Some weeks I have no i deer

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  This week coming to you with anticipation and sadness – for the last few weeks I’ve been performing in a rare lead role (top billing, even) as Sir in a brand new play, Prairie Fire.  Is it odd?  Oh yes it is… here I am as Sir.

Me as Sir in Prairie Fire

I don’t often wear a suit or tie, maybe I should show up like this to my next job interview.

Dysart time – Dysart gave us a tricky puzzle last year with a Timothy Leary theme, and I have generally enjoyed Dysart puzzles, so what have we here?  Remove a letter from down definitions before solving.  13 across answers treated thematically, something to highlight and something to change.  That’s a lot!

There is a 1 across, but it ended up being one of the last that I solved – I had T-something written on my printout forever with a question mark next to it.  Big fail on the 1 across test!

Next up though is CE(RUL)E so in it goes.  Fortunately I got most of the top row of the down answers pretty quickly, and ??EY?ENTTOS?AI sounds like THEY WENT TO SEA IN – are we having another Jerome K Jerome themed puzzle?  Haven’t we had the Owl and the Pussycat lately?

Meanwhile on the across side of things – 25 across looked like CRANIAL and 38 across looked like ROSEHIP which are both jumbles with an I added.  Do they all have I added?  ERECT -> RECITE.  THROVE -> OVERHIT!  This is looking good.

OK, so what then is the theme?  Fortunately a bit of googling turned up THEY WENT TO SEA IN A SIEVE which is the opening of THE JUMBLIES by Edward Lear and that explains the I’s and jumbles.  That’s neat!  It also helps me get LANES at 32 down and finish off a tricky Florida corner.

Fortunately with the text of the poem at hand, the engame was pretty swift – there’s the mountains of THE CHANKLY BORE and the TORRBILE ZONE.  Although SIEGE is there and temptingly one letter away from SIEVE, TIVES is not a word, so it is LERNA that needs to be changed to SIEVE to complete the grid.  I wonder if that was a deliberate sneaky trap?

My working grid for Listener 4446, Edwardian pioneers by Dysart

A fairly long frustrating start to this one that was met with a clatter of fun as the penny finally dropped (or the I finally left).  Excellent use of the theme for an ultimately fun puzzle!  This was done in one very long solving session (I think it was around 2am when I finished the highlighting).  I believe I can call this a Victory to George!

Game over:  100% completion

Feel free to tell me that I should go to pee in a sieve, and see you next week when The Tall’n appropriately presents a Listener I can really get under.

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Listener Solving Dilemma

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, coming to you today from massive hangoversville.

Okeydoke, what has Dysart served up this time – carte blanche grid, twelve modifications of three types, and at the end add bars to make a new puzzle.  Hmmm.

This sounds difficult.

Well there is a first clue at least… and it looks like a hidden DAB and maybe “investigator” is an extra word?  The source could be found in extra words, couldn’t it?

A round of ice-cold solving later, things are looking promising – I have all but two of the first 15 clues solved, and another good set in the middle, hopefully about the point where the down entries should start.  Since EMMY was the first clue on the second page of my printout I started there and wrote down the possibilities for down entries.  None of them seemed to play well at all with the acrosses.

Hmmm?

Where do any of these across clues go?

Back to solving, I guess.

Another two runs through the clues and I have almost all of them solved, and still can’t see an entry point to the grid.

Flash of inspiration, please!

It was a day or so later, and the flash came – in another puzzle I saw TIMOTHY GRASS and it reminded me that there was an unsolved clue in this one that involved grass… and so it was TI,MOTHY!  A few beyond that was LEARY – TIMOTHY probably goes in next to ATAP and that gives somewhere for ROSTI and ASSAM to go – probably in the far column.  If LEARY goes underneath that, we could have TUNE IN, TURN ON, DROP OUT as the theme (explaining why I had OUTLET but no other O’s in the top half of the grid until I solved TIMOTHY.

Putting TUNE in FORA gives a spot for many of the other early down answers, though it means ANDES can’t be right, it’s URALS.

My working grid for Listener 4400, Three Steps to Heaven by Dysart

At this point it was time to turn to Crossword Compiler.  I started with TIMOTHY and LEARY along the right edge and worked my way back, eventually finding that DAB was DEF, and learning along the way that there is a festival called FURRIES, which apparently attracts a lot of men who identify with My Little Pony characters.  It was another two hours or so before I had a grid, and the requisite number of words and bars (and a big thank you to Crossword Compiler for counting words and maintaining symmetry.

My final grid for Listener 4400, Three Steps to Heaven by Dysart

Wow, that was a tricky one, Dysart!  Of the puzzles I’ve completed this year, this took me the longest – I don’t think I mailed it until after I printed out the next puzzle.  In the end I think I can call it a Victory to George, but by a squeak.

2016 tally:  18-2-2

Feel free to tell me that there’s something wrong with putting Dr. Leary’s ideas in a square, and see you next week when Waterloo apparently wants us to chop a bit out of a literary sapling.

Pictures of Illy

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword, and what will hopefully be a turning point from the last few months – I’d been working a pretty heavy Friday morning schedule, so my old routine of having an hour or so free just before the new Listener arrives comes back to me next week.  Whether that means I’ll be on time or not is another thing.  I’m also recovered enough to type two-handed, though I cant lift my left hand up to the keyboard, so I kind of lift it up with the other hand and let it rest on the keyboard and hope it sticks.

Enough of my decrepitude, there’s a Listener lurking – though the solution has been out for nearly 12 hours I’ve been resisting temptation to peek.  It’s Dysart – now last time with Dysart I had a solution I thought worked but didn’t in Prize and Prize-Winner.  I did complete the Father-Brown themed Trailblazers, I had a silly mistake in the piratey Refrain, but got Child’s Play (one of my top for that year).  The less said about Songspiel or Mercury’s Whereabouts the better – so Dysart is a setter I enjoy, but seem to have a habit of messing up on.

What have we here – clashes, things to identify and change later on, and a quote.  So apart from clashes, it looks like all real words in the grid and normal clues, so I might be in luck here!

There is no 1 across, it’s part of the theme, so we have to apply the 5 across test – and this time we have a win – with FED,A,YE(m)EN getting us going.  Although my starting point was in the top right corner, I seemed to work more towards the bottom left, with most of those clues falling pretty quickly, as wellas the first clash of SHABUOTH with BANIAN.  Another clash with MOOI and NARNIA and it looks like there could be clashes on the diagonal…. Hmmm… S/N, T, A, N/I, ?, E, Y, ?, A, ?, ?, W, I, N… STANLEY?  Maybe STANLEY BALDWIN?

Feeling bold – let’s look up Stanley Baldwin quotes in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations  (yay for online references through my school library).  This looks promising – THERE ARE THREE CLASSES THAT NEED SANCTUARY MORE THAN OTHERS -BIRDS; WILD FLOWERS AND PRIME MINISTERS.  Well CANARY looked like a possiblity at 1 across and TANAGER near the middle – so there’s two birds.  A trip to Bradford’s later and SULTAN emerges as a bird that fits the last unclued entry.  We are on to something!  LIPNU is now there as an anagram of LUPIN so there’s a wild flower – it can be matched with CALLA as ALCAL,and PINK as NKPI.  The Prime Ministers were a bit more of a challenge – I knew of HEATH and PEEL, but I had to go to Wikithingia to track down CANNING.

Now for the final steps – the easy one this time was the prime minister – with WILSON coming from the extra letters in the clashes.  A trip through the answers with unchecked first letters turns up CANNER becoming LANNER.  Now for the last flower – ILLY looks like it could be LILY as an anagram… but ILLY isn’t a noun…aaah, it’s the nouns for the wildflowers that are treated.  A bit over two hours after beginning, we have grid!

My working grid for Listener 4266, Special Protection by Dysart

Well I’ve checked my grid now and it appeared I have this one, so I can claim a Victory to George, and I may have sneaked one by Dysart, woohoo!  That was a fun use of the theme, and it was good to have an easier one while I was at the worst part of the recuperation process.

2013 tally:   31-7-6

Feel free to tell me to get my nouns in the right places, and see you next week when Quinapaulus makes us eat some German cereal (hitlerbix?).

Turning Japanese

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  I’m going to be home for the next few weeks so the randomness and chaos may or may not cease.  It’s Dysart this week!  Last Dysart around was the Father Brown themed Trailblazers which I got to the end of, but struggled along the way.  Before that came Refrain, where I messed up on one lousy clue. Child’s play which was one of my favorites ever with the snakes and ladders, Songspiel where I messed up the thematic stuff and as for Mercury’s Whereabouts, the less said the better.  So it seems with Dysart my usual method is to get close, but falter at the end.

Well this crossword was stared in a completely different pub to where I usually try these – not sure if I should solve there, since it’s where I was when I tried to make the paper cranes a few years ago in another disaster.  It was late and I was tired, hungry and horribly sober, so perfect opportunity to get going on this. What have we here… a 14×14 grid (which for some reason looks huge on my paper… I guess that’s a bit bigger than most barred grids), but all clues are normal, all answers appear to be real words, there’s a lot of things hidden in the grid, and something to be erased.

Well with a big grid might as well get filling and worry about the details later, as my dentist always said!

There is a 1 across and it’s a relatively gentle R in SKID reversed for DIRKS and we are underway!  Have to say, for a big grid, it filled pretty quickly.  Seems with Dysart’s clues I’m usually on the right wavelength – all but the bottom left side of the grid were finished before two pints were empty.

Couldn’t crack that California corner – so back home it’s time to look for authors, books and places of birth.  First thing I saw  OAK hidden on the fifth line.  Wasn’t Hemingway born in OAK somewhere? OAK PARK.  Hmmm… no PARK anywhere, nor any remnants of Hemingway.  Aren’t we due for a Hemingway puzzle? We haven’t had one in months.

AHA!  In the third column from the right, there’s AUNT MAY.  That’s got to be something.  It could be an anagram of MY AUNT and we’re looking for Graham Greene.  Where was he born?  BERKHAMSTEAD. I think I would have noticed BERKHAMSTEAD in there.

Hmmm…

It’s a 14×14 grid.  Don’t see that very often, maybe there’s something 14 letters long.  Who is lurking on diagonals.  DREENVSETFROLS, that’s nothing forwards or backwards  HARUKI?URAK???

HARUKI sounds Japanese.  And like a child with a “Where’s Wally Book” – I was GOT YOU!!!  HARUKI MURAKAMI and some very helpful letters to get me started again on the bottom right hand corner.  He was born in KYOTO which is up there, and one of his books was NORWEGIAN WOOD so that OAK wasn’t a useless find.

It was funny – working out that bottom corner, FRANZ KAFKA loomed into view… but at that point I knew that Murakami wrote “Kafka on the Shore” which is there, and had won the Franz Kafka prize.  May have dodged a bullet there!

Two more to find – there’s a short story collection called “The Disappearing Elephant” – so that takes care of JUMBO

Quick digression – I hope his books are more interesting than his Wikipedia page makes them out to be – I’ve noted him down as someone to check out, obviously Dysart is a fan.   I’m still trying to wade my way through “The Sot Weed Factor” by John Barth.  I wonder if there’ll ever be a Barth Listener.  Might have to get on to filling a grid with “Floating Opera” miscellany.

That leaves me with a three-word title to find.  We’re left with “Dance, Dance, Dance”.  I guess that must be REELS, but it seems strange to “hide” it as an actual clue answer – although the clue itself doesn’t use the dance definition at all.

Only one clue number must be entered?

Hmmm…

There’s a book called “South of the Border, West of the Sun”.  Can’t find any words for BORDER or SUN in the grid.   Hmm…

There’s another called “After Dark”… is there an answer that starts after a clue for dark?  Nope…

OK Dysart – this is where I am often felled – am I going to be done in by that one little last thematic part?  Again!

I keep coming back to a book called 1Q84.  There’s no 84.  It doesn’t seem that  likely that we’re just to put in a 1 based on it being the first character of a book title.

I was about to pack it in – I did, literally pack it in – I had to go perform at a festival in Wilmington and was hoping to have this mailed in before I left, but there was the matter of a clue number to be added.

Maybe this would be a good plot for a Murakami novel – a comedian, in a hotel room, alone at night, looking for the deeper meaning in a crossword grid.

This book 1Q84 – it’s like 1984, because the symbols for 9 and Q look similar.  So does a 9 and a lowercase q.

Is that it?

Nothing else better seems to come to mind.  So in it went with a 9-ish-q or a q-ish-9 dropped in.  There wasn’t much room in the grid to write it, so I scrawled a note next to the puzzle about how I’m trying to put a 9 in there and it might not look correct.  It might not even be correct, but I think I’ve got it.

The puzzle was in the mail on the Saturday after the grid came out, so I might be pushing it for postage, but we’ll see.

I also realise that my scanned grid is saved elsewhere, so I’ll add it to this post this afternoon.  It’s worth seeing for the amount of scribble and scrawl.  But I’m going to claim this as a Victory to George (the solution should be out now so I’ll check in a few minutes).

That was fun, Dysart, though very very head-scratching at the end.  I hope I’ve got it.

Well, before I hit submit, I checked – I’m wrong.  It’s meant to be a 3 at the top of REELS to have it make complete sense.

Dysart, you have thwarted me again!  Though I still like my solution.

2012 tally:  14-0-3

Feel free to mock my lack of threeness, and see you next week when Rasputin promises to be the antithesis of my dentist.

As promised – here’s the grid…

Oh well, so much for that

Stop me if you’ve heard this before – a big priest and a little priest walk into a bar…

What an interesting week it’s been.  Looks like last week’s Listener has caused quite a stir, and rather unnecessarily Sabre is defending his crossword on Listen With Others.  I just ran out of time on it, and could not finish.  I was still staring at it up until the point of writing up this little column.  So a week of lows (feeling bad about not finishing) and highs (my first VHC in an Azed comp) and now we’re back to whatever passes for normal around here.

Oh, except for what I usually do for the blog, which is keep a copy of the puzzle as well as my scan.  Well it appears that in a fit of green, I recycled Trailblazers and forgot to take a scan of it!  So we’re going from memory and there’ll be no pictures of assorted scribble.  Sorry about that.  Instead, here’s a picture of me pointing in a mirror at Tommy taking a remarkably staged-looking photo of the Feral Chihuahuas during our recent run of “Keywords”.

Now just imagine that with thematic material all over it.

Dysart time!  I’ve had mixed luck with Dysart.  I thought I had “Refrain” but a wordplay mess-up caused all sorts of problems. Before that was snakes and ladders in “Child’s Play” which was many many degrees of awesome, my mess of Tod Dylan in “Songspiel” and way back in the early days of rarely completing, got nowhere on “Mercury’s Whereabouts”  Wow, Dysart is 3-1 up on me.

Most clues normal, looks like most entries are real words, and there’s some thematic stuff to find and three letters to squeeze in a cell.

It was obvious that the solution of this was to be found in completing the top left of the crossword, so naturally I had all of the bottom half finished before I had more than five or six entries in the top half!   I remember doing a bar solve at the start, but getting very little on the top (though the not-in-chambers TEAWARE was one of them).

The four-letter jumble I think was OUP (I’m looking at the puzzle online while I’m writing this) so I had an idea there might be some mistreatment of SOUP going on.

Had to crack that theme… a bit more playing with the top and I saw (s)HAP(e), and at this point entering ??TH???R?WN in Word Wizards did the trick – FATHER BROWN looked promising.  I’ve got a brand new Brewers thanks to the Crossword Calendar competition, and it appears FATHER BROWN crossed swords with FLAMBEAU (only words I had on that side at the time were ADAPT and URCHIN).  And the first appearance of FATHER BROWN was in THE BLUE CROSS – which looked good since I saw the misprints of L, C and S at this point.

That got me a full grid – and since there’s only 13 pages of THE BLUE CROSS and it’s in the public domain I read it.  Well, skimmed it at least, the bits where they’re talking I found kind of dull.  VALENTIN is the guy following them which explains what is going on at 18 across, and along the way, Father Brown becomes a right asshole to Flaubert, throwing his SOUP, busting a WINDOW and tipping a cart of APPLES (would have been nice if there was a switch of SALT for PEPPER in the grid).  And in the end, this complete dick of a priest pulls the double switcheroonie and gets the BLUE CROSS mailed off.

Well I’ve got a full grid now… and I can’t see any PARCELS or BLUE CROSSES around.  There is however an X in POXY, and BLUE running to it in a diagonal.

So the BLUE CROSS in the story was replaced by PAPER and LEAD, though for seven letters I guess that’s PB and PAPER.  P, A and P worked for the substitutions of B,L and U, but that E needed to be replaced by something else… and it doesn’t look like a three-letter substitution.  So we have the PB in the PAPER for substitution by P,A,P,B,PER to turn POXY into POPERY which is a nice finish.

And I believe we may have halted the slide – I rather liked this one, Dysart,  – I learned something new, I read my first (and probably only) Father Brown story – if you want your fix they appear to be all on Project Gutenberg, and I finished this listener.

Victory to George!  2011 tally:  George 18, Listener 6.  Current streak:  George 1.

Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week when we get all Noye with Samuel.  And possibly some Big News.  But definitely a scan of the grid!

That dead man has some upper-body strength!

Welcome back to George v the Listener Crossword.  Every week I’m trying to get a little better at this, and some weeks I succeed.  This is going to be one of those posts where I cross my fingers it shows up, I’m on the road again trying the little magic “Publish at a certain time” button.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t that’s the internets for you.

Dysart is back! Making a fourth appearance here – 3966: Mercury’s Whereabouts was in the very beginning days of the blog and I got nowhere on it.  Made a much better fist of 4007: Songspiel, but still didn’t get to the conclusion, despite a completed grid.  Last year was one of my personal favorites, 4059: Child’s Play, which I did get, and added a little bit of artwork to my grid.

So what have we here – extra letters in wordplay, line from a song, some connection to 1 down.  A few clashes, and a transmutation.  Looks like all real words in the grid, definitions normal, so hope for some good definitions.

I’ll own up, first solving session was at Starbucks of all places.   I printed this out on Friday, but didn’t get a chance to start on it until a hungover Saturday morning when I was in dire need of coffee.  Piping hot Americano, a tasteless scone and a quiet table sounded mighty good.  And so I went with Dysart’s offering, and since it looks cool to be in corporate coffee stories with dog-eared thick books, Bradfords came along for the ride.

There is a 1 across and thus a 1 across test.  And that would be DRIP LEADING becoming LIP READING, an extra D and an instant smile.  My boss (who is deaf) is allegedly a really good lip reader, but has troubles with me because apparently I talk funny and deliberately mispronounce words.  Maybe it was the throbbing headache, but I was right in tune with Dysart on this one, and the clues started falling steadily.  That wordplay was impeccable, and often a lot of fun.  By the bottom of the coffee (I was drinking very slowly), I had most of the bottom half filled out, and along with it TREASURE ISLAND forming at the end of the extra letters, and with the top starting DRI, I think we’re looking for DRINK AND THE DEVIL HAD DONE FOR THE REST – FIFTEEN MEN ON A DEAD MAN’S CHEST, to go with LONG JOHN SILVER at 1 down.

There was nothing else to be done – I finished my coffee, went home to Chambers and the computer and resolved that this was going to be a single-session solve, but in two venues.  And two hours later, I had scratched together the rest of the answers from the clues, and found the trail.  Google pointed me at DERELICT, and it looked like getting rid of the letters from that word left real words in the grid – thought I never did find the second E?  I suspect it might be in 33 across being HEY, because I couldn’t figure out the wordplay to 33 across.

The trail of words was a lot harder to find.  There’s rather a lot of Fs in the grid.  I saw a bunch of Ys and Os on the right hand side and figured that was a good place to work backwards and forwards from.  That worked out, I traced forwards to the BOTTLE OF RUM coming in the form of LEFT BOOT, which I guess Silver wouldn’t need, and a trail back to the first F of RAFF as the start of the trail.  Here’s what I had at the end of my total three hours or so…

My initial grid for Listener Crossword 4090: Refrain by Dysart

My initial grid for Listener Crossword 4090: Refrain by Dysart

And after tidying it up and removing the clashes (and switching from the blue highlighter to an orange one for no reason).

My final grid for Listener Crossword 4090: Refrain by Dysart

My final grid for Listener Crossword 4090: Refrain by Dysart

Avast, shiver me timbers!  Here’s a good pirate joke…

What’s a pirates favorite letter of the alphabet?

No, not R, it’s P.  It’s like R but it has a leg missing.

That joke is far better said out loud, really.

However, I’m calling this a Victory to George!  And I’ve evened the score with Dysart after a shaky beginning.  And that was a really awesome puzzle – I loved the meandering thread of the lyric and the rather amusing ending, it looks like a treasure map (originally I was wondering if something needed to be marked with an X as the transformation).

2010 tally:  George 21, Listener 3.  Current streak: George 3

Yikes – first thing that shows up if you type “refrain” into YouTube is Jose Mari Chan.  Here’s a singalong version of “Refrain”.

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week where we mind Calmac’s gap.

UPDATE!!!

I messed this one up – no idea where HOOT-HOOT came from, it was obvious there should only be one H in the answer from the wordplay.  Rule to be remembered, if I didn’t get the wordplay then there’s probably a mistake and I should get back to it.  So well done Dysart, you did get me there.
Updated tally:  George 20, Listener 4.  Updated streak: Listener 1.