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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.


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.

Keramos, Keramos, will you do the fandango?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener. Brace yourselves – we may be caught up!  I put posts for the previous two puzzles below this one, including my gripes about the puzzles that won all the awards at the Listener dinner.  But what do I know?

Harribobs puts us back into classic Listener territory – all words entered with a letter changed! Across clues double on the changes with a misprint.  Yikes!

Well there is a 1 across… and the wordplay is definitely leading to EROTEMES (as is the definition) but there’s a few possibilities for the anagram indicator… so we have a partial victory on the 1 across test.  And in it goes lightly shaded…

I managed to motor through a lot of the clues, and filling the grid was a pretty steady process. Fortunately I could see most of the misprints near the end of the acrosses, and it was evident that we were looking at HENRY W LONGFELLOW, and KERAMOS eventually came out of the first few acrosses.  A browse through the poem and there it is – ALL THINGS MUST CHANGE TO SOMETHING NEW TO SOMETHING… and I could see where STRANGE was almost there in the grid!  Woohoo – not much sursolving later, and there was a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4495, An Exchange of Letters by Harribobs

OK, I did like this one (I know a few hours ago I trashed everyone’s favorite Listeners). I liked the number of changes, I like the thematic use, the quote was fun, and you end up with a grid of all new real words. That’s neat, Harribobs!  It also means the puzzle requires everything to be understood in order to be solved (yes, I hear you say “but you were to unerudite and cloth-headed to be able to pick out characters from Westward Ho, some game and puzzle dude and whatever that was that ended up as Morse code, so who are you to judge”).  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over… 100% complete!

Feel free to tell me that I should change back to not doing these, and see you next week when MynoT admits to being on the run.

I’m tooleoorlin sick and tired of these begorrah snakes on this meluckycharms island

Welcome back to the next part of the mop-up.  Mop-up being particularly appropriate here, since the day this came out, I was in New Orleans, and I had been given a tip to visit Lulu Distillery – a place that makes their own vodka, gin and rum and has notorious happy hours.  I arrived at the start of happy hour, and unfolded this one.

OK – it was the weekend of the Listener Dinner, which was in Paris this year, and so the title may be referencing that. I have just read the results – I did not do well on the top-scoring puzzles. I got close on Army and Wavy, but didn’t really know the source material. I thought there were some major flaws in Follow The Directions, where there was no indication of the source material whatsoever other than an obscure name in the grid, and His I did not understand even after reading the solution. I was impressed by The Properties of Numbers but could not find the starting point. I thought X XX XXX had a convoluted preamble that would turn anyone off the puzzle. I did at least finish Nemo but I thought it was messy.

My favorites did not crack any of the lists… the ones that struck me as the most fun and best overall for 2017 were…

4441 – It’s Dark Up Here by Colleague (the overlapping themes of decreasing circles and the oozelum bird disappearing up its own arse)

4439 – Where Falls the Axe by Hedge-Sparrow (that got a few votes)

4447 – Influence by The Tall’n – what I really liked about that one was that every entry mattered

4457 – Polo by Apt – unique grid that suited the theme

4462 – Squares by Phi – that got some love in the voting

4471 – What can the matter be by Flying Tortoise.  Don’t often see something really new in a puzzle, and that was certainly new!

My pick for the year overall would have been 4471, with the four individual grids being four different styles of puzzle and the elements appearing in each square.

Meanwhile, back to the bar.

The cocktails were delicious and the puzzle was pretty straightforward – we had SEAS and SNAKES and SAINT PATRICK, and since Chalicea has had a habit of sticking maps in the puzzle and the snakes are around the outside, getting rid of them is going to make a shape of the map of Ireland surrounding the sea. It was also the day before St Patrick’s Day here – in fact the next day’s parade was getting prepared just a few blocks from where I was sitting.

My working grid for Listener 4494, Overseas Outing by Chalicea

I like that the scan represents how crumpled the grid was after sitting at the bar for an hour or two.

Feel free to tell me that I forgot to colour in one corner and should be kicked out of any bar and into the ocean (that would have been possible in New Orleans) and next up the catch-up is complete as Harribobs trades degrees.