Kosman and Picciotto on their Nation puzzle, cryptic crosswords, wordplay and puzzles in general.
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In keeping with the theme of the issue, we packed as many mentions of “occupy” (as well as “occupation,” “occupancy” and so on) as we could into the clues. We thought this type of theme, in which the theme resides in the clues rather than the entries, was original to us—and in a sense it was, since we had never seen it before. But we’ve since learned that this is not uncommon in the vastly more varied world of British cryptics.
11A EDITORIALS Irrational idolatries—they are found near the front of this magazine (10)
3D NATIONWIDE Tear into wine ad throughout the magazine? (10)
We enjoy making direct and indirect references to our host publication.
12A LOUD At first, Lebanese instrument is not subtle (4)
Having grown up in Lebanon, the instrument is not obscure to me.—HP
Note that while the clue is technically sound (OUD is defined by “instrument”) there is sort of a leak between the two parts of the charade, as “Lebanese” is necessary to the first part, but also helps with the second.
15A SHREWD Cache rudimentary audio holding—that’s clever (6)
A phonetic hidden word. Why not?
27A CHIANTI In Tuscany, who opposed wine? (7)
Generally, a ? at the end of a clue suggests something punny or unusual going on. But sometimes it simply indicates a question.
29A FANCY DANS Fops take a shine to Aykroyd and Rather (5,4)
The meanings of “Dans” in wordplay and definition are not that far apart, but we liked the idea of a more straightforward clue for a less-than-common entry.
5D AS WELL AS …and one excellent baseball team (2,4,2)
It’s fun to hide the definition in an apparently insignificant word.
13D DOCTRINAIRE Anarchic roar incited true believer (11)
Did you know that “doctrinaire” could be a noun as well as an adjective? We didn’t—although in retrospect the “-aire” suffix (as in “billionaire”) should have been a tipoff.
19D SIMPSON E.g., Lisa and Paul entertaining an afterthought (7)
We debated whether the “e.g.” was needed. Our conclusion: We don’t feel we need a rule—if there are several SIMPSONs in the culture, then “e.g.” seems like a good idea, but if the answer had been, say, BRZEZINSKI, “Zbigniew” would have been sufficient.
25D BUSY Occupied, like public transportation? (4)
This is a false adjective: BUS-Y. If there were such a word, it would be spelled with a single S, as in “buses,” “bused” and “busing.”