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Archive for August, 2020

Listener 4619, Artistic Licence: A Setter’s Blog by Serpent

Posted by Listen With Others on 30 August 2020

I can’t remember how I became aware of the court case in America involving Ulysses or Justice Woolsey’s ruling. I do remember being rather taken by Woolsey’s phrase “His locale was Celtic, his season spring”. I decided to try to make use of the phrase and have ULYSSES and JOYCE appear in the final grid. Given the context, OBSCENE NOVEL seemed a reasonable phrase to include in the initial grid-fill.

The grid-fill turned out to be easier that I expected, so I thought it might be nice include WOOLSEY in the grid. In retrospect, I’m not sure having WOOLSEY replace ROUTINE was a good idea — I was forced to include some more obscure words; ROUTINE is underchecked; and there isn’t a good thematic justification for the replacement — perhaps I should have hidden him in the grid somewhere instead.

In the absence of a specifically thematic clue gimmick, I like solvers to extract a message from the clues, rather than the answers, preferably using misprints or extra letters. Unfortunately, there were too many characters to accommodate in a character-per-clue gimmick, so I split the phrase and the context. I hadn’t realised how difficult it was going to be to write a clue that includes a superfluous V, eventually settling on (v)indicated, hoping that the editors wouldn’t object to an extra letter in a link word. (They didn’t.) They did, however, object to my attempt to sneak in the following clue: Mass of oz[one] about to rise high into the atmosphere [(M O OZ)<].

Thanks are due to Shane and Roger for making a number of suggestions to improve the preamble and clues. Thanks also to everyone who provided comments and feedback.

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Listener 4619: ‘Artistic Licence’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 28 August 2020

First of all thanks to Serpent for a gentle and entertaining puzzle!

The extra letters / words were cleverly hidden.  In my solve, the words United States v one book called … appeared pretty quickly, along with a few other words.  I didn’t recognise the phrase but soon located it with the help of Auntie Google.  “His locale was Celtic and his season Spring”, from Judge Woolsey in the 1933 obscenity case against James Joyce’s Ulysses.

There were some lovely, ‘clean’ surfaces, e.g.
Blown-up image is enormous (4),
where the ‘i’ of image was dropped and MAGE* became MEGA.

The neatest feature in the grid, I thought, was the conversion from OBSCENE NOVEL on Row 7 to ULYSSES JOYCE whilst maintaining real words throughout.  

Just like L4618 last week, this felt like one of the easier puzzles of recent times – though perhaps several in a row are now going to feel like that, coming closely after ‘that Sabre’ at L4617!!

Thanks again to Serpent!

Cheers & keep safe all,

Tim / Encota

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Artistic Licence by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 August 2020

First Numpty comment -“At last we have a short preamble!” We read through it and there is nothing to alarm us except that we are going to be looking for extra words OR letters and these might be anywhere in the clue, not just in the wordplay.

Serpent is a regular at the three-monthly gatherings of Listener enthusiasts in Farringdon and I haven’t seen him favouring the orange juice, so don’t really need to check his retention of membership of the elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit (Dave’s website tells me it is his fourth Listener) but I scan his clues anyway to be sure and gloom descends. There isn’t much to drink in them. ‘Refusal to harm consumers in area where police operate (5)’  (Well, I suppose that must be referring to police presence outside the pub at closing time). We extract the R from ‘consumers’ and the MAR (to harm) ‘consumes’ the ‘refusal ‘NO’ giving MANOR. That’s clever cluing! We found a combination of easy and generous clues and sneaky, more subtle ones in this puzzle (‘married’ producing ‘marred’, ‘opinions’ producing ‘pinions’ and so on).

‘Little girls stop kneeling over to drink fizzy pop (7)’ Surely we aren’t with that crossword setters’ favourite, ASTI. But no, it’s another of those device indicators – more obvious this time. We remove the extra letter N and have STEM (stop) ‘keeling over’ and ‘drinking POP* giving MOPPETS.

Fortunately for Serpent, he finally gets to something drinkable in his last clue. ‘Called learned revolutionary on the phone (4)’. That’s another old chestnut for setters isn’t it? When else do we call a revolutionary a RED? (This time we ‘hear’ READ and extract the extra word ‘Called’) However, let’s raise a glass of red. Cheers, Serpent!

The grid fills steadily and by the time the other Numpty disappears to cook the dinner, we have the bones of a message; HIS LOCALE WAS CELTIC AND HIS SEASON SPRING. I suppose that could be Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, G B Shaw, Samuel Beckett or James Joyce (I put those in a descending order with the one I appreciate the least at the end – my Grade Thirteen students, who slogged through some of Ulysses with me, were barely more enthusiastic than I was). Of course, I need Google and feeding that sentence in produces the final words of our crossword solve. UNITED STATES V ONE BOOK CALLED … ‘ULYSSES’ of course!

It’s all there in Google – how John Woolsey allowed publication of Ulysses in the USA on the grounds that the ‘obscene language does not promote lust’. I suspect that lust would be the last response of anyone who manages to plough through the novel (though I imagine there are some out there who consider it to be the century’s masterpiece?).

It takes me a while to find the three words to change. OBSCENE NOVEL leaps out at me but I expect to be producing JAMES JOYCE ULYSSES IS NOT … OBSCENE NOVEL. When the penny drops and WOOLSEY replaces ROUTINE, there is that pleasure of seeing all real words in the final grid. Nice one, Serpent.

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Listener No 4619: Artistic Licence by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 August 2020

This was Serpent’s fourth Listener, following on from last year’s subject of Tina (courtesy Maggie Thatcher) and Androgenic Alopecia in 2017. Here we had an extra letter or word that needed to be removed before solving which would give a comment and most of its context.

The clues came together steadily and it seemed that most of them simply yielded an extra letter rather than word. The acrosses seemed to reveal something to do with Celtic, so I assumed that we were dealing with a football theme. The first extra word I got was United in 26dn followed immediately by States in 27dn. That made football unlikely but not out of the question.

Perhaps the extra v in 29dn (vindicated becoming indicated) should have given me a clue that we were dealing with some US legal situation, but it didn’t. Eventually, the extras gave His locale was Celtic and his season spring. United States v one book called…. Talk about leaving you (me) dangling… not to mentioned confused!

Meanwhile, there were some entertaining clues. 6ac Said you must leave married circuit judge (6) where married became marred [(CIRCUIT – U)*] to give CRITIC, and 11ac Sailor’s stopped hostilities only to treat lovers (6, two words) (lovers becoming overs) for HOVE TO [HO + VET + O]. My favourite was probably 8dn Point one brightens the display (5) with the s of brightens departing to give TENTH [(brigh)TEN TH(e)] and a neatly devious definition. (I have to say that I thought displays should have been the hidden indicator.)

I first tried the ODQ to see if that helped track down what was going on, but it didn’t, so googling came to the rescue to give part of the summing up by one Judge Woolsey on whether Ulysess should be allowed to be published in the States back in 1933. It was.

Finding the three entries that needed to be changed to relevant names wasn’t too taxing as JOYCE, ULYSSES and WOOLSEY seemed likely candidates. They were slotted in at 25a, 23ac and 12ac respectively.

Not too stressful a week so thanks, Serpent.

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Listener No 4618, You Don’t Say: A Setter’s Blog by Stick Insect

Posted by Listen With Others on 23 August 2020

There’s not much back story to this puzzle – I simply came across the Burgess poems when browsing the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and found them amusing. I hadn’t heard of them before, so it was interesting to see in some of the feedback received that others had been entertained by them in childhood. The idea of the author wanting to revise his original work naturally suggested the idea of a puzzle which would perform the substitution and the challenge was to create a grid that would allow that and create real words.

My first attempt was frankly not good enough, involving under-checking of some entries and a low average entry length, and was quite rightly rejected by the first vetter pretty rapidly. That was very helpful feedback as it allowed me to make improvements without too much time passing and to produce something more acceptable, though strictly still with one under-checked entry.

I did have some concerns about overall elegance — Burgess unhelpfully hadn’t made sure his couplets contained exactly the same number of letters (!) so a little bit of finessing was required including the need for two letters in one cell. So far that doesn’t seem to have bothered many; the lack of symmetry (which I couldn’t achieve given the number of letter changes required) hasn’t been too widely criticised either.

The main tone of the feedback I’ve seen suggests it was an enjoyable but easy puzzle, which was gratefully received by many as a breather after Sabre’s magnum opus the week before. A fair summary as far as I’m concerned and I’m glad it provided some entertainment. It takes me back to my first ever Listener, just over ten years ago, which got similar feedback after following a Shackleton masterpiece which went on to win that year’s Ascot Gold Cup. Hopefully a good luck charm for Sabre for this year.

My thanks to all those who took the trouble to blog, comment and to send feedback with entries and of course to the editors for their improvements and to John Green for the detailed analysis of entries.

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