Yeah we're havin trouble concentratin at Tacky Harper's HQ right now because moments ago we got an email from Jeopardy! saying we'd gotten into round two of Jeopardy! auditions.
How many people get this far in the process? We don't know, they keep that information tight. What are our chances of actually getting on the show? Approximately 0.0000001%. But a lass dreams.
Unnyway it's that time of the month! And that time, she waiteth for no calm spell betwixt wedding planning and exciting but EXTREMELY disruptive emails.
To the Theme!Good ol' sixes and sevens. Boom boom boom. La la la.
- 23A) Opposed to a church prank, Holder in Los Angeles, left (12)
(prank = ANTIC) (Holder = ERIC) in (Los Angeles = LA) + (left = L) = ANTICLERICAL
Didn't realize he was no longer in office, so cruised his Wikipedia and was surprised to read: “During the Fast and Furious investigation, [Eric Holder] became the only cabinet member in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress.”
Wut? And also, wut is the Fast and Furious investigation!
"Gunwalking", or "letting guns walk", was a tactic of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which ran a series of sting operations between 2006 and 2011 in the Tucson and Phoenix area where the ATF "purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them."SPOILER the “stop violent cartels by arming violent cartels” plan did not work very well. Holder is out. Now we have Loretta Lynch, the woman who took down FIFA. Tite :)
Source: more Wikipedia
- 6D) Not in a union context, ram a Ritalin capsule inside (12)
context ram a Ritalin = EXTRAMARITAL
- 7D) Girl's goal—to be supported by electrical engineering (5)
(goal = AIM) + (electrical engineering = EE) = AIMEE
- 9D) Washes off not very sensible shoes (5)
SHOES * anagram = HOSES
- 6a) Wind and wind online (2,4)
ONLINE * anagram = EL NIÑO
- 6d) Butch is bored by one, for the most part
(Butch = MANLY) is bored by (one = I) = MAINLY
- 6e) Mystical group started reeling, was in the present
(reeling = SWAM) + ('was' in the present [tense] = IS) = SWAMIS
Maltby looks up from a snifter of amber liquid, be'moccasinned feet resting on a shabby tiger skin rug. He senses a disturbance in the Force, as if something long struggling against him had ceased to resist. Puzzle Minion enters with Maltby's dinner on a tray: steak and bananas.
- 6f) Cell-phone app, like Angry Birds and The Disheartened
(phone app like Angry Birds = GAME) + (THE disheartened = TE) = GAMETE
- 6k) Acted badly with end of paragraph cut off
(ACTED + (end of PARAGRAPH = H)) * anagram = DETACH
- 6l) Gambol, like in dry beds
(Gambol = PLAY) + (like = AS) = PLAYAS
- 7a) Distributing $100 bills among needy characters, that's a good quality
((100 = C) + NEEDY) * anagram = DECENCY
- 7d) Crash dummies for midsizes
DUMMIES * anagram = MEDIUMS
- 7e) Steady, unwavering pinch of the ears
(pinch = ROB) + (of the ears = OTIC) = ROBOTIC
- 7g) Bash in bone—get it together
(bone = SHIN) + (get it = DIG) = SHINDIG
- 7j) Mammal, bird, or reptile: Am I not ridiculously English
(AM I NOT) ridiculously + (English = E) = AMNIOTE
Lowlights!There were a lot we didn't like this month.
- 11A) Say, “Food, goodbye” (4)
(Say = homophone) * (Food = CHOW) = CIAO
- 16A) Where to file sketch artists or briefs? (12)
(Where to file = UNDER) + (sketch artists = DRAWERS) = UNDERDRAWERS
- 28A) Toymaker's heart's set on kayaks? Just the reverse! (5)
seT ON KAyaks = TONKA
Anyway so at least that K in the middle of TONKA is probably in service of a nice cross, right? Something fresh, and true, and real. Right?
- 26D) Store from which you can get one parrot (4)
(one = I) + (parrot = KEA) = IKEA
Sweet V says, “and anyway, IKEA is not a store, it's a church!” Here's a kea:
- 29A) Gets out of serious racing cars? (4)
GETS * anagram = GTES
- 2D) Relative to rein in, reordering members (2,2)
REIN * anagram = IN RE
“in re” is like “this is the topic”
“relative to” is like ”here's an associated tangent.”
And of course, REIN to IN RE, buh. There's no trickitty trick to this anagram. What they call a No Trick Pony in the circus.
- 23D) Caught in bazaar, ghostly word from a pirate (5)
bazaAAR GHostly = AARGH
“Really?” said the disappointed roommate. His mother is a French teacher. 99% positive yes, French teacher, not French national. Does that really make it better? And who are we to dictate the limits of others' outrage? Is this not a nerd outrage blog?
Anyway now it's our turn to say, “really?” when this clue invokes “pirate” and chases it immediately with “aargh! [ayma pirate!]”
- 24D) Land temperature I'll wager (5)
(temperature = T) + (I'll wager = I BET) = TIBET
- 6c) Cartoon kid fell down? No, up!
(fell down = SINNED) * (no, up = reversal) = DENNIS
So alright that clue is fine on its own, but then so close nearby, so much nearly the same:
- 6i) Star turns, wrong for some Arabs
(Star = SUN) + ((turns = reverse) (wrong = SIN) = NIS) = SUNNIS
- 6g) A right to have refuse placed outside ten times over
A (right = R) + ((refuse = DENY) placed outside) = DENARY
den•a•ry (dĕn'ə-rē)Sweet V made such the sour face at this one! Artist's rendering here:
2. Divided or counted by tens; decimal.
- 6h) Straight, not attached hereto
HERETO * anagram = HETERO
- Proof shows it's true without men, confused or straight (6)
- 6j) Rules out where t' get de drinks?
get de drinks at … de bars! = DEBARS
Couldn't work out why DEWARS, but we were rock-solid certain. No cross on that W, so. We couldn't imagine something so bad as this clue. Start with the overall badness. Move on to how DEBAR for “rules out” is a bitto'a stretch at best. We understand DEBARS as something you do to a person [lawyer]. Not to, like a suggestion.
“I've debarred your idea for this case.”
“It doesn't matter! I'm no longer a lawyer; I've been … ruled out.“
This is the worst clue we have ever seen in the puzzle. Bottom of the whisky barrel. But reminds us of this charming joke:
A lady is throwing a party where each guest shows up as their favorite emotion. A guest arrives dressed in green. "Envy!" she says, and lets him in.
A lady comes dressed in red. She says, "Anger!" and lets her in.
Two naked guys walk up to the front door. One guy is holding a bowl of pudding with his penis stuck in it, and the other guy has his penis in a hollowed-out pear.
"Wait a minute," she says to them. "This is supposed to be an emotion party!"
The first guy says, "Yeah, and I'm fucking dis-custard."
The second guy says, "And I'm deep in dis-pear."
Source: Ebaums World (!)
- 4D) Ragtag, not courtlier, minstrel (12)
NOT COURTLIER * anagram = INTERLOCUTOR
From Wikipedia, emphasis added:
The show itself was divided into three major sections. During the first, the entire troupe danced onto stage singing a popular song. Upon the instruction of the interlocutor, a sort of host, they sat in a semicircle. Various stock characters always took the same positions: the genteel interlocutor in the middle, flanked by Tambo and Bones, who served as the endmen or cornermen. The interlocutor acted as a master of ceremonies and as a dignified, if pompous, straight man while the endmen exchanged jokes and performed a variety of humorous songs.Is it inherently tacky to invoke minstrel shows in the puzzle? What would Tyler the Creator say? Maybe that such invocation is not tacky enough. Maybe that to alight on this history without exploring or exploiting it is a missed opportunity. Maybe that Maltby or Zander of The Listener drop an intense reference then avert their eyes. Maybe that's what we say.
Everyone wants to be outraged. Isn't this blog itself a voice in the ear-bleeding song of Internet outrage culture? Art Spiegelman in a recent cartoon for the New Statesman expresses his annoyance at such culture. Notably, in that last panel depicting a perimeter of free speech that should be defended, the sanctimonious PC police are not included. Maybe they're assumed to be well inside the paddock of free speech [with the cows?]. But we got the sense, and maybe this is incorrect, that Art Spiegelman finds the average Holocaust denier less irritating that the average activist Tumblr user. If that's the case, well. Maybe the Holocaust denier is easy to dismiss. But the PC police ask Art Spiegelman to examine himself and his thinking, and who wants to do that? Self-examination? Who knows what one might find!
Ok so then we're with Art Spiegelman in that: an outraged defensive position often substitutes for real education, awareness, engagement. See also Social Justice Kittens by the genius Sean Tejaratchi:
Back to the point at hand. Is it racist to mention minstrel shows in the puzzle? We say no. Is it tacky? We say yes. Dear Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions.