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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.

I think it’s gonna be a long long blog

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and this time I think wordpress is behaving properly and saving my images (fingers crossed).  Today is the holiday for US Independence Day, since July 4th falls on a Saturday, so happy ‘Merica day, yeeeeha!  I floated the idea that we do this weekend’s performances of “The 39 Steps” as American caricatures, and treat all the Scotland scenes as if they were done in Canada… “This is the CBC… the suspect, Richard Hannay escaped by jumping on to the Confederation Bridge, just outside of Prince Edward Island”.

OK, let’s get to Elfman.  What do we have – some highlighting, and decoding of letters in clues.  Hmmm… normal clues and all real words in the grid?  This could be deceptively easy… or hard.

We are denied a 1 across yet again – we have to rely on the 3 across test, which gives us a gentle anagram for GURGOYLES.   We’ve been told that this means I need the seventh “character”… I suspect that means that spaces and punctuation marks (hopefully not the numbers at the start of the clue) count – which gives us as U instead of the G for the message.

I don’t have many notes from solving the clues – I think one of the weird parts about hiding the message in the n’th character is that I spend more time worrying about counting characters than solving the clues.  Sure enough it appears that there were some spaces in the message.  I also noticed LAUNCH PAD on the bottom as being a potential theme part.

In the end I had a full grid and the message USE HIGHLIGHTED CELLS ON OTHER CLUES… Huh – ON?

So I have to find the highlighted parts first.  Well, there’s LAUNCH PAD… and we know there’s something symmetric…

Somewhere in the middle it looks like SEVEN is in evenly distributed cells… is it a countdown to a launch?  Yep – there’s the numbers 10 to 1.  So we take the 10th letter of 11 across etc… and get ROCKET MAN.  Aaaah, Elton John (though I’m partial to the WIlliam Shatner version).

My working grid for Listener 4350, Revelation of John by Elfman

Odd puzzle this one – I wonder if there would be a way of hiding the information in a more logical order?  Fortunately not too difficult and I think we can call this a Victory to George – woohoo!

2015 tally:  18-0-4

Feel free to tell me that it looks more like a penis than a rocket, and see you next week when Wiglaf describes many of my attempts at the Listener.

Three microscopic grids walk into a bar…

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  Time to right this ship, eh?  It’s been a pretty miserable start to 2013, with four failures already, ouch.  Let’s see what happens next?  It’s Elfman!  There’s only been one other Elfman puzzle to appear in George vs Listener (though I have it on reasonable authority that Elfman has contributed to at least one other puzzle as a grouponym), and that was the Rudyard Kipling themed Requisite Knowledge, which I solved without too too much trouble.

First thing I noticed was that this printed on one page!  And that’s one US letter page, the (probably appropriately) shorter and wider bastard child of the A4 page.  This feat was managed by there being a short preamble, no break between across and down clues, and a tiny tiny tiny long thin grid.  What is this?  Three 7X7 grids next to each other, with something joining them through the middle.

Stone cold solving again – it looks like half of these clues have  a lie in them.  Hmmm

There is no 1-across but there is a first clue, so let’s start there… and not be able to solve it.  Fail on the “1 across” test.  Ditto the next few.  Hmmm… a first scan through all the clues only yielded a dozen or so straight off, but fortunately the words that could be lies tended to stand out in the clues.

A few more runs through and I have a few places that could be a starting point – there’s only six 6-letter clues (though there’s seven clues that have 6-letter enumeration… aaaaah… one of them isn’t U PRISE, it’s U PRAISE and the lie is in the six letters!).

You know how sometimes you get really lucky?  Here’s how to be a completely lucky bastard in solving a Listener puzzle with about half the clues figured out

– the very last clue is fortunately quite easy – HAP,U (no lie)

– since all 4-letter answers are accounted for, it has to go in the bottom left of one of the three grids

– It crosses two seven-letter entries, which should be somewhere in the middle and have a U or a P as a second letter – I’m looking at you, U,PRAISE (lie)

– That means another seven-letter entry not too far past U,PRAISE has to have a U as the second letter.  TA,BAN,US – in you go

– One of the first 4-letter clues has to fit that B in TABANUS… hello B,ELT

– OUT,LEA,P fits down the middle, as does L(EFT)IE and ST(E)RLET

– Go to Word Wizards to find words that would fit the rest of the grid… EN L’AIR, ANNULET, KE(P)T and of course the very first answer is THE OAKS.  No clues seem to match SUSPECT… aaaaaah… that’s the unclued entry (not the bit in the middle)

– The middle line now reads AHALFTR – to Google!  A HALF TRUTH IS A WHOLE LIE

The luck of the Aussies is smiling on me!  Not only have I got the first grid, it’s the alternating truth/lie grid, I have the entry that goes all the way along the middle, and every other clue I’ve solved can be sorted to their grid by truth or lie!

About 90 minutes later, looks like we’re in action – UPRIGHT and ANANIAS complete our trio of unclued entries.

My grid for Listener 4231, Very by Elfman

And if I’ve made a transcription error in the one I sent in, the squares will be too small for M. Green to make out!

Very fun puzzle, Elfman, and a stroke of luck that will hopefully get myself back up and in the solving habit.  The solution will be out in about 40 minutes, but for now I’m going to call this a Victory to George

2013 tally:  5-2-2

Of course it can’t be as simple as all that, can it?  As Dave pointed out in a comment (and misery loves company), it’s OBLATE, not OF LATE.  I even considered OBLATE, but didn’t look it up.  Hang head in shame, and see if we can manage a year with more silly failures than actual successes!

2013 revised tally:  4-3-2

Feel free to let me know that I took horrendous shortcuts and should be punished, and see you next week when Hedge-sparrow kills a mystery