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Posts Tagged ‘Stick Insect’

King’s album: ‘Red’ by King Crimson?

Posted by Encota on 4 November 2016

With a Title like “King’s Album”, might it possibly be a reference to one of my favourite ever albums – ‘RED’ by King Crimson?  After completing the grid then Yes (no prog rock jokes please), there it is twice – once diagonally, almost pierced by the Arrow and also rising in column two.

For those that like loud, skilfully played music, then it’s hard to beat this album.  Clearly the two occurrences of RED are referring to the recent Steven Wilson & Robert Fripp re-mastered 2CD version:


Genius, sheer genius!

Talking of which, what a fabulous visual design in this week’s puzzle from Stick Insect!  My drawing skills are never the best but I’m happy to try and my attempt is shown here:


The grid was filled fairly quickly.  I loved the hint – “NUMBER OF ANSWERS FOLLOWS NUMBER OF ROWS”.  There were clearly 10 rows, so now let’s count the number of answers.  Once I noticed there were 31 across clues I had a feeling I knew where this was going, so when there were 35 down clues, making 66 in total, so 1066 was the hint.  I also recognised the ‘INTERFEC’ piece of text but couldn’t completely recall all the Latin words from the relevant part of the Bayeux tapestry, so a quick investigoogle of the image also explained the gap in ‘HARO LD’ and the two-line split of the thematic Message.

The clues were all pretty gentle this week, with one or two exceptions.  As usual my recollection of two-letter words failed me – every time I come across GE as an alt for Gaea I do my best to remember it, but still seem to have to re-learn it over and over!  This time in:

Will’s repaid goddess in butter (6)

The checked letters seemed to make VENGED the likely answer and double-checking the Chambers (Shakespearean) definition for Venged made it pretty much certain.  But what about the wordplay?  Eventually: remove the added B from butter and that leaves GE in VEND – ah, that goddess in that meaning of VEND (i.e. to utter).

The LOI for me was 35d EWKING, explained as WE (‘Royal I’) < + KING, from that dialectal word EWK meaning to itch.  As an aside, according to Chambers there are six different ways of spelling it: YUKE, YUCK, YOUK, YEUK, EUK or EWK.  But you knew all those already, eh?

Finishing with a return to King Crimson’s Red, and with a nod to Raffles’ recent Listener 4412 theme, perhaps Track 2 ‘Fallen Angel’ should really, given the subject here,  have read ‘Fallen Angle’?

Enough silliness for this week.  Many thanks to Stick Insect for such a great puzzle!

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4420: King’s Album by Stick Insect

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 November 2016

This week we had another offering from Stick Insect. You know… the guy who thought he would give JEG a break by giving us a puzzle that nobody could get wrong! That was no 4328 Reductio ad Absurdum). By following the simple messages, all that was required was a blank grid. The theory was excellent, but in practice there were quite a few solvers who got it wrong. The best laid plans… etc.

Here we were faced with a large 20×10 grid which lacked symmetry but needed some highlighting and some items to be identified with an appropriate shape drawn through one of them. I had been expecting a Battle of Hastings puzzle for quite a few weeks, and both the title, the grid and the preamble smacked of the Bayeux Tapestry. Not that this knowledge would help me until the grid was complete. Drat!

Some clues needed to lose a letter before solving (giving us a hint), while the entries from those remaining contributed one or more letters to the six objects. It sounded like a fun endgame.

The clues were fairly generous. Although I only got ten (out of 31) acrosses first time through, the downs yielded nearly twice as many (out of 35). Forty minutes in, and the grid was looking healthy. Mind you, it didn’t help that I had no idea how many clues needed adjustment, but at this point about half my clues had lost a letter. The hint they were to reveal wasn’t obvious.

About an hour later, and I was done. It took me some time to resolve 59ac Return to play again on lost steep desires (6) for GREEDS. ‘Steep’ became ‘step’ but I couldn’t work out what bit had to go backwards. It was, of course, DS (dal segno) going after GREE (old word for step). The clue that entertained me most was 17dn Gates ultimately lost team-makers caps (10) for TURNSTILES — T (losT) + URNS (tea-makers) + TILES.

listener-4420-my-entryThe message finally confirmed my Bayeux Tapestry hunch, reading Number of answers followed by number of rows to give 1066. I googled an image of the tapestry. I knew it was long, but was amazed to find that it was nearly 70 metres, although only a puny ½ metre high. The ARROW, an obvious element in the grid, was easy to spot, together with Harold’s EYE in column 6. The SWORD, SHIELD and AXE came next, but it took me the best part of 20 minutes to locate the HORSE, probably because I didn’t think of the poor thing as an ‘object’! The highlighting consisted of the words at the top of the image: HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST, “King Harold is slain”.

And here we are 950 years later, and still at war with Europe!

Thanks to Stick Insect for another fun puzzle. No time for more narrative, I’ve got an animation to direct. [And apologies if you’ve got slow internet speed, it’s nearly 5mb.]

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King’s Album by Stick Insect

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 November 2016

Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux Tapestry

The unusual shape of the grid promised something different and we were initially misled into suspecting that we were going to finish our crossword with King George VI’s stamp album but it was not to be. What was to be, was of course renewal of Stick Insect’s membership of the Listener Toping club – indeed, he had ‘Aim: universal bar for lasting quality (9) (END + U + RANCE) and shortly afterwards must have been in that bar for his ‘blinder’ or ‘drinking spree’; ‘Race stage run off a blinder? (7, two words)’ (giving us TEAR GAS – I am not sure how the ‘stage run off’ produced the GAS and an additional R for the message but, as is often the case, that is what the definition and the letters in the grid told us was the ‘blinder’) So ‘Cheers Stick Insect, see you at the bar!’

‘In some clues a letter must be removed before solving’ … that was fairly generously handled and these clues were, on the whole, easier than the ones Sabre and Stan have treated us to in the past couple of weeks. Our grid filled steadily, working from east to west and we soon had the strange message NUMBER OF CLUES FOLLOWS NUMBER OF ROWS. In retrospect, nothing could

Tapisserie de Bayeux - Scène 57 : La mort d'Harold

Tapisserie de Bayeux – Scène 57 : La mort d’Harold

be easier to interpret. There were ten rows and sixty-six clues, giving 1066 but I shall not go into paragraphs of detail about the ways I attempted to calculate how the X at the end of FELIX, for example, in some way related clue 22 to row 6. Fortunately, we had honed in on the Bayeux tapestry and found another route to 1066 (which, of course, was being announced by the media, as we solved, since this was the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings).

The first wonderful hint to become evident was that Latin inscription so neatly imitating the original with the king’s head interrupting the name HAROLD on the second and third lines of our filled grid. HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST – so we knew which scene our six objects had to depict. The other Numpty pointed out that STRIA was present up above that inscription and could be referring to the streak of the comet of 1066, but that is in a different panel isn’t it?

We were, however, left with clues that had not produced an extra letter and were given the helpful information that the ‘entries for other clues contribute one or more letters to six objects placed according to a historic depiction’. First, we found our objects: ARROW, EYE, SHIELD, HORSE, SWORD, KING, AXE. Hmm, that makes seven! I know there is some doubt about whether Harold was actually killed by an arrow gouging out his eye, and over which of the figures in that illustration really is the massacred KING, however after a laborious check of which entries had letters included in the objects, those clues with no additional letter resolved which six objects we had to select and the KING, at the bottom of EWKING was deleted from my list, leaving the required 25 letters.

We highlighted  five objects and carefully drew our ARROW. This was the kind of visual endgame I really enjoy. Many thanks Stick Insect.

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Listener No. 4328: Reductio ad Absurdum by Stick Insect

Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 January 2015

It had only been six months since Stick Insect’s last Listener, the wonderful Godly Mix-up where the grid spelt out PI IS 3 POINT 14159…20900 TO 80 PLACES. I wondered what he had in store for us this week, perhaps ZERO IS 0 POINT 00000…00000 TO 146 PLACES. That seemed unlikely.

Listener 4328I started this early in the evening on Saturday, the day of publication. I had promised JEG that I would try and post my entries well ahead of the closing date; I had been running very late with all my crossword activities over the two months leading up to Christmas. In this week’s puzzle, the perimeter would spell out a message, and its unchecked squares would be provided by the extra wordplay letters in 18 clues… how thoughtful.

I started on the acrosses. 8 passed me by, but 9 REMANET, 10 MUDS, 14 ETTLE and 16 SINCLAIR gave me a head start on the top right corner. It seemed perverse not to try the corresponding down clues, and 4 PEENGE, 5 EME, 6 RATLNE and 7 MELIKS proved that to be a wise move. So far, I had four extra letters, all vowels… perhaps they all would be.

I dropped down the right hand side of the grid. The lack of any clueing for the right-hand column didn’t seem to be a hindrance, and as I turned the corner and tackled the bottom of the grid, the lack of clueing for the bottom row didn’t hold me up either. This was proving remarkable easy.

It wasn’t long before I had made a complete circuit of the grid, and with just a few clues to tidy up, it was done in under an hour. Did this mean the endgame would be tricky? The unchecked letters weren’t all to be vowels as I had initially surmised. However, they were all in the correct order going clockwise, and it was only a few seconds until the message was to be seen: DELETE PERIMETER MESSAGE AND ALTERNATE ROWS AND COLUMNS.

Listener 4328 My EntryI mentally deleted the perimeter and rows and columns 2, 4, 6, etc. OASEAE TESNLI DUKENS and more rubbish seemed to be a strange instruction that we were told would appear. I mentally reinstated the rows and columns, and deleted those numbered 3, 5, 7, etc. I was much happier with DELETE ALL, SEND UNFILLED GRID, and mentally deleted those words as well.

I suppose that explains why the clues were pretty straightforward. Spending 10 hours solving a puzzle, only to rub it all out again might be considered perverse.

So thanks to Stick Insect for providing a fun puzzle, and then taking it away again. What an easy week for JEG!

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Reductio ad Absurdum by Stick Insect

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 January 2015

Reductio ad AbsurdumDilemma: what shall I use as my illustration. I usually start with the submission grid but that was a rather horrid unsymmetrical grid with a double unch in the very first row, so I’d be ashamed to use that. (Actually that was a very fine hint that something unusual was going to happen as the endgame – as it did, to our great glee). I wonder if the editors have decided that Mr Green had at last earned a holiday. I don’t think he is going to have to pore over lots of mis-spelled grids this week.

I did the usual Numpty scan to confirm that Stick Insect has renewed his membership of the Listener Oenophile club and, of course, he is a stalwart member, even if there are ‘Pains in North Carolina: end of alcohol in houses (6)’ (alcoho)L in DOORS giving DOLORS). We find ‘Ales brewed to be suitable for light use (4)’ (Ales* = LASE) and ‘Remain  liberal about Scots drunk in soil (6)’ (FOU in BE L(iberal) = BEFOUL) so all is well.

Reductio ad Absurdum2The rest of our solve goes just as quickly as those boozy clues and within an hour, we have a complete grid. This, of course, is because of some lucky guessing with those extra letters. PERIMETER MESSAGE appeared first, and was soon complemented by AND ALTERNATE ROWS AND COLUMNS. Finally, the word DELETE appeared and we chortled with glee.

Making a fine little tartan grid of all those columns and rows I have to delete leaves me with the message DELETE ALL: SEND UNFILLED GRID.

I laugh with amused reminiscence as the very first crossword the Rasputin team compiled as a group (compiled long before our first joint Listener crossword) was an entertaining thing about cricket, where solvers were invited to ‘burn the grid and send the ashes!’ The late-lamented Radix advised us that the requirement could be rather a suspicious and smelly affair and he suggested that our hidden message should read ‘Only joking: submit as normal!’ That was what finally appeared in the Sunday Telegraph Enigmatic Variations series.

Indeed, I was alerted to the fact that there might be a second, contradictory instruction here too, but it seemed not, so an empty grid it is (what a waste of a postage stamp!) but thanks all the same, Stick Insect, for a bit of fun which will, I hope, encourage a few more people to enjoy the weekly Listener as we do.


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