Please leave your beep after the message

Welcome back to George versus the Listener Crossword, where each week we see how things manage to print out via the Times Crossword Club.  Last week we got a little grid, and a big gap on the left hand side, this time we’ve got the crossword on the right, the title in the center, and clues underneath.  All the acrosses but 39 printed on one sheet for me, the rest of the downs on the other.  Well at least I know I’ve got all the clues this week!

Our setter is Emkay, who in 2008 brought us A Process of Induction with its rather fun theme of Henrys (like the unit) running around the outside.  In Past and Present, we have a big block in the middle, and it looks like individual letters from answers go in there, not sure if any of them are checked, but they make most of a phrase.  It’s an interesting grid, I don’t recall seeing one like that before.

There’s also five theme words, with asterisks.

So usually I’m drinking when I start these crosswords… well this time I started with one mighty hangover! I wandered into town to a noodle soup place for my favourite hangover cure, a big bowl of noodle soup (try it sometime – electrolytes, fat and more sodium than anyone should be able to safely handle).  As the fog cleared, so did the answers.

There is a 1 across and it looks like it should be ORF but I don’t know the word, better look it up later. However some of the game is almost instantly given away, when 14 and 4 reveal themselves to be MOBILE PHONE and MESSAGES.  The whole top of the grid revealed itself before the soup boowl was half empty, as did the left side, VIVIAN and TENNYSON, and full of beans (and bean shoots), I headed back home determined to make this one a single-session solve broken up by a walk.

Googling gets me to Tennyson’s poem “Merlin and Vivien” and the phrase we are looking for…

A square of text that looks a little blot,
The text no larger than the limbs of fleas;

I think emkay’s trying to tell us something about SMS messages.  I can’t say I like them that much, though I’ve found them useful to find friends in crowded noisy places.  Anyhoo… now it’s just to tackle that phrase, and circling the letters as they appear, it looks like HELLO THERE is our culprit.

That was rather fun!  Finding the long phrase (though I had at least two-thirds of the crossword filled out before I got the phrase) helped sort of the last of the unknown entries, and in the end I think it was about four hours for the whole thing.  Woohoo!  The rest of the weekend (and the remnants of the hangover) are mine to enjoy.

I’m going to call this one a Victory to George!

2010 tally:  George 34, Listener 8.  Current streak:  George 1.

Entering “Past and Present” into YouTube turns up this rather odd mini-documentary about Cabrini Green – how much can you take?

Feel free to leave comments below and see you next week to find out if we can make a black and or white decision with Brock.


4 Responses

  1. George,
    It mad me laugh reading your blog – I go thru the same process each week. The Listener Crossword is amazingly addictive once you’ve completed a few.I used to try it occassionally over the years but only got really going in 2007 (9 correct). Improved since – 32 correct in 2008 and 43 in 2009 so I’m slightly ahead of you. It made a massive difference when I bought Bradford’s Crossword Solver (I couldn’t even begin without it).

    There was a note in this week’s puzzle that someone has just made 321 consecutively correct entries ! The mind boggles.

    I’ve sent one in every week this year but at least 5 had errors – in my case they always seem to be in the “puzzle” part rather than the clue solving. I did win one of the runners up prizes a few weeks ago (the one about Jumping Jack) – that really made my day! My target is 44 but I’m on holiday in Mexico for 2 weeks in December which will present certain logistical problems.
    Happy solving ! Ever thought of compiling one yourself ?

  2. Thanks Adrian – laughter is usually what I go for, so let’s call that one a success.

    I got Bradfords, and more recently got an online version of Chambers, so about the only thing stopping me is my thick head. 9 to 43 is impressive!

    Enjoy Mexico (I haven’t been yet) – I find to make deadlines I have to mail in any puzzle within days of it coming out (I believe I sent an Azed in on Thursday and didn’t make the deadline), and I’m rarely organized enough to get it together to mail. I’m going to try to send more in next year, I’m going to buy some stamps in advance (I’m not usually able to get to a post office when they’re open) and be prepared for rapid turnaround.

    321 correct in a row is a massive feat of dedication and anal-retentiveness. Congrats Simon!

    I’ve started compiling a few times and hit a wall, but if I do manage to get a thematic crossword out, readers here will be the first to hear of it. I might put a few daily-style cryptics I’ve compiled up here. I’ll admit it though, I’ve been busier writing American-style crosswords and hope to get a few more of those published next year.

  3. Hey George,
    On sending entries: I’m also in the USA and I give myself about 10 days from publication to get an entry in the mail, and they always seem to get there on time. I put together a bunch of stamped addressed envelopes so there’s always one ready to be stuffed and sent. Actually to save on postage I usually try to get two week’s entries into one envelope which usually works as long as the second week’s puzzle can be completed in one weekend. If not I just send off the previous week’s by itself. If I’m travelling it does get a bit more complicated. I once had to mail an entry from India and let me tell you, you haven’t seen postal service bureacracy until you’ve seen the inside of an Indian post office — to say nothing of the cost. 98 cents seems like a bargain by comparison.


  4. Thanks for the 10 days tip. I’ll work on that – never been to India but from my experience the easiest postal people to deal with are those loveable Canadians! There appears to be post office service centers every few blocks, very friendly people working there, and in Quebec City my mangled French “je veux acheter des timbres pour mailer un lettre au Australie” got me an answer in English, a kiss for trying, a set of stamps, and my sister nearly had a coronary hearing someone speak English in Quebec City.

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