Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alphabetical Inserts - October 2013

October 2013 Harpers Cryptic answers | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Welcome back, Dear Readers. Welcome to fall. New school year, new Jewish year. Decay and rebirth. Right now in real time an excavator claws away at the busted up old lot, catty corner from this coffeeshop. The excavator reminds us: change is possible. If you are like us, and your feeling of rightness and possibility in the world is contingent on such things as dubious, arcane, and esoteric as your command of the Harper's cryptic, and you just don't see how that's gonna change, take heed the lesson of the excavator. We wish you could see what this excavator is doing right now. It's playing with the wood and other shite in the lot like a housecat plays with a mouse. Change.

To the puzzle!

What have we here, why it's Alphabetical Inserts. A favorite variety! And, because we love you, and because what is this blog for if not to give loving, exhaustive commentary on the sometimes-tacky Harper's cryptic, herewith is the entire list of inserts IN ALPHA ORDER do you feel the love? Do you feel it??! You do.

Highlit letters are inserts.

(A) 12A) Public relations law—editor saw it coming (10)
(Public relations = PR) + (law = EDICT) + (editor = ED) = PREDICATED

(B) 54A) Draw out of state meal (10)
Stablemate reminds us of “helpmeet” as a definition for “wife.” Helpmeet!

(C) 10D) Dumb-ass and idiot plus! (9)
Reminds us of this incredible scene, starring Kurtwood Smith. Check out his IMDB page. He works all the time!

(D) 47A) Ramble on like a Republican strategist (5)
Ramble = DROVE (double syn.)
Nice. Rove as in Karl. And, of course, this clue is fodder for our sister blog, BleedingHeartLiberalHarpersCrypticClues.blogspot.com.

(E) 11A) Mother finds bananas upsetting (4)
bananas = MAD * anagram = EDAM
Amended per Dear Reader Jordan: (bananas = MAD) * reverse = DAM
DAM like as in sheep mama.

(F) Roe, perhaps, comes with honey, as they say (5)
Roe = honey * homonym = DEFER

(G) 43A) Something in a vein or the right end of ventricle (4)
OR + (right end of ventricle = E) = OGRE
Cute spoofing us there with the cardioid references.

(H) 34A) Almost cried when shown back bench (4)
(cried = WEPT) * almost * reverse = PHEW

(I) 41D) What has United States of America? Furniture! (5)
stateS OF America = SOFIA
(amended rationale also per J-dan)

(J) 53A) Suffered, cutting the head off fish (4)
(fish = SHAD) - head = HADJ
A theme like this one, always gonna be, “where the J? Where the Z? Where the big money Scrabbo tiles at?” Cuz those will be the gimmes or disappointments. This was one of the dissatisfying theme answers, with the J tucked away in the cul de sac. Why not tuck away ALL the unusual letters and have yourself an alphabetical insert party with whatever clues you want Maltby just do that. Also, shad is the bad puzzle fish. Bad, but not the worst. That's you, COHO.

(K) There's one r in chemistry degree, and other mistakes (6)
ONE + R + (chemistry degree = BS) = BONKERS

(L) Lady in England yields to census (9)
We originally thought this involved some torturous reasoning of “yields => ESS” but and so woops. Nice neat anagrama. Bama.

(M) 1A) Sound are you? I state “bankruptcy” (10)
((sound = homophone) * are you = R U) + I + (state = NATION) = RUMINATION

(N) 16D) Be really bad—inhale (5)
SNUCK (double syn)

(O) 26D) ... staff of gold is elevated (4)
(of gold = d'or = DOR) * reverse = ROOD
Rude. Haha.

(P) 38A) The Return of Jack Fink (4)
(Jack = sailor = TAR) * reverse = RAPT
More sailor slang. Always with the sailor slang.

(Q) 13A) First person going last: a sticky thing for game inventor (6)
(a sticky thing = ATAR*) + I = QATARI
*Um. We're pretty sure you meant ATTAR, Maltby, because ATTAR is a sticky glue, and ATAR is the Zorastrian concept of holy fire, which is possibly metaphorically sticky (“Oy there mate! See you're burnin' up in 'oly fire! Quite a sticky wicket now i'n't it?”).

A + (sticky thing = TAR) + I = QATARI
Thanks to Dear Reader Eric for spotting my flawed logic above. Knee-jerk ATTAR reaction. Happens.

(R) 24D) For the record, if church is displaced by royal arrival, ... (9)
(church = CH) + ARRIVAL - (displaced royal = R) = ARCHRIVAL
Way to slip out the R, then slip it back in.

(S) 46D) Mate on the street turns up for the Queen's Ball (4)
(Mate on the street = BRO) * reverse = SORB
Haha like Kevin Sorbo (we wish).
Kevin Sorbo
What the crud is a “sorb”?
Definition of SORB: to take up and hold by either adsorption or absorption

(from Merriam W)


(T) This is the tacky one, so, see below.

(U) 21A) Cardinal delivered a Bible passage for auditors ... (4)
read * homophone = RUED “auditors” like ... auditory? For real?

(V) Flip part of shoe, not with the center taken out (9)
(part of shoe = INSOLE) + (NOT - center = NT) = INSOLVENT
Ooh this was a nice one. Hooray!

(W) 52A) Odd characters not necessary to witness electees (4)
wItNeSs = WINS
OoooOOoOoooh this is a sweet one. The alphabetically inserted letter is congruent to the clue oh so very sweet. So satisfying, Maltby.

But on the other hand, also annoying as fack, because the W is stuck in the puzzle's cul de sac, with sooooo many possibilities for insert. GINS. FINS. MINS. PINS. TINS. What a drag to have to infer it only at the very end of the solve.

(X) 19A) Denied becoming sure (7)
DENIED * anagram = INDEXED

(Y) 46D) I'm not quite objective: Indians live there (4)
(objective = GOAL) * not quite = GOYA
Thanks again to Dear Reader Eric L for the alley-oop on this one. We owe you, brother.

(Z) Church events—we got a bill for them here, so they say (6)
(we got a bill for them = RIGHTS) * homophone = RITZES
There's that Z! Ritz Carlton This clue is proper upon insert. Ritz Hotels. Ritz© crackers. So is Goya. So is Edam. So is Sofia the city, Sofia the woman, and Sofia the Hagia. So is Qatari. What the crud, Maltby? The puzzle instructions say
Clue answers include eight proper nous, two of which remain proper nouns when the extra letter is inserted. One clue answer becomes a proper noun with the insert.
Getting sloppy with these instructs.

( ... research ... )

Ok so “RITZES” is an acceptable Scrabbo word. This isn't saying much, because Scrabbo is loose and easy with what it'll accept as a word. Take ZA for instance. ZA. An acceptable Scrabbo word. Meaning PIZZA. What you feel right now is the feeling of Scrabbo like pants that drape around your legs like flags. Loose!

But that same looseness that the squares resent makes the game a better game. So if Scrabbo accepts RITZES as a non-proper, so shall we. But we're still counting four propers after insert. [we turn our head and growl to the East, where Maltby sips a double malt and thinks about golf. He coughs on the scotch as his mitichondria sense a disturbance in the Force]

And, of what remains (GEEZE is there anything left?)


  • 15A) Mid-size elements included in fat monitor, e.g. (6)
    (Mid-size = IZ) + (fat = LARD) = LIZARD
  • 4D) Get up with one in the rear? (5)
    (rear = ARSE) + (one = I) = ARISE
  • For example, delay, deny or decry a big of poetry (4)
DELAY DENY and DECRY each being examples of the metrical foot IAMB. In our notes on this puzzle next to this clue we wrote, “you motherfucker!!!!” This clue is devilishly good. Wonderful.


  • 31A) One seabird, or a number of them, migrating west (4)
    (number of seabirds = AUKS) * reverse = SKUA
  • 36A) Bad element that helps make zircon a zircon (4)
    zircoN A ZIrcon = NAZI
Goooooooood grief! No other medial Zs you could work in there, Maltby? No MAZE or JAZZ or HAZY? We know this isn't what “Orwellian double-speak” means but “Bad element” as synonym for NAZI comes across as severe Orwellian double-speak. Or like smirking understatement.
  • 45A) Yogurt drink, almost enough for a dog (5)
    (dog = LASSIE) * almost enough = LASSI
It's a stretch. Minimal payoff.
  • 9D) Producer of musical works, considerably over-directed (5)
    oVERDIrected = VERDI
“considerably” is the indicator on a word-spanner? Mmmmm ...
  • Big Bird once? Sounds like just what an orphan wants! (3)
    (what an orphan wants = MORE * Oliver Twist's cockney = big bird once = MOA
Ha ha what if the answer were “love” and “dignity” what if the answer were “social and financial support” what if the answer were that, guys. Moa

The Tacky!

(T) 5D) What's brewing in stripteases? (4)
stripTEAses = TEAT

When the answer was just TEA this was a charming clue, but with the variety addition of T to TEAT, next to striptease, we're calling it tacky. This clue says to us all, “hey, look at that stripper's tits!”

“Well but so, BONER is in the puzzle. So,” and yeah. Sure. We'd maybe kindof buy that logic if it were a clue like
  • Embarrassing thing to have in music class: inner trombone rash (5)
because in that case YES. We would be INTO it. That would be congruent with TEAT as used here.

Once again, we remind Richard E. Maltby Jr. and the puzzling community at large that were we called upon to write ribald Harper's clues that reference male anatomy as frequently as this puzzle references female anatomy, we would step forth with the greatest flourish, the most tireless and courageous spirit, the cleverest clues.

Say the word, Dick.

Hey there, lurker. Lookin' so fine. You're not gonna just walk away without a word, are you? Leave a comment, beautiful.


  1. Not sure I buy/follow the COUNTESS explanation, but I don't see a better one.

  2. o yah woops it's an anagram. Amended! Haha the WHENCE THE TORTURED REASONING NOW (points to self)

  3. Love this blog so hard but what's a discussion about crosswords without a few pedantic corrections:

    13A) I think Maltby was going for "a sticky thing" = A + TAR, not ATAR/ATTAR.

    46D) GOA = (objective = GOAL) - (L, not quite)

  4. Thank you for the love, brother! All pedantry is wanted and needed here. This is a Safe Space.

    Your stories check out. Duly changed up top!

  5. Wouldn't the bleeding heart liberal cryptic clues be found in The Nation?

    1. Yah, prolly. Hey everyone: you checked out The Nation's cryptic blog recently? Do yourselves a favor and clicky linky:

  6. Since this is a safe space, a couple more pedantic corrections from a fan of the blog (and quite a tardy solver, this semester):

    I'm pretty sure Maltby (and other setters) are strict about not clueing anagrams second-hand. So when he clues "MAD" with "bananas" (E, 11A), the word 'upsetting' doesn't mean to anagram them, but to reverse them. General rule of thumb: any anagrammed letters must appear right there in the clue.

    Even more pedantically, for 41D (I), the word "United" is extra if you take "States" as S and "America" as A. Instead, I think this is better read as a hidden clue: "What has united [the words] stateS OF America?"


    1. Hola, Jordan, and welcome to the small and hardy band of TackyHarpersCrypticClues.com commenters :)

      Yah, you're totally right on these logicks. Amended!

  7. Where Malty sips a dual malt and reasons about golf. He coughs on the halt as his mitochondria intelligence a trouble in the Power. Thanks for sharing this site: Aminoguanidine Bicarbonate Manufacturer


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