And they’re doctors and they’re lawyers and business executives…

Getting close to the end of the year and there’s only one or two Listeners to go.  Thanks for sticking it out, and welcome to George vs the Listener Crossword where you can play along with the non-experts.

My unbroken streak of not making the Azed honour board continued in style this week with my second-choice ungainly anagram clue for A COMING OF AGE going down in flames…

Magic oaf gone fantastic?  Time to grow up! (1,6,2,3)

Thanks to Auctor for reading over my original clue which I thought was offensive, and he pointed out it was just plain bad.  I’ve sent off another clue to the Christmas Challenge as a last chance to make it, but we could have an unblemished run.

Well the reason for the season this week is Glow-worm, and A(nother) Game of 1.  Two years ago, A Game of 1 was solved under similar circumstances, visiting my brother in Houston and cribbing together bits and pieces.  This time I’m at my parents place in Melbourne and they are rather amused by my occasional need to sequester a corner and Bradfords and look up words on my computer.  This one was almost entirely done on a plane from Honolulu to Melbourne with Bradfords and precious little battery time to look at the WordWeb version of Chambers.

I really enjoyed A Game of 1 and figured we’d be up to some more kiddie-game shenanigans.  Quotation around the perimeter, substitution of something going on in the middle and those little slanty lines.

No 1 across because of the perimeter quotation, but there is a 9 across and a gentle BUNION becoming UNION gets us going.  Not far from that is the first substitution with CARY Grant dropping off CARYATID to give a substituted AVID.  The top half of the grid actually came together pretty quickly, revealing first DAVENPORT as the word at 29 down that we had to substitute and the letters involved looking to be TIC TAC TOE at 1 down.  Then I saw the perimeter – LITTLE BOXES MADE OF TICKY TACKY AND THEY ALL LOOK JUST THE SAME.

I literally choked when I saw what the quotation was.  I live in America, where there’s developments of identical looking houses and people appear to be rather proud of these, though I would have a problem that I would get drunk and forget which one was mine.  My friend Herman used to live in one of these, and I could never remember if his place was 7b or 9b and I’d usually disturb a neighbour because even though I’d been there a bunch of times, all these units were identical, there were no decorations in windows and everyone had a two-car garage that was closed.

So when I am passing estates like this, I would sing the “Little Boxes” song.  My friend Steven ended up buying it and burning it on to his ipod just to play it when I started singing it.

So I apologize now to all those people sitting within a dozen rows of me who had to hear it again.

As well as the little boxes, there was a lot to enjoy here – despite not agreeing with it, 10 down is a great clue for NO ALCOHOL, similarly the clue for MAP-PIN.

But we have a game of tic tac toe to play!  I got THE BOY LOST from the little boxes (… and they drink their martinis dry…) and figured out most of the substitutions.  What’s weird is that from my notes, I can’t find where I had the A and E from DAVENPORT were substituted, but by that time I’d found all the consonant substitutions, so A and E had to be noughts and found that the crosses had won, with that sneaky main diagonal coming into play again.

The main diagonal pointed at IORCN in one direction (which could be CORIN, the boy) and NAIAT in the other direction (ANITA or TANIA, the girl).

Not 100% by those letter mixes for the names, but I don’t think it can be anything else. I looked for names in the shapes of circles and crosses but nothing else came.

So I feel confident enough to declare myself back on track here (the slide was on in earnest!) and I’ll claim a Victory to George.  No scanned grid, I won’t be back near my desk for another week or so and I’m in no hurry to get there.

2010 tally:  George 38, Listener 12.  Current streak:  George 1.

Feel free to tell me how you did in the Azed comp, point out my inability to play tic-tac-toe or wish other readers happy Nouveau Year and I’ll see you next week where we’ll see whether I can meet up to Samuel’s Great Expectations.

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