Saturday, August 8, 2015

Reconciled - August 2015

August 2015 | Reconciled | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

The Theme!

Haaaaaayted this. First, thought it was CAME TOGETHER at 1A and thus hunted for slantwise Beatles references. Upon revisiting CAME and switching to BACK, thus groking the theme after solving nearly every other clued entry, ah, ok, at last, it all fell together. Fine.
Come Together | The Beatles | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 17A) backPACKER
  • 18A) backPEDALS
  • 24A) backDATE
  • 33A) backSTABBING
  • 36A) backTALKING
  • 46A) backCOUNTRY
  • 1D) backBREAKING
  • 6D) backGAMMON
  • 8D) backHANDED
  • 14D) backLASHES
  • 29D) backSTRETCH
  • 31D) backSTROKE
  • 34D) backBITING
The instructs specify
the thirteen other unclued entries, will create a group of words that have something in common.

Emphasis added. —ed

and 6D, GAMMON, t'ain't no word. Yah ok so alright so the instruction “create” means that it's the BACK- forms of the theme answers that are words. Meh. We were convinced it was GAMBON for the actor Michael (aka Dumbledore II) or possibly a river in Africa (we were thinking of the GABON, wups).
Michael Gambon | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
a note about construction
By our count, this puzzle left 53 out of 194 squares unchecked. That's 27%. It sounded super high to us but then, for reference, the July 2015 puzzle had 41/144 or 28% unchecked, and June 2015 had 54/169 or 31.9% unchecked.

Ok but so this puzzle seemed to have like sooooooo many unclued theme answers crossing each other. It just like felt that way, right? Of the 82 theme squares in the fill, we count 29 that are unchecked or crossed with another unclued theme answer, i.e. 35%. In other words, we were 35% focked on theme entries. Mm. That's not quite the way to phrase it. If you know what we mean you're welcome to rephrase betterly in the comments ↓

Ok so contrast this puzzle with June 2015: 46 theme squares entered in code and only 10 uncrossed or theme crossing (21%). July 2015 doesn't make for a good comparison since it's straightforward “Sixes and Sevens,” But February 2015 “To Have and To Hold” is good: 24 out of 77 unclued theme squares are unchecked or theme crossing (31%).

In conclusion, this puzzle's unchecked count was maybe a little high. Like your dad.

Deep in Manhattan whilst deep in a Manhattan, Maltby pauses sipping and mentally composes an email, subject line: “Too much time on her hands.” He deletes the mental draft. Better not to entertain the thought. Better to play high status in this game. A game he knows all too well. From the adjacent chamber a feline mewls. There will be wet food tonight, oh yes. Wet indeed.
Princess Athena | spoiled cat | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 12A) Man in the middle of St. Patrick's, doing a somersault (4)
    (in the middle of St. Patrick's = NAVE) doing a somersault =  EVAN
Fresher than usual way to get NAVE!
  • 28A) Passes over developed regions (7)
    REGIONS * anagram = IGNORES
Just a nice sweet anagram. Give them to us! Nice narrative on the clue, too. Flying over those developed regions, headed where? On whose authority? And for what purpose??
  • 43A) On the outside, doctor can make a dollar from pot! (4)
    On the outside (doctor = DR) can make a dOLLAr = OLLA
Putting this in highlights because most sins of this entry (puzzle'ese OLLA, tortured cluing) are overshadowed by the super-fun narrative. Dr Drug Dealer. Love!
Doctor or Dealer | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 44A) Shot at, I'd alter having a lock at the back (9)
    AT I'D ALTER * anagram = RATTAILED
YASS. Love the anagram, love the narrative, and love what it yields! Rattailed! That hot haircut from early elementary school. Beautiful.
Rattail hairstyle | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Fliers prepare to shoot a gun at nothing—so upsetting (9)
    (prepare to shoot a gun = COCK) + (nothing = O) + (SO upsetting = OS) = COCKATOOS
Loved this. The step-by-step quality, oft annoying, here was in service of some super fun narrative.
cockatoo dog Photoshop | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 5D) Show inappropriate habits? Cover Dre's solo entry (9)
Automatic highlight for Dr Dre, this month's Nerd Hot Guy.
Dr Dre | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 7D)        watch TV? Bedtime dilemma for man in ring! (8)
    TO READ OR (watch TV) = Bedtime dilemma = TOREADOR = man in ring
Hope we explained our logic hear even medium coherently. Mang we loved this! In contrast to that terror from last month with DEBARS (where “t'get de drinks” if you remember that nightmare). This is how that sort of clue can be done well. And by “well” we mean “in a way we like.” Shout out to relativism, wut wut! cf exposition in our other blog.
  • 9D) Dorothy's aunt and father receive nothing in turnover (8)
    (Dorothy's aunt = EM) + (father = PA) receive (nothing = NADA) = EMPANADA
Was hunting for the GALE in this. Shout out to Wizard of Oz trivia. Shout out to empanadas! And shout out to Roundathon who took us out for empanadas in Chicago three years ago and we're still thinking about them.
  • 18A) Ring up Kitty (4)
    (Ring = LOOP * up = POOL
Lovely! So clean!
  • 35D) Good woman's name? (6)
    (Good = G) + (woman's = LADYS) = GLADYS
Mwa! The simplicity! Bam.
Hard Bodies | Gladys Portugues | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


So there were a whopping seven clues that we had to look up, having never hearda:
  • 11A) Italian flower gets name for French flower (5)
    (Italian flower = ARNO) gets (name = N) = ARNON
Cool use of “flower” the same way twice …not!  Buh. Shout out to Notorious Marcel and Colleen who saw the Arno last month on their lovers' tour of Italy!
  • 19A) Taro root, central to fodder, turned back (4)
    central to fODDEr turned back = EDDO
Uhhhhhh … whhut?
eddo: a taro corm or plant, especially of a West Indian variety with many edible cormlets | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23A) Cordial adjustment to ponder (6)
    PONDER * anagram =  PERNOD
Had vaguely heard of Pernod before. Un alcool with which we we suspect Ol' “Single” Malt[by] is familiar.
Pernod | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) No arcane deconstruction for this poet (8)
    NO ARCANE * anagram = ANACREON
Hoo? Anacreon
Anacreon was a Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns. Later Greeks included him in the canonical list of nine lyric poets.

Surs: The Wikip

  • 20D) Seed men spilled in place of the Lord (7)
    SEED MEN * anagram = DEMESNE
“Lord” as in “lord of the manor.” Quickly inferred that this would be an anagramma of SEED MEN, but with three uncrossed letters was at a loss until the last minutes of solve. Boo.
  • 30D) He boxed naked, they say (4)
    (naked = BARE) * they say = BAER
Possessing perhaps the most powerful right hand in heavyweight history, Max Baer was a flashy performer who wise-cracked and clowned his way through his career. Although he never fully realized his tremendous potential, Baer won the heavyweight title, and his showmanship entertained an America rocked by the Great Depression.

Source: International Boxing Hall of Fame

Max Baer | boxer | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 32D) OK, nail disreputable china maker (6)
    OK NAIL * anagram = KAOLIN
Hwat? kaolin clay | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
kaolin, also called china clay, soft white clay that is an essential ingredient in the manufacture of china and porcelain and is widely used in the making of paper, rubber, paint, and many other products. Kaolin is named after the hill in China (Kao-ling) from which it was mined for centuries.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

  • 40D) Love performing? Time to enter horse‑show movement (5)
    (LOVE * anagram) + ((Time = T) entering) = VOLTE
We're no stranger to dressage, mais quoi? This word does come from the French, does it pas? Invoking La France reminds us to shout out to Sister Mercedes, moving to Aix‑en‑Provence this month! Home of Cezanne, Roman ruins, cobblestone. Dear Readers may recall that we were there last October with the Mommazon. Got it warmed up for the Merç.
The Mommazon in Aix | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Ok so eight clues: that's a lot to have to look up, we're saying. Particularly in a puzzle where more than 25% of the fill was uncrossed. We've mentioned this, right? We mention again here in case you've forgotten. These posts have so many words, we don't want you to miss out on Key Insights™ from the first paragraphs.

Back to regularly scheduled Lowlights:

We're putting the two clues below in “Lowlights” altho the truth is we're not sure how we feel ab'ut these two:
  • 13A) Arab man returning from South American capital (4)
    returning from (South American Capital = LIMA) = AMIL
  • 16A) Frost recalled the title for “Prince of the Desert” (4)
    (Frost = RIME) recalled = EMIR
Amil! Not the usual go-to “stereotypical Arab name” for the puzzle. Mostly didn't like ambiguity on how to lay these in the fill without crosses. And for a puzzle so cross-poor, these were annoying indeed.
  • 25A) Lady of Rock announced. Not her! (3)
    announced (Not her! = OH NO) = ONO
“Oh no: it's Yoko!” She's never heard that joke before.
Yoko Ono | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
People like to take their digs at Yoko. She believes in world peace. We think that's cool. We believe in the possibility of world peace. Hard‑hearted Dear Readers out there who do not believe in world peace, perhaps you can believe in the possibility of a world without war-as-we-know-it-now in which soft-handed bureaucrats send young people to die.

We also believe in the possibility of a world where global conflict is decided by sex‑fighting. Like full-contact naked capoeira. Try as you might to convince us to restrict our belief such that we would deny even the possibility of international sex‑fighting in place of war as we know it, you will fail. Haha you will fail so badly!!
  • 27A) Some bombshells best docked outside, on leaving London (7)
    (best = BES) docked outside (on leaving London = LOND) = BLONDES
Our friend Sparky once said, “ stops being fun as soon as you realize that every white woman with blonde hair gets a minimum of an 8 out of 10, and every black woman gets at best a 6.” This was circa 2005 for the early iteration of HotOrNot that was like Kitten War but for human people. Now it's turned into something else. A dating site?

Shout out to Sweet V, taking us off the dating market in just a few weeks!!
  • 30A) Thorny situation for brother putting on airs, awkwardly (6)
    (brother = BR) putting on AIRS awkwardly = BRIARS
Meh. Super obvi. C'mong make us sweat a little yah?
  • 39A) Renaissance makes English victory viral, circulating all around (7)
    (English = E) + (victory = V) + VIRAL circulating all around = REVIVAL
And that is a Request Denied on making us sweat even a little. Bu. The anagram shouldn't rhyme with with the anagrind fodder.
  • 41A) Unholy terrors, i.e., one raising a bit of hell (9)
Now we're just getting ultra-finicky. Picky picky. But mang these -ER words cluttering up the puzz! Maybe if there weren't so many unclued entries, maybe if it were in service of a dense tight grid. Maybe baby. We're in an allergy mode, where increased exposure only increases the reaction. Alright just two more:
  • 4D) Get rent drop (4)
    Get rent = drop = TEAR
One of those ones we guessed immediately, followed by, “no, that's too stupid …”

  • 11D) Downloaded things heard during recess (4)
    (Downloaded things = APPS) heard = APSE
Bringing APSE into the puzzle for the billionth time*, if you apse us, might have stunk this in Lowlights from the outset but there was probable cause to read this as either APSE or APPS. Perhaps this is our ongoing problem with linear time and the puzzle? Linear time seeming to be an unspoken constraint, which we are not apparently constrained by, thus introducing occasional but severe perplexion. Wouldn'ta been a problem except the last two letters were uncrossed.
*shout out to our knave, NAVE!

Ambiguity in the puzzle. Buh. The puzzle, especially the cryptic puzzle, is where we go to experience chaos and ambiguity at a remove. In a world gone hysterical, the puzzle is rational, ordered, finite, solvable. Except when more than a quarter of the fill is uncrosst! That makes us quite cross indeed.

The Tacky

  • 26) Upper-class item in chicken: more crackers (8)
    (chicken = FRIER) = FRUITIER
Bugs Bunny | Carmen Miranda | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues From mother etymonline:
fruit (n.)
Meaning "odd person, eccentric" is from 1910; that of "male homosexual" is from 1935, underworld slang. The term also is noted in 1931 as tramp slang for "a girl or woman willing to oblige," probably from the fact of being "easy picking."
Code for “freak,” yes. Also code for “gay.” And not in a fun in-group sense. We admit, this clue is not very tacky, especially for a Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clue. Like, it's not as if the answer was FAGGOT clued as “bundle of sticks.” And the puzzle like a brutish 9th grader, What? What? That's what it means!!

In other news, did not know that there is a chicken that is named for the act of its consumption. Brutal. A couple years ago we were in line at the grocery store and there was a chicken bone on the floor by the register. Someone had eaten from the hot bar and tossed the bone. Suddenly out of context, 23 no longer parsed it as food but as carcass. As the real leg bone of a real creature. One of those Vegetarian Awakening moments. Tho the moment passed.

In other news, eight days until Jeopardy! round two auditions. We don't even know how we feel, except that what we feel is real.

Come to the mountain orgy and do what my lovers do (7)


  1. Um, Erica, put GAMMON into a searcher and you'll find it's a pretty common word. Even has its own wikipedia entry. Maybe more British than US, but still, it's food, so important to know. ;=)

    1. Sweet :) Thx for the fact-checking, Kaye! And sorry for long delay in response (marriage, Jeopardy studying, kai, ta, loipa)