The Theme!Bloody brilliant. This puzzle kicked our ass. Took about six weeks of diligent solving. Also took up most of our kitchen table during that time on 24" x 18" paper with Scrabbo™tiles. Below, a photo mid‑solve:
All clue answers six letters long. Each answer entered radially into the grid sharing letters with neighboring slices, and letters all a'jumbled within the radian.
After solving about 1/3 of the clues, and being fully stumped, we called upon the help of husband, the one and only Sweet V.
With his help, MULBERRY came into focus in the perimeter.
MULBERRY triggered the rest of the nursery line shortly thereafter:
ALL AROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH THE MONKEY CHASED THE WEASEL
Our memory was “the monkey AND the weasel” which caused some consternation until we confirmed CHASED. Fie upon flawed memory!
Gloriously, amazingly, the third circle then came into focus:
NURSERY RHYME is also, toroidally, HYMEN. HYMEN, of course, not spotted in the puzzle since July 2011 - Sixes and Sevens (!)
As of course is necessary with a vicious ambitious theme of this sort, there are some clunker clues. Forgiven! All around the mulberry bush is forgiven! Well, somewhat. We sorta forgottabout this forgiveness when we actually set down the Lowlights (woops).
- 1) An IRS recalcuation takes first of exemptions up
(AN IRS * anagram) takes (first of EXEMPTIONS = E) = ARISEN
“Yah well that guy left! He doesn't get to say anymore!” comes the angry response, bubblething up. Tho as our excellent friend Dr Jesse points out, DFW left under duress. It's true. Anger. Feelings. Death. Taxes. Ok next clue!
- 2) They're needed when cruising,but keep 'em in your drawers!
double synonym = LINERS
- 5) Again: shows regarding dogs
(regarding = RE) (dogs = CURS) = RECURS
- 7) In a hospital, a sewer backs up. You and I bothered? True!
((You and I = US) backs up = US) bothered TRUE = SUTURE
- 8) Turns off, covering English rebellion
TURNS off covering (English = E) = UNREST
- 10) Attack that is, first of all, kind
(this is = IE) first of all (KIND = SORT) = SORTIE
- 11) A few characters found at anchor, despite big crowds
ancHOR DESpite = HORDES
- 12) After Pole is inducted, Vatican retrospective grinds down
After (Pole = ROD) is inducted ((Vatican = SEE) retrospective = EES) = ERODES
- 13) Money, or similar supporting exchange‑system initiations—they grow on trees
(M Or Similar Supporting Exchange System) initiations = MOSSES
- 15) Take part in weirdo's selfie, hanging out in church
Take part in weirDOS SELfie = DOSSEL
Popularity: Bottom 30% of words
: an ornamental cloth hung behind and above an altar
Source: Merriam Webstah
- 20) In a cocktail, yet are in a canteen, perhaps
YET ARE * anagram = EATERY
- 22) Excellent article covering period of sexual activity put back in Constitution
(Excellent = E) (article = AN) covering (period of sexual activity = RUT) put back in = NATURE
- 23) Roller reacts badly
REACTS * anagram = CASTER
- 24) Wheels back in the old country
((Wheels = CAR) back = RAC) in THE = THRACE
- 26) The YSL designs for a dog?
THE YSL * anagram = SHELTY
- 27) Sounds like a little key for a small hole
Sounds like a (little key = ISLET) = EYELET
- 31) Head off someone following you while I'm speaking
Head off (someone following you = STALKER) = TALKER
- 32) Link up for recount
RELATE (double syn)
- 33) President writing in his first initial (Rutherford) for farmworkers
(President = HAYES) writing in his (first initial (Rutherford) = R) = HAYERS
- 34) Pop singer imbibes, like, drink after drink?
(Pop singer = CHER) imbibes (like = AS) = CHASER
- 35) Pop composer takes hour to separate the wheat from the chaff
(Pop composer = TESH) takes (hour = HR) = THRESH
SoooOOOOoooo good! So METAL!~!!!!
- 37) Smart nameless Prohibition agent taken in by prohibitionist
(nameless (Prohibition agent = NESS) = ESS) taken in by (prohibitionist = DRY) = DRESSY
- 38) Cardinal sure changes tone more than once
(Cardinal = RED) (sure = YES) = REDYES
- 39) They work in salons with doctors, drinking liquors
(doctors = DRS) drinking (liquors = RYE) = DRYERS
- 40) Tyson, losing on taking over fumble from Bradshaw and Gilliam
(TYSON losing ON = TYS) taking over (fumble = ERR) = TERRYS
- 41) Provide interference, making a basket
HAMPER (double syn.)
- 42) Term for a current morning gym ritual, initially, that requires extra energy
(morning = AM) (gym = PE) (ritual initially = R) that requires extra (energy = E) = AMPERE
- 45) Make a vacation ring again?
ring again = REPEAL
- 3) Field nurses and cons
(Field = LEA) + (nurses = RNS) = LEARNS
How is that the second usage? How did we not know this is? Who con say.
- 6) Place with roughs—sounds rough
sounds (rough = COARSE) = COURSE
- 9) Fish from fishing boats
DORIES (double syn.)
And then a stringa clunkas right inna row, severely irritating us in the southeast sector of the radial grid:
- 16) Acted as an employer, put raises in letters
BOSSED (double syn)
- 17) Hot drink—look, it's the one made fun of
(Hot drink = TEA) (look = SEE) = TEASEE
The instructs specify “not in any [dictionary] but should be.” Buh. ‑EE words in the same class as ‑ER. Wretched.
- 18) Person eating a lot can't start holiday
(Person eating a lot = FEASTER) can't start = EASTER
Shout‑out to a favorite film: Feast!
- 19) One making rent in panic, they say
(panic = TERROR) they say = TEARER
This ends the bad string of three in a row. Bah and fie!
- 25) It probes how messy home gets rented
(messy home = STY) gets (rented = LET) = STYLET
- 28) Let me off by a club, in a proper manner
LET ME off by a (club = Y) = MEETLY
1. suitably; fittingly; properly; in a seemly manner.
Source: The Dictionary.com
- 29) Goldbrick's role is rewritten to include it
ROLE is rewritten to include IT = LOITER
transitive verb : swindle
intransitive verb : to shirk duty or responsibility
Source: Merriam Web
- 30) There's small interest in a cotton machine? Quite the opposite!
smalL INTERest = LINTER
- 43) One chickening out partly—how impersonal!
partly hoW IMPERsonal = WIMPER
- 48) Salesman—one working cycles, according to reports
(one working cycles = PEDELLAR) * homophone = PEDLAR
Some of those who work forces
are the same that burn crosses
Zach de la Rocha! You are this month's Nerd Hot Guy!
The TackyThrowing this one in here just for knee‑jerk male normativity reasons. We don't find it particularly tacky or anything, except for, of course, the male normativity. But it's not a stand‑out knockdown bright line tacky clue in the style of classic Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues, the ones that reference child rape or rely on racist slang, &c.
- 44) Empire builder, someone ahead of his time!
EMPIRE * anagram = PREMIE
Our friend Jessi‑Pie was pregnant with twins for most of last year. Back in 2005 when we worked at the sandwich shop together, we often spoke of our mutual fascination with midwifery and vaginal childbirth. In 2015 as a finally‑pregnant woman, Jessi‑Pie's doctor said that she should prepare herself for a C‑section. He said that even in Scandanavian countries where the vast majority of children are born via midwife, they'll still do C‑secions for birth multiples, on the reg, because of the risks.
Jessi‑Pie was discouraged. She and we had literally been in an ongoing dialogue about our excitement at bringing life into the world via our respective vaginas for over ten years. But we told her to remember that Cæsareans are the birth method for kings and queens. “Kings and queens, Jessi‑Pie!” we said. That cheered her up in a big way. We haven't seen Jessi‑Pie in person since 2005, but we still know how to cheer that bitch up :)
Well but then so the twins arrived a little early! a little premie! two little premies in fact! And in part because they were small, and in part because they arrived surprise and unexpected, they arrived via vagina. So it all worked out!
Kings and queens, still!