Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy New Year - January 2013

January 2013 - Harpers Cryptic What's up, Dear Readers? Welcome to Lucky 2013. Welcome to a weird sweet noxious smell in our apartment.

We know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "sweet and noxious? First guess is that it's probably meth." But our best friend lived in a warehouse in San Francisco for a while, and confirmed that the smell is not the smell of meth, so cross that one off your list.

The smell comes and goes. It has no locus, no point of smellular focus. It's been worse since the heat came on. It's kindof ammonia-y. But sweet, too. Our sublet ends at the end of March, at which point we'll probably paint over the triceratops on our wall and move somewhere else. Hopefully to a less smelly unit within the building, but who knows, Dear Readers. We must listen to our nose. The nose knows.

This post goes live after January 11th, per request + suggestion from Dear Reader William. Our first, un-evolved reaction to Dear William's comment was, "o WOT-EVR, guy! You're not the boss!" and also, "Rex posts answers to the NYTimes puzz whenever the haaaaaaayle he wants, so why don't you back off!!!" And if our Dear Reader's comment had caught us in the last hot hey-days of our 20s we may have insisted on posting when we completed this puzzle and not a day later. Just to show you [show you all].

But as of last September our 20s are behind us. We're a mature woman now. Welcome to 30. And we realized, of course! The monthly contest (!). And the prize: one's name in tiny tiny print in the footer of the puzzle!
Winners! Are we such a jerk that we would sabotage everyone's good time with the cryptic, no. We are not such a jerk. Thank you, Dear William. Thank you for saving us from our ourself.

This month's theme! Lucky 13! Theme answers paired with "13," except for 13D which was "THIRTEEN" (appropriate).

And now it is time for you to ask us if we know that "triskaidekaphobia" means "fear of the number 13." Yes, we know that. Everyone knows that. "triskaidekaphobia" is the "Jewel lived in a van" of fears. Like how any reference to Jewel initiates the following conversational pageant:

"[something something] Jewel ... "
"Do you know Jewel lived in a van?"
"Yes, I know she lived in a van."
"Oh, ok."

"[something something] 13 ... "
"Do you know that 'triskaidekaphobia' means 'fear of the number 13'?"
"Yes, I know that."
"Oh, ok."

Also, and here's something weird about the theme: the instructions say "ten entries are unclued. One is self-defined; the other nine are related to it." But we count eleven unclued answers. We counted several times. Let's count them again using an ordered list in HTML (robots don't lie):
  1. 1A) [thirteen] COLONIES
    13 Colonies
    Holla atcha boy Sam Rockwell (holla!)
  2. 15A) [thirteen] GHOSTS
    13 Ghosts
  3. 20A) [thirteen] DAYS
  4. 13 Days
  5. 23A) [thirteen] PRINCIPLES
    It's a Maimonides thing.
  6. 37A) UNLUCKY NUMBER [thirteen]
  7. 40A) [thirteen] CLOCKS
    Aiii! One of our favorite books! Hell yah.
    13 Clocks
  8. 43A) [thirteen] MOONS
    We kinda thought this answer'd be a reference to the lunar Islamic calendar (13 moons to a year) but it's a low-budge Sam Rockwell film from 2002. Sam Rockwell Sam Rockwell. Sam Rockwell. No, we haven't seen Moon yet. You're going to have to sit us down and make us. Yes, we love Sam Rockwell. Yes, we agree we're probably going to love Moon. 13 Moons | Sam Rockwell Sam Rockwell
  9. 7D) CHANNEL [thirteen]
    Like a generic Channel 13? Is there a famous one?
    edit! Dear Reader Mister Christopher writes:
    Re: Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues -- Channel 13 may refer to NYC's Channel 13 (WNET): "THIRTEEN is the flagship public media entity of the NYC Tri-state area and the most-watched public TV channel in the nation."
    Of carse!!!! New York City chauvinism we might have suspected as much!
  10. 10D) [thirteen] PALMS
    Ok what the hayyyyck does this one refer to? This closed hotel named "13 Palms"?
    13 Palms
  11. 13D) THIRTEEN (mentioned previously)
  12. 30D) OCEAN'S [thirteen]
    Ocean's 13
    Our favorite Ocean's reference is the swapped gender fan fiction spec'ed out by Mindy Kaling in 2009:
    Mindy Kaling | swapped gender Ocean's 11
    tweet reads: Clive Owen as "Tess Ocean": "She doesn't make me laugh, but she doesn't make me cry, either."
So yeah. The official robot count is 11 unclued entries. And several of these "thirteen" references are movies of questionable popularity, or things we'd never heard of. Way to commit to a 13 theme, tho!!


  • 12A) A pixy has terrible trouble making pants? (8)
    A PIXY HAS * anagram = ASPHYXIA
Love! Sexy.
  • 18A) Need an outrageous group like the Supreme Court? (6)
    (Need an) * anagram = ENNEAD
So "ennead" just means "group of nine." If you remember from yer Aeschylus or yer ancient Greek history, the Furies are sometimes called "the Ennead" because there're nine of 'em. Those of you who enjoy personality typologies (Western astrology, Meyers Briggs, etc) allow us to introduce you to the enneagram: a nine-point personality typology. It differs from others in a few significant ways. First, it describes personalities as tending toward the negative personality traits of another type when in stress, and toward the positive traits of another type when thriving. So that feeling you get sometimes of "whoa ... this isn't me ... "—the enneagram knows allabout that.

Second, and this particularly appeals to our Freudian sensibilities, it identifies a specific fear from early childhood that each person builds a personality around. Check it out, Dear Readers. It was an Enneagram 5 who inspired this blog to begin with.

  • 26D) Diana with a German accent goes topless (8)
    (German = HUN) + (accent = STRESS (topless)) = HUNTRESS
Mm! Adore! Especially appreciate the reference to the topless huntress. Why is it sometimes ok to get excited about the naked female form in the cryptic and sometimes not ok? We can't really explain, aside from the Diana-specific implication that should one objectify Diana, she's gonna turn you into a stag, and you'll be ripped apart by your own dogs. So, do what you think is right. She dares you.
Diana | Huntress
  • 39D) Butcher's offering two-time loser something really small (4)
    (Butcher's offering = MUTTON) + (two (time = T) * (loser = -)) = MUON
Muon! Mm! Science!


  • 13A) Sadly, inertia takes over an indefinite number in multiyear cycles
    (INERTIA + (indefinite number = N)) * anagram = TRIENNIA
Triennia? Every three years? Like the term of the President-Elect of the Wyoming Society of Respiratory Care? We have a weird bias against three-year cycles. Don't you? Has none of the rightness of two and four-year cycles. Surely this is a cultural thing. Anyway.
  • 14A) Chicken not eaten? What a drag!  (4)
    (Chicken = PULLET) - (eaten = ET) = PULL
"I et it, mama. I et the otmeal." Meh.

Suspected PULLET → PULL for several rounds, but couldn't parse how to pick out the ET. Then it came to us. Then we felt waves of meh all over. Also, every example sentence we could think of that uses the word "et" also uses the word "mama," or in some cases "papa." We suspect that this indicates something awful about ourself that we rarely care to examine. We move on.

  • 19A) I'm in ship covering low Desert Storm occurrences (7)
    (ship = S) (low = MOO)  IM = SIMOOMS
Means a particular kind of strong dry wind native to the Arabian peninsula and the Maghreb. We'd never heard of these. Have you heard of these?
  • 42A) Mounts Sinai, Cervino, Everest, initially, and southern surrounding (7)
    (and * surrounding) S C E + (southern = S) = ASCENDS
Too obvious. But let's look at this picture of Tenzing Norgay + Edmund Hillary, just down from Mt. E. Look how happy. Look what brothers. They made a promise to each other to never say who reached the peak first. We fucking love that. Hillary | Norgay
Try not to get a crush on these men. You will find: you cannot.

  • 2D) Almost fat Roman god (3)
    (fat = LARD) * almost = LAR
"Lar"? [intoned like a cow farting silently, but deadly-y] Boooooo ooooooo. Even our encyclopedia of record, Wikipedia, does not really believe in "Lar." Lares, thank you.
  • 5D) Slaves, but in a bad sense (5)
    SENSE * anagram = ESNES
Ew this is some gross puzzle-ese! Coming straight atcha from the Dark Ages with a very convenient constellation of letters to the English-language puzzle constructor.

  • 35D) Bubbly entrepreneur speaks of not speaking (4)
    MUMM (homophone)
Mumm | Napa
With that first letter capped off and isolated there in the puzzle, we thought the answer was "DUMM" instead of "MUMM" and that "Dumm" was probably a kind of champagne from some dumb French family. We don't know things about champagnes, except that some people like to get uptight about champagne-is-only-from-Champagne. We lacked this particular content knowledge, and therefore, did not like this clue.

Dear Readers new to this blog can know: "Lowlights" = "we didn't like it!" Yet another case in point of blanket statements about the universal nearly always a mask for the individual-personal. cf "Dads are like that" = "my dad is like that"

At last, we come to this month's tacky clue:

  • 11A) Old, like a tart? So they say! (5)
    (like a tart = WHOREY) * homophone = HOARY
"hoary" like "hoarfrost" like in Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

"whorey." Word? No. Not a word. "Should I wear this dress?" "It's kinda ... whorey ... " "Perfect!"

Also, Maltby, why you gotta bring in a word that casts a negative light on an active and variegated sex life? We say this, even though one of our favorite words is "slutty." Just the other month we were in the Bahamas hanging out with a fat black cat who was a total slut for affection. "C'mere, you fat slut," we said, and considered that eavesdroppers might think we were fat shaming, or slut shaming.

But no. We were fat loving. We were slut loving.

This clue reminds us of something we probably heard in a movie once: "in France, no whore is too old or too ugly." Which, like this clue, comes off as vaguely misogynist and sex-negative. Let's talk about the physical characteristics of the people seeking French prostitutes. What do you believe you are owed, French prostitute-seeking people of the world?
Gene Wilder
This image of GW was the fourth hit for us on a Googly image search of "french prostitute."
Dear 11A), we pronounce thee tacky and crude—moreso in the wordplay than in the reference, even.

Did you like? Did you laugh? Did you vehemently disagree? Leave a comment!

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