Monday, September 17, 2012

Welcome, Richard Maltby fans

By popular demand, I'm opening up a thread for comments on the Richard Maltby cryptic titled "Hidden Meanings" in the October 2012 issue of Harper's.

The thread kicked off during Sunday brunch when Meg asked whether the straight definition in 34a should have been in past tense.  That (plus the fact that she'd gotten her print copy of the puzzle before Harpers' published it online) got me interested enough to stop off at the library last night to get it right away.

I made like a busy beaver and worked on the SE corner first.  Sure enough, Meg is right.  Here's how I parsed 34a:

ADU(*LATE)D. *TALE (anagram indicated by "reprinted") contained in ("environmentally") A DUD ("a failure"). 

I did finish the puzzle last night.  As Meg notes, Maltby varies the level of difficulty and his harder puzzles usually take me two or three sittings.  There's no unusual wordplay in this one (unlike many of his puzzles): just six long unclued entries, each of which is a groan-inducing pun.

So, Harpers' solvers and WSJ commenters, welcome.  Any friend of Meg's is a friend of mine.  I'll fetch another mourvèdre from the cellar for you.  Feel free to use the comments space for questions, hint requests, and other cryptic chatter.  I'll cross-post Meg's follow-up to get things started.



  1. Meg Duvall wrote on September 17, 2012 1:25 PM:

    Braze: I'm so happy I found this site! On the WSJ site a few of us post about the Maltby, but I don't feel very comfortable about that. WSJ is nice enough to offer an online forum (unlike Harper's) and we sort of hijack it (blogjack?) occasionally.

    That being said, I have more Maltby questions.
    5D. Thwart = Cross....not across. Where does the "a" come from? Don't you have to account for all the parts of the word? Am I missing something?
    34D. "Say ahh" is said by a dentist? I suppose.

    I like Maltby's style, which is quite different from HEX. His difficulty level varies also, which is good.

  2. Gee, Braze.....I'm flattered! And apparently I can't spell. The above comment should have been "Say aah" (not ahh). I'll try to roust some more Maltby people!

  3. Another thanks to Braze and to Meg for posting the link on the WSJ site.

    I thought the same thing about "thwart", but the dictionaries I looked at seem to accept it as used, at least secondarily. d/t, who I hope will be posting here, mentions that it "also" has a nautical meaning, but I always thought the nautical meaning came first. Maybe not.

    (Disclaimer) I am a faithful member (at least in spirit - I don't even know if there is such an actual organization) of CANOE - Conspiracy to Attribute Nautical Origin to Everything.

  4. Perhaps someone here would like to help me out with 36A? A hint, or ... maybe point out where the clue is divided?

    I'm stuck, but it would open up enough to probably push me through my current block.


    1. Actually, got it. This puzzle's starting to open up.

      I swear, being a NYT-a-day addict, I sometimes have to spend a few hours wrestling with this thing every month when my Harper's comes. It's such a different brain you have to put on.

    2. Any hint? I am a newbie to Harper's puzzles and I'm going crazy over this!

    3. Welcome, Anonymous.

      Hint 1: the division (definition | wordplay or vice versa) is between "stones" and "giving"

      More hints available if you need them. Keep trying, we can give you a nom if you finish this!

  5. Meg or Test, do you think your colleagues would be interested in an annotated solution posted here?
    I'll be happy to add one to the blog, especially if you did the annotation (nice to have a few other voices to hear)

  6. Braze: Well, that's a good question. If you post a solution, then we won't have much reason to post our questions. Amy over at Crossword Fiend often posts a completed grid.

    I've also discovered that there's a Facebook group devoted to cryptics including Maltby's. Of course I don't have a Facebook page. I know....I know....get with it....

    So, in answer to your question, I would ay "No", only because I would be tempted to look at it instead of figuring out the answer or asking about it.

    p.s. I hate captchas.

    1. I know, Meg. But I hate comment spam even more, and the comment spammers have found us.


If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.