Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tetris - March 2015

March 2015 | Crestfallen | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Hello Dear Readers! UGH we are having the darndest time motivating to get Tacky Harper's up but UGH just gonna do it! You are reading the “Just Gonna Do It” edition of this blog. We created this chore for ourself. O strange psykology! What hath ye wrought?? Now we make this face:
Blog o'Clock | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
First ... a change. We hate change, and changing. Sometimes a change still manages to slip through the cracks of our tightly constructed life. The change is: this blog is now

We made the change at Blogger's suggestion and with an easy purchase via Google Domains. Ok but then so visitors to are now greeted with the following alarming message, as if we've taken insecure criminal action to expose Dear Readers to harm:

“You're about to be redirected

The blog that used to be here is now at

Do you wish to be redirected?

This blog is not hosted by Blogger and has not been checked for spam, viruses and other forms of malware.

Buh. We believe that actually this blog is still hosted by Blogger. If hosted elsewhere ... well, we certainly did not take action to migrate or redirect or anything. If it's not Blogger we would much appreciate knowing who is hosting.

The Puzzle!

Flew through this one over a bus ride to Logan Square for a slam poetry thing. Nothing particularly tacky this month. Nothing particularly challenging this month. Smoothly barreled through it, like a power drill through cheese. Cheese particulates everywhere.

The Theme

Tetris! Exciting theme title, less exciting payoff. Twas sweet and kind of Maltby to make the funky fallen letters checked, but most times there was little or no ambiguity about what the new word could be.
  • 33D) CAN > CANT (haha v nice)
  • 14D) ITCHES > AITCHES (uhhhhhh fine)
  • 7D) KIN > KILN
  • 26D) LAST > LEAST
  • 25D) TURKEY > TURNKEY (nice)
See what we mean? Mosta these, once having solvied the clue there was just no question on the transform for the fill. Like: STAMPED? What's that gonna become? STAMPLED? SHTAMPED?

And then keyword CRESTFALLEN appeared after figuring out maybe four of the downs. The downs were a little more exciting, since they were of ambiguous length. But, like we says, not that exciting.

“Tetris-style” was a real stretch in that: most of the fun of Tetris is in the rotation transformations, the left-right translations, and fitting pieces together. “Connect Four” more like. Or “Plinko.”
Plinko | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 10A) University I entered in Northwest, transferring with the lowest credits (11)
    (University = U) + I + NORTHWEST = UNWORTHIEST
Big bombossa anagrama! Shoutout to Northwestern wut wut! Transfer with the highest credits!!
  • 14A) Make invalid remove article from yearbook (5)
    remove (article = A) from (yearbook = ANNUAL) = ANNUL
Yah!! Charmed by reference to old-timey word for yearbook. What did she write to you in the annual???
Winona Ryder's yearbook photo
  • 20A) Places quotes in speech (5)
    (quotes = CITES) * homophone = SITES
Nice and sweet! Clean and tight!
  • 23A) Famous dog with no tail in 200-years-old work? (7)
    (Famous dog = LASSIE) with no tail = LASSI) in (200 = CC) = CLASSIC
Classie lassie :)
Classy from Adventure Island for Gameboy
  • 27A) A bit of necking get you to sleep with someone, finally (4)
    (sleep = NAP) + (someone, finally = E) = NAPE
Yah! Sexy :)
  • 30A) Far less popular recording star, mimic is brought in (7)
    (popular recording star = CHER) + (mimic = APE) is brought in = CHEAPER
What up to our girl Cher!!
Cher | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 35A) Sums for a driller (4)
    A + (driller = DDS) = ADDS
DDS! Son, be a dentist. Gets to the heart of dentistry. Drilln. Pain. Dollars and cents / just clap your hents / clap your hents
Hannibal Buress plays a dentist on Broad City | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
This month's Nerd Hot Guy: Hannibal Burress. Mwa!
Hannibal Buress | "Are you comfortable with Alanis Morisette's definition of irony?" | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 40A) All trysting is immoral in a surprising way (11)
Nice. We just read 50 Shades of Grey. Had a great time. To the haters, well: it's Twilight erotic fan fiction. If you don't like Twilight, and you don't fan fiction, and you don't like erotica, you're prolly not gonna like 50 Shades of Grey. Easy math. You don't get the Fields medal for saying 50 Shades is bad writing, or secretly suspecting you might like it but alienating yourself from your own enjoyment and not even giving it a try.

True fact: we didn't even find 50 Shades outstandingly bad writing! But then on Sweet V's reco this week we started reading Foucault's Pendulum, and we're loving it, and woops. Yup ok, this is the good writing. We were perhaps unnecessarily contrarian in our forgiveness of 50 Shades's writing.
Fifty Shades Darker with post it: "Mom - please stop reading this in the family room I don't watch porn next to you. Love, your son" | Tacky Harper's Crytpic Clues
  • 2D) Calls for being a saltine cracker?
    SALTINE * anagram = ENTAILS
Nice! Dissolves easy into simple sugars. Yum num.
  • 4D) Vocally adds one's name at bank functions
    (adds one's name at bank = COSIGNS) * homophone = COSINES
You know this is the one we love most! Shout out to Dear Readers who watched MTV in the '90s!!
I know my Calculus | You + Me = US | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Reader's opening tune, in a way
    TUNE * anagram = UTNE
What's up to the Utne Reader. Hell yes. Shout out to Liberal Print Media Super Babe Nina Utne:
Nina Utne | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 9D) It's really not nice housing the French and their manners
    (It's really not nice housing = STY) + (the French = LES) = STYLES
Couldn't parse the logic on this one, until remembering that the French have a plural “the.” Flashback to our mom, on the plane to Paris last fall, glancing up at the French stewardess, sotto voce to us: “watch out for Frenchitude.”
Erica and Mom in Paris | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

  • 14D) Results of a rash of questionable ethics?
    ETHICS * anagram = ITCHES
Nice and natural language. Love!
  • 18D) Just rug strewn with filth
    (RUG + FILTH) * anagram = RIGHTFUL
Shoutout to Heather Donut who loves all the coolest things! Like British teenagers playing dubstep on satellite radio, announcing each track as “totally filfy.” Filfy!
  • 20D) Something found in pillows and also footwear
    pillows and also = SANDALS
Some inventive wordspanners this month!
  • 22D) Doing what's necessary to refuse Democrat: impugn in motion
    ((Democrat = D) + IMPUGN) anagram = DUMPING
“refuse” like trash refuse, like rhyming with “nephews.” Very nice.
  • 25D) Sexual excitement in animals turns up opener for poultry
    ((Sexual excitement in animals = RUT) turns up = TUR) + (opener = KEY) = TURKEY
Yah! Get sexy!
Michelle Obama with turnip (turn up) | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28D) Look at the books of Rimbaud, italicized, with parts expurgated
    Rimbaud, italicized = AUDIT
Verr nise.
  • 35D) Cooler in May
    Cooler = May = CAN
Relies on can/may equivalency. We remember watching Avalon when we were prolly no older than little Elijah Wood:

It doesn't show it in that clip, but guess what happens later? Little Elijah pees his pants because the teacher won't let him go to the toilet until he figures out that the magical passphrase is “may I go to the toilet” instead of “can I go to the toilet.” Prolly cuz Elijah did the Harper's cryptic and believed it.

Gratifyingly, later in the movie the teacher is chastised by the principal and Elijah Wood's dad. The teacher is like, “‘can’ and ‘may’! When will the boy learn the difference between ‘can’ and ‘ma—” and the principal and dad are like, in unison, “LADY YOU ARE SO FUCKED UP.”

So. Maybe we should relax about can/may equivalency.


  • 1A) “This is regarding our covering copy of a letter.” “Come again?” (7)
    (This is regarding = RE) + OUR covering (copy of a letter = CC) = REOCCUR
CC as in carbon copy. What's up print mediaaaaa! But boo on RE- words. RE- words offer low rewards.
carbon copy | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 7A) Sir Kay brought back name for man with many gifts (4)
    SIR + (Kay = K) brought back = KRIS
Kris Kringle. K fine. Sir Kay shows up again in the puzz:
  • 37A) Chance upon the return of Sir Kay (4)
    return of SIR + (Kay = K) = RISK
which is like the same flucking thing as 7A with the reversal on SIR and KAY for K so buh, whatevs! Whatevs.
Sir Kay | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13A) A river that flows from letter to come (6)
    A RIVER * anagram = ARRIVE
You know hows we feel about the single letter translation anagrams. Moooooooo.
  • 15A) Vegas leader's notes? (3)
    Vegas leader = notes = LAS
LA like do re mi fa so. Rull easy. Too easy.
  • 32A) The first character exits from reality plays (4)
    The first character exits from (reality = FACTS) = ACTS
Oooh yah so “reality” = “facts” is dubious to us. Loose like can/may.
  • 36A) Passage of mine, not quiet or stern (3)
    (Passage of mine = SHAFT) not (quiet = SH) = AFT
Shaft | Richard Roundtree | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
We basically like it, but there was a LOT of this same trick of “guess the synonym, take off a letter.” Witness 32A above. Witness:
  • 7D) Not quite charitable folks
    Not quite (charitable = KIND) = KIN
And witness:
  • 26D) Bee leaves wild party at the end
    (Bee = B) leaves (wild party = BLAST) = LAST
Annnnnnnnnd witness:
  • 31D) Dress covering a pointy thing not all the way
    A + (pointy thing = PRONG) not all the way = APRON
Witness to the witless. Also apron = dress? Murr.
Will Cook for Sex apron | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 39A) I'm on television series Con Game (5)
    I'm on television = MONTE
Cutting “series” and using “television‘s” woulda made it tighter. Thought for a sec this clue was a reference to Montel Williams.
Montel Williams playing three card monte | Tacky Harper's Crytpic Clues

Nothing motivates blogging like a COMMENT!! Say hello. Whatevs, no bigs. It'll feel good :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

To Have and To Hold - February 2015

February 2015 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

The Theme

Slowly pieced together the fill in 1A and speculated with Sweet V what the Valentine's related theme might be. “Gag me anytime?” “Something about Bagend?”

Enough fill in place and the theme was revealed: “bag and baggage.” Means “all one's possessions.” Unclued entries are types of bags, often hecka obscure. Also: material goods mean everything, eh? Eep. Twas a rough Valentine's day for Richard E Maltby Jr?
  • 5D) DUFFEL
Gladstone wwutt?
Joey Gladstone | Full House | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Bill Haverchuck | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Also there were like 80 bajillion anagrams this month. So, obviously we had a wonderful time :)


  • 11A) Pay back nuts—I remember nuts (13)
You wanna get nuts? | Michael Keaton in Batman | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 27A) Bums: a liquid asset (5)
    ASSET * anagram = SEATS
Sweet V, on seeing this, said, “non-sexual butt jokes? What is this??”
  • 29A) Melons, or lemons, can help you get sober (6)
    MELONS or LEMONS * anagram = SOLEMN
Ah, the wisdom of the Third Anagram!!
  • 31A) Doctor told to get dope (4)
    TOLD * anagram = DOLT
Nice psych-out with the frequent homophone indicator qua anagrind. Nice clean narrative. Doc! My pain is unmanaged here, doc! Get me summadat dope dope! Mwa! So nice!
Dr House | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) Optional road trips involving sincerity (13)
Mmmmmmmm big anagramas!!
  • 2D)Hero with an ease that's cleverly disguised (6)
    AN EASE * anagram = AENEAS
Aeneas! So nice (neas)!!
Aeneas | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Gee, it's those contemptible Brits (4)
    (Gee = G) + ITS = GITS
“stupid git” burned into our brainpan from The Argument Sketch in Monty Python.
The Argument Sketch | Monty Python | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 4D) Service offered anytime, but unexpectedly (7)
    ANYTIME * anagram = AMENITY
“service offered anytime” ... in our margin notes, we wrote “oral sex??”
  • 7D) Large organ that comes with Capt. von Trapp (5)
    LarGE ORGan = GEORG
In our notes, this conversation with Sweet V:

“I bet it's ‘DICK’.”
“Has to have five letters.”
Maria and Georg | The Sound of Music | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) You might be put out by it, but there is another way to put it (5)
    THERE * anagram = ETHER
Ether! Shoutout to æther! And reminded of a conversation with our brother Chris two Thanksgivings ago about chloroform and grappling hooks that show up in movies—you know, that type of standard movie bad guy material. Must be from the Bad Guy Store.
  • 13D) Damaged slicer remains (6)
    SLICER * anagram = RELICS
“Damaged slicer remains” is so nice and tight!
Narsil | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23D) Bring up name made in discipline involving exercises and pain (5)
    (name = N) in (discipline involving exercises = YOGA) * bring up = AGONY
Nice! The agony of yoga! Sweet V frequently complains that most yoga classes are designed for female flexibility, and thus discourage male attendance. We must to admit: we were blind to female normative exercise design!
Yoga | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 25D) Ringer, Round One, given a Nick name? (6)
    (Ringer = BELL) round (One = I) given A = BELIAL
Belial is a term occurring in the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as the Devil in Jewish and Christian texts.

Source: Wikipeeds

Nick names. Very nice. Consulted V's personal lexicon of names synonymous for the Dark One, but none fit the existing fill at the time of BE--A-. Thus, then assumed it was a famous/celebrity Nick (“Nick Bettay?”) Belial | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28D) Old piece from fitted coat worn by Siamese, perhaps (7)
    COAT + (Siamese, perhaps = CAT) TOCCATA
Music. REALLY thought this would be a reference to one of
  1. old menswear
  2. Chang/Eng
  3. Thailand
  4. cat outfits
Chang and Eng | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Cat wearing a sweater | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30D) One not moving in the mainstream route tavels around Long Island (7)
    ROUTE travels around (Long Island = LI) = OUTLIER
RULLY thought there'd be an LIRR reference here!
LIRR | Long Island Railroad Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 33D) Import daunts producer, possibly (6)
    DAUNTS * anagram = DATSUN
Datsun! Sweet V landed this one. Not called out in the instructs as uncommon, tho? Mmmmmmmmmmm uh. Not common to we!

Also, for years swore we heard Nedry saying “Datsun” instead of “Dodgson.” We've got Dodgson out here! | Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry from Jurassic Park | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 38D) Stone making cameo appearances in Sony X-Men series (4)
    Sony X-Men = ONYX
X-Men! Nice psych-out with reference to Sony's X-Men. btw, glad to hear that Sony is letting Spider-man enter the Marvel Comics Universe of film. Altho, we're also discouraged about what the franchise superhero blockbuster culture is doing to the spec screenplay market. But what gunna do ¯\(°_o)/¯

Here's some vintage X-men #nostalgia


  • 12A) Corrupt NE frontier agent that stops some progress (10)
Not an uncommon obscuro? Uh. I'm interferon with that logic. Definition:
interferon /in•ter•fer•on/
any of a family of glycoproteins, production of which can be stimulated by viral infection, by intracellular parasites, by protozoa, and by bacteria and bacterial endotoxins, that exert antiviral activity and have immunoregulatory functions; they also inhibit the growth of nonviral intracellular parasites.

Source: The Free Dictionary

  • 15A) Probation officer gets me fruit (4)
    (Probation officer = PO) gets ME = POME
Pome? What is? Just, like, an apple? Murr.
Pome | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 17A) Start to do good in a lab, perhaps ... (3)
    do good = DOG
What's with the all the perhapses this month? Buh. Here's a cute doggy:
Labrador puppy wearing a lab coat | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20A) Flooring participant in a timeless deed (4)
    (deed = TITLE) * timeless = TILE
UhhHHHhhhhhh it should be ILE by that logic. T-less! No T! We insisted to Sweet V for several hours that it must be PILE (somehow) as in carpeting, because it COULD NOT be TILE, as TILE has a T. It is not T-less. Then we got the crossing T from AMENITY in 4D and were thus forced to admit that the puzzle's answer was TILE. “Ai dreptate,” we said to Sweet V in his mother tongue. “You were right.”

Speaking of piles, here is a poem written by one of our former bosses. We were hired to that job formally as a marketing associate, and informally as a “second assistant” to the boss. Most of our intuition about the life of the Puzzle Minion is based on our experience working with this particular boss, who fancied himself a poet. Here is a memorable line from one of his poems:
My pee is in that pile
When I think of you, I smile


  • 37A) Drunken sot, in general, appearing ina Chinese restaurant (3)
    SOT * anagram = TSO
Tso, General. We meet again.
General Tso  | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
It should come as no surprise, and yet it still comes as a little surprise:
The dish is named after General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty general and statesman, although there is no recorded connection to him. The real roots of the dish lie in the post-1949 exodus of chefs to the United States.

Source: Wikipedya

  • 40A) Lady's man, for example, backs bid to avoid a suit (4)
    ((for example = EG) backs = GE) + (avoid a suit ... ?= NT ) = GENT
Is this a bridge reference? Dear Readers are invited to elaborate logic in the ccccccomments.
  • 14D) Accommodating beef served around South America (11)
    (beef = COMPLAINT) around (South America = SA) = COMPLAISANT
Variant spelling that went unmentioned in the puzzle instructs. How unaccommodating.
  • 29D) Marble slab with writing on it, so they say (7)
    = STELE
Stele. Fancy seeing you here in a puzzle all the time every day (never stop) (can't stop won't stop).
The monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Is pronounced like “Steely Dan” yess?
1970s Steely Dan | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Tacky!

  • 24A) A female reporter with competence (4)
    A + (female reporter = BLY) = ABLY
Nellie Bly | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Nellie Bly! Remembered from our feminist playing cards growing up!! A sample of this American badass:
But the piece that was to make Bly’s name was her exposé of the insane asylum on New York's Blackwell's Island. Pretending to be Cuban, Bly was committed there and found that most women in the asylum were in fact not insane but immigrants who could not communicate with their jailers or single women without a place in society. Bly stayed there for 10 days and described the horrible treatment and conditions of the place. ‘Suddenly I got, one after the other, three buckets of water over my head—ice cold water, too—into my eyes, my ears, my nose and my mouth. I think I experienced some of the sensations of a drowning person as they dragged me, gasping, shivering and quaking, from the tub. For once did I look insane, as they put me, dripping wet, into a short canton flannel slip, labeled across the extreme end in large black letters, ‘Lunatic Asylum, B.I.H. 6.’”

Source: The Daily Beast

Referencing Queen Bly makes up (partially) for yeddanother male-normative clue. Ugh, side rant, in the NYTimes crossword the other week there was GUYLINER which, o my gorn no one cares about your precious fragile masculinity, men wearing eyeliner! Here! Let us now legitimize a bogus word to keep your penis safe. It's not eyeliner, it's guyliner. They're not dolls, they're GI Joes. It's not gay if you like it. You're safe now. Which is to say: this gender normativity shit works both ways and sucks every time.

Back to Bly, the “female” reporter, who would never ever ever in a million skillion years occur to a cryptic doer without that all-important “female” hint. Because why would one of the great muckrackers of US history ever be top of mind. Being as she is in a special and discrete category of reporter. You know. As a female.

Wouldn't it be cool to at least live in a world where the cryptic clues said like “male CEO” and “male president” and things like that? Clues from a free world (cool world).
sign stencilled in spraypaint: 'The Feminists are Taking Over' | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Comment (yes).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ambiguities - January 2015

January 2015 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Heart skippo'ed a beat on this one.

Saw __LIN__OM_NIA in 1A and wha? Could that be something-something ROMANIA?? Could this be a reference to our Romanian Sweet Vlad (The Sweet One)?? Is this a cryptic message just for us???

Not quite.

18A and sister answers 28A and 37A reveal glorious long narrative palindromes:
  • 18A) Oh cameras are macho
  • 28A) Deb sat in Anita's bed
  • 37A) but Anita sat in a tub
Had ITA and IN A TUB in the fill for 37A for a long time and imagined references to FAJITA and later CARNITA. Carnita in a tub! Yum!
Palindromania | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues These are from JON AGEE's PALINDROMANIA. Very nice. Thus, this was not a message in the matrix for we and Sweet V ... or twas it???

While on topic, our personal all-time favorite palindromes:
  • lonely Tylenol
  • a butt tuba
  • taco cat
  • yo! banana boy!


  • 11A) Mad money assuming company has thrifty management (7)
    MONEY + (company = CO) * mad = ECONOMY
We jam econo.
We Jam Econo | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23A) What the Selective Service does for those making plans (8)
    What the Selective Service does = DRAFTS MEN = DRAFTSMEN
Nice. Had the D and M in the fill and toyed with DELETE MEN. Intense.
  • 33A) Exported Dutch tire announced (4)
    (tire = BORE) * homophone = BOER
Boer like Boer War. Four-letter Dutch export s'gotta be EDAM right? Did you get faked out at first glance like we did? Syke this time twas not so cheesy as that!!
Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues | Boer War
  • 40A) Registered trademark with earliest organized shopkeepers (9)
    ((Registered trademark = R) + EARLIEST) * anagram = RETAILERS
Put in ATTELIERS cuz we'd heard of it and we thought “Registered trademark” = T (misspelled ATELIERS) and it fit ... ish. Nicer this way of carse! Of carse, trouble spiraled out from this mis'entering (see 3D, below).
  • 41A) Fantasy creatures is described by Herb Klein initially (8)
    IS + (Herb = BASIL) + (Klein initially = K) = BASILISK
YESsss! Green deck forevar.
Basilisk | Green Deck | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) Look over little woman: rich and earthy (5)
    (Look = LO) + (little woman = AMY)
LO as in LOOK, HO! Little woman as in Little Women. Yuss.
Kirsten Dunst | Amy | Little Women | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Mutinous antielitist, taking the head off royalty, is found in space! (12)
    (ANTIELITIST + (head off royalty = R)) * anagram = INTERSTELLAR
We liked Interstellar. We were certain it'd get a shot at movie of the year. Mmmmm made a lot of money. Half a billion dollars money. Money wins Oscars, right? Not this time! Not even onda list. This year's Oscar noms generally just have us stumped. Like “wha? Why did they ... what is thi ... so much Birdman ... ?”
Insterstellar | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 5D) Some spirits turn out to be right, of course (4)
    (right = R) + (of course = YES) = RYES
Nice. Below: our all-time favorite moment from all of Parks and Recreation. In case it's not clear, in that last screenshot dear Ron Swanson is tearing, choked up.
Ron Swanson reads Robert Burns | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13D) Adventurous sounds played in an alley (4)
    (played in an alley = BOWLED) * homophone = BOLD
Walter and The Dude | The Big Lebowski | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 29D) Who is named by the leaders of Denmark, Yugoslavia, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Britain? Not a living soul!
    (leaders of (Denmark, Yugoslavia, Bangladesh, Brazil) = DYBB) + (Britain = UK) = DYBBUK
Yah! From Wikupiidiia:
In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk (Yiddish: from Hebrew adhere or cling) is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.


dybbuk | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30D) Play doctor with a lot of doctors (5)
    (doctor = DR) + (lot of doctors = AMA) = DRAMA
Hhahha doctors DO present quite a bitta drama! Enjoy the narrative possibilities of this one. “Hey baby. Wanna play doctor? I play with a lot of doctors.”

btw: salt 'n' pepa Cæsar cut Doug Ross is this month's Nerd Hot Guy. Notttt George Clooney. Dr Doug Ross.
Dr Doug Ross | George Clooney | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 36D) Something to be avoided in losing or taking on an element (4)
    taking on, an element = CARB
cuz if it took “ON” then it'd be CARBON, you carbon-based lifeform you knew that!! Shout out to holiday carbo loading!


  • 15A) Being close to a woman about to acquire a cape (12)
    TO + (woman = HER) + (acquire = GET) + (cape = NESS) = TOGETHERNESS
“Ness” is a cape?
ness (n.)
obsolete except in place names, Old English næs "a promontory," related to nasu "nose" (see nose (n.)). Cognate with Old Norse nes, Danish næs, Swedish näs, Middle Dutch nesse.

Source: Etymonline

Fresh way to get to Ness WE GUESS. Not mora dis:
Ness | Costner | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) Initiating it: a license to produce biased writing? (6)
    IT A LICense = ITALIC
Din't w'jus DO “italic = biased”? Like, recently? Googly search says no. Ok well. Ok.
  • 1D) Pacific telephone system follows quietly, each incorporating extra energy (9)
    (telephone system = CABLE) follows (quietly = P) + (each = EA) + (extra energy = E) = PEACEABLE
“telephone system = cable”? Mhurrrrrrrrrr.
  • 8D) Not quite ordinary opera (5)
    not quite (ordinary = NORMAL) = NORMA
Norma? What is?
ACT ONE: The action takes place in ancient Gaul, under Roman occupation, where the Druid priestess Norma has fallen in love with a Roman official named Pollione and has secretly borne him two children. Norma is also the daughter of the Druids' leader, Oroveso.

And later sounds like it gets RULLY good!

ACT TWO: So far, Norma has come across as an unpredictable and even dangerous woman. Now, we find her sounding vulnerable and filled with doubt — and with a knife in her hand.

Source: NPR

Hoped for a second this was a reference to Sally Field as brave and plucky union activist Norma Rae. We always mix Norma Rae up with tragic whistleblower and union activist Karen Silkwood.
Norma Rae | Karen Silkwood | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Also: jotted Turandot in our notes cuz: it's always Turandot.

The Tacky!

There were three we didna like this month! Ein zwei drei(sbach)!
  • 12A) Female writer's name, in the long run 
    (name = N) in the (long run = JOG) = JONG
Erica Jong | Fear of Flying | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues “long run” to preserve idiom but a jog is not a very long run per se. Generally connotes a short run.

“I took a jog this morning: two miles.”
“Good for you!”

“I took a jog this morning: 20 miles.”
“You bitch that is not a ‘jog’ that is a run.”
“It was at jog pace!”
“Like that matters. Twenny miles! Twenny miles!! ‘Jog’ ... sheesh ... ” [eats donut]

Wooot Erica Jong but buh, whysit gotta be female writer why not just writer you know like a real writer, unqualified, just that subtle shit that quietly rots female writers from the inside. Robble robble robble.

You wanna refer to Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues as the premier female comedic blog review of the Harper's cryptic?


probably. anyone else out there? holla!

The other Wednesday we had our first improv class at Second City. We expected Second City to be kindof dirty and gritty, like an old theater. Instead it's clean and expansive, like a new university student center, or Scientology headquarters* (*we imagine).

Anyway we arrived ten minutes early. And there was an earlier class in the room still wrapping up, but we figured, prolly ok to stand in the back and watch. But then the class teacher said in a very obnox way, “claaaaaaaasss hasn't started yet!” Which was a drag of a first impression to make on us.

We texted Sweet V about it: “He confirmed all those stereotypes you hear about men in comedy. Like how men in comedy are really chill, and funny.” And V texted back, “I've heard rumors that men can be funny, but never believed it could be true!”

This has prompted much extended trolling on the topic of Whether Men Can Be Funny, or Whether Men Are Capable of Being as Funny as Women.
“It's not sexism, it's a brain thing.”

“Seriously: men are biologically wired to hunt things, to punch things. They're warriors. Not comedians.”

“I'm sure you could name me plenty of exceptions. But the fact remains that most so-called male ‘comedians’ simply aren't funny.”
Soooooo satisfying to use the tactics of the oppressor. A little dangerous. We lose track of whether we're joking or not. We must be careful to use in moderation.

The second:
  • 14D) Sporting place whose hero shamelessly takes in university (10)
    (WHOSE HERO takes in (university = U)) * anagram = WHOREHOUSE
Great. What is sported, pray tell? Erections? Casts the phrase “sporting chance” in a new light.
  • 13A) Bishop washed out a significant continental address (5)
    (Bishop = B) + (washed out = WAN) + A = BWANA
Bwana | The Thing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Murr. Even if “bwana” is used extensively in a thought experiment by the telepathic gorilla in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, a book we love. Even if it's used in The Thing, a movie which we also love.

BWANA is just a slip-tip of the tongue away from MASSAH. See what we mean? Language of oppression. We didn't like it. Boo(ana).

Comment (yes).