Friday, November 14, 2014

Honorable Mention - November 2014

November 2014 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Mmm, the quality of clues this month: extraordinary. Just exquisite! So many approaching that highest ideal: natural language, telling a human story, lacking in obvious (gimme) indicators. Smooth and cool, like a ball bearing, or the sphere in the movie Sphere.
Sphere | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Theme

All I want is a room somewhere. Farraway from the cold night air. With one enormous chair. O wouldn't it be loverly. How much of the musical My Fair Lady do we remember from 7th grade, you ask? Please do go on singing in a nasally Cockney, you ask?
Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Ten answers missing their starting “H.” Just like how they'd be pronounced by Eliza Doolittle before the the brave Enry Iggins teaches her code switching. And then the unclueds at 36A, 17A, and 25A are HERTFORD, HEREFORD, and HAMPSHIRE: three keywords from the linguistic torture porn sections of My Fair Lady.

If you don't know this play, we feel bad for you, son. Ninety-nine problems. Not being able to solve the November 2014 Harper's cryptic is one.

As tis, even those of us now annoying Sweet V with showtunes while he's minding his own business reading the new William Gibson, yes even we lucky ones still got messed up on this knowledge content-based theme. Thought it was HARTFORD. Even believed we confirmed on Googlo that it's HARTFORD. Yah, woops. HERTFORD. Eat your hert out. Dear Reader Eric, that's where we thought the error was.

For-sure error in the footer, tho. Shoulda said “November.” Look, there! The error! BEHOLT!!
Wrong date in footer | November 2014 | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 18A) Mercury or Saturn—that's a bit of a tautaology (4)
    bit of tAUTOlogy = AUTO
Ahhhh!! Like-a-the cars! Nice. Perhaps you read this clue as we did, amused, saying, “but they have ENTIRELY different purview it's couldn't POSSIBLY be a tautology OOOH Maltby, you've done it again!!”
  • 20A) Englishman's back to swinging both ways, as entrée to Italians (7)
    ((Englishman's = SIR) * back = RIS) + (TO * swinging both ways = OTTO) = RISOTTO
Those British men! Swinging about!!
Quentin Crisp | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Your grandma Quentin Crisp is this month's Nerd Hot Guy
  • 22A) I get seated uncomfortably for pictures (7)
    I SEATED * anagram = IDEATES
Mwa! Lovely! Smooth storytelling. Could be a line from an EB White memoir, right?
  • 34A) Engineer helps aid constructions contributing to touchdowns (7)
    HELPS AID * anagram = HELIPADS
Helipads!! So fun!! Let's name helipads in cinema ok we'll start! The helipad in Jurassic Park. Ok your turn.
Helipad | Jurassic Park | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 35A) Wheels that make you mad, mad, covering the full gamut? (5) MAD + (full gamut = A [to] Z) = MAZDA
Appreciate the two uses of “mad.” Would we have been surprised had both “mad”s been used the same way? We would not've. But then this clue would be moved to the Lowlights section.
  • 1D) The man needs a lush, all-encompassing, quiet, Southern subset of doctors (12)
    (The man = HE) + A + (lush = DRINKER) + (quiet = SH) + (Southern = S) = HEADSHRINKERS
Nice. Old school language (fresh language). Makes up for the length of the clue.
Beetlejuice | shrunken head | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 4D) Going off to flashy places where farmers get high? (7)
    TO FLASHY * anagram = HAYLOFTS
Nice surprising anagram! Farmers get high! Perhaps on online dates?



  • 12A) Unconventional theorist? Hm? Nearest thing to it! (9)
Pffffffffffffffft. Meh. It's ok. Still a lowlight, but ok. Tellya what if they'd tried to pull off THITHERER tho. Well. Then we'd feel the special delight we feel every time we get worked up about the Harper's cryptic. Oooh!! Get that pulse racing!
  • 14A) Pauses, managing a rescue (7)
    A RESCUE * anagram = CESURAE
Never hearda. Booo. We hate learning. Thought it would lead with CAE- but like it'd be one of those words where if you were feeling fancy you'd do some ligature like CÆ. But naw no ligature. Cese and desist.
  • 32A) Narrated story that gives the Chinese weight (4)
    (story = TALE) * (narrated = homophone) = TAEL
BUh have we mentioned that we hate learning ok actually we love learning, actually we're bashful not to know more about Chinese weights and measures. But TALE to TAEL? Single letter translation? Woof. Yah we know it's not an anagram. But, like, when the homophone is so close orthographically then it's like moooooooooo (moo-urns).
Five tael | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 37A) Long-tailed cats, ones riddled with mysteries, so they say (8)
Sphynx cat | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Another really dum homophone. Dumophone. Yah so the puzzle instructs call this one out as “unusual” and if you're like us, then you shrug and say, “wha like the one Oedipus defeats? The answer to the riddle is man! The answer to the clue is not so unusual!” Why the homophone indicator this be a synonym yo! Yeah but and so with a “Y” it's a real-life breed. oO
Breed Standards

Wedge-shaped heads with prominent cheekbones
[ blah blah —ed ]
Whiplike, tapering tail from body to tip, sometimes with a puff of fur on the tip, like a lion

Source: Wikipedia

  • 38A) Start with hello, right? The heart of Nelson Eddy does this (6)
    (Start with = W) + (hello = HI) + (right = R) + (heart of Nelson = LS) = WHIRLS
Exhausting. Convinced ourself it was SWIRLS for a long time.
  • 5D) Alcoholic content of party: a furtive sip (5)
    (party = DO) + SIP = DIPSO
A party is a “do”? Fine. Dipso?? Was sure it was TIPSY longtime.
dipsomaniac (n.) Look up dipsomaniac at "drunkard," 1858, from dipsomania; slang shortening dipso is from 1880.

Source: Etymonline

  • 6D) Irregular who art where the vattles are ... (5, two words)
    WHO ART * anagram = HOT WAR
As opposed to ... a cold? war? Umunununun. If [x][y] esists, then [-x][y] exists? No. You've heard of cornrows; therefore, corncolumns. You've heard of dreadlocks; therefore, dreadopens. We could keep going. You've heard of right to die; therefore, left to die.

You know where Wikipedia redirects “hot war”? To “war.” Yah.

Theme necessitated not breaking down how many letters per word lest the jig be up. But then, doesn't this sort of elephant-in-the-room cluing exactly raise the jig? Look up, see it? The jig? There's an elephant on it?

The Tacky!

Yah so even though truly we loved the clues this month overall, there were a whoppin THREE we call “tacky.”
  • 13A) Two acts and he's a goner (4)
    (acts = DO) * two = DODO
He's a goner. This one made us sad. For the Earth.
Grumpy Dodo | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28A) One of three South American flowers planted inside. One grows ... (5)
    One grows = NEGRO
Yah so. Just, doe'n't feel comfortable writing that. It's just the Spanish word for “black.” What's the bigs? Yah. We feel you. But if you're inviting us to alienate ourself from our emotional instincts ... good luck. Five years ago, two years ago, woulda been much easier. This year, you would have a rough go of it. Not gonna alienate ourself from our feels. And the feels? They're bad and weird, even contextualized by Latin America.
Pizarro | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) Touring East, dancing role exhausts people who do it religiously! (12)
    (East = E) + ROLE EXHAUSTS * anagram = HETEROSEXUALS
Longtime readers knew we were gonna call this one out. What religion? What orthodoxy? The religions and orthodoxies so pervasive they need not be named.

Maltby has clearly never heard of the OTO, and eleventh level ritual buttsex.

This clue, it's like: why not “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”? Why tremble at the precipice? Just go for it. Name the infidels, the unclean, those whose way of love profanes the Creator and Creation. Say it. Queers are going to hell. Say it.

Tell it to the sisters.
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Know and love.

Yah we're a little punchy this month. Ya.

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