Listen With Others

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Listener 4319: Feature Film by Ferret

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 November 2014

This week was Ferret’s third Listener, following on from No 4207, Loco, about the British Rail logo, and No 4257, A Short Entertainment, about the Beyond the Fringe sketch with one-legged Dudley Moore auditioning for the role of Tarzan. Here we had a slightly odd grid — carte blanche but with lots of dots and dashes standing in for some of the normal grid lines, plus seven circled squares. Standard wordplay-plus-an-extra-letter clues, so on we go.

Listener 4319No clue numbers given, but the first was Dance orchestra’s backing Latin American measures first (8), and Mrs B confirmed a BAND-oriented entry, SARABAND, with the V of VARAS being the extra letter. I assumed that it would start in the top left corner, and 1dn SILVER seemed to confirm this. I also suspected the AND would be the “group of three letters” which would “be replaced by an appropriate symbol”, namely an ampersand. The fourth down clue Vandalise cast iron blocks from the 16th century (8) looked likely to be an anagram of ‘vandalise’, and &VILES was soon slotted in. It was nice to get that bit of the preamble out of the way early on.

2dn was REALIST and 3dn ALARMIST, with extra letters U and T respectively. It looked as though a bit of scissor-work was going to be required in the endgame. The second across clue was Girl comes back with fine vegetables (5) and looked like it could be FLORA, [C]AROL + F reversed, but I wasn’t happy with the ‘vegetables’ definition, despite Chambers giving it as “the assemblage of all forms of vegetable life of a region or age”.

A few clues later, and the across message started with Vclley… so that seemed to confirm my doubts about FLORA; the 5th and 7th down clues gave ORAL and ABLATOR, so there was still a chance!? Moreover, the 6th Regretting undoing spell (5) looked like it was RUING, but I didn’t identify the nounal nature of ‘undoing’ until much, much later (RUIN + G[o])!

Listener 4319 Top LeftSo far, the extra letters in the downs were spelling out Cut al·ng d…, and either dots or dashes seemed possibilities. More clues bit the dust, including TSUBA and INLY, and these enabled me to get SAYSO running down. Finally, Mrs B suggested OKRAS, OK + SAR[A]<. At last!

The top half of the grid was coming along nicely with lots of bars that could be placed symmetrically in the bottom half. I wondered whether the diagonal lines dividing the letters were also symmetrical, and I assumed that they were. This worked nicely for the top right and lower left quadrants of the grid, but caused all sorts of problems elsewhere. This was hardly surprising when you see how I (and others, no doubt?) had entered the diagonals for the north-west corner (see left). I suspect that this was a deliberate, and mischievous, trap!

I’m not too sure now how I unravelled it all, but the grid was finally complete. The extra letters spelt out Valley fold dashes, mountain fold dots and Cut along diagonals. Staircase. The circled squares gave the ancient Japanese art of AGORIMI ORIGAMI, and it was pretty obvious how to fold valleys and mountains. I tried my hardest to get a reasonable double-staircase, and my final effort is shown below. [Ed: 4/10, see me!]

Listener 4319 My EntryListener 4319 GridAll that was left was to identify the nightclub (two symmetrically placed words) and the film title, together with its rising stars. Thank god for Google. However, my first search for a likely nightclub name “SILVER SANDAL” gave a lot of results for women’s shoes at Debenhams, House of Fraser and the like. “SILVER SANDAL nightclub”, however, provided the film Swing Time and that was sitting nicely in row 7, ready for highlighting. Finally, the film’s stars could be identified rising up the staircase: FRED ASTAIRE & GINGER ROGERS. Luckily, we were not required to “carry out the manipulation”, and I assumed that meant that we didn’t even have to cut the steps.

So ended another excellent puzzle from Ferret, with a fantastic grid and enough thematic material to dance a waltz to. Thanks.


3 Responses to “Listener 4319: Feature Film by Ferret”

  1. DF said

    Dear Dave

    A question that I have also just posted for Shirley.
    Just catching up on the last three months of Listeners and very impressed by Ferret’s brilliant construction! Sadly do not have the puzzle to hand to clarify why the S of Rogers and the F of Fred are barred off, and, on watching the movie clip, why the staircase is mirrored? The upper half of the origami seems to represent the shape of the staircase as shown in the Silver Sandal nightclub with the lower part as a reflection.
    Maybe the preamble explains this?
    Also my thanks to you for this and all your other weekly blogs!

  2. DF, thanks for your comments and I’m glad our weekly effort entertains. I agree with Shirley’s view on the unchecked F and S in Ferret’s puzzle. It’s always nice to have something that proves you’ve understood everything. I think the origami is accurate, with the two staircases sweeping out left and right and then merging on a platform at the top… I think!

  3. DF said

    Thanks Dave. Listen With Others is the most brilliant supplement to the Listener Crossword web site bringing to mind a once famous slogan…
    Refreshes the parts other blogs cannot reach.

    Also high praise for your Crossword Database which I have just discovered – a great way to check what themed material has already appeared in previous puzzle formats and to see how setters have deployed it.

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