I said gentle, maggot!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener – got a bit of a surprise last week when a notable somebody checked in with a comment and subscribed to the blog, so let’s see how long it lasts now!  Just remember that this blog is for entertainment purposes only, so I hope I can entertain.

Speaking of entertaining, I’ve got some new stickers being made, based on a popular George “the” Bastard stand-up line, so I’ll have to figure out a way to get some to loyal readers.  I don’t think they’ll be ready for President Obama’s visit to Asheville, but I don’t think he’ll be coming to my next stand-up show either, so we’re even!

All this and a crossword too – V by Parsnip.  I had thought Parsnip was another in the list of new setters, but a check of the Listener website shows that I’ve even written a blog for a Parsnip Listener – Recipe just over two years ago (memory fades fast!).  It broke a rather long slump of three inabilities to solve in a row.

So what have we here – some definition misprints, some substitutions and it’s all tied together by a verse.  I started this one while I was proctoring an exam, so I had access to some online dictionaries (not Chambers, as I didn’t have my laptop).

There is a one across, and it really looked like the wordplay was for H,O,W which turns out to be a major score on the 1 across test – a misprint and a beginning entry.  OK, lines of verse starting with R…

HOW crosses what looks like it could be HAFT if there’s a substitution of SHOT for something that indicates an F… with 13 across being F(IE)RY and misprint of A (HARD) then HAFT is looking pretty good.

Now it’s nice when the answers are all real words and I have a computer in front of me – that left hand side came very close to filling itself, especially with some generous checking letters to see HECKLING and AGGRAVATE as contenders early on.  LENTIGO has popped up a few places lately (I was surprised to find one of my students even used it in an assignment).

The right hand side was a wasteland!  All I had was RYE, RAD, MIDGARD and  SLITHERY… nothing in the top right half but DRAY (sorry Yankee corner).

And I was at a comfortable place for me… stuck

I stayed that way for a long time (I know I’m not meant to give away such things, but I put this to one side when 4157 came out, relieved to have something new to work on).  And the Azed competition puzzle.  And anything else that came to hand.

OK George – there must be a way to find some words that fit this right hand side.

Bash out an answer to 8 down… I’ll admit, I went to my online chambers and typed in bric (had to be some form of ICC in there) – and there it popped up – BRIC(A,BRA)C.  Head-smack time!  Extra letter F… THE -YING OF…  Why should I know that.  THE DYING OF THE LIGHT!!! It’s Dylan Thomas!

Anyone else when they saw that immediately think of the end of “This is Spinal Tap” when Michael McKean is talking about the namesake series – “Danny Thomas reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas”.

RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT fits the misprints – it also helps me get the rest of the misprinted letters… and I guess the first letters of the substitution answers get me somewhere… the poem begins DO NOT GO – so it’s words for GO that are removed to be replaced (JOURNEY, SHOT, TRY…)

I set up a chart to try to find the rest of the removals

Working notes for Listener Crossword 4156, V by Parsnip

This made things very very clear – now I’ve got the rest of the grid full – the letters of DYLAN THOMAS minus the T are the first letters of the rest of the clues (that helped confirm LODE and VIREO, my last two in).

There’s still the question of 4 across… the only word I can think of that fits in there is MAGGOT.  However the rest of the verse appears to be forming a nice T across the top and middle…

GENTLE INTO THAT (HOW) GOOD NIGHT (BYE) OLD AGE SHOULD BURN (GAOLER) AND RAGE (STORM) AT CLOSE OF DAY (Y).

Computer to the rescue for a final time – googling “MAGGOT GENTLE” tells me that a gentle is a kind of maggot then confirmed by Chambers.  In goes the higlighted T to complete DYLAN THOMAS

My grid for Listener Crossword 4156, V by Parsnip

Wow! I was very very very close to giving up there with that blank right half.

More proof that I would be completely lost on these without computer aids – the online Chambers and google were essential here, though I can give myself half a brownie point for actually knowing the poem and the author, that doesn’t happen very often.

I really liked the ending, using the line of the poem as a cryptic clue.  I remember once on the Crossword Centre there was a small competition to try to do it with a Shakespeare verse (and wasn’t it “The Life and Death of Eric Pode of Croydon” that had Hamlet re-written for crossword fans?) but this is the first time I remember seeing it done in a puzzle.

Still – I’m claiming a Victory To George, and a big thanks to Parsnip for some more fun.

2011 tally:  George 31, Listener 8.  Current streak, George 5 (Kea may debate this)

Feel free to leave comments below, and check back next week to see if Ilver served up an easy win or not!

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