Before we beginAs we dive deep into the holiday season, consider giving the gift of money to your favorite cryptic crossword blog. We'll just leave this heeeeeeeeeeere for you:
If money makes you uncomfortable, consider leaving a comment. If breaking your lurker code of silence makes you uncomfortable, consider telling a friend about this blog and how much you like it SO MUCH. And then your friend can be like “yah, crossword puzzles I know about those” and you can be like “ERMEHGERD no CRYPTIC crosswords VERY different omygourd omegrod you don't even know! Let me now launch into a twenty minute unbroken monologue to EXPLAIN.”
Any of those things would make us very very happy :)
To the puzzle!Hex signs. There was another one'a these a couple years ago: BEEHIVE in May 2011. We never got around to a write-up, but one of the answers was the archaic ethnic slur BOHUNK:
bo•hunk /bō,həNGk/Is it fine to use a racial slur in the puzzle when most of the negative power of that slur has been lost to time? Is it wrong to sport a mohawk and never consider what it means with respect to the slaughter of the Mohawk people? Do you feel kinda bad right now? We feel kinda bad right now. Glad we brought it up!
noun informal offensive
1. an immigrant from central or southeastern Europe, esp. a laborer.
Source: The Goog
Tons of fun had in this puzzle! Four unclued answers relate to each other, and, in some truly sweet visio-linguistic symmetry, the relationship is that each six-letter answer is entered hexagonally and the four unclueds are synonyms for “hex signs”:
- 8) SPELLS
- 11) CHARMS
- 47) JINXES
- 44) CURSES
- 1) A corny bit? Sounds rank!
(rank = COLONEL) * homophone = KERNEL
Same with “Europe.” Both left us with the sneaking suspicion, “ ... there aren't actually any rules here ... why is everyone pretending that there are ... ?”
- 3) Hour in the evening is for returning a little seafood!
(Hour = HR) in (((evening = PM) + IS) * returning) = SHRIMP
Oh yeah—you should know that several of the highlights this month are just ones that we got hung up on, and then felt disproportionately satisfied to solve. Our intuition was dead on in entering fill, but way off for solving.
- 5) Taking off, entirely untidy. Untidy!
UNTIDY * anagram = NUDITY
- 12) Merchant tarred, feathered
TARRED * anagram = TRADER
- 14) Everything Spanish the English geneticists feature
(Everything = ALL) + (Spanish the = EL) + (English = E) = ALLELE
- 4) More like Frost—with an edge, that is—right?
(edge = RIM) + (that is = IE) + (right = R) = RIMIER
- 20) Mad hatter's in danger
HATTER * anagram = THREAT
- Speaker of English in back row
OF + (English = E) + (ROW * reverse) = WOOFER
- 31) Can your city lawmakers employ some leaders in repeated patterns
Can your city lawmakers employ some = CYCLES
- 52) Docks airman flying around
AIRMAN * anagram = MARINA
- 48) Entreat other elements to accept the Cross
(OTHER + (Cross = X)) * anagram = EXHORT
- 9) Risk a hearing, being blue
- 15) Puts down question covering more than one line
(question = QU) + (more than one line = ELLS) = QUELLS
Also, we reference this scene from Tommy Lee Jones's Oscar-winning performance in The Fugitive about once a month:
Don't ever argue with the big dog; big dog is always right. Nice to see Joe Pantoliano playing a good guy.
- 7) Phones back around one for the Bushes
(Phones = CALLS) * back around + (one = I) = LILACS
As a sidenote, we do not know how to parse George W. Bush's new (career? hobby?) as an acrylic painter. We could understand pictures of fruit, or mountains, or tall buildings. But instead the Bush works out there are so nakedly vulnerable.
- 21) Fitting left queen one of those fighting
(Fitting = DUE) + (left = L) + (queen = ER) = DUELER
- 26) Make a home on bench
SETTLE (double syn)
- 32) Take someone's money, some of which is elevating
whiCH IS ELevating = CHISEL
- 39) Throat lozenge finally taken in by one taken in ahead of time
(lozenge finally = E) taken in by * ((one taken in = GULL) + (time = T)) = GULLET