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.
- 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 thirteen other unclued entries, will create a group of words that have something in common.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).
Emphasis added. —ed
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.
- 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
- 28A) Passes over developed regions (7)
REGIONS * anagram = IGNORES
- 43A) On the outside, doctor can make a dollar from pot! (4)
On the outside (doctor = DR) can make a dOLLAr = OLLA
- 44A) Shot at, I'd alter having a lock at the back (9)
AT I'D ALTER * anagram = RATTAILED
- 3D) Fliers prepare to shoot a gun at nothing—so upsetting (9)
(prepare to shoot a gun = COCK) + (nothing = O) + (SO upsetting = OS) = COCKATOOS
- 5D) Show inappropriate habits? Cover Dre's solo entry (9)
cOVER DRES Solo = OVERDRESS
- 7D) watch TV? Bedtime dilemma for man in ring! (8)
TO READ OR (watch TV) = Bedtime dilemma = TOREADOR = man in ring
- 9D) Dorothy's aunt and father receive nothing in turnover (8)
(Dorothy's aunt = EM) + (father = PA) receive (nothing = NADA) = EMPANADA
- 18A) Ring up Kitty (4)
(Ring = LOOP * up = POOL
- 35D) Good woman's name? (6)
(Good = G) + (woman's = LADYS) = GLADYS
Lowlights!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
- 19A) Taro root, central to fodder, turned back (4)
central to fODDEr turned back = EDDO
- 23A) Cordial adjustment to ponder (6)
PONDER * anagram = PERNOD
- 2D) No arcane deconstruction for this poet (8)
NO ARCANE * anagram = 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
- 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.
- 32D) OK, nail disreputable china maker (6)
OK NAIL * anagram = KAOLIN
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
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
- 25A) Lady of Rock announced. Not her! (3)
announced (Not her! = OH NO) = ONO
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
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
- 39A) Renaissance makes English victory viral, circulating all around (7)
(English = E) + (victory = V) + VIRAL circulating all around = REVIVAL
- 41A) Unholy terrors, i.e., one raising a bit of hell (9)
Unholy TERRORS IE = ROISTERERS
- 4D) Get rent drop (4)
Get rent = drop = TEAR
- 11D) Downloaded things heard during recess (4)
(Downloaded things = APPS) heard = APSE
*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.
- 26) Upper-class item in chicken: more crackers (8)
(chicken = FRIER) = FRUITIER
fruit (n.)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!!
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."
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.