Morbid March Movements on

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – somehow maintaining an all-correctish into March, where we are faced with a procession of recently departed setters.

Now in the case of Mango, that is only partially true.  Those of you who have been around for a while know that Mango is a three-headed beast – It was announced recently that Radix had passed.  We butted heads a few times on the Crossword Centre, however when I solved one of his puzzles he sent me a really nice card.  Seth Mould sometimes bugs me on facebook but has been quiet for the past month, so not sure what’s going on there.  I presume Shackleton is alive and well (and hopefully got the note I sent when I submitted this one).  I’ve not had a great deal of luck dealing with Mango over the years, you can check the tags at the bottom of the post to read about the highlights.

I had mentioned to a friend I was hoping this was going to be a quick one, since my upcoming week was going to be very busy, and I hadn’t mailed in 4282 yet, so I could avoid writing a letter with the Mr. Lemon Listener.  Now I’ve given myself a super challenge – finish a Mango in a day.  I did have most of Friday afternoon free, just had a photo shoot for an upcoming Feral Chihuahuas show – oh, hey, if you happen to be in North Carolina next week you can see me at the Carolina Sketchfest.

So what have we here?  Oh dear – non-base-10 arithmetic again.  Were there a number of setters born with an abnormal number of fingers and toes?  Anyhoo, we have to move some letters, fill in some extra spaces in the grid and end up with real words. OKeydoke, well real words is heartening, let’s get to it, shall we?

There is a 1 across and the wordplay appeared to be heading towards PEA or EPEA or some variation with a letter moved… I didn’t confidently see it, so I moved on.  Better luck on 8 across, where that wordplay has to be AI,L so the S moves and the clue doesn’t all fit.  Any luck with the crossing clues to AIL?  10 is ICE-MAN and 11 is LADINO so that places the I and L of AIL… 9 down looks like it should be AYRSHIRE… oh and it is, it’s an anagram of not quite all the letters.  Right hand side of grid away!

With the Listener, I usually work around an area where I find an immediate entry, rather than reading all the clues, so my progress was down the right hand side and then through the middle, and I was starting to get concerned that I hadn’t found any of the other thematic clues.  I did place an M, U and I in the circled entries, and spot SUMMER and AUTUMN in the rows along the middle.  Wonder if that means there’s a SPRING and a WINTER somewhere?  If 17 across is RING there sure is a SPRING… and if 38 is ERATO that takes care of our conveniently six-letter seasons.  So something to do with the four seasons?  Vivaldi?

Putting in SPRING and WINTER and getting back to a few I hadn’t been able to solve provides the next breakthrough – (p)IMP, L,ARUMS… could it be that the blank cells are next to each other at the top and the bottom?  That would make 6 and 14 down two-letter answers… and they are! TE(n) and R(be)A(ms).  I’m not a fan of two-letter answers, though I know it’s not going to be two letters eventually. At least both letters are checked.

A little after that, I have a complete grid – we’re in base-12 (at least it’s not 24).  If the summation goes at the bottom, PRIEST is a pretty good sounding possibility, and a Google search for VIVALDI PRIEST turns up that Vivaldi was apparently a ginger, and was nicknamed the RED PRIEST… so the thematic year is likely to be 1678 (Vivaldi’s birth), 1725 (first performance of the Four Seasons) or 1741 (Vivaldi’s death).  He was born in early March, so that’s a pretty good contender.  That leaves GWAUMN (some of whom are swapped with PRIEST) to be arranged at the top, with A definitely being on top of LARUMS to make a real word.

A few stabs at working out the orders of the letters and I finally settled on

G = 0, S = 1, W = 2, E = 3, T = 4, A = 5, U = 6, M =7, I = 8, R = 9, N = a, P = b

I found an online base transposer to figure the last of these out.

SPRING (1b98a0 = 493752)
SUMMER (167739 = 386397)
WINTER (28a439 = 681453)
AUTUMN (56467a = 1376446)

Add them together and you get 2938048 which is b98314 = PRIEST



my working grid for Listener 4283, Movements by Mango

So the priest had to be shaded in red – I didn’t have a red highlighter, so I used a pen to lightly shade, hopefully that works, and about 3 hours later I am all done, and YES – 4283 and 4282 were in an envelope on their way on Saturday morning.

It’s early in the year, but this has to be my favorite Mango puzzle by far, and a front-runner for the Ascot Gold Cup – speaking of which, as the Listener dinner is tomorrow, check back to read the GvL year in review, including my top five (last year the AGC people and I agreed for the first time!), 2013 Empty Grid award and the voting for Top Of The Square – where you get to pick your favorite numerical puzzle of 2013.

And I believe the all-correct is intact 9 weeks into the new year!

2014 tally:  9-0-0

Feel free to tell me that I should be able to do base-12 without internet aids, and see you next week when Morbid March comes to a merciful end with Syd Lexis offering us a creed.


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