A movie target?
You might have noticed a few film titles here. I didn’t deliberately set out to make a theme puzzle but I did in the end use a few movies to overcome the sometimes mind-numbing prospect of selecting words arbitrarily. Any handhold will do when that anaesthetic sets in.
Three of the titles appear clearly, AMADEUS, BAD TASTE and PETER PAN, though only the first is clued as one. Two other titles, BRIEF ENCOUNTER and STARLIGHT HOTEL, are split. (If there are movies titled Scoria, Wheel or Seedy they’d be a bonus.)
Completely themed puzzles – with every answer closely tied to the theme – are virtually impossible to compose. I have enormous admiration for some of the British setters who regularly manage to get more than half-a-dozen answers into thematic line. (Of course using an assymetrical grid would allow it but would break a major unwritten rule and thus be the worst sort of cheating.) For example, a recent puzzle by the doyen of British setters, Araucaria (John Graham) in the Guardian, managed six Wagnerian titles (if you include MASTERSINGERS).
Araucaria’s puzzles however are often thematic rather than themed: you have to work out the theme before some of the clues make sense. No so here.
You might detect the odd theme from me but it will never be necessary to get it in order to winkle out any answers. At the same time I will resist any temptation to use a theme from such a narrow range of possible answers as, say, the titles of Shakespeare’s works, let alone those of Wagner.
|Across||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|Short twisted fibre (5)||Anagram of FIBRE.|
|Decapitated blokes present an argument in response to meeting (9)||Decapitated blokes = m/EN, present an argument in response to = COUNTER.|
|Gullible, that is your typical environmentalist (7)||Gullible = GREEN, that is = IE.|
|Has the power of a monarch about the first of September – then abdicates (7)||Has the power of a monarch = REIGNS, first of September = S.|
|Positive response comes back about journalist being scruffy (5)||A positive response = YES, comes back = SEY about journalist = ED|
|Identify in two ways how to put your location in the atlas’s index (5,4)||Identify = PLACE and NAME.|
|Loser managed after Laos collapsed (4-3)||managed = RAN after anagram of LAOS|
|Dance with a very good person to provide stability at sea (7)||Dance = BALL, a very good person = A ST.|
|A little computer program brought up to be evaluated (9)||A little computer program = APP, brought up = RAISED.|
|Women head list for a revolver (5)||Women = W, list = HEEL (in sailing)|
|A way to view pieces of belly scattered around A&E (7)||Anagram of BELLY including A and E.|
|Badly duped following commercial that made sense (5,2)||Anagram of DUPED after commercial = AD.|
|That girl’s making a twinkle (9)||Anagram of THAT GIRLS.|
|The lodge in Lesotho telephoned (5)||Hidden word, LesotHO TELephoned..|
|Down||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|The enormity of vessel in distress … (8)||Anagram of VESSEL IN.|
|… provided merely as a wistful expression (2,4)||provided = IF, merely = ONLY.|
|An immature character, a favourite with the Queen, on a vessel (5,3)||favourite = PET, the Queen = ER, vessel = PAN.|
|I will be presented with Oscar surprisingly for “Rock” (6)||Anagram of I + OSCAR.|
|Crazy? The pits, in a few short words (8)||Crazy = NUTS, the pits = HELL.|
|A character from Athens takes time to develop a sign of infamy (6)||A character from Athens = SIGMA, takes = container indicator, time = T.|
|Go back in public transport vehicle for cod (5)||Go back = OG in public transport vehicle = BUS.|
|Honour for political leader in secret arrangement (7)||political leader = P in anagram of SECRET|
|A film about Mozart amused a pervert (7)||Anagram of AMUSED A (pervert = anagram indicator).|
|About a bad uprising – article in French – clearly written (8)||About = RE, a bad uprising (reversal indicator) = DAB A, article in French = LE|
|Data best interpreted as showing poor aesthetic judgement (3,5)||Anagram of DATA BEST.|
|A short account of an incident one acted out (8)||Anagram of ONE ACTED (out = anagram indicator).|
|Make a 100% deposit and beg to hold record (6)||beg = PRAY, to hold = container indicator, record = EP.|
|A wise person eats the Italian livestock fodder (6)||Wise person = SAGE, the Italian = IL.|
|Why I drink the hard stuff initially: no Jims, just Beams (6)||Acrostic: Why I Drink The Hard Stuff. Initially = acrostic indicator.|
|Revere the French friend when ascending (5)||the French = LE, friend = PAL, ascending = reversal indicator..|