeback (8)

ANAL|YTIC< — ANAL (very meticulous) + reversal of (making a comeback) CITY (mayor's domain)

19d Audibly, team // expressed relief (6)

SIGHED~ — sounds like (audibly) SIDE (team)

20d Shellfish // you initially put in blender of a certain brand (6)

O(Y)STER — Y (you initially; initial letter of You) contained in (put in) OSTER (blender of a certain kind; brand of small kitchen appliances)

22d Get upset about failing // firearm (5)

RI(F)LE — RILE (get [someone] upset) containing (about) F (failing; result on a pass/fail exam—or on pretty much any exam for that matter)


The title of today's review is drawn from the rhyming couplet of 14a and 18a with a nod to 6d.

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. Greetings all from NYC. Hope all is well with everyone. We're back from a week's stay in warmer climes. Good to be back to my Saturday morning ritual. Thanks Falcon for providing the post.
    I found it interesting in the placement of 9A opposite 10A and 21A opposite 23A. Opposites attract?
    The wordplay of 7D and 13D were particularly smart.
    1D, 2D, and maybe with 7D, 15D and 18A gave the puzzle an international flavor perhaps.
    Stay safe and warm.

  2. Good morning,

    I think we had a geography lesson today with a bit of Greek mythology. Difficulty increased and enjoyment decreased by the execrable 9a and 3d. I had to look up both of them. Have a good weekend!


  3. Hello Falcon and friends,

    I had a hard time getting started with the puzzle as I drew a blank with most of the across clues the first time through. I thought 9a was cute and really liked 8d because of the misdirection about a cell. Still puzzling over the meaning of "well" in 6d. LOI was 25a. Overall, a good challenge.

    Thank you for posting Falcon. Have a nice weekend everyone. Now off to the HEX puzzle in the WSJ!


  4. Maybe, well, er, okay, I don't know.

  5. Good morning one an all!
    Reading the notes, not having spent a lot of time looking for themes, I thought there was merit in the opposites attract idea. Then there is ring, bang, and poke.
    LOI was 13d - cute gymnastics. Second last one in was 25a, eh?
    Really liked 4d, MG - I thought for sure you'd note that. Laughed at 9a.Trying to figure out the parsing for 15d, but I have the answer I think.
    Thanks for the post Falcon!
    It's getting to the end of the year, time to be 13d.

  6. Good morning from a sunny Winnipeg especially after the Jets went on a tear against New Jersey. I see the team that hasn't won the Stanley since 1967 is in town tomorrow night.
    A very enjoyable puzzle from C&R, not too challenging for my third puzzle of the morning. No standout favourite but I did like 9d although I can't say that it is a term of endearment that I have ever used.
    Thanks to C&R and to Falcon.

    1. How about the remarkable Winnipeg ICE?

  7. Some really fun clues today. LOI 15d!
    Enjoyed 25a and 9a for Ah-ha moments. Always happy to add to my knowledge re: 6a, thanks Falcon.

  8. Hello everyone. Challenging puzzle for me. I had to parse more to get answers than to check them - certainly no write-ins except 9a. My dad always called me that as a child. Nice to see the write-up of Escher, Falcon; a print of his woodcut Day and Night went with me on every office wall throughout my career, never tiring of its balance and flow, contrast and perfect detail.
    Favourites were 14a and 24a. LOI was 15d. Thank you, Falcon, for the post and C&R for the workout.
    Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone.
    Best always, Heather
    PS - thank you, MG, for the reminder of the other C&R