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November 3rd, 2019

Mephisto 3087 - Paul McKenna

Greetings all - I'm posting this from Arlington, Virginia just outside of Washington DC where I am working for the next couple of days. If you get the chance to visit my adopted nations capital, I recommend it, there are a lot of musuems (and almost all of the Smithsonian ones are free) and monuments, a weirdly efficient public transport system and because most people here work for some branch of the gubernment they compensate by getting trashed every weekend.

Now to the puzzle. Some odd words, and some yummy food (for a while it seemed all the dishes in Mephisto sounded revolting, the worst offender being CRAPPIT-HEAD) and as usual with Paul McKenna a pun in the top row for WASTE-GROUND

Definitions (underlined) can be confirmed in Chambers, so I am going to focus on wordplay.

Away we go...

Across
1 Middle week is covered by administrative trainee (5)
WAIST - W(week) then IS inside AT(administrative trainee)
5 Credit admitted is knocked on the head (7)
CROWNED - CR(credit), OWNED(admitted)
10 Most jeer blooming amateur that swims the southern seas (10)
BARRACOUTA - BARRACK(jeer) missing the last letter, then OUT(blooming), A(amateur)
11 Irish bottled liquor, pretty much good though lacking power (8)
STOCIOUS - most of STOCK(liquor from boiled bones), then PIOUS(good) missing P(power)
13 From the east a cook finally supplies ____? (5)
TIKKA - reversal of A, the last letter of cooK, KIT(supplies)
14 Prudent hack admitted fighting tax (7)
SCUTAGE - SAGE(prudent) containing CUT(hack)
16 Badger without the benefit of quiet compound (5)
ESTER - PESTER(badger) missing P(quiet)
17 Utter failure to follow suit whipping off top (7)
ENOUNCE - RENOUNCE(failure to follow suit) missing the first letter
19 Graphic pictures I knock out not specified (5)
IKONS - I, KO(knock out), NS(not specified)
22 Pull up Asian tethering emptied yacht (5, two words)
LAY TO - LAO(Asian) containing Y(ach)T
23 Any of three leading Greeks is right to back restitution of chair (7)
TRIARCH - RT(right) reversed then an anagram of CHAIR. Greeks is in there because of the derivation of the word
24 A coalition of Britain and America forms source of poison (5)
ABRUS - A, BR(Britiain), US(part of North America)
28 Prized metal previously left in shallow pan (7)
PLATINA -  L(left) inside PATINA(shallow pan)
29 French char looking at special ham? (5)
THESP - THE(tea, char, in French), then SP(special)
30 Roller signalled by my unrivalled place in the market (8)
CORNICHE - COR(my), NICHE(unrivalled place in the market) The CORNICHE Is a brain of Rolls-Royce
31 Clean slips being disturbed? Preferably not in this game (10)
SPELLICANS - anagram of CLEAN,SLIPS
32 Result in islanders dying off in scores (7)
MORENDO - END(result) in MORO(Philippine islanders)
33 Mushy peas reportedly in part of decision (5)
SAPPY - P and P (peas) inside SAY(part of decision)

Down
1 Refinement of Walter Scott’s prime ne’er-do-well (7)
WASTREL - anagram of WALTER and the first letter of Scott
2 In London suburb I bale out giving legal ground (10)
ACTIONABLE - ACTON(London suburb) containing I, then an anagram of BALE
3 Train of silk except that it could’ve been blown (7)
SACKBUT - SACK(tran of silk), BUT(except that)
4 Ignoring one very frivolous comedy actor who may sing (5)
TRIAL - remove I(one) and V(very) from TRIVIAL(frivolous)
5 Hybrid canine found by explorer (5)
CROSS - C(canine), then John ROSS(arctic explorer)
6 King Lear roughly captures capital — Rob Roy’s rougher (7)
RAUCLER - R(king), and an anagram of LEAR containing UC(upper-case, capital)
7 Veggies with leftovers (5)
WORTS - W(with), ORTS(leftovers)
8 Rev with needless ferocity turned on American blue trumpery (8)
NUGATORY - GUN(rev with needless ferocity) reversed, then A(American), TORY(blue)
9 Steady fruit of desert runs? (5)
DATER - DATE(fruit of desert), R(runs)
12 ____ means second spring in which stewards act for all (10, two words)
AGENCYSHOP -  AGENCY(means), S(second), HOP(spring)
15 Are wheels spinning under upset chuckle-head? A menace (8, two words)
BOY RACER - I'm struggling a little with wordplay. I think it is RE(are?), CAR(wheels) reversed under a reversal of YOB(chuckle-head) but I'm open to better suggestions
18 Combed disturbing notice on dead (7)
CTENOID - anagram of NOTICE, then D(dead)
20 Egyptian soul mate is a spiritual dancer (7)
KACHINA - KA(Egyptian soul), CHINA(mate)
21 Well-rounded mock line used in gibe (7)
SHAPELY - APE(mock), L(line) inside SHY(gibe)
24 Little over half of diversion is parrotry (5)
APISM - most of ESCAPISM
25 Universal chimney pot would’ve been behovely (5)
UTILE - U(universal), TILE(chimney pot)
26 I collar horse dealers west of Newbury — with bow (5)
NARCO - leftmost letter of Newbury, then ARCO(with bow) - horse referring to heroin here
27 Prepayment lifted on small vessels which are lit up (5)
ETNAS - reversal of ANTE(prepayment), then S(small)

Sunday Times 4874 by David McLean

19:24. A tricky and interesting puzzle from Harry this week. Most of these clues are really very straightforward, but they throw you (OK me) off track by deploying slightly off-beat or unexpected meanings of words. Going through them properly for the purpose of writing the blog, I really can’t see what on earth I found difficult about any of them. This is generally the mark of a first-class puzzle, and that’s what this is.


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

Across
1 South American prison survey
SCAN - S, CAN. I don’t think of CAN as a specifically American word, but ODO says it is and that’s good enough for me.
4 Old royal beaten up by old mayor
BLOODY MARY - (BY OLD MAYOR)*. Mary I, who earned this moniker by having as many protestants as possible killed before her half-sister Elizabeth could stop the fun.
9 Primate some find risible
INDRIS - contained in ‘find risible’. I hadn’t heard of this type of short-tailed lemur found in Madagascar but the wordplay was clear so as soon as I had a checker it went in.
10 Developer’s provided with tricks and hints
SOUPCONS - SOUP (developer), CONS (tricks). When solving I thought this might be a reference to the ‘primordial SOUP’ that is a developer of early life (kind of) but it turns out SOUP is a word for a photographic developer. I don’t really know what this means either but I assume it's the sort of bath thing that people dip photos into in dark rooms in movies.
11 Don’t forget about one in the club, say
REMEMBER - RE, MEMBER.
12 A perhaps reflective number from The Edge
SIDE-ON - SIDE (A, perhaps, the other side being the B side), reversal of NO. Not a U2 reference as it appears.
13 County bigwig trade union tells, mostly, to go to hell
LORD LIEUTENANT - (TRADE UNION TELLs)*. I’ve no idea what these people do but I met one once and he was posher than I had previously believed possible and quite extraordinarily pleased with himself.
16 A flight to East London?
APPLES AND PEARS - not very cryptic definition. Still took me a few checkers to twig though.
20 China possibly to back one who supports Bush
PROTEA - PRO (one who supports), TEA (China possibly). I worried a bit that BRATEA might be a thing but this looked altogether more likely.
22 A guy carrying mug and small tumblers
ACROBATS - A, C(ROB)AT, S. The guy is a CAT, the mug (verb) is ROB.
24 Woman close to Ohio is stuck in traffic?
CAROLINE - CAR(ohiO)LINE. CARLINE, geddit?
25 Groovy tango track many bought by female group
WITH IT - WI (female group), T (tango), HIT (track many bought).
26 Hope a store abandoned offensive kid’s toy
PEASHOOTER - (HOPE A STORE)*. Much more likely to be a Nerf gun these days.
27 Idle talk about the Fringe from Ernie Wise
SAGE - reversal of GAS (idle talk), Ernie or possibly erniE.

Down
2 Criminal girl that’s taken in English clot
CONGEAL - CON, G(E)AL.
3 Sauce bottle
NERVE - DD. This must be a chestnut, surely? I can’t specifically remember seeing it before but this setter did clue DUTCH COURAGE as 'bottle of sauce?' a couple of years ago (4753).
4 Vulgar parties which are thrown by sports people?
BASEBALLS - or BASE (vulgar) BALLS (parties).
5 Keep watch
OBSERVE - DD.
6 Got to welcome queen with second Bacardi and Coke?
DRUGS - DUG (got, as in ‘do you dig Hendrix?’) containing R (queen), S. I think the idea here is that alcohol and cocaine are both drugs, hence the plural.
7 Country club fellow, one with class essentially
MACEDONIA - MACE, DON, I, clAss.
8 Weak résumé
RUNDOWN - ‘Weak’ seemed a bit oblique to me, but I suppose weakness is generally a part of feeling under the weather or RUN DOWN. This meaning needs a space between the words so it's (very mildly) cryptic wordplay rather than a second definition.
14 It is not real somehow
RELATIONS - (IS NOT REAL)*. The definition is channelling Eric Idle, of course.
15 First-class prize fund to be raised
TOP-DRAWER - reversal of REWARD POT. Again, this must be a chestnut, surely?
17 Have some grounds to arrest volunteers on ecstasy
PARTAKE - PAR(TA)K, E. Very cunningly concealed definition.
18 Most tidy home — worry going inside it
NEATEST - N(EAT)EST.
19 Southern bishop dropping out of gambling scene
SETTING - S, bETTING.
21 In the morning, I leave for China from Spain
AMIGO - AM, I, GO.
23 Objections reportedly could mean the end of cigarettes
BUTTS - sounds like ‘buts’.