Sunday, June 14, 2015

Theme and Variations - June 2015

June 2015 | Diametricode | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Earlier today on Twitter we read through the feed of an acquaintance upon whom we had (read: have) a bit of a crush, and who is also a self-identified social justice warrior. And despite said crush, her tweets mostly had us feeling exhausted and annoyed, thinking thinks like “PC Policing” and “shrill.”

Then we hopped over here to write Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues, a blog where *we* are the self-appointed PC Police. Then we LAUGHED at our own expense.

Laughing harder now: but if not for this blog, who will hold the puzzle accountable for references to rape and child murder? When the puzzle says that gay men can't be butch, who will step forward and say, “are you crazy??” When Ruth Bader Ginsburg's name is misspelled, who will say, “what!? That's so bad!!”

It is we! The shining sword in the dark night of the Internet!! Carefully curating our list of clues that equate a hymen with chastity!!

We may take heart, Dear Readers. This blog will likely self-destruct should we ever become truly shrill and unfun. We're literally only writing this blog to have fun.

To the Theme!

Another code! Not so despair-inducing as The Playfair Square tho. The hot 26 of the Roman alphabet arranged in pairs around the perimeter such that a line drawn to connect a pair crosses the puzzle's center dot, thus forming a swapperoo code*. Ten clues in italics with answers entered in using the swapperoo code.
* technical term

As is polite, the italics clues were generally “fine.” Not too hard, not too easy. PTSD from Playfair nonwithstanding, a fast straight-ahead solve.


  • 8A) In West African religion, be a sweet thing (6)
    (West African religion = JUJU) + BE = JUJUBE
Contrary to common belief, Vodun [aka Voodoo —ed] is not related to juju, despite the linguistic and spiritual similarities. Juju has acquired some karmic attributes in more recent times: good juju can stem from almost any good deed; bad juju can be spread just as easily.

Source: Wikipedia

Sweet V recently asserted that it's “joo-JOOB.” Emma says JOO-joob. Wikipedia says either pronunciation is fine for the candy but the fruit ends in b-like-in-cab. Learnings.
Elaine | Jujyfruit | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 14A) Holds up on nonsense, otherwise turns back (4)
    ((nonsense = BS) + (otherwise = OR)) * reverse = ROBS
“nonsense” = “BS” was a fun surprise. Entered in the puzzle AETF
  • 17A) Flowers one grows (6)
    (one = I) + (grows = RISES) = IRISES
So nice and natural! We love irises. Delicate flowers with rich colors that fall apart if you touch them. Our favorite! A friend who likes robust powerful flowers that “you can hit things with, like a baton” suggested that our flower preferences said something about who we are as lovers, and people. Then we both got quiet and changed the subject.
  • 20A) The Reb yields openers because of that (7)
    (THE REB + (yields openers = Y)) * anagram = THEREBY
    tHE REB Yields = THEREBY
No clear anagram indicator? Forgiven! Love this anagram! Wonderful!
Wups yah so per Wise Tyler, this is no anagram, it's a hidden clue/word spanner. We saw what we wanted to see (anagrams everywhar). Entered in code as BIOAOTG
  • 24A) One can take her cue from cheat (6)
    HER CUE * anagram = EUCHRE
Here's a nice blog post about cheating in Euchre. We automatically love any reference to Euchre because our Michigander aunts and uncles taught it to us, and it reminds us of a happier time when our maternal family got along. But we are hard-pressed to find citation for Euchre as synonymous with “cheat.”
  • 28A) Streak, running around Olympian, perhaps (6)
    STREAK * anagram = SKATER
Apolo Anton Ohno | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Apolo Anton Ohno is this month's Nerd Hot Guy

  • 29A) Latin into bongo playing is hardly square (6)
    ((Latin = L) + BONGO) * anagram = OBLONG
Nice! Reminded of drummer Pablo from Steppenwolf. Shout out to Notorious Marcel who read it recently! We got it for him as a gift and insisted he read it right away!

Our memory from when we read Steppenwolf in 2009 proved faulty, and Pablo is a saxophonist, not a drummer. Wups. So we now present you with a photo of Jerry Edmonton, one of the drummers from Steppenwolf:
Jerry Edmonton | drummer from Steppenwolf | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“oblong” reminds us of Bob Loblaw's Law Blog:
Headline: Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb! | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 37A) Swiss city old fart comes from (7)
    OLD FART * anagram = ALTDORF
Buh, content knowledge. But farts! Farts in the puzzle! “Sure but idiomatically not fart qua far”— we don't care! Fart fart fart! Haha! Entered upon encoding as RNBKEAS
Altdorf, Switzerland | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 38A) Country once linking Namibia, France (6)
    Namibia France = BIAFRA
Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra (the Atlantic bay to its south).


After the federal and eastern governments failed to reconcile, on 26 May the Eastern region voted to secede from Nigeria. On 30 May, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eastern Region's military governor, announced the Republic of Biafra, citing the Easterners killed in the post-coup violence. The large amount of oil in the region created conflict, as oil was a major component of the Nigerian economy. The Eastern region was very ill equipped for war, out-manned, and out-gunned by the military of the remainder of Nigeria.


Here's Jello Biafra looking lovely. Wikipedia tells us he indeed took his name from this same short-lived state.
Jello Biafra | Nobody knows I'm a lesbian | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 45A) Small pale-colored bird (4)
    (Small = S) + (pale-colored = WAN) = SWAN
VERY nice! Smooth natchrul languaged. Delight. Entered after encoding as FQRL
  • 46A) Caveat on Alaskan houses having no key (6)
    Caveat on Alaskan = ATONAL
Nice spanner!
  • 2D) Cracked back in crazy stunt (5)
    crazy stunt * reverse = NUTSY
You wanna get nutsy? Let's get nutsy!!! C'MONG!!!! #keaton
  • 5D) Was a revolver involved in tragedy (7)
    TRAGEDY * anagram = GYRATED
Excellent anagrama!
“[Michelle] is the best Hula-Hooper I know. Once she gets the rhythm going, she can drop to her knees!”
—President Barack Obama

Source: Pepple

Michelle Obama | hula hoop | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Go down, up on horse—that's quite a turnover! (5)
    ((Go down = SINK) * (up on = reverse)) + (horse = H) = KNISH
Nice! Nostalgic now for when we lived in New York near a great deli.
noodle kugel | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) Cash exchanged, boxing ring mess (5)
    (CASH * anagram) boxing (ring = O) = CHAOS
Originally had this marked as a Lowlight. Why did you mark it thus, Past Erica? Present Erica loves it! Got hung up on the reasoning looking for a “chaos / KOs” homophone.
  • 11D) Man playing in factory (5)
Peaches! They come in a can!
They were put there by a man
In a factory downtown!
Peaches | The Presidents of the United States of America | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 27D) “Running Amok Around Outskirts of Barrio”—big report! (6)
    (AMOK + (Outskirts of Barrio = BO)) * anagram = KABOOM
Much enjoy this usage of “report.” The report is: everything is on fire!!
  • 28D) Weird wicked fakery (6)
    FAKERY * anagram = FREAKY
Sweet V played this song for us early on in our love affair:

  • 31D) Wound, kill, die (6)
    (kill = OFF) + (die = END) = OFFEND
So nice and neat and tite!!
  • 33D) Spacy kid, with no passport, traveling—he comes with a lot of baggage (6)
    SPACY KID with no (passport = ID) * anagram = SKYCAP
This was the favorite of the entire puzz. Thought for a bit it might be a reference to childhood favorite game Commander Keen. Or perhaps Fantastic Max! Or perhaps Le Petit Prince, a work of art against which we harbor unnecessary disdain only because we perceive most young women who have Petit Prince prints in their homes as shallow. But really it was just that one woman, one time, in 2002. She ruined it for us! Well now it's 2015. Time to move on. Here's le Petit Prince. So pretty in print!
Le Petit Prince | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34D) Ceremony providing big rock presentation (6)
    (Ceremony = MASS) + (providing = IF) = MASSIF
Big rock presentation. Erica and Vlad getting married | August 2015 | Vermont
  • 36D) You can't start Disney turning fugitive (6)
    ((You can't start = OU) + (Disney = WALT)) * anagram = OUTLAW
Very nice! Tried several ISNEY-based anagrams first.
Disney's The Littlest Outlaw | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 12A) Kind of wine, no year, send back—far out! (6)
    ((Kind of wine = RED) + NO + (year = Y)) * reverse = YONDER
More like YAWN-der haha. Ugh, so sick of “red = wine” equivalency!
  • 15A) A red X put in plastic jar (5)
    (X = 10 = IO) put in JAR = RIOJA
No, gross, bad, do not like. “X = IO” booooooo. And “red = wine” also, no, as we established just moments ago.
drinking red wine | Paul Giamatti | Thomas Haden Church | Sideways | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 19A) Saying: Of course, it's, like, mailed (6)
    (like = AS) + (mailed = SENT) = ASSENT
“like” and “as” in the simile sense. Buh, fake out with the homophone indicator. Got hung up thinking it was ASCENT, somehow. Forgot the word ASSENT exists.
  • 22A) Hundred hits into replayed video with vocals (6)
    ((Hundred = C) hits into VIDEO) * anagram = VOICED
  • 47A) Put vegetable back in can (3)
    back in (can = MAY) = YAM
yam | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

You've heard our thoughts on can/may equivalency before. So. “can” and “may” are not the same. But then also, and we insist that this is not a contradiction of previous, it is very annoying when someone says, “I dunno, can you?” and you're like OMG where is the bathroom you tedious alleycat!! Nobody cares about your unrelentingly precise command of English usage!!!

More wedding/Romanian romance talk (your favorite talk) on a gratuitous tangential note regarding can-may ability-action wish-will equivalencies: in Romanian, the way to ask someone to marry you is
vrei să fii soțul meu? / vrei să fii soția mea?
meaning "do you want to be my husband? / do you want to be my wife?" But in English, the stronger statement is
will you be my husband? / will you be my wife?
The implication to our ear is that in English, there's a potential gap between will and action.
“Do you want to marry me?”
“Sure I want to but [some bullshit could get in the way].”
In Romanian, if you want to get married then it's going to happen. Will and action are equivalent. So cool!

Certainly it's difficult (impossible?) to separate language and culture. For the purposes of this section we're pretending to believe in effects of language alone, independent of culture.
  • 48A) Ice cap melting—it produces heaving (6)
    ICE CAP * anagram = IPECAC
'Sup, ipecac. So oft ye be in our puzzle. Meh.
syrup ipecac | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 1D) Status follower holding art book (6)
    (Status follower = QUO) holding ART = QUARTO
Our dad has a book called Secrets of the Jeopardy! Champions. It's a rather handy primer on frequent Jeopardy! topics like Shakespeare, plant life, booze. The chapter on Shakespeare lists the “quartos” and “folios” in the Real Ultimate List of All Shakespeare Works. We remember reading that when we were little like, ”whatda hecka 'quarto' …” Surely we would learn in school.
Secrets of the Jeopardy! Champions | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
And then twenty years of life happened. And now we're here, with access to the world's information. Tell us Internet, oracle of all that was and has not happened yet: what be a quarto?
quarto (n.)
"book from paper folded to make four pages to the sheet," late 15c., from Medieval Latin in quarto "in the fourth (part of a sheet of paper)," from quarto, ablative singular of Latin quartus "fourth" (see quart).

Source: true love Etymonline

So Shakespeare wrote some stuff on folded papercraft! V cool.
  • 3D) Strand after disease is cured (7)
    DISEASE * anagram = SEASIDE
Didn't we have this usage of “strand” super recently? No? Where is our intern to compile a comprehensif database of all answers!!
  • 4D) reforming Texas university, first duty of a state? (3, 3)
    (TEXAS + (university = U)) * anagram = USE TAX
They forgot about TAU SEX.
  • 7D) Wander down, going out more tight (6)
    (Wander = MEANDER) (down = D) going out = MEANER
Can't say we're familiar with this use of “meaner.”



3. penurious, stingy, or miserly:
a person who is mean about money.
Synonyms: niggardly, close, tight, parsimonious, illiberal, ungenerous, selfish.


  • 20D) Head soup maker (4 )
    Head = soup maker = BEAN
Convinced ourself for most of the puzzle that this was OPUS somehow. Wups.
Mr Holland's Opus | Richard Dreyfuss | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 25D) Deceive the man with healthy heart (4)
    (the man = HE) with (healthy = OK) heart = HOKE
“Hoke”? “healthy = OK”? Buh!
  • 35D) Queen, in heels, perversely gives Hebrew money to Hebrews (6)
    ((Queen = Q) + HEELS) * anagram = SHEQEL
The instructs called this one out as “surprising” but we're not sure why because this was like the second clue we got. Transliterations. This didn't stand out as surprisingly qrazy in its variation. Natürlich much enjoyed “queen in heels” :)

The Tacky

  • 34A) Canadian native makes American win in a fight, million times over (6)
    ((American = US) + (win in a fight = KO) + (million = M) + (times = X)) * anagram = MUSKOX
  • 21D) Toupee showing up on American wise guys (5)
    (Toupee = RUG) showing up on (American = US) = GURUS
US is not America | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Illustration by Rob Donnelly from an annoying article on Slate defending US/America equivalency and sounding about as compelling as Tim O'Reilly saying no, no no, no, Lyft is a great company to work for and at least it's not as bad as other places to work, and Lyft drivers should be grateful for their great job which they all love, why, what did you hear?

Just keep beating dat drum: US ≠ America.

Some alternate ways to get US:
US (disambiguation) from Wikipedia
US from urban dictionary

Cuz that's the problem here, right? Getting the US as a convenient string? There are so many ways. Imagination need not fail us. Not in the puzzle of all places!

Mom mixed up "cent" and "sent," love (7)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Theme and Variations - May 2015

May 2015 | Theme and Variations | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

The Theme

Dear Readers may recall our joy at HELENA BONHAM CARTER in May 2012's Theme and Variations. This time around, it's another hottie: RUTH BADER GINSBURG.
Notorious RBG
More Ruth Bader Ginsburg at

Errrrr …wait a sexond … the puzzle spells it GINSBERG. Unless GINSBURG crosses 34A for VIOLONCULLISTS?

This is bad.

EDIT SUGGESTED BY SWEET V if there are any Puzzle Minions or Answer Key Writers out there listening, some possible ways to spin it:
  1. keeping the E
    “You thought we meant Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the jurist? No no, we meant Ruth Bader Ginsberg, cousin of Allen Ginsberg!”
  2. asserting the U
    “BURG, or ‘town,’ refers to how the land is the enemy of the sea, and the people of towns were enemies of the people of the Titanic. You've never heard of the VIOLONCULLO? Really! I guess culture hasn't made it out there to … where did you say you were from? Ah.”

Taking the puzzle at face value, the theme:
  • 17A) RUTH varies into ECCLESIASTES (10D) and ISAIAH (27D), other books of the Bible.
  • 18A) BADER varies into anagrams*: BARED (31A) and DEBAR (32A)
    * the wisdom of the third anagram!
  • 21D) GINS“BERG” varies into GINS => COTTON MACHINES (1A) and BERG => TITANIC NEMESIS, the latter being like ... erm. Ahrm. Aside from the super tacky typo-mistake, wha? Like the Titanic did wrathful battle with its lifelong enemy, the berg?
Titanic: Nemesis | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Before getting the theme, thought 21D) was GILLIGAN for a quite a bit. Young Bob Denver as Gilligan | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 14A) One acting badly, not real swinger (7)
    (One acting badly = HAM) + (not real = MOCK) = HAMMOCK
Ham haha, no surprise here. But we so enjoy the narrative! “Not a real swinger. One of those pretend polyarmorous types.” Watching identity politics play out, especially around fringey love communities, is, like, one of our favorite bloodsports.
  • 15A) Discern changes in reverse (7)
    DISCERN * anagram = RESCIND
Nice anagram, nice natchrul language.
  • 29A) Auto-piano, out of the box, perfect (7)
    Auto-piano = UTOPIAN
Nice spanner. Er, “hidden word.” That's the grown-up term for thems. Raise a glass to Sir Thomas More who invented “utopia” as an achievable human state of chill respectful feminists, but who himself could not be chill when it came to Henry VIII's decision-making. He took a stand against (among other things) Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn, and Henry had him beheaded. Then four years later Henry beheaded Anne, too. So.
Sir Thomas More | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 21A) Religious shows with wild orgies left in (7)
    ORGIES + (left = L) * anagram = GLORIES
We were a combatant at Write Club last month in Chicago arguing for GLORY in a bout of GUTS vs. GLORY. Twas glorious! We always bring it, Dear Readers, but for this event we Brought It. You can listen for yourself, here >
  • Sounds like a lot of hay to get out of a can! (4)
    (lot of hay = BALE) * homophone = BAIL
Reminded of Jackie Brown. Life of a bail bondsman. Different life than ours.
Jackie Brown | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) Designing icon still loves bowers (14)
Wutttttt fantastic anagrama! Beautiful! And credit this one to Sweet V, who divined the correct interpretation of “bowers” and knew the correct spelling of VIOLONCELLIST. We thought it was VIOLACELLIST or VIOLINCELLIST. Wups.

vaguely related reminded of when a friend of ours lived in a co-op with the name “Bower” in it. Occasionally she'd tell us tales of Intense Sunday Night Meetings on Agenda Topics Such As: is it ok for the house to buy chocolate chips when certain housemates snack on them at will, rather than use them for baked goods? Shouldn't those selfish housemates subsidize the cost of their own chocolate habits? Much like the Iranian nuclear deal, talks about this matter took place over several weeks, with much stress and emotion. We mentally tagged these tales in a theoretic compendium: Under the Bower: Horror Stories from the House of Horrors.
  • 35A) Relating to Fox Family Movie: An Intervening (6)
    (Movie = CINE) AN intervening = CANINE
Was certain the answer would involve VULPINE and was thus psyched to prove to the world that we know the word VULPINE. Sweet V saw the truth. As for the reasoning … we would like to see a Vine of Richard E Maltby Jr using CINE in a sentence, plox and thx in advance.
Fox | Vulpine | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    36A) Releases British head-sets? Time out! (6)
    (British head = LOO) + ((SETS (Time = T) out) = SES) = LOOSES
Sweet V to the rescue again on this one. That European sensibility.
  • 38A) Flipper finds great many changes on strait (7)
    ((great = G) + MANY + (strait = ST)) * anagram = GYMNAST
A little wrought, yes. But mwa, we loved! Check out these early 20th century Russian gymnasts. Not flipping. Just being flipping awesome.
Russian gymnasts | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Misprint the “c” in “computer nerd” (4)
    THE C * anagram = TECH
Bill Gates Character Sheet
Courtesy The Onion

Esther Nairn | Technopagan is the term | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
I wanna be Esther Nairn for Halloween/every een

  • 5D) Maiden voyages all around a holy city (6)
    MAIDEN * anagram = MEDINA
Medina, Saudi Arabia | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
The word “maiden” had us on alert for something about [female] virginity. But twas ok. V nice.
  • 6D) A word from a miser upset a sea captain (4)
    A + ((word from a miser = BAH) upset = HAB) = AHAB
Ebeneezer Scrooge is the miser in particular. Not Midas. Spose Mighty Midey's word would be, “o no! My wish backfired! O frail desire! O weak man, who did not value love more than gold!”

Here's Patrick Stewart as Ahab (hubba hubba)
(every Patrick Stew moment is a hubba hubba moment)
Patrick Stewart as Capt Ahab | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 8D) Failing to make me proficient? Quite the opposite! (12)
Have pun in there. We've been puzzle pun haters for a long time, because of recursion/time loops /paradoxes. But really it's like when Old Spock meets Young Spock in Jimmy John Abrams's Star Trek and they're like, “paradox wha? Hahaha it's fine it's fine it's fine.” We didn't like a tonna stuff in that movie, but we loved that part. RIP LN
Spock meets Spock | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 11D) Being around philosophical leader, kisses off philosophical doubt (7)
    ((philosophical leader = P) + KISSES) * anagram = SKEPSIS
Skekses | The Dark Crystal | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13D) Bound to get in, in op-ed possibly (8)
    IN IN OP-ED * anagram = PINIONED
We read 50 Shades of Grey recently. Dear Readers may remember. It keeps coming up. Perhaps Richard E Maltby Jr read it recently as well?
  • 19D) It includes a Gable movie initially, in a different order (6)
    ((movie initially = M) + ORDER) * anagram = DORMER
Got caught up thinking GWTW for Gone with the Wind was involved. Nay nay!

And now it's time to look at pictures of Natalie Dormer. Natalie Dormer is this month's Nerd Hot Guy. All yall gender essentialists, you sit right down! You sit! down!
Natalie Dormer | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Natalie Dormer | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Natalie Dormer | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
That's right.
  • 25D) One less trained lands in the water (5)
    ((One = I) + LESS) * anagram = ISLES
Such nice smooth language here. Mwa!
  • 29D) Reckoning it's a big year (5)
    (big = TALL) + (year = Y) = TALLY
Actually feel mixed on this one. Love it for the natural language, and much appreciate not going for the easy AEON EON or LEAP possibilities. Dislike equating BIG with TALL. Murr.


  • 12A) Tearjerker thats a little tart (6)
    (little = WEE) + (tart = PIE) = WEEPIE
No. “weepie”? No.
Terms of Endearment | Steel Magnolias | Little Women | three 'weepies' | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 16A) Singular protection during a university season (7)
    A + (university = U) + (season = SPICE) = AUSPICE
“auspice” singular? Like a single pant, or a single scissor? No.
  • 22A) Bribe for backing horse? Very smart (4)
    ((Bribe = SOP) backing = POS) + (horse = H) = POSH
Never hearda this use of SOP.
  • 30A) Acclaim, etc., swirling around Hollywood location (5)
    (ETC + (Hollywood location = LA)) * anagram = ECLAT
Sure. Meh. The ETC is a gimme for “hi howarya I am Ann Agram, woman of No Mystery, haha.”
  • 37A) Really bad situation can make you pettish (3,4)
    PETTISH * anagram = THE PITS
In our margin notes: HEP TITS and PET SHIT. The pits. Much like this clue hahaha. Have we mentioned that we've been doing standup comedy? No, you could already tell?
  • 1D) Court's P.R. representation makes a crook … (8)
    COURTS PR * anagram = CORRUPTS
Abbrev'd P.R. gets the Anagrammy Sense tingling. For a sec thought it was like a shephard's crook but then the internal letter jumble machine took over, and CORRUPTS appeared. M'sigh.
  • 7D) What leads in some ships evens out in homes (3)
    even [letter] s out in HOMES = HMS
child's pinafore | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 9D) Iron works producing a kind of film (4)
    IRON * anagram = NOIR
Noir is a kind of film, huh. Fine. Grump.
  • 24D) Protector of Bushes, inbred, idiotic, and finally incompetent (4, 3)
    (INBRED + (finally incompetent = T)) * anagram = BIRD NET
Fodder for our sister blog,

The Tacky

  • 2D) … rebuild store after trial—one man's source of power (12)
    STORE (rebuild = anagram) after ((trial = TEST) ONE) = TESTOSTERONE
General Ripper | played by Sterling Hayden | PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Is testosterone source for … all a man's power? Testosterone, hormone of aggression, linked to antisocial behavior and alcoholism? Hrm.

Women have some testosterone too. Small amounts, but some. Is this the reason, in Maltby's view, for our thus understandably lesser power?
  • 23D) Defect gets you a lot of money—cheer up (7)
    ((lot of money = PILE) + (cheer = RAH)) * reverse = HARELIP
The term harelip is usually perceived as insulting because it compares the deformity in humans to the normal cleft lip of a hare. The accepted term for this medical condition is cleft lip.


And, an Announcement

Switching to the first person. Wuts up, everyone! On April 28th, I asked Sweet V to marry me. And he said yes! Full details here:
erica and Sweet V

Comment, sweet chickens.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Search Warrant - April 2015

April 2015 | Search Warrant | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution


Take a look at the sidebar, Dear Readers! You will noticeth:
  1. Get Posts by Email frustrated with our erratic “we'll do it when we do it” update schedule? Loathe RSS for no good reason? FRET NOT  Now you can receive posts by email!
  2. emotions our chapbook of poetry and stories is now available electronically. If you like what you read here and are curious about how we present as poet avatar, and/or if you wish there was some way to financially support this blog (writer) in recognition of such glorious free content pumped your way every month WELL just clicky linky:   BOOM

The Puzzle!

In real time as we draft this, Blockhead's invocation plays throughout the coffeeshop. Oh fhuck yes. You're invited to click PLAY and feel the epic while reading further.

The Theme!

Slowly revealed by inference, hrrrrm what were New Yorkers looking for … maybe Son of Sam? Hm, wassit gonna be and ooh! Some New York esoterica! Some New Yorker esoterica!
In 1943, Hirschfeld married one of Europe's most famous actresses, Dolly Haas. They were married for more than 50 years, and in addition, they produced a daughter, Nina. Hirschfeld is known for hiding Nina's name in most of the drawings he produced after her birth. The name would appear in a sleeve, in a hairdo, or somewhere in the background. As Margo Feiden described it, Hirschfeld engaged in the “harmless insanity,” as he called it, of hiding her name [Nina] at least once in each of his drawings. The number of NINAs concealed is shown by an Arabic numeral to the right of his signature. Generally, if no number is to be found, either NINA appears once or the drawing was executed before she was born.

Source: Wipidya

Hirschfeld's Nina | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Below was our puzzle at the end of solving. We counted twelve NINA UPDATE we counted twelve cuz we had an error on 29A. We had UNLET instead of INLET. Like, “the room is almost rented ... it is currently unlet.” Yah. Well. Changing the U to I yields the final NINA.
erica's solution | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Also, because we are prone to be annoyed by this puzzle and have a hair trigger threshold for such, it annoyed us that turn-corners and toroidal* solutions were excluded out of hand. C'mong!! We're ready, coach! Give us the juice!!
* edge-wrapping, like a Pac-man board


  • 14A) Soup: a blessing, but it gets you finally sick in the stomach (8)
    (a blessing = BOON) gets (you finally = U) + (sick in the stomach = ILL) = BOUILLON
BOON as in Boondox? #idlehope
Boondocks on Trent Lott and black media | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 15A) Reduce feather dimensions? (8)
    (feather = DOWN) + (dimensions = SIZE) = DOWNSIZE
Nice and lean and tight!! Like jeans on a fashionable young man. Heuristic in development with Sweet V: hipster fashion favors showing off the shoes. Witness:
Hipsters show off their shoes | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
This lumbersexual definitely knows!
Lumbersexual hipster shows off his boots | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
By our reasoning then, only the dude on the right is a “hipster.” The other three are just dudes who try.
Hipster on the right | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 19A) Producer of gore? (4)
    GORE * anagram = OGRE
These punny ones. Sortof ourobourostically eating itself, and the definition isn't “Producer” it's “Producer of gore.” We have often come out against such clues, because we believe in Rule of Rules. But there are no rules, really. In life. That's what Kirk and the Kobayashi-Maru teach us.
Kirk argues that the test itself is a cheat, since the program is unwinnable, and thus cheating is the only solution. Spock counters that the point of the test is not to win, but to face fear and accept the possibility of death, like Kirk's father did.

Source: Wupyudduh

Captain James T. Kirk | I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20A) Moving along in dissemination of bread? (7)
    ALONG IN * anagram = LOANING
Anagrama! And using “along in” as anagram fodder: ooh! Natural language in our cryptic clues! Much love.
  • 22A) Urge to do without a Saturn, for example (3)
    (Urge = GOAD) without A = GOD
Nice. Saturn, Father Time. We want a Saturn (car). Wait, no. We want a Subaru Outback. Yah! We want a 1998 green or black Subaru Outback. We want a vintage Vermont lesbian car. YES
Gay Subaru | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 27A) Sending someone up to break palomino? No good! (10)
    anagram * (PALOMINO + (no good = NG)) = LAMPOONING
NICE anagrama!
  • 33A) Find I am limitless in this country! (5)
    Find I am = INDIA
Yah! Spiritual growth! Jessi-pie lived in India for a while. When she came back, she said her first shower was amazing. “Am I a princess?” she said.
  • 35A) Writer in heading west acquires name (3)
    (in heading west = NI) + (name = N) = NIN
YESSS. Writer. Not “female writer.” Richard E Maltby Jr and cohort have heard the cries of Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues!!!
Anaïs Nin | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 39A) Fanny packs, female (3)
    Fanny = ANN
Broad City | fanny pack | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Dwayne Johnson | The Rock | fannypack | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 43A) Right at the end, model mails jackets I like (7)
    (MAILS I * anagram) + (Right = R) at the end = SIMILAR
We've been working on becoming more fashionable. For the last five years or so we've worn a fairly uncompromised uniform of all black, especially featuring the GAP pure body v-neck black t-shirt. Much as we dislike brands and brand awareness and brand loyalty (witness how freely we dilute the brand of this blog!! buy our poetry!! watch our web series!!) mang do we love that shirt.

But it's time to expand. So we've been reading fashion blogs. Tucking our pants into our shoes. Being hip/p/st/er. Yes.
Quann Sisters | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 47A) TV character who puts an end to children? (3)
    end to CHILDREN = REN
Ren Hoek | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Ren Hoek
  • 3D) Artist, not deceased, comparatively amateurish (5)
    (Artist = DRAWER) not (deceased = D) = RAWER
Nice! Too bad that there's not a nicer word in English for “the type of artist who draws.” “Draftsman”? “Draftsperson”?
Kerby | Moleskine Doodles | Cheetah
See more here

Also, if you're in Chicago, please do yourself a favor and see Improvised Shakespeare at iO. It's exactly what it sounds like: an improvised Shakespeare play with more or less era-appropriate language and rhyming. But wait: listen to this! No, listen to THIS: Patrick Stewart has sneaked into the cast when he's in town. Doesn't that immediately make you feel expansive and magical? Patrick Stewart, freely and generously using his Patrick Stewart powers for make benefit all.
Patrick Stewart in Improvised Shakespeare | image courtesy Time Out Chicago | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Image courtesy Time Out Chicago

this paragraph explains the reason we brought up Improvised Shakespeare
We saw the show last month, and at one point they portrayed a band practicing a coronation song. “Ok time to do the song ... ” and the song went:
Get hard as hell!
You're gonna like it!
We sing that coronation song ... a lot.
  • 5D) I scrutinize stars in bad sitcoms, owning not one record (11)
    (SITCOMS + (not one = 0 = O) + (record = LOG)) * anagram = COSMOLOGIST
Love a big bossa mostly-anagrama!
  • 6D) Pop sound turned up, if superior to sounds from the bedroom (4)
    (if superior = FI) + (sounds from the bedroom = ZZ) = FIZZ
Nice narrative fake-out there. Sounds from the bedroom? Get your mind out of the sex-gutter! Sleep sounds, you perv!
  • 11D) Growth showing the significance of ABCFG? (4)
    ABCFG = no D E = NODE
AhhhHHHhhhhhh!! This one is the. best. Rebus, baby!!
Rebus, baby | Swingers | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 18D) Tarzan, in essence, is marked by comedy (8)
    Tarzan in essence = ZANINESS
YES. Witness the fitness below! ... What? Brendan Fraser is George of the Jungle, not Tarzan? What? Speak up, we can't hear you! ... Huh, they went away. More Tarzan for us, spose!
Brendan Fraser as George of the Jungle | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 21D) Game for ninnies, organized to get a bit of peace (8)
    (NINNIES + (big of peace = P)) * anagram = NINEPINS
Ninepins are like: you read it in Rip Van Winkle and then never hear of it again. See illustration below. As we recall from our 4th grade reading of the story, this is the part when Rip has just fallen asleep, or just woken up, but he's having a stressful time with these ninepin guys and thinking, “I've really gone and fouked up now!”
Ninepins | Rip van Winkle | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 22D) Part of a fat jazzed-up line: “Put a ring on it” (5)
    (LINE + put a (ring = O) on it) * anagram = OLEIN
Remember Olestra/Olean? It was going to be the solution to American obesity by replacing the fat in potato chips with ... chemicals. Which bodies love. But then Olean gave everyone spastic diarrhea. They still put Olestra/Olean in foods, they just don't proudly trumpet the brand name anymore.

re: put a ring on it Here's a video of Joe Jonas in a unitard dancing and lip-syncing to All the Single Ladies:
  • 26D) Miss L. unnaturally takes back reverses
    Miss L. unnaturally * takes back = ANNULS
Nice. We wrote in our notes that this should be in the “Lowlights” section but fruck that! Funck that! Highlight, brothers and sisters!
  • 32D) Woven yarn that keeps one wet (5)
    YARN that keeps (one = I) = RAINY
Nice and natural.
  • 36D) Man out of line? (4)
    LINE * anagram = NEIL
What's up, young Neil Gaiman? What, is up?
Young Neil Gaiman | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 37D) “____, say it isn't so!”: exhortation to Romney to drop out (4)
    (exhortation to Romney = oh, Mitt) * homophone = OMIT
Field day for our sister blog, Bleeding Heart Liberal Harper's Cryptic Clues!

sidenote Back when we lived in Boston, we worked at a sandwich shop for a year called the Oxford Spa (shout out to Heather Donut!) (shout out to Jessi-Pie who just got married!). “Spa” is old school Boston slang for “deli.” One of the sandwiches there was called the “O MITT” for then-governor Mitt Romney. It was bacon, lettuce, tomato, turkey, and thousand island dressing on white bread. “Because he's a pig and a turkey at the same time,” Boss E explained.

additional sidenote because we're thinking about The Spa now BUH we are sick and tired of hearing paranoid talk about how waitstaff “spit in the food.” It comes up maybe once a year from so-called friends and peers, and even once a year is often enough to yield our sick and tired feels. We've only ever heard it from people who have never worked in food service. Comes across as some frustrating classist bullshit. The fantasy that people who work on their feet are barbarians with no adult coping mechanisms. The fantasy that there's a stranger's saliva in your food cuz you're kinky, and into that. Every fear is a fantasy. Remember.


  • 3A) It's a one-off—period! (4)
    A ONE * anagram = AEON
Moo. May another aeon pass before we see AEON/EON ageon.
Aeon Flux cosplay | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 16A) Until destroyed, partly part of a piñata (5)
    Until destroyed = TILDE
Too mucha gimme giveaway. Diacritic shining like a beacon. Be a beacon [in his sad and lonely life]. Fact: we were on OK Cupid briefly in 2009, and our screen name was “be a beacon.” And then in theory if someone caught the reference to Sneakers that person would be our soulmate. But within 12 hours we'd had an annoying email exchange with a dude (who didn't even ASK about “be a beacon”!!!) and we quit. Still stand by that decision. How can a thinking modern person not have seen Sneakers? How could we like someone who doesn't already like the things we like, in the same way that we like them? That's how “soulmates” work, right??
  • 30A) Little buffalo wings of American opera (4)
    wings of (American opera) = ANOA
Anoa it not. Uncommon? Oh yah.
Anoa, also known as midget buffalo and sapiutan, are a subgenus of Bubalus comprising two species native to Indonesia: the mountain anoa (Bubalus quarlesi) and the lowland anoa (Bubalus depressicornis). Both live in undisturbed rainforest, and are essentially miniature water buffalo.

Source: Wipidja

Anoa | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 42A) Seismic onset due three times at Pompeii? (3)
    due three times at Pompeii = (due at Pompeii = 2) three times = 6 (at Pompeii, also) = SEI
Nonsense. Lots of heavy breathing on the Italian language. Yielding? SEI. Sei what???
  • 45A) Nobody move! Butt off! Both hands up! (4)
    (Nobody = NO ONE) butt off = NOON
“Both hands” like da clock. Murr. “Butt off” wha? As an indicator, ok fine. But as ... like, a colloquialism? “Hey dude, couldja butt off??” Never heardit. Why not “back off,” a real phrase. Much better, oui?
  • 49A) last night it came from vestry—EEE! (9)
    VESTRY EEE * anagram = YESTEREVE
Nothin' 'gainst YESTEREVE. But uy, that EEE is such a giveaway as anagram fodder.
  • 1D) Big bomb: corrupt N.Y. prodigal son finally gets taken in for slippery behavior (12)
    ((Big bomb = H) + NY PRODIGAL + (son finally = N)) * anagram = HYDROPLANING
No. Rully thought “Big bomb” = “hydro” for a while, which: no. Instead it's “Big bomb” = “H[-bomb]” which is equally: no. Our reasoning possibly shaky on this one? Feel free to correct in the comments (correctional facility).
  • 2D) It provides music for a Lipoderm spot (4)
    Lipoderm = IPOD
Meh. Two brand awarenesses in one clue. Boo.
duckpod | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 8D) Collective action, turning gray-brown? (7)
    DUNNING (double synonym)
What is? Never hearda.
verb make repeated and insistent demands upon, especially for the payment of a debt.

1. a brownish-grey colour


  • 20D) Sign fronting Little Egypt's offering (3)
    Little Egypt's offering = LEO
Frequent zodiac attack from ol' Leo.
  • 28D) Something hot and under pressure with a key addition is the making of Paganini (6)
    with (A (key = G)) is PAGANINI = PANINI
Buh, not sure how to explain the answer logic on this one. Pretty sure that's how it goes, tho.
  • 39D) Article is for many showing one way to get through Switzerland (4)
    (Article = A) + (is for many = ARE) = AARE
AARE you kidding me? THIS old man river again? “‘is’ for many” like “‘is’ but plural” and buh.

Not helped by another puzzle usual suspect,
  • 4D) Gun very nearly seen in holdup (3)
    (VERY nearly = VER) * holdup = REV
We do not revere Reverend REV. Revery disappointed to see him.

The Tacky!

Two this month.
  • 7D) Crazy Spanish female's place? Not half! (4)
    (place = LOCATION) * half = LOCA
Sexist/racist? Sexist/racist enough. For those on a hair-trigger like ourself? Yes. Enough. “Crazy Spanish female.” Good grief. Our mom bought a dozen Brazilian chickens last spring. “And they're crazy,” she said. “It's that Latin in their blood.”

  • 12D) Deacon diddled with classroom helper, producing stories (8)
    (DEACON + (classroom helper = TA)) * anagram = ANECDOTA
Is this one any more real and intense than 47A, invoking child murder? You know, yes. There's irony to 47A. Molestation endemic in the Catholic church and institutional suppression thereof? That's real. No irony there.

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