Well, well, another DIY Criss-Cross? I haven't done one of these in quite a while. I'm not sure about the difficulty level on this one, so I included a second version with one entry filled in to get you started. Acknowledgements to Trip Payne for the puzzle type.
Each year, one of the highlights of my puzzling activities is the MIT Mystery Hunt. I have been hunting since 2003, and this year I hunted with my fourth team, having made the switch from Just for the Halibut to Immoral, Illegal, & Fattening. I intend to write a bit about my Mystery Hunt experiences in the future, but not just yet. For now, I wish to share one of the warm-up puzzles I wrote for this year's Hunt. Since 2007, I have often (but not always) chosen to write a warm-up extravaganza to give my teammates more practice at solving puzzles. Also, it's fun. I was particularly pleased with the extravaganza I wrote this year, and I will be sharing the whole thing in a few weeks after I make some minor tweaks to a couple puzzles, but for now you get a sneak peek at one of the puzzles. This is a variety cryptic called "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?" and like any good Mystery Hunt-style puzzle, it leads to a single word or phrase as an answer. Frequently Mystery Hunt puzzles lack any sort of instructions, but I think you'll find this one pretty accessible. The picture of a chair at the bottom of the puzzle page is simply a logo used to signifiy the "round" that this puzzle came from, and is only relevant if you are solving the whole extravaganza. I hope to be back in later weeks to share the rest of the extravaganza with you, as well as more brand-new puzzles. Enjoy!
ETA (2013-02-28): There is an additional "thematic" answer that I hadn't originally considered, which may affect the answer extraction. I intend to post a corrected version soon, but for now, ignore any "thematic" answers involving unchecked letters. Thanks to solver Alan for catching the error.
ETA (2013-03-02): I have uploaded a corrected version of the puzzle and solution, which eliminates the extraneous "thematic" answer found above. Again, thanks to solver Alan for bringing the error to my attention.
Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to cut back to one puzzle every two weeks for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, here's a Marching Bands for your solving pleasure. And if you're going to be in the New York City area next weekend, you might be interested in the Museum of Mathematics' inaugural puzzle hunt, for which I contributed three puzzles and did some test-solving. Even if you can't make it that weekend, the hunt will subsequently be available for museum visitors to solve at their leisure. The museum looks like it's going to be a fantastic place, so I recommend checking it out.
I apologize in advance for the last Outward entry, which may be obscure for most folks. But he was a major figure in classical music, prolific throughout his life (he composed over a dozen works after the age of 100), and his name made such a great seed that I couldn't pass it up.
At long last, another cryptic. I decided to reprise the Ringmaster form that I used several months ago, and I think it turned out well. It turns out that the format is not as original as I thought; it is topologically identical to the "Crazy Eights" puzzle from the Big Game Hunt extravaganza presented by Mike Shenk at the 2011 NPL Convention. But while I participated in that extravaganza I did not see that particular puzzle, so I can at least claim to have come up with the idea independently.
I have two tidbits to share about this puzzle. The first is that I managed to achieve Patrick Berry's standard of using exactly 36 words in the grid -- 8 in ring 1, 7 in ring 2, and so on. While this is something I strive for, unfortunately it means I'm going to be holding myself to that standard any subsequent time I try this form. The second tidbit is that I misplaced the completed grid after writing the clues but before before writing up the solution, so I had to solve my own puzzle before I could post it. Whee!
Working on the "Mini-March" puzzles seems to have helped: not only did it provide me with puzzles to share when I was having trouble with larger forms, but it got me working on my chops some, and now I have another full-sized Marching Bands puzzle for you. Enjoy!