A week late… so humour me

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  It has been a rough couple of weeks writing-wise.  I got some pretty negative comments back about a script so I haven’t been into the writing thing as much.  Compound that with long hours at the day job and I’ve been neglecting my duties of making terrible jokes at the expense of other peoples’ fine crosswords. Hopefully a corner has been turned, I have been cast in two plays, and I talked to someone who said he read my script and thought it was funny, so maybe the response I got wasn’t indicative of everyone who was in the room discussing scripts.

Or I could be a lazy ass, a shitty writer and can’t solve half of these damn things.  Let’s see what happened with Flying Tortoise.  After a rough start, I recall enjoying Flying Tortoise’s puzzles.

I started this one in an airport waiting for a flight to New York City.  What a strange puzzle.  Carte blanche that is really four little carte blanches.  Clues of four types in alphabetical order of answers and… wait a minute… if there’s only grid bars in one quadrant aren’t there far too few clues?

Time for stone cold solving, I guess…

I made a mess of this right off the bat, figuring (I had no dictionaries with me on this trip, except Chamers on my laptop, which wasn’t on) that the answer was ASPENS and the wordplay was… well… something.  I did put a question mark next to it at least.

OK – about three runs through the clues and a few things were becoming clear.  There were more misprints than anything else.  The clues where the letters were restored led to a couple of very similar answers – CARERS, CARETS, CARATS.  One of the four words pieced together from the clues was MELANCHOL? so probably MELANCHOLY.  That was about as far as I got on the plane, still had nothing in the grid.

Now sometimes I do horribly nice things.  Not very often, but occasionally.  I was in New York City while my sister was visiting – my brother-in-law was doing a guest conducting spot, and she and my niece came with him, none of them had been to the US before.  So I let them have a date night and baby-sat my six-year-old niece.  I should win all sorts of best big brother awards for that one.  Once she was in bed, I got back to this one… MELANCHOLY… and the beginning of what looked like it could be PHLEGM… a peek in my Chambers and they are two of the four HUMOURS!  Well that explains the four squares in the grid… CHOLER, MELANCHOLY,PHLEGM,BLOODY.  That gets me the rest of the letters I’m hunting for and gets me close to all the clues being solved.  So if that is right, then that first circle is probably H – RADISH is the only answer I have that ends in H.  It could cross YSHEND and… it’s a word square!  Not only a word square, but there’s EARTH at the top of it.  The humours are linked to the elements, so that means FIRERS and WATERS probably goes in the top row.  Hmmm… WATERS begins with a W, MEADOW ends in one… can that be a word square with reversed entries?  Yep, and that makes another entry DOL?NE, which must be DOLINE – and EUROPA fits with where I know UR must go.  Two quadrants down!  The one with the misprints was up next – knowing that an the clue beginning “Gentlemen” needed either an A misprint or an A restored, lead to COMMON, which fits the MO part of HUMOUR and gets me started on the next quadrant. Funny enough the last clue I got in that set was the thematic one for AIRWAY.  So FIRERS has to go in the top left, and CURATS at the bottom – oh, it’s a word ladder!

My working grid for Listener 4471, What can the Matter be? By Flying Tortoise

What an interesting puzzle – certainly different from any Listener I remember, and an interesting solving experience, with a long head-scratching bit in the middle and then a cascade near the end.  My niece slept comfortably (I had to go in and read to her from Alice In Wonderland), my sister and brother-in-law enjoyed their night out, and I scored a Victory for George, woohoo!

Game over:  100% completion.  Very tidy construction this.

My only regret was that this wasn’t a puzzle that had seven old ladies locked in a lavatory.  I guess that is an idea that is still up for grabs.  Maybe the next Lessener crossword?

Feel free to tell me that I am still a shitty brother, and see you next week (or in about half an hour) when Puffin has a puzzle that describes tuning a tenor sax.

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