Listen With Others

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Listener No 4500: What Have We Come To? by Kea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 May 2018

Last year’s Kea puzzle celebrated Chrysanthemum Day and, before that, we had the Dunmow Flitch, a Playfair puzzle. If I remembered correctly, Dunmow was tricky and Chrysanthemum not, so I wondered if we were in for another toughie.

Since 4500 was a relatively significant Listener milestone, I keyed it into my favourite mathematical site, Wolfram Alpha. It told me that 4500 was 1000110010100 in binary, 2²×3²×5³, 12²+66², 30²+60², MMMMD as a Roman number… and an even number, which I knew.

Now, MMMMD looked promising, and a quick check with Tea showed that those letters appeared in order in carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, which translates as Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow. Interesting. Tea also gave me the proverb … jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today. Also interesting, but contradictory! Time would tell if either were relevant.

A novel message-revealing device faced us here: we had to take the letter in the clue which preceded the first letter found in the answer, or first letter if that were found in the answer. Getting 5ac within the first two minutes had me up and running: Psychoanalytic test has gold and iron separated by talking (7) with AU and FE soon revealed AUFGABE. However, the drop-down entries were not your everyday words: ASCH (an author), UNWAYED (intractable, obs), FEART (afraid, Scot), ACOLITHS (statues) and ENSKY (put in the sky, Shak).

Three interesting surfaces appealed to me this week: 16ac Smash laboratory, freeing its experimental animal? Lamb’s very badly off (7) (gruesome), 22ac Closet’s function is to suppress a natural affection (6) (back to the ’60s) and 33ac Last longer than Jethro Tull’s vocal parts in items played at gig (6, two words). Loved the last which gave SEE OUT — (J)E(thr)O (T)U(ll) in SET. STORGE must be word of the week though!

Eventually, the message gave Song from Hello! and band in six parallel lines. It didn’t take long to reveal FORTY FIVE HUNDRED TIMES & STATUS QUO in the NW–SE diagonals. This was the final song on their 1973 album Hello!

My head started spinning — should I seize the day, wait for jam tomorrow or keep the status quo?

Good fun, thanks Kea.


2 Responses to “Listener No 4500: What Have We Come To? by Kea”

  1. Steve said

    Hi Dave. Is Tea a reference book or site, or am I being daft for asking and it’ll turn out to be somebody’s nickname or something?

  2. Steve, you’re not daft as it’s nobody’s nickname. Tea is a software package for PCs from Crossword Man at which allows entry of known letters to see words that match or are anagrams. It is a companion to the Sympathy crossword construction package, but neither is free.

    There is, however, a relatively new kid on the block at which has a whole slew of interesting stuff, including a word matcher and crossword constructor.

    Some solvers consider use of such software as cheating, and neither will help you with this week’s mathematical puzzle!


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