For la Septembre, the theme: symmetrical halves to the grid, except for the two 1As. The puzzle title was “News Clippings” and each clue was a double-threat that read like a headline, preceded by an appropriate(ish) newspaper section which—most incredible puzzle instruction in Harper's ever—was included “just for fun.”
Just for fun!
So had our thinking caps been properly strapped on we would have keyed in on the theme of Ye Old Media Papre of Yestreyeer and potentially nailed the 1As early, as opposed to dead last:
- 1A) Obituary: CREATOR OF PROBITION (“THE MAN WITH THE VITAMIN”) DIED—NAME INVOLVED IN PERJURY SPREAD IN PROMINENT LETTERS (6,8)
creator of prohibition = BANNER
(the man = HE) + (vitamin = A) + (died = D) + (perjury = LIE) + (name = N) = HEADLINE
This puzzle was hard. Since we were such a dodo about 1A and thus couldn't enter any fill until the triumphant end, we brought out the big guns to keep track of which answers jibed together.
Big guns, you ask? That's right. We brought out the Scrabble board and the markers. And, luckily, most of our first answers were in what turned out to be the left half of the puzzle, and we were able to make some wild conjectures that led to accurate inferences that put this one to bed in two days. Not one of the glorious single-sittings of summer 2012, tis true. But still flowing nice and steady, like a river, or a morphine drip.
- 10A) Science Page: ENGINEER GREETED CLEAN ENERGY SOURCE WITH EXHAUST PIPES DECENTRALIZED WHEN IT GETS DARK (7,7)
GREETED * anagram = DETERGE
(energy = E) + (exhaust pipes = VENTING) * decentralized = EVENING
- 14A) Automobile News: BEING INSIDE FIRST-CLASS RETRO CONVERTIBLE (AND IN STATE!) MAKES ME BLURT: PEOPLE CAN LOSE THEIR HEADS AFTER RIDING IN THIS! (7,7)
((first-class = A1 = AI) * rev = I A) + (AND IN * anagram) = INDIANA
ME BLURT * anagram = TUMBREL
tumbrel (n.) mid-15c., “two-wheeled cart,” ... Notoriously used to take victims to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror.Dark! “Death Cart: the cart that drives you to your death!”
- 17A) TV Review: DISCOVERED BACK IN POLYVINYL DWELLING WITH A BLUE COLOR, OLDER MAN IN DADA IS DEPICTED IN GREAT TV SERIES (6,6)
polyvinYL DWELling * rev = LEWDLY
(man in Dada = RAY) + (great = G) + (TV series = ER) = GRAYER
Also just now, in real time, our lovely boyfriend Sweet V whilst reading over our shoulder asked, “Ray? How is that Dada?” V is from Romania, the same nationality as key inventors of Dada. He speculates that Dada was a Romanian joke about art, right to art's face. Having had close contact with a Romanian for nearly a year we speculate same.
But V'd never heard of Man Ray. Man Ray! His photos were no joke! Man Ray is an automatic Highlight! While we're on the topic of TV series—great TV series —check out Noah Wyle still hitting his marks on that first ER monologue. YES! Love!
Noah Wyle! You are this month's TackyHarpersCrypticClues.blogspot.com Nerd Hot Guy!
- 1D) Gossip Column: BREAKING WIDE: I PLACE DOTTY HANGING AROUND WILLIS' EX! SEEING EACH OTHER AGAIN? I'LL BE WRITING IN ANOTHER DAY (10,10)
I PLACE (Willis' ex = DEMI) * anagram = EPIDEMICAL
double synonym = BACKDATING
Speaking of Willis's ex, here's Demi Moore and the Kootch deboarding, and oh-so-gently received by TMZ. TMZ, that most generous of media. And also if right now you're like, “uh your blog has a typo, it should be Willis',” dude, no. Possessive singulars ending in s take the apostrophe and s. Get out dat Strunk & White. Open 'er up. What does it say. You're welcome. We know. Yes, everyone does it “Bruce Willis'.” Yes, we know it looks funny the other way. Sometimes the truth is hard.
This clue also reminds us of Jackie Harvey's Gossip column in The Onion. “Item!”
- 6D) Business News: STRIKE SUPPORTS, LEVERAGED OUT, SWAMP INTERNAL WORKING (SHOWN IN HD), WRITES INTERIOR (10,10)
((strike = S) + LEVERAGED) * anagram = EVERGLADES
(INTERNAL * anagram) + HD = HINTERLAND
- 11D) Fashion News: A FAST-MOVING NUMBER, NIGHTGOWN'S STARTING TO GET FASHIONABLE—YET SHIFTS, OLD MAN, GO RIGHT OVER ALMOST NOTHING (6,6)
(nightgown's starting = N) + (fashionable = IN) + YET = NINETY
(go right = GEE) + (almost nothing = ZER) = GEEZER
GEE and HAW. Never know what's gonna resonate, what's gonna stick with you and be of use.
- 7A) Empoyment Want Ad: A LOW-RENT EX-SERVICEMAN, UNOFFICIALLY I'M PURSUING PUBLIC RELATIONS IN PARTICULAR (4,4)
A LOW * anagram = AWOL
(public relations = PR) + I'M = PRIM
When your intuition has you on the right track then sometimes that can work and you say, “mmmm! I'm like Columbo up in here, sniffing it out! Your book smarts will never defeat my qi!” but when it doesn't you're just like, “argh! Why did I let myself be guided by feeling?”
- 12A) Western Hemisphere: A LATIN PRESIDENT SIMILARLY GERMANIC, ENDS UP IN WILD (5,5)
A + (Latin = L) + (president = IKE) = ALIKE
GERMANIC ends = MANIC
- 2D) Police Blotter: CROOKED PUNK WARY OF NOT FINISHING RAN OFF IN VAN WITH ITALIAN FLOWER (4,4)
WARY * anagram = AWRY
((OF * not finishing = O) + RAN) * anagram = ARNO
Also, any Dear Readers out there know how to parse “van” here? There is such thing as Van Arno but we doubt that is the reference.
- 3D Sports Page: BALLOONS APPEARING WHEN OPENERS IN DETROIT, DENVER, SEATTLE RUN OVER—MAVERICK'S I, NETS 12—ODDLY MENTION BOXING RING (8,8)
(D + D + S + I + NETS) * anagram = DISTENDS
MENTION + (ring = O) * anagram = NOONTIME
- 5D) Washington Beat: HOUSE COVERAGE OF OLD REPUBLICAN STANDING UP FIRST ON REVERSING CASES REGARDING MUSICIAN IN HISTORY FIRE! (4,4)
OF + (old = O) + (Republican = R) = ROOF
ON * reverse * cases + (regarding = RE) = NERO
- 13D) International News: RULER OVERTHROWN, SIREN ON CART SOUNDS FOR BRITISH SPY (5,5)
RULER * anagram = LURER
(ON + (cart = DRAY)) * homophone = ANDRE
John André was a British Army officer hanged as a spy by the Continental Army during the American War of Independence.Never hearda. But, there you have him.
Let's call out what we always call out, and what we always call out is male normativity.
- 16A) Advertising News: PRESS FOR DIRECTIONS—THEN YOU'LL SEE ME NAME STAR'S TREAT TASTIER (7,7)
(directions = N E W S) + ME + (name = N) = NEWSMEN
TASTIER * anagram = ARTISTE
(Googles ... )
Ann Coulter! She was the first hit for “mean blonde republican,” by the way. Not a comment on her politics, just on how she conducts her public persona(e). And w/r/t tackiness qua sloppiness, is the noun “artiste” really symmetric to the possessive modifier “star's”? Mmmmmmmmmmno. It is not.
Did you, Dear Readers, check the specs on some BULLSHEET in the puzzle footer this month?
Beginning with this month's puzzle, the sender of the first correct solution opened at random, rather than the senders of the first three, will receive a one-year subscription blah blahO RLY. Is Ye Olde Meedia exactly raking it in these days and no, certainly not. Do we begrudge them cutting corners with respect to the puzzling fanbase why YES we most certainly DO.
Anyway. Here's our winning puzzle from April, hanging proudly in the kitchen: