Friday, February 15, 2013

Sentences - February 2013

Harpers February 2013
We're gonna pull a real Fourth Wave feminist move this month, Dear Readers, and present our February 2013 cryptic review with a trigger warning.
  Is This Feminist?
S'right. So it's come to this.

That said, loved (LOVED!!) the theme: sentences. Each answer was a single word that could be broken up into a sentence unto itself, clued with a clever re-definition of the sentence. So like,
  • a) Say bad things about toilets = DIS COMMODES
When we cracked this puzzle with JET in the south (37D) Jumbo or squirt? (3)), we were certain that the medial crossing "J" indicated "JOHNS" for "toilets." We were wrong. We were dissed. Boom.
  • b) This one is la trigger warning, so we'll save it for the end.
  • c) Give Kelly a sensible funeral = INTER GENE RATIONAL
O so lovely! So audacious and exquisite! Assumed at first that it would be "R." Kelly ("The Pee-er" as he is known to our mom) ("And I loved 'I Believe I Can Fly'!"). Cryptics don't go for R. Kelly, with that handy dangling R. Ah well.
  R Kelly
  • d) Bump into a pop singer = HIT CHER
Doesn't Cher transcend "pop" singing, though? Taylor Swift is a pop singer; Cher is an Academy Award-winning force of nature. Also, check out this footage of a young Cher, breathless, telling us that with the help of movie magic the evening's presentation will be West Side Story, and (yes side story) she will be playing all the parts. This video is awesome. This video makes us feel like part of humanity.

Cher in West Side Story from Anne Adler on Vimeo.
Shout out to web series The Outs for putting us wise to this footage!

  • e) Proscribe what's protecting the heads of Scotland = BAN TAMS
Scot facts! Scots love scotch, Scots love tams. #scotfacts This lady also loves her tam. MAYBE SHE'S SCOTTISH

  • f) Play this score in only one key = READ JUST IN G
There's our medial J! Weirdly assumed it would be "JUST IN E." Cuz of all those words with a "-justine" suffix ... [cough] ... But just in G! G chord songs! #bestsongs

  • g) Put wealthy consumers in an office = ELECT RICH EATERS
Loved this one, especially because it's got this "eat the rich" implication to it, this aggressive anti-Boss Tammany feel to it. Gettin' all Thomas Nasty on the powers that be. Fuck yeah.
Thomas Nast | Tammany Hall | Boss Tweed


  • 6A) Bridge players last month, in two hands, are south (9)
    (last month = DEC) + (two hands = L + R) + ARE + (south = S) = DECLARERS
UGH gross everywhere. "last month" makes this clue a far cry from the standalone perfection we crave. Also, it's the February issue of Harper's. So "last month" is kinda JAN, i'n't it.  edit! Per Dear Reader Braze, obvi "last month" can mean "last month of the year" aka DEC. Yes of course yes obviously. We swear to you, we are a brilliant woman.

"two hands" is "L" and "R" for "left" and "right"? Eugh! And we're sick of bridge in the puzzles. No more bridge in the puzzles. We don't like bridge. End of story.
  • 17A) In Assembly, bloats produce division in Russia (6)
    BLOATS * anagram = OBLAST
It's some kinda Soviet political division never hearda it boooo oooo. Boo.

  • 19A) Edited out Liberal leader? Indeed! (5)
    (Liberal leader = L) * (in "deed") = DELED
Gross indeed. "DELED" is a word? "Indeed" can be split and quartered willy nilly? We understand if you love this one exactly because it splits the "Indeed." Have it. More for you.
  • 28A) Hustles to make movie with reversal in the middle before big hits fail (9)
((movie = FILM) * reversal in the middle = FLIM) + (fail = F) * before + (big hits = LAMS)   = FLIMFLAMS
A "lam" is a hit? Like "five or six dudes jump out of nowhere and just start whaling on this one guy; they were really giving him lams"? Yeah?
  • 1D) So terribly tired, exhausted initially, in bed with drunk (8)
SO + ((terribly tired, exhausted) * initially = T T E) + BED = BESOTTED
Usually think of "BESOTTED" as in love, like with pupils in little heart shapes. In sotted-related news, we the staff are, as of this writing, 127 days sober. No sots up in here! What's it been like, you ask? It's been good.

Surprisingly to us, temptation doesn't come at, say, parties, or New Year's Eve. Temptation comes in the daytime doldrums. And the devil on our shoulder isn't saying the expected lies, like, "it'd only be one widdle glass of wine ... " No, the devil has switched to the novel and more compelling tactic of telling truths, such as, "people get drunk all the time. All the time. Lots of people." You're right, devil!

Don't worry about us, though. We're holding rock steady :)

  • 2D) Something that can be heard in three-part harmony! (6)
(three part harmony = A CHORD) * (heard = homophone) =  ACCORD
Didn't we, like, just have an ACCORD answer? Like recently? We need to get an intern to keep a repository of answers. Cuz either there are some egregious repeats, or we're getting old. Welcome to 30, Dear Readers. "Getting older" jokes too real, bro. Too real.
  • 11D) One liberal member, not quite total criminal (7)
(One = I) + (liberal = L) + (member = LEG) + (not quite total = AL) = ILLEGAL
"member" = "leg"? Ok fine. We were thinking of a different member. Anyway.

By the way, Maltby, a reminder that any time you're looking for clues that poke ("poke") fun at male anatomy, we are here for you.
  • 13D) One seabird biting the head off another! (3)
(One seabird = TERN) + (biting the head off = (-T)) = ERN
Ew! Ew gross! Gross enough when a puzzle has T/ERN, but compounded here with both present gross gross. No more T/ERNS, no BRIDGE, no HODADDIES. No AGLETS. No TORI or ANI or DRE or ICE T, unless the editor is prepared to post a YouTube video humming us a few bars.


  • 34A) Disease sorely needs curing with injection of a bit of penicillin (7)
(SORELY + (bit of penicillin = P)) * anagram = LEPROSY
"Leprosy / I'm not half the man I used to be" ok we're done :)
  • 39A) Tribe about to take clothes off outside made loud noises (9)
(Tribe = CREE) + (about = C) + ((take clothes off = SHED) * outside) = SCREECHED
This was nice. We forgive the "about" = "C" as in "circa." We forgive! Clothes off! Sexy. Also, cf the movie "Screeched." Dustin D is still at it. You ride that teen fame pony, D! Ride it 'til it dies and you're DELED from the cultural record.
Screeched | Dustin Diamond
For real, yo: Screeched on IMDB.

  • 4D) Category including a Lance Armstrong's leaders (4)
Category including a lance = ARMSTRONGS * leaders =ARMS
Mmm! "lance" qua weapon we love it!
  • 6D) Washington's packaging is showing some spine (4)
(Washington's = DC) packaging IS = DISC
Yah. Love it.
  • 7D) French sure to appear in the French TV comedy show (5)
(French sure = OUI) + (the French = LE) = LOUIE
We're gonna ignore the double French (used in the same way! The same way! Agh! So sloppy!) because of the SHOUT OUT TO OUR BOY Louis CK! Mwa, we love him! What's your favorite episode? Ours is the Joan Rivers episode:

"I know, it gets better."
"It doesn't get better—you get better."

And favorite favorite all time line: "His name is Sam, and he is a person." Boom kaboom, JR!
Joan Rivers on Louie
Also favorite: David Lynch as the old school producer helping Louie prepare for late night auditions. At first the joke is that DL is such a fuddy duddy (monologue shtick about Reagan, etc). But then it becomes clear that Louie is resisting very important lessons. He's stuck. He needs to humble himself to the advice of others.

Louie's all, "I gotta be true to myself! I gotta wear a shlubby black t-shirt on camera!" but that's just a mask. A mask for the fear.
David Lynch on Louie
Always, explore that which you resist, which is really that which you're afraid of. Living in the light? We invite you to look into the darkness. Born into the darkness? Maybe you gotta look into the light.
  • 10D) Displayed in the old style, cut in two directions (5)
(cut = HEW) + (two directions = S[outh] + N[orth]) = SHEWN
SHEWN! We love! You've shewn us the way! It's possible that we mostly like repeating "SHEWN" over and over, out loud, like a crazy person.
  • 16D) Upchucking cereal—that's the way (3)
    (cereal = OAT) * anagram = TAO
Yes. The Tao is everywhere (like the Force). But also, specifically, references to the Tao keep coming up for us. A few months ago we were synchronistically encountering the Tao so often, we picked up our copy of Herr Jung's Synchronicity for some 20th century insight. We opened to a random chapter. The contents of the chapter were: synchronicity and the Tao.

We put down the book. We moved on with our lives. These are lessons we learned from Eyes Wide Shut. We don't care that you hated Eyes Wide Shut. That's just more Eyes Wide Shut for us.
  • 20D) Fancy man, one prone to be more like some teens (8)
(Fancy man = PIMP) + (one prone = LIER) = PIMPLIER
A pimp is a fancy man, eh? Prince is way more of a fancy man. PRINCELIER!
Dave Chappelle | Prince

  • 28D) Whimsical comedienne (3)
Mm, after that Louis CK clue, a lovely shout out to another comedy genius! Tried to force CHO as the answer for a while, tho.
Tina Fey | Margaret Cho

  • 35D) A writer like Church (4)
(like = AS) + (Church = CH) = ASCH
Sholem Asch whodat? Never hearda. But enjoyed this clue for its neatness and purity. Reminds us of Ash from Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell is totally the thinking woman's Jim Carrey.
Bruce Campbell | Ash | Evil Dead
Yes! Bruce Campbell is this month's gratuitous Nerd Hot Guy! Last month was Sam Rockwell. Sam Rockwell Sam Rockwell. Yes, we watched Moon. Yes it was awesome. Yes you were right.

And, lastmost, this month's Tacky:
  • b) Send a message to sexual predators = RADIO THE RAPISTS
We're being stereotypically trigger happy with the trigger warning, and have applied it to any mention of rape or rapists.

Ok, but so looking at this clue, why radio the rapists? Why are they all together? What kind of message are they getting over the radio? It's weird, right?

And why does this clue rankle us, when we love the same joke in Arrested Development? Why does David Cross make it all better? Whence David Cross's powers, and how far will he take them?
David Cross | Tobias Funcke
This clue isn't really tacky. The pimp clue is maybe tackier, and it's not tacky. It's not as though this clue expresses, like, positive feelings about rapists.

Is it the case that any mention of rape amplifies rape culture? That's kinda what we're implying here on this blog. Yah, dunno.

Wait but no srsly, can we have a puzzle without racial slurs, uncomfortable sex puns, reference to nonconsensual sex, etc? There's a whole magical taboo world out there that's far less alienating than the same old taboos hammered away at month after month in this puzzle. Poverty. Mental illness. Obesity. Impending environmental collapse, economic stratification, and the average Harper's reader's passive  complicity in perpetuating both. These are all kinda downer topics, yah, but so are rape and racism! So!

There are also pees and poos: totally taboo, totally juvenile, totally universal. Totally fit the bill! We invite Maltby to go there. G'head, Maltby. We're here waiting for you, dancing back and forth from one foot to the other. Doing the dance.

For those keeping up with the weird sweet smell in our apartment, we did a good thorough swab of the radiators with soap and bleach, and two rounds of "maximum strength" Drano in the kitchen sink washed down with a full bucket of hot soapy water.

Currently, the weird smell is kept at bay. This may be strictly correlative. More science may be needed.

We really love our current apartment. We love the location, we love the rent, we love the trike painted on the wall. We love it all. We tried getting the super up to smell it, but like Warner Brothers' Michigan J Frog, the smell was in absentia when he finally got here. And, like the bald guy in the cartoon, we can choose to accept the smell as our private nemesis and the battle as ours and ours alone, or we can choose madness.

We choose to stay and fight.

Having a good time? Leave a comment beloooooow.


  1. Uh, Erica? December is the last month of the year...

    [old enough to remember that The New Killer Joe was way more fancy than Prince]

  2. ... your story checks out. Entry amended!

    Thanks for dear reading, B.