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Posts Tagged ‘Aragon’

Listener No 4698: Late Arrival by Aragon

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 Mar 2022

Aragon’s previous Listener was five years ago with the entertaining story of a postman stepping in some wet paint on the doorstep and leaving a trail of footprints from the front door. This week’s puzzle was an alphabetical jigsaw with four entries needing to be jumbled at the end, in which we would hopefully be helped by the corrected misprints in the clues.

As usual, the approach involved solving some clues, then solving some more, then some more with help from the alphabetical orderliness already in place, and then having a go at slotting some answers into the grid. Actually, step one here was to determine the lengths of the two answers that were a letter short and it turned out that one 5-letter answer would go into a 6-letter space, and the one 8-letter answer would go into a 9-letter space.

During my first pass through the clues, I noted the numbers in three of the clues and sussed that they were where the misprints lurked: 1019 (should be 2019 for the Uraguayan documentary MIRADOR), 989 (for the battle of TARA in 980) and 1992 (Stockholm hosting the Summer Olympics in 1912). Of course, we had to wait to see how 2, 0 and 1 would fit into the endgame.

With about two-thirds of the clues solved, including ABASHLESS, ARLINGHAM (not to be confused with Arlington Row of UK passport fame), KACHAHRIS and REDIVIDED. ABASHLESS across the top and ARLINGHAM down from the former’s second A got the grid off to a good start. It’s always satisfying that everything fits in gradually without having to rub things out and start again — as can happen with the quarterly mathematicals!

Only once completed could the misprint corrections be unveiled since they were in grid entry order. Before that though, a nod to my favourite clues:

  • Clue 19 (start counting) Weapon that makes me upset gangsters in Belize (5) had me as a misprint of He to give H-BOMB [(MOB in BH)<]
  • 21 Places for trying — maybe Gran Canaria’s first hospital, a hotel: a risk, potentially (9) with Gran a misprint of Goan gave KACHAHRIS [(C(anaria) + H + A + H + A RISK)*]
  • 41 Jambs for example from front of door one’s raised (3) for SID [(D(oor) + I’S)<; reference to Sid James]
  • 42 Single piece of mail from Perth, all there is over time (5) for STANE [mail becomes hail; SANE (all there) around T].

Rejigging all the misprints now gave “These are the only 102 of which the news has come to Harvard” from The Elements by Tom Lehrer. In the original it was …the only ones….

“There’s antimony (Sb), arsenic (As), aluminum (Al), selenium (Se)
And hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N) and rhenium (Re)
And nickel (Ni), neodymium (Nd), neptunium (Np), germanium (Ge)
And iron (Fe), americium (Am), ruthenium (Ru), uranium(U)”

It amuses me that the Yanks single out Aluminium to spell without the I but leave it in for all the others — including Americium! The remaining elements are given in further verses of the song, culminating in:

“These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard,
And there may be many others, but they haven’t been discovered.”

All that was left was to change rows 1 and 10 to display the symbols for the elements in the order given by the first four lines of the song. Very kind of Lehrer to provide anagrams for ABASHLESS, ENRON, PENDING and AURUM (with FE) stuck in between. And loads of new words to boot, including H-BOMB becoming A-BOMB!

In the full version, 102 are listed, being all that was known when Lehrer wrote the song, with Lawrencium (Lr) being the next one to be discovered. Filling in the two blank cells in the grid with the L and R enabled us to highlight TOM LEHRER diagonally.

Thanks for an excellent puzzle, Aragon.


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Late Arrival by Aragon

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 Mar 2022

We muttered as we downloaded a carte blnche with ‘Clues are given in alphabetical order of their answers which must be entered where they will fit’. A further mutter when we read the word ‘jumble’ in the next sentence, then mutter, mutter, there was going to be a misprint in the definition of each clue. It got even worse – those were not going to spell out a message. Oh no! Aragon was insisting that we had to solve the entire crossword (or most of it) before grid order of those corrections would give us a ‘modified’ line of a song. Two blank cells would identify the ‘Late Arrival’ and we had to find and highlight a relevant name. Stiff drink needed!

Did I say “drink”? I’d better check whether Aragon retains his place in the Listener Oenophile Elite. He wastes no time: we find ‘hosts’ in the very first clue (though it takes a while to solve that important clue – I have colour-coded the grid lengths and matched them to clue lengths and found that it is the 4 and 9-letter solutions that are going to help us with our gridfill). ‘Article to glorify hosts remains forgotten without guile (9)’ We put A and BLESS around ASH and decide that ABASHLESS is without guilt, producing a corrected letter T. (But what a quaint word – we ask ourselves what it is doing there.)

Then comes the ‘Blood Alcohol Level – ‘Panamanian case: blood alcohol level constricting killers (7)’ A whole case of whatever is brewed in Panama? A quick Internet visit tels us that BALBOAS are the cash in Panama so the BOAS are the constricting killers and we have a corrected H (casE to casH).

Normal department: I’ve found it lacks spirit (4)’ comes next. So Aragon is on the hunt for spirits. We decide it’s the Norman department EURE and the spirit it lacks is KA, that crossword compiler’s favorite – so EUREKA! I’ve found it (clever clues these). Then we find ‘Man in pub sent back hemp for drug addicts? (5)’ We opt for heLp for drug addicts, and put the man HE in the BAR, giving REHAB. No lack of alcohol, so “Cheers, Aragon!”

With a full grid, we spot TOM LEHRER in the diagonal and the scientific Numpty immediately twigs the theme. “Lr is LAWRENCIUM”, he tells me. We’ve spotted the 102 as we solved but now have to tease out THESE ARE THE ONLY 102 OF WHICH THE NEWS HAS COME TO HARVARD. Of course we have the joy of listening again to the wonderful Lehrer song then we have to find the ‘essential contents of the song’s first four lines’ Antimony, Arsenic, Aluminium, Selenium etc., look up 28 letters that they provide, Sb, As, Al, Se, H, O, N, Re, Ni, Nd, Np, Ge, Fe, Am, Ru nd U, and find two lines of our grid that they can replace, jumbling just four words. Now, of course, we understand how that rather weird word ABASHLESS appeared at the start of our grid and AURUM – a new word for us.

What an entertaining compilation. Thank you Aragon.

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‘Clean-Up Operation’ by Aragon

Posted by Encota on 24 Feb 2017

Only a brief post this week as I have had to reconstruct this one from other notes 😦

I think this is the first of Aragon’s Listener puzzles I have ever attempted – and (for me, at least) it was hard!  Excellent!!  The endgame took much longer than the clue-solving.

After solving all the clues and spotting that DARK BROWN was one option for the clashing cell-based knight’s moves from bottom to top, I was pretty confident that I was looking to modify seven letters using AINOPTT.  The DOORSTEP was of course easy to find as the Workarea, but the perpetrator took me much longer [I even diverted for a while looking up the American footballer M.SHAWNE who, as he was nicknamed “Lights Out” (for knocking other players unconscious) might have been the cause of the doorstep mishap].  What would Merriman Shawne be doing on the doorstep, though?

Eventually I found POSTMAN, which made a lot more sense.  Deciding that the letter ‘I’ and ‘DOT’ clash could be combined into a pling(!) to ~resolve the 8th clash and I was sorted.  And this year I then decided to double-check that my highlighting was correct (as I have been guilty of a crayoning error in some recent puzzles) – and it seems to be!

Thanks to Aragon for a really tough puzzle!

Tim / Encota

P.S. And I get a week off from writing a Solver’s Blog next week 🙂

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Clean-up Operation by Aragon

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Feb 2017

aragon-wet-paint-001What a daunting preamble.  I’m not sure where knight’s moves come in our list of Listener dislikes (somewhere amongst the Playfair Squares, jumbles, words jumping from clue to clue and so on – right down at the bottom) but there they were, together with clashes and some sort of a mess. Ah well, nothing to do but scan the clues to check that Aragon qualifies for his entry ticket to the annual Listener tipple (he’s the Editor of the whole shebang isn’t he so he has to be there). There isn’t a lot of evidence. ‘Kilgraston’s hea[R]d girl offers narcotic drink (4)’ gives us K + AVA, then Aragon descends to the level of second-rate tea, `Poor tea[L] rustic knocked back by local river (5)’ HOB< + EA = BOHEA. Well, cheers, anyway Aragon.

Solving isn’t quite as much of a struggle as we expected as these clues are fair and even generous. Who could fail to solve ‘Dancing girl excited male (4)’? Well, I could! ALME is such an obvious solution that we are left wondering whether Aragon is pulling a fast one and actually requiring a far more subtle answer. We spot one of the clues that is likely to lead a few careless solvers astray: ‘[I] hired out sets of three old desks (8)’ We decided this was LET + TERNS since Chambers tells us that those are ‘old’ desks, but we did wonder whether it was merely to add difficulty that led Aragon to opt for that word rather than LECTERNS (and would the editors have allowed an ordinary mortal like me to have the required extra letter as an independent word? Hmmm!)

We usually check answer lengths fairly early in our solve but this time it was only when 42 down seemed to have two extra letters that we did a speedy check, finding that that was the only solution-length anomaly. ‘Poet with books gets female star[E] (6)’ BARD + OT gave us BARDOT and we were finally beginning to see some of the endgame since clearly we had to enter her as BAR and a dot or full stop.

The clean-up instruction was appearing too. We were able to piece together ERASE ALL TRAIL CLASHES – and what to arrange to doorstep-1replace consecutive letters: DOWN TRAIL CLASHES. We had seven clashes in our grid and were told that we were looking for A ‘nine-letter trail of knight’s moves from the work area (8 cells) to the perpetrator (7 cells). The work area leapt out at us. A DOORSTEP was at the bottom of the grid and if we took the ‘across entries’ in the trail of clashes and moved in knight’s moves upwards, we were given the ‘tone’ for the work area which seemed to be a dingy DARK BROWN. (Indeed, for once the knight’s moves were a helpful gift and not the nightmare we feared). Does one really have a dark brown doorstep? Well the answer is apparently yes! (See photo.) I think that is Aragon’s doorstep. I wonder what he would do about the careless solvers who are likely to paint it yellow or pink.

postmans-mess-002Our instruction told us we had to rearrange DOWN TRAIL CLASHES (as well as erase them to operate the clean-up) and they gave us IPONATT. That is where the head scratching began. Who was the perpetrator of that mess that we had erased that led upwards from the doorstep. Our first Numpty red herring gave us CUMSHAW. Well, that’s a tip isn’t it, but not perhaps the sort of tip required here and Mr Cumshaw, whoever he may be, could hardly be a perpetrator. It was a while later that we spotted the POSTMAN.

We had just one hint. When we erased the clashes, we were left with real words, except for one – BOHE – so that had to be where we were going to do some letter replacement using those down clash letters IPONATT.  BOTE seemed a likely ‘real word’, ALME could become ALOE, CHEWED could become CHEWET – and slowly we teased out the obvious message “WET PAINT ON DOORSTEP!” So we have a fine little story.img019

The POSTMAN paddled that paint all the way across the grid and now we have erased his mess and cleaned it all up and are putting up that warning sign, and yes, of course the I of TEPID combined with the BARDOT dot to give a warning exclamation mark, leaving us real words there too, ‘missing the point in one cell’. Nice one Aragon!

Ah the HARE – of course this week he was going to be just as elusive as ever but playing the game and performing knight’s moves – not just one, but a total of three! Time we got rid of him – I’ve included a vicious looking rabid dog to perform the task.hare-performing-knights-moves-001

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Listener No 4436: Clean-up Operation by Aragon

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 Feb 2017

2015’s Aragon puzzle was the one about Nancy Mitford and her sisters. Before that, we had Henry VIII and his wives. This week’s preamble smacked of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a domestic job, a warning and a perpetrator. Only time would tell if my early suspicions would bear fruit. [No they won’t. Ed]

The slightly worrying aspect of the puzzle for me was the reference to knight’s moves in the preamble — not my favourite puzzle feature. Luckily, the trail was only nine letters long and would mostly be revealed by seven clashes.

listener-4436-second-effortThis was a week for a quick run through all the clues in order. I was lucky with 1ac Deputy Officer Commanding in Highlander’s tall hat (5), being OC in LUM, even though I’d never considered a LOCUM as a deputy, more just a stand-in. Next came 16 PAWK and 18 Go nude at revels? Not in Roman’s habit (8) for UNTOGAED, which the preamble tells us Chambers doesn’t have… nor any other dictionary I tried! Still, Chambers does prefix its list with “Some words formed with the prefix un-” (my italics), so I guess almost anything goes. Here, the answer was fairly obvious.

I liked the misleading clue at 23ac Faraway call from Stratford area of London (4), where the answer looked like SOHO, but needed a check in C to see that the second meaning had Stratford referring to Shakespeare. However, a fairly shabby ten across clues solved, followed by even fewer downs. I was confused when I got to 42dn which was clued as (6), even though it only had four cells in the grid. A reread of the preamble indicated that this might be the one further clash that needed to be resolved symbolically. (Unfortunately, it was much later in the solve that BARDOT came to my aid.)

Half an hour in, and less than twenty solved. Still, the top of the grid was looking pretty good with five entries dropping down from the top row. Mind you, I couldn’t really understand working in 3dn C-shaped bit, working? (6) for C-HEWED.

The grid was finished in about 1¾ hours, more quickly than I had expected after my first run through. So now it was time to reread the preamble and see what was still left to be done. For a start, there were the letters dropped before solving. First we had to Erase all trail clashes and then arrange the Down trail clashes and use them to replace consecutive letters in one column.

The seven clashes made it fairly easy to home in on the DOORSTEP in the bottom row, and only a minute or so later, the POSTMAN running (walking) in a SW–NE direction. The clashes themselves, with across letters on top, were:


If I had worked my way up the grid, DARK BROWN would have probably stood out more, but it didn’t take long to see that. The D and N were provided by the Doorstep and postmaN, respectively. The remaining letters were IPONATT which needed rearranging — POINT AT, TO PAINT, NOT A TIP? Or indeed, just a jumble?

Our help with the second part of the message was given by the preamble — “…all entries in the final grid may be read as real words or names.” With the clashes erased, I had BOHE in row 11 and NAAS in column 10. I thought neither were real words until I checked Google for place-names. I had, in fact, come across NAAS before, a town in Ireland, but had forgotten it. That left BOHE that needed to be changed in some way.

I think I was helped with having tried to resolve 3dn and seen chewet underneath chew. With INWEAVE unlikely to become a different word, the letter matching its replacement proved to be its N, and WET PAINT ON soon appeared in column 3. Finally, Brigitte BARDOT came to the rescue with the clash resolved symbolically: with the DOT clashing with the I of TEPID, we had an exclamation mark!

Thus the full warning was spelt out as WET PAINT ON DOORSTEP!

listener-4436-entryOne last read of the preamble and I would be done. Well, everything was sorted… except “across entries set the tone for the work area.” The work area was the doorstep, and the across clashes had given DARK BROWN. Did that mean that my usual light coloured highlighting needed to be interrupted by a darker colour? I mused on it for a few minutes and decided that it did. After all, preambles don’t normally indulge in idle chitchat! Although most doorsteps are a darker colour to hide footprints and mud, I personally think Aragon should have coloured it DARK GREEN.

I found this a really enjoyable and amusing puzzle, with a novel theme which was ingeniously implemented. Thanks, Aragon.

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