Listen With Others

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Слушатель 4588: Черная Мария по Агрiкоla

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 January 2020

Gosh! Only 5 months since Agricola’s last Listener with its theme of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. I guessed that this week’s must have some date-related link. Seven wordplay-only clues would give us most of the thematic material with a couple of Arabic numerals and a foreign word for good measure.

2dn Frame from Gary Larson coloured with leaderless sheep (12) looked like it would be anagrammatical. That could be from G(ar)Y + LARSON + C +(s)HEEP, except that was too many letters and no anagram indicator! Coloured can mean disguised, but no amount of letter doodling revealed the answer.

No matter, the image of Gary Larson’s weird Far Side world that the clue conjured up was superb. Trying a few of the downs, 3 ERNE and 5 ELLA enabled a bit more doodling, and SELENOGRAPHY soon popped out. So we were dealing with Lunar activity and, given 2ac, far side lunar activity?! I remembered that the Russians were the first to photograph the far side back in the late 50s, but I couldn’t recall any more detail than that.

There was only one thing to do: finish the grid and try to find the devices, topographic features and personal names. Finding all these items certainly brought smiles to my face. 1dn and 29dn were the two devices: CHANG’E 4 and LUNA 3 with 4 O’CLOCK and 3-DIMENSIONAL as their crossing entries. CLEVERNESS and MUSCOVY were the two large topographical seas on the far side, and and DIANA and ARTEMIS were the two personal names for the moon. Luna 3 was a Soviet spacecraft launched in 1959 and was the first mission to photograph the far side of the Moon. Chang’e 4 was a Chinese mission that achieved the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon in January 2019.

Of course, the clue to 28dn was icing on the cake:Today 17 get back Cuba and Niger on reflection (6) led to Россия (COP< + C + RN<), Russia in Russian with RN for Niger reflected… literally! It needed a final reading of the preamble to remind me that both DIANA and ARTEMIS were wholly entered to give Россия, including the D, E and S to be entered in mirror image.

Good fun, Agricola, and a great start to the year. Here’s a video of all sides of the moon courtesy of Nasa on YouTube.
 
 

 

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