Mephisto 3234 – The bureaucrat of Middle Earth

I didn’t find this too bad, but had to give up and leave a few until the next morning.   I filled in the bottom readily enough, but the top half was a little more challenging until I had a sudden breakthrough with the fear and the centre of excellence.

It was helpful that many of the answers were not unknown to me, so I was able to confidently put in mesne, strewth, ebriose, snathes, and xerarch.   However, there are a few where the cryptic is hard to put your finger on, although the answer is quite evident.   Comments welcome!

1 Feel fine holding a small butterfly (5)
ELFIN – Hidden in [fe]EL FIN[e] – a hidden I was very slow to spot.
5 This fear in flying could be frightfully prescient (7)
SPECTRE – Anagram of PRESCIENT – IN, which flies off.
11 Centre of excellence’s head is holding firm and calm about Henry (12, two words)
BEACON SCHOOL – BEA(CO)N’S + C(H)OOL.   We don’t see bean for head very often.
12 Driving force turns on this rare portmanteau storyteller used contrarily (8, two words)
RACK RAIL – RACK + LIAR backwards.   A portmanteau can be a rack for hanging clothes.
13 Superlatively light Latin that is about Latin (6)
IDLEST – ID (L) EST, where idle is one of the many possible meanings of light as an adjective.
14 Completely off, you bet — in Scotland a little way off (6)
OUTBYE – Anagram of YOU BET.
16 Last character scoffs, binning tin holders for hot cups (5)
ZARFS – Z + [sn]ARFS, where binning is a removal indicator.
17 Rab C’s cursing is blether but boasting as before (5)
SNASH – I believe this is just a triple definition, but maybe there’s something else going on here.
18 Account for what was once simple but isn’t now? (7)
EXPLAIN – EX-PLAIN, of course.
21 Shroud, for example, with good condition (7, two words)
23 Rumpole’s intermediary married old domestic drudge (5)
25 Round and round ground medleys (5)
OLIOS –  O + SOIL backwards.
28 Twice male succeeded making a few faux pas (6)
29 Closing word about jerks forming missing link? (6)
APEMEN – A(PE)MEN, presumably physical jerks, an ambiguity that Elvis Costello made hay with.
30 Fellow who once fenced? Yep, perp’s inside (8)
SCRIMURE – S(CRIM)URE.   He made fences rather than engaging in mock-combat.
31 For regions of rapid swing in temperature rally men’s clothier (12)
32 Oath is strong English with ripping bit of invective (7)
STREWTH –  STR + E + W[i]TH, where the first letter of invective is removed.
33 Groups dependent on background check’s core blurbs (5)
ECADS –  [ch]EC[k’s] + ADS.
1 Well, one back into bottled beer could become ____ (7)
EBRIOSE –  SO,I backwards inside an anagram of BEER – I’ve never seen bottled as an anagram indicator before.
2 Most prominent person could be small and charming here? (12, two words)
LEADING LIGHT – Cryptic hint, I believe: if LIGHT was placed in front of something, it might be either small or charming.    Other interpretations invited.
3 Loosen knots in what uptight soul gets in a twist for Scots ears (6)
ICKERS – [kn]ICKERS.   I was very slow on this obvious  cryptic.
4 Old Scandi wanting a reason to go large? (5)
NORSE -Anagram of RE[a]SON, with another novel anagram indicator.
5 Shafts nationalist for it in Times (7)
SNATHES – S(-it,+NAT)HES….I think.
6 Nothing in random spin identifies particle (5)
PSION – Anagram of SPIN around O.
7 Spotted deer’s calibre bordering on surprising success (6)
CHITAL – C(HIT)AL.   Easy cryptic, hard word.
8 Those leading the way blow away on pro piccolo trumpet? (8, two words)
TOP BRASS – A cryptic hint, I think, since those blowing away on a piccolo trumpet would be the highest-pitched brass.
9 Blooming sold down the river for a poetic depiction of sunup (12)
ROSYFINGERED – ROSY + FINGERED, i.e. betrayed, where the answer is a straight English rendering of Homer’s ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς
10 Being baleful little folk there’s no quiet at the front of terraces (5)
ELVES – [sh]ELVES.   Paging the bureaucrat!
15 I’m involved with Greats in translation? (8)
MAGISTER – Anagram of I’M + GREAT, an &LIT.
19 Starting from dry land a rabbit rose rolling in it? One’s liberated (7)
XERARCH – A REX upside down + R[i]CH.
20 Originality in novel with point (7)
NEWNESS –  NEW + NESS, very simple for Mephisto, so probably baffling.
22 In Plautus this is sent up — couple’s end over bind (6)
COHERE – HOC upside-down + [coupl]E + RE.
24 Fine grasping measure of space of The Waste Land? (6)
25 Notices of passing round roles (5)
OBITS – O BITS, another simple one.
26 Winding coast is a well-known place to race (5)
ASCOT – Anagram of COAST.
27 Stake could be small fortune (5)

6 comments on “Mephisto 3234 – The bureaucrat of Middle Earth”

  1. Thanks for the blog.

    I feel there must be something more to 2d – but can’t see it myself. I think 8d has 2 definitions (one whimsical) surrounding wordplay – “Those leading the way” – TOP (blow away ie kill) BRASS (pro ie prostitute) – “piccolo trumpet?” (top/high pitched brass instrument)

  2. Re 2D, a light is an answer in a crossword grid, so the LEADING LIGHT is the first answer in the grid, i.e. ELFIN, i.e. “small and charming”.

    1. Excellent! I’m sure that’s what’s meant and very clever too. I couldn’t fathom it at all though it was obviously right, but will give it COD now

  3. Mid-level puzzle.
    17 ac is S (is), NASHgab where NASHGAB is prattle (blether) and GAB is an old word for boasting.
    Like shikasta I feel sure there must be something more going on with 2dn but can’t see it.

  4. I agree with the comments on TOP BRASS and LEADING LIGHT. Good job by Keroithe, I biffed SNASH with some head scratching

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