Monday, July 13, 2015

Sixes and Sevens - July 2015

July 2015 | Sixes and Sevens | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Yeah we're havin trouble concentratin at Tacky Harper's HQ right now because moments ago we got an email from Jeopardy! saying we'd gotten into round two of Jeopardy! auditions.


How many people get this far in the process? We don't know, they keep that information tight. What are our chances of actually getting on the show? Approximately 0.0000001%. But a lass dreams.

Unnyway it's that time of the month! And that time, she waiteth for no calm spell betwixt wedding planning and exciting but EXTREMELY disruptive emails.

To the Theme!

Good ol' sixes and sevens. Boom boom boom. La la la.


  • 23A) Opposed to a church prank, Holder in Los Angeles, left (12)
    (prank = ANTIC) (Holder = ERIC) in (Los Angeles = LA) + (left = L) = ANTICLERICAL
Needed Sweet V's help on this one. Prolly wise to have capitalized “Holder” in the clue but ah how we wish that it could have been lowercase for to introduce ambiguity, “holder” being a likely indicator … Wut, you don't have Eric Holder top of mind, ready to hand, close underfoot?
former Attorney General Eric Holder | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Didn't realize he was no longer in office, so cruised his Wikipedia and was surprised to read: “During the Fast and Furious investigation, [Eric Holder] became the only cabinet member in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress.”

Wut? And also, wut is the Fast and Furious investigation!
"Gunwalking", or "letting guns walk", was a tactic of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which ran a series of sting operations[2][3] between 2006[4] and 2011[2][5] in the Tucson and Phoenix area where the ATF "purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them."

Source: more Wikipedia

SPOILER the “stop violent cartels by arming violent cartels” plan did not work very well. Holder is out. Now we have Loretta Lynch, the woman who took down FIFA. Tite :)
Loretta Lynch  | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Not in a union context, ram a Ritalin capsule inside (12)
    context ram a Ritalin = EXTRAMARITAL
A daring word spanner!
  • 7D) Girl's goal—to be supported by electrical engineering (5)
    (goal = AIM) + (electrical engineering = EE) = AIMEE
Ladies in STEM fields, wut wut! Of note: there are currently more women in Sweet V's old robotics lab than men. Add this clue to our brand new sister blog,!
  • 9D) Washes off not very sensible shoes (5)
    SHOES * anagram = HOSES
How do you warsh it? You hose it! Enjoyed the narrative here of shoes made from mud.
mud feet | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6a) Wind and wind online (2,4)
    ONLINE * anagram = EL NIÑO
Nice and clean, efficient and TITE!
  • 6d) Butch is bored by one, for the most part
    (Butch = MANLY) is bored by (one = I) = MAINLY
Gonna leave the “butch = manly” equation alone this round. Marvel at our restraint! Big Boo's makeup | Orange is the New Black | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Big Boo's makeup game on point

  • 6e) Mystical group started reeling, was in the present
    (reeling = SWAM) + ('was' in the present [tense] = IS) = SWAMIS
You know, Dear Readers, we've come out in the past against this tense play. By which we mean wordplay with tenses of the verb “to be.” But then we chilled out, had a snack, and decided we love it. This trick opens up so many language possibilities!

Maltby looks up from a snifter of amber liquid, be'moccasinned feet resting on a shabby tiger skin rug. He senses a disturbance in the Force, as if something long struggling against him had ceased to resist. Puzzle Minion enters with Maltby's dinner on a tray: steak and bananas.
  • 6f) Cell-phone app, like Angry Birds and The Disheartened
    (phone app like Angry Birds = GAME) + (THE disheartened = TE) = GAMETE
Oh we are definitely hot to play a cell-phone game called The Disheartened! Lately we've been playing a lot of Angry Birds. Because 2010 didn't go anywhere.
Angry Birds fan art | DesignInc | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Image courtesy DesignINC

  • 6k) Acted badly with end of paragraph cut off
    (ACTED + (end of PARAGRAPH = H)) * anagram = DETACH
Raise your hand if you were certain “acted badly” and “six letters” would yield HAMMED. Yah. That's our hand raised right thar. We got got.
  • 6l) Gambol, like in dry beds
    (Gambol = PLAY) + (like = AS) = PLAYAS
Wut's up to Dear Readers fresh off of Fourth of Juplaya. And catch y'all at Burning Man in the far flung future, when Burning Man is super played-out and lame and relaxed and uncool and poor. When Burning Man is for the poor people. That's when we'll be there.
Fourth of Juplaya | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 7a) Distributing $100 bills among needy characters, that's a good quality
    ((100 = C) + NEEDY) * anagram = DECENCY
V nice anagrama! See as well:
  • 7d) Crash dummies for midsizes
    DUMMIES * anagram = MEDIUMS
Oh, mwa! Dimly remembered from a childhood in the '80s: The Crash Test Dummies. But was their sole function a public service announcement? Or did they also have broader comedic purpose?
Crash Test Dummies | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 7e) Steady, unwavering pinch of the ears
    (pinch = ROB) + (of the ears = OTIC) = ROBOTIC
Frequent puzzle visitor OTIC forgiven for this nice neat clue! Here's our favorite, Hannah Georgas:

  • 7g) Bash in bone—get it together
    (bone = SHIN) + (get it = DIG) = SHINDIG
Brain kept insisting this was SHINBON :)   O, brain.
  • 7j) Mammal, bird, or reptile: Am I not ridiculously English
    (AM I NOT) ridiculously + (English = E) = AMNIOTE
The instructs called this out as uncommon, but we figured it out quickly and painlessly. Internet search confirmed our guess (we are not so learnéd in Mother Science that we know “amniote” offa top). Also love the narrative of the clue, and the use of the Oxford comma!
embryonic chicken | amniote | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


There were a lot we didn't like this month.
  • 11A) Say, “Food, goodbye” (4)
    (Say = homophone) * (Food = CHOW) = CIAO
No. Ciao forever, we say to this clue. Sidenote, wut's up to Notorious Marcel and Colleen on a lovers' jaunt to Italy right now! They've “planned” a trip with no agenda, no rules, no constraints … just like their love!
  • 16A) Where to file sketch artists or briefs? (12)
    (Where to file = UNDER) + (sketch artists = DRAWERS) = UNDERDRAWERS
That is a bold way to clue “under.” File this one under B, for boooooooo. Of course, reminded of a favorite Mitch Hedberg joke:
Mitch Hedberg | receipt | donut joke | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28A) Toymaker's heart's set on kayaks? Just the reverse! (5)
    seT ON KAyaks = TONKA
Oft'n nostalgia buys at least a litta bitta goodwill with us, but meh, no. More of this unnecessary “just the reverse” stuff, like as if variety cryptic solvers are bound by left-to-right syntax or linear time. Nay. We are free from such limitations of mind. Heads up on that to The Listener, if you're the listening!

Anyway so at least that K in the middle of TONKA is probably in service of a nice cross, right? Something fresh, and true, and real. Right?
  • 26D) Store from which you can get one parrot (4)
    (one = I) + (parrot = KEA) = IKEA
Nup, TONKA crosses IKEA at K junction. Brands in service of brands. Ks rubbing against each other like erections made of marketing dollars.

Sweet V says, “and anyway, IKEA is not a store, it's a church!” Here's a kea:
kea parrot | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 29A) Gets out of serious racing cars? (4)
    GETS * anagram = GTES
Buh. Here to take the edge off, this is Idris Elba with a Jaguar, but let's pretend it's a GTE for the purposes of right now:
Idris Elba | Jaguar | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) Relative to rein in, reordering members (2,2)
    REIN * anagram = IN RE
Ewwwww. “relative to” and “in re” as synonymous reads as shaky to us, at best.
“in re” is like “this is the topic”
“relative to” is like ”here's an associated tangent.”

And of course, REIN to IN RE, buh. There's no trickitty trick to this anagram. What they call a No Trick Pony in the circus.
  • 23D) Caught in bazaar, ghostly word from a pirate (5)
    bazaAAR GHostly = AARGH
One time our friend's roommate was talking about his Halloween costume. He was going to go as Haddock, a character from Tintin. Except he said it Frenchly, so Tahnh-tahnhn. And without thinking about it, we said in our dummest chef-from-Little-Mermaid French accent, “hunh hunh hunh!”
Chef from The Little Mermaid | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“Really?” said the disappointed roommate. His mother is a French teacher. 99% positive yes, French teacher, not French national. Does that really make it better? And who are we to dictate the limits of others' outrage? Is this not a nerd outrage blog?

Anyway now it's our turn to say, “really?” when this clue invokes “pirate” and chases it immediately with “aargh! [ayma pirate!]”
  • 24D) Land temperature I'll wager (5)
    (temperature = T) + (I'll wager = I BET) = TIBET
Doesn't Tibet wend its way into the puzzle, like, once every two months? Usually with this exact synonym for “land” = “[one specific] country”?
  • 6c) Cartoon kid fell down? No, up!
    (fell down = SINNED) * (no, up = reversal) = DENNIS
One of our favorite things in The Far Side 10th Anniversary: when captions were “accidentally” swapped:
Far Side - Dennis the Menace swap | 'If I get as big as Dad won‘t my skin be too TIGHT?' | 'I see your little, petrified skull … naked and resting on a shelf somewhere' | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
So alright that clue is fine on its own, but then so close nearby, so much nearly the same:
  • 6i) Star turns, wrong for some Arabs
    (Star = SUN) + ((turns = reverse) (wrong = SIN) = NIS) = SUNNIS
It's a sin to invoke SIN so often, sin remorse.
  • 6g) A right to have refuse placed outside ten times over
    A (right = R) + ((refuse = DENY) placed outside) = DENARY
Umh. Ok.
den•a•ry (dĕn'ə-rē)
1. Tenfold.
2. Divided or counted by tens; decimal.


Sweet V made such the sour face at this one! Artist's rendering here:
Sweet V makes a face at 'DENARY' | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6h) Straight, not attached hereto
    HERETO * anagram = HETERO
Buh. Just, not a great anagram at all. Allow us to fix:
  • Proof shows it's true without men, confused or straight (6)
(softly, under breath) Nailed it.
  • 6j) Rules out where t' get de drinks?
    get de drinks at … de bars! = DEBARS
Swore this was DEWARS for most of the puzzle. Dewars White Label being a favorite from our drinking days, by virtue of being very whisky and very cheap.
Dewars White Label Whisky | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Couldn't work out why DEWARS, but we were rock-solid certain. No cross on that W, so. We couldn't imagine something so bad as this clue. Start with the overall badness. Move on to how DEBAR for “rules out” is a bitto'a stretch at best. We understand DEBARS as something you do to a person [lawyer]. Not to, like a suggestion.

“I've debarred your idea for this case.”
“It doesn't matter! I'm no longer a lawyer; I've been … ruled out.“

This is the worst clue we have ever seen in the puzzle. Bottom of the whisky barrel. But reminds us of this charming joke:
A lady is throwing a party where each guest shows up as their favorite emotion. A guest arrives dressed in green. "Envy!" she says, and lets him in.

A lady comes dressed in red. She says, "Anger!" and lets her in.

Two naked guys walk up to the front door. One guy is holding a bowl of pudding with his penis stuck in it, and the other guy has his penis in a hollowed-out pear.

"Wait a minute," she says to them. "This is supposed to be an emotion party!"

The first guy says, "Yeah, and I'm fucking dis-custard."

The second guy says, "And I'm deep in dis-pear."

Source: Ebaums World (!)

The Tacky

  • 4D) Ragtag, not courtlier, minstrel (12)
“Minstrel” like Al Jolson, shuck and jive, full on blackface minstrel shows.
Bamboozled | Spike Lee | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
If you haven't already you should see Spike Lee's 'Bamboozled' ASAP

From Wikipedia, emphasis added:
The show itself was divided into three major sections. During the first, the entire troupe danced onto stage singing a popular song.[83] Upon the instruction of the interlocutor, a sort of host, they sat in a semicircle. Various stock characters always took the same positions: the genteel interlocutor in the middle, flanked by Tambo and Bones, who served as the endmen or cornermen. The interlocutor acted as a master of ceremonies and as a dignified, if pompous, straight man while the endmen exchanged jokes and performed a variety of humorous songs.


Is it inherently tacky to invoke minstrel shows in the puzzle? What would Tyler the Creator say? Maybe that such invocation is not tacky enough. Maybe that to alight on this history without exploring or exploiting it is a missed opportunity. Maybe that Maltby or Zander of The Listener drop an intense reference then avert their eyes. Maybe that's what we say.

Everyone wants to be outraged. Isn't this blog itself a voice in the ear-bleeding song of Internet outrage culture? Art Spiegelman in a recent cartoon for the New Statesman expresses his annoyance at such culture. Notably, in that last panel depicting a perimeter of free speech that should be defended, the sanctimonious PC police are not included. Maybe they're assumed to be well inside the paddock of free speech [with the cows?]. But we got the sense, and maybe this is incorrect, that Art Spiegelman finds the average Holocaust denier less irritating that the average activist Tumblr user. If that's the case, well. Maybe the Holocaust denier is easy to dismiss. But the PC police ask Art Spiegelman to examine himself and his thinking, and who wants to do that? Self-examination? Who knows what one might find!

Ok so then we're with Art Spiegelman in that: an outraged defensive position often substitutes for real education, awareness, engagement. See also Social Justice Kittens by the genius Sean Tejaratchi:
'You are jeopardizing my well-being with your violent refusal to agree.' | Social Justice Kittens | Sean Tejaratchi | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Back to the point at hand. Is it racist to mention minstrel shows in the puzzle? We say no. Is it tacky? We say yes. Dear Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions.

A crow's call intended to say you love me (7)