Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For Short - April 2013

Welcome back, Dear Readers! USA readers, hope you've put your taxes to bed and all's right with the world.

We've been hard at work on our web series BLOGJOB. Latest Director's Vlog below:
Episode 4 to come later this week. There was a delay, because we had a short-term dayjob. Our dayjob severely interfered with our BLOGJOB.

Watch, comment, share, twart. It only takes a second. It's so easy. Hit that Paypal button at right, show us you love us. Yussssss.

To the puzzle!

Tacky Harpers Cryptic Clues | April 2013
Wait first, some news: several Dear Readers were kind enough to alert the staff that Harper's has made the entirety of the puzzle archive available in an easily served up URL. Hot dang! Should you still require a reason to invest in a subscription, consider that requirement fulfilled:

At last, to the puzzle for real-real:

Theme answers, unclued and entered by inference, were all alternate names for the devil:

7D) BELIAL (had to look this one up)

Circled letters yielded a jumble for NICKNAMES, as in names for Old Nick. When we gave Finnegan's Wake a try in 2008, we latched on to references of "Mick vs Nick," aka the archangel Michael versus Satan. It was a slippery handhold in a maelstrom of a book. We got maybe 40%? 50% through? Then lost heart and read Infinite Jest instead. Different maelstrom. Much more satisfying.

Kindof strange and thrilling to delve into the black occult this puzzle.

open question: is there a relationship between Old Saint Nick and the devil?


  • 11A) Word for four years of George Bush (4)
    (double synonym) = TERM
Four letter word! George Bush! A little bit of baiting, here :) Our sister blog would not be amused. Our children is!
George W. Bush jokes didn't go anywhere. They're right here.

  • 12A) I was fired in just one war—Europe (9)
Daring. Glorious.
  • 16A) A welcome fish (3)
    A + (welcome = HI) = AHI
YES. Nice and neat. Like Maltby takes his scotch [we assume]. You're Neat
  • 18A) Swindlers left protected by Hells Angels, e.g. (7)
    (Hells Angels e.g. = BIKERS) + (left = L) = BILKERS
Makes us think of Sgt. Bilko. And Sons of Anarchy.
Sons of Anarchy
  • 22A) Pick top off (3)
    TOP * (off = anagram) = OPT
Mm! Another short sweet one. Simple, but so tight! Love.
  • 25A) Lionize artist in rehabilitation getting clean (13)
    LIONIZE ARTIST * (rehabilitation = anagram) = STERILIZATION
Another audacious exquisite anagram! Mwa! Just, lavish! Also, shout-out to our girl Lindsay L, headed to rehab again, putting a brave face on it on the Letterman show. Call it lip service if you like, but we know firsthand how hard it is for an addict to say, "I take responsibility for my actions." Solidarity, sister.
  • 26A) In sight of Cyclops, it might help if improper come-on captures Helen's heart (7)
    (COME ON + (Helen's heart = L)) * (improper = anagram) = MONOCLE
Elegant and fully committed reference to the Odyssey. John Goodman as the Cyclops
  • 36A) Loafer doesn't need this solace—he needs exercising (8)
    (SOLACE + HE) * (exercising = anagram) = SHOELACE
Loafer don't need this! YES
Girls wearing loafers
  • 42A) Criminal litigants, e.g., circumvent copper, making waves (13)
    (Criminal = anagram) * (LITIGANTS + EG + (copper = CU)) = GESTICULATING
Spectacular. A little bit of a gimme to grab the anagrind, but you know how we feel about these massive anagrams. We loves them.
  • 49A) Nuns are commanded! (7)
    ORDERED (double synonym)
Another nice sweet double syn. Mm.

Mildly related, the other month we were checking out Netflix for entertainment and Nude Nuns with Big Guns came up. "Ooh, that looks like a fun romp!" we thought. Campy exploitation like Machete we thought.
Nude Nuns Big Guns
O good grief no, it was awful. It hurt us to watch. It hurt us in our hearts. Granted, we are an especially sensitive and feeling person. For instance, talking about a Yelp review the other morning for Hassan at Andersonville Tech moved us to tears of happiness.

But this film. Best avoided. Go watch The Man with the Iron Fists instead. Or Kill Bill.
  • 1D) A squint at miss rubs the wrong way (10)
    AT MISS RUBS * (wrong way = anagram) = STRABISMUS
Had only vaguely heard of this affliction, but mm! Loved! Sweet like a strawberry. And nice narrative flow to the clue.
  • 14D) Victory—it extends into where the wizard is a famous agent (5)
    (Victory = V) + IT + (where the wizard is = OZ) = OVITZ
Mmm! Delightful. We love clues about wizards. Wish it coulda beena secret agent, like Valerie Plame or similar, but we'll take Michael O.
Michael Ovitz
  • 19D) List in wind (4)
    ROLL (double synonym)
Wind like "wind up the film in the cassette tape." Roll like "roll call! Ten hut!" Fantastic. Tight, taut, perfect. Nous en adorons.
  • 34D) For one who has come out, a bit of testosterone is a liability (4)
    (one who has come out = DEB) + (bit of testosterone = T) = DEBT
Didn't parse if this is a knowing wink directed to fellow travelers and some trans/genderqueer pride on display or just Fun with Homosexuality. Didn't matter. In either case, we love.

Can't quite shoehorn it into a lean narrative, but this clue hints at a general sensitivity to and awareness of Queer Orthodoxy which complements our own hypersensitivity to and awareness of Queer Orthodoxy. Once BLOGJOB is done, our next show is going to be EVERYBODY HATES BISEXUALS. Note that: BLOGJOB might not be done for a long long time. The title of the show that comes after will be EDITING TAKES FOR-FOCKING-EVER.


  • 13A) Organic compound, only spelled backwards (4)
    (only = LONE) * backwards = ENOL
Puzzle-ese! Boo. Enol you are evol. You make us feel anal. Enol
See how much you don't care about ENOL?

  • 15A) In botany, it covers cutting the second of this month (4)
    (this month = APRIL) - the second = ARIL
More puzzle-ese! Gross. Just as bad as ENOL. Just as bad! Aril
  • 28A) Sports fans' Mustangs? Right from start, initially, they're all blue (6)
    (Sports fans' Mustangs = SMU) + (Right from start) = SMURFS
Ew. Inferred this from the fill, then spent an absurd amount of time trying to figure out why. It seeeeeemed like there was a way to work it from the letters there in the clue but no, no no, no, you needed to know some specificity about sports. Southern Methodist University. Cool school, broh.
  • 50A) Second manuscript that is returned—you can find fault in this! (5)
    (Second = S) + ((manuscript = MS) + (that is = I E) * reverse) = SEISM
Seism? Like "seismic"? Is a word? This clue? Is a clue? That counts as a clue? Gross. We find fault in this.
  • 3D) Touching letters from supporter sick with envy (just a tad) (7)
    (supporter = BRA) + (sick = ILL) + (envy = E) = BRAILLE
We enjoyed "touching letters" as equivalent to Braille, but, grrr. Sick and tired of "supporter" for bra. When will "supporter" mean "codpiece"? CODPIECE!

Batman + Robin Batman + Robin codpiece Dougray Scott Great Scott!
And btw, Dougray Scott (above) is this month's Nerd Hot Guy. But since we brought in Val Kilmer as the Bat, honorable mention goes to the Kilm in Real Genius.
Val Kilmer in Real Genius
Can has eyeliner yussssssss!

  • 5D) Chestiest models—it's a matter of taste (9)
    CHESTIEST * (models = anagram) = ESTHETICS
Sigh. Another clue about boobies. That said, we adore this sketch starring the superb Olivia Munn:
  • 20D) A speaker's excessive—get it on for dancing (4)
    (excessive = TOO TOO) * homophone = TUTU
Meh. Too too simple.
  • 31D) My singers working together as a group? (9)
    MY SINGERS * (working = anagram) = SYNERGISM
O awful! The '80s are over! "Synergy" is no longer a thing! "Synergism" even less so! Why not go whole hog with "synergology" or "synergistics"? Why stop the bad train when it's already railroaded through Sensible Actual Word Junction???

[ ... actually looks up "synergism" on etymonline ... ]

Oh. Ok, it's a word.
synergism (n.)
1650s, "theological doctrine that human will cooperates with divine grace in regeneration," from Modern Latin synergismus, from Greek synergos "working together" (see synergy). Used in a broader (non-theological) sense by 1925.
  • 33D) River in South America and a river below it (4)
    (South America = SA) + A + (river = R) = SAAR
Hate when propers are tucked away in the fill's cul de sac like that. Saar? You hearda? Is beautiful, tho: Saar
  • 43D) Sow seen by yokels? (4)
    SEED (double synonym)
Didn't we just do the redneck "seen = seed" thing? Didn't we? No, jk, that was "ate = et". In January. Anyway. We're from Vermont. This isn't how rednecks talk, it's how other people think rednecks talk. Like how Foghorn Leghorn doesn't pronounce his Rs, because he's a Yankee's idea of how Southerners talk. Real Southernors say their Rs.

Disgracefully, native Georgian Julia Roberts gave in to such stereotypes in Steel Magnolias.

and the Tacky!

  • 35A) Young person died inside trunk (4)
    (Young person = BOY) + (died = D) = BODY
Gruesome. And male gender normative.

So: child murder. And sexism.

Boo, Maltby. Boo.

We were not saying Boo-urns.

Did you have a good time? Tell us in the c-c-c-comments!