Friday, August 29, 2008
I scanned my grid this morning but forgot to upload it to flickr, so I'll have to update this later.
Zero had one nifty puzzle in 2007 where the grid turned out to be a map of Italy, and I got absolutely nowhere with it. This one has an odd-shaped (but symmetric grid) and a very short preamble. Shading and affected cells - in the Italy one I think it was clashes?
On to the clues, I found the clues pretty tough - made even more tough by 24-27 across being omitted by my printer! It was obvious quickly that most answers were too long for the grid entry - the first two I saw were NEMESES for 13a, ON A PLATE (A PLAT in ONE) for 14a, ETUDE for 15a, CZAR for 17 and EXCERPT for 18, so it's likely to be dropping letters or multiple-letter clashes. Since I had three close together, I want to the downs, saw INEZ for 2 (INES and INEZ being on the brain since popping up in Yes by Lato), so something is fishy with that AR. 18 down is EXAM (AXE back with M) which works with my EX in EXCERPT, so maybe it's many letters crammed in the one spot.
Big penny drop moment was ON A PLATE... if it is two letters in each square, then I have ON, AP, LA, TE - and those fit with the downs LONER, NEAP, BLASTED and HAUTE. So a lot of checked spots have two letters, cool! In an hour or so I've got a grid filled more than half-way with a lot of double letter clusters in the middle, and none around the outside. I thought there was probably none at 1ac either, which left me with a problem for a while at 10ac, thinking that ET (from HETES) went there.
40 is unclued... and from assuming that there were no doubled-up cells in the bottom row I had -P-CE-N-ADERS... SPACE INVADERS! And shading in the doubly-filled squares, there's one of the little beasties!
This took me two sittings, so it's probably easy by Listener standards, the end was very fun though, making the grid so that the shape of the space invader fit checked cells and having the grid still have 180-degree symmetry when the space invader itself doesn't is a really nice touch. I had to browse through Chambers to get a few of the last clues (like SOKEN at 30D). This one is a victory for George, and back to a little breathing room. Nice puzzle, Zero, if you're looking in.
Current tally: George 18, Listener 14. Current streak: George 1.
This made me think of when New Zealand ruled new-wave music, so here's "Computer Games" by Mi-Sex
Friday, August 22, 2008
The dreaded Palyfair square... I have not even attempted a crossword with such a beastie, and I didn't even get to filling out the square here.
This is the first Radix Listener I've attempted, I wasn't doing them regularly in 2005 when the last one appeared, but I have read some of Radix' postings on the Crossword Centre. And it looked like it had some elements I could get into - words needing to be removed, leding to a phrase.
But time really caught up on me these last few weeks with a move, a couple of big shows and some other commitments and this one kind of fell by the wayside. I only spent two long sessions with Chambers and Bradfords and couldn't crack all that many of the clues, and no enough to start to make the message appear.
And after a few good shots I'm starting to feel like a beginner again. Sorry, Radix, it looked like a really nice challenge that I wasn't up to. And with the corrections that were pointed out for last week (I thought that was LAR+DO at 22 down), that makes two in a row that I've missed!
Current tally: George 17, Listener 14. Current streak, Listener 2.
Friday, August 15, 2008
The preamble didn't leave masses to the imagination - clues start at some point in the grid entry (and as turned out useful later on, every clue was affected, so none could start at the same point). 12 letters to shade at the end (in this case I've chosen the green highlighter of doom).
I'll jump to the end - this was one of the fastest finishes I've had of a Listener crossword, a little over an hour after starting I had the grid filled in except for 26, which took a little guesswork. The starting point was at the bottom - with 32 being COLLEAGUE, 28 being TALC (and the C not able to be the checking letter), and 23 being HOURI there was only once option available, and I worked around the grid from there. There were some very nice but not too-challenging clues - I liked 7D, and the anagram at 2.
As for the finish, with 12 letters and LA TOUR staring me in the face, it took a moment to find the EIFFEL making the shape of the tower. This was a well-done grid, I don't know if the preamble had to give away the method of entry so quickly, maybe hinting at it would have provided more of a challenge?
But I'm over the moon thanks to Pilcrow - that is a new record 5 in a row for George!
Current tally: George 18, Listener 12. Current streak: George 5.
Here's the song that I couldn't get out of my head while solving.
Friday, August 8, 2008
I've tried (and failed dismally) on two previous Dipper puzzles: 3946 (Growing Pains) which had clues for vegetables as extra words and 3895 (Where and Tare). A distinct horticultural theme, as well as title. Grid entries in across clues are shorter than the clue answers, and grid entries in the downs are the same length.
So either a flower has to be removed from the answer in the acrosses, or the across answers are flowers derived from the across wordplay somehow? Alternative arrangements makes it sound like downs could be jumbled (ack).
I started on the acrosses. The first one that caught my eye was 14, if we have MAR,S and a 12 letter word for sweets, that's likely to be MARSHMALLOWS. MALLOW sounds like it could be a flower, so it's either MARSHS or MALLOW. I can't figure out the rest of the wordplay in the clue. 16 looks like KEROSENE, with the wordplay giving KENE (hidden) and ROSE the flower unindicated by the wordplay. But which is the grid entry? 24 provides the answer to that - three letters in the grid are the wordplay OT,E and there's SCILLA missing to give OSCILLATE. Anything else in the acrosses? The wordplay for 26 looks like BIN,O,ID, so (CANNA)BINOID. 40 looks like a compound anagram in the wordplay, SHE,ISN'T less IT gives HNESS... (IRIS)HNESS. The definition and 15 letters in 41 make it look like AMERICANISATION or AMERICANIZATION (depending on if you Americanize it), ERICA the flower, and the wordplay is A,M, IS in NATION. 42 looks like INTE or RRED, neither of which are revealing anything, and 43 looks like another compound anagram of RETNAIN...
With my acrosses filled in, and some odd letters next to each other in downs, it appears the jumble guess is going to be right. Oh - it helped that I went back to another compound anagram, in 11, which I'd thought was probably STATIC ELECTRICITY and found that a STATICE is a flowering plant.
The down clues are normal, but from the first one I solved (2 - P,OLDER - which had to fit into -L-E--), it was clear that things had to be jumbled. A few down entries had more than one unchecked cells, so unless there was a hidden message (and there wasn't anything hinting that in the preamble, repeated letters in a word have to go in those unchecked cells, i.e. for ETHICISE as 18d, an I was already placed, so the unchecked cells had to be Es.
I made heavy weather of this one, and put it down for a day or two at a time, getting one or two clues here or there. The real penny-drop moment that helped me get most of the right hand side was seeing DIS(ASTER)AREA for 17. I made two sheets at that point of the acrosses and downs to try to fill in the downs by looking for words where I had some of the letters, and the acrosses from the choices of letters available from the downs...
And crawled home after a lot of hunt-and-pecking. The flower theme had a few great moments - the clueing of IDA(LUPIN)O as IDAHO without H was classic.
There are two I'm uncomfortable with - I have 25 from wordplay alone - caLls fOr toWel... is it LAID-LOW? Or DOWN-LOW? And 27D I'm torn between SONNET and SENNET, I've gone for SONNET in the grid, and off to check.
However this is another victory for George, and a new solving record with four in a row!
Current tally: George 17, Listener 12. Current streak: George 4
Friday, August 1, 2008
I hadn't heard of Syd Lexis when I printed off this crossword - the Listener site suggests more than one pseudonym, but this is the first Syd Lexis puzzle for me.
The first word in the preamble gives me the willies - resolving makes me think that I've got to solve the thing twice, however the magic words come up soon - all grid entries are normal. Yay words! 20 clues lead to missing letters in the wordplay (neat trick, we've had a spate of extra letters and words, but no missing letters in a while), one, sometimes two. And there's four closed-off squares, which contributed to my downfall in Terminal Suspension. The four closed off squares are right in the middle, so maybe there's something funny about the middle of the grid.
Let's enter some actual words in the grid...
A run through the across clues and there's some pretty easy (Daily Times level - note, this is not a bad thing) clues.
1 - EASTERN, not sure if there's an E omitted, could be a straight-out clue
11 - IMPERIALISTS, anagram
15 - some old version of GOAL... I wrote in GOALE initially, had to change it later
19 - C in TRADE gives me TRADUCE without a U
23 - Anagram of LEAN gives ULNAE without another U
25 - H,ALE
34 - loved this clue - OX,TONE giving OXYTONE without Y
36 - looks like GED
40 - RE,A,NET giving REMANET without M
42 - IMUE being IMBUE without B
And the down clues were similarly accessible
1 - EIGHTHS, nice anagram
2 - surely AMOK, not sure if there's an extra letter
3 - TEL (LET backwards)
4 - ERES
5 - you can't sneak a RISSOLE past an Australian! Take out SOL (a word I love to use, a colloid of a solid in a liquid, as opposed to a GEL, a liquid in a solid) and we have RISE. Nice clue, Syd L.
7 - I had all the letters here before the correction came out, so I had AIR?, then read in a week that it was meant to read "Advanced Irish melody".
8 - P,S,ON - PSION without an I - bit of a sciencey one today, I'm in the zone
12 - P,GAL making PYGAL without a Y (and making GOALE wrong, checked Chambers for GOYLE and we were off again)
13 - APT,EX making APTERYX and at this point I'm thinking two things - the missing letters can make for some very fun clues, and there's a lot of extra Ys... and a lot of Ys in the middle of the grid. Do the Y's make a pattern?
20 - DE,NT
21 - N,DING making UNDYING without U and Y - another Y, and the extra letters don't have to be next to each other.
22 - more science! COGEN(t) makes CRYOGEN without RY. Another Y, eh... why"?
It was here that things really fell into place. The middle was almost completely full, and looking at the diagonals between the blocked off squares, both of them read URYY...
In 1992 I was living in Hobart, Tasmania (great place), and looking to make more friends I joined a community band, the Hobart City Band. I played clarinet with them for a while, they rehearsed at the Navy base, and after rehearsals, the civilian members could stick around and drink at the base bar. The bar was covered in carved wooden plaques riddled with acronyms, and the deal was to convince people like me to ask what they stood for - there was usually a penalty involved (anything from buying drinks to having to salute the flag with your pants down). One of the ones that did catch me was
YYURYYUBICURYY4ME - too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are too wise for me. There wasn't really a penalty for knowing that one, it just meant a bunch of guys standing around you shouting the phrase. Might I add I didn't play with this band for very long...
And there it is, going across the diagonals.
So a number goes in the crossword - kind of like in the Ronnie Barker hieroglyphics sketch
I had the theme figured out before entering the last few answers, 46 was a new word to me, so was 6.
I'm guessing the extra letters spelled out the phrase, or something to do with the phrase? I didn't find a missing F.
I liked the puzzle, it wasn't too challenging to me, but maybe that's because I saw the theme very early on. I enjoyed the missing letters parts of the clues a lot, and best of all, that's another victory for George!
Current tally: George 16, Listener 12. Current streak: George 3