Friday, September 25, 2009
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.
Friday, September 18, 2009
If it's been difficult enough to find time to solve with Chambers and Bradfords handy lately, it's been harder to find time to sit down with spreadsheets.
Googly is a new setter to me, I see a few other numerical puzzles listed. I liked the theme, and thought I had a good starting point with the intersection of COP, COAP+CARP-CARD-COP and COAL+CARP-CARD being related. This meant that one of C,O or P was 5 or 10. I eliminted O from being 5 or 10, so C or P was 5 or 10. O was limited to a small number as was D... but that was all she wrote and I really only got two chances during the week to sit down and bang out a solution. So there's a paltry grid.
Well there goes a shot at an all-correct numerical year, and well done Googly for tossing up a deceptive puzzle that I just could not get a start on.
Victory to Googly and the Listener Crossword: 2009 tally - Listener 15, George 20. Current streak, Listener 3!
This weekend is the Brewgrass Festival. I'm lucky enough to get a ticket (woohoo) and can't wait for the beer. Unfortunately the musical lineup isn't as good as two years ago, when a highlight was the Carolina Chocolate Drops rocking a drunk crowd. Come back CCD! Here they are (and an advance warning, it looks like I'll be doing stand-up at next year's beer festival - the drunker the crowd, the better!).
Feel free to comment, and see you next week for a Parsnip Recipe
Friday, September 11, 2009
I just realised I've scanned the grid and left it on my laptop, so it won't be up until later tonight, but it's going to be a pretty funny read for those who like looking at my messed-up grids.
Poat last year brought "Reappearance" where I barely solved a single clue. So the only way is up, right? There's rules of construction, all clues are normal but ten of them have extra words, and an extra word means the answer goes in backwards. There's ten more jumbles, but nothing to indicate them, and some form of symmetry to the whole thing.
Do we pass the 1 across test? Robin's band are the MERRY MEN... so lose an M and contrive the wordplay, and we could have MERRY ENGLAND. Nothing to indicate it goes in backwards, so let's hope it is entered normally and bang it in. Looks like a good choice, because there's RE(d)BACK, R(HAP)HE (thanks Chambers... after last time with Poat I decided that every time I sat down with this one there was going to be a laptop, Chambers and Bradfords close at hand!). And looky there- 5 down is L,ARN so ABSENTEE is an extra word and we enter it backwards.
More fun with Chambers and I find KHEDA - also going in backwards, extra word WE'VE, AB,ED (another reversed... FISH-EATING as an extra word???), and KACHERI (anagram of THICK EAR - T). Which means that 4 is a jumble of EKE. Found a jumble!
And another one, since 15 is ELAPHINE (PH in ELAINE - well done George for remembering to check that back section which says ELAINE can come from FAWN). This doesn't match with me P and L, so jumble away. 18 across is ESCHAR (another hit and hope in Chambers) and the top half of the grid is starting to look pretty good.
Not so much the rest... MAI,NOR (which gets reversed, extra word UPWARD), and A,GO,G (looks like it could go in normally) are about the only things I have in the bottom.
Great... looks like I'm going to have another nearly-empty grid POAT experience.
And what am I meant to define with WE'VE FISH-EATING BIRD (OK, maybe FISH-EATING BIRD go together), UPWARD, ABSDENTEE, ORGAN?
In an extremely rare big brain moment, I see BA-KACHE and BACK... could both of those be BACKACHE??? If so, then 24 could be ACHENE. Ooooooh - symmetry!!!!! I had ENDE.... and some extra letters - ENDEMISM looks like a possible word. A square of BACKACHE and ENDEMISM? Well it got me a few more entries - MISMUT, SNASTE and LEMONED, which helped me get CUNEATE and CREPE SUZETTE across the bottom.
But I can't see any more patterns like this. What am I missing? And what's going on at 38 across?
I was thinking that flash of inspriation was going to get me there, but at that point I'm irrevocably stuck. Got a lot further than last time with Poat, and I think I may have had the moment where the penny tried very hard to drop, but got stuck somewhere in the machinery.
So Victory to Poat, yet again!!! 2009 tally: Listener 14, George 20. Current streak: Listener 2.
I'm having a rough second half of the year here! So let's get some advice from the experts... here's Peter Biddecombe solving the Times Crossword 24328.
Feel free to teach me the ways of the Poat, and see you next week for some dominoation of a nation.
Friday, September 4, 2009
George vs Lato is sitting at 1 and 1 so far, with success on the Prime-minster themed "Yes" and a close but no cigar on the fat men surrounding "Explanation". Cut Out looks pretty innocent at the beginning, 15 thematic words, linked by anagram(!) or association to suggest a 32. Most clues are normal, seven have extra words to guide us to the 15.
We can't have the 1 across test, since the word that would go at 1 across is one of the 15! Oh, and 32 is tucked away there and is checked by two normal clues and three of the 15. Yikes...
We do pass the 9 across test, with A in SIM for SIAM. And then the dilemmas begin. 2 down is CELL in AIM reversed for MICELLA, 12 across is RE, GO UP around R for REGROUP, 3 down is M in AIR for AMIR. So what of 1 down and 4 down? The only two-word anagram of PROFOUND minus DON I can think of is UP FOR... which kind of fits the clue. The only wordplay I can see for 1 down is USHER - the middle for USER - if that's so then CONSERVATIVE is one of the extra words.
This makes the entry at 1 across UM-AU-... UMLAUT? What would that suggest?
My experience from here on in was pretty frustrating. In the last two Lato Listeners I got through the clues pretty well, but this one had me butting my head at a lot of them, and there's two that seem to be surely right to my tiny mind but maybe I'm missing something?
Take 24 across for instance... Presenter read out letters would be EMCEE, but then there's "and" and "card" extra. That wouldn't be on, would it? That didn't stop me writing EMCEE in there and trying to reconcile it with the down answers. I did finally get that one taken care of with FA|S|T and (c)OOPS. Never did find an adequate replacement for 24 across.
7 down is another one... surely it is STINK... S, KNIT reversed. But I can't find an answer for 10, 13 or 16 that works with it. 10 may be PINNACLE, but I can't see the wordplay that leads to that.
I'm probably also wrong at 33...
So after several sessions of bashing away, I think I have a half a grid, five extra words (sure of DAY, SCHOOL, BISCUIT), none of which seem to justify my probable thematic entries of UMLAUT and FLOOR (or FLUOR).
And I am stuck with several capitals Sssss
Well done Lato - victory to the Listener Crossword, and I'm going to have to pick up the pace to make significant improvements on last year!
2009 tally: Listener 13, George 20. Current streak: Listener 1.
This weekend is the LAAFF festival in Asheville, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm doing a show at 7, but hopefully before that I can catch the Mad Tea Party set. Aimee will love me for putting this up, here's their video for "Found a Reason", and the CD they signed for me
Feel free to comment, and see you next week for some Rules of Construction