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May 12th, 2019

I am writing this intro in my cosy chambre in the famous Hôtel la Louisiane (there’s a documentary about it) on rue de Seine (Saint-Germain-dés-Pres), on vendredi après-midi, after a visit to the Librairie philosophique J. Vrin up by the Sorbonne—and I must now stop buying books, as I am not sure all the ones I’ve acquired will fit into my little suitcase… I’ve only bought très petits livres (of which the French are quite fond) for that very reason. Last Saturday, accompanying a friend, I marched with les gilets jaunes, and yesterday, on my way to la Fondation Cartier for the exposition “Jeunes Artistes en Europe,” I emerged from the métro at Raspail to find myself near the front of the huge protest march of unions representing fonctionnaires—employees of hospitals, schools, public radio/TV, all sorts of government agencies… Macron certainly has the Republic (or its people) on the march, but not in the way intended when he named his group.

On an earlier trip, I mentioned to a poet from India who was staying here that the motifs in two series of Cy Twombly’s paintings then at le Centre Pompidou reminded me of the pattern on the very worn carpet in the hotel’s quite narrow corridors. He said that La Lousiane was Twombly’s favorite place to stay in Paris, a fact that I was able to immediately verify online.

Oh, but the puzzle, right… This seemed hard, but I don’t know if that’s just because I was too beat to finish it in one go Saturday/Sunday night, or if it was harder to get into the right frame of mind after a couple weeks of working no crosswords at all, or if I was intimidated by seeing that it was a Dean—or all three or none of the above. I was sure glad the receptionist could print it out, or it might have been impossible! The clues run the gamut from hidden words to &lit, but there are no DDs. The one homophone is entirely unobjectionable. However, I do object to 25 across, as you will see…

I do (asargnam)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

ACROSS
 1 Address according to zip code? (3,4)
PEP TALK — PEP is “zip” and TALK is “code,” with “according to” merely providing linkage to the definition.
 5 Food scarce at safe houses (4)
EATS — Wow, two hidden words today. And somehow neither seemed terribly easy. The second one (16) hasn’t a clever inclusion indicator like “houses” but the nearly imperceptible “of.”
 9 It replaced aerial in TV, say (7,8)
ITALIAN VERMOUTH —  (aerial in TV)* + MOUTH (“say”). I’ve never seen this abbreviation outside of crossword puzzles, have you?
10 America’s past as a Time feature (5)
AFTER — So… referring to, say, fifteen minutes past noon as “fifteen after” is strictly a US thing? I didn’t know!
12 Noble title—it’s unwanted, he thought (9)
ARISTOTLE — ARISTO + T[-it]TLE
13 Failing to include endless herb is good for soup (11)
VICHYSSOISE — ”Failing” is VICE, with “herb” HYSSO[-p] + IS inside, with “good for” merely providing linkage.
14 Almost pull over? Indeed (3)
NAY — YAN[-k] <— As used in quaint old lingo as an intensifier: This clue is clever—NAY, diabolical!
16 Currency of central Europe (3)
LEU — Since this is money in Romania, this clue is an &lit.
17 Wild cats, felines, camouflaged creatures (4,7)
LEAF INSECTS — (cats, felines)*
20 Name certain to describe one little pest (9)
SIGNATURE — S(I [“one”] GNAT)URE
21 Small egg on roll (5)
SURGE — S + URGE That’s a “roll” as a wave.
22 Infinity of plane? (5,7,3)
WORLD WITHOUT END —  plane[-t] Though the answer seemed obvious, it took me a minute to parse this.
24 Fall carrying new ladder (4)
SNAG — S(N)AG, “ladder” as in a stocking
25 Odd wife that man rejected, of course (7)
WHIMSEY — W(ife) + HIM (“that man”) + YES <— (“of course”). But since when is “whimsey” (or “whimsy,” for that matter) an adjective—or “odd” a noun…?! (Something or someone “full of whims” could, conceivably, be “whims-y”—but not “whimse-y.”)

DOWN
 1 Ancient coach very bad, you might say (9)
PRIMAEVAL — Sounding like “prime,” which can mean to “coach,” though I wager you won’t find these cross-referenced in any thesaurus, and “evil,” “very bad.” (EDIT: Actually, I was looking for cross-references for “primer” and “coach” and after I parsed it correctly neglected to look again!)
 2 The work of a features editor? (7,7)
PLASTIC SURGERY — CD
 3 One winged beast stopped half-way (3)
ANI — ANI[-mal]
 4 Some Africans know stories but run away (7)
KENYANS — KEN, “know” + YA[-r]NS
 5 I bore myself over old lecturers (7)
EMERITI — I TIRE ME <—
 6 People like Delilah supply hair? (11)
TEMPTRESSES — TEMP as a verb, I guess, for what a temp(orary) worker does + TRESSES. I saw the “hair” part immediately, but my first guess was that she was a “traitress,” which of course I couldn’t parse at all.
 7 Keen on traps being economical (7,7)
CUTTING CORNERS — ”Keen” is CUTTING and “traps” is CORNERS.
 8 Turn left? No, this is fun (4)
WHEE — WHEE[-l]
11 Forgiveness for what a monarch says? (5,6)
ROYAL PARDON — Edited. I thought this was just a rather “meh” CD, until Keriothe pointed out that it is “‘what’ a monarch might say.” (Over here, I might say, “Hein?”)
15 Old song that makes me happy about windy desert (9)
YESTERDAY — Y (desert)* AY. The clue for the YAY part is very similar to the clue for the def. of 8.
18 Funny old lady back on drugs? (7)
AMUSING — MA <— + USING
19 Skating event is entertaining church, and how! (3,4)
ICE SHOW — I(CE) S + HOW
20 Run up from all directions (4)
SEWN — The four cardinal points
23 Sound of discharging weapon (3)
UZI — ”oozy,” ick!

Mephisto 3062 Tim Moorey

Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 9A is a perfect example.

I found this a straightforward puzzle

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.

ACROSS

1 American base abroad getting single-cell specimens from US (6)
AMEBAS: AM-(base)*; US spelling of amoebas;
5 Cheers for model (6)
PROSIT: PRO-SIT; down the hatch!
9 Ministers urge river work on English county (11)
HIEROPHANTS: HIE-R-OP-HANTS; HIE=urge; a priest who interprets sacred mysteries;
11 Love Tessa playing in second movement (8)
MAESTOSO: M-(tessa + o)*-O; a musical term for a movement played with majesty;
12 Worker behind heap of waste with no end of pong? (6)
BINMAN: BIN(g)-MAN; BING=heap of waste – I wonder if Crosby knew that?
13 Gives a view over trees (6)
OPINES: O-PINES;
14 Addition exercise starts with four and five — nine! (5)
AFFIX: (F-F-A)*-IX; exercise=anagram indicator; fodder = F(our) + A(nd) + F(ive); IX=nine;
17 Terror group around London area in racket, taking land illegally (9)
DISSEISIN: D(IS-SE-IS)IN; London area=SE;
18 Early bumper passes over retreating club bat (9)
REREMOUSE: R(MERE reversed)OUSE; ROUSE=old word for bumper;
22 Recalled Beethoven dedicatee’s acidy stuff (5)
ESILE: ELISE reversed; reference “fur Elise”; old hands will know from the blog for the daily cryptic 25,749 that Elise was really the mathematician Avril Poisson;
23 Gossip after Liechtenstein show off (6)
FLAUNT: FL-AUNT; gossip=AUNT; Liechtenstein = FL;
24 Gala is organised by some of Daphne’s family (6)
AGILAS: (gala is)*; the Eagle Wood tree;
26 Refrained from supporting Asian island endlessly (8)
FORBORNE: FOR-BORNE(o);
27 Old-fashioned stuffing recipe not normally written down (11)
DEPRECIATED: D(recipe)*ATED; accountancy jargon;
28 Spirit in station swelling (6)
STRUMA: ST(RUM)A;
29 Cut back around elevated red room with seats (6)
EXEDRA: AXE reversed surrounds (red)*; a special room for conversation;

DOWN

1 Expression of contempt about flipping sea captain (4)
AHAB: BAH-A all reversed; reference Herman Melville's Moby-Dick
2 Makes less of computer records out of line (8)
MINIFIES: MINI-FI(L)ES;
3 Gypsy inside waits for boring types (8)
BROMIDES: B(ROM)IDES;
4 Very large retiring relative touching bottom of mattress springs! (6)
SPANGS: SPAN(kin)G-(mattres)S;
5 Many years following pub darts (6)
PHEONS: PH-EONS;
6 Artist’s agent is rough (5)
RASPY: RA-SPY;
7 Rock group’s work not moving at all (10)
STONESTILL: STONE’S-TILL;
8 Noisette moved from grass (8)
TEOSINTE: (noisette)*; the origin of maize;
10 Monastery officer in rare upset about business (10)
INFIRMARER: IN-FIRM-(rare)*; a person in charge of the infirmary in a medieval monastery;
14 Silver notches left out in clasps (8)
AGRAFFES: AG-RAFF(L)ES; part of a concert grand;
15 Hymn fades with one listener looking skywards (8, two words)
DIES,IRAE: DIES-I-(EAR reversed);
16 German behind football club not a City type (8)
VILLAGER: VILLA-GER; refence Aston Villa;
19 Type of shellfish from European country mentioned (6)
OSTREA: sounds like “Austria”;
20 African party in resort as before showing interest in literature (6)
USANCE: US(ANC)E;
21 Huge old man first up (5)
ENORM: MR-ONE reversed; old word for huge;
25 Australian detectives turned up in Queensland plant (4)
SIDA: A-DIS reversed;