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Posts Tagged ‘Kite’

Bright Spark by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 Sep 2019

Of course we are away from home when I download this week’s Listener. When Chambers and Mrs Bradford are not comfortingly on the table, we invariably download a Sabre, Quinapalus, Mash or a Shark. We are enjoying the end of season festivities of friends who operate activities in Morzine – a jolly ‘knees up’ with local musicians and traditional wine and song. The last thing we need is a tough solve, even if it is bound to be rewarding, compiled, as it is, by a previous Ascot Gold Cup winner.

Does Shark still qualify for his place in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? I scan the clues and have to say “Only just!” ‘Looked after old drunk (8)’ gives us a rather surprising double definition clue. I didn’t know that ‘overseen’ could once mean drunk. However, things become more interesting when we get to ‘Colour of seabed gunk dissipated’ (11)’ We discard the K from the anagram of OF SEABED GUNK and produce SANG-DE-BOEUF. Yes, that gives the colour red, but bulls’ blood has an intriguing past in the wine industry where, until it was banned during the ‘mad cow disease’ period, powdered bulls’ blood was used to clarify red wines here in France.

It gets better. Sangre de Toro is near to the bottom row of any Spanish supermarket shelf and we have quaffed a considerable quantity of it in our time so a hearty “Santé, salud, Shark”. Image result for picture sangre de toro wine

Yes, those were subtle clues and we could say that of most of the others too and we struggled our way to a grid fill, breathing a sigh of relief when we managed, for example to find a clash when two more generous clues, this time giving us an extra N (‘Wild rat (6)’ = DESERT and ‘River rising in Massif Central’s small lake (4)’ = TARN).

SOFI clashed with LIMBIC, BUMS clashed with VISEED, SALSE clashed with DAYDREAMERS, NEALE clashed with SEE A WOLF, and TAK clashed with AIRGLOW, and by opting for real words each time, we teased out an intriguing BEN FRANKLIN and, with the title Bright Spark had an inkling of the theme. The single letters we have been dropping from ‘clues that do not result in a clash’ confirm our suspicion. We have SHEET, FORKED, CHAIN, BALL and BLITZ so that we know that it is LIGHTNING that we are going to find and highlight in nine letters undoubtedly coming from the heavens.

Wikipedia obliges, as usual, and confirms that we need a wet hemp string, a kite, a key and a Leyden Jar

‘According to the 1767 Priestley account, Franklin realized the dangers of using conductive rods and instead used the conductivity of a wet hemp string attached to a kite. This allowed him to stay on the ground while his son assisted him to fly the kite from the shelter of a nearby shed. This enabled Franklin and his son to keep the silk string of the kite dry to insulate them while the hemp string to the kite was allowed to get wet in the rain to provide conductivity. A house key … was attached to the hemp string and connected to a Leyden Jara; a silk string was attached to this. … The kite was not struck by visible lightning; had it been, Franklin would almost certainly have been killed. However, Franklin did notice that loose threads of the kite string were repelling each other and deduced that the Leyden jar was being charged. He moved his hand near the key and observed an electric spark, proving the electric nature of lightning.

It is in hunting for these ‘four components’ that we realize what a masterful compilation this is. KITE and STRING give us ten letters and we extend them with twelve more, LEYDEN JAR and KEY, but wonder how we can find a ‘related 6-letter word’ that can be ‘traced twice, starting from the same cell’ and then in a metaphoric flash of lightning, we see that STRIKE goes up through the kite and down the STRIng and into the KEy.

We do our sketch of the thematic outcome but Shark hasn’t finished yet. We still neeed to drop letters to the ground, producing ELECTRICITY and retaining real words. Brilliant indeed!

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A Paper Construction by Zero

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 Jan 2018

The last one before Christmas and we are going to be creating a paper construction – surely not another wren but maybe it will be another lovely star. One of my favourite Listener crosswords was that star we had to cut out some years ago just before Christmas. This time there are just going to be three folds but we have to find something vaguely mathematical if those extra words that immediately leap out of the down clues are telling us anything. Actually they told me ‘Aspect ratio of rectangle expressed as square root’ and it took the other Numpty to tell me what that meant when we returned from some pre-Christmas celebrating and got down to solving.

He patiently explained that we have a 17/12 grid and that to express that as a decimal gives 1.416666 (repeating) and that if you square that you get just about 2, so to express 17/12 as a square root requires the square root symbol and a 2 – simples! (Later – I’ve been discussing it with a young uni double maths relative at a family party and he commented that those words ‘closely approximated’ were relevant as there isn’t an exact equivalent here, but also that 2 is a numerical symbol, as is that square root symbol. It’s just a mite above my O’ level maths!

Of course we had solved a number of clues before we reached that final touch and I had checked Zero’s continued right to membership of the Listener Oenophile outfit. He seemed to be drinking Starbuck’s coffee at first ‘Original rumour to start in Starbuck’s coffee tube to restrict throughput (7)’ ‘Rumour’ we realized was one of the extra kites and planes that were appearing but I have to admit that I don’t understand the rest of the VENTURI that appeared in our grid and fitted the definition.

The next fluid clue was ‘Down under turn poorly after fluid’s gone (4)’ We know how sick an Aussie can feel when there is no wine or beer left, but ultimately we decided this had to be an Australian turn, or UEY (FLUEY, minus the FL), with one of those intriguing spaces that were appearing – four in all, as well as the centre section where we very early on spotted that the song title was LET’S GO F.LY A KITE (so that it was going to be a kite or a plane or bird we were creating).

I was beginning to despair about Zero’s membership ticket until the PUBLICAN appeared. ‘Jockey club expressed pain to host (8)’ The ‘expressed’ was needed for that description of a quantity so that left us with the lovely anagram indicator ‘Jockey’ and CLUB PAIN*. Nice one – so cheers, Zero. See you at the setters’ dinner in Paris in March?

We were lucky in that we spotted those empty cells at the start of ELBOW-GREASE, SCRAGGINESS and LUDO, and at the end of ADVANCE and UEY fairly early in our solve so that we knew which cells were to be used to complete our construction but actually producing a kite took me almost as long as our solve. My original attempt had so many creases in it that Mr Green would surely have eliminated it. Happily, I finally managed to produce a pointed thing that looked plausible.

I have relentlessly hunted for that Poat hare in four consecutive letters in a straight line every week of the year and found him in contiguous letters (as he is on a couple of occasions this week), being transfixed by a Hastings arrow, run over by the HS2, hiding in the preamble or in the clues, or simply cavorting in setters’ grids but it must be time to call a Christmas truce and accept that he simply doesn’t exist. RIP Hare.

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