Mephisto 3324 – Catastrophe!

Posted on Categories Mephisto

Ever since I signed myself up as a Mephisto blogger in 2020, I have completed Mephisto every week.   Once in a while, I may have been off by a letter or two, but the grid has always been filled.   The main reason I can do this is that I always have a few checking letters to get a foothold.

However, this week I had no answers in the entire SW, so I had to try to solve the clues there from scratch.  No luck!     However, here is the blog, including the answers I should have got, marked in red.

1 Everlasting rock lyric he hums (11)
HELICHRYSUM -Anagram of LYRIC HE HUMS.    Everlasting as a noun refers to this flower.
12 Where there was coal stack in a barn (4)
GOAF – Double definition.
13 Stripped cane reading desk (4)
AMBO – [B]AMBO][o].
14 Naive youngster at home with joint (6)
15 Turning light again as it was losing mass, a scientific phenomenon (5)
EULER –  RELU[m]E backwards.  Euler was a physicist and engineer as well as a mathematician.
16 Plant genus I discovered in Kildare town (5)
NAIAS – NA(I)AS.   Yep, Naas really is a town in Kildare, unlikely as it sounds.
17 Bird with grey back mostly and head of green (7)
SIRGANG – GRIS backwards + AN’ G.
18 Local low life around Lincoln, Massachusetts (5)
AMEBA – ABE + MA backwards….local to the entire US, as well as this particular town.
21 Hormone puzzling to anatomists (12)
23 Arrogance frequently apparent in pointless snarling (12)
TOPLOFTINESS – Anagram of POINTLESS containing OFT.
27 Independent plant returning millions in rent (5)
RAMET – TE(M)AR backwards.
29 Fillets on plate some insects have eaten, a number gone (7)
REGULAE – RE + GULA + E[a ten].
30 A quiet time away (5)
APAGE – A + P + AGE.
32 Practice cycling inside (5)
INTRA – TRAIN cycling, with IN moving to the front.
33 Spy reported source of Norwegian cheese (6)
SAETER – Sounds like SIGHTER.
34 Scots duck, local bird near Kirkpatrick (4)
DOOK – Double definition, the first as a verb meaning to plunge into the water.   No sure about the second – someone will know.  It is DOO, the Scots for dove, plus K for the Kirkpatrick catalog number.
35 Current retired publisher does this (4)
EDIT – TIDE backwards, a clue from the Quickie – why couldn’t he put a clue like this in the SW!
36 Sister disconcerted with paste gemstone (11)
2 What burns alcohol neat when in motion (4)
ETNA – Anagram of NEAT, a starter clue.
3 Area by kiln that is under wood for burning (5)
4 Irish girl Siobhan regularly left embracing marine (7)
ISEABAL – [s]I[o]B[h]A[n] + L around SEA.
5 Dynasty of kings and queens? It could collapse (12, three words)
HOUSE OF CARDS – HOUSE + OF + CARDS, a very easy long answer.
6 I read a thesis about the power used in dowsing (12)
7 Unknown sound up north in concert once (5)
YFERE – Y + FERE, a bit of Spenser for you.
8 Hawk covertly gaining height circling a tree up north (5)
9 Sign of hesitation with more than one note that’s double dotted (6)
UMLAUT – UM + LA + UT, which might be better defined as a former note.
10 Stronger men whirled round — this? (11)
MORGENSTERN – Anagram of STRONGER MEN, a semi &lit.
11 OK about crown of thorns, perhaps a cure for baldness? (11)
FINASTERIDE – FIN(ASTERID)E.   A crown-of-thorns plant is evidently an example of an asterid.
19 Second good book from the east (4)
20 Compressed earth, tons removed from ground for fencing (4)
PISE – PIS[t]E – ground for fencing with swords, that is.
22 It’s under a monkey’s foot found in Utah? (7)
ANAPEST – AN APE’S ‘T.   I believe this is a reference Anne Stevenson’s poem Utah – anyone else?
24 Short trousers that could be spun (6)
PEGTOP – Double definition, neither of which I knew, unfortunately.
25 Silence vocal fool (5)
BURKE – Sounds like berk, CRS for….don’t ask!
26 English wearing a lot of high-quality kilts? (5)
CLAES – CLA(E)S[s], the Scots word for clothes, which presumably includes kilts, although the wearers of such garments speak Gaelic and not Scots.
28 Tree, minute one from SE Asia (5)
MATAI – M + A TAI, a variant spelling of Thai.
31 Runs out of elevated hole in mould (4)

24 comments on “Mephisto 3324 – Catastrophe!”

  1. After reading Vinyl’s opening on the homepage, I decided I could finally give up with a very few at the bottom unsolved. Getting so many long answers and most of the rest led me to believe I’d surely finish this. And I think now I could have finished, if my patience hadn’t run out. But a few things had already shaken my confidence—in the puzzle as much as in myself. Is ISEABAL in anyone else’s Chambers? Because it’s not in mine (the phone app), and where I found the name, my sources said it is Scottish. (EULER’s not to be found there, either, but I see that other proper names are.) I don’t see a definition for MORGENSTERN in the clue. And I’m not sure the poem mentioned is an explanation for “Utah” in the clue for ANAPEST—which as far as I was concerned could have ended with “foot”—though there are two such feet at the end of the first stanza: “in the dust, on the ground.”

  2. DOOK
    Doo (Scots for dove) + K

    I think Utah just indicates the American spelling is used.

    Many thanks for the blog. It was a toughie.

    1. Ah, right, not ANAPÆST, or ANAPAEST!
      I just realized that was one I hadn’t bothered to look at in Chambers.

  3. I had to cheat to get this finished too. I’d have got there eventually by alphabet-crawling but couldn’t be bothered. And I have a mistake anyway: NAIAD.
    DOOK is DOO (a Scottish word for dove), K (Kirkpatrick, which is to Scarlatti as, Köchel is to Mozart). (Apologies I see that Mr Mark Sanderson has already pointed this out, not sure how I missed that!)

    1. NAIAD is a case in point. The Kildare town might just as well have been NAAD. (I’ve been through Naas, though I don’t remember doing so.)

  4. ISEABAL is in Chambers, marked as Gaelic, th0ugh it doesn’t specify whether Scottish or Irish. (They are largely mutually comprehensible, apart from the orthography.)

    You would whirl a MORGENSTERN round your head before release.

    As noted, DOO is a dove. The kilt is not exclusive to Gaelic speakers.

    I’ve done the last two or three Mephistos without aids, only consulting the BRB later for confirmation. This, I think, would have been impossible. Just too many obscurities in crossers. 1ac could just as well have ended MUS, which would have given MAUGH for the tree, with MUG being a guess at the covert selling. I have never come across GOAF, nor the alternative meaning of FERE.

    SPY = SIGHTER? That’s a real stretch. And I’m no expert on Norwegian cheeses. PEGTOP(S)? Never heard of either meaning. It would also have been fairer to put in some indication that we were looking for a variant spelling in MATAI. One might have thought of THAI, but instantly dismissed it as having too many letters.

    In short, a bit of a slog.

    1. ISEABAL is not in my phone app Chambers, but I’m glad it’s in whatever Chambers you’ve got.

      1. Online Chambers is not Chambers. The app doesn’t have the name lists, I think you have to buy the actual BRB for that.

        1. Not online, on my phone.
          I have to stop doing this when I’m only momentarily awake.
          The Chambers I bought.

        1. What is a BRB?
          I bought the Chambers APP.
          I (or my phone) misspoke.
          I’m going back to sleep now•

      1. Nothing. Just having a bit of fun. You regularly comment that you don’t have a paper copy of Chambers, and I regularly wonder why you don’t just buy one.

        1. I was actually referring to my not having gotten around to buying the app.
          Not sure I’d want to add that tome to my extensive but crowded library, and am not keen on searching the thing without electronic aid.

          1. I’d still recommend you go for the real thing. The joy of using the book lies, not in finding what you’re looking for, but what you’re not looking for.

  5. Definitely very tricky, taking me 1hr 15 minutes, and I needed to use wordfind for a couple (GOAF and SIRGANG). I always struggle when the wordplay for an obscure word itself involves another obscure word and we had several of those here. I failed to parse SAUGH and REGULAE for that reason. Thanks John and Vinyl.

  6. Finished more by luck than judgement. Didn’t fully understand REGULAE, DOOK or ANAPEST. But as ever I’m thankful for the blog and discussion.


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