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Posts Tagged ‘Stick Insect’

‘Rod and Bill’ by Stick Insect

Posted by Encota on 20 Oct 2017

When it comes to anagrams of Title and Setter above: brain’s distinctly blocked.

And trying to think of words that mean both a Man and a Measure is too tricky.  NORM service will hopefully be resumed with L4472.


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Rod and Bill by Stick Insect

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 Oct 2017

We start, of course, by attempting to anagram Rod and Bill but that gets us nowhere, except to comment that they are short forms of men’s names. We take note that there is to be a thematic modification and soon begin to spot the clues where that will occur as two of our earliest solves (‘Troubled séance about dead can upset rare dominating influence (9)’, and ‘Handle pop ration to dole out fair share (5)’) give us obvious and generous anagrams for ASCENDANCE and APPORTION, both of which are too long for their lights. Soon afterwards we find yet another anagram, ‘A rich myth, woven without pattern (6)’ which clearly gives us ARHYTHMIC, again too long for its light, and further on still one more anagram, ‘Tube transports do bless loves in turmoil (9, two words)’ which gives us BLOOD VESSELS – three extra letters there. Surely not another anagram? ‘Take stock of resources of poor statesmen (8)’ gives us MEANS TEST.  I get into trouble for over-using anagrams but I counted fifteen whole or partial ones in Stick Insect’s 51 clues – I think he wins this year’s anagram cup. That being said, his device, where we had no indication of the actual definition of the word to be entered after ‘thematic modification’, meant that his clues had sometimes to be rather generous (which we always appreciate) – and they were.

‘Soar up rows (4)’ giving OARS, ‘Revised abandoned diet (4)’ giving EDIT, ‘Second pensioner’s Bronx pay-off (4)’ giving S + OAP = SOAP. There was the rather surprising ‘Italian company XI’s goodbye (4)’ that had to be CIAO but it was the first time I had seen the Roman 11 (XI) used as O. That’s a clever one to remember (and poach!). Stick Insect had us slightly worried as, with such generous clues, there had to be a dastardly end game in store. Our grid filled and soon we had the habitual Numpty head-scratch when APRON seemed the likely word to enter where we had APPORTION, and BLOODLESS where we had BLOOD VESSEL.

‘Vessel’ – Ah yes, have I forgotten to check Stick Insect’s continued membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? No, that was easily confirmed some time ago with ‘Bar game in British Museum (4)’ LOO in BM = BLOOM, ‘Perhaps bring onto board old port company heads (5)’ CO + O PT = COOPT, ‘City spirit’s ancient warning (5)’ LA RUM = LARUM and ‘Drinks dispensers corrupted nature society (7, two words)’ NATURE* + S = TEA URNS. OK, the last was tea but that was sufficient evidence. “Cheers, Stick Insect! I hope we’ll meet at the bar at the next Listener setters’ dinner in Paris”.

Those initial letters had spelled THEAETETUS and Google obligingly supplied the rest – well, most of it. We learned that Plato, in that dialogue, using the sophist PROTAGORAS, said that ‘Man is the measure of all things’. Right, so we were replacing ‘measures’ with ‘men’. We found a substantial list of measures in the Big Red Book and worked out that

DANCE in ASCENDANCE had to be replaced by SION (a Welsh form of John),

PORTION in APPORTION was to be replaced by RON,







SIZE in RESIZES by DAN (yes, it could be CAL, short for Calvin, producing RECALS. CAL is not in the Chambers list of names, but neither is LES of 47ac. I’d be surprised, though if anyone opted for that!),

and SING in CASING by ROB.

A full grid and the conviction that we were going to find the letters of PLATO somehow providing an image of 16 cells in four straight lines. That was surely going to be Leonardo’s Vitruvian man. We hunted and we hunted, then, by a stroke of luck, saw that a couple of chevrons appeared in the grid, spelling respectively AOEA and ORAS. That couldn’t be by chance!

It was some time later that light dawned and we used the second of those to give us a slightly less muscular and elegant man in the form of PROTAGORAS.

Thanks to Stick Insect for a challenging introduction to a text we are not familiar with. (No, it isn’t at the head of my Christmas wish list!)

Poat hares galore!

What about Poat’s hares? Of course they were there en masse, gambolling amongst the cowpats and Vitruvian man’s legs.

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King’s album: ‘Red’ by King Crimson?

Posted by Encota on 4 Nov 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 Nov 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 Nov 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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