Down the motorway for a mooch around the rainy seaside, shelter in a coffee shop, and then the first night of Unfold at the Sunfold. The basement of said hotel was our venue, and first up were drinks, and food laid on. Very civilised.

First act of the night was our genial host, under the moniker of The Steven Morricone Tyranny. Solo at the mic’d-up upright piano, in the guise of evil crooning haunter, we were treated to a selection of songs from the vault. Cheap Guitar, Vesuvius, I Am The Blind and more, together with a Fall cover, and a new song of perspective Then I Met Joanna. Grave Peril was the standout for me.

After a short break, next up was Gigantelope, or, as he introduced himself, Dave. When he started singing, I realised Dave was a fellow Being 747 alumni. He reminded me at first of Brian, although less twee. Both of which are no bad things in my book. Acoustic guitar, both with and without backing track (“opinion is split”, apparently), we had songs of companionship, meditation (“Take A Thought Holiday”), paeans to ice cream and HD TV, and of the horror-relief of the Night Bus home.

Second brother of the night, and shirt of the evening, was billed as Paul Morricone & Con Medicine, although unless CM was the tape machine, it seemed to be Paul alone. Alternating with and without guitar, to backing tracks, we heard songs from the upcoming solo LP. Two openers were songs of reminiscence (…These Tears), before we were asked that age-old question “Do you want to hear a song about Huddersfield?”. A Man Possessed, Happiness, some lovely chorussed guitar, and Like I Was Never There* followed. Last up was “a cover version”, which turned out to be the first live outing of Be Nothing, a beautiful song of ego-crushing self-realisation.



Our headliner was Thomas Truax, who I first heard, I think, played by John Peel, and who I last saw live in 2007. If this was Melody Maker, I might describe Thomas as Hal Hartley redirected by de Chirico, or as how Kerouac would write about George Shearing if he only had a theremin instead of a typewriter, or spying through your neighbours’ window, whistling silently as they watch reruns of The Twilight Zone. But it isn’t, so I won’t.* With a plethora of pedals, a resonator guitar, and homemade instruments The Hornicator and Mother Superior (Stringaling was sulking tonight), we had songs of giant butterfly girls, foxes, treed kittens, moonlight (including an off-stage, out-of-room, and indeed -building, excursion), the wind and beehive hearts. Who wants to be on a wall anyway?




An intimate gig, a top night’s entertainment, and the veggie chilli was great too.

*Facts and actual song titles may vary. Your Scaramangary rights are not affected. Click to enlarge photos, but preferably find Dave’s shots instead. Please hold to speak to one of our unco-operators.

The solution to my March crossword can be found behind this link.

Don’t know about anyone else, but Susannah solved it – hurray. I spent ages deciding whether or not to put a couple of commas in to the clues. One of them went in and out 4 times, but in the end I decided it was sneakily misleading, so I left it out.
I liked 21, 24 and 30d. And 14, but maybe the general knowledge was a bit obscure there – but gettable from the wordplay (I hope!).
I suppose I’d better start working on April’s puzzle…..

Well, I took a bit of a battering on Rookie Corner. But, it’s all fair enough, good feedback, and I’ll take it as motive to improve. Especially my clue surfaces. Hopefully you’ll find this one a big improvement in terms of the readability of the clues.
I noticed a slight problem with the grid layout last night. Nothing awful – it should even make some bits a bit easier – but too late to change now.
Could this be my last “cryptish” puzzle? Hmmmm. Meanwhile, here’s the puzzle as a printable PNG, or a browser-solvable embed. Hope you enjoy.

Cryptish Crossword March 2019

My friend Stuart organised the second BJC in Bath, in 1989. He recently dug out some old clippings, and asked me to put them online, for any archive-minded juggling historians to peruse. (The BJC history wiki is a good place to start.)

So, here you go Stuart, and everyone!
(Right-click and download the files):
Newspaper article 1 (before the convention) JPGs: Small 118KB  Medium 1MB  Large 3MB
Newspaper article 2 (before the convention) JPGs: Small 900KB Medium 2MB Large 15MB
Newspaper article 3 (after the convention) JPGs: Small 190KB Medium 4MB Large 10MB
Thank-you letter 1 JPGs Small 550KB Large 2MB
Thank-you letter 2 JPGs Small 1MB Large 4MB

   

The solution to my February Cryptish Crossword is in an image at this link. There was a theme to this one, which you no doubt spotted. I did offer the puzzle for publication to someone I thought appropriate, but apparently no-one answers their email anymore. *sigh*

18A riffed on a weak joke I make everytime I’m driving in Suffolk. 11A was my favourite, although I found 14A pleasing. I really liked using “Occam’s Lathe” in one of the clues originally, but couldn’t quite make it parse correctly as a clue, so Killed My Darling.

I’m having a new puzzle published on a crossword blog tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get some useful feedback.

The solution to my January Cryptish Crossword can be viewed in this image.

I had this puzzle ready in the dying days of 2018, but couldn’t publish it until Jan 1st, without invalidating one clue. I decided to wait another day to let heads clear. Interestingly, on the day I published, I read an article via Twitter, which mentioned a connection between 17A and 8A which I was previously unaware of. I’m not sure if that’s pleasing or annoying! Let’s be positive and say the former.

I liked both 25D and 26D, although I can see why others might dislike them. 29A might be my favourite. No reaction, so I don’t know what people thought of this one. Hey ho. As always, I’m on Twitter for complaints, comments, enthuses or shares. Ciao.

[Edit: In-browser solvable version is now at the bottom of this post.]

Here’s my January puzzle.
Quite a few 4s in this one, so maybe it’s a touch easier? Blockiness reduced to just four 2×2 squares. Hopefully tolerable. One clue might annoy some, but there you go. As always, feel free to let me know via Twitter if you’re trying/done it/liked it/hated it, and RT/share if you like.
Cheers, enjoy!

Cryptish Crossword January 2019 by @TheVoidTLMB

Sunday, there are a few records in the charts you want to hear, but everyone’s waiting for 7 o’clock. It’s the Annie Nightingale request show. I never wrote in, but always loved the humour and stories shared between the listeners and Annie. (Did the songless Rebeccas ever get a tune? Whither green ink? How do you spell “The Murks/Mercs/?”? Where are all the Durannies now?) I’ve got loads of tapes of songs I recorded from the show, but when I saw Annie tweet that “most of the request shows were wiped. I have no copies.”, I thought “oh, complete shows? I’ve got one!”. On digging out my cassettes, it turned out I had four complete shows.
cassettes of Annie's shows
Great! Now to dig out a walkman. Oh, it doesn’t work anymore. No problem, I’ve got a spare one. Oh, that doesn’t work either. So a couple of days later, it was off to Argos to splash out on a brand new £17 walkman. Cheap as bananas, but… it works.
three walkman players - one worked
Now to plug everything into my Mac, and capture with Audacity. Seems like a couple of the shows were recorded at a touch too high level, so there’s a bit of blast at the top, but it’s listenable.
audacity software screenshot
What a trip down memory lane to listen to these! Turns out that I always think of the words “MOno SOdi-um GLU-ta-mate” in that particular cadence because of Toyah’s “Creepy Room”. I’d totally forgotten that track. Who remembered the “neckless men in blazers and cravats”? Or Mr Murray’s daftness? Wow.

Well, Annie, thanks so much for all the great tunes, the memories, and I’m delighted to be able to respond to your official BBC request (well, that’s how I’m taking it) by giving you something back. So for The Kamikaze Pilots, Magazine, for Christina’s Is That All There Is?, for The Ramones, The Blue Nile, for Here And Now and It’s A Fine Day, for The Passions, for Fish Heads and This Mortal Coil, for Wood Beez, Split Enz, for Siouxsie, Janis and the Cocteaus, Germans, Prince Buster and The Icicle Works, and all the rest, Merry Xmas, Annie, you legend.
With love, from The Void. x

Captured to AIFF, compressed to 256kbps .m4a AAC files.
Control-click and download, folks. Please don’t stream them on (Apple) devices that won’t save files (save my bandwidth!):
Annie Nightingale 1984 Halloween Special Pt1 94Mb
Annie Nightingale 1984 Halloween Special Pt2 93MB
Annie Nightingale 1984 Halloween Special Pt3 50MB
Annie Nightingale 2nd Anniversary Show Pt1 88MB
Annie Nightingale 2nd Anniversary Show Pt2 91MB
Annie Nightingale 2nd Anniversary Show Pt3 61MB
Annie Nightingale 1984 Special Pt1 61MB
Annie Nightingale 1984 Special Pt2 88MB
Annie Nightingale 1984 Special Pt3 91MB
Annie Nightingale 1985 Special Pt1 61MB
Annie Nightingale 1985 Special Pt2 93MB
Annie Nightingale 1985 Special Pt3 41MB
Annie Nightingale 1985 Special Pt4 45MB

The solution to my December Cyptish Crossword can be viewed here.

The grid was still a little blocky, so a few clues can be fully “solved” just by solving all the cross-clues. Something to try and improve in future grids. My next grid is filled, with a little light theming too. Not sure if it’ll be my next Cryptish though, as I may try to find a nice home for it elsewhere.

Meanwhile, back at the December puzzle, there were a few clues I’d had saved up that fitted in here. One clue had a trap. I wonder if anyone fell into it. A reasonable range of clue-types, I think, and I don’t think I overused any one type this time. Possibly I even underused one type. Hey-ho, that’s variation for you. I liked 42A and 37D. A little light reaction on Twitter.