There is a lesser-documented experiment where he dropped them from the other side and watched them go bouncy-bounce

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and part 4 in a 5-part series of “I’ve filled the grid, what now?”

Flying Tortoise (aka little Gamera) time – this is the third FT Listener, and it’s been an intriguing bag – the first had the theme of a musical I didn’t particularly care for, and the second was quiet controversial in using a quote that appears to have morphed through several editions of ODQ.  Speaking of picking themes I don’t like, IQ is on a roll with those, following up a movie I thought was kind of meh with the most overrated band of the 80s.  Hopefully that isn’t too spoilery.

OKeydoke – extra words, instructions, an experiment!!!  Oooh, is this going to be Rutherford’s gold foil experiment where we get to wrap the grid around a spindle and draw electrons on it?  It is a wider grid than normal… well no it isn’t, it’s only 12 by 9 and two of the cells have apparently already been filled in.  Hmmm.

Well it looks like real words in the grid so let’s see where it goes.

There is a 1 across, and although it wasn’t that difficult a clue later on, I could not solve it at a first glance.  For some reason I thought 3 across was BALLYHOO, despite having no justification anywhere in the clue for the B, Y or H.

It turns out to be a truly inspired incorrect answer, as in goes LEATHERN, LORN, ABEL and OPAQUELY and we are away!  It was such a great incorrect answer that I had filled out nearly the entire rest of the grid before figuring 3 down had to be WOLOF and then it dawned that a Euro is a marsupial which has come up before, and in goes WALLAROO.

The rest of the grid fill wasn’t too bad, and the messages seemed to come together pretty neatly – I liked the part of using LANDS to mean L and S that were in the grid.  Let the staring commence…

My working grid for Listener 4397, We'll Always be Together by Flying Tortoise

So what have we here… CUT OUT PRINTED L AND S


SET GRID ON FIRE  (wishful thinking)




The first two are easy!  Out with the scissors!

I made a mess of the next part by thinking it said I had to put the R over the L part and slide.  That made nothing.  No, it has to be above…

Strips of three rows eh?  More cutting.

Slide two strips – I guess I’m looking for something vertical… LORTHE? LEANIN.. that looks promising.  LEANINGTO… is it going to be the LEANING TOWER OF PISA?

Yes, it is – AHA experiment!  Galileo dropped two objects from the tower to show that gravity has the same effect (not having access to massless, weightless, tensionless strings).  So the S object and the L object should fall together or hit the ground at the same time.  I think I remember he used cannonballs, which totally makes sense to carry two heavy objects up a building whose centre of gravity is somewhere stage left.  I like to think that he threw two pizzas off the tower, so here is my version.What went in the envelope

I wonder if this one will also open Pandora’s can of worms if submissions are not accepted with the S and L on the ground, or being held by a cartoon Galileo.  I guess I’ll wait and see how that all plays out and call this a Victory to George!  Fun puzzle that, but the ending took almost as long as filling out the grid.

2016 tally:  15-2-2

Feel free to tell me about the worst trip to Pisa ever (I was enjoying the view of the tower and my wife and I got hit by cannonballs at the exact same time) and see you next week when Mountain Ledges asks us, for a change, to put characters in boxes.


Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, maintaining a standard in mediocrity for the better (or worse) part of a decade.

This is the end of “The Man Who Came To Dinner” puzzles – we closed that weekend, but it is part 3 in a now-5-part series of “The grid is full, now what” puzzles. I think it’s numberwang this week, so maybe that run will end.

Pointer! I recall not being able to understand the last Pointer Listener at all (the one where six clashes had to be moved to make six new clashes) so I was more than a little apprehensive to see a grid with numbered rows and columns and multiple clues together.

OK, settle down, there must be a way in – but for right now, welcome to stone cold solving time.

There is a first clue, and it is a memory of those terrible Disney family comedies from the 70s (a lot of which, particularly “The Cat From Outer Space”, pop up regularly as stumper questions in pub quizzes assuming everyone there is far younger than me which is usually the case) where HERBIE (the love bug) loses his last two letters to make HERB and we are away, yet unable to place it in the grid.

I made two passes through the clues before looking for an obvious way in.  First was an abject failure – I could only find one J in the across and down answers, so tried to fit the grid around the crossing of JOULE and JELAB.

That was frustrating.

Back to the clues – I had BAZOO in the down clues, and no Z’s in the acrosses.  Could I find a clue that looked like it might lead to an answer with a Z?  Aha!  IZARD which popped up somewhere recently.

Fitting the grid to BAZOO and IZARD did the trick.  Since every cell was checked, except for the six unclued entries, and I knew where they were, the rest of the grid fill was very fast indeed.  Welcome to part 2 of the experience.

What stuck out immediately was that column 3 could become PALESTINE with one change. AHA!  Disputed countries! Nope, can’t find any more of those.  Places I don’t want to live? Things religious nutbags fight over?


Is PALESTINE in Chambers? PALESTINE SOUP is. Has anyone had it? I don’t think I like the idea of artichokes in soup.  Oh look – in column 7 is the possibility of BISQUE.  It’s soups.  That’s much more mundane and likely to be found in Bradford’s.

The next part appeared while I was replacing the letters to make the soups – there were no duplicates.  Aaaah – we have ALPHABET SOUP on our hands! That made finding the last few soups (particularly OXTAIL) pretty easy.  We have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4396, The Listener Audience by Pointer

I had highlighted all of the unclued entries, which were acronyms – the one from PALESTINE becoming TLA – THREE LETTER ACRONYM, which is surely the one to be highlighted.  Here’s what I mailed in…

My submitted grid for Listener 4396, The Listener Audience by PointerPhew – not as difficult as it initially looked, and after a little frustration a very nice finish! I ended up rather enjoying this one.  Also the first one I submitted in a few months, just to confuse John Green.  I think I can call this one a Victory to George, woohoo!

2016 tally:  14-2-2

Feel free to tell me that you’ve never souped until you’ve Palestine souped, and see you next week, when Flying Tortoise also goes to the bad Disney movies well with a puzzle based on “Electric Dreams”.


All 28 survived??!!?? I can’t lead an expedition to the pub without losing three or four.

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  We are into part 3 of puzzles solved during breaks in The Man Who Came To Dinner, and part 2 in a now 4-part series of “the grid is finished, what now?” puzzles.  This time it’s Shackleton.

I’ll admit I was pretty daunted by the preamble, which talked of four messages, jumbled thematic material in the end, the same thing going in the blocked off entries, things to highlight, cells with two letters and a “method” of grid entries.  Yikes!

Not only that, but there was a 1 across and I coudn’t for the life of me get it at a first glance, so a big fail on the 1 across test.

It wasn’t until 13 across that FRAU(d) got me going and a strange situation where the first letter in the message is a V!

For such a long set of instructions, once I got going the grid fill wasn’t too difficult – SURETE and O-RING were in before I solved 7, 8 or 9 down so it was obvious they were going to be entered in reverse. The crossing of SCHEME with REGIME gave the first placing of a double-letter cell, and having the answer lengths confirmed it was the four cells adjacent to the blocked off cell in the middle that had double letters.  By the end of the play, I had a complete grid, and a plausible tale of nautical derring-do from the messages, twice using the number 3 in the clues, which was coast.

Great.  So now what?

I have no idea what this tale is meant to be about.

Fortunately the answer came from typing the second message into google – ACROSS THE TEMPESTUOUS SEA lead me to the tale of Ernest Shackleton (no relation, I presume) and a pretty audacious tale of rescue after abandoning the ENDURANCE, with six people getting in the little boat the JAMES CAIRD around the middle of the grid, and trying to get to ELEPHANT ISLAND – there’s ELEPHANT ISLE snaking along the bottom.  Hmmm – two options for the T?

Eventually they ended up at SOUTH GEORGIA, which is across the top of the grid – aaah, I did pick the wrong position for the T at first.

All 28 men survived – so the original crew is the roman numeral 28 across the bottom, with the VI (6 across – cute) making their way to the other side.  I think that solves all of the highlighting/line drawing needs.

My working grid for Listener 4395, 6 Across by Shackleton

What a crazy story!  And an impressive job of putting it all in the puzzle. Got mixed feelings about this one – I enjoyed the ending, but it wasn’t really relevant to filling up the grid, leading to a frustrating “OK, I have a complete grid, now what” moment, ending in a theme that I suspect had to be found online, as there’s nothing in Brewers.  Maybe an encyclopedia, but who has those anymore?

I think I can call this a Victory to George!

2016 tally:  13-2-2

Advance warning to setters – now that my apnea is under control and I have some more focus, I’ve started writing letters and submitting entries.  So feel free to tell me that I should buy a set of encyclopedias, and see you next week when Pointer may or may not come up with a grid that leads to head-scratching (spoiler alert – no).


The apple doesn’t rise far from the tree?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Part 2 of a series of puzzles solved during breaks in “The Man Who Came To Dinner” and Part 1 of a three-part (at least) series of grids that lead to a lot of head-scratching at the end.

OKeydoke – Duck time! In 1978 Duck had four Listeners, but this is a return after a long break, in fact so long that the last one was on the old blog. Hi Duck if you’re looking in.

Despite the long absence, I’m a pretty regular solver (and blogger) of Duck’s puzzles, and may have even gotten a small snarky note in his recent book, which I own a copy of, so I was anticipating a smooth solve – there’s six rogue clues and extra letters in wordplay, so it looks like mostly real words in the grid except for possibly six down clues.  Let’s solve!

There is a 1 across, and it’s SPED,ANT so there’s an extra S so a big pass on the 1 across test and we are away. And well away – in goes PALP (extra R), DANGER (extra T), ARCHIVE (extra A), and SISTER (extra S).  Oh… except SISTER doesn’t play well.  Maybe jumbled?

In a few minutes more complications arise – the D in DANGER is good, but the rest of the letters are not, and there’s an I from YRIVD.  OK.

Let’s not think jumbles then. Continuing through the grid I spotted 8 down was not going to be a word, nor was 18.

Getting close to a full grid in the middle of the second act, two things leapt out at me… at 4 down I had TES?U? and, 8 down I had N?PS?RC and at 22 down I had ?I?DOC. One of my favorite US ciders is CRISPIN, which looks like it could fit there, reversed, and the clue for 8 across has IN SCRIPTURE – which has an anagram of CRISPIN in there. Could 22 down by CODLIN reversed and 8 down be RUSSET reversed and we are looking for types of apples?  The message in the across words has SEE A LETTER MIXTURE – and there are anagrams of RUSSET and CODLIN in the clues. That would make 31 BRAMLEY, 18 RIBSTON which leaves 2 as a reversal of IDA?ED and a quick google shows IDA RED is an apple. We have grid!

My working grid for Listener 4394, Against Expectations by Duck

SO reversed apples, eh?  But why?  The rest of the message from the down clues doesn’t seem to make much sense, and I haven’t even solved the original clues at 16, 18 or 22.  So maybe the theme is the apples bouncing back after they hit Newton on the head?

I’ll tentatively call this one a Victory to George, but I will not be surprised if I’m missing something.

2016 tally:  12-2-2

Feel free to tell me how I like them apples, and see you next week when Shackleton attepts to bury us three down, and six across.

Burning down the Housman

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.

Another late post, I’m afraid.  Though some things may be changing soon – I have just found out I have severe sleep apnea, and have been fitted for a little machine that should help me get some proper rest.  Over the last six months in particular, I’ve had very little energy, especially in afternoons and evenings, and my writing has suffered from it.

Anyhoo – Little Hare, who appears to be a new setter, so hello Little Hare if you are looking in! Into week 2 of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” when this came out, and one very kind review in, so I was ready to go on the Friday night show, with my little laptop and the Listener to keep me occupied while I waited for cues.

Across clues look normal, down clues have extra words, and then there’s something to hunt for in the final grid.  Looks like we are in the realm of real words and even some normal clues, so let’s see what Little Hare has in store for us.

There is even a 1 across! And in crosswordland, Tom is a cat or a prostitute, and PRO,LOG looks like it works, so a big pass on the 1 across test, woohoo!

Believe it or not, I didn’t get PHEASANT straight away, but I’d just seen ROQUE in another puzzle so I was ready for it.

I got LOIN straight off, but thought it was ALI that needed to be removed, leaving a strange anagram indicator of WATERED, and a message that was contained ALISON. But working through the down clues yielded TWENTY I HEARD… which tickled something in the old memory banks… sure enough it was our second helping of A E HOUSMAN for the year – WHEN I WAS ONE AND TWENTY I HEARD A WISE MAN SAY…

That let me get the rest of the letter deletions (and wave bye bye to ALSION, it was a much more usual anagram indicator of ALTERED), and I had a full grid near the end of the second act.

My working grid for Listener 4393, Vingt-et-un by Little Hare

Now to find things – PEARLS and RUBIES were easy to spot.  CROWNS came next – and it looks like we are making 22 in Roman numerals – yep GUINEAs and POUNDS complete the crosses.  That means the HEART right in the middle of the grid would be what is removed.

I wonder if Housman knew he was writing poems for crossword setters, putting those nice even five- and six- character entries in his poems?

Everything was sorted out before my entry in the third act – the perfect theatre-length crossword!  I rather enjoyed this one, despite getting the thematic material very early on.  Little Hare’s clues with very accessible and fun to read, and the down clues were very good with the deletions scattered throughout the clues.

I believe we can call this one a Victory to George, woohoo!

2016 tally:  11-2-2

Feel free to tell me that to have sleep apnea you need to have brain function, and see you next week (maybe in a timely fashion) when Duck has some expectations he’d like you to rub against.


Why does one wax the ceiling?

Welcome back to George actually tries the Listener Crossword.  Looks like I wasn’t alone in not being a big fan of last week’s Listener, though I liked one conspiracy theory that the puzzle was specifically written to affront crossword snobbery, a group of which I am proud to be a part of.

I have enjoyed the three previous KevGar Listeners, so I was looking forward to this – it was also the first of four Listeners to be solved during breaks in the play The Man Who Came To Dinner.  OK – what have we here – clashes (an unknown number) and resolution and highlights.  All real words in the grid… hmmm, so normal clues.

There is a 1 across, and it’s a strange type of clue – OVERLOOKS clued as a mash-up of LOVE and ROOKS.  Things get a little knotty from there – as running down from OVERLOOKS we have OWE, VASSALRY, ELKS and LIMA, but they don’t seem to play too nice with TAURUS for 12 across.  I know there’s going to be clashes, but with those three clashes in – and OYSTERCATCHER slotted in the middle column, the game might be given away very very early – when there’s WALRUSes and OYSTERs there’s going to be CARPENTERS…

The rest of the grid fill went pretty rapidly indeed – in fact to the point I don’t think I ever bothered solving 11 down, knowing it had to be CEILING WAX (though I didn’t think MISC was a possibility at 8 across – went to look up the poem to see that it is SEALING WAX and I’ve got a bit of a mondegreen going on.

My other hold-up was being so convinced that 26 down was LIN,O that I didn’t look up LIN to see if it was a badge, so I was scratching my head trying to figure out what the clashes there could make.  In the end it turns out MON,O fits and there were no clashes.

So we have resolutions to WALRUS, KINGS, SHIPS, SHOES, SEALING-WAX, CABBAGES and CARPENTER.  I finished with enough time to spare that I went through and figured out all the clashes for SERPENRTY, but never did get around to what 11 down originally was.  All in all a bit of light fun after my woes the last few weeks!

My working grid for Listener 4392, A Conversation by KevGar

Chalk up another enjoyable and accessible puzzle to KevGar, and I think we can finally claim a Victory to George!

2016 tally:  10-2-2

Feel free to tell me that I can’t claim it without solving 11 down, and I’ll see you next week when Little Hare gives us a French coming-of-age story.

Happy Times Birthday, Listener – sorry I couldn’t make it to the party

Welcome back to George vs the Listener… well what is this?

Odd-shaped grid, no clues to speak of, a confusing preamble.

OK, clearly this is going to be a puzzle celebrating 25 years of the Listener being hosted by the Times (hip hip hooray!), but is the best way of celebrating it a game of reverse Mad Libs followed by a word search?

I like cryptic clues.  I sometimes write them, I even more rarely write them well.  I sometimes do US crosswords because of the themes, but with no clues I’m not big fan.

I can handle DLM occasionally, but at least DLM has a D in it.  This is LM + ML

I spent about an hour poking at it, realizing that many of the words in the narratives could be slotted in, which gives a pretty decent looking left hand side of the grid and a nearly empty right side.

I figured maybe I’d have more fun if I put it aside and looked at it in a few days.

I didn’t.

Sorry Tibea – I’m sure this was a lot of work to make, and it seems those could be actual clippings from Times articles (did Dimitry get a flash of recognition?), but I decided to put in a solitary puff on a streamer and drift off into the night in search of other entertainments.  I do that a lot at birthday parties, once even at my own.

Victory to Tibea and the Listener Crossword

2016 tally:  9-2-2

Feel free to tell me that I was giving this the shortest shrift that ever shrifted, and see you next week when KevGar wants to talk about something.


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