This may not be the blog about ladies swallowing you are looking for

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, unfortunately delayed by almost a week – initially by my cable company with what they called an “Accidental Disconnection” which means they killed the cable and internet for my apartment (presumably by torching the entire panel) when the intention was to kill it for my neighbour (and any other poor sod who moves into that place).  So by Friday I was still internetless and relying on my phone, which is not great for writing blogs or scanning grids.

Which is a pity, since last week’s Listener was rather fun.  Hellside by eXternal – I had tried a few eXternal puzzles in the Guardian and enjoyed the sense of humor in the surfaces, so I was expecting something out of left field.  What have we – missing definitions.  Extra letters for definitions, and some highlighting at the end.  So it looks like all real words in the grid and the clues aren’t too mutilated.. could be gentle or deceptive.

There is a 1 across and it’s pretty gentle – C(ASS)IA gets is going and there’s an extra C.  All right,big pass on 1 across test!  The grid fill went pretty steadily, and the clues were pretty accessible – often the extra letters in across clues were kind of obvious, but the message from them was not – CDOCBSPI… has a coded message snuck through?  The first thematic down clue spotted was PL,AGUE, followed by SUB,DUE… hmmm… PLAGUE could be DOG and SUBDUE could be COW… some sort of farm theme (we’ve just had Animal Farm?)?  Old McDonald?  Ylvis?

It was one of the last in that caused the penny to drop – HAR(VEST)E,R.  What does HARVESTER have to do with DOGs and COWs?  There’s one on a farm… a trip to Chambers later and there’s a thing called a HARVESTER SPIDER.  AHA!  DOGs, COWs and SPIDERs all went into that little old lady that swallowed a FLY – and there’s a juicy (presumably) FLY in the middle of the extra letters from the message… which is the animals inside each other (and inside the old lady).  That’s pretty nifty.

All that’s left is to find the representation of the old lady (spoiler alert, she dies at the end).  Hmmm, only 9 characters to describe an old lady swallowing a horse and dying?  There can’t be many letters for horse so it’s probably GG… there’s a GG near the top, and there it is – WIFE on the outside and RIP above!  Woohoo!

My working grid for Listener 4279, Hellside by eXternal

 

This was two fairly short sessions, and I think I had it in the mail on Monday – so on the easier side for the Listener crossword, but I did really enjoy working through this one – and absolutely no sursolving, since all the grid was needed to complete the thematic material, woohoo!

2014 tally:  5-0-0… and I believe the all-correct is intact!

Feel free to tell me that I need to write these in advance, or anticipate strange things from cable companies, and see you next week (well, tomorrow, almost today) when BeRo gives us a tribute to the greatest film ever to feature both John Travolta and Nicholas Cage

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