March 15th, 2020

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Mephisto 3106 - A new blogger, a new style

Good evening, all.   As most of you now know, Jim Biggin is no longer able to blog Mephisto due to health problems.   Having become a Mephisto enthusiast, I decided to take over the alternate Sunday slot myself - not that world is crawling with potential Mephisto bloggers.   As I have said before, I do attempt to solve Mephisto without using reference books, contrary to the usual practice.   I have solved eight of these puzzles successfully out of about fifty or sixty, but at least I am getting down to one or two wrong.

In order to successfully solve Mephisto without a dictionary, you need both a large vocabulary and a vivid imagination.   Knowledge of Latin and Greek, as well as a thorough familiarity with Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare, will certainly not come amiss.

In my Mephisto blogs, I am going to be a little more expansive, and explain my thought process as I solved each clue.   I nearly got to a succeessful completion on this one, but unfortunately one unchecked letter at the end of 30 across turned out to be wrong.   I did not, and still do not, understand the cryptic, but I might still have gotten the answer if I had thought a little more about the literal.

And away we go!

3 The old get thicker at home in front of the box eating cake (10)
INCRASSATE - IN + CR(ASS)ATE, one of the two learned words for thicken, along with inspissate.   Since I biffed this one, I had my doubts about the middle element, but the OED entry for 'cake' gives 'an ignorant or stupid fellow' as one of the meanings.
10 Skulk as before, about to leave place of learning (5)
SHOOL - S[c]HOOL, pretty obvious once you have some crossers.   An obscure dialect word, perhaps of Irish origin.
11 Priest offering support, fellow around hospital (7)
BRAHMAN - BRA (H) MAN, an easy clue for an easy word.
13 Mum in quiet pub produces simple drawing (6)
PINMAN -  P IN(MA)N, definitely one where you have to trust the cryptic,
15 Some dry goods in untidy heap (4)
EPHA - Anagram of HEAP, equivalent to ten omers, if you're interested.   In any case, the only possible arrangement of letters.
16 Muslim ruler, master with ego to the fore (7)
SOULDAN - SOUL + DAN, where the second element is a typical Chaucerian usage.
17 Drink for toasting the Queen? Yes and no! (6)
PORTER - PORT + E.R., I would imagine, but I don't quite follow the clue.   No pictures on scorecards!
18 Film sequence has one negative effect (5)
IDENT - I + DENT, the technical term for something like the roaring MGM lion. 
19 Local dialect that’s surprising with endless impudence (7)
GEECHEE - GEE + CHEE[k].   Evidently, the Gullah are in South Carolina, and the Geechee are in Georgia, but I just followed the simple cryptic and got the answer.
25 Maybe support second place of worship (7)
STEMPLE - S + TEMPLE, another one where the cryptic provides an evident answer.   It's a crossbar in a mine shaft.
26 Hidden by hill, another plain (5)
LLANO - Hidden in [hi]LL ANO[ther], a starter clue where both the cryptic is obvious and the word is well-known.
28 Like strap recently worn by soldiers (6)
LORATE - L(OR)ATE.   If a lorimer is someone who makes horse tack, it is highly like that 'lorate' means pertaining to a strap, and it does.
30 Set a plant here apart — clay pot does for it? (7)
LYCOPOD - This one is my big failure in this puzzle.   I still can't see what is going on here; I thought it was going to be an anagram of 'clay pot', but it is not.   The lycopods are club mosses, quillworts, and spike mosses.
32 Climbers linked together move with uncertainty — not good (4)
ROPE - [g]ROPE, another interesting collective noun, this time not applying to birds.
33 Feeling of sadness when seaman comes to end of route (6)
PATHOS - PATH + O.S, another starter clue.
34 Regular payment and extra money in post? (7)
STIPEND -  S(TIP)END, pretty easy. 
35 Rocky beds bad aboard ship (5)
SILLS - S(ILL)S, the old SS trick.
36 One who strides out helpfully, whatever Don Manley says? (10)
PACESETTER - PACE SETTER, where the first word of the cryptic is the ablative of 'pax'.
1 Sprinklers of water? Large pails could be alternative (10)
ASPERGILLA - Anagram of LARGE PAILS - if you don't know the word, you'll need some crossers, as I did.  An aspergillum is an implement for sprinkling holy water.
2 Cheerful fast-food outlet in Ireland (7)
CHIPPER - Double definition.   If a 'chippie' is a fish-and-chips shop in England, then 'chipper' would not be surprising for Ireland - right?
4 Governor’s refusal leading to protest? (7)
NOMARCH - NO + MARCH.   Using my knowledge of Greek, I spotted this as 'nomos' + 'archon'. 
5 Dirt in wine store finally swept away (5)
CLART - CLAR[e]T.   Never heard of it, but the cryptic gives it to you.  It's a dialect word from the the northern regions of the UK.
6 Skill needed when flood invades old shrubbery (7)
ARBORET -AR(BORE)T.   If an 'eagre' is a 'tidal bore', then a 'bore' must be a flood, right?
7 Synagogue closed, left for short time (4)
SHUL - SHU[t] + L.   Yes, it was helpful to have Orthodox fellows working for me - they all took off at noon every Friday to get ready to go to shul. 
8 More than one chemical compound is made in explosion (6)
AMIDES - Anagram of IS MADE, another easy one.
9 Ship’s course kilometres astray — a new navigation system needed (5)
TACAN - TAC[k] + A + N, from Tactical Air Navigation, or, if you prefer, the cryptic. 
12 Old dress — fit one's squeezed into (6)
AGUISE - AGU(I'S)E, a typical Spenserian word. 
14 Light dish meets with sneer, being disgusting (10)
20 Two rings on foot of rare bird (6)
HOOPOE - HOOP + O +[rar]E, with two kinds of rings, as is typical of these puzzles.
21 Get rid of old slave carrying shovel (7)
ESLOYNE - ES(LOY)NE.   Another Spenserian word, this time with two rather old-fashioned words making up the cryptic.   A 'loy' is a primitive shovel that was used to plant potatoes in Ireland.
22 A mister that's sparkling? (7)
SMARTIE - Anagram of A MISTER, a neat &lit clue.
23 Welcome sign for thirsty traveller, gangster to run off to the north (7)
ALEPOLE - AL + ELOPE upside-down.   Even in the most obscure puzzles, you can always count on Mr Capone.
24 Performance beset by twitching — deliberate ploy? (6)
TACTIC - T(ACT)IC, another starter clue.
27 Band is rubbish, as some might say? (5)
LYTTA - Sounds like LITTER if you're non-rhotic.   A band of cartilege on the underside of a dog's tongue, although there is also a band of that name on Lacklustre Records.   I waited for the checking letters before tackling this one.
29 Go off, wanting afternoon in repose (5)
REAST - RE(A)ST.   This is apparently a variant spelling of 'reest'.   Variant spellings of obscure words are not uncommon in Mephisto - that is what the cryptics are for!
31 Welcoming cry when priest's brought in jug (4)
OLPE - OL(P)E, another biffable answer.   It is probably the bullfighter they are welcoming.