This puzzle was hard.
Granted, we're also in the middle of dealing with bed bugs. Longtime loyal Dear Readers will recall our travails with the weird smell (crack?) coming from the neighboring unit at our old building in early 2013. Since then, our streak of luck in love, but lack of luck in living situation, has continued. You can read about it on our blog, starting here.
Don't worry. This will end. Either the bed bugs will die, or we will die.
But this puzzzzzzzzle, prolly even without bed bug distraction: hard. We finished a few days before the puzzle due date. The letter substitution really messed with us. Tooooo tricky! Keeping the transformation vector straight in our mind, uy. "Wait, do I enter with N transformed to R or R transformed to N ... wait ..." Ran though that line of doubt, like, every time.
Woulda helped tremendously if the transformed word were also necessarily a real word, á la ALPHABETICAL INSERTS. Nay. Twas not the case. Those gremlins.
- 1A) They stop pair illegally? Yes and no! (8)
PAIR => N became R => They stop pain illegally
YES AND NO * anagram = ANODYNES
ANODYNES => N becomes R => enter ANODYRES
Per Wise Tyler, “illegally” prolly indicates the anagram. Not, like, the illegality of anodynes. Ok MAKES SENSE
- 17A) What boat poets took for salary, grain-like in sound! (6)
BOAT => E became O => What beat poets took
((salary = PAY) + (grain-like = OATY)) * homophone = PEYOTE
PEYOTE => E becomes O => enter POYOTE
- 21A) Rapier tossed around hatch (6)
HATCH => P became H => patch
RAPIER * anagram = REPAIR
REPAIR => P becomes H => enter REHAIR
- 23A) English first used traveling kit having a nap (5)
KIT => D became T => kid having a nap
((English first = E) + USED) * anagram = SUEDE
SUEDE => D becomes T => SEUTE
- 26A) One who came to find pro quit as Goofy filling in for Big Bird (12)
PRO => O became P => One who came to find oro
(QUIT AS) * anagram + (Big Bird = CONDOR) = CONQUISTADOR
CONQUISTADOR => O becomes P => enter CONQUISTADPR
- 34A) Propositions in oath disturb mothers around Easter (8)
(MOTHERS + (Easter = E)) * anagram = Propositions in math
OATH => M became O => MATH
THEOREMS => M becomes O => enter THEOREOS
- 5D) Child, cunning around cowboy at times, receives a million dollars (6)
CUNNING => R became C => Child, running about
(cowboy at times = ROPER) + (million = M) = ROMPER
ROMER => R becomes C => ROMPEC
Also, amused ourself by hoping that the transformation was MILLION dollars to BILLION dollars. What's cooler than a million dollars? Justin Timberlake knew.
- 15D) Wake yourself from a position in a rumpled bed, one with Tom in it (8)
WAKE => T became W => Take yourself from a position
(A + BED + (one = I) + CAT) * anagram = ABDICATE
ABDICATE => T becomes W => enter ABDICAWE
- 24D) Trek in swamp let up—involved oxygen (6)
TREK => E became K => Tree in swamp
((LET UP) + (oxygen = O)) * anagram = TUPELO
TUPELO => E becomes K => enter TUPKLO
- 14A) Pained, made something happen (12)
PAINED => R became P => Rained
made something happen = PRECIPITATED
PRECIPITATED => R becomes P => enter PPECIPITATED
- 19A) Moisten roast beet (5)
BEET => A became E => beat
Moisten roast = BASTE
BASTE => A becomes E => enter BESTE
- 29D) Gets a beat going in lines (4)
BEAT => O became E => Gets a boat going
LINES = ROWS
ROWS => O becomes E => REWS
We had RE-S in the fill. All but the uncrossed third letter. The clue does not have an R, which means that the R in the fill was secure. And the S was likely safe. There are two Ss in the clue. GET- can really only be GETS. LINE- can be a handful (LINED, LINEN, LINER, LINEY (liney?)). Decided that the E in the fill was still the most likely culprit for transformation. Wrote out REAS, REBS, RECS ... all through the alpherbet. Started at the end to rule out some of the easy exotic ones. REZS, no, you can't transform the E or the S to make anything. REYS, there's RAYS, that's not it. REXS, no. REWS and immediately saw ROWS.
PS, don' e'en needa' sayt, Dolph Lundgren as He-Man in Masters of the Universe is this month's Nerd Hot Guy.
- 20A) Real boor has something to download, cry about (6)
BOOR => P became B => Real poor
(something to download = APP) + CRY = CRAPPY
CRAPPY => P becomes B => enter CRABPY
- 6D) A bit of silver gone? Si! (4)
SI => O became I => So
silvER GOne = ERGO
ERGO => O becomes I => enter ERGI
- 28D) I memorize a sigh that stands for something (4)
SIGH => N became H => sign that stands for something
I (memorize = CON) = ICON
ICON => N comes H => enter ICOH
2. con - commit to memory; learn by heart; "Have you memorized your lines for the play yet?"Gross. So obscure, so out-of-date, that it's not even used in its own drang example sentence.
Source: The Free Dictionary
- 33A) Heavy lead covering America (4)
LEAD => O became E => Heavy load
(covering = ON) + (America = US) = ONUS
ONUS => O becomes E => ENUS
So: we're calling this clue tacky for reasons of USA imperialism. America is a continental group. Deal with it. What about “USA = 'Murka” mm, that's it's own thing. That one doesn't bother us.
- 32A) US, e.g., rose the wrong way, made changing shape (8)
MADE => L became D => male changing shape
(US, e.g. = WE) + (rose the wrong way = FLOWER * reverse = REWOLF) = WEREWOLF
WEREWOLF => L becomes D => WEREWODF
Also, look alive whilst doing the April puzzle, Dear Readers! From the Harper's site:
Correction to this month's puzzle: In 15D, the right-hand letter count was reversed; it should have read “(3,4).” We regret the error.