Mephisto 3254 – Everything is turning red!

Yes, the spell checker thinks most of the answers aren’t valid words – I wouldn’t be surprised if the solvers have the same opinion.    I struggled with this one, and didn’t think I would finish, but I managed to get myself into a fully cryptic mode and work out all the answers.     I was busy plying my big red Chambers for a while, but I once I finished it didn’t look too bad.   Fortunately, I actually know, more or less, words like mhorrs, costmary,  and banausic.

For once, I don’t have any doubts about how the clues work, and I don’t think I’ve made any mistakes.  You can take that as a challenge if you like.

1 OK for outing, I’m fond of fruit (6)
NELIES – [o]NE LI[k]ES, a kind of pear.
5 Gazelles in uplands heard (6)
MHORRS – Sounds like MOORS, they’re popular in crosswords.
9 Emerging general after English degree (11)
EMANATIONAL –  E + M.A. + NATIONAL, general as opposed to local.
11 Stokes dismissed in carnage after fine cutting (9)
FLAUGHTER – F + [s]LAUGHTER, where S is a valid abbreviation for stokes, the unit of kinematic viscosity.
12 Fish bones more than once inspiring recipe from the east (5)
SCROD – DO(R)CS backwards, maybe not the kind of Bones you were expecting?
13 Republican journo is against the Crown for tabloid (6)
REDTOP – R + ED + TOP, a starter clue.
14 Gypsy was anxious for an audience (5)
CAIRD – Sounds like CARED.
18 Old PM has day alongside Middle Easterner (8)
DISRAELI – D + ISRAELI, a bit of a chestnut.
19 Distinguished conservative Eden involved with research briefly (8)
SECERNED – Anagram of C EDEN + RES.
21 Nothing to stop serious disease for a period of about 18 years (5)
22 Island this country accepted as a honey source (6)
24 Spots attacking positions in fencing right away (5)
QUATS – QUA[r]TS, an obscure meaning of a common word, in this case a variant of cartes.
26 CD missing in hot cars used for racing? Renault perhaps (9)
AUTHORESS – Anagram of HOT CARS USED minus CD.   The literal refers to Mary Renault.
27 Composer’s woeful dirges filmed with brass? (11)
28 The old bars supply teas (6)
YERBAS – YE + anagram of BARS.
29 Bases of clues not all can see after one second! (6)
SOCLES – S + O’CL[u]ES, where U = all can see as a film rating.
1 Note saving energy gets small bills (4)
NEBS – N.(E)B. + S, i.e. nota bene.
2 Lively dance item, new out sparkled (8)
EMICATED – Anagram of DANCE ITEM minus N, an inkhorn word if there ever was one.
3 Urges chancellor to share data run on head of state (8)
INFORCES – INFO R (C.E.) + S(tate).    C.E. = Chancellor of the Exchequer, and share is an enclosure indicator.
4 Arms taken up in American party (4)
STAG – GATS upside down, for a stag party, which I believe is pretty common parlance in the UK as well.
5 Thinks over liquor regularly for lines of verse (8)
MIURUSES – M([l]I[q]U[o]R)USES, a Latinized version of a Greek metrical term.
6 Husband’s rarely gone for strong drink (5)
HOGEN – H + anagram of GONE.
7 Conductor upset some in rickety vehicle (10)
RATTLETRAP – [Simon] RATTLE + PART upside-down – a write-in for me, even though I’m not really a fan.
8 Wasp-like flies worried shipyards? Admiralty’s leader leaving (8)
SYRPHIDS – Anagram of SHIPYARDS minus A[dmiralty].
10 One trick absorbed by commoner with craft of an old Greek (10)
14 Charge lady for herbaceous plant (8)
COSTMARY – COST + MARY, almost a chestnut.
15 Indian mercenaries busy in raids following pressure (8)
PINDARIS –  P + anagram of IN RAIDS.
16 Note a university charging without extras is appropriate for artisans (8)
BANAUSIC – BA(N, A U)SIC.   I had to dredge the answer out of memory.
17 One involved in rationing, Attlee left nothing out (8)
ALLOTTEE – Anagram of ATTLEE + L + O.
20 Car from Slovakia with advanced exhaust set up? (5)
SKODA – SK + A DO upside down.
23 Sustained popularity on Sabbath (4)
LEGS – LEG + S, my LOI, simple when you see it.
25 People removing top piece with spade making these? (4)
SODS – S + [b]ODS.   I did have aces for a while, i.e. [r]ace + s as a kind of &lit, and needed the crossing letters.

21 comments on “Mephisto 3254 – Everything is turning red!”

  1. Yeah, I gave up… just a little while ago.
    It started out easy (almost too easy…)—DISRAELI!
    I got only about a third of them, some previously unknown, which was indeed fun. And, I swear, I “looked up” EMICATED, and it just doesn’t seem to be on the Internet.
    Was a bit self-screwed by having ROSEMARY instead of COSTMARY, on the ground that a rose is a heraldic charge (and it really is).
    All very interesting, though… The blog is a blast.

    1. Collins has ’emicate’, but with the meaning ‘spring up’.
      I did as poorly as you, if not worse.

      1. Hmm, yes… I see that it comes right up without the D at the end. D’oh!
        I was losing patience.

    2. A rose is indeed a heraldic charge, and the first def for “rose” in Chambers includes “national emblem of England” (though I think that extends further than heraldry), but having looked at the Wiki list of heraldic charges, it confirms that a huge number of things are also such charges, and as many of them are familiar, I’d be very surprised if “charge” was used to define or indicate them, except where heraldry is in the Chambers def, as it is for “chevron”, for example. There are other defs used in Mephisto like “tree” or “tiny creature” which can also apply to many things, but usually that’s because that’s all that it’s reasonable to expect solvers to know, or to confirm from a look-up.

      1. ‘Charge’ is defined as ‘device’, and ‘device’ is defined as ’emblem’ in Chambers, so there’s a case that the explicit mention of ’emblem’ in the first definition of ‘rose’ in Chambers supports ROSEMARY as an answer.

        1. I’m not saying that the meaning isn’t there. My point is about whether a Mephisto setter would be likely to use “charge” to mean “one of the many things that might be included in a heraldic design”, and whether a crossword editor ought to allow it if they ever did when the word involved had multiple other meanings (not a point I can remember having to deal with). The wiki article – – has about 90 pictures of charges and I doubt that they include all the possibilities.

          1. Words having multiple meanings is surely the bread and butter of crosswords! And likewise the existence of many possible answers isn’t usually an objection or we’d never see ‘river’ for instance.
            If the clue had said ‘emblem’ instead of ‘charge’, ROSE would surely have been perfectly valid since the word appears in the first definition. The thing that should put the seasoned Mephisto solver on their guard here is that getting to ‘charge’ from ‘emblem’ requires a degree of manoeuvring in Chambers that’s not normally expected: with something so obscure there’s invariably an ‘aha’ moment when you see it directly referenced in a definition and you know you’re right.

            1. The point here isn’t words having multiple meanings, but a meaning having (seriously) multiple words.

              I’m not sure that I agree that “(possibly “national”) emblem” would be obscure for “rose”. The vast number of possible rivers is true, but the number of rivers actually used in cryptic crosswords with much frequency is a subset, mostly with less than five letters, and even then, I believe the number of times “river” has meant “Ob” rather than “Po” is truly tiny. When I edited the Chambers Crossword Dictionary, I wondered whether they should save space by ignoring the ones like Yenisei and Murrumbidgee – just possible in a GK puzzle, I suppose.

              1. If I were asked to think of heraldic devices then I’m pretty sure rose would come up more quickly (somewhere between unicorn and fleur-de-lys perhaps) than a certain ‘area of London’ from a very recent puzzle would appear in my version of that list.
                And if this (multiple examples of a category) is a problem in itself then emblem->rose is surely even more problematic than charge->rose since ‘charge’ is a subset of ‘emblem’.

                1. I’m changing my mind a bit about the point being about multiple meanings of one word – it partly is, as “charge” has 29 definitions in Chambers, and we’re talking about what happens when you think a particular one applies.

                  If you look at the Chambers defs for “emblem”, they include “type or symbol”, which is indeed pretty broad. But my old CD-rom version of Chambers, with a “fulltext” search option, allows you to see how often “emblem” has been used in a definition, and the answer is about 44, compared to something like 300 for “symbol”. And I think that difference matches the idea in the wikipedia article for “emblem”, under “emblems vs. symbols”, which I think indicates that “emblem” is more specific in a major meaning – the Concise Oxford’s first def (of two) includes “distinctive badge of a nation/organization/family”. This maybe provides support for the practice of using exact words in Chambers defs in clues, which I have sometimes thought of as unnecessarily restrictive.

                  1. I think saying it should always be required would be excessive, but when obscure connections are being made the direct references in Chambers are what creates certainty for the solver that they’re on the right track.
                    In this case if ’emblem’ indicated ‘rose’, if you thought it a bit loose you could check in Chambers, see ‘national emblem of England’, and that would resolve it.
                    For ‘charge’ to indicate ‘rose’, you have to do a four-point turn in Chambers (charge -> device -> emblem -> rose) which might be technically justifiable but is just a bit too tenuous.

                    1. Agreed, subject to the point that sometimes you have to look up both words to find the one-step route.

  2. Out of curiosity, I looked up the solution words in Collins–I don’t have Chambers–and found virtually all of them. Collins does not, it seems, recognize A as an abbreviation for ‘advanced’ (20d SKODA), or ‘leg’ as meaning ‘sustained popularity’ (23d). ‘legs’, of course, yes; not ‘leg’.

    1. LEGS is “sustained popularity” here too, not “leg.”
      LEG, “on” (one of them cricket terms) + S(abbath)

  3. I found this very difficult – it took me over an hour – but I did finish. I had to cheat at one point towards the end, but it was what I justify to myself as a ‘soft cheat’: cases where I have enough checkers to know for certain that I would be able to find the answer by alpha-trawling and checking in Chambers, but I can’t be bothered so I just use the search function in the app. I can’t now remember which clue it was.

  4. I had MINUETTO (anagram of ITEM N(ew) OUT) for 2D at first which gave me a lot of problems in the NW corner. It took me quite a while but I think I parsed everything eventually. Like keriothe, I cheated rather than do the alphabet trawl to find my LOI BANAUSIC.

  5. Coming late to the party, but I agree – this was more tricky than the usual Tim Moorey offering, though if you trust the wordplay, it is all there. I was confirming things left right and center in Chambers and also fell into the ROSEMARY trap for a bit.

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