Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ambiguities - January 2015

January 2015 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Heart skippo'ed a beat on this one.

Saw __LIN__OM_NIA in 1A and wha? Could that be something-something ROMANIA?? Could this be a reference to our Romanian Sweet Vlad (The Sweet One)?? Is this a cryptic message just for us???

Not quite.

18A and sister answers 28A and 37A reveal glorious long narrative palindromes:
  • 18A) Oh cameras are macho
  • 28A) Deb sat in Anita's bed
  • 37A) but Anita sat in a tub
Had ITA and IN A TUB in the fill for 37A for a long time and imagined references to FAJITA and later CARNITA. Carnita in a tub! Yum!
Palindromania | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues These are from JON AGEE's PALINDROMANIA. Very nice. Thus, this was not a message in the matrix for we and Sweet V ... or twas it???

While on topic, our personal all-time favorite palindromes:
  • lonely Tylenol
  • a butt tuba
  • taco cat
  • yo! banana boy!


  • 11A) Mad money assuming company has thrifty management (7)
    MONEY + (company = CO) * mad = ECONOMY
We jam econo.
We Jam Econo | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23A) What the Selective Service does for those making plans (8)
    What the Selective Service does = DRAFTS MEN = DRAFTSMEN
Nice. Had the D and M in the fill and toyed with DELETE MEN. Intense.
  • 33A) Exported Dutch tire announced (4)
    (tire = BORE) * homophone = BOER
Boer like Boer War. Four-letter Dutch export s'gotta be EDAM right? Did you get faked out at first glance like we did? Syke this time twas not so cheesy as that!!
Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues | Boer War
  • 40A) Registered trademark with earliest organized shopkeepers (9)
    ((Registered trademark = R) + EARLIEST) * anagram = RETAILERS
Put in ATTELIERS cuz we'd heard of it and we thought “Registered trademark” = T (misspelled ATELIERS) and it fit ... ish. Nicer this way of carse! Of carse, trouble spiraled out from this mis'entering (see 3D, below).
  • 41A) Fantasy creatures is described by Herb Klein initially (8)
    IS + (Herb = BASIL) + (Klein initially = K) = BASILISK
YESsss! Green deck forevar.
Basilisk | Green Deck | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) Look over little woman: rich and earthy (5)
    (Look = LO) + (little woman = AMY)
LO as in LOOK, HO! Little woman as in Little Women. Yuss.
Kirsten Dunst | Amy | Little Women | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Mutinous antielitist, taking the head off royalty, is found in space! (12)
    (ANTIELITIST + (head off royalty = R)) * anagram = INTERSTELLAR
We liked Interstellar. We were certain it'd get a shot at movie of the year. Mmmmm made a lot of money. Half a billion dollars money. Money wins Oscars, right? Not this time! Not even onda list. This year's Oscar noms generally just have us stumped. Like “wha? Why did they ... what is thi ... so much Birdman ... ?”
Insterstellar | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 5D) Some spirits turn out to be right, of course (4)
    (right = R) + (of course = YES) = RYES
Nice. Below: our all-time favorite moment from all of Parks and Recreation. In case it's not clear, in that last screenshot dear Ron Swanson is tearing, choked up.
Ron Swanson reads Robert Burns | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13D) Adventurous sounds played in an alley (4)
    (played in an alley = BOWLED) * homophone = BOLD
Walter and The Dude | The Big Lebowski | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 29D) Who is named by the leaders of Denmark, Yugoslavia, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Britain? Not a living soul!
    (leaders of (Denmark, Yugoslavia, Bangladesh, Brazil) = DYBB) + (Britain = UK) = DYBBUK
Yah! From Wikupiidiia:
In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk (Yiddish: from Hebrew adhere or cling) is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.


dybbuk | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30D) Play doctor with a lot of doctors (5)
    (doctor = DR) + (lot of doctors = AMA) = DRAMA
Hhahha doctors DO present quite a bitta drama! Enjoy the narrative possibilities of this one. “Hey baby. Wanna play doctor? I play with a lot of doctors.”

btw: salt 'n' pepa Cæsar cut Doug Ross is this month's Nerd Hot Guy. Notttt George Clooney. Dr Doug Ross.
Dr Doug Ross | George Clooney | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 36D) Something to be avoided in losing or taking on an element (4)
    taking on, an element = CARB
cuz if it took “ON” then it'd be CARBON, you carbon-based lifeform you knew that!! Shout out to holiday carbo loading!


  • 15A) Being close to a woman about to acquire a cape (12)
    TO + (woman = HER) + (acquire = GET) + (cape = NESS) = TOGETHERNESS
“Ness” is a cape?
ness (n.)
obsolete except in place names, Old English næs "a promontory," related to nasu "nose" (see nose (n.)). Cognate with Old Norse nes, Danish næs, Swedish näs, Middle Dutch nesse.

Source: Etymonline

Fresh way to get to Ness WE GUESS. Not mora dis:
Ness | Costner | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) Initiating it: a license to produce biased writing? (6)
    IT A LICense = ITALIC
Din't w'jus DO “italic = biased”? Like, recently? Googly search says no. Ok well. Ok.
  • 1D) Pacific telephone system follows quietly, each incorporating extra energy (9)
    (telephone system = CABLE) follows (quietly = P) + (each = EA) + (extra energy = E) = PEACEABLE
“telephone system = cable”? Mhurrrrrrrrrr.
  • 8D) Not quite ordinary opera (5)
    not quite (ordinary = NORMAL) = NORMA
Norma? What is?
ACT ONE: The action takes place in ancient Gaul, under Roman occupation, where the Druid priestess Norma has fallen in love with a Roman official named Pollione and has secretly borne him two children. Norma is also the daughter of the Druids' leader, Oroveso.

And later sounds like it gets RULLY good!

ACT TWO: So far, Norma has come across as an unpredictable and even dangerous woman. Now, we find her sounding vulnerable and filled with doubt — and with a knife in her hand.

Source: NPR

Hoped for a second this was a reference to Sally Field as brave and plucky union activist Norma Rae. We always mix Norma Rae up with tragic whistleblower and union activist Karen Silkwood.
Norma Rae | Karen Silkwood | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Also: jotted Turandot in our notes cuz: it's always Turandot.

The Tacky!

There were three we didna like this month! Ein zwei drei(sbach)!
  • 12A) Female writer's name, in the long run 
    (name = N) in the (long run = JOG) = JONG
Erica Jong | Fear of Flying | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues “long run” to preserve idiom but a jog is not a very long run per se. Generally connotes a short run.

“I took a jog this morning: two miles.”
“Good for you!”

“I took a jog this morning: 20 miles.”
“You bitch that is not a ‘jog’ that is a run.”
“It was at jog pace!”
“Like that matters. Twenny miles! Twenny miles!! ‘Jog’ ... sheesh ... ” [eats donut]

Wooot Erica Jong but buh, whysit gotta be female writer why not just writer you know like a real writer, unqualified, just that subtle shit that quietly rots female writers from the inside. Robble robble robble.

You wanna refer to Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues as the premier female comedic blog review of the Harper's cryptic?


probably. anyone else out there? holla!

The other Wednesday we had our first improv class at Second City. We expected Second City to be kindof dirty and gritty, like an old theater. Instead it's clean and expansive, like a new university student center, or Scientology headquarters* (*we imagine).

Anyway we arrived ten minutes early. And there was an earlier class in the room still wrapping up, but we figured, prolly ok to stand in the back and watch. But then the class teacher said in a very obnox way, “claaaaaaaasss hasn't started yet!” Which was a drag of a first impression to make on us.

We texted Sweet V about it: “He confirmed all those stereotypes you hear about men in comedy. Like how men in comedy are really chill, and funny.” And V texted back, “I've heard rumors that men can be funny, but never believed it could be true!”

This has prompted much extended trolling on the topic of Whether Men Can Be Funny, or Whether Men Are Capable of Being as Funny as Women.
“It's not sexism, it's a brain thing.”

“Seriously: men are biologically wired to hunt things, to punch things. They're warriors. Not comedians.”

“I'm sure you could name me plenty of exceptions. But the fact remains that most so-called male ‘comedians’ simply aren't funny.”
Soooooo satisfying to use the tactics of the oppressor. A little dangerous. We lose track of whether we're joking or not. We must be careful to use in moderation.

The second:
  • 14D) Sporting place whose hero shamelessly takes in university (10)
    (WHOSE HERO takes in (university = U)) * anagram = WHOREHOUSE
Great. What is sported, pray tell? Erections? Casts the phrase “sporting chance” in a new light.
  • 13A) Bishop washed out a significant continental address (5)
    (Bishop = B) + (washed out = WAN) + A = BWANA
Bwana | The Thing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Murr. Even if “bwana” is used extensively in a thought experiment by the telepathic gorilla in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, a book we love. Even if it's used in The Thing, a movie which we also love.

BWANA is just a slip-tip of the tongue away from MASSAH. See what we mean? Language of oppression. We didn't like it. Boo(ana).

Comment (yes).


  1. Erika, you're doing something right when a 63-year-old retreaded Afrikaner like me (a Boer with new tires) thinks your blog is the hippest thing on the web........Anyway, be advised that BOER and BORE are not homophones. Boer is pronounced more or less like TOUR.

    1. Hello Anton, and welcome to Tacky Harper's Nation!

      As to homophonia, we'll have to take it up with Brother Dan Asimov of the Harper's answer key, and his Dark Master Maltby Jr, who seem to think BOER and BORE are indeed pronounced the same. Witness:


    2. ... unless i'm missing another homophone in the clue ...