Saturday, May 21, 2016

Four-Play - May 2016

May 2016 | Four-Play | Harper's puzzle solution

What is up, Dear Readers? Hope all is well in your hearths. We're doing well! Nearly finished with these shoes that we started working on last summer. A whole year! Art takes time!
cool shoes | erica dreisbach | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Theme!

Four unclued entries that turn out to be HENRIK IBSEN in 1A and three of his plays:
… which is three plays, not four per the theme name. Fo(u)r what it's worth.

Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian, right?

… looks it up …

Yah, Norwegian. It's him and it's Hall of the Mountain King composer who are the major Norway guys that come up on Jeopardy! over and over. Grieg. Ibsen and Grieg.

Here's Henrik looking very writerly and Norwegian:
Henrik Ibsen | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
In looking up Henrik Ibsen for this post, we found many Ibsen quotes laid out Instagram photo‑quote style that didn't strike us as particularly, uh, great. Like thissa one:
The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right. - Henrik Ibsen (supposedly) | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right.” - Henrik Ibsen (supposedly)

But maybe that's just us? And maybe these supposed quotes are all apocryphal. Maybe A Doll's House is a focking gripping masterwork.

For the record, this blog is our masterwork!! This, and also the shoes.


  • 12A) Underworld gal making adjustment to teach English (6)
    adjustment to TEACH (English = E) = HECATE
Shout out to the crone hell‑queen Hecate!
Hecate | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 15A) Time being what it is: name long ago (5)
    (name = N) (long ago = ONCE) = NONCE
  • 16A) I'm in the habit, or I'm in with half, please (6)
    I'M in (with = W) (half PLEASE = PLE) = WIMPLE
Yass! The wimple is of course our favorite medieval and religious adult‑contempo garb.
Whoopi Goldberg | Sister Act | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20A) Camper taken in by male elements in the company of superheroes (6)
    (Camper = RV) taken in by MALE elements = MARVEL
Surprised to see Marvel in the Harper's! Shout out to pop culture. Shout out to this retro style promo for Xavier's School for the Gifted (below). Shout out to James McAvoy. Shout out to watching the new X-Men movie to whisper James McAvoy's name during his scenes.

  • 21A) One who deserves to be left out! (4)
    (left = L) OUT = LOUT
One of the ourobouri clues that eats itself, and the definition portion is the entirety of the clue. Which, we're getting used to this style, and even beginning to like it. Love the natural language of the clue. Mwa! One who deserves to be left out! The lout! S'what we're talkink about!
  • 22A) Misdirections behind some stock (3,6)
    (behind = BUM) (stock = STEERS) = BUM STEERS
This is the type of charades clue we usually *sigh* at. But(t) putting it in Highlights for reason of butts. Say what? Cattle butt!
cow butt | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 26A) That man needs a place, like for showing great range (9)
    (That man = HIM) A (place = LAY) (like = AS) = HIMALAYAS
“place” as in “please place your pencil down.” Speaking of the ‘layas, our friend Evan hiked to Everest basecamp last November. When asked about training he might have done to prepare, he said, “not much really.” Then he paused, and said, “I'm fit.” But it was more like, “Fhit.” Like: capitalized, and with an exhale in the middle. Then he talked about how he used to be a personal trainer and thus his self‑assessment as Fhit made more sense.
  • 28A) It's not quite hip to sing like a bird (3)
    It's not quite (hip = COOL) = COO
Goodfeathers | pigeons from Animaniacs | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 32A) Half of dance requires a final character: a little Bono (4)
    Half of (dance = CHACHA) requires a (final character = Z) = CHAZ
Shout out to cousin Chaz Bono!
Chaz Bono | Dancing with the Stars | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 33A) Ruffian in retrospect is mostly innocent (4)
    (Ruffian in retrospect = NAIFFUR) is mostly = NAIF
Very nachrul!
  • 35A) Toy bird (4)
    KITE (double syn)
Mwa! Delight! So sweet and concise. Fun activity: say “toy boat” five times fast. The first one rolls out no probs, but by the second or third it's like “toy boyte.”
  • 36A) On we spoke—oh, it's so boring! (5)
    (On we) * homophone = ENNUI
Yass! Love the narrative on this clue! All that blah blah talk! So boring! Related: how is it that a person can be super interesting, but their Snapchats are devastatingly boring? Some of our funniest friends send us Snaps of videos of watching TV, or videos of being stuck in traffic.
  • 1D) Scoundrel with a revolver—don't get me started! (4)
    (revolver = WHEEL) don't get me started = HEEL
No surprise HEEL showing up (cf CUR and CAD) but the narrative is super fun and REVOLVER = WHEEL felt fresh.

“Don't even get me started. Don't even get me started.” — Jeannie Darcy
Jeannie Darcy | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Mind if I left some chaff (4)
    (Mind = BRAIN) if I left = BRAN
Yah! BRIAN => BRAN is fun :)
Bran | Game of Thrones | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 8D) English FCC fees never obscure high spirits (13)
    (English = E) FCC FEES NEVER obscure = EFFERVESENCE
Anagrama (mostly). You know we loves! Hey when's the last time you listened to a hit song by the band Evanescence? Did you know that up until five minutes ago we thought Evanescence was a ‘90s all‑male rock band? Woops it turns out Evanescence is a lady. And Evanescence is her name? Or maybe it's the band name. Like how Grimes is a band and Claire Boucher is the entire band line‑up. We're not gonna look it up or anything so if you really want us to know more about Evanescence you can leave a comment but tbh we're hoping to forget everything we thought we knew about Evanescence rull soon.
Evanescence | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 9D) “Born to Die” Republican leaves more wanting (7)
    (born = NEE) to DIE (Republican = R) = NEEDIER
Nice! Another submission for our sister blog Bleeding Heart Liberal Harper's Cryptic Clues. This is wha’ we're talkin’ ‘bout w/r/t charades. Some catalytic conversion. A whole differently-flavored from the parts.
  • 14D) Seen as typical Beat poet, I'm writing one last letter at the end (10)
    (Beat POET IM = EPITOM) writing (one = I) (last letter = ZED) = EPITOMIZED
Oh yah. This was noice!
  • 34D) Napkin put up or down, doesn't matter (3)
    BIB (pun or whatever)
Brother Dan Asimov's key says this is “two meanings.” We get bib as “napkin.” But bib as a “put up or down”? Is it just that BIB is palindromic?
Hannibal Buress on napkins | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“I don't put a napkin on my lap when I eat. You know why? Cuz I believe in myself.”


  • 10A) Keyboard key used in telex transmission that can be sent (8)
    (Keyboard key = TAB) used in TELEX = TEXTABLE
You knew we were going to go after this one. Please, Dear Reader. Please whisper in our cute little ear the sentence that contextualizes this word.

Y didn't you text me back?
My response isnt textable

We brought this up to Notorious Marcel who said, “you could use ‘textable’ to describe a person. Like, ‘she's totally textable.’”

“You mean like ‘fuckable’? Can you name one other example? Like what, ‘phonable’? ‘She's totally phonable.’ …  ‘talkable’ … ”

“Honestly, ‘fuckable’ is the only one,” said Notorious Marcel, gratifyingly conceding.
texting | dating | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13A) Got sick, having been served a meal at the counter? (6)
    (served a mean = FED) at the (counter = BAR) = BARFED
Barfed. That's what we did when we read this clue. Not from the bar food.
  • 17A) Article removed from imperial menace (7)
    (Article = A) removed from IMPERIAL = IMPERIL
… … whoah, sorry. Fell asleep furra sek there. This clue imperils our ability to stay awake.
  • 19A) Where some Frenchmen locate tailored inseam (6)
    tailored INSEAM = LA MIEN
Uh ok fine we guess (le meh). Here's Alexandre Dumas looking dope and fashionable to make up for this clue:
Alexandre Dumas | courtesy Wikimedia
Image courtesy Wikimedia

  • 23A) Giving positions around piano dishonors arrangement (10)
    (piano = P) DISHONORS arrangement = DONORSHIPS
Love the anagram; hate the resultant word. “Donorships”? Even the most lexiconically esoteric development directors we've known, and we've known several, did not use “donorships.” They'd probably say “donor history” or “donor relationship.”
  • 29A) Partially enunciate hooks in the body (4)
    Partially enUNCIate = UNCI
uncus | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
uncus : noun, plural  1. any hook-shaped or curved part of a body process, especially the hippocampal gyrus in the temporal lobe of the brain.

Reminds us of Uncas from Last of the Mohicans. If memory serves, Uncas isn't the last Mohican, he's the son of the last Mohican. The second-to-last Mohican. And Daniel Day-Lewis is not the last Mohican. He's just a white guy. This isn't very fun trivia. But it's true.

Anyway but so UNCI definitely doesn't remind us of anything having to do with human anatomy.
  • 30A) What is a flowering of youth? That ____! (3)
We don't even know what the crud this is sposed to be. Some kind of pun? Like eliding to “thatszit”? Buh. Dear Readers are invited to explain in the Comments.
  • 34A) Moore and Craig, e.g., in ties (5)
    BONDS (double syn.)
Cuz Roger Moore and Daniel Craig have both played James Bond. Sure.

Witness: this amazing chart of James Bonds from the genius Sean Tejaratchi:
Liartown | James Bond
  • 37A) Oddly I schemed for a cold drink (4)
    Oddly I sChEmEd = ICEE
This one is bad! Icee hot? Icee not!
'They buy me all these icees' | My Humps | Fergie | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) Run out of a church to call your old girlfriend? (13)
    call your old girlfriends = EXCOMMUNICATE
Your old girlfriend called to say how uninspiring this charades clue is. “I know,” you told her. “It's good to hear your voice, though.”

“Ok we're not doing this again,” she said. Like, on a dime the whole energy of the call changed. Just like, wham!

And you played defensively dumb, like, “what? I didn't even mean, what? Can't I just be nice?” But you weren't just being nice. She knew it, your boner knew it. The NSA agent reviewing the call metadata knew it. We all knew it. So put down the phone, go back to church, and pew down.

The Graduate | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Hit over the head by a kid's toy? That's foolish (13)
    (Hit over the head = BRAINED) by a (kid's toy = RATTLE) = RATTLEBRAINED
Mang when the charade is just, like, DOG + HOUSE = DOGHOUSE. Like, there's no juice in the combo. No alchemy. Like if you got a recipe book and there was a recipe in there like CHEESE + CRACKERS = CHEESE ‘N’ CRACKERS
  • 4D) One live cross horny North African (4)
    I (live = BE) (cross = X) = IBEX
Wassup, ibex. “I bex you thought the last of me!” Naw, ibex. We always expect to see you. Shout out to your sisters OKAPI and ELAND.
ibex | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 7D) Re-crosses out origin of bad spelling (9)
That's a little judgmental. We witches aren't all bad witches. Speaking of bad magic, the resemblance between Bavmorda and former Pope Benedict XVI in these photos is strong. Coincidence?
Benedict XVI vs Bavmorda | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 18D) Two Irishmen make the sound of soft footsteps (3-3)
    Two Irishmen = PAT PAT
Um. No.
  • 24D) Humiliation in college almost has pizzazz (6)
    (almost HAS = HA) (pizzazz = ZING) = HAZING
Ulmost called this the Tacky. Humiliation. Ugh. Altho we appreciate being real about the nature of hazing, uglossed with “boys wull be boys!” denial, such denial like polyurethane just filling in all your pores and you die beneath it when your skin can't breathe.
  • 25D) Something exciting can also be downer (6)
    can also be DOWNER = WONDER
Yah so DOWNER => WONDER is pretty uninspi. Guh.
  • 27D) Lanai decorated for a swinger's need, possibly (5)
    LANAI decorated = LIANA
Feh. More uninspi single letter translations. The I takes a little walk to the left. Just as loose and casual as that. And about as exciting.

In our margin notes we wrote ANAL I.

The Tacky

  • 5D) Milk's an odd choice for white lovers (7)
This just felt weird. “white lovers”? Uh. Yah. Weird.
Lady giving a sieg heil at a Trump rally | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Comments are fuel for more blogging.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Stereo Components - April 2016

April 2016 | Stereo Components | Harper's puzzle solution

Good morning, Dear Readers! It's springtime in Chicago, praise goddess.

The Theme!

Component clues are homophones for halves of the entered answer. Homophonic left and right, as opposed to mono. Not bad.
  • c) Just average (4)
    FAIR (double syn.)
  • e) Is obliged to go west, where there are no limits (4)
    gO WESt where there are no limits =  OWES
  • FAIR OWES => PHAROAHS (1 across)
Beyonce | King Tut National Geographic cover | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • k) Henry upset soldier getting a girl more stoned (6)
    (Henry = H) (upset (soldier = GI) = IG) getting (a girl = HER) = HIGHER
  • a) Place for 34 across that's unlit, having no opening (3)
    (unlit = DARK) having no opening = ARK
    34A is ARK
    HIGHER ARK => HIERARCH (8 across)
  • l) It's braided by Jews around the foyer—that's so nice! (7)
    (around = C) the (foyer = HALL) (that's so nice = AH) = CHALLAH
  • b) Distraction that's necessary to find a zero (4)
    finD A ZEro = DAZE
  • CHALLAH DAZE => HOLIDAYS (26 across)
Took a looooorng time to figure out where the C-AH came from but it's “around” as in like “circa.” K fine.
  • i) Funny book company gets some sound equipment (5)
    (company = CO) gets some (sound equipment = MIC) = COMIC
  • g) Father Nelson's circle that is catching some sleep? (5)
    (circle = O) (that is = I.E.) catching some (sleep = ZZ) = OZZIE
  • COMIC OZZIE => KAMIKAZE (27 across)
Ozzie + Harriet | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • j) Act let out in stock (6)
    ACT LET * anagram = CATTLE
  • h) Composer who sounds lean (5)
    sounds (lean = LIST) = LISZT
  • CATTLE LISZT => CATALYST (40 across)
  • d) View unfinished pine (4)
    (view = SIGHT) unfinished = SIGH
  • f) Gets rid of breakfast cereal, by the sound of it (5)
    (breakfast cereal = KIX) by the sound of it = KICKS
  • SIGH KICKS => PSYCHICS (41 across)
PINE => SIGH is a little erm dubious to us.

And that wazzat for the theme. Medium temperature. A Goldilocks theme.


  • 14A) A German in East European borders (4)
    IN (East European = EE) borders = EINE
Nice! Reminds us of our favorite clue to introduce newcomers to What Iz a Cryptic Clue Pls Explain. We cite the following:
  • Capital city in a former Eastern European country (4)
    in a (former Eastern European country = CZECHOSLOVAKIA) = OSLO
and then people usually look at us like we're big jerks and why would anyone want to do such a nasty jerk thing like solve a cryptic crossword puzzle. So maybe we should think of a more easily digested go-to cryptic example clue. A real Ritz™ cracker of a clue. Salty buttery simple carbohydrates, melts on the tongue. Dear Readers: do you, too, have trouble explaining this cryptic business?
  • 16A) Racy hex signs reinterpreted, as a rule, for bishops (7)
    RACY HEX reinterpreted = EXARCHY
Anagram with a fun narrative! V nice!
  • 18A) Primp—the odds are, it's a spot for gambling (3)
    PrImP the odds are = PIP
Dots on the cards. Which we think are maybe used in card counting? Card counting is on our list of things that would be cool to sit down and learn, like learning the Rubik's cube.
card pips | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20A) What helps make pole a pole vault (4)
    poLE A Pole = LEAP
A daring word spanner!
  • 25A) Total confusion surrounding China's first famous author (6)
    TOTAL confusion surrounding (China's first = C) = ALCOTT
Woot! Appreciate “author” without gender qualification. Feminist Harper's Cryptic Clues. Little Women | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28A) Contorted coitions with equal tension for both participants (8)
Enjoyed, even though COITIONS was very clear anagram fodder and whatda heck is ISOTONIC?
1. Of equal tension.

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ok, literally exactly “equal tension” V COOL.
  • 30A) Is The Apartment noir? Curiously, it's a decreasing factor! (8)
    (the apartment = FLAT) (NOIR curiously = IRON) = FLATIRON
OHhhhhhhh gorsh it's “decreasing” as in “de-creasing” as in “remove the wrinkles” oh crimey this one is excellent and diabolical! Mwa!
old flat iron | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) To cheer for five good books (5)
    TO (cheer = RAH) = TORAH
Nice. Happy Purim to our Jewish brothers and sisters!
  • 37A) Doxies struggling with hair bleaches, etc. (6)
    DOXIES struggling = OXIDES
Re: the hair reference, was that a shout out to Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues?? Always love a reference to doxies.
doxies | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
See also: DOXIES in Harry Potter or DOXIES as in “prostitutes.”
  • 38A) Fulfills requirements for rawness (7)
    RAWNESS * anagram = ANSWERS
Nice anagrama!
  • 3D) Editor edited tonight also (11)
Glorious supra-nice anagrama!
  • 4D) Crustier weird guys who signed up (8)
Keep 'em coming! More anagrams!!
  • 7D) Terrific screenplay with an overwritten character (11)
    (Terrific = SUPER) (screenplay = SCRIPT) = SUPERSCRIPT
This was a NICE charades clue!
  • 8D) Appropriate greeting for President Kennedy (6)
    (greeting = HI) for (President Kennedy = JACK) = HIJACK
“Appropriate” slant rhyming with “instigate” as in a fancy word for “stealing” but like a genteel stealing committed by a rich person. We originally had SEANCE as our answer.
fhqwhgads | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
I asked my friend Joe / I asked my friend Jake / they said it was fhqwhgads
view on utube
  • 12D) Material for comic's opening: hints— listen to it (6)
    (comic's opening = C) (HINTS listen to it = HINTZ) = CHINTZ
Speaking of comics, we've been doing stand‑up comedy. It is by far the most challenging art form we have ever attempted. When the joke doesn't land it's like, “welllll catch up with you in the next life, scuse me while i pilot my starship directly into the sun …” But instead you have to stay strong and tell another joke. It requires such discipline. We hate it (we're falling in love with it).
  • 13D) With needle, takes drugs, inhaling half‑score in long lines (11)
    With (needle = HYPO) (takes drugs = USES) inhaling (half score = TEN) = HYPOTENUSES
One of our favorite Key & Peele sketches:

  • 22D) …who's having no opening article front and back—that's high praise (7)
    (WHO'S having no opening = HOS) ((article = AN) front and back = ANNA) = HOSANNA
Meet you all the way!

Rosanna by Toto | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23D) Rigging a jury, an occurence leading to a year (7)
    Rigging A JURY AN = JANUARY
  • 24D) Endowments coming from old money (7)
    TALENTS (double syn.)
  • 31D) Nine in bed getting up—really unpleasant (5)
    (Nine = IX) in ((bed = COT) getting up = TOC) = TOXIC
The Toxic Avenger | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 35D) High‑calorie seconds in bridal dinner: icing, chocolate (4)
    seconds in bRidal dInner iCing cHocolate = RICH
Do it, bridesy! Have seconds on dessert! It's your day!
Bridesmaids | img courtesy © Universal Pictures | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 19A) Chores that can produce some toning (6)
    CHORES that can produce = OCHRES
“toning” in the sense of color tone. Blmeah.
  • 21A) Field nurse's study (6)
    (Field = LEA) (nurse's = RN'S) = LEARNS
We just had this in October. Not quite exactly the same, but very very close and basically exactly the same actually:
  • October 2015
    3) Field nurses and cons
    (Field = LEA) + (nurses = RNS) = LEARNS
Carla in Scrubs | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 39A) Pediatric disorder in the offing, for daddy! (9)
“for daddy” whoa. What was for daddy? Murder was for daddy. Kinda intense, but then also kinda funny :)
Oedipus Rex | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 5D) Feller involved in forestry, according to a Times banner (2,4)
    A (Times = X) (banner = HEAD) = AXHEAD
Sure. We guess.
  • 6D) At heart, it's honest money (4)
    hONESt = ONES
  • 10D) Pitch from a debaucher (4)
“rake” meaning “slant”? Never hearda.
  • 11D) Asian spirits living in barracks (6) bARRACKs = ARRACK
We saw “Asian spirits” and tried to force ONI into it, cuz we've got onsen and natural hot springs onda brain. Then we tried working SAKE, cuz obv. Right? Gotta be SAKE. But, nah. Arrack invasion.
arrack | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 15D) Racing fans, silly, mad to get in with rising star …(9)
    SILLY mad to get in with (rising STAR = RATS) = RALLYISTS
A “rallyist”?
Korean rallyist | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 29D) Oiler disabled in a bay (5)
    OILER disabled = ORIEL
Never hearda “oriel” to mean “bay window.” Hrmph.
oriel | bay window | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 33D) Patsy given a ring in corny drama (4)
    (Patsy = SAP) given a (ring = O) = SOAP
Haha that's rather judgmental! Casting aspersions on our stories!

Our father's orthopedic surgery partner once told us a story about growing up on the mean streets of Providence, Rhode Island and how cops would call showing their badges “flashing their potsy.” Doesn't that sound like a lie? This partner is a good surgeon, but not a good truth teller. Upon Googly searching just now, “potsy” qua “badge” shows up in The Tenth Commandment by Lawrence Sanders:
flash your potsy | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
See for yourself on Googly books

… but perhaps not elsewhere? Inconclusive.

The Tacky

  • 1A) Initially Philadelphia police hid a reevaluation relating too much to children (11)
    (Initially Philadelphia = P) POLICE HID A reevaluation = PEDOPHILIAC
Ugh. Outside the news, the Harper's puzzle is by far the place where we most frequently encounter reference to pedophilia. Weird, right?
Dennis Hastert | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Comments are fuel for more blogging.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Quo Vadis? - March 2016

March 2016 | Quo Vadis? | Harper's puzzle solution

Cool news at TackyHarpersCrypticClues headquarters: we've seen a surge in web traffic! But thus also a surge in spam comments. It's always flattering, the spam. The first sentence is usually, like, “WOW!! This blog is packed with great info!!!” and we blush with pleasure.

The second sentence is, like, “Web sluxuriant krazee moriaty mosgrove acquittal Affiliate marketing.” Then a link to some dum spam site.

But popularity with robots is still popularity! You know that old show biz saying: “first the bots, then the masses.”

…  why, yes. We do consider this blog to be under the ægis of show biz.

In unrelated news: currently we are obsessed with Snapchat© face swaps™ of we and Sweet V. We were hung up at first believing these are alt‑lesbian versions of ourselves. But now we're hung up on imagining these are our grown up daughters, who are friends, and come to visit their old ma and pa sometimes.
erica + Vlad face swap | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
erica + Vlad face swap | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Theme!

A four‑quadrant construction with four fifteeners as lattices. We're told in the instructs that 1) is an across lattice so that the solution is unique. Ok.

Sweet V's solve of VIDEOCONFERENCE and early successes with quadrant C led to some speculative fill and good guesses. Final quadrants:


How does the title QUO VADIS relate to this Theme? We do not know, Dear Readers. Uncle Google says QUO VADIS means “where are you going?” in Latin and that it's also the titles of a buncha media including a 1951 film starring six‑time Oscar nominee Deborah Kerr. This is a surprising descrip on the 1924 film:
Watch the Apostles and other followers like Saul preach the gospel and spread the message of love and hope in this high quality entertaining animated feature for your kids and family.

Source: iMdB

Quo Vadis film | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
That wholesome animated feature is out of step with most Quo Vadi, which reference Peter feeling afraid in Italy and high‑tailin it outta Rome to escape the toxic murderous climate against Christians. But on the way out he encounters Christ. And Pete asks, “quo vadis?” And his Prince of Peace answers, “o, not much, I'm going back to Rome to be re‑crucified.” And Pete is like, “o. I'm a coward.” So then he goes back to Rome where soon afterward the Romans crucify him upside down.

The grid construction definitely looks kinda Roman architectural agora'y. So maybe that's the idea. Dear Readers are of course invited to speculate further in the comments!

The fifteeners:
  • 1) This one is our pick for Tacky Clue, see below
  • 2) She invoices sums, concealing monkey business (15)
Glorious anagrama! “concealing” as anagrind is a little funny but forgiven because anagram (anagram!!). Got hung up several rounds thinking it would be a female quant, like ACCOUNTRESS or similar.
Janet Yellen | US Federal Reserve Chair | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
US Fed Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

  • 3) Solving the problem when basketball player has this? l;(15)
    TROUBLE SHOOTING (double syn)
Sweet! Alla the B boys and B girls have trouble shooting the B ball sometimes.
  • 4) Communication, if CEO reconvened organization? (15)
Another wonderful anagram! Altho video conferencing introduces communications problems as it solves them. cf this tweet:
Alla the resta the clues were sevensies, so we'll omit the letter count.


  • 5) Here's the dish: knight is back to going both ways
    ((knight = SIR) is back = RIS) TO going both ways = RISOTTO
Loved this. Like: bisexual Lancelot! Caught between his love of Guin and his passíon for Arthur! Yes please! Twas also the first solve of the puzzle for us.
Lancelot love triangle | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6) Cannabis, you are it! It's found by the pound!
    (Cannabis = HASH) (you are it = TAG) = HASHTAG
Whoa! Weren't expecting this! Expected CANNABIS = POT, expected “found by the pound” = “lost dog” or similar. Did not expect a Modern Social Media™ reference!
old folks on the computer | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 9) Drag out gag that appears on street
    (gag = RETCH) appears on (street = ST) = STRETCH
Got rull hung up thinking this was an anagram of DRAG OUT (TUG ROAD?).
  • 11) Squabble's royal focal point: putting underwear on backward
    (royal = R) (focal point = HUB) (putting (underwear = BRA) backwards = ARB) = RHUBARB
Have probably learned then forgotten that RHUBARB can mean interpersonal conflict many times, the way that on at least a dozen occasions we've learnt then forgotten the name of Rick Allen, one‑armed drummer from Def Leppard. It's like being caught in a time loop. The only way to break free of the loop is a goofy mnemonic. In this case, we pretend that Rick Allen is the goofy British cousin of American film and TV star Tim Allen. And that does the trick. We have thus escaped the time loop.
Rick Allen | img courtesy Wikimedia
Image courtesy Wikimedia

But buh, any time BRA shows up it's a small unkind cut. A crappy underwire that poked through.
  • 13) Pitt abs developed by one immersed in worship
    PITT ABS * anagram = BAPTIST
Wonderful! PITT ABS was obvious anagram fodder, but that natural definition portion and double meaning of “immersed” is v nice!
  • 14) A tropical theme plays cleverly in Company
    PLAYS cleverly in (company = CO) = CALYPSO
Mmm nice! Thinking about Murphy Brown and how Murph haaaaaaated Barry Manilow's music. But then Barry Manilow appeared on the show and played piano for her, and she loved it.

  • 15) I'm a fruit—get out of the office!
    IM (a fruit = PEACH) = IMPEACH
Argh! So torn on this clue! We love it for its cluing, but find the narrative tacky. More fantasies of queeny dictatorial types. Fantasies of oppressive queers. Of course as is always the case, we learn something new about the fantasizer.
Harvey Milk | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 16) Material that's sized for two male animals
    two male animals = BUCK RAM = BUCKRAM
Never hearda buckram, but love this! So fresh.
Buckram | courtesy Wikimedia | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Image courtesy Wikimedia

  • 17) Brought to victory, Roman four does coming back around
    (victory = V) (Roman four = IV) (does = DEER) coming back around = REVIVED
So nice! The obviousness of “Roman four” forgiven for rippitty sneak‑sneak of DOES qua DEER mwa! LOVE this!
  • 20) Diverse characters in a new edition
    DIVERSE * anagram = REVISED
Nice sweet anagrama!
  • 22) Harmful Burma‑Shave writing?
    Burma‑Shave writing = AD VERSE = ADVERSE
Mwa! Delectable and delightful! Wonderful! Reminded of the pilot episode of Quantum Leap. One of Sam's cues that he has legit traveled beyond the veil is seeing the Burma‑Shave ads on the highway. And oh! The idea itself for these ads! Using the fact of cars and driving to generate comedic timing in an otherwise static format. Glorious.
Burma Shave | Quantum Leap pilot (Genesis) | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23) Strange Latvian game
    LATVIAN * anagram = VALIANT
Took a little research to believe that “valiant” = “game” but yuh, this is nice! And of course much enjoy the neatness of a three‑word clue. Here's a video of some Romanian kids playing “lapte gros.” Sortof a leap frog Red Rover thing. A structured outlet for physical aggression, which we generally approve of.

  • 25) Makes lower classes well‑spoken
    (classes = LESSONS) well‑spoken = LESSENS
Mwa! Whatta homophone! Yass!!
  • 26) One dangerously wild flower in the Mideast, they say
    (flower in the Mideast = TIGRIS) they say = TIGRESS
Ahhhh!!! YASS! Shoutout to the crable of cibilization, the mighty Tigris and Euphrates!! Shoutout to Billy Blake and the Tyger burning bryght. So sweet and delicious.
Tyger | William Blake | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 27) Contract to form brigade
Nice fresh use of “contract” as opposite of “dilate.” Delish.
  • 28) Find us tragically enthralled by housecleaner? Just the opposite!
    FinD US TRAGically = DUSTRAG
Glorious, daring wordspanner! “Find us” made us think of Findus the cat, beloved character from the picture books of our young cousin‑by‑marriage Ioana. Findus is a curious and mischievous black and white cat, always getting into trouble. Standard beloved childhood picture book stuff :) And super‑compelling character design:
Findus the cat | Sven Nordqvist | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 7) Makes new catalogues for big hotels
    Makes new catalogues = RE‑SORTS = RESORTS
Thought this would be the proper noun of the puzzle, like RAMADAS or RESEDAS or similar. “Makes new” had us thinking of RENEWS or RE‑. Bland payoff.
  • 8) Mass movement gone crazy—there's rot in it!
    crazy ROT IN IT = INTROIT
Church words. Meh. No benediction here.
Pope Francis drops his latest mixtape in Bangui, Central African Republic | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Pope Francis drops his latest mixtape in Bangui, Central African Republic

  • 10) How Italians keep their cool and not riot when provoked
    NOT RIOT when provoked = TORTONI
Uh. What is a tortoni? Never hearda. Thinking now of Signor Eco and Foucault's Pendulum and plenny of Italian riots. This clue also smacks of respectability politics, which, buh. What's so great about being good and shutting up and taking it from the System? What's so great about the status quo.
  • 12) Exercises that are the same going up or down?
Because PULLUP reversed is PULLUP. Irritatingly, PULLUPS ≠ SPULLUP.
  • 18) Unbounded and friendless but not at the end of the week
    FRIENDLESS but not (at the end of the week = FRI) = ENDLESS
So many things. Let's start with FRIENDLESS => ENDLESS nyoooooh. No no‑no. No!! And Friday is not the end of the week. Saturday is the end of the week. Maybe Sunday. You could play a “work week.” You could play a “start of Shabbos.” You could win us over playing this as an Islam‑normative week. In which case this becomes a Highlight.
  • 19) Plays with dialogue—initially I would bring up Rosebud e.g.
    (DIALOGUE initially = D) (I WOULD = I'D) (bring up (ROSEBUD e.g. = SLED) = DLES) = DIDDLES
“Diddles” is a gross word. Mainstream lexica jibe with this “plays with” definition, but in practice, in the real world, on the streets, we've only heard DIDDLES in the context of sexual touch. And generally unwanted sexual touch. Gross.
Citizen Kane | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 21) Northern riots broken up, left where there's a passing of wind
    (Northern = N) RIOTS broken up (left = L) = NOSTRIL
Putting this in Lowlights onnnnly cuz we hadda “wind tunnel” = “nose” thing like just last month. Cmong. Also, this bit of dialogue between we and Sweet V:


I want this to just be FARTS.


Yes. Altho that would be Southern riots.

  • 24) In Italy, everything from three on is late!
    In Italy everything from three on = OVER DUE = OVERDUE
Boo. Boo to Itanglish. Thought it was the Italian word for “everything” which we figured was TUTTI, so then we were agonizing over manipulating TUTTI. Anyway. Dumb.

The Tacky

  • 1) Frank: a gay soccer team won't hire him! (15)
    STRAIGHT FORWARD (double syn.)
Robbie Rogers and his body | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Tell it to ya boi Robbie Rogers

Um ok so um wut? Let's be real, the criteria a gay soccer team is likely to set for Hetero Frank qua new forward are:
  1. does he want to play on our gay soccer team?
  2. is he any good? (optional)
and maaayyyyyyyyybe there'd be, “he knows, right, that we're a gay soccer team? Just so it's super clear.”

But certainly
  1. get outta here breeder cuz it's gays only, Frank!!!!!!!
would, like, not come up. This is a weird lil fantasy about Queer Orthodoxy, which definitely exists in perverse and unnatural environments like San Francisco. But not even everywhere in San Francisco, just specific communities and gayborhoods.

Most gay clubs in our experience are like the Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus:
Non‑Discrimination Statement
The Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus does not discriminate in it's[sic] employment practices on the basis of: race/ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender, gender self‑identification, age, disability, veteran status, religion, or political beliefs.

Source: they's About page

You don't hafta be gay or a man. There just aren't enough gay hobbyists to get uptight about identity.

This is really a fantasy that a gay soccer team would be as shitty and discriminatory as non‑gay soccer teams are. Which, semantically they would be more inclusive but in live real world practice, not so much.

Don't worry, we'll fix it:
  • Blunt, neat, and fresh (15)
“neat” as in “one scotch: neat” or “one scotch: STRAIGHT.”

“fresh” as in “Marvin! Don't get fresh! [slap]” or “Marvin! How FORWARD of you!”

Comments are fuel for more blogging.