Monday, October 17, 2016

Foursomes - October 2016

October 2016 | Foursomes | Harper's puzzle solution

Hello Dear Readers! So what kept us busy and quiet all summer? We were on Jeopardy. Taped in July, aired September 30th. Took up a lot of mind space and time.
erica dreisbach on Jeopardy | 30 september 2016 We lost to a dude who went on to be the fifth winningest player ever. You can read more on our personal blog here.

Notorious Marcel said, “this was a remarkable example of Erica's Powers of Actualization. You were just like, ‘I'm gonna be on Jeopardy!’ And then a year later you were!” Which is cool to frame it that way: not as a loss, but as a victory for powers of Make Dreams Come True.

Next dream to make come true: write and sell a screenplay. Here are the loglines of current projects:
  • manic pixie dreamboy
  • superhero Brokeback Mountain
  • a veterinarian becomes a back alley doctor for humans
  • a cop is in prison for a crime he didn't commit, and that prison is … Guantanamo Bay

The Theme!

Good ol' Foursomes. Rotational symmetry and left‑to‑right orthography of the twelvers latticing the grid to yield a unique solution. We had massive trouble in the northeast at the end, in particular with clues 7A and 8D. Could not solve! Consulted thesauri, consulted Sweet V, consulted an anagram generator. Nuthin. Buh!

Our downfall lay in misinterpreting this clue:
  • Actor who falls short of depth, they say? (4)
    (depth = PIT) they say = PITT
And what Maltby Jr and cohort were going for was DEPP. So, like
  • (short of DEPTH = DEP) they say = DEPP
Yah ok. Anyway we went for PITT and got stuck in the pits at the end:
stuck at the end of the October 2016 Harper's cryptic crossword puzzle | PITT instead of DEPP

Sidenote, we were discouraged to read that the final straw in the Jolie‑Pitt marriage was an intense fight on the private plane between Brad and one of the kids, and that because the fight took place in the air that meant it came under federal jurisdiction so the FBI was investigating whether child abuse occurred. Which is a severe bummer.

Anyway ok so then we were left with
  • 7A) Measure import, leaving nothing out (4) = D ‑ ‑ P ?
which is impossible, and
  • 8D) Beautiful girl, who comes in periodically (4) = ‑ E ‑ I ?
which coulda still been the correct answer, PERI, but then that meant 7A would be D ‑ RP. DARP? DORP? No.

So then we brought in Sweet V to help us check our assumptions. Could it be that we had a busted orientation? And that the puzzle almost works from that busted orientation? Diabolical, right? But plausible, because we had done what we often do with these types of puzzles, which is solve a bunch of clues and then Just Start Writing in Answers and If Something Comes Up Busted Just Print Out a New Puzzle and Start Over. That's the official name of the method.

Anyway so those twelvers that lattice the grid can indeed work at a different orientation. But then that means two of the foursies end in C, which is a non‑starter.

rewriting 12 lattices in October 2016 Harper's Cryptic Crossword puzzle
Which brings us to here and now, when we were able to look up the answer to the puzzle. DEPP and PINT, not PITT. PERI. We assume that the Beautiful Peri in question is none other than the Gilp sheself:

beautiful Peri Gilpin | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Dear Readers are challenged to offer a more beautiful Peri in the Comments!


  • 1A) Sweet covering for dirty pictures (8)
Anagrama always beloved by this ma'amma!
Octavia Spencer | chocolate pie | The Help | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10A) Part of a foot (in Chinese) (4)
    IN CHinese = INCH
Applause at the restraint in not referencing foot binding, many thanks from the Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues community.
  • 14A) Running hot and cold in the nethermost, a ticklish situation (12)
Never hearda THERMOSTATIC but this is a daring wordspanner indeed!
thermostatic radiator valve | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 15A) Dooms criminal to live here? (5)
    DOOMS criminal = SODOM
Thought it was MOODS for a long while. We live within our emotions, interpret all of the world through our feelings. Maybe too poetic for the Harper's. Instead, Biblical. Nice.
Sodom burns | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 19A) Property changes just before the end, as it should be (8)
    PROPERTY changes just before the end = PROPERLY
We liked this! Very nice, crisp, surprising.
  • 21A) Minarets constructed with fancy exteriors (8)
    MINARETS constructed = RAIMENTS
Really truly thought the word was RAINMENTS. Do people say it with the “N”? [practises saying “raiments” out loud] Ok we don't actually say the “N” but we think it. Like a flavor you can't taste, but you know it's there.
  • 22A) End up auditioning a role in Young Frankenstein (4)
    auditionING A = INGA
The role played by the glorious Teri Garr! “Would you like a roll in ze hay?”
Would you like a roll in ze hay? | Teri Garr as Inga in Young Frankenstein | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 25A) Multiple divisions make this come, or it dissipates (12)
    MAKE THIS COME or it dissipates = TRICHOTOMIES
On thin ice as a “word” but it's an anagram, so, we give it a pass.

  • 29A) The second George Bush leaves New York, it's a transformed island (6)
    ((The second George Bush = W) leaves NEW YORK = NE YORK) transformed = ORKNEY
Took a while to pull out ORKNEY on this one. Margin notes say YONKER?? and ROKNEY?? Orkney Island | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30A) Ravel opera: I'm finding more than one outlet (7)
Oooh v nice! Much in love with the phenomenon of words that, by rights of their opposing prefices, should be antonyms, but are in fact synonyms or near synonyms. flammable/inflammable valuable/invaluable. Andddd ravel/unravel is another! It doesn't mean to knit it up or spool it up nice. Nope. You can destroy the sweater with ravelling OR unravelling. Pulling this string, as we walk away.
  • 31A) Buggy having a silent star's first name (4)
    (Buggy = NIT) having A = NITA
Now that we've survived 2014: Year of Bed Bugs, other typically noxsome arthropods have no bad power over us. Silverfish, centipedes, even lice and mosquitos which do actively seek to consume our blood and body, now it's like, “oh hey there buddy, you get along now you scoot!”

Automatic Highlight for babe Nita Naldi:
silent film star Nita Naldi | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) As poor cart rich off, he's got your back! (12)
Were the anagram fodder and indicator obvious, yes. Yes they were. “A spoor cart rich” maybe the clunkiest turn of phrase in the puzzle in years. Uh WOOPS so, our bad, misunderstanding the kerning on the printed PDF vsn of the puzzle, many thanks to Dear Reader Jordan for pointing out!
kerning: A spoor cart rich off | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
And none'less a glorious anagrama, one of our first solves of the puzzle, so it's an automatic Highlight!

  • 6D) Teams stay alternatingly appealing (5)
    TeAmS sTaY alternatingly = TASTY
A tight and tasty clue indeed!
  • 7D) Awkwardly said “Welcome,” bringing in guys in a row (12)
    (awkwardly SAID = DISA) (Welcome = GREET) bringing in (GUYS = MEN) = DISAGREEMENT
Lovely! Enjoyed the play on “row.” It rowed our boat. Gently. [whispered] So gently.
fighting in a rowboat | courtesy Getty images | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 9D) Is carpet bombing customary behavior for the British? (8)
    IS CARPET bombing = PRACTISE
Intense! War and colonialism! And, is it customary behavior for the British? Post WWII, we mean? Also, our margin notes say TEACRISP.
  • 16D) Pet old Italian leader in private? Quite the opposite! (6)
    (old Italian leader = DOGE) in (private = GI)? Quite the opposite! = GI in DOGE = DOGGIE
We're starting to get the rhythm of these very tiresome [Ed Wynn voice] “Opposite!” clues. This one we liked automatically for invoking not just DOGGIE but DOGE!
doge! | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 15D) Agents called back about ostentatiously elegant show—it qeuires a splash! (8)
    ((Agents = REPS) called back = SPER) about (ostentatiously elegant show = RITZ) = SPRITZER
Was certain this would work out to SPLATTER until 22A just wouldn't flow as A‑‑A. Can anyone explain what is the deal with LaCroix? We knew it as a regional brand of Midwest sparkling water. But now it seems to be a national thing, a crappy hipster thing? Like how PBR is a thing? How did that … like, when did that … Was it in a movie? Or a song? We're getting old, Dear Readers.
hipster La Croix | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 17D) Big talker I owe for The Sound of Music (8)
    (Big talker = ORATOR) I (OWE for the sound = O) = ORATORIO
We thought “oratorio” must be a super specific opera talking thing WOOPS. Tis not! Tis so much more.
  • 23D) Three notes that sound disheartened! (5)
    sound (disheartened = CORED) = CHORD
Mwa! Delicious!


  • 11A) Pop singer about to televise meeting leader (7)
    (Pop singer = CHER) about (to televise = AIR) = CHAIRER
“Chairer”? No. Beyond being impossible to say. Like “draw‑er” as in “someone who draws.” Second, how about a fresh pop star in the mix. Kesha. Riri. Sia. How about an old one. Sade. So classic! Everybody loves Sade.
Sade laughing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 12A) Some Reds wearing Spanish flowers—yes, in Germany (6)
    wearing (Spanish flow‑wers = RIOS) (yes in Germany = JA) = RIOJAS
Seen this FLOWERS > RIVERS many many times, many many. Just once, FLOWERS > UTERUSES. Once. Please.
  • 18A) Fellow traveler, initially in pursuit of negative feedback (4)
    (traveler initially = T) in pursuit of ((negative = NEG) feedback = GEN) = GENT
Thought this was BOOT for a while (BOO + T). NEGATIVE > NEG too on the nose, yah? Funner ways to get to NEG. New England gangster. Or a reference to pickup artistry.
Mystery and Matador | pickup artists | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 24A) Plow maker does making noise (5)
    Plow maker = (does = DEER making noise) = DEERE
Seems like there's gotta be a smoother way to clue this, sound a little more like a native English speaker, non? Sidenote, our favorite thing to say in Romania this summer was, “stiu ca vorbesc cum vorbitora nativa, dar ințeleg nu mai puțin.” Which means, “I know that I speak like a native speaker, but I only understand a little.” Except that the construction for “native speaker” is not something that an actual native speaker of Romanian would ever say. So the statement is inherently a paradox, which we like, and it always made people laugh, which we love.
  • 5D) Southern meat dish, almost like a kebab (8)
    (Southern = S) (mean dish = HASH) (almost LIKE = LIK) = SHASHLIK
This is a super smooooooov clue, reads just like real talk from real humans! But yields … shashlik? Wutt? We don't shashlike it. The clue, not the food. The food looks good:
shashlik | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13D) Novelist after part in Titanic, they say! (6)
    (part in Titanic = STERN) they say = STERNE
Gross. Tried forcing “Jack” and “Rose” several rounds. Then “[the unsinkable] Molly.” We'd hearrrrrrrd of Laurence Sterne and Tristram Shandy, and even earmarked desire to watch the 2006 film because Coogan. Gotta love the Coog! Naturally of course, this month's Nerd Hot Guy:
Steve Coogan | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20D) Final musical sections that produce titters (7)
    produce TITTERS = STRETTI
Never hearda. So, obv we don't like it.
  • 26D) Frost's poetry, when read aloud (4)
    (poetry = RHYME) when read aloud = RIME
AhhhhhhHHHhhhhh. No. Poetry doesn't have to rhy— buh. We worked hard to make this come out as BOBS as in “Bob's” somehow.
  • 28D) Navy man known for a balanced performance? (4)
    Navy man = known for a balanced performance = SEAL
Tried to work this out as a proper name, like Admiral Byrd, or Philippe Petit. Anyway also there's one lady SEAL, at least, kinda sorta. GI Jane!
Demi Moore as GI Jane | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Tacky

  • 31A) Violated when rolling a joint (8)
    VIOLATED when rolling = DOVETAIL
Ai, hell no to this uncomfortable date rapey clue, this gross scene of being groped while high.

OH MANG speaking of which, WHOW what a surprise in the US political news! Not that the guy is awful, and not even that he was caught being awful on tape. But that this time, the shit sticked. It's stuck to him. The glamour wore off.

Obv we mean glamour:

glamour | lady with rhinestone encrusted sunglasses | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
 and also glamour:
Glamour originally was a term applied to a magical-occult spell that was cast on somebody to make them see something the spell-caster wished them to see, when in fact it was not what it seemed to be. In the late 19th century terminology, a non-magical item used to help create a more attractive appearance gradually became known as 'a glamour'.
Source: La Wikip

Ok anyway and so now we're wondering if maybe when the dust clears on 2017, he'll end up indicted. Maybe for fraud, maybe assault. Who knows. And she'll be in the big house with the power to pardon him. But she's not pardoning no she's just Laughing and Laughing! Lighting a whiskey‑soaked t‑shirt on fire, LOCK HER UP emblazoned on it, melting in the heat.

We dream :)

We've missed you. Come comment :)