Friday, August 7, 2009
The curse of the black thumb strikes again!
It's Dipper time! Almost exactly a year after Flower Arranging, we have Green Cross Code, and some more horticulture. Not my forte by a mile. Daunting preamble, there's green X's to go where trees are, five of them have had bark stripped and there's a jumble of the removed letters. Clues have extra words which are there to help Dipper (which I infer, means they're not there to help me, bugger).
Not sure what caught me, but for a week this sat there with two whole grid entries filled out, AMYL and CYMA. Had to wait until I was done with a few big shows before I could really sit down with Bradfords and Chambers and chip away. Chip away is right... everytime I worked through there were a few more answers at a time that came clear.
It took a long time for the elements to come clear. 5 down didn't work unless I used A,LESION,A as the anagram fodder to get NEOPLASIA. So some entries are longer than others, and where there needs to be more than one letter in a square (presumably a clash) is where the trees go.
The first tree I spotted was where CEL(I)A (at 34 down) met PEARLITIC at 39 across... if the cross was TI,LIA there's a tree. Glimmer of hope time! I didn't have to jumble any of those letters (I didn't look to see if there was a consistency between across first and then down to make the tree names). There needed to be one more clash in PEARLITIC, and it had to come from D(ART)R,O,US or CAL,MER(ino). 36 across was SP,A,R - so that could cross with CALMER to make PA,LM (so it's not always down first), leaving OU,AR, which isn't a tree, but SOUARI is (pat on back, you dredged up SOUARI from somewhere).
OK, so back to looking for trees and I've got the bottom half almost complete.
Nextr realization was from looking at 26 and 27. I knew 27 was F(LYS)LIP, but then there was nowhere to put the extra letter. Could a tree be in an unchecked square? Two letters outside LY? A search of ?LY? on word wizards and a browse of Bradford's proved useless. It wouldn't be fair to put a tree in an unchecked square, would it? YS,S - NYSSA! Aaaaaah, it can be a single letter from another answer that gives me the tree. That helps me place that annoying DISHEARTEN at 7 down with SHE,A crossing AID.
Still about 15 blank entries... is there anything that helps me in those extra letters? Working from the back, a search of ?AR?AR?L brings up CARBARYL, an insecticide. Well, if the rest are insecticides, I can get ride of the extra words and maybe solve some of these clues... a bit of a hunt and I've got DIMETHOATE (damn, there's two words in 1 across that start with D), BENOMYL, PYRETHROID (the insects in Dippers garden may have spread to his head if you're getting that out), MALATHION and I'm now only missing a handful of answers.
It took until this point to get two that I really liked - SPEEDFREAK at 41 across and AS,SIMILA(r),(ha)TE at 18 down. The latter is hall-of-fame material.
And that was about all she wrote... in the end I'm pondering a number of things...
- I think 15 across is P(L)AT, but I can't for the life of me resolve the U and L into a tree. Similarly the rest of the letters in DARRAINE - are there two (or even three) trees right next to each other?
- What is going on at 1 across? 2 down needs that DER taken care of, and CELC.... would fit some of the wordplay in the clue (and give EL,DER), but I can't find a word that works with the rest of the clue. AL,DER maybe suggests some sort of calcysomething rock, but I'm stumped.
- 19 across is a total mystery, but I think it needs two trees. I was tempted to just draw these crosses and make up letters, who knows, I might have been right. I suspect 29 across is just BET and there's a tree making up the rest of 29 down. I'd just have to guess at the five remaining unchecked letters.
You've got me, Dipper! I thought I was going to get past this, but I'm falling hard at the last hurdle (and as I'm typing this, I'm following the Fourth Test with a big smile on my face). In a final irony, although I used a green marker for the crosses, and specified my scanner to scan in colour, it appears that my green crosses have turned to black, a fate that awaits any plant that relies on me to take care of it. Maybe I should have my garden grow like Dippers, with a bucketload of pesticide!
Victory to Dipper and the Listener Crossword. 2009 tally: Listener 10, George 19. Current streak: Listener 1.
Even though it was trees rather than flowers this time, here's Gumby Flower Arranging
Feel free to comment - and see you next week for some OOOOPPPPsidaisy with Raich.