i Cryptic Crossword 3236 Maize

June 22, 2021

Once again it is my pleasure to sing the praises of a fellow blogger.  I refer of course to Duncan Shiell, who picked all the meat off this Maize masterpiece four years ago.  Really, he’s scarily thorough, so readers who require the pukka gen without flannel should scroll down and follow the link.

The crossword is of course the work of our own Cornick, also known as Maize, and I’ve probably solved it before.  Can’t say for sure, since one of the benefits of having the memory of a goldfish is that old puzzles seem entirely fresh to me.  Here we have a diagonal Brompton with an exceptional clue count and a highly visible theme pervading the across lights.  As is always the case with this setter the clue writing is of the highest quality, and thematic knowledge is optional; furthermore there are no obscurities, unless you’re the sort of slack-jawed, low-browed hobbledehoy who thinks Shakespeare and Kurosawa are elitist.  Solving was breezy and quite swift, helped along by a few generous anagrams, and there’s none of that unevenness discussed yesterday which leads to sticky patches.

Favourites?  All those finely honed surfaces make for a lengthy list, so I’ll employ the old “nominate your own” cop out, pausing only to say that 27ac is my runner up.  Since last night I was supposed to be at the theatre to see Sir Ian McKellan as the world’s oldest Hamlet – put back to next month on account of social distancing requirements – let’s have 2d for the clue of the day:

“Initially obsequious Shakespearean received in court.”


19 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3236 Maize”

  1. Cornick said

    Thanks Batarde. I’m a bit grumpy today as I’ve no crossword to do.

    If I might hone Duncan’s blog (being a newbie setter back in 2017 I didn’t quite have the nerve) I’ll just point out that in order to qualify for the themed entries, it was necessary merely to be able to sing (just a bit in the case of Chas Chandler), and to be dead; the manner of death was irrelevant.

  2. jonofwales said

    This was one of those rare occasions where I’d solved the puzzle on its initial outing. No reflection on a great puzzle, but my memory being what it is I’d actually forgotten all about it. I don’t know how well I did last time around, but this time I found it to be on the tough side, with a very nicely realised theme that for once I spotted. Of the themed entries, it was only Mario Lanza and Kate Wolf I didn’t know. The former being my LOI, and one I was struggling with, this came as a double whammy. 🙂

    Thoroughly enjoyable, but the question on my mind throughout was does Cornick feel cheated today, not having an i puzzle to solve, unless he’s forgotten the detail too?

  3. Grodnik said

    Off to a breezy start this morning after spotting J Cleese quotation from the dead Norwegian Blue sketch,“this is a dead parrot, it has gorn to join the choir invisibule”. Rapid progress followed and the theme became clear, although I recognised singers names rather than associated music, (OK, except for Sid, Buddy, Mario, Johnny and Karen, I am ancient after all) Some setters you just chime with, and this is one of mine. Fairly clued throughout, and not as tricky as some recent Tuesday offerings. LOI 13, 60,000 miles captain. NDY.

  4. Saboteur said

    Its a bit strange solving a puzzle by Maize. With most setters, after a few crosswords you sort of get a feel for what the experience will be like – Dac being very different to Punk or to Phi, say. But with Maize, having read his thoughts in blogs and comments almost daily, one has a rather different sense of what the setter likes or dislikes, and where we are of the strict-to-libertarian scale. So solving a Maize seems a bit different… in a good way, of course. 🙂

    Great, rewarding puzzle, very satisfying to solve. The only question-mark in my margin was against RAN, but the moment I googled it I remembered the film in question. Spotted the ghost-theme, although like Jonofwales, I didn’t know who WOLF was.

    My own nomination for CotD goes to HOLLY, with the very neat “unoriginal” device.

  5. Willow said

    I really enjoyed this – many thanks – although I confess I was utterly oblivious to the theme. Now obvious, when I think about it.

    So many absolutely excellent clues to pick a favourite, but I did particularly like those for IVY, VICIOUS and ESSAY. And quite astonishing that you managed to get a musician or a musical reference in every across light. Brilliant!

  6. Brock said

    I got through this one in less than an hour, which is pretty quick for me. My main hold-up was not recognizing the phrase at 1/4a; there were several alternatives for which set of letters made up the anagram, which made it quite tricky to solve. Once I’d got through that, the rest was fairly straightforward. Vaguely clocked a musical theme but didn’t notice that it ran through all the remaining Across clues!

    My favourite was probably 4d (not least because it helped me with 14a as well).

  7. Veronica said

    I absolutely loved this puzzle. If there was a perfect crossword for me, this was it.
    To start with I entered several straight in, and thought it was going to be too easy – huh! No. I was just being drawn into the fold … Sloooowing down and down, gradually, as things got trickier and trickier … but never drawing to a complete stop until all done. That’s just how I like it. (Which was all a bit odd, given yesterday’s comment by Cornick, as I’d say it was graded in difficulty.)

    Smooth services par excellence, several clues which made me laugh, and several clues which I found hard but then seemed easy when I got the answer. And a theme which never interfered. (Nope, I didn’t spot it. But I looked back on reading the blog, and there it was, clear even to me.) How do you put in a theme so thoroughly yet so seamlessly, it’s brilliant.

    Favourite clue? Gosh that’s hard. I’ll say ESSAY because it made me laugh the most. But I’ve actually ticked 13 as contenders.

    More Maize please!

    • Cornick said

      Thank you Veronica. I hope it comes across that I do love crosswords. Would that I could be a songwriter or a poet, but my thing seems to be tomorrow’s chip paper!

  8. thebargee said

    A late start for me today, which normally spells trouble, but the sight of Maize’s name must have given me extra determination because I managed to finish this one in good time.

    Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, but needless to say the theme passed me by *almost* completely. I did struggle a bit with my last 2 (Wolf and Omen), it always seems to e those pesky 4-letter ones that do it.

    I notice in our blogger’s comments today a familiar phrase beginning with ‘slack-jawed’ and ending with ‘hobbledehoy’. The last time I saw it was in reference to those who watch Channel 5 – I did try not to take too much offence😉 (I thought their remake of All Creatures Great and Small was rather good).

    • batarde said

      The phrase, I believe, originated with the late and still sorely missed Willie Rushton, who referred to “the kind of slack-jawed low-browed hobbledehoys who read the Guardian” probably thirty years ago or so on “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue”. I’ve been shamelessly passing it off as one of my own every once in a while ever since … annoying to hear that someone else has, too. 😉

  9. Denzo said

    I would like to second Veronica’s comments on a fine puzzle, but it would be insincere because it was for me, prsonally, eventually a disappointment. I worked my waydown the left side, long after having put in 1a, thinking what I later saw well put into words on 225 by Hoskins as more bangs than usual for your buck. But my satisfaction on each clue was blunted my the knowledge that I would have to return to 14a, which I suspected (rightly, as it turned out) waa my least favourite type of clue, namely a long anagram with several candidates for the fodder leading to an obscure phrase I had never heard of.

    Eventually, I cracked it, and Google confirmed there was such a phrase, and indeed an obscure (to me) band of that name. I then noticed other singers than the obvious, and this helped with VICIOUS. My favourite clue then came 4d, which confirmed14a, whaich I had put in although I was not happy with it having wrongly interpreted “unoriginal” as a (unsatisfactoty, IMO) homophone indicator!

    I appreciated the setter’s thoughtfulness in linking those two clues, but 4a had taken its toll, and threw in the towel with five answers missing in the SE corner. Though frustrated by 4a, I felt that this puzzle had otherwise much in common with some of the very best that grace our pages.

    • Cornick said

      Yeah, it might have been better to have clued 1a and 4a separately. I seem to remember my intention in linking them was to flag the theme as clearly as possible. 🙂
      Choir Invisible is a phrase some people use to describe a heavenly host of angels – which is why it seemed a good idea for the ‘title line’ in a ghost-themed puzzle. George Eliot coined the phrase for her poem of the same name and it’s well-known enough to have been used by John Cleese in Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch. I think you’re the first person to mention the rock band Denzo – news to me!

  10. dtw42 said

    Just finished. I found it tricky, but slow and steady re-circling round and round it eventually revealed all the answers without having to start firing up anything electronic. Spotting the theme fairly early on didn’t make solving *much* easier (though it gave me CASH). 1/4 was actually pretty near the end for me.
    Despite not being a pop-music aficionado of any sort, I was familiar with most of the vocalists in question (save for Chandler, in my case).
    I had a tick against 33 and a “ha” against 34 so one of those two would be my COD.

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