The solution to my September puzzle can be found here.

4, 7 & 16 were clues that had fallen out of previous puzzles, so this one was built up and around those. From which, you can deduce that they were my favourites. Shame about the double-unchecked squares, and from now on I’ll try my hardest to avoid having any of those. Third appearance for Ovid, who’s an excellent anagram on his own. 🙂

Here’s my latest puzzle, as printable png, or as in-browser solvable puzzle. Hope you enjoy. I hang out on 1 Across and Twitter, if you want to give any feedback. The solution will go up on this blog in one week’s time.

I’ve recently submitted a puzzle for possible publication somewhere. Hoping to hear back about that soon…

Use the settings menu to turn off the clock, and skipping over letters. Remember to use Save in the menu if you have more than one session at it.

The solution to my August crossword is in an image behind this link.

Three answers were nods to specific people (*waves*). 5 was quite horrible to clue, but I liked where I got to in the end. 21 has a bit of dated knowledge required, maybe not one for the young’uns, but I didn’t want to go with the more obvious reference. 18 was my favourite. Right, toodle-oo!

Edit: Oh, I’ve just noticed that there’s a Nina down there. Entirely unintentional, but perhaps it was a subconscious tribute to Rutger Hauer. (It’s not easy being a dolphin.) And well done if you get any of those references.

Edit 2: Oh blimey, there’s another one! Well, just about. How bizarre.

Here’s my August puzzle. I ended up having three puzzles on the go at once, and this was originally pegged to be my October puzzle, but I decided to move it up the queue. Any feedback welcome. I’ll be on holiday next week, but I’ll schedule a post with the answers to pop up next Thursday.

Here it is as a printable png, or a browser-solvable embed below (Use the settings menu to turn off the clock, and skipping over letters. Remember to use Save in the menu if you have more than one session at it.).

20190801_TheVoidTLMB

In 2005, my friend Howie called me up. “Do you want a job?” The last time he’d said something similar, we’d ended up running a yo-yo company together for a while. This time I thought he was offering me a juggling gig. In a way, he was – he’d had the idea for a juggling video archive, where all the great juggling videos (and the average ones too) could be stored on one website. He knew I was into juggling video, and could write, so wanted me to run the social media side of things (not that we called it that back then) and help gather videos for the site. Some development got under way slowly, and jugglingarchive.com was launched with a holding page, and the promise of more to come. Neither Howie nor I were actually web developers, but Howie slowly turned himself into one, and after getting a little backing, buying some software and throwing spanners at it for a few months, we finally launched as juggling.tv in April 2007.
JTV's old front page
While there had been other aggregator sites, this was the first juggling-dedicated video hosting and playback site on the net. We got a good response, and people signed up, and started adding their videos. Meanwhile I’d been mining all the sources I could find for juggling videos, and persuading people to join and upload. It was going well. Of course, things move on the web, and we had bugs to fix and features to add, and in 2009, we had a major upgrade (mainly thanks to having the actual programming skills of David to call on for a good while) with widescreen, increased file sizes, HD, and much more. Looking back, alas, that may have been our peak.

When it was just Howie and I again, we didn’t really have the skills for major web development, and survived for quite a while with minor bug fixes and fire-fighting. Howie was moving on to bigger things in the real world, and eventually decided to leave entirely. I was left holding the fort, with occasional help with server-side tweaks. But the web was moving on too fast. We still had Flash for goodness sake. I had a really long list of improvements to make the site so much nicer, but lacked the skills to actually implement them. Sadly I just couldn’t persuade our backers to stump up for a programmer’s time, and nor could I afford it myself. So the day came when I said, guys, it’s do or die. And the word came back… die.

Well, not absolutely. As I type, I’m a few short hours from flicking the switches which will turn JTV into a static archive, so at least 10000+ juggling videos will stay around to _be seen_ (Howie always loved those underscores). It’s a sad day for me, but ah well, we tried, we did something, and for a long while, it was good. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way, and all the uploaders too.

Maybe one day the site will rise again. I hope so, but it will be without me if so, as my time there is now done too. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite videos from the site, the elegant and skillful Wang Hong.

Antipodist:Parasol & Rugs (Wang Hong) <-- Original JTV page.

The solution to my July puzzle is in an image behind this link.

I wondered too late, if starting 12 with “holds” might have been a slightly nicer surface. A bit of scrabble knowledge would have helped you with 10. I’m not sure if the definition of 21 was “war” or “of war”, possibly arguable, but if you don’t like one, you ought to be ok with the other. I wanted to have “declaration of war”, but it didn’t feel quite right. 25 didn’t necessarily need the brackets, but I liked the juxtaposition of topper with bowler, so I put it in. 18 & 29 were my favourites.

August’s puzzle is almost finished already, so I hope I can start a new one and get ahead of schedule again soon.

Here’s this month’s puzzle from me. Right-click to download printable .png file, or play in-browser at the bottom of this post (Use the cogwheel/Setting options to turn off the timer, and skipping over letters, if you prefer. Ignore the Submit button, it’s not a competition). The grid is a little over-crossed, ah well. August’s puzzle is well under way.

If you know anyone who wants to publish a monthly crossword, do send them my way. And if you think you get 50p’s-worth of entertainment from my puzzles, please feel free to paypal me on
the-bka@tlmb.net . (Sorry to ask, but times are hard. Obviously, it’s totally okay for you to carry on enjoying them for free.) ReTweets and the like help too.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy. Answers in a week. Chat to me on Twitter if you like…
Cheers!

20190701_TheVoidTLMB

The solution to my June puzzle can be viewed in this image.

1d, 16 and 17 were my favourites. How about you?
Time to get going on my July puzzle. Except I’ve got a video to edit before I can do that. Damn, too many hobbies, I should have less fun.

I ran my Cryptic Crosswords For Beginners workshop at Lestival, and again at Bungay Balls Up. And again at Bungay Balls Up. And again at Bungay Balls Up! It seemed to go down well each time, with me talking through types of clues and wordplay, with example clues for the participants to be led through. It does need a bit of re-organising though, and a few better sample clues.


Speaking of BBU, there was a lot of crossword action there. I made a 19×19 crossword for people to solve, ran the workshop, and there was a lot of solving of other puzzles going on too. (I was working my way through a pamphlet of 20 of Knut’s crosswords.) While there, Dominique decided to edit a zine for the convention’s anniversary, and asked for contributions. So naturally, I threw together a crossword for it. In an hour – which was my excuse for completely omitting one clue in it. Only one person solved my BBU puzzle during the week, with a few getting well along the way. (I’m not putting it online – There were some BBU-specific references, and anyway, if you missed it, you missed it.)


Had some feedback on my May puzzle (spoilers), and have just got around to finishing my June puzzle, so here it is as a printable png. Sorry, no embedded browser-solvable puzzle again this month, as the software didn’t like the accents in “Dvořák”. (*sigh* Why isn’t everything UTF-8 compliant these days?)
Answers in a week.
20190602_TheVoidTLMB

Live Hitchcock

In 1998, I was explaining the differences between yo-yos to a customer in Spitalfields Market, when I realised that the person behind him looking at the stall was Robyn Hitchcock. “Hello Robyn,” I said, to his back, just a fraction too late, as he wandered away.

Meanwhile in Exeter last night, I caught the last night of Mr Hitchcock’s current British tour. It only occurred to me just a few minutes before he was due on stage that these days you don’t have to wait to call out song requests, so I tweeted one through. Slim chance, maybe, but why not?

Robyn Hitchcock - Exeter

While “singer-songwriter” (with added twisted adjectives of your own preference) is an accurate description, one of the good things about an RH gig is that you get to be entertained between the music too. Tonight, after a brief false start with a harmonica rack and a guitar lead that had impertinently failed to plug itself in, Robyn told us tales of, amongst other things, trolley busses, fire alarm memories, ancient ancestors and their trains to Aberdeen, and the problems of Neolithic Grandma Architecture. All of which were quite as they should be in a world where reality and history are parallel quirks of space-time.

Oh, and there were songs too, new and old and in between. I may have been too late with my tweet, but… Antwoman, swiftly followed by 52 Stations, gained early multiple ticks in my book. Along the way, we also had some stunt guitar to close I’m Only You, Raymond And The Wires, Virginia Woolf and I Want To Tell You About What I Want from the latest album, The Cheese Alarm, and Only The Stones Remain. (Wait! It was BEADS and fish that changed hands? I’ve been singing “meat” for years.)

Peppering the evening were also many implausible requests to the sound desk (“can you make this sound like well-played 12-string, with a touch of sober David Crosby”), which each later seemed to have managed to end up going to have been what was about to have happened. (See the note about time earlier.)

Emma Swift joined Robyn for some songs at the end, and her harmonies gave a lift to Glass Hotel in particular. Closing up with the neither-Dylanesque-nor-Morrisseyan-yet-perhaps-related – I paraphrase – Queen Elvis, and the crowd bayed for more.

Shirtwatch: off-acid pink, with blue and maroon floral motif.

Robyn came back, solo, and said “apparently someone requested this”. OH! Seems I’d not been too late after all, so hooray, I got to hear 1974 live for the first time. (It’s been quite a while since my last RH gig.) I can almost taste the coffeemate and the denim. And to exit, for fun (until the melancholic Unforgiven line) Gene Hackman. An excellent evening’s distraction.

Well Robyn, I may not have sold you a yo-yo way back then, but when I got to design my own custom kendama recently, you got swirled in the paint a little, so that seems to close that loop.

Royal Kendama