Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – and we’re late again. I just got a phone call as I was getting settled in to write this up, and how time flies when you’re making holiday plans!
Let’s discuss an attempted rebound from last week, where GvL is holding up the standard, I think that could have been a record for most blogs of a Listener ever, but I am the one that admitted brain-sapping defeat.
And now to Samuel… Samuel was last spotted incognito hiding in a Fibonnaci series in 8 by 13, putting a big T in the middle of a grid in Noye, having us construct an Advent calendar in Great Expectations, the poetry of Ali in Conversion, a game of Pachinko in Playtime, a parliamentary vote in Motion, and Newtons ups and downs in The Cause of Much pain. Add to that his role in Qid in Printer’s Devilry - the age of this blog may well be measured in Samuels!
On Samuel puzzles I am 6-1, so I figured this would be fun, but I’ve got a good shot. Now what is there – no gridlines (and none needed, but since they have symmetry I started bunging them in as I went), a curved surface (so probably some wrapping around – that seems to be confirmed by the enumeration of across answers not being symmetric), some thematic wordplay only entries and everything else is cycled.. and that’s just the across clues! Down clues are… normal. Well, OK.
Let’s get cracking, shall we – and since down clues are normal we’ll start with the downs.
Possibly 1 is FUMBLERS becoming MUMBLERS and our down message starts with a T. Couldn’t get the next one, but then we have ONRUSH… so THE is looking good.
I wasn’t doing great with the down clues, until I got to RETUSE and saw there was an X in the message. That’s not one you see everyday. Then an R and a C, and the last gives me a T. E’s usually come before X’s so this message probably ends EX?RC??T. EXORCIST? Pipes… EXORCIST… the theme from the Exorcist was “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield. I used to own the CD (long since lost in a series of intercontintental moves). Backtracking to the top – THEME FROM THE EXORCIST matches the letters I have so far.
George you clever clog! You’ve got the theme before putting a single answer in the grid, and you now know one letter in each of the down answers (or at least narrowed it down to a few choices). The result of this was I now about three-quarters of the down answers.
Time to look at the acrosses… I had a really tough time wrapping my head around these cycled clues. First two I got were OBOISTS and OF YORE. Checking out the number of letters available, OF YORE should go in the fourth row, and OBOISTS should go in the eighth. With MUMBLERS and CLATTERS being the only two 8-letter answers, they probably go in the top left and bottom right – and the T in OBOISTS could cross CLATTERS, SIENNA, and DOOMED, though there seems to be two places DOOMED could go. That would make the other seven-letter answer in the acrosses begin with C – CLOSURE! That could place ONRUSH and TEXTER and MUMBLERS
I had a rather ridiculous looking grid in the next 10 minutes or so – with a pretty full top left and bottom right, but a whole bunch of dead space at the opposite corners. A bit more bashing and cobbling knowing a few of the letters and particularly for the 8 letter rows, typing in possible strings to Word Wizards and we have a grid, with the six wordplay-only entries all being bells…
OK – I know MIKE OLDFIELD and TUBULAR BELLS are hidden in there somewhere… the counting of letters in the across clues gives ROTATE EVERY ROW… I circled the letters, and they are symmetrically spaced from each other. Looking good!
There are two ways this could be rotated to line up MIKE OLDFIELD and TUBULAR BELLS in a column, but the one that has MIKE OLDFIELD on the left would mean row 6 was not rotated, so there is only one solution.
I meant to scan my final version before I sent it in, but (as faithful readers of this blog know), foresight is not really my strong point.
OK, the solution has been out for almost an hour now, let’s take a peek…
And if I have transcribed it correctly, a Victory to George! Woohoo! This was fun, though it was a pretty amusing time of knowing where it was going but not being entirely sure how to get there.
2013 tally: 15-3-3
Feel free to let me know that there is a proper way to do a crossword and I rarely go that route, and see you next week when Chalicea appears to be offering us an unbreakable pair of glasses?