Friday, September 25, 2009
No snips or sticks allowed!
I'm running late today, won't have my usual blathering up for another hour or two...
And that time has passed - Parsnip is either a new setter or a new alias/combination (I'm not going to be fooled on one of those again). We have some ingredients lacking definition, and a recipe that can be made with most of them, two long unclued entries across the top and bottom and it does appear that all clues and grid entries are normal and regular words. This is as good a chance as any to break the recent slump!
1 across is one of the unclued entries, so let's try that 11 across test - EN + anagram of MEALS is ENAMELS and we're off and running! Oh - sadly it looks like the days of the Friday pub session solve are over (I have to stay sober for Friday afternoon committments until at least 5) so my first solving session was over a rather delicious Saturday morning breakfast and what I lacked in beer I more than made up for in coffee. My first solving session went pretty well, I had most of the California corner finished, with a big hat tip to E-COD, and a fair chunk of the bottom done without Chambers or Bradfords. I had even cracked the 15/30 connection and wondered if there'd be a second Darwin Listener within the year (surely not). At the end of breakfast the major questions were...
1) is GOOGOL correct? It looked like it should work, but gave me -AOL- at 42 across and that didn't look promising.
2) Is 38 NEVI? (that was confirmed shortly after), and if it is, 41 is -EG-N-LD which is surely REGINALD, so maybe the recipe gives names?
3) Is 13 SYCONIUM? Is it even a word?
4) Why, if I'm doing so well with these clues, is the New England corner utterly empty except for DEATHS at 22?
I had a quick Chambers browse back at home to find out the answers were maybe, yes, no, and because I'm not as smart as I consider myself.
That was it until lunch a few days later (with Bradfords, always a good lunch date), and a brand new SYCAMINE from Word Wizards. 44 across was looming temptingly... -LLT-IN-S-IC- ... ALL THINGS NICE??? That would fit the names as the unclued entries. In my rush of joy I tried to write PUPPY DOGS TAILS across the top, but there wasn't room... oops - PUPPY DOG TAILS would be more correct proper, I guess maybe possibly.
Funny thing is that one of the very first Listeners on this blog used a different part of the same quote (and got me some curious attention on the Crossword Centre message board, I think the first time anyone noticed this blog).
Names! PETE would fit in, CLARE, REGINALD, looks like UNA or ENA across that middle bit. Why are these ingredients even here? (I hadn't even looked at them to this point). 32 is -ON. RON? DON? JON? (simon le) BON? And -E-I--A could be MELISSA or NERISSA. OK, got to figure out these ingredients, I guess.
The list of ingredients... well I've got the all things nice, so I need sugar and spice. I've got the puppy dogs tails, so I'm going to need sticks and snails.
My black pen went walkabout, so third and final solving session is in blue. Started with a hunt to get the last of the normal entries - VENAE and AESC being the ones that clinched that pesky corner, and then on to these ingredients.
The ingredients took a lot of cold solving and poking and poring (if they weren't in alphabetical order, I don't think I'd have gotten the last one). Since this is a crossword, where there's sugar there's DEMERARA! The first one could be (m)AN(I)SE, that's a spice. NE,RITE and DO,D,MAN (sneaky) are snails. A search for TRE---- gets TREPANG... well that could be a spice at a stretch???
One variation on the recipe... maybe sticks isn't right. A look online shows that I'm the only person on the planet that thinks this is "sticks and snails" but most of the time it is SNIPS or SLUGS. SNIPS doesn't help me, but a TREPANG is definitely a slug, and so is a LIMAX (confirming what I thought that 20 across was likely MAX). SINE is a name (thanks back of Chambers). That means I'm looking for a spice, and although I don't understand the wordplay, VANILLA looks like it would fit the last clue.
So my anagram of ANISE, DEMERARA, DODMAN, LIMAX, NERITE, SUCROSE, TREPANG, VANILLA fits my final set of names REGINALD, PETE, VERA, DORA, MELISSA, SINE, DON, MAX, MARTIN, UNA, CLARE.
Tricky there with the ingredients, Parsnip. A fun puzzle, a bit of a search there at the end (knowing I needed a V somewhere helped with that last ingredient), but I'm calling this a victory for George and a slump broken!!!!
2009 tally: George 21, Listener 15. Current streak: George 1.
Last week it was announced that Peaches is doing a show in Asheville. I am super stoked. This clip and song is by in no way safe for work, but here's the song that really got me hooked on Peaches.
Feel free to comment below, and see you next week for some Wisdom of Joints with Rok.