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Posts Tagged ‘Stick Insect’

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

Posted by Encota on 21 Aug 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 Aug 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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You Don’t Say by Stick Insect

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 Aug 2020

We found a fine, clear preamble here, that told us exactly what we were going to do, though the highlighted ‘incorrect‘ warned us that, unusually, we were not going to highlight corrected misprints and, what’s more, these misprints were ‘not in the definition’. It is difficult to change such an ingrained habit and I needed my eraser as I kept highlighting the corrected word.

Could Stick Insect retain his place among the Listener Setters’ Oenophiles? I hunted through his clues and had almost given up hope for him until I saw that ‘Returned batches bound for Ayr (4)’ Those batches could only be one thing, so we raised our glasses of malt. ‘Cheers’, Stick Insect! (Actually we decided that our solution must be STEN, so we were returning Catches, giving us a B incorrect letter – but ‘Cheers’, anyway.)

A speedy gridfill spelled out HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING BLURB and we needed a visit to the internet to learn that Gelett Burgess coined that word as well as ‘tintiddle’. We needed a couplet written by Gelett Burgess and the words PURPLE COW were appearing down the side of our grid.

I don’t think there are many purple cows in the UK but anyone living where we do has seen the one that frequently appears in the supermarkets advertising milk chocolate. She is a great children’s favourite but they had to repaint her nose which became very grubbywhen carressed by small hands.

When we were small, we had things called autograph books, and relatives and friends used to fill one of the pastel-coloured pages with a drawing, a joke or a couple of lines. I loved my cousin Malcolm’s ‘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’ accompanied by  his drawing of a purple cow – so that couplet leapt out at me – though we needed the ODQ to give us Burgess’ follow up: ‘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!’ Poor Burgess – he must have grown weary of having his lines quoted at him – he died in 1951, so I believe I can ignore his threat.

How delightful to be able to insert those new lines around the grid and find that we still had real words. (If I were an editor. I would gently reject any puzzle where changes in the grid led to jumbles or non-words, unless there was a really valid thematic reason) but Stick Insect is no amateur. We see him at least once a month in Wednesday’s Telegraph Toughie, as well as elsewhere).

Great fun, thanks, Stick Insect.


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L4564 ‘There and Back’ by Stick Insect

Posted by Encota on 9 Aug 2019

Picture the scene.  You are catching up on those episodes of Killing Eve that you’ve been meaning to watch and hear all their talk about ‘The Twelve’.  Who can they be?  Then you pick up this week’s Listener crossword and – perhaps – all is revealed.

Given it was 50 years on this 20th July, it would have been a missed opportunity if The Listener hadn’t featured a Moon Landing Puzzle.

This one was delightful in that it included all Twelve U.S. astronauts to have walked on the Moon’s surface – in order of touching its surface, I think.  ARMSTRONG and ALDRIN were gently hidden on Rows 1 and 2, right through to CERNAN and SCHMITT on Rows 11 & 12.

My favourite clue was (before and after one letter was deleted):

Aptness of Bill Sikes’ girl following pro(f)’s contrary church rule (11)

… for CONCERNANCY, with its split of definition and wordplay in the middle of Bill Sikes – very neat!

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4564: There and Back by Stick Insect

Posted by Dave Hennings on 9 Aug 2019

Stick Insect’s last puzzle was two years ago and had a theme courtesy of a maxim from Plato’s Protagoras: “That man is the measure of all things”. I seem to remember that a bit of googling (or duckduckgoin) was required for it. This week, we had a theme that positively shouted itself out. From the title and the requirement to highlight twelve surnames, we were dealing with the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969.

I have to admit that only nine of them rang a bell with me, and I tried to fill the grid without getting help from the them. However, I couldn’t avoid ARMSTRONG and ALDRIN in rows 1 and 2 giving me such help.

The grid construction for this puzzle was excellent, as was the thematic nature of the clues — half one way, half the other. And then there was the icing on the cake: the order in which the astronauts set foot on the moon was the order in which they appeared from top to bottom in the grid, culminating with CERNAN and SCHMITT. What is (sort of) interesting is that, although Schmitt was the last man to step onto the Moon, Cernan was the last one to leave it.

For those who needed extra help with the theme, the extra letters in the clues to be removed before solving gave We came in peace for all mankind which appeared on plaques attached to the Lunar Modules which were left on the Moon. Finally “ONE GIANT LEAP” went beneath the grid.

It took this anniversary to make me realise how incredible it was to achieve the feat of “… landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth”. I can imagine that a few people must have commented “What did he just say?!” In the end, the Apollo program required about 400,000 people and nearly $300 billion in today’s money. Sadly, some of the test astronauts died before Apollo XI succeeded.

Thanks for the puzzle, SI.

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