There is no such thing as on-time posting

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, well at least if you are looking in.  It’s a whole day since the solution came out and most of you are over it by now.  I had a pretty stacked week and didn’t get a chance to finish and post this yesterday. So here we are… in the graveyard of blogging, or looking in at next week’s puzzle before I’ve loaded it up.

OKeydoke – Kruger with… a puzzle with exactly the same title and preamble as an Enigmatic Variations puzzle I couldn’t finish. Gak!  Now I’ll admit EV is kind of down my totem pole of puzzles, I only pay attention to EV if I’ve already solved the Listener and Spectator weekly thematic crosswords. Hmmm…

It looks like most entries are fewer cells than the listed clue answers, and with the title there’s probably some deleting going on, but nothing consistent, so it’s time for a sweep through the clues… there is a 1 across and I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me so a big fail on the 1 across test.  Booo.

It takes until 15 across and MISSEND with an extra I that I start to get anywhere.  A scan through the clues nets only a andful, and a second scan doesn’t add that many, but it does add the crucial ones… ZABAIONE which can’t lose any letters, so in it goes, and DUTCH GUILDER which has to go above it… DUTCH has to fit across the top, confirming that the S at the start of SCISSORS has to go, and then it’s a hmmm moment.  If I take all the S’s out of MISSEND, SCISSORS, ENDORSE and BLASTED as well as GANG from ORGAN-GRINDERS and GUILD from DUTCH GUILDER and everything fits.  S can mean society, so it looks like we’re losing societies, which would also fit with what looks like SOCIETY forming fro arond 4 down and a really helpful THE starting at 5 across in the quote.

Good news is that now I think I have the way of entering answers, so it’s to Bradfords and Word Matcher to look for probable words, which netted UNKINDNESS ,TENUOUS and BLASTED immediately… that got me the rest of the quote – THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SOCIETY by Maggie T (who I guess given the number of remaining letters had to be M THATCHER).

So now we have the method of entry, the quote and all the thematic material is in place… but most of the bottom half of the grid is empty.  There was rather a lot of sursolving to do here, so it was quite a relief when BELEAGUERMENT finally emerged as a possibility for 34 across, completing the grid.


My working grid for Listener 4336, Company Liquidation by Kruger

That was a workout, though I did it in one marathon three-plus-hour session.

2015 tally:  8-0-1

Feel free to tell me that this one was easier starting at the bottom and working up, and I’ll see you next week, really truly on time I hope when Aedites puts our relations in a ship.

And good luck Australia in the World Cup final tonight!

After that length of time, wouldn’t she be Agatha Crusty?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  Eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed there was no post last week…. well, about that.  Um, gee.  I read the preamble and didn’t do it.

I haven’t looked at a solution or read any of the other blogs, so if I get a chance I’ll have a go.  It’s just that the preamble made my head spin and I put it at the back of the pile.  Repeatedly.

So we’ll count Brimstone as a loss and sorry if you’re reading Brimstone.

It is that time of year when there is an annual event and usually an easier puzzle to go with it.  I found out at the end that if I’d just googled the answer then the entire mystery would have been gone.  Good thing I didn’t do that!

Jago has oft been gentle – and we have a pretty large grid (anyone do the Maltby puzzles in the Wall Street Journal?  It looks like one of his grids), an unclued entry and some modification of some answers.

There is no 1 across, its the unclued entry, so we have to go all the way to a 11 across test.  And it looks like it should be PERSIAN but there’s only three letters.  Sounds like something is being removed (brilliant deducation, George).  Next up is RE(STRAIN)T so we hae a grid beginning to form.

Working around RESTRAINT is appears that part of 1 across is VANISHES… THE LADY VANISHES?  That would explain how AIRCRAFT CARRIER could go in without CARRIE and PERSIAN without SIAN.

The rest of the gridfill was pretty quick, though as usual I got down to the point where three of my last four entries had to be thematic, with the last one in being GRADATORY without ADA.  I did enjoy entering SKATEBOARD without KATE and although all the letters were already in place by the time I got around to it, I liked GRENADINE without NADINE.

Goody, a full grid.   Aaaaand… now what?

Unfortunately this did involve Googling “The Old Swan” to find the answer.  Agatha Christie, who is hiding in a column, took a little sabbatical there.

Weird ending – I think there might have been room to hide something more thematic there rather than giving it away in the title.  But a quick victory is good after deliberately avoiding a puzzle for a while.

2015 tally:  8-0-1

Feel free to tell me I should have persevered with the cubey thing and see you next week when Kruger has a long liquid company

Abandon all hope, ye who use Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword where it appears my tastes do not reflect the voters for the Ascot Gold Cup at all.  I did like the puzzle that won (though I made a mess of solving it and I think I even submitted an incorrect grid).  If you’re visiting here for the first time this week, make sure you scroll down a little and cast a vote for Top Of The Square 2014 edition.  There have already been a few votes cast but there is no clear winner right now.

OK… Flying Tortoise.  Subjected me to the musical “Wicked” a few years ago.  What have we here? A quotation to be found, some manipulations, and that’s it for the preamble.  Hmmm… to solving, I guess…

There is a 1 across, and the definition looks like BOON but the wordplay looks like BONT or BOOT.  Chambers confirms BOOT (even after I’d written BOON in the grid) so we have a pass on the 1 across test!  By the way, in that bit of Chambers thumbing, I noticed one of my favorite Australian slurs is in there – BOOFHEAD.  Please someone use BOOFHEAD in a puzzle soon, I’ll be eternally grateful.  Woohoo…  BOOT  crosses OMERTA which doesn’t fit in the spot.  Well I guess that’s treated then.  Hey, why is 21 sitting by itself?  That’s weird, and it’s a 7-letter answer.  AMPLY confirms the M of OMERTA, so there’s probably just some letters missing.  12 is LEAP YEAR, and I can see where L,E, and A go… 14 across is NOWHERE… so if I take the YEAR out of LEAP YEAR and add it to the N of NOWHERE then I can make YEARN.  Are we taking out letters to make words?

Up above that 10 across has two clues.  Hmmmm… the first one is for BELIE which doesn’t fit with any of the letters.  Does it all disappear?  The other looks like FEALTY – ahhh… BELIEF disappears.

A little later, and there is no more BELIEF, FEALTY or CONFIDENCE (completely disappearing from CONFIDENCE TRICK).  ASSUME, AIM, EXPECT and DESIRE – with the finding that there is a DESIREE potato complete the grid.

Now what?

We are meant to rearrange a string to find a quotations… hi ho, hi ho, to ODQ we go… there’s a lot of quotes for HOPE, but since they all lose HOPE, it looks like we’re down to old Dante… ABANDON ALL HOPE YOU WHO ENTER.  And it’s on the gates of Hell, which means Flying Tortoise considers this crossword more damnable than it was.  Looks like most of the letters are in the perimeter… let’s get circling.

And they are not all in the perimeter?  Whaaa?  Not only that, but the quote is three letters short of three sides of the perimeter.  Not even room for a HERE?

Surely this has to be the theme…

I Googled the quote, and there’s a lot of versions floating around.  Bartleby comes up with a translation that does fit the outside of the grid.


This one does have all the letters.

Let’s rewrite the preamble, shall we?

A string of letters in the completed grid must be rearranged to show, in a thematically appropriate position, a quotation (not using the words or order found in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations) which solvers of Listener crosswords must Google repeatedly, which also describes treatments that affect some entries.  The Chambers Dictionary (2014) is the primary reference, 17 and 21 are in the Oxford Dictionary of English, George’s brain is fried and in the gutter.

Much better.

I assume this was the version desired (I forgot to scan my grid, I’ll add it later), so I can call it a half-hearted victory to George?

It appears the marker accepted about anything… I should have just drawn a gate.

2015 tally:  7-0-0

Feel free to tell me that I didn’t have any hope to abandon in the first place, and see you next week when it seems Rubik gets a run for his money.


Vote for Top of the Square 2014

Mrs Campbell’s furniture appears to be far more interesting than my own

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, on the eve of the great and mystical Listener “dinner” (in my dreams it is a liquid lunch that lasts more than 24 consecutive hours).  I should have my year in review up by the end of the weekend, I hope – it’s going to be a rocky ride here over the next few days.

OKeydoke – Augeas!  I failed last time by using the wiki entry rather than the something or other dictionary of biology and biography.  I’ve added a tag so you can follow the trail of dismay.  This time around we’ve got extra words, a name, a quotation and a bunch of clues that don’t look like they will fit in the grid provided.  Something about encounters. Hmmm…

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we – the perimeter quote means there’s no chance of a 1 across, and it’s 6 across that remains impervious to a first reading – big fail on the 6 across test!  Better luck with 9 across, an anagram of PURESAMPLE less AS giving EMPURPLE.  Which doesn’t fit.  Hmmm… what does it cross?  A film of giant ants!!! THEM!!! It’s an all-time classic of giant monster forced perspective.  It also doesn’t fit…

Yes, gentle reader, I managed to get much further before realizing that there are simply two letters per cell and both are checked.  D’oh!

I was at the bar solving, and this realization made things motor along – clues falling left and right, and it looked like the middle part of the name was STELLA TAN??R – maybe STELLA TANNER?  A check on the wankerphone reveals MRS CAMPBELL to be the pseudonym of BEATRICE STELLA TANNER.  Whoopeee – a pseudonym I don’t know of  a writer I know even less!  Though CAMPBELL does appear to fit down the bottom right.

I Googled quotes and didn’t find any that seemed to fit.

Back home, time to log in to my work and it’s oh-so-convenient access to Oxford References online to find there are only two quotes by Mrs Campbell, and one is THE DEEP DEEP PEACE OF THE DOUBLE BED AFTER THE HURLY BURLY OF THE CHAUSE LONGUE.  With that around the middle, it was only minor dictionary prodding to get the final grid.

My working grid for Listener 4332, Two's Company by Augeas

Possibly stained with Asheville Brewing Company Shiva Pale Ale.

This was an interesting puzzle and solve… not too tricky despite first appearances, probably took a lot longer to put together than it did to solve (I know that’s always the case, but in terms of an outlay to return ratio, this has to be right up there).  It’s a cute quote, but I suspect without access to ODQ it would have been a pain to sort it out, even given the unchecked letters.

But woohoo – I think I have it out.  Yet again, didn’t submit it (maybe I’ll go a year without submitting, would that make me a candidate for Roddy’s cup?), but that may be out of kindness to Mr. Green, who must have been pining for the completely emptry grids.

Clues of note:

The clues weren’t particularly difficult this time around, but they were fun.  I was fond of

Thailand car — fake — tuk tuk maybe (10) T,AUTO,PHONY.

And of course the giant ants… who could not love the giant ants.

2015 tally:  6-0-0

Feel free to tell me of the importance of Mrs Campbell in your lives (is she somewhere between Mrs Beeton and Mrs Brown?) and see you next week when Flying Tortise appears to want to strafe us.

Dvorak’s least favorite Listener

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.

My working grid for Listener 4331, Conduit by Loda

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(c)ERS.

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”.


Shouldn’t this be the Listeno Xword?

Welcome back to George vs an inability to resist bad jokes!   OKeydoke – what have we this week – eXternal!  Usually good for a bit of fun.  Wordplay leading to extra letters, OK… lots of stuff about a brief that doesn’t make much sense.  Change, fallout… might have to wait until the endgame.  Does look like all real words in the grid, so that’s a plus!

OKeydoke – there is a 1 across for the first time in a while, and it’s a reversal of COIN in SER, extra letter C (a quote that begins with a C?) and we are away with SENIOR, woohoo.  Hmmm… and one of the crossing entries has an answer length of 6 and only four squares in the grid.  Even someone as dense as I knows there’s something up here – the answer is NOTATE and it isn’t the N that disappears.

I made pretty steady progress through the clues – helped out by getting the quote early on – it appeared the first word was going to be CERTAIN and so it looks like CERTAIN SIGNS PRECEDE CERTAIN EVENTS – CICERO.  Eh?  So is CICERO the brief?

SANDPIT gave me the way to the endgame without quite knowing what the endgame was about – taking AND out of SANDPIT gives a real word, SPIT – MOREL could be turned to MANDREL by changing O to & and the & would come on top of a DRAMA.  Above OPERA, SENIOR could become SENATOR (AT coming from NOTATE), before CENSUS a + (SUM from POSSUMS) and before CIRCUS, SATURN becomes SATURATION with a : (RATIO coming from OPERATION).

Great – an almost full grid, but why the big deal about the brief?  The letters removed for the symbols were I,T,O and R.  RIOT?  Those four letters appear together at the bottom left of the grid – ORIT?  Googling CICERO and ORIT doesn’t help.  Reversed would be TIRO… googling “CICERO AND TIRO” brings up Marcus Tullius Tiro – a former slave of Cicero who possibly invented shorthand.  Aaaaaaah…

Is there some sort of award for getting to a solution without quite knowing how?

My working grid for Listener 4330, Following the Brief by eXternalIn the end I was in complete admiration of the grid construction – given the parameters of locating the thematic material this was a masterpiece.  Is it a flaw that I got there without understanding all of the thematic stuff until the very end?

Clues of note:

I’ve solved eXternal’s puzzles both in the Listener and the Independent, and I am usually pretty much on the right wavelength to the point that I don’t have to unravel clues that much.  So I’ll save my admiration for the final few fiendish ones that eluded me all the way to the end – the sursolved clues.

32 across:  Maybe staged parking is characterised by formality (6):  P,HAS,ICE for PHASIC with the extra E.

The message had a lot of E’s in it, so eXternal must have had fun looking for different methods of burying E.  I thought from the definition this was PHASED and it held up that corner quite a while

19 down:  Nazi with one brown long boot (7):  HESS,1,TAN for HESSIAN with the extra T

OK, the real reason this nearly stumped me was I had PHASED rather than PHASIC.  Got to love that surface though!

OK, I think I can claim this one a slightly sheepish Victory to George and the year is still off to an umblemished (if unsubmitted) start.  Should really use a few of those stamps.

2015 tally:  4-0-0

Feel free to tell me that I should know my TIROs from my RIOTs and see you next week when Loda asks us to solve a puzzle con duit.


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