Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good old paper... (Puzzle No. 3,251)

I got the paper copy of the September 24 Nation today, so now we have number 3,251.  And it's a fun one: notice the first letters of each clue.  Also four 15-letter phrases and two 13s give our constructors an opportunity for some creative cluing.



Hozom’s comment: “The War Against Clich√©.”  Here’s your chance to request that Hot and Trazom permanently banish whatever bit of crosswordese (like “Oslo” maybe?) or crypticese annoys you most.

Themework: see 24a.  Most of it is pretty natural, but a few of them are jarring enough to make it obvious there’s a theme here.

Difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): average.  The real challenge is in working out some of the wordplay (like 4d and 13a) as Meg does.  

solution and annotation below the fold





Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed; "( )" letters inserted; "_" or lower case: letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue, “^” first letter or letters, “{“ relocated letter or letters

Across
1a
<_SU(PER P)AC<
<CAUS e< (†, reversal indicated by “regressive,” last letter omission indicated by “for the most part”) containing (embracing) PERP (“criminal”)
6a
<DECAF<
<FACED< (“turned toward, reversal indicated by “backing up”)
9a
^C | *ONGRESSWOMAN
C_apital (first letter indicated by “principal”) + *NEWSROOMS NAG (anagram indicated by “corrupt”)
11a
UTERI
de_UTERI_um (hidden word indicated by “protection”)
12a
_OSMOS + IN + ^G
c_OSMOS (“universe,” omission of ‘C’ indicated by “except for the speed of light”) + IN (“pull,” as in influence) + G (“gravity”)
13a
BERMUDA TRIANGLE
Riddle: BERMUDA is a variety of “grass,” “shorts,” and “onions”; the three answers imply a TRIANGLE
17a
BACH | *ELORS DEGREE
BACH (Johan Sebastian, “German composer”) + *GREED OR ELSE (anagram indicated by “horrible”)
18a
*INTRIGUE
*GIN + UTERI (the answer to 11a)
19a
^C | ASKS
C_ook (first letter indicated by “in the beginning”) + ASKS (“requires”)
22a
SOU (THE | ASTER) L | ^Y
SOUL (“spirit”) containing (“in”) THE (†) + ASTER (“flower”) + Y_ou (first letter indicated by “at first”)
“Touches” is not essential to the wordplay, but makes it read better.
23a
_OARED
s_OARED (“flew,” first letter omission indicated by “starting late”)
24a
ACROS_ | TIC
ACROS_s (reference to across-clues in the puzzle, last letter omission indicated by “almost”) + TIC (“unconscious habit”)

Down
2d
UNCLE_
UNCLE_ar (“confused”) removing (“abandoning”) ‘ar’ (“Arkansas”)
3d
*ENN(_U_)I
*NINE (anagram indicated by “bats”) containing bUg (middle letter indicated by “inside”)
4d
PER | SON (ANON) G | <RATA<
PER (“for each”) + SONG ( “vocal number”) containing (“adopted”) ANON (“soon”) + <A TAR< (“a pitch,” reversal indicated by “rising”)
5d
CASH | MERE | SWEATER
CASH (“payment”) + MERE (“only”) + SWEATER (“person under pressure”)
6d
^D + OWNS + C + ALE
D (“deck,” one letter indicated by “quarter”) + OWNS (“has”) + C (“cold”) + ALE (“beer,” though not exactly if you’re a zymurgist)
The quarterdeck of a ship is the ceremonial area usually near the gangway.  The poop deck is the deck on top of a cabin at the stern of the ship, in case you were wondering.
7d
*COMANA(G)ER
G (“for general audiences”) contained in (“in”) *CAMERA ON (anagram indicated by “alien”)
8d
FINE
Double definition
10d
HUB | BUB
HUB (“center”) + BUB (“pal,” nickname for a person whose name you might not know)
14d
*RECON | QU_ER
*CRONE (anagram indicated by “ugly”) + QUeER (“peculiar,” omission of middle letter indicated by “heartless”)
15d
_U | NEARTHED
vishnU (†, last letter indicated by “foot”) + NEAR THE ‘D’ (heteronym)
16d
_OSLO_
stEVEN SOderbergh (hidden word indicated by “assumed by”)
Soderbergh is a film director, with credits including Erin Brockovich and Sex, Lies, and Videotape.
19d
_CYRUS_
fanCY RUSe (hidden word indicated by “contributed to”)
20d
*ST(Y)LI
Y (“yankee,” no indicator for abbreviation) contained in (“in”) *LIST (anagram indicated by “ruined”)
21d
*OSLO
*SOLO (anagram indicated by “zany”)



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