You guys, we did the thing we always swear we're not gonna do but then every month we do it, which is: solve the puzzle in one big gulp, and think of all kinds of cool jokes along the way, all the funny stuff we're gonna put in the write-up, and then forget about the puzzle until a month later when it's like “OH SNAP Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues time!!!!!”
To be fair: bed bugs. You'll be delighted to know: we hired a beagle (Shaggy) to come in and officially declare our apartment bed bug free. AHhhhhhh YES that was a glorious feel!!
Ok. To the puzzle!
The ThemeTwofers. Kinda a lot like News Clippings from September 2013. Each clue indeedth two clues, joint wi' nary an indication of whereth the twain weret cleft. Mirrored fill. We happened to enter our answers opposite to how they are in the Harper's answer key, which, looking now at the “cryptic” directions
for consistency in the solution, the answers that are two-word phrases are listed in left-and-right orderwe cannot parse if that means that YES there is an absolute answer key or NO it's arbitrary, it's fine (like life, which is arbitrary, and fine).
Unclued entries at 1, 14, 21, and 28 across are related. The relation turns out to be: big fat anagrams found by inference. Glorious elevensies. Mmm!!!! Our favorite flavor. Anagrams for us are like the “good parts” of a salad. The croutons, the marinated tofu. You know. The good parts. Dear Readers who are like, “there are no good parts of salads; all salad parts are bad,” well, we're getting a little old for that kind of thinking, aren't we? Not old as like a maturity thing, old as like a body breakdown thing.
Those theme anagrams are:
- 1A) MINICAMERAS / AMERICANISM
- 14A) ANTHOLOGIES / THEOLOGIANS
- 21A) SMITHEREENS / INTERMESHES
- 28A) CREATIONIST / RECITATIONS
“I usually credit you,” we said. “ ... wait ... you don't read Tacky Harper's!”
“No, I don't! But I still want credit!” He paused. “Actually, no, I don't care either way.”
“That's even worse!” we said.
We are now reminded of our anniversary, right around Thanksgiving, and we'd both spent the day with the Dreisbach family, but now it was just before bed at the hotel, and we(I) turned to Sweet Vlad, pupils in little heart shapes, and said, “sweetie, it's been such a wonderful year with you, and I love you so much.”
“Yeah,” said Vlad. “By the way? Your brother Tom is definitely the funniest Dreisbach.”
“ ... why would you say that to me?” we said. Then we immediately texted Tommy to tell him. Underneath the blow to our ego (and there was definitely such blow) was joy to have a partner who digs our brother so. Both brothers. Because Chris is definitely the coolest. Vlad will say like, “you've never heard of [something something obscure band]? I bet Chris has heard of them.” COOL THX. Tommy is the funniest, and Chris is the coolest, and poor Sweet V is stuck with the oldest. Olllllllllllld sister.
As we look over at Vlad now, we notice the piercing in his left ear. Who put that piercing there? We did. In the dining room about a year ago. Because Vlad noticed our reaction when he wore a fake earring around the house (it had been a party favor the week before). He said, “baby, you like this fake one so much, let's do it for real!” We were like, ok, we go to a piercing place? V was like, “that's just a rip-off. We can do better. Sterile needles are $5 on Amazon. And for an earring I still have my old nipple ring.” And then, in a supreme act of love and trust, Vlad let us pierce his ear.
So. It's not all harsh unfiltered truths around here :)
- 9A) Letters from alumni (“Hi, luminaries!”) mean nothing to an old Italian-American flower child's leader wearing gold in rings (7)
alumNI HI LUMinaries = mean nothing = NIHILUM
(child's leader = C) + (gold = OR) + IN + (rings = O O) = old Italian-American flower = ORINOCO
But mostly felt “sigh” about this one. Flow-er like a river flows, as always, as ever-forever. Sweet wordplay that we've seen a million times. French word for gold, not Spanish. Ok fine ok wutevr.
- 10A) Wise guy Herb Salinger's girl oddly eliminated? News to me (4)
Wise = Herb = SAGE
(nEwS) + ME = ESME
- 12A) Stay the night, maneuvering torso with mouth open, making love (5)
TORSO * anagram = Stay the night = ROOST
love = mouth open = AGAPE
Also, YES an agape reference! Mmm!
agape (n.)One word for “love” is not enough! More words! More words for love!
c.1600, from Greek agape "brotherly love, charity," from agapan "greet with affection, love," of unknown origin. Agape was used by early Christians for their "love feast" held in connection with the Lord's Supper. In modern use, often in simpler sense of "Christian love" (1856, frequently opposed to eros as "carnal or sensual love").
- 13A) Bust free to entertain a Hungarian named Nagy I'm regarding (4)
IM + (regarding = RE) = a Hungarian named Nagy = IMRE
(free = RID) + A = Bust = RAID
- 20A) City that can make one testier or (great improvement) take one's breath away (7)
TESTIER * anagram = City = TRIESTE
OR GREAT * anagram = GARROTE
- 26A) Tool for logging in pay—Eve manipulated returning U.S. soldier to follow St. Mark (6)
PAY EVE * anagram = Tool for logging = PEAVEY
((U.S. = American = AM) + (soldier = GI)) * returning = IGMA) to follow ST = mark = STIGMA
- 4D) Even contributors to girlie shows (French) land in water bed, using some narcotics (3)
(even contributors to girlie = gIrLiE) = French land in water = ILE
using some * narCOTics = bed = COT
- 22D) Goose someone? Never! Partially tie up space? That's upsetting (4)
someoNE NEver = goose = NENE
(space = ROOM) * upsetting = Partially tie up = MOOR
- 18A) Improve Google? Hearing, after arrival, shows something unpaid (6; 4,2)
IMPROVE = GOOGLE = LOOK UP
(hearing = EAR) after (arrival = ARR) = something unpaid = ARREAR
ARREAR also, pretty dum, pretty boring.
- 27A) Womenswear made of sternest stuff (about $500) occasions incessant alteration (4,5; 9);
(STERNEST + (500 = D)) * anagram = Womenswear = TENT DRESS
INCESSANT * anagram = occasions = INSTANCES
looks up TENT DRESS ...
Ok so, a TENT DRESS is actually pretty cute. Not for the body-shamed per se. Still not fond of “$500 = D.” Although “occasions incessant alteration” is very nice. Pure.
- 2D) My tea, given a different accent, sounds strong, dry, and ferrous? (6)
MY TEA * homophone with new scansion = strong = MIGHTY
dry and ferrous = IRONIC (double syn.)
- 6D) Bring Army rifle in past friend, drive to where the Vatican is, coming back around, not all the way (5)
(Army rifle = M1 = MI) + (past = AGO) = friend = AMIGO
(((where the Vatican is = ROME) * coming back around = EMOR) * not all the way = MOR) + TO = drive = MOTOR
- 17D) Ballerinas appear on this pinto, dancing with energy in mufti—a trick of doctors (6)
(PINTO + (energy = E)) * anagram = Ballerinas appear on this = POINTE
muftI A TRIC = of doctors = IATRIC
- 19D) Italian family being locked in irons, I make money again, or nearer, from it (6)
IRONS I * anagram = Italian family = ORSINI
NEARER * anagram = make money again = REEARN
And REEARN? Ugh. Any of the words that are meant to be native English words but that The New Yorker would print with an umlaut are gross. With the exception of cooperation. The N Yorker prints it “coöperation.” Tru story. Because they think us mouthbreathers are gonna be like, “cooperation? Like, a corporation in a chicken coop I DONT GETIT??????”
- 25A) Dangerous group of Chinese grasping arm zip in, howitzer out (4)
Dangerous group of Chinese = grasping arm = TONG (double syn.)
howitZER Out = zip = ZERO
Second, had never hearda TONG before. From W'pedya:
These organizations are described as secret societies or sworn brotherhoods and are often tied to criminal activity.If it had been “yakuza” or “triad”, ok, yah, that fits better as “dangerous.”
Today these associations provide essential services for Chinatown communities such as immigrant counseling, Chinese schools, and English classes for adults, among countless others.