Listen With Others

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Listener No 4607: Times Listener by Artix

Posted by Dave Hennings on 22 May 2020

When I’m faced with an Artix puzzle, I suspect that it’s going to be a tough day. Eighteen months ago we had John Donne and His Mistress Going to Bed with Left and Right hands swapping in the grid to reveal words from the poem.

This week’s preamble did not make me think “this is going to be a not-tough day”. For a start it was a carte blanche with an asymmetric bar pattern. Luckily clues were given in the usual order. I say carte blanche, but in fact there were four 6-cell areas symmetrically placed, one in each of the four quadrants. Unfortunately, these areas were doomed to be jumped by some of the crossing entries.

Non-jumping entries had a word from both a song and its source material. These didn’t have to be removed before solving, but hopefully could be narrowed down since we were told they were all nouns or verbs from the works.

And I can’t have been the only one to wonder if Artix and/or the editors had been on the sauce given the end of the preamble: “…but doesn’t have the first down answer, to be entered as two adjacent entries.” Time to solve some clues and hope that the requirement to highlight the repetitious part of the song’s title (after changing three cells to symbols) would be easy to spot.

APORT, ACER and EVENED came first, followed by ATIVAN, CHIP IN and TIGE. A bit of relief set in as the solving seemed to be progressing well. Sadly UREA was the only other across clue I solved on first pass. The downs also started off well with REDESIGN and AGEN. The next was a nice &lit Cole’s first acting run with Waterman at the centre: Minder (5) giving CARER (C(ole) + A + R + (Wat)ER(man)). Thus having RAC possibly in the top row, I had a peak back at the first across clue Pain GP (sort of) reverses in test operation (11) , and TRACHEOTOMY seemed a likely operation, although it took some time to resolve that as (ACHE + MOTO<) in TRY with its sneaky reference to MotoGP!

A few more downs completed a quick (?) run through. I had assumed that some entries would include a letter from the dotted area, and it took me some time to realise that all entries which crossed a dotted area made the jump. It also looked as though new words would be formed with those jumped letters added. Thus APORT could change to APPORT, AGEN -> AGENT, CARER -> CAREER and amazingly TRACHEOTOMY could change to TRACHEOSTOMY.

And so, as the grid neared completion, it became obvious that the four dotted areas would become the four seasons WINTER, AUTUMN, SPRING, SUMMER. [I know the seasons. Ed.]

As well as the clue referring to the TV series Minder, I enjoyed the clue News agency’s about to move on? About time, they say! (8) for UTTERERS (REUTERS with RE moved forward around T). And that bizarre first down clue Reduced capacity of Israel to provoke domestic upheaval (8, two words) for HOME MOVE (HOME(r) + MOVE) which led to HOME MOVIE once WINTER intervened. As expected from Artix some laugh-out-loud clueing.

A quick check in my ODQ under season eventually led me to The Bible and Ecclesiastes and that had 12 letters so I guessed I was on the right track: “To everything there is a season…”. From there I’m afraid the internet had to come to the rescue to reveal Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) written by Pete Seeger and later recorded by The Byrds.

And just to make life difficult for himself, Artix had included twenty things that it was time for in his clues: Love, refrain, born, War, kill, lose, embrace, gather, laugh, die, weep, peace, heal, plant, dance, Stones, build, hate, break, cast.

Three exclamation marks and a bit of highlighting later and the grid was almost complete. Unusually, we were asked to include bars, how many being given at the start of each row and column. The only slight hiccup this could cause was MODERATER/ACER instead of MODERATE/RACER as it’s spelt MODERATOR.

I’m guessing that solvers fell into five groups:

  • those who read the preamble and knew of the tie-in between the song and Ecclesiastes;
  • those who got the seasons and immediately thought of the song;
  • those who saw the three TURNs in columns 1, 7 and 10;
  • those who used their ODQ and the internet;
  • those who couldn’t see what the hell was going on!

Great fun thanks, Artix.
 

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