• Archives

I didn’t know Lewis Carroll named a poem after a fantasy magazine

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. I’m on the road the next few weeks, so we will see what happens. The Listener that comes out today I may have to do using crossword compiler rather than the regular pen and paper version. It makes for nicer images. Speaking of which, this is about to be the messiest grid ever posted.

Quinapalus time! What have we here – clues leading to definitions differing by one letter (Phi used that in last year’s APEX puzzle, so I was familiar with that gimmick, don’t recall it in a Listener before). Carte blanche grid, some symmetry. Quinapalus often presents a tough challenge, so let’s see what we have here.

I jotted beside the grid where I thought the across answers were going to go based on the symmetry.

There is a 1 across, but I could not figure it out at the time. I could tentatively place the third answer, BERK at the top right of the grid.

It was helpful to find early on that the clues with the one letter differences all crossed where I was pretty sure early on that 5 down was going to go, or across where 38 and 41 across were going to go. One of the letter permutations for 5 down looked like PHANTASMAGORIA which I know as a magazine of original science fiction and fantasy published in Melbourne in the 80s… surely that is too obscure even for the Listener? Ahh – it is also the name of a poem by Lewis Carroll!

I did not know the poem, so it was a bit of fun discovery to see that it was in a collection called RHYME AND REASON, taking care of the other 5 down, we have LEWIS CARROLL and REV C L DODGSON at 38/41 and the poem includes a mathematical equation with an imaginary solution, which expains the ARGAND DIAGRAM at 14 down. The extra letters say to MOVE BOTH X’S VERTICALLY

Well I was feeling very smug with myself. This looked like it was going to be a beast, and I was all done and dusted in about two and a half hours in one setting. Pats on the back all around right…

However now I have seen the solution… and I messed up that very last step. I didn’t move the X’s to the middle of the squares, I just put another X in the empty squares.

My working grid for Listener 4501, Two Solutions by Quinapalus

Well bugger!  I Really liked the puzzle but the very very very last step was too clever for this moron! Big Victory to the Listener Crossword – can you have 99% completion and a fail, yes you can!

Game over:  99% completion (but no final victory)

Feel free to tell me that I need to count my X’s before they are snatched up or down, and see you next week when KevGar has a puzzle that describes my idiocy


We are going to have to wait a while for a puzzle based on “20,000 Light Years From Home”

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  You’re still here? How nice!

And with this I may have caught up.  Woohoo, baby steps!

Kea is here – one of the editors stepping in. Last year Kea had a rather fun grid design around a flower. A few years ago, there was a particularly fun (for me) puzzle that Kea was involved with.  This time, regular symmetric grid. Normal clues, and it looks like all real words in the grid, just something to highlight. Maybe something to do with the round number of the puzzle. Let’s go for it!

There is a 1 across but I didn’t get it right away, so a fail on the 1 across test.  It was SAUNAS that got me going, and fortunately from there most of the left hand side of the grid came pretty quickly.

I was working on the message as I was solving the clues, and it was clear that there was SIX PARALLEL LINES coming together out of the down clues and SONG FROM ?E?LO AND BAND from the across clues.  I started scanning diagonals, and since the left side was full, there was the band – STATUS QUO!  Nice.  Quo had an album HELLO (that helped me get 17 across), and on HELLO is the track FORTY-FIVE HUNDRED TIMES.  Nice spot, Kea!

My working grid for Listener 4500, What Have we Come to by Kea

This was on the easier side, but it was a lot of fun, and the theme all came out at the end. I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over:  100% complete

Feel free to tell me you should never have caught up and that you preferred “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and see you next week when Quinapaulus gives us two chances to fail!

Hooray for holyrood

Welcome back to George vs the Listener, catch-up part 2. I was surprised to see that it has been three years since the last Elfman Listener!

This time we had long quotation, some of which comes from letters in clues (quick scan… it doesn’t seem to be the first, or the last, or the second, or the first letters of the second words… OK, nothing I can guess).

The grid is square and symmetrical, and it looks like mostly real words and normal clues, so maybe this will be a bit of light relief.  There was a 1 across, but I could not see it originally.  Actually it was OOMPH that was my first in, but that was pretty handy, since the left side filled up quickly, including 11 being HOLLYWOOD (though I thought it was going to be CROSSWORD for a while), and 6 down looking like a thematic alteration to a non-word. 15 down looked like INSTRUMENT PANEL, which would fit in if we chop off the top and the bottom, and with SELLING POINT also coming out, it looks like we are removing an anagram of LISTEN…. well that’s in the title.

I was getting close to a full grid, and had a problem… I had the extra words – LIKE TITLE ACTORS, but that wasn’t helping me pick where to go for the quotation. It is an anagram of SILENT, so I looked for quotes that included LISTEN and HOLLYWOOD.  Nothing was coming up… any other anagrams of LISTEN?  TINSEL?  Aaaah, there’s the quote – STRIP AWAY THE PHONY TINSEL OF HOLLYWOOD AND YOU’LL FIND THE REAL TINSEL UNDERNEATH.  Well that has to be the quote…

My working grid for Listener 4499, Silent Movie by Elfman

The solution has been out for a week and I now know that I was meant to look for silent letters in the across clues. Did not twig that at all… so I can call it a Victory to George but not a 100% solution.  Let’s knock off 10 percent for not getting all the thematic material.

Game over:  90% completion.

Next up Kea sums up this blog.

Let us take you on a journey through tttime and space

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and another week where I plumb forgot to scan the grid before leaving this morning, whoopsie.

The last tnap puzzle from about two years ago ended up being a lot of substitution work so I had to resort to Excel to get it done.  This one has another bunch of answers to be entered in a weird way, and in one case it says real words, but it is ominously left out of the other substitution. So… yeah.

There is a 1 across – and it’s a gentle starter – AS,AN,A for the only yoga position known to crossword-dom… vrikisana probably doesn’t work in any grids.  So our comment begins with an R.  I put it in gently, and pretty quickly saw the first of the entries that needed changing as there wasn’t enough room for CANTICUMS and there was too much room for ANTON. Working further along the grid, there is too much room for ETEN, and not enough room for FULL LENGTH though the end of it seems to be intact.  Hmm… something about the three Ls? Are there any other multiple letters?  Well if 42 is SKILLLESS there’s another triple L… are the three L’s combined?  That would work for SHELL-LIKE as well.  Hmmm…

I had A??TTON for where ANTON should go, ?NT?TO?OIC for where ENTOZOIC should go and ET??TEN for ETEN… are the T’s triples?

Are we in the realm of two puzzles referencing modern physics hot on the heels of each other?  We had waves and particles late last year, could this be time dilation and length contraction?  That would make the quote Einstein, but the letters I have don’t mean much. The end looks like NICHT so it must be in German… I found it on Einstein’s wikiquote, but I think that’s a little odd…

So that explains eight of the changes, there’s still the jumbles… CANTICUMS… to SIN??TE… it could become SINUATE if we remove M, C, C and replace by E… so there’s the other Einstein connection, E = mc^2.

Fortunately there wasn’t a lot left to do at this point, I had all the words that needed the substitution and jumbling, so after two fairly long solving sessions, I had a grid!

(grid will go here when I get my act into gear).

What an odd puzzle. I liked the substitutions, I liked the theme, but I thought it was odd that a German quotation was used that would probably have to be found online.  The English version is in ODQ, but not the German. According to ODQ it is carved in the mathematics hall at Princeton, which probably means I’ve walked by it.

I think I have everything sorted out, so I can call this one a Victory to George, woohoo!

Game over, 100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that I should be converted into energy, and see you next week when The Ace of Hearts asks us to give a title to their new song.


I was really flagging at the end of this one

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword Only a few hours late today, but bonus points for not having the grid scanned. Buckle in, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

MynoT time! I generally like MynoT puzzles, so let’s get started. Now I could have made this much easier if I had checked back through my list of MynoT puzzles earlier to see that he had one that was a Swiss flag. Anyhoo, what have we here? Jumblies… lots of them, but some sort of order, and extra/missing letters to show something.

Even though I knew they were jumbled, 1 across did leap out at me because I had done another puzzle somewhere where BREAMED came into play, so I knew it was BEAMED. Can’t put it anywhere. I ran through the acrosses and got quite a few of them, jotting the words beside the grid, though that didn’t help me much with BELLINI. Shouldn’t there be a law against having more than two jumbles per row or column? I’ll start a list of George’s completely unofficial laws of crossword conduct.

OK, back to the puzzle… after slotting in some down answers I was noticing a lot of double letters… are we in for bell-ringing? Particularly on the right hand side, there’s a lot of STURY… hmmm. But it is not quite alphabetical.

I also had FALO in the circles, so I was starting to suspect that the grid is going to end up a FLAG OF something…

Ohhh… is the alphabet divided up to make regions to colour in a flag? I had COLOU in the extra letters.  A check on flags, and the flag of GUINEA is the reverse of the flag of MALI (that would explain the title). The alphabet is split into the coloured regions, and GREEN is on the right which would explain VERT near the end of the down extra letters.

This was all completed with a pretty empty chunk on the left hand side, though knowing only the first third or so of the alphabet could complete 18 gave me FACE-ACHE, and the possible left over letters from acrosses gave me AHAB though I cannot see the wordplay.

I’ll put the grid in here when I get home.

I liked the flag and it was a fun grid with all the letters shuffled to sides, but I must say I never worked out all of the message, nor got a few of the wordplays, so although I can call it a Victory to George, I cannot get 100% completion.

Game over:  89% completion.

Feel free to tell me that the solution was waving in my face the whole time, and see you next week when tnap somehow separates a feline.

Stick a pin in me, I’m done

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, sadly back on home soil again – if you are looking for a party situation par excellence, I can highly recommend New Orleans. I hope those that went to the Listeners Annual Dinner had a good time and a speedy recovery (and my very best to Jane who is recovering from something quite painful and unsettling).

OKeydoke – what have we here – biggish grid at 13×13.  Lots of clues, but all normal. 13 clashes (hmm…) and some replacements/deletions at the end. Better get solving then!

The first three squares in the grid are for down entries, so we are left with a 4-across… and a partial fail on the 4 across test – as the definition and the second half of the clue seem to be pointing at BOMB(a), but I can’t figure out what sort of BOMB from the rest of the wordplay.

11 across INGATE gets me going, and most of the left hand side of the grid came together pretty handily… but with no clashes (though the M at the end of GYM looked tempting). This was a bit of a theme – I had a very hard time finding clashes – my first definite one was not until IDEES/WINE.  There were a number of all-checked entries where I was pretty sure there was a clash and had to play with letters to find them (SECATEURS/GEAN for example). From the clashes it became apparent that we were replacing the letters in SUMMER FLOWERS with letters to make real words. I was at one point convinced there was going to be one clash per column, and scrutinised column 2 over and over to see if I had missed anything.  It got down to the last two unfilled squares in the grid both needing to be part of words with clashes (RADULAR and DOME – the last being one of those pesky, all-checked entries).

I was relieved like nobody’s business when I put in the extra letters to word wizards and got LEPIDOPTERIST, who would use a BUTTERFLY NET.  I had noticed ORANGE PIP and DUGONG in the grid, which could become ORANGE TIP and BUGONG – AGGER could become EGGER and so we are looking for butterflies and moths.

Three fairly long solving sessions later – et voila!

My working grid for Listener 4492, Mad Toms Traps by Hedge-sparrow

Wow that was an intricate puzzle. Fortunately the endgame didn’t take anywhere near as long as the gridfill, which was a real hunt and peck for the clashes.  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George, and with the quantity of the thematic matter in the grid (look at that – the only answers that don’t end up being part of any thematic material are OBAN, MAAING and ORIBI) everything needed to be completely understood for a solution

Game over: 100 %

Feel free to tell me that I should just go for the ether, and see you next week, when Nutmeg puts an imp on the railroad tracks.

Blogotempophobia – fear of submitting a blog on time

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Coming to you today from beautiful (though it is meant to pour rain this afternoon) New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dysart time! I usually enjoy Dysart’s puzzles and don’t find them too difficult, so let’s see what we have here. Mostly normal clues, a few jumbles and some things to change. Hmmm… let’s get to solving.

There is a 1 across, and not only is it solveable, it appears to have an extra word – EN,F(L)AMED and WORK is extra.  Double bonus on the 1 across test!  Let’s write in words gently as there are jumbles afoot. The first one isn’t far away, as PAINT does not appear play well with ON TAP.

Fast forward – ON TAP was my way in – after finding EVERYTHING as an extra word and ON TAP becoming PANTO, and with the title, I remember that PANTOPHOBIA is fear of everything. I’ve already got PAINT which has pain in it, so maybe fear of PAIN is going to be a part of it.

Sometimes I get it – armed with all of this, and some searching Chambers for PHOBIA + the extra words, the rest of the grid fill did not take long, maybe 90 minutes.

My working grid for Listener 4491, A Dreadful Puzzle by Dysart

I already suspected PAIN which turned out to be correct – BEAR becomes FEAR and there’s ANDY CAPP hidden in a diagonal. Wow – Andy Capp is still going???

OK – so another fun puzzle, and jumblies that meant something. And even better, a fairly quick Victory to George (fear not, gentle readers, that will not be the case over the next few weeks).

Game over, 100 % completion!

Feel free to tell me that I should also have a fear of telling a funny joke and see you next week when Hedge-Sparrow introduces us to snares left by an insane prostitute (Stormy Daniels, anyone?).


Welcome to the Excel Inn

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  If this is the first post you’re seeing, you need to see more posts… and my little bit on Pointer’s from last week should be right below this.

Numberword time! First numerical of the year and it is Botox.  The Listener Crossword site tells me that Botox is a hybrid of Artix (who we had not that long ago with a puzzle I didn’t get), and Shark who we last saw under the guise of Handyman last year. Pseudonyms abounding! Neither of them have set a numerical Listener that I know of.

I have no shame, dear readers. I saw the sheer number of numerical clues, that all the numbers 1-26 were used, and that there were several letters in many of the clues, and a few of them had two equations that worked out to the same value, and went straight to Excel to make a spreadsheet.

Now of course this doesn’t take all the logic out of the equation… it was still a hunt and peck around the grid. I made some notes of what was divisible by what, but with the number of linked clues that had to be solved together, I really needed that sheet that populated multiple entries when I tried a new combination of numbers.

I do remember wondering if I’d ever figure out which letter was 1… and that was a stroke of genius on the setters part by only having 1 (which I think was W) appearing in only 1 clue.

OK… now what.  32 cells stay as numbers (out of 66).  For the rest, there’s a cipher, where each number stands for 1-3 letters… Both end columns are the same…  the columns might be a key here – I see a column with 1111 and 2222… but 3334 and 4445.  Huh?  Next to those is 4321 three times.  Maybe the cipher will helps… it sounds like we should arrange the letters we just solved for in order, and use the second digit.

I tried that, and got nothing from the title.

What if isn’t the order of the letters in the answers, but just the normal ordering of letters?  That would probably have made the grid construction easier, right, if you didn’t have to come up with a code and the method of clueing letters together.  That looks more promising – REJOB could become HOTEL.

Aaaah… the identical columns are STAIRS.  There’s the RECEPTION at the bottom, a PENTHOUSE at the top and a LIFT in the middle.

I guess there’s no room 13? In the US that used to be a big thing, but I don’t recall the number 13 being left off of room numbers lately.  I’m traveling next week, I’ll check… though I am going to New Orleans, and if anywhere is going to be a superstitious hotel town, New Orleans sounds like a good option. Anyhoo – we have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4490, REJOB (or HOTEL) by Botox

This wasn’t too bad – I did this all in one long, three hour session. About half an hour to write the Excel code, about another two hours fiddling with the numbers to make them fit, and not too long head-scratching about the cipher.

The last few years I’ve made a mess of the first numerical, but this time I think I’ve cracked it!  Victory to George.

Game over:  100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that Excel is far worse than anything else I regularly do, and see you next week when Dysart describes me in puzzle form.

Two replacements, including a blog week?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Ever had one of those weeks where you were so busy you thought you had done something, and it turns out you didn’t?  Well guess who didn’t put Pointer in the picture.

My working grid for Listener 4489, Ocean-going Vessel by Pointer

I don’t have a great deal new to contribute (but then again, when have I ever had a great deal to contribute?) – the grid fill was lightning fast – less than 20 minutes. The first change was obvious, and there seemed to be only one plausible change in 2 down, but a few in 22 across,  I was getting nervous. Since everything changed twice, if it was 13 changing that would have to be SHIP OF THESEUS, which rang a bell (and looking it up, clearly this was what the puzzle was about), so I went to the other end and started knitting things back up from 6 down.

Gridfill:  20 minutes.  Spot the theme: 5 minutes.  Fiddle with those letter changes… fartoobloodylong! On the other hand I didn’t know TRIGGER’S BROOM, but when I saw BROOM as a possibility near the bottom it popped up, and I could get those last few changes.

Ponter’s puzzles have been nothing if not odd, and tend to involve a lot of grid changing (remember the alphabet soup one?). In the end I liked it, but it was mighty frustrating having so long an endgame.

Game over:  100% completion, and a hangdog victory to George (though not in the sense of getting a blog up in a timely fashion).

Speaking of which, I have less than two hours before the solution to REJOB comes out, so see you in a few hours for some numerical musings.

The Bourne Conundrum

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword.

Interesting week in crosswordingland – I read a lot of praise being heaped on last week’s puzzle. After reading the solution and looking at the rest of it, I think the final grid looks neat, but I can’t say it is “the best Listener ever”. Not everything was thematic, and in order to get all the stuff into the grid, there had to be jumbles, which didn’t really match the theme. Perhaps it’s sour grapes because I couldn’t finish it, but I’m not in gush mode.

Anyhoo – Xanthippe time! What have we where – Jigsaw time, with clashes and something to highlight.  Non-words in the final grid (well that happened last week too).  There’s a letter at the start of each clue, with the title spelled out, and then some alphabetical.  Araucaria used to do this in his jigsaws by indicating the first letter of the solution, maybe Xanthippe is throwing us a bone?

So I guess we have to start with an L across or down… from the definition it is something like LIANAS.. SENA can be the army – LIANES? The L isn’t indicated.

Maybe this is a big rebound moment – having failed miserably last week, did I crack the code on the very first clue?  A few more clues later and that seems to be the case!

Armed with this knowledge I got a long way through the clues on the first try – including SNOWBOARDER and AMBIGUITIES. Knowing the 14-down entry (as yet unsolved) had to start with P, the joining of POCKETS, KNAIDEL and SNOWBOARDER was very tempting, and led to the top right hand corner being the first one slotted in.  My first three clashes were on a diagonal right next to each other – that’s neat, though the clash of EURO with EMBOUND threw that for a loop!

Eventually I had enough of the grid to see that the clashes were along two diagonals, and the upper one looked like it could read JAMES BOND or JASON BOURNE depending on the clashes.  Ahh so we have to fix that up somehow and that explains the clashes.  So we need to find FLEMING or LUDLUM in the other diagonal. It appears both can be made…

Knowing which letters clashed helped out in finishing the grid, and after one very very long solving session, I had a competed grid. It appears that one could get JAMES BOND and I L FLEMING (had to look up his middle name) or JASON BOURNE and R LUDLUM (no middle name looking up required).  So which to choose…

I had spotted CLEAR THESE in the left column, and ROMEO and JULIET in the bottom right… and there it is – CLEAR THESE AMBIGUITIES.  So I have to keep the U and JASON BOURNE  it is!

My working grid for Listener 4488, I-spy Choices by Xanthippe

Considerably easier than last week’s but a lot of fun!  Not only that, but we are back on track with a Victory to George!

Game over – 100% complete.

Feel free to tell me that I should really forget everything just like Jason Bourne, and see you next week when Pointer wants us to go in the ocean.