Sunday, June 15, 2014

Full Circle - June 2014

June 2014 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Before we begin

one lil' thing just a sec: this site has many lurkers. You know who you are. Some of you lurk but a mere moment, here via Google image search (driven by our relentless alt-tagging on images).

Some of you though, yes we know SOME of you, are lovers of Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues. That's the word you use: “love.” But you've never left a comment, you've never put a couple bucks in the PayPal tip jar, and you've never emailed to say “omg such funny awesum blog pls keep it up thank you erica.”

Consider switching that up this time. Not for us. For you. Do it for you. It'll feel good! We're asking you to participate in the things you enjoy. Participate in your own life. “The only thing I'd want to comment on is your flawed reasoning or grammar,” you say, and hey, that is a-ok brother-sister! This is a safe space for correcting broken logic. Promise.

Alright, to the puzzle. We much to did dislike. Buckle up.

First thing we disliked: appearance of usual puzzle suspects (t/ern, Oreo), and generally easy/particularly uninspiring cluing.

Second thing we disliked: the dum jerk of a theme that we stared at and stared at and could not parse. We had all the clued entries filled in and maybe 1/3 of the theme entries completed by inference, but with no discernable linkage. Thought perhaps the words were included in song lyrics, or a famous poem, or some cultural reference we were not up on (cf Ring in the New Year - January 2011).

Sleepy sweet V looked over at the clipboard, said, “gimme dat,” and instantly said, “it's the months.” And as we groaned with frustrated ego, he added, ”fulllllllllll circle.”

  • 1D) JANitor
  • 34A) FEBrile
  • 43A) MARine
  • 44A) APRicot
  • 29D) MAYhem
  • 1A) JUNiper
  • 30A) JULep
  • 10D) AUGment
  • 18D) SEPulchre
  • 22A) OCTane
  • 6A) NOVena
  • 32D) DECent


  • 15A) Getting to the point, record call (8)
    (record = TAPE) + (call = RING) = TAPERING
OHhhHHH very sweet playing with component syllables here. One plus one equals three. Excellent. Much love. Respect.
  • 17A) Assert tailoring produces stunning creations (6)
    ASSERT * anagram = TASERS
Inventive. Nice. Related: something usually unmentioned w/r/t “Don't tase me bro!” is that it took place at a John Kerry event. Weird, right? Theoretically this guy was 2004's lefty alternative to the war machine. And yeah, the young heckler dude was rude, but under JK's watch the situation rapidly escalated from words to uncomfortable violence. Watch it here, and decide for yourselves.
Don't tase me bro | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Contrast with this account from Charles Monroe challenging then-President George HW Bush at the G7 summit:
Charles Monroe Now, this I remember. Because I just assumed I was going to be arrested. I knew I wasn't going to be shot. That hadn't happened yet, so that's cool. And I'm like, "This is it." And what happened next was amazing because nothing happened next.

I didn't get arrested. He had this thing where he had his hands on the podium, and he kind of moved his hands. I don't know what signals they have, or whatever, but they didn't arrest me. And then the worst possible thing in the world happened to me. He ain't going to arrest me, and he's about to engage me. And I was like, "Oh, my god. The President of the United States is speaking to me right now, and he basically started asking me questions. And I was like, "Holy mackerel." I really almost passed out.
  • 26A) Singers backing up headliner (4)
    (Singers = RATS) * rev. = STAR
Rats like in ratting out yer fellow crooks. Clue is nice and neat (how we like).
Frank Sinatra | Mugshot | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 31A) Done head to toe, but without depth (3-1)
    DONE * first letter to end = ONE-D
Delightful! Although letter translation instructions always annoy us. Just give us the anagram! Subtler indicators! We're big girls! We can handle!!
  • 38A) Bay leaves left out of plant disease (5)
    (plant disease = BLIGHT) - (left = L) = BIGHT
Often we don't like the uncommons so much, but this was fun! Had the medial G already in the fill, so tried forcing ERGOT several rounds. Also thought it might use laurel, the other name for bay leaves. But bight! We've hearda the Bight of Benin.
Bight of Benin | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Be off guard? It's a fuzzy area (3)
    NAP (double syn.)
Very nice. Very much enjoy this use of “nap.” Sweet Vlad got this one. “Naps are my specialty,” he explained.
  • 8D) Fresh and young, but right away, corrupt (6)
    (corrupt = VENAL) + (right = R) = VERNAL
Delightful! Corruption of the youfs!
'Just make sure your children hate authority and theyll do fine' -John Waters (w/his parents)
  • 9D) Hebrew characters—they have their lives in order (4)
    NUNS (double syn.)
Always appreciate the chance to exercise our limited knowledge of the Hebrew aleph beth.
  • 21D) One crossing your palm with one third of litter of cats (8)
    (one third of litter = LI) + (of cats = FELINE) = LIFELINE
D'aw, this was a sweetie one! V took one look and blurted out “lifeline!” and we followed up with the reasoning.
Amazing fortune telling cat
  • 25D) Small storage unit Michigan takes in is found in Washington (8)
    (Michigan = MI) + IN + IS + (Washington = DC) = MINIDISC
Yus. Fun! Anachronistic tech!
  • 35D) Teacher finds the legal profession uplifting, swinging both ways (5)
    ((legal profession = BAR) * rev.) + (swinging both ways = BI) = RABBI
Nice. Woot bisexuals!
Bisexuals on TV | Prince Oberyn | Frank Underwood | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Is it just us, or does it seem like Kevin Spacey must put it in his contract rider that his character 1. sing and 2. be bisexual ?
  • 39D) Gull in Swan Lake—it's a step up (3)
    (in Swan Lake it's a step = PAS) * rev. = SAP
Gull as in easy mark, as in the kinda sap that gets rolled. Little bitta ballet knowledge required. Or French knowledge (same thing). Just pleased this wasn't another T/ERN clue.


  • 11A) Schedule for members of Polizia, Gendarmerie (6)
    PoliziA GENDArmerie = AGENDA
A wh-hopping five of the letters in this wordspanner are right there in Gendarmerie no, this was just a no. We felt made fun of to our face by this one.
  • 16A) I'm ten, holding reporters manuscript in back—that's one way of seeing things (13)
    IM + (ten = 10 = IO) + (reporters = PRESS) + (((manuscript = MS) + IN1) * rev.) + (one = I) = IMPRESSIONISM
Torturous. Murderous. More of this quantity-treated-as-concatenated-string business that we hate so much. Buh.
1With acknowledgements to listener Don.
Monet umbrella | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28A) Spin doctor, if there's time at the end, winds up producing this! (9)
    SPIN + (doctor = DR) + IF + (time = T) = SPINDRIFT
That is no good tossing a syllable wholesale in there. Bluh. Gross.
Spindrift | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 36A) College race that never starts heading west (4)
    (race = RELAY) * never starts * reverse = YALE
Ugh. Cult of Yale, cult of Harvard. Why must for to have cultural fluency in these places for rich men, for to cultivate more rich men. Such why. Buh.
  • 2D) Quaking aspen—they don't go very high on a beach (5)
    ASPEN * anagram = NEAPS
Murrrrrr too easy! Eight words for the definition half makes too easy too easy. Not in service of a tighter narrative congruence or waddy wah. Add NEAPS to the list of too much puzzle usual.
  • 7D) Sweet choreographic element (4)
    chOREOgraphic = OREO
You'd think we might like for the nice and the neat but buh. Brands. Corporations. The cookie that's always in the puzzle. Muh.
  • 14D) Crooks, so-called high-fliers in Atlantic City, perhaps (5)
    (Crooks = TURNS) * homophone = TERNS
Originally thought this might be a five-letter city that borders the Atlantic Ocean, which caused Sweet V to say, “Ugh! There's four continents that border that f*cking ocean!” This rapidly devolved into a discussion-argument (discurgument) about whether Antarctica “counts” as a continent.

Anyway. Our initial puzz-tuition was wrong on this one. No need for new geography learnings. It's dum regular usual forever puzzle bird, the TERN.
A tern sits on a sign that reads: Nesting birds, you must not go beyond this notice.
  • 34D) Favorite interior becomes vacant lot (4)
    (Favorite = F) + (interior becomes vacant = ATE) = FATE
    FAvoriTE * interior becomes vacant = FATE
That cluing for “ATE” is rough. Maybe nicer neater:
  • Bolted after failing a lot (4)

Yah so actually per Dear Reader Don it's a little less rough than we thought. Notice how Don spotted some faulty reasoning, and had the urge to say something, and did he tamp that urge down? No. He did not. He commented. That's right.

That's it. No tacky this month. Believe it: nothing particularly body-shaming, or slut-shaming, or hetero-normative, or racist, or racist-y, or rapey, or sex-negative, or what now. The whole puzzle was just kinda tacky in form, not in aspect.

Comment time. You know what to to do. It's so easy. It makes such a difference. Yesssss!


  1. OK, everybody, here's a easy comment opportunity, so hit on it.

    Do you use a clipboard like Erica does? I do. (is that some kind of sign I'm a geek?)

  2. And congratulations to Vlad! Now that he’s defended, he’ll have time to guest-post here.

  3. Lurker here. I read these mostly for amusement, and partly because I'm hoping I will magically learn how to do cryptic crosswords. They're the only major puzzle that I can't do at all.

    1. Hola brother! Thanks for breaking the silence (is violence).

      I was very bad at (read: hated) cryptics for the first four years of doing them, if that helps. Overcame eventually with help of patient friends who are very good at cryptics (read: triggered ego/vanity to raise the level of my game).

      Also fun, and good cryptic brainercise, is to come up with your own clues for like your name or something. Like "Mushy rice lurks no more (4)."

    2. Maybe try and go only one or two clues per puzzle? That's what I do, and I'm lucky I have a wonderful and talented team that helps me with the rest.

  4. 34D is much tighter: interior of FAvoriTE becomes vacant = FATE.
    You also missed the N in 16A construction: it comes from "in" as part of "manuscript in" going backward. Still a bit torturous, as you say.

    1. Yahh!!!!! Tweaking my reasoning pulls another lurker outta da woodwork!

      Hello :)

      Amendments made up top! Thank you for your vigilance/due diligence.

  5. Thanks for this, Erica! I hate it when I get all the answers and can't figure out the theme.

    Off to donate...