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.

Comments lead to love! And love leads to love!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tetris - March 2015

March 2015 | Crestfallen | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Hello Dear Readers! UGH we are having the darndest time motivating to get Tacky Harper's up but UGH just gonna do it! You are reading the “Just Gonna Do It” edition of this blog. We created this chore for ourself. O strange psykology! What hath ye wrought?? Now we make this face:
Blog o'Clockapron | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
First ... a change. We hate change, and changing. Sometimes a change still manages to slip through the cracks of our tightly constructed life. The change is: this blog is now

We made the change at Blogger's suggestion and with an easy purchase via Google Domains. Ok but then so visitors to are now greeted with the following alarming message, as if we've taken insecure criminal action to expose Dear Readers to harm:

“You're about to be redirected

The blog that used to be here is now at

Do you wish to be redirected?

This blog is not hosted by Blogger and has not been checked for spam, viruses and other forms of malware.

Buh. We believe that actually this blog is still hosted by Blogger. If hosted elsewhere ... well, we certainly did not take action to migrate or redirect or anything. If it's not Blogger we would much appreciate knowing who is hosting.

The Puzzle!

Flew through this one over a bus ride to Logan Square for a slam poetry thing. Nothing particularly tacky this month. Nothing particularly challenging this month. Smoothly barreled through it, like a power drill through cheese. Cheese particulates everywhere.

The Theme

Tetris! Exciting theme title, less exciting payoff. Twas sweet and kind of Maltby to make the funky fallen letters checked, but most times there was little or no ambiguity about what the new word could be.
  • 33D) CAN > CANT (haha v nice)
  • 14D) ITCHES > AITCHES (uhhhhhh fine)
  • 7D) KIN > KILN
  • 26D) LAST > LEAST
  • 25D) TURKEY > TURNKEY (nice)
See what we mean? Mosta these, once having solvied the clue there was just no question on the transform for the fill. Like: STAMPED? What's that gonna become? STAMPLED? SHTAMPED?

And then keyword CRESTFALLEN appeared after figuring out maybe four of the downs. The downs were a little more exciting, since they were of ambiguous length. But, like we says, not that exciting.

“Tetris-style” was a real stretch in that: most of the fun of Tetris is in the rotation transformations, the left-right translations, and fitting pieces together. “Connect Four” more like. Or “Plinko.”
Plinko | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 10A) University I entered in Northwest, transferring with the lowest credits (11)
    (University = U) + I + NORTHWEST = UNWORTHIEST
Big bombossa anagrama! Shoutout to Northwestern wut wut! Transfer with the highest credits!!
  • 14A) Make invalid remove article from yearbook (5)
    remove (article = A) from (yearbook = ANNUAL) = ANNUL
Yah!! Charmed by reference to old-timey word for yearbook. What did she write to you in the annual???
Winona Ryder's yearbook photo
  • 20A) Places quotes in speech (5)
    (quotes = CITES) * homophone = SITES
Nice and sweet! Clean and tight!
  • 23A) Famous dog with no tail in 200-years-old work? (7)
    (Famous dog = LASSIE) with no tail = LASSI) in (200 = CC) = CLASSIC
Classie lassie :)
Classy from Adventure Island for Gameboy
  • 27A) A bit of necking get you to sleep with someone, finally (4)
    (sleep = NAP) + (someone, finally = E) = NAPE
Yah! Sexy :)
  • 30A) Far less popular recording star, mimic is brought in (7)
    (popular recording star = CHER) + (mimic = APE) is brought in = CHEAPER
What up to our girl Cher!!
Cher | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 35A) Sums for a driller (4)
    A + (driller = DDS) = ADDS
DDS! Son, be a dentist. Gets to the heart of dentistry. Drilln. Pain. Dollars and cents / just clap your hents / clap your hents
Hannibal Buress plays a dentist on Broad City | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
This month's Nerd Hot Guy: Hannibal Burress. Mwa!
Hannibal Buress | "Are you comfortable with Alanis Morisette's definition of irony?" | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 40A) All trysting is immoral in a surprising way (11)
Nice. We just read 50 Shades of Grey. Had a great time. To the haters, well: it's Twilight erotic fan fiction. If you don't like Twilight, and you don't fan fiction, and you don't like erotica, you're prolly not gonna like 50 Shades of Grey. Easy math. You don't get the Fields medal for saying 50 Shades is bad writing, or secretly suspecting you might like it but alienating yourself from your own enjoyment and not even giving it a try.

True fact: we didn't even find 50 Shades outstandingly bad writing! But then on Sweet V's reco this week we started reading Foucault's Pendulum, and we're loving it, and woops. Yup ok, this is the good writing. We were perhaps unnecessarily contrarian in our forgiveness of 50 Shades's writing.
Fifty Shades Darker with post it: "Mom - please stop reading this in the family room I don't watch porn next to you. Love, your son" | Tacky Harper's Crytpic Clues
  • 2D) Calls for being a saltine cracker?
    SALTINE * anagram = ENTAILS
Nice! Dissolves easy into simple sugars. Yum num.
  • 4D) Vocally adds one's name at bank functions
    (adds one's name at bank = COSIGNS) * homophone = COSINES
You know this is the one we love most! Shout out to Dear Readers who watched MTV in the '90s!!
I know my Calculus | You + Me = US | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Reader's opening tune, in a way
    TUNE * anagram = UTNE
What's up to the Utne Reader. Hell yes. Shout out to Liberal Print Media Super Babe Nina Utne:
Nina Utne | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 9D) It's really not nice housing the French and their manners
    (It's really not nice housing = STY) + (the French = LES) = STYLES
Couldn't parse the logic on this one, until remembering that the French have a plural “the.” Flashback to our mom, on the plane to Paris last fall, glancing up at the French stewardess, sotto voce to us: “watch out for Frenchitude.”
Erica and Mom in Paris | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

  • 14D) Results of a rash of questionable ethics?
    ETHICS * anagram = ITCHES
Nice and natural language. Love!
  • 18D) Just rug strewn with filth
    (RUG + FILTH) * anagram = RIGHTFUL
Shoutout to Heather Donut who loves all the coolest things! Like British teenagers playing dubstep on satellite radio, announcing each track as “totally filfy.” Filfy!
  • 20D) Something found in pillows and also footwear
    pillows and also = SANDALS
Some inventive wordspanners this month!
  • 22D) Doing what's necessary to refuse Democrat: impugn in motion
    ((Democrat = D) + IMPUGN) anagram = DUMPING
“refuse” like trash refuse, like rhyming with “nephews.” Very nice.
  • 25D) Sexual excitement in animals turns up opener for poultry
    ((Sexual excitement in animals = RUT) turns up = TUR) + (opener = KEY) = TURKEY
Yah! Get sexy!
Michelle Obama with turnip (turn up) | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28D) Look at the books of Rimbaud, italicized, with parts expurgated
    Rimbaud, italicized = AUDIT
Verr nise.
  • 35D) Cooler in May
    Cooler = May = CAN
Relies on can/may equivalency. We remember watching Avalon when we were prolly no older than little Elijah Wood:

It doesn't show it in that clip, but guess what happens later? Little Elijah pees his pants because the teacher won't let him go to the toilet until he figures out that the magical passphrase is “may I go to the toilet” instead of “can I go to the toilet.” Prolly cuz Elijah did the Harper's cryptic and believed it.

Gratifyingly, later in the movie the teacher is chastised by the principal and Elijah Wood's dad. The teacher is like, “‘can’ and ‘may’! When will the boy learn the difference between ‘can’ and ‘ma—” and the principal and dad are like, in unison, “LADY YOU ARE SO FUCKED UP.”

So. Maybe we should relax about can/may equivalency.


  • 1A) “This is regarding our covering copy of a letter.” “Come again?” (7)
    (This is regarding = RE) + OUR covering (copy of a letter = CC) = REOCCUR
CC as in carbon copy. What's up print mediaaaaa! But boo on RE- words. RE- words offer low rewards.
carbon copy | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 7A) Sir Kay brought back name for man with many gifts (4)
    SIR + (Kay = K) brought back = KRIS
Kris Kringle. K fine. Sir Kay shows up again in the puzz:
  • 37A) Chance upon the return of Sir Kay (4)
    return of SIR + (Kay = K) = RISK
which is like the same flucking thing as 7A with the reversal on SIR and KAY for K so buh, whatevs! Whatevs.
Sir Kay | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13A) A river that flows from letter to come (6)
    A RIVER * anagram = ARRIVE
You know hows we feel about the single letter translation anagrams. Moooooooo.
  • 15A) Vegas leader's notes? (3)
    Vegas leader = notes = LAS
LA like do re mi fa so. Rull easy. Too easy.
  • 32A) The first character exits from reality plays (4)
    The first character exits from (reality = FACTS) = ACTS
Oooh yah so “reality” = “facts” is dubious to us. Loose like can/may.
  • 36A) Passage of mine, not quiet or stern (3)
    (Passage of mine = SHAFT) not (quiet = SH) = AFT
Shaft | Richard Roundtree | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
We basically like it, but there was a LOT of this same trick of “guess the synonym, take off a letter.” Witness 32A above. Witness:
  • 7D) Not quite charitable folks
    Not quite (charitable = KIND) = KIN
And witness:
  • 26D) Bee leaves wild party at the end
    (Bee = B) leaves (wild party = BLAST) = LAST
Annnnnnnnnd witness:
  • 31D) Dress covering a pointy thing not all the way
    A + (pointy thing = PRONG) not all the way = APRON
Witness to the witless. Also apron = dress? Murr.
Per Dear Reader Joe beloe, dress covering = apron. Some people wear aprons over their dresses, we guesses? Instead of over their naked bodies?
Will Cook for Sex apron | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 39A) I'm on television series Con Game (5)
    I'm on television = MONTE
Cutting “series” and using “television‘s” woulda made it tighter. Thought for a sec this clue was a reference to Montel Williams.
Montel Williams playing three card monte | Tacky Harper's Crytpic Clues

Nothing motivates blogging like a COMMENT!! Say hello. Whatevs, no bigs. It'll feel good :)