A week late… so humour me

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  It has been a rough couple of weeks writing-wise.  I got some pretty negative comments back about a script so I haven’t been into the writing thing as much.  Compound that with long hours at the day job and I’ve been neglecting my duties of making terrible jokes at the expense of other peoples’ fine crosswords. Hopefully a corner has been turned, I have been cast in two plays, and I talked to someone who said he read my script and thought it was funny, so maybe the response I got wasn’t indicative of everyone who was in the room discussing scripts.

Or I could be a lazy ass, a shitty writer and can’t solve half of these damn things.  Let’s see what happened with Flying Tortoise.  After a rough start, I recall enjoying Flying Tortoise’s puzzles.

I started this one in an airport waiting for a flight to New York City.  What a strange puzzle.  Carte blanche that is really four little carte blanches.  Clues of four types in alphabetical order of answers and… wait a minute… if there’s only grid bars in one quadrant aren’t there far too few clues?

Time for stone cold solving, I guess…

I made a mess of this right off the bat, figuring (I had no dictionaries with me on this trip, except Chamers on my laptop, which wasn’t on) that the answer was ASPENS and the wordplay was… well… something.  I did put a question mark next to it at least.

OK – about three runs through the clues and a few things were becoming clear.  There were more misprints than anything else.  The clues where the letters were restored led to a couple of very similar answers – CARERS, CARETS, CARATS.  One of the four words pieced together from the clues was MELANCHOL? so probably MELANCHOLY.  That was about as far as I got on the plane, still had nothing in the grid.

Now sometimes I do horribly nice things.  Not very often, but occasionally.  I was in New York City while my sister was visiting – my brother-in-law was doing a guest conducting spot, and she and my niece came with him, none of them had been to the US before.  So I let them have a date night and baby-sat my six-year-old niece.  I should win all sorts of best big brother awards for that one.  Once she was in bed, I got back to this one… MELANCHOLY… and the beginning of what looked like it could be PHLEGM… a peek in my Chambers and they are two of the four HUMOURS!  Well that explains the four squares in the grid… CHOLER, MELANCHOLY,PHLEGM,BLOODY.  That gets me the rest of the letters I’m hunting for and gets me close to all the clues being solved.  So if that is right, then that first circle is probably H – RADISH is the only answer I have that ends in H.  It could cross YSHEND and… it’s a word square!  Not only a word square, but there’s EARTH at the top of it.  The humours are linked to the elements, so that means FIRERS and WATERS probably goes in the top row.  Hmmm… WATERS begins with a W, MEADOW ends in one… can that be a word square with reversed entries?  Yep, and that makes another entry DOL?NE, which must be DOLINE – and EUROPA fits with where I know UR must go.  Two quadrants down!  The one with the misprints was up next – knowing that an the clue beginning “Gentlemen” needed either an A misprint or an A restored, lead to COMMON, which fits the MO part of HUMOUR and gets me started on the next quadrant. Funny enough the last clue I got in that set was the thematic one for AIRWAY.  So FIRERS has to go in the top left, and CURATS at the bottom – oh, it’s a word ladder!

My working grid for Listener 4471, What can the Matter be? By Flying Tortoise

What an interesting puzzle – certainly different from any Listener I remember, and an interesting solving experience, with a long head-scratching bit in the middle and then a cascade near the end.  My niece slept comfortably (I had to go in and read to her from Alice In Wonderland), my sister and brother-in-law enjoyed their night out, and I scored a Victory for George, woohoo!

Game over:  100% completion.  Very tidy construction this.

My only regret was that this wasn’t a puzzle that had seven old ladies locked in a lavatory.  I guess that is an idea that is still up for grabs.  Maybe the next Lessener crossword?

Feel free to tell me that I am still a shitty brother, and see you next week (or in about half an hour) when Puffin has a puzzle that describes tuning a tenor sax.


There is a lesser-documented experiment where he dropped them from the other side and watched them go bouncy-bounce

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and part 4 in a 5-part series of “I’ve filled the grid, what now?”

Flying Tortoise (aka little Gamera) time – this is the third FT Listener, and it’s been an intriguing bag – the first had the theme of a musical I didn’t particularly care for, and the second was quiet controversial in using a quote that appears to have morphed through several editions of ODQ.  Speaking of picking themes I don’t like, IQ is on a roll with those, following up a movie I thought was kind of meh with the most overrated band of the 80s.  Hopefully that isn’t too spoilery.

OKeydoke – extra words, instructions, an experiment!!!  Oooh, is this going to be Rutherford’s gold foil experiment where we get to wrap the grid around a spindle and draw electrons on it?  It is a wider grid than normal… well no it isn’t, it’s only 12 by 9 and two of the cells have apparently already been filled in.  Hmmm.

Well it looks like real words in the grid so let’s see where it goes.

There is a 1 across, and although it wasn’t that difficult a clue later on, I could not solve it at a first glance.  For some reason I thought 3 across was BALLYHOO, despite having no justification anywhere in the clue for the B, Y or H.

It turns out to be a truly inspired incorrect answer, as in goes LEATHERN, LORN, ABEL and OPAQUELY and we are away!  It was such a great incorrect answer that I had filled out nearly the entire rest of the grid before figuring 3 down had to be WOLOF and then it dawned that a Euro is a marsupial which has come up before, and in goes WALLAROO.

The rest of the grid fill wasn’t too bad, and the messages seemed to come together pretty neatly – I liked the part of using LANDS to mean L and S that were in the grid.  Let the staring commence…

My working grid for Listener 4397, We'll Always be Together by Flying Tortoise

So what have we here… CUT OUT PRINTED L AND S


SET GRID ON FIRE  (wishful thinking)




The first two are easy!  Out with the scissors!

I made a mess of the next part by thinking it said I had to put the R over the L part and slide.  That made nothing.  No, it has to be above…

Strips of three rows eh?  More cutting.

Slide two strips – I guess I’m looking for something vertical… LORTHE? LEANIN.. that looks promising.  LEANINGTO… is it going to be the LEANING TOWER OF PISA?

Yes, it is – AHA experiment!  Galileo dropped two objects from the tower to show that gravity has the same effect (not having access to massless, weightless, tensionless strings).  So the S object and the L object should fall together or hit the ground at the same time.  I think I remember he used cannonballs, which totally makes sense to carry two heavy objects up a building whose centre of gravity is somewhere stage left.  I like to think that he threw two pizzas off the tower, so here is my version.What went in the envelope

I wonder if this one will also open Pandora’s can of worms if submissions are not accepted with the S and L on the ground, or being held by a cartoon Galileo.  I guess I’ll wait and see how that all plays out and call this a Victory to George!  Fun puzzle that, but the ending took almost as long as filling out the grid.

2016 tally:  15-2-2

Feel free to tell me about the worst trip to Pisa ever (I was enjoying the view of the tower and my wife and I got hit by cannonballs at the exact same time) and see you next week when Mountain Ledges asks us, for a change, to put characters in boxes.

Abandon all hope, ye who use Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword where it appears my tastes do not reflect the voters for the Ascot Gold Cup at all.  I did like the puzzle that won (though I made a mess of solving it and I think I even submitted an incorrect grid).  If you’re visiting here for the first time this week, make sure you scroll down a little and cast a vote for Top Of The Square 2014 edition.  There have already been a few votes cast but there is no clear winner right now.

OK… Flying Tortoise.  Subjected me to the musical “Wicked” a few years ago.  What have we here? A quotation to be found, some manipulations, and that’s it for the preamble.  Hmmm… to solving, I guess…

There is a 1 across, and the definition looks like BOON but the wordplay looks like BONT or BOOT.  Chambers confirms BOOT (even after I’d written BOON in the grid) so we have a pass on the 1 across test!  By the way, in that bit of Chambers thumbing, I noticed one of my favorite Australian slurs is in there – BOOFHEAD.  Please someone use BOOFHEAD in a puzzle soon, I’ll be eternally grateful.  Woohoo…  BOOT  crosses OMERTA which doesn’t fit in the spot.  Well I guess that’s treated then.  Hey, why is 21 sitting by itself?  That’s weird, and it’s a 7-letter answer.  AMPLY confirms the M of OMERTA, so there’s probably just some letters missing.  12 is LEAP YEAR, and I can see where L,E, and A go… 14 across is NOWHERE… so if I take the YEAR out of LEAP YEAR and add it to the N of NOWHERE then I can make YEARN.  Are we taking out letters to make words?

Up above that 10 across has two clues.  Hmmmm… the first one is for BELIE which doesn’t fit with any of the letters.  Does it all disappear?  The other looks like FEALTY – ahhh… BELIEF disappears.

A little later, and there is no more BELIEF, FEALTY or CONFIDENCE (completely disappearing from CONFIDENCE TRICK).  ASSUME, AIM, EXPECT and DESIRE – with the finding that there is a DESIREE potato complete the grid.

Now what?

We are meant to rearrange a string to find a quotations… hi ho, hi ho, to ODQ we go… there’s a lot of quotes for HOPE, but since they all lose HOPE, it looks like we’re down to old Dante… ABANDON ALL HOPE YOU WHO ENTER.  And it’s on the gates of Hell, which means Flying Tortoise considers this crossword more damnable than it was.  Looks like most of the letters are in the perimeter… let’s get circling.

And they are not all in the perimeter?  Whaaa?  Not only that, but the quote is three letters short of three sides of the perimeter.  Not even room for a HERE?

Surely this has to be the theme…

I Googled the quote, and there’s a lot of versions floating around.  Bartleby comes up with a translation that does fit the outside of the grid.


This one does have all the letters.

Let’s rewrite the preamble, shall we?

A string of letters in the completed grid must be rearranged to show, in a thematically appropriate position, a quotation (not using the words or order found in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations) which solvers of Listener crosswords must Google repeatedly, which also describes treatments that affect some entries.  The Chambers Dictionary (2014) is the primary reference, 17 and 21 are in the Oxford Dictionary of English, George’s brain is fried and in the gutter.

Much better.

I assume this was the version desired (I forgot to scan my grid, I’ll add it later), so I can call it a half-hearted victory to George?

It appears the marker accepted about anything… I should have just drawn a gate.

2015 tally:  7-0-0

Feel free to tell me that I didn’t have any hope to abandon in the first place, and see you next week when it seems Rubik gets a run for his money.


The wicked witch is friend to all children!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – thanks to Ferret for the shout out in the setters blog over at Listen With Others.  Hey setters, if you prefer to send your solving blogs to a far smaller and less educated audience, feel free to send them my way!  I’m headed out of town again this weekend so I’m writing this blog up a little earlier than usual. Just a little.

This week it’s Flying Tortoise – which made me excited – there’s only one flying tortoise in my ken, and it’s Gamera!

And the theme has something to do with the setter.  Finally a Listener about giant monster movies, woohoo!  Steady on George, got to solve this thing first – what do we have here – nine modified clues, a quotation clued without definition, and a letter added to words to make the theme.  Looks like we’re in real word territory, woohoo!  I was well set-up for this – I was proctoring an exam, and I had Chambers, Bradfords and a computer right in front of me.

1 across is the theme, so we have to try the 12 across test.  And it’s a gentle anagram of OSLO and we are in the game – well in the game with it crossing the recently-seen DOCETIC and a big dent is made on the left side of the grid almost immediately, and… wait a second?  Did flying tortoise sneak CHEKOV in there? CH and then EVOKED with the ends removed reversed?  To boldly go where no setter has gone before? Has there been a Star Wars themed Listener?  Is it in Brewers?

Working down that left hand side proved another mini-breakthrough with CIG, which is all checked, meaning that LOVE has to become GLOVE.  That means 2 down could be LEERS if LANCES became GLANCES.  Aaaah, there’s some letter G jiggery pokery.  G for GAMERA!!!

The message at the bottom is starting to come together – BY THE P????????

I also had a few possibilities up across the top – with RAVEL, ENEW, and STRIDE in place I tried Word Wizards with combinations that would fit the letters that could go on top of that and KENNETH GRAHAME came up – he had a significant anniversary recently right?  D’oh – that doesn’t start with a D.

Back to the drawing board… and to the bottom – BY THE PRICK…   ooo errr – quote – BY THE PRICKING OF MY HANDS, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES.  Wasn’t there a musical “Something Wicked This Way Comes”?  Oh shit… there is a musical “Wicked” and one of the main songs from it is “Defying Gravity”.   Don’t tell me?

Oh yes it is.

I got my hopes up for Gamera and you give me Wicked???

So the last person I dated drove me batshit crazy (yes, I know it’s not a long drive) and especially with singing that song.  We even went to see it in San Francisco.  It had its moments, but overall I was underwhelmed.

With the theme in place, it didn’t take long to find the last few answers – I was completely done in 90 minutes.


Well – after being teased with Mervyn Peake, Dickens upon Dickens, gardening and other themes I don’t really get into, we have finally hit a Listener that has a theme I actively disliked!  Sorry about that, Flying Tortoise.  You’ve made the most of the theme, but I really wanted Gamera.

Let’s call this a Victory to George – 2012 tally 30-1-6

Feel free to criticize my musical philistinity in comments, and see you next week when Merlin takes us on a city shopping tour?