May 30th, 2021

Mephisto 3169 - Don Manley

Greetings barred-grid fans,

Don Manley has treated us to another grid of obscure words clued with immaculate wordplay.  I cannot say much else other than that this would be an excellent puzzle for setters who are not regular solvers of Mephisto to try dipping their toes into as the clues are precise and have wonderful wordplay.

In Mephisto puzzes the definition can be confirmed in Chambers, so I will focus on wordplay here.

Away we go....

4 Smart demo contrived to gain absolute control (9)
11 Fresh intelligence of the Parisian Match (6)
LATEST -  LA(the in French), and a TEST match
12 Mineral store I’d established, depleted at either end (6)
OREIDE - hidden inside stORE ID Eestablished
13 Musical character revealing opening, not closing (4)
CLEF - CLEFT (opening) missing the last letter
14 One day in Paris when going round avenue an old coin is found (8)
MARAVEDI - MARDI (Tuesdsay in French) containing AVE(avenue)
15 “How much does ____?” asks pub customer Herb (7)
ALECOST - a pub customer may want to know how much does ALE COST
19 Restricts the loins (5)
REINS - double defnition
20 Cellist in informal attire not appropriate for top person (6)
CASALS - CASUALS(informal attire) missing U(for top person)
21 Lout was badly taken in, just made miserable once (6)
NEW-SAD - NED(lout) containing an anagram of WAS
22 Piano playing harsh in tone with note oddly missing (6)
STRIDE - STRIDENT(harsh in tone) missing alternating letters in NoTe
24 Function in which you'll see this writer smoke (6)
SMEECH - SECH(hyperbolc secant, function) containing ME(this writer)
27 Shown to have discarded red outside covering no longer used (5)
VEALE - REVEALED(shown) missing RED on the exterior
31 One hundred of the stars in camp (7)
CASTRAL - C(100), ASTRAL(of the stars)
32 Rogue president once to rave stutteringly (8)
ABERRANT - ABE(president once) next to R-RANT(rave stutteringly)
33 Old Scottish miser offering loveless song (4)
CARL - remove O(love) from CAROL(song)
34 Force no longer wrong (6)
EXTORT - EX(no longer), TORT(wrong)
35 Wary football team losing one member before match (6)
TENTIE - a football team would be an ELEVEN, so remove one member leaves TEN then TIE(match)
36 What’s used by surgeon apt to go wrong with a “Sorry!” (9)
RASPATORY - anagram of APT and A SORRY
1 Surprisingly classical English no less strangely poetic somehow (6)
ALCAIC - anagram of CLASSICAL,E(English) minus LESS
2 Having a tax that’s unbelievable I ab’orred (9)
TALLIATED - TALL(unbelieveable), I, 'ATED(abhorred)
3 Chilly precipitation’s coming up, bringing nerves (6)
STEELS - SLEETS(chilly precipitation) reversed
5 In the manner of rot burning slowly (9)
ASMOULDER - AS(in the manner of), MOULDER(rot burning)
6 Police arrest getting last character carted off (5)
STASI - STASTIS(arrest) missing the last letter
7 Nothing right in the unfilled cake (5)
TORTE - O(nothing), RT(right) inside THE missing the middle letter
8 Minister that is getting married is subjected to criticism (8)
REVIEWED - REV(minister), IE(that is), WED(getting married)
9 Printer’s mark fades — is placed at the bottom (6)
DIESIS - DIES(fades) containing IS
10 The old lament when soldiers have captured island (4)
MEIN - MEN(soldiers) containing I(island)
16 Muscle twitching when stuck in bit of furniture at ground level (9)
CREMASTER - REM(twitching) inside CASTER(a piece of furnature at ground level)
17 A cairn has unusual sort of plant (9)
18 Old pram I flogged in advertising exercise? (8)
MAILDROP - anagram of OLD,PRAM,I
23 Certain plants — rodents will eat half of them up (6)
RAMETS - RATS(rodents) contaning half of thEM reversed
25 Time despicable person admitted mistakes (6)
ERRATA - ERA(time) containing RAT(despicable person)
26 Author, the fellow with hesitation to pen lines (6)
HELLER - HE(the fellow) and ER(hesitation) containing L and L for the author Joseph
28 Short slightly crazy tribute (5)
SCATT - SCATTY(slightly crazy) missing the last letter
29 Something poetic from significant orator (5)
CANTO - hidden insie signifiCANT Orator
30 Set up genuine fortification (4)
LAER - REAL(genuine) reversed

Sunday Times 4956 by Robert Price

19:43. Another very fine puzzle from Bob, who is having a great run. This one was also quite tough, so gave me plenty of enjoyment last Sunday. As usual with this setter there are lots of elegant clues with brilliant surface readings. I don’t generally notice surface readings when solving (they often get in the way so I have trained myself to ignore them), but with Bob I make sure to go back over the clues to appreciate them, even when I don’t have to for blogging purposes.

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

1 Blowing his top, awkward person makes you jump
LUTZ - kLUTZ. It’s an ice-skating thing.
3 Song mostly probing a writer’s devastation
10 Plain or extremely loud check trousers
VELDT - VE(LouD)T. What a great surface. The wordplay is slightly tricky: VET (check) contains (trousers) LD (extremely loud). I was trying to get FF into this for a while.
11 Switch stance on gender identity (9)
TRANSPOSE - TRANS (gender identity), POSE.
12 Italian food in her canapé seems unusual
14 Glad that husband has left plenty of petrol
15 Like sage and thyme, albeit a blend
LABIATE - (ALBEIT A)*. ‘Any plant of the family Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae), having square stems, aromatic leaves, and a two-lipped corolla: includes mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, etc’.
17 Run drugs deliveries in batches at first
OVERSEE - OVERS (deliveries in batches), EE (drugs).
19 Party, hard one to fit into schedule
20 Union forced to raise legitimate issue
23 Fine comic story, so good I can’t tell you
24 Piercing? One’s unduly curious about it
25 Dishes for heating synthetic emerald, say
26 Small island bird’s beginning to disappear
1 Magic drug, not a thing helping save Romeo
LOVE POTION - LOVE (not a thing), POrTION.
2 Give encouraging cry during ecstasy
4 Catch it in carp’s close season
PITFALL - carP(IT), FALL. This took me a ridiculously long time to see, just because I didn’t consider the American season.
5 Part of a church’s fortune, land primarily
CHANCEL - CHANCE (fortune), Land.
6 Maybe the tower of Pisa’s special property
LISTED BUILDING - two definitions, one slightly cryptic. I’ve seen this device before.
7 Religious leader in prison over debts
PIOUS - Prison, IOUS.
8 Only some dared enter paradise
EDEN - contained in ‘dared enter’.
9 Swimmers ignoring the youngest’s higher priorities
OTHER FISH TO FRY - the answer can be read to mean ‘fish other than the fry’. I thought the expression was ‘bigger fish to fry’ but it seems both are in use. Years ago I worked for a Frenchman who had a habit of mangling English idioms in often very amusing ways. One of his best was ‘don’t we have juicier cats to fry?’
13 Gully regularly covered by mad prophet’s rock carving
PETROGLYPH - (PROPHET)* containing GuLlY.
16 Appeal to drop the act and admit it is harassment
ATTRITION - ATTRact(IT)ION. This took me a while because I didn’t recognise the definition. It still seems odd, and I can’t find any obvious support for it in the usual dictionaries. I suppose you could say a war of ATTRITION is a war of harassment but it strikes me as a little bit loose.
18 … just dropping it would be level-headed
19 Short end of the stick of green wood
RAW DEAL - RAW (green) DEAL (wood). I don’t remember ever coming across this expression before. Edit: the expression I haven't come across is 'short end of the stick'. I see now I was far from clear about this!
21 Hard currency put together by a scavenger
22 At a wake, stand and drink to an auditor
BIER - sounds like ‘beer’.