Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Kea’

Crossword No 4500 What Have We Come To? by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 May 2018

Well, we have come to number 4500 and we were expecting something special to mark it and when, in a London Internet café, I downloaded a crossword by Kea, we were clearly celebrating that event.  He did set my all-time Listener favourite, ‘Admission’, where the cherry tree that Washington (child) chopped with his little hatchet fell into its own shape. He set ‘Safe-Cracking’, too, which is the favourite of many other solvers (and gave us that TAPU/TABU that spoiled quite a few ‘all corrects’ ours included, some years ago).

A fine short preamble gave us an original device: ‘Taking the letter in each clue that immediately precedes the first occurrence of a letter shared with its answer, or the shared letter itself if it’s the first in the clue, will spell out a message that includes a one-word title. The message describes what solvers must highlight and where in the grid it appears (30 cells in total)’. Great to have no jumbles, misprints or extra letters in the wordplay but, instead, a device that developed the message as the solve progressed.

Did Kea qualify for the setters’ oenophile outfit? Well, we’d all be in a mess if he didn’t but he didn’t have much alcohol content in his clues (even if we saw him with glass in hand at the Listener three-monthly gathering at the Sir John Oldcastle in Farringdon the next day – the next one is the last Saturday of July). ‘Make blessed with spirit, tousling inwardly with corruption (6)’ isn’t, it seems a prompt to get completely plastered on whisky but a prompt to remove the outer letters of tOUSLINg and corrupt, or anagram them giving INSOUL. Then we found ‘Equips with juice, invigorating le sport (7)’ Clearly Kea is prompting us to take a hip flask along when we are ski-ing and to teeter and totter down the pistes – but no, it has to be an anagram again and all it gives is PETROLS so he is into drunken driving. Ah well, cheers anyway, Kea!

These clues had nothing like the complexity that we have grown to expect from Kea but they were clearly the clues of a master and we soon sorted out the message SONG FROM HELLO AND BAND IN SIX PARALLEL LINES. The search began. We know very little about British soaps, media and pop groups so ‘Hello’ said nothing to us and we searched in horizontal, then vertical and finally diagonal lines. ‘Hah here’s something! But surely this isn’t an editorial attempt to finally rid us of that little Poat Hare – A CAT ATE – then we find H?RE’ – but no, the little fellow seems to have escaped by a whisker when we put OBOLARY into that gap and we hunt on.

4500 Times – What have we come to!

STATUS QUO appears next. Of course, What have we come to? The status quo, 4500 crosswords – that’s nice. We have to Google to find something about 4500 on an album by Status Quo called Hello. And there it is: What a find! Forty Five Hundred Times  However did Kea spot that – even with The TIMES included? Many thanks to Kea.


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

‘What Have We Come To?’ by Kea

Posted by Encota on 18 May 2018

You solve puzzle 4500 and this phrase appears:


Here Kea is assuming all Listener solvers know their 20th Century music which is bound to be part of the theme: he is clearly referencing, in the jumble of the emboldened characters,  the lesser known song from their 1978 Parallel Lines album BLONDIE’S “LAX IN HAND”.



Bit busy this week – apologies for the shortened blog 🙂  Great puzzle Kea, many thanks!


Tim / Encota

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Listener No 4500: What Have We Come To? by Kea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 May 2018

Last year’s Kea puzzle celebrated Chrysanthemum Day and, before that, we had the Dunmow Flitch, a Playfair puzzle. If I remembered correctly, Dunmow was tricky and Chrysanthemum not, so I wondered if we were in for another toughie.

Since 4500 was a relatively significant Listener milestone, I keyed it into my favourite mathematical site, Wolfram Alpha. It told me that 4500 was 1000110010100 in binary, 2²×3²×5³, 12²+66², 30²+60², MMMMD as a Roman number… and an even number, which I knew.

Now, MMMMD looked promising, and a quick check with Tea showed that those letters appeared in order in carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, which translates as Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow. Interesting. Tea also gave me the proverb … jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today. Also interesting, but contradictory! Time would tell if either were relevant.

A novel message-revealing device faced us here: we had to take the letter in the clue which preceded the first letter found in the answer, or first letter if that were found in the answer. Getting 5ac within the first two minutes had me up and running: Psychoanalytic test has gold and iron separated by talking (7) with AU and FE soon revealed AUFGABE. However, the drop-down entries were not your everyday words: ASCH (an author), UNWAYED (intractable, obs), FEART (afraid, Scot), ACOLITHS (statues) and ENSKY (put in the sky, Shak).

Three interesting surfaces appealed to me this week: 16ac Smash laboratory, freeing its experimental animal? Lamb’s very badly off (7) (gruesome), 22ac Closet’s function is to suppress a natural affection (6) (back to the ’60s) and 33ac Last longer than Jethro Tull’s vocal parts in items played at gig (6, two words). Loved the last which gave SEE OUT — (J)E(thr)O (T)U(ll) in SET. STORGE must be word of the week though!

Eventually, the message gave Song from Hello! and band in six parallel lines. It didn’t take long to reveal FORTY FIVE HUNDRED TIMES & STATUS QUO in the NW–SE diagonals. This was the final song on their 1973 album Hello!

My head started spinning — should I seize the day, wait for jam tomorrow or keep the status quo?

Good fun, thanks Kea.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Is there a National Day for Everything*?

Posted by Encota on 29 September 2017

First of all, what a visually elegant puzzle – thank you Kea!  The mix of accurate clueing and vocabulary were a delight.

Next, the Title.  With Saturday 9th September being National Chrysanthemum Day* the publication of this flower-shaped grid with six unclued Chrysanthemums in the puzzle certainly matched the Theme of the Day.  The Unclued flowers were:

  • Button
  • Pompom
  • Korean
  • Corn marigold
  • Shasta daisy, and
  • Yellow ox-eye

It took me a while to tune in to the fact that the clues were presented in Clockwise and Anticlockwise groups.

One of my favourite clues was the ‘hidden’:

Inside submarine pen, the Annapolis is oblivious (10)

… for NEPENTHEAN, very well disguised.

There were some superb other clues too, including the beautifully-surfaced:

  • Germany no longer has strength in beer (7) for ALMAINE and
  • Colours Picasso used regularly for evergreen plants (7) for CLUSIAS

Probably in the easiest third of Listener puzzles based on the year to date, no doubt intentionally.

In summary: great puzzle – loved it!

Tim / Encota

* I did test my there’s a National <insert subject here> Day for everything theory.   I needed something random to try.  I looked around my study desk for inspiration.  I know, how about National Paper Clip Day?  Auntie Google’s reply?  May 29th.  Good grief!!!

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Theme of the Day by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 September 2017

What a beautiful grid – it’s a flower. Hang on a minute, isn’t tomorrow the ninth day of the ninth month? Chrysanthemum Day in Japan? A quick check with Wiki and we have the theme before entering our first solution. Kiku no Sekku, Wiki tells me, one of the five ancient sacred festivals of Japan. My pleasure is doubled when I see that the setter is Kea. He set my all-time favourite Listener crossword, ‘Admission’, the one that had the cherry tree that the juvenile George Washington is said to have chopped with his hatchet. I won’t be able to grumble about the quality of any of the clues this week!

There’s no way one of the editors can be excluded from the Listener setters’ boozy outfit either, but Kea gives me no cause for concern; ‘Dry run barring prisons (4)’ doesn’t sound too auspicious until I realize that that gives BUT around R(un) so we are celebrating the chrysanthemums with champagne. I have seen Kea, more often with a glass of beer in his hand, and, sure enough, ‘Germany no longer has strength in beer (6)’ proves to be not a comment on the weak quality of Germany’s favourite drink but MAIN in ALE, ALMAINE, an old word for Germany. So cheers, Kea, see you at the bar in Paris.

I haven’t enjoyed solving a Listener crossword so much for ages. Why? Because there is no gimmick – no misprint, jumble, missing letter from the wordplay, extra letter in the clue or any other of those tiresome thingumajiggies. Once we have seen that the clues are separated into ‘Clockwise’ and ‘Anticlockwise’, (which tokk us a moment – the alternative was rather fearsome to imagine!) this is a steady solve with smiles along the way.

‘Hunky beast associated with vinegar (9)’ has us resorting to Chambers; COPACETIC fits the cells that are already half completed and the BRB tells us that it means ‘excellent’ so we work out that ‘beast’ must be the COP bit and the ‘associated with vinegar’ not more leftovers from the boozy club but the ACETIC bit.

We have known from the start that the unclued  entries are associated with the theme and CORN MARIGOLD quickly appears, shortly followed by SHASTA DAISY, YELLOW OX-EYE and BUTTON, with ?OREAN prompting us to select KOREAN since we know that the chrysanthemum is celebrated in Korea. We are left with just one cell to fill and Kea is not going to give us everything on a plate (remember that TABU/TAPU event! Beware!) The ODE confirms 15, we were told and the ODE gives us a choice of POMPON or POMPOM.

Sly,  eh? Rather than obliging us to clumsily write CHRYSANTHEMUM below the grid, Kea is telling us to form the word from the letters in the asterisked cells thus fixing that final letter as M. A lovely final touch.

Did I say final? Well, I scoured the grid for Poat’s HARE and found a couple of HEARs as well as ‘Hear again’ in the clues but surely Kea wouldn’t descend to such subterfuges. Then I spotted that DOE cavorting with one of the HEARs so all is well.

No hare drawings from me this week – instead here’s a hare who came to me via Kea. He’s the one who was spotted at Dublin Airport apparently smoking a cigarette.

Hare was spotted having a cigarette

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »