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Solution to Once is Happenstance


by Kevin Wald

Each of the answers to the first set of clues (the answers are in alphabetical order) consists of a sequence of eight letters which has had two or three instances of a bigram inserted into one of the seven positions between adjacent letters.

Each of the answers to the second set of clues (the clues are in alphabetical order) is a single ASCII character.

Each pattern of bigram insertions, read as binary (0 = no insertion, 1 = insertion) is the 7-bit binary ASCII code for one of the characters. (Note that ASCII appears repeatedly as the initials of the flavortext, which refers to seven crannies among individual items.)

This enables us to match up the two sets of answers:

Table showing all answers and matches
Clue 1Answer 1ASCII codeAnswer 2Clue 2BigramRoman num.# of insertionsc/ea
Meat Loaf album (4 wds.)B()A(TO)U(TO)F()H()E()L()L01100000CipherTOIV2c
Dogs originating where Northumberland meets Scotland (2 wds.)B()O()R()D(ER)T(ER)R()I(ER)S0001101carriage returnSend a typewriter part all the way backERXI3ea
Create (3 wds.)B()R(IN)G(IN)T()O()B()E(IN)G01100011Pierce Laboratory buildingINI3ea
Drinking without stopping for breath (hyph.)C()H(UG)A()L(UG)G()I()N()G0101000(Frown, oftenUGVIII2c
Things the meek may avoidC(ON)F()R(ON)T()A()T()I(ON)S1010001QMichael Moriarty filmONV3ea
Old "sulfide"-free name for (C2H5)2S (2 wds.)E(TH)Y()L(TH)I()O()E(TH)E()R1010010RNicholas Hoult characterTHIII3ea
"Turn this ship sharply away from port!" (hyph.) H(AR)D()A()S()T(AR)B()O(AR)D1000101EPolar explorer DongchenARVI3ea
Last two letters of the first answer, slangily (2 wds.)H()O(CK)E()Y()S()T()I(CK)S0100001!Good moveCKVI2c
Bushmills, say (2 wds.)I()R(IS)H()W()H(IS)K()E()Y0100100$ClamISV2c
Capsicum that's generally milder than a Serrano (2 wds.)J()A()L()A(PE)Ñ()O(PE)P(PE)R0001011vertical tabAnswer just above with axes switchedPEIX3ea
Cavalry force celebrated by Tennyson (2 wds.)L(IG)H()T()B()R(IG)A()D()E1000100DFictional vampire hunterIGII2c
As per the title's continuation, this unflukish answer (or any of 10 others)N()O(NC)O()I(NC)I()D()E(NC)E0101001)Digression enderNCII3ea
Infrastructure that provides snailmail service (2 wds.)P()O(ST)A()L()S()Y(ST)E()M0100010"Treble barleycornSTIX2c
Emergence into sight once moreR(EA)P()P(EA)R()A()N()C()E1010000PAuthor of the Hellenica OxyrhynchiaEAXI2c
Of the country Mecca is in (2 wds.)S()A()U()D(IA)R()A()B(IA)N0001001horizontal tabAdvance one (multispace) columnIAIII2c
Pattern of stress or emphasis in a word sequence ending in a period (2 wds.)S(EN)T(EN)C()E()A()C()C(EN)T1100001aWarhol novelENVIII3ea
Plaid (but not tartan) pattern once popular among ewe-raisers (2 wds.)S(HE)P(HE)R()D()S()C(HE)C()K1100010bFlat lookalikeHEIV3ea
Universal unlockers (2 wds.)S(KE)L()E()T()O()N(KE)Y()S1000010BSusceptanceKEX2c
The act of branding something as ignominiousS(TI)G()M()A(TI)Z()A(TI)O()N1001010JPsionTIVII3ea
Those from Cluj-Napoca, sayT()R(AN)S()Y()L()V(AN)I(AN)S0100011#Sharp lookalikeANX3ea
"Circular files" for trashW(AS)T()E()B(AS)K()E()T()S1001000HAdrian SmithASI2c
Bodies involved in Lyonization (2 wds.)X()C()H()R(OM)O()S(OM)E()S0001010line feedMove your paper up a littleOMVII2c

The bigrams then go in the double column to select one letter from each. Also, for each bigram we note whether it is inserted twice or three times; as in the Ian Fleming quote the title is from, twice is (c)oincidence, and three times is (e)nemy (a)ction.

We can thus arrange the selected letters as shown below the grids, and select the letters indicated by Thai numerals or Hebrew numerals:

Conclusion table

The Thai numerals give an eight-letter sequence, KAKOMNGE, the Hebrew numerals give a bigram, RA, and the full sequence of letters spells out SIGN THAT'S KOMA IN EUSKARA. In Euskara (Basque), koma is the word for comma; inserting RA into KAKOMNGE as per the binary ASCII code for comma (0101100) gives the answer, KARAKORAM RANGE.