Friday, June 12, 2009
Where you been Haydn?
Thanks to Oli Grant for pointing out my inadequacies last week, so the revised tally as of last week is back at George 13, Listener 7. That was a pretty silly mistake to have ARABIA instead of ARABIS as the plant, and it meant that all the letters of THE MIDDLE MAN were checked. I usually give myself a tiny bit of leeway, but that was a blunder.
Can we break the drought with Nibor? There wasn't a Nibor Listener last year, so although I've tried (and failed) several Nibor puzzles, I haven't written about any. So we have omitted letters from clues, so they could be in definitions or in wordplay, and those letters are inserted into answers (or at the start or end). Six unclued jumbles (whee, more jumbles!).
So there's a funny story about my beginning to this crossword. I had been doing some long travelling, and I'm not really a plane socializer. Just because I bought a seat and end up sitting next to you doesn't really mean I want to talk to you for insert number of hours of flight here. I was on a flight from Melbourne to Auckland, and the entertainment system in the plane was busted. This doesn't bother me that much, I had a book of short stories (Saki, as recommended in a thread on the Times for the Times blog), and a few crossword puzzles. I also had a bubbly travelling "companion" in the centre seat, who started up a particularly banal conversation with the gentleman in the aisle seat whose life depended on the acquiring of a working entertainment system. He eventually feigned sleep, leaving her to prey on me, and my distraction at the time, which was the May 24 Saturday Times crossword.
George enters an answer...
Bubbly girl: "How does THAT fit with THAT"
George: "Well there's a definition and there's wordplay, so the answer is in the clue twice, in this case it's an anagram"
Bubbly Girl: "Who does these?"
George: "They're pretty popular, not so much in the US, but you find them in every newspaper in Australia"
Bubbly Girl: "Well I don't get it"
George enters an answer...
Bubbly Girl: "Now how did you get THAT??"
(repeat, but do not fade)
Eventually I got to the end of what was a pretty good Saturday puzzle.
Bubbly Girl: "So now what are you going to do?"
And thus it was that I started on Half a Dozen, entering letter possibilities in cells, scratching together a secret message, and causing bubbly girl's head to literally explode (I think she spent more time looking at the page than I did). Last thing she said to me before getting off the plane was "you're weird", which is pretty accurate.
Well, on the plane for a few hours, I made pretty good progress on this, starting with some cold solving and moving on to trying to make a phrase out of the extra letters. The Downs fell first, solving 14-25 gave me IGHTE which I thought was going to be part of EIGHT or EIGHTEEN, and 4-9 down gave me RS-MAY so I'm thinking FIRST MAY EIGHTEEN something. I got enough of the last few across clues to see TH-R-Y, so THIRTY FIRST MAY EIGHTEEN something sounded promising. At the end of the trip I had about half the clues solved, but without internet I didn't know what was so special about may 31st eighteen something (there were only 5 clues left after the EIGHTEEN and they were --IN-, so O'NINE?).
Didn't take long with Google to know that Joseph Haydn's death was just about 200 years ago, confirming that POLYP is made from LOPPY (J)UDDERS, and we have our theme. I did enough music to know that Haydn did a series, the "London Symphonies", and that the names of them were the right lengths (and letter combinations that I suspected) to fit in the unclued entries.
Still wasn't done - a lot of time in Q-space to work with these letters to get my last few answers - JOSEPH, ASS, ETAPE (it's always ones the intersect with each other that you end up missing).
So hopefully the drought has successfully been broken! I'm claiming (yet again) victory to George in this one!
2009 tally: George 14, Listener 7. Current streak: George 1
Since he's mentioned in it, here's a bizarre little video someone did on YouTube for Monty Python's "Decomposing Composers"
Feel free to leave comments (before anyone starts, there is the worst-drawn T ever in 5 down in the fifth cell), and see everyone next week for some number crunching with Brimstone.