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Archive for October, 2020

L4628: ‘Keyworker’ by Harpy

Posted by Encota on 30 October 2020

A clever change in direction in today’s puzzle from Harpy. The leading diagonal plus 2×2 square at its end, start off reading FELONIOUS MONK. And the misprints per clue start off reading GREGORI RASPUTIN.

However … swap the contents of the first cell to read TH and it now reads THELONIUS MONK, the jazz blues (I think!) pianist. So we now need to find three of his songs:

  • The first, using the 2×2 square highlighted in Blue, depicts BLUE MONK
  • The second, by drawing a circle in the bottom left quadrant, could be said to describe ROUND MIDNIGHT
  • And the third uses the rest of the misprints, that spell out an extra clue, ORCHESTRATING HAS MESSED UP A TUNE OF HIS. An anagram of {ORCHESTRATING HAS} finds STRAIGHT NO CHASER! Looking at 5a’s STRAIGHT and then erase CHASER at 13d – and this can be said to depict this song

The final change expands the ‘square’ MONK to become a circle, which might be said to depict a SPHERE, his middle name.

And the Title’s pretty good for a pianist during ‘Covid season’ too. Is that three Covid-related titles we’ve had now?


Tim / Encota

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Key Worker by Harpy

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 October 2020

Harpy! We’ve had only two Harpy Listener crosswords before, but I believe Harpy is a pairing of two very familiar setters. The preamble tells us that, as well as spotting a famous person and solving a cryptic clue spelled out by corrected misprints in every clue, we will be finding three of the person’s ‘titles’ and drawing in our grid to represent his middle name.

There’s a lot to take in there. Misprints often stand out as rather glaring anomalies in clues but, as I scan the clues for the inevitable proof of membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit, I realize that this skilful couple has hidden them in some  very subtle ways. But the alcohol is there. ‘Six bananas and seven tots (6)’ gives us a misprint producing SOTS and, when we have solved clue 6 and got TROPE (+7 = S), we anagram that (bananas) and find that they are TOPERS. Fortunately it’s malt, five clues on, ‘Sicily town’s pasta sauce with malt halved (6)’ We back-solve the wordplay, later on, to find that the malt became salt, giving RAGU + SA.

Later on too, of course, we find ‘STRAIGHT NO CHASER’ as one of the thematic titles, and have to delete the CHASER from our grid and that just leaves STRAIGHTs for those TOPERS. Cheers, Harpy!

We solve steadily and the last half of the message emerges; ORCHESTRATING HAS MESSED UP TUNE OF HIS, so together with the title ‘Key Worker’, we have a hint that this is about a musician. Anagramming ORCHESTRATING (messing it up) gives us that STRAIGHT NO CHASER, but, sadly our knowledge of jazz is very limited and we have produced a rather strange FELONIOUS MONK in our leading diagonal and GREGORI RASPUTIN as a famous person spelled out by our first misprints. He wasn’t much of a musician!

Then it all falls into place and we change the first cell of our grid, maintaining real words with FRESH FRILLS becoming THRESH THRILLS and FELONIOUS becoming THELONIOUS – Nice. Wiki gives us two more titles; ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT, and BLUE MONK, so we draw our circle throught the letters of MIDNIGHT and colour the four letters of MONK blue. Our square monk has to depict his middle name by becoming a SPHERE. Many thanks Harpy. Another fine compilation that has been a learning experience for us.

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Listener No 4628: Keyworker by Harpy

Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 October 2020

The last Harpy Listener was back in 2016 with AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad as its theme. That said, Inquisitor no. 1666 last month was by Harpy all about the Great Fire of MDCLVI. This week, every clue contained a misprint somewhere, not necessarily in the definition. Some don’t like these, but I do. Lots going on in the endgame, with only a circle requiring to be drawn (I hoped).

5ac STRAIGHT, 11ac RELY and 12ac AIRBUS got the top of the grid off to a flying start. 1ac Cheeky sappers displacing first person in line, for instance (5) would have to wait for a few minutes although FRESH seemed likely; the misprint would be line for ling resulting in FISH with RE for I.

Giving the downs a go, I got 2 RENT, 3 ELLIS (even though I didn’t know E Bronte’s pseudonym was Ellis Bell), 7 AUKLETS and 9 HOOT. 15ac WORKSHOP and 13dn CHASER enabled most of the top to be finished fairly quickly. The famous person revealed by the misprints started Grig… which had me baffled.

Slowly but surely, I worked my way down the grid and eventually uncovered Grigori Rasputin, not that I could see why he should be a “Keyworker”. The cryptic clue would have to wait until the grid was complete, but not before some fun clues were solved, including:

31ac Clothing of unhip punk was revolting (6) — U(nhi)P + ROSE (pink). 35dn Ford’s audit is including annual return (5) — INC + AR (definition Ford’s audio is). And show me the way to the Garlic festival mentioned in 21dn!

The cryptic clue revealed at the end was Orchestrating has messed up a tune of his but the preamble had us carry out some fiddly changes first. It didn’t take long to see FELONIOUS MONK running NW–SE to describe the devillish Russian, and even less time to identify the true thematic subject, THELONIOUS MONK, the American jazz pianist. Memory is probably not serving me well, but I’m sure I saw him on BBC tv over 50 years ago on Not Only… But Also…, the programme made famous by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. (The interweb fails to confirm this.)

Anyway, flipping the F to TH made new words THRESH and THRILLS. A quick google revealed the three compositions we needed to identify as Round MIDNIGHT (to be circled in the lower left), Blue MONK requiring the block of four to be coloured accordingly, and STRAIGHT, No CHASER requiring CHASER at 13dn to be erased. This was the answer to the cryptic clue, an anagram of orchestrating has. Finally, expanding the blue colouring of MONK enabled his middle name, Sphere, to be represented.

Thanks for a fun puzzle, Harpy.

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Flappy by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 October 2020

It is always a pleasure to see Shark’s name at the head of a crossword. We know the clues will really challenge us but also that there will be a stunning endgame. The last half of the preamble tells us that, but first, we have to solve those tough clues.
Of course I hunt for the alcohol though I know this one-time Listener Ascot Gold Cup winner (as half of the Rood team) has to remain in the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophiles. I’m halfway down the down clues with no solutions leaping out at me before I get to ‘Stacked barrels in wet – it’s pelted (7)’. No half measures for Shark, (and who would have thought that bbl was an abbreviation for barrels!) This is a typical Shark clue – there’s that touch of smutty humour as his ‘wet’ is PEED and we get PEBBLED when we put all those barrels in (no wonder there was some peeing) but we have to hunt in Chambers to confirm that ‘pelted’ can be a synonym for ‘pebbled’ (to stone or pelt, the Big Red Book tells me) so with all those barrels, Cheers, Shark.
We fumble through the clues for  long time, trying to see what the words that we putatively extract might have in common but then we have our first penny-drop-moment. They all have an odd number of letters – there’s not much else we can see in common for ‘batsman’, sparkling’, ‘serious’, ‘scrapping’ and so on. The obvious letter to extract is the middle one and doing that gives us a curious series of words and partial words. However, it also delights us when we realize that the words we are leaving are also real words (brilliant, Shark – that’s masterly!) Second p.d.m. We have RUMEN around SKIPPER, KINGSHOOD around MONARCH, BIBLE around PEACOCK and MAW around HEATH. We have no trouble recognising those butterflies (we had them as flutter-byes in a recent Spoonerising Listener not long ago, didn’t we, and in Eclogues EV just a week ago?), but we have to check the stomachs and are delighted to find that the four stomachs of a ruminant appear in order here. So we are ‘Flappy’ because we have ‘butterflies in the stomach’. That was fun but it was in the clues and Shark, of course, has something in the grid too – we have already guessed what those curves we are going to draw will represent, but we get a double surprise when ADMIRAL, PAPILIO, VANESSA and BRIMSTONE go into a second set of stomachs, PAUNCH, BONNET, FARDEL and READ, and my amazement knows no bounds when I learn from Chambers that this is another set of names, in order, for the ruminants’ four stomachs. We have the final pleasure of linking letters that match into two ‘curves’ (and of course, spelling ‘CARDINAL’), adding the oval FLY bit of her stomach and a pair of antennae. A bit of Googling adds icing to the cake (or colour to the butterflies or something): the 3rd of October is National Buttertfly Day in the USA. A wonderful creation. This will be one of my all-time favourites. Thank you, Shark.

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L4627: ‘Flappy’ by Shark

Posted by Encota on 23 October 2020


Not only did it have left-right symmetry for highlighted cells, it also featured (at least?) nine different butterflies, eight of which could be described by having a butterfly in one’s stomach

And not only that, it featured a pretty accurate diagram of a butterfly to be traced out by us the solvers – again (of course – it is Shark) symmetrically placed. 

And not only that, it also chose to include (I think I have got this right), in the hidden letters to be extracted, four butterflies in the four stomachs of a ruminant in order – RUMEN, KINGSHOOD, BIBLE and MAW. 

And not only that, the extracted letters came from the centre of words with an odd-number of letters that still remained words after the central letter of each was removed!!  An astounding added layer of neatness from the setter.

could try and claim that the fact that letters within the wings of the drawn butterfly might spell out “A rapid, beautiful, isolated comma” was done purposefully – but that might be stretching things somewhat. At least it gives me a (very feeble) excuse to quote the end of a poem by Robert Graves, woefully out of context:

So now, my solemn ones, leaving the rest unsaid, 
Rising in air as on a gander’s wing
At a careless comma,

Beautiful stuff!

Tim / Encota

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