Saturday, May 21, 2016

Four-Play - May 2016

May 2016 | Four-Play | Harper's puzzle solution

What is up, Dear Readers? Hope all is well in your hearths. We're doing well! Nearly finished with these shoes that we started working on last summer. A whole year! Art takes time!
cool shoes | erica dreisbach | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Theme!

Four unclued entries that turn out to be HENRIK IBSEN in 1A and three of his plays:
… which is three plays, not four per the theme name. Fo(u)r what it's worth.

Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian, right?

… looks it up …

Yah, Norwegian. It's him and it's Hall of the Mountain King composer who are the major Norway guys that come up on Jeopardy! over and over. Grieg. Ibsen and Grieg.

Here's Henrik looking very writerly and Norwegian:
Henrik Ibsen | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
In looking up Henrik Ibsen for this post, we found many Ibsen quotes laid out Instagram photo‑quote style that didn't strike us as particularly, uh, great. Like thissa one:
The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right. - Henrik Ibsen (supposedly) | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right.” - Henrik Ibsen (supposedly)

But maybe that's just us? And maybe these supposed quotes are all apocryphal. Maybe A Doll's House is a focking gripping masterwork.

For the record, this blog is our masterwork!! This, and also the shoes.


  • 12A) Underworld gal making adjustment to teach English (6)
    adjustment to TEACH (English = E) = HECATE
Shout out to the crone hell‑queen Hecate!
Hecate | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 15A) Time being what it is: name long ago (5)
    (name = N) (long ago = ONCE) = NONCE
  • 16A) I'm in the habit, or I'm in with half, please (6)
    I'M in (with = W) (half PLEASE = PLE) = WIMPLE
Yass! The wimple is of course our favorite medieval and religious adult‑contempo garb.
Whoopi Goldberg | Sister Act | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20A) Camper taken in by male elements in the company of superheroes (6)
    (Camper = RV) taken in by MALE elements = MARVEL
Surprised to see Marvel in the Harper's! Shout out to pop culture. Shout out to this retro style promo for Xavier's School for the Gifted (below). Shout out to James McAvoy. Shout out to watching the new X-Men movie to whisper James McAvoy's name during his scenes.

  • 21A) One who deserves to be left out! (4)
    (left = L) OUT = LOUT
One of the ourobouri clues that eats itself, and the definition portion is the entirety of the clue. Which, we're getting used to this style, and even beginning to like it. Love the natural language of the clue. Mwa! One who deserves to be left out! The lout! S'what we're talkink about!
  • 22A) Misdirections behind some stock (3,6)
    (behind = BUM) (stock = STEERS) = BUM STEERS
This is the type of charades clue we usually *sigh* at. But(t) putting it in Highlights for reason of butts. Say what? Cattle butt!
cow butt | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 26A) That man needs a place, like for showing great range (9)
    (That man = HIM) A (place = LAY) (like = AS) = HIMALAYAS
“place” as in “please place your pencil down.” Speaking of the ‘layas, our friend Evan hiked to Everest basecamp last November. When asked about training he might have done to prepare, he said, “not much really.” Then he paused, and said, “I'm fit.” But it was more like, “Fhit.” Like: capitalized, and with an exhale in the middle. Then he talked about how he used to be a personal trainer and thus his self‑assessment as Fhit made more sense.
  • 28A) It's not quite hip to sing like a bird (3)
    It's not quite (hip = COOL) = COO
Goodfeathers | pigeons from Animaniacs | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 32A) Half of dance requires a final character: a little Bono (4)
    Half of (dance = CHACHA) requires a (final character = Z) = CHAZ
Shout out to cousin Chaz Bono!
Chaz Bono | Dancing with the Stars | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 33A) Ruffian in retrospect is mostly innocent (4)
    (Ruffian in retrospect = NAIFFUR) is mostly = NAIF
Very nachrul!
  • 35A) Toy bird (4)
    KITE (double syn)
Mwa! Delight! So sweet and concise. Fun activity: say “toy boat” five times fast. The first one rolls out no probs, but by the second or third it's like “toy boyte.”
  • 36A) On we spoke—oh, it's so boring! (5)
    (On we) * homophone = ENNUI
Yass! Love the narrative on this clue! All that blah blah talk! So boring! Related: how is it that a person can be super interesting, but their Snapchats are devastatingly boring? Some of our funniest friends send us Snaps of videos of watching TV, or videos of being stuck in traffic.
  • 1D) Scoundrel with a revolver—don't get me started! (4)
    (revolver = WHEEL) don't get me started = HEEL
No surprise HEEL showing up (cf CUR and CAD) but the narrative is super fun and REVOLVER = WHEEL felt fresh.

“Don't even get me started. Don't even get me started.” — Jeannie Darcy
Jeannie Darcy | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Mind if I left some chaff (4)
    (Mind = BRAIN) if I left = BRAN
Yah! BRIAN => BRAN is fun :)
Bran | Game of Thrones | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 8D) English FCC fees never obscure high spirits (13)
    (English = E) FCC FEES NEVER obscure = EFFERVESENCE
Anagrama (mostly). You know we loves! Hey when's the last time you listened to a hit song by the band Evanescence? Did you know that up until five minutes ago we thought Evanescence was a ‘90s all‑male rock band? Woops it turns out Evanescence is a lady. And Evanescence is her name? Or maybe it's the band name. Like how Grimes is a band and Claire Boucher is the entire band line‑up. We're not gonna look it up or anything so if you really want us to know more about Evanescence you can leave a comment but tbh we're hoping to forget everything we thought we knew about Evanescence rull soon.
Evanescence | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 9D) “Born to Die” Republican leaves more wanting (7)
    (born = NEE) to DIE (Republican = R) = NEEDIER
Nice! Another submission for our sister blog Bleeding Heart Liberal Harper's Cryptic Clues. This is wha’ we're talkin’ ‘bout w/r/t charades. Some catalytic conversion. A whole differently-flavored from the parts.
  • 14D) Seen as typical Beat poet, I'm writing one last letter at the end (10)
    (Beat POET IM = EPITOM) writing (one = I) (last letter = ZED) = EPITOMIZED
Oh yah. This was noice!
  • 34D) Napkin put up or down, doesn't matter (3)
    BIB (pun or whatever)
Brother Dan Asimov's key says this is “two meanings.” We get bib as “napkin.” But bib as a “put up or down”? Is it just that BIB is palindromic?
Hannibal Buress on napkins | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“I don't put a napkin on my lap when I eat. You know why? Cuz I believe in myself.”


  • 10A) Keyboard key used in telex transmission that can be sent (8)
    (Keyboard key = TAB) used in TELEX = TEXTABLE
You knew we were going to go after this one. Please, Dear Reader. Please whisper in our cute little ear the sentence that contextualizes this word.

Y didn't you text me back?
My response isnt textable

We brought this up to Notorious Marcel who said, “you could use ‘textable’ to describe a person. Like, ‘she's totally textable.’”

“You mean like ‘fuckable’? Can you name one other example? Like what, ‘phonable’? ‘She's totally phonable.’ …  ‘talkable’ … ”

“Honestly, ‘fuckable’ is the only one,” said Notorious Marcel, gratifyingly conceding.
texting | dating | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13A) Got sick, having been served a meal at the counter? (6)
    (served a mean = FED) at the (counter = BAR) = BARFED
Barfed. That's what we did when we read this clue. Not from the bar food.
  • 17A) Article removed from imperial menace (7)
    (Article = A) removed from IMPERIAL = IMPERIL
… … whoah, sorry. Fell asleep furra sek there. This clue imperils our ability to stay awake.
  • 19A) Where some Frenchmen locate tailored inseam (6)
    tailored INSEAM = LA MIEN
Uh ok fine we guess (le meh). Here's Alexandre Dumas looking dope and fashionable to make up for this clue:
Alexandre Dumas | courtesy Wikimedia
Image courtesy Wikimedia

  • 23A) Giving positions around piano dishonors arrangement (10)
    (piano = P) DISHONORS arrangement = DONORSHIPS
Love the anagram; hate the resultant word. “Donorships”? Even the most lexiconically esoteric development directors we've known, and we've known several, did not use “donorships.” They'd probably say “donor history” or “donor relationship.”
  • 29A) Partially enunciate hooks in the body (4)
    Partially enUNCIate = UNCI
uncus | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
uncus : noun, plural  1. any hook-shaped or curved part of a body process, especially the hippocampal gyrus in the temporal lobe of the brain.

Reminds us of Uncas from Last of the Mohicans. If memory serves, Uncas isn't the last Mohican, he's the son of the last Mohican. The second-to-last Mohican. And Daniel Day-Lewis is not the last Mohican. He's just a white guy. This isn't very fun trivia. But it's true.

Anyway but so UNCI definitely doesn't remind us of anything having to do with human anatomy.
  • 30A) What is a flowering of youth? That ____! (3)
We don't even know what the crud this is sposed to be. Some kind of pun? Like eliding to “thatszit”? Buh. Dear Readers are invited to explain in the Comments.
  • 34A) Moore and Craig, e.g., in ties (5)
    BONDS (double syn.)
Cuz Roger Moore and Daniel Craig have both played James Bond. Sure.

Witness: this amazing chart of James Bonds from the genius Sean Tejaratchi:
Liartown | James Bond
  • 37A) Oddly I schemed for a cold drink (4)
    Oddly I sChEmEd = ICEE
This one is bad! Icee hot? Icee not!
'They buy me all these icees' | My Humps | Fergie | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) Run out of a church to call your old girlfriend? (13)
    call your old girlfriends = EXCOMMUNICATE
Your old girlfriend called to say how uninspiring this charades clue is. “I know,” you told her. “It's good to hear your voice, though.”

“Ok we're not doing this again,” she said. Like, on a dime the whole energy of the call changed. Just like, wham!

And you played defensively dumb, like, “what? I didn't even mean, what? Can't I just be nice?” But you weren't just being nice. She knew it, your boner knew it. The NSA agent reviewing the call metadata knew it. We all knew it. So put down the phone, go back to church, and pew down.

The Graduate | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Hit over the head by a kid's toy? That's foolish (13)
    (Hit over the head = BRAINED) by a (kid's toy = RATTLE) = RATTLEBRAINED
Mang when the charade is just, like, DOG + HOUSE = DOGHOUSE. Like, there's no juice in the combo. No alchemy. Like if you got a recipe book and there was a recipe in there like CHEESE + CRACKERS = CHEESE ‘N’ CRACKERS
  • 4D) One live cross horny North African (4)
    I (live = BE) (cross = X) = IBEX
Wassup, ibex. “I bex you thought the last of me!” Naw, ibex. We always expect to see you. Shout out to your sisters OKAPI and ELAND.
ibex | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 7D) Re-crosses out origin of bad spelling (9)
That's a little judgmental. We witches aren't all bad witches. Speaking of bad magic, the resemblance between Bavmorda and former Pope Benedict XVI in these photos is strong. Coincidence?
Benedict XVI vs Bavmorda | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 18D) Two Irishmen make the sound of soft footsteps (3-3)
    Two Irishmen = PAT PAT
Um. No.
  • 24D) Humiliation in college almost has pizzazz (6)
    (almost HAS = HA) (pizzazz = ZING) = HAZING
Ulmost called this the Tacky. Humiliation. Ugh. Altho we appreciate being real about the nature of hazing, uglossed with “boys wull be boys!” denial, such denial like polyurethane just filling in all your pores and you die beneath it when your skin can't breathe.
  • 25D) Something exciting can also be downer (6)
    can also be DOWNER = WONDER
Yah so DOWNER => WONDER is pretty uninspi. Guh.
  • 27D) Lanai decorated for a swinger's need, possibly (5)
    LANAI decorated = LIANA
Feh. More uninspi single letter translations. The I takes a little walk to the left. Just as loose and casual as that. And about as exciting.

In our margin notes we wrote ANAL I.

The Tacky

  • 5D) Milk's an odd choice for white lovers (7)
This just felt weird. “white lovers”? Uh. Yah. Weird.
Lady giving a sieg heil at a Trump rally | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Comments are fuel for more blogging.


  1. Yeah, the BIB clue is just meant to indicate the palindrome, and ZIT is indeed supposed to complete "That zit" or "That's it." Meh for days.