Does the island have wi-fi? Did anyone ever say they would bring skin mags?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, the blog that survived the blogacaust on WordPress.  All rumors that I destroyed Listen With Others are blatantly false.

Speaking of destroying – here comes Ifor’s latest, The Harmony of Ratios. I have found most of Ifor’s last puzzles tricky and confusing.  Ifor seems to dwell way outside of my realm of expertise, with puzzles about Greek plays, Dam Busters and the like.  Here we have four letter entries that are shortened words, and two letter removals (are they together, are they separate, do they always leave real words?).  Something to be written under the grid and something to be highlighted.  And one clue that leads to two answers that differ by a letter.  Hmmm…

The day this appeared I was at a small symposium where I was only interested in one of the talks, but I was stuck there, so I thought I’d sneak peeks at the puzzle… there is no 1 across but there is a 2 across.  Wordplay looks like an anagram of IN TO TEST, which my crossword app says TOTIENTS works, and it appears to fit the definition, so woohoo, a big pass on the 1 across test.  Though I can’t write anything in the grid yet.  Boo.

Next up is another anagram for INTEGRA with the extra letters inside DEBATING.  OK, so the removed letters are not sequential.

Well that got me a start on the grid, but this was a long and painstaking process.  I was rarely on Ifor’s wavelength, and most of the California quarter of the grid was empty for days.  I did early on spot the clue that I thought at the time was BACKER/BARKER.

It seemed there was an inordinately large number of anagram clues – maybe because those are the most amenable to adding in two extra letters?  Finally I cracked the crossing pair of HEINOUSLY and ACTUARY and was in to that pesky last sector.

I had a few of the subtractions, and some were songs but there was also BARD which didn’t seem to be a song.  This was getting dire.

I was about three clues away from completing the non-four-letter clues, when I decided to try to piece together the message.  I could see BY THE something, and the other letters were going to DESERT something – DESERT ISLAND DISCS?  That’s a radio thing, isn’t it?

A trip to Google and it appears DESERT ISLAND DISCS was created by ROY PLOMLEY and the theme tune was BY THE SLEEPY LAGOON by ERIC COATES.  Everyone who was about to be stranded on the island was automatically given the complete works of the BARD, I guess because when there’s nothing to do, reading Henry V sounds like fun, and a Bible – which confirms OT and NT being removed from TOTIENTS and leaving TIES (and unfortunately not TITS). OK, that explains the songs… they’re also allowed to bring a book and a luxury item (could a boat count as a luxury item?).

Well I now know the last few letters that need to be removed from clues, and I can finish up the grid (though I still can’t figure out the wordplay to ROCK-BASIN I don’t think it can be anything else).

OK, what next – something to highlight.  If you’ve got all these bloody records, won’t you need a TURNTABLE?  There’s ABLE right under the C/R but I can’t see where to make TURN.

Something’s not right here – let’s check those sneaky diagonals… aaah – CHAMBERS is there.  So if you were stuck on a desert island with Chambers you could still do crosswords… except you don’t have any crosswords.  I guess you could set them.  Somewhere are a bunch of floating bottles with hand-written grids, waiting to wash up on the Rotter’s gate entrance to The Times.  Is that how Schadenfreude sends crosswords to the editors?

So it isn’t BARKER/BACKER, it’s BACKER/PACKER, and we’re getting closer.  A name has to be written at the bottom – I automatically wrote in RAY PLOMLEY, but then had second thoughts… it’s the HARMONY that has to be found… surely that’s the song, right?  I don’t think a radio show could be a harmony.  So it’s meant to be ERIC COATES that goes across the bottom?  50/50 chance?  Am I missing something?

My working grid for Listener 4435, The Harmony of Ratios by Ifor

With apologies to Ifor this is one that I can’t say I really cared for.  I’ve never heard the radio show (I have heard of it, mostly when shows make jokes about it). The clues tended heavily towards variations on anagrams for obscure words (very few entries went in without aids) and I’m still scratching my head over what was meant at the end.  I’ll call this a guarded Victory to George but may have to come back and correct it.

Game over:  Victory, 80% completion.

Feel free to tell me that if you were stranded on a desert island you’d take a printout of this blog to use as loo paper, and see you next week when Aragon cleans up after me.

Och the haggis, it burns!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, battling deadlines and being pretty terrible at these things for nearly a decade.

I’m going to work in reverse order and hopefully get caught up over the weekend.  My crappy grids for the last two are posted for your confusion and vicarious enjoyment.

So what’s next?  KevGar!  Wasn’t all that long ago we had a KevGar challenge – and thus far KevGar has regaled us with Wittgenstein, Haydn, Virgil and Carroll, so this is likely to be musical or literary.  We have an address, stuff to highlight, jigsaws and two letters in some cells which are missing in wordplay.  Gak!

On the plus side, all four 12-letter entries interlock, so maybe I I can work with that.

There is a first clue, and it’s one with missing letters – A,BA(+CI), so woohoo and a big pass on the first clue in a jigsaw test. My approach to jigsaws with the clues in alphabetical order is to do two runs through the clues, first one to see how many I can get, and then go back to see what I can get the second time perhaps knowing what the first letter is going to be.  This approach netted me two of the 12-letter entries, both of the 8-letter entries and three of the 7-letter entries.  That was enough to get going on the grid!

Other discoveries popped out – I wasn’t sure if any clue was going to have more than one set of unindicated letters, but surely that was (+EN)(+IS)LE with only two of six letters indicated.  If that was the case then maybe (+LI)(+EG)E worked as well.

This was a puzzle the rewarded poking and prodding – it took about four solving sessions before I had two-thirds of the grid filled, and the spotting of AULD LANG SYNE as a possibility down the long diagonal helped in the final hurdle of grid filling.

With just a few clues left, I was trying to decipher the message – I think I googled “FAIR FAIR YOUR FACE” to eventually find what we were looking for – ADDRESS TO A HAGGIS by Robert Burns.  Must have been a significant anniversary, as there was another puzzle with this as the theme that I started on just after finishing this one.  Is that puzzle still live? Whoops.

I’d seen EDINBURGH appear reversed in the final column, and a quick trip to a page of Burns poems shows that there was an address to EDINBURGH, also to the UNCO GUID (how do you become a member of that?), the DEIL and a TOOTHACHE.

Where is Burns these days?  We could use addresses to MANSPLAINERS, CRACKED CELLPHONE SCREENS and HASTILY-THROWN-TOGETHER MICROBREWERIES.

My working grid for Listener 4434, Addresses by KevGar

Another intriguing literary challenge from KevGar.  I found it the most difficult of the KevGar puzzles so far, but I think I’ve got it all out, and can call this one a Victory to George.  Game over – 100% completion!

Feel free to tell me I should not even bother to go back and update the last few, it’s not as if Schadenfreude cares what I think, and see you next week, possibly in a timely fashion, when Ifor attempts to harm us with fractions.

If I got three wishes, I’d have to take that tiny piano player to the bar

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  OK, so I’ve been even slacker than usual – I’m going to put this post and grid here for if I ever catch up and to make sure things don’t get out of order.  Out of order, he says!  Hah!

My working grid for Listener 4433, Yes You Can by Atlas

Look at the head on that mast!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, now entering the tenth year of bringing you mediocrity and bad jokes about 400-or-so people’s favorite weekly puzzle.

Some things never change, and today it is my inability to scan the puzzle and then bring in the paper copy so I can write up the blog on my break.  So check back later for more whimsy about Schadenfreude’s voyage into the Coat of Arms – here’s my grid.

My working grid for Listener 4432, A Sign of the Times by Schadenfreude

Rounding out the year… sometimes I slay myself

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – this appeared on the website on New Years Eve Eve and I was rather happy to see Lavatch’s name attached to the final puzzle for 2016.  It has been a while since we have had a Lavatch puzzle, but it is a name I am delighted to see on the Spectator series (including an excellent one last week – 2292, Discovery).

Anyhoo, it was a cold and quiet Friday afternoon, so let’s get stuck into it. To be honest, the preamble reminded me of Spectator territory since the unclued lights are of a type (fortunately without the appendage “verifiable in Brewer’s”.  Misprints in ever clue, misprints, misprints everywhere!

What would be 1 across is not only unclued bu unnumbered, which means we have to go to a 5 across test, and Lavatch does not disappoint – AP(PET,IS)E and we have a correction of H.  First letter of a message is an H?  Can an I,G,H,L,I,G,H,T be far away?  The I is looking good – anagram of BILL and PAUSE making PLAUSIBLE.  W(H)IT,Y – you betcha the highlighters are coming out!

This was the theme – I never got stuck at any particular point, and with it looking like GEAR, CATHERINE and FERRIS were three of the unclued entries it seems we are heading towards WHEELS.  The message also came together HIGHLIGHT — QUOTATION IN SYMMETRIC FORM appeared first, it took a little fiddling to see the second work was THEMATIC (mostly because I misspelled SYLLEPTIC at 40 across and so had a T instead of an I as the correction.

So that means the grid-staring section – helpful THE three rows down, and WHEEL coming off of it – I figured we would be looking for a quotation in a circle and it is also a quotation about a circle – THE WHEEL IS COME FULL CIRCLE!

My working grid for Listener 4431, Round by Lavatch

This took a little over two hours, but it was fun all the way and do themes ever get tighter?  Thanks for rounding out the year in style, Lavatch!

Game over – 100% completion!

The end of 2016 sees my record as 44-2-7.  Not spectacular, but not too shabby.  Who knows what 2017 will bring.

Maybe it will bring me hitting the publish button in a timely fashion… whoops!

To think, just eight years ago several of my grids looked like this

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  I’ve come down with some sort of death plague, so sorry about the late post.  On the good side everyone who has seen me today says I look like death warmed over and should stay inside and alone, so I should be able to tackle today’s puzzle by Atlas uninterrupted.

But for now it is Pilcrow!  What have we here – jigsaw grid, clues in alphabetical order of answers and extra words, with a few entries missing, then some major grid modification.  OK.

For jigasw grids I’ve taken to jotting down the number of letters in each entry around the outside of the grid, where I learn there are only two 3-letter entries (both are clued) and two 10-letter entries (but only one is clued), so I’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting where one of the unclued entries lies!  To the clues…

There is an… well let’s call it A across since it probably starts with an A, and it is AC(t),E with an extra word URDU and we are away – it’s even one of those three letter ones!

I’ve done a few puzzles by Pilcrow and sometimes I’ve gotten the clues easily, sometimes I’ve struggled, but this seemed to be one of the easier sets of clues (of course there’s no wordplay trickery or the like, just the extra words to find).  I made two passes through the clues and found that I had both 3-letter entries, all bar one of the 4-letter entries and all bar three of the 5-letter entries.  So it’s a bit of the opposite from the usual jigsaw fill – I started with the constraints of all six 5-letter entries having to lock together in two sets of three, and worked around the grid from there.  THE SOUND OF SILENCE appeared after a while, which meant that G&S was Garfunkel and Simon which was a nice touch.

It didn’t take that long to have a full grid, and it was time to work on the messages – JOHN CAGE FOUR MINUTES THIRTY THREE SECONDS and ERASE EVERYTHING BUT THE NOTES IN CAGE’S PIECE.

Let’s admire that grid before everything disappears, shall we?

My working grid for Listener Crossword 4430, G&S by Pilcrow

And we wipe clean.

I wonder how many entries Mr. Green got that had letters in them?  I wonder if you were penalised for including your name, address, town, postcode and phone number, since most of those could be obtained from the envelope?

Cute idea and fun, puzzle, something light for the Christmas week!  I believe we can call this one a Victory to George.  Game over, 100% complete.

With one remaining, the 2016 tally looks like 43-2-7.

Feel free to tell me that I should have video recorded this entry with a ton of silence, and see you next week when Lavatch has a puzzle that describes my figure.

Oh no, you sank my all bar 8 correct

Welcome back to George vs the Listener. It’s 2017 now, but we still have three whole puzzles to finish out 2016.  This one is by a new setter or a newdonym, Paddock.

OK – extra letters in wordplay, and then some changing at the end to make it like the placement of ships in Battleship! but with some single letter S’s.  That’s odd.

Well there was a 1 across at least – TO(O)TTER gives TOOTER and an extra T to get things going, woohoo!

Must be new setter blues but I was having a really tough time with the clues here, and there was a lot of what is known on another site as BIFFing (Bunged in From deFinition), so after a few sessions of solving, I had a full grid, but I was not sure about several of the extra letters.  It wasn’t helpful that from the first six clues I had TEURSC which has several anagrams.

My working grid for Listener 4429, Battleships by Paddock

I’m afraid that’s as far as I got – apart from the six letters with several anagrams, I was at least a letter short in the other three groups, so I couldn’t even fathom what was to go there.  Congratulations Paddock, you have come across with a major Victory for the Listener Crossword.  Perhaps with that electronic buzzing sound to accompany it!

Game over:  loss.   75% completion.

2014 tally:  42-2-7

Feel free to tell me that I would have finished this with a little more naval gazing, and see you next week when Pilcrow offers us a Gin and Scotch.