Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,256 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on March 5th, 2011

Eileen.

A pretty straightforward puzzle, I think, for a Brendan – especially a prize.

This was a cleverly-composed and entertaining challenge for the Oscars weekend. I think some might consider it more of a movie quiz than a crossword [and I know some people may not like it], but, apart from 27ac, I thought there was some very clever cluing and cross-referencing and I found it a lot of fun – although the research for the blog took quite a bit longer than solving the puzzle. In fact, it’s a good job, after all, that it wasn’t a weekday puzzle, or you might have had to wait rather longer than usual for a blog!

[There may well be more references that I have missed - I'd be delighted to be enlightened! :-) ]

Across

1 Wants political biopic shown in bar, Oscar contender (5,4)
BLACK SWAN: LACKS [wants] ‘W’ [2008 Oliver Stone political biopic] in BAN [bar]
With ‘Oscar contender’, this clue unequivocally sets the scene.
‘Black Swan’ was nominated for Best Picture Oscar 2011.

6 Part of the house acclaimed old movie star (5)
GABLE: double definition
Clark Gable won an Oscar for ‘It happened one night’ [1934]

9 Director and actor taking part in challenge (5)

ALLEN: hidden in chALLENge
Woody Allen won an Oscar in 1978 for ‘Annie Hall’.

10 Common sense about where Bing and Bob went in 1947 in Hitchcock classic (9)

NOTORIOUS: TO RIO ['Road to Rio', Crosby and Hope film] in NOUS [common sense]
‘Notorious’, 1946 Hitchcock film, received two Oscar nominations.

11 Allowed line introducing Spielberg hit (3)

LET: L[line] + ET 1982 Spielberg film
ET won four Oscars, including Best Music Score for John Williams.

12 Absorbing story blends peril with disruption (11)

SPELLBINDER: anagram of BLENDS PERIL: perhaps a nod to Hitchcock’s 1945 film, ‘Spellbound’ for which he was nominated for Best Director.

14 Comic strips used without copyright for film texts (7)

SCRIPTS: C[copyright] in anagram of STRIPS

15 Far from average former great actor holding leading part in movie (7)

EXTREME: M[ovie] in EX [former] TREE [Sir Herbert Beerbohm [1853-1917] – ‘great actor’ , who used to appear very regularly in crosswords but hasn’t been seen for some time, I think.]

16 Location of many catches, where “Jaws” was partly filmed (3,4)

THE DEEP: double / triple definition: many fish are caught in the deep and that’s where many catches are made in cricket.
‘The Deep’ [1977] was written by Peter Benchley, who also wrote ‘Jaws’
‘Jaws’ [1975] was nominated for Best Picture and won three other awards.

19 Joined in editing page included in cut (7)

SPLICED: P [page] in SLICED [cut]

22 Not a winner this time around? Perhaps on a different occasion (7,4)

ANOTHER YEAR: cryptic definition:
‘Another Year’ is a Mike Leigh film, nominated for Best Screenplay 2011: I really liked this clue, which was all too apt a prediction for Mike Leigh. :-(

23 McGraw in boxing movie (3)

ALI: double definition: Ali [McGraw - or, rather, MacGraw] and 2001 film ‘Ali’, which had two Oscar nominations – perhaps also a nod to ‘The Fighter’ – nominated for Best Picture 2011?
Ali MacGraw won Best Actress Oscar for Love Story [1970]

24 Partial angle about odd dream for superhero (6-3)

SPIDER-MAN: SPIN [partial {i.e. biased} angle] around anagram of DREAM
Spider-man 2 won the best visual effects Oscar in 2004.

26 Movie star large in reputation (5]

NOLTE: L [large] in NOTE [fame]:
Nick Nolte had an Oscar nomination for ‘The Prince of Tides’ [1991]

27 It was instrumental in making movie that got Holly Hunter an Oscar (5)

PIANO: cryptic[?] definition: ‘The Piano’ [1993]: I thought this was a weak clue.
As the clue tells us, Holly Hunter received Best Actress Oscar for this film.

28 Lacking true grit, even retreating across river? Not so (9)

NERVELESS: R [river] in reversal of EVEN + LESS [not so]: ‘Not so’ does double duty here, as it negates the first part of the clue: ‘nerveless’ does not mean ‘without nerve’ but the opposite, ‘without  nervousness’.
There’s a reference here to ‘True Grit’, another of the 2011 Best Picture nominations.

Down

1 Musicians who also made films, unusually able set (7)

BEATLES: anagram of ABLE SET and, most would agree, & lit.
The Beatles’ film, ‘Let it be’ [1970] won an Oscar for Best Original Score.

2 In hall, starting like team of Oscar presenters (3-4)

ALL-STAR: hidden in hALL STARting

3 Filmed historic event in Washington (1963) or London (1939) (5,6)

KING’S SPEECH: double definition: Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, 28th August, 1963,  and George VI’s speech at the outbreak of war in 1939
There can be few people who do not know that ‘The King’s Speech’ won four Oscars, including Best Picture, on Sunday.

4 Debra and others, players on the fringes (7)

WINGERS: ‘players on the fringes’ and reference to actress Debra Winger.
Debra Winger received Oscar nominations for ‘An Officer and a Gentleman [1982], ‘Terms of Endearment’ [1983] and ‘Shadowlands’ [1993]

5,18 She’s crazy a lot in name part (7,7)

NATALIE PORTMAN: anagram of A LOT IN NAME PART &lit
Natalie Portman won the 2011 Best Actress Oscar for ‘Black Swan’.

6 Fish in area covered by maker of 3 down (3)
GAR: A[area] in GR [Georgius Rex - maker of King's speech]

7 Movie agent that’s hugging large comic strip heroine (7)

BLONDIE: L [large - the second time this abbreviation has been used, which is a pity] in BOND [James, movie agent] + IE [that's]

8 Unfinished Elm Street production in British studio location (7)

ELSTREE: EL[m] + STREE[t] – a nod to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ [1984 and 2010]

13 Crenelation reconstructed for historical epic (11)

INTOLERANCE: anagram of crenelation [which I thought had two Ls, but I see this is an alternative].
‘Intolerance’ [1916] was too early for an Oscar [the first Awards Ceremony was in 1929] but is considered to be one of the great classics of the silent era.

16 Use part in unconventional way — it’s what many an Oscar winner does (5,2)

TEARS UP: anagram of USE PART: I didn’t know this expression but, sure enough, 5,18 did it.

17 Arousing films, for example, using Beethoven’s music, including his fourth (7)

EROTICA: [bee]T[hoven] in EROICA [Beethoven's Symphony No. 3]

19 More austere in ultimate part, Mirren’s 2006 role (7)

STERNER: STERN [ultimate part] + ER [Mirren's 2006 role]
Helen Mirren won Best Actress Oscar for ‘The Queen’.

20 C for Chaplin, say (7)

CHARLIE: C in the NATO phonetic alphabet
Charlie Chaplin won several Oscars, including an honorary one.

21 Directors in vehicles, several holding Oscar, finally (7)

DRIVERS: [osca]R in DIVERS [several]

25 Feeling of self-importance obvious in “The Godfather” (3)

EGO: hidden in thE GOdfather
‘The Godfather’ [1972] won Best Picture Oscar and Best Actor [for Marlon Brando, but he refused to accept it].

50 Responses to “Guardian 25,256 / Brendan”

  1. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Sorry Eileen, but unfortunately this was not what I meant when, some three weeks ago, I said: “Can we have a Brendan on a Saturday, please?”.
    I do understand the aptness of the theme, but there were so many giveaways in this crossword that it would not even be challenging enough for a Monday puzzle.

    Some words we just got from the enumeration (OK, with some crossing letters) like SPELLBINDER, THE DEEP, BLACK SWAN and KING’S SPEECH.
    But to be honest to Brendan, if you are nót into film this puzzle could have been quite challenging.

    Perhaps Wolfie (and others) will stand up and question the surface of 5,18 (“She’s crazy a lot in name part”), given some discussion in recent weeks on ‘female-unfriendly’ clues. At least, my PinC did!
    Although it’s only a crossword, this particular clue would have gained enormously from the wholly appropriate use of “dancing” as the anagrind for NATALIE PORTMAN (who is a ballerina in Black Swan).

    It is certainly a feat to put so many film related clues into one crossword, but I think a great setter like Brendan is capable of doing so much more with a theme like this.

    Sylvie, when you say in last Saturday’s blog: “Hope Sil enjoys todays Brendan more than we did! A bit disappointing for a Prize we thought”, my reply to that must be: “No, I didn’t. And yes, you’re right”.
    Sorry, Brendan – hope others could appreciate it more than we did.

  2. matt says:

    Hmmmm.
    One of my favourite setters. One of my least favourite of his puzzles, and a bit straightforward for a prize.
    So often Brendan’s themed puzzles have some real spice about them, but not on this occasion I thought, where it seemed that a lot of the clues were strained into the theme a bit tenuously.
    A couple of good’uns in there still, but not enough to really lift it.
    I really do hope that we see him again on a Saturday though, his puzzles are normally much more satisfying than this one.

  3. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Brendan and Eileen. I am a movie fan and I liked this puzzle. Regarding 15ac: there was a 2008 sketch comedy offering called “Extreme Movie.” It was definitely NOT an award winner.

    Cheers…

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for an excellent blog and also Brendan

    Not very difficult, as people have noted, but I must confess that Eileen’s research brings out far more of the setter’s careful research than I realised was there.

    As for quality, I take the above points of criticism, but I am a little reluctant to judge because I solved this together with my son and daughter who are gradually learning the joys of solving. So it turned out to offer an opportunity for an enjoyable piece of family interaction rather than the more usual individual challenge.

  5. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen, you have provided some links which were well beyond me. Even though the theme was readily apparent at first sight, not being a movie buff I had to resort to the internet to confirm a lot of the answers. There was some discussion on themed puzzles in last week’s blog and while they can be interesting and informative I agree with Martin P that once the theme is revealed then they can lose some of their challenge. They can at once be too easy if you are acquainted with the theme and too hard if you are not. I freely admit to some sour grapes in that I have yet to encounter a theme with which I am familiar but it does seem that most recent Guardian Prize puzzles have been themed and I would personally prefer them to be in a minority.

    Notwithstanding the headline in the link Eileen has helpfully provided for 16d I think this clue draws rather a long bow but I did enjoy much of the exercise.

  6. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen — beautifully set out! I can’t share your enthusiasm for this puzzle, I’m afraid. While I have to admire Brendan’s ability to work in so many Oscar references, this was just too easy for a prize. You didn’t really have to be a film buff to get the theme either, just moderately awake over the past few weeks and with a television on in the near vicinity.

    I solved this with my daughter (who is still at the beginning stage of cryptics) and even she complained about how easy it was. She finished it, but got no satisfaction from doing so.

    Best clue was 22ac, I thought. 27ac was almost a Quick clue.

    I really like Brendan as a setter, so I was a bit disappointed :-)

    But hooray for an Araubetical today!

  7. liz says:

    Sorry — that :-) should have been a :-(

  8. molonglo says:

    Spectacular blog, Eileen. Alas, this was a bit like those puzzles whose clues are photos of well known people.

  9. NeilW says:

    As Liz says, hooray for an Araubetical today – but I don’t think I’m giving anything away in saying thumbs down to a typo in the enumeration of “A” which should be just (7) not (7,5)!

  10. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    Of all the new-fangled layouts appearing recently I think this one works the best … and not a bad puzzle when all’s said and done. Did wonder if 21 referred to Minnie (nominated in 1997) and other actors in her family but sadly there don’t seem to be any …
    Liz @7 … so easy isn’t it to get one’s smilies in a twist !

  11. Eileen says:

    Some of you were up late last night!

    So far, pretty much the reaction I expected. ‘Challenge’ was the wrong word to use in the preamble. I found it very easy, too, as I indicated in my message to Shirley on my Boatman blog on Thursday.

    I, too, was disappointed: if I’d had to guess the name of the setter, Brendan would not have made the Possibles list. I think most of the fun I had was in doing the research. It made me realise that there was rather more to it than there seems, as tupu says.

  12. Chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    As several people have commented, this one was difficult for somebody like me who is not a film fan. Actually I am not really into moving images at all – I got rid of the TV years ago!

    I shall shortly go out to buy my paper and I see from comments here that it is an Araubetical. That is something to look forward to.

  13. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Eileen – great and very thorough blog.

    Although a lot of this was exceptionally easy, there were still some pleasing subtleties, such as 6d.

  14. Handel says:

    Interested to read the reactions to this one. We (or rather El, who’s a film buff) raced through this in record time and thoroughly enjoyed it at the time. Although on reflection it would have been nice to have had a little more to chew on, we’d much rather something like this than an obscure theme plus tough clues leading to a hard slog. Don’t get me wrong – I certainly don’t want them like this every week, but as a one-off this was good fun and left us happy. Thanks Brendan and Eileen too for the excellent blog.

  15. Wolfie says:

    Sil@1 – No I don’t have a problem with the surface of 5,18!

    Though straightforward for a Saturday prize I found a lot to enjoy in this puzzle. What I like about the Guardian cryptics (as opposed, say to the Times or Telegraph) is the range of difficulties and varieties of style. Not knowing what to expect is part of the charm, I think. And Brendan’s effort needed to go in last Saturday in the interests of topicality.

    Thanks to Neil W for pointing out the numeration typo in today’s Araucaria alphabetical. I had been scratching my head for some time about how to accommodate five twelve-letter solutions in a grid that only seemed to have room for four of them. It has all fallen into place now!

  16. togo says:

    Thanks Eileen – a fun puzzle and blog combination – the lack of challenge notwithstanding.

    Sil@1 – sorry to spoil your chance of PC solidarity with your PinC, but the central theme of Black Swan is the descent into madness of a young ballerina…. The clue stands, proud and not mysogynous at all!

  17. Robi says:

    I liked the topicality of this puzzle, although it was similar in difficulty to an Everyman, I thought.

    Thanks Eileen :) for a super blog. I was familiar with the film references, but unaccounatably I couldn’t parse GAR. I thought it had something to do with the production company (maker) and the only thought was that it was near TrafalGAR square! Sometimes one fails to spot the obvious.

    Thanks to NeilW @9 for pointing out the typo in today’s crossword, which I need to look at over the weekend.

  18. Carrots says:

    With almost every clue relating to film culture (Brendan has, at least, to be praised for this feat) this puzzle was a doddle for me…..in exactly the same way Paul`s rugby puzzle yesterday was not. Even so, Eileen`s well-researched blog revealed facts I didn`t know and a couple of parsings I didn`t fully understand.

    I really like Eileen`s new blog format: it says it all, precisely and succinctly…in Glorious Technicolor!

    Now for the Araubetical: a term well coined Liz…is it yours? If it is, we could collectively try to get it into Chambers or somewhere. There`s immortality for you!

  19. liz says:

    Carrots @18. No, ‘Araubetical’ is another commenter’s coinage. And I’m afraid I forget who it was!

  20. Chas says:

    I am sorry to see that Eileen has fallen into the trap of using regularly as meaning the same as frequently. It actually means ‘at equal intervals’. This is how Halley spotted his comet because it occurred at regular intervals of about 75 years. This is NOT frequent.

  21. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK, both Wolfie (#15) and togo (#16), fair enough.

  22. malc95 says:

    Thanks Eileen & Brendan,

    7d There was a pre-war film made based on the exploits of Blondie, and several made afterwards.

  23. malc95 says:

    19a … and apparently a horror movie called “Spliced” in 2002.

  24. Carrots says:

    NeilW: Guess who has just spent half-an-hour counting up all the enumerated clues and all the squares for them to fill…not once, but TWICE !!

  25. stiofain says:

    I believe it was Muck who coined the word Araubetical but i may be wrong. Agree this was much too easy for a prize.

  26. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen for the excellent blog, which includes several movie refs I hadn’t picked up.
    Carrots@18, Liz@19, Stiofain@25: Araubetical was my coinage!

  27. harry says:

    newcomer here … have to confess this was only the second ever guardian cryptic i’ve completed, and the first to be vanquished on the publication day itself. so i knew it would get a bit of pasting here.

    thanks to you all for answers over the past few weeks which have helped me with the many other puzzles not so easy as this one.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    In Holland, in the 70s and 80s, there was a weekly TV programme built around two well-respected alternative what-we-call-nowadays stand-up comedians. They invented a string of ‘new’ Dutch words. And would you believe, many of them are since then in the Van Dale [the Dutch 'Chambers'].
    Therefore, muck, I really hope there will come a day that Chambers will include that great word “Araubetical”. Credits to you!

    Just like others I also want to say that I like Eileen’s format.
    There are a lot of fancy blogs around these days, but I don’t always like them because of their ‘fanciness’. This one’s just right.

    Finally, I would like to say that molonglo’s verdict of this crossword (@8) is probably the best I have seen so far!

  29. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Great blog and very clear also. I know this was a very easy puzzle but that doesn’t make it a bad puzzle. The key element in any crossword for me is entertainment value and in that respect, this crossword was very entertaining. There is always more to a Brendan puzzle than one may realise and quite often his subtleties remain undetected. So thanks Brendan for taking the time to compose a crossword for our entertainment.

  30. Brendan says:

    Apart from clarifications or apologies when they are appropriate, I don’t usually respond on this and other blogs. I appreciate the positive and constructively critical comments, and try to ignore those that are unconstructively negative. As with an author, film-maker, and so on, I invite critique by publishing my work; by the same token, I have the right of reply.

    A point for consideration for those who write comments of the type “this crossword is rubbish”. In so doing, they denigrate not only the setter, but also the crossword editor who has approved the work, and all those who have made positive comments.

    In this spirit, I have one word (the etymology of which Sil will be well aware) for the characterization of my hard work by molonglo and its endorsement by Sil.

    Poppycock.

  31. muck says:

    Sil@28: If you Google ‘araubetical’ there are 34 hits, nearly all in 15sqd, so I don’t think this word will get into OED or Chambers anytime soon!
    Brendan@30: keep on setting your puzzles; enjoy the plaudits and ignore any ‘rubbish’ comments.

  32. Martin H says:

    Carrots says: With almost every clue relating to film culture (Brendan has, at least, to be praised for this feat). Why? Surely this is only laudable if the pervasive theme leads to a satisfying puzzle.

    As so often with puzzles of this type, the theme seems forced, much of the clueing feeble, and too many of the solutions as molonglo describes them at 8 – I mean, in this case, the inevitable references to much hyped Oscar candidates, plus some pretty obvious stuff like 9, 16, 20, 26. I’m sure, Brendan, that it was hard work slotting all this together, most ingenious, but was it really worth it? And I do criticise the editor for not wielding the axe.

    I haven’t, nor as far as I can see has any other commentator, described this crossword as rubbish. I think there was some rubbish in it, but also some good clues: 10,15,19,24,28 for example.

    Also Brendan, I think your dig at Sil, who has been a consistent champion of your puzzles, is churlish.

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Dear Brendan,
    when I said “Can we have a Brendan on a Saturday, please?”, that reflected my admiration for you as a setter.
    And I dó find writing a set of clues like this a feat.
    But clues like “C for Chaplin, say” or “Debra and others, players on the fringes” are just giveaways.
    That is, when you know these people.
    I clearly said “to be honest to Brendan, if you are nót into film this puzzle could have been quite challenging” and I meant that from the bottom of my heart.
    But if you áre familiar with the World of Film, it was indeed like molonglo said.

    I did not say that this was a bad(ly written) crossword.
    It was just far too easy.
    I’m not the only one who thought it was.

    I know all too well, what writing a crossword means.
    Inspiration, hard work and pleasure.
    Therefore, connecting me with a word I’d never seen before, doesn’t give me a nice feeling.

    Sorry, Brendan, you are a great setter [another thing that I said before] but you must accept that many solvers (not just us) found this crossword below ‘your’ par.

    And since I’ve always been a great admirer of your crosswords, I can’t see any reason why you chose me to nail someone to the wall today.

  34. Eileen says:

    It’s always, of course, a bonus when setters drop in on this site.

    I have blogged a number of Brendan puzzles [including the classic 24,930, which I have framed] and have longed, as a huge admirer, to get a response from him.

    I found it ironical that it was this one he chose to respond to and I’m sure / hope he realises that any implied criticism of this puzzle is, in fact, a huge back-handed compliment!

    Re format: as far as Saturday solutions are concerned, I’m quite happy to include the clues, since solvers may have mislaid them in the meantime.

    However, this does take rather longer, so I shall continue to blog weekday puzzles ‘my way’, so that you get the blogs as soon as possible

  35. Brendan says:

    Let me comment on the three parts of my posting.

    The first part was a statement of the obvious.

    The second was a statement of what appears not to be so obvious.

    The third was a human reaction. Setters are human, too. Saying something like “this puzzle was not to my taste” without being offensive is not particularly difficult. I still don’t think mologlo managed to do it.

  36. Brendan says:

    Okay, I over-reacted.

    I apologize.

    But there is a serious point hiding behind the tantrum.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And I do understand that.
    So I say: I will stick with you.
    End of discussion.
    :) [I hope]

  38. Carrots says:

    Hi Martin H….Many moons ago I was asked to construct a cryptic crossword for a local flying club magazine, based on the broad theme of “aviation”. So, (a la Araucaria), I got out the scrabble set and started to devise it. A week later, the printer was banging on my door, the crossword was only two-thirds finished and the damn dog kept nicking the tiles and burying them. I had no alternative but to abandon the “pure” theme in favour of more general answers which could be made to fit. So I have no hesitation in describing Brendan`s 100% feat as “praiseworthy”.
    Fancy a go? Why not try something nice and easy, like Nobel Prize Winners??

    Hi Brendan….you really do have many more admirers here than detractors and I can certainly vouch for Sil`s enthusiasm for your puzzles. But it was good of you to venture into the lion`s den: I wish more setters would. I get a mauling now and again but, more often than not, I`ve earned it. Like you, the right to reply is sacrosanct, even if it does entail a bit of a spat!

  39. Eileen says:

    Brendan – if you’re still there.

    Our posts 11.06 / 11.07 may have crossed. I’ve said more than once on this site that I encouraged my children to say [of food, mostly!] ‘I don’t like this’, rather than,’This is horrible’.

    While I’ve been typing this, I see Carrots’ cntribution has come in and I’ve nothing to add!

  40. Brendan says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Not quite sure what triggered my reaction, maybe it’s been building up for a while.

    And thanks to all the people who do the hard work of maintaining this blog, writing the reviews, and giving us setters feedback.

  41. Martin H says:

    Hi Carrots – I’ve compiled a few crosswords, even occasionally using some sort of motif, but have never been minded to try a 100% theme – as a solver I usually find them tedious, and I shouldn’t want to inflict tedium on other solvers. But that’s a matter of taste, and not relevant to the points at issue here. I’m sure if I did try to compile one, I’d have just the same difficulty as you did – perhaps more as there’s no dog to blame for messing up the process. My point was simply that a good crossword is made of good clues, and themes, however ingeniously worked, can’t make up for poor ones.

  42. Paddywack says:

    As an occasional solver (not a very good one) I found this puzzle hugely enjoyable. Many thanks to Brendan for some real fun and to Eileen for an enlightening blog. I loved both!

  43. Sylvia says:

    Sil, I think you meant to refer above (post 1) to Shirley (not Sylvie) as I quite enjoyed this crossword!

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, Sylvia, you’re right.
    Don’t know why I wrote Sylvie.

  45. matt says:

    Brendan,

    Thanks for coming along, and thanks for all the puzzles. I get excited when I see your name in the paper.

    Out of curiosity, has Virgilius retired?

  46. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Its slightly ironic that when I had a little tantrum over Brummie’s use of “the top 10 list of really obscure composers” as a theme recently, it was Sil van den Hoek who (probably rightly) took me to task for going over the top.

    That Brummie puzzle and this Brendan were well composed, fairly clued puzzles but on both occasions they failed to hit my Goldilocks zone. This will always be a personal thing anyway and I suspect that a great many solvers who only occasionally complete a prize puzzle will have found this one a treat.

  47. Brendan says:

    In response to Matt (comment 45), Virgilius has, regrettably, retired, though I hope he will make a comeback sometime. I’m just too busy with my academic work right now.

  48. Eileen says:

    I sincerely hope that Brendan will not be compelled to follow Virgilius into [even temporary] retirement!

  49. Geoff Chapman says:

    “In this spirit, I have one word (the etymology of which Sil will be well aware) ….

    Poppycock.”

    Oh Brendan. For this…I love you even more.

  50. Sil van den Hoek says:

    When the first post of a blog is not very favourable [even though in essence not unreasonable] it might set the tone for further posts. When another post (@8) is even less favourable and when the writer of the first post (which was me) feels the need to emphasise that [though having no intent at all to dismiss the crossword as a whole], it is not strange that the setter may be rather upset.
    But ….. (to be continued @ General Discussion)

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