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Posts Tagged ‘by Shackleton’

No 42 The Missing Vwels Rund by Shackletn

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Aug 2012

There was no doubt at all that the numpties were expecting this theme. It was rather like crosswords on the sinking of the Titanic or the faithful Christmas themes. Still we had a long hard solve before we could confirm our suspicions.

Shackleton,we know, is one of the stars of the compiling world, and, of course, some of those misprints were well hidden like the ‘site of Brunel’s tunnel, short dilapidated one (6)’. I’m a bit of a Brunel fan and know that his splendid engineering works stand out, so there was something fishy there, but wasn’t that clever? [BOR(e) was the short tunnel followed by dilapidated ONE giving us the site of BRUNEI – BORNEO, of course!] Shackleton must have hooted with joy when he thought that one up.

Some solutions came quickly, though. Whoever needed a ‘Warning about approaching tame hens, keeping wide (4)’? The answer for this ‘warning about approaching tIme’ was OMEN so were we women the ‘hens’ and were we losing rather than keeping that W(ide)?

We floundered our way through these clues adding some fine new words to drop casually into table talk this week, “Just happened to spot MOERA in the NARTHEX, organising the ROSELLE and BIXA in a ROSTRE”. Of course Shackleton gave his fair share of tippley clues too: we had a ‘Vineyard holding’, ‘drunk maids’ and ‘Drink with mild taste drained by John’, though, as so often with such boozy clues, that one had its touch of bathroom humour, when it turned out to be LATTE – a drink with milK and T(ast)E was drained or emptied out by a LAT or John (tut-tut says the prudish numpty!)

As soon as we read that there are misprints or extra letters producing a message, that yellow highlighter strip goes alongside the clues and this one was producing a most odd truncated message: VICTRIA CIRCLE NRTHERN DISTRICT CENTRAL CLUR SLWER DEEPER SHAKIER.

Even we overseas solvers have some notion of the London Underground and it didn’t take a genius to work out that there were five – yes FIVE Os missing from that message. What’s more, every freebie diary that comes our way when the bankers are in a super-generous mood has a dinky little underground map that isn’t a lot of use in Geneva but heigh ho: it does show us that those lines are blue, black, red, yellow and green.

I thought the preamble was beautifully unambiguous this time. With that lovely touch of humour, we were told that ‘SLOWER, DEEPER, SHAKIER’ might describe those underground lines. I remember that Marylebone used to be described as the deepest underground station in the world but I am sure there must be others deeper now: I was astonished how shaky the DLR seems to be: but ‘slower’? You spoilt Londoners should try to cross Geneva one day!

We had to write the classical antithesis of those three comparative adjectives beneath our grid. Of course we fitted the picture together and immediately slotted in the Olympic motto CITIUS ALTIUS FORTIUS (by this time Her Majesty and Daniel Craig, aka James Bond had leapt from that helicopter and the 204 teams were seemingly endlessly making their way into the Olympic stadium).

We were playing a silly game predicting which team was going to appear next and generally failing miserably as 2 a.m. local time approached (well, could you predict who was going to follow Turkmenistan? See below) and, as usual with Listener endgames, I had a fixed idea in my mind that didn’t quite square or circle with the five Olympic rings I needed to see in the grid. They represent five continents don’t they? And I expected to find Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Oceania there. (Post script: I have just learnt from Derek’s message board that I am totally out-of-date and that those colours had something to do with the flags of the relevant countries. I am not convinced but …)

The usual putting it to bed (though for a short night) produced those Olympic rings and all that was left to do was to draw the circles in the right order being careful to leave the cell contents legible, and to congratulate Shackleton on a crossword that came together beautifully.

(Yes, it was Tuvalu!)

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Location, Location, Location by Shackleton

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 Jul 2011

Numpty despair! Why? Well, a couple of reasons. I have completed the solving of Shackleton’s Location, Location, Location and don’t have one more single fabulous clue to glow over – in the end, I was getting up and walking away in order to spin out and savour the last few (with a sneaking hope that he might put a foot wrong, or at least a little toe – just to make the rest of us feel less inferior!)

There’s the next reason for despair. How can hopeful compilers ever compete or to rise to anything like that standard of cluing?

Well, there was at least one source of delight. This one absolutely confirmed my conviction that there’s a thriving oenophile community of Listener compilers. It was simply oozing out of the clues. ‘In depression (he says, predicting how we lesser setters and solvers might be feeling) there’s time for a whiskey – single malt?’ Well, I nipped off and enjoyed one before realizing that I was actually being offered a ‘single male’ – a STAG (so we get sTag in the place of sWag).

Dare I admit it, I am actually beginning to enjoy the cartes blanches. Those four thirteen-letter words around the perimeter were a gift, then the grid made sense with only four rows left to sort out before I had slotted in a single clue. Splitting the across clues in the centre suggested that 7 and 31 down were going to share that centre letter (as they did, ARAGORN – R in Aragon, taking the upper half of the ultimate N and LANOLIN, ‘LA’ and ‘lin’ around ‘no’ fitting in below). The two letter clues were surprising, but clearly the reason would emerge for an obvious TA (‘return last couple of meat shanks – for ‘thanks’) and MO (‘Way of working ‘ – Modus operandi’ – a pit – for ‘bit’).

Those two illustrate the reason for my sheer joy in the solving of this one. The surface reading was flawless and completely deceptive. What about the Lake poet? ‘Coleridge, essentially (ERI – his middle letters) English (E) lakeside poet’ – gives ERIE, a lakeside port. This magic went on and on with every clue producing a new burst of laughter. ‘Spread feed around pig’ (3) The grid was telling me that SOW was the answer but could I see the misprint? (Of course, that’s to ‘spread seed’!) This is what Listener solving should be like! I just wonder how many hours (months? years?) have gone into honing down these gems.

Once Havana and La Floridita had appeared, it was clear that we really were in alcoholic company with none other than Papa Hemingway and it was a short step to the Ritz Bar in Paris and Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West. I like it when there is a penny drop moment half way through the solving that renders the rest of the unsolved clues easier to find. For example, ‘Agent’s seen to load of things’ looked like HOOFER, GOOFER etc. but that Y solved the clue. A DOOFER is a ‘thingy’ (for things) so we were going to load OF into DOER.

Full grid and a title to hunt for. It was going to be ‘resonant’ so I didn’t waste time looking for The Snows of Kilimanjaro or even The Old Man and the Sea. Do I get my knuckles rapped for saying that I really dislike just about everything Hemingway wrote – just a load of repetitive, self-indulgent maundering. I can hear howls of protest but bet none of the defenders have waded their way through The Old Man and the Sea half a dozen times with bored tenth graders. Even Listener numericals are light relief in comparison.


F,H,B and S in those leftover lights made For Whom the Bell Tolls. And disappointment set in. Was that all there was to it? A bit of a Shackleton letdown? (Well, numpty blogs will have to cease if we ever have a clear ride!)

I couldn’t see a useful G, W or Y anywhere so where could the culprit be hiding? The Internet produced one startling fact. Today is July 2nd, the fiftieth anniversary of his death! What fine Listener timing. Clearly that number (1961) had to be hiding somewhere. Memories kicked in of Pieman’s Liberty Bell, where we had ‘LET FREEDOM’ made out of the bars in a RING or circle. Could Hemingway be hiding in the bars? Sure enough he was, (where else in this boozy crossword?) and his symmetrical year of departure. (Did you try turning the whole grid upside down? I did!) Now that’s what I call 180 degree symmetry.

Shackleton has done it again. Many thanks for all that enjoyment.

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Sine Qua Non, by Shackleton, Dit dit dit dah!

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 Apr 2010

The stripey horse (5) team is still reeling from the shock of Shackleton’s Sine Qua Non – most of all from the shock of having actually completed it!

As each clue resolved itself into a word, we became more and more astonished. TAPERECORDING, for example – Green giving ECO, followed by the last two letters of biRD in TAPERING – Wow! ‘Yankee hosted by queen – Earl shed some tears for her’. We fumbled with RAYLE and RAYNE – both seemed plausible – but opted for RANEE hosting Y and shedding E(arl) to give some Years for the queen (according to Spenser) and giving us a Y misprint. I still wonder how you fellows who claim you ‘whizzed through one of these crosswords while your coffee was cooling’ manage to do it!

Hours of tussling with this really difficult word play led us to an almost complete grid and what seemed like an incomprehensible hint. ‘DOTONESISAN?CLOSSONESTSIDDY’ Yes, it reads like gobbledey gook!

Of course, we needed GROTTY, not GLITTY as the misprint at 36 ac ‘Gritty silica removed from stackyard’. What a superb clue! We remove the ‘sard’ or silica and get ‘tacky’. With that simple little adjustment, the gobbledey gook turned into DOT ONES IS AND CROSS ONES TS and, of course, IDDY UMPTY and the morse code.

Hints indeed, but of what? Mystified, as usual, we gazed at the grid seeing no morse code. Surprisingly, though, I did work out another bit of that fearsome-looking preamble. By a simple process of trial and error, it was obviously the fifth letter of the fifth word of the remaining clues that gave a message: DIAMETRIC EXCHANGES – that was going to come in useful later on – as was FIFTH!

Light years later, when I should have been ironing and weeding, I sorted out that morse message and light dawned. Two questions: MUST IT BE? MUSS ES SEIN? (Isn’t German brilliant – it can use sixteen dots in a row – I wonder whether it is possible to create a phrase that uses even more consecutive dots or dashes – MOM TO TOM-TOM!) As I deciphered it, I decided that it had to be some sort of joke – just a string of dots. But then it all fitted together.  Or almost!

Ludwig Van Beethoven, Muss es sein? Ja, es muss sein. His initials were clearly there in LiVeBox producing an initial representation of the questioner, but that seemed somewhat tenuous. He was speaking of that exultant final movement, so I opted for the PAEON as my element, deciding that IT was the penultimate element of the first question. There were a few ITs in the grid and TItanium is one element. Lots more fruitless fumbling. Then the next breakthrough. Suppose the letter B was an element! (Repeat after me: READ THE PREAMBLE MORE CAREFULLY!) Four letters in the morse code share the elements of dot dot dot dash – L V B and F – and, of course, the F and the MAJOR of A MAJORI produced the key.

Next red herring. There was a fine word hidden at 9d EADOT – that gives ‘dot, dot dash dot’. Could that be what needed to be diametrically exchanged for the final highlighting? But no! It’s the PAEON, the victory theme of the FIFTH.

I look up the word in Chambers – just to be sure and DIT DIT DIT DAH, what do I find? Two definitions! ‘A song of praise, thanksgiving or triumph, exultation’ and ‘a foot of four syllables, any one long and three short’! This is too good to be true!

And what a wonderful resolution PAEON produced when diametrically exchanged! I was reminded of Kea’s fabulous resolution of last year’s  ‘Admission’ when real words appeared at all the entries, including those for the new key of C MINOR.

This was a spectacular crossword wasn’t it? What a wonderful feeling of achievement to have reached the end after all that astonishing information packed into one small grid!

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