Mephisto 3288 – Back to normal – phew!

Well, the all-clear has sounded, and I breezed through this one.   The parsing was not difficult if you are willing to check a few things in Chambers.    Some more venturesome solvers might be able to get by without Chambers, as there is little to trouble the experienced barred-grid solver.    I finished in a little over an hour.   For me, that is preferable to struggling for days.

I hope everyone got on better this time around.


1 Like the atlas I found in inaccurate copy — sent back (7)
EPAXIAL – LA(I)X + APE, all backwards.
7 Scots idiot’s let out small sound of dissatisfaction (4)
UMPH –  [s]UMPH.
11 Unknown third-grade rating capturing stripped down rebel ship (5)
XEBEC –  X([r]EBE[l])C.
12 American weed which Darwin uses for bait (6)
BURLEY – Double definition – burley is a kind of tobacco in the US, but over in Australia it’s bait scattered on the water to attract fish.
13 A talk outside Cambridge university about rarely seen particles (10)
ANTIMATTER – A N(MIT backwards)ATTER.    One of these days we’ll have the real Cambridge University.
14 Combined operations take in estimated attendance (6)
ESCORT –  ES(C.O., R.)T, some dictionary abbreviations for you.
17 Affected poultry could be so upset with little time left? (5)
ROUPY –  Anagram of POULTRY without T or L.
18 Large wild ox eating a shrub (6)
19 Impudence chap thus mostly confused with impedance (8)
CHUTZPAH – Anagram of CHAP THU[s] + Z, which turns out to be impedance.   Many solvers will biff this one.
21 Relevant earlier question covers it (8)
APPOSITE – AP POS(IT)E.   I think A.P. is ante prandium in a general sense, but I could be wrong.
24 Gay Poulenc ballet males avoided (6)
26 Rice dish is more Italian with input from Louisiana (5)
PILAU – PI(LA)U.   Piu should be familiar from music, otherwise you’ll have to know Italian.
28 Icy period induced Indian tree to go over (6)
MINDEL – LED NIM backwards.
29 Ship’s commercial officer, purser, a cog at sea (10)
30 Try breaking stone? Strewth! (6)
31 Girl that is after golfer (5)
ELSIE – ELS, I.E.   Ernie is still very much alive, and playing on the Senior Tour, but this is Mephisto.
32 Mostly stony fell (4)
SKIN –  SKIN(t).   Obvious, but my LOI.
33 Excuse to stay up that could make one weary, nothing less (7, two words)
NEW YEAR – Anagram of [o]NE WEARY.
1 Gives form to executive in triplicate. Is “Expenses” unfilled? (12)
2 Fog round all the way beside quiet local rivers (7, two words)
PEA SOUP – P + EAS + O + UP.   Local in the sense of a dialect word.
3 Nomogram’s not serviceable form of calculator (6)
ABACUS – ABAC + U/S.    An abac is defined in Chambers as a nonogram, so I was hoping that a nonogram was not defined as an abac.   It is not.
4 Fear of the foreign phone box being out of order, taking yen (9)
5 Excessive post inside American country (9, three words)
A BIT THICK – A (BITT) HICK.   A bitt is a post for fastening cables.
6 Rabbi wearing possibly Persian cloth around neck (6)
8 Gauge limit by resistance (5)
METER –  METE + R, where both gauge and meter are verbs.
9 Chatterer at Holyrood, even under pressure (4)
PYET – P + YET, more Scots for you.
10 More solid edging ought to feature on motorway (12, two words)
15 Salt endlessly unhappy thanks to ship’s officer (9)
16 How nectar gatherers fly, totally draining empty lily (9)
BUZZINGLY –  BUZZING + L[il]Y.   The second meaning of buzz, to drain a bottle of wine.
20 Friend accepting Ian’s denial about cause of weakness (7)
ANAEMIA – A(NAE)MI + A, where Ian is presumably a Scot.
22 Address for the old elevated part of the Hebrides (6)
SIRRAH – HARRIS upside-down in the down clue.
23 Sugar once boiled up in beer (6)
ALDOSE – AL(SOD upside-down)E.   Sod is an archaic preterite of seethe.
25 Primarily Shah of Persia (historic Iran) (5)
SOPHI – S[hah] O[f] P[ersia] H[istoric] I[ran].    A ruler of the Safavid dynasty, and a neat &lit.
27 Bronchitis found in cattle hard by river (4)

9 comments on “Mephisto 3288 – Back to normal – phew!”

  1. Thank you for 14A. I forgot r = recipe, Latin for “TAKE” on prescriptions.
    For 21A, I wondered whether it was “APPOSE (2) obs. to confront, to examine, question (Spenser, etc)” for “EARLIER QUESTION”.
    I enjoyed 24A. I seem to have had a lot of radio exposure to Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” recently (Met, Glyndebourne/Prom), but I didn’t know much else about him. This clue at least prompted me to read his Wikipedia entry!

  2. Agree with Peter above re. APPOSE. 1a I think deserves more explanation. The ATLAS is apparently the first cervical vertebra, and the AXIS is the second. I suspect a bit of medical or anatomical background for the setter.

    An enjoyable 90 minutes, most of which were spent on seeing what was round the corner in the BRB.

    1. Thanks for that, I didn’t understand 1ac.
      Agree on APPOSE. ‘Earlier’ for AP is too loose for Mephisto.
      This was certainly easier than the previous week’s overall but I confess I cheated to get BURLEY. There were just so many possibilities with the checking letters and I couldn’t be bothered to trawl Chambers.

    2. No prior anatomical knowledge involved as Chambers defines ‘axis’ as the second vertebra and ‘atlas’ as the first, so all the necessary info is in Chambers.

  3. BURLEY was my LOI, like you, with a bit of help from an outside agency. IMO a poor clue: a DD using two obscurities, with a variety of choices for the missing letters, really shouldn’t be there. (So saying, if you’re an Oz fisherman or a Yankee smoker of a certain vintage – which possibly covers one or two solvers here – it’s a write-in.) It’s a shame, when it spoilt what I felt was a fun puzzle, and needlessly so, especially since BURLEY offers so many choices for word play.

  4. Apparently I didn’t submit this one, so the time is still ticking away on an inexplicable 10.53.++. On the plus side, it’s allowed me to correct my XENOPHOBE with a Y, so all is not lost. Obviously I can’t give you a time, but in Discord I reported completing it without aids, so it can’t have been all that slow. BUZZINGLY I put in because nothing else would work, and the “almost without aids” was BURLEY.

  5. I enjoyed this one. Much faster solve for me. Just 4 I could work out the parsing, which were adequately explained in the blog: 1, 14 ac; 10, 16 dn . I should have remembered R. = Recipe.

  6. This is 3288. I couldn’t find it by Googling because it’s numbered wrong. (Fortunately, Comments have not yet been closed—ha!—as they were on one I reviewed a half-hour ago…)

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