Check it out, man, Dipper loves the Australian weed!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword, coming to you this morning from the lovely terminal at the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL represent!).  Not sure if I’ll finish this before my flight, but it’s only a 30 minute or so hop over to Charlotte where I should be able to pick it back up.

Dipper is back being perennial – one a year, usually around this time (is it harvest season) we get a Dipper horticultural offering.

Due to the heavy fog around Asheville, I’m delayed for an hour, so I think I will get this done!  Around me are furious travellers. I’m kind of zen about the travel thing, I know I’m likely to get messed around in one direction or another, so just turn off the cell phone and enjoy the ride.  I’ve got my computer, a few unfinished crosswords, a book of Saki short stories and I’m somewhere nobody can bother me too much.

Anyway, Dipper… plants are not my strong point, but there’s usually a twist or two, let’s see what it is this time.  Herbs are to be removed, half from across answers, half from down clues.  Some clashes, and a thematic phrase.  So down answers are real words, and rather helpfully the across answers have the length of the word.

George vs Dipper?  Well Green Cross Code was a complete disaster, though I managed to scrape to a victory on Flower Arranging, so we’re even.  A tie-breaker!

This one came out at the tail end of my last trip, so I started on a DC subway.  Bradfords was in the trusty backpack.  There is a 1 across and it looks like a compound anagram, and squeezing together a bunch of possibilities for those letters eventually finds HISTORIOGRAPHER with three letters to remove.  OSTEAL, REPS (with ELY removed from the clue – so maybe this is going to be a bit easier if Dipper is having us remove bits of small words to reveal single letters), and ETEN (GAN removed) seem to indicate that the removal takes place at the start of the word.

A few subway rides and some time at the hotel room later and I made a pretty decent start on this.  I went through Bradfords to find all the 6 and 4 letter entries under HERB, and found a few pretty obvious deletions – HYS+SOP, BOR+AGE, PUR+PIE (sneaky to have a whole word to remove).

Then I saw the obvious – nothing could be more unusual for me than to get a botanic reference straight away, but I was puzzled over why three of the four clashes I’d found were in the one word!  With the C from CADETS, those three could make CURSE.  If you grew up in Australia in the 70s you heard a lot about PATERSONS CURSE – and looky there, that other clash is an S or a P… so 18 across is probably going to have a bunch of clashes to finish up the weed!

Oh… another funny thing, that revelation came while I was at the WORST STARBUCKS ON THE PLANET! You’re on notice, Starbucks at Dupont Circle, Washington DC.  Yes, it was hot.  Yes, I had been drinking.  And I wanted a hot coffee.  I don’t need to be questioned on these things while your ugly quiff is making an americano. I call for a George V Listener boycott of the Dupont Circle Starbucks, even if it is only two blocks from my favorite bar in DC.

What hit me next, having escaped the coffee shop of rudeness and decrepitude, and safely ensconced myself in a comfortable barstool at Brickskeller, was that I’d cracked this, but still had a lot of work to do, particularly on the across answers where I had one dangling letter.  I had all the down answers except 22 and 12, so I’d found 10 of the 12 second halves, but I was missing several of the first halves.  Then I spotted EURO as a possibility for 12 down and almost all of these second halves are in.  Time to put Word Wizards to work!

Shamelessly, the rest of the grid was filled by looking for herbs that weren’t in Bradfords, but matched the last two or three letters (yielding BET-ONY, CIC-ELY, and CI-VE), then putting the letters I knew for the across answers, along with these first halves, into Word Matcher and seeing if anything useful came out.  Word Matcher was a life saver here, producing RABBETS, STERADIAN (not that I really needed to solve 18 across at this point), FASCICULATE, and SORBITE.  One more trip to Chambers to check that STIFLE is a leg of a horse, and there we have it – full grid!

My grid for Listener Crossword 4097: Half Thyme by Dipper

The clashes resolve to PATERSONS CURSE

Wow – glad I saw PATERSONS CURSE, I don’t think I would have gotten that out otherwise.  I also would have gotten nowhere without Word Matcher, so really this is victory to the Internet, but I’m calling it a victory to George!  And I’ve still got about an hour before my flight (probably – they’re still re-booking people with tighter connections than I).  On the off chance that I will be in this airport boarding area forever, it’s been fun.

2010 tally: George 26, Listener 5.  Current streak:  George 3.  Current number of screaming children in airport waiting room: 1. But it’s got an impressive set of lungs!

Feel free to leave comments below, and we’ll see you next week to balance some language with Schadenfreude.

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4 Responses

  1. Bradford and Chambers now on iPhone apps George. You can lighten your travel bag!

  2. No, buying an iPhone would make it heavier! And me 300% more masturbatory.

  3. […] wrapped up in one).  My battles with Dipper have gotten easier over time – I made it through Half Thyme OK, but nowhere near on Green Cross Code, and really struggled to a finish on Flower […]

  4. […] Dipster – he/she has a one-track mind.  Dipper’s garden has had books  (solved it), weeds (got there), trees (nowhere near) and flowers (struggled, but got there).  This time we’ve […]

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