Posted by tilsit on March 14th, 2007
Solving time: 21 minutes
As one of the stars in the Guardian firmament, Paul can always be relied upon to provide an enjoyable challenge that will produce a smile or two en route. Today’s was no exception, although I suppose the theme tumbles out fairly quickly. Within that we have the usual clutch of brilliant clues, plus several laugh-out loud moments.
On Saturday last, I had a very pleasant evening at the Listener Crossword Dinner in York and during a discussion with a couple of other setters over who produces the most memorable clues and puzzles, it was Paul who accompanied Araucaria at the top of the list. 18 across today certainly joins that list!
Anyway, to today’s challenge and there are eight thematic clues which are fairly distinguishable by carrying the prefix or suffix 14 and a year in brackets.
I suspect most setters will quickly tumble that it refers to Best Picture Oscars. However, just to enhance the experience there are a couple of nice cinematically referenced clues and even 24 down with the typically cheeky and outrageous OSCAR? clue.
All in all, a lovely romp and probably my favourite Guardian puzzle for a while. Bravo, Paul! A standing ovation!
ACROSS (* = ANAGRAM )
1 GEORDIE Definition is obvious, but perhaps the indications a little less so. EG (say, rev) + ORDIE from the expression “Do or die”
5 PIGMENT One to make you think. A “Vicar, you might say” is a PI(OUS) GENT with 28 (Million) inside. I suspect most solvers will guess this from the letter indications rather than the clue.
9 ORIEL Have toi admit defeat on this one. I thought it might be LEIR (rev) + O (LOVE). However, my dictionaries only give LEIR as a lesson or lore. Again, probably to be guessed from letters or definition.
10 CLING FILM C (Cold) + LING (Fish)+ “my theme” FILM.
11 PREVALENCE “Racketeer Rod” = LAVER (rev) inside PENCE
12 POLO Double definition
14 BEST PICTURE “Feel confident” BE SURE about T (Braveheart finally) + PICT (old Scotsman). Nice self-referential clue.
18 ALL ABOUT EVE Absolutely brilliant! The 1950 BP Oscar winner. This would have gone down well at last Saturday’s Listener Table Quiz where everyone had to answer some clever Dingbat style clues. “A Level” is literally ALL about EVE!!
21 IBIS IS following half of another (bird) BI reversed.
22 ARCTIC HARE “Bow tie” = ARC TIE about CHAR - The Arctic Hare is one of the endangered species and of course it’s fur changes from dark to white. Another nice clue.
25 GLADIATOR Another themed clue. Mr Crowe’s 2000 epic. Bit baffled about this. LAD I (boy, single) - I would have thought GATOR would be a swamp attacker, rather than a victim of swamp attack.
26 ORDER Double definition
27 PLATOON Another nicely misleading clue. PLATO (founder of the Academy – no, not that one! Try Ancient Greece!) + ON
28,3 MILLION DOLLAR BABY Another clever clue with a nicely misleading anagram. BILLY IDOL ABNORMAL* and a nice indicator “CAST” to work with theme
1 GLOOPY The close to the word “cracking” is G and LOOPY = “nuts”
2 OLIVER Apart from the definition, this defeats me. Anyone help?
4 EMCEE ‘EM = Them + CEE (Regular parts of sChEmE)
5 PRINCIPLE Homophone of PRINCIPAL
6 GIGI One’s undercarriage GIG (Carriage) + I - a tooth-sucking clue that will infuiate some.
7 EPILOGUE Anagram of EGO IE PAUL less A (The heart of Brave)
8 TOM JONES Little bit = JOT (rev) about M + ONES
13 SCREECH OWL S = small CHOW inside CREEL
15 SQUARE TIN “re” in SQUAT + IN
16 MAKING UP Double definition
17 ULTIMATA Compiund anagram ATTILA MUST* minus st
19 GANDHI Another clever clue. I = 9th letter on top of its predecessors G AND H
20 NEURON EURO inside N & N (“news”)
23 THRUM THUM(P) about R
24 LIMO To finish, an outrageous clue! Some will love it, some will hate it! I’m with the formers. A limo is an O S (outsize) CAR! [Pause for groan]
And as a certain Doctor used to say….. And so to bed, with a broad beam on my face. Bravo, Paul!