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February 10th, 2019

Mephisto 3049 - Don Manley

I made a pretty quick start on this but somehow got convinced that TAIAHA was not only a bird, which it is not, but fitted the wordplay at 21 down, which it certainly does not. Chalk it up to a big brain day for me!

Definitions can be confirmed in Chambers, and are generally not going to be explained. The first definition is underlined in each clue.

Away we go...

1 Latin-American in USA cutting his grass (5)
PANIC - HISPANIC(Latin-American in USA) missing HIS. Second definition of GRASS in Chambers
5 Chief servant of explorer down under keeping quiet (7)
TAPSMAN - Abel TASMAN(explorer down under) containing P(quiet)
10 Element of sung Mass needs change — Latin omitted, American included (6)
EVOVAE - EVOLVE(change) with the L(Latin) removed, and A(american) inserted
11 The weather, listener admitted, is frightening (6)
SKEARY - SKY(the weather) containing EAR(listener)
12 Dublin’s crossword compiler? A dog! (11, two words)
IRISH SETTER - A crossword compiler in Dublin could be an IRISH SETTER
13 Essay don constructed about epic poem (8)
16 Plant with burs left in shelter (5)
CLOTE - L(left) in COTE(shelter)
17 Whole performance attracting little interest at first (6)
INTACT - ACT(performance) with INT(interest) before
18 Women beset by coldness of manner and fustiness (6)
FROWST - W(women) in FROST(coldness of manner)
20 Idler to gossip, therefore kept on the outside (6)
STALKO - TALK(gossip) with SO(therefore) surrounding it
23 One contemplating acquiring a rifle (6)
MAUSER - MUSER(one contemplting) containing A
26 This writer’s seen going around in brown fabric (5)
TAMIN - I'M(this writer's), reversed inside TAN(brown)
29 A supreme newly built temple (8)
30 Greasy stuff gets a young animal stuck in channel (11, two words)
GALAM BUTTER - A, LAMB(young animal) inside GUTTER(channel)
31 Good Swiss writer — rough judgement being “rarely read these days” (6)
GHESSE - G(good) then Herman HESSE, author of Steppenwolf amongst others. I had thought he was German but although he was born in Germany he lived much of his life in Switzerland
32 Silly person had briefly to be treated with medicated cloth once (6)
STUPED - STUPE(silly person), 'D
33 Black deer spotted in Scottish town (7)
JETHART - JET(black), HART(deer). A Gaelic term for JEDBURGH
34 Perform somersaults in river? A farce (5)
EXODE - DO(perform) reversed inside the river EXE

1 Patronise silly supporter of former South American president (9)
2 Protein I had detected in a French wine (6)
AVIDIN - I'D(I had) inside A, VIN(French wine)
3 And also not wanting whisky — not needing to drink it (6, two words)
NOR YET - RYE(whisky) inside NOT
4 Strutting leader, idiot in that long garment (7)
CASSOCK - COCK(strutting leader) containing ASS(idiot)
5 The man wears casual shirt, making one chuckle (5)
TEHEE - HE(the man) inside a TEE shirt
6 Like, for instance, a metallurgical test (5)
ASSAY - AS(like), SAY(for instance)
7 Bristly clique of upper-class types, almost all bad (8)
SETULOUS - SET(clique), U(upper-class types), then LOUS(y) (bad)
8 One sailor and another endlessly depressed (6)
MATLOW - MAT(e) (sailor) LOW(depressed)
9 Old-fashioned awards as special treats (6)
ARETTS - anagram of TREATS
14 Antiseptic medic tries out, without sulphur content (9)
CETRIMIDE - anagram of MEDIC,TRIES without S(sulphur)
15 Fatty substance, as is evident in spiritual leader (8)
CALIPASH - AS inside CALIPH(spiritual leader)
19 Move to join another plane offering speed for carrying flyer (7)
RABATTE - RATE(speed) containin BAT(flyer) - a geometric plane
21 Suppressing exclamation of surprise, capture a rare bird (6)
TAKAHE - AH(expression of surprise) inside TAKE(capture)
22 Charm of a stubborn person taking time (6)
AMULET - A, MULE(stubborn person), T(time)
24 Hopes possibly to pen ewe finally? (6)
SHEEPO - anagram of HOPES containing the last letter of ewE... and all-in-one clue where the wordplay is also the definition of an Australian sheep herder
25 A Parisian female upset and embarrassed must be toughened up (6)
ENURED - UNE(one, in French) reversed, then RED(embarrassed)
27 Computer network used with little hesitation in physics unit (5)
WEBER - WEB(computer network) ER(little hesitation). The unit of magnetic flux
28 Female to deteriorate a bit once (5)
FRUST - F(female), next to RUST(deteriorate)

Sunday Times 4836 by Dean Mayer

24:39. A magnificent toughie from Dean this week, I thought. A lot of the difficulty here is in the definitions, which often use secondary and/or oblique meanings of words. As is often the case with this setter, there’s a lot of playing with word meanings to make unexpected connections and fool the solver. There are also some fairly obscure terms, some of which I knew but none of which sprang to mind with great ease, but everything is fairly clued and all in all I found this a really enjoyable and thoroughly satisfying solve. Proper crossword nourishment and just the sort of challenge I like to see on a Sunday.

There are a couple of Dean’s trademark simple but absolutely brilliant clues in here. 5dn is an absolute doozy, for instance: it’s a clue that gives the impression of having been not so much written as discovered. Great stuff.

So many thanks to Dean for a really superb puzzle, and here’s how I think it all works…

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*, anagram indicators like this.

1 I like this pub. It appears on some maps
ISOBAR - I, SO (like this), BAR. Weather maps, to be precise.
5 Old man’s weakness — old variety of pinball
PACHINKO - PA (old man), CHINK (weakness), O. I had never heard of this Japanese game so I had to rely on the wordplay. CHINK isn’t the first synonym for ‘weakness’ you’re likely to think of but the checking K was very helpful.
9 Waster wanting something worthwhile on the house
GOOD-FOR-NOTHING - GOOD (something worthwhile), FOR NOTHING (on the house).
10 Buzz first over moon
CALLISTO - CALL (buzz, as in ‘give me a buzz’), IST, O. Jupiter’s second largest moon.
11 Cellist gutted after awful show?
DIRECT - DIRE, CellisT. I’m not entirely sure about ‘show’ for DIRECT. Shouldn’t it be ‘show the way’ or something similar?
13 Drive home after accident, no doubt
FOR CERTAIN - FORCE, RTA, IN. RTA for ‘road traffic accident’ was new to me, but the answer was obvious.
15 Bullet shot
SLUG - DD. The second definition relates to whisky or similar.
16 Part of back is supporting neck
KISS - contained in ‘back is supporting’.
17 See prize increase
APPRECIATE - a triple definition, I think. To see the point, to appreciate, value, prize, and to increase in value.
18 Like skin turned out?
ASLEEP - AS, reversal of PEEL.
20 Stood our ground? Is that great?
OUTDOORS - (STOOD OUR)*. The great outdoors, of course.
22 Serious crime providing a dodgy dealer’s proceeds
CAPITAL OFFENCE - or CAPITAL (proceeds) OF FENCE (dodgy dealer).
24 Fly is not flying around dump
JETTISON - JET (fly), IS contained in a reversal of NOT.
25 Brownie hurt crossing river
SPRITE - SP(R)ITE. A couple of unusual equivalences made this one tricky for me: ‘hurt’ for SPITE (nothing wrong with it, just not immediately obvious) and the perhaps obscure ‘brownie’ for a type of elf or sprite who does household chores at night.

2 Witnesses to rising sea, being at sea
SIGNATORIES - (TO RISING SEA)*. A slightly odd definition here, in that the SIGNATORIES to a contract are really distinct from the witnesses. But there’s no doubt that witnesses sign too!
3 Footwear accessories line, one stocked by chemist
BOOTLACES - BOOT(L, ACE)S. I wasted a bit of time here trying to think of famous chemists beginning with B (which I had from 1ac). I couldn’t make BOYLE fit and failed to come up with any others, before I saw the answer from the definition and it became clear that the less exalted meaning of the word was required.
4 In lift, hide American redhead
RUFUS - reversal (in lift) of FUR, then US. We had a dog called RUFUS when I was a kid. He was a black Labrador.
5 It is what it is
PERSONAL PRONOUN - because ‘it’ is one of these. Wonderful stuff.
6 Old measure made with wood?
CLOG DANCE - CD. I’m a bit puzzled by ‘old’ in this clue, but I suppose there’s no doubt that the CLOG DANCE is old by comparison to, say, the floss. Edit: actually I think it's the word 'measure' which is being described as old. Both Collins and ODO mark this meaning of the word (dance) as archaic.
7 One given task, mostly divine stuff!
8 Constant part of family
KIN - K (constant), IN (part of). K is the Boltzmann constant or the velocity constant. I suspect the former is intended because it’s in Collins (marked as American) and ODO whereas the latter is only in Chambers.
12 Pirate in combat announced attack
COUNTERFEIT - COUNTER (combat), sounds like ‘fit’ (attack).
14 Returns to harvest fruit
15 His new right to keep name gets man over the line
SHIPOWNER - (HIS)*, POW(N)ER. ‘Shipping line’ is a term for a shipping company, so the ‘man over’ (in charge of) such a company would be…
19 Are spades blocking door?
21 Words in plural form
TIFFS - I think the idea here is just that having ‘words’ is having an argument, and TIFFS is a plural. Not the strongest clue in this puzzle, IMO. Edit: Nonsense! It's really very clever. 'Words' would give you TIFF. So TIFFS is the plural of 'words'. And the surface is about grammar. Now one of my favourite clues in the puzzle, so apologies to Dean
23 Fear the sound of a blade
AWE - sounds like ‘oar’. Cue a chorus of complaints from rhotic speakers and others. When I say these words they sound identical though, which is conclusive proof that the clue is sound.