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Doing a nought

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Your weekly dose of… well maybe it was premonition last week, where after my rant about the second amendment and gun control in the US, some idiot went and killed a bunch of kids. Thoughts and prayers resounding all round. Anyhoo, it’s Elgin time! Haven’t done that many Elgin puzzles (and I’ve failed on several of them), but the constant appears to be a lot of work in getting the grid together.  Here we have normal clues, but it really looks like down clues are going to be jumbled based on the preamble.

What can I say?  1 was thematic, so I had to go to 11 across for the 1 across test, and at least it was ENTER,ATE… but I had a really hard time getting enough across answers to really get a start on this grid, especially since the ones I got, mostly in the bottom of the grid, seemed to be hinting at jumbling rather than some sort of actual sort.

I thought I was getting somewhere near the bottom, where it looked like there was a LAWRENCE forming.  DH? TE? Since we were jumbling, the title was somewhere I looked for some inspiration.  It is an anagram of GOODS TRAIN, but that’s not helping with any titles.

I have a feeling this is going to be another puzzle with no real hints at a piece of work I’m not familiar with.  I’m typing this up about an hour after the solution was published, so let’s go put myself out of my misery, eh?

My working grid for Listener 4487, Doing a Sort by Elgin

Well don’t I feel like a bit of an idiot now… I love that movie! So it was THE LADYKILLERS, with Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers at their evil best, and the GOODS TRAIN was pertinent.

Well and truly flummoxed, so a big Victory to Elgin and the Listener Crossword, and as seems befitting, my all-correct streak didn’t even make it out of the first month. Better luck next year.  Now let’s put on a gramophone recording of Boccherini, and wallow in my lack of finding the lolly (and congratulations to Homer, who appears to have snagged some this week).

Game over:  15% completion

Feel free to tell me that even the little old lady finished this one on the first try, and see you next week when Xanthippe has me looking at options.

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Oh yeah, I’m packing

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  So much for the easing of us all into the new year, since January brought not only Schadenfreude but also Lavatch! Not that Lavatch is always difficult, but there’s typically a fair bit to do with a Lavatch puzzle after solving it. On the other hand, Lavatch has not yet disappointed (check through archive to see if I’ve trashed Lavatch… doesn’t appear so).

OK – misprints in clues, letter changes, and rearranges. More real words in the grid, let’s get cracking.

There is a 1 across, and looky that – (R)ENTERS gets us going, and there’s a change of M for T in the clue, so the text starts with a T. That rules out nothing.

It only took about five or six clues to notice that the misprints were always in the second letter of the clue. Looking for misprints there sped up the solving process quickly – and it was finding most of the letters for PEOPLE and INFRINGED… well… if you live in Trumpydoodleland like I do, you are extremely familiar with the SECOND AMENDMENT.  Sigh.

Gentle readers, I know most of you are from not-Trumpydoodleland, so bear (arms) with me for a moment. The degree to which many people here hold their interpretation of the second amendment as sacrosanct is staggering! The state I live in has been debating whether universities can actually ban students from bringing guns to campus. I ran a high school science event, and one of the competencies was recognizing bullet casings.

It was bittersweet finding out what the theme of the puzzle was, but damn you, Lavatch in making something fun from a personal nightmare (I put it at about 78% likely that my end will come from being shot by someone I’ve annoyed).

So now back to things – amendments to clues were known, the theme was known (and I could see the start of where SECOND AMENDMENT could go in the grid), and it was under two hours for me to get a complete grid, and a good guess at the letters being replaced – surely something with GUN or GUNS… STICK TO ONE’S GUNS.

My working grid for Listener 4486, In Self-defense? by Lavatch

Definitely my fastest finish to a Lavatch puzzle, but I definitely had a leg up on the theme.  Good thing there wasn’t too much time spent on the fiddly bits, now I could move on to something else – I believe I can call this one a Victory to George.

Game over – 100% completion!

Feel free to tell me to reach for the sky, and I’ll see you next week when Elgin has us do a Listener, sort of.

And now we know which two emotions go in to makin’ whoopee.

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.

OK, I’m deliberately late with this one. Fortunately I solved it quickly, because I got two tip-offs that this puzzle was one of the ones used in the MIT Mystery Hunt, a kind of ultramarathon of puzzles. I am a member of the US-based National Puzzlers League (there’s a very very good chance I’m going to make their convention this year) and there’s a fair bit of overlap.

I’m sure it is being praised everywhere by now, but this was a fantastic puzzle, and it’s going to be tough to top. This has everything I like – a clear, concise preamble – not all real words, something to do with construction.  The presence of two-letter entries typically means something being removed from words.

Normal clues, a couple of non-Chambers words (I think the MIT hunt uses Mirriam-Webster International Edition as the source dictionary), and I guess it’s away we go…

Due to the unclued entries, there was no 1 across.  I couldn’t see the first across clue straight off (though it was a three-letter answer so maybe something needed to be removed). The first clue I solved was HAVING at 10 across, and since it was the same length as the grid entry I wrote it in tentatively.

With LOWER and LIMEWATER as entries that neeeded letters removed, and the title of the puzzle, it looked like a good bet that WOE and AWE were going to be removed, with HATRED coming out of THREADLET and HOPE from TOPHET – removals taken care of!

I was getting close to having all the clues solved, but no clue on the unclued entries… I thought they might be something to do with emotions themselves, but OVERLEAF appeared to be the only word that fit one of them. Hmmm – that would be LOVE + FEAR – I had found FEAR but I haven’t found LOVE (sad sack that I am).

At this point it all became clear – the unclued entries are going to be words formed by adding together the letters of the removed emotions, and there should be two left over.  Brilliant! Although I have complained about large amounts of sur-solving, I rather enjoyed putting all of this together to get the final grid.

My working grid for Listener 4485, Mixed Emotions by Miss Terry

The final thing I loved about this puzzle was that in order to get there, everything had to be understood completely!  No wasted material, and what a fun idea.  I stand in awe of the trio that makes up Miss Terry – Arepo, Ten-four (the only one of the group who has written a puzzle I have tackled) and IOU.  This was fantastic – the Ascot Gold Cup could be done and dusted in week 2, and best of all, it is a Victory to George!

Game over, 100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that this puzzle should have been harder for someone without emotions, and see you next week when Lavatch tells us that taw kwan do is hip.

Is Schadenfreude trying to say that the current president is not prime?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, entering an 11th year of mediocrity and jokes in poor taste.

This may be a brief post, because I scanned my grid and tossed it in the recycling before writing the column, so I have to go from memory.  I do remember thinking – hey, don’t we get let into the new year gently and not hit with Schadenfreude until like March or so, but that was not the case, instant Schadenfreudification!

What have we – checked cells that need more than one, words removed from clues, a code and numbers going in.  Interesting…

There was a 1 across, but I couldn’t work it out at the start, so a demoralizing fail on the 1 across test! In fact it wasn’t until ENCALMS that I solved an across clue, and then I couldn’t put in the grid because I couldn’t figure out which cell needed two letters.  Bugger!

The penny didn’t take a particularly long time to drop thankfully, and it was a big rush on the left hand side of the grid.  I had JOHN BULL, and with IMAUMS, POLYGLOTT and ESILE that meand that the POL had to go in a single cell, and JOHN in another.  I couldn’t figure out an answer for 1 across that worked with POL, but 1 down really looked like it should be some version of PERSONsomething. PERSONALTY worked… so JOHN and SON with the title of the crossword makes it sound like it is P + RESIDENTS.  Which means POL must become POLK and the crush of letters in one cell doesn’t have to be multiple letters from each word.  ADAMS and BUSH appeared in the top row – there’s been two of each, so there has to be a way to separate which one is the double duty clue.

So now I knew I was looking for presidents the clues started to fall in droves, and with them the message – at first I thought it was SEQUENCE OF SIXTEEN NUMBERS, but I had done some calculations in the middle and it was SEQUENCE OF PRIME NUMBERS!  I knew both BUSH’s were prime number presidents.  At this point I wrote the rest of the prime number ones beside the grid to finish it off.

my working grid for Listener 4484, Quiet Guests by Schadenfreude

This was all finished in one pretty long solving session (three hours or so) and my last in was right near where I started – I was sure that there was a president lurking in the first cell of 5 across, but it was not to be – MONROE was a cell to the left.

I have to hand it to Schadenfreude, his grids are always packed with thematic material and usually lead to pleasing real-word grids, and this was very well constructed. I might have been more frustrated if the subject wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.  Trust me, if you live in Trumpydoodleland, you are reminded of presidenty things every day.

Best of all, the year appears to begin with a Victory for George, and all is understood!

Game over:  100% completion.

Fell free to tell me that I’m able to make Trump look smart, sane and competent, and see you next week when Miss Terry offers us an emotional salad.

And the winner is – the one person on the planet who has an indigo highlighter

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. And with this post we wrap up 10 years of utter mediocrity.  A time where I have gone from a 50% correct solver to a… well maybe 75%? I’ve never quite hit the lofty all-correct streaks that the immortals crow over, but I will admit it is more fun when you can get close (which may be what he said). OK, let’s put 2017 to bed.

Regular solvers will breathe a sigh of relief when they see the name Jago.  Jago typically serves up softballs, and the only time I’ve messed up on a Jago Listener is when there’s folding involved.  In this case there’s no folding, but there is diagonal lines.  Clues are normal, and there’s some unclued entries, so let’s get to solving.

I guess there’s not much to say about the solving process – Jago even goes as far to have a generous anagram at 1 across, so a big pass on the 1 across test.  It became clear early on that the diagonal lines were in the left hand side, focusing WHITE LIGHT onto a PRISM, and there’s the rainbow colours on the other side.   I think I was done in under 45 minutes, just about the quickest Listener solve for me.  It may have taken longer to hunt down the appropriate markers than it did to solve the puzzle,

My working grid for Listener 4483, a Little Ray of Sunshine by Jago

Thanks for the ego-boost, Jago!  Victory to George, and game over with 100% completion!  A rather sweet little puzzle to end out the year, while Jago’s puzzles are typically easy, they are in general elegant, and here we have multiple layers of symmetry as well as the colors hidden in order!

And so ends the first(?) ten years of George vs the Listener Crossword. I’ll be back next week, sorry about that.

Feel free to tell me that my brain was the original model for the prism, and see you next week when… oh, great, it’s Schadenfreude to start the year, Schadenfreude describes his ideal AirBnb.

In my case, it is kind of a shite kite

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly dose of poor grammar, solving, and hoping that a grid gets set on fire.

Rounding out the last few Listeners of 2017 is Zero – I had originally thought Zero to be a new setter, but a glance back and I’ve done two Zero Listeners from nearly 10 years ago, so welcome back to the solving fold, Zero.  Fold, geddit?  The instructions say that at the end there’s going to be a set of strange folding procedures.  Hmm. What else do we have – extra words in some clues, and some blank spots and a big gap in the middle that gets some letter spillage.  Hmmm… and look at those 17-letter entries at 14 and 42!!! I don’t recall any 17-letter words outside of a Jumbo.

There is a 1 across, and it is a reversal of LIE followed by D and so a big pass on the 1 across test, woohoo!

This was a strange solve – I had the sides finished well before anything much in the middle.  I was tentative on putting GUTTY, ACUTE and BLAND in there because I was thinking there would have to be some letters poking in from there.  The two 17-letter answers (I was sure that was going to be a gap in the one at the top but that wasn’t the case) opened up the letters that did poke into the middle region and it was clear that LET’S GO was part of it, and ITE down the bottom but I had a stray L from the end of STROLL that I didn’t know what to do with.

OK – something must be going on here – I only had ?RY at 32 down… can it stretch all the way up to that L? Yes, it can… I was making a mess of that clue, looking for a 4-letter answer but really it’s an anagram for FAKERY… LET’S GO FL A KITE – aaah, it’s CHOKEY that is my last one in!  We are going to make a kite out of the grid!  I had been listing the extra words without thinking about across and down, and of course the across ones are all kites.  I should have seen that sooner!

OK – I made a copy of my grid, cut it up and tried a few times to follow the instructions in the preamble.  Those of you who have been around for a while and have seen my poor efforts at cranes and L-shaped rooms know that manual dexterity is not my strong point, and I eventually had to look for a youtube video explaining how to fold a kite before I got this…

my poorly-folded kite

Eh, it is kiteish. The down extra words are ASPECT RATIO OF RECTANGLE EXPRESSED AS SQUARE ROOT – the ratio of 17:11 is close to the square root of 2, so there we go.

My working grid for Listener 4482, A Paper Construction by Zero

Wow.  OK – this was rather fun although I got frustrated by the folding part at the end.  I did like the letters poking into the middle part (thankfully they weren’t in knight’s moves) to get the song.  Best of all, I think I can call this a Victory to George, though I don’t think I can give myself 100% because of the lousy folding job.

Game over, 98% completion

Feel free to tell me that I’m the worst kite flyer since Benjamin Franklin and see you next week when Jago has a puzzle based on my favorite backhanded compliment

Or in my case, few grey cells

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and happy 2018, which means, yikes, I’ve been at this thing for over ten years now, about seven since it was relevant and eight since I ran out of good jokes. Have I gotten any better?  Yeah, a little. Have I achieved smug perfection – oh far from it.

Just three more Listeners to close out my less-than-stellar 2017 (and isn’t it nice to see Jago being one on that list) – the first of which comes from Twin, which the Listener website tells me isn’t two setters separated from birth but is a single new setter, so hi Twin if you are looking in.

OK – extra words that are jumbles of names plus a letter.  Eeks – last time I ran across that device was in an EV where they were all sportsball commentators or something.  A few unclued entries and something that needs changing in the end.  OK – let’s get to solving!

For the first time in a while there is a 1 across, and it is the outside of HOneST, no extra word and a big pass on the 1 across test!  Woohoo, we are away!

My first solving session was fairly slow – I remember getting a fair chunk of the grid filled, and a few of the extra words, but none of them seemed to jumble to obvious names.

A few days after this appeared, a sudden cold snap drove me to the inside of my usual outside coffee drinking spot.  I don’t often do the Listener there, but this seemed like a good chance to get a little further.  It turned out to be a good idea – finding JONAH, SYMAR and AWARDED as extra words revealed a few more likely thematic names, and with HERCU appearing on the main diagonal, and the title seemingly referring to the number 12, I wondered if it was HERCULES and we were going to have twelve tasks.  Nope – that was a blind alley, we are back in literaryland with HERCULE POIROT – even more likely since 25 across and the unclued entry at the bottom could be AGATHA CHRISTIE if 23 down was not LO,RE (of course it wasn’t, it was LA,RE).

A leap of faith with the letters of HERCULE POIROT and LITTLE GREY CELLS going in the appropriate places was enough to get me a complete grid with that sneaky clue for FEET being the last to be slotted in.

I’d already sussed that EDWARD, MARY, JOAN and HECTOR were characters in Murder on the Orient Express, which was recently remade into a movie.  It looked like ORIENT EXPRESS could replace HERCULE POIROT (that sounds so familiar – was it used in another puzzle somewhere?) and make real words in the grid, but I went further to confirm this by unraveling the rest of the names to get EASTERN as the first part of the extra letters.  I figured the rest had to be STATE but I couldn’t quite get all the letters, so I can’t give myself 100%.

My working grid for Listener 4481, Jury by Twin

This one looked like it was going to be more difficult than it ultimately proved, and it was a rather fun voyage of discovery, with a very nice grid in the end.  Best of all, looking like a strong finish at the end of the year with a Victory to George!

Game over:  97% completion.

Feel free to let me know that I couldn’t find a clue if it grabbed me by the nose and said “Monsieur, je suis un clue”, and see you next week when Zero has us write a paper.  I hope there’s extra credit.