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Brief Appearances by Schadenfreude

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 December 2011

The state of affairs at 2 a.m.!

Schadenfreude! The favourite compiler of a number of friends. We are sure that he will give us concise and perfectly fair clues and a real run for our money.  If we count those funny little ears, this is a 17X17 grid and there are 62 clues. There will be no Friday Club finish this week!

We’re becoming old hands and that bit of the preamble that tells us that ‘For 22 clues, one letter must be removed from the answer and the residue used to form a new word for entry in the grid’ is not too daunting, as a quick check tells us that the word counts indicate which 22 clues those are. We highlight those.

There’s just a hint of anxiety, as, clearly, we are going to have to work out which of the letters to enter, and they are going to be jumbles of the original word less a letter. (No, did I write that odious word ‘jumbles’? – Not quite, as clearly these were going to be real words, though there would doubtless be a number of possibilities.)

‘Thirty-seven grid entries are written in reverse.’ Now that is slightly more disconcerting but it has to be there for a reason. We draw a strip alongside the clues, so that we can keep tabs on which clues are entered in reverse.

We are lucky that words like EMISSARIES ‘Agents from Spain fail to meet stars (10)’ and CORNELIANS  ‘Once out with Rex, slowcoach is climbing trees (10)’ are among the first we solve, and that we automatically put them into the grid in reverse, with LADIFY and HOLOSTEI following, so that soon we have our usual Numpty fill in the south-east corner of the grid and a fair smattering in the north-west.

There is no denying it – this was hard work. The forty normal clues soon formed a network but those 22 that had to produce extra letters really had us head scratching. Take 51d.  ‘An expression of contempt could be not so bad (5)’ A quick check showed us that SNOOT (‘Not so’ anagrammed) was indeed an expression of contempt and TRY ON and REDDEST (if they were the right way round) established ?N?T in the grid. Did we need SNOT, or TONS? Fifteen minutes of dictionary search, of course, demonstrated that neither of those would do, as we entered the obscure ONST.

And so it was in all four corners of the grid and the hours passed. What joy when that set of putative extra letters produced NINE ??LM TITLES D?REC?OR. So that was the reason for those nine squares running diagonally down the grid. A nine-letter director? DISNEY? EISENSTEIN? BERGMAN? (At two a.m. even my letter counting is dodgy but this crossword was too enjoyable to put down – so near success!) SPIELBERG? (That’s nine) HITCHCOCK? I shall never forget that horrendous murder in the shower in Psycho. Sure enough, there is PSYCHO (with a letter change) climbing towards the H of Hitchcock. I slept on it, with a few squares to fill and more Hitchcock films to find.

It wasn’t until day dawned that I saw the light and realized which Wiki site would produce brief appearances (yes, indeed, I forgot my own advice about examining the title  carefully at the start!). Of course, these were the Hitchcock Cameos. The rest was easy, and, of course, finding titles like I CONFESS and REBECCA in the list of films where Hitchcock made his cameo appearances filled my empty squares.

About seven hours of solid solving but how rewarding. There wasn’t even a silly hoop to leap up at in an impossible endgame. Thank you, Schadenfreude. This was a classic.

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