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Posts Tagged ‘Somniloquist’

Listener No 4533: Telling Lies by Somniloquist

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 Jan 2019

Last year’s puzzle from Somniloquist was based on the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and required a tricky quotation to go under the puzzle: “þe fayre hede fro þe halce hit to þe erþe”. Having spent ages tracking down the poem on the interweb, I then nearly forgot to change one of the ‘th’s to a þ. I hoped no unintended traps were waiting for me this week.

Good old extra letters in the wordplay greeted us for half the clues here, but it wasn’t long before something else seemed amiss. Although I should have sussed it with 1ac None find faults in fish, I got there a few clues later with 14ac Number eight conceals bedding ogre. Looking up bere revealed that it had nothing to do with ogres, just pillowcases.

It looked like these were the changes required in five other clues with a word missing in each. These turned out to be None, ogre, venom, own and loses. All well and good, but so what?

Eventually, the extra letters spelt out Cut out extra words then fold. Oh dear, and not for the first time this year, scissors again. Out came VENOM (row 2), LOSES (row 4), NONE (row 6), OGRE (row 7) and OWN (row 10).

Now I have to admit that it took me a few attempts at folding before I tried the simple left over right. So we had ALBERT and ANGELOBS JOHNSON! I decided on more sensible googling with Albert Angelo & Johnson, which revealed AA to be the eponymous title of a book by BS JOHNSON, et voilà. A bit of reading about it revealed that all the cutting out wasn’t just Somniloquist’s fanciful method of revealing the author and book. In it, Johnson, according to Wiki, “…achieved fame for having holes cut in several pages as a narrative technique.”

A bit of highlighting followed and the binning of the cut-out words saved JEG the trouble. I initially assumed the title had something to do with the book being full of holes, but a bit more Wikireading gave an extract from the book with Johnson’s belief that “telling stories is telling lies”. Sadly, he committed suicide at the age of 40.

Very entertaining and enlightening. Thanks, Somniloquist.

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L4533: ‘Telling Lies’ by Somniloquist

Posted by Encota on 4 Jan 2019

I wasn’t aware of the theme this week but the instructions seemed to work clearly and very well.

The extra letters from the clues spelt out: “CUT OUT EXTRA WORDS THEN FOLD”.

In the left-hand side of the grid could be found the five extra words: VENOM, LOSES, NONE, OGRE and OWN.  Carefully cutting them out and folding the grid vertically at its centre-line then showed the characters ALBER-T ANGE-LO and BS – JOHN-SON, a book – Albert Angelo by B.S.Johnson – where, apparently exactly this process was used.  Interesting …

… I vaguely recall a David Bowie documentary from years back when he described a related technique for constructing lyrics, using scissors, paper and glue.  … Or did I dream it?  Hunky Dory, perhaps?  Or the Berlin years?

Tim / Encota

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Telling Lies by Somniloquist

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 Jan 2019

An unusual grid, 14 X 12. We commented that there must be a reason for that, and of course there was – it had to fold into that little book. The preamble was unusually short too. We prefer it when all (or none) of the clues have an extra letter produced by the wordplay (not half) but that gave us no real problem tonight as the clues were gentle and fair and we had no doubt at all when there was an extra letter. Indeed, we hadn’t solved long before were aware that we were being told to CUT OUT EXTRA WORDS AND FOLD.

“Extra words?” said the other Numpty, but we had already wondered what VENOM was doing in the clue to GLOBS, ‘Drops of venom in edges of gerbil bites (5). We put O(f) intoG(erbi)L B(ite)S. YEAR was the same, ‘English are separating your own four quarters (4)’ We put E A into YR and highlighted the OWN as extra. ‘None find fault with fish (4)’. We already had CAR in our grid so that had to be CARP and we had NONE as an extra word.

Changes had to take place, we were told, in five clues. OGRE was next, since BERE (a pillow case) was hidden in ‘NumBER Eight conceals bedding (4)’

‘American kisses awkwardly and loses self-control (7)’ gave us LOSES as our final extra word (A + KISSES = ASKESIS, self-control – none of it lost) and by this time, with a nearly full grid, we had seen that those five words were happily placed on the left hand side of our grid, ready to be cut out. Symmetrically opposite, I read ALBERT ANGELO, BS JOHNSON, and had to go to Wikipedia to find out what that had to do with ‘telling lies‘. I learn something with every Listener crossword I solve.

I enjoyed chopping into my grid and folding it into a small book (a kind of sadistic pleasure in chopping into one of the things that give me so much stress now and then) – this was a different and ingenious end game. Many thanks to Somniloquist for a couple of hours of fun. Our ski resort opens tomorrow morning so I am very grateful not to be struggling with a ferociously difficult stinker.

Of course I haven’t forgotten to check Somniloquist’s retention of his entry ticket to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Knees-up and he did have me worried at first with his ‘Sober eastern character (4)’ SAD + E, followed by ‘Herbal drink to stop ailment of intestinal section (5)’ where we put [T]EA into ILL to get ILEAL. But all is well. ‘Drunk Scots crave hot drink (6)’ we were told and we added [F]OU to LONG to give OULONG. Cheers, Somniloquist!

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Row’s full of thorns (aka ‘X XX XXX’ by Somniloquist)

Posted by Encota on 22 Sep 2017

This week’s puzzle was a cracker!  Tricky, yet precise, clues.  Clever adjustments needed to both some clues and some answers before entry.  Hidden information hiding in numerous places.  And a great title, with ‘X XX XXX’:
– one kiss, two kisses, three kisses
– one deletion, two deletions, three deletions
… at least that’s how I am reading it.

The Fox, the Deer and the Boar (that was the order I found them in) and the line of verse ending ‘hit to the erthe’ let me identify Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  I’ve never read the original but know of it (some Tolkien connection too, I think?).

Well, some of the details of this one has baffled me.  I could find all the deletions required from the Down clues.  I could even, with some investiGoogling, put them together to create … what exactly?  Well, my row’s full of thorns (or something like that).  Is that the head (hede) being removed from the ‘halce’ (presumably, halse, the neck)?  So the heads of some answers will be moved / removed??

And assuming all the Downs are entered unchanged, then I can deduce that the removed head of each Across clue may move some spaces to the right.  But from there on I am missing something!  What determines if the first letter of an across clue moves and, if so, by how many spaces?  Does the ‘earth’ bit mean they have to move to be next to an E (for Earth), perhaps?

Sitting here on Saturday evening, I checked the moved letters again.  And found they spelt out T-H-E … G-REEN KNIGHT!!  I then went back and checked the ones that hadn’t moved, and they spelt out SIR GAWAIN!!!  Amazing!
[As an aside, I won’t embarrass myself by sharing how long I spent looking for the Green Knight to be spelt out using knight’s moves in the grid 🙂 ]
Did the number of spaces moved have any relevance?  I am still not sure.  The question now – do I open up my letter to the Editors and add this extra finding above, or leave it with my earlier level of ignorance but still a correct solution (I think).  Hmm, laziness wins…

Even for the parts of the puzzle I do understand, this is a superb creation – thank you Somniloquist!

cheers all,

Tim / Encota


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X XX XXX by Somniloquist

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 Sep 2017



The Numpties are child-minding in California and the the temperature outdoors rose to 114°F as we worked our way through the Somniloquist’s offering. We felt more like somnambulists; I believe he is a new setter but what a debut!

But does the Somniloquist qualify for the Listener setters’ oenophile outfit? Well, I scanned his very dense clues, admiring the subtlety but not finding much evidence of alcohol unless we count ‘Begin once treats assembled (6)’ (which gave TREATS* = ASTERT) or the effect of those ‘treats’, which seemed to plaster the locals, ‘Support sound local plastering (7)’ which gave a word that was new for me, TEE + RING = TEERING. Fortunately there was the Napoleon in the last clue (which was also the last we solved) ‘Napoleon perhaps loses head after Jack hewed (4)’ Frankly rubbish as a surface reading [Isn’t that rather harsh? Ed.] but it gave us J(ack) + COIN less C = JOIN or ‘wed’, and the last two letters of that line of poetry. Well it’s quality stuff, le Napoléon, so ‘Santé, Somniloquist, see you at the bar in Paris?

Those kisses didn’t tell us much at first as we couldn’t see how they were going to lead to any exchanges. “It must be that we are going to remove one, two, or three letters from each of the down clues in order to produce that line of poetry.” said the other Numpty, as it proved to be. However, it was rather a long way into our solve and we had found the FOX – ‘Fine for Abe’s second in fight (3)’ BOX with F for (A)B(e), the BOAR – ‘Old Russian aristocrat expels unknown (4)’ BOYAR less Y, and the DEER – ‘Captain out of crucial game (4)’ DECIDER less CID = DEER – before vague memories of a text I have taught in years gone by (and remember as being tough and not half so much fun as Chaucer) surfaced. Something about one kiss being the reward for the head of an innocent slaughtered deer, two kisses for a fierce wild boar and three for the cunning fox [Obviously some sexual Middle English innuendo there; Ed.] So the title made sense.

We had already looked up Fox and Boar and found that it was a fable by Aesop but that didn’t seem relevant to a set of kisses or to the strange FAYRE HEDE that was emerging from the letters that we were extracting in order to produce meaningful clues. We had solved almost every clue and entered all the down ones and a fair number of the acrosses before the penny (or the head) dropped. THE FAYRE HEDE FRO THE HALCE HIT TO THE ERTHE. Simply lower the head of all those across clues that we had laboriously been entering as jumbles!

There was an even bigger thump as the final hede hit the earth. All those letters that we were lowering, in their clue order, spelled THE GREEN KNIGHT; what did the others spell? SIR GAWAIN, of course; so that was what that word ‘initial’ was doing in the preamble.

Grid full and quotation found but we had a rather strange clash of RHO and AT TABLE and that strange requirement that the quotation to be entered below the grid was to be 32 letters and not 36. One answer was to resolve this issue and, of course, it was THORN.

Hares in danger of decapitation.

All that was left to do was confirm, that Poat’s HARE is still frolicking in preambles, clues, grids or setters’ pseudonyms and there was a complete guddle of hares misbehaving at the centre-top of the grid – in fact the grid was full of the beasts (I am surprised they didn’t live in fear of being decapitated for a kiss as, according to Google, the hare, with the fox the boar and the deer, was the object of venery in the fourteenth century).

What an impressive amount of thematic material! Great setting, thank you, Somniloquist.

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