Crossword craft corner

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, nearing the end of another year of solving mediocritishness,  and looky this – it’s Lavatch, and it’s the circular grid to end all circular grids – I’m used to seeing the 40-entry circular grid but here we go with 48 of the radii!

It’s also Lavatch, which means we should be in for a bit of fun – let’s review Lavatch… there hasn’t been one since the end of 2011, when To Have and Have Not introduced us to Marxism/Engelsism (one of those is easier to say so I guess that’s why it stuck).  Before that, The Fragmentation of Reality put some Kurosawa into our lives, Beat It!  with the Gunter Grass theme that I messed up  and before that Key Cutting, where I introduced the term “Big Red Dictionary Limey Word-Snobbery” which needs to get another printing, so there it is.

This was the Chistmas-week Listener, and came at a moment when I didn’t have a lot going on – so I had Friday afternoon free and clear to make a start on this… let’s see – 24 innies and 24 outies.  Grid in equal sectors (hmmm… 48 clues – 6 or 8 sectors?), a quotation, an author, a thematic word.

Lavatch continues on the cramming stuff in theme, let’s just solve some clues.

Stone-cold solving commence!  Let’s find some six-letter words.  The first one isn’t looking promising but right up behind is CARAFE with an extra U, so in we go.  A spin around the clues was a little disheartening – I got well under a half on the first run through, and very few together.  It started to pick up near the end and the very first letter in the entire grid was the S from SLOOMY/SLOW UP.

Another coffee and it’s on to a second session of clue parsing… this one was going far better, and since I had more near the end I started from 48 and worked backwards.  I made a grid of the letters in the quote, which I guess is the key to getting this thing together. JOUM… maybe BOOJUM?  Hunting of the snark?  LECUJOMU… what an odd set of letters.  Feed into anagram solver and out comes LEUCOJUM!  A snowflake lily.

Aaaaahhhh… round grid, snowflake, message that starts with CUT… I think we’re going to be chopping this one up!

Working backwards from LEUCOJUM we have what looks like it could be STEVENS… to the OPQ online!


Well that’s got the name of this crossword series in it!

By the way, I believe that exhausts the list of quotations in ODQ that have “Listener” in them, since we’ve had Juvenal and Walter De La Mare.

With that in place, around goes the ring and the solving can begin in earnest.  My last in around the ring was REVIEW which I thought was an odd clue, I hadn’t heard of REVIE, so it was probably a gimme for soccer fans but I was really scratching my head over it.  SEONAG was second-last in, and I’ll admit that one came from a OneLook search.  Why did I give away my old Chambers with the lists of names?  Hey Listener people, on the extremely off chance I win one, can I have an 11th edition, please?


My working grid for Listener 4221

So here we have a grid, instructions to CUT GRID OUT FOLD NITO SIX CUT OUT PATTERN, and the last piece is THE SNOW BUNTING, a snowflake made by cutting up folded paper.

That should be it, right?

Well, I have practically zero hand-eye coordination and even less luck with scissors.  Here’s the first effort.

My first attempt at cutting a snowflake


Hadn’t cut out enough (even note just below the pattern I was trying to cut and how it completely failed to look like the actual cuts.

Attempt #2 wasn’t much better…

C'mon, can't I even cut a snowflake correctly?


No message here to be found.  By this point it was about 2 in the morning and definitely time to sleep on it.  Maybe it’ll snow to spite me.

I skipped Saturday and came back to this on Sunday, determined to get the snowflake part together.  Check those cuts… oh… I’m missing some cuts on my line. There’s more to be hacked out… if I cut just a little more from snowflake #2… it falls apart.

Snowflake #3 for the win, and I was so happy I stapled it and put it in the mail before I remembered to scan or take a photograph… I’d seen the possibility of SNOW running in the third circle, and eventually there it was – from Emerson – (the) FROLIC ARCHITECTURE OF (the) SNOW

Since my hacked-to-pieces snowflake might have been difficult to read, I also sent in a grid with just the remaining cells and the quote highlighted.

This was another remarkable thematic whirlwind from Lavatch, and I’m all in favor of grid mutilation (where is the one where we have to burn the grid and send the Ashes to John Green?  Hmmm… there’s a cricket series coming up that might be a great opportunity for such a crossword… get to it George!).  It was in the mail on Monday, and I wonder how much of a bugger this one was to score?

Victory to George!  And with one to go, we hit the 40 mark, ensuring that I haven’t done any worse than last year!  2012 tally:  40-3-7

Feel free to send me sets of safety scissors, and see you next week when we end the solving year with a possibly delicious Mango.



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