Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Diametricode - March 2017

answers to the March 2017 Harper's cryptic crossword puzzle | Diametricode | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Hola Lovers, hola Dear Readers. It's been a minute. Shitty sucky suck shit is happening in our country, the USA country. The agents of state violence sharpen their knives. The highest seats of global power are held by psychos. The president is terrible with money and about to cut investments in clean water (!) and the IRS (!!). The former didn't surprise us so much altho it fills us with extreme dread. The latter ... surprises us! The IRS is where the money comes from! Doesn't that guy want there to be money? How's he going to pay his agents of state violence?

Anyway, we're back! If you're excited, then know that there are two ways you can fuel this blog. One is by writing comments. The other is by sending us money. Passively reading and enjoying is also fine and we respect it and appreciate the lurking masses.

The Theme!

Diametricode. Seena thisa one before in May 2015. Ten clues entered into the grid via an arcane coding mechanism in which the crenellated peripheral letters correspond to their brother letter on the other side of the center dot. We're explaining this in the most confusing way, we realize. But so like if you look at the answer up top, then an “F” is encoded as a “C” and a “C” is encoded as an “F.”

It's fine. Bummer that there were only shorty answers in this puzzle. Nothing over a 8 in length? And some of the fill had only one or two un-encoded crosses, which was also a  bummer. But other than that, a fun fine time. Diametricode is fine.

We're just gonna put the encoded answers down with the regular Highlights and Lowlights.

O and also, there were two errors in the grid girders! The errors went unremarked in the official answer key as well. There was a forgotten vertical line on the left side of the fifth row, and an extra line on the right side of eleventh row. Sloppi.

In a dark room, Babs of The Listener kneels before Maltby. Xander and the Puzzle Minion stands nearby. They're all wearing plague masks like in True Detective Season 2. It's super creepy. Babs will learn perfect grid construction. Oh yes. Babs will learn.


  • 15A) Be around religious figure of musical note (5)
    BE around (religious figure = REV) = BREVE
YasssssSS what is UP, Rev? What is up. Evokes The Young Pope, which always warrants evocation. The informal hip Rev. The Diet Cherry Coke Pope.

image: Jude Law as The Young Pope | caption: [music note emoji] i'm a bitch / i'm a lover / i'm the pope / only younger | @ShutUpAndrosky on Twitter
  • 16A) Island in the Sound gives you a charge—gosh! (4)
    Sound (charge = FEE) (gosh = GEE) = FIJI
Super duper duper fun, this one! Cool and smooth, like a frosty drink on the beaches of Suva.
  • 18A) Character at the end pursuing giant animated mouse in Krazy Kat (6)
    (Character at the end = Z) pursuing GIANT animated = IGNATZ
Only hearda Krazy Kat in the context of Bill Watterson's books about writing Calvin, thus automatic Highlight, and also the name Ignatz is DOPE!

black and white cartoon of Krazy and Ignatz dancing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23A) A joint goes with it! (3)
    A joint = with it = HIP
Appreciate the confluence of hipness and drugs and drugs are cool. Yah Babs of the The Listener! Drugs!
  • 24A) Mushy velour paintings are seen here (6)
Yahhhhh this one was a little obvi but love it for the “if only!” hope of velour paintings at the LOUVRE can you just IMAGINE?
  • 29A) Radical group in chemistry, etc.—lay off (6)
    ETC LAY off = ACETYL
Appreced the warning in the instructs, and recognized from “chemistry” in the clue that this would likely be a technical term found in the periodic table, was pleased that this was neither one of the most typical chemistry puzzle terms or derivations thereof (ENOL, ETHENE) but nor was it too tricky to get.
  • 34) Automatic reaction covering Return of Elf King (6)
    covering (Return of Elf = FLE) (King = REX) = REFLEX
YASssssss automatic love for references to magicks, awkwardness of the clue forgiven. Here, we'll fix it and make it sexier:

  • Involuntary bodily reaction to the elf in Return of the King (6)
image of Celeborn from one of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings movies we guess | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 41A) How having two lines with zero content leads to depression (6)
    HOW having (two lines = ll = LL) with (zero = O) = HOLLOW
Dear Readers invited to finesse this logic in the comments. Nice narrative flow on this one! Reads like sharp commentary on the average shock‑lede low‑calorie newsfeed. And the resulting (our) depression.
  • 44A) Candy coin (4)
    MINT (double syn)
Nice and sweet, what a treat. This was one of our last solves of the puz! We had M--T in the fill and wrote “MEAT??” in our margin notes :)

image of cooked red meat flavored or garnished with mint | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 46A) Trip instigator requires type O transfusion close to departure (6)
    TYPE O transfusion (close to DEPARTURE = E) = PEYOTE
“close” in the sense of “the closing [last] letter.” Took us a long time to parse that. Got hung up thinking about ETD. More drugs in the puzz! Drugs are cool! Babs knows. Babs listens.
  • 48A) Leaders meeting in legal action, collecting millions (6)
    (legal action = SUIT) collecting (millions = MM) = SUMMIT
Nice! V much appreciate MILLIONS => MM in the sense of “one thousand thousands.” Strong and good.
  • 1D) Okay, outside it is limited (6)
    (Okay = FINE) outside IT = FINITE
Misthought that it would be a two‑letter synonym for “Okay” wrapped around ITIS. Like, SITISH. Or CITISE. We like to match fill to the grid first, figure out logic later, as Dear Readers who've found our many errors are well aware.
  • 4D) River flowing around Nubia and the capital of Ghana (6)
    around NUBIA and the (capital of Ghana = G) = UBANGI
Oh YAS! Yes for African geography, givvit to us! First thought was that this would play off ACCRA, obviously. Second thought was it was something with CEDI, obviously. Third thought led to the solve.

image: three young beautiful women in red green and yellow clothes | caption: PARTY IN THE PARK 2013
  • 5D) Liberal issues: touching reading (7)
    LIBERAL issues = BRAILLE
Nice and sweet! Tight and strong! Below, via Sweet V:

image: a black and white printout of the male bathroom symbol and MEN written in English and in Braille | caption: Braille faille
  • 9D) Luminary one in a million (4)
    one in a MILLION = LION
A little easy peasy but SO SOLID and automatic love for invoking Dev Patel what a beauty!

still of Dev Patel in the movie LION | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) Left club with speed? Humorous stuff! (5)
    (Left = L) (club = Y) with (speed = MPH) = LYMPH
Some v gross things here, in particular “Y = club” but a DOPE reference to medieval European humors, green bile, &c. Like when a “barber” also meant “surgeon.” Yes. So strong.
  • 11D) Flood coming from two directions on map—disastrous (5)
    (two directions = South West = S W) on MAP = SWAMP
  • 20D) One's deceptive, one's up-front (4)
    ONES deceptive = NOSE
  • Ysssssss vrry nice! Exquisite narrative, tight taut cluing. Excellent. Sweet V called ____ from Speed Grapher “No Nose.” He was one of our favorites!

    image of Tsujido from Speed Grapher
    • 27D) Play in French—who is appearing in it—will become clear (6)
      (Play = ACT) in (French who = QUI) = ACQUIT
    Unfamiliar use of “acquit” but their story checks out:
    acquit (v.)

    early 13c., "to satisfy a debt" (either for oneself or on behalf of another), from Old French aquiter, acquiter "pay, pay up, settle a claim" (12c., Modern French acquitter), from a- "to" (see ad-) + quite "free, clear" (see quit (adj.))

    Source: our boyfriend Etymonline

    • 30D) Made to be sauced! (6)
      be SAUCED = CAUSED
    MMmMMmMMMmmm this is what we're talkin BOUT!! This is a tasty one from the Sauce Doctor! Lovely and amazing! Tight and smooth. Excellent.
    • 32D) Some not clerical work, namely (6)
      work NAMELY = LAYMEN
    Ver nice! Tight and neat like a chaplain's turtleneck after hours. Or Young Kirk Douglas's turtleneck at all times:

    black and white photo of young Kirk Douglas smoking a cigarette and wearing a dope black turtleneck
    • 33D) Plains inhabitants, moving in a kind of column (6)
      PLAINS inhabitants moving = SPINAL
    Ooooh excellent! And big time sike out cuz we were expecting OTO to thus trigger a donation from us to the American Indian College Fund.
    • 34D) Go over what happened, concerning, like, between two goalposts! (6)
      (concerning = RE) (like = AS) between (two goalposts = HH) = REHASH
    The sins of the incoherence forgiven for a top favorite word REHASH along with inventive H = goalpost, v fresh, never seen before, much like!
    • 35D) Unusual producer of energy and toxic wastes (6)
      producer of (energy = E) and TOXIC = EXOTIC
    Yasss v tight narrative! Excellent clue and also involving an anagramma hurrah!
    • 37D) Narrow fork, questionable on moral grounds (5)
      (Narrow = SLIM) (fork = Y) = SLIMY
    Yassss much like this equivalence of uncouth and “slimy”! Was expecting an obscure word for rivers like AIT or similar. But naw! None of that slimy silty fill here!
    • 42D) Escaped from slammer? (3)
      sLAMmer = LAM
    A little handwavey on the indicators, a little of that too clever for its own good stuff, but so nice and tight! So fresh! To have a prison clue without CON! Hoorah!

    image: photo of three lambs frolicking in green grass | caption: Richard Peters Photography,


    • 8A) I entered into a lot of yards, at university setting (6)
      I entered into (a lot of yards = MILE) at (university = U) = MILIEU
    Mili‑ew indeed. This was our first solve of the puzzle, whiz bang first one outta the gate. “a lot of yards” => MILE is especially ugh. Why not inches. Why not millimeters because technically. Why anything. Why not.
    • 12A) Citrus blend produces a big open smile (6)
      CITRUS blend = RICTUS
    Automatic Lowlight for RICTUS, a gross word that makes us feel gross inside, evokes a razor blade smile.

    a creepy black and white drawing of creepy smiler
    • 14A) Preceded by an article concerning fight (4)
      Preceded by (an article = A) (concerning = ABOUT) = BOUT
    Dear Readers are very much invited to correct our logic on this one. Where's the indicator to remove the article from the synonmyn for “concerning”? Does “preceded” have multiple meanings or something?
    • 19A) Cleaning item used to be hot, however regressed (7)
      (used to be = WAS) (hot = H) ((however = BUT) regressed = TUB) = WASHTUB
    Uh. Dat's notta word, bro. Kinda sorta it is but kinda it's not.
    • 26A) Make another copy, but peter out around copy's end (6)
      PETER out around (copy's end = Y) = RETYPE
    Ugh. What a bummer way to make a copy, retyping. One day OCR will be kickass, and we shall all be free of retyping. Bummer at RE- words. Bummer at kinda‑sorta words.
    • 28A) Almost nothing protects downloaded program, one that eliminates bugs (6)
      (Almost (nothing = ZERO) = ZER) protects (downloaded program = APP) = ZAPPER
    Zappers are strictly “ok” at killing bugs, would hardly call it “elimination.” Just as RE- words are bummers so are -ER words. Keep them to the Scrabbo game, where they belong for hooks both pointful and glorious, Bingos fall from your rack to the music of your Scrabblenemies lamentations.

    photo of a shirtless middleaged sunburned white man with a raquet bug zapper
    • 45A) Something Poe made, when starting out! (4)
      POE (MADE when starting out = M) = POEM
    Ew gross, ew POE => POEM gross gross gross. To mention Poe in our marriage is to invoke Sweet V's Vladologue about how Poe was found dead in Baltimore, perhaps drugged by the political machine after being forced to vote. It remains a dark, strange, unsolved mystery. We try and hang in when Vlad repeats it for the nth time. We try to be the patient wife as Sweet V tells the tale of his telling tale heart.
    • 47A) Unfinished work, many thanks to the British (3)
      Unfinished (work = TASK) = TAS
    Nottawerd. Not a word. Use it in a sentence, please. “They packed up the picnic and said their tas.” No. Absolutely not.
    • 2D) Practices eliminating the origin of digital streams (5)
      (Practices = DRILLS) eliminating (the origin of digital = D) = RILLS
    Ok so in our view “digital” is unnecessary except to add some narrative flair like hip kids with their digital streams which is aight maybe but when flair adds noise then a different choice is in order summore finesse is in order.

    ad for the Microsoft Zune
    Also we kept trying to work out what could stream from fingers (digits) and could only think of “blood” which reminded us of a story our neice told us about the “blood. was. flowing.” Our neice is a dark and cool kid. She is not afraid to look into the darkness.
    • 3D) Hoodlums: good unless bad (7)
      (good = G) UNLESS bad = GUNSELS
    Didn't even look up GUNSELS cuz we had the crosses and it just seemed like the only option that fit, but automatic Lowlight for being a weird word, invoking “hoodlums” which is the closest that this puzzle got to Tacky. Anything that evokes criminal neighborhoods as lesser places is dovetailing with public rhetoric of “Chicago qua place of warfare and unending murder” such rhetoric threatening to turn into actual “feds” enforcing martial law.

    Triggered, that's what we're trying to say. The word “hoodlums” triggered our suspicions. But this clue comes up clean. Hoodlums are good unless bad. A hoodlum is often gunsel. Close enough. Carry on.
    • 7D) One might cite torque as an example of twisting! (6)
      TORQUE as an example of twisting = QUOTER
    Talk about -ER words. Gross. Lotta words in this clue. Lotta heat. Notta lotta light. You can be the quoter of us on that.

    Also, show us a QUOTER who doesn't cite, please. Maybe you can see them doing it in their head. And you say, “hey! Are you gonna tell me that hot quote you're thinking of?” and the QUOTER coyly smiles and says, “I might.”
    • 13D) Emerging from Biltz, a really royal figure (4)
      BliTZ A Really = TZAR
    Nyet!! Hard nyet on this one! UGHHH one of the grossest clues nyet! Ya pick a cz or a ts for yer transliteration. Ya pick and ya stick. That's the rule. We don't make the rules. We just have uncanny access to them via psychic satellite link.
    • 22D) The Scottish version of 20D, if you're listening! (4)
      The Scottish version of (NOSE) = NAES
    Noo! No, one thousand times. Nae. Ya can't just. Ew. It's a reference to another clue answer [already: barf] in the name of ... bringing NAE into the puzzle?? At least ... Ugh. Extraordinarily vulgar and inappropriate analogy, but if you're gonna ask us to give you a handjob in the backseat, at least stick with it enough to climax. If you're gonna reference another clue answer, let it yield something worthy, interesting, vital, surprising. Don't just zip up your fly after five minutes and say you've gotta work early tomorrow.

    Shout out to the three Dear Readers who track with us :) 
    • 25D) At a low point, say goodbye to Mark Antony (4)
    “Vale” as in valley, “vale” as in Latin for “goodbye.” Sigh. Never hearda vale. We are not a vale girl.

    a white sorority girl with a toga and flower garland | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
    • 28D) Things put in lists, just so arrangement can be made (6)
      JUST SO arrangement = JOUSTS
    Fine, whatever fine. It's fine. Unfamiliar use of “lists” but their story checks out via this Web 1.0 reference:
    Jousting Terminology

    The jousting terminology used during the Middle Ages included the following terms:

    Lists - The 'lists' were barriers which defined the battlefield in a tournament


    • 31D) Military exercise that's a mark on your character? (6)
    Whaddisit with this weirdo usage? What is it with these archaic definitions tripping us up so hardcore?
    tattoo (n.1)

    signal calling soldiers or sailors to quarters at night," 1680s, earlier tap-to (1640s), from Dutch taptoe, from tap "faucet of a cask" (see tap (n.1)) + toe "shut, to," from Proto-Germanic *to (see to (prep.)).

    Source: our boyfriend again Etymonline

    Points and kudos for not using a diacritic (tilde, accent, cedilla) which is where we woulda sworn this was headed.
    • Tricky answer above? I'm outta there! (3)
      (answer above = SLIMY) I'M outta there = SLY
    Gross. Gross and bad. More of this bad recursive internal infernal referencing cluing. No.

    The Tacky

    • 19D) Bravery to appear with no underwear? Really? (4)
      Bravery to appear with no (underwear = BRA) = VERY
    This was the closest to Tacky as we define it in the most consciousness raising social justice warfare sense here at Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues, in that there's an anti-slut anti-nudity anti-body tone (“Really?”).

    We were a nude model for $10/hr in college at a super chill art studio in Providence. Even for a hardcore exhibitionist extrovert such as ourself, and even in the context of a chill respectful environment, it was difficult to remove dat robe the first time! Every fiber of socialization telling us, “do NOT take your clothes off!! Not in front of STRANGERS??” But then we did it, and it was liberating and awesome.

    image: pen and ink drawing of a female nude | caption: 'Draw what you see.' 'But how do you know what you see? What if you see everything?' 'See fewer things.' 'How?' 'Squint.' | dated: 10/7/08
    “Draw what you see.”
    “But how do you know what you see? What if you see everything?”
    “See fewer things.”

    Anyway. People tell us that our personal sobriety is brave. And it's hard to explain that nyah, sobriety doesn't feel brave. Probably because it's so tied up in ancient shame. Tellya what though, posing naked felt brave. And we'll guess that any Western-socialized person who believes otherwise about public nudity has never done it.

    If interested though, there's a college art class near you that would love for you to take your clothes off for them. If you're brave enough.