Sunday, June 14, 2015

Diametricode - June 2015

June 2015 | Diametricode | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Earlier today on Twitter we read through the feed of an acquaintance upon whom we had (read: have) a bit of a crush, and who is also a self-identified social justice warrior. And despite said crush, her tweets mostly had us feeling exhausted and annoyed, thinking thinks like “PC Policing” and “shrill.”

Then we hopped over here to write Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues, a blog where *we* are the self-appointed PC Police. Then we LAUGHED at our own expense.

Laughing harder now: but if not for this blog, who will hold the puzzle accountable for references to rape and child murder? When the puzzle says that gay men can't be butch, who will step forward and say, “are you crazy??” When Ruth Bader Ginsburg's name is misspelled, who will say, “what!? That's so bad!!”

It is we! The shining sword in the dark night of the Internet!! Carefully curating our list of clues that equate a hymen with chastity!!

We may take heart, Dear Readers. This blog will likely self-destruct should we ever become truly shrill and unfun. We're literally only writing this blog to have fun.

To the Theme!

Another code! Not so despair-inducing as The Playfair Square tho. The hot 26 of the Roman alphabet arranged in pairs around the perimeter such that a line drawn to connect a pair crosses the puzzle's center dot, thus forming a swapperoo code*. Ten clues in italics with answers entered in using the swapperoo code.
* technical term

As is polite, the italics clues were generally “fine.” Not too hard, not too easy. PTSD from Playfair nonwithstanding, a fast straight-ahead solve.


  • 8A) In West African religion, be a sweet thing (6)
    (West African religion = JUJU) + BE = JUJUBE
Contrary to common belief, Vodun [aka Voodoo —ed] is not related to juju, despite the linguistic and spiritual similarities. Juju has acquired some karmic attributes in more recent times: good juju can stem from almost any good deed; bad juju can be spread just as easily.

Source: Wikipedia

Sweet V recently asserted that it's “joo-JOOB.” Emma says JOO-joob. Wikipedia says either pronunciation is fine for the candy but the fruit ends in b-like-in-cab. Learnings.
Elaine | Jujyfruit | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 14A) Holds up on nonsense, otherwise turns back (4)
    ((nonsense = BS) + (otherwise = OR)) * reverse = ROBS
“nonsense” = “BS” was a fun surprise. Entered in the puzzle AETF
  • 17A) Flowers one grows (6)
    (one = I) + (grows = RISES) = IRISES
So nice and natural! We love irises. Delicate flowers with rich colors that fall apart if you touch them. Our favorite! A friend who likes robust powerful flowers that “you can hit things with, like a baton” suggested that our flower preferences said something about who we are as lovers, and people. Then we both got quiet and changed the subject.
  • 20A) The Reb yields openers because of that (7)
    (THE REB + (yields openers = Y)) * anagram = THEREBY
    tHE REB Yields = THEREBY
No clear anagram indicator? Forgiven! Love this anagram! Wonderful!
Wups yah so per Wise Tyler, this is no anagram, it's a hidden clue/word spanner. We saw what we wanted to see (anagrams everywhar). Entered in code as BIOAOTG
  • 24A) One can take her cue from cheat (6)
    HER CUE * anagram = EUCHRE
Here's a nice blog post about cheating in Euchre. We automatically love any reference to Euchre because our Michigander aunts and uncles taught it to us, and it reminds us of a happier time when our maternal family got along. But we are hard-pressed to find citation for Euchre as synonymous with “cheat.”
  • 28A) Streak, running around Olympian, perhaps (6)
    STREAK * anagram = SKATER
Apolo Anton Ohno | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Apolo Anton Ohno is this month's Nerd Hot Guy

  • 29A) Latin into bongo playing is hardly square (6)
    ((Latin = L) + BONGO) * anagram = OBLONG
Nice! Reminded of drummer Pablo from Steppenwolf. Shout out to Notorious Marcel who read it recently! We got it for him as a gift and insisted he read it right away!

Our memory from when we read Steppenwolf in 2009 proved faulty, and Pablo is a saxophonist, not a drummer. Wups. So we now present you with a photo of Jerry Edmonton, one of the drummers from Steppenwolf:
Jerry Edmonton | drummer from Steppenwolf | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“oblong” reminds us of Bob Loblaw's Law Blog:
Headline: Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb! | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 37A) Swiss city old fart comes from (7)
    OLD FART * anagram = ALTDORF
Buh, content knowledge. But farts! Farts in the puzzle! “Sure but idiomatically not fart qua far”— we don't care! Fart fart fart! Haha! Entered upon encoding as RNBKEAS
Altdorf, Switzerland | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 38A) Country once linking Namibia, France (6)
    Namibia France = BIAFRA
Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra (the Atlantic bay to its south).


After the federal and eastern governments failed to reconcile, on 26 May the Eastern region voted to secede from Nigeria. On 30 May, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eastern Region's military governor, announced the Republic of Biafra, citing the Easterners killed in the post-coup violence. The large amount of oil in the region created conflict, as oil was a major component of the Nigerian economy. The Eastern region was very ill equipped for war, out-manned, and out-gunned by the military of the remainder of Nigeria.


Here's Jello Biafra looking lovely. Wikipedia tells us he indeed took his name from this same short-lived state.
Jello Biafra | Nobody knows I'm a lesbian | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 45A) Small pale-colored bird (4)
    (Small = S) + (pale-colored = WAN) = SWAN
VERY nice! Smooth natchrul languaged. Delight. Entered after encoding as FQRL
  • 46A) Caveat on Alaskan houses having no key (6)
    Caveat on Alaskan = ATONAL
Nice spanner!
  • 2D) Cracked back in crazy stunt (5)
    crazy stunt * reverse = NUTSY
You wanna get nutsy? Let's get nutsy!!! C'MONG!!!! #keaton
  • 5D) Was a revolver involved in tragedy (7)
    TRAGEDY * anagram = GYRATED
Excellent anagrama!
“[Michelle] is the best Hula-Hooper I know. Once she gets the rhythm going, she can drop to her knees!”
—President Barack Obama

Source: Pepple

Michelle Obama | hula hoop | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Go down, up on horse—that's quite a turnover! (5)
    ((Go down = SINK) * (up on = reverse)) + (horse = H) = KNISH
Nice! Nostalgic now for when we lived in New York near a great deli.
noodle kugel | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) Cash exchanged, boxing ring mess (5)
    (CASH * anagram) boxing (ring = O) = CHAOS
Originally had this marked as a Lowlight. Why did you mark it thus, Past Erica? Present Erica loves it! Got hung up on the reasoning looking for a “chaos / KOs” homophone.
  • 11D) Man playing in factory (5)
Peaches! They come in a can!
They were put there by a man
In a factory downtown!
Peaches | The Presidents of the United States of America | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 27D) “Running Amok Around Outskirts of Barrio”—big report! (6)
    (AMOK + (Outskirts of Barrio = BO)) * anagram = KABOOM
Much enjoy this usage of “report.” The report is: everything is on fire!!
  • 28D) Weird wicked fakery (6)
    FAKERY * anagram = FREAKY
Sweet V played this song for us early on in our love affair:

  • 31D) Wound, kill, die (6)
    (kill = OFF) + (die = END) = OFFEND
So nice and neat and tite!!
  • 33D) Spacy kid, with no passport, traveling—he comes with a lot of baggage (6)
    SPACY KID with no (passport = ID) * anagram = SKYCAP
This was the favorite of the entire puzz. Thought for a bit it might be a reference to childhood favorite game Commander Keen. Or perhaps Fantastic Max! Or perhaps Le Petit Prince, a work of art against which we harbor unnecessary disdain only because we perceive most young women who have Petit Prince prints in their homes as shallow. But really it was just that one woman, one time, in 2002. She ruined it for us! Well now it's 2015. Time to move on. Here's le Petit Prince. So pretty in print!
Le Petit Prince | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34D) Ceremony providing big rock presentation (6)
    (Ceremony = MASS) + (providing = IF) = MASSIF
Big rock presentation. Erica and Vlad getting married | August 2015 | Vermont
  • 36D) You can't start Disney turning fugitive (6)
    ((You can't start = OU) + (Disney = WALT)) * anagram = OUTLAW
Very nice! Tried several ISNEY-based anagrams first.
Disney's The Littlest Outlaw | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


  • 12A) Kind of wine, no year, send back—far out! (6)
    ((Kind of wine = RED) + NO + (year = Y)) * reverse = YONDER
More like YAWN-der haha. Ugh, so sick of “red = wine” equivalency!
  • 15A) A red X put in plastic jar (5)
    (X = 10 = IO) put in JAR = RIOJA
No, gross, bad, do not like. “X = IO” booooooo. And “red = wine” also, no, as we established just moments ago.
drinking red wine | Paul Giamatti | Thomas Haden Church | Sideways | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 19A) Saying: Of course, it's, like, mailed (6)
    (like = AS) + (mailed = SENT) = ASSENT
“like” and “as” in the simile sense. Buh, fake out with the homophone indicator. Got hung up thinking it was ASCENT, somehow. Forgot the word ASSENT exists.
  • 22A) Hundred hits into replayed video with vocals (6)
    ((Hundred = C) hits into VIDEO) * anagram = VOICED
  • 47A) Put vegetable back in can (3)
    back in (can = MAY) = YAM
yam | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

You've heard our thoughts on can/may equivalency before. So. “can” and “may” are not the same. But then also, and we insist that this is not a contradiction of previous, it is very annoying when someone says, “I dunno, can you?” and you're like OMG where is the bathroom you tedious alleycat!! Nobody cares about your unrelentingly precise command of English usage!!!

More wedding/Romanian romance talk (your favorite talk) on a gratuitous tangential note regarding can-may ability-action wish-will equivalencies: in Romanian, the way to ask someone to marry you is
vrei să fii soțul meu? / vrei să fii soția mea?
meaning "do you want to be my husband? / do you want to be my wife?" But in English, the stronger statement is
will you be my husband? / will you be my wife?
The implication to our ear is that in English, there's a potential gap between will and action.
“Do you want to marry me?”
“Sure I want to but [some bullshit could get in the way].”
In Romanian, if you want to get married then it's going to happen. Will and action are equivalent. So cool!

Certainly it's difficult (impossible?) to separate language and culture. For the purposes of this section we're pretending to believe in effects of language alone, independent of culture.
  • 48A) Ice cap melting—it produces heaving (6)
    ICE CAP * anagram = IPECAC
'Sup, ipecac. So oft ye be in our puzzle. Meh.
syrup ipecac | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 1D) Status follower holding art book (6)
    (Status follower = QUO) holding ART = QUARTO
Our dad has a book called Secrets of the Jeopardy! Champions. It's a rather handy primer on frequent Jeopardy! topics like Shakespeare, plant life, booze. The chapter on Shakespeare lists the “quartos” and “folios” in the Real Ultimate List of All Shakespeare Works. We remember reading that when we were little like, ”whatda hecka 'quarto' …” Surely we would learn in school.
Secrets of the Jeopardy! Champions | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
And then twenty years of life happened. And now we're here, with access to the world's information. Tell us Internet, oracle of all that was and has not happened yet: what be a quarto?
quarto (n.)
"book from paper folded to make four pages to the sheet," late 15c., from Medieval Latin in quarto "in the fourth (part of a sheet of paper)," from quarto, ablative singular of Latin quartus "fourth" (see quart).

Source: true love Etymonline

So Shakespeare wrote some stuff on folded papercraft! V cool.
  • 3D) Strand after disease is cured (7)
    DISEASE * anagram = SEASIDE
Didn't we have this usage of “strand” super recently? No? Where is our intern to compile a comprehensif database of all answers!!
  • 4D) reforming Texas university, first duty of a state? (3, 3)
    (TEXAS + (university = U)) * anagram = USE TAX
They forgot about TAU SEX.
  • 7D) Wander down, going out more tight (6)
    (Wander = MEANDER) (down = D) going out = MEANER
Can't say we're familiar with this use of “meaner.”



3. penurious, stingy, or miserly:
a person who is mean about money.
Synonyms: niggardly, close, tight, parsimonious, illiberal, ungenerous, selfish.


  • 20D) Head soup maker (4 )
    Head = soup maker = BEAN
Convinced ourself for most of the puzzle that this was OPUS somehow. Wups.
Mr Holland's Opus | Richard Dreyfuss | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 25D) Deceive the man with healthy heart (4)
    (the man = HE) with (healthy = OK) heart = HOKE
“Hoke”? “healthy = OK”? Buh!
  • 35D) Queen, in heels, perversely gives Hebrew money to Hebrews (6)
    ((Queen = Q) + HEELS) * anagram = SHEQEL
The instructs called this one out as “surprising” but we're not sure why because this was like the second clue we got. Transliterations. This didn't stand out as surprisingly qrazy in its variation. Natürlich much enjoyed “queen in heels” :)

The Tacky

  • 34A) Canadian native makes American win in a fight, million times over (6)
    ((American = US) + (win in a fight = KO) + (million = M) + (times = X)) * anagram = MUSKOX
  • 21D) Toupee showing up on American wise guys (5)
    (Toupee = RUG) showing up on (American = US) = GURUS
US is not America | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Illustration by Rob Donnelly from an annoying article on Slate defending US/America equivalency and sounding about as compelling as Tim O'Reilly saying no, no no, no, Lyft is a great company to work for and at least it's not as bad as other places to work, and Lyft drivers should be grateful for their great job which they all love, why, what did you hear?

Just keep beating dat drum: US ≠ America.

Some alternate ways to get US:
US (disambiguation) from Wikipedia
US from urban dictionary

Cuz that's the problem here, right? Getting the US as a convenient string? There are so many ways. Imagination need not fail us. Not in the puzzle of all places!

Mom mixed up "cent" and "sent," love (7)


  1. What's the purpose of "Just the reverse" in 18a?

    1. Official answer key just says "hidden" so no insight there. I think "Just the reverse" might indicate where "at the heart of" points, i.e. "at the heart of CHATTER" rather than "at the heart of [words that come next]."

      So without "Just the reverse" then maybe the clue would more likely indicate

      at the heart of (phonE COmpany) = ECO

      and this clue would be a rather cutting remark about the quality of Umberto Eco's writing (= "Chatter"). So *thank criminy* it's not not that!! Just the reverse.

    2. This explanation is correct. It essentially says "hey, I couldn't really get the grammar to work here, so let's pretend the subject is the direct object k thx."

  2. The clue might not be brilliant, but your explanation is. Thanks.

  3. THEREBY has no anagram; it's already in the proper order. Why "openers" is plural, though, I cannot say.

  4. One more thought... is the theme of this puzzle just arbitrarily respelling answers according to a code? The translation results in gibberish and there's no final payoff? Bit lame, in my not-so-humble-but-extremely-experienced opinion.

  5. Can you explain more about the purpose of "Just the reverse" in 18a" PTSD

    1. MSK had the same question, above

      It's (i think) some tediousness about where "at the heart of" points.