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Puzzle #130 March 2012  "Second Choice"

Instructions: Guess the words defined by the cryptic clues (answers vary in length from four to eleven letters, and six are capitalized) then enter them in the grid one after another in the same order as their clues, starting in the upper left corner. Across words that don't end at the right continue on the next row, and down words that don't end at the bottom continue in the next column. Eleven across words and ten down words won't fit in the grid unless one of their letters is omitted. Those twenty-one letters, taken in order as they occur in across and down words, spell a seven-word message related to the mystery entry. Thanks to Kevin Wald for test-solving and editing this puzzle. (If you are having trouble printing these puzzles, you can download an Adobe Acrobat version of the puzzle and grid). [Want to see some hints?]

Across

  1. Mystery entry
  2. Coypu collapsing in a rut
  3. Block of ice brought back with eastern bird
  4. Uninitiated inclination to cast a spell
  5. Hearing of Ken's sense of smell
  6. Busy Celeste doesn't have time for comedian John
  7. Unsentimentally gets carried away
  8. Fish goes around current for comfort
  9. Spiteful about his initially becoming talkative
  10. Knot of travelers
  11. Knowledge of what's part of a bird's face
  12. Seed from rotten pear
  13. Ethel is a mythological water spirit
  14. River flowing westward in Ames, Iowa
  15. Slovenly harlot is Mandrake's friend
  16. Small boy is a runner
  17. Ultimately fit, vessel set off
  18. Section holding large tool
  19. Camel only eating fruit
  20. Seed cached in basement
  21. Offense of dad overcome by terrible stress
  22. Metal doesn't have right tone
  23. Woman traveling on tram
  24. Mystery entry

Down

  1. Claire's trying to take all that's left
  2. Projection of sand strip around Long Island
  3. Investigation of police cover
  4. Island habitat of South American bird
  5. Quick view of German spear
  6. Want Republican to leave secret
  7. Expression of surprise in Ringo's "hello?"
  8. Pitcher Bob loses head for Kay Helen
  9. Harry's wife loses head for Henry Rudolf
  10. Strengthen Hathaway-Gore combo
  11. Picasso's mother's bad dream
  12. Rube rudely embraces Charlie Willis
  13. After epic ending, pals wildly embrace
  14. Drama unfolds with opening of scene featuring colorful cloth
  15. Jittery clerk takes in a rustling sound
  16. Southern evergreen's needle-like projection
  17. Affected by wind, twisting liana captivates Wilson
  18. Strip of translation
  19. Soprano with spear is loud and shrill
  20. Often game turning around will have something that attracts
  21. Main Mayflower
  22. Made-up word a friend started mouthing
  23. Get thoroughly into a temper, raging with energy