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Posts Tagged ‘Stick Insect’

L4631: ‘Seconds Out’ by Stick Insect

Posted by Encota on 20 November 2020

Fun! But am I tempting fate?

[update] Re-editing this 2 weeks later and I think I’ve got the middle row right. Maybe …

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4631: Seconds Out by Stick Insect

Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 November 2020

What’s this?! It was another Stick Insect puzzle following close on the heels of his purple cow puzzle in August, no. 4618 You Don’t Say. Well I do say. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that until writing this blog otherwise I might have wondered “Why so soon.”

Here we had misprints in most clues spelling out what needed to be used for the non-misprint entries. What’s more, it seemed from the preamble that we were in for a bit of leeway with 26ac. It seemed to imply that there could be one, two or three outcomes, or a best guess if necessary. “Sounds like the US election next week!” I sniggered to myself, immediately dismissing it as a possibility.

Of course, 1ac Steer behind crew, primarily (7) was obviously COX, despite the (7) and I wondered if the University Boat Race had been rescheduled from March! Next came an equally obvious 6ac Following old road, wade across (6) for FORD and it looked like the top row could be OXFORD. I checked Wiki only to be told that the race had in fact been cancelled.

A good smattering of entries came next despite some nicely misleading misprints: 10 ONION, 12 OMERTA, 14 ENTERAL and 17 EDDAIC. And then came 25ac Either end of Geordie parachute section (4) for GORE (probably helped by the (4) being correct) and Bingo! Good old Al Gore it was and my earlier sniggering proved unfounded.

I knew that Gore had been beaten by Bush (Jr) in 2000 and, dredging my memory, I got CARTER beating poor old Gerald Ford back in 1976. I had no idea who Cox was beaten by, but it turned out to be James Cox who was beaten by Warren HARDING in 1920. An interesting feature of that election was that Harding (Republican) won 37 states, which ran from the west coast to the east coast via the mid-west and the Great Lakes. Cox (Democrat) won just 11 states, all in the south and including Texas. How things have changed!

Filling the rest of the grid was reasonably quick, although not totally straightforward. My favourite clue was 38dn Ancient beret held up by Scrooge — bah! (4) for BEGO with beret the misprint for beset. The clue that nearly fried my brain was 21dn LA rodent passed through Universal occupying third of Tulare County (8) — (CUT + U) in (TU(lare) + CO) — I spent too long thinking that part of it was (Tu)L(are)!

Finally, the correct version of the misprints told us something that we already knew went in the grid: American presidential race winners, not losers.

And so to 26ac which could obviously be BIDEN or TRUMP, both providing real words for the entries they crossed. That requirement eliminated a whole slew of third party and independent candidates. But who should I enter? The polls indicated that Biden would win handsomely. On Wednesday morning, however, as I was getting my pre-Lockdown-2 haircut, I heard that he was only leading by 217-213 electoral votes and it was all up in the air. Depression set in as another four years of Trump made me feel quite unwell.

By Friday I was confident that Biden would win, despite all the hoo-hah from the Trump camp, so off he went to St Albans. But the thrid outcome mentioned in the preamble? Well that just referred to the date of the election. Nice!

Thanks for a fun puzzle, SI.
 

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Seconds Out by Stick Insect

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 November 2020

Stick Insect’s Purple Cow appeared in a Listener crossword just three months ago and that leads us to be very suspicious. To have another just three months later prompts us to conjecture that this one must be ‘date-related’ and we haven’t solved long before a few words that don’t fit their lights appear. COX, FORD, CARTER, SMITH, KING, DOLE. They provide an early ‘aha’ moment. But I am going too fast. I haven’t checked whether Stick Insect meets the oenophile requirements yet.

‘Rob the French charity no more (4)’ = DO LE. DOLE is one of our favourite wines. Originally from the Jura mountains it is now a speciality of the Swiss Valais region. But sadly I fear Stick Insect is referring to Bob Dole here, the ‘Second Out’ in the Bill Clinton electoral race.

‘Manufactured materials, lacking tellurium device to catch wine (7, two words)’ Now that’s more hopeful. A decanter, I suspect, but the other Numpty (the sailor/scientist) subtracts TE from an anagram of MATERIALS and announces that it’s a device to catch winD – a SAIL ARM. And we have another of our corrected misprints (which have already given us AMERICAN P…)

NUTMEG has appeared almost by itself as ‘Dali’s kid overturned stone cask (6)’ We upturned the GEM TUN so there wasn’t much hope of  wine there. This really had me head-scratching. I thought Gala was Salvador Dali’s ‘kiN. Stick Insect must really have been hunting for a misprint that would produce the N of PRESIDENTIAL (yes, we have guessed that and are ‘back-solving’). Fortunately The Big Red Book comes to my rescue. Dali n a tropical American tree related to nutmeg, yielding staves etc. and wax seeds [Native name].

I’m fearing that Stick Insect has to be relegated to the TT zone when we almost reach the end of the clues with a dismal alcohol drought. ‘Boer adult ejected from defensive ring (5)’ That’s a crossword favourite isn’t it? We remove the Adult from the LAAGER and get LAGER. All is well after all!” Cheers, Stick Insect!” We have to change our Boer to bEer.

That E also completes the message that has been emerging. PRESIDENTIAL RACE WINNERS NOT LOSERS. We were suspecting something of the sort, as our grid has produced HARDING, CARTER, MONROE, CLINTON, HOOVER, BUSH, POLK and clearly we need to insert next week’s winner in those five central cells. We needed Google to tell us who the remaining ‘Seconds Out’ were in those electoral races: GORE and CLAY, of course.

If we had a vote, I suspect that we would, like the US electorate, overwhelmingly vote for BIDEN. How can the US tolerate an antiquated electoral college system that allows a minority to potentially hold sway? Is that democracy? But this isn’t the place for a whinge. My small American granddaughter’s fifth birthday is on the election day and I believe she will grow up in a better world with a President who believes in a generous immigration policy and health care available for all. My vote is here!

Living overseas, we had to mail our crossword solution before it was all decided, but there wasn’t a lot of doubt in our minds and how we rejoiced when BIDEN had such a strong lead. I wonder whether any Listener solvers voted for the other fellow.

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L4618: ‘You Don’t Say’ by Stick Insect

Posted by Encota on 21 August 2020

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

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I’d rather see than be one

I enjoyed being re-introduced to the ‘purple cow’ poem, which made me smile.  I didn’t recognise the name Gelett Burgess but a little bit of research soon connected his name with the word ‘blurb’.

The clues were terse, even for the Listener, with several using only 3, 4 or 5 words – very efficient!

I liked some of the misprints, e.g. Good to engage walker on Ben Nevis (6), with ‘engage’ actually being a misprint ‘enrage’ and the clue parsing as G+ANGER.

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 so closely after ‘that Sabre’ at L4617!!

Perhaps the only pity was it was all over too quickly, though, as I have commented in the past, that is something of the joy of the Listener – settling down with the puzzle not quite knowing what one is faced with!

Thanks again to Stick Insect!

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4618: You Don’t Say by Stick Insect

Posted by Dave Hennings on 21 August 2020

Last year’s Stick Insect puzzle was the one celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. This week, we had a fairly small 11×11 grid with a couple of couplets by a poet (should that be a coupler?) to appear one after the other in the perimeter. Every clue had a misprint not in the definition, with the incorrect letters spelling out some information about aforementioned poet. The odds were on my making a note of the misprint correction in at least one clue. (It would be just one.)

After the first pass through the clues, I had a fair smattering of entries in the grid, including SEROTINES (bats) and STRONGEST (fastest-moving). Although the absence of anything in the perimeter upped the uncheck count, I had a finished diagram in about an hour.

The perimeter I now had was •I•E•E•S•W•P•R•LECO••NE•ER•O•E••S•EO•EB•. We were given the unchecked letters as RAVEN PUT UP WITH AVON, and with P•R•LECO•• on the right-hand side, I guessed at PURPLE COW with a niggle at the back of my mind that I had heard this before. (In hindsight, I hadn’t.) I determined not to google that, and it didn’t take long to fill in the blanks to give the two lines we were looking for. My first inkling was that the poet was either Spike Milligan or Billy Connelly.

However, taking the message from the misprints, we had He is responsible for creating blurb. Chambers has blurb attributed to American author, Gelett Burgess (never heard of him before), and the ODQ obligingly has the two verses required, the first called The Purple Cow and the second Confessional.

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!

Ah, yes, I wrote the ‘Purple Cow’—
I’m sorry, now, I wrote it!
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’ll kill you if you quote it!

(Personally, I’m sorry he wrote it too!)

Slotting the first lines of the second into the grid (having the required number of letters to fill the perimeter) didn’t leave real words. I could see that 11ac EMBER could simply become AMBER to start off the two lines and I was home.

Thanks for a relatively gentle week, Stick Insect.
 

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