Friday, April 24, 2009
Sorry I'm later than usual in posting, for those of you eager to see how I bombed. OK, I knew I was in for it from the preamble. If I can't make much sense out of the preamble, I know there's too much in a crossword for me. And this time we've got misprints, numbers (but some single digits even though the numbers go to 26?), and some double digits that need multiples of 26 added to them, and some squares with two letters and possibly a number in them as well. Yikes!
Mr. E is also responsible for two almost-empty gridders in my experience, Workplace, and Yes. I poked and prodded at this one forever, got a few answers at a time, and started to put some bits together, but I still have only half the clues solved, and no idea what was meant to happen next.
The only two clashes I found were near the top right - and three of them in SCAPE. Since the letters (that so far) don't have clashes are C and E, then maybe they are part of the number region, that line would read 33335. Above that is an H and I that could be 8 or 9, not sure about the region under that. 40 across looks like where one of the two letters crammed together goes with A and I from B(AIL)OUT. I can't dream up anything that fits 27 down, so maybe that is another of the ones where the answer doesn't match the grid length?
This is not to say I didn't like the crossword, and I must single out 32 down (E for Ernie in Bert giving BERET) which is my favorite clue I've seen in ages! But after a good run there for a while, it looks like I'm slipping back into the old form of hit and miss. I only have a limited time online where I am right now, so when I get back home I can't wait to find out what it was I missed. Well played Mr. E - victory to the Listener Crossword!
2009 tally: Listener 3, George 11. Current streak: Listener 1.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Quick post-script to last week, I did make a mess of it, but I honestly couldn't unravel a lot of those clues and once the answer was up, I did my usual routine of getting an answer at a time to see if I could have figured it out. I hadn't heard of the book nor the author (note to setters, the George challenge - the first setter to work in a Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Terry Pratchett or Robert Rankin theme wins me doing a video version of this blog declaring you awesome).
Oh, video blogs - I'm meant to start making them for a comedy project, so once I get the hang of them, I might add some vocality to this nonsense. George versus the Listener breaking all boundaries.
Now to this week - Centigram is back! And there's some more jumbles, down answers have missing words, 25 needs to be removed and replaced by some new words and there's two mystery squares. All tied in to a performance.
I started by hitting the downs - I read somewhere recently (was it Times for the Times) that you should start crosswords in the bottom right hand corner, also known as Florida, because by that point the setter has lost inspiration. In this case it seemed like a sensible place to start because that's where the performance lies, so I started with 41 down and worked myself up.
41: looked like it was going to be OCA or COC - Chambers confirms the first, so we have an E at the end of the performance
39: I in O,D,N and we've got our God and Cretan as the extra word
37: E,PIC and New is the extra word... with NCE confirmed I think we're headed to a dance
34: Let's test that logic out... remove appoints... LOCUM? LUM is a hat and it's back-patting time.
32: Well assuming I remove the DO.... ----NG? Actually this was one of the last in.
Certainly looks like dance, maybe RIVERDANCE (Michael Flatulence only has two names though), or TAP DANCE (KELLEY, ASTAIRE, DAVIS JR?). Thinking this would be a breeze since I'm looking for dancers and had cold-solved four of five turned out to be false hope, the rest of the cold solving only gave me another 10 or so of the down clues, and with B-OT-E-S it looked like there was going to be BROTHERS in the middle. I don't know any dancing brothers, and Google turns up some unlikely candidates.
So it was time to bite the bullet, stop trying to solve this entirely on the downs and get stuck into acrosses. My printed sheets are a mess, because I put the letters I thought I knew next to the clues.
I got off to a so-so start on the acrosses - I got 1 (T,ACTLESS), but was convinved 7 was SCRAP (since I had REVEL and POTATO), so it kept me from seeing IMPS and ENTICE that I should have gotten on the first go around.
So it was solve acrosses, back to downs, solve acrosses, back to downs... you can see from my grid that I put the letters I didn't know from the acrosses in (that worked out pretty well for me in Squaring the Circle and Au Contraire).
The penny drop moment was rather fun though - it was getting 2 down - CANNACH that I finally had HERO-(M or S)BROTHERS - and realise it was HEROD'S BROTHER'S and the last word had to be DAUGHTER.
I had S-LO-E in that second row with the closed-off square, so in went SALOME, allowing me to get M(EL)ONS (EL for O in MOONS), convince myself that 10 really was ENT,ICE and that SCRAP was wrong (I must have been firing on zero cylinders, because it took entering PIRE + 1 letter into Quinapius to see TRIPE).
25 was THE SEVEN VEILS (heh, they did get removed), which helped me get VENTOSE (how did I not spot an anagram?), VASE and TEETER.
So the conclusion would be off coming the head of John the Baptist, into the bucket made by the other square. That would give me all real words across the middle and a fun conclusion!
Except that there were a bunch of empty squares in Florida!!!
I didn't have an entry at 28 (though now I knew it had to be a real word starting with L or S), an entry at 32 across OR down, and though I knew 40 was CONNIPTION, 45 was STRANGER and 35 RUNNER, still didn't know where those last letters fit.
Took an extra hour of dictionary hunt and pecking to find that LANDERS worked as a double definition (kinda) at 28. I was concerned I was going to have everything here but a few leftover words, but in the end I was there - a very fun and topical crossword by Centigram. I didn't notice until the end that the jumbles were made a little easier by multiple unchecked letters being the same letter (the three N's in CONNIPTION).
Seasonal victory to George! And in a bizarre coincidence (there seem to be more of those popping up lately), I went to a performance of Godspell in the time that I was working on this crossword. So here's some 70s hippy awesomeness from the film of Godspell - "By My Side".
2009 tally: George 11, Listener 2. Current streak: George 1
Feel free to leave comments (in response to recent message, you can do that by clicking on where it says "n comments", and see you next week for an indication of height!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Some weeks you've got it, some weeks you don't...
Last year there was this really fun Listener by Zero that had the shape of a space invader. Before that was a map of Italy that I couldn't make head or tail of. Now we've got to divide clues up into three groups - 21 leading to wordplay with one letter omitted, 16 clues with extra words, and 17 normal clues. Sounds tricky to begin with, because there's nothing to rely on. Each clue had to have a correct definition, so that was foremost in my mind. There's also to be some highlighting in the end, so following what we've seen from Zero, there's probably something amusing to the highlighting finale.
But this was just one I could not get into. Time has not been in plentiful supply, and being able to snatch a few furtive minutes at a time just was not going to cut it for this. To make matters worse, I lost my original grid while I was travelling (I found it yesterday when I was cleaning out some folders - that's the one I have at the top), and had to start again - at least I remembered that I had to figure out how to spell BODHISATTVA. Here's as far as I got with Grid #2.
I didn't get close enough to start guessing at the theme... all the missing letters I found were Rs and Es, not sure if that was significant, and the extra words were LOVER, FLASH, FLAKE, INITIATE, and ELECTRICIAN. Nothing came to mind, and I ran out of time with one of the emptiest grids in a while.
I'm sure I was missing something simple (or just needed more time - or brain cells, or both), but I feel bad about this paltry effort. Victory to Zero and the Listener Crossword!
2009 tally: Listener 2, George 10. Current streak: Listener 1
Since it's Easter and Passover, let's have some religious music (to go with Corn Mo from last week). Here's the updated version of "Jesus was Way Cool" by King Missile III, from the excellent and overlooked CD "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life"
Friday, April 3, 2009
Gnomon is a new setter to me, the Listener website lists a 2004 puzzle that I don't remember trying. I had a long trip a few weeks ago so saved this one to start on the plane. Not a bad one to try on a plane, since I didn't need a lot of aids to get a reasonably-full grid. Spotting the theme took forever!
Well I like beer and I thought "hey cool, a Listener about beer". The instructions seemed pretty straightforward, particularly when seeing that 1 across was M,A,L,T and we've actually got a brewing ingredient and there's no trickiness to the title. 3 down looked like it should be TEAM, but I couldn't work out how to remove one letter to get it from the wordplay. Do I have to remove all occurrences of one letter from the wordplay part? Hmmm... moving on.
The rest of the ingredients were easy to find - YEA(S,T) at 28, (SHOPPER - PER)* to get HOPS at 29 and (A PEWTER TANKARD - E DRANK)* to get TAP WATER (presumably the ingredient you wouldn't want to own up to) at 38. By the end of my flight, I had almost all of the bottom half complete, sort of.
Sort of... I was using definitions to get grid answers. Some wordplays weren't making sense, and it seemed like a bunch of random letters had to be removed, usually from anagram clues. I scanned the whole of the first page, and the second page looked like it as well, riddled with letter combinations, trying to figure out how to remove a letter to get these.
Take 17, for example... definition leading to LANAI, but the anagram fodder is LANAI + MME. Even if I cut both M's, that's not going to work.
Frustration really set in when I had more than two-thirds of the grid completed without having picked the theme at all. I was wondering if I could just finish the grid from definitions and make up a 5-letter brewing ingredient... SUGAR? COTWO?
The penny finally dropped when working on one of the empty spaces... the definition at 23 looked like it should have been TALUS, and there's that weird KHUSKHUS word in there... hmmm
tSAMEalKHs. SAMEKH? That's a Hewbrew letter isn't it? D'OH!!!!!!! tHE BREWer's ingredients.
I should have been all over that... last year a friend of mine who owns a beer store (and who wouldn't be my friend if they run a beer store?) introduced me to He'Brew, the chosen beer. They have one beer that is insanely hoppy that I loved, and can be found on tap at the Burp Castle in New York City's East Village (Ilan, if you're reading, next time I'm in NYC we'll coordinate things better to get a beer).
So I'm not removing English letters, I'm removing Hebrew letters, and there's 22 in the alphabet!!! Interesting that they specified 5 letters, since there's not many 5-letter Hebrew characters.
Bad move #1 - I went to google to get a Hebrew alphabet and found that there were a bunch of different phonetic spellings. I wrote down the one from (even worse) wikipedia, and found that the first clue I was going to try to re-unravel, 40 across (VAKEEL + SIN) didn't have a match on the wikipedia alphabet.
Doofus - there's a perfectly good Hebrew alphabet in Chambers! And it has SIN in it!
Write out the Hebrew alphabet from Chambers and we're back in action. I was actually missing two letters, NUN and ZAYIN (the only Z I could find in any clues was in 43 across). I suspect NUN has to be removed from 6 down? So that leaves me with ZAYIN, which I don't think has anything to do with brewing, but is the lucky last letter, and in it goes.
I thought this was going to be a breeze, but got really trapped until the very very late penny-drop moment. Fun puzzle from Gnomon, but victory to George! I know I'm getting better at methodically working through clues, but I'm still stunned by my record thus far.
2009 tally: George 10, Listener 1. Current streak, George 4.
Finishing this off I was reminded of a Corn Mo show where he did "Hava Nagila Monster". There's no great recordings of it online, here's a handheld from a reasonably quiet show. If you're drinking Bittersweet Lemmy's R.I.P.A. at Burp Castle, try to catch a Corn Mo show, he often performs in the NYC area.
Feel free to leave a comment, and see you next week for some elitism!