Friday, June 26, 2009
Hedge-sparrow may be a person of science - last were we had warpholes, and this time around there's a very short-titled Listener - S. Preamble is a bit of a slog, extra letters in lots of the wordplay, something different for acrosses and downs. Thematic entering of four clues, and a name to be replaced later.
Since 1 across is unclued, I started with the downs. [T]EN,LARD at 1 down and I'm off - couldn't see 2, got ON[E],I(c)ON for 3 (T and E for extra letters, so probably an H as extra letter in 2), nice clue for 4 down - LO,MOVING, then move the M to get LOOMING and an extra V. SAP,O,TA(p) for 5, and BO(TT)LE for 6 and the gears are grinding... I've got E-OL----- for 1 across, and EVOLUTION is so tempting. There's a T in SAPOTA and an O in BOTTLE. That 6-letter name at 18 down could be DARWIN...
I'll confess - I felt I was on to something, and wrote in EVOLUTION and DARWIN and then looked for confirmation from the across words crossing DARWIN.
Couldn't get 18 across. 20 across - another nice clue for BAA[L]TH(e)ISTS. 24 - A[F]ORT(night)IC, 27 across GR[R]OWTH and 32 across somethingSMIT[E]H and DARWIN is looking like a good bet.
So I was feeling pretty smug with myself about having cracked this straight away, instincts being right, but there's a lot of grid to fill, and apart from the words clustered around DARWIN and EVOLUTION I was going nowhere fast. And I have 10 clashes to find, but in my first run through I could only find two (VIA crossing LEI) and CONDEMN crossing SAG.
Anything in the extra letters? Seeing FI-TE-T near the end of the across clues made me take a punt on SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST (looking at my notes, the I got that from -UR---AL--T-EFI-TE-T) - so maybe the clashes leave the letters from THE FITTEST, that would make sense. Just got to find 8 of them. Knowing the extra letters I can scrape together most of the across clues. How about those downs? Extra letter wise I have THEV---G------ (yes, I did badly on those down clues originally, got the four thematic ones, which I guess are jumbles, but the rest were a lot of blanks). THE V... 13 across is EAGLE, wonder if it's THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE and the B from BOTTLE goes in there?
And I'm off again with a few more down solutions.
In the end, I think I've gotten everything, and although it is a really nice puzzle, it gave me headaches forever. I saw everything thematic before I got close to the finish - though I ended up using it all to get the last couple of clues in. Seeing APE changing to MAN through single-letter substiutions down the middle helped me get DESTINE at 18 across. In the very very end, I was stuck with looking for words that fit the clashes - my last few clues solved - TEETH, G[O]AL,L, and AR,K accounted for 6 of the clashes! Maybe they make a map of the Galapagos?
My grid looked like a complete mess at the end of it all, so here's a final grid - I think apart from where DARWIN is erased, it's all real words.
So I'm going to claim a plodding, clumsy yet satisfying victory for George! The thematic stuff is impressive, Hedge-Sparrow (and if you are a regular reader, you'll notice I left Darwin off the list of notable anniversaries this year since I'd seen this puzzle).
2009 tally: George 16, Listener 7. Current streak: George 2
Since there was Evolution here, I wanted to put some DEVOlution up, but they are heavily policing their songs on youtube. But as I was browsing YouTube I noticed that one of my favorites, Cassetteboy have tried a video, so here's Cassetteboy vs The Apprentice
Feel free to comment using the link below, and see you next week for some Playtime.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Numericality time - Brimstone has one puzzle from 2007 that I don't remember doing, though it had an Orson Wells theme, so maybe Brimstone is US-based? Now I've been living in North America for 15 years and the only new sport I've gotten into since I moved here is baseball. It's a perfect length (abour 3 1/2 hours a game), plenty of breaks in the middle for drinking beer, and since I've been a cricket fan forever - you haven't seen statistics until you've seen the legion of numbers that can follow around a baseball player. So with all due deference to the editors, it might have been a litytle more subtle to leave off "35 years ago" in the preamble, because by the end of reading the preamble and seeing ths shape of the grid, I was 99.9% sure this was about Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth, and the chase down of Babe Ruth's 714 home run career record (Henry Aaron's record fell a few years ago under much controversy).
So that only left the crossword... I made a list of sets... A,B,H,U had to be 2,4,7, and 9 (and were all letters in BABE RUTH and HENRY AARON). The across set were D,G,I,J,K,O,P,Q,S,V and numbers 5,11,13,15,16,17,20,22,23,24 (and my money was on O to be 5 because the rest of the letters weren't needed), the down set were C,E,F,L,M,N,R,T,W,X and the numbers 1,3,6,8,12,14,18,19,21 and E,R,N would have to be the single figure ones. That leaves Y and Z to be 0 and 25, so if Y was 0 then we can make the names.
By the lenth of entries, H had to be 4 and we were away... I'll give it to Brimstone - the clues and the arrangement of the grid is amazing! Things fell into place really nicely, and there was 7-4 and 7-5 crossing each other in the middle waiting for a 1, and the character strings for HENRY AARON and BABE RUTH along the edges.
Here's the grid with the necessary adjustments.
Although I found it pretty easy, I can't go past how amazing the grid is - top stuff Brimstone!
So I'll declare victory for George here - 2009 tally: George 15, Listener 7. Current streak: George 2
The funniest piece I remember about baseball is very well protected by NBC and not on youtube (though I'll be meeting one of the stars soon), so here's the funniest thing on cricket I've seen in a long time.
Feel free to leave comments and see you next week for Hedge-sparrow's shortest name for a Listener Crossword EVAR!
Friday, June 12, 2009
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.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Schadenfreude is back with another Listener puzzle that is going to require extra letters. Last year's offering, Terminal Suspension completely flummoxed me after I thought I had gotten the theme, so let's see how this one goes.
It's carte blankish - the clues are in order, and since the grid is 12x12, and since there's 20 across clues, each of length 5,6 or 7, then the rows have to be 7 and 5 (so no gaps), 6 and 6 (ditto), 6 and 6, 6, 7, 6 and 5, 5 and 6, 7, 6, 6 and 6, 6 and 6, 5 and 7. So I could immediately put in a few of the across clues.
Oh, I should say that my first solvins session (without aids) was at a pub, but not my regular Friday haunt, this was at the Clyde Hotel in Melbourne where I whiled away a misspent degree.
So in went PO(OR)I,S and EASIER, S,C(RIB)E and a knowledge of which row held RIFTED, EGEST, P,RATING and VANISH. A bit of guesswork on the down clues and I had the top left and bottom right corners out without needing Bradfords or Chambers.
Bradfords got me most of the rest of the grid in the next sitting, I was left then with the bottom right to get together (ROARING and INISLE heling me to get ENEMATA). Excellent, I've got a complete grid -really helped to know the symmetry beforehand.
Now what - the grid needs to be chopped up. Poor grid. But how? Looks like I'd disturb only a few words with a slice down the middle (eyeing that TAIN part at the end of DISTAIN), but if I cut from top to bottom along the middle I'd only disrupt AREOLAE (and keep it a real word), PRATING (ditto), TIERCES (yep) and ANICUTS (d'oh!). So I did what any good scissorbug would, and cut it into 4! Then spent ages trying to refit.
This was going nowhere slowly. Maybe I overestimated, maybe it's just two slices. Back to the vertical cut drawing board. I laid out my two slices and looked between.
OK - RIFTED could become GRIFTED or DRIFTED, which would mean (given the pattern) I need to add a letter to INISLE, which chould be D or S. PRATING could be PIRATING (arr harrr), which means TIERCE-S which could be TIERCELS or TIERCETS. This is getting somewhere. What about the top or the bottom? AREOLATE would be the only possibility, and ANNICUTS at the bottom.
SO there's an anwer and "the clue" there. The bottom part looks like it could be LEMON.
What if the top three letters are THE... that works, AREOLATE, POORISH, ESCRIBE. That means I need additions for MANTRA (could be P,M,S), and BREAST (A).
THE MAN!!!! OK, and MIDDLE fits there.
No down answers are disturbed (except for MIDDLE, in the middle, haha). Across modified answers are AREOLATE, POORISH, ESCRIBE, PIRTATING, INISLED, DRIFTED, MANTRAM, ABREAST and ANNICUTS. Woohooo! Schadenfreude, I think I've got ya! I was confident last week, but feeling better about it this week.
My cut up grid looks bad, this looks worse...
So I'm claiming victory for George!
2009 tally: George 14, Listener 6: Current streak: George 1.
Shameless self promotion today - Tommy Calloway (who is doing the intro) and I wrote this parody of certain styles of female vocalist. Here's Cherdonna - "Cougar"
Feel free to leave comments, and see you next week for Nibor!