Word▶️ #1: On First

Kicking off our pop culture puzzle parade.

On First is, naturally, the first puzzle in our 12-puzzle pop culture puzzle suite Word▶️. We'll be releasing one puzzle a month for a year to paid subscribers, then releasing the whole thing as a collection — you can find out more here. If you're new to The Rackenfracker, welcome: We've got a number of free variety cryptics that will help you get the lay of our land, and if you sign up as a free member, you'll get our next puzzle sent to you — we've got a free puzzle coming out prior to Word▶️ #2, which is being released October 25.

Thanks to Andy, John and joeadultman for the test solves on this puzzle. Our editor for all of the Word▶️ puzzles is Bill MacDonald, publisher/editor of the late, great Cryptics Monthly, about whom more soon. The puzzle can be solved in-browser, via the Puzzazz app, and, as always, on paper.

[Update Jan. 25: We have put On First into the vault, to be released again next autumn in the Word▶️ collection. Subscribers can find a link to the puzzle in the emails we sent on Dec. 25 and Jan. 18.]

In this puzzle, a set of clues has been doctored. The clues’ surfaces read normally only with the substitutions in place, but those changes must be undone for the clue to be solved. The circles in which our set travels can be read left to right.

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