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Posts Tagged ‘Shark’

Flappy by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 October 2020

It is always a pleasure to see Shark’s name at the head of a crossword. We know the clues will really challenge us but also that there will be a stunning endgame. The last half of the preamble tells us that, but first, we have to solve those tough clues.
Of course I hunt for the alcohol though I know this one-time Listener Ascot Gold Cup winner (as half of the Rood team) has to remain in the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophiles. I’m halfway down the down clues with no solutions leaping out at me before I get to ‘Stacked barrels in wet – it’s pelted (7)’. No half measures for Shark, (and who would have thought that bbl was an abbreviation for barrels!) This is a typical Shark clue – there’s that touch of smutty humour as his ‘wet’ is PEED and we get PEBBLED when we put all those barrels in (no wonder there was some peeing) but we have to hunt in Chambers to confirm that ‘pelted’ can be a synonym for ‘pebbled’ (to stone or pelt, the Big Red Book tells me) so with all those barrels, Cheers, Shark.
We fumble through the clues for  long time, trying to see what the words that we putatively extract might have in common but then we have our first penny-drop-moment. They all have an odd number of letters – there’s not much else we can see in common for ‘batsman’, sparkling’, ‘serious’, ‘scrapping’ and so on. The obvious letter to extract is the middle one and doing that gives us a curious series of words and partial words. However, it also delights us when we realize that the words we are leaving are also real words (brilliant, Shark – that’s masterly!) Second p.d.m. We have RUMEN around SKIPPER, KINGSHOOD around MONARCH, BIBLE around PEACOCK and MAW around HEATH. We have no trouble recognising those butterflies (we had them as flutter-byes in a recent Spoonerising Listener not long ago, didn’t we, and in Eclogues EV just a week ago?), but we have to check the stomachs and are delighted to find that the four stomachs of a ruminant appear in order here. So we are ‘Flappy’ because we have ‘butterflies in the stomach’. That was fun but it was in the clues and Shark, of course, has something in the grid too – we have already guessed what those curves we are going to draw will represent, but we get a double surprise when ADMIRAL, PAPILIO, VANESSA and BRIMSTONE go into a second set of stomachs, PAUNCH, BONNET, FARDEL and READ, and my amazement knows no bounds when I learn from Chambers that this is another set of names, in order, for the ruminants’ four stomachs. We have the final pleasure of linking letters that match into two ‘curves’ (and of course, spelling ‘CARDINAL’), adding the oval FLY bit of her stomach and a pair of antennae. A bit of Googling adds icing to the cake (or colour to the butterflies or something): the 3rd of October is National Buttertfly Day in the USA. A wonderful creation. This will be one of my all-time favourites. Thank you, Shark.

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L4627: ‘Flappy’ by Shark

Posted by Encota on 23 October 2020


Not only did it have left-right symmetry for highlighted cells, it also featured (at least?) nine different butterflies, eight of which could be described by having a butterfly in one’s stomach

And not only that, it featured a pretty accurate diagram of a butterfly to be traced out by us the solvers – again (of course – it is Shark) symmetrically placed. 

And not only that, it also chose to include (I think I have got this right), in the hidden letters to be extracted, four butterflies in the four stomachs of a ruminant in order – RUMEN, KINGSHOOD, BIBLE and MAW. 

And not only that, the extracted letters came from the centre of words with an odd-number of letters that still remained words after the central letter of each was removed!!  An astounding added layer of neatness from the setter.

could try and claim that the fact that letters within the wings of the drawn butterfly might spell out “A rapid, beautiful, isolated comma” was done purposefully – but that might be stretching things somewhat. At least it gives me a (very feeble) excuse to quote the end of a poem by Robert Graves, woefully out of context:

So now, my solemn ones, leaving the rest unsaid, 
Rising in air as on a gander’s wing
At a careless comma,

Beautiful stuff!

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4627: Flappy by Shark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 October 2020

Last year’s Shark puzzle had Benjamin Franklin almost getting struck by lightning. I remember that the endgame required some artwork involving a kite, a key, a piece of string and a Leyden jar. Straight lines connecting it all did the trick but this week it looked as though the endgame would be more arty with curved lines needing to be drawn. Before that, we certainly had some tough clueing to unravel. They all had an extra word to be removed, and those words all had something in common.

First clue 12ac Guard for player’s bounce over batsman (3) was obviously BOX. Except the wordplay didn’t fit, so PAD [DAP<] it was with batman the extra word. 15 came next with ENOW and e/w scrapping followed by 16 SOM with extra word reply. Obviously, the meanings of the extra words wasn’t the common factor.

Colonel BLIMP without the M came next at 20 Glitch filming cartoon character loses millions (4), e/w filming and then a long gap before 42, Hide murder the Mafia embraces (5) for DERMA with, innocuously, e/w the.

Onto the downs, and they were equally unforgiving but a few got slotted in. I then made a list of the extra words that I had to date and stared for a few minutes. Systematically extracting a letter from each word could cover a multitude of sins. I think it was rely, filming and dudes that helped me get there. The extra words without their middle letters all remained words.

I was still not home though since the middle letters that I had didn’t really seem to make sense. Nothing for it but to plough on until, eventually, the grid was complete. The last one in was 40ac Islander to assist cocky unclad swimmer (6) which was obviously SARDEL, not a partial anagram of islander but SARD + (h)EL(p) with cocky as the e/w.

I pretty much had to solve all the clues before I could see what we were dealing with. My first reaction was “Didn’t we do butterflies a few weeks ago?” with Brock’s Kew Knowledge. Of course, that was actually about the Rev Spooner rather than butterflies. And it wasn’t too long before I saw that Peacock was hidden in bible in the down clues’ extracted letters. So this wasn’t really about butterflies either, but butterflies in the stomach.

The four examples provided by the clues were as above plus skipper in rumen, Monarch in king’s-hood and Heath in maw.

The bottom row was soon revealed as BRIMSTONE in READ, and the three other examples in rows 2, 4 and 11 were ADMIRAL in PAUNCH, PAPILIO in BONNET and VANESSA in FARDEL.

The final step was drawing a butterfly through CARDINAL in both sides of the grid, drawing an oval around FLY in the central column and then filling in the two Os in row 3 and joining them to the body. Perhaps it was about butterflies after all especially with that title. Except Chambers gives it as “in a state of nervousness or panic”.

Fantastic puzzle thanks, Shark.

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Listener No 4570: Bright Spark by Shark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 September 2019

The last three Shark Listeners were Quads I, II & III. You know you’re going to be in for a challenge with his puzzles. This time, not only did we have a tough puzzle in front of us, but “Solvers must sketch a thematic contrivance…” indicated that we were in for more artwork!

Here, we had one cell in each column with a clash and the non-clashing answer’s clues needing a letter to be removed before solving. Once the grid was complete, only another half a dozen steps would see the solution ready for submission.

Solving went fairly slowly (I expected nothing less), but gradually the gaps were filled with some fun clues on the way. My favourite was 44ac Fantasists ready in disguise to cover NI group at end of 1980s (11) for DAYDREAMERS — READY* around D-REAM + (1980)S — despite its sneakiness!

Eventually the endgame. The letters removed from clues spelt out Sheet, forked, chain, ball, blitz, all forms of lightning. Finding LIGHTNING in the grid was straightforward, covering cells in the top five rows.

Meanwhile, the clashes, reading left to right in the grid, gave:

It didn’t take long to see Ben Franklin lurking there, although I think Shark was being a bit too chummy not calling him Benjamin! So obviously we were back in the 18th century with Franklin’s kite experiment.

The related 6-letter word was STRIKE running SW and NE from the first cell of 22dn, and after that a bit of Wiki research was required to find the four components of a thematic contrivance. LEYDEN JAR, STRING, KEY and KITE were revealed to be the elements.

Still we weren’t finished as we had to drop one letter in each column into the entry at the bottom of the grid. ELECTRICITY was the word, but even then care was required to drop the correct occurrence of each letter. (I think I got it.)

All done, and another Hennings artistic masterpiece was winging its way to JEG. Thanks, Shark.

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Bright Spark by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 September 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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