Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's typo month (Puzzle No. 3,258)

Puzzle Number 3,258 is posted at The Nation.

As currently posted, the typesetters misnumbered the clues to 20a (shown as 21a) and 21a (shown as 22a), but those are the only errors in the puzzle.  I repeat, those are the only errors.  This comes on the heels of a clue (12d) being omitted from Richard Maltby's puzzle in the November Harper's, and my not finding the theme in last week's puzzle, so it proves we're all human.  And as Ian told us at training camp, perfection is elusive but excellence is not.

Link to puzzlehttp://www.thenation.com/article/170780/puzzle-no-3258

Degree of difficulty: hard, but no obscure words.

Hozom's commentIn Defense of Simplicity: in which Hot and Trazom explain why you shouldn't set a cryptic where all the clues are hard (at least not for a general audience like that of The Nation).  Once you've got the solvers hooked and reeled into the National Puzzlers' League, anything (and everything) goes!

I'm entirely in agreement.  First of all, it's good to have puzzles you can put down and pick up and not have to devote 100 percent of your mindpower to.  The National Post cryptic fits that bill perfectly for me, so I solved this week's between rounds at the fencing tournament Ssaber was competing in Sunday.  A couple of the other competitors were curious, so I showed them a couple of the easy clues and how they were solved.  They seemed to get it, and I promised to bring them a copy of their own next time.

Political content: Name check of a The Nation colleague at 7d, with a coinage for the old-school liberalism, 25a

Composer reference: 17a

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
STAFF OF LIFE
Pun on the staff of Life Magazine
8a
{S{ATCHE}L}
}L}ATCHE{S{ (“closes”, exchange of first and last letters indicated by “switching front and back”
9a
A(V_E)NGER
ANGER (“[Hulk’s] defining characteristic”) containing (“supressing”) V_iolenc_E (first and last letters indicated by “external manifestations”)
10a
F AS TEN
Visual pun involving the clue number: “F” substituted for the “10”
11a
T(HEIST)IC
TIC (“jerk”) containing (“took on”) HEIST (“armed robbery”)
13a
CAN(<DELAB | R<)A
CANA (“biblical village”) containing (“in”) R_abbi (no indicator for first letter) + BALED (“bundled”), (reversal indicated by “returning”)
I think the constructors tried too hard to make this clue work on a third level by using “rabbi” to indicate “R.”
15a
HAIL
Double definition
16a
A_R | CH_
A_i_R + CH_i_ AIR and CHI are the “basic elements” (I got this one!), omission of “i” indicated by “eliminating ignorance at the beginning”
17a
UND(*ERVAL)UE
*RAVEL (anagram indicated by “composition”) contained in (“in … setting”) UNDUE (“inappropriate”)
I was trying to make “Bolero” work at first.
20a
KINK | A | JOU_
KINK (“unusual erotic preference”) + A + JOU_r (“a day” in French, omission of last letter indicated by “largely”)
Note this is the first of two clues which were misnumbered.
21a
*ANTHEM
*THE MAN (anagram indicated by “overthrow”)
Also misnumbered.
24a
_RO_MAINE
c_RO_p (middle letters indicated by “inside”) + MAINE (“state”)
25a
ALSO RAN
urALS OR ANdes (hidden words indicated by “spotted in”)
26a
SHORT (CHANG) E
CHANG (“siamese twin”) contined in (“taken in by”) SHORT E (sound of the ‘e’ in “debt”)
The original “Siamese Twins” of 19th century sideshow fame were named Chang and Eng Bunker.


Down
1d
S_ATES
S_l_ATES (“lists of candidates”, omission of L indicated by “without a hint of logrolling”)
“Logrolling” in its political sense is an agreement between two incumbent lawmakers to support each other’s relelection
2d
*ATHLETE
*THE TALE (anagram indicated by “revised”)
3d
FILE
Double definition
4d
FEAT | HER BED 
HERBED (“seasoned”) following (“forming the basis for”) FEAT (“accomplishment”)
5d
_IBERIA
s_IBERIA (“Russian region”, omission of S indicated by “Switzerland’s leader departs”)
6d
*EIGHT BALL
*BIG LETHAL (anagram indicated by “terrible”)
7d
ERIC ALTERMAN
chimERICAL TERM ANtineoliberalism (hidden name indicated by “captivated by”)
8d
SAFECRACKERS
Heteronym: safe crackers
12d
RA (IN FO) REST
INFO (“dope”) contained in (“found in”) RAREST (“most uncommon”)
The #3 definition of “dope”: constructors sometimes use it as a polite and non-animal clue to “ass”)
14d
*NICKNAMES
*MANIC KEN’S (anagram indicated by “mangled”)
18d
<_VEN< | IS ON
<NEV_ada< (omission and reversal indicated by “halfback”) + IS ON (“performs”)
19d
CA | SIN | O
CA (“California”) + SIN (“transgression”) + O (“love”)
22d
~HORSE
~HOARSE (“grating”, homonym indicated by “to the ear”)
23d
BAT | H
BAT (“club”) + H (“hot”)



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