i Cryptic Crossword 3019 by Phi

October 10, 2020

My acquaintance with Kurt Weill, the subject of today’s ghost theme, is only through his collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, and I think I’m right in saying that only one of those collaborations ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ appeared in the grid – so little chance of me spotting the theme then. Belated congratulations to Dormouse, a regular contributor to the comments over at Fifteensquared (where you’ll find the answers, click here), who did, and who I’ve noted before is very strong on Radio 3 type stuff. How did you get on?

Probably towards the more straightforward end of things for both Phi and the i, answers went in pretty swiftly by my ponderous standards. Some excellent anagrams, which Phi always does well, and some fairly gentle misdirection, with just a couple of instances of eyebrow asymmetry – ‘wax’ for ANGER in 7d and ‘on’ as an anagram indicator in 25a, which whilst it might be technically allowable, is surely as hard to love as a crumpled Christmas sweater buried on the holiday clearance table.

COD? Let me see… Well, the surface grammar is a bit clunky, but I did enjoy solving this one:

4d Hypothetical proposition picked up blemishes lots made less of (5,3)

19 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3019 by Phi”

  1. jonofwales said

    An enjoyable, fairly straightforward offering. I checked 17ac after completion to make sure I wasn’t making up the answer, and failed to parse 6d, but the rest went in with little ado

  2. DB said

    Kurt who? Bertolt what? Oh of course, a highbrow elitist theme as is par for the course. Sigh. This really needs to stop, in my opinion.

  3. Guy Barry said

    I accidentally glimpsed a line of the blog and saw Kurt Weill’s name before I started solving. Then in went THE MIKADO and I was mightily confused!

    But in response to DB, I can’t see a problem with having Kurt Weill as the theme – most of the references were to the works he wrote for the Broadway stage, anyway, not to his collaborations with Brecht. The only one I knew of was The Firebrand of Florence, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the puzzle. As with others of this type, you didn’t need to know the theme in order to solve it.

    A couple of queries: what’s “to take care of” doing in 17a? It threw me off the scent at first, as it seems to have no function.

    Is LIE=”romance” really acceptable in 14d? I thought it might even be LAY-IN at one point (with the poetic sense of “lay”), although that’s not generally considered standard English.

    • jonofwales said

      “to take care of” does seem to be pushing the link word between wordplay and definition thing, admittedly.

      Chambers has lie as a synonym for romance.

  4. saboteur said

    Possibly the gentlest Phi I’ve come across in a long time. All solved pretty readily. I had exactly the same queries as Cornick (I love the phrase “eyebrow asymmetry, btw”) “wax” for “anger” and “on” as an anagram indicator, which is, shall we say, strange. All quite enjoyable.

    I no longer look for ghost-themes in Phi’s puzzles. If they catch my eye, all well and good, but usually they are so esoteric as to be beyond human perception.

  5. thebargee said

    First chance I’ve had this week to sit down with a crossword, and very enjoyable it was, although it goes without saying the theme went so far over my head as to be extra-terrestrial. (I have a sneaking sympathy with DB’s comment in that regard, although with Phi it never prevents solving the puzzle, it just makes one feel somewhat under-read and, well, not quite one of the club 😉).

    I was familiar with the girls’ school from one that rhymes in a certain track on an LP of rugby songs I remember listening to as a teenager (maybe I should have spent the time reading Bertolt Brecht), but I should probably say no more!

    The only clue I failed to parse was my LOI, 23dn. I spent too long trying to find a word for opening where I could move the second letter to third place to reveal the answer. Doh!

    • Guy Barry said

      Off-topic, but it’s a bit of a shame that some people only remember Kurt Weill for his collaborations with Brecht. As alluded to earlier, Weill fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and had a successful career as a Broadway composer, completely changing his style and collaborating with prominent lyricists like Ira Gershwin. “Lady in the Dark” is a favourite of mine (although they cut most of Weill’s songs from the film version, sadly).

      • Cornick said

        In my case I studied Drama back in the day, so Brecht was an important part of the syllabus but musicals were very peripheral.

      • Denzo said

        Brecht, too, had fled from Germany. One of the best plays I ever saw featured a character called Arturo UI, who in alternate scenes was a caricature of (a) Al Capone and (b) Adolf Hitler. Leonard Rossiter was unforgettable in the lead role.

      • Cornick said

        Denzo – you saw that production? Wow! I’ve seen other versions of it, but you were very lucky to have caught Rossitor’s.

  6. dtw42 said

    Theme? [whoosh]. Knew Roedean OK but now sure where from. Wax for anger puzzled me. Like thebargee, my LOI was 23dn and for exactly the same reason.

  7. Denzo said

    I had not heard of any of the works by Kurt Weil mentioned by Dormouse on 15^2. Weil’s most famous work, in collaboration with Brecht, was the “Threepeny Opera”, which features one
    “Mack the Knife”, sung about by Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin and others. Highbrow? However the theme was compleltely irrelevant, as I managed the puzzle in blissful ignorance thereof, and even if you had pointed out Curt and Vile, I wouldn’t have twigged.

    I believe that Roedean is the female equivalent of Eton, but my main familiarity is from a similar source as Thebargee.

    Although Phi’s clueing is impeccable and I usually finish his puzzles, I always struggle in a similar way. For example today, I pencilled in ELGIN, thinking they there must be many five-letter Scots towns and four letter rivers and G might not be grand. Similarly with ISLET and others at the top. It was not until I had the F and B of FIREBRAND, thta I inked in the first four lines. Does anyone else experience similar uncertainty with Phi? No problems with my favourite clue, however – the cheeky TOADY!

  8. batarde said

    Once more unto the Brecht, dear friends. Nope, didn’t spot it but didn’t go looking either. Amused by the “This really needs to stop” comment, for which I have nothing but contempt. Good god man, get over it. It’s only a crossword puzzle, for heaven’s sake. Found this difficult for Phi and not especially enjoyable, but got there in the end somehow.

    • Cornick said

      It’s ironic really, given how anti-elitist Brecht was, what a champion of working class emancipation, and how you could more readily lay that accusation at the world of cryptic crosswords, Mind you, he and Weill were ‘foreign’, and I used to know some people who thought having foreign food, like a curry say, was a bit lah-di-dah.

      • Guy Barry said

        It’s ironic that there have been more references to Brecht than to Kurt Weill in this discussion, given that Brecht wasn’t the theme!

    • thebargee said

      Ouch! That’s a bit harsh. Maybe DB’s remark was rooted (as was my expression of mild sympathy) in frustration at his (her?) own inability ever to spot such themes? Benefit of the doubt and all that…

  9. Dan said

    Ref the ‘takes care of’ in 17a, the Dean supports students so ‘academic official to take care of’ all just clues the word ‘dean’. Hope that clarifies for those who thought it was just there to mislead or connect but served no other purpose.

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