Friday, November 9, 2012

It's Time - November 2012

Harper's November 2012
Another month, another beautiful, clean puzzle from Richard E. Maltby Jr. We are in danger of needing to change the title of this blog from "Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues" to "Glorious Harper's Cryptic Clues." Because that's what it was. Glorious.

That said! If we had a sister blog, and if that sister blog were named "Bleeding Heart Liberal Harper's Cryptic Clues," our twisted sister would have much fodder the last few months, and this month in particular.

To the puzzle!

Theme: "It's Time," referring to Things That Happen in November, but also, beautifully, baldly, un-subtley, referring to the USA election and this cover of The Economist from Fall 2008, when even that staid Chicago-school rag knew: it's time. Gobama. Boom kaboom.
It's Time: Obama on the cover of The Economist
fun fact: this cover was magnetized to our refrigerator when we lived in The Cottage in San Francisco. That was back when we subscribed to The Economist instead of Harper's. We've changed, dear readers. We've changed.

O but there were so many o where to begin. There were like 12 or 15 truly exquisite ones this month. Below are the cream of the cream:
  • 17A) In a postoperative recovery, get a handle on an organ (4)
    poSTOPerative = STOP
    Like an organ stop. Nice. Wanted it to be MOOG. And then later really really wanted it to be ONAN.
Organ stop
We should mention: here at the offices we are sexually frustrated. Just a casual thing for you threes of dear readers to know, and not directed at anyone in particular.

Moving on!
  • 18A) Ladies proud of their family name? Fiddle-de-dee! (4)
    (Ladies proud of their family = DAR) + (name = N) = DARN
    "DAR" as in "Daughters of the American Republic." This is one of those smooth clues free of faultlines that we love very best of all. When we encounter one we like to thrillingly caress it with our mind, enjoying how hard and perfect it is. What's that? Why yes, we ARE sexually frustrated. You remembered from five seconds ago! Next!
  • 19A) Multifaceted figures curiously hard-nosed about the European Community ... (11)
    (HARD-NOSED (European Community = EC) ) * anagram = DECAHEDRONS
    Usually think of glorious Platonic solid dodecahedron. But forget not the noble decahedron. There's a lot of them kinds. For example:
And as a special treat, here's a video of brilliant Emily Peters talking about the Platonic solids. How do we know that humanity knows them all? EP SPLAINS ALL:

  • Shake puzzle constructor by being excluded (4)
    (puzzle constructor = MALTBY) - BY = MALT
    YESssssss! We believe that in all our years of Harper's cryptics, we had yet to before see Richard E. Maltby Jr. indulge in inserting himself into the puzzle, exercising a near Will Shortzian restraint. just kidding: Shortz is like Darth Vader; he doesn't need to sign his name to the Force, he is become the Force. clarifying: we mean that Will Shortz is like unto Darth not in evil, but in raw badassery.
  • 37A) Condition coarsens in blacked-out states (8)
    Not quite as smooth as that DAR clue, but still. So smooth! (fingers spider touch over it) (cf S'Touching)
  • 38A) Person in a service van many rent (4, 3)
    (VAN MANY) * anagram = NAVY MAN
    Delicious. And shout out to our longtime friend and former roommate Commander Tofer of the Naval Reserves, currently stationed in Djibouti. Your booty? No. Djibouti. Yusssssss.
  • 32A) Lose liquid, missing a piece of Albanian bread (3)
    (lose liquid = LEAK) missing A = LEK
    Yes. "Lek" is one of thems words where we don't know that we know it, until it's there and we clearly know it, somehow embedded amongst the deep nuggets of the mind.
Albanian Lek
  • 9A) To be produced by spoken voice, that's the end of poetry (5)
    spokEN VOIce = ENVOI
    "envoi" what da hayck is that word? Something in poetry. Fine whatever. Thought for a long time it would be ENNUI and some kinda subtle, knowing dig on poets, in the way only a fellow traveler can give a subtle, knowing dig. Negator, friends. Negator.
  • 11A) Make unholy concoction from rue Gâteaux (10)
    Sigh. The Free Dictionary says it's a synonym for "unhellow." Great, what's "unhellow" oh hey guess what none found. Cool word, guys!
  • 28D) Philippine tree, English lime, grafted together (5)
    (English = E) + LIME = ELEMI
    The puzzle qualified this as one of the rare words. Meh. More like lazy vowel-disproportionate words. Ooh, sick burns, Maltby! Sick burns from
And now we address our favorites!

The pink!
  • 25D) Hey dude! The goal in mating is getting into bondage! (6)
    (Hey dude = YO) + (The goal in mating = KING) = YOKING
Yes. One thousand yes. This is not the first time bondage has appeared in the Harper's cryptic. And this isn't even one of those teasers that insinuates something dirty and then pulls out. No, this one's a pleaser.
Maggine Gyllenhaal in 'Secretary'
The seafoam green!
  • 33A) Savings plan question: Was this something worth fighting for?
    (Savings plan = IRA) + (question = Q) = IRAQ (!!!)
    Holy smokes. Was Iraq something worth fighting for? SICK BURNS FROM MALTBY, USA. Sick burns. would be having a field day with this one! Jus ad bellum, casus belli, &c. They'd be spittling out Latin as fast as they could type with their juicy fat fingers. Stereotypes.

And that does it for this month! Will winking references to positive consensual BDSM relationships continue to replace tacky/sexist/racist clues? We can but hope.


  1. This month's was as you called it - glorious! I happened across this blog a couple of months ago as I've become obsessed with solving the Harper's Puzzle. YOKING and IRAQ were clearly the best, but what about 29A (OUTSTRIP) with a very funny double-definition?! I finished my puzzle today, but would you mind not posting until at least after the deadline in the future (November 13)? I love the blog!

  2. Whoa, hellow stranger! Apologies for poor puzzle-spoiler hygiene, tho please to forgive as it is news that anyone 1. knows 2. cares about this blog (besides longtime friends Stupendous Fish and Poindexter).

    Double-definitions are indeed delicious :)

    Thanks for writing, and see you next month!

  3. Amendment! Longtime friend Ty-Guy is also a reader!

    Many lurkers, few commenters have we. The little-known little sister to Rex Parker ...

  4. of course people read and care about your blog. Maltby produces an entertaining crossword and you offer an amusing look at it. Plus some of us need a clue sometimes and i've gotten better at only casting my eye to see if i got it right. January issue is out, BTW. Stop slacking.. thanks. not linas

  5. ... who ARE you people? (!?)

    Ever'body relax. We're on it.