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Archive for August, 2009

No 4044 OOOOPPPP by Raich (Listenercoholism)

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 August 2009

“Looks like work to me”, said the other half of the 8 X 8 easy clues team when I presented him with the two down-loaded pages. Indeed, this self-imposed Friday evening torture can be heavy going. It is almost becoming an obsession (PHRENITIS?) – does it dominate the lives of those solvers who have been doing it for years? (Listenercoholism?)

Amazement followed! This grid filled up almost as fast as we could read the clues. GRADGRINDERY, TRANSPLANTING, INEDITED, PATERNALLY intoned the other half of the team and I could barely write fast enough to keep up with his solving. Fairly soon we had ‘HIGHLIGHT’ and ‘LETTERS’ as instructions and ‘TWENTY-NINE’ soon followed.

It is never simple for the team. We squabbled over 44d. Both HAND and CUSHION could be PAD, so which was the definition and where did the D(aughter) come in? In the final stages of our solving, we saw that PAW would produce that elusive W and complete PARKINSON’S LAW. It was that well-concealed K of ‘Knee’s equivalent Saint provided – mounted deer’ (ST + IF + ELK rev.) that prompted the brains of the team to come up with his second comment about work expanding to fill the time available for its completion.

We were rather nonplussed by 33d. TAD, too. ‘Little time on circuit’ (T + A[N]D). It fitted with the intersecting letters but raised that vexed question of the article. I join the camp that would like ‘A little’ to define the noun TAD, as LITTLE seems adjectival. Yes, I heard you – this is all part of the setter’s prerogative to mislead, especially on such a diddy, easy word.

I didn’t like 48ac., but perhaps I haven’t understood the wordplay that has to produce DAY, ‘Not all foolhard[Y] a youthful time of influence’. It seems like a long clue to suggest that the word is hidden. (As, usual, I hope Denis will clarify it!)

‘Sacrament’s good for Catholic Eastern State’ produced a gripe, too. PENANG needed a G(ood) to replace the C(atholic) of PENANCE and we had to use the final E to get TWENTY but there was that odd presence of EASTERN in the clue as a sort of extra.

But we did like it! A completed grid on Friday evening with the whole weekend left for transplanting and gradgrindery and all the work that would expand to fill it.

The final stage was fun. After a vain hunt for words that meant ‘work’ and would cross that central reservation and join the letters that were there, we spotted an ORK and a W and expanded them into lots of WORK. We knew we had to highlight the CONTAINER but, of course, I counted in the contents and, with TIME AVAILABLE that added up to 29. It looked odd.

FOR ITS C with a diagonal leap to OMPLETION was obviously a more satisfactory COMPLETION and I marvelled at the way Raich had managed to squeeze all of those words in. Lovely!

Thank you Raich!

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4043: Dipper’s Green Fingers (or Crosswood Puzzle!)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 7 August 2009

One of the major benefits of doing the Listener, or indeed any crossword, is that it gives you a great excuse for not going out and doing any gardening. Dipper’s puzzles therefore have a tendency to nag at my conscience, as well as dealing with many words (like rose and tulip) that I am only aware of from a theoretical perspective. This is Dipper’s seventh puzzle on a gardening related theme, and they haven’t enthused me too much, although they have all been pretty fair and not too taxing (unlike my garden).

This time, tree’s in Dipper’s arboretum need to be replaced by a green cross (more trauma for the colour-blind), and in five cases the bark has been attacked by insects. Exactly how the trees initially appear is not clear yet, but I guess the bark relates to first and last letters. Every clue has an extra word with their initials spelling something relevant. I seem to remember that Dipper’s clues have been relatively easy, so I am surprised when a first pass of the clues only yields a handful of entries, mostly in the bottom half of the grid. Getting SPAR (3 letters) crossing with CALMER (5) after only about twenty minutes leads to PALM and shows how the clashing letters from acrosses and downs join up to form the trees.

The puzzle starts taking shape, with SPEEDFREAK, PANTIHOSE and DISHEARTEN helping a lot. ASSIMILATE, Become [incredibly] like … like … almost like … not like … not half, as well as being a bit too clever for its own good (;-]) reminds me of a 20-something girl I overheard on the tube recently when I counted 14 ‘likes’ in two (albeit extremely long and rambling) sentences. Incorrectly entering 32ac as PANIM doesn’t help with the resultant 29dn ?ATT having nothing to do with the US phone company AT&T; it should be B??T, ie BITT for ‘fasten cables’.

On and off, I’ve been trying to fit CALCEDONIC into 1ac, but it just won’t work. Finally I remember CATER being ‘move diagonally’ and L turns out to be an abbreviation for el which is an abbreviation for elevated railroad; the clue wordplay is CATER about L+C+SIN, ie CALCSINTER. 4dn was also tricky, with Among the characteristics of being just IN, and TENT meaning to take notice off, which I’d not come across before. Almost last to get solved is 19ac, with an entry length of just five letters, but an answer of eight, PENTAGON, deviously contributing to two trees (asPEN and manGO), as did PEARLITIC.

I end up with fourteen trees, having double-checked that there are no two-letter trees like OO, which would put me in a quandary as to whether the solitary O in the diagram needs highlighting! The extra letters in clues, which, for most of the puzzle, seem to be an incongruous sequence of letters, turn out to be five insecticides, DIMETHOATE, PYRETHROID, etc. Strange this, as they pretty much contribute nothing to the puzzle.

So, in the end, an enjoyable puzzle, with some tricky clues that are fair and with good surface readings, especially Rubber Michelin tyres are partly retreads.

Thanks Dipper, but please find another hobby for next time!

Finally, my catch-up checking of old Listener solutions, this time for puzzles 4025 to 4029, reveals, I believe, no errors. As these include 4026, Zero’s puzzle with Miss Jean Brodie’s Creme de la Creme rising to the top of all the columns, and 4028, Mr E’s tortuous game of golf, I am much relieved.

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No 4043 Green Cross Code by Dipper

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 August 2009

A couple of weeks ago I reacted to the soccer draws with a request for more flower-arranging or cookery or something of the sort. Well, I got my come-uppance with last week’s cakes and this week’s arboretum! The Junior solving team spends lots of time attempting to deal with leaf-scorch and aphids but that experience wasn’t much help. By late on Friday we had triumphantly spotted DIMETHOATE, BENOMYL, PYRETHROID, MALATHION and CARBARYL – and that got us nowhere at all. It didn’t always even tell us which words to eliminate from the clues. In 1ac, for example, we still had to choose between DIAGONALLY and DECISION. What a difficult piece of wordplay! With last week’s NIPPERTY-TIPPERTY and this week’s CALC-SINTER, I’m beginning to wonder whether an infernal 1ac clue is a hint to the Junior 8 X 8 team that we are out of our safety zone – go back to baking and embroidery! (And anyway, where are all the other LWO bloggers? Watching the golf open?)

Well, we lumbered on, seeing neither wood nor trees, just a composty mess of words that were obviously too long for their allocated holes in the arboretum – but which bits to lop? Removing putative bark (from the edges) didn’t work and it was soon clear that we were going to have more than five trees in all.

The wordplay was beautiful and before long we had DARRAINE, TSARINAS, LATESCENT, STEROL, CARNASSIAL, DERMESTID, DISHEARTEN, MELISMATA and ASSIMILATE, as well as lots of short words that did fit their slots, but we had dug ourselves into a deep hole and could see no way out. We almost despaired until a wise voice suggested that ‘cross’ might be the significant gardening word.

When we realized that we could get trees by examining the intersection points – in fact, by stuffing all the extra bits of words into those holes – we started to produce, but we needed the patience of gardeners to work our way round the arboretum (20d. PATIENCE? I don’t see why?)

This was probably the hardest struggle since we first challenged ourselves with the Listener. Here’s my set of trees:
ALDER from the intersection of CALC-SINTER and DERMESTID
SHEA from the intersection of DISHEARTEN and AID
ASPEN from the intersection of CARNASSIAL and PENTAGON
MANGO from the intersection of IMMANE and PENTAGON
SAPAN from the intersection of TSARITSAS and PANTIHOSE
PALM from the intersection of SPAR and CALMER
ELDER from the intersection of MELDER and STEROL
TILIA from the intersection of PEARLITIC and CELIA
TEAK from the intersection of SPEEDFREAK and ASSIMILATE

Ah, but there was that extra bit of digging to do – that peculiar hotch-potch of bark that made up the PALISANDER. We clearly had to chop that up again and distribute it around five other potential trees (the five of the preamble):
DEODAR from the intersection of NEOPLASIA and DARRAINE (with DR bark chewed off)
ALOE from the intersection of ROI and PLAT (with AE bark chewed off)
SOUARI from the intersection of PEARLITIC and DARTROUS (with SI bark chewed off)
PIPAL from the intersection of PAINIM and RINSED (with PL bark chewed off!)
NYSSA from the intersection of FLY-SLIP and LATESCENT (with NA bark chewed off)

It sounds easy but what hard work it was sorting out that area where the PALM and SOUARI are so uncomfortably close to each other, and the same with that crowded bit of arboretum where the ALOE is intermingling its branches with the DEODAR. (PLAT was the problem word that I found last of all, – a PLAN seemed to fit the definition but not that odd bit of wordplay about ‘the right place’ – PAT). No wonder Dipper has such grave problems with insects and needed all that revolting panoply of chemicals when he has this mixed set of trees all squashed in together – ‘Serves him right’, I thought, in my frustration with some of the crosses, ‘Who would put scrubby alder and elder in with those exotics?’

Fourteen trees emerged, but how would we know if our second-rate digging had failed to find another? I had grave doubts about the intersection of BITT and BET, I couldn’t really understand the BET clue, ‘Without a second opinion’. What if there is a weedy little fifteenth tree hidden there?

No, the lady doth protest too much, methinks. This was wonderfully satisfying, Dipper. The clues were great, the concept most ingenious and the hard digging very, very fulfilling. And I always enjoy adding a bit of colour at the end. What a lovely hint those green crosses gave – if only we had twigged it sooner.

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