Cruciverbo ergo ummmmm….

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword from finally wintery North Carolina.  It was a grey Christmas over here and looks like it’s heading towards a similarly grey New Years.  Good time to go all shut-in with crossword puzzles!

However for now let’s wind back the clock a few weeks to the first week of December, and Mr. E’s challenge – “What’s My Line”.  I’ve been improving on Mr E Listeners steadily, I really loved (and solved) Some Assembly Required, Be My Guest was a struggle but I got there – I remember some consternation with how to cut out the square in the top left.   Indication of Height on the other hand was an unmitigated disaster!  So what will Mr E bring this time?

A grid full of real words, incorrect letters called faux passes in the preamble.  Some lines, one congruent to the other (quick trip to Chambers – identical in shape so that all parts correspond – now let’s see if the mathematicians disagree like with the tesseract).  So most clues are normal and all answers in the grid are real words… sounds like the grid fill could be the easy part.

I have been varying the routine a little lately, and I got started on this fairly late on Friday afternoon completely starving, so I hit up a burrito place and worked on the puzzle while filling myself with chips queso and the like.  I was sitting opposite one of the world’s most trashy couples (and I live in North Carolina, so that’s saying something).  Let’s just say if you’re obviously in your pyjamas and having lunch at 3:30 in the afternoon, you should pay attention to underwear.

Oh yes, the Listener.  There is a 1 across, and I’m at a restaurant so as soon as you see bread and 7 letters you think CHAPATI and indeed that is the case.  So a big pass of the 1 across test, woohoo!  Crossing that is our first faux pas – POLLUX.E becoming POLLUTE.  I put a circle around the changed letter in case it was important later.  Next faux pas to appear was OR,GAY,ZINE becoming ORGANZINE and that’s an X and a Y as the errant letters, looks like we’re in cartesian coordinate world.

One burrito later and some suspicions are confirmed – I have almost a complete grid, and I’ve found 11 of the fauxes pas.  The Y’s in the across clues were NU, and there’s an NU in the left hand column, so maybe I’ve got to find letter that match.  But I can’t find any PSE together in the columns.  Hmmm… in the down clues, the X’s are TWO… ohhhh… and the Y’s are TEN.  Well that’s a bit more obvious isn’t it?  The letter in column 2 row 10 is an O in HERON.  At that point it was time to take a break and pick this up back home…

Let’s highlight that O.  The across fauxes passes… SEP could be seven and NU… if that last one is an E it could be UNE – oh – it’s CH then TAX reversed with an E to be CHEAT.  So the other point is the A at the start of 37 down.

Ummm… a straight line between corners of those?  That’s a weird angle, it’s not quite a diagonal.  And which one should it go through?  If I go down two cells at a time and across one I could get OSTEORMIOA… that doesn’t make anything?


Oh…. why am I fixated on cells?  I’ve got X and Y coordinates – think of the grid as a cartesian graph, it’s going to be the grid points that are the axes… so it’s the top right corners of the cells I’ve highlighted.  OSUTEGORGMICO.  No idea… into the anagram solver it goes… COGITO ERGO SUM.  Oh, of course – it’s Rene Descartes! That’s why the misprints are fauxies passants and the across indicators are in French(ish).  RENE DESCARTES has the same number of letters as COGITO ERGO SUM (wasn’t that the theme of a Listener a few years ago? Yes there was – Baker’s Dozen by Adam).  So now I have to find a line of the same shape that runs through all the letters of RENE DESCARTES.  The right hand side of the grid is littered with D’s, R’s, N’s and E’s so I highlighted all of those and found the line of, for want of a better word, best fit.

My working grid for Listener 4219, What's My Line by Mr E

But what of the rest of the preamble?  The answer to the second question is entered across, jumbled with one letter changed?  I can’t find anything that looks like RENE DESCARTES in the rows… the preamble doesn’t seem to indicate that anything needs to be changed, so hopefully that’s just a thematic bit I’ve missed and I haven’t done anything wrong.

This was in the mail on Monday – I liked the puzzle but I’m confused by that bit in the preamble.  I will have to hand it to Mr E for coming up with a new clue for ASTI (is there any wine that has appeared more often in crosswords?) by having TASTIEST – TEST as the wordplay.  I’m going to call this one a Victory to George but keep my fingers crossed.

2012 tally:  38-3-7

There’s three left in the year!  Feel free to comment on my inability to find thematic material and I’ll see you next week when Aedites introduces us to some false hoods.



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