April 4th, 2021

Mephisto 3161 - Tim Moorey

Greetings barred-grid fans.

I'm writing from my deck looking down at a bumper crop of poorly-masked tourists, it being school holidays and Easter weekend. I will hopefully feel less bitter about my fellow Americans soon, since I am getting my second dose of the Moderna vaccine on Sunday morning and in two weeks even begin rehearsing on a stage again (a small cast outdoor performance of Comedy of Errors).

I thought Tim Moorey brouht the gentler fare this week, with fewer pop culture references than usual, I only had one question mark on the grid for a word I have a habit of mis-spelling and a few margin notes in the clues.  In Mephisto puzzles, definitons (the most direct of which is underlined) can be confirmed in Chambers, so I will focus on the wordplay here.

Away we go...

Across
1 Money when employed by American is “dough” (4)
MASA - M(money), AS, A(American).  If you get a chance, enjoy a huarache sometime, it is fried masa topped with pinto bean paste, meat and salad vegetables.
4 Fail to get on top say, wrongly (8)
MISSPEAK - MISS(fail) next two PEAK(top)
10 Incomplete, impressive work at places for rocks (10)
EPIDOSITES - EPIC(impressive) missing the last letter, then DO(work at) and SITES(places)
12 Bob excited about what’s left of conifer, needle-pointed (7)
ACERATE - AERATE(excited by filling with air), surrounding the left letter of Conifer
13 A certain difficult US dramatist (6)
O'NEILL - ONE(a certain), ILL(difficult) for the playwright Eugene of The Iceman Cometh
14 As before, look at a Dutch car limiting energy (5)
ADVEW - A, D(dutch), VW(Volkswagen, car) containing E(energy)
15 State capital is to replace head of tutoring for injury compensation (5)
BOISE - IS replacing the first letter of Tutoring in BOTE(injury compensation). Capital of Idaho
16 Quiz going around: what’s grey up north? (5)
LIART - TRIAL(quiz) reversed
18 Sweet fish absorbs tar intermittently (6, two words)
A SALTI - AI(sweet fish) containing SALT(sailor, tar)
23 Person of faith, one to probe my dalliance on vacation? (6)
THEIST - I(one) inside THE(my, our)  SPORT(dalliance) missing the interior letters
24 Tricky matter, dropping Bale for kick-off (5)
PROEM - PROBLEM(tricky matter) missing BL(bale)
25 Employee gets uniform second hand (5)
MANUS - MAN(employee), U(uniform), S(second)
28 Months stuck inside shelter? Hard cheese! (5)
COMTE - M(months) inside COTE(shelter)
29 Spot lady’s string instrument (6)
ZITHER - ZIT(spot), HER(lady's) - an instrument strangely popular around these parts where it is called an autoharp
30 One’s picked up a rather unreal loss of voice (7)
APHONIA - sounds like A PHONIER(rather unreal)
31 Twelve followers around Israel seen in marginal notes (10)
APOSTILLES - APOSTLES(twelve followers) around IL(Israel)
32 At Leeds ground parking initially gets support (8)
PEDESTAL - anagram of AT LEEDS after P(parking)
33 Partly demystified freshwater terrapin (4)
EMYS - hidden inside dEMYStified
Down
1 Piece of fruit some cooked with beef (8)
MESOCARP - anagram of SOME with CARP(beed)
2 Characters central to opposition hinder talk between lawyers (7)
SIDEBAR - middle letters in oppoSItion, then DEBAR(hinder). Sidebar: I have just watched someone attempt to parallel park outside of my place five times... and they got it on the fifth!
3 See you about detective in celebration (5)
ADDIO - A(about), then DI(detective) inside DO(celebration)
4 Root maiden before two overs left getting ahead of India (5)
MOOLI - M(maiden) and two O's (overs), L(left) in front of I(India)
5 Painter who, with temperature dropping, becomes rather ill (7)
SICKERT - If you remove T(temperature) you get SICKER(rather ill) for Walter, the painter who may have been Jack the Ripper
6 Being broke, latest introduction of HMRC could be newish sort of tax (7)
STEALTH - anagram of LATEST and the first letter of Hmrc
7 Poet’s certainly on a special food regime having lost tons (6)
PERDIE - PER(a) and DIET(special food regime) missing T(tons)
8 A horse overcoming danger starred (10)
ASTERISKED - A, STEED(horse) surrounding RISK(danger)
9 We’ve heard large ruminant is approved (4)
KNEW - sounds like GNU(large ruminant)
11 A Knight replacing chap in final event brings change of order (10)
ANASTROPHE - A, N(knight) replacing CAT(chap) in CATASTROPHE(final event)
17 Guardian in Scotland shows disapproval about Customs wasting money (8)
TUTORESS - TUTS(shows disapproval) surrounding MORES(customs) without M(money)
19 Numbers supporting old team in sacred place (7)
TEMENOS - NOS(numbers) after TEME(old term for team)
20 Foot specialist wrecked ambitions? Not on (7)
IAMBIST - anagram of AMBITIONS minus ON
21 Good looker and silly Mel remove top piece (7)
DISHELM - DISH(good looker) and an anagram of MEL
22 Yours truly drunk no end of lager in mug (6)
METOPE - ME(yours truly) and TOPER(drunk) missing the last letter of lageR
26 One’s hot in wool, nothing removed? Nothing (5)
NIHIL -  I(one), H(hot) in NOIL(wool) missing O(nothing)
27 It’s profitable however loathsome, giving away sources (5)
UTILE - BUT(however) and VILE(loathsome) both missing the first letters
28 Fight once affected military life (4)
CAMP - triple definition

Sunday Times 4948 by David McLean

8:15. A very unusual grid this week: one that I don’t remember seeing before. The long series of unchecked lights black squares around the edges give it an odd look, and there are no short words. All the answers are 7, 8 or 15 letters long.

The puzzle itself was straightforward, I thought, but I enjoyed it as I always do Harry’s puzzles. He has a very original and quirky style that I like.

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

Across
1 My husband takes wrong turning from Newquay?
CORNISH - COR, H containing a reversal of SIN (wrong).
5 Where to take down fighter in mohawk from Bow?
AIRSTRIP - a mohawk (or mohican) hairstyle consists of a single strip of hair down the middle of a shaved head. Hence in East London…
9 Some diplomat in Algiers of a morning
MATINAL - contained in ‘diplomat in Algiers’.
10 One prompting motion reconstituting a vile tax
LAXATIVE - (A VILE TAX)*.
11 Working port on banks of Tarragona lake
ONTARIO - ON (working), TarragonA, RIO (port).
12 Writer of The Third Man might be doing it in play
FIELDING - ‘third man’ is a cricketing term for a fielder in a particular position. For our overseas friends wondering exactly where, it’s behind and to the off side of the slips, approximately level with gully or point.
13 Party in power that tends, mostly, to waver
PAINT THE TOWN RED - (IN POWER THAT TENDs)*.
19 Old earl and duke near country inn’s entrance
DISRAELI - D, ISRAEL, Inn.
20 Horse and dope found around old prison cell
DUNGEON - DUN, GE(O)N.
21 Marine with dog getting shot of British predator
SEA EAGLE - SEA (marine), bEAGLE. A common visitor to crosswords, but usually under his other name, ERNE.
22 Hit record a little offensive to the Hooters?
NOISOME - NO 1 (hit record), SOME (a little).
23 In account, trained hitmen like songs of devotion
ANTHEMIC - AC containing (HITMEN)*.
24 Record man originally set by US city a while ago
EPHESUS - EP, HE, Set, US.
Down
1 Flower person heads to irrigate arable land
CAMBODIA - CAM (flower), BOD, Irrigate, Arable.
2 Turn helping to secure book collection
ROTATION - R(OT)ATION.
3 Groan nit needs to change, being thus?
IGNORANT - (GROAN NIT)*. A bit of a weird clue: the surface doesn’t make an awful lot of sense, and there doesn’t seem to be a proper definition. Am I missing something?
4 Student digs horse called Fine Going
HALL OF RESIDENCE - (HORSE CALLED FINE)*.
6 Broadcast about manor lacking in depth
SHALLOW - S(HALL)OW. A word that has no direct equivalent in French.
7 Old prince more likely to have showers than others?
RAINIER - there have been a few but this is mostly likely a reference to the Prince of Monaco who married Grace Kelly.
8 Book rook pinched taken into Police Department as promised
PLEDGED - P(LEDGEr)D.
13 School established by a governor from Italy
PODESTA - POD (school), EST, A. I had heard of John PODESTA, he of the Democratic Party and the email leak, but did not know the word.
14 Needing break, homeworker tours street for a bit
INSTANT - IN(ST)ANT. The words ‘needing break’ are unnecessary for the wordplay here, but add to the surface reading. Edit: see comment from kapietro below: 'needing break' indicates that you have to separate home and worker for the wordplay to make sense.
15 Spooner’s little barrel that’s used for serving drinks
TEAWARE - spoonerism of ‘wee tear’. When solving I thought the barrel was a tare here, and assumed an unknown usage, but it turns out to be something simpler.
16 Men suffer pain, losing heart as Trump appears?
ORANGISH - OR, ANGuISH. Fortunately not so much these days.
17 Many of our menus must be updated
NUMEROUS - (OUR MENUS)*.
18 Sweet comment brought up over dinner for men?
ETON MESS - reversal of NOTE, MESS. The ‘men’ here are soldiers. MESS can refer to the meal, the people eating the meal, or the place they are eating it!