Mephisto 3302 – Thanks, Paul, I needed that!

Yes, for the first time ever, I used one of Paul’s awful puns to complete the puzzle.   I was really stuck in the upper right, and needed something to get me searching my Chambers.

Otherwise, this was fairly straightforward once I got started.   After five minutes, I had something in every quadrant that I was fairly confident of, and it is pretty easy to build up from there.   Once I saw the pun, I had only to look up tibble and tipple to see what was going on, and that gave me enough crossing letters to finish.

Across
1 Hybrid charged by learner daughter gets messed up (6)
MULLED – MUL(L)E + D.   We probably want root number 7 for mull, to bungle.
6 Paint place for loading coal (6)
TIPPLE – A simple double definition, where paint is a slang word for booze.
12 Centre of learning with action applied to students’ club (5)
UNION – UNI + ON, as in what’s on?
13 Old stoat’s last to escape falcon moving along river (7)
ERMELIN – [escap]E + MERLIN with the R moved to the rear, presumably as the rest of the word flies by it.
14 American boss sure is skinned (9)
CALFBOUND – CALF + BOUND.   Yes, root 3 of boss is defined in Chambers as a calf or  a cow, but it is not marked as U.S.
16 Marmelise lock, stock and barrel a major player in Big Oil? (5)
TOTAL – Triple definition, where marmelise is a fancy word for destroy, and the oil company is Total S.A.
17 Greens receiving stretch will make motley art (7)
COLLAGE – COL(LAG)E.
18 More cautious parcel courier dropping postage and packing (5)
SHIER – SHI[p, p]ER
19 Guerilla’s epithet beside coffins for former secret policemen (8)
CHEKISTS –  CHE + KISTS.   Che, of course, was not his birth name, but a nom du guerre.
20 Happily rate poet’s musical drama (8)
OPERETTA – Anagram of RATE POET, a starter clue.
25 Thus covering current Chinese (5)
SINIC – S(IN)IC.
26 Mortal in Kirkwall all but towelled bailiff’s office there (7)
FOUDRIE – FOU + DRIE[d], where mortal is one of the ten thousand words for drunk.
28 Urging to abandon knife fighting (5)
VYING –  [shiv]VYING.    Curiously, I saw how this worked at once, but I am usually terrible at these.
30 Hide hard Scrooge (9)
SKINFLINT – SKIN + FLINT, another starter clue.
31 Corresponding without opening case for source (7)
ELATIVE –  [r]ELATIVE.   The elative case is not one of the eight cases of Indo-European, but comes from the Finno-Ugric languages.
32 Peripheral sort announcing another’s news? (5)
OUTER – Double definition, one jocular as indicated by the question mark.
33 X, anonymous New Testament building occupier (6)
TENANT – TEN + A + NT.
34 Aussie missile launcher seen by War Office marks major stage (6)
WOMERA – W.O. + M + ERA.
Down
1 Possibly hot stuff a rural dean expressed is essential (4)
MUST – MUST[ard], another deletion clue I got quickly.
2 Pawnbroker practically accepted on old square (6)
UNCOOL – UNC(O,O)L[e].
3 I have a particular bent for cracking food perking up all in dinette (12)
LITTLE-ENDIAN – Anagram of ALL IN DINETTE.   This could have been more confusing if it referred to hardware computer architecture, rather than Gulliver’s Travels.
4 Behold, cloudy beer’s place (6)
LOCALE – LO + C + ALE.
5 Charming shop with German air Her Grace lifted (10)
DELIGHTFUL – DELI + LUFT, H.G. upside down
7 Part of himbo’s keen to dive deep into woods (6)
IMBOSK – Hidden in [h]IMBO’S K[een].
8 Old Indian copper is somebody with no need of rupees (4)
PEON – PE[r’s]ON.   Not a coin, but a police officer – it doesn’t look like Indian police officers got much respect.
9 Contrary retailer is up in many rows (12)
PLURISERIATE – Anagram of RETAILER IS UP.   Knowledge of Latin would come in handy here.
10 Near pool bag a finch (6)
LINNET – LIN + NET, where lin is more usually spelt linn.
11 Bill, eg, favours me through point or court (8)
ENDORSEE – END OR SEE, easy when you, er, see it.
15 Like some TV? Not many going about overtime working but Mike (10)
FREE-TO-VIEW – F(anagram of OVERTI[m]E)EW.    I needed some crossers for this.
17 Stingy value is thick (8)
CLOSE-SET – CLOSE + SET, as in set a price on something.   Close-set can refer to eyes, but that is not the meaning here.
21 Troublesome tot to munch meagrely (6)
PICKLE – Double definition – maybe Patty Pickle from Twinkle?   UK solvers may be able to supply more info.
22 Council once reconvened whenever back inside (6)
ECOFIN – Anagram of ONCE around IF backwards.
23 Smashing day with breadbasket is sanctuary (6)
ADYTUM – Anagram of DAY + TUM, giving the sanctuary in a temple or church.
24 Speciously free in scam by flimflam (6)
FINEER – Anagram of FREE IN.
27 Accepted thanks about new column (4)
ANTA – A  (N) TA.
29 Wanting my fish that’s fit for eating I’m fair to Indians (4)
GORA –  GORA[my].   We finish with an obscure fish and an obscure Hindi word referring to Europeans – well, this is Mephisto!

11 comments on “Mephisto 3302 – Thanks, Paul, I needed that!”

  1. Well, I did ger this one all filled in, the first in a while, and saw the pun only after I was done. I had one letter wrong, having found an Indian festival called GAURA and assumed that GARA must be an alternate spelling. Unfortunately, in my elation at finding that (LOI), I neglected to look further into the fish… and the wordplay! Dang!

    The definition for FINEER in Wikipedia describes a rather elaborate process of deception: “To acquire goods fraudulently by having them specially made so as to be unsuitable for other customers, and then threatening not to take them except on credit.”

    Was very amused by the pun, and reminded of it when we had MULTIPLE CHOICE in another puzzle later in the week.

    I didn’t catch the sense of “paint” as booze here, but there was a coal TIPPLE on the train track across the river from the little house where I grew up in West Virginia. My old—meaning former—friend Michelle Shocked mistook the word in Jean Ritchie’s “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” as “temple”; I corrected her in a letter (and that’s not what led to our estrangement. You can probably figure out what that was).

  2. I enjoyed this week’s, which I managed in two sittings. Initially I thought HYING for 28ac but held back then it dawned on me it was VYING, but surely because (chiv)VYING not (shiv)VYING?

    In my version of Chambers root 3 of BOSS is marked as American meaning CALF.

    1. I had the same thought about S/CHIVVYING; after dithering a bit, I figured Chambers will have variant spellings for both words.

    2. 28A; (chiv)VYING is indeed the official route – Chambers has “chiv” as an alternative to “shiv”=knife.

  3. Ran out of steam in the far SE on the very hard GORA and the comparatively easy FINEER and WOMERA

    Good fun as always

    Thanks Vinyl and Paul

  4. 3D: Although the IT meaning of “little-endian” dominates Google search results and is about 40 years old, it hasn’t reached Chambers yet. It’s in the Oxford Dictionary of English, so I wouldn’t disallow it in Mephisto.

    1. I had something to do with that (recommending the OED update their entry), including the addition of middle-endian. So was surprised not to see the more usual big- and little-endian computer science meanings in Chambers.

  5. My favourite clue was LITTLE-ENDIAN (3d). I thought that was a fun surface, enjoying the use of “dinette”.

    Thank you for the blog. Especially the explanations of some of the meanings. Like in CLOSE-SET (17d). I saw “value” as one of the dozens of definitions of “set” in Chambers, but couldn’t quite see the context of that use.

    On those lines, UNION (12a). In my Chambers, for “on” about the 10th definition is “with action applied to”, so the exact words used in the clue. But I am not really sure what they mean by that.

  6. Thanks Vinyl for the blog and to Paul for an enjoyable puzzle. Pickle root 1 includes the definition troublesome child and root 3 has to eat sparingly in my chambers. Intrigued to learn that little-endian has an IT meaning- my software engineer wife passed the test!

  7. Good one, this with a fair balance of “stuff I knew” and “stuff I had to work out”. My splendid ignorance of even 40 year old ITspeak meant that LITTLE-ENDIAN was only ever going to be the obviously correct side of the Lilliputian debate.
    I don’t think I spotted the fish in GORA, which in any case I would have spelled GOURAMI, but at least it prepared me for the apparent rash of variations on GORA which helped this week. I wonder if that clutch of Indian words relating to Brits have the same pejorative implications as equivalent Brit words for Indians?
    For what it’s worth, 55.41, towards the top end.

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