Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,527 – Brendan

Posted by Andrew on January 9th, 2012


Brendan is becoming quite a regular as stand-in for Rufus on his occasional Mondays off, and this was a typically enjoyable puzzle, and mostly not too hard, though with a theme that might have needed a bit of research for some.

The theme is the candidates for the Republican nomination for the US presidential of 2012: these are the “septet” of CIRCUS CLOWNS mentioned in 7,23 dn. Four of them occur as a answer, with Michele BACHMANN split between 26d/3d, and Rick SANTORUM and Newt GINGRICH both spanning two down answers, in 6/28 and 16/29 respectively. 2dn also includes Donald TRUMP, who was a possible candidate but wasn’t in the Iowa Caucus. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that Brendan isn’t a supporter of any of these (though as an Irishman living in America he’s probably not entitled to vote anyway).

9. ATRIA A TRIA[d] – u.e. with the “finish off”
12. PACTS P[ower] + ACTS (legislation)
13. PREMIUM I in PRE-MUM (“expectant person”)
17. RHYME Homophone of “rime”
18. NAP Double definition
20. NAOMI Reverse of I MOAN. Naomi is a grieving widow in the Old testament Book of Ruth
22. YACHTER C[ape] in HEARTY*
25. ROOTING Double definition – supporters root for their candidate; and the horticultural meaning
26. BROKE BLOKE with L[eft] changing to R[ight]. The definition is “in financial crisis?”
27. MODERATOR M + DE[monstrators] in ORATOR
30. CONSIDERS CON (study) + T in SIDES
31. MANIC C IN AM reversed
1. PAUL Paul Revere, American hero,and homophone of “pall” (become less appealing)
3. MANN Hidden in gerMAN Novelists, and Thomas Mann was indeed a Nobel Laureate, making this an &lit.
4. HUNTSMAN N[ational] T[V] S[potlight] in HUMAN
5. LIEDER Homophone of “leader” (e.g. a president)
6. CAMPO SANTO (ACT ON A PM SO)*. Campo Santo is the site of a cemetery in Pisa.
7,23. CIRCUS CLOWNS Clowns entertain in a circus ring, and I presume this is a punning reference to the recent Iowa Caucus – googling republican circus clowns gives quite a few uses of the phrase in connection with the election.
8. ONUS ON (borne by) US (Americans)
13. PERRY Cryptic definiton – perry is made from pears, of which the Conference is an example, though the Wikipedia article says “special pear cultivars are used” to make it, so maybe it isn’t made from Conferences..
16. AGING AGIN (opposed to) + G[overnment]
24. ROMNEY R + MONEY with its first two letters interchanged.
26. BACH Double definition – composer J S Bach, and the Welsh term of affection (Ivor Novello was Welsh). Also the first half of Michele Bachmann’s name, the other half coming from 3dn
28. RUMP RUM (odd) P[ower]
29. RICH Hidden in satiRIC Humour

52 Responses to “Guardian 25,527 – Brendan”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. The only comment I would add was that a large proportion of the clues had political surfaces. I’m afraid, clever as it was, I have to say that this was the first Brendan that has ever left me a little cold.

  2. Rick says:

    Thanks for the great blog Andrew and thanks to Brendan for the entertaining start to the week. I couldn’t recall all the republican candidates – but the answers came out anyway without needing the full list. I thought that the Ross Sea was in the Southern Ocean, not the Pacific (but geography was never my strong suit!).

  3. jackkt says:

    Failed on 24dn but otherwise not a bad effort on my first Guardian puzzle in months. I’d never have known ROMNEY as I don’t follow US elections until the final stages and I’m more used to Times puzzles where you have to be dead to get a mention (apart from HMQ).

  4. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan, though the theme is hardly my cup of tea. In fact I mangaed to finish without the slightest idea of what it was, so many thanks for the comprehensive explanations.

  5. jackkt says:

    P.S. Are you absolutely sure it’s BROKE and not BLOKE at 26ac? I think there’s a case to be made either way.

  6. Stella Heath says:

    I quite agree, jackkt

  7. Andrew says:

    jackkt and Stella: the online solution gives BROKE for 25ac, and I think it makes more sense that way: to get BLOKE you have to have BROKE = “financial crisis”, which doesn’t work as well.

  8. tupu says:

    Many thanks Andrew for an excellent blog and Brendan for a fun puzzle.

    I needed to check a couple of the names after completion.

    I agree with Andrew re ‘broke’.

    I ticked several along the way inc. 15a, 22a (unlikely anagram), 13d, 19d (nice surface), 24d (nice &lit. Romney has been accused of flip-flopping on policies), and 26d (took some time for the penny to drop here though answer was clear – again a nice surface).

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    A relatively straightforward Brendan puzzle, suitable for a Monday, presumably. The theme was amusing, once I spotted it (near the end, but it helped with ROMNEY). Brendan’s liberal credentials are impeccable, as is obvious from his description of the Republican hopefuls as 7,23.

    Favourite clue was 13d – clues which consist solely of a cd don’t generally feature among my favourites, but the double link to the theme (politics as the surface subject of the clue and the candidate’s name as its solution) made this a particularly good one.

    I was dissatisfied with 26a, despite a good conceit, because it CAN be read either way (pace Andrew, tupu and the online version – your way round is only marginally better). And ‘power’ = P is used twice (12a and 28d), although this can perhaps be excused by the liberal (in both senses!) use of political imagery throughout this deceptively clever puzzle.

  10. Andy says:

    A very enjoyable puzzle – but can someone please enlighten me as to why 31A “like Bachmann” is MANIC.

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    The name changes but it is still Monday.
    Like Andy 31ac puzzles me.
    The Paul/pall and bloke/broke both caused me to hesitate but the former confirmed my discovery of the theme. Talking of research, there was considerable coverage of the theme just a few pages earlier, but only for those of us who pay for our pleasure.
    I thought ‘perry’was very clever.

  12. Andrew says:

    Andy & RCW: I wasn’t sure about MANIC, and forgot to update my comment on the clue. There are quite a lot of references online to “Bachmann mania” (in relation to her campaign); I don’t know if there’s more to it than that.

  13. Paul B says:

    There is a great deal of amusement, especially in the American gay fraternity (with which one Republican candidate has a ‘problem’) about a certain Google hit that comes up before any of the official sites associated with said candidate. Here it is, not for the faint-hearted I suppose, just click on the image for more info:

  14. bdg says:

    I think 4 is also an &lit if you take “Fox” as the american network, not the tracked animal…

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks Andrew @12,that does seem a bit thin , even for a vague definitionist like me.
    I think they all have problems with the gay community except Fred Karger who is out and proud but presumably doesn’t expect to win!
    He said: “Let them start attacking my community. They’ll have Fred Karger to deal with.”

  16. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan. I only got about halfway through this one, so you’ve cleared up where I went wrong.

    @Andrew 12: surely not long before they call it “Bachmania”?

  17. RCWhiting says:

    If you found Paul’s link @13 a little nauseous then do not read this:

    reference to his forename!

  18. Robi says:

    Nice Brendan one – I searched for GINGRICH and SANTORUM, but failed to spot them – thanks, Andrew.

    This link to Bachmann mania is quite educational and funny:

    I assume the LIEDER in 5 are German songs?? I wondered why 29 was not clued as RICK, rather than RICH, although they are variants anyway.

  19. Geoff Cusick says:

    Not sure about 21D – ‘Opiating’ ?

  20. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. As an ex-pat American living in the UK I really enjoyed this puzzle — but I can see how its theme might not have appealed to others. Had to google to get Paul, but remembered the others. 7,23 indeed!

    I thought there was some really superb clueing here, with references to Fox news, Romney’s wealth and flip-flopping etc. Thanks Brendan!

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Geoff @19
    I was too but Chambers gives ‘opiate’as a verb.

  22. Mitz says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan – good fun hunting down the clowns, and clever to have some of them straddling a couple of answers to make it a little more challenging even when the theme became apparent. Once the grid was three quarters full there was only one place for Santorum to go, and that helped me get ‘Campo Santo’ and ‘rump’. At the start Paul was one of the first in and I thought things were about to get a bit self-referential, but was soon disabused.

    I’m firmly and unashamedly in the ‘bloke’ camp, for what it’s worth, and the Ross Sea is definitely in the Southern Ocean, not the South Pacific. Minor quibbles. And I don’t have a problem with Bachmann being a definer for ‘manic’ if that is a synonym for ‘mad as a box of frogs’.

  23. Electric Dragon says:

    Gingrich is in there: hidden in 16d and 29d (aGING/RICH)

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well one of us found this tough going for a Monday. It didn’t help that to me Bachmann is a jolly fine model manufacturer. Really couldn’t see what trains had to do with it as a result. 😀

    Not sure why I’m supposed to know 6 either.

  25. amulk says:

    Thanks to Andrew for a nice blog. Had completely missed the Gingrich and Santorum references. Still not sure about “manic” Bachmann – a cursory Google search produced no real enlightenment. I was one of the ones who opted for “bloke” rather than “broke” in 26ac.

  26. Robi says:

    Re Robi @18; OK, RICH was for GINGRICH; doh!

  27. Brian Harris says:

    Loved this crossword. Great theme, and some ingeniously hidden answers. We were arguing for 15 minutes as to whether Trump was or wasn’t a candidate still. Also, we were looking for “Gingrich” for ages, until eventually we spotted it spanning two clues. Brilliant. Top marks to Brendan.

    (Although agree with 31ac not being very clear).

  28. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew. Much as I have admired Brendan’s puzzles, I didn’t get this one. I had 7,23 from ‘Ring entertainers’ and the crossing letters, but failed to see the US political allusion. Googling circus clown doesn’t help. Happy 2012 everyone.

  29. amulk says:

    Sorry, I also meant to ask whether “circus clowns” is a generally accepted phrase in the US for all political candidates or one that has been coined by setter for this puzzle. I don’t think I had ever come across it before, other than as expressive of a particular opinion.

  30. Jim morton says:

    II,d prefer that political commentary be confined to the editorial page.

  31. molonglo says:

    Thanks Brendan for a splendid puzzle whose theme came early with Bach. Like Andrew – and others might like to try – I googled ‘republican circus clowns’ to check whether there was special impudence in 7,23 and discovered how richly comic it must be to live in the US in these times. Admirable were all the hidden barbs in the clueing. If Trump warranted inclusion, why not Cain?

  32. Paul B says:

    It all seems very innocent to me Jim: Brendan has lit by hap upon these constructions as all will concur, shurely.

  33. Abbo4 says:

    Regarding the manic composer allusion, I wondered if this might be somehow referencing Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the 1970’s Canadian rock band. Those in overdrive might be deemed manic, whilst Turner could at a stretch be alluded to by the “backing”? Perhaps not.

  34. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Andrew. I didn’t have a clue who the 7 circus clowns were, so thanks for the explanation.

    26ac clealry has to be BROKE for the definition to make sense, broke means ‘in financial crisis’ not just ‘financial crisis’.

    I though PERRY was inspired (even if not technically correct, who cares?).

    I couln’t get 24dn, which in retrospect was a bit lame of me, since if I had persevered that would have led me to the theme.

  35. Quink says:

    Didn’t get the theme. Left me cold. Spent hours on it. Never again for this setter. Just couldn’t get inside the his mind. Also had bloke for 26dn for what it’s worth. What does Frost have to do with 17 ac’s answer ? Had Bach and Mann but no idea what manic has to do with it. Could have spent a week on this and would not have completed it. Really not the point in doing a crossword, imho.

  36. Quink says:

    13 ac. Pre-mum ?!? Is this common ?

  37. Robi says:

    Quink @35; ‘rime’ is another word for frost. Pre-mum is not a real word, I think, but in the sense of pre-historic etc.

  38. DROPO says:

    I was just saying of another recent puzzle that as an American my knowledge often fails me at the last. Here I loved the “circus clowns” but missed ROSS SEA … I wonder if Perot is lurking somewhere there :)

  39. engineerb says:

    Can the Guardian not get over itself & try to keep even its crosswords neutral? Unusually for a Brendan I finished this fairly quickly but I was so annoyed at the (unneeded) sloganising.

  40. RCWhiting says:

    I think,on behalf of all insensitive Brits, I should apologise to our American over(war)lords for any lese-majesty.
    Please, please do not invade us (again).

  41. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Brendan and Andrew. Apology accepted, RCW. And I promise not to invade your country again. However, I would like to attend the next get-together in Derby.
    Loved the puzzle.


  42. Brendan says:

    I don’t see why the Guardian should be neutral, whatever that means. Whether the crossword should eschew politics is a policy decision for the Crossword Editor, who was very happy with this puzzle. “Circus clowns” is a common expression in this context, as those who googled “Republican Circus Clowns” found out. I recommend anything related that you can find on Youtube from “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report”. I understand that not everyone over there follows US politics, but if one of these clowns becomes President it will impact you soon enough.

  43. Jim morton says:

    Sureprising though it may be to the Guardian readership, there are those who find circus clowns as a definition of Republican candidates for the presidency of the United States to be an offensive term that has no place in what is supposed to be an entertaining pastime.

  44. DorothyS says:

    To Jim @43

    Sounds like you may be an American. So am I, but I didn’t find this puzzle in any way offensive. What I find offensive is that any member of this embarrassing collection of bigots, hypocrites, ignoramuses, flimflam artists, and just plain nut-jobs had the gall to even consider becoming a candidate for the presidency of the United States, let alone follow through on it. If only they really were circus clowns, I’d feel a helluva lot safer.

    Loved the puzzle. Thanks, Brendan

  45. mhl says:

    An excellent puzzle – thank-you, Brendan. Thanks to Andrew for the post.

    The Guardian crossword has a long tradition of including the odd bit of political comment, and it’s one aspect that many of us particularly enjoy about the crossword. I assume that anyone who objects to the term “circus clowns” either hasn’t been paying attention, or holds views every bit as offensive as these dangerous, odious candidates.

  46. PeeDee says:

    I was over in the US for a few weeks last spring. What struck me was how polarised US politics is, there seems to be no rational debate or middle ground at all, just a vitriolic rejection of the ‘other side’, whichever side that happens to be. I hope it doesn’t get that way in the UK, politicians here take the piss out of each contantly but there is still some mutual respect.

    As for left-leaning politics in the Guardian crossword – shock-horror! Whatever next! Left-leaning editorials? Left-leaning articles? Even the cartonns could become political. Who knows where it may lead?

  47. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    This was an excellent puzzle from Brendan and one which I didn’t find that easy but maybe I’m not a smarta**e. I totally and unequivocally endorse the comment from DorothyS. Very well put !. At least in this country, we don’t get bible-bashers standing for parliament. It’s especially frightening that there are people in America who dismiss science and believe that the universe started 6000 years ago, although I’m sure that the same people benefit from the findings of science.

    I thought that YACHTER was so well-disguised that I had to key in __C_T_R to Find and Fit. Doh.

    I knew most of the names of the circus clowns and saw Gingrich but failed to see Santorum. Liked ATRIA, PREMIUM, MODERATOR and BACH.

    Thanks Brendan for a cleverly crafted puzzle.

  48. RichardC says:

    Just to add to the overall mix: I wondered if it was significant that the obvious losers are all lined up on the LHS and if you read sequentially you get “Paul Perry Bachmann In Extremis” i.e. they’re all on the brink of losing, and then on the RHS “Onus A Gingrich” which could be read, at a stretch, as “Onus a’Gingrich” or “Onus on Gingrich” to pull it out of the bag having lost his earlier surge in the polls. Or am I being a bit to nerdy about the politics?

  49. Brendan says:

    In response to RichardC (#48) that was just how things worked out. My main problem was fitting in SANTORUM and what I did seemed about the only way to do it (CAMPO SANTO is in Chambers). When TRUMPERY slotted in, I felt the gods of crosswords were on my side. It’s quite fitting that “A Gingrich” is both aging and rich.

    Molonglo (#34), I couldn’t quite get Herman Cain in. Trump has said he may run as an Independent (of reality?) candidate. At you can see the reaction when a well-known journalist asked Cain what cabinet post he might see himself in and he said “Defence”. (For those not following, Cain, during the campaign, expressed his concern that the Chinese are trying to develop a nuclear weapon).

    My thanks to Andrew.

  50. molonglo says:

    Brendan, I’m more than happy to bring up response no. 50, whose collectivity confirms the added worth of puzzle 25527, generating so much thought as it did. Your comment #42 provokes another: the world is richer because England gave it Alice, the Goons, and even the Official Monster Raving Loony Party – but is poorer for this latest Tea Party and those racing headlong in competition with it. Keep at it. Thanks again.

  51. LordCope says:

    Very enjoyable indeed. Bloke and not Broke…. Bloke == Chap, and then another L to R conversion (see previous Brendan puzzle). Bach is Welsh affectionate diminutive.

  52. Sooz says:

    Fantastic. I loved the way the theme slowly emerged, nagging at the edges of my mind till ROMNEY made all clear. All very nicely judged. I didn’t know Huntsman was a candidate till I checked. Thank you Brendan for coaxing us (some unwillingly!) out of possible parochialism.

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