Mephisto 3200 – OK, here’s my mickey!

Mephisto is supposed to be tough, and I thought this one was pretty tough.   Instead of a typical 2-hour solve, my efforts spread out over several days.    I graduatlly pecked away at it, solving a clue or two a session, and eventually I was triumphantly complete.    Even better, I understood all the answers.    Would I have persisted if it wasn’t my blog?   I never give up, but I was quite discouraged for a whle.   Even worse, my LOI proved to have exactly the parsing I suspected when I first looked at the clue.

As soon as I saw this was Mephisto 3200, I thought we might be in for trouble, but who knows what the Mephisto brain trust is thinking?   Would they really hold back a particularly fiendish puzzle for the turn of a century?     Probably not, and may have been some solvers who saw all the answers without any trouble.   Was that you?

1 Authority shown by assistant backing primate (6)
APEMAN – NAME + P.A. backwards.    Those who get APE first may assume they are looking for a word meaning authority.
6 Partner in eastern country making jelly (6)
NAPALM –  NA(PAL)M, a very particular type of jelly, associated with a very particular country, but the clue hides all this.
11 What looking back, links Britten with rococo? Answer: old instruments (8)
CORNETTI – Backwards hidden in [br]ITTEN ROC[oco], where you have to put the parts together yourself.
12 Review overcharge in backsliding local (7, two words)
BRUSH UP – B(RUSH)UP, where PUB backwards is the enclosing word.
13 Section of raga thrilling? (4)
GATH – Hidden in [ra]GA TH[rilling], an &lit, as a gath is a section of a raga, I’m not sure how thrilling.
14 Man in stream coming from the east (5)
ALLAN – NALLA backwards, not the usual spelling of today’s random individual.
15 Heads away, group of students deride little girl (7)
17 Indian widows seated on back half of raised floor (5)
SATIS –  SAT + [da]IS, a variant spelling of SUTTEES.
19 American behind expedition showing tendency to move up (10)
22 Very hard old gaoler opposed to one slipping over (10)
ADAMANTINE – ADAM + ANTI + [o]NE.  Adam is defined as a gaoler in Chambers without further explanation.
27 Capital increase about to be used for university entrance primarily (5)
ACCRA – ACCR(-ue,+A), where A = about.   A clever lett-substitution clue.
29 Noisy bat close to belfry (7)
RACKETY – RACKET + [belfr]Y, one of the few simple ones.
30 Mass force put out, MiG hit with flak in a flash (5)
GLAIK – Anagram of [m]IG + [f]LAK.
31 Not good to squeeze wings of inter alia, wattlebird (4)
HUIA – HU[g] + I[nter ali]A.
32 Character during break time regularly gets a drink (7)
BACARDI – B[re]A[kt](CARD)I[me], yes, every third letter.
33 Drunk ignores pub — could be _____ up (8)
SOBERING – Compound anagram of IGNORES PUB yielding SOBERING up.
34 Extraordinary yarns going around hospital about mess (6)
SHARNY –  Anagram of YARNS containing H.
35 Piercing accepted around tip of ear (6)
1 Agent’s daughter leaving home to pursue a male singer (12)
2 Recitative Arnold composed with a piano (8)
PARLANDO – Anagram of ARNOLD + A P.
3 Triumph over former upper-class officer (5)
EXULT – EX + U + LT, the other easy one.
4 Lawmaker’s system once more badly amiss (7)
MOSAISM –  MO + anagram of AMISS.
5 Top of head previously swelling, not bottom of head (5)
NOULE – NO[d]]ULE, where D is the bottom of head.
7 Persistent worry that’s no good in a way (5)
8 Like with no end of zeal, balance forgotten (5)
PEASE –  P[l]EASE, where L is the end of zeal.   An alternate spelling of peise.
9 Accept new tenancy by means of rent (6)
ATTORN –  AT + TORN for a Scottish legal term.
10 Pulling leg free from end of tights, one may get knicks in a twist (12)
MICKEYTAKING – Anagram of I MAY GET KNICKS without [tight]S.
16 Scotland’s direction? Litigation coming up endlessly (4)
AIRT – TRIA[l] upside-down.
18 Creepy-crawly, one getting around flexible drain? (8)
ACARIDAN –  A + CA + anagram of drain.   The temptation to biff scorpion may be strong, but it doesn’t parse.
20 One continually on the up inside (4)
UNIT – Backwads hidden in [con]TINU[ally].
21 One enclosure on top of another not in code (7, two words)
23 To the French West Indian island it’s an oriental plant (6)
24 Frank TV personality dropping names is a hit (5)
SKIER – SKI[nn]ER.   Frank Skinner, never heard of him, but he must exist for the clue to work.
25 My number is secret as before (5)
DEARN – DEAR + N, a well-known Chaucer/Spenser word.
26 Ass years in US State Government (5)
28 Bones in fish irritate initially (5)
CARPI – CARP + I[rritate].

4 comments on “Mephisto 3200 – OK, here’s my mickey!”

  1. Thanks Vinyl1 for the usual informative blog and to the setter for enjoyable puzzle. Didnt find this unusually tough to be honest, although got held up by apeman, and hadn’t parsed mickeytaking at all- always grateful for these blogs as I never parse everything. I also solve it 1 week in arrears- so I can check my answers which always makes it easier and gives me an unfair advantage, but avoids a lot of frustration! Although I grudgingly accept that Allan is not the usual spelling, I must point out cricketing greats Allan Border and Allan Lamb share my rarer but no less distinguished alternative!
  2. I found this tough too: it took me just under an hour. There were quite a few where I felt I was making heavy weather, looking for esoteric words where fairly ordinary ones (RACKETY, BACARDI, MICKEYTAKING) were required.
  3. Brewer’s Dictionary has: ‘Adam. A sergeant, bailiff, or anyone clad in buff, or a skin-coat, like Adam’, with a quote from Comedy of Errors: ‘Not that Adam that kept Paradise, but that Adam that keeps the prison.’

    Edited at 2022-01-02 11:42 am (UTC)

  4. … but I found this a bit of a breeze, whizzing through in 34.31. I think it helped that both the 1s went in in the twinkling of an eye, and I don’t recall having to do much confirmatory looking up. Even the oriental plant was vaguely familiar (perhaps from resonance with Hamlet: “what’s AUCUBA to him, or he to AUCUBA?”)

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