July 14th, 2019

Mephisto 3071 - Tim Moorey

I found this one pretty tricky, and worked from the bottom up, ending with 4 across. I hope I have all the wordplay sorted out.

All definitions can be verified in Chambers and are only discussed if they need further clarification. The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go...

1 Pub’s butt of criticism for froth on liquor (4)
BARM - BAR(pub), then the last letter in criticisM
4 Bone china pots are not available on Sabbath (8)
PRENASAL - PAL(china) containing RE(are), NA(not available), S(sabbath)
9 Interpreter of dreams using a story in Ireland (12)
ONEIROMANCER - ONE(a), then ROMANCE(story) in IR(Ireland)
11 Climber, one’s seen in wood (5)
LIANA - I(one) in LANA(wood of the genipap tree)
12 Bill for electricity supply (6)
CHARGE - double definition
14 Substance from almond nuts in muesli chopped (7)
EMULSIN - anagram of IN,MUSEL(i)
15 Slip catching four in turn after wicket’s fallen (5)
SLIVE - IV(four) inside SLEW(turn) missing W(wicket)
16 One without illusions on a roll (7)
REALIST -  RE(on), A, LIST(roll)
17 Indian gardener’s covering over tare in African country greens (6)
MALOTI - MALI(Indian gardener) surrounding O(over) T(tare)
22 Dancing girls mediocre in French region? Not half (6)
ALMEHS - MEH(mediocre) in ALSACE(French region) missing the second half
23 Catch black cuckoo in Sicilian port (7)
TRAPANI - TRAP(catch), ANI(black cuckoo)
24 Month’s work for small amount of money (5)
MOPUS - M(month), OPUS(work)
26 Purgative substance? Order a pill not entirely to be taken in one month (7)
JALAPIN - anagram of A,PIL(l) in JAN(one month)
28 Come in from how tea’s often served for an audience (6)
ENTREZ - sounds like tea is served ON TRAY
29 Shift about on barbs circulating (5)
CIMAR - C(about), then RAMI(plural of ramus, barb) reversed
30 Group of ferns one’s taken in, each a size that's amazing (12)
SCHIZAEACEAE - ACE(one) inside an anagram of EACH,A,SIZE
31 Pondered about getting slower and quieter for Queen? (8)
PERDENDO - anagram of PONDERED - Queen is referring to the band here
32 Cut private rooms back (4)
SNED - DENS(private rooms) reversed

1 Secure employment tails off — a hard pill to swallow (5)
BOLUS - BOLT(secure) and USE(employment) both missing the last letter
2 Without difficulty, money includes one pound (7)
READILY - READY(money) containing I(one), L(pound)
3 Scottish try in Twickenham international (4)
MINT - hidden in twickenhaM INTernational
4 Gossip helping to include a change of direction (5)
PRATE - PLATE(helping of food) with R replacing L
5 Mutter as before about a decoy (7)
ROPERIN - ROIN(variant of ROYNE, mutter) surrounding PER(a)
6 This originally, native Aztecs happily used as their language (7)
NAHUATL - first letter of each word in the clue beinning at Native
7 One supporter showing a manner of excessive orderliness (6)
ANALLY - AN(one), ALLY(supporter)
8 Needing protection accordingly, one who murdered Agamemnon (9)
AEGISTHUS - AEGIS(protection), THUS(accordingly)
10 Records right up front for income from Government bonds (6)
RENTES - ENTERS(records) with R at the front
13 Outrageous quality of prisoner in country (9)
FLAGRANCE - LAG(prisoner) in FRANCE(country)
17 China touring Japan to get special fishy hors d’oeuvres (6)
MATJES - MATE(china) surrounding J(japan), then S(special)
18 Gin and drugs reported in swingers’ bar (7)
TRAPEZE - TRAP(gin) then sounds like E'S(drugs)
19 Writer’s exhausted and is not contracted in US agency (7)
FAINTED - AIN'T(is not) inside FED(US agency)
20 Repeat warning for people to take back goods (7)
REPOMEN - REP(repeat), OMEN(warning)
21 Sea fish splash, free for short time (6)
SPARID - SPAT(splash) with RID(free) replacing T(time)
24 Former Chairman taking cases in gambling Mecca (5)
MACAO - Chairman MAO containing CA(cases)
25 Hurt roused theatrically, not for all to see (5)
SORED - anagram or ROUSED missing U(for all to see). Don't see "theatrically" as an anagram indicator often
27 Jerks act out purposeful procedures (4)
TICS - remove ACT from TACTICS(purposeful procedues)

Sunday Times 4858 by Dean Mayer - oh brother who art thou

26:48. A stiff challenge from Dean this weak. He has a way of finding slightly off-the-wall definitions for things that create a lot of head-scratching followed by the dropping of pennies. Occasionally (as in 18dn in this puzzle) you could argue that he’s pushing the boundaries of synonymity but generally speaking you just have to adjust your thinking a bit. 1ac is a good example of this, among several others.

There was one clue in here (14dn) that I found very odd, and I can’t help thinking I must have missed something.

All in all though this was a lot of fun to solve, so thanks to Dean and here’s how I think it all works…

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

1 Ship in drift?
IMPORT - DD. Drift as in ‘do you get my drift?’ I'm sure I wasn't alone in assuming that 'in' was a filler word and that 'ship' was going to be a definition. And then the penny dropped.
5 Nasty sex? Buy it
VIPERISH - VI, PERISH (buy it). ‘Sex’ is six in Latin, the appropriate language for Roman numerals.
9 Miss a party
10 Ancient writer, so well recalled
METHUSELAH - ME (writer), THUS (so), reversal of HALE. ‘Ancient’ being a noun here.
11 An Ivy League wannabe?
SOCIAL CLIMBER - not-very-cryptic definition based on the idea that ivy is a ‘climber’.
13 Worse luck after the end of this
ALAS - A LA (after, in imitation of), thiS.
15 Wise to keep books in circulation
16 Stuffing rodent, new label trimmed
ORNAMENTED - NAME (label) contained in (RODENT)*. Trimmed in the sense of ‘trimmings.’
19 Tucked into fine round cheese
FETA - reversal (round) of ATE (tucked into), F.
20 Still together
23 Tiny piece of lemon put in for taste?
24 Run away in defeat
25 Wisely, he thought “I need help carrying box”
SOCRATES - SO(CRATE)S. All we are is dust in the wind, dude.
26 Heavy fabric — it’s used in uniform
SAMITE - SAM(IT)E. I didn’t know this fabric but the wordplay was helpful.

2 Bird made off with bird box
3 Browser fine with software interface
OKAPI - OK, API (Application Programme Interface). An animal related to the giraffe, found mostly in crosswords.
4 Acrobat needs to get it right
TUMBLER - TUMBLE, R. I would have said that ‘tumble to' is synonymous with ‘get it’ but according to Chambers the ‘to’ is optional.
5 Three figures specifying one?
VITAL STATISTICS - bust, waist and hip measurements (three figures) specifying body shape (another kind of figure).
6 Bob’s prize collected
PLUMMET - PLUM, MET. I found this definition a bit odd, but Collins has ‘to disappear suddenly, as beneath a surface’. I’m not sure how to meet is to collect. To collect someone from the airport, perhaps? Seems a bit loose.
7 Ran through concrete shed, you might say
REELED OFF - sounds like ‘real doff’.
8 Still sweeps up
SNAP - reversal (up, because this is a down clue) of PANS. The definition refers to the horizontal movement of a film camera, I think.
12 Equivalent to whip that’s regularly used on horse
TANTAMOUNT - TAN (whip), alternate letters (regularly) in ThAt, MOUNT (horse).
14 Take another shot of Brother Jonathan
START OVER - a very odd clue, this. Brother Jonathan is ‘the personification of New England’, but originally he was used to refer to the entire United States: a precursor to Uncle Sam. If this is just a way of indicating an Americanism, it’s archaic and terribly obscure. And it’s a bit odd since I’m not so sure START OVER is specifically American any more. I wonder if I’m missing something.
17 Use tax reforms to tackle hydrogen emission
EXHAUST - (USE TAX)* containing H.
18 Barricade, very long, possibly fine
DAMAGES - DAM, AGES. Another rather odd definition: a fine is not the same thing as DAMAGES.
21 Drunk hurt before start of military tattoo
THRUM - (HURT)*, Military. ‘Thrum’ is a noun here.
22 Royal Society will host this too
ALSO - contained in ‘Royal Society’.