I wonder if he would have been found by Marvin eventually?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  The solution to this puzzle is set to come out in 15 minutes, and that is also the time of my next commitment so let’s see how far I get on this one.

Charybdis!  OK, so I have a similar pattern with Charybdis puzzles – I am usually fine at solving the clues, but sometimes make a complete bish of the endgame, which is typically tricky.  And it seems so here, as we have another 9 line preamble!!!!

What’s going on, editing team? Were you suddenly allocated another 23 column inches and decided to spend it on gigantic floral grids and novel-length preambles?

Anyhoo, it seems like this is mostly in the clues, many are normal, some have to have a letter restored.  So let’s get solving!

There is a 1 across, and not only that but with SHE,EN it is a big pass on the 1 across test, and our first seeker begins with a T.  Well that gives us a start on the grid.

There’s a few unclued entries, and as I was working around the grid, it looked very tempting to see STRANGER THAN FICTION that rings a bell… and so it should – TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION is a quote from Mark TWAIN so there’s our first one. DAUGHTER also looks like it should go in there, so what’s the chances there is a TRUTH IS DAUGHTER quote out there – yep, it’s Francis BACON (mmm, bacon) – TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME.  This grid is rocketing to a fill, and maybe I’m getting a sense of the endgame before the typical Crosophile stare at the grid stage.

Oh, I got there… with a full grid, I now need to know of what looks like Robert Hyatt, who doesn’t seem to be anything.  Aaah, it’s not producing HEATH it is producing WHEAT and it’s Robert WYATT. A musician I’ve not heard of with an album RUTH IS STRANGER THAN RICHARD

OK – so there’s the uncovering – we remove the first and last letters to get RUTH and TIM. And changing FICTION to RICHARD leads to RICHARD III – wasn’t he the guy found buried in the parking lot?  Yep – and the novel describing it was DAUHGTER OF TIME by TEY (the last of the unclued).

LEICESTER CAR PARK is up there at the top and I think all the thematic stuff is in place!

My working grid for Listener 4468, Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Not as much grid-staring as the last one, but there was a chunk of time between finishing the first grid and getting all the thematic stuff in place.  It was rather a fun puzzle though, and solved completely in one sitting, woohoo!  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over.  100% completion!

Feel free to tell me that in 500 years I’ll likely be exhumed from a beer garden, and see you next week when Harribobs recommends that he has a much better leader than I do (probably true).


For a sequel maybe a Y-shaped coffin?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, the blog that may lift, but to the relief of Duck, will never separate.

Oh dear it’s been a busy week – I’m making my musical debut, singing the role of Barrel in a production of Urinetown and I’m up against all sorts of writing deadlines, comedy and non-comedy, so this may be a short blog.  I’ll make up for it in pictures!

Charybdis time – I’ve done some tagging so you can read all about my previous battles with Charybdis at the bottom.  It’s been a similar pattern, not too tricky grid fill, but then the endgame has often held me up for ages.  Here it looks like we have another grid of real words (yay) and apart from extra words in the clues, no other trickery.  Yay real words!

And there’s a 1 across – we haven’t had one of those for a while. (p)ILLS gets us going, a big pass on the 1 across test and CHILDHOOD is the first extra word – way to bolster the old confidence, Charybdis!

I must have been in solv-o-matic mode or completely on Charybdis’ wavelength, because not only were clues falling left, right and center, but I spotted “THE L SHAPED” in the second row pretty quickly.  Wasn’t there something called “THE L SHAPED ROOM”?  Yes there was, by LYNNE REID BANKS that forms a nice L sticking underneath.  I think we have a theme.  I had heard of it but not read it nor seen the movie, sounds depressing.  Not as much fun as a musical about water conservation featuring a lot of toilet humor!  It wasn’t long before I had a complete grid… but no OM to go with THE L SHAPED RO… and since all the extra words had at least one L in them, I’d put together the messages as DRAW NET TOTAL AREA IS 34 WRAP TITLE TO MAKE WALLS.


My working grid for Listener 4310 - Net Book Arrangement by Charybdis


And now the fun begins.  I’m updating this long after the solution came out and I’m surprised at the number of solvers saying that they didn’t cotton on to the definition of “net” because it came up in an Oyler puzzle two years ago.  But what did the net of an L look like?  The area is 34… is that the total surface of the net?  I guess the title has to be a part of it, but where is the rest of this net?

Stupid George isn’t good at re-reading preambles, because after two days of drawing nets, nothing was coming to me.

Of course the answer is in the preamble – the letters of DARK SCREEN can make an L-ish shape from the top and the letters of PRESS FLATS can make one below…. cutting those and wrapping what I had of the title at the top revealed the OM – it’s from the WO in TWO-TIME upside down.  Kind of like that old WREN from a few Christmases ago.  I made a copy of my grid and hacked away at it to get this…

My room folded

It took me the whole week so I was bucking up against the deadline, but I got a message from Charybdis that my comments came through and my name wasn’t on the unsuccessful list, so I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!  Woohoo!

2014 tally:  30-0-5

Feel free to tell me that I should write these up in one go and see you next week (or in about 15 minutes) when Chalicea offers to blanch our carte.

Angel needs food badly

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, hastily being typed mere moments before the presumed deadline.

It appears Nelson Mandela could not live in a world without Araucaria.  I will miss one for being a leader, a trailblazer polarizing figure, controversial and unorthodox – not exactly my cup of tea but I had a grudging admiration.  The other one was a crossword setter or ran a country, take your pick.  Or something like that…

Let us wind the clock back to November 15 – I was on my way (broken shoulder and all) to a meeting in Washington, DC.  I printed off Check This Out just before leaving for the airport – I had forgotten to pack Bradfords, though that may not have been a bad idea, as I couldn’t carry both my bookbag and my tote bag with one operating arm, so I had everything shoved into the tote bag.  My first flight was a pretty short one (I think I did the Phi Guardian crossword on that flight), so I started this one on a flight from Charlotte to DC.  Charybdis is a setter we know from more than one place – I am usually happy when I see Crosophile’s moniker on the Independent crossword, and Charybdis’ contributions to the Listener have also been fun – it’s been a while since The Bottom Line told us we’ve overpopulated the planet (I’m doing my bit, I have fewer kids than Seth Mould), a stick-figure in Out To Work, and the Bundt-cake grid in How to Put on a Little Weight.

What have we here – clues in “groups” but no indication in the preamble what the groups mean.  An unclued 1 across (direct defiance of my 1 across rule!), other unclued entries with unchecked letters indicated (hi Spectatorville), and surprises.  Hmmm, surprises?

OK, let’s go.  The lack of a 1 across is rectified in one of the most brilliant surfaces EVER at 11 across.  Didn’t solve it straight off, but it made me laugh.

16 across gets me going and gets the head scratching – the definition looks like ARCS, SCRAM reversed almost makes ARCS, but it needs to be CUT on reflection… aaaah – let’s go back to the diarrhoea clue (isn’t always that way, diarrhoea keeps coming back?) – if it’s CASES diarrohea then we have SA(A)G.  The clue after SCRAM could be RA(SHE)S if we lose the X.  So maybe all of Group I need to lose a letter.

Hmmm… so what of group 2?  12 across is definitely ANIL and 8 down is OVER… if I put the V of OVER in the N of ANIL I get ANVIL… so maybe the down clues need to gain a letter in the wordplay. Maybe OVER becomes OVERT?

By the time I landed, things were looking good – I had a bunch of the clues solved… 1 looks like it could be INCONSPICUOUS and the message looks like UNEXPECTED something IN THE somthing AREA.  The unclued items looked like a shopping list – WATER, SALT, COFFEE, TEA, SALT.

When you land at DC Reagan, there’s often a long wait between landing and actually getting off the plane, particularly if you prefer sitting near the rear of the aircraft.  So it was phoney pokey time – INCONSPICUOUS AS A TARANTULA appears to be a Raymond Chandler quote from “Farewell my Lovely”.  Googling UNEXPECTED IN THE AREA brings up UNEXPECTED ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA, PLEASE REMOVE ITEM (the latter part seems to fit the extra letters in Group II).

AHA!  This should be all done right?  Unfortunately, RAYMOND CHANDLER was nowhere to be seen in my three-quarters finished grid. Is it a pseudonym?  Doesn’t appear so.

Hmmm…. and where is the item?

This sat for a while in an unfinished state while I did my workshop.

A second, fresher look back home… I do have a big gap on the left hand side and MONDIAL… can 1 down be IN-TRAY?  It fits the definition but I can’t see the wordplay… that would make RAYMOND… he can’t be on the other last column, but beside it was the boxer clue… I have the C from ARCS – could this be the spot for CHANDLER… aaaah, second is part of the definition!  It’s a HANDLER!  That’s two problems down and now he’s found.  That makes 37 PULE and 31 down is probably BUTTER, knocking a few more letters off the shopping list.  So where’s my item?

I bet it’s hiding in the last unsolved area – around 22 across and 23 down… TAR???ULA looks like a spot for a TARANTULA, and Amazon apparently has one ANT (there’s a thing called an Amazon Ant, I guess that’s it), and as soon as I’ve found my TARANTULA, it’s time to remove him.  I’ve got to replace him with something that makes all real words.  Hmmm… well REPEATED probably becomes REPENTED, and AURIST probably AORIST… but where to find this?

What was the quote again – INCONSPICOUS AS A TRANTULA ON A PIECE OF ANGEL FOOD (presumably CAKE, some versions have CAKE there, some don’t).  Replacing TARANTULA with ANGEL FOOD leads to real words.  I think we’ve got it!

my working grid for Listener 4268, Check This Out by Charybdis

That was a bit of fun – Google fleshes out the rest to me, the annoyance of the phrase in stores.  Here the machines just beep at you.  I go most often to Harris Teeter, and they have modified your machine so that if you bring your own bag you can pre-weigh it and not have to deal with the admonishment of the machine for having weird weights on the scale.  I believe we can call this one a Victory to George!

2013 tally:  33-7-6

Feel free to tell me that angel food is not a cake, it’s what you feed pet angels, and see you next week when Ilver (rather cruelly in this holiday season) sends us to the shopping centre.

Kill yourself now and avoid the rush

Welcome back to George vs the Listener, and the ability to use the letter T has been restored to duty. Funny how things go, after writing about the Listener last week I started reading “Ella Minnow Pea” by Mark Dunn where most of the book is a lipogram of sorts.

So what have we this week?  It’s Charybdis!  You may remember Charybdis from such Listener crosswords as “Out to Work” (with the little jumping jack figure), the doughnut grid in “How to put on a little weight” and one half of Harpy in that amazing view of Venice in “Hard Rectangle“.  All Listeners that I had an awful lot of fun with and managed to complete.  So I was definitely looking forward to this one.  There’s a graph to trace, some consequences, a name and extra letters from wordplay.  That looks involved!

There is a 1 across, but I could not get it for the life of me on a first read through.  Ditto 5 (which doesn’t have enough spaces in the grid for the enumeration) or 8.  So at that time, we use reverse psychology and go to the bottom of the clue list.

There is a 39 down, and it’s S(INN)H and I’m in a much more comfortable world of mathematics, and the final extra letter is N.  HUME,PS and anagram for LINGUAL+W and LI(KING)E later and this appears to have been a good move.  Not only that, but filling the grid from the bottom up meant that I could see straight away that EG,ROW and T,H,INN make the bottom row read GROWTH IN HUMPS.

Not sure what consequences could come from a GROWTH IN HUMPS – maybe camels become even less comfortable for sitting on?

At this point I’m convinced that this crossword is going to be about climate change due to increased carbon dioxide emissions.  I remember going to a talk by F. Sherwood Rowland several years back where he had been supervising the collection of air pockets from glacial cores to determine CO2 levels and it looked like a flat line up until about 1850, and then shot up pretty dramatically.  Rowland is also a seven letter name, and he’s got a Nobel Prize (well a shard of one).

I’m feeling even better about this when it really does look like 19 across is going to be an anagram of CLIMATE.  Just can’t find any reference to carbon dioxide, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (that’s too long for 23 letters), CFCs, HCFCs, Halons…

Another thing that stupid George should have done was highlight the entries where the grid size was too small for the ansewr.  I had noted that FLOODWATER intersected with FOOTIE, but wasn’t sure why there were six more instead of two more entries that seemed too long.

My extra letters were almost complete – S?METHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES and WE NEED TO ?EE A DOWNTURN A? TEN.  But neither were helping much.

GROWTH IN… HUM.. AN… – aaah I’m barking half-way up the wrong tree – it’s GROWTH IN HUMAN POPULATION!  I was so obsessed on the atmosphere that I missed the obvious sticking straight out at me.

So what’s going to happen if we have too many people – we run out of FOOD and WATER – that explains what’s going on with the intersections of 22 and 29, and 27 and 5.  Take FOOD out of FOO-OOD and each answer is left with an O, similarly with TWA-TTER (which as  I write it now looks like an internet repository where you can upload dirty flashes).  GFU-GEL means no FUEL.  And I still haven’t solved 5 across so who knows what goes there.

I’m very close, but still stuck… I can see that POPULATION needs to be reversed so that POPULATION goes down instead of up – and that makes new real words along the right hand side.  That’s a nice touch.  Still got to figure out what is going on with the intersection of 5 and 7, and that name.  SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES?

Since we make real words with the new 10 down, maybe we make real words with the new 19 across… that means the first letter has to stay an M.  The second could only be E or A, the third T,L,S,T,Y.  MAL… THUS?  HONES is a real word, as is GIDDUP.  To the Internet!

I had never heard of MALTHUS, but apparently he said if we were going to keep on having babies, then we’ll run out of WATER(check), FOOD(check), FUEL(check) and FODDER(not check).  I can’t make FODDER out of SPECT.  SPEC-IES looks a bit more probable… a check on words that go G-TTIES produces GUTTIES which is an old golf ball.  Huzzah!

My working grid for Listener Crossword 4143,

Hoo boy there’s a fair bit of scribble on there trying to get the thematic bits to work.  But it all does work, and it makes for a very nice read… here’s a cleaned-up, substituted and highlighted version.

My final grid for Listener Crossword 4143, The Bottom Line by Charybdis

Ummm, well at least we’re on the top of the curve?

Charybdis did not let me down with a really fun grid of thematic stuff, a challenge that could be overcome, and a chance to learn something completely new.  And I think I can claim this one as a Victory to George!

2011 tally:  George 20, Listener 6.  Current streak:  George 3

There’s a separate post about it just below this, but I’m going to put in an appearance (and possibly do some sort of performance) at the “All-England” 3D crossword cup in Cheltenham on August 6th.  Hope to meet a few of you readers and commenters there.  I’m splitting my time in England between London and Leeds, so if you want to grab a pint and have a laugh somewhere, let me know.

Feel free to comment below, and see you next Friday, Friday, Friday for Location, Location, Location with Shackleton, Shackleton, Shackleton


Welcome back to George v the Listener Crossword.  Been an interesting week in crosswording – we lost Viking, compiler of Lost and Primordial, and there was a post on the Crossword Centre message board that Hubris (compiler of In Shock) passed recently.  The obituary in the Telegraph states

“Refusing to embrace the internet age, he ignored the many blogs from solvers grappling with his clues, dismissing their arguments as trivial.”

Sorry to have trivialized you, Hubris, rest in peace.

Now let’s see who and what can be trivialized this time. Charybdis! We met Charybdis in How to put on a little weight, and as part of Harpy in Hard Rectangle, both of which I solved and really enjoyed, so there’s high hopes.

11 clashing clues and an axis of symmetry – that means rotation – nice use of the proper symmetry element, since a single answer could constitute an axis.  Now we need a 3-D crossword (listening Sirius?) that uses points and planes of symmetry as well as the axis.  But I digress…  lots of highlighting, some letters to be removed from clues.

There is a 1 across, but initially a big fail on the 1-across test.  But 6 across yields the first extra letter and it’s an O to be taken out of the anagram of RULES and MOB to get SLUMBER.  The top half of the grid was a pretty straightforward fill – at the end of my first solving session (sadly not at a bar or anywhere particularly interesting, but while minding a class for a colleague while the students were taking an exam), I had the top half filled in and enough of the extra letters to piece together MASTER OF NONE.  My adding together of the clashes looked like we were heading to PUMPKIN KING, but Halloween isn’t for weeks?

Penny dropped when I took a higlighter to the clashes and their opposite number – it’s a figure like the way I draw, a stick figure, something to do with hangman… and if you take away the middle of 15 you get STEE-PLE… it’s a JUMPING JACK!  Needed that to help correct MALI and GUSLES.

Still an issue with the across answers… I had OPEDTHEBOX… oh – a KITTEN is a little DOE not a little ONE (well it’s both but in this context)… OPEN THE BOX and the jumping jack pops out and the rest is history.


My working grid for Listener 4105: Out to Work by Charybdis

Original grid, featuring scribblings and markings


Taking out the figure, reveals four occupations associated with JACK – TAR, STEEPLE, QUARTER and LUMBER.  And there’s SPRING-HEELED down the bottom.  My yellow highlighter doesn’t come out well, but here’s the final version, with a little stick figure drawn in for good measure.


My final grid for Listener crossword 4105: Out to Work by Charybdis

That yellowish highlighter doesn’t come out very well on the scan, stick to blue next time

Victory to George!  And another really fun crossword and one that really shows off my artistic limitations.

2010 tally:  George 32, Listener 7.  Current streak:  George 2.

Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week, when Elgin will change clothes before our very eyes!