Nothing is a property too, right?

Greetings super-loyal readers from Tokyo.

It’s numerical time. I don’t know why, but lately I have gone off the boil on the numerical ones. They used to be the easiest ones for me, often with clear logical paths in and sometimes a bit of lengthy number bashing.

I’m sorry, Smudge, but the preamble to this puzzle made less than no sense to me and surely cannot be correct. It doesn’t seem that any answer can be unique and there be properties like “a square” since there are multiple squares that are entry points. I started at this for a while, figured the one to the power of five had to go in at 1 or 32 and there were only a few possibilities at 32 but a lot at 1. That was about as far as I got. I got an email the next day saying there was an error in the preamble but it wasn’t the one I was looking for.

I gave up. The headache wasn’t worth it. Kudos to those of you who persevered.

Better luck next time. Complete and utter victory to the Listener Crossword!

Game over: 0% completion.

Feel free to tell me there was a logical and unambiguous way in and that the preamble made perfect sense and I’ll see you next week when Malva has a puzzle for the lactose tolerant.


If music is life, then does that make boy bands death?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, coming to you today from an early morning hotel room in Las Vegas. I’m leaving this morning, but there is a printer in the lobby, so I should be able to get a copy of 4504 before I leave, woohoo!

OKeydoke – KevGar time. What have we here – ten letters that need removal, words to be removed from clues, extra letters in wordplay to be removed. Lots of removing here. Let’s solve, shall we? I started this one out over a late morning coffee.

There is a 1 across, and it’s a nice juicy anagram of SURREALISTIC (extra M) so a big pass on the 1 across test woohoo! There’s another juicy anagram at the bottom of SYNTHESISERS (extra word LATER), so this grid is just waiting to be filled! I did pretty well through the clues, in fact by the time the coffee was finished a few things were apparent…

– the quote was something to do with MUSIC IS LIFE

– it was always the last letter that had to be dropped to leave a real word

Nothing else – I tried a little phone googling to see if I could make anything of the quote.  At the time I didn’t have some of the middle down clues solved (one of the ones I had n entry for, but couldn’t work out how it worked was 15 down, which I found out later had a correction), and I was thinking the quote was MUSIC IS LIFE AND I LIKE (not being dead?, being able to hear it?, puppies?).

Finally the grid was complete and there was no I after LIFE.  MUSIC IS LIFE AND LIKE IT … INEXTINGUISHABLE is a quote by CARL NIELSEN, a composer I am far more familiar of in crosswords than from any actual compositions. I figured the word might be in the sign of an infinity symbol, and there it is. Nielsen’s name can be made by a few changes i the diagonal and now we have to figure out another work from the word salad. Scanning a list of his works, THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS sounds like the best bet. I didn’t work out every possible letter combination, but it uses up those dropped letters and only contains letters found in the rest of the thematic stuff.

My working grid for Listener 4501, Never-ending by KevGar

This was pretty straightforward, about an hour at the coffee place and maybe another 90 minutes at home to get everything done and dusted.  I learned something, and even better I think I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over: 100% completion

I am about to leave for two weeks in Japan. I’m going to try to write up the next two weeks in advance, so hopefully they post at appropriate times. Since one is a complete and utter abject failure, I don’t think the powers that be will mind. So feel free to tell me that I should be extinguished, and see you next week when Smudge becomes a slumlord.


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.

The man in lack

Let’s play catch-up, shall we?

I have been getting pretty bad at this, and I’m not quite sure why…  middle-age slump, general wear and tear from having done this for a while.  Eh…

Anyhoo, catch-up part one, and it appears I must apologise profusely to The Ace of Hearts.  I see that last year’s puzzle also ended up a week late and at least a penny short. This will probably be so too, as I must say I gave up.

What makes one give up?

OK for a start it is a spherical grid, but a wonky spherical grid. 39 clues?  Well its divisible by 3, so the inner ring looks neat, but the next two are kind of wonky. I’m going to have a hard time reading those. No jumbles, but some inwards, some outwards, OK.  Song lyric, presumably of 39 letters.

I skipped the perimeter at the beginning and went to the radial clues.  I was going OK on the radial clues, and had MAN?NBLAC as the letters latent.  Well Johnny Cash was the MAIN IN BLACK, and with a circular grid, it had to be RING OF FIRE, right?  A peek back at the perimeter clues, and I saw IGNITE, SHOOT, ENLIVEN and SACK.  Yep, it’s Ring of Fire all right.  FOLSOM PRISON BLUES and A BOY NAMED SUE are going to give the rest of the latent letters.

I quite liked Johhny Cash, by the way.  In the recordings he made near the end of his life there was a terrific one of Nick Cave’s “The Mercy Seat”.

Anyway, from EARMARK and MASTFED there’s a good place to enter the FIERY RING part of the lyric…

So here I was… I knew everything that is needed thematically, and all that is left is to do is… solve three perimeter clues, the 22 remaining radial clues, and decide how they get slotted in to the not symmetric grid.  That’s way too much sursolving.  I put it away.

My working grid for Listener 4498, Name That Tune by the Ace of Hearts

So I’m sorry, The Ace Of Hearts… it may be that I knew the theme too well, but when you can have all the thematic material in place so quickly (well, I guess I was missing the three perimeter clues), there’s no fun in the rest.  You can claim a Victory for the Listener Crossword!

Game over:  23% completion.

Check in soon, when Elfman tells me to not speak in the theatre.

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.