Monday, February 16, 2015

To Have and To Hold - February 2015

February 2015 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

The Theme

Slowly pieced together the fill in 1A and speculated with Sweet V what the Valentine's related theme might be. “Gag me anytime?” “Something about Bagend?”

Enough fill in place and the theme was revealed: “bag and baggage.” Means “all one's possessions.” Unclued entries are types of bags, often hecka obscure. Also: material goods mean everything, eh? Eep. Twas a rough Valentine's day for Richard E Maltby Jr?
  • 5D) DUFFEL
Gladstone wwutt?
Joey Gladstone | Full House | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Bill Haverchuck | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Also there were like 80 bajillion anagrams this month. So, obviously we had a wonderful time :)


  • 11A) Pay back nuts—I remember nuts (13)
You wanna get nuts? | Michael Keaton in Batman | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 27A) Bums: a liquid asset (5)
    ASSET * anagram = SEATS
Sweet V, on seeing this, said, “non-sexual butt jokes? What is this??”
  • 29A) Melons, or lemons, can help you get sober (6)
    MELONS or LEMONS * anagram = SOLEMN
Ah, the wisdom of the Third Anagram!!
  • 31A) Doctor told to get dope (4)
    TOLD * anagram = DOLT
Nice psych-out with the frequent homophone indicator qua anagrind. Nice clean narrative. Doc! My pain is unmanaged here, doc! Get me summadat dope dope! Mwa! So nice!
Dr House | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) Optional road trips involving sincerity (13)
Mmmmmmmm big anagramas!!
  • 2D)Hero with an ease that's cleverly disguised (6)
    AN EASE * anagram = AENEAS
Aeneas! So nice (neas)!!
Aeneas | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Gee, it's those contemptible Brits (4)
    (Gee = G) + ITS = GITS
“stupid git” burned into our brainpan from The Argument Sketch in Monty Python.
The Argument Sketch | Monty Python | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 4D) Service offered anytime, but unexpectedly (7)
    ANYTIME * anagram = AMENITY
“service offered anytime” ... in our margin notes, we wrote “oral sex??”
  • 7D) Large organ that comes with Capt. von Trapp (5)
    LarGE ORGan = GEORG
In our notes, this conversation with Sweet V:

“I bet it's ‘DICK’.”
“Has to have five letters.”
Maria and Georg | The Sound of Music | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 10D) You might be put out by it, but there is another way to put it (5)
    THERE * anagram = ETHER
Ether! Shoutout to æther! And reminded of a conversation with our brother Chris two Thanksgivings ago about chloroform and grappling hooks that show up in movies—you know, that type of standard movie bad guy material. Must be from the Bad Guy Store.
  • 13D) Damaged slicer remains (6)
    SLICER * anagram = RELICS
“Damaged slicer remains” is so nice and tight!
Narsil | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23D) Bring up name made in discipline involving exercises and pain (5)
    (name = N) in (discipline involving exercises = YOGA) * bring up = AGONY
Nice! The agony of yoga! Sweet V frequently complains that most yoga classes are designed for female flexibility, and thus discourage male attendance. We must to admit: we were blind to female normative exercise design!
Yoga | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 25D) Ringer, Round One, given a Nick name? (6)
    (Ringer = BELL) round (One = I) given A = BELIAL
Belial is a term occurring in the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as the Devil in Jewish and Christian texts.

Source: Wikipeeds

Nick names. Very nice. Consulted V's personal lexicon of names synonymous for the Dark One, but none fit the existing fill at the time of BE--A-. Thus, then assumed it was a famous/celebrity Nick (“Nick Bettay?”) Belial | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 28D) Old piece from fitted coat worn by Siamese, perhaps (7)
    COAT + (Siamese, perhaps = CAT) TOCCATA
Music. REALLY thought this would be a reference to one of
  1. old menswear
  2. Chang/Eng
  3. Thailand
  4. cat outfits
Chang and Eng | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Cat wearing a sweater | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30D) One not moving in the mainstream route tavels around Long Island (7)
    ROUTE travels around (Long Island = LI) = OUTLIER
RULLY thought there'd be an LIRR reference here!
LIRR | Long Island Railroad Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 33D) Import daunts producer, possibly (6)
    DAUNTS * anagram = DATSUN
Datsun! Sweet V landed this one. Not called out in the instructs as uncommon, tho? Mmmmmmmmmmm uh. Not common to we!

Also, for years swore we heard Nedry saying “Datsun” instead of “Dodgson.” We've got Dodgson out here! | Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry from Jurassic Park | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 38D) Stone making cameo appearances in Sony X-Men series (4)
    Sony X-Men = ONYX
X-Men! Nice psych-out with reference to Sony's X-Men. btw, glad to hear that Sony is letting Spider-man enter the Marvel Comics Universe of film. Altho, we're also discouraged about what the franchise superhero blockbuster culture is doing to the spec screenplay market. But what gunna do ¯\(°_o)/¯

Here's some vintage X-men #nostalgia


  • 12A) Corrupt NE frontier agent that stops some progress (10)
Not an uncommon obscuro? Uh. I'm interferon with that logic. Definition:
interferon /in•ter•fer•on/
any of a family of glycoproteins, production of which can be stimulated by viral infection, by intracellular parasites, by protozoa, and by bacteria and bacterial endotoxins, that exert antiviral activity and have immunoregulatory functions; they also inhibit the growth of nonviral intracellular parasites.

Source: The Free Dictionary

  • 15A) Probation officer gets me fruit (4)
    (Probation officer = PO) gets ME = POME
Pome? What is? Just, like, an apple? Murr.
Pome | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 17A) Start to do good in a lab, perhaps ... (3)
    do good = DOG
What's with the all the perhapses this month? Buh. Here's a cute doggy:
Labrador puppy wearing a lab coat | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20A) Flooring participant in a timeless deed (4)
    (deed = TITLE) * timeless = TILE
UhhHHHhhhhhh it should be ILE by that logic. T-less! No T! We insisted to Sweet V for several hours that it must be PILE (somehow) as in carpeting, because it COULD NOT be TILE, as TILE has a T. It is not T-less. Then we got the crossing T from AMENITY in 4D and were thus forced to admit that the puzzle's answer was TILE. “Ai dreptate,” we said to Sweet V in his mother tongue. “You were right.”

Speaking of piles, here is a poem written by one of our former bosses. We were hired to that job formally as a marketing associate, and informally as a “second assistant” to the boss. Most of our intuition about the life of the Puzzle Minion is based on our experience working with this particular boss, who fancied himself a poet. Here is a memorable line from one of his poems:
My pee is in that pile
When I think of you, I smile


  • 37A) Drunken sot, in general, appearing ina Chinese restaurant (3)
    SOT * anagram = TSO
Tso, General. We meet again.
General Tso  | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
It should come as no surprise, and yet it still comes as a little surprise:
The dish is named after General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty general and statesman, although there is no recorded connection to him. The real roots of the dish lie in the post-1949 exodus of chefs to the United States.

Source: Wikipedya

  • 40A) Lady's man, for example, backs bid to avoid a suit (4)
    ((for example = EG) backs = GE) + (avoid a suit ... ?= NT ) = GENT
Is this a bridge reference? Dear Readers are invited to elaborate logic in the ccccccomments.
  • 14D) Accommodating beef served around South America (11)
    (beef = COMPLAINT) around (South America = SA) = COMPLAISANT
Variant spelling that went unmentioned in the puzzle instructs. How unaccommodating.
  • 29D) Marble slab with writing on it, so they say (7)
    = STELE
Stele. Fancy seeing you here in a puzzle all the time every day (never stop) (can't stop won't stop).
The monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Is pronounced like “Steely Dan” yess?
1970s Steely Dan | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

The Tacky!

  • 24A) A female reporter with competence (4)
    A + (female reporter = BLY) = ABLY
Nellie Bly | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Nellie Bly! Remembered from our feminist playing cards growing up!! A sample of this American badass:
But the piece that was to make Bly’s name was her exposé of the insane asylum on New York's Blackwell's Island. Pretending to be Cuban, Bly was committed there and found that most women in the asylum were in fact not insane but immigrants who could not communicate with their jailers or single women without a place in society. Bly stayed there for 10 days and described the horrible treatment and conditions of the place. ‘Suddenly I got, one after the other, three buckets of water over my head—ice cold water, too—into my eyes, my ears, my nose and my mouth. I think I experienced some of the sensations of a drowning person as they dragged me, gasping, shivering and quaking, from the tub. For once did I look insane, as they put me, dripping wet, into a short canton flannel slip, labeled across the extreme end in large black letters, ‘Lunatic Asylum, B.I.H. 6.’”

Source: The Daily Beast

Referencing Queen Bly makes up (partially) for yeddanother male-normative clue. Ugh, side rant, in the NYTimes crossword the other week there was GUYLINER which, o my gorn no one cares about your precious fragile masculinity, men wearing eyeliner! Here! Let us now legitimize a bogus word to keep your penis safe. It's not eyeliner, it's guyliner. They're not dolls, they're GI Joes. It's not gay if you like it. You're safe now. Which is to say: this gender normativity shit works both ways and sucks every time.

Back to Bly, the “female” reporter, who would never ever ever in a million skillion years occur to a cryptic doer without that all-important “female” hint. Because why would one of the great muckrackers of US history ever be top of mind. Being as she is in a special and discrete category of reporter. You know. As a female.

Wouldn't it be cool to at least live in a world where the cryptic clues said like “male CEO” and “male president” and things like that? Clues from a free world (cool world).
sign stencilled in spraypaint: 'The Feminists are Taking Over' | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues

Comment (yes).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ambiguities - January 2015

January 2015 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Heart skippo'ed a beat on this one.

Saw __LIN__OM_NIA in 1A and wha? Could that be something-something ROMANIA?? Could this be a reference to our Romanian Sweet Vlad (The Sweet One)?? Is this a cryptic message just for us???

Not quite.

18A and sister answers 28A and 37A reveal glorious long narrative palindromes:
  • 18A) Oh cameras are macho
  • 28A) Deb sat in Anita's bed
  • 37A) but Anita sat in a tub
Had ITA and IN A TUB in the fill for 37A for a long time and imagined references to FAJITA and later CARNITA. Carnita in a tub! Yum!
Palindromania | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues These are from JON AGEE's PALINDROMANIA. Very nice. Thus, this was not a message in the matrix for we and Sweet V ... or twas it???

While on topic, our personal all-time favorite palindromes:
  • lonely Tylenol
  • a butt tuba
  • taco cat
  • yo! banana boy!


  • 11A) Mad money assuming company has thrifty management (7)
    MONEY + (company = CO) * mad = ECONOMY
We jam econo.
We Jam Econo | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 23A) What the Selective Service does for those making plans (8)
    What the Selective Service does = DRAFTS MEN = DRAFTSMEN
Nice. Had the D and M in the fill and toyed with DELETE MEN. Intense.
  • 33A) Exported Dutch tire announced (4)
    (tire = BORE) * homophone = BOER
Boer like Boer War. Four-letter Dutch export s'gotta be EDAM right? Did you get faked out at first glance like we did? Syke this time twas not so cheesy as that!!
Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues | Boer War
  • 40A) Registered trademark with earliest organized shopkeepers (9)
    ((Registered trademark = R) + EARLIEST) * anagram = RETAILERS
Put in ATTELIERS cuz we'd heard of it and we thought “Registered trademark” = T (misspelled ATELIERS) and it fit ... ish. Nicer this way of carse! Of carse, trouble spiraled out from this mis'entering (see 3D, below).
  • 41A) Fantasy creatures is described by Herb Klein initially (8)
    IS + (Herb = BASIL) + (Klein initially = K) = BASILISK
YESsss! Green deck forevar.
Basilisk | Green Deck | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) Look over little woman: rich and earthy (5)
    (Look = LO) + (little woman = AMY)
LO as in LOOK, HO! Little woman as in Little Women. Yuss.
Kirsten Dunst | Amy | Little Women | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 3D) Mutinous antielitist, taking the head off royalty, is found in space! (12)
    (ANTIELITIST + (head off royalty = R)) * anagram = INTERSTELLAR
We liked Interstellar. We were certain it'd get a shot at movie of the year. Mmmmm made a lot of money. Half a billion dollars money. Money wins Oscars, right? Not this time! Not even onda list. This year's Oscar noms generally just have us stumped. Like “wha? Why did they ... what is thi ... so much Birdman ... ?”
Insterstellar | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 5D) Some spirits turn out to be right, of course (4)
    (right = R) + (of course = YES) = RYES
Nice. Below: our all-time favorite moment from all of Parks and Recreation. In case it's not clear, in that last screenshot dear Ron Swanson is tearing, choked up.
Ron Swanson reads Robert Burns | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 13D) Adventurous sounds played in an alley (4)
    (played in an alley = BOWLED) * homophone = BOLD
Walter and The Dude | The Big Lebowski | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 29D) Who is named by the leaders of Denmark, Yugoslavia, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Britain? Not a living soul!
    (leaders of (Denmark, Yugoslavia, Bangladesh, Brazil) = DYBB) + (Britain = UK) = DYBBUK
Yah! From Wikupiidiia:
In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk (Yiddish: from Hebrew adhere or cling) is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.


dybbuk | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30D) Play doctor with a lot of doctors (5)
    (doctor = DR) + (lot of doctors = AMA) = DRAMA
Hhahha doctors DO present quite a bitta drama! Enjoy the narrative possibilities of this one. “Hey baby. Wanna play doctor? I play with a lot of doctors.”

btw: salt 'n' pepa Cæsar cut Doug Ross is this month's Nerd Hot Guy. Notttt George Clooney. Dr Doug Ross.
Dr Doug Ross | George Clooney | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 36D) Something to be avoided in losing or taking on an element (4)
    taking on, an element = CARB
cuz if it took “ON” then it'd be CARBON, you carbon-based lifeform you knew that!! Shout out to holiday carbo loading!


  • 15A) Being close to a woman about to acquire a cape (12)
    TO + (woman = HER) + (acquire = GET) + (cape = NESS) = TOGETHERNESS
“Ness” is a cape?
ness (n.)
obsolete except in place names, Old English næs "a promontory," related to nasu "nose" (see nose (n.)). Cognate with Old Norse nes, Danish næs, Swedish näs, Middle Dutch nesse.

Source: Etymonline

Fresh way to get to Ness WE GUESS. Not mora dis:
Ness | Costner | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 34A) Initiating it: a license to produce biased writing? (6)
    IT A LICense = ITALIC
Din't w'jus DO “italic = biased”? Like, recently? Googly search says no. Ok well. Ok.
  • 1D) Pacific telephone system follows quietly, each incorporating extra energy (9)
    (telephone system = CABLE) follows (quietly = P) + (each = EA) + (extra energy = E) = PEACEABLE
“telephone system = cable”? Mhurrrrrrrrrr.
  • 8D) Not quite ordinary opera (5)
    not quite (ordinary = NORMAL) = NORMA
Norma? What is?
ACT ONE: The action takes place in ancient Gaul, under Roman occupation, where the Druid priestess Norma has fallen in love with a Roman official named Pollione and has secretly borne him two children. Norma is also the daughter of the Druids' leader, Oroveso.

And later sounds like it gets RULLY good!

ACT TWO: So far, Norma has come across as an unpredictable and even dangerous woman. Now, we find her sounding vulnerable and filled with doubt — and with a knife in her hand.

Source: NPR

Hoped for a second this was a reference to Sally Field as brave and plucky union activist Norma Rae. We always mix Norma Rae up with tragic whistleblower and union activist Karen Silkwood.
Norma Rae | Karen Silkwood | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Also: jotted Turandot in our notes cuz: it's always Turandot.

The Tacky!

There were three we didna like this month! Ein zwei drei(sbach)!
  • 12A) Female writer's name, in the long run 
    (name = N) in the (long run = JOG) = JONG
Erica Jong | Fear of Flying | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues “long run” to preserve idiom but a jog is not a very long run per se. Generally connotes a short run.

“I took a jog this morning: two miles.”
“Good for you!”

“I took a jog this morning: 20 miles.”
“You bitch that is not a ‘jog’ that is a run.”
“It was at jog pace!”
“Like that matters. Twenny miles! Twenny miles!! ‘Jog’ ... sheesh ... ” [eats donut]

Wooot Erica Jong but buh, whysit gotta be female writer why not just writer you know like a real writer, unqualified, just that subtle shit that quietly rots female writers from the inside. Robble robble robble.

You wanna refer to Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues as the premier female comedic blog review of the Harper's cryptic?


probably. anyone else out there? holla!

The other Wednesday we had our first improv class at Second City. We expected Second City to be kindof dirty and gritty, like an old theater. Instead it's clean and expansive, like a new university student center, or Scientology headquarters* (*we imagine).

Anyway we arrived ten minutes early. And there was an earlier class in the room still wrapping up, but we figured, prolly ok to stand in the back and watch. But then the class teacher said in a very obnox way, “claaaaaaaasss hasn't started yet!” Which was a drag of a first impression to make on us.

We texted Sweet V about it: “He confirmed all those stereotypes you hear about men in comedy. Like how men in comedy are really chill, and funny.” And V texted back, “I've heard rumors that men can be funny, but never believed it could be true!”

This has prompted much extended trolling on the topic of Whether Men Can Be Funny, or Whether Men Are Capable of Being as Funny as Women.
“It's not sexism, it's a brain thing.”

“Seriously: men are biologically wired to hunt things, to punch things. They're warriors. Not comedians.”

“I'm sure you could name me plenty of exceptions. But the fact remains that most so-called male ‘comedians’ simply aren't funny.”
Soooooo satisfying to use the tactics of the oppressor. A little dangerous. We lose track of whether we're joking or not. We must be careful to use in moderation.

The second:
  • 14D) Sporting place whose hero shamelessly takes in university (10)
    (WHOSE HERO takes in (university = U)) * anagram = WHOREHOUSE
Great. What is sported, pray tell? Erections? Casts the phrase “sporting chance” in a new light.
  • 13A) Bishop washed out a significant continental address (5)
    (Bishop = B) + (washed out = WAN) + A = BWANA
Bwana | The Thing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues Murr. Even if “bwana” is used extensively in a thought experiment by the telepathic gorilla in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, a book we love. Even if it's used in The Thing, a movie which we also love.

BWANA is just a slip-tip of the tongue away from MASSAH. See what we mean? Language of oppression. We didn't like it. Boo(ana).

Comment (yes).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nothing for Christmas - December 2014

December 2014 | Harper's Cryptic puzzle solution

Cute. Empty calories.

The Theme!

The ten unclued entries have haha “nothing” in common because they're synonyms for “nonsense.” Why not synonyms for “nothing” to better fit the title? Cuz titles don't matter, fools!!! Titles are ... nonsense.

Anway: cutie cute theme. Inferred POPPYCOCK (35A) and latched onto this theme early. Altho some of the synonyms for “nonsense” were prutttttty weird.
  • 43A) EYEWASH (wut?)
  • 47A) TOMMYROT (Tommyknockers!!)
Tommyknockers | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 1D) HUMBUG (altho we put down HUBBUB)
Hubbub | Waiting for Guffman | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 11D) SCHMEGEGGE (we didn't get this one)
More on SCHMEGEGGE under “The Tacky.”


  • 15A) B-b-b-b-bugs (4)
    BEES (the letters and the insects)
A goofy loverful fun one! Sweet like honey!
  • 18A) Nucleoli, etc. circulating around, top to bottom line, like some debts (13)
    (NUCLEOLI ETC + (bottom line * top = BL)) * anagram = UNCOLLECTIBLE
Big bombossa anagramma! You know we love!
  • 22A) I could make binge begin either way, that's life (5)
    BINGE or BEGIN * anagram = BEING
YESssss! The wisdom of the Third Anagram! So sweet. Also reminded of an all-time favorite classic SNL sketch: “George F Will's Sports Machine” with Dana Carvey as George F Will:
George F. Will: Very well. Let us engage the sports machine. Gentlemen, as always, the questions will focus exclusively on baseball, the only game that transcends the boundary between fury and repose. All right, hands on buzzers. The precarious balance between infield and outfield suggests a perfect symmetry. For $50, identify the effect of that symmetry.

[ the contestants stare cluelessly, as the buzzer sounds ]

George F. Will: Sorry. The answer is: "The exhilarating tension between being and becoming." Being and becoming.


Dana Carvey | George F Will's Sports Machine | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 32A) What's wrong with getting a new leader? That's the point (5)
    WRONG * getting a new leader = PRONG
YuhhhhhHHHhhh normally, like if the “P” isn't suggested somewhere, this would be a farty bum clue to us but the language! So natural and so smooth!

Our lovely Romanian Sweet V has been politically engaged by his home country recently during the Romanian presidential runoff elections. At the time of writing this paragraph (Nov 16th) there's a 5 km line in Munich to vote for Romanians residing outside Romania. Think about that kind of line for a second. 5 km. 3 mi (ish). In Chicago, that's like you can vote in Daley Plaza and the end of the line is in Lincoln Park. In San Francisco, that's like you can vote at the Ferry Building and the end of the line is in the Castro. In New York, that's like you can vote at the Empire State Building and the end of the line is at the Manhattan Bridge. In St Johnsbury, Vermont*, that's like you can vote at the Athaeneum and the end of the line is at the Green Mountain Mall.
* shout out to ABEvF!!

Not minimizing what happens in USA to keep voters from voting. Democracy is fucky lots of places. Specific to the Romanian character, though:
On Sunday, some Romanians waved toothbrushes to protest long waits at polling stations abroad and thousands protested in Munich, according to Mediafax news.

Source: WLOX

Toothbrushes! They brought toothbrushes to wave at the cameras!!
  • 45A) Revolution counters macho street gangs (11)
Ahhhhh glorious! Annnnnnnnnagrams! Annnnnnnnagrams! Nice story. Double entendre on “counters.” Just beautiful. Just glorious.

In case of revolution break glass | Guy Fawks masks | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Speaking of Guy Fawks masks and V for Vendetta: Hugo Weaving is this month's Nerd Hot Guy.
Hugo Weaving | Lipstick | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Hugo Weaving in a blue shirt | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 46A) Forward or behind in the outskirts of Sydney (5)
    (behind = ASS) in (outskirts of Sydney = SY) = SASSY
Ohhhhhh so wonderful. Oh so lovely :)
Sassy street fashion in Sydney | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 2D) Look up study of the past (5)
    ((Look = LO) * up = OL) + (study = DEN) = OLDEN
Nice and neat. Trippingly off the tongue.
  • 7D) Liquor secreted in barracks (6)
    secreted in bARRACKs = ARRACK
Never hearda ARRACK but this was a nice double-use of “secreted” and also it reminds us of Arrakis. So, automatic highlight.
Arrakis concept art by Mark Molnar | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clue
Arrakis concept art by Mark Molnar. Source

  • 9D) Hero, he goes around a soldier in pursuit of love (6)
    HE goes around (A + (soldier = GI) in pursuit of (love = O)) = HOAGIE
Oh!! Such daring natural language, and lovely payoff.
Jared from Subway | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 16D) Physical condition that is largely misunderstood (7)
    LARGELY * anagram = ALLERGY
Allergies | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 20D) A porgy, sir, swims in bands in the water (9)
    A PORGY SIR * anagram = SPIROGYRA
Definitely uncommon! I like.
Spirogyra | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Was convinced tho, and still not entirely unconvinced, that there's a synonym for dolphin or porpoise that uses a good percentage of those letters. Some old-timey old-fashionedy word, like that might be all over Moby Dick. Any Dear Readers know what we're talkin bout? Not grampus, altho grampus is an AMAZN word!
  • 24D) High-fliers, expert in French and appearing in nightwear (8)
    (expert = PRO) + ((French and = ET) appearing in (nightwear = PJS)) = PROPJETS
Lovely! High-fliers maybe a little awkward, little tiny? But lovely payoff. French nightwear! OUI
French silk PJs | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 30D) Pippin, opening canceled in its limited programs (7)
    (Pippin = APPLE) + (opening canceled in ITS = TS) = APPLETS
SO solid! So NATURAL!!
Pippin with pippin | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 38D) Outcome of democracy: being blue (4)
    outcome of democRACY = RACY
Mmmmm v nice! And if one takes it to mean that democracy yields more liberal “blue state” thinking, then fodder for our sister blog Bleeding Heart Liberal Harper's Cryptic Clues??
  • 40D) Good actor? Bad actor, I'd say (4)
    (Bad actor = HAM) * homophone = HAMM
As in Jon. Look at this photo and then try to even. You will find: you cannot. You can't even.
Jon Hamm | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 37D) It used to be contracted as belonging to an old airline? (4)
    It used to be contracted = belonging to (an old airline = TWA) = TWAS
We like this one even though it rides sooooo close to the line of TWAT. Sooooooooo close. Taunts us. Wants us to say it. We shan't. Nice try, Maltby!!


  • 12A) Peter Fonda played this title-role part for minuscule effect (4)
    miniscule effect = ULEE
Whoa, Ulee! Didn't expect to see you'lee here, in a puzzle of all places jk jk. Jk. We always expect Ulee in the puzzle. Ulee in the puzzle is like when someone complains about their shitty landlord. A landlord? Being shitty? Well I never!

Miniscule effect indeed.
Ulee's Gold | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
“This honey is like GOLD!!”

  • 30A) Not loud, more than just a broadcaster (5)
    (more than just = FAIRER) * (not (loud = F)) = AIRER
Loud like in musical notation loud.

Frequently we have been an AIRER of grievances against -ER'isms in the puzzle. They make a Scrabbo game more interesting. They make a puzzle so much less so.

The two-letter word list also makes Scrabble much more interesting. All you vocal two-letter-word list haters (there are many of you, and you are very vocal): eat a cookie and go take a nap. Call us when you're ready to play Big Girl Scrabble, with the big girls. We have the TWL list** pretty well committed to memory, but usually play with the list printed out and open on the table, no penalty for any player to consult it. Which is fair, right? Very fair. How's that cookie?
** yah, fuck SOWPODS! Fuck ZO! TWL 4evr baby!!
  • 34A) Great: get back sheep before they're shorn (4)
    ((Great = G) + GET)* back = TEGG
Grumble grumble. The plural implication with “they're” messed us up. You ever do that in the cryptic? “Decide” you know the answer and don't think too hard about the reasoning behind it? And this Scrabble dictionary says TEGS is a word. Anyway.
Sweet V with sheep | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
Sweet V with Cousin Vasile's sheep

  • 41A) Lead-free clothing gets hearing (3)
    (clothing = WEAR) * lead-free = EAR
Meh. Eh. Frequent indicator (“hearing”) instead the definition portion but blahhhh. Guh.
Lead-free clothing | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 44A) Consumer appliance with the front removed (5)
    (appliance = HEATER) * front removed = EATER
Nice to split a phrase like “consumer appliance” but otherwise, not particularly fun. HEATER and EATER even rhyme, yo. It's fine when they rhyme. But we all have a better time when it's a little more creative, a little more lat'ral. You feel?
  • 3D) Distributor of beer (Coors) decentalized things old-timers played on (6)
    BEER + (Coors decentralized = CS) = REBECS
What's a rebe—ok fine. Learning.
Rebec | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues
  • 6D) Tees off for hot times at the Fontainebleau (4)
    TEES * off = ETES
Callin this out cuz ETES is toujours in the puzzles and can we get a PRINTEMPS can we get a HIVER? S'il vous plaît? Can we get a Spanish month that's not ENERO? This is the United States: everybody knows at least a little Spanish. Not joking. Can we get a MAYO can we get an ABRIL. Can we get a JULIO.
  • Acid that helps make you rich (4)
    yoU RICh = URIC
Uric acid is a component of urine. This is the part where we pretend to you, Dear Readers, that we are not a gross person. Eww. Pee that helps make you rich. Pee barons. Gross (haha).

The Tacky!

Why tacky? No, not [just] because it's a word synonymous with penis.
schmegegge definition | Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues


Dear Readers, if you knew 11D that is wonderful. Excellent and glorious for you. We were at a loss (our goy is showing). Confident in all our crosses, including faulty TEGS. Leaving us with some frustrating letter guessing games. Scumegense? Scamegeese?

Unclued theme word with letters unchecked? Boo. Not a very nice holiday present. Nuh tat tall. Usually this space is reserved for culturally tacky clues, but this time it's just a tacky cryptic clue qua cryptic clue. By which we mean: “we didn't like it, because we couldn't solve it.” Ego.

We're gearing up early for New Year's Resolutions, Dear Readers. 2015 is the Year of Freedom. Especially including freedom from ego. In preparation, we're queueing up some all-purpose responses for the next time we feel defensive-vulnerable-insecure.

Favorite right now: “eh ... probably!”

“Your blog is not very funny.”
“eh ... probably!”

Jk jk, everyone thinks this blog is funny!!

[eyes to the left]
[eyes to the right]

Commenting feels good and makes you more attractive [to us]!!