Monday, January 20, 2014

Cross-Purposes - January 2014

Mouseover for the Greek letters.

Welcome to 2014, Dear Readers! 14 is our lucky number, so we look forward to a Lucky Year. Because THAT'S how it works! Boom kaboom :)

To the puzzle!

Oh! There were some guh-ORGEOUS clues this month! Glorious. And, the puzzle included second favorite puzzle instruct of all time: “Any confusion you may feel will be explained by the entry at 31 Across.” Any confusion we may FEEL?


First favorite puzzle instruction of course and for all time is “included just for fun” from News Clippings in Septembre 2013. Just for fun! !! #puzzlefun

Special magic varietal dirty business this month: ten across clues (and their associated downs) include a transliterated Greek letter as one box's worth of fill. Which, if you're special, and magic, you entered it as the Greek letter and not the transliteration. And, if you have courage in your heart, you entered the Greek capitals and not the lower-cases even though several of them look like Roman capitals and to the untrained eye it might appear you misspelled your answers Some Greek capitals that look like Roman characters but with square jaw edged with integrity, and a steely eye of righteous nerd, you did it anyway. Because you are correct, and your correctness has set you free, and you don't give a fuck about anything. You are Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence not giving a fuck about anything, a free person
We used the more recognizable Greek lowercase letters above. We're more like Josh Hutcherson. Josh Hutcherson? He plays Peeta in The Hunger Games? No?

PS, Jennifer Lawrence is this month's Nerd Hot Guy. If you're hung up on gender, and it's important to you that a “guy” be a “guy” well, haha! Not important to us! In that regard we are, indeed, free.

Only wish that the puzzle title had some subtle nod to Greek/Greeks/Greece. Like maybe title it “TAU TE CHING.”

The Greek from The Wire season 2 | Bill Raymond
The Greek from The Wire Season 2, as played by Vermont's favorite theatrical son Bill Raymond


  • 13A) Can miso soup? Such things are unquestioned
    (Can = AX) + MISO * anagram = AXIOMS
Love this for the smoothness of the clueing. Unquestioned!
  • 18A) Chilling mouthful from police organization including an afterthought
    (POLICE + (afterthought = PS)) * anagram = POPSICLE
So sweet (like a popsicle). Sweet Vlad got this one :)
  • 25A) Going west, uranium comes into range—New Mexican?
    (range = OVEN) * reverse + (uranium = U) = NUEVO
Was certain this would involve UTES. Nu! It did not!
  • 27A) Every second of my first spy appointment gets recognition
    mY fIrst sPy aPpointment gEts rEcognition = YIPPEE
Thought this was YIPPIE because ... we were like, “oh, it's YIPPIE,” and wrote it in, because that's how we spell YIPPIE. All the time. Not just when we're thinking about Abbie Hoffman.

What's your favorite Abbie Hoffman prank? Ours is when he threw dollar bills on the New York Stock Exchange floor.
  • 41A) I hate that kind of square shoe!
    (I hate = BOO) + (kind of square = T) = BOOT
Delightful! We also hate square-toed, and square-lame, shoes. Square toed boots
  • 7D) A curious update about ten books may come from this
    A + (UPDATE + (ten = IO)) * anagram = AUDIOTAPE
Lovely lovely anagram! But “ten = IO”? Uhhhhhhhh no, ten = X. That is what ten equals. What you're gonna just treat "10" as a string, you're gonna just, like, pretend like it's just concatenated digits? Wut that's KRZY!!!
  • 4D) Beliefs are adjusted for one woman's magazine
    ((are adjusted for one = IS) + (woman's magazine = MS)) * anagram = ISMS
Love this. ARE ADJUSTED FOR ONE mmm!!!! Subject-verb number agreement reference!!! And nice to see Ms. as the woman's magazine as opposed to Glamour or US Weekly or something.
US Weekly - via LiarTownUSA
Via the amazing LiarTownUSA.

  • 37D) Jockey can—true horeman?
    CAN TRUE * anagram = CENTAUR
YUSSSSSSSSssssss centaur. Yes. And this: Centaur job interview (transcript) - SNL - Christophers Walken, Kattan, and Parnell
  • 32D) Drunken revels: they give you a lift
    REVELS * anagram = LEVERS
“Give me a lever and a place to stand! I will move the world, betches!” — Archimedes

In drunken-related news, how's sobriety going, thanks for asking, it's going well. Current struggle is with frustration-annoyance when we tell people--especially people who knew us in our Deep-Drinking Time, and especially-especially when those people have a fresh drink in hand ready to offer us--that we don't drink anymore, and the person says, “good for you!” And when every bar, every party, every family dinner, every tech meet-up, every event involving writers: it's like being Galadriel and Frodo offers you the One Ring. And you know exACTly how good it's going to taste, and you let the dark power grab hold of you, and even lie to yourself a little that this time it could be different. You could control it. You'd be the good queen. There's the ring! Right there you could just grab it!!!! But you come back to your right-mind, and you say no.

And then Frodo says, “good for you!”

Frodo offers Galadriel the One Ring
Or “healthy.” Like we just took a big shit. “Healthy choice.” Like going for a jog is a healthy choice, or switching to decaf, or eating Healthy Choice cereal. When really it's more like paying child support. You could choose /not/ to do it--plenty of people do! But eventually, you're going to end up in an institution where you don't want to be, broke, and with the people who love you crying. That is the other choice. So, kindof like cake or death, except in this example, cake means you don't get to drink.

But sobriety-proper is going well! We still drink in our dreams.
  • 14D) Versifier has no time for a versifier
    (Versifier = POET) - (time = T) = POE
Ahhhhh!!!!! One of the greats!!!! Love this.
  • 21D) Down inside fantastic rabbit hole—initially this is where cardinals clean up
    RABBIT HOLE * anagram = BIRDBATH
GLORIOUS anagram. We revel in the warm bath of these long anagrams.
  • 23D) Siege is mixed up with sex: this explanation is critical
    (SIEVE + SEX) * anagram = EXEGESIS
Another nice anagram! Sexy! Literate! Mmm! BEST sexy!


  • 36D) Capital just makes me more confused
    MORE * anagram = ROME
Murrr. Guh. Appreciate the very nice sentence'iness of the clue, but puh. Zsh. No MORE ROME anagrams. Sawdust.
  • 42D) Waiters do build men! What are the odds?
    Build men = BIDE
Can someone 'splain why number agreement is just, like, shat upon sometimes by the puzzle k thanks in advance. And after that wonderful 4D, too.

The Tacky!

Two in the gray area.
  • 10A) Sentimental art—university states it's the horny part!
    (Sentimental art = CORN) + (university = U) = CORNU

cor • nu

: a horn-shaped anatomical structure (as either of the lateral divisions of a bicornuate uterus, one of the lateral processes of the hyoid bone, or one of the gray columns of the spinal cord)

cor • nu • al (adjective)

Source: Merriam Dubs

Guess what? We hate the word horny. Love the feeling, hate the word. Worst word. Crass and tawdry. “horny” is for middle schoolers harassing each other about green MnMs.

Appreciate the clue's internal congruency about hot hot co-eds in heat, tho.
  • 28D) People hid from this deviant!
    PEOPLE HID * anagram = PEDOPHILE
Reminded of RADIO THE RAPISTS from February.

Whhhhhaaaat is with the sexual assault in our Harper's cryptic. S'like every month there's gotta be something from Harper's: Special Victims Unit

We know this isn't how puzzle construction works BUT, for the record, PEOPLE HID can also be rearranged to spell HOLED PIPE and ELOPED HIP. Two well-known English language phrases. So. There were options there. Folk pipe
Courtesy David Munrow.
Eloped hip!