Happy new Listener year, featuring storytime and a video game review

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, now in (yikes) a seventh year of bashing away on the barred beastie.  I’m back to submitting entries, so who knows, maybe this will be the year of the all-correct (as if) or the year I win a backordered dictionary.  Stay tuned!

New year, slate clean, and IOA up first.  There has only been one IOA Listener I’ve tried, and it was a numerical, so IOA’s clues are new to me – check out the previous IOA puzzle from the tags somewhere at the bottom.  What have we here – in five across clues we need to remove a letter, in four down clues we need to add a letter, then find things in the grid – so most clues are normal and it looks like we have real words in the grid.  Woohoo!

I printed this off on Friday morning before any bars were open, and more importantly before I’d had any coffee, so I went the the coffee place on the corner to get started. Coffee in hand – there is a 1 across, and it looks like BOWLERS with an extra B in the clue.  Now that’s a start!  I didn’t get that much in the top left in a first read through, but really made headway into the bottom of the grid… when I got distracted.

There’s one American accent that grates on me more than any other, and it’s the Southern Californian.  It’s a surfer dude drawl that just screams “I, douchebag”, and it was sitting two seats away from me… hitting hardcore on the girl who was at the counter next to me.  He started by asking her where the fun people and places are in Asheville, since he was just here for a while to “experience and make music”.  She was doing pretty well to ignore him, until he started playing with his jewelry, and she asked where he got it… he then swooped in for the kill… oh, his Mom gave it to him… she was a former child star and gave him lots of cool stuff and he doesn’t have to worry about money.  I think they both ignored me sniggering in the corner, as he continued to spin the tale… he was the sixth or seventh son of Erin Murphy (who used to play Tabitha on “Bewitched”) and she hangs out in California while he travels around the us being an annoying twat.  He got her number.  I got within six entries of a completed grid and was laughing about it the rest of the day.  I’m still laughing about it now.

Maybe I need to pick up by telling people I’m Paul Hogan’s nephew or Russell Crowe’s cousin?

With six entries to go, the endgame seemed clear – my first spot was NBYNW in the upper right hand region of the grid. Hitchcock territory?  OWL, CROW, TIT in the top left seems to confirm it, and the reversed WINDOW in the bottom right helped me get two of my last entries – NICKNACK and SWEAR (hidden letters in the middle of words always get me).  BOUND in the across clues representing ROPE and then the LADY vanishes in down clues.  The last Hitchcock film to be spotted was 39 STEPS with the number in the cell completing the title.  Woohoo!

My working grid for Listener 4275, Make a Connection by IOAI didn’t have a lot to say about this Listener – I put in my note to IOA that I found it pretty gentle (which probably means I’ve made some horrible mistake – I nearly did, I was on my way to the post office that I wondered if I had done the highlighting on my submission grid (opened the letter – I hadn’t).  But I think I can call this a Victory to George.

So now a bonus… I got a Christmas gift from a friend that tickled me in all sorts of fashions.  I had no idea this existed!  When my friend said he was getting me a Nintendo DS game that I wouldn’t believe existed, I thought it would be a cricket game… but here is what he gave me…

Box for DS crossword game

Where shall we start?  How many crosswords are on a cube?  How many people under 3 would want a crossword game on Nintendo DS?  And why does the cube of crossword grids appear to be sitting on the racing form?  Apparently it was released in 2009 and may not have sold many units – I can’t find a single review online – this was a used copy bought from a UK reseller.  Shall we open it up and see what it inside?

The DS crossword game, opened

Yes, it came with an instruction booklet. I didn’t read it, I wanted to see what this thing looked like.   By the way, note the elegant rendering of the Times iconic logo on the book, the cover, and even the little cartridge… that’s quite a change from what hits you when you put it in the Nintendo DS

The start screen for the Times Crossword Challenge

I’ll give you 10 points for the rendering of the Times masthead icon, but the lettering of THE TIMES around it is Letraset quality.  And yes, I know at this point you’re jealous of my red Nintendo 3 DS.  Anyone else play Fire Emblem?  Let’s play some crossword challenge!

Menu screen for the Times Crossword Challenge

It’s a little unfortunate you don’t get the full effect here, but the menu screen is accompanied by the tinniest rinky-dink background music ever.  In “Options” you can choose between three insipid tinny tunes.  Hall of Fame appears to take you to a list of fake high scores pre-installed on the game… similar to an 80’s video console where AAA, JAX and DES had strangely rounded high scores.  Let’s try an actual crossword…

What it looks like when you're doing a puzzle

If you’re looking carefully, you might notice that not all of the grid fits on the bottom window… it only shows a 13×13 section of the grid. You can move the highlighted (in pale yellow, which is why you can’t see it in the picture) cell around using the direction pad, or you can press a black square (tapping any white square with the stylus doesn’t do anything at all) and drag the grid from one side to the other.  You’re meant to use the stylus to write a letter in the little black square – to a character recognition pattern written by a deranged lunatic.  I don’t think I’ve gotten it to accept a G in less than seven tries.  So far I’ve only done one cryptic crossword, which took me 23 minutes of bashing away with thie stylus, earning me a 2 star rating (not sure out of how many stars)… and it didn’t save it!  When I tried to play a second time it showed up as unsolved.

This is a glorious trainwreck of a game!  Whoever programmed this has managed to make daily cryptic crosswords more awkward and frustrating, which is quite a feat.  Has anyone else tried this game?

2014 tally:  1-0-0 and the all-correct lasts for half as long as it did last year!

Feel free to tell me that someone my age shouldn’t be playing with a DS and that fire emblem is puerile, and see you next week when Poat engages us Fore an Afternoon.

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2 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed this. “ED GEIN” (nearly) in the middle had me thinking of “psycho” for ages…

  2. Missed that – I’ve been following the discussion on the Crossword Center message board and it seems to me that people there are far overthinking it – like “I put a circle around every M in the grid to signify Dial M for Murder”

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