The party was going great until Sisyphus rocked up (this terrible joke also works with “rolled up”)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and for a second week in a row, a pre-written post that is meant to appear at the time that the next puzzle is released.  I can only assume it happened last week, I didn’t get a chance to check until the evening.

Llig time!  It has been a while since a Llig puzzle, and I have usually done well with Llig, so that’s a good sign. There’s misprints in across definitions, and something left out of down wordplay, and all real words in the grid. Hmmm… let’s get solving, shall we?

There is a  1 across, and at a first read I couldn’t make sense of it, but next to it was 6 across which looked like an anagram of IDOLS around S – DOSSIL is a dressing, so there was a big fail on the 1 across test, but a nice start after that!  DOSSIL was a good find, because 6 down really looked like it should be DRAGON, but there was no indication for RAG in wordplay, so something thematic was found pretty early on, woohoo!

I got a long way through the grid before finding the next breakthrough – 34 down definitely looked like it had wordplay for BEAR, but a definition that looked like BEAR something – maybe BEAR PIT?  Hmmm… PIT and RAG… a look at 36 down, and it looks like wordplay for NOSE and a definition for NOSERAG.   OK – if I go back to the left, I haven’t solved 1 down, but could it have PIT in it? Yep!  EPITASES and only EASES is indicated in wordplay!

At that point I focused more on the lower half of the grid to see what I could find left off of the answers.   SKINFLINT was next… now there is no room for FLINT inside an entry above it, but if it starts in the unchecked cells, the last part of FLINT can be part of INTRA (which I had penciled in from definition but was agonizing over the wordplay).  Now things were really coming together, and it looks like the misprints in the across entries were going to come to SISYPHEAN TOIL – so the words for ROCKS are moving up in the columns.

I was relieved this puzzle didn’t require me to go outside to look up any sort of theme, since I did it on a cross-country flight, so I had four hours of digital Chambers on my laptop, and nothing else.

My working grid for Listener 4474, Rock Group by Llig

This was rather fun and a little step down in difficulty after the previous few, but I’m still left with one nagging problem – I have no idea where the misprint S at the very start comes from.  I can’t imagine the answers being anything other than EMBASSY and DOSSIL, so I think I can call this a Victory to George.

Game over:  99% completion

Feel free to tell me that I need to get the dossil out of your embassy, and see you next week when Artix introduces us to the hot new rock group The Directions and asks us to like them on Facebook.


Ducking (punches) and weaving (down the slippery slope)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and a post that will hopefully be on time since I’m writing it a few days beforehand and scheduling it.  Oooh – it works on that other blog so probably it should work here right?  Let’s see.

Ifor time! A scan through previous Ifor Listeners shows I can usually get the theme, and often miss something obvious and important, so I have a pretty terrible track record.  Ifor’s listeners usually involve a long engame, but this one with a carte blanche grid and clues without answer lengths looks like it is going to have a long foregame.  What do we have here – two(!) extra letters in wordplay.  Locations and two instructions.  OK, so real words in grid, and one cell has two letters.  Rather a lot going on…

Well in lieu of a 1 across there is a first alphabetical clue, and while the definition and part of the wordplay is definitely pointing at ADAGIO, that sounds like a good bet, but I didn’t immediately get the two extra letters from wordplay, so a half-hearted pass (a woo maybe) on the 1 across test.

This was kind of the theme of my solve.  I worked through the clues and got about half of them from definition and partial wordplay.  I had far more potential grid entries than I did extra letters.  There was a generous helping of anagrams, which definitely placed the extra letters, but many of the non-anagram clues had question marks on my paper.

I had noted that there were only two 11-letter entries and four 7-letter entries, and I was doing pretty well in getting them (and ANTWERP sounded like it could be a thematic place name – maybe this is a war-themed crossword).  ODDS AND ENDS was the first of the 11-letter answers I got, but it had to fit across the bottom as there the letters did not match grid lengths for down entries.  So I started the grid with ODDS AND ENDS at the bottom and the crossing of BLEWITS and ANTWERP and made my way up.

Once I got started, the grid fill wasn’t too bad, and I noticed that BOBBING and BOXING could go in the row near the middle – sounds like this could be the ambiguity.!

Near the end of the gridfill things were looking very strange – surely the clue starting “Tearless” had to be DRYAD but I couldn’t see the wordplay at all, well beyond DRY.

Eventually I had a complete grid bar where BOXER or BOBBER went. There was nothing for it but to turn to my incomplete set of extra letters.  OK – at the start I could see INSERT TWO ENTR?? – and at the end ROW IN REVERSE.  One row stands out – the second with EDWARD EAGAN reversed – further inspection shows he won medals at both Summer Olympics (1920, Antwerp, boxing) and Winter Olympics (1932, Lake Placid, bobsled). So this is probably the INSERT TWO ENTRY NUMBERS, since BOXING would be entry 20 and BOBBING would be 32.

My working grid for Listener 4473, Hit and Run by IforI never did figure out what was going on with the rest of the message, so I’m not 100% sure this is correct, but it seems to be the best I can come with right now.  The Ifor endgame may still be the better of me, so I feel hesitant on calling this a Victory for George.

Game over, 93% completion

Feel free to tell me that I couldn’t win a medal in the Olympic games of toilet training, and see you next week when Llig describes the group in my head.

A sticky wicket at Hastings

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword now only a day late.

Looks like we have a new setter this week in Puffin, so hi Puffin if you are looking in, or if you looked in yesterday and thought I had ignored you.  What have we here – extra words in clues, and some unclued bits, and some highlighting.  Looks like real words in the grid, and we actually have some indication where to put them this week, after two carte blanches in a row.

There is a 1 across and it looks like O,DD,SON with an extra word beginning with A (oh goody, the achievement begins with an A), but that does mean a big pass on the 1 across test, woohoo!

I made pretty good work of the top half of the grid, and as ARTH?RMAIL.. appeared I’m wondering if there really is going to be a puzzle about ARTHUR MAILEY???  When you are an Aussie kid growing up in the 70s and listening to Richie Benaud and Terry Jenner talking cricket on the radio, you’ve got it ingrained that Mailey once took all ten wickets in an innings – his biography was called “10/66 And All That”, and I read it a long long time ago.  And here he is in the Listener.

But of course – it’s now going back to the battle of Hastings!

And of course a few weeks ago we had a puzzle by Stick Insect, and when looking back over my notes I was reminded that there was a puzzle from last year about Harold getting an arrow in the eye.  Looks like it’s happening again!

My working grid for Listener 4472, Sharp Work by Puffin

I was so happy with getting a theme immediately that I didn’t even notice that originally the incorrect number of cells to shade was listed – ONE IN THE EYE with HAROLD DEPOSED making the shape of an arrow.  I was done and dusted in under an hour, woohoo!  Victory to George, and a fun debut from Puffin.

Game over, 100% completion.

Feel free to remind me of the current state of Australian cricket, and I’ll see you next week (hopefully) when Ifor gives us even more cricket!

A week late… so humour me

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  It has been a rough couple of weeks writing-wise.  I got some pretty negative comments back about a script so I haven’t been into the writing thing as much.  Compound that with long hours at the day job and I’ve been neglecting my duties of making terrible jokes at the expense of other peoples’ fine crosswords. Hopefully a corner has been turned, I have been cast in two plays, and I talked to someone who said he read my script and thought it was funny, so maybe the response I got wasn’t indicative of everyone who was in the room discussing scripts.

Or I could be a lazy ass, a shitty writer and can’t solve half of these damn things.  Let’s see what happened with Flying Tortoise.  After a rough start, I recall enjoying Flying Tortoise’s puzzles.

I started this one in an airport waiting for a flight to New York City.  What a strange puzzle.  Carte blanche that is really four little carte blanches.  Clues of four types in alphabetical order of answers and… wait a minute… if there’s only grid bars in one quadrant aren’t there far too few clues?

Time for stone cold solving, I guess…

I made a mess of this right off the bat, figuring (I had no dictionaries with me on this trip, except Chamers on my laptop, which wasn’t on) that the answer was ASPENS and the wordplay was… well… something.  I did put a question mark next to it at least.

OK – about three runs through the clues and a few things were becoming clear.  There were more misprints than anything else.  The clues where the letters were restored led to a couple of very similar answers – CARERS, CARETS, CARATS.  One of the four words pieced together from the clues was MELANCHOL? so probably MELANCHOLY.  That was about as far as I got on the plane, still had nothing in the grid.

Now sometimes I do horribly nice things.  Not very often, but occasionally.  I was in New York City while my sister was visiting – my brother-in-law was doing a guest conducting spot, and she and my niece came with him, none of them had been to the US before.  So I let them have a date night and baby-sat my six-year-old niece.  I should win all sorts of best big brother awards for that one.  Once she was in bed, I got back to this one… MELANCHOLY… and the beginning of what looked like it could be PHLEGM… a peek in my Chambers and they are two of the four HUMOURS!  Well that explains the four squares in the grid… CHOLER, MELANCHOLY,PHLEGM,BLOODY.  That gets me the rest of the letters I’m hunting for and gets me close to all the clues being solved.  So if that is right, then that first circle is probably H – RADISH is the only answer I have that ends in H.  It could cross YSHEND and… it’s a word square!  Not only a word square, but there’s EARTH at the top of it.  The humours are linked to the elements, so that means FIRERS and WATERS probably goes in the top row.  Hmmm… WATERS begins with a W, MEADOW ends in one… can that be a word square with reversed entries?  Yep, and that makes another entry DOL?NE, which must be DOLINE – and EUROPA fits with where I know UR must go.  Two quadrants down!  The one with the misprints was up next – knowing that an the clue beginning “Gentlemen” needed either an A misprint or an A restored, lead to COMMON, which fits the MO part of HUMOUR and gets me started on the next quadrant. Funny enough the last clue I got in that set was the thematic one for AIRWAY.  So FIRERS has to go in the top left, and CURATS at the bottom – oh, it’s a word ladder!

My working grid for Listener 4471, What can the Matter be? By Flying Tortoise

What an interesting puzzle – certainly different from any Listener I remember, and an interesting solving experience, with a long head-scratching bit in the middle and then a cascade near the end.  My niece slept comfortably (I had to go in and read to her from Alice In Wonderland), my sister and brother-in-law enjoyed their night out, and I scored a Victory for George, woohoo!

Game over:  100% completion.  Very tidy construction this.

My only regret was that this wasn’t a puzzle that had seven old ladies locked in a lavatory.  I guess that is an idea that is still up for grabs.  Maybe the next Lessener crossword?

Feel free to tell me that I am still a shitty brother, and see you next week (or in about half an hour) when Puffin has a puzzle that describes tuning a tenor sax.

Peter Cook: Have you seen that bloody Leonardo Da Vinci cartoon? I couldn’t see the joke.

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, in which I frantically type up last-minute thoughts about puzzles from weeks ago.  So what do we make of Stick Insect?  I have in general really liked Stick Insect’s puzzles, though the world of quotes is kind of new.  Last year Stick Insect gave us a really amazing reproduction of a tapestry that I probably shouldn’t be talking about right now.

Anyhoo – quotes, thematic modification, and an author to draw lines through.  Let’s get going, shall we?  There is a 1 across but I did not see it sraight away, so there was a big fail on the 1 across test!  4 across was intriguing because it looked like it should be an anagram, but there isn’t a 9-letter combination.  Could it be (dun dun daaaah) a thematic replacement?  Well a bit of fiddling with the letters makes (SEANCE,D,CAN) gives ASCENDANCE and yep, there’s a thematic modification.   Oh great, one clue solved, number of grid entries zero (yes, I can gripe about that now, but it goes to extremes next week, doesn’t it?  I’m all about spoilering today).

Well with ANOETIC, SPOT-ON and CAMP in it looks like the thematic modifications are going to be to get rid of some letters, so as I went through the grid I started looking for longer answers that should be shortened – helped me get BLOOD VESSELS, APPORTION, RESTRAINT, CASING and ARYTHMIC without too much difficulty. Not sure how CASING and BLOOD VESSELS are going to go together.  Hmmm…

At this point I’m getting close to a full grid and I have eight of the ten entries that are too long for the space and I’m having a hard time seeing what is going on. So what’s the title of this work.  THE -A-T-T-US- with only two letters left… surely I can find the second word of that title without too much trouble…


Hmmm… is THE part of a longer title… THEAsomething – THEAETETUS!  Socrates time… and everything that involces THEAETETUS has MAN IS THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS… so we are removing MEASURES and inserting MEN – which makes sense to take care of APPORTION to APRON and my trouble corner is taken care of by putting ROB in there.

That means I need to solve two more E clues, which must be 43 across and 1 down. I got the final answer for 1 down before solving the clue, since with the rest of the checking letters in place, CABRETTA was the only possibility.  Aaaah – it is CA,PIT,A!  They aren’t all shortened.  Is 43 also lengthened?  No – it’s shorter – it is RESTRAINT.

That just left a few normal clues to finish the grid, woohoo!  TREHALA was the last one in.

The last part wasn’t too bad – the quote comes from PROTAGORAS, who appears as a stick-figure in the grid, with the quote used in describing Da Vinci’s sketch.


My working grid for Listener 4470, Rod and Bill by Stick Insect

So this was two pretty long solving sessions with a lot of head-scratching in the middle. It was nice to only have 10 clues pointing at the work, the large number of normal clues helped me get at a theme with which I was not familiar.  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over – 97% completion (it was pretty clear where the substitutions took place, so I never checked to make sure they were all measures).

Feel free to tell me that no eyes would follow any painting I ever drew, and see you next week when Flying Tortoise locks seven old ladies in a lavatory.

Vocational guidance chancellor

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and another late post.  If I was an organized person I’d write these as soon as I get finished, but I usually don’t think about it until Thursday night or Friday morning, and my schedule these last few months has been pretty crazy on a Friday.  So here we are on Sunday, some of the dust has settled, and we all know what was going on.

My working grid for Listener 4469, Follow-my-leader by Harribobs

So what can I add?  I found this one intriguing – I cracked the theme almost immediately, as the crossing of DESKILLS with REIGNITE gave the extra letters that anagrammed to KIESINGER, and having already had GOSSAMER solved, then MILKER was worked out to give the current German Chancellor.  A quick check showed there have only been eight of them (and most of them were fairly well known names), and since we had the enumeration of the clues, it was clear where they should go.

Funny thing was that left a lot of sursolving in the bottom left in particular, where MUSK-COD held me up for a long time. Of course it was one of the entries that I knew I needed for the endgame because I had deciphered the message to use the bottom row and left column as index, which, after placing MUSK-COD and the last few answers in that row (I was still unsure of the wordplay for KISLEU) gave the location as PALAIS SCHAUMBERG.

So it was a quick start, slow bit in the middle and a fast finish once I got those last few answers. It was a clever way of introducing the theme, and I believe I can call it a Victory to George.

Game over:  98% completion (still a bit iffy on wordplay in KISLEU and why there isn’t an extra T in the clue for LOAF).

Feel free to tell me that my solving is the wurst (or my jokes) and see you next week when I will try to be on time and Stick Insect encourages us to fish for pelicans.

I wonder if he would have been found by Marvin eventually?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  The solution to this puzzle is set to come out in 15 minutes, and that is also the time of my next commitment so let’s see how far I get on this one.

Charybdis!  OK, so I have a similar pattern with Charybdis puzzles – I am usually fine at solving the clues, but sometimes make a complete bish of the endgame, which is typically tricky.  And it seems so here, as we have another 9 line preamble!!!!

What’s going on, editing team? Were you suddenly allocated another 23 column inches and decided to spend it on gigantic floral grids and novel-length preambles?

Anyhoo, it seems like this is mostly in the clues, many are normal, some have to have a letter restored.  So let’s get solving!

There is a 1 across, and not only that but with SHE,EN it is a big pass on the 1 across test, and our first seeker begins with a T.  Well that gives us a start on the grid.

There’s a few unclued entries, and as I was working around the grid, it looked very tempting to see STRANGER THAN FICTION that rings a bell… and so it should – TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION is a quote from Mark TWAIN so there’s our first one. DAUGHTER also looks like it should go in there, so what’s the chances there is a TRUTH IS DAUGHTER quote out there – yep, it’s Francis BACON (mmm, bacon) – TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME.  This grid is rocketing to a fill, and maybe I’m getting a sense of the endgame before the typical Crosophile stare at the grid stage.

Oh, I got there… with a full grid, I now need to know of what looks like Robert Hyatt, who doesn’t seem to be anything.  Aaah, it’s not producing HEATH it is producing WHEAT and it’s Robert WYATT. A musician I’ve not heard of with an album RUTH IS STRANGER THAN RICHARD

OK – so there’s the uncovering – we remove the first and last letters to get RUTH and TIM. And changing FICTION to RICHARD leads to RICHARD III – wasn’t he the guy found buried in the parking lot?  Yep – and the novel describing it was DAUHGTER OF TIME by TEY (the last of the unclued).

LEICESTER CAR PARK is up there at the top and I think all the thematic stuff is in place!

My working grid for Listener 4468, Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Not as much grid-staring as the last one, but there was a chunk of time between finishing the first grid and getting all the thematic stuff in place.  It was rather a fun puzzle though, and solved completely in one sitting, woohoo!  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over.  100% completion!

Feel free to tell me that in 500 years I’ll likely be exhumed from a beer garden, and see you next week when Harribobs recommends that he has a much better leader than I do (probably true).