Friday, March 13, 2009
See you in 'ELL
To me, Hotspur is a new setter - the Listener website shows four previous crosswords, three along similar themes, but I haven't tried any of them. 31 misprints in definitions out of 58 clues, so a little more than half of them, a literary work and two sets of words. I'm not always good at matching sets, but let's head on with this.
OK, so 1 across looks like it should be AFRICAN and I'm after a literary work starting with Z for Zulu
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance? Too many letters.
What else? Googling literary works beginning with Z doesn't seem to be throwing up many contenders. OK, I know I probably shouldn't be looking for the theme after solving one clue, but that Z is so tempting. How about some more clues.
More than half of the clues have misprints, so be on the lookout for them. 15 is a really nice clue for NAPOLEON (P,OLEO in NAN), but there's no misprint there. In 16 "ARIS" is sticking out as a likely misprinted word, could be IRIS or AXIS, though if it was AXIS then I'm looking for a literary work with Z and X in the first word. Crazy...
21 is C,RIBS and misprint H, so we have the possibility of Z, X, and H. Is this work going to be in English?
I like 24 - BEL,TWAY - I am heading to Charlotte shortly and there's a really annoying beltway around it that I'll be spending more time on than I really want.
27 is good old ANSATE (anagram), no misprint. There's probably a glut of misprints coming up.
And 30 is another one - R for M in MOISTER and we have ROISTER and another misprint.
These misprints are rather playful - in 52 across SE(x),AN(s),CE and GOFER becomes GONER, hehehehe
Now the penny drop moment came in a rather amusing fashion - I had about a two-thirds filled grid, and my misprints read Z X RA T ERSI EA R O B O (I now know that the B was wrong, I had creature that was BOILED for 29 down). I had been snowed in a couple of days lately, so I was getting to a few video games that had been sitting unplayed, and one of them was "The Simpsons Game". In this game, the levels are parodies of video games and other literary works... take a look at what Level 15 (the second last level) was...
I tried to get a shot of me and the crossword in front of the TV, but if the flash came on you couldn't see the screen, so we're both pretty dark. Ahhh video games, what can't you do?
So that Z is an S (SUSU), and I managed to get the rest of the definitions in order by matching the letters from the title SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR, and PIRANDELLO going down the main diagonal (this also helped me to get SORD and TALLY).
In the play, the six characers are a father, a mother, a son, a stepdaughter, a boy and a child... but before I started down that path - FRANKESNTEIN is poking out at me in 2 down - and SHELLEY can be made from an indirect route of the letters in the bottom right.
NAPOLEON was the pig in "Animal Farm" by George ORWELL and the ELL (also part of PIRANDELLO) are where they meet. And an ELL is an arm's length of fabric! Woohoo, we're nearly there.
There's some other "charactery" looking words in this grid, do they have ELL authors? "KIPPS - the story of a simple soul by" by H.G. WELLES. "HERZOG" by Saul BELLOW. "BELINDA" by Hilaire BELLOC.
The last one is giving me agony... SMOLLETT used JENKINS as a character in some stories, and would fit the ELL, but I can't find anywhere to fit the rest of the name. Let's keep the fingers crossed on this one.
I'm calling this one a guarded victory - took a lot of slogging through, but the penny drop moment was one of the best. 2009 tally: George 7, Listener 1. Current streak: George 1.
Pleasures don't get much guiltier than this - DragonForce have just announced that they are doing a concert in my little town in April. Better start growing and dyeing my hair now. Guitar metal geekines doesn't get geekier - here's "Heroes of Our Time" - comments welcome, and see you next week for some numerical fun and games.