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Posts Tagged ‘Towser’

Got Me! by Towser

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 Apr 2017

‘Got Me!’ That title didn’t give us any hints and wasn’t an obvious anagram of anything but we were pleased to see a relatively short preamble warning us that we were to find five clashes and a total of sixteen extra words (Oh dear, that device again – it is a bit of a minefield isn’t it as it is oh so easy to find redundant words that the setter didn’t intend us to find – and chaos ensues!) There were to be eight in across clues and eight in down clues – a kind of symmetry.

Of course I had to check Towser’s right to re-admission to the Listener Setters’ Tipsy Club and he was almost thrown out until his ‘Harmonised advanced desire for excess (6)’ (A + GREED) readmitted him. Then there was ‘Paid for abysmally small measure of Scotch (7)’ giving PAID PER* = DRAPPIE. Jumping ahead, those extra down letters intriguingly spelt out ALCOFRIBAS NASIER and my memories of teaching French and helping sons with French homework (well, Rabelais was fairly tough stuff for them when they were thirteen or fourteen!) reminded me that that was an anagram of FRANCOIS RABELAIS. The ‘ALCO’ bit was surely a fleeting reference to drink?

Not just drink; there was a fine array of food too, which was rather appropriate for a crossword that celebrated Pantagruel and Gargantua. In a whole series of very fair and approachable clues, we found CARPACCIO, ‘Strips of raw meat, fish accompanied by twice-peeled onions (9)’ (CARP + ACC + [on]IO[ns]), VINEGAR, ‘Bad temper shown by climber before Pike (7)’ (VINE + GAR), ESCAROLE, ‘Casserole cooked without special [dried] endive (8)’ (CASSEROLE* less S), ‘Italian city cooked crabs, that is (7)’ (CRABS + IE* = BRESCIA), PASTA, ‘Head of asparagus added to out-of-date macaroni, say (5)’ (PAST + A(sparagus)), VEAL, ‘Some have a [nasty] lividity in young flesh (4)’ (hidden in ‘haVE A Lividity) and finally GRUEL, ‘Archaic punishment that would be merciless if government were Conservative (5) (CRUEL with G for C). Quite a feast!

We were lucky to spot that GARGANTUA and PANTAGRUEL were appearing in the grid (with a couple of clashes with MANTUA and INK IN) and instantly suspected that PANURGE was in those letters ending in URGE at 27d. So François Rabelais was sure to be hiding in there and, of course, he was. It was enjoyable to fill the rest of the grid with just one clue resisting us, ‘Doctor’s vehicle ditching discontinued Jack. Of course we finally sussed out that we were in Doctor Who territory and the TARDIS was dropping the DIS to give TAR = JACK – nice.

The other extra letters gave FAY CE QUE VOULDRAS, (Do whatever you would like to do), Rabelais’ words, and the motto of the Abbey of Thélème. I am not sure that they would be a great help to solvers but it is always an aspect of Listener crosswords that we learn something – like that word METAGRABOLISE that climbed in the non-dominant diagonal in the grid and anagrammed RABELAIS and a few other letters. It gave us that central A. Yes, there was a massive red herring there for us as the word we knew for ‘to puzzle out’ was METAGROBOLISE but, of course, that doesn’t have the two As of RABELAIS in it. P.d.m. – now I understand ‘Got Me’ and it nearly did! It’s a compound anagram. Add that to RABELAIS and what do we get – to puzzle it out. Nice one!

I’m rather suspicious of those crosswords where I have to add a set number of bars as it is so easy to overlook one or two. It took me three attempts to confirm that I had added 34, even though there wasn’t really another way of obtaining 50 entries (one an abbreviation – USN for the US Navy – that was a bit of a downer but I can’t see how the setter could have avoided it and maybe it gives us setters a precedent and the right to sneak in an unavoidable abbreviation).

Many thanks, Towser for an enjoyable crossword.

Ah, the elusive golden HARE?  Of course it’s hiding in there (with a mate); one of them is in a bit of a jumble and the other curling up, but they are there!

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Listener No 4442: Got Me! by Towser

Posted by Dave Hennings on 7 Apr 2017

Here was Towser’s third Listener. His second was Awful which was an (unsuccessful) attempt to take the Listener down-market with its pun on the old joke “My dog’s got no nose…”! This week there were extra words in eight across and eight down clues, with their first two letters spelling out something helpful. There would also be clashes in five cells that would need resolving and finally extra bars to add to the grid.

1ac Possibly fancying Kate Moss, being rejected after small ball, is stupid meddling (9) looked as though it could be MODEL< after a small ball, but the BEAD for BEADLEDOM would have to wait. However, it didn't have to wait long as BRESCIA went in at 1dn (Italian city cooked crabs, that is (7)), courtesy of Chambers Crossword Dictionary, followed by AUFS at 2 from Forgotten changelings regularly eat up fish (4) (regular letters of eAt Up FiSh).

Next came 3dn DRAPPIE and 4dn LAC, and I was feeling happy. It was fairly evident that symmetrical entries would not in themselves give a symmetrical grid and would form part of longer words or need to be truncated somehow. However, that could be dealt with later.

5dn DISA, 7dn CARLS and what looked like USNIC at 9dn but that wasn’t in C. (I really must learn to mark clues for words that the preamble tells me are not in Chambers.) With the top coming together fairly quickly, I worked down the rest of the grid methodically, although not quite as fast as the top. What’s more, after an hour’s solving, and an almost full grid, I didn’t have a single clash!

Meanwhile, despite having identified many of the extra words in the clues, they didn’t seem to be spelling out anything meaningful.

Nonetheless, the grid was completed another forty minutes later and all the clues were understood. I particularly liked the extra word in 11ac Drug for blood Y-chromosome disease above absolute minimum (7) — I bet Towser was glad that he didn’t have to construct a clue containing yclad, ycleepe, yclept or ycond. (Mind you, I’d have preferred to see ‘uey’ used insetad of UEFA at 21ac!)

With the bottom right corner nearing completion, I had already seen GARGANTUA trying to peak through, and there in column 5, PANTAGRUEL confirmed my guess at the theme. FRANÇOIS RABELAIS provided two more of the unclued entries in the final grid, and as I inked in the required 34 bars, it was satisfying to see the new words being revealed.

The ODQ provided the quotation from the extra words in across clues: Fay ce que vouldras (Do what you like). However, it needed some googling to reveal PANURGE as another character in the work and Alcofribas Nasier as an anagram of François Rabelais and also his pen name. (Who’d have thought they had anagrams in 16th century France?!)

The central cell still needed completing, and the SW–NE diagonal gave the basis for METAGROBOLISE (not -ize) with an O in the central position. Chambers gives this as “vt to mystify; to puzzle out. [Obs Fr metagraboulizer (Rabelais)” and oddly, not -iser!

I must admit that I hate having to draw bars in the endgame as it is so easy to miss one. At least we were told how many, and how many words were in the final grid. It still meant that I had to check and double-check my final entry. And, of course, I had to check the diagonal, only to find that it had to be spelt METAGRABOLISE, to be given by RABELAIS and some extra letters.

Many thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle, Towser. It was a fascinating construction, and great fun uncovering the theme and seeing the final grid being revealed — especially the central O A.

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Got Me! by Towser

Posted by Encota on 7 Apr 2017

Many thanks Towser for a very interesting and not too taxing puzzle.  I found this one contained quite a variety of elements!  Many of the clues seemed fairly straightforward and generous to the solver.  For example:

  Handled glasses, rereading long, endless letters (9)

looks like a simple anagram of LONG (l)ETTER(s) and yes, LORGNETTE it is.  Clever use of ‘Handled’ in the clue’s definition, I like it!

The missing bars at first seemed strange too, since, given the placement of the clue numbers one could deduce the position of all the bars straight away.  But hold on a minute: these ones aren’t part of a 180-degree symmetric grid!  Some clearly will need to move later on.

With around half of the entries placed in the grid I suddenly noticed Row 4 contained RABELAIR.  Given its closeness to RABELAIS, I soon confirmed that the cell with the final R in was one of the five clashes mentioned in the preamble since, in the appropriate Down clue,

 All parts of manuscripts introduced by base, sick acts? (6)

…the answer/entry was EMESES, MSS with each character preceded by an E to represent base.

At this stage my total knowledge of Rabelais consisted of ‘French writer?’ with the emphasis on the Question Mark.  Auntie Google soon helped me out with PANTAGRUEL as one of his works; an across clue looked very like GARGANTUA though I hadn’t realised this was Rabelais too.  Column 2’s down entry looked certain to be Francois (though the ‘RACK’ in the original 14d clue had thrown me a bit – the original answer surely still had to be FRANCK though.  And I recognised PANURGE (no idea why!) when it appeared, too.

Once these were in place there was only one sensible way to include the 34 bars and the 50 entries, though this did take some care and I wouldn’t be surprised if I made yet another crayoning error here – though hopefully not!

The phrases that came from the hidden 16 words:



were also new to me.  Finding out that Francois Rabelais first published under an anagram of his own name (what’s a cedilla between friends?) was delightful.  Though I would have quoted SIR FABIAN’S ORACLE myself.  That’s half the fun of a good Listener crossword – it introduces you to things you might never otherwise have happened upon – a bit like a really good book group does.

I could see that the second diagonal looked very like (what was to me) an uncommon word.  At first sight it looked as if it could readily have contained an O or an A in the centre and the BRB confirmed numerous options were possible, though with only two of them ending -ise.  I’d suspected the Title from the beginning as being part of an augmented anagram and so it proved.  The two As in Rabelais, plus the whole anagram being of RABELAIS GOT ME, meant that the middle letter had to be an A and all was sorted as METAGRABOLISE.  I think.

But was there something more hiding here?  Was this anagram really a reference to Henry Louis Mencken, the so-called BALTIMORE SAGE?  Was there a hidden insult, given MISERABLE GOAT is there?  Or was it a reference to Towser’s analysis of a recent LWO problem, I BLAME STORAGE?  Er…no, no & no again.

I think.

cheers all,

Tim / Encota




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Awful by Towser

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 Feb 2016

Awful Towser 001A large grid! That was our first reaction. However, the preamble was relatively concise and didn’t cause us too much anxiety. We were going to be looking for twelve clues that had wordplay only, sharing a common definition, and we were going to modify those entries in a way that was to be suggested by a five-word phrase. “Probably down the leading diagonal” was my first comment. There was to be a thematic omission wherever possible, too.

Well, the omission wasn’t alcohol. I quickly did my usual check to confirm that Towser retains his place in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Club and didn’t need to read beyond the first clue, ‘Rum affair with time for right rum (6)’ I like the way ‘rum’ appeared as an anagram indicator as well as the drink. “What’s TAFFIA?” I ask the other Numpty. “Some sort of West Indies’ rum.” Gin comes next. “Facetiously opposed to a drink (4) (AGIN) and then we have a bit of aristocratic tippling with an earl having to be restrained, ‘Keeps in drunk earl (8)’. Aah, that gives us PEKINESE and there’s no definition. Are we in doggie country for the theme?

Our suspicion is soon confirmed as our grid speedily fills and we encounter a POMERANIAN, GREAT DANE, KERRY BLUE, BEAGLE, BULLDOG, BASSET, SHIH TZU, SPANIEL, POINTER, BOAR HOUND and, of course, the SETTER (Towser – that’s a dog isn’t it?) but our early words in the top right hand corner of the grid have already demonstrated to us why several of the lights are shorter than the solutions. Perhaps it was that lucky spotting of SAFARI PARK, intersecting with REKISSED, REPAY and AFARA, that showed us that we needed to omit all Rs from our entries.

All the same, our dogs, even when the KERRY BLUE had lost his Rs, were too long for their kennels. Then light dawned. No, it wasn’t “Who let the dogs out?” With a hoot of glee, we recognise the joke that was my two sons’ favourite many, years ago. “My dog has no nose.” “How does he smell?” “Frightful!” (They were in the Primary section of the Geneva International School and determined to share what they thought was a hilarious joke. The school is multi-national with a number of languages and they had an early lesson in linguistics when they understood that the joke depends on the humorous use of a verb that can be both transitive and intransitive – ‘smell’ doesn’t work that way in other languages!)

Sure enough, there was the five-word line in the leading diagonal.  With its help we soon had a full grid and only one query. Why were we omitting all the Rs. What have Rs to do with dogs? Chambers to our rescue. ‘R, sometimes called the ‘dog letter’ from the trilling of the tip of the tongue in its pronunciation in rhotic accents’. Hmm – what does that mean? Well, it certainly suffices to explain the game. Many thanks, Towser (Owser?).

Some time later a friend has enlightened me about that R, pointing me towards Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I should have remembered that comment of the Nurse in the rather salacious scene with Romeo and Mercutio sparring wittily.

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Nonconformist by Towser

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 Jun 2015

Towser 001As I wrote that title, I realized that, although we had a fairly speedy grid-fill and finish today, I still haven’t understood the title. I wonder what Arthur Conan-Doyle had to do with nonconformism. I do know that he was married in the little church of Thornton, about a mile from my Yorkshire Dales home and that his mother lived in the hamlet of Masongill. Apparently he, for some reason, wished to delete his links with the area from the records but Sherlock was possibly suggested by the Reverend Sherlock, who was, at the time, the vicar of the Ingleton area that covered those parishes. An enthusiastic local friend is in the throes of researching a book about Arthur’s links with the area.

Enough of that – Towser? That sounds new and that (like the new Serpent who slithered into view on April’s message board, and in the Inquisitor series and the Magpie – quite a benign serpent really) fills us with trepidation. What evils might be in store. A warm welcome, anyway to Towser.

Of course, I had to check whether Towser’s pedigree admits him to membership of the Listener Setters’ Imbibing Club and a run through the clues revealed rather disturbing preoccupations: ‘Nocturnal activity under the covers (8, two words)’ leading to REM SLEEP, ‘Rarely a place of debauchery… (4)’ STYE but not a trace of alcohol. Of course, Towser redeemed himself when we got to the endgame and ‘Six cracking a joke (5)’ produced one of the ten clues that had no definition, and from which we had to remove a letter to create a thematic word. [O]VINE left not just one bottle but the whole VINE! Drinks on Towser at the next setters’ dinner?

Yes, by this time we had understood that N was coming out of CHRISTINE to give us CHRISTIE and we worked our way through T[O]EY, CRISPI[A]N,PO[N]E, S[L]AYERS, CHANDLER[Y], [C]HILL, CAR[E]R andFREE[D]MAN to give us the letters to anagram to CONAN DOYLE and we were almost home.

A full grid and just that strange ‘?ABRTTRESK?’ across the centre of the grid. This had to be BAKER STREET with an E going in at each end but was that ‘a cryptic representation of someone associated with the 11th member’. We know Sherlock Holmes lived there and decided that, in a sense, it could be a cryptic representation of him and signed off (but a prompt from a friend long after I have posted my entry tells me about Wiggins, the boy who was head of the Baker Street Irregulars – what a lovely touch – so that was why it was anagrammed!)

Well, there’s a numerical due next week, so it was great to have a relatively gentle solve this week. Many thanks, Towser.

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