Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – there was an awful lot of traffic here last week, maybe because of the severe sigma vs plus sign controversy over last week’s eXternal puzzle. Loda this week! It’s been a while since we’ve had a Loda puzzle, so I get to add a Loda tag – though the last Loda puzzle is one of the most looked-at reports on George vs the Listener Crossword because I put “gay” “sex” and “danke” together in the title, which appear to be three of the most searched together terms on the internet. I like to think this means Germany has a lot of polite homosexuals.
Well this is an interesting looking grid – all zig-zaggey, and with numbers in strange places. Looks like entries can go left, right or zig-zag and there’ll be missing letters. Hmmm… clues have definition misprints, leading to titles.
This looked like it could be brutally hard. Good thing I had a wet Saturday afternoon with a hangover and no other plans. Coffee at the ready!
There is a 1 …. well it definitely doesn’t go backwards… but it doesn’t matter because I couldn’t figure it out off the bat, so a big fail on the 1 somewhere test. Better luck with the next clue which is a hidden IOTA but that could make the definition BITE or MITE. Hmmmm… well I can confidently put a I in the square labeled 3, right?
Hooo boy – we are in ice-cold deep freeze cold solving mode here, aren’t we? On a first run through the clues I got about a quarter of them, but frustratingly I could not get enough close together to put in any complete answers. It was a case of take a break, and come back to the set of clues looking for a few more each time, until I could start slotting in answers. The first part of the grid to really take shape was the top right – where I ran into my first real problem with the preamble (or at least my reading of the preamble). Since two names had to start from the square labeled 2, I was pretty sure one ran to the right, since 3, 5 and 6 all ran on diagonals. So imagine my dismay when I finally twigged that 4 was STAIRWELL and now the entire top row was filled in and there was no way there could be a six letter author with a missing letter starting at 2. GAK!
OK, what am I missing? Is there anything I can get from those misprints – ISLAND… THE VODI? what’s a VODI? ANIMAL.. could it be ANIMAL FARM? Can’t figure out 24 or 26 and don’t see ORWELL anywhere (yes, later on I realized he was staring at me from the top row). GOD KNOWS… just a sec – I’ve read that! It’s HELLER. At uni I had a friend who went on and on and on and on and on and on about “Catch 22″, so to annoy him I read every other Heller novel except “Catch 22″ (I really enjoyed “Picture This”) so I could talk about Heller but not “Catch 22″, which I still haven’t read.
HELLENE is at 32 (where there’s meant to be a writer). Aaaaah… so it isn’t that there are blank spaces in the writer’s name, it’s that only five letters of the writer’s name are in the grid. So ORWELL is up there at 2, just missing his O and the other one is some form of RAINE or REPIN. And I’d already spotted what looked like it could be HUXLEY except that CAPOT… hey, how are you doing CAPOTE.
Yes, gentle readers, once again I was so thick that I was missing the authors even when they were staring me in the face, one letter short.
This could be a first… I had a hard time finding the last few authors, so I searched for them by feeding the titles into Amazon’s Book Search… I couldn’t find out another way to see how THE VODI was a story by BRAINE, YOUTH was by WILDER and SKY TIP was by AMBLER.
Now we’re getting somewhere… most of the blank spaces are in the middle (or in what I presume is the frustrating to solve 46) and my missing letters from authors aer ERKYAOBD… KEYBOARD!
Woohoo! There is a KEYBOARD taking shape in the middle of the grid, isn’t there? That explains the zig-zaggyness.
In a split second my mood had gone from frustration to jubilation and my admiration for the grid construction and why these clues going every which way rose dramatically. It didn’t even matter that I had three unchecked letters (very close to naughty, Loda) in a clue I made a right mess of in several attempts to solve. This was a work of art of a grid!
Clues of note:
I guess I should say the one that frustrated me the most
46: Fistic chumps might be shaved by these quietly heartless youth (7) – misprint of U so definition is “Fustic chumps might be shaved by these” and wordplay is P, LAN
I was so convinced that the misprint was in “chumps” to the point I was looking for names of doctors who shaved boxers during matches. That happens, right?
4: Dwarf maybe taking in island spa, a place for misers (9) – misprint of R so definition is “a place for risers”, dwarf STA(I)R,WELL
Loda did a great job of not making it obvious which words had to be altered, and this was a sneaky one.
In the end, I’m putting a check next to this one as an early runner for the Ascot Gold Cup… clever theme, good use of thematic material, might use points for using obscure books and stories, but I liked it – thanks Loda!
I believe we can call this one a Victory to George!
2015 tally (still without a submission) – 5-0-0
Feel free to tell me that everyone has read “The Vodi” and see you next week when Augeas forgets how many cast members there were in the American rip-off of “Man About The House”.