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Posts Tagged ‘Mr E’

My Nap by Mr E

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 July 2019

Redstart and Wren flew out at me as I was printing Mr E’s crossword so I suspected that we were going to have something like a Hedge Sparrow compilation. Of course, I then checked that Mr E was retaining his admission to the Listener Oenophile Elite and he left me in little doubt. The ‘pints’ started it off (though they were ‘cuckoo’). ‘Sundials upended – note one among cuckoo pints (9)’ gave us SOL + I in ARUMS = SOLARIUMS. Things became a bit more boozy with ‘Members of Russian sect do OK mixing brandy with shrub (9)’. We extracted the brandy as an extra word and mixed DO OK with SHRUB to get DUKHOBORS (fortunately the other Numpty had heard of them so our grid fill advanced substantially).

Things improved after that shrubby brandy, ‘When imbibing spirit, they may favour the young bourbons (7)’. Again we extracted the alcohol and opted for AS rounf GEIST, giving us AGEISTS. With the pints, followed by the brandy then the bourbons, we can safely say “Cheers, Mr E!”

The grid filled easily except for those wretched jumbles. Yes, we spotted the WIRE, the MUSTELINE and the SUCKER but how were we going to jumble them. Fortunately a phrase emerged from the extra letters WHAT AN ADDITION TO … THAT WOULD BE and better still, BECKETT. I pride myself on knowing Beckett’s works quite well having worked with students on ‘Malone Dies’, ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘Endgame’ many times, but I had never encountered ‘Company’, and the ODQ was no help. Yet again, thank you for the Internet.

And what a delight to see that adding a little COMPANY (CO) to those jumbled words would give CONTUMELIES, COCKSURE, COWRIE, COPPERNOSE and CONCIERGE. We were left with one empty cell: TOE? Well, I know that the TOEA is the coinage of Papua New Guinea and that is ‘sort of’ on edge of Australia’ but can ‘ordinary’ be coinage and is TEA a writer of mysteries. Flummoxed! I wondered whether any solverswill opted for TOEA (and not TEY round O, TOEY, which apparently means ‘on edge’ in Australia.

Gentle and good fun. Many thanks to Mr E.

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L4562: ‘My Nap’ by Mr E

Posted by Encota on 26 July 2019

As soon as 17ac’s entry began to look like -NCIERGE I knew we were in for a treat.  Mr E’s use of the not-so-easy-to-find quotation, “What an addition to company that would be”, from Beckett’s novella Company, was delightful.

It transpired that the ‘normal’ clues had to be entered in a jumble, such that the addition of CO- for Company at each start would form a new word.  So, as well as (CO)NCIERGE, the puzzle featured (CO)WRIE, (CO)NTUMELIES, (CO)CKSURE & (CO)PPERNOSE.

And the Title?  With Mr E, we’re clearly in good (CO)MPANY*.


Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4562: My Nap by Mr E

Posted by Dave Hennings on 26 July 2019

Two years ago, Mr E gave us Nostrum, with Alice, The Mad Hatter, a Raven and a Writing Desk. That had a lot going on, and came close to tripping me up. This week, a puzzle that looked likely to reflect part of my day during hot summer weather.

Here, we had a few normal clues — well, thanks. Unfortunately, they had to be entered all jumbly in accordance with a quotation found “several times in a work”. The remaining clues had an extra word to be removed with their initial letters spelling out the quotation (minus the title) and the writer’s name.

In fact, the clues started off being quite straightforward, with 1ac [Weary] flyer to get going again around beginning of December (8) giving REDSTART and 7ac Pervert [hates] wife — and all others (5) for WREST, although the pervert meaning was new to me.

With but a rotor as an anagram for OBTURATOR, the top was looking good. Unfortunately, my solving speed began to look less good as there were some interesting clues to unravel but some entertaining surface readings. I particularly liked 14ac Flower from tree in Penny Lane [neighbourhood] (7) (PRIMULA — RIMU in P + LA) and Chemical engineer in Sweden [discussing] the best source of tungsten (9) (SCHEELITE — CHE in S + ELITE). 10dn A bit of rainfall [looming], he drops out of the running (5) (TRACE) describes me when it comes to playing golf.

The normal clues led to GENERIC, SUCKER, MUSTELINE, WIRE and PROPENSE. Three of these could easily be entered as there was only one unch: NCIERGE, CKSURE and WRIE.

Eventually, I had the titleless quotation and author given by What an addition to that would be. Beckett. Unfortunately, my ODQ revealed nothing that could come to the rescue. However, with NCIERGE and CKSURE across the middle of the grid, CONCIERGE and COCKSURE stuck out like a sore thumb and with CO + MY NAP giving COMPANY, I was on the right track. [CO]WRIE was at 7dn.

My ODQ still didn’t help, so it appeared that this was a puzzle where a couple of ducks were required. (I’ve changed my search engine to duckduckgo!). Company is a novella by Beckett in which “… what an addition to company that would be…” appears several times.

So, just finishing off those two ambiguous entries, gave us [CO]NTUMELIES and [CO]PPERNOSE. I think I owe thanks to Mr E for having the cocksure concierge across the middle of the grid as I am not sure that I would have made the connection quite so quickly if they had been downs.

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Mr E.

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Listener No 4440: Nostrum by Mr E

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 March 2017

One of the trickier setters faced us this week, with Mr E’s ninth Listener. I know that he’s tricky because he’s tripped me up once in the last ten years. This week, there was quite a long preamble, telling us that 25 clues had the good old extra wordplay letter. The difference here was that they didn’t lead to an instruction but to a question with two words missing and a post hoc answer which had also affected definitions in two clues.

My first job was to look up post hoc in Chambers, where it was defined as “after the event”. Hmmm…! The rest of the preamble made some sort of sense, and I wrote the key elements at the top of my solving notes: circled letters = two-word description; two normally-clued entries needed to be changed; two normally-clue entries needed to be jumbled together.

I was happy to get 11ac Page consisting of stories about Britain’s first slot machines (9) gave PINTABLES on my first run through the clues, but disappointed that I initially failed the preceding clue Nancy’s score in extremely precise examination (11, two words), despite recognising that Nancy’s score was probably VINGT.

I must admit that my success with most of the acrosses was minimal, so I hoped for better luck with the downs. 2 Like meadows in Peru (6) was PLEASE, but that clashed with 11ac. It was at this point that I read my notes at the top of the page to try and help with understanding this clash, but I wasn’t sure what was going on.

A few downs dropping from the top row enabled DRIVING TEST to be slotted in. One of these downs was what looked like Joe ORTON, but the clue Who was heard by which protagonist? He wrote plays (5) had to wait until the end for me to rationalise it. [I’m sorry, but Horton Hears a Who was something I was only vaguely aware of.]

With the grid about three-quarters filled, 2dn was S•IL•R, so SAILOR. Rereading the preamble made me realise what was going on, and given 36ac CENTIPEDE, a bit of reverse solving enabled me to get Dreadful battle without a sense of purpose (9) (DIRE + ACTION – A). Thus (PLEASE DIRECTION)* gave SAILOR CENTIPEDE.

After about three hours of solving, I had a full grid and only one clue left to rationalise, that at 24dn Saw results with prover accepting this alteration of rules (7) which was BEDDING, BEADING or BENDING, and my money was on the last. Obvious, really… PROVERB (saw) resulting from PROVER given a B ending!!

So, what now? I suppose we had to solve the riddle: Why is a SAILOR like a CENTIPEDE? There’s a B in both! I needed help from the circled squares which I jotted down as D M H A R E T T A. Well, blow me, there’s that bloody HARE again! [Careful, you’re beginning to sound like Shirley. Ed.]

It took a few seconds to see MAD HATTER, at which point the riddle in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland rang bells. I needed to check my copy of the book (so much more rewarding than googling) to remind myself of “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” More bells rang, this time closer to home, as I saw the similarity with DRIVING TEST where the unchecked letters could neatly be changed to give WRITING DESK, and with RIVEN becoming RAVEN, I was beginning to see where Mr E was coming from.

Solving the riddle, “Why is a sailor like a centipede?” didn’t take long: “They both have C (sea) legs.” And there at the edge of the middle row were the LEGS, and just above it SEA. What an annoying SEA that was, as I spent ages on and off trying to map ten more letters “symmetrically about a horizontal axis”.

In all, it took at least another hour before I saw TERRA dropping down in columns 4 and 5, and working from there, MEDITERRANEAN appeared in the shape of a C. And that explained the title — Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) was how the Romans referred to the Med.

What an enjoyable puzzle, Mr E, despite the fear that I wouldn’t get there. Looking forward to next time.

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Nostrum by Mr E

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 March 2017

‘Nostrum’ said the other Numpty – well, that’s Mare Nostrum, the Med, isn’t it. But we shelved that useful bit of information and it was quite a long time before we returned to it.

sea-legs-001It didn’t take long, though, to confirm Mr E’s continued membership of the Listener Setter’s Tipsy Club, though we realized fairly early on, when the letters in the circles produced MAD HATTER (a great favourite of mine) that we were at a tea party, of all things, with Alice, the Dormouse and the March Hare. (That dratted HARE. I thought Hedge-sparrow had done for him a week ago by having the four HARE letters in a straight line run over by the HIGH SPEED TWO!)

Mr E gives his game away at once, ‘Relating to absorption of smells surrounding drunkard (7)’ gives OSMIC around [S]OT = OSMOTIC – so we have a ‘sot’ and ‘drunkard’. Apologies Mr E but there it is in the clues! See you at the bar next Friday? Cheers!hare-and-hatter-001

We back-solved, really, since as soon as we had the MAD HATTER, we were able to complete the truncated question produced by the extra letters in the wordplay of clues.  ‘WHY IS A RAVEN LIKE A WRITING DESK?’ has produced years of entertaining answers (even though Carroll himself told us that ‘The Riddle. as originally invented, had no answer at all’).

Our friend that elusive HARE isn’t much help in solving the riddle as we are told he hasn’t a clue either:

`Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

`No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: `what’s the answer?’

`I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.

`Nor I,’ said the March Hare.

We could see where to change a solution to insert RAVEN. RIVEN had already appeared in our grid ‘Poet’s raft, forcefully sent away without leader (5)’ = [D]RIVEN, Keatsian RAFT and the Spenserian word for the past participle of RIVE, and the only likely place to insert WRITING DESK was where we had DRIVING TEST, ‘Nancy’s score in extremely precise examination (11, two words)’. How I like that clever clue: VINGT in DRIEST. In fact, our first scan through the clues had shown us a whole series of beautifully convincing and deceptive surface readings – what a fine compilation!

001Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is the source of so many great crossword themes and Martin Gardner’s ‘The Annotated Alice – Lewis Carroll‘ exhaustively deals with the details of Carroll’s brilliantly absurd fiction. I remembered that E.V. Rieu provided the most popular solution to the riddle which is as absurd as the riddle itself – and Gardner’s note confirmed it: ‘There is a B in Both’ (and an N in Neither’ is often appended).

We still had to find the two solutions that were to be jumbled to produce a new question and Mr E’s grid made it clear where they were to be found since the answer to 2d was obviously PLEASE: ‘Like meadows in Peru (6)’ LEAS in PE, and 36ac seemed to be DIRECTION: ‘Dreadful battle without a sense of purpose (9)’ DIRE ACTION less A. So we had to jumble PLEASE with DIRECTION to produce the two words that were to fit into those lights and complete a new question. TEA is so useful for such problems. I do sometimes wonder how solvers with no access to such tools manage to solve complex anagrams and the like. We are given the words that clearly fitted those lights in the grid – CENTIPEDE and SAILOR.  With a whoop of triumph, I announced ‘Why is a sailor like a centipede?’ It’s yet another of those groan-worthy Christmas cracker jokes isn’t it? ‘They both have C legs’. We thought all was done and dusted – but oh no, we had a considerable amount of head scratching before seeing the C formed by MEDITERRANEAN, even though the LEGS were leaping out of the grid at us.

Mr E had given the essential clue hadn’t he? ’17 cells, located symmetrically about a horizontal axis: that told us very clearly that one cell (at least) had to be in the centre row of the grid. Thank you, Mr E. Great fun.

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