Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,272 / Brummie

Posted by duncanshiell on March 17th, 2011

duncanshiell.

This took me some time as I was fixated on a number of wrong answers for some time.

 

 

For example at 17 down I was convinced that I should take M from MALI to get ALI, which is a 2001 version of 26 down.  Failing that it could have been MAN taking the O from OMAN to get a 2005 26 down (admittedly with the definite article in front).

I was also looking for a 26 down called SAVERY at 3 down and finally the only 3 letter president I could think of for a while was IKE (Eisenhower), so I was wondering if there was a 26 down called BIKE.

Eventually I got FREAKISH at 8 across to break the NW corner impasse. UNFORGIVEN and WELFARE then led to the only possible answer for 17 down (RAN)

The theme word at 26 down, FILM, fell fairly early on, but as I only go to the cinema about once every two or three years, and don’t take the film channels on Sky, I was not on strong ground with examples of the theme.  No doubt many readers will tell me that all the films are classics, but I must admit to recognising only half of them as films.

I can’t find any obvious links between the films.  They didn’t all win best picture Oscars, or have the same stars ,or the have the same Director.  Doing research on the web and in my rather old copy of Halliwell’s film guide, I found more than one example of some of the films (see below).  They are not even all one word films as I thought for a time.  MONA LISA debunks that theory.

In clue order, the films were:

CRASH (1996, James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas) or (2004, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Art Chudabala)

BRAZIL (1944, Virginia Bruce, Tito Guitar, Edward Everett Horton) or (1985, Jonathan Pryce, Robert de Niro, Katherine Helmond)

MONA LISA (1986, Bob Hoskins, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane)

BABE (1995, James Cromwell, plus voices of Miriam Flynn, Danny Mann, Hugo Weaving, Christine Cavanaugh, Miriam Margoyles)

MISERY (1990, James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth)

CHARADE (1953, James Mason) or (1963 Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau)

UNFORGIVEN (1992, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackmann, Morgan Freeman)

BIG (1988, Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia)

RAN (1985, Tatsuya Nakadia, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu)

REDS (1981, Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann)

As I wrote the blog, I didn’t find anything too difficult about the clues, aalthough I am not sure why the word ‘mounted’ is in the clue to 1 down.  All the clues parse fairly easily

I believe Brummie is also Cyclops in Private Eye.  The clues to 18 Across and 23 Down would be equally at home in Private Eye.

Across
Clue Wordplay Entry
8 A king given independence in new surroundings is a bit odd (8) (A + K [king] + I [independence]) all contained in (in ….surroundings) FRESH (new) FREAKISH (a bit odd)
9 Ready to circle river 26 down (5) CASH (money; ready) containing (to circle) R (river) CRASH (film [26 down])
10 In shock – needing a bender!(4) Hidden word (in) SHOCK NEEDING KNEE (a knee bends; bender)
11 Audio device by which the musically illiterate might play an instrument (3,7) EAR (the musically illiterate cannot read musical notes and therefore may ‘play by ear’) + TRUMPET (instrument) EAR TRUMPET (a trumpet shaped tube previously used as a hearing aid; audio device)
12 Cut, say, in number of people involved in legal proicess (6) IN + JURY (a number of people involved in legal process) INJURY (a cut is an example [say] of injury)
14 Exposed as a fraud and deprived of a berth? (8) DE-BUNKED (deprived of a bunk; deprived of a berth) DEBUNKED (exposed as a fraud) double definition, one cryptic
16 US state benefits from brownie-importing Herts town (7) WARE (town in Hertfordshire) containing (importing) ELF (an imp; a brownie).  I think ‘brownies’ are more friendly than ‘elves”. WELFARE (the benefits system in the United States is referred to as ‘welfare’)
18 Gaily, casually, welcoming sex leads to suppleness (7) Anagram of (casually) GAILY containing IT (sex) AGILITY (suppleness)
21 City well taken in by criminal (8) LOR’ (expressing surprise; well!) contained in (taken in by) FENCE (criminal) FLORENCE (city [in Italy])
23 26 down underwear short woman returned (6) BRA (underwear) + (LIZ [shortened form of ELIZABETH [woman], reversed [returned]) BRAZIL (film [26 down])
24 Fixed price mythological bird with a £ given in return (10) Anagram of (fixed) PRICE + ROC (mythological bird) + A + L (£) RECIPROCAL (given in return)
26 People of mixed Latin and Korean origins (4) Anagram of (mixed) OF + first letters L, K of (origins of) LATIN and KOREA FOLK (people)
27 One and minus one, continuously (2,3) ONE + AND excluding (minus) A (one) ON END (continuously)
28 26 down edited Mail on Sunday article (4,4) Anagram of MAIL ON S (Sunday) + A (article) MONA LISA (film [26 down])

 

Down
Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Alternative jig, say, to secure new mounted guns (8) OR (alternative) + (DANCE [a jig is an example of [{say} a dance] containing [to secure] N [new]) ORDNANCE (guns) I am not sure what role ‘mounted’ plays in this clue as ‘ordnance’ can be any kind of munitions, not just those used by the [mounted] cavalry.  There are no reversals in this down clue as ‘mounted’ might suggest.
 2 26 down’s second-rate old president (4) B (second rate) + ABE (reference Abraham [Abe] Lincoln; old president) BABE (film [26 down])
3 Spender’s opposite end of poetry for 26 down (6) MISER (a tight fisted-person; opposite of ‘spender’) + last letter Y of [end of] POETRY MISERY (film [26 down])
4 26 down’s one day cuts into cleaner energy (7) (A + D [day]) contained in (cuts into) (CHAR [cleaner] + E [energy]) CHARADE (film [26 down])
5 Tree wizard on river (4) ACE (outstanding; expert; wizard) + R (river) ACER (tree)
6 A solemn organisation overturning everything that could poison you (10) (Anagram of [organisation] A SOLEMN) + ALL (everything) reversed (overturning) SALMONELLA (food posiing caused by bacteria)
7 Abandoned hope with live satellite (6) Anagram of (abandoned) HOPE + BE (live) PHOEBE (a satellite of the planet Saturn)
13

26 down’s not a description of the Prodicgal Son (10)

UNFORGIVEN (reference the parable of The Prodigal Son who received unconditional forgiveness from his father.  Hence the oppositie [not a description of] outcome is UNFORGIVEN) UNFORGIVEN (film [26 down])
15 Independence gained by backward country’s 26 down (3) GB (Great Britain; country) reversed (backward) containing (gained) I (independence) BIG (film [26 down])
17 Leaderless country’s 26 down (3) IRAN (country) excluding first letter I (leaderless) RAN (film [26 down])
19 After time get healthier as the three blind mice became (8) T (time) + AIL LESS (get healthier) TAILLESS (read through the Nursery Rhyme, the Three Blind Mice, to discover that the mice ended up with no tails)
20 Be glad to see jewel comets without jets (7) JEWEL COMETS excluding (without) JETS.  While this looks like a hidden word clue, it is different from that genre. WELCOME (be glad to see)
22 Keep out of sight of "porky" bass (3,3) LIE (reference ‘porky pie’ [lie]) + LOW (bass is a ‘low’ voice in singing) LIE LOW (keep out of sight)
23 Newspaper credit causes b****y row (6) BY + LINE (row) BYLINE (a line at the beginning of a newspaper article crediting the author; newspaper credit)
25 26 down’s contribution to endangered specieis (4) Hidden word in (contribution to) ENDANGERED SPECIES REDS (film [26 down])
26 Blur record almost ahead of McFly’s No 1 (4) FILE (record) excluding the final letter (almost) E + first letter M (No 1 ) of McFLY FILM (mistiness; blur)

47 Responses to “Guardian 25,272 / Brummie”

  1. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks duncanshiell.

    I found most of the films relatively straightforward although I had not come across ‘Ran’ before. However I did not parse 16a across and starred at it in bewilderment until the penny dropped. Although ‘Ware’ is on the obscure side the clue is fair enough if you are not an idiot like me.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan Shiell for an excellent blog and Brummie for a very entertaining puzzle.

    Like Duncan, I did not know several of the films, but the immaculate cluing left me with a list of correct answers to check. Like Duncan too I wondered about Savery for a time. It took a time to work out ‘film’ though I think I’ve seen a similar clue before. I toyed with ‘epic’ for a time before getting the ‘f’.

    Thanks for your precise reading of ‘welcome’ – I saw it quickly towards the end and assumed it was a ‘ha’ and that jets was a loose (rather than exact) description of the surroundings.

    It’s about time that setters ‘burned their bras’ or at least discarded them for a time.

    Many across clues (8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 27) amused me as did 1 and 2d.

    One of those puzzles where one feels in tune with the setter.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks for a good blog duncanshiell. i made great progress until six were left, then hit the wall – because like you I was convinced 17d was Ali. Eventually I got 12a (liked the clue a lot) and so 3d. It then took as long as everything so far to crack the last ones, finally 16a. Excellent work Brummie.

  4. Roger says:

    Hi Duncan. Wrt 1d, I think the definition is ‘mounted guns’ … and the on-line OD gives this first for ‘ordnance’. Secondly it has ‘artillery’, so basically it’s the heavy stuff.

  5. Stella Heath says:

    I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this as much as others seem to, probably because, like Duncanshiell, I’m quite ignorant on the subject, and, though the cluing may be precise, it’s not very specific so there were too many occasions where there seemed to be various possibilities.

    Though I have heard of, and maybe even seen some of the films, the only one I’m really familiar with is Misery, the brilliant Kathy Bates playing one of Stephen King’s anti-heroes. Others are either childish or just plain bad IMO, an exception being Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, but I’m not too keen on westerns either, and only knew the Spanish title, so the penny took a while to drop.

    Last in ‘acer’ – I really must remembar that crossword tree!

  6. Martin H says:

    I’ve enjoyed recent Brummies, but not this one.

    This was a dud theme: it didn’t lead anywhere (compare Brendan’s ‘mousetrap’ yesterday); as Duncan points out, there was no connection between the solutions other than that they were simply, as 26d bluntly put it, ‘film’, making an almost endless list of possible candidates; worst of all this sort of theme rules out the possibility of wit, ingenuity or challenge in the definitions: I didn’t know ‘Reds’ or ‘Big’, simply entering them from the transparent clues, but so what? The pleasure in solving crosswords doesn’t lie simply in filling in the correct solutions.

    As for them, I confidently put (m)ALI, as Duncan did at 17d. This sort of loose clueing should have been spotted by the editor. I felt 2d, 13d, 19d, 20d were weak too. Having said that, there were some very nice clues, 26, 27, 28 in particular, but they weren’t enough to put life into this dismal affair.

  7. Stella Heath says:

    Having just looked it up in Wiki, I realise it’s the Spanish ‘arce’ – it had never occurred to me. Yet another example of the way Spanish exchanges consonants, like ‘cocodrilo’ for crocodile.

  8. NeilW says:

    Martin H, I think they were all Oscar winners or at least nominees… so not just “films.”

    I suppose this was supposed to appear a couple of weeks ago.

  9. John H (Not the Enigmatist JH) says:

    I always thought Cyclops in PE was Paul!

  10. Roger says:

    An odd bunch of films as you say, Duncan. Enjoyed Florence and on end, 19d was something of a gimme but good fun, haven’t seen Roc for a while and wondered if Watford was about to get its moment of glory at 16a …

    Is there an ‘*’ missing in 23d or am I thinking of the wrong expletive !

  11. Martin H says:

    NeilW @ 8 – Thanks for that – not that it does much to endear the puzzle to me; it’s still a list, albeit a shorter and more specific one, which you either know about or don’t know about. (FA cup finalists, Booker Prize short lists?) If indeed they were all nominees, even more so winners, doesn’t that render the key word ‘film’ rather lame?

  12. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, duncanshiell. I got the theme clue early on and for a while thought that all the film titles were going to be single words. I like films, have heard of all the ones clued here, and have seen six of them too, which made it easier for me, I suppose. Still managed to get stumped by 16ac :-(

    I agree that the theme wasn’t as neatly handled as yesterday’s, but I still found this enjoyable.

  13. Geoff says:

    Brummie is usually a great favourite of mine, but I found this one a wee bit more trouble than it was worth. Took me a while to make sense of 26dn, after which the puzzle fell out fairly easily, but I agree with Martin H that the theme is very vague.

    Some nice clues but not up to this setter’s usual very high standard.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    I for Independence in two clues 8a and 15d – I am sure Sil will comment on this.

    I found this easy clue and hard clue alternating, and I couldn’t be bothered to get the last few films (MISERY and CHARADE – actually I had thought of this, but as I couldn’t see the word play and that it seemed to be a much older film than the others, I dismissed it).

    Thanks duncan for explanations to one or two I missed. A reasonably enjoyable offering from Brummie.

  15. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Brummie and duncanshiell. Early on I too thought the theme would be one word movies. I’ve heard of all the movies because I watch too many movie channels. I don’t think some of them were Oscar worthy but they have been nominated. I couldn’t get 8a because I had Joyride at 4d. It sounded like a Presley vehicle (hee-hee) from the 60′s. Late last night I didn’t notice that I hadn’t accounted for the r in my parsing. I was also too lazy to confirm Joyride. Thanks for your explanation of 22d -lie = porky pie. Is that rhyming slang?

    Cheers…

  16. HelenEdith says:

    I didn’t get 26 down, which left me well and truly stuck. So I came here to sneak a peek at that one clue to see if it would get me going, but I’m no cinema-goer either, and it didn’t. :( Maybe I’ll like tomorrow’s puzzle better…

  17. AndyB says:

    Stongly agree with the consensus that this disappointed by the setter’s high standrads. Entering “Ali” at 17D led to rather a wste of time. I think it’s agreed that multiple possibilities aren’t fair game?

    Oscar nomination is not a tight enough relation to make the theme memorable.

    12a was my favourite – “cut” duly sent me haring away from the target

  18. chas says:

    Thanks to duncanshiell for the blog.

    I’m one of those who is not a film fan so found this one extremely hard work – no pleasure at all.

    I seem to remember that there was recently a film theme (Oscars day?) which I found much easier than this one. Perhaps the clues then were of a higher standard than today.

  19. walruss says:

    I am afraid that I too did not really like this. As 8 says it’s probably 2 weeks late at least, and somehow it doesn’t flow like some of the Indy themes do. Clonky clue-writing, just not as good.

  20. stiofain says:

    I also thought it was a lame theme.
    Tupu @2 I like seeing a bra from time to time and dont think its overused or hackneyed.

  21. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog Duncan.

    I suppose it had to happen after three consecutive days of elegant, witty puzzles from Rufus, Paul and Brendan. The mechanical, two-dimensionality of the way this was handled by Brummie in his usual cold, piece by piece style, did nothing to add to the theme.

    The vagueness referred to above by others only serves to add to the sense of disappointment.

  22. anax says:

    I’m not a very regular Guardian solver but do like to dive into the day’s comments, and the generally adverse reaction to this one prompted me to read through the clues (huge kudos to Duncan for his presentation of them). A couple of observations if I may:

    The theme… is just ‘films’. I can’t see a problem with there being no additional thematic element – we get loads of puzzles in the Guardian/Indie where the theme is simply a number of answers with something in common; trees, rivers, composers etc. Admittedly, ‘films’ covers a broad spectrum, but lots of themes are like that.

    In terms of the clues I think Brummie has taken a good approach. Films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and it would have been easy to a) cram as many as possible into the grid or b) make the solver’s job even tougher with a set of murderously hard clues. Option A would seriously spoil the fun for non-film buffs and option B would make the whole thing impenetrable. The result here is an accessible puzzle, gently themed, with not-too-difficult clues among which are some very clever wordplay treatments.

    I can imagine lots of solvers, for whom themed puzzles might look scary, being very satisfied and encouraged on finishing this one.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    I think I am more in tune with anax than others.
    Talking of which, I wondered for some time whether the well known air guitarist would be backed by an air drummer (11a). Fortunately ‘misery’ put me right.

  24. ian b says:

    The theme is films with single word titles, which narrows it down a touch.

    I didn’t know there was a Ware where there is.

  25. tupu says:

    Looking back at the negative comments, I note that the many clues which I particularly liked were, with the exception of ‘babe’, not on the theme.

    This might be read in support of the theme critics, though for me it supports the idea that the puzzle has plenty to enjoy whether one likes the theme or not. Also as I said, the theme answers were very clearly clued. !7d has some people grumbling because of the possibility of Ali’, but I am always surprised when people treat the very idea of a crossword as irrelevant (i.e. a puzzle where words cross). I was aware that Ali and Ran were both possibilities, and it was clear that Ali will not fit with Welfare and Florence. Anyone who confidently put in ‘Ali’ before checking further was simply rash.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Also 23d could be ‘batty’ or ‘barmy’ if we are counting stars; nether of which would merit a place in a Cyclops effort.

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Most of the negative comments seem based on the theory that “themes on which I am not knowledgeable are unfair”.
    I am a quite infrequent visitor to the cinema but I knew at least the titles of them all except Ran. Since I ‘failed’ to think of Mali I was left to choose Ran or Raq, which wasn’t difficult.
    I have tackled themes where my knowledge was near zero but the research can make the solution an interesting journey.

  28. tupu says:

    For what it’s worth, I read ‘b***y’ as ‘bally’, the well known ‘polite’ form of ‘bloody’.

  29. anax says:

    Ian b @24

    I’m glad you didn’t say “I wasn’t aware there was a Ware where there is”. In fact I’m sorry I just did.

  30. AndyB says:

    I can’t quite agree with Tupu that those who put in “Mali” were “rash”. I suppose it’s arguable but to my mind the best clues are ones to which the solution when reached can be seen to be the only solution.

    I’m genuinely interested in this point. If it’s a deliberate elephant trap from Brummie, that’s one thing and I can see it adds a dimension. But it does seem to be a new rule of engagement. If it wasn’t conceived as a trap it’s a bit unfortunate.

  31. Duke says:

    Can someone help me with I=Independence? Is there some example where this abbreviation is used?

  32. malc95 says:

    @Duke,

    UDI by Rhodesia for example.

  33. Robi says:

    Thanks Brummie – I quite liked the film theme as I knew them!

    Duncan – great blog; with the clues as well! I didn’t get the ‘lor in Florence and failed again with the Cockney LIE. I thought it was a bit naughty to make one of the 26d crossers reliant on the answer to 26d, but I got there in the end, although I couldn’t quite parse all of the clue. I started looking up McFly hits but then realised that was probably too obvious.

  34. stiofain says:

    ian b @24 mona lisa is 2 words
    i meant to say duncan your layout of blog is excellent

  35. Carrots says:

    I`ve really looked forward all afternoon to see what the usual suspects made of this. It wasn`t unduly hard or unfair. It had a theme which I`m fairly enthusiastic about. There was the odd flabby clue, but, in the end, it did what it said on the tin. Why then, having completed it over an enjoyable enough half-hour, did I feel indifferent…even slightly unsatisfied….by it?

    I was going to ask tupu (who knows of all things) what was wrong with it (because I really do not know) but he seems to find nothing to grumble about, so I guess it must be me missing something. I`ll wait and hope to see what Sil pounces on.

  36. Carrots says:

    Sorry, Duncan (forgot!) Many thanks for an excellent and superbly formatted blog.

  37. Duncan Shiell says:

    Thanks for all the comments on the blog.

    I’ve done a bit more research on the films to see whether they were all Oscar winners or nominees. The majority of them, indeed all except BRAZIL, are Oscar nominees in some category, but very few won many Oscars of any kind, and only two won Best Picture. I can only find CRASH and UNFORGIVEN as winners of Best Picture. Quite a number had nominations or were winners in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories. BABE had seven nominations but only won the Best Visual Effects award. Given the number of films that get nominations these days, I think these films are a fairly random selection.

    On the question of ALI, I didn’t ink it in, but it seemed to me a more likely first guess than RAN. I accept that the crossing letters proved it to be wrong and that is what crossing letters are for. Only Brummie can tell us whether it was a deliberate red herring or not.

    On the question of the use of ‘mounted’ in 1 down, I can see that ORDNANCE = cannon = mounted gun is a legitimate use of ‘mounted’.

  38. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan for all your hard work on the films.

  39. Eileen says:

    Hi Carrots @35

    I’m really glad to see your comment. Your Auntie E, like you, has kept a close watch all day, without commenting. My heart leapt when I saw ‘Brummie’ on the puzzle. I finished it, without too much bother, and ended up feeling much the same way as you, I think.

    I’m sorry I can’r help you but I’m glad to see that someone else reached the same [non] conclusion as I did. :-)

  40. Martin H says:

    Hi anax – I think there’s a difference between ‘trees, rivers, composers etc’ and films, as material for crossword themes. Trees, rivers and composers have their own names: Thames is always a river, Beethoven always a composer, etc. There are sometimes double meanings – pine, ash, Isis and so on, but by and large this is the case. There was a puzzle recently where a setter exploited the special case of composers whose names had dictionary meanings, but this worked precisely because it was a special case. Films are not like this – they don’t have names, they have titles. Every film in today’s crossword could have been a solution having nothing to do with film, and there was nothing in the bald definition to give them that group identity which trees or rivers would have had . It’s this lack of focus that has drawn complaint I think.

    You didn’t answer the main point I made in my entry at 6. Perhaps, of course, you didn’t intend to, but I’d like to know what you think: when the definition part of a substantial number of clues is reduced to ’26 down’ – and this applies to any theme where the solutions could be drawn from a list – the solver is robbed of much of the pleasure of the puzzle – that element which consists of teasing out the definition from the wordplay. Instead we have a sort of cross between a cryptic and a general knowledge puzzle. To me the two are radically different, and while a GK might gain flavour from a small dash of wordplay, I don’t think the reverse is true.

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Movies seem to divide the world.
    First there was that Brendan puzzle, now there’s Brummie.

    Yes, Dave (@14), I spotted the repeated use of I for Independent, but apart from that I cannot spot anything that’s wrong with this crossword.

    Our first couple of entries were MONA LISA (28ac) – very well clued – and REDS (25d), but we didn’t see any common link at that point. Only after (soon after) finding out that 26d was FILM, the theme was cracked.

    Just like many others we fell into the ALI trap – a film fresh in our minds, as it appeared in the Brendan crossword.
    Can we blame Brummie for writing a clue that potentially can have two solutions?
    I don’t think so. I’m quite sure that he was so much focused on clueing RAN that ALI didn’t sprang to mind.
    The same with 2d. My PinC knew the film (BABE), but I was, just like Duncan [thx!], thinking of BIKE.
    I’d never heard of UNFORGIVEN (13d) as a movie, but for my PinC it did ring a bell.

    The theme was clear – the films were, however, not always obvious.
    But why should should they be?
    For example, we found 3d’s MISERY by construction, thinking it might be a film. Fine.
    We adjusted quickly to this approach of the theme.
    With films as a theme, we thought Brummie using less obvious titles made it a lot more challenging.
    And it didn’t stand in the way of completing the puzzle.
    After an hour or so we had everything right without external resources.

    Moreover, the crossword was impeccably clued.
    With some nice touches, like the pop music surface of 26d, the anagram of a two letter word [ever seen thát before?] in 26ac, the splendid anagram fodder in 28ac and the combi ‘Fixed price’ in 24ac.

    Perhaps, some people (like Carrots – and I only mention his name because he mentioned mine) had an indifferent ‘feel’ about this crossword, but for us it was a Quality Product.
    One of many this week.

  42. anax says:

    Hi Martin
    I can well understand that an apparently one-dimensional theme can feel like a let-down if you’re hoping for an unexpected additional twist. All I’m saying is that there are plenty of puzzles in which the theme consists of no more than a number of answers falling into a particular category, very often defined by an answer elsewhere in the grid. This was a puzzle of that type. It isn’t spectacular, but ultimately it’s just a puzzle with a mini theme.
    In fairness there are setters who effectively spoil solvers with amazingly intricate and expansive themes, so it’s easy to think all themed puzzles should be like that. They shouldn’t – we have plain puzzles and we have deeply themed ones, and there’s plenty of room in the middle.

  43. Carrrots says:

    Hello Auntie E….and thanks for your reassuring empathy: it`s always a relief to discover that one is not quite as bonkers as one leads oneself to suspect. It looks like Sil has had a day off, otherwise I would have expected him to have something interesting to say about this puzzle…possibly with both smoking barrels!

    I think Martin H`s response to Anax goes a fair way towards explaining the sense of unease we both (and, it would appear, others) feel. If, for example, the theme subscribed to the Auteur theory and all the films were made by the same director, I think we might all be applauding Brummie rather than vaguely finding him wanting. He is an accomplished setter and, like you, when I saw his masthead I relished my lunchtime solve.

  44. Carrrots says:

    Oops! Spoke too soon (or took too long in saying it). Thanks for your observations Sil…even though they were not quite what I expected.

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Carrots (@44), “not quite what I expected”?
    For me, the most important things in a crossword are fairness, precision and playfulness. I love to see Paul describing ‘Casanova’ as a ‘Generous sperm donor’, but for me one hilarious moment like this is not enough to say “wow, what a great crossword!” [but don't get me wrong, it wás a good one].
    And today’s Anax in the Indy was exceptionally clued.
    Just reading the clues made one curious.

    So, yes, themes and surfaces cán make a difference.
    Brummie’s theme wasn’t spectacular, but to be honest, in the end I don’t care that much about themes. I rather prefer to have an immaculately clued crossword. And Brummie’s wás one, without any doubt.
    Personally, I see a theme (usually) more as a bonus.
    Value added (as it certainly was in anax’s Indy puzzle today).

    In this Brummie there were, for me (but apparently not for everyone), enough smiles and clever constructions to appreciate the puzzle.
    As I said before, some may not feel too much excitement (I do understand that), but there’s nothing wrong with the clueing as such – in fact, it was excellent.
    And at least for me, that is what it’s all about eventually.

    Ah well, we are back to basics: we’re all different, aren’t we?

  46. Carrots says:

    Hi Sil….many thanks for amplifying your thoughts. I`ve come to associate you with “calling a spade a spade” and as one who does not pussyfoot around, and your comments clearly illustrate this. I agree with everything you say about Brummie (and I`m sure Eileen does too) but I think we shared the same dilemma as the lovelorn Duke of Orsino in The Merchant of Venice:

    “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad……but how I caught it, or came by it, what stuff `tis made of, whereoft it is born, I am to learn.”

    (I know how much you enjoy Shakespeare!!) Have a good day.

  47. Eileen says:

    Hi Carrots [and Sil]

    Absolutely. It was nothing to do with the theme, or the clues or anything I can put my finger on: just a vague [and unusual with a Brummie] feeling of dissatisfaction on finishing. I only commented because someone else felt the same way. Maybe it was just the way I was feeling yesterday – but I thoroughly enjoyed the Anax!

    Confidence restored with today’s Arachne! :-)

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