Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Season's Greetings - December 2012

Harpers December 2012
Hola, Dear Readers!

If you're wondering where we were we were well we were busy. cf our web series BLOGJOB which you should all be following on the email list, tweeter, and faceface. cf being busy with some paid work. cf a solo trip to the Bahamas for a much needed and long-planned respite after a rocky 2012.

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Jimmy Wales | Fremen
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This month's cryptic theme was holiday-specific, and because we live in a Gentile-normative Western world, that holiday was Christmas. Bah lovebug, everybody. And esPESHal bah to everyone who insists it's a secular holiday. It's the Christ mass. There is no secularity in any part of the word. Boom.

Ok so we don't like Christmas, but we LOVE this video from Drew of Married to the Sea, which, oddly, grants us full unbarred permission to not like Christmas.


That said! We enjoyed the puzzle's theme! 23A (unclued) eventually read (by inference) "THE FIRST NOEL" or (homophone times) "THE FIRST NO L." Other theme answers in the red squares were entered without their initial Ls. And, Harper's style, the no-L versions were also words unto their own.

  • 1A) Reveling in gin, hauls pine away (8)
    GIN HAULS * anagram = L/ANGUISH
  • 7A) One form for sugar plums, cooked (5)
    PLUMS * anagram = L/UMPS
  • 13A) Educated in the French attire, decked out (8)
    (the French = LE) + ATTIRE) * anagram = L/ITERATE
  • 14A) Shul, oddly and upsettingly, not quite red, more green (6)
    (SHUL * anagram) + (not quite red = RE) = LUSHER
Nice shout-out (shul-tout) to Judaica.
  • 16A) Wassail from east to west—what a tool! (5)
    (Wassail = REVEL) * rev = L/EVER
  • 17A) Celebrating, turn back no one between one and fifty having pizzazz (9)
    (((one = I) + (no one = NO I) + (fifty = L)) * rev = LIONI) + (pizzazz = ZING) = L/IONIZING
  • 28A) A place of Christmas shopping returns—it can take some of the burden off you (5)
    ((A = A) + (place of Christmas shopping returns = MALL)) * rev = L/LAMA
    We liked to think of not just llamas proper but also the lamas of the Buddhist priesthood relieving us of spiritual burdens.
  • 31A) Boy leads Rudolph, e.g., eliminiating one excellent way to get to the roof! (6)
    (Boy = LAD) + (Rudolph, e.g. = DEER) + (eliminating one = -E) = L/ADDER
Rudolph poses an unsettling xenophobia allegory ... difference only accepted and celebrated if it profits the status quo. Otherwise, stand aside, freak. Anyway.
  • 38A) Part of a chain letters start in opening of Kringleland (4)
    (letters start = L) + IN + (opening of Kringleland = K) = L/INK
  • 39A) A true ale passed around? I'm honored! (8)
    A TRUE ALE * anagram = L/AUREATE
    "aureate" is a word? Spose so. Means like "gilted." Also, have you ever wanted it to be "all that gilters is not gold"? No? Just us?
  • 42A) Not counting the sixth of December, mixing together and giving, for a while (7)
    (mixing together = BLENDING) - (sixth of December = B) = L/ENDING
    Thought "mixing" was an anagram indicator din'tcha! T'wa'n't.
  • 43A) Leader curious about name—that's what Wise Men are! (7)
    LEADER * anagram + (name = N) = L/EARNED
Our wise men. Semper Sebastian Shaw!
Great and cool (grool), except for AUREATE which isn't to our taste but OK FINE WOT EVR. Plenty of references to booze, naturally. Booze of course being the Official Drink of Christmas. This was the first sober Christmas for the TackyHarpersCrypticClues.blogspot.com staff since 2007. How'd it go? The first few days home the urge to drink alcohol was strong. But then the stress let up, and then the urge dissolved, the way it always does.

To the puzzle!

  • 11A) Decorate tree, plot way to get people moved in a postmodern way? (8)
    (tree plot) * anagram = TELEPORT
    Delicious. Although is "teleportation" truly a "postmodern" mode of transport? "postmodern," Dear Readers will recall from October means whatever the fuck you want it to mean. Here, read what Wickedpedia has to say about it, make sense of it for yourself.
  • 20A) They report in secret: swans are a-swimming (11)
    (SECRET SWANS) * (a-swimming = anagram) = NEWSCASTERS
    Somehow implicates The Media in a way we rully rully like. The Media: cravenly, secretive [manipulative]. Our brother is part of the media. He is not implicated. 'sup, Tomahawk!
  • 26A) Producer of loud, uh, sighs is finding time in court (7)
    (Producer of loud = homophone) * (uh sighs is) = ASSIZES
    Love the homophone stretching across words. Mm! Why's "producer" in there is it just to make the verb agree with "is"? It is, isn't it. Uh! sighs us.
  • 27A) Around the start of Xmas, drink something in rotation (4)
    ((start of Xmas = X) + (drink = ALE)) * anagram = AXLE
    Liked to think it might be AXEL. You know. An axel. Like the skaters do. Like triple axel, quadruple axel. Also, here's a poem we wrote a while back about Surya Bonaly and her effectively-disqualifying "fuck you!" backflip at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
  • 12D) Levantine Magi initially facing east— it's over the moon (3)
    (Levantine = L) + (east = E) + (Magi = M) = LEM
    Mmm!!! We raise our fist, we cry out "science!"
Apollo LEM
The Apollo LEM
  • 22D) One of the Chosen finds the Spanish, etc., moving into view (8)
    ((the Spanish = EL) + ETC + (view = SEE)) * anagram = SELECTEE
Presumed SELECTED for a long time which messed with EARNED in the southeast corner thar, but we got it settled 'ventually. Very much appreciated the nod to the Spanish Inquisition, and the plight of Jesus's people, the Jewish people. See also this.
  • 29D) Menorah, height cut without me, shaped as Italian flower (4)
    (MENORAH - (height = H) - (ME) = NORA) * anagram = ARNO
So, without even really groping this clue you know the answer is going to be an Italian word for "flower." Ain't gon' be no synonym for "menorah." So we ask ourselves, do we know any Italian flowers? And the answer is no. This will be an inference answer. We locked in A–N–, leaving the combinatoric possibilities of AONR (unacceptable) and ARNO. Thank you, cross-clues. The Arno is a Tuscan river through Florence. Flow-er.
The Arrrrrrrno
Let's start with the lowlights that annoyed us most mightily which are two in the northwest:
  • 10A) Card, initially 50 percent reduced, spells out help in basting the Christmas roast! (4)
    The answer is LARD.
A different time.
Outta the box we presumed "help in basting the Christmas roast"  the synonym. So whatta we got here? Is it something obscene like if you erased the top half of the "C" in "CARD" you get kinda like "LARD" with a short-stemmed "L"? Is that it? That is the grossest thing we have ever heard in our lives. But wait no, it's that C = 100 and L = 50 so C "50 percent reduced" = L oh well FINE THEN GROSSNESS AVERTED. Let's check out the awful noxious cross clue:
  • 3D) English floating island with turnover comes with bird (5)
    ((English = E) + (floating island = BERG)) * anagram = GREBE
This a grebe. Tru wise.
Just gross. Tauntingly, the instructions specify "All other clues and entries are normal." The grebe is not a normal well-known bird. Check your pants, Richard E. They're on fire.
Yule Log
  • 40A) Fireplace, one stocking, years on end (3)
    ONE * anagram = EON
... hrm, whoa, sorry! You woke us up there! We'd fallen asleep at seeing EON in a puzzle. Maybe you Dear Readers have some clue but we had no clue why the words "fireplace" and "stocking" are in this clue. We were not clued in on that. Is "fireplace" the anagram indicator? Like "throw it in the fireplace it gets all burned up and chemically altered, and in its new form, it is unrecognizable yet still its component parts"? Ok fine ok so then what's "stocking"? Is "stocking" part of the synonym half? "stocking years on end" = EON? ... ...


... hurr o sorry! We fell asleep again. Happens.

EDIT! per savvy Dear Reader Tyler yah "stocking" is an indicator for a word spanner whatever we still don't like this clue. EON. Boo. The only eon we want is Aeon Flux (1991).
Aeon Flux!
Bonus points if you can explain what that show is about, because it's clearly not about what it's about, id est it's not about a sexy Monacan (sp) operative in a future dystopia. Also, a fun thing to think about is how houseguests at Aeon Flux's house would be like, "whoa, what is that? A leather bridle? Like for a horse?" and she'd be like, "uh, those are my clothes. I wear those." And the houseguest would be like, "ok, and is that a short length of titanium chain attached to a complicated lock?" and she'd be like, "no, those are my underpants. I wear them under my clothes."
  • 30D) Gave more voice to leaders in merrymaking in Kwanzaa every December (5)
    leaders * (merrymaking in Kwanzaa every December) = MIKED
additional side-rant on Christmas is that we know in our heart we must accept it, because no other tradition presents serious contention. Hanukkah tries, but as you go deeper into the tradition you learn just how minor it is as a Jewish holiday. Kwanzaa? To quote Kamau Bell, “there are actually more black Seinfeld fans than there are black Kwanzaa fans. I only know like a handful of people who do it, and two of them are white lesbians with black kids.” So what does that leave? Solstice? Eid? None mounting a formidable challenge as a cultural alternative. We're stuck with lights and nativities. For now.
Kamau Bell
  • 34D) Express a belief, but don't include O Tannenbaum, e.g. (4)
    (Express a belief = OPINE) - O = PINE
    Is Maltby making fun of us for Christmas, is that our gift? This clue was not quite as simple as the one that follows:
  • 35D) Delivered a carol, hit snag (4)
    which, if you need us to spell out for you, if you RULLY RULLY DO, our Christmas gift to you is for us to shake our head, and invite you to figure it out for yourself. The gift of integrity lasts a lifetime. #dads Also, you can scroll up to the jpeg of the puzzle above.
  • 36D) You'll listen to this for Christmas (4)
    You'll * homophone = YULE
    Dunno about you Yanks but we [Yanks] pronounce "yule" like "yool" and "you'll" like "yull." So. Anyway, another total gimme. Gross.
The closest to tacky proper this month

The distinction goes to:
  • 7D) Bra information? Don't get me started. Presents get bigger (6)
    (Bra information = CUPSIZE) - (Don't get me started) = UPSIZE
A booby joke. Ok fine. O, such stress of big boobies to buy presents for (should you be so un/lucky).
We say this, even though two and a half years ago we were extremely excited about, and produced some concept art and design for, an iPhone game called "Big Bouncing Boobies." The "game" would be a randomized animation of blue-footed boobies bouncing on a trampoline. Game mechanics were discussed, but never a point of serious inquiry.
Big Bouncing Boobies
Where are the smirking ribald jokes about upsizing condoms and codpieces, Maltby? That's all we ask. Equal opportunity anatomy humor. As we've offered before, we eagerly offer again now: we will write you these clues, Maltby. [looks at camera, mouths] Call us.
Bush | Codpiece
Codpiece: Accomplished


  1. 40A: It's not an anagram. "fireplacE ONe" is stocking (i.e. containing) "years on end".


  2. WORD friend! We have EDITED and addressed this. Danke :)