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Posts Tagged ‘Hedge-sparrow’

19 Down by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Mar 2023

It is the eve of the Listener Setters’ annual dinner when we download this and, as we like to solve on Friday evening, we are starting just before midnight after one of the lively pre-dinner events (after meeting in the Bar of the Bristol Mercure Grand hotel, the early birds wandered down to the Stable for more food and alcohol) Ah yes, birds – that is often a Hedge-sparrow theme – but does he maintain his place in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite? I scan the clues: some lovely surface readings here and the alcohol flows!

‘Chief ingredient: vile, frightful inferior gin I put in roulade (4)’. We have to find two solutions divided by an extra word whose first and last letters will spell out ‘a thematic work and most of its participants’. We opt for BASE as the ‘chief ingedient’ and RUIN as that inferior gin, with ‘frightful’ giving us an FR. Hmmm! Not impressed by the inferior gin, Hedge-sparrow. Nor is he as we now find ‘Drunk, carelessly relaxed politician exits exotic Asian chariot, one led by horse (5)’ We take MP out of ‘slumped’ and get SLUED together with ARABA and get extra letters EC from ‘exotic’. Oh dear, now we read ‘Warrant regrettably served on earl, noble drunk reduced to confusion protecting aged brood (7)’ ‘served’ and the E of ‘earl’ anagram to DESERVE and we are left with PIE-EYED and the NE of ‘noble’ adding to our message.

‘Drunk’ on ‘inferior gin’, ‘slued’ and ‘pie-eyed’ and he hasn’t finished! Now it’s ‘rotgut’ that we extract from ‘Cry about slice of birthday cake that’s soaked in liquor – rotgut – cut into cubes (except the top) and frosted (4)’ That has to be BABA and (d)ICED with the ‘rotgut’ giving us RT. It is a rather muted ‘Cheers, Hedge-sparrow – on all that frightful alcohol!

However, we have a message: INTRODUCTION AND ALLEGRO, FLUTE, CLARINET, STRING QUARTET and Wiki tells us that is a work by RAVEL (So often we learn something from the Listener crosswords we solve!)

‘Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet and String Quartet (French: Introduction et allegro pour harpe, flûte, clarinette et quatuor) is a chamber work by Maurice Ravel. It is a short piece, typically lasting between ten and eleven minutes in performance. It was commissioned in 1905 by the Érard harp manufacturers to showcase their instruments, and has been described as a miniature harp concerto. The premiere was in Paris on 22 February 1907.’

We have DOUBLE ACT as 19 Down and are told that we have to include those letters in a loop of 29 cells. We know that we are looking for a HARP and RAVEL (and an ‘article’) and there it is! What an achievement to have the strings linking the CDEFGABC! It was 2 a.m. by now on Listener Dinner Day and I almost forgot to look for the thematic item’s inventor ERARD.

What a lovely compilation. Thank you, Hedge-sparrow.


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Octet by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Jul 2021

After our long struggle last week, it was a relief to see Hedge-sparrow at the head of this crossword. “Aha, birds” we said. “How does he manage to keep producing crosswords on the same theme?”

Of course, as usual, he included a fine sprinkling of alcohol in his clues, no problem retaining his Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophile Outfit entry ticket. ‘After scrubbing chamberpot, Pointer hides port inside (8)’ A bit of a shame to store that port in a scrubbed chamberpot, but we removed the PO from POINTER giving INTER and hid the RIO (that old chestnut of ports for compilers) inside to give INTERIOR.

Then it was barrels, ‘Export barrels before English city goes short (5)’ We put the B before a shortened version of LEEDs, giving us BLEED which suggested that we were going to extort, rather than export the barrels. We already had a T when girasol gave us a sTone with inner glow (misprint for shone) and an I when ‘Some prisoners had escaped tents (6)’ A ‘hidden’ clue giving us SHADES or tInts (sounds rather like the TINTO – the red wine we can buy here!) TITS looked like our likely birds.

‘Hot drink – unlimited rum (3)’ sounded as if he was mixing rum wth the barrels of malt and the port, but we removed the limits from TODDY and got ODD = rum. What a drunken orgy – and which compiler can resist the Italian wine? ‘Italian wind blasting harbours (4)’ It had to be ASTI harboured by blASTIng. It also gave us another misprint. It was Italian winE. Cheers, Hedge-sparrow!

By now, we had the remaining letters of TITMOUSE and pairs of removed letters had spelled out the ‘thematic context’; BR IT IS HI SL ES. With a full grid, all that remained to do was to change eight letters in the grid and find an octet of birds – the ones we see every day nesting in our birdboxes and mobbing the bird table in winter. (The grandchildren have given me a ‘Bird Buddy’ as a birthday present – still to come as it is in the project stage but apparently it has a widget in it that photographs the visiting bird and tells my iphone what it is. I fear mine will say’blue-tit/ coal-tit/ long-tailed tit/ great-tit/ more of the same’ – but they were a lovely theme. Thank you Hedge-sparrow.

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Listener No 4666: Octet by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 Jul 2021

Most of Hedge-sparrow’s puzzles have had a floral or faunal theme. Last year’s, however, was quarky so I wasn’t sure what to expect here. There was no hint in the preamble but the clueing technique had two adjacent letters being dropped in some clues and eight others containing a misprint, the corrections giving a thematic word.

Although 1ac Big bloomers in government projection following cuts (12) got me nowhere (it would eventually be G + LOBE + F + LOWERS), most of the clues were very forgiving yet solid, and the grid was finished in just under the hour. There were a lot of entertaining clues, including 10ac Bogs trapping black and grey wolves (5) [LOOS around B] and 23ac Defunct orbiting body — innards of Telstar reassembled by the French (8) for SATELLES [(T)ELSTA(r)* + LES]. 42ac had humour in spades, Liverpudlians, maybe, regularly amused? Yes sirree — delirious (12) for MERSEYSIDERS [((a)M(u)S(e)D + YES SIRREE)*], but 14ac brought me down to earth with a bang with Brexit rapidly destroying pound: that’s the price that must be paid (3) requiring Brexit to lose the Br such that exit rapidly = FLEE [- L = FEE].

The correction to misprints spelt titmouse and the dropped letters gave British Isles. Thus we were indeed in faunal country, more specifically avian. The definition of titmouse in Chambers begins “a tit…”, so I guessed we were looking for varieties thereof, and that turned out to be a little bit tricky but good fun.

Hats off to Hedge-sparrow for a very clever grid construction with most of the cell replacements that revealed the types of tit requiring what I can only describe as double-crossing changes! By this I mean that LOBOS/BOARDED had the O changed to E to give LOBES/BEARDED. Likewise, SPACIER/WALLOW became SPICIER/WILLOW and DEMEANE/CREATED became DEMESNE/CRESTED.

Very satisfying. Thanks, H-s.

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Listener No 4620: Six-pack by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 Sep 2020

As one might expect from his pseudonym, most of Hedge-sparrow’s Listeners have had a flora or fauna theme. I wondered what environmental bent this puzzle would have. [Ha! Ed.]

Here we had a group of six with double clues, only one of which was given a clue number. The entry method for each pair of clues was that suggested by the group they belonged to. Well… I’m not exactly a physicist (in fact, I’m not even vaguely one), but I felt smug when, after a few minutes thought, the theme popped into my head. I knew that quarks came in pairs and remembered there was up/down and bottom/top but needed a google to discover strange/charm.

Alll that was left was to solve the clues and slot them into their correct entries in the grid. I identified the quarks associated with each set fairly quickly but even so, exactly what went where provided some nice entertainment with some good clueing from H-s.

Having got my smug hat on fairly early, I was woeful in not spotting the TOP in STOPWATCHES as I entered 1ac after 2dn TAIL and 2probably-up VIOLONCELLO. All came together very neatly although I wondered why Auguste Escoffier was chosen as the French chef in 11dn/25dn Heating vessel used for Vietnamese dish of duck meat, about to be replaced by Escoffierian article (4;6) ANTE/OMELET. I’d also not heard of FOGGY BOTTOM and PYCNON before.

Among some entertaining clues, my favourite was probably 31set1 UK zoo’s keeper initially replacing dead reptile is returning with migratory quail’s dry fruit (9, two words; 7) with its somewhat bizarre surface reading, but leading to WHIP SNAKE [WHIPSNADE with K(eeper) for D] and SILIQUA [IS< + QUAIL*, migratory=wandering].

I forgot to mention that the clues that had to be jumbled — set 3, strange/charm — had a misprint in one letter in the definition of one of the clues. This spelt out raluvof which unjumbled to give flavour, which Chambers gives as “(in particle physics) any of the five, or probably six, types of quark”. That’s quantum physics for you! The origin of Quark itself is given as “From word coined by James Joyce in Finnegans Wake (1939)”. And what a stroke of luck that the STRANGE and CHARM could be anagrammed to GARNETS and MARCH, although they were part of the up/down set.

Identifying the six types of quark in the grid, together with QUARKS itself, was a pleasing end to the puzzle with (Murray) GELL-MANN and (George) ZWEIG (who separately proposed the quark model) from the circled letters going under the grid.

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Hedge-sparrow.

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Six-pack by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 Sep 2020

Nine lines of pre-ramble! Is that a record? I checked and found that three others have been so long this year and Elap’s numerical more than doubled that figure but still, it’s somewhat daunting, as we learn that we are receiving double clues with only the first one located and numbered; clues are in three sets, to be entered in ways ‘suggesting their set’s types’. One set will be jumbled (groan!) and there will be a misprint in one of the definitions in each of the clues in that set. Correct letters will give us a relevant term and the circled letters will disentangle to give us two names. We take a deep breath and pour ourselves a double.

Drinks! Ah yes, does Hedge-sparrow retain his place with the Listener oenophiles? He leaves little doubt: even the title gives us a ‘six-pack’ then ‘figure cold drink’s needed (4)’ We add C to ONE giving CONE but don’t know where to enter that yet, as TALUS has filled 13ac in our grid. I have realized that the first half of each pair of clues is going into its prescribed place and the second half into one of the unclued slots (which I shade, to help with the grid-fill). The next clue is already revealing the effects of that mixing of a six-pack with ‘one’, ‘girl comes round in a befuddled state (9)’ gives us LOUISA around IN A* producing LOUISIANA. By clue 36 he’s well away: ‘Heavy drinker – singular one wanting last shockingly expensive vintage (7,4)’. We add S to WILLER producing SWILLER and Chambers tells us that LAST can anagram to SALT which is a ‘shockingly expensive vintage’. We raise our glasses – “Cheers, Hedge-sparrow!” More about red wine later!

Set 2 yields solutions fairly speedily when I attempt to enter WHIPSNAKE and VIOLONCELLO it becomes clear that the iinstrument has to be entered going ‘UP’ in order to fit with TALUS and SILIQUA so we can assume that half of each of the set 2 answers will head upwards (and we already have GODOWN at 30d), but that gives us a poser. In what way have SILIQUA and WHIPSNAKE been entered differently?

We already know that Set 3 are to be jumbled producing real words and we tease out OBELISED/SIDE-LOBE, TENGE/GENET, REPRO/ROPER, RIOT/ROTI, EACH/ACHE, SUPINE/PUISNE, MANUAL/ALUMNA, CRUISER/CURRIES, SEES/ESSE, CELLAR (more of that wine!)/CALLER, DINGO/DOING, VOTE/VETO and ACUTE/CEUTA. These have given us the misprints RAL?VOS (I still don’t know how we got the F) and those unjumble to FLAVOURS and our penny-drop moment. QUARKS has been staring us in the face for a while and I have laughed when FOGGY BOTTOM was offered to us by Crossword Compiler, STOPWATCHES, too!

We don’t even need to check that the circled letters spell GELL-MANN and ZWEIG and now we realize that in Set 1, half the clues went into the TOP of the grid and the other half into the BOTTOM. UP, DOWN, TOP, BOTTOM, CHARM and STRANGE – six types of QUARK. I wonder how CHARM and STRANGE explain their set but I gather that both words can be anagram indicators. What an impressive construction. Many thanks to Hedge-sparrow.

Red wine and Murray Gell-Mann! We had the pleasure of his company at a dinner party. The hostess had set a beautiful table with a white cloth covered with a lace one and he dominated conversation (a group of ten maybe) with lots of expansive gestures with his right arm, launching my glass into the air. We were on the meat course and my red wine flew across the table. Gell-Mann said nothing and the hostess simply replaced the wine – then he did it again – and again. Three ugly red splodges. No-one said a thing (his wife, Margaret, was opposite, next to the other Numpty) and my embarrassment grew. Afterwards, the hostess said “He always does that!”. If only she had warned me in advance! I remember that event more than anything I learned about quarks. But let me raise a final glass to the great man who is sadly no longer with us.

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