Is this as close to a vacation as JEG gets?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and it seems last week’s puzzle caused a little kerfluffle in Listenerland, with some solvers liking it, some having problems with it, and most of us opting for “Swingin’ In The Rain” instead of “Sinning in the Rain”.  Well this week it’s Stick Insect, so let’s hope there’s no controversy (except for how to round up pi).

Let’s see – there’s a message in the perimeter, and the unchecked letters in it are extra letters in wordplay and then there’s something to do at the end.  OKeydoke, looks like real words in the grid, so let’s get started…

The perimeter message means there’s no 1 across, so we have to go all the way to 8 across for the test. NOW,A,Y,S – and that’s a big pass on the 8-across test, woohoo!

I made a steady start across the top and right of the grid, and saw the possibility of DELETE PERIMETER (what? after feeling good about spotting it I have to go scrub it all out?) before realizing that the extra letters in wordplay were in the exact order of the misprints.  So a big hand in solving the whole puzzle was figuring out the message of DELETE PERIMETER MESSAGE AND ALTERNATE ROWS.  I needed that to solve 20 (RUN,KLE) and 31 (SEND inside DUE, extra S).  Eventually there is a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4328, Reducto ad Absurdium by Stick InsectOK… that’s a lot of deleting – if I get rid of the perimeter and half of the rows and columns then there’s not a lot of letters left.  Hmmm…. do I delete row 2 or row 3?  If I delete row 2 then the leftover letters say DELETE ALL SEND UNFILLED GRID.  Which makes more sense than OASEAETESNLIDUKENSRLRDBGNMWEFAINRDUI.

I didn’t get to this until the deadline was done, so I didn’t send in an unfilled grid, but here was a good opportunity to set the whole thing on fire and send in the cinders!  Fun puzzle, with an amusing ending.

Clues of note:

I guess the restrictions on hiding so many elements restricted the grid, so there were some unusual words to clue.  I’m a sucker for slapstick film references, and clear wordplay for obscure words, and two stood out for me here

17A:  Bumbling inspector’s lost half the main point:  CLOU(seau) – with an added bonus that the word came from French, while the inspector came from an American director and British actor’s interpretation of a Frenchman

4D:  Whine of Angus adolescent with pressure to replace top:  TEENAGE with P for T, extra letter A giving PEENGE.  Excellent wordplay for the extra letter and an unusual word.  I wondered if there could be a more surface-appropriate word for replace.

I didn’t get to submit either of the first two for the year, but I think I’ve got them done so I’ll call this one a Victory to George!

2015 tally:  2-0-0

Feel free to tell me that you got it from reading the title and sending in an empty grid without solving a clue, and see you next week when Hedge-Sparrow doubts our associations.



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