Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gremlins - March 2014

March 2014 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution
This puzzle was hard.

Granted, we're also in the middle of dealing with bed bugs. Longtime loyal Dear Readers will recall our travails with the weird smell (crack?) coming from the neighboring unit at our old building in early 2013. Since then, our streak of luck in love, but lack of luck in living situation, has continued. You can read about it on our blog, starting here.

Don't worry. This will end. Either the bed bugs will die, or we will die.

Bed Bugs on
But this puzzzzzzzzle, prolly even without bed bug distraction: hard. We finished a few days before the puzzle due date. The letter substitution really messed with us. Tooooo tricky! Keeping the transformation vector straight in our mind, uy. "Wait, do I enter with N transformed to R or R transformed to N ... wait ..." Ran though that line of doubt, like, every time.

Woulda helped tremendously if the transformed word were also necessarily a real word, á la ALPHABETICAL INSERTS. Nay. Twas not the case. Those gremlins.

Gizmo, canonical gremlin


  • 1A) They stop pair illegally? Yes and no! (8)
    PAIR => N became R => They stop pain illegally
    YES AND NO * anagram = ANODYNES
    ANODYNES => N becomes R => enter ANODYRES
MMmmm! We just like the word “anodyne.” But are they illegal? Huh. We think of them as clinical analgesic-style. Like: an anodyne is something Dr. House might grab from the nurses' closet. But not illegal per se.
Per Wise Tyler, “illegally” prolly indicates the anagram. Not, like, the illegality of anodynes. Ok MAKES SENSE
  • 17A) What boat poets took for salary, grain-like in sound! (6)
    BOAT => E became O => What beat poets took
    ((salary = PAY) + (grain-like = OATY)) * homophone = PEYOTE
    PEYOTE => E becomes O => enter POYOTE
Haha LOVE this one!
Cheech and Chong
Young Cheech, young Chong

  • 21A) Rapier tossed around hatch (6)
    HATCH => P became H => patch
    RAPIER * anagram = REPAIR
    REPAIR => P becomes H => enter REHAIR
Haha rehair! Love! Even if it's mere accident.
Just for Men
  • 23A) English first used traveling kit having a nap (5)
    KIT => D became T => kid having a nap
    ((English first = E) + USED) * anagram = SUEDE
    SUEDE => D becomes T => SEUTE
Enjoy this use of “nap.”
  • 26A) One who came to find pro quit as Goofy filling in for Big Bird (12)
    PRO => O became P => One who came to find oro
    (QUIT AS) * anagram + (Big Bird = CONDOR) = CONQUISTADOR
    CONQUISTADOR => O becomes P => enter CONQUISTADPR
  • 34A) Propositions in oath disturb mothers around Easter (8)
    (MOTHERS + (Easter = E)) * anagram = Propositions in math
    OATH => M became O => MATH
    THEOREMS => M becomes O => enter THEOREOS
Love this for the math. Love this for the entered result. THEOREOS
  • 5D) Child, cunning around cowboy at times, receives a million dollars (6)
    CUNNING => R became C => Child, running about
    (cowboy at times = ROPER) + (million = M) = ROMPER
    ROMER => R becomes C => ROMPEC
Yah two Rs with crosses, argh the ambiguity, but ignore it, because this clue is so fun! Mike Teevee | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Also, amused ourself by hoping that the transformation was MILLION dollars to BILLION dollars. What's cooler than a million dollars? Justin Timberlake knew.
  • 15D) Wake yourself from a position in a rumpled bed, one with Tom in it (8)
    WAKE => T became W => Take yourself from a position
    (A + BED + (one = I) + CAT) * anagram = ABDICATE
    ABDICATE => T becomes W => enter ABDICAWE
Nice. Not enough of the bigger anagrammas this month.
  • 24D) Trek in swamp let up—involved oxygen (6)
    TREK => E became K => Tree in swamp
    ((LET UP) + (oxygen = O)) * anagram = TUPELO
    TUPELO => E becomes K => enter TUPKLO
Van Morrison | Tupelo Honey


  • 14A) Pained, made something happen (12)
    PAINED => R became P => Rained
    made something happen = PRECIPITATED
    PRECIPITATED => R becomes P => enter PPECIPITATED
Booooo. Groan. Hisss!!! This clue pained us.
  • 19A) Moisten roast beet (5)
    BEET => A became E => beat
    Moisten roast = BASTE
    BASTE => A becomes E => enter BESTE
Buh. This was one of the very last ones we solved. And we didn't solve it, Sweet V did. UGH there was another crappy BEAT clue, too:
  • 29D) Gets a beat going in lines (4)
    BEAT => O became E => Gets a boat going
    ROWS => O becomes E => REWS
This was the very very last solve of the month for us. And we had to brute force it. Never a good sign.

We had RE-S in the fill. All but the uncrossed third letter. The clue does not have an R, which means that the R in the fill was secure. And the S was likely safe. There are two Ss in the clue. GET- can really only be GETS. LINE- can be a handful (LINED, LINEN, LINER, LINEY (liney?)). Decided that the E in the fill was still the most likely culprit for transformation. Wrote out REAS, REBS, RECS ... all through the alpherbet. Started at the end to rule out some of the easy exotic ones. REZS, no, you can't transform the E or the S to make anything. REYS, there's RAYS, that's not it. REXS, no. REWS and immediately saw ROWS.


Dolph Lundgren | Masters of the Universe | He-Man
PS, don' e'en needa' sayt, Dolph Lundgren as He-Man in Masters of the Universe is this month's Nerd Hot Guy.
  • 20A) Real boor has something to download, cry about (6)
    BOOR => P became B => Real poor
    (something to download = APP) + CRY = CRAPPY
    CRAPPY => P becomes B => enter CRABPY
Another one where both Ps cross, and it coulda been either. Mur mur mur.
  • 6D) A bit of silver gone? Si! (4)
    SI => O became I => So
    silvER GOne = ERGO
    ERGO => O becomes I => enter ERGI
Uh ok first of all it's “¡Si!” Second of all this clue is dopey. Wordspanners are usually dopey but this one was super dopey.
  • 28D) I memorize a sigh that stands for something (4)
    SIGH => N became H => sign that stands for something
    I (memorize = CON) = ICON
    ICON => N comes H => enter ICOH
“memorize” = “con”?
2. con - commit to memory; learn by heart; "Have you memorized your lines for the play yet?"

Gross. So obscure, so out-of-date, that it's not even used in its own drang example sentence.

The Tacky!

  • 33A) Heavy lead covering America (4)
    LEAD => O became E => Heavy load
    (covering = ON) + (America = US) = ONUS
    ONUS => O becomes E => ENUS
We had a Peruvian professor in college who really drove it home that the 'US' is the 'United States' and 'America' is a 'continental group', and ne'er should the two be confounded else she'd stop you mid-comment and make you correct yourself, halting your train of thought.

So: we're calling this clue tacky for reasons of USA imperialism. America is a continental group. Deal with it. What about “USA = 'Murka” mm, that's it's own thing. That one doesn't bother us.
USA is not America
  • 32A) US, e.g., rose the wrong way, made changing shape (8)
    MADE => L became D => male changing shape
    (US, e.g. = WE) + (rose the wrong way = FLOWER * reverse = REWOLF) = WEREWOLF
    WEREWOLF => L becomes D => WEREWODF
Male normative. Boo. And confounding subjective and objective. “us” and “we” are both pronouns yah well ... yah, well ... [waits for you to turn away] [quiet so you can't hear] boooo oooooooooooo ooo
Woman Werewolf

Also, look alive whilst doing the April puzzle, Dear Readers! From the Harper's site:
Correction to this month's puzzle: In 15D, the right-hand letter count was reversed; it should have read “(3,4).” We regret the error.
Correction to this month's puzzle: In 15D, the right-hand letter count was reversed; it should have read “(3,4).” We regret the error.

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