Cryptic No. 1
It's variety puzzle Friday!
Until very recently, cryptic crosswords intimidated the hell out of me. If learning to solve themed American-style crosswords is like learning to ride a bike and themeless puzzles is like learning to ride a bike up a steep hill, cryptics are like learning to ride a bike uphill, in the rain, where one of your wheels is square, sometimes you have to pedal with your hands, and sometimes your handlebars do the opposite of what they're supposed to. While I entered crossword constructing with the promise to myself that I'd keep a growth mindset and stick with it even when things got hard, my mindset on all things cryptic was decidedly fixed.
Thanks to the lovely people of Crossword Twitter, however, that's changed a bit recently. I'm starting to solve (and even enjoy!) cryptic crosswords, and I've finally put together one of my own to share with you all.
If you haven't solved a cryptic before, I'd strongly recommend reading this short solving guide or, if you have the time, delving into Stella Zawistowski's "Deconstructing the Cryptic" series on her indie puzzle site. Stella also tweets a #CrypticClueADay and explains all of them every Friday. They're fun and extremely helpful in making sense of everything.
Major thanks go to Nate Cardin, Steve Mossberg and Paolo Pasco for test-solving this and helping me get it into a shareable shape. And double thanks to Nate, who planted the cryptic-setting seed in my head and still offers more encouragement than I could ever ask for.
Anyways, I really hope you enjoy this puzzle! As always when I delve into new varieties for the first time, I'd love to hear what you think.