Listener Solving Dilemma

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, coming to you today from massive hangoversville.

Okeydoke, what has Dysart served up this time – carte blanche grid, twelve modifications of three types, and at the end add bars to make a new puzzle.  Hmmm.

This sounds difficult.

Well there is a first clue at least… and it looks like a hidden DAB and maybe “investigator” is an extra word?  The source could be found in extra words, couldn’t it?

A round of ice-cold solving later, things are looking promising – I have all but two of the first 15 clues solved, and another good set in the middle, hopefully about the point where the down entries should start.  Since EMMY was the first clue on the second page of my printout I started there and wrote down the possibilities for down entries.  None of them seemed to play well at all with the acrosses.

Hmmm?

Where do any of these across clues go?

Back to solving, I guess.

Another two runs through the clues and I have almost all of them solved, and still can’t see an entry point to the grid.

Flash of inspiration, please!

It was a day or so later, and the flash came – in another puzzle I saw TIMOTHY GRASS and it reminded me that there was an unsolved clue in this one that involved grass… and so it was TI,MOTHY!  A few beyond that was LEARY – TIMOTHY probably goes in next to ATAP and that gives somewhere for ROSTI and ASSAM to go – probably in the far column.  If LEARY goes underneath that, we could have TUNE IN, TURN ON, DROP OUT as the theme (explaining why I had OUTLET but no other O’s in the top half of the grid until I solved TIMOTHY.

Putting TUNE in FORA gives a spot for many of the other early down answers, though it means ANDES can’t be right, it’s URALS.

My working grid for Listener 4400, Three Steps to Heaven by Dysart

At this point it was time to turn to Crossword Compiler.  I started with TIMOTHY and LEARY along the right edge and worked my way back, eventually finding that DAB was DEF, and learning along the way that there is a festival called FURRIES, which apparently attracts a lot of men who identify with My Little Pony characters.  It was another two hours or so before I had a grid, and the requisite number of words and bars (and a big thank you to Crossword Compiler for counting words and maintaining symmetry.

My final grid for Listener 4400, Three Steps to Heaven by Dysart

Wow, that was a tricky one, Dysart!  Of the puzzles I’ve completed this year, this took me the longest – I don’t think I mailed it until after I printed out the next puzzle.  In the end I think I can call it a Victory to George, but by a squeak.

2016 tally:  18-2-2

Feel free to tell me that there’s something wrong with putting Dr. Leary’s ideas in a square, and see you next week when Waterloo apparently wants us to chop a bit out of a literary sapling.

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