Monday, February 16, 2015

To Have and To Hold - February 2015

February 2015 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

The Theme

Slowly pieced together the fill in 1A and speculated with Sweet V what the Valentine's related theme might be. “Gag me anytime?” “Something about Bagend?”

Enough fill in place and the theme was revealed: “bag and baggage.” Means “all one's possessions.” Unclued entries are types of bags, often hecka obscure. Also: material goods mean everything, eh? Eep. Twas a rough Valentine's day for Richard E Maltby Jr?
  • 5D) DUFFEL
Gladstone wwutt?
Joey Gladstone | Full House | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Bill Haverchuck | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Also there were like 80 bajillion anagrams this month. So, obviously we had a wonderful time :)


  • 11A) Pay back nuts—I remember nuts (13)
You wanna get nuts? | Michael Keaton in Batman | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 27A) Bums: a liquid asset (5)
    ASSET * anagram = SEATS
Sweet V, on seeing this, said, “non-sexual butt jokes? What is this??”
  • 29A) Melons, or lemons, can help you get sober (6)
    MELONS or LEMONS * anagram = SOLEMN
Ah, the wisdom of the Third Anagram!!
  • 31A) Doctor told to get dope (4)
    TOLD * anagram = DOLT
Nice psych-out with the frequent homophone indicator qua anagrind. Nice clean narrative. Doc! My pain is unmanaged here, doc! Get me summadat dope dope! Mwa! So nice!
Dr House | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) Optional road trips involving sincerity (13)
Mmmmmmmm big anagramas!!
  • 2D)Hero with an ease that's cleverly disguised (6)
    AN EASE * anagram = AENEAS
Aeneas! So nice (neas)!!
Aeneas | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Gee, it's those contemptible Brits (4)
    (Gee = G) + ITS = GITS
“stupid git” burned into our brainpan from The Argument Sketch in Monty Python.
The Argument Sketch | Monty Python | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 4D) Service offered anytime, but unexpectedly (7)
    ANYTIME * anagram = AMENITY
“service offered anytime” ... in our margin notes, we wrote “oral sex??”
  • 7D) Large organ that comes with Capt. von Trapp (5)
    LarGE ORGan = GEORG
In our notes, this conversation with Sweet V:

“I bet it's ‘DICK’.”
“Has to have five letters.”
Maria and Georg | The Sound of Music | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) You might be put out by it, but there is another way to put it (5)
    THERE * anagram = ETHER
Ether! Shoutout to æther! And reminded of a conversation with our brother Chris two Thanksgivings ago about chloroform and grappling hooks that show up in movies—you know, that type of standard movie bad guy material. Must be from the Bad Guy Store.
  • 13D) Damaged slicer remains (6)
    SLICER * anagram = RELICS
“Damaged slicer remains” is so nice and tight!
Narsil | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23D) Bring up name made in discipline involving exercises and pain (5)
    (name = N) in (discipline involving exercises = YOGA) * bring up = AGONY
Nice! The agony of yoga! Sweet V frequently complains that most yoga classes are designed for female flexibility, and thus discourage male attendance. We must to admit: we were blind to female normative exercise design!
Yoga | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 25D) Ringer, Round One, given a Nick name? (6)
    (Ringer = BELL) round (One = I) given A = BELIAL
Belial is a term occurring in the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as the Devil in Jewish and Christian texts.

Source: Wikipeeds

Nick names. Very nice. Consulted V's personal lexicon of names synonymous for the Dark One, but none fit the existing fill at the time of BE--A-. Thus, then assumed it was a famous/celebrity Nick (“Nick Bettay?”) Belial | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28D) Old piece from fitted coat worn by Siamese, perhaps (7)
    COAT + (Siamese, perhaps = CAT) TOCCATA
Music. REALLY thought this would be a reference to one of
  1. old menswear
  2. Chang/Eng
  3. Thailand
  4. cat outfits
Chang and Eng | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Cat wearing a sweater | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30D) One not moving in the mainstream route tavels around Long Island (7)
    ROUTE travels around (Long Island = LI) = OUTLIER
RULLY thought there'd be an LIRR reference here!
LIRR | Long Island Railroad Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 33D) Import daunts producer, possibly (6)
    DAUNTS * anagram = DATSUN
Datsun! Sweet V landed this one. Not called out in the instructs as uncommon, tho? Mmmmmmmmmmm uh. Not common to we!

Also, for years swore we heard Nedry saying “Datsun” instead of “Dodgson.” We've got Dodgson out here! | Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry from Jurassic Park | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 38D) Stone making cameo appearances in Sony X-Men series (4)
    Sony X-Men = ONYX
X-Men! Nice psych-out with reference to Sony's X-Men. btw, glad to hear that Sony is letting Spider-man enter the Marvel Comics Universe of film. Altho, we're also discouraged about what the franchise superhero blockbuster culture is doing to the spec screenplay market. But what gunna do ¯\(°_o)/¯

Here's some vintage X-men #nostalgia


  • 12A) Corrupt NE frontier agent that stops some progress (10)
Not an uncommon obscuro? Uh. I'm interferon with that logic. Definition:
interferon /in•ter•fer•on/
any of a family of glycoproteins, production of which can be stimulated by viral infection, by intracellular parasites, by protozoa, and by bacteria and bacterial endotoxins, that exert antiviral activity and have immunoregulatory functions; they also inhibit the growth of nonviral intracellular parasites.

Source: The Free Dictionary

  • 15A) Probation officer gets me fruit (4)
    (Probation officer = PO) gets ME = POME
Pome? What is? Just, like, an apple? Murr.
Pome | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 17A) Start to do good in a lab, perhaps ... (3)
    do good = DOG
What's with the all the perhapses this month? Buh. Here's a cute doggy:
Labrador puppy wearing a lab coat | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20A) Flooring participant in a timeless deed (4)
    (deed = TITLE) * timeless = TILE
UhhHHHhhhhhh it should be ILE by that logic. T-less! No T! We insisted to Sweet V for several hours that it must be PILE (somehow) as in carpeting, because it COULD NOT be TILE, as TILE has a T. It is not T-less. Then we got the crossing T from AMENITY in 4D and were thus forced to admit that the puzzle's answer was TILE. “Ai dreptate,” we said to Sweet V in his mother tongue. “You were right.”

Speaking of piles, here is a poem written by one of our former bosses. We were hired to that job formally as a marketing associate, and informally as a “second assistant” to the boss. Most of our intuition about the life of the Puzzle Minion is based on our experience working with this particular boss, who fancied himself a poet. Here is a memorable line from one of his poems:
My pee is in that pile
When I think of you, I smile


  • 37A) Drunken sot, in general, appearing ina Chinese restaurant (3)
    SOT * anagram = TSO
Tso, General. We meet again.
General Tso  | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
It should come as no surprise, and yet it still comes as a little surprise:
The dish is named after General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty general and statesman, although there is no recorded connection to him. The real roots of the dish lie in the post-1949 exodus of chefs to the United States.

Source: Wikipedya

  • 40A) Lady's man, for example, backs bid to avoid a suit (4)
    ((for example = EG) backs = GE) + (avoid a suit ... ?= NT ) = GENT
Is this a bridge reference? Dear Readers are invited to elaborate logic in the ccccccomments.
  • 14D) Accommodating beef served around South America (11)
    (beef = COMPLAINT) around (South America = SA) = COMPLAISANT
Variant spelling that went unmentioned in the puzzle instructs. How unaccommodating.
  • 29D) Marble slab with writing on it, so they say (7)
    = STELE
Stele. Fancy seeing you here in a puzzle all the time every day (never stop) (can't stop won't stop).
The monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Is pronounced like “Steely Dan” yess?
1970s Steely Dan | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Tacky!

  • 24A) A female reporter with competence (4)
    A + (female reporter = BLY) = ABLY
Nellie Bly | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Nellie Bly! Remembered from our feminist playing cards growing up!! A sample of this American badass:
But the piece that was to make Bly’s name was her exposé of the insane asylum on New York's Blackwell's Island. Pretending to be Cuban, Bly was committed there and found that most women in the asylum were in fact not insane but immigrants who could not communicate with their jailers or single women without a place in society. Bly stayed there for 10 days and described the horrible treatment and conditions of the place. ‘Suddenly I got, one after the other, three buckets of water over my head—ice cold water, too—into my eyes, my ears, my nose and my mouth. I think I experienced some of the sensations of a drowning person as they dragged me, gasping, shivering and quaking, from the tub. For once did I look insane, as they put me, dripping wet, into a short canton flannel slip, labeled across the extreme end in large black letters, ‘Lunatic Asylum, B.I.H. 6.’”

Source: The Daily Beast

Referencing Queen Bly makes up (partially) for yeddanother male-normative clue. Ugh, side rant, in the NYTimes crossword the other week there was GUYLINER which, o my gorn no one cares about your precious fragile masculinity, men wearing eyeliner! Here! Let us now legitimize a bogus word to keep your penis safe. It's not eyeliner, it's guyliner. They're not dolls, they're GI Joes. It's not gay if you like it. You're safe now. Which is to say: this gender normativity shit works both ways and sucks every time.

Back to Bly, the “female” reporter, who would never ever ever in a million skillion years occur to a cryptic doer without that all-important “female” hint. Because why would one of the great muckrackers of US history ever be top of mind. Being as she is in a special and discrete category of reporter. You know. As a female.

Wouldn't it be cool to at least live in a world where the cryptic clues said like “male CEO” and “male president” and things like that? Clues from a free world (cool world).
sign stencilled in spraypaint: 'The Feminists are Taking Over' | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Comment (yes).


  1. I've never played bridge, but I believe NT is No Trump. Also, I don't think COMPLAISANT is a variant spelling; it's different from COMPLACENT, if that's what you were thinking. Lastly, you might be interested in this:

    1. Ah ok, complaisant, like com-pleasing. But it looks! it looks! like one of the British Canadian colorise realise organise cohort. Looks deceive. Thank you for the invitation to get more educated :)

      Bridge is one of those games that, the way people talk about it, it's more fun if you're really good at strategy and also partially or fully psychic.