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Listener 4111: News Quiz by Stan (or Obama 1 Palin 3)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 26 November 2010

To my knowledge, Stan has only had one previous Listener. That was 4046, Disagreement in August last year where the subject was the number 1729 and the disagreement between GH Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan about how interesting a number it was. This week, time for a news quiz with a few jumbled entries and a misprint in each clue, not necessarily in the definition.

The first sweep through claimed about a dozen answers. These included the excellent clue to MADONNA (Virgil’s enthusiastic about new introduction to Aeneid), although Virgin was a fairly easy misprint to spot, plus LAZOS and DIOPTRE in the NW corner, and DREICH (Dire bumbling about bard is tedious in Burns country), DERMIS and ELIJAH in the bottom left. I also had ANVIL, IN THAT and ALSO in the top right, so a nice smattering of entries all over (although some may need jumbling). However, the clue to ANVIL (Block in the near village) seemed to have a misprint that wasn’t a word, nean. Not that this was necessarily a huge obstacle, but it didn’t appeal to me.

All in all I found this a fairly straightforward (and enjoyable) solve, with entries slotting in at regular intervals. ICEPACKS, CHAINSAW and AIRT were obvious jumbles, as most probably was AL.M at 1ac.

I saw fairly early on that the correct letters probably ended with of the USA, and towards the end N, E, S and W states. This solved the nature of the puzzle for me, since I had known for some time that ALASKA, straddling the International Date Line was the most westerly and easterly. A quick look at The Times Atlas of the World Mini Edition (kindly donated by their crossword site) proved it was also the most northerly, with HAWAII the most southerly. (by the way, can you name the 8 states beginning with the letter M?)

I finally resolved 1ac which was ALAM, being a jumble of ALMA [A (from) + MAL (sickness) with the L promoted to second place; it was the meaning of the initial A that I missed for so long]. At last I realised that the misprint in 12ac ANVIL was year (Block in the year village, and not needing to make sense, but at least containing real words).

Lastly I had to find one letter in each column which would highlight the theme. I don’t know whether Stan made this final step deliberately easy, but having H, W, A and I staring at us there in the bottom row was a bit obvious, but then with all the information gathered it wouldn’t have been a much more difficult task if the H or W had been unchecked. And in the top row we had ALA on the left and SKA on the right.

I thought this was a really neat puzzle from Stan, and how considerate of the yanks to have the two states both containing six letters. The clues were very sound and, for the most part had good surface readings; my favourite was probably 31ac MAJORLY: With blockage receding, French drove in an extreme manner with drove being a misprinted drome (Orly).

And for your information, Obama was born in Hawaii but became a senator for Illinois, whereas Palin was born in Idaho and became governor of Alaska … and future presidential nomination, candidate, President?!!!!

Finally, can you name the 8 states beginning with the letter N?!

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10 Responses to “Listener 4111: News Quiz by Stan (or Obama 1 Palin 3)”

  1. shirley curran said

    I didn’t even see the ‘PACIFIC OCEAN’ staring at me vetically in the centre of the solution. You obviously did – at least, your illustration suggests that you did. What a lovely extra!

  2. erwinch said

    This question has become a bit of a chestnut since the two states entered the Union in 1959 but I thought that it might have been more appropriate to have entered Alaska in the grid as SKA … ALA.

    I shall tackle your 8 M and 8 N states before going to sleep tonight.

  3. Yes, Shirley, to be very honest, I did spot PACIFIC but not OCEAN!! I forgot to mention it when I wrote the blog. Nice touch, even if not necessary for solving.

  4. And following on from Erwin’s comment, which would have been the four states if this puzzle had been set before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted?

  5. Matthew said

    I think that we should not besmirch the name of the International Date Line, who deftly steps around the Aleutian Islands, by confusing her with her graceless cousin, the 180th meridian, who passes through them.

  6. I rightly stand chastised, Matthew, and have updated the picture accordingly. Thanks.

  7. erwinch said

    Well Dave, I managed to get seven each of your M and N states without much trouble and so thought that it might be a trick question. Perhaps there was some Mark Twain quotation or the like along the lines of … and those familiar states of madness and neurosis. However, the two missing states arrived before sleep: Maryland and New Hampshire. I even dreamt about the question later.

    As for your supplementary question regarding the original 48 states. At a guess I would have said, for N, E, W, and S, Maine, Maine, California and Florida but see from the map that Maine does not even reach the 49th parallel north while Minnesota has a nose of land that just breaks it. For the westmost, California is beaten by Washington state.

  8. Ratkoja Riku said

    Thanks, Dave, for the blog and for reminding me of my rather rusty US geography – the map was most helpful. As I wrote in response to Shirley’s blog, a lot of the final step to this puzzle was simply staring me in the face, but I just didn’t see it. Hopefully, I’ll improve over time!

    On 12a ANVIL, I had parsed the clue as AN(=abb. of anno, in the year) + VIL(= abb. of village), the misprint thus being YEAR instead of NEAR, since I needed the Y for my version of the question (Can You name ..?). I notice, however, that Gregson parses it in the same way as you.

  9. You are absolutely right about 12ac ANVIL being AN + VIL, and I’m afraid Gregson makes the same mistake as I did at first. As I said in the blog, I was disappointed that the corrected misprint nean was not a word, but was much happier when I realised it was year.

  10. Ratkoja Riku said

    Yes, sorry. Despite having read your blog carefully, the fact that you came back to 12ac later in the blog appears not to have registered with me. It appears that I need to read blog entries as carefully as preambles, i.e. MORE carefully than at present!

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