December 27th, 2020

  • glheard

Mephisto 3147 - Paul McKenna

I think this was one of the most difficult Mephistos of the year, there are not a lot of familiar words, and many obscure uses of common terms through the grid. I spent quite a bit of time confirming things in Chambers, and making some multi-step connections.

If you breezes through it, maybe you think in future tense?

In Mephisto puzzles the definitions can be confirmed in Chambers, so I will focus on the wordplay here. The most common definition is underlined.

Away we go...

1 Bloomer crudely put could be such, if accepted (7)
FUCHSIA - anagram of SUCH,IF and then A(accepted)
6 Old tapestry frames where padres preach (5)
TENTS - double definition, the second of which will be very familiar if you live in the Bible belt of the USA where I happen to reside. Tent revivals, sadly, are still going on during the pandemic thanks to a legal loophole.
10 Oscar called Steed’s sidekick, I suppose, sugar-coated candy? (10, two words)
ORANGE PEEL - O(oscar), RANG(called) and Steed's sidekick in The Avengers was E(mma) PEEL
11 That which winds Guevara up in revolutionary broadcast (5)
AIRED - the last letter of guevarA, I(in), RED(revolutionary)
12 Discarded porridge managed to be consumed by leader (7)
DURANCE - RAN(managed) inside DUCE(leader) - porridge meaning prison here
14 Plated silver’s left with chap, it must be restored (7)
SPATHIC - first letter of Silver then an anagram of CHAP,IT. I don't think I knew the definition of this word before, but I know it as a Melt-Banana song (warning, Japanese hardcore)
16 A form of willow selling in northern town (4)
SALE -  triple definiion with willow, selling, and a town in the north of England (or Victoria)
17 Scot on the fiddle uses this run out to brood (5)
ROSIT - RO(run out), next to SIT(brood)
19 Fantastic, give a Tory opening for false dreams (9, two words)
21 Whatever may happen advance and beat your goddess (9, three words)
AT ANY RATE - A(advance) TAN(beat), YR(your), ATE(goddess)
22 It’s in pass, it’s something to take in (5)
VISTA - 'T(it) in VISA(pass)
25 Share international title (4)
SHRI - SHR(share), I(international)
28 Italian understood male in unsympathetic Havering (7)
DITHERY - IT(italian) HE(undesrstood male) inside DRY(unsympathetic)
29 Concerning one in French isle just after gathering for friends? (7)
REUNION - RE(concerning), UN(one in French), I(isle), ON(just after)
30 Resent involving old diplomat who’s second-rate (5)
ENVOY - ENVY(resent) containing O(old)
31 Pick-me-up adding energy all over mushroom? (10)
CINDERELLA - CINDER(a shot of liquor put in a drink), E(energy), then ALL reversed. Mushroom can mean someone who rises suddenly from a lowly position, hence CINDERELLA
32 Spenser’s vow is in trouble (5)
HEAST - 'S(is) insie HEAT(trouble)
33 Brother passes round something for boring fighter (7)
BRAWLER - BRER(brother) containing AWL(something for boring)
1 ____ is frequently behind the sign of woodworm, eg (5)
FRASS - FR(frequently), ASS(behind)
2 Seat of learning on norm not now directly made in one piece (10)
UNIPARTITE - UNI(university, seat of learning), PAR(norm), TITE(obsolete term for directly)
3 Buzz about gold anemone’s tip — marine building blocks? (7)
CORALLA - CALL(buzz) surrounding OR(gold), then the first letter of Anemone
4 Couple from Hebron holding up stiff letter of theirs? (5)
SADHE - first two letters of HEbron after SAD(stiff in baking)
5 Colouring decorative dot but black stuck (9, two words)
INDIGO RED - BINDI(decorativ dot), missing B(black) then GORED(stuck)
6 Eg, Trinity’s empty when 3rd is close to poor (4)
TERM - TEEM(pour out, empty) with the third letter replaced with the last letter of pooR
7 Rising self-importance and breach in reasoning (7)
EPAGOGE - EGO(self-importance) and GAPE(breach) all reversed
8 Geese spotted heading northwards around noon (5)
NENES - SEEN(spotted) reversed surrounding N(noon)
9 Series about advanced trick used by Ned Kelly and his ilk (7)
SLENTER - SER(series) surrounding LENT(advanced)
13 Cold murder arranged with a certain instrument (10)
CHITARRONE - C(cold), HIT(murder), ARR(arranged) and ONE(a certain)
15 Clip vehicle, a black one, narrowly missing American (9)
CARABINER - CAR(vehicle), A, B(black), I(one) then NEAR(narrowly) without A(American)
18 Dance display features little variety for old admiral (7)
NAVARCH - NACH(Indian dance display) containing VAR(variety)
19 Interest over region’s means (7)
INTENDS - INT(interest) on top of END'S(region's)
20 Blast, la vache! Better to split losses ____ (7, two words)
A CHEVAL - anagram of LA VACHE
23 Bawd mostly admitted to it? It gets you hot and steamy (5)
SAUNA - AUNT missing the last letter in SA(it, sex appeal). The connection is bawd -> procuress -> aunt
24 Special number to ring on a tablet (5)
STELA - S(special), TEL(number to ring, telephone number), A
26 One year skate over twenty-nine spring days (5)
IYYAR - I(one), Y(year) then RAY(skate) reversed
27 Bird that chatters to Scot, mine involves English (4)
PIET - PIT(mine) containing E(English)

Sunday Times 4934 by Dean Mayer

11:35. The Sunday Times puzzle before Christmas always used to be a jumbo, so I was expecting extended blogging duty this week. I had forgotten that last year the jumbo was the puzzle after Christmas, so I expect my Sunday blogging counterpart will draw the short straw again.

No problems with this, although I seem to have managed to write in THREW IN THE TOWEL in my submitted puzzle. For me the first stage of constructing the blog is retyping the answers into the old online version of the puzzle, which I managed to do correctly. Not sure what happened the first time but of course it’s the kind of mistake you won’t pick up by checking your answers at the end.

Leaving aside user error this was of the high quality we expect from Dean. I didn’t know the unusual term at 13dn, although it was readily deducible. I did know the expression at 8dn, which I’ve no doubt will be unfamiliar to some.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. Happy New Year – here’s to a slightly less unusual 2021!

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

1 Inferior to, say, Fuji Film
UNDER THE VOLCANO - a movie I don’t remember coming across before, but it was made in 1984 so I probably have at some point. I also didn’t know that Mount Fuji is still classified as active, although it last erupted in 1707!
9 Poet left nobody out — Romeo included twice
LORD BYRON - (L, NOBODY)* containing a couple of strategically-placed Rs.
10 5 catching a monster
BEAST - BE(A)ST. 5 being 5dn (spoiler alert!) VANQUISH.
11 Jack needs pub to serve spirits
JINN - J, INN. Also spelled DJINN, this is the plural form. The singular, rather counter-intuitively, is JINNI or DJINNI.
12 Nebuliser sprays for older females?
BLUE RINSE - (NEBULISER)*. Usually followed by the word ‘brigade’ and mentioned in the context of the Conservative Party conference.
14 Competitors must enter for such games
15 One form of power that’s about to switch
17 Entertainer’s average partner?
COMEDIAN - the partner of an average would be a… CO-MEDIAN. Arf.
19 One way to grab fair temptress
22 Very odd rifle, not really for battle
SOLFERINO - SO (very), (RIFLE)*, NO (not really). A battle and a Paris Métro station.
23 Follow old Turkish governor
25 A bit of Marie, Lisa, Sharon?
ARIEL - containined in ‘Marie, Lisa’. Prime Minister of Israel 2001-6.
26 Almost destroy fur in handbag?
UNDERMINE - UNDo, ERMINE. To handbag is to ‘verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully (typically used of a woman)’. So a bit of a loose definition for UNDERMINE if you ask me, but the answer was clear enough.
27 Stop trying to add cloth
THROW IN THE TOWEL - two definitions, the main one being more cryptic (figurative) than the subsidiary one!

1 Fruit cocktail guest eats up
UGLI - contained reversed in ‘cocktail guest’.
2 Nasty cut bound to be contaminated
3 Lost in wood, goblin, elf or sprite
ROBIN GOODFELLOW - (WOOD GOBLIN ELF OR)*. Aka Puck, although I don’t think he’s actually referred to by this name in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
4 Because of this her echo gets through
HEREBY - HER, E (echo), BY (through).
5 Ghost interrupted by question master
VANQUISH - VAN(QU)ISH. To ghost someone is to suddenly end all communication as a means of ending a relationship, but that’s a transitive verb. The intransitive meaning required here is not in the usual Sunday Times reference dictionaries, but it is in Chambers. It’s also not hard to deduce, so I’d be surprised if it caused anyone a problem.
6 MP free before trial? Case not closed
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT - LIBERAL (free), DEMO (trial, of a computer programme for instance), CRATe.
7 Hostile to touching
8 Failing hotel among often failing hotel chain
ON THE FRITZ - (OFTEN)* containing H, RITZ. Collins thinks this is an exclusively British usage, Lexico that it’s exclusively North American. All I can say is it was familiar to me but probably wasn’t to everyone.
13 Democrat is damn social type, a debater
DISCUSSANT - D, IS,CUSS, ANT (social type).
16 Whip raised, I go for mum
TACITURN - reversal of CAT, I, TURN.
18 Less strong runner blocked by short kid
MILKIER - MIL(KId)ER. I don’t particularly like very strong tea but I hate it if it’s too milky so I wouldn’t like this cup.
20 Gun I stashed in seat in trailer
PREVIEW - P(REV, I)EW. ‘Rev’ and 'gun' are verbs here. ‘Welcome to laser noises club: please take a pew’.
21 Gadget had two zips and diamonds all over
DOODAH - reversal of HAD, OO (two zips, or noughts), D.
24 Good source of water
  • vinyl1

Times 27859 - Missing a bicycle?

Time: 29 minutes
Music: Balakiriv, Tamar, Svetlanov/USSR Symphony

I  had a tough time getting started tonight, and read through nearly all the clues before solving a single one.   However, once I had three crossing letters, I was able to put in the answers quite rapidly, and ended up biffing about half of them.   This is good for your time, but if you're the blogger, your work is only half done - you now have to go back and figure it all out.
There was one strange Mephisto-like clue that forced me to think a bit towards the end, but since I am a Mephisto blogger as well, it is reasonable to expct me to deal with it; others may not be so well-situated.   I did check Chambers after completing the puzzle, and my answer seems to be justified - not to mention getting an all-clear from The Times web site.

1 Cross put back nearly damaged element (7)
SULPHUR - PLUS backwards + HUR[t].   I've never seen the plus sign referred to as a cross, but it works for me.
5 Piccard finally cracks two ways to secure source of hot air (7)
WINDBAG - WIN ([piccar]D) BAG.   You might think secure is just a connector, but no, you are looking for two ways to secure something.
9 Church conservators never hosting Eastern anniversary (9)
CENTENARY - CE + NT (E) NARY.   Nary usually means not any, but, come to think of it, so might never in colloquial speech. 
10 Clerical group mired in controversy, no doubt (5)
SYNOD -  hidden in [controver]SY NO D[oubt] - sounds likely enough, whether we mean theological disputes or the racier tabloids.
11 English officer opening US lawman’s letter (5)
DELTA - D(E LT)A, a compendium of cryptic cliches.
12 Grave scene of western battle (9)
TOMBSTONE - Double definition, referring to Tombstone, Arizona, site of the O.K. Corral. 
14 Missing curate found on ground outside front of chapel (11-3)
17 Stove, frying pans, then old bikes (5-9)
PENNY-FARTHINGS - Anagram of FRYING PANS, THEN, an obvious biff from the enumeration.
21 One person from Far East owns clothes range (9)
HIMALAYAS - H(I MALAY)AS, another easy biff.
23 Republican is meeting HM? That’s certainly a step up! (5)
RISER - R + IS + ER.
24 Left expert holding knight's weapon (5)
LANCE - L + A(N)CE.   My FOI, at last a foothold somewhere!
25 Chimney cleaner had to cover tip of chin and part of face (5,4)
26 A few mentioned pinching diver's bone (7)
STERNUM - S(TERN)UM, since sacrum doesn't fit!
27 Major books hoarded by economist briefly (7)
1 Dry old PM (not North) quit (6)
2 Laughing out loud about article in woolly extract (7)
3 Under Henry I, archery revised pecking order (9)
HIERARCHY - H I + anagram of ARCHERY.
4 Old-fashioned, to bring up young primarily to keep fighting (11)
5 Wrong sorts of whiskey last to go (3)
WRY - W + RY[e].    That is, whiskey as a letter in the NATO alphabet, and a type of whiskey - two sorts, indeed.   Wrong is about the 5th definition for wry in Chambers.
6 Homes built in spring succeeded in goals (5)
NESTS - NE(S)TS, the goals in games, that is.
7 Don't go to expert to cover new floor (4,3)
BUNK OFF - BU(N, K.O.)FF, a little tricky, requiring careful consideration of the cryptic.
8 Pledge attempt to seize duke's equipment (8)
13 Records timber that may be rare (6,5)
15 Odd pie chart at end of cursory study of inscriptions (9)
EPIGRAPHY - Anagram of PIE + GRAPH + [cursor]Y, an obvious write-in for students of ancient inscriptions. 
16 They offer covert views of mole on parts of course (8)
SPYHOLES - SPY + HOLES,, which are part of a golf course - the other parts being brush, forests, ponds, streams, and hayfields, which is where my ball often ends up.
18 No energy inspires pit candidate (7)
19 Parisian is probing hole? Ring police (7)
20 The Woman in White garners Grand Cross (6)
BRIDGE - BRID(G)E, cross and bridge as verbs.
22 Bond grabs one extended rest (3-2)
LIE-IN - LIE(I)N, not the secret agent, but a legal document.
25 Problem with German missing top meeting (3)
SUM - SUM[mit], easy to biff, hard to parse.