Friday, August 28, 2009
Stop me if you've heard this before - two mathematicians you've never heard of are in a hospital....
The whirlwind of travel, performing and end-of-summer issues is finally over, and I can settle in to some proper solving sessions and not writing these blogs in a mad rush (maybe). Stan appears to be a new setter, S.J. Mulligan according to the Listener page. Diagreement has a few blocked off squares (on that main diagonal), extra letters in wordplay and (ouch) some squares that need ttwo letters side by side! Let's see how it shakes out...
The 1 across test is not met, I could not see that one straight away, but 6 across rectifies that - A,LAMP and we've got ALAP and an extra M. M as the second letter of a quote? Working through the clues, after the first solving session I had a nice little half-filled in grid and one of my double letters - REBEL crossing BEARABLE and BE checking. That helps in finding these doubles, when they're checked!
The clueing seemed pretty gentle, particularly in terms of anagrams with extra letters, so I also had a bit of a handle on the quote... --AL-EST-U----SUMOF-WOC-B--IN-W-WAY-
Looked like smallest two something in two ways... C-B--??? Cubes? A google of "smallest two cubes" brings up a wikipedia page about 1729. 1729 is the Hardy-Ramanujan number, and it looks like the latter of the two can be written in that conspicuous diagonal (pity - at the time I didn't know 5 down and was hoping I could replace that U with something more helpful).
So the disagreement is the story about Hardy and Ramanjuan (Hardy thinking there was nothing special about 1729, Ramanjuan saying that it could be formed by adding 1 cubed to 12 cubed, or by adding 9 cubed to 10 cubed.
I got all the thematic stuff with about eight answers left unsolved (all in the top half). The CU and BE double letters appear in the first cell of 1, 9, 10, 12 (10 being unchecked!). I still can't figure out the wordplay on 1 across, but I'm pretty confident of the word from the definition.
But finally, the drought is broken and I believe we have a victory for George! And a fun puzzle to go with it, I had never heard of the number or the story. Tsk tsk to Stan, didn't Stan know that this week is the numerical puzzle? Hope to see some more Stan in the future.
2009 tally: George 20, Listener 12. Current streak: George 1.
Infantile humor time - I was introduced last week to fenslerfilm, who overdubbed the GI Joe public service announcements. Some are terrible, but some are hysterical in their simplicity. Here's my favorite.
Feel free to comment, and see you next week to find out of I'm cut out for Lato.
Friday, August 21, 2009
(pretty pathetic grid picture coming soon)
Sometimes time is not on your side, and a crossword is just that much better than you, and this is one of those weeks. The preamble looked like a lot of fun, misprints (but no idea how many), clashes, and a combination of THREE letters to get a message! Last year Kea had Conflict Resolution, which required summing four letters to get a message, so this should theoretically be easier.
The 1 across test passed - there's SPYPLANE and no misprints and maybe I got a false sense of security playing the "Definitions are left intact" game, thinking 1down was SC,ROLL (can ROLL be coiled? probably), 2 PURSUED with some form of misprint there (URS or SRU - maybe the U in SRU?) and POSSES,S... but from there I got bogged down and couldn't find a way out.
I started to get a pattern of the misprints around 4D, 13D and 24AC, with one at the end of 18AC, so it looks like a U or a cup.
And then schedules spiralled out of control - I didn't even manage to get a session where myself, chambers, bradfords and the crossword were in the same room (look for this to be a pattern over the next few weeks, things have somewhat settled down now).
So I'm sorry, Kea - for the amount I enjoyed Conflict Resolution, I didn't get the chance to enjoy Admission. And I didn't even give it the amount of time to say that I could have gotten somewhere if I did. Moral of the story - if you're doing long travelling, don't drive!
Victory to Kea and the Listener crossword and I'm in a real slump here. 2009 tally: Listener 12, George 19. Current streak, Listener 3!
Feel free to comment below, and see you all next week to find out if this admission leads to a disagreement with Stan.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I'm afraid this is meant to be a rush job (we'll see if it is), because I'm about to head out the door on another random travel. I didn't recognise the setter, Raich, but a peek at the Listener page shows that Raich is none other than Niall MacSweeney, regular commenter and sometime blogger at Times for the Times, who had one that I couldn't do in 2007. So hi to NMS if he's looking in. Interesting-looking grid, no symmetry, particualrly in the middle grid o'boxes, which will be filled out from the extra letters in wordplay. A grid of real words and definitions intact, sounds like I should be able to make a reasonable go of it, so away we go...
Omen #1 is when I can see 1 across, and here it is - TRANSPLANTING anagram +H. Message begins with H? Maybe it's saying hello to me? I did make a pretty reasonable go of it - there's a really generous number of checking letters, in several of the small answers there are none (37 across for example, fine by me because I had no idea who that old air company was). At the end of bar session, I had about half the grid filled in, and a good start on the message.
I needed the message to fill in some of the outer bits, but there's some of our old friend words - HIGHLIGHT, LETTERS and TWENTY-NINE were easily picked out of the message.
The clues were not too slippery, there was some general knowledge I couldn't figure out for a while, and after session #2 with chambers and bradfords I was done with the main part of the grid except for a few stragglers in the Florida corner (KENTE was the last one in - I had all sorts of answers in there at times, and it was really quite straightforward, KEYNOTE without the Y, extra letter O).
The message was revealed - HIGHLIGHT CONTAINER TWENTY NINE LETTERS USE PARKINSON'S LAW. I was familiar with Parkinson's law (and its variants) that work will expand to take up the available time and space (and more!).
So now how to end it? I can see TIME AVAILABLE wraps around the blank squares, and there's a W from STEW and a K from my lucky-last KENTE - so I guess the rest of it is WORK repeated in the middle? Are they all going down? Is there something more subtle about the CONTAINER?
So I think I've got it, but I'm not 100% on it... if I've missed something deeper I'll have to come back and fix things, but for now, I'm calling this a victory to George. I won't be able to see true solution until tomorrow morning most likely, so I'll keep fingers crossed.
2009 tally (tentative): George 20, Listener 10. Current streak, George 1.
AAARGH! I'm not getting away until late, so I did miss two things - I missed "for its completion" and the WORK was meant to be in a spiral. Bugger.
2009 tally (revised): Listener 11, George 19. Current streak, Listener 2.
Since we have work expanding, here's a mullet-tastic video of one of Australia's oddest bands, the Uncanny X-Men - "Everybody Wants To Work"
Feel free to comment (I'll be slow replying this time around), and see you next week for an admission of Kea's.
Friday, August 7, 2009
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.