Mephisto 2608 (aka 2607) by Mike Laws

Posted on Categories Mephisto
This puzzle first appeared on the Times Crossword Club site on Sunday 15th August 2010 designated as puzzle 2607. It remained like that until Tuesday 17th August when its number was changed to 2608 but still dated 15th August. Later that day it disappeared from the site and reappeared last Sunday the 22nd as puzzle 2608. See the blog for Mephisto 2606 for the full story. And if you thought everything was now OK – think again. Mephisto 2609 is not on the Times Crossword site this morning!!

This is a largely straightforward puzzle that took me about 45 minutes on the morning of the 15th August which I then had to solve all over again once I realised that it wasn’t 2607 and I would have to blog it. I thought TICKLED A’ TH’ SERE was difficult whilst AHEM was the exact opposite.

1 ACME – A-C-(EM reversed): them=’EM; about=circa=C; the=A; “top” is the definition;
6 CADMUS – CA(D)MUS; Germany=Deutsch=D; reference author Albert CAMUS 1913-1960; Prince CADMUS was a mythological Phoenician who apparently sowed dragon’s teeth (as you do). Not sure how that relates to “dissention”;
11 CHUCKLEHEAD – CHUCKLE-HEAD; laugh=CHUCKLE; boss=HEAD; A clown or joker, perhaps;
12 RAWHIDE – RA-W(H)IDE; artist=RA; astute=WIDE; hot=H; leather or more interesting, the 1960’s TV series that launched Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates;
13 BRER – B(RE)R; Uncle Remus’ tricky rabbit;
15 THEMATIC – T(HEM)A(c)TIC; part of strategy=tactic then “caught out” gives TATIC around HEM=border;
16 DENOTATE – D(TONE reversed)ATE; get old=DATE; temper=TONE; old word for denote;
19 ENSA – E(ngage)-N(ew)-(AS reversed); Entertainments National service Association or Every Night Something Awful. The brave folk who entertained the forces during WW11 including Our Gracie on aspidistra and George Formby cleaning windows;
20 TICKLED – see 21A;
21 A’,TH’,SERE – with 20A, TICKLED-(theresa)*; amused=TICKLED; SERE=sear-2 where you’ll find this Shakespearean phrase in C; very difficult I thought and my last in because there is no reference to it under tickle and SERE only emerges from unused anagram letters;
24 ALAE – AL(A)E; plural of “ala” a process in zoological jargon;
25 SOLONETS – SOLO-NETS; an alkaline soil unsuitable for azaleas;
27 LALLYGAG – L(ALLY-G)AG; prisoner=(old) LAG; associate=ALLY; grand=$1,000=G (reference old Jimmy Cagney gangster films); to loiter in Chicago;
30 DELF – two meanings 1=Delftware=Dutch pottery 2=an excavation;
31 DEEP,SEA – (pea seed)*; I think “thriving” is padding;
32 LAUGHING,GAS – LAUGHING-GAS; giggling=LAUGHING; something delightful=(a) GAS; old numb-er is definition; nitrous oxide which in my youth dentists used as an anaesthetic – no laughing matter I can tell you;
33 MIHRAB – (BAR HIM all reversed); a niche in a mosque pointing the way to Mecca;
34 OUDH – hidden (y)OUD H(ave); now Awadh, a region of Uttar Pradesh;
1 ACRID – (lo)CA(ls) reversed – RID;
2 CHARENTE – CHAR-ENTE(r); cleaner=CHAR; SW Department of France named after the picturesque river and famed for producing Cognac;
3 ECHO – two meanings 1=send back 2=NATO phonetic alphabet for (r)E(ports);
4 SKITTLES – S(KITTLE)S; SS=steamship hence “on board”; difficult in Sutherland=KITTLE; a pub game that is still played here in Dorset (though not as avidly as Somerset or Wiltshire) and much preferred to the modern version known as ten-pin bowling;
5 OLDHAT – (L(iberal) + had to)*; out-of-date, presumably a reference born of the times when hats were subject to the whims of passing fashion;
7 AHEM – A(HE)M; possibly the easiest Mephisto clue ever;
8 DEBARK – two meanings 1=strip away the bark from wood 2=disembark=land;
9 MARTELLED – M(ilitia)-ARTEL-LED; Russian worker’s guild=ARTEL; Spenser for to hammer or drunk on that Cognac, perhaps?;
10 SARCODE – S-ARC-ODE; special=S; protoplasm;
14 INSHALLAH – IN-SHALL-A-H; old lodge=IN (old spelling of inn); must=SHALL; is above (it’s a down clue) which equates to “appear superior to” a=A; hotel=H (phonetic alphabet); if Allah wills;
17 ECTOGENY – EC-TO-GEN-Y; part of London=EC (postal code); unknown=Y (algebra); before=TO; information=GEN; the effect of pollen on a plant;
18 MEATHEAD – MEATH-EA-D; Irish county=MEATH (famous for Drogheda, the Boyne and that battle): each=EA; day=D;
19 EARLDOM – DO=ditto within (realm)*;
22 SULFUR – LUS(t) reversed – FUR; unsigned Sulphur in Seattle;
23 ELAEIS – EL-AE-IS; exists=IS; (elevated) rail-road=EL; of a certain age=aged=AE; the oil palm;
26 SMASH – S-MASH; second=S; local brew=MASH;
28 YOGA – A-GOY all reversed; non-Jew=GOY; shalom via meditation;
29 UPGO – OGPU (the Russian secret police) reversed;

14 comments on “Mephisto 2608 (aka 2607) by Mike Laws”

  1. This was the first Mephisto I’d attempted for some weeks, what with the website’s confusion and my own lack of time having had a month’s cryptics to catch up on. I didn’t find it hard to complete, just under an hour in two sittings. The Shakespeare was difficult to unravel. I think I just googled “tickled, shakespeare” or similar in the end and found it that way. Mephistos are interspersed with easier clues, and this one had enough that I never came to a complete standstill.. I thought the difficulty was about right, really.
    When (on the instructions of Athene) Cadmus sowed the teeth of a dragon he had killed, a race of fierce armed men sprang up. By throwing a stone amongst them, Cadmus caused argument and dissention and the men turned on each other and fought until only five were left alive. The event became synonymous with deliberately causing dissention, though it is hardly an everyday phrase nowadays..
      1. Checking out the blog after having a go at this old one which I found in my briefcase! You may want to change Phonetician to Phoenician for the record!
  2. Well I completed it but assumed that I had made a mistake at 21ac which looked impossible, but everything else seemed right so I left it, with no confidence at all.

    A comment more than a quibble – at 13ac while Brer Rabbit is the main character BRER is just short for “brother” and is shared by the other animals (Brer Wolf, Brer Bear etc), so really “rabbit” is no more a definition of BRER than, say, “Dalloway” would be a definition of MRS.

  3. Similar experience here, took all the checking letters to sort out the 21 across part of the Shakespeare and INSHALLAH, thinking ALLAH was part of the wordplay originally.
  4. My version of 4d is “On board, Scot’s difficult to deal with in a game”. Kittle in Chambers = Scot – “Difficult to deal with, esp because touchy, obstinate or intractable”
  5. Easy enough (for a Mephisto), except for TICKLED, of course, which might just as well be in another language. As far as I can tell, it only turns up in Hamlet, which hardly makes it a familiar phrase even in bardspeak. Not complaining, but it was hard to find and kept me going back to crossing clues to work out where I could possibly be wrong.
  6. Finally finished this with a lot of help, including from this blog. Just one query remains: at 23, what does EL stand for and how is AE derived from age/aged?
    1. Keep plugging away – it does get easier with practice, I promise

      Both EL and AE are straight out of Chambers (without which you will struggle). EL-1 (meaning the first reference in C) = an elevated railway in the US; ae. or aet. = aetatis (Latin) for aged (so many years)

      1. Yes, I keep promising to get myself a Chambers. Difficult to find in HK – may get it via Amazon. ‘EL’ I’d actually Googled – there’s even a youtube film of one from 1904! The Latin is more up my street (line?). Thanks and make the most of your White Christmas!
        1. I have seen C advertised on Amazon. Try to get the latest edition – the 11th – if you can

          Didn’t realise you are in HK. I lived in Pokfulam for a time (when the approach to the airport was between washing lines and before the return to Chinese rule). Fun place!

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