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Posts Tagged ‘Serpent’

Listener 4619: ‘Artistic Licence’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 28 Aug 2020

First of all thanks to Serpent for a gentle and entertaining puzzle!

The extra letters / words were cleverly hidden.  In my solve, the words United States v one book called … appeared pretty quickly, along with a few other words.  I didn’t recognise the phrase but soon located it with the help of Auntie Google.  “His locale was Celtic and his season Spring”, from Judge Woolsey in the 1933 obscenity case against James Joyce’s Ulysses.

There were some lovely, ‘clean’ surfaces, e.g.
Blown-up image is enormous (4),
where the ‘i’ of image was dropped and MAGE* became MEGA.

The neatest feature in the grid, I thought, was the conversion from OBSCENE NOVEL on Row 7 to ULYSSES JOYCE whilst maintaining real words throughout.  

Just like L4618 last week, this felt like one of the easier puzzles of recent times – though perhaps several in a row are now going to feel like that, coming closely after ‘that Sabre’ at L4617!!

Thanks again to Serpent!

Cheers & keep safe all,

Tim / Encota

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Artistic Licence by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Aug 2020

First Numpty comment -“At last we have a short preamble!” We read through it and there is nothing to alarm us except that we are going to be looking for extra words OR letters and these might be anywhere in the clue, not just in the wordplay.

Serpent is a regular at the three-monthly gatherings of Listener enthusiasts in Farringdon and I haven’t seen him favouring the orange juice, so don’t really need to check his retention of membership of the elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit (Dave’s website tells me it is his fourth Listener) but I scan his clues anyway to be sure and gloom descends. There isn’t much to drink in them. ‘Refusal to harm consumers in area where police operate (5)’  (Well, I suppose that must be referring to police presence outside the pub at closing time). We extract the R from ‘consumers’ and the MAR (to harm) ‘consumes’ the ‘refusal ‘NO’ giving MANOR. That’s clever cluing! We found a combination of easy and generous clues and sneaky, more subtle ones in this puzzle (‘married’ producing ‘marred’, ‘opinions’ producing ‘pinions’ and so on).

‘Little girls stop kneeling over to drink fizzy pop (7)’ Surely we aren’t with that crossword setters’ favourite, ASTI. But no, it’s another of those device indicators – more obvious this time. We remove the extra letter N and have STEM (stop) ‘keeling over’ and ‘drinking POP* giving MOPPETS.

Fortunately for Serpent, he finally gets to something drinkable in his last clue. ‘Called learned revolutionary on the phone (4)’. That’s another old chestnut for setters isn’t it? When else do we call a revolutionary a RED? (This time we ‘hear’ READ and extract the extra word ‘Called’) However, let’s raise a glass of red. Cheers, Serpent!

The grid fills steadily and by the time the other Numpty disappears to cook the dinner, we have the bones of a message; HIS LOCALE WAS CELTIC AND HIS SEASON SPRING. I suppose that could be Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, G B Shaw, Samuel Beckett or James Joyce (I put those in a descending order with the one I appreciate the least at the end – my Grade Thirteen students, who slogged through some of Ulysses with me, were barely more enthusiastic than I was). Of course, I need Google and feeding that sentence in produces the final words of our crossword solve. UNITED STATES V ONE BOOK CALLED … ‘ULYSSES’ of course!

It’s all there in Google – how John Woolsey allowed publication of Ulysses in the USA on the grounds that the ‘obscene language does not promote lust’. I suspect that lust would be the last response of anyone who manages to plough through the novel (though I imagine there are some out there who consider it to be the century’s masterpiece?).

It takes me a while to find the three words to change. OBSCENE NOVEL leaps out at me but I expect to be producing JAMES JOYCE ULYSSES IS NOT … OBSCENE NOVEL. When the penny drops and WOOLSEY replaces ROUTINE, there is that pleasure of seeing all real words in the final grid. Nice one, Serpent.

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Listener No 4619: Artistic Licence by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 Aug 2020

This was Serpent’s fourth Listener, following on from last year’s subject of Tina (courtesy Maggie Thatcher) and Androgenic Alopecia in 2017. Here we had an extra letter or word that needed to be removed before solving which would give a comment and most of its context.

The clues came together steadily and it seemed that most of them simply yielded an extra letter rather than word. The acrosses seemed to reveal something to do with Celtic, so I assumed that we were dealing with a football theme. The first extra word I got was United in 26dn followed immediately by States in 27dn. That made football unlikely but not out of the question.

Perhaps the extra v in 29dn (vindicated becoming indicated) should have given me a clue that we were dealing with some US legal situation, but it didn’t. Eventually, the extras gave His locale was Celtic and his season spring. United States v one book called…. Talk about leaving you (me) dangling… not to mentioned confused!

Meanwhile, there were some entertaining clues. 6ac Said you must leave married circuit judge (6) where married became marred [(CIRCUIT – U)*] to give CRITIC, and 11ac Sailor’s stopped hostilities only to treat lovers (6, two words) (lovers becoming overs) for HOVE TO [HO + VET + O]. My favourite was probably 8dn Point one brightens the display (5) with the s of brightens departing to give TENTH [(brigh)TEN TH(e)] and a neatly devious definition. (I have to say that I thought displays should have been the hidden indicator.)

I first tried the ODQ to see if that helped track down what was going on, but it didn’t, so googling came to the rescue to give part of the summing up by one Judge Woolsey on whether Ulysess should be allowed to be published in the States back in 1933. It was.

Finding the three entries that needed to be changed to relevant names wasn’t too taxing as JOYCE, ULYSSES and WOOLSEY seemed likely candidates. They were slotted in at 25a, 23ac and 12ac respectively.

Not too stressful a week so thanks, Serpent.

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L4557: ‘Choice Words’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 21 Jun 2019

For several years I have exchanged birthday cards with a brother, where the aim is to send the naffest card one can find.  This allows a whole year for browsing to find something that is really ghastly, or at the very least memorable in some way.  It becomes quite addictive …

This year he recently sent me a card (available from O’Neill Classics) with a picture of an empostered Ford Anglia, alongside Margaret Thatcher campaigning in Finchley for the 1964 General Election.  So the theme was timely – for me, anyway!

2019-06-10 10.53.14 copy

I could of course claim an almost complete lack of FMC knowledge and declare it a Ford CorTINA …

I really enjoy the accuracy to the definitions in the BRB in Jason’s clues – there is something so satisfying stumbling across the appropriate one.

I haven’t seen the gimmick using aORb words before – a great idea!  EN-OR-MOUS as the answer, for example, but where either EN or MOUS is only entered into the Grid.

With the phrase THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE arising from jumbling together of the discarded parts from across answers, that simply left TINA to be found as its acronym in the grid – upwards in Column 4, if you are asking.  And the equivalent jumbling from Down clues gave, of course, MARGARET THATCHER.

I did try hunting for some alternative jumbles.  Across clues could fancifully describe her supporters, with A ROSETTE IN THEIR NAVEL.  And Down clues couldn’t possibly be complete without THAT GREAT CHARMER.


Tim / Encota


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Listener No 4557: Choice Words from Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 21 Jun 2019

Listener No 4557 was from a getting-prolific setter! Previously, we’ve had No 4459, Shock Therapy on the subject of alopecia, and before that No 4408, Child’s Play with its snakes and ladders.

This week, adjustments to answers before entry (ten of them) and adjustments to clues before solving (another eight). The dropped bits from the acrosses could be arranged to form a 20-letter phrase, and those from the downs gave someone who was a proponent of said phrase. Exactly how big the bits were was for us to discover but two or three letters seemed likely.

Of course, it turned out that most of them were longer. In the acrosses, 12ac Original sin lacking appeal on vacation strangely for young men (4) led to SIGNORINI which had to be entered as SIGN and 13ac Intrepid learner takes space for parking in vain (3) giving [VAPOR]OUS. The downs were equally deceptive, especially in 7dn Players caught in opening of Greco-Roman wrestling get flattened essentially (5) where Greco-Roman eventually got truncated to Oman.

It soon became clear that the bits dropped from the acrosses gave far more than the letters required for the 20-letter thematic phrase. Similarly, the downs for the 16-letter mystery individual. As usual, I decided to carry on until the grid was filled and all the missing bits had been identified.

I particularly liked the clue to 35ac Giant tailless rodent giving up front of den to rest (4), which looked like ENORMOUS but needed a bit of head-scratching to reveal DORMOUS(e) having D(en) replaced by (d)EN. Also, 17dn Pan(orama) losing focus to fashionable circle by complaint (8) for SWINE-POX — SWEEP with middle E replaced by IN + O + X. 16ac Craft clerical role with nothing for established church (4, two words) had me confused for a bit, pondering whether the clerical role was PRIESTSHIP or PRIORSHIP (in fact it was RECTORSHIP). I was lucky to double-check my entries as I originally scrawled RESOURCE in at 19dn Secure And[orra] or disrupt freedom to return (8) instead of RECOURSE.

The abundance of ORs in the dropped bits of the across answers and all the ors in the down clues was apparent fairly early on and pointed us in the right direction. Well, sort of… they needed to be ignored. I decided to try and identify the individual from the downs: T H GREC T TER AMA RA R initially led me to Graham Ratchetter who was close enough for me to stumble across Margaret Thatcher. Unfortunately, her 20-letter phrase eluded me, mainly, I suspect, because I lived in the States for most of her time as Prime Minister.

The across bits dropped from answers gave INI VAL ROT E T H SH E TER OR and it wasn’t too difficult to wonder if alternative was lurking. A bit of play with the remaining letters gave there is no alternative. Despite having come across this as TINA in crosswords quite a few times, I had never associated it with Thatcher. Well I do now.

Thanks, Serpent, good fun.

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