Monday, April 17, 2017

Armed to the Teeth - April 2017

answers to the April 2017 Harper's cryptic crossword puzzle | Armed to the Teeth | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Theme!

Uhhhh it was fine. “Armed to the teeth” to evoke “gold teeth” and 1A divined by crosses is GOLD FILLINGS and ah sure haha neato that means something about Au the chemical symbol for gold was inserted throughout the puzzle right, o how neat v cool theme.

jk jk, record scratch, run that back. Not AU but OR inserted into seventeen answers throughout the puzzle. “O, r you kidding me???” you ask, rhetorically, knowing the answer.

Dear Readers are invited to fight us in the Comments and explain the v excellent connexion between gold and/or gold fillings and OR. Something better than “OR is a homophone of ore, and gold is a kind of ore. So.” Then you shrug and grimace at us, rightly avoiding our gaze, as our eyes like twin blue tractor beams struggle to extract more from you. Sweep! Sweep! The buzzing electric hum of our gaze as it rakes across your bashful face.

photo of a little girl with blue eyes like tractor beams | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
EDIT: per Brother Danny below “OR” is a type of “gold” heraldry.
In heraldry, or (French for "gold") is the tincture of gold and, together with argent (silver), belongs to the class of light tinctures called "metals", or light colours. In engravings and line drawings, it is hatched using a field of evenly spaced dots. It is very frequently depicted as yellow, though gold leaf was used in many illuminated manuscripts and more extravagant rolls of arms.

Source: Wigipedia

Ah but do you fill teeth with it? AHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhh yes think of the solvers who are extremely literal and prefer on-the-nose themes. Many thanks to Brother Danny!
image of a Biblical manuscript with two male figures and, looks like, Hebrew writing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Because of the seventeen insertionios, none of the clues had number of answer letters in parens, which added some fun challenge. Dear Readers who find cryptic crossword puzzles baffling and maddening, we're not bragging about our skills to personally baffle and madden you. Make no mistake, we are absolutely bragging about our hardwon awesome cryptic crossword puzzle skills right now. But if you're curious about whether you catch the puzzle dragon, you don't. You chase that puzzle dragon forever. We'll tell you when we've had enough, kai, ta, loipa.


  • 10A) As affront is limitless, it's something to savor
    AS AFFRONt is limitless = SAFFRON
Long anagramas been in short supply this spring from the Harper's puzzle but hidden clues might be our new favorite flavor. Wonky narrative on the clue thus forgiven.

album cover for Donovan's Mellow Yellow | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13A) Romeo's leader on the road in final face-off
    in finAL FAce-off = ALFA
YAsss! Much love to Formula One! Much love to cool cars!!
  • 18A) Is “kiddo” only partly accepted? Get outta here!
    IS KIDDO Only partly accepted = SKIDDOO
Cousin of SKEDADDLE, v fun!
  • 21A) Ship's helm in the morning? Just the opposite!
    (helm = STEER) (just the opposite [of] in the = outside of) (morning = AM) = STEAMER
Heh heh, you said “steamer.”
  • 25A) During negotiations, a legitmate sign of a bargain
    negotiatiONS A LEgitimate = ON SALE
More hiddensies! YAS!
  • 29A) Sound barrier blasted
    Sound (barrier = DAM) = DAMN
We did a talk for high school students recently, supposedly speaking as a so-called expert performance poet. Oh how we bombed! Oh did we bomb so hard with these high school students! But the talk perked up a little when we got to the interactive section about “what is a poem?” We made a case for Damn Daniel as a poem. V interesting to hear how the students viewed mimetic language as almost like a fashion statement.
  • 37A) Do nag at someone who calls games
    DO (nag at someone = PESTER) = DOPESTER
Had never heard of DOPESTER which is usually an “indicator” that we'll hayte it but not this time! Toyed muchly with DOPESTAR but locked in the E on the cross so hadta be as it twas. Reminded of this guy:

image of early 2000s Flash media icon Homestarrunner | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 41A) Music, after I went at wine
    (MUSIC after I went = MUSC) AT = MUSCAT
Muscat Sally! Muscat Sam!

stylized image of '70s icons The Captain and Tenille | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 44A) And, also, as well—they all come back with dirt
    (And, also, as well = TOOS) they all come back = SOOT
This was one of our last solves of the puzzle and we were guessing ROOT we were guessing COOT and LOOT. Only after running through the alphabet did we get the clear answer SOOT! Three synonyms for word TOO means that they're a set of TOOS. Yes. This one tickled real nice.
  • 45A) State a word of welcome, wearing glasses?
    (a word of welcome = HI) wearing (glasses = O O) = OHIO
That's cute! HI is also a state postal abbreviation contained within the name of another state. Cute cute cute. The image of a word wearing glasses. OHhh! Very cute!
  • 46A) Gives out in so-called sporting events
    so-called (sporting events = MEETS) = METES
Like as in “metes out punishment.” Fresh!
  • 47A) Solver's true nature is elusory, puzzling (and female)
    ELUSORY puzzling and (female = F) = YOURSELF
OHHhhhh YES!! O FOCK yes!!!!! Is this a callout from Maltby directly to this humble female??? We think so!! We think so!
  • 1D) Wind up with, initially, Eric Idle
    up with ((initially Eric = E) (idle = LAG)) = GALE
    entered as GALORE
Shout out to Monty Pyth!

photo of Eric Idle from Monty Python | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 4D) Ref's set for curing sores
    REFS SET for curing = FESTERS
    entered as FORESTERS
Grosssss (awesome)! Fester can be a noun sure no prob. Gross grossssss (fun)!

promotional photograph of Uncle Fester from The Addamm's Family as played by Christopher Lloyd | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 8D) In Japan, goodbye at the end for an old city
    (In Japan goodbye = SAYŌNARA) at the end = NARA
Wasssup Japan! Two of our top favorite moments from visiting last summer:
  1. When the boat tour guide apologized that the tour would be in Japanese, and we said, in decent Japanese, “that's ok!” and “I studied Japanese.” The boat broke into applause!!
  2. Our last night in Tokyo, ordering coffee and water with the right forms of “please” and “pardon me” now second nature, and the clerk at Starbucks reverently saying in Japanese, “you are fluent!”
Always love an opportunity to take those schooldays Japanese language skills out for a spin!
  • 9D) Instinctive gradual erosion takes in a bit of land and the end of rain
    GRADUAL erosion takes in (a big of land = L) and the (end of rain = N) = GLANDULAR
GLANDULAR = INSTINCTIVE is a little stinky, just a little, but a spectacular mostly anagram, so much fun, and some nice smooth narrative cluing.
  • 10D) Rig bears south—they might make short cuts
    Rig BEARS (south = S) = SABERS
A wee bitta back and forth here at HQ about whether it'd be SABERS or SABRES.
  • 12D) Diesel in the actors' union appears in Deliverance
    (Diesel = VIN) in the (actors' union = SAG) =&nsbp;SAVING
    entered as SAVORING
Such nice smooth congruence with actors and Vin and the union and a real movie title! Spectacular.

And oh how we love that Brother Vin! Our younger real-life brother says that Big Vin has a reputation as a cruddy person, which breaks our heart! Oh it does. We choose the reality of this Valentine's Day karaoke cover of Stay:
  • 20D) Stuff that leaves you flat in London
    Stuff that leaves you = flat in London = PAD
This is nice!

re: “stuff that leaves you”
We watched a cute video about rehabilitating stuffed animals the other day. Secrets include restuffing via a discreet slit made in the nape of the neck and refluffing with a wire pet grooming brush.
  • 22D) A-list's membership ends
    A list's membership = TAILS
    entered as TAILORS
Ugh, we dislike greatly when the possessive is inconsistently included as anagrind but then that's also the FUN OF THE PUZZZLE maybe right? So we're putting this clue in Highlights to pretend we prefer challenge over immediate gratification and later we're going to bake a lemon cake for Sweet V and eat some of the cake batter as a late lunch, and none of you can stop us. [slow building gutteral cackle]
  • 24D) Mahler's First fools a lot of people
    (Mahler's First = M) (fools = ASSES) = MASSES
    entered as MORASSES
Wonderful! Would be perfect if not for another ASSES used in 24D. Much enjoy the subtle read that “a lot of people”&nsbp;= “asses” altho mayhap we're the only one who reads that? Mayhap.

An old friend of ours used to say of Mahler, feigning breathless affect, “Gustave! Where does it come from?”
  • 26D) Jimmy welcomes boorish puritanical element
    (Jimmy = PRY) welcomes (boorish = RUDE) = PRUDERY
Nice! Why, Jimmy? Why are you doing it? Did you get Red Pilled??
  • 27D) Tight-lipped group claims one is not wanted in it
    CLAIMS (one = I) is not wanted in it = CLAMS
    enetered as CLAMORS
  • 28D) Drinks out in streets
    OUT in (streets = STS) = STOUTS
Oh YES!! So clean! So tight! We'd've added “the” just to smooth out that language a just a wee smidge otherwise this is about as clean and tight as it gets!
  • 30D) A lot of Hair, they say, takes place in America
    (A lot of Hair = MANE) they say = MAINE
    entered as MORAINE
Moraine! Lovely word! Step through the moraine on the way to Mordor! We toyed with the notion that it would somehow be a MISSOURI => MISERY pun.
  • 36D) Not a nice place for satay—no first-class ratings
    SATAY no (first-class ratings = A) = STY
Only the best satay joints for us!
  • 38D) Place of pure enchantment?
    PURE enchantment = PERU
Sooooo glorious just remove that question mark! Pull it right out! So macchu picchu enchantment. You know this to be true.
  • 39D) Carry a child? Easy at first
    (a child = TOT) (Easy at first = E) = TOTE
Verrrrrry nice! And not involving a spit-pregnancy like 15A.

Also, hahahah what would you know about it, Maltby? Would you characterize the first trimester as easier or harder than the average menstrual cycle? That would be a useful reference point. Go ahead. Cuz we'd love to hear the answer: is [ultra super duper patronizing tone] the first trimester of carrying a human child to term easier or harder than the average menstrual cycle?

Your silence speaks volumes right now, bro.
  • 42D) Fly with only a pair of socks and a last piece of underwear
    (only a pair of SOCKS = SO) and A (last piece of UNDERWEAR = R) = SOAR
Excellent! Rully thought we were gonna have BRA in the puzzle! Cuz “underwear” is almost always a code of that most convenient of puzzle undergarments, that omniprevalent clue fodder. Not this time! And a very fun and unwittingly topical reference to airplane dress codes!


  • 11A) Low parts in Valse Fantastique
    VALSE fantastique = VALES
Ok this might be fine and even fun for that tight cluing essept we JUST had “VALE” in March. We just had it. C'mong.
  • 14A) Country parents holding an area in straitened circumstances?
    (Country parents = PA MA) holding AN = PANAMA
    entered as PANORAMA
Something about “country parents” feels weird. Haha backwoods people haha naw. Tell your maw and your paw.
  • 15A) Like some mothers except, after an exchange of letters with a family member, talking
    EXCEPT after an exchange of letters with a ((family member = AUNT) talking = ANT) = EXPECTANT
    entered as EXPECTORANT
Linking pregnancy with trash-spit feels grimey.
  • 17A) Hemingway and Che Guevara, to friends, hearing ideas evenly
    hEaRiNg IdEaS evenly = ERNIES
Hell no, hell absolutely not. Citation needed. Ci ta tion nee ded.
  • 19A) Taking five letters in “string,” adding one from each, anagramming
    (Taking five letters in string = STRIN) = RESTRING
    entered as RESORTING
And RE-SORTING is also a synonym for anagramming buh buh buh. It's also against the law to reference “anagram” in the cluing and not have at last a couple big beautiful twelver anagrams.
  • 26A) How to indicate Pennsylvania when there's little room for an animal?
    How to indicate Pennsylvania when there's little room = P AND A = PANDA
    entered as PANDORA
This is very very very terrible. This is disgusting and filfy. When you need to indicate “Pennsylvania” but you don't got a lotta space to write it, what option have ye? Just hope they know in their hearts? Just write “PENNSY” and hope for the best? NAY. There is another way. The letter P, AND the letter A. Put 'em together. You just indicated Pennsylvania brothers and sisters. This clue is so gross. Here. Let's look at Justin Trudeau with pandas:

photograph of beautiful Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with baby pandas | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 32A) Preserver finds first page missing from hymnal
    (page = P) missing from (hymnal = PSALTER) = SALTER
Our margin notes guessed at “MALTER” as a cute little sideways reference to the one and only Queen Editor Malt herself but naw, twas not to be. Is a PSALTER properly a hymnal? [long pause] Or is it a Book of Psalms? [feigned smile, coy duck of head]

We could look it up and settle the issue, yah?
A psalter is a volume containing the Book of Psalms

Source: Wikip

Well but so maybe a psalm is just a type of hymn, right? Hm yah why not let's super casually look it up:
The Book of Psalms commonly referred to simply as Psalms or "the Psalms", is the first book of the Ketuvim ("Writings"), the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and a book of the Christian Old Testament.[1] The title is derived from the Greek translation, psalmoi, meaning "instrumental music" and, by extension, "the words accompanying the music."

Sounce: Wiki agin

Ok then there's some merit to equating psalms with hymns ok cool this was instructive neato Dorito.

Also, this month's Nerd Hot Guy is Salt Bae:

animated gif of Salt Bae adding just the right touch of salt to a dish | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 33A) Muralist represented extremist belief
    MURALIST represented = ULTRAISM
Ewwwwwww gross gross gross we finally get a decent anagrama and what is it it's not ALTRUISM, which is also there. No it's ULTRAISM? Um. We'll pretend that this is a reference to the Spanish Ultraist movement, and not a fake word.

Ohhhh WHOAA ok so “fake word” is our ”fake news.” It's an inflammatory characterization that can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but always it means something bad, always meant to distinguish between the fake and the bona fide. Yes. The -ER words. And the RE- words. Fake words! #fakewords
  • 34A) Heading for disaster, entering so the wrong way, takes too much
    (Heading for disaster = D) entering SO the wrong way = ODS
Ok. We've about overdosed on ODS in the puzzle.
  • 43A) Previous to this place, after initial takeoff
    (this place = HERE) after initial takeoff = ERE
We remember a long long time ago, many years ere now, when ERE was not a part of our regular life when it appeared in the puzzle constantly all the time forever. Buh.
  • 48A) Surely, if going from left to right, and changing, it may have fringe benefits!
    (SURELY if going from (left = L) to (right = R) = SURERY) and changing = SURREY
Chicks and ducks and something better hurry / When we think of Oklahoma! we get surly / Surly with a fringe up top.
  • 2D) Football team not running, seen as a disaster
    (not running = OFF) SEEN as a disaster = OFFENSE
So is OFFENSE synonymous with a football team? The defensive tackle would beg to diff at that definition, most definitely.
  • 6D) Man on a talk show brings up Ogden Nash's other llama!
    brings up (Ogden Nash's other llama = ONE L) = LENO
Ummmm Leno ain't onna talk show, present tense, annymo. So. And as for the Nash, thats thissa:
The one L lama, he's a priest The two L llama, he's a beast And I will bet my silk pyjama There isn't any three L lllama. -- O. Nash, to which a fire chief replied that occasionally his department responded to something like a "three L lllama."


  • 16D) Chest protectors for exotic animals picked up by the ears?
    (exotic = QUEER) (animals = ASSES) picked up by the ears = CUIRASSES
news article concerned with LBJ lifting pet beagles by the ears | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
This would be fun and funny especially because it involves one of the most tittery middle school spittle laugh words ever, CUIRASSES. But it's the second ASS in the puzzle along with 24D and the homophone indicator is tacked at the end without modifying ASSES which is a bummer, pun intended.

Please yes, hilarious middle school laugh words! Please yes TITMOUSE. Please yes BOOBIE. Speaking of, raise your hand if you were certain that “chest protectors” would mean BRA, woulda bet a hundo dollars on it [we raise our hand].

Anyway yes please, yes always, funny words. But keep the clues tight. Tight taut hardbodied clues, toned and sprayed with a fine mist of oil and glitter.

  • 18D) One who patronizes up-and-coming goods in Paris?
    up-and-coming (goods in Paris = BONS) = SNOB
NON. Absolument non. “BONS” ? Quel horreur.
  • 23D) No average parades provide drinks
    No (average = PAR) parades = ADES
    entered as ADES
Oh HAEEyYEEEELLlll no! ADES? ADES?? As a standalone answer, as a little piece of puzzlese only semi-tolerable as anagrind but here masquerADING as a word? No. Bleh. Bleh. No. Save your ADE for your Monday USA Today puzzle please and thank you in advance.

We were certain that “average” or “no average” indicated a word from mathematics or statistics as glorious as like “heteroskedastic” or similar. So part of our disappointment in this clue is how hard it busted our boner.
  • 35D) Oh, you singer and actress—so earthy in your makeup!
    (Oh = O) you (singer and actress = CHER) = OCHRE
Um. Cher again. Quick: what was Cher's last name as a baby? Time's up! It was Sarkisian. Homophone to Anita, your feminist crush. How many times Cher in the puzzle? How many times always forever? Uncountable. That's how many. Much love to the goddess Cher but earthy in her makeup she is most certain not. That award goes to Alicia Keys.
photo of Alicia Keys since her switch to absolute minimum makeup

The Tacky

Two this month:
  • 20A) Sound, according to a Siamese?
    Sound (according to = PER) = PURR
the pair of Siamese Cats from Disney's Lady and the Tramp | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Awwwwwww danngit if this just were tweaked a smidgy to “the Siamese” instead of “a Siamese” it'd be fine. Ugh, but either the clue is meant to invoke cats from the outset, in which case, too easy. Or, “a Siamese” is meant to invoke a human person from Siam. Ugh.

Ok first, Siam isn't Siam, it's Thailand. And Yul Brynner is Russian, not Thai.

still from The King and I (1956) featuring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Second, “an American” is totally fine to our ear and “the Chinese [people]” is basically ok but “a Chinese” sounds shitty. We don't know why but that's definitely the case! “Chinese national” does the job just fine.

Here's “an” answer, not particularly satisfactory:
In English there is a distinction between nationalities that end in 'ian' like Canadian or Italian and those that end in 'ese' like Japanese or Burmese.

Those that have the 'ian' can say 'I am Canadian' or 'I am a Canadian' interchangeably, but usually in English the 'ese' ones don't use the 'a' when they're referring to people--unless it is being used as an adjective.

You could say "That is a Japanese person" (where Japanese is an adjective describing the word 'person')

This convention also applies to nationalities that end in 'ish' as well, as in 'I am British' or 'I am Scottish' --though Scotland is a different case because they could say, "I am Scottish" or "I am a Scot".

I don't really know why this convention exists, but saying 'I am a Chinese' to a native speaker would be very strange for them.

Source: Stack Exchange

And thother:
  • 5D) Cable's hookup makes you turn tail
    turn TAIL = LIAT
"Fo' Dolla' ", set in part on the island of Bali-ha'i, focuses on the romance between a young Tonkinese woman, Liat, and one of the Americans, Marine Lieutenant Joe Cable, a Princeton graduate and scion of a wealthy Main Line family. Pressed to marry Liat by her mother, Bloody Mary, Cable reluctantly declines, realizing that the Asian girl would never be accepted by his family or Philadelphia society. He leaves for battle (where he will die) as Bloody Mary proceeds with her backup plan, to affiance Liat to a wealthy French planter on the islands. Cable struggles, during the story, with his own racism: he is able to overcome it sufficiently to love Liat, but not enough to take her home.

Source: Wikiiiiip

Hey there's Liat, one of the main characters in South Pacific. Oh, who she? Ohhhhh she a hookup. For Lieutenant Joe Cable. Ugh.

Also the existence of a song called Fo' Dolla even in the context of an ostensibly critically defined anti-racist play is rough.

Additional fun fact from the South Pacific Wiki article tho:
When the tour of the show reached a racially segregated theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, Rodgers and Hammerstein threatened to cancel the performances there unless seating was integrated, which it was.

Cool people leave comments!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Diametricode - March 2017

answers to the March 2017 Harper's cryptic crossword puzzle | Diametricode | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Hola Lovers, hola Dear Readers. It's been a minute. Shitty sucky suck shit is happening in our country, the USA country. The agents of state violence sharpen their knives. The highest seats of global power are held by psychos. The president is terrible with money and about to cut investments in clean water (!) and the IRS (!!). The former didn't surprise us so much altho it fills us with extreme dread. The latter ... surprises us! The IRS is where the money comes from! Doesn't that guy want there to be money? How's he going to pay his agents of state violence?

Anyway, we're back! If you're excited, then know that there are two ways you can fuel this blog. One is by writing comments. The other is by sending us money. Passively reading and enjoying is also fine and we respect it and appreciate the lurking masses.

The Theme!

Diametricode. Seena thisa one before in May 2015. Ten clues entered into the grid via an arcane coding mechanism in which the crenellated peripheral letters correspond to their brother letter on the other side of the center dot. We're explaining this in the most confusing way, we realize. But so like if you look at the answer up top, then an “F” is encoded as a “C” and a “C” is encoded as an “F.”

It's fine. Bummer that there were only shorty answers in this puzzle. Nothing over a 8 in length? And some of the fill had only one or two un-encoded crosses, which was also a  bummer. But other than that, a fun fine time. Diametricode is fine.

We're just gonna put the encoded answers down with the regular Highlights and Lowlights.

O and also, there were two errors in the grid girders! The errors went unremarked in the official answer key as well. There was a forgotten vertical line on the left side of the fifth row, and an extra line on the right side of eleventh row. Sloppi.

In a dark room, Babs of The Listener kneels before Maltby. Xander and the Puzzle Minion stands nearby. They're all wearing plague masks like in True Detective Season 2. It's super creepy. Babs will learn perfect grid construction. Oh yes. Babs will learn.


  • 15A) Be around religious figure of musical note (5)
    BE around (religious figure = REV) = BREVE
YasssssSS what is UP, Rev? What is up. Evokes The Young Pope, which always warrants evocation. The informal hip Rev. The Diet Cherry Coke Pope.

image: Jude Law as The Young Pope | caption: [music note emoji] i'm a bitch / i'm a lover / i'm the pope / only younger | @ShutUpAndrosky on Twitter
  • 16A) Island in the Sound gives you a charge—gosh! (4)
    Sound (charge = FEE) (gosh = GEE) = FIJI
Super duper duper fun, this one! Cool and smooth, like a frosty drink on the beaches of Suva.
  • 18A) Character at the end pursuing giant animated mouse in Krazy Kat (6)
    (Character at the end = Z) pursuing GIANT animated = IGNATZ
Only hearda Krazy Kat in the context of Bill Watterson's books about writing Calvin, thus automatic Highlight, and also the name Ignatz is DOPE!

black and white cartoon of Krazy and Ignatz dancing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23A) A joint goes with it! (3)
    A joint = with it = HIP
Appreciate the confluence of hipness and drugs and drugs are cool. Yah Babs of the The Listener! Drugs!
  • 24A) Mushy velour paintings are seen here (6)
Yahhhhh this one was a little obvi but love it for the “if only!” hope of velour paintings at the LOUVRE can you just IMAGINE?
  • 29A) Radical group in chemistry, etc.—lay off (6)
    ETC LAY off = ACETYL
Appreced the warning in the instructs, and recognized from “chemistry” in the clue that this would likely be a technical term found in the periodic table, was pleased that this was neither one of the most typical chemistry puzzle terms or derivations thereof (ENOL, ETHENE) but nor was it too tricky to get.
  • 34) Automatic reaction covering Return of Elf King (6)
    covering (Return of Elf = FLE) (King = REX) = REFLEX
YASssssss automatic love for references to magicks, awkwardness of the clue forgiven. Here, we'll fix it and make it sexier:

  • Involuntary bodily reaction to the elf in Return of the King (6)
image of Celeborn from one of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings movies we guess | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 41A) How having two lines with zero content leads to depression (6)
    HOW having (two lines = ll = LL) with (zero = O) = HOLLOW
Dear Readers invited to finesse this logic in the comments. Nice narrative flow on this one! Reads like sharp commentary on the average shock‑lede low‑calorie newsfeed. And the resulting (our) depression.
  • 44A) Candy coin (4)
    MINT (double syn)
Nice and sweet, what a treat. This was one of our last solves of the puz! We had M--T in the fill and wrote “MEAT??” in our margin notes :)

image of cooked red meat flavored or garnished with mint | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 46A) Trip instigator requires type O transfusion close to departure (6)
    TYPE O transfusion (close to DEPARTURE = E) = PEYOTE
“close” in the sense of “the closing [last] letter.” Took us a long time to parse that. Got hung up thinking about ETD. More drugs in the puzz! Drugs are cool! Babs knows. Babs listens.
  • 48A) Leaders meeting in legal action, collecting millions (6)
    (legal action = SUIT) collecting (millions = MM) = SUMMIT
Nice! V much appreciate MILLIONS => MM in the sense of “one thousand thousands.” Strong and good.
  • 1D) Okay, outside it is limited (6)
    (Okay = FINE) outside IT = FINITE
Misthought that it would be a two‑letter synonym for “Okay” wrapped around ITIS. Like, SITISH. Or CITISE. We like to match fill to the grid first, figure out logic later, as Dear Readers who've found our many errors are well aware.
  • 4D) River flowing around Nubia and the capital of Ghana (6)
    around NUBIA and the (capital of Ghana = G) = UBANGI
Oh YAS! Yes for African geography, givvit to us! First thought was that this would play off ACCRA, obviously. Second thought was it was something with CEDI, obviously. Third thought led to the solve.

image: three young beautiful women in red green and yellow clothes | caption: PARTY IN THE PARK 2013
  • 5D) Liberal issues: touching reading (7)
    LIBERAL issues = BRAILLE
Nice and sweet! Tight and strong! Below, via Sweet V:

image: a black and white printout of the male bathroom symbol and MEN written in English and in Braille | caption: Braille faille
  • 9D) Luminary one in a million (4)
    one in a MILLION = LION
A little easy peasy but SO SOLID and automatic love for invoking Dev Patel what a beauty!

still of Dev Patel in the movie LION | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) Left club with speed? Humorous stuff! (5)
    (Left = L) (club = Y) with (speed = MPH) = LYMPH
Some v gross things here, in particular “Y = club” but a DOPE reference to medieval European humors, green bile, &c. Like when a “barber” also meant “surgeon.” Yes. So strong.
  • 11D) Flood coming from two directions on map—disastrous (5)
    (two directions = South West = S W) on MAP = SWAMP
  • 20D) One's deceptive, one's up-front (4)
    ONES deceptive = NOSE
  • Ysssssss vrry nice! Exquisite narrative, tight taut cluing. Excellent. Sweet V called ____ from Speed Grapher “No Nose.” He was one of our favorites!

    image of Tsujido from Speed Grapher
    • 27D) Play in French—who is appearing in it—will become clear (6)
      (Play = ACT) in (French who = QUI) = ACQUIT
    Unfamiliar use of “acquit” but their story checks out:
    acquit (v.)

    early 13c., "to satisfy a debt" (either for oneself or on behalf of another), from Old French aquiter, acquiter "pay, pay up, settle a claim" (12c., Modern French acquitter), from a- "to" (see ad-) + quite "free, clear" (see quit (adj.))

    Source: our boyfriend Etymonline

    • 30D) Made to be sauced! (6)
      be SAUCED = CAUSED
    MMmMMmMMMmmm this is what we're talkin BOUT!! This is a tasty one from the Sauce Doctor! Lovely and amazing! Tight and smooth. Excellent.
    • 32D) Some not clerical work, namely (6)
      work NAMELY = LAYMEN
    Ver nice! Tight and neat like a chaplain's turtleneck after hours. Or Young Kirk Douglas's turtleneck at all times:

    black and white photo of young Kirk Douglas smoking a cigarette and wearing a dope black turtleneck
    • 33D) Plains inhabitants, moving in a kind of column (6)
      PLAINS inhabitants moving = SPINAL
    Ooooh excellent! And big time sike out cuz we were expecting OTO to thus trigger a donation from us to the American Indian College Fund.
    • 34D) Go over what happened, concerning, like, between two goalposts! (6)
      (concerning = RE) (like = AS) between (two goalposts = HH) = REHASH
    The sins of the incoherence forgiven for a top favorite word REHASH along with inventive H = goalpost, v fresh, never seen before, much like!
    • 35D) Unusual producer of energy and toxic wastes (6)
      producer of (energy = E) and TOXIC = EXOTIC
    Yasss v tight narrative! Excellent clue and also involving an anagramma hurrah!
    • 37D) Narrow fork, questionable on moral grounds (5)
      (Narrow = SLIM) (fork = Y) = SLIMY
    Yassss much like this equivalence of uncouth and “slimy”! Was expecting an obscure word for rivers like AIT or similar. But naw! None of that slimy silty fill here!
    • 42D) Escaped from slammer? (3)
      sLAMmer = LAM
    A little handwavey on the indicators, a little of that too clever for its own good stuff, but so nice and tight! So fresh! To have a prison clue without CON! Hoorah!

    image: photo of three lambs frolicking in green grass | caption: Richard Peters Photography,


    • 8A) I entered into a lot of yards, at university setting (6)
      I entered into (a lot of yards = MILE) at (university = U) = MILIEU
    Mili‑ew indeed. This was our first solve of the puzzle, whiz bang first one outta the gate. “a lot of yards” => MILE is especially ugh. Why not inches. Why not millimeters because technically. Why anything. Why not.
    • 12A) Citrus blend produces a big open smile (6)
      CITRUS blend = RICTUS
    Automatic Lowlight for RICTUS, a gross word that makes us feel gross inside, evokes a razor blade smile.

    a creepy black and white drawing of creepy smiler
    • 14A) Preceded by an article concerning fight (4)
      Preceded by (an article = A) (concerning = ABOUT) = BOUT
    Dear Readers are very much invited to correct our logic on this one. Where's the indicator to remove the article from the synonmyn for “concerning”? Does “preceded” have multiple meanings or something?
    • 19A) Cleaning item used to be hot, however regressed (7)
      (used to be = WAS) (hot = H) ((however = BUT) regressed = TUB) = WASHTUB
    Uh. Dat's notta word, bro. Kinda sorta it is but kinda it's not.
    • 26A) Make another copy, but peter out around copy's end (6)
      PETER out around (copy's end = Y) = RETYPE
    Ugh. What a bummer way to make a copy, retyping. One day OCR will be kickass, and we shall all be free of retyping. Bummer at RE- words. Bummer at kinda‑sorta words.
    • 28A) Almost nothing protects downloaded program, one that eliminates bugs (6)
      (Almost (nothing = ZERO) = ZER) protects (downloaded program = APP) = ZAPPER
    Zappers are strictly “ok” at killing bugs, would hardly call it “elimination.” Just as RE- words are bummers so are -ER words. Keep them to the Scrabbo game, where they belong for hooks both pointful and glorious, Bingos fall from your rack to the music of your Scrabblenemies lamentations.

    photo of a shirtless middleaged sunburned white man with a raquet bug zapper
    • 45A) Something Poe made, when starting out! (4)
      POE (MADE when starting out = M) = POEM
    Ew gross, ew POE => POEM gross gross gross. To mention Poe in our marriage is to invoke Sweet V's Vladologue about how Poe was found dead in Baltimore, perhaps drugged by the political machine after being forced to vote. It remains a dark, strange, unsolved mystery. We try and hang in when Vlad repeats it for the nth time. We try to be the patient wife as Sweet V tells the tale of his telling tale heart.
    • 47A) Unfinished work, many thanks to the British (3)
      Unfinished (work = TASK) = TAS
    Nottawerd. Not a word. Use it in a sentence, please. “They packed up the picnic and said their tas.” No. Absolutely not.
    • 2D) Practices eliminating the origin of digital streams (5)
      (Practices = DRILLS) eliminating (the origin of digital = D) = RILLS
    Ok so in our view “digital” is unnecessary except to add some narrative flair like hip kids with their digital streams which is aight maybe but when flair adds noise then a different choice is in order summore finesse is in order.

    ad for the Microsoft Zune
    Also we kept trying to work out what could stream from fingers (digits) and could only think of “blood” which reminded us of a story our neice told us about the “blood. was. flowing.” Our neice is a dark and cool kid. She is not afraid to look into the darkness.
    • 3D) Hoodlums: good unless bad (7)
      (good = G) UNLESS bad = GUNSELS
    Didn't even look up GUNSELS cuz we had the crosses and it just seemed like the only option that fit, but automatic Lowlight for being a weird word, invoking “hoodlums” which is the closest that this puzzle got to Tacky. Anything that evokes criminal neighborhoods as lesser places is dovetailing with public rhetoric of “Chicago qua place of warfare and unending murder” such rhetoric threatening to turn into actual “feds” enforcing martial law.

    Triggered, that's what we're trying to say. The word “hoodlums” triggered our suspicions. But this clue comes up clean. Hoodlums are good unless bad. A hoodlum is often gunsel. Close enough. Carry on.
    • 7D) One might cite torque as an example of twisting! (6)
      TORQUE as an example of twisting = QUOTER
    Talk about -ER words. Gross. Lotta words in this clue. Lotta heat. Notta lotta light. You can be the quoter of us on that.

    Also, show us a QUOTER who doesn't cite, please. Maybe you can see them doing it in their head. And you say, “hey! Are you gonna tell me that hot quote you're thinking of?” and the QUOTER coyly smiles and says, “I might.”
    • 13D) Emerging from Biltz, a really royal figure (4)
      BliTZ A Really = TZAR
    Nyet!! Hard nyet on this one! UGHHH one of the grossest clues nyet! Ya pick a cz or a ts for yer transliteration. Ya pick and ya stick. That's the rule. We don't make the rules. We just have uncanny access to them via psychic satellite link.
    • 22D) The Scottish version of 20D, if you're listening! (4)
      The Scottish version of (NOSE) = NAES
    Noo! No, one thousand times. Nae. Ya can't just. Ew. It's a reference to another clue answer [already: barf] in the name of ... bringing NAE into the puzzle?? At least ... Ugh. Extraordinarily vulgar and inappropriate analogy, but if you're gonna ask us to give you a handjob in the backseat, at least stick with it enough to climax. If you're gonna reference another clue answer, let it yield something worthy, interesting, vital, surprising. Don't just zip up your fly after five minutes and say you've gotta work early tomorrow.

    Shout out to the three Dear Readers who track with us :) 
    • 25D) At a low point, say goodbye to Mark Antony (4)
    “Vale” as in valley, “vale” as in Latin for “goodbye.” Sigh. Never hearda vale. We are not a vale girl.

    a white sorority girl with a toga and flower garland | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 28D) Things put in lists, just so arrangement can be made (6)
      JUST SO arrangement = JOUSTS
    Fine, whatever fine. It's fine. Unfamiliar use of “lists” but their story checks out via this Web 1.0 reference:
    Jousting Terminology

    The jousting terminology used during the Middle Ages included the following terms:

    Lists - The 'lists' were barriers which defined the battlefield in a tournament


    • 31D) Military exercise that's a mark on your character? (6)
    Whaddisit with this weirdo usage? What is it with these archaic definitions tripping us up so hardcore?
    tattoo (n.1)

    signal calling soldiers or sailors to quarters at night," 1680s, earlier tap-to (1640s), from Dutch taptoe, from tap "faucet of a cask" (see tap (n.1)) + toe "shut, to," from Proto-Germanic *to (see to (prep.)).

    Source: our boyfriend again Etymonline

    Points and kudos for not using a diacritic (tilde, accent, cedilla) which is where we woulda sworn this was headed.
    • Tricky answer above? I'm outta there! (3)
      (answer above = SLIMY) I'M outta there = SLY
    Gross. Gross and bad. More of this bad recursive internal infernal referencing cluing. No.

    The Tacky

    • 19D) Bravery to appear with no underwear? Really? (4)
      Bravery to appear with no (underwear = BRA) = VERY
    This was the closest to Tacky as we define it in the most consciousness raising social justice warfare sense here at Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues, in that there's an anti-slut anti-nudity anti-body tone (“Really?”).

    We were a nude model for $10/hr in college at a super chill art studio in Providence. Even for a hardcore exhibitionist extrovert such as ourself, and even in the context of a chill respectful environment, it was difficult to remove dat robe the first time! Every fiber of socialization telling us, “do NOT take your clothes off!! Not in front of STRANGERS??” But then we did it, and it was liberating and awesome.

    image: pen and ink drawing of a female nude | caption: 'Draw what you see.' 'But how do you know what you see? What if you see everything?' 'See fewer things.' 'How?' 'Squint.' | dated: 10/7/08
    “Draw what you see.”
    “But how do you know what you see? What if you see everything?”
    “See fewer things.”

    Anyway. People tell us that our personal sobriety is brave. And it's hard to explain that nyah, sobriety doesn't feel brave. Probably because it's so tied up in ancient shame. Tellya what though, posing naked felt brave. And we'll guess that any Western-socialized person who believes otherwise about public nudity has never done it.

    If interested though, there's a college art class near you that would love for you to take your clothes off for them. If you're brave enough.


    Wednesday, November 16, 2016

    This is not a review of the November 2016 puzzle.

    Sisters and Brothers. i'm going to write in the lower case first person.

    In September i thought that guy might win. Then in October i thought he wouldn't. Now it's November, and i was wrong about being wrong. And it's weird. And i'm sad. And angry.

    A good day for the KKK is a bad day for the United States.

    A good day for the American Nazi Party is a bad day for the Republic.

    It's gonna be bad days for a while.

    To those saying, “aw give him a chance” … it's like we're all tied up in the passenger seat of a car and a drunk clown is shambling toward us slurring, “I'm your driver‑elect!!!” Like, i don't need the clown to crash the United States into a tree before i know he's a bad driver. Romney, i'd give a chance. McCain, a chance. Bobby Dole, a chance. Not just Bob Dole '96, i'm talking 93-year-old Bob Dole 2016. Bob Dole as he is to us now. A dying Bob Dole. i'd give him a chance. Rubio, a chance. Even Teddy Cruz, son of Señor Cruz. A chance.

    Not this clown. Here he comes now, opening the car door, lips curled in a pout identical to (this is scientific fact) his butthole. “Would you believe, I've never driven a car before? But I've played a lot of 'Grand Theft Auto'!” Then he pukes onto the wheel well.

    For my part, i'm reaching out to people i haven't talked to in a long time and making an effort to be more generous. Last night we heard our downstairs neighbor struggling with her door and invited her up for tea and snacks while she waited for the locksmith. The other day at my local coffeeshop, often crowded with loners at their laptops taking up two-person tables, i put up a little sign.

    If you're looking for a seat, i'm happy to share :)

    i'm displacing a LOT of anger onto my grandmother, who is ecstatic about the election. If she brings up politics at Christmas, i'm going to ask to record video of her expressing her views. Then i'll tell her that my children probably won't be old enough to remember her before she dies, but i'll make sure they know exactly who she was, and what she stood for.

    The Romanians in my life are afraid. Romanians are not a people who scare easy. They see what the Americans in my life deny could ever happen here.

    Dear Readers, the impossible is already happening. So my imagination is no longer tethered to precedent. Maybe the wall is built with free prison labor, a fucked up slavery. Maybe come 2020 a nuclear attack is secretly orchestrated on a Democratic West Coast city, simultaneously wiping out opposition voters and bringing the US into a state of emergency. That's a move straight out of the playbook. We're already witnessing evidence of conspiracy with a foreign nuclear power. We're already witnessing playbook moves.

    i'm reading a book on persuasion by a pick up artist guru, following the advice of Sun Tzu. The chapter on cult leaders was eye opening. Paraphrasing key points:
    1. keep language simple and vague (any red hat slogans come to mind?)
    2. create an “us vs them” narrative
    3. attract large groups — you can hold a crowd in thrall with words that might leave an individual merely skeptical
    4. swaddle yourself in the appearance of wealth, conceal that your true income comes from your followers
    This kind of cult political figure doesn't cede power willingly, or alive. Historically.

    Anyway. i didn't finish the puzzle this month. i didn't finish the summer puzzles either. If you seek an apolitical comedic blog review of the Harper's cryptic crossword puzzle, look elsewhere. i wish you well, lovers and non‑lovers alike.

    Monday, October 17, 2016

    Foursomes - October 2016

    October 2016 | Foursomes | Harper's puzzle solution

    Hello Dear Readers! So what kept us busy and quiet all summer? We were on Jeopardy. Taped in July, aired September 30th. Took up a lot of mind space and time.
    erica dreisbach on Jeopardy | 30 september 2016 We lost to a dude who went on to be the fifth winningest player ever. You can read more on our personal blog here.

    Notorious Marcel said, “this was a remarkable example of Erica's Powers of Actualization. You were just like, ‘I'm gonna be on Jeopardy!’ And then a year later you were!” Which is cool to frame it that way: not as a loss, but as a victory for powers of Make Dreams Come True.

    Next dream to make come true: write and sell a screenplay. Here are the loglines of current projects:
    • manic pixie dreamboy
    • superhero Brokeback Mountain
    • a veterinarian becomes a back alley doctor for humans
    • a cop is in prison for a crime he didn't commit, and that prison is … Guantanamo Bay

    The Theme!

    Good ol' Foursomes. Rotational symmetry and left‑to‑right orthography of the twelvers latticing the grid to yield a unique solution. We had massive trouble in the northeast at the end, in particular with clues 7A and 8D. Could not solve! Consulted thesauri, consulted Sweet V, consulted an anagram generator. Nuthin. Buh!

    Our downfall lay in misinterpreting this clue:
    • Actor who falls short of depth, they say? (4)
      (depth = PIT) they say = PITT
    And what Maltby Jr and cohort were going for was DEPP. So, like
    • (short of DEPTH = DEP) they say = DEPP
    Yah ok. Anyway we went for PITT and got stuck in the pits at the end:
    stuck at the end of the October 2016 Harper's cryptic crossword puzzle | PITT instead of DEPP

    Sidenote, we were discouraged to read that the final straw in the Jolie‑Pitt marriage was an intense fight on the private plane between Brad and one of the kids, and that because the fight took place in the air that meant it came under federal jurisdiction so the FBI was investigating whether child abuse occurred. Which is a severe bummer.

    Anyway ok so then we were left with
    • 7A) Measure import, leaving nothing out (4) = D ‑ ‑ P ?
    which is impossible, and
    • 8D) Beautiful girl, who comes in periodically (4) = ‑ E ‑ I ?
    which coulda still been the correct answer, PERI, but then that meant 7A would be D ‑ RP. DARP? DORP? No.

    So then we brought in Sweet V to help us check our assumptions. Could it be that we had a busted orientation? And that the puzzle almost works from that busted orientation? Diabolical, right? But plausible, because we had done what we often do with these types of puzzles, which is solve a bunch of clues and then Just Start Writing in Answers and If Something Comes Up Busted Just Print Out a New Puzzle and Start Over. That's the official name of the method.

    Anyway so those twelvers that lattice the grid can indeed work at a different orientation. But then that means two of the foursies end in C, which is a non‑starter.

    rewriting 12 lattices in October 2016 Harper's Cryptic Crossword puzzle
    Which brings us to here and now, when we were able to look up the answer to the puzzle. DEPP and PINT, not PITT. PERI. We assume that the Beautiful Peri in question is none other than the Gilp sheself:

    beautiful Peri Gilpin | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    Dear Readers are challenged to offer a more beautiful Peri in the Comments!


    • 1A) Sweet covering for dirty pictures (8)
    Anagrama always beloved by this ma'amma!
    Octavia Spencer | chocolate pie | The Help | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 10A) Part of a foot (in Chinese) (4)
      IN CHinese = INCH
    Applause at the restraint in not referencing foot binding, many thanks from the Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues community.
    • 14A) Running hot and cold in the nethermost, a ticklish situation (12)
    Never hearda THERMOSTATIC but this is a daring wordspanner indeed!
    thermostatic radiator valve | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 15A) Dooms criminal to live here? (5)
      DOOMS criminal = SODOM
    Thought it was MOODS for a long while. We live within our emotions, interpret all of the world through our feelings. Maybe too poetic for the Harper's. Instead, Biblical. Nice.
    Sodom burns | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 19A) Property changes just before the end, as it should be (8)
      PROPERTY changes just before the end = PROPERLY
    We liked this! Very nice, crisp, surprising.
    • 21A) Minarets constructed with fancy exteriors (8)
      MINARETS constructed = RAIMENTS
    Really truly thought the word was RAINMENTS. Do people say it with the “N”? [practises saying “raiments” out loud] Ok we don't actually say the “N” but we think it. Like a flavor you can't taste, but you know it's there.
    • 22A) End up auditioning a role in Young Frankenstein (4)
      auditionING A = INGA
    The role played by the glorious Teri Garr! “Would you like a roll in ze hay?”
    Would you like a roll in ze hay? | Teri Garr as Inga in Young Frankenstein | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 25A) Multiple divisions make this come, or it dissipates (12)
      MAKE THIS COME or it dissipates = TRICHOTOMIES
    On thin ice as a “word” but it's an anagram, so, we give it a pass.

    • 29A) The second George Bush leaves New York, it's a transformed island (6)
      ((The second George Bush = W) leaves NEW YORK = NE YORK) transformed = ORKNEY
    Took a while to pull out ORKNEY on this one. Margin notes say YONKER?? and ROKNEY?? Orkney Island | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 30A) Ravel opera: I'm finding more than one outlet (7)
      Ravel OPERA I'M = EMPORIA
    Oooh v nice! Much in love with the phenomenon of words that, by rights of their opposing prefices, should be antonyms, but are in fact synonyms or near synonyms. flammable/inflammable valuable/invaluable. Andddd ravel/unravel is another! It doesn't mean to knit it up or spool it up nice. Nope. You can destroy the sweater with ravelling OR unravelling. Pulling this string, as we walk away.
    • 31A) Buggy having a silent star's first name (4)
      (Buggy = NIT) having A = NITA
    Now that we've survived 2014: Year of Bed Bugs, other typically noxsome arthropods have no bad power over us. Silverfish, centipedes, even lice and mosquitos which do actively seek to consume our blood and body, now it's like, “oh hey there buddy, you get along now you scoot!”

    Automatic Highlight for babe Nita Naldi:
    silent film star Nita Naldi | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 3D) As poor cart rich off, he's got your back! (12)
    Were the anagram fodder and indicator obvious, yes. Yes they were. “A spoor cart rich” maybe the clunkiest turn of phrase in the puzzle in years. Uh WOOPS so, our bad, misunderstanding the kerning on the printed PDF vsn of the puzzle, many thanks to Dear Reader Jordan for pointing out!
    kerning: A spoor cart rich off | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    And none'less a glorious anagrama, one of our first solves of the puzzle, so it's an automatic Highlight!

    • 6D) Teams stay alternatingly appealing (5)
      TeAmS sTaY alternatingly = TASTY
    A tight and tasty clue indeed!
    • 7D) Awkwardly said “Welcome,” bringing in guys in a row (12)
      (awkwardly SAID = DISA) (Welcome = GREET) bringing in (GUYS = MEN) = DISAGREEMENT
    Lovely! Enjoyed the play on “row.” It rowed our boat. Gently. [whispered] So gently.
    fighting in a rowboat | courtesy Getty images | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 9D) Is carpet bombing customary behavior for the British? (8)
      IS CARPET bombing = PRACTISE
    Intense! War and colonialism! And, is it customary behavior for the British? Post WWII, we mean? Also, our margin notes say TEACRISP.
    • 16D) Pet old Italian leader in private? Quite the opposite! (6)
      (old Italian leader = DOGE) in (private = GI)? Quite the opposite! = GI in DOGE = DOGGIE
    We're starting to get the rhythm of these very tiresome [Ed Wynn voice] “Opposite!” clues. This one we liked automatically for invoking not just DOGGIE but DOGE!
    doge! | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 15D) Agents called back about ostentatiously elegant show—it qeuires a splash! (8)
      ((Agents = REPS) called back = SPER) about (ostentatiously elegant show = RITZ) = SPRITZER
    Was certain this would work out to SPLATTER until 22A just wouldn't flow as A‑‑A. Can anyone explain what is the deal with LaCroix? We knew it as a regional brand of Midwest sparkling water. But now it seems to be a national thing, a crappy hipster thing? Like how PBR is a thing? How did that … like, when did that … Was it in a movie? Or a song? We're getting old, Dear Readers.
    hipster La Croix | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 17D) Big talker I owe for The Sound of Music (8)
      (Big talker = ORATOR) I (OWE for the sound = O) = ORATORIO
    We thought “oratorio” must be a super specific opera talking thing WOOPS. Tis not! Tis so much more.
    • 23D) Three notes that sound disheartened! (5)
      sound (disheartened = CORED) = CHORD
    Mwa! Delicious!


    • 11A) Pop singer about to televise meeting leader (7)
      (Pop singer = CHER) about (to televise = AIR) = CHAIRER
    “Chairer”? No. Beyond being impossible to say. Like “draw‑er” as in “someone who draws.” Second, how about a fresh pop star in the mix. Kesha. Riri. Sia. How about an old one. Sade. So classic! Everybody loves Sade.
    Sade laughing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 12A) Some Reds wearing Spanish flowers—yes, in Germany (6)
      wearing (Spanish flow‑wers = RIOS) (yes in Germany = JA) = RIOJAS
    Seen this FLOWERS > RIVERS many many times, many many. Just once, FLOWERS > UTERUSES. Once. Please.
    • 18A) Fellow traveler, initially in pursuit of negative feedback (4)
      (traveler initially = T) in pursuit of ((negative = NEG) feedback = GEN) = GENT
    Thought this was BOOT for a while (BOO + T). NEGATIVE > NEG too on the nose, yah? Funner ways to get to NEG. New England gangster. Or a reference to pickup artistry.
    Mystery and Matador | pickup artists | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 24A) Plow maker does making noise (5)
      Plow maker = (does = DEER making noise) = DEERE
    Seems like there's gotta be a smoother way to clue this, sound a little more like a native English speaker, non? Sidenote, our favorite thing to say in Romania this summer was, “stiu ca vorbesc cum vorbitora nativa, dar ințeleg nu mai puțin.” Which means, “I know that I speak like a native speaker, but I only understand a little.” Except that the construction for “native speaker” is not something that an actual native speaker of Romanian would ever say. So the statement is inherently a paradox, which we like, and it always made people laugh, which we love.
    • 5D) Southern meat dish, almost like a kebab (8)
      (Southern = S) (mean dish = HASH) (almost LIKE = LIK) = SHASHLIK
    This is a super smooooooov clue, reads just like real talk from real humans! But yields … shashlik? Wutt? We don't shashlike it. The clue, not the food. The food looks good:
    shashlik | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 13D) Novelist after part in Titanic, they say! (6)
      (part in Titanic = STERN) they say = STERNE
    Gross. Tried forcing “Jack” and “Rose” several rounds. Then “[the unsinkable] Molly.” We'd hearrrrrrrd of Laurence Sterne and Tristram Shandy, and even earmarked desire to watch the 2006 film because Coogan. Gotta love the Coog! Naturally of course, this month's Nerd Hot Guy:
    Steve Coogan | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 20D) Final musical sections that produce titters (7)
      produce TITTERS = STRETTI
    Never hearda. So, obv we don't like it.
    • 26D) Frost's poetry, when read aloud (4)
      (poetry = RHYME) when read aloud = RIME
    AhhhhhhHHHhhhhh. No. Poetry doesn't have to rhy— buh. We worked hard to make this come out as BOBS as in “Bob's” somehow.
    • 28D) Navy man known for a balanced performance? (4)
      Navy man = known for a balanced performance = SEAL
    Tried to work this out as a proper name, like Admiral Byrd, or Philippe Petit. Anyway also there's one lady SEAL, at least, kinda sorta. GI Jane!
    Demi Moore as GI Jane | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

    The Tacky

    • 31A) Violated when rolling a joint (8)
      VIOLATED when rolling = DOVETAIL
    Ai, hell no to this uncomfortable date rapey clue, this gross scene of being groped while high.

    OH MANG speaking of which, WHOW what a surprise in the US political news! Not that the guy is awful, and not even that he was caught being awful on tape. But that this time, the shit sticked. It's stuck to him. The glamour wore off.

    Obv we mean glamour:

    glamour | lady with rhinestone encrusted sunglasses | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
     and also glamour:
    Glamour originally was a term applied to a magical-occult spell that was cast on somebody to make them see something the spell-caster wished them to see, when in fact it was not what it seemed to be. In the late 19th century terminology, a non-magical item used to help create a more attractive appearance gradually became known as 'a glamour'.
    Source: La Wikip

    Ok anyway and so now we're wondering if maybe when the dust clears on 2017, he'll end up indicted. Maybe for fraud, maybe assault. Who knows. And she'll be in the big house with the power to pardon him. But she's not pardoning no she's just Laughing and Laughing! Lighting a whiskey‑soaked t‑shirt on fire, LOCK HER UP emblazoned on it, melting in the heat.

    We dream :)

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