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 :)

    We've missed you. Come comment :)

    Friday, September 23, 2016

    Theme and Variations - September 2016

    September 2016 | Theme and Variations | Harper's puzzle solution

    First person time, just for the opening. What is up, Dear Readers! i've been, let's say, “busy.” i can tell you more next month. It's good, everything's good. i never forgot you. i love you. i'll be filling in the back catalogue of missing puzzle write ups soon (read: eventually).

    The Theme!

    Theme 'n' Varyations. Seena thissa one before. Major gripes for this puzzle. Let's start with a Big Gripe about how the theme played out:
    • 1A) HUEY
    • 4A) DEWEY
    • 7A) LOUIE
    Sweet, cool, no probs, right? The Quack Pack. Nephew time.

    Huey, Dewey, and Louie | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    A cool thing we'd never noticed before is that the names rhyme with different spellings after the first letter. We're more familiar with the opposite trait as a standalone puzzle: three words differ only in first letters but do not rhyme. Like STATURE, MATURE, and NATURE. Or COVEN, WOVEN, and PROVEN.

    Ok let's looky how that first one varies, though:
    Ok so pluralizing is weird because HUEY is singular. And that early weirdness is the fart that heralds the diarrhea ahead:
    • 26D) IROQUOIS
    • 39D) COBRA
    No. Absolutely not. This is against the rules and spirit of THEME AND VARIATIONS. What was promised was three parent words that each vary into three children. Or as Brother JBLSmith notes below, a sibling that varies into three siblings who are all friends and hang out together as adults, very sweet, makes off‑screen parents so proud.

    But HUEY varies into a parent word and two siblings. Unacceptable.

    Sweet V initially defended this theme! To our horror! Dear Readers are welcome to invoke further horror in the Comments by similarly defending this perverse insanity. Longtime Readers are certainly familiar with one of our beloved pastimes, which is to get Super Worked Up about the Harper's puzzle only to be corrected later, taken gently by the hand and Made to See Reason. This is a Safe Space for corrections.

    Th'others varied in pleasing and expected ways. For DEWEY:
    • 21A) COMMODORE
    • 28A) GOVERNOR
    Verr nice! COMMODORE maybe a little forced cuz who even is that guy?
    George Dewey (December 26, 1837 – January 16, 1917) was Admiral of the Navy, the only person in U.S. history to have attained the rank. Admiral Dewey is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War.
    Source: Wyky

    Commodore Dewey | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    As a side note, thinking about Dewey and Truman now, we only recently put it together that FDR died in April 1945, and HST dropped the bombs in August. Like: that guy was only in the driver's seat for four months before he hit the button, twice.

    And then rounding it out, Louie Lou‑ay as a type of currency:
    • 25A) SOVEREIGN
    • 42A) SOLIDUS
    • 51A) DINAR
    Sweet V's help was needed to make the initial connect from LOUIE to DINAR, and then parsing SOLIDUS at the end was a task. That was the final solve of the puzzle. But we got it. Currency is a fresh form for LOUIE.


    • 11A) Engineering need: an assembly that's a square … (6)
      engineering NEED AN = ENNEAD
    Eternal love for the ennead and the Enneagram! Seven years ago we were solidly an Enneagram 3 (The Performer) but these days when we re‑test sometimes we're an Enneagram 2 (The Helper). The Enneagram and its cousin, the Meyers‑Briggs Personality Test, really fill the void after quitting astrology.

    The Enneagram | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    Of course, as is well documented here on Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues, “ennead” means “a group of nine” — often, specifically, the nine Furies of classical Greek mythology, But you knew that! Who are we to tell you that! [hearty chortles!]

    Would have been happy if it ended with “square” instead of “a square” but piffle puffle, this write up is already taking too long!! Onward!
    • 12A) … if square nuts can be used to make very low tables! (8)
    Alllllways love an anagram. V nice.
    • 13A) Brazil, twice downgraded initially, rebounds with fine leather (6)
      (BRAZIL twice downgraded initially = DRAZIL) rebounds = LIZARD
    This was clever. CLEVER GURL
    Clever Girl | Muldoon from Jurassic Park | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 15A) Small cute animal found in morning in pound (4)
      (morning = AM) in (pound = LB) = LAMB
    Automatic highlight for bringing ☆cute!☆ into the puzzle!

    cute lamb and ducky | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    One time in college, our freshman year neighbor was dating a very rich son of a very rich real estate developer. The rich son was in a frat, and as a frat prank he brought a lamb to my neighbor's dorm room. Surreal. We felt an unexpected moral violation: “this is not right.” Hard to put our finger on exactly why. No one was hurting the lamb, per se. Yet we felt a powerful sense of dread. Dunno why the richness of father and son is an important part of the story to us, tho it's definitely important. Dunno if he ever got in trouble. We are really taking much-too much-too long on this write up! We missed you, Dear Readers! Time to start sprinting, now. No more boring slipstream anecdotes!!
    • 18A) Gets by word of mouth what's spiraled out of control? (8)
      SPIRALED out of control = LIPREADS
    Ooh dat “word of mouth” has us thinking homophone but nyope! It was an anagram (honeygram).

    • 27A) Hurricane debris showing more dirt (9)
    Glorious anagrama. True love forever!
    • 30A) Onetime city Conservative, at heart reactionary (4)
      (Conservative = TORY) at heart reactionary = TROY
    Excellent! Nice narrative, makes even old dusty indicators like “at heart” feel fresh and alive again!
    • 34A) Stuffed bear in basket, for returning (4)
      (basket = HOOP) for returning = POOH
    Automatic highlight for Pooh bear. Love that Pooh bear!
    Pooh Bear
    Image courtesy DeviantArt user Tohad
    • 36A) One and only bit of fun I questioned (6)
      bit of fUN I QUEstioned = UNIQUE
    A daring wordspanner! Nice to have that congruence with ONE at the top of the clue and UNIQUE as the solve. As a side note, want to see us freak out? Say “very unique” in our presence. Oooh!!! shudders
    • 39A) Limit badly sung pieces for children (3,4)
      (Limit = CAP) badly SUNG = CAP GUNS
    Sincerely thought this was SIP CUPS for most of the puzzle. This past spring our friend Glorious D went to her son's elementary school talent show. She said that no fewer than EIGHT groups of little girls sang the entirety of Let It Go. We were recently initiated into the cult of Frozen by our four-year-old niece, which is the ideal way to experience Frozen. What can “let it go” mean to such tiny humans? Why does it resonate so deeply?
    Elsa from Frozen | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 44A) Turn a siren up (6)
      Turn A SIREN = ARISEN
    Yassssss TURN UP!! Much love.
    • 45A) Queen visits London battle location for speech training (7)
      (Queen = ER) visits (London battle = BLITZ) = BERLITZ
    This has a nice narrative flow, very Keep Calm, very The King's Speech, very nice.
    Queen Elizabeth II fires a machine gun while soldiers look on | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    Speaking of ‘litz, if you seek language lessons, we personally had excellent success with Pimsleur's Romanian program. If you just want to jump in and start making small talk, don't care about the grammar, don't care about the syntax, alla dat can come later, then you might have as much fun and success with them as we did :)
    • 50A) Baby covers nose—awful smell starts outside, that is (7)
      (NOSE awful = ONES) (SMELL starts = S) outside (THAT IS = IE) = ONESIES
    A little tortured but we like it because it's a pooping baby joke, and pooping babies are hilarious.
    smiling pooping baby in a cute monkey costume | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 3D) Sneezy, Dopey drinks—many without any catalysts (7)
      SNEEZY dopey (MANY without ANY = M) = ENZYMES
    Excellent! Thought this maybe used DWARVES, or an ‑EAD word that means “group of seven.” But that was an overreaction on our part.
    • 4D) Sinister lineage‑based women's group, front for the KKK (4)
      (lineage based women's group = DAR) (front for the KKK = K) = DARK
    A DARK clue indeed! Some chocolate that Sweet V bought us in Vienna last month:
    dark vegan chocolate | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 5D) Allow no migratory French‑speaking person in parts of Europe (7)
      ALLOW NO migratory = WALLOON
    This clue reads a little timely, geopolitically. ‘Sup, Walloon. Comment ça va? It's the Walloons and then the Flemish that are the two Belgium trivia chestnuts. Thems, and also Antwerp. Speaking of Antwerps, shout out to our brothers and sisters who played Quest for Glory IV!
    Quest for Glory IV | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 6D) In Madrid it's very upsetting, but delicious (3)
      upsetting but (delicious = YUM) = MUY
    EXCELLENTE! Imagining now the Spanish cuisine that disquiets the mind as it delights the palate. Like those French baby nightingales swallowed whole.

    • 9D) One of Donald Trump's words, not loud but angry (4)
      (One of Donald Trump's words = FIRED) not (loud = F) = IRED
    Very very smooth, this clue. Even though it requires cultural fluency in DT.

    We think that guy is going to win the election. There was a window where she was going to win, but in our view that window has closed. We've passed through the stages of grief, especially including denial, and now we're in acceptance.
    shirt designed by Tyler the Creator
    shirt designed by Tyler the Creator

    But we remain open to a November surprise. This is a weird time to be alive. As Sweet V says, “we live in interesting times. I kinda wish we lived in more boring times.”

    Last June, Daniel‑san's partner scoffed at us. “In what universe does the electoral map show him winning?” Mmmmmmmmmow about the electoral map from 2000. How bout the electoral map from 2004. She was unconvinced. But then, she was also a preteen at the start of the W Bush years. It's weird to feel nostalgic for the W Bush years. Weird times.

    Ok next clue!
    • 14D) Unsuccessful line of clothes? (4)
      Unsuccessful = line of clothes = DUDS
      Unsuccessful line = clothes = DUDS
    The disagreement between UNSUCCESSFUL and DUDS forgiven for the simplicity. This was also Sweet V's clutch solve of the puzzle. He took one look, said, “it's DUDS!” then gave us a smooch and said, “my work here is done!”

    Per Wise Tyler below, split this into “unsuccessful line” and “clothes”? And the “of” just “disappears”? That's “ok” we “guess.”
    • 17D) Aimlessly wandering around a royal flower show (11)
      AIMLESSLY wandering around A (royal = R) = AMARYLLISES
    Hat tip to Brother JBLSmith. Mmmmmmmmmm yes a beautiful delicious anagrama of this kind, yes so wonderful, yes our favorite!!
    amaryllis cut by scissors | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 23D) Silver bullet mentioned in On the Beach (7)
      (silver = AG) (bullet = ROUND) = AGROUND
    Elegant, smooth, tight. Lovely!
    • 31D) Olive branches to accept, but leaderless, survive (7)
      OLIVE branches to accept (BUT leaderless = UT) = OUTLIVE
    • 33D) Understands, not with help, where a labyrinth was ;(7)
      ((Understands = KNOWS) not (WITH = W) = KNOS) with (HELP = SOS) = KNOSSOS
    Shout out to the Minoans, shout out to Crete! Shout out to seventh grade ancient history and mythology!
    Minoans of Crete | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 37D) Element created containing oxygen (5)
      (CREATED = BORN) containing (OXYGEN = O) = BORON
    Some of you might find periodic table of the elements clues boron', but not us!! More pls!!
    • 40D) Head off pursuer of musical theater (not the lead) (5)
      (pursuer of musical theater = JAVERT) not the lead= AVERT
    Automatic Highlight for requiring cultural fluency in Le Mis. A little tricky cuz “head off” could also be an indicator.
    stock image of Geoffrey Rush as Javert in Les Mis


    • 16A) Feels left out, getting compensation (4)
      FEELS (left = L) out = FEES
    Meh. Fee's simple.
    • 22A) Spectacular dress with a train and a yoked front (5)
      A (train = RR) and A (YOKED front = Y) = ARRAY
    This sounds like a very terrible wedding outfit, some chattel marriage stuff. And TRAIN > RR is muy painful. And SPECTACULAR DRESS > ARRAY is also painful. Pain for everyone.
    BDSM bridal dress
    • 24A) Adore Nymph Errant? Quite the reverse! (5)
      ADORE errant = OREAD
    This is that same durn confusorg thing of Quite the reverse! that no one understands and no one likes. And it's also OREAD in the same puzzle as ENNEAD which is gross.
    • 32A) President's core value increased a hundredfold in camera (5)
      (President = NIXON) core value increased a hundredfold in = NIKON
    So NIXON's core value increased a hundredfold from X = 10 to K = 1000. Barbaric to jump around from Roman numerals to the metric system.
    Nixon at the podium | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 43A) Wall decoration with little volume, nothing on either side (5)
      (little VOLUME = VOL) (nothing = O) on either side = OVOLO
    Very truly sincerely thought this must be a reference to the uterine wall.
    Ovolo (or ovulo) in architecture, is a convex molding known also as the echinus, which in classical architecture was invariably carved with the egg-and-dart ornament. The molding is called a quarter-round by woodworkers. This is not to be conflated with the "echinus" of the Doric capital, as this was of a more varied form and of much larger dimensions than the ovolo, which was only a subordinate molding.
    Souce: Weeklypedia
    We love the tone of the above paragraph. “not to be conflated.” Don't worry, buds. We won't conflate them. Rest easy.
    • 49A) A second occupation takes Chartreuse off the map (5)
      CHARTREUSE off the (map = CHART) = REUSE
    Reuse ... like Richard E Maltby Jr and The Listener did with so many of these fill words ohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
    laughing at a cocktail party while drinking chartreuse | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    Not to mention CHARTREUSE > REUSE is very butt.
    • 8D) Propose—to gangland killer? (5)
      gangland killer = OFFER (syn.)
    Buh. Enough with OFF, enough with ICE. Enough.
    • 10D) Ladies' ending? (3)
      ladieS ending = ESS
    Huuuuuu‑whot even is this. Sincerely thought the answer was ASS. We do not understand this clue. Maybe if “Ladies' ending” were an idiom? Then we could forgive purely spelling out the last letter. Like,
    • Knots Landing (3)
    the cast of Knots Landing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    But maybe we're wrong about the reasoning in this very thin, very gruelish pun? Dear Readers are invited to explain in the Comments. Per Brother JBLSmith, this is likely a reference to the gendered ‑ess suffix. You know, like, stewardess or marquess or comediess, that type'a thing, those super cool words that imply female involvement is non‑normative.
    • 19D) Leader of queue—with 10D, an afterthought (3)
      Leader of QUEUE = PEE
    And with 10D) ESS to yield PEE ESS as in PS. Not sure how we'd phonetically spell out “Q” but QUEUE seems overwrought. And the definition for this three‑letter nothingness requires … solving another boring three‑letter flimsy fluffer clue. Buh.
    • 20D) Music producer in this state raised the scale, right? (11)
      ((in this state = NYS) raised = SYN) THE (scale = SIZED) = SYNTHESIZED
    Ohhhhhhh so much to dislike here! New York normativity, for one. New York abbreved NYS for two???? WAHTTT??? What is that. That is a no‑go zone. Even if, as Wise Tyler points out, it is common for to disambiguate from NYC … ok that checks out!
    1970s synthesizer prog rock wizard | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 28D) Private parts from giants—they're from the colonies (4)
      (PRIVATE = GI) parts from GIANTS = ANTS
    We like invoking a giant's genitals haha awesome, but the net is ANTS which is an automatic Lowlight.
    • 38D) Film actress endlessly hounded for debts (5)
      endlessly (hounded for debts = DUNNED) = DUNNE
    Love dat Irene Dunne!
    Irene Dunne | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues But we remember DUN from April 2015 and turns out 17 months is too soon for a refry. Thought we were DUN with that.
    • 41D) Served tea noisily, having tiny openings (5)
      (Served tea = POURED) noisily = PORED
    This was nice and the overuse of TEA would be forgiven except that TEA is overused in this very puzzle as well which is, in a word, gross:
    • 47D) Ate unpalatable meal (3)
      ATE unpalatable = TEA
    This clue is so sweet and twee! And Bri'ish! Would be fine, like we say, but for TEA in 41D.
    Ian McKellen drinking tea | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    Grandma Ian McKellen

    • 44D) Gone by a corner, in a board game (3)
      A (board game = GO) = AGO
    What's “a corner” doin' there? Filler? Gross.
    • 46D) In France, for him it sounds like a royal (3)
      sounds like (a royal = LOUIS) = LUI
    This one is “ok” on its own, but in the context of we've a'ready got LOUIE as the unclued 7A this is very butt.
    King Louie from The Jungle Book (2016) | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

    The Tacky

    • 35A) Former Mideast leader beheaded—time for rejoicing (8)
      (Former = EX) ((Mideast leader = SULTAN) beheaded = ULTAN) (time = T) = EXULTANT
    This is awful. This is like a shitty Charlie Hebdo cartoon in cryptic crossword form.

    We've missed you. Come comment :)