Mmm, the quality of clues this month: extraordinary. Just exquisite! So many approaching that highest ideal: natural language, telling a human story, lacking in obvious (gimme) indicators. Smooth and cool, like a ball bearing, or the sphere in the movie Sphere.
The ThemeAll I want is a room somewhere. Farraway from the cold night air. With one enormous chair. O wouldn't it be loverly. How much of the musical My Fair Lady do we remember from 7th grade, you ask? Please do go on singing in a nasally Cockney, you ask?
TWOULD BE OUR PLSUR
Ten answers missing their starting “H.” Just like how they'd be pronounced by Eliza Doolittle before the the brave Enry Iggins teaches her code switching. And then the unclueds at 36A, 17A, and 25A are HERTFORD, HEREFORD, and HAMPSHIRE: three keywords from the linguistic torture porn sections of My Fair Lady.
If you don't know this play, we feel bad for you, son. Ninety-nine problems. Not being able to solve the November 2014 Harper's cryptic is one.
As tis, even those of us now annoying Sweet V with showtunes while he's minding his own business reading the new William Gibson, yes even we lucky ones still got messed up on this knowledge content-based theme. Thought it was HARTFORD. Even believed we confirmed on Googlo that it's HARTFORD. Yah, woops. HERTFORD. Eat your hert out. Dear Reader Eric, that's where we thought the error was.
For-sure error in the footer, tho. Shoulda said “November.” Look, there! The error! BEHOLT!!
- 18A) Mercury or Saturn—that's a bit of a tautaology (4)
bit of tAUTOlogy = AUTO
- 20A) Englishman's back to swinging both ways, as entrée to Italians (7)
((Englishman's = SIR) * back = RIS) + (TO * swinging both ways = OTTO) = RISOTTO
- 22A) I get seated uncomfortably for pictures (7)
I SEATED * anagram = IDEATES
- 34A) Engineer helps aid constructions contributing to touchdowns (7)
HELPS AID * anagram = HELIPADS
- 35A) Wheels that make you mad, mad, covering the full gamut? (5) MAD + (full gamut = A [to] Z) = MAZDA
- 1D) The man needs a lush, all-encompassing, quiet, Southern subset of doctors (12)
(The man = HE) + A + (lush = DRINKER) + (quiet = SH) + (Southern = S) = HEADSHRINKERS
- 4D) Going off to flashy places where farmers get high? (7)
TO FLASHY * anagram = HAYLOFTS
YOU DONT HAF TO BE LONELY
- 12A) Unconventional theorist? Hm? Nearest thing to it! (9)
THEORIST HM * anagram = THITHERMOST
- 14A) Pauses, managing a rescue (7)
A RESCUE * anagram = CESURAE
- 32A) Narrated story that gives the Chinese weight (4)
(story = TALE) * (narrated = homophone) = TAEL
- 37A) Long-tailed cats, ones riddled with mysteries, so they say (8)
Wedge-shaped heads with prominent cheekbones
[ blah blah —ed ]
Whiplike, tapering tail from body to tip, sometimes with a puff of fur on the tip, like a lion
- 38A) Start with hello, right? The heart of Nelson Eddy does this (6)
(Start with = W) + (hello = HI) + (right = R) + (heart of Nelson = LS) = WHIRLS
- 5D) Alcoholic content of party: a furtive sip (5)
(party = DO) + SIP = DIPSO
dipsomaniac (n.) Look up dipsomaniac at Dictionary.com "drunkard," 1858, from dipsomania; slang shortening dipso is from 1880.
- 6D) Irregular who art where the vattles are ... (5, two words)
WHO ART * anagram = HOT WAR
You know where Wikipedia redirects “hot war”? To “war.” Yah.
Theme necessitated not breaking down how many letters per word lest the jig be up. But then, doesn't this sort of elephant-in-the-room cluing exactly raise the jig? Look up, see it? The jig? There's an elephant on it?
The Tacky!Yah so even though truly we loved the clues this month overall, there were a whoppin THREE we call “tacky.”
- 13A) Two acts and he's a goner (4)
(acts = DO) * two = DODO
- 28A) One of three South American flowers planted inside. One grows ... (5)
One grows = NEGRO
- 10D) Touring East, dancing role exhausts people who do it religiously! (12)
(East = E) + ROLE EXHAUSTS * anagram = HETEROSEXUALS
Maltby has clearly never heard of the OTO, and eleventh level ritual buttsex.
This clue, it's like: why not “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”? Why tremble at the precipice? Just go for it. Name the infidels, the unclean, those whose way of love profanes the Creator and Creation. Say it. Queers are going to hell. Say it.
Tell it to the sisters.
Yah we're a little punchy this month. Ya.