I’m strange and loopy!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. New setter this time around, though Apt is a familiar sight on social media, so hi if you are checking in, Apt.  What have we here?  Roundish grid, a reference to the Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations, which is apparently a thing, and some misprints.  Let’s begin, shall we?

It is worth noting that this puzzle came out two days before dress rehearsals began for the show I am currently in, a revival of Fiddler On The Roof at Haywood Arts Regional Theatre.  So taking advantage of an opportunity to not be stone cold sober, I first worked on this one at Tipping Point Brewery, a highly recommended stop.

There was no 1 across, however there is a 7 across, and in goes TOIL,ET and maybe there is a lavatorial theme with the shape of the grid. Has the Listener ever done a dunny theme?  At the end you have to flush your grid to Green Lane.  Unfortunately the only crosser I could get was ITEMED and so that was that.  In the first session I only managed a few patches of grid.  On the other hand, I was pretty good at spotting misprints in Apt’s clues, so I had quite a few letters of the message.

Solving session 2 was back home and with access to all the electronic dictionaries, and a trip to my campus’ library website to find that indeed we do have a subscription to the Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations.  Hmmm… maybe that’s as good a place as any to start.  My extra letters were HOSTTERLAN… no, they’re not – HOSTTERLAW (I always get thrown when it is the misprints we keep – I did write FCWKCIAJCWLBEN next to the clues in case something came of it.  Anyhoo – isn’t there a HOFSTADTER’S LAW?  “Godel, Escher, Bach” was pretty much required reading when I was in college, and whenever I have had a student who is mathematically or cryptically inclined, I’ve given them a copy as a graduation present.  There is only one quote attributed to him in the ODSQ – it always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.  And there it goes (with “think” rather than “expect” and “that” being added to the end) to complete the circle.  I didn’t check with the unchecked letters given but I think that is right.

There was a little bit of sursolving left, the CESSER and CSARDAS area of the grid being helped greatly by having the quote in place, and at the end of two sessions, we have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4457, Polo by Apt

Woohoo!  I was a little flummoxed by something – the quote is in EGB, and the title refer’s to a sequel, which I figured to be “The Mind’s I”.  However I had not checked in with Hofstadter’s “recent” books, and it seems there is one from 10 years or so ago called “I am a Strange Loop” which explains the title and the quote running around in the loop.  Neat!  This was a very fun puzzle Apt, and a great debut, and I believe I can call it a Victory to George.

Game over, 100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that I should go hang myself with an eternal golden braid, and see you next week when Chalicea has a puzzle describing an adorable sect of puzzle fanatics.

Pity there wasn’t a white headed eagle

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, serving up only the worst of puns and observations since 2008.

Malva time! It appears Dipper has exhausted the world of gardening and is now on an avian kick.  After Malva’s last listener I wrote that maybe Dipper would be the pseudonym for horticulture and Malva would be the one for birds, so I was primed for the theme that had not yet appeared.  What have we – extra letters in wordplay (there’s a lot of that going around), and different entries of thematic answers.  Extra words, first letters, something else.  OK

There is a 1 across, and it is a term I am extremely familiar with – MAS,HUPS so we have an extra word in the first clue for Propaganda.  Woohoo!

With both Dipper and Malva the problem has not been in solving the clues, it has been with whatever comes next in the grid, as plants and birds are not my strong suit.  I kept waiting for a word that didn’t fit into the grid that needed to be modified, but nothing appeared, and I was getting close to a full grid.  Hmmmm.

It was pretty clear the first set of extra letters were going to be an anagram of YELLOW, and with TAN and SAND coming later on it seems like colours.  It was a mistake that led me to the theme – I had 25 across as ROWS from SWORD and so had an extra D in there, solving ALCHERA meant it wasn’t ROWS, and that made sense.  Probably had to be an extra E so that BLUE could be spelled from the extra letters.  It’s SPEAR leading to RAPS and hiding right underneath in the grid it TIT. BLUE TIT!  It’s like that puzzle where every letter had to be entered in a colour, we’re going to enter some birds in colours.

So with Chambers there the rest was fairly easy – look up the colours as a headword and find a bird that fit. Of course that didn’t stop me from getting excited about GREENEYE, which is a fish.  If Malva had put JACKET in there somewhere I would have totally associated it with YELLOW.

I don’t know what I would have done if I was planning on submitting this puzzle, since I don’t think I have all of the colours handy. If I was more conscientious I would have made a new grid in Crossword Compiler and entered the words in the appropriate colours, I’m sure there’s another blog where you can see at least one of those.

The final part took me almost as long as the rest of the puzzle – I had two dilemmas – first was that I wasn’t 100% on whether the extra word in 29 down was RENAISSANCE or BEING.  RENAISSANCE seemed like the best bet.

There’s 18 letters and we are told it is a 15 letter extra item… so probably RED something… I scoured the RED section in Chambers and there was nothing.  Maybe RED somethingED birdtype?  If the extra word was BEING then it could be a red beaked something… we have exhausted Chambers so I turned to onelook for suggestions (not having a copy of “Olson’s Book of Standard British Birds (minus the gannet)”. RED BEAKED something was not working.

It was a search for RED ????ED ????????? that finally turned up RED NECKED PHALAROPE!  Two checks through to make sure all the letters worked and we are done!

I’ve just written the colours, I haven’t coloured the entries.

My working grid for Listener 4456, Shady Characters by Malva

Woohoo!  Victory to George but that last part – was it really necessary?  And was that bird more obscure than Jude the Obscure’s collection of obscure objects?

Game over – 99% victory (still not sure why RENAISSANCE is the extra word in 29 down).

Feel free to tell me that someone with the brain of one should know birds extremely well, and see you next week when Apt gives us a puzzle featuring one of the more popular shirt styles.

At least the puzzle wasn’t written around the theme “silence gives consent”

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  A few hours late, and I’m not sure if I will get this done before I have to get on the road.

So let’s get down to it – Silence was carte blanche and the top and bottom row were unclued. Clues were normal and sitting right in the middle is a 15-letter entry which looks like it could be an anagram – which it was, of DURCHKOMPONIERT.  Of course I came up with that by myself and not an anagram solver (I can lie as well as anyone else in crosswordland). Anyhoo, we skipped the 1 across test for the “obvious 15-letter answer in the middle of the grid” test.

We also know where the across clues end, and with 15 letters in the row and an entire row unclued, it made sense that the second and penultimate row have these answers completely filling them (though on a first pass I only got OREADES at the top and ONCEOVER at the bottom.  This was enough to make a good start on the grid, eventually running in to a problem where AD REM wouldn’t fit anywhere!  There was an obvious spot for the unclued entries, and AD REM should have gone through them, but huh?

A bit later and there’s another problem – IN KEY, DUE TO and TWO PM also have nowhere to go.  They are all two word phrases… aaaah?  Do they straddle the middle line and the space count as a character?  But what goes in the middle?

I had ANTWO?T in the top row.  Is this a puzzle to do with DIE ANTWOORD?  Hmmm…

There’s no mention of ODQ for the six word phrase… maybe it is one of the ones in Chambers?  Something in Afrikaans?  Nope, turns out it is German – KEINE ANTWORT IST AUCH EINE ANTWORT.  No answer is the same as an answer – so these are left blank. My working copy is a bit of a mess, but here ’tis.

My working grid for Listener 4455, Silence by MynoT

I thought this was going to be a daunting task, but with the symmetry restrictions and the generous long answers in the acrosses, it wasn’t too bad, and was all done in two sessions (the first one being at the rather nice deck at French Broad Brewing).  That was fun MynoT, and I think I can claim a Victory to George.  Though now I’ve seen the solution online and the bigger victory is to M Goodliffe who managed to add to his voluminous crossword swag collection.

Game over – 100% completion, woohoo!

Feel free to tell me to go shove it up my Durchkomponiert and see you next week when Malva introduces us to some leafy trees.

Architecture so organic, it isn’t there!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where you can come and feel good about your mediocre solving skills and not fall into the hype of describing an impossibly difficult crossword you cannot solve without excessive consultation as “elegant”.

Augeas time!  I have generally been able to solve (sometimes with some blundering errors) Augeas puzzles and they have typically been on an interesting theme, so let’s have some fun, shall we?

Clues in blocks of four types, hmmm. That sounds complicated. Looks like real words in the grid, so let’s get solving.

There is a 1 across but I had absolutely no clue on a first reading, so there is a big fail on the 1 across test.  I didn’t get started until PRAIRIE at 12 across, which was a normal clue.

Fortunately PRAIRIE got me a good start at the top half of the grid and the penny dropped extremely quickly – it was likely that the thematic entry at the right of the second row was going to be WEST, and with T????SIN in place and PRAIRIE already in the grid, the possibility of TALEISIN WEST beckoned!

It may surprise readers that I am rather a fan of modern architecture styles (though I may have raved here about visiting Niemeyer buildings in Brazil), so with FALLING WATER in the middle of the grid and the beginning of FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT in the bottom half of the grid, the hard work was out of the way in a very short piece of time, woohoo!

The rest of the grid filled up like lightning, and all that was left was to try to piece together the message.  I couldn’t figure out hat the misprint was in 18 across, but it has to be APHAGIA, and there we have the message – HIGHLIGHT THE MAN AND HIS MAIN INNOVATIVE STYLE.  So there must be ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE somewhere in the grid, to go with FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT.  I spent almost as long trying to find ORGANIC in the grid as I did solving the rest of the puzzle.  PRAIRIE is still left, I wasn’t sure if it was a helper entry or part of the thematic material – I guess with no other option that has to be what is highlighted?

My working grid for Listener 4454, Honest Grey Maker

Augeas has picked another fun theme, however one that I knew a fair bit of before I got started, so this time I didn’t learn anything new.  Still a little puzzled by PRAIRIE (which I have now seen as the intended highlighting) and the wordplay for APHAGIA, but I think I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over – 99% completion.

Feel free to tell me I should be walled up with a cask of organic amontillado and see you next week when MynoT gives us a puzzle that is golden.

Ice pick in your grave

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword, where today we catch up, if not catch on.

Shackleton!  Last year we had an epic voyage, and from the near-unreadable preamble it appears we are on the way to another one. There’s H and A and D and rows, and expeditions, and names, and misprints.  Hmm…

There is a 1 across and for yet another week there was a big fail on the 1 across test.  In fact I did so poorly on the first few clues I just started scanning for a clue that looked like an acceptable entryway.  Oh, I should mention that I cracked open this puzzle in a rather nice venue – the porch of the tasting room of French Broad brewery, where I enjoyed a beer before going to a show around the corner (a show I ended up being in – thanks Anam Cara!).

Anyhoo, my French came in handy with ALL,ON,S being my first in and a misprint for a K right off the bat.  Hmmm…

I had most of the right hand side of the grid filled in during the first solving session, but nothing was coming to me from the misprints, so let’s pick it up another time.

This was a tortuous solve – I must have picked it up about a dozen times over the next week or so (and at least at one other brewery – this could be the most beer-stained Listener ever).  AMAZON appeared in the grid – that looked promising.  NORTH IS WEST appeared in the the misprints.  Hmmm – up is down, left is up?

Eventually I was so close to a complete grid – I was missing 19 down, 38 across and 35 down.  The messages were still not completely helpful – DOT AND DICK DASH TO ?HE POLE NORTH IS WEST A?D EIGHT FLA?S – FLAGS?  ADD EIGHT FLAGS?  That sounds like an instruction and helps me get TAI CHI for 19.  The wordplay for 35 really looks like DETER, not sure where the G comes in.  OK – a grid!

Now what?  Googling “Dot and Dick” reveals a lot of images I cannot unsee, but eventually I think we have something – the SWALLOWS (not in the grid, but SWALLONS is – so that N is W works here), and AMAZONS series by ARTHUR(in the grid), RANSOME (in part hurried).  So the second row has an anagram for WINTER HOLIDAY which appears to be about some shenanigans and pirates on a frozen lake.

So it appears I’m meant to find something to do with the arctic expeditions that this book is inspired by, but I can’t find anything in the grid that remotely resembles the mess of stuff asked for in the preamble.

My working grid for Listener 4453, Army & Navy by Shackleton

And that is where this voyage ended.  Confused, not slightly sober, and none the wiser as to where to go next. I had heard of the author, never heard of the series of books nor this one in particular, and it was too late to go out and get a copy to find out what is going on.

A resounding victory to Shackleton and the Listener Crossword!

Game over, 65% completion.

Feel free to tell me it should have been blindingly obvious and see you next week when Augeas has a puzzle with only one word that describes me.

Double double, toil and trouble (and whoops a pdf)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword from a week ago.  I completely forgot last Friday about Nud’s puzzle, and just now realized that it’s really Nudd with the setter’s name treated the same way as some of the entries.  So here goes…

The preamble was rather fun, wasn’t it?  It reminds me more of the American themed puzzles you see in The Enigma and Harpers.  So everything needs to be modified, and it appears all the grid entries are shorter than the number of letters indicated in the clue, so let’s try some and see if we can spot it?

There is a 1 across but I could not figure it out so there was a fail on the 1 across test.  However a run through the across and down clues I could solve yielded enough words with double letters that it seems like it could fit with double letters entered as single letters.  That got me a good start, however I couldn’t figure out what was going on with ANANA which had to fit in three spaces – looks like paired letters go in that way.  I thought that was a little ugly in what was otherwise a fun romp.  Near the end there was some heavy-duty trawling to find entries like APPERILL and another paired letter entry, OROROTUND.

Took two sessions to complete the grid, and then when I scanned it, I forgot I had been scanning script segments with my scanner and it came out as a pdf.  Oh well..


Game over, victory to George, and 100% completion… and now to Shackleton…

Feel free to tell me not very much since I hope to have the next entry up soon.


If at first you don’t succeed…

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, numerical playfair edition. There are some out there who dislike numerical puzzles.  I’m not one of them – whether they end up being mathematical or logical in nature, they are something different and usually interesting.  There are some out there who dislike Playfair squares.  We call them rational human beings.  So when I saw the title of this puzzle, and then read the preamble, my emotions ran the gamut of fear to disgust.

I made about three attempts to sit down and work out a starting point to this puzzle, but even when working on the clues and writing down little notes (one digit in 4 has to be the same as one digit in 8, no other digit can be the same), I got absobloodylutley nowhere and there was still the looming spectre that even if I got somewhere, I was going to have to go back to that stupid little square.

Zag has set both word and number puzzles, and a look back at my notes shows that I managed to solve both word puzzles, but so far neither of the numerical ones.  Maybe next time… but this one is a resounding empty-grid victory to Zag!

Game over:  didn’t even make it past the tutorial screen

Feel free to tell me I should have scanned the empty grid, and see you next week when Nud informs us who our uncle is.