At least there are no mistakes so far!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where I am having a hard time trying to catch a break (spoiler alert, it won’t be for at least another week).

Did anyone else’s Listener print out with this totally insane font?  Degree of difficulty #1, trying to read the font. Not sure if it was just the day or this puzzle (it was back to the regular serif font for 4478), but the way this font printed out I was having a hard time telling what was what.

My working grid for Listener 4477, Word Squares by Elap

My first thought was that this was going to be pretty straightforward, since there cannot be that many numbers that meet the criteria (I see that maybe I should have worked it out to find out exactly how few). I also forgot the limit on numbers, which when it turned out one had to be four times the other should really have limited it.  But after about an hour, all I had to show for it was the seven cells entered, and I did not get a chance to play with a calculator.  That’s one of the tricky things about numerical puzzles, word puzzles I can carry around and sneak peeks at during breaks and the like, but when I have to have a calculator handy as well, that’s more tricky.

Anyhoo I’ve read the solutions now and I think I might have gotten this one with a little more time and discipline, two things I’m sorely lacking. Another mighty victory for Elap and the Listener Crossword.

Game over:  3% completion

Feel free to tell me that it wouldn’t have mattered, and see you next week when Tangram has a puzzle about a man who is also a piece of wood

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A little backlogged

Greetings all – I’m kind of backlogged right now and here’s the skinny.  I have not finished Listener 4476 yet, but I’ve made a decent start on it, and so far I am liking it and want to know where it goes.  I’m going to avoid spoilers, since after this weekend I have a lot more free time, but the time since Listener 4476 has been particularly crazy, with a new show opening this weekend, big changes going on at my day job and planning a big project for March.

Go to the other blog to find out how wonderful a puzzle it was and what a cakewalk it is. Maybe I’m still steaming at all the praise being piled on last week’s puzzle when I stick to my guns – there was nothing to indicate the theme anywhere in the puzzle, and when it’s all in the grid-staring endgame, that’s no fun.

Care to stare?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your place to hear the unfounded rumblings of an insignificant aficionado.  Pull up a chair, it’s going to be rant week, as this week, for the first time in a long time, we hit my all-time pet peeve – the endless stare at a completed grid.

My working grid for Listener 4475, Follow The Directions by Artix

All clues were normal, all grid entries were real words, it was all in the endgame this week. This is typical for Artix, and I either get it, or I completely don’t get it, and this was a week where I completely and utterly didn’t get it.  The grid fill wasn’t too difficult, another one that I did on a plane with no internet but access to Chambers on my laptop.

So here’s the thing – there was (and I’m sure I will be corrected on this in other places), there was absofuckinglootely nothing in the clues to signal the theme, except for a pretty useless hint of Devonians being thematic. Is the hero SHIRE CREAM?  So at the end I’m left with a complete grid and a hunt to find a hero (5,5) with no other hints at all.

Nothing in this grid looks like a 5,5 name.  I checked acrosses, downs and diagonals.  So what does this mean?  I’m going to kick myself if it is a theme I know, but my guess is I’m hunting for something I’ve never heard of with no guidance other than it is something that can be chopped out in a seven-sided figure.  And I love mutilation of crosswords!!! Still waiting for the one you have to burn and now I’m being tortured by a crossword begging to be hacked to pieces but I have no idea where to make he first cut (be lucky I am not your doctor).

AAARGH!!!!

Total and utter Victory to Artix and the Listener Crossword.

Game over… can I say 30% completion?  What is the point of a complete grid and nothing else?

Feel free to tell me that I need to start cutting myself into a heptagon, and see you next week when Nebuchadnezzar gives us several greetings.

The party was going great until Sisyphus rocked up (this terrible joke also works with “rolled up”)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and for a second week in a row, a pre-written post that is meant to appear at the time that the next puzzle is released.  I can only assume it happened last week, I didn’t get a chance to check until the evening.

Llig time!  It has been a while since a Llig puzzle, and I have usually done well with Llig, so that’s a good sign. There’s misprints in across definitions, and something left out of down wordplay, and all real words in the grid. Hmmm… let’s get solving, shall we?

There is a  1 across, and at a first read I couldn’t make sense of it, but next to it was 6 across which looked like an anagram of IDOLS around S – DOSSIL is a dressing, so there was a big fail on the 1 across test, but a nice start after that!  DOSSIL was a good find, because 6 down really looked like it should be DRAGON, but there was no indication for RAG in wordplay, so something thematic was found pretty early on, woohoo!

I got a long way through the grid before finding the next breakthrough – 34 down definitely looked like it had wordplay for BEAR, but a definition that looked like BEAR something – maybe BEAR PIT?  Hmmm… PIT and RAG… a look at 36 down, and it looks like wordplay for NOSE and a definition for NOSERAG.   OK – if I go back to the left, I haven’t solved 1 down, but could it have PIT in it? Yep!  EPITASES and only EASES is indicated in wordplay!

At that point I focused more on the lower half of the grid to see what I could find left off of the answers.   SKINFLINT was next… now there is no room for FLINT inside an entry above it, but if it starts in the unchecked cells, the last part of FLINT can be part of INTRA (which I had penciled in from definition but was agonizing over the wordplay).  Now things were really coming together, and it looks like the misprints in the across entries were going to come to SISYPHEAN TOIL – so the words for ROCKS are moving up in the columns.

I was relieved this puzzle didn’t require me to go outside to look up any sort of theme, since I did it on a cross-country flight, so I had four hours of digital Chambers on my laptop, and nothing else.

My working grid for Listener 4474, Rock Group by Llig

This was rather fun and a little step down in difficulty after the previous few, but I’m still left with one nagging problem – I have no idea where the misprint S at the very start comes from.  I can’t imagine the answers being anything other than EMBASSY and DOSSIL, so I think I can call this a Victory to George.

Game over:  99% completion

Feel free to tell me that I need to get the dossil out of your embassy, and see you next week when Artix introduces us to the hot new rock group The Directions and asks us to like them on Facebook.

Ducking (punches) and weaving (down the slippery slope)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and a post that will hopefully be on time since I’m writing it a few days beforehand and scheduling it.  Oooh – it works on that other blog so probably it should work here right?  Let’s see.

Ifor time! A scan through previous Ifor Listeners shows I can usually get the theme, and often miss something obvious and important, so I have a pretty terrible track record.  Ifor’s listeners usually involve a long engame, but this one with a carte blanche grid and clues without answer lengths looks like it is going to have a long foregame.  What do we have here – two(!) extra letters in wordplay.  Locations and two instructions.  OK, so real words in grid, and one cell has two letters.  Rather a lot going on…

Well in lieu of a 1 across there is a first alphabetical clue, and while the definition and part of the wordplay is definitely pointing at ADAGIO, that sounds like a good bet, but I didn’t immediately get the two extra letters from wordplay, so a half-hearted pass (a woo maybe) on the 1 across test.

This was kind of the theme of my solve.  I worked through the clues and got about half of them from definition and partial wordplay.  I had far more potential grid entries than I did extra letters.  There was a generous helping of anagrams, which definitely placed the extra letters, but many of the non-anagram clues had question marks on my paper.

I had noted that there were only two 11-letter entries and four 7-letter entries, and I was doing pretty well in getting them (and ANTWERP sounded like it could be a thematic place name – maybe this is a war-themed crossword).  ODDS AND ENDS was the first of the 11-letter answers I got, but it had to fit across the bottom as there the letters did not match grid lengths for down entries.  So I started the grid with ODDS AND ENDS at the bottom and the crossing of BLEWITS and ANTWERP and made my way up.

Once I got started, the grid fill wasn’t too bad, and I noticed that BOBBING and BOXING could go in the row near the middle – sounds like this could be the ambiguity.!

Near the end of the gridfill things were looking very strange – surely the clue starting “Tearless” had to be DRYAD but I couldn’t see the wordplay at all, well beyond DRY.

Eventually I had a complete grid bar where BOXER or BOBBER went. There was nothing for it but to turn to my incomplete set of extra letters.  OK – at the start I could see INSERT TWO ENTR?? – and at the end ROW IN REVERSE.  One row stands out – the second with EDWARD EAGAN reversed – further inspection shows he won medals at both Summer Olympics (1920, Antwerp, boxing) and Winter Olympics (1932, Lake Placid, bobsled). So this is probably the INSERT TWO ENTRY NUMBERS, since BOXING would be entry 20 and BOBBING would be 32.

My working grid for Listener 4473, Hit and Run by IforI never did figure out what was going on with the rest of the message, so I’m not 100% sure this is correct, but it seems to be the best I can come with right now.  The Ifor endgame may still be the better of me, so I feel hesitant on calling this a Victory for George.

Game over, 93% completion

Feel free to tell me that I couldn’t win a medal in the Olympic games of toilet training, and see you next week when Llig describes the group in my head.

A sticky wicket at Hastings

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword now only a day late.

Looks like we have a new setter this week in Puffin, so hi Puffin if you are looking in, or if you looked in yesterday and thought I had ignored you.  What have we here – extra words in clues, and some unclued bits, and some highlighting.  Looks like real words in the grid, and we actually have some indication where to put them this week, after two carte blanches in a row.

There is a 1 across and it looks like O,DD,SON with an extra word beginning with A (oh goody, the achievement begins with an A), but that does mean a big pass on the 1 across test, woohoo!

I made pretty good work of the top half of the grid, and as ARTH?RMAIL.. appeared I’m wondering if there really is going to be a puzzle about ARTHUR MAILEY???  When you are an Aussie kid growing up in the 70s and listening to Richie Benaud and Terry Jenner talking cricket on the radio, you’ve got it ingrained that Mailey once took all ten wickets in an innings – his biography was called “10/66 And All That”, and I read it a long long time ago.  And here he is in the Listener.

But of course – it’s now going back to the battle of Hastings!

And of course a few weeks ago we had a puzzle by Stick Insect, and when looking back over my notes I was reminded that there was a puzzle from last year about Harold getting an arrow in the eye.  Looks like it’s happening again!

My working grid for Listener 4472, Sharp Work by Puffin

I was so happy with getting a theme immediately that I didn’t even notice that originally the incorrect number of cells to shade was listed – ONE IN THE EYE with HAROLD DEPOSED making the shape of an arrow.  I was done and dusted in under an hour, woohoo!  Victory to George, and a fun debut from Puffin.

Game over, 100% completion.

Feel free to remind me of the current state of Australian cricket, and I’ll see you next week (hopefully) when Ifor gives us even more cricket!

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.