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February 4th, 2018

Sunday Times 4783 by David McLean

I thought this was good fun and not too tricky - thoroughly enjoyed it. Some nice laconic touches, particularly with the second rate crossword at 9ac and the happy tale of Lucky Les at 13ac. I also greatly enjoyed the surface at 19ac, conjuring up happy memories for me of a bizarre train journey (see below).

My last two in were the 18d / 25ac pairing, with the former throwing me somewhat through the definition, and the latter getting me wrongly fixated on sprites and Shakespeare. Other than that, smooth sailing - leaving me with an uneasy feeling that the next one I have to blog will be a snorter!

Thanks as ever to Harry - look forward to seeing how everyone else got on.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 High steward and female keeper of the flame? (6,9)
FLIGHT ATTENDANT - LIGHT (flame) with F (female) and ATTENDANT (keeper) around it
9 Excuse review of second-rate crossword, perhaps
ABSOLVE - If one was to write a review of a second-rate crossword, one might describe it as A "B" SOLVE
10 Rogue goes off in spin round rally (7)
REGROUP - *(ROGUE) - with "goes off" indicating the anagram - 'in' PR reversed (spin round)
11 Offensive, having drunk new or old red wine (4)
TENT - TET (offensive) with N inside (having drunk new). Reference to the Viet Cong offensive launched on the Tet holiday (the name of the Vietnamese New Year).
12 Direct politician on party political broadcast? (10)
ADMINISTER - MINISTER (politician) follows (on) AD (possibly a party political broadcast)
13 Fortunate chap getting seconds in the sack (7)
BLESSED - LES (chap) + S (seconds) inside BED (in the sack)
15 Look at little brother heading to wash sweatband?
EYEBROW - EYE (look at) + BRO (little brother) + W (first letter - heading - of Wash), giving us the hirsute feature designed by Mother Nature (or whoever is responsible for this stuff) to keep the sweat out of our eyes. I've never actually asked a resolute eyebrow-plucker whether they are in fact troubled by sweat in their eyes, and I probably never will.
17 Large wife enthralled by a deer moving downwind
LEEWARD - L (large) + *(A DEER) - with "moving" signalling the anagram - and W also added to the mix (Wife enthralled by)
19 One likely to talk bull when they talk shop? (7)
MATADOR - Rather nice cryptic definition. Eavesdropping on groups of practitioners of unusual jobs talking shop can be a fascinating experience, as I once discovered when I found myself sitting in a train compartment alongside a bunch of undertakers.
20 Likely where casino-goers might see royal faces
ON THE CARDS - DD, the second being mildly cryptic
22 American mobile unit (4)
25 Ariel’s possibly one (7)
ISRAELI - *(ARIELS) - with "possibly" pointing to the anagram - + I (one), with the whole thing (I believe) being an &Lit since Ariel is indeed a common boy's name in Israel
26 Was Sikh leader involved in Left? (7)
EXISTED - S (Sikh leader) inside (involved in) EXITED (left)
27 Bird, shark and horse that one must avoid (5,5,5)
GREAT WHITE HERON - GREAT WHITE (shark) + HERO{I}N (horse - slang for the drug) without it's I (one must avoid)

1 Diet eating up energy? Do this instead? (5)
FEAST - FAST (diet) 'eats up' E (energy)
2 Popular nieces upset about Republican leader lying?
INSINCERE - IN (popular) + *(NIECES) - with "upset" signposting the anagram - and R also in the mix (about Republican leader)
3 50% of all sheds last fine with hard roofing (4)
HALF - H goes in front of (Hard 'roofing') AL{L} (all sheds last) + F (abbrev. fine)
4 Deed man, with revision, changed for the better (7)
AMENDED - *(DEED MAN) with "with revision" indicating the anagram
5 Support taking in jolly relations one found in wood? (7)
TERMITE - TEE (support) 'takes in' RM (jolly - a term for a Royal Marine) + IT (relations)
6 I left information around man without due diligence (9)
NEGLIGENT - I + L + GEN all reversed (I left information around) + GENT (man)
7 A part of the body in operation (5)
AFOOT - A + FOOT (part of the body)
8 Excellent place to store stuff out of tot’s reach? (3-6)
13 Voting can lead to Gran supporting old-based sort of
party (9)
BALLOTING - TIN + G (can + 'lead' to Gran) under (supporting) BALL (sort of party) with O on the end (old-based). Not one of Harry's most elegant clues, I'd venture to suggest, but it works...
14 Will demoting Town end in irate announcement? (9)
STATEMENT - TESTAMENT (will) with the initial TE moving further down the word ('demoting' T - Town - and end in iratE). Had not come across T as an abbreviation for Town before and cannot find it in my reference sources, but I'm sure it's fine...
16 Dog re-homed initially with my boss and myself? (3,6)
RED SETTER - R (Re-homed initially) + ED + SETTER (my boss and myself - from Harry's perspective)
18 Drug-fuelled lawyer with mullet maybe rather heedless
DEAFISH - DA (lawyer) has E inside (drug-fuelled) + FISH (mullet maybe). I wondered a bit about the deaf/heedless equation to start with, but I think the connection is 'refusing to pay attention to' - 'he is deaf to criticism / heedless of criticism, he published it anyway'. Or something like that.
19 Stupid to climb sierra in rainy American region (7)
MIDWEST - DIM reversed (stupid to climb) + S (Sierra - as in the phonetic alphabet) 'in' WET (rainy)
21 Some after seafarer of few words? (5)
TERSE - Hidden in (some) afTER SEafarer
23 On port, head of logistics gets loaded (5)
LADEN - L (head of Logistics) goes 'on' ADEN (port)
24 Plate of hot stuff? (4)
DISH - Terry Thomas and his ilk would have used 'dish' and 'hot stuff' interchangeably to describe an attractive gel. The past is a foreign country...

Mephisto 2996 - Tim Moorey

I was more on form than I’ve been for a while and romped through this one. It was always interesting and contains some nice clue constructions.

In the blog, the definition in the clue is underlined and followed by the answer; the parsing; any comments

1 Two bishops entertained by a reverend, represented as such (6)
ABBREV: A-BB-REV; abbreviation of abbreviation
7 French department to be ready when power cut off (4)
10 School hunting shark on vacation takes “Sir” away (9)
UNKNIGHTS: (hunting + sk)*; sk from s(har)k; school=anagrind;
11 One amateur after another put down as before (4)
13 Kitty for instance, returned for a hot drink (6)
SALOOP: (POOL-AS) all returned;
14 Tiny tot regularly absorbed by small guitar in Japanese school (6)
UKIYO-E: UK(IYO)E; IYO from (t)I(n)Y-(t)O(t); school of painting;
16 Hittable balls not all put over third man (4)
ABEL: hidden reversed (sll)AB-EL(battih); Adam and Eve’s second son;
18 English and French physicist in sporting team (6)
20 Most irate about Asian country (9, two words)
EAST,TIMOR: (most irate)*;
21 Starts taking drink in casual clothing (9)
24 Tablet and other computers initially buggy (6)
TROCHE: (other + c)*; c from c(omputers); buggy is anagrind;
25 Oriental material made from lynx, not kangaroo (4)
IKAT: (roo)IKAT; roo=kangaroo;
28 Man on Caribbean island is famous royal spouse (6)
30 Before entering, mostly put away music system (6)
31 In New Orleans you all shout America’s first — for eccentricity! (4)
Y’ALL: shout=yell then change “e” =eccentricity to “a”=America’s first;
32 Who might capture romantic hearts of say, Jasmine, Letitia and Ingrid? (9)
TRIGAMIST: (smi + tit + gr)*; (ja)smi(ne), (le)tit(ia), (in)gr(id); a man of some stamina;
33 Fixer used in photography? Possibly (4)
HYPO: hidden (photograp)HY-PO(ssibly);
34 Personal Trainer secures missing chlorine for prolapses (6)


1 Foot it after main vessel about to go north (8)
ANAPAEST: (SEA-PAN-A) all reversed – ‘T;  about=A; ‘T=it;
2 Bear up at first after party’s made a U-turn (4)
BALU: LAB reversed-U(p); usually “baloo”;
3 Sounds of “give way” and “go away”? It helps to stop the car (9)
BRAKESHOE: sounds like “break-shoo”;
4 Rogue sent outside convoy empty — put in Shell? (6)
ENCYST: (sent)* surrounds CY; CY from C(onvo)Y;
5 Oddly sole meunière grilled becomes rather unattractive (10)
UNSEEMLIER: (sl + meuniere)*; sl from s(o)l(e);
6 Backing needed, if and when county is a failure (6)
FIASCO: IF reversed-AS-CO; county=CO;
7 Look at silk handkerchief, head dropping (4)
8 Small whisky in pot and a Bulgarian’s ready (8)
S(TOT)INK-A; Bulgarian money; pot=SINK=snooker term;
9 Spot opening for estate agent (4)
ESPY: E(state)-SPY;
12 Camper in cell first (10, two words)
15 Real friend is in for lots of criticism (9)
BRICKBATS: BRICK-BATS; is in = BATS (cricket);
17 Strike-breaker in Welsh town stirring up quarrels (8)
BARRATRY: BAR(RAT)RY; divorce lawyers, perhaps;
19 Colonnades in European designs (8)
22 Criminal heard supporting love and goodness (6, two words)
OH,DEAR: O-(heard)*;
23 Least likely to upset possible clients with no end of mail (6)
NICEST: (clients – l)*; l from (mai)l;
26 Book / person from northern Europe (4)
ESTH: two meanings;
27 Old ship’s slow passage long forgotten (4)
29 Man's head dropping for Egyptian dancer (4)
ALME: man=male then “drop” m to give AL-M-E