Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your one-stop-shop for all things one thing. And that thing this week is the Listener by Hotspur… we last saw Hotspur a little over a year ago with the Turing-themed Sum, which which I struggled, but managed to get there. Before that was the transnistral Resident and Pirandello in At Arm’s Length. So I’ve got a pretty good track record with Hotspur, and I was hoping this might be an easier one.
I was travelling when this came out, and I started on a plane heading out to the American midwest. I had Bradfords with me, and someone who appeared to be a high school coach sitting next to me who was determined to keep his wankerphone on during the whole flight. He got called out on it as we were taxiing out – apparently the screen was shining on the ceiling above us.
What have we here? Six clashes, 21 misprints and some words to highlight in the final grid, along with a blocked off central square. So mostly real words and a few clashes. Let’s see where it goes.
There is a 1 across and I could not for the life of me figure it out. A trip to Bradfords provides LIEN for “spleen” so that’s CLIENT at 7 across and we are underway.
Plane solve was slow and a little worrying – I didn’t find a single clash, though I was pretty sure one would have to be in 31 across since I couldn’t think of an ?RR? word that would work, and also in 34 down which looked like it should be O??? and OML? wasn’t going to work.
I also wasn’t doing too well on the misprints, having only found about 10 of them, though it was looking like there was CAUGHT in there, which would fit with the title.
Back on dry (and stinking hot) land, and with the electronic Chambers nearby it’s time to tackle this again. OK – I am not sure if this is how it was meant to be done, but it seemed to me that there were a number of letter subtraction clues that required finding obscure words in Chambers. I think I abused the full text search more this time than in any other crossword – finding ANTHESTERIA looking for Dionysian terms, SCOLION looking for drinking songs and BERLICHINGEN for the castle. Those got me going on the grid again and CAUGHT IN THE ????? WORDS was looking like a good shot for the message.
I had read some of “Caught In The Web Of Words” a few years ago when I visited the UK for the first time – I was staying with friends in Luton and training it in to London to be a stinking tourist. I remember it being a pretty good read, and the author, JAMES MURRAY was lurking in the middle row (with the U in place I could finally figure out URVA for the crab-catcher). The other misprint I had found was in the middle of a diagonal WORK which could become MESH-WORK which makes sense – James Murray is going to be caught in some webby words. There’s LATTICE confirming 34 down had to be O,MIT, and T?XTURE which means 13 down is PAE?LAS – aaah, PAELLAS! TRELLIS going in the other direction means that there has to be a clash in the second letter of 48 across – so it should be TSURIS.
I’m in that place again – all the thematic stuff is found, but I’ve got two annoying gaps… 1 across and 3 down have blanks. Bugger.
Well 3 down needs to have the misprint B – is it RIBS? Yep – RIAS becomes RIBS. ?IREN?A. That’s weird, Word Wizards isn’t giving anything, nor is WordWeb. I went all the way to OneLook to find SIRENIA as a type of water creature (in Chambers under SIRENIAN). Unusued letters spell VERBAL and I believe we are done!
Three solving sessions later I’ve got it, and I feel like I’ve had a pretty thorough workout. There was a lot of fun stuff in there, and some fiendish clues that I would have had little hope of unraveling without the full text search in Chambers. I still don’t quite get CORAM, but all the letters are checked, and all the thematic stuff is in place, so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed there.Since I was out of town for the week I didn’t get to submit this one, but Hotspur has checked in here before, so thanks for a fun puzzle and a rather nice ending, spotting those tangled words helped get me out of the final mess. I think I can call this one a Victory to George, woohoo!
2013 tally: 24-7-5
Feel free to tell me what a coram does, and see you next week when Nod will leave us red and or raw.
Filed under: Listener Crosswords