Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, maintaining a standard in mediocrity for the better (or worse) part of a decade.

This is the end of “The Man Who Came To Dinner” puzzles – we closed that weekend, but it is part 3 in a now-5-part series of “The grid is full, now what” puzzles. I think it’s numberwang this week, so maybe that run will end.

Pointer! I recall not being able to understand the last Pointer Listener at all (the one where six clashes had to be moved to make six new clashes) so I was more than a little apprehensive to see a grid with numbered rows and columns and multiple clues together.

OK, settle down, there must be a way in – but for right now, welcome to stone cold solving time.

There is a first clue, and it is a memory of those terrible Disney family comedies from the 70s (a lot of which, particularly “The Cat From Outer Space”, pop up regularly as stumper questions in pub quizzes assuming everyone there is far younger than me which is usually the case) where HERBIE (the love bug) loses his last two letters to make HERB and we are away, yet unable to place it in the grid.

I made two passes through the clues before looking for an obvious way in.  First was an abject failure – I could only find one J in the across and down answers, so tried to fit the grid around the crossing of JOULE and JELAB.

That was frustrating.

Back to the clues – I had BAZOO in the down clues, and no Z’s in the acrosses.  Could I find a clue that looked like it might lead to an answer with a Z?  Aha!  IZARD which popped up somewhere recently.

Fitting the grid to BAZOO and IZARD did the trick.  Since every cell was checked, except for the six unclued entries, and I knew where they were, the rest of the grid fill was very fast indeed.  Welcome to part 2 of the experience.

What stuck out immediately was that column 3 could become PALESTINE with one change. AHA!  Disputed countries! Nope, can’t find any more of those.  Places I don’t want to live? Things religious nutbags fight over?


Is PALESTINE in Chambers? PALESTINE SOUP is. Has anyone had it? I don’t think I like the idea of artichokes in soup.  Oh look – in column 7 is the possibility of BISQUE.  It’s soups.  That’s much more mundane and likely to be found in Bradford’s.

The next part appeared while I was replacing the letters to make the soups – there were no duplicates.  Aaaah – we have ALPHABET SOUP on our hands! That made finding the last few soups (particularly OXTAIL) pretty easy.  We have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4396, The Listener Audience by Pointer

I had highlighted all of the unclued entries, which were acronyms – the one from PALESTINE becoming TLA – THREE LETTER ACRONYM, which is surely the one to be highlighted.  Here’s what I mailed in…

My submitted grid for Listener 4396, The Listener Audience by PointerPhew – not as difficult as it initially looked, and after a little frustration a very nice finish! I ended up rather enjoying this one.  Also the first one I submitted in a few months, just to confuse John Green.  I think I can call this one a Victory to George, woohoo!

2016 tally:  14-2-2

Feel free to tell me that you’ve never souped until you’ve Palestine souped, and see you next week, when Flying Tortoise also goes to the bad Disney movies well with a puzzle based on “Electric Dreams”.



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