Welcome to the Excel Inn

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  If this is the first post you’re seeing, you need to see more posts… and my little bit on Pointer’s from last week should be right below this.

Numberword time! First numerical of the year and it is Botox.  The Listener Crossword site tells me that Botox is a hybrid of Artix (who we had not that long ago with a puzzle I didn’t get), and Shark who we last saw under the guise of Handyman last year. Pseudonyms abounding! Neither of them have set a numerical Listener that I know of.

I have no shame, dear readers. I saw the sheer number of numerical clues, that all the numbers 1-26 were used, and that there were several letters in many of the clues, and a few of them had two equations that worked out to the same value, and went straight to Excel to make a spreadsheet.

Now of course this doesn’t take all the logic out of the equation… it was still a hunt and peck around the grid. I made some notes of what was divisible by what, but with the number of linked clues that had to be solved together, I really needed that sheet that populated multiple entries when I tried a new combination of numbers.

I do remember wondering if I’d ever figure out which letter was 1… and that was a stroke of genius on the setters part by only having 1 (which I think was W) appearing in only 1 clue.

OK… now what.  32 cells stay as numbers (out of 66).  For the rest, there’s a cipher, where each number stands for 1-3 letters… Both end columns are the same…  the columns might be a key here – I see a column with 1111 and 2222… but 3334 and 4445.  Huh?  Next to those is 4321 three times.  Maybe the cipher will helps… it sounds like we should arrange the letters we just solved for in order, and use the second digit.

I tried that, and got nothing from the title.

What if isn’t the order of the letters in the answers, but just the normal ordering of letters?  That would probably have made the grid construction easier, right, if you didn’t have to come up with a code and the method of clueing letters together.  That looks more promising – REJOB could become HOTEL.

Aaaah… the identical columns are STAIRS.  There’s the RECEPTION at the bottom, a PENTHOUSE at the top and a LIFT in the middle.

I guess there’s no room 13? In the US that used to be a big thing, but I don’t recall the number 13 being left off of room numbers lately.  I’m traveling next week, I’ll check… though I am going to New Orleans, and if anywhere is going to be a superstitious hotel town, New Orleans sounds like a good option. Anyhoo – we have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4490, REJOB (or HOTEL) by Botox

This wasn’t too bad – I did this all in one long, three hour session. About half an hour to write the Excel code, about another two hours fiddling with the numbers to make them fit, and not too long head-scratching about the cipher.

The last few years I’ve made a mess of the first numerical, but this time I think I’ve cracked it!  Victory to George.

Game over:  100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that Excel is far worse than anything else I regularly do, and see you next week when Dysart describes me in puzzle form.


Shouldn’t we have had to text the solution of this to 07734?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.

Hey, UK, what the?

So let’s see – England collapsed overnight, the US election is a similar farce, Australia is about to run out of well-dressed lunatics to be Prime Minister (maybe I should move back), and I haven’t even managed a HC in the last two Azed competitions (I was rather fond of my last two clues, and it’s the first time I’ve struck out in a PD competition).

Is there any reason for hope?

Oh yes indeedy there is, for in a bit over an hour I am driving to Atlanta and going to see The Cure!

MEGA STOKED! When they came to Australia in 1992 I was living in Hobart and couldn’t afford to make it back to Melbourne for a show.  They haven’t done a show in any city I’ve been near since, but they played in Charlotte last night (I had a rehearsal) and tonight in Atlanta – so I am loading up a car with 40-something ex goth kids and we are going to partly like we still had hair to dye black!

I am wearing black sandals.  Goth yeah!

“The Head On The Door” was compulsory listening in High School, and those of us with the first VCRs would stay up late at night watching “Rage” in the hope they’d play a Cure video.  At the caravan park in Lorne, my friend Tanya would steal day-glo lipstick and we’d put string in each other’s hair.

And tonight I’m going to see them live for the first time.

Oh, did you come here to read about Literal Spling?

I guess.

My wish list for tonight…

– Fascination Street.  There used to be a public access TV channel in Melbourne and when they didn’t have any programming they would play “Fascination Street” on a loop and have a camera at a fish tank.  I must have watched hours of it

– Close To Me.  The video was the band drowning in a closet. The 12″ version with the crazy sampled tumpet bits was the best, it ended up on the compilation “Mixed Up”.

– Lovesong. I guess that’s always on the list. It’s simple and awesome.

– Lullaby.  I would be surprised if they do it live, but it’s such a great song.

– Boys Don’t Cry. They’ll probably do this.  If I’m forced to do a semi-serious song at karaoke I bust out my Robert Smith impression and wail.

OK, OK – Waterloo.  You know what you’re getting – some sort of word manipulation, and I have a pretty terrible track record because of all the fiddly substitutions and non-words.  The title hints that we’re going to drop some letters somewhere, so let’s see how that works…

There is a 1 across and it’s a fairly simple PENNYFARTHING which is three letters too long for the grid entry.  It intersects PRESENTIMENT which is only one letter too long.

Solving 3 down gave the true direction – WIGHT (I think it was WIGHT – I don’t have the clues with me anymore, it may have been WHITE).  So we are entering in answers kind of phonetically, but not consistently, it seems, since only one EN in PRESENTIMENT was modified.

My friend Holly is also a huge fan of The Cure, and she lives just two blocks from the venue.  This means parking and a place to party before and after is settled.  It’s going to be an outstanding day!  I’m bringing her a few six packs of local beer.

So anyway, some of it was frustrating, but there were a few fun entries – I liked MISCUE going in as MISQ and SEAWAY(I think it was SEAWAY). going in a CWA.

My working grid for Listener 4401, Literal Spling by Waterloo

I’m going to see The Cure!  So no matter what happens here, today is a Victory to George!

2016 tally:  19-2-2

Feel free to tell me I shouldn’t get excited about bands that are 25 years past their prime (I won’t listen, nya nya nya), and see you next week for a full show report.  And whatever puzzle comes next.

A ravine battles someone hearing a puzzle (

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and the first appearance of a purple pen I found on a desk somewhere.  Free pen!

I am a complete pen mooch.  If I go to a convention, I’m on a pen scavenger hunt.  Hotels – thanks for the pen!  Conference centers, even better if it comes with a mini notepad.  Finding an abandoned purple pen is very rare indeed!

OKeydoke – Waterloo!  Waterloo specializes in messing up words in the grids, and also catching me out with silly errors.  There’s usually nothing particularly thematic which makes checking the grid at the end tricky.  No difference here – Malaprop’d titles of books, songs, plays, films, popular websites, species of llama. We have an odd indication of the mangled title and have to put in the original word.

OK… I’ll admit that this had just appeared when I met Poat, and he said I might find it a little enervating (well, it is Waterloo).  Let’s solve…

Fortunately one of the malapropisms jumped out at me with SWINGIN’ IN THE RAIN… so SINGIN’ (ugh) goes into the grid and we are away.

Not sure I can say much about the solving process here – I did find a lot of the malapropisms by looking for possible words in Word Wizards and entering them in an Amazon search to see if there was an appropriate book or movie.  I needed this to get THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS, RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS.  Eventually, here is what we have…


The solution is out, and I think I have it – but there’s a few places where I got extremely lucky…

  • END and BOY were fully checked, and I have no idea what malapropism was used here.  I now know it’s THE DEN OF THE AFFAIR (not sure if I’d have gotten that with an unchecked letter) and A SUITABLE BOY (never heard of it).
  • With HE?RY it has to be HENRY right?  What’s HORRID HENRY?
  • ?SES has to be USES right?  How well known is THE USES OF LITERACY?

So a muted victory to George, and the year is off to a limping start.

Feel free to tell me that I need to become wider read, seen and listened, and see you next week when Stick Insect reduces us to absurdity.

2015 tally:  1-0-0

Georgina vs the Listener Crossword

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – last few days have been rather funny and busy, and I’m trying to avoid things – I’ve been avoiding looking at the solution to this crossword, and as I’m typing this up I’m watching the replay of the second T20 between Australia and England (don’t tell me the score, at least not for another two hours or so).

Waterloo time – you know what you’re going to get with Waterloo, some form of word-mangling.  I didn’t do Waterloo’s last Listener, but managed pretty well on the one before it was the ORs and ANDs in What it Says, repeated letters in different colors in fiDlEDE, and letters and numbers written in all sorts of directions in An Additional Symmetry.

The preamble kind of lays it all out – replace masculine references with feminine references in the grid, replace feminine references with masculine references in the clues.  Lots of clues, and lots of lights!  Wordplay looks like it gives the grid entries.

I started off looking for references to male and female names in possible answers, so I was convinced 1 across was going to be some form of FUNDAMENTAL becoming FUNDAWOMENTAL but that didn’t fit at all.  The first on I saw was 13 across which looked like an anagram of AFRAME of which there aren’t any (thanks Word Wizard), and so the FEM part of that could be MASC – MASCARA becomes FEMARA.

I reverse engineered a lot of the clues this way, including all four of the outside clues.  There was a lot of fun to be had – I particularly liked SITTING ROOM becoming SITTINBRIDE, LASS for LAD in 29 down, HIND for STAG in 32 down and in the clues, COB for PEN in 19 across, and GOOSE for GANDER in 17 (a particularly good clue as there was a substitution in the clue and the answer).

About three short sessions later, the grid comes together with the deceptive LINN the last in(n).

My working grid for Listener 4255, Political Correctness Gone Mad by Waterloo


I didn’t get this finished in time to submit it, which is going to be a bit of a pattern over the next few weeks I’m afraid.  However I think I can claim a Victory to George.

2013 tally:  22-6-4

Feel free to tell me I need to solve these quickly and write them up in a timely fashion, though if I haven’t learned in nearly six years it’s too late, and see you next week when we get stoned with Dipper.

Ge,ge vs the Listener presents: An opp,tunity in Boolean operations missed

Welcome to a special edition of Ge,ge vs the Listener, it was going to come at you live from a pub in Cheltenham, but the internet at two pubs I just tried was really shoddy, so I’ve sunk some pints and headed back to the hotel for a little writing session.  This is my second time to the UK and I’m having a total blast – been hiking in the Dales, went down a coal mine, been on a bunch of random trains, and tom,row I’ll be meeting some crossw,dy folk at the RNIB 3D crossw,d thing in Cheltenham.  On the other side, my mobile phone and computer appear to be having a harder time of it, and I’ve just had to rest,e my laptop after it crashing three times while trying to write this.  Let’s see what is in st,e next, eh?

Well what is in st,e is Waterloo.  Waterloo was the setter for two of my fav,ite Listeners in the pre-blog days – OO Spectacles! and Inflation, or Now We Are Twelve.  I almost finished the f,mer and did complete the latter.  We’ve run into Waterloo twice in Ge,ge v Listener, with fiDlEDE and An Additional Symmetry, each of which I managed to complete. I was a little naughty and started this one at a meeting where I probably should have been paying attention.

OK, strange (and non-symmetric) grid and a brief preamble.  We’re going to find how to enter the answers.  Sounds like we’ll be back in the w,ld of cold-solving for a while.

There is an answer that occupies 1 across (it also occupies 68 across) and it’s a nice gentle anagram of TRANSFORMATION to get us going.  Next up SORTED, can’t figure out the one after that, then we have EORL, LORN and so far everything has OR in it.  Didn’t see the next one, but after that we’ve got MANDE… a few clues later with CANDOCK, CORSET and LANDE it becomes clear what is going on – answers have AND or OR, and if it’s an AND then the halves of the answers go together, if it’s an OR they go in separate places.  I went back to the top and barreled through all the clues once with a cold-solving approach knowing I was looking for AND or OR in all of them… first surprise was seeing MANDATORY… looks like some of these have AND and OR in them.  Sneaky!  There’s a few that go in three entries, does that mean they have two ORs in them?  MORATORIUM sure does, so does CORMORANT.

Took a plane trip with the electronic Chambers to finish off the grid – I didn’t know NYNORSK but as soon as I wrote NYN in to the e-Chambers it knew exactly what I was looking for.  Good electronic dictionary.  My last few in were CORAL, SORN (sneaky how a lot of the ones I didn’t know were the one letter XORY answers), HORST (very cruel to get this near the end, because I still had the two possibilities for the first letter in 23 across trying to fit in SHORT HANDED) and finally, PANDORA (thanks Bradf,ds for PAN) which was a nice finishing touch, I guess meaning P,A in two and PA in another.

That must have been a lot of w,k looking for clues that w,ked that way, I was having a hard time when it got to the last few figuring out which ones I’d done and which ones I hadn’t. But it all got there, and provided plenty of amusement.  I wonder if this is some s,t of rec,d for number of clues to grid size ratio (I make it 48 clues for 120 cells).

I didn’t get to scan this before I left, and my camera isn’t talking to my computer so no grid for you yet.  If you want, tom,row I’ll show you the w,king copy (I carry my w,king copy around with me since I never know when I’m going to write this thing).

I was hoping for a little while that there would be some logic gates theme to this one, and that a NOR was going to pop up.  NANDS and XNORS would be a little tricky to find w,ds for.  It also appears to be easier to find w.ds with OR in them rather than w,ds with AND in them – I’ve written this without consciously trying to include them, but it appears I have written this without any words that have AND in the middle.

But I’m claiming this as a Vict,y to Ge,ge!  Can’t wait to see what letter twist Waterloo is going to come up with next time.

2011 tally:  Ge,ge 23, Listener 6.  Current streak:  Ge,ge 6

Feel free to leave comments below and see you next week for a trip to OZ (and WR) with Theod, and possibly some photos of this trip, since I’ll be back in the US by then.