Friday, November 27, 2009
Third appearance for Dysart on this blog, though one of them, Mercury's Whereabouts got very short shrift before I'd really figured out a format. Then came Songspiel, where I got most of the way, found the theme, and made a few mistakes at the end. So no luck with Dysart as of yet. The grid looks daunting, no gridlines (that makes two in a row with no gridlines or few gridlines) and an explicit instruction to not include them. But there's some drawing to be done.
I started this one on a plane. without any aids and was finding the clues pretty difficult - the misprints weren't coming quickly - utter fail on the 1 across test (which ended up being one of the last entries I got). First one in was DIET(IS)T at 4 (if you look really closely, you can see where my pen died and I got a new one, a rather thick bluish one for the plane ride back). Anyway, after a few head-scratching on the clues, I had a look at the set 1 thematic clues... the first two looked pretty straightforward - VI(P)ER and NAGA(saki), I was thinking SNAKES AND LADDERS right away, and got excited and had a peek at Set 2... COMPANION (anagram of NINCOMPOOP - OP) and LAD,DER and we're away!
So it was a rather odd feeling being very early into the solving process and knowing you've cracked the theme and all that's left is to solve clues and put it all together. The last time I had that, I could not for the life of me finish!
And i thought that was how I was going here for a long time. The misprints were still hard to find, I eventually got the message through the SEVENTY-FIVE (I thought it was SEVENTY-SEVEN for a while) to get DELETE ALL BUT SEVENTY FIVE THEMATIC LETTERS, which makes sense - the grid at the end is going to look like a snakes and ladders board with just words and snakes and ladders drawn around them.
Bit by bit the grid began to come together - it helped that some of the snake or ladder letters went into blank spaces, but without grid lines I started to lose track of where I was looking for a snake or ladder word, or a regular clue word. I had entered RUN reversed on the right hand side (on the basis of the N at the end of TAKEN) without realizing that there was still a clue to be solved at 22! Similarly I was staring at what eventually became the O of ROOSE, sure that a ladder needed to go there. Fortunately once I saw that then I saw my last ladder, SCALE (SC still catches me in wordplay) and had a grid of completion and satisfaction.
There were a few things to sort out at the very end - COBRA could have merged with ADDER (isn't there a terrible movie about that), and ANACONDA could have curled back up a little bit - I was surprised to see that the snakes could go up in parts, but that was the only way RACER was going to work. Counting the letters leads to there being no overlap between ANACONDA and COMPANION or COBRA and ADDER
OK, I'm looking forwards to seeing better artwork at Listen With Others, but here's my final work of art. I gave the snakes eyes and tongues because snakes have eyes and tongues.
This one was an interesting solve - I got very excited about getting the theme so early, but then lost it a little when I got frustrated with the fitting things together near the end. But I'm calling it a victory to George, and I've finally cracked a Dysart Listener!
2009 tally: George 29, Listener 16. Current streak: George 7.
I just got finished watching (I was watching the last episode while I was writing this) the six-part documentary on Monty Python featuring a lot of interviews (mostly covering the topics in the book "Life Of Python"). OK, so I'm a huge fan, I once stalked Terry Jones in Melbourne dressed as a gumby. Here's Eric Idle ragging on YouTube people...
Feel free to leave comments and see you next week to take a BAT to Schadenfreude
Friday, November 20, 2009
What's this? A Sabre puzzle with gridlines? Not that many, I guess. According to the Listener website, this is Sabre's 59th! Listener, not counting collaborations. That's an impressive resume. And I've drawn a blank on almost all of them - I called a victory on "Au Contraire" earlier this year (though if I submitted I would have been graded incorrect), before that was "Lip Service" which gave me a pretty sparse grid, and the one before that I managed to get one word. So I guess George vs Sabre is getting closer, I'm doing a little better each time.
Now I will admit I got a little tip on doing Sabre puzzles from another setter - read each word carefully - Sabre is not a fan of clue padding, so if you are stuck look up each word in Bradfords and Chambers because a bit of wordplay goes a long long way. This stood me in really good stad here.
This is a daunting looking challenge! Sets of four entries, two normal, one jumbled, one encoded (ciphers are not my strong point). Kind of like the circular grids then... one-quarter of the answers are thematic. You know... with half of the grid being real words, then I should be able to just lightly write in the normal entries and see where I get from there...
1 across is thematic, so we can't pass the 1 across rule, but 13 across is (t)EMP(t)RESS and we're on our way! Not only that, but it looks like my lucky day, as if EMPRESS went in as normal, so did the locateable anagram FERNYTICKLES, AME(t)ER, I.P.S.O., and the hidden URI. No place for INDIA at 5 down, but it's not INDIA, it's KE(N)Y,A idiot and it also goes in. That places NEODYMIUM (yet another reason you should never tackle the Listener without a chemsitry degree) and 15 is looking very tempting - RESINA which if it is a real entry would be RESINATE or RESINATA. The top row is looking like FAIUKP (I think this is going to be coded), and 20 down is looking like an jumble of MARY,BUD. Hey, I think I could crack this one!
That was about as far as the grid got in the first sitting, but I managed to work out almost all of the clues on a first go. This tip is helping, or Sabre decided to make it easy on us. At the end of the first sitting I was missing 14 across, 16 across, 35 across, 6 down, 24 down and 33 down. Not too shabby!
I got stuck here for a few days where I didn't have a lot of time to look at this one. I kept trying codes to check which of the entries was which in the sets of four. This got me started again - one of 23 across or 6 down had to be normal - word wizard gave me PSAMMOPHILES which works for 6. 38 (ANNATES) and 30 (CRIES) had to be coded, which meant that I had a few of the letters of the cipher. As a complete hail mairy, I put what I had for 1 across (-IRS--------) into Word Wizards and miracle of miracle, there's not that many words that fit. And one of them was KRISCHWASSER, that would work with RESINATA as the thematic words. Can it be so? Let's try 23 across... -R-N----W--- gives BRANDY-PAWNEE. Eureka!
Excited beyond belief I then dug myself a huge hole looking at 21 down convinced it was a jumble of BURGUNDY. I've got URG already, what else couldit be? But but but but 27 is really ajumble of HECHS, right? Nope... there is BURGUNDY in this grid, but it's not jumbled in 31, it's jumbled in 10! So 21 is a code: S-U-E-NE - SAUTERNE (had a few of those at a tasting last year).
A post-midnight frantic solving session learning about POMBE, KIR, SLIVOWITZ and QUETSCH later and I'm done! Kicking myself for not seeing AREG, and for thinking that WIT was jumbled, which stopped me from entering the letters from TURNIP GREENS in. Is there a naughty definition anagram in 33? But I've conquered Sabre! Woohoo!
Victory to George! 2009 tally: George 28, Listener 16. I'm finishing the year strong (watch that collapse soon), with a current streak of 6.
For my US friends, happy Thanksgiving for next week (I may be posting late, depends on when I come to after a long feast). For Sabre and the others who enjoyed this week's sartorial offering, here's D.R.I.N.K. by the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy (what is Max Eider up to these days?).
Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week for a bit of Child's Play with Dysart.
Friday, November 13, 2009
It's the end of the week, so it's time again to check in with the battles against the barred-grid. This week it's Hypnos who is a new setter or a new pseudonym, and a rather long preamble. We've got eight thematics, clued in an odd way, across clues are normal, down clues give extra letters in wordplay, and there's some highlighting and words that aren't in the grid to add in. Okeydoke - sounds like a good place to start is with those normal acrosses.
No chance on the 1 across test, it's a thematic one. But we have luck on 6 across - L(IMP)ET, and that gets me going with 8 down being P,S,I (and an extra S) and 7 down being IDEA,LLY with extra I. A first crack at solving and actually the down clues weren't too bad, I got more of the down clues than the across clues, and at the end of the first solve, I had a grid that looked pretty flush at the top, a little light on at the bottom, and my extra letters were GRIDISG--ENSTIR--HOLE.
Speaking of the HOLE at the end of the message, I managed to dig myself a pretty substantial one with those "Alternative" and "Associative"
(damn, I'm out of time for right now - if you've checked in early, enjoy the grid and the tale so far, I'll be back to update later, but I think I've cracked this one).
A disjointed blog is still a blog, right? I'm kind of pressed for time, so let's cut to the chase...
Stumbling point #1: Even though the answers were practically staring myself in the face, I thought that the grid entries WERE the alternatives and associatives. So it looked like COCKTAIL should go in at 1 across and CAPSULE at 2 down. Well I'd solved one of the alternatives to be TANKARD and figured that COCKTAIL as a glass would be the alternative to TANKARD, and that CAPSULE probably foes with that associative that says PILL. But then again, there's something that looks like it should be RIVET at 36 across, and the first "alternative clue" answer would be RIVET, but aren't I meant to put an alternative answer in there?
Could you believe I went two days before convincing myself that these answers really did go in there, and that got me all eight of the alternative/associatives in a flash. Putting those in helped me finish the downs to give the message GRID IS GIVEN STIR ?N HOLE - surely IN HOLE, which would be wordplay for PORRIDGE, which would fit the title. I didn't really see the wordplay for 30 down, but Chambers supports a STOCK as a nosy boss, and 22 has to be ALA,SKA and we have a grid.
Looking up PORRIDGE in Chambers, there's BROSE, and rather helpfully, turning the page for the rest of the possibilities for PORRIDGE there's THIBLE under "PORRIDGE-STICK". Highlighting done! Now to the example and the item... I'll admit, I should have gotten these earlier - I knew that the first Alternative was the one that had to lead to the thematic (looking up RIVET in Chambers, and there's CLINK!), but which letter got removed from that last associative clue? So to Word Matcher with the letters I knew - let's find a 7 letter word containing UPSNAA - SPANDAU - and it's WEIR that we needed from the associative.
This was an 11th hour, 11th minute and 58th second solve - I was worried that I'd get as far as the theme word and not be able to see the rest of it. I am a little frustrated that I never sorted out all the alternatives and associatives... I have
PRIVET - CLINK
TANKARD - POT
VEHICLE - ???
COCKTAIL - ???
Only sure of the last one...
Despite all this, I'm pretty sure I've got what was needed, and I'm calling this a victory for George! Good challenge, Hypnos, that was a slammer of a puzzle.
2009 Tally: George 27, Listener 16 (last year's record is tied!). Current streak, George 5!!!
OK - how can I resist this clip of the late, great Ronnie Barker doing a crossword in "Porridge" (if only Hypnos had worked RILK in there)
Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week for a whirly of a birly with Sabre.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Loda is making a second appearance for the year, after the appropriately-titled "In Clue Order On and On" (and on and on and on...) which I finished, but it took a mammoth effort. Let's see what ROC brings - all but fifteen clues have misprints in the definition, quotation and speaker, and fifteen entries need something thematic cut out of them. All sounds innocent enough, most of the words in the grid are going to be real words.
The 1 across test is interesting this time out - anagram of IT,S,D,MEN,ARE,INTENSE - that's INDETERMINATENESS and since the grid is 13x13, four letters have to come out. Can't see four letters that would come out and leave a real word. Can't figure all the wordplay in 9 straight away, but with IE, R, and Y being a part of it, then OSIERY is tempting and WILLOW IN THIS is the definition misprint. It looks even better when 1 down is I,OD(IS)E - chemistry clue! DOSE with something elemental, 2 down is DICHTS (IAN'S WIPES), 3 is TRAUMA (U in A MART reversed) and 4 is EY(e),RA (BEAST FROM THE FOREST). So the first half of INDETERMINATENESS is looking good...
If something thematic has to be removed, could it be MINA? or NATE? MINA would fit the title of the puzzle.
So the MINA seemed to be a good idea gwn HAWKEYED appeared at 22. I had the Y from ELEGY, and 8 down was SLENDERNESS (which has ERNE in it). So I think there's some aviacide going on here.
By the end of one rather long sitting (stuck home on a really miserable night), I had a pretty good-looking grid, more than half full, some ideas of birds to be removed, one mistake to be rectified later (JACKSAUCES instead of JACKSLAVES), and a quote that looked like
I - E - - - - THE BIRDS ARE - L O - - K - N - CH - R - E -
In the second sitting I decieded to tackle the quotation to see if I could get the missing wordplays. Googe "the birds are" + charles and there we are - I SEE ALL THE BIRDS ARE FLOWN: KING CHARLES I
I like having the phrase and knowing the misprints are in the definition! The ones that still took a while to find even with this were...
44 across - I thought ANGY might go to ANDY, and I hope ANDY IRVINE is a fan of the Listener, because I'd never heard of him.
30 down - got HEREIN from the definition (SHOWN BY THIS PAPER) and a word search, still don't see the wordplay - RE in HEIN?
24 down - AG GRO(t) from wordplay, didn't know this to mean SNAGS (would have been fun if the answer meant sausages)
10 across - needed that S to see RISE IN DISGUST to be REVOLT
OK - so there's birds removed from the answers and five more curved lines (presumably birds) to be found. 32 across is OOSE, and there's a G near those O's, but if I follow the other two Os I can make GOOSE in a V-shape (either one bird drawn like a V or a phalanx of birds). Looks good, because there's RAVEN across from it, EGRET above the RAVEN, ARIEL in the middle, and SCRAY, which according to Chambers can be a bird, in the top right. I don't think there'd be five phalanxes, so let's just draw some curvy birdies. Here we go...
OK, my bottom right bird looks even more stupid.
That was a lot of fun, I like getting phrases and themes early, helps with the hunt-and-peck (or hunt and de-peck in this case). I'm calling this one a victory for George!
2009 tally: George 26, Listener 16 (one more to tie my record from last year!). Current streak: George 4!
I think last time there was a bird theme I put "Excellent Birds" by Laurie Anderson here. But there's a show I'm going to on Wednesday that I am very excited - Peaches, with the opening act MEN. MEN is half of Le Tigre who were truly weird. Here's "Well, Well, Well" by Le Tigre.
If you are reading and happen to be in Asheville North Carolina this weekend I'll be hosting "The Love Game" at Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Avenue on Saturday. Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week for a look inside Hypnos.