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Puzzle #69 February 2007  "Lighten Up"

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. Silly diary returned with poem
  3. A heavenly body and me in bed
  4. Limits of odd/even gait
  5. A bit of laundry takes so long to wash
  6. Deplore beheaded heron
  7. One cheer for a lizard
  8. Endless bilge about being fluent
  9. Magritte was beginning to get fresh again
  10. Container holding large map
  11. Professor holding heraldic band
  12. Given without a strong desire
  13. Devil posed with a nurse's cap
  14. Star's backing for Eden's earldom
  15. Romeo holds up a slat
  16. Landed in Bali tired
  17. Guaranteed to be free of sulfur when hardened
  18. Helping sister with parasites
  19. Leave period open-ended for teaching
  20. Back issue a national magazine first printed in 1923
  21. Chambermaid has a beer
  22. Long-lasting bad rule is amended
  23. Ruby's victim was old when shot
  24. Leading performer has one lute
  25. Mystery entry

Down

  1. Mystery entry
  2. Put out to finish up old
  3. Last love game played
  4. Pennington's first run is, within certain limits, an unexpected event
  5. Prepare to turn left instead of right
  6. Jack loses his head in the middle of church
  7. Chief goes in to rewrite proclamation
  8. Fruit turnover on top of table Ed contributed
  9. Monk and violin maker giving one away
  10. Pessimist broker's tip gets attention
  11. Spotter holding rod and filter
  12. Informer lets one go for a brief period
  13. Phony bird brought back
  14. Talks foolishly of deer keeping time
  15. Haggled mainly about ring maintenance
  16. Brief sensation of deep angst
  17. Buffoon and companion in contest
  18. Fish buried in mausoleum
  19. An emperor turns up in Florence
  20. Drink and eat when sloshed
  21. One in revel for a tree
  22. Mystery's meaning changed with one number removed
  23. Resell the Mexican knife
  24. Mystery entry