Saturday, November 30, 2013

Foursomes - November 2013

Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues | November 2013
Hola hola hola, readers! Before we begin, it occurred to us recently that in all our years of writing this blog: there has not been even one single challenge to what we've deemed “tacky.” From Day One, we were girded and ready for accusations of “reading too much into things” or “o u femnizt what du know” ... but no! And while we hate to think silence implies consent (cf feminist) maybe in this case silence implies enthusiastic agreement?

Which is to say: this month's quote-unquote “tacky” clue is a stretch, Dear Readers! Tit's a stretch. Feel free to call it out. You'd be the first.

To the puzzle!

Theme title: foursomes. Sexy times. Four-way (radial) symmetry and clues grouped in unnumbered foursomes to keep it lively, but left-to-right text directionality in English meant placement wasn't ambiguous for too long, not like with News Clippings a la Septembre.

This was a fast solve. Return to form! Started in the evening, finished up in the morning. Barely any time to get help from Sweet V, who usually looks over our shoulder and lands at least one of the long answers. No, this time our solve was pretty much solo. Big Girl puzzle solving.


  • 2D) During move, ram platform to make the band too loud (7)
    mOVE RAM Platform = OVERAMP
Reminded of Ani Difranco's Living in Clip. Ani Difranco | Living in Clip We got rid of most of our physical CDs in 2009 in a Great Purge before leaving San Francisco and the Internet doesn't have record of the story we are about to relate (!), but in Living in Clip's liner notes there's an explanation of the eponymous phrase:
“clipping an amp”: “overloading an amplifier with a sonic signal that exceeds the machine's power capacity, resulting in a terrifying snapping sound and the illumination of a tiny red warning light on the face of the amp indicating that it is about to blow.”

“Man, the amps are, like, living in clip.*” - Ani's sound guy
(*paraphrasing — ed)
  • 1A) Jailbird rants and rages—not in these places, I hope!
    (Jailbird = CON) + (rants and rages = VENTS) = CONVENTS
Like as in, “I hope no convicts go to a convent and raise a stink; those nuns wouldn'a handle it”? Nuns are tough. They'd be fine. They'd offer the convict some tea, give the convict some toilets to clean and a bed to sleep in. Cool those rants right down. Only mildly related, we've appreciated imgur's general collective fandom for the new Pope. There'll be a cool jpeg of Pope Francis, maybe with some cool words he said recently written on top, like, “it's ok to be gay! What, me judge?” Pope Francis And then the title of the post and the first 50 comments will be, “as an atheist, I say the new Pope is dope.” The Hierarchy of 2013 Internet Love goes like:
  1. Pope Francis
  2. Neil deGrasse Tyson
and they keep toggling top spot. Speaking of which, obv, do we even need to say it, this month's Nerd Hot Guy:
 Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • 21A) Shy nuns, I fancy, like a nice day (8)
    SHY NUNS I * anagram = SUNSHINY
Thought this was SUNNYISH. Wups. Check it out, another nun clue! Nunsense. Nunsense
  • 33A) Granted, The Wire going in had one great shot (8)
    (wire = CORD) + going in (one great shot = ACED) = ACCORDED
Mention of The Wire, right there as the first clue in the puzz, caused us to lose our mind. Got this one only near to the very end of the solve. Golf reference is forgiven because The Wire. The Wire alignment chart
  • 9D) Incompetent has a try, then, starting to sag, butts out here (8)
    (HAS A TRY) * anagram + (starting to sag = S) = ASHTRAYS
Oh but(t) how we wanted it to be ASSHATRY. The butts are really out here tonight! Some real asshatry on display!
  • 23D) I'm found in an article describing the persona of a woman (5)
    IM + AN (article = A) = ANIMA
Herr Jung. Reminds us of a story: years ago, we went on a date via craigslist with a young man we'll refer to here as Unattractive Kenneth* (*name changed to protect the innocent). Our date was to walk around Golden Gate Park. Unattractive Kenneth said three deal-breaking things on this date. The first was that he felt indifferent about Barack Obama. Indifferent! This was November 2008, and we could not relate to indifference about Barack Obama. True love, seething frustration: these feelings we could relate to. Indifference? The second was that he found the Star Trek universe rich and robust, but the Star Wars universe thin and uninspired. Huwhutt? Why would you even ... who would even ... what? The last nail in the space coffin for ol' Unattractive Kenneth was when he said he really liked “uh-NEE-muh” and we asked what that was and he said, “you know, Japanese animation? Uh-NEE-muh? I'm really into it.” And we nearly yelled, “no you are NOT into it! This date is OVER!”

This story reflects more poorly on us than on Kenneth. We love telling it, though.

All the 12s were lovely:
  • 25A) One might make a case for the president after election (12)
    CABINETMAKER (double syn)
Barack Obama convenes!
  • 14A) Royalty you get from printer cable (two words) (12)
  • 7D) Substitute taking shot in soccer in two games at once (12)
    (Substitute = DOUBLE) + (shot in soccer = HEADER) = DOUBLE HEADER
  • Proud to find spelling of vous original (12)


  • 7A) The father of modern art?(4)
    DADA (double syn)
We just had a Dada clue in September. We're Da-done with Dada clues. Especially thin little gimmes like this one.
  • 13D) Small noisy joint? Hot dog! (6)
    (small = WEE) + (joint = KNEE) * homophone = WEENIE
Meh. Was sure this would be SPLIFF, somehow. Instead it's a little doggie weewee clue. Hot dog Oh, and while we're on it
  • 24A) Makes a sound on bended knees, perhaps? (5)
    KNEES * anagram = KEENS
which, first, it's another knee clue, and we are not exactly lapping them knee clues up. Second, those anagrams that are single-letter translations BOOOOOOO!!!! Jeremy's iron. Boo.
  • 15A) Carved gate in front of university city in South Korea (5)
    (GATE + (front of university = U)) * anagram = TAEGU
This is the uncommon proper alluded to in the puzz instructs. Meh. Here's Taegu, though. So pretty with the night and timelapse. Taegu
  • 16D) Young European in a line from Joseph to Ebenezer (6)
    josEPH + EBEnezer = EPHEBE
We had it in mind that EPHEBE and EPHEBIC related strictly to ancient Athenian homonormative behavior, like “Peloponnesian twink ca. 100 BC.” But no. Lo:
e • phebe [ih-feeb, ef-eeb]
a young man, especially an ephebus.

Origin: 1690–1700; < Latin ephebus < Greek éphebos, equivalent to ep- ep- + -hebos, derivative of hebe manhood

Prolly maybe we got confused because we first encountered the word while reading Proust. Oh, don't freak out, we didn't read much Proust. Just enough to read about “sweet beautiful ephebes” again and again and like, “ok, Marcy, put away the hankie. We've cracked your code.”

The Tacky!

Not really tacky just gross. But kinda fun gross, awakening our inner eight-year-old boy, like a gross bug, or Ren & Stimpy. And not even actually gross, mostly gross in our head. Anyway.
  • 27D) It's slathered on with love at the end of a month (4)
    (love = O) at the end of (month = MAY) = MAYO
Slathered mayo. Gross (cool). Mayo But we were certain, so extremely positively certain, with M--O already in the fill, that this was gonna be MONO, aka The Kissing Disease, aka Slathering with Love. And then it turned out to be MAYO so then it was like mayonnaise kisses slathered on and so gross you guys.

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