David Steinberg
David Steinberg 

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26 puzzles by David Steinberg — 21 solos and 5 collaborations (1 Sunday)

with constructor comments

See the answer words debuted by David Steinberg.

*** Click any puzzle to see the full view. ***


Thu 4/10/2014
ATVILLAUSTIN
BLACKTIESBARRO
AGGRIEVEHOWARD
BOGAMERICANPIE
AREAPATPTA
REDSKELTONREAR
POLIOCORN
CHECKEREDPAST
SUCHSMEAR
MINTWHITESALES
OMGSHETINE
PIRATERADIOBRA
PAISANMONOGRAM
EMETICSIXFLAGS
TIRADEONSOSE
I constructed the first version of this puzzle in December 2012, intending to run it in The Orange County Register, because Six Flags Magic Mountain is a major Southern California attraction, and I'm always short on crosswords with themes that tie into California. I was pleased with how the puzzle turned out, so when I discovered that Six Flags also has a branch in New York called Great Escape, I decided to submit this one to The New York Times instead. Will liked the idea but didn't feel that green flag was as in-the-language as the other five flag phrases, so I suggested replacing my green entry with a black one (as in Black Flag, the insecticide). Will felt this would be an improvement but still had concerns about a handful of entries in the nonthematic fill, particularly LGE and, ironically, OCR. I added two more cheater squares and produced a fill that we were both happier with, so I proceeded to reclue entries that had been changed.

Assuming this puzzle would run on a Tuesday or Wednesday, I wrote up a set of midweek-level clues, erring on the side of easiness, and sent the puzzle back to Will. Will told me he planned to run the puzzle on a Thursday and mentioned that I might want to beef up the clues a bit. My favorite of the harder clues I wrote is "It might come with a bill" for MINT, though my favorite clue in the puzzle is definitely Will's "Made it?" for TAGGED, which I had to stare at for quite some time before having that "aha!" moment! Coincidentally, Will chose to run this puzzle the week of my AP Physics class field trip to ... Six Flags! I hope you have as much fun solving this puzzle as I did hanging out with friends, consuming a sapid pulled-pork sandwich, going on a few roller coasters, and thinking about physics, of course ;) !

Sat 3/8/2014
JAILBREAKMECCA
APOLLOXIISTOLI
CANDYSHOPDAKAR
OTISSALAOLERS
BOZBILIOUSZIP
SWEARESPNMETA
TICSSTEARIC
MOJITOINTONE
OPULENTBEET
NESTDREIMESAS
ANTGOINGBYERE
RADNERCHALAIT
CROONGOOGLEBOT
HEISTARAGONESE
YATESSEXYSADIE
In September 2012, I noticed that I had a lot of 9-letter seed entries lying around, so I decided to throw some of them together into a high word count themeless grid. I was particularly happy that JAILBREAK and CANDY SHOP fit into the upper left corner and that GOOGLEBOT and SEXY SADIE fit into the lower right. In the other two corners, I especially liked COKE ZERO, CLARITIN, JUST DO IT, and MOJITO. ARIOSI, AIOLIS, and LLDS weren't (and still aren't) my favorites, though I was pleased with how the fill turned out overall, so I wrote up the clues and submitted the puzzle to Will.

Will liked the puzzle but had concerns about BIG HOAX sounding a bit contrived; luckily, though, he decided to let it stand. When I first saw the edited version of this crossword, I couldn't tell which one of my puzzles it was, since Will's brilliant "Cooler idea?" and "One stocking bars" clues completely eluded me! I had clued JAILBREAK in the sense of jailbreaking a phone and CANDY SHOP as the 50 Cent song, so it took me an embarrassingly long time to identify the puzzle, because Will's clues for these entries were completely different. Enjoy my puzzle, and I look forward to seeing some of you at the ACPT (perhaps even solving this crossword!).

Tue 2/18/2014
ATOZBARBGONER
CODYBBOYORONO
IDIGCHATTERBOX
DONOWONERSERI
TEARISITME
HAKEEMEXGOV
ICIAMIDFONDU
GARMENTDISTRICT
HIKESGENLSON
ICIERURSINE
PIANOSLEAH
ORKREUSEJOHNQ
KARATECHOPLUAU
ENOTELENOOMNI
DINEDALEXMEAN
I first came up with the idea for this puzzle when I was 14. I had no idea how I was going to go about squeezing thirteen symmetrical theme entries in a particular order into a 15 x 15 grid — I wasn't even sure I'd be able to come up with a set of theme entries that would work at all! Anyway, the big breakthrough happened when I discovered JOHN Q for the J to Q arrangement. Unfortunately, I then had to find an entry that fit the D???W letter pattern. The only two entries I could find were DO NOW (either a contrived phrase or an awkward partial) and DEPEW (as in Chauncey Depew, a turn-of-the-century politician). I decided that DO NOW was the lesser of two evils and proceeded to the grid. I soon discovered that CHATTERBOX and KARATE CHOP were the same length, which allowed me to open up the grid a bit more, though I was still dissatisfied with the puzzle, since all the other theme entries were very short and the grid had 82 words.

Fast forward a few months to April 2012, after my 15th birthday. I was playing around with this idea some more and, after a substantial amount of grid wrangling, produced an 80-worder that replaced GET AT with GARMENT DISTRICT (a 15-letter entry). The fill had a few compromises and irksome "duplicates" in the down entries like GOES SOFT, though I was still very happy with how it turned out. After I submitted the puzzle, I noticed that I had absentmindedly clued GARMENT DISTRICT as "Big Apple district with many labels"; "Part of Manhattan's Midtown West" works much better. I also worked on a Z TO A puzzle to complement this one for a little while, though I couldn't come up with a satisfactory Q*J entry (the best I could think of was QZXJ ["Highest scoring Scrabble tiles"], which I felt would permanently mangle Amy Reynaldo's Scowl-o-Meter!).

In all, this puzzle was a lot of fun to construct, and I hope it makes for a fun solve as well!

Tue 2/4/2014
HODSBASKJOJO
ANONILIESODOI
JKROWLINGBOSOM
JPMORGANMAHALO
ZOESSECLAN
EXJETLAHTI
ARBEATSINENVY
RAFTCROCIAGEE
LYLEHANKERERS
ENJOYABRAM
POTJOSMONA
INCAPSJMBARRIE
NEHRUJCDITHERS
ELECTATITOMIT
BROZISISPOSE
Wow — I constructed this puzzle a really long time ago! I don't remember when I started working on it, though I know I submitted the first version to Will just a few weeks after I turned 15. My original puzzle included Season 13 "Dancing With the Stars" winner J.R. MARTINEZ, which Will felt was a little too obscure. So I took my idea back to the drawing board and came up with J.R.R. TOLKIEN, which Will noted was inconsistent, since the name has three initials. Finally, after a lot of digging, I found the last 10-letter entry I would need to rebuild the puzzle: J.B. FLETCHER. Will liked that including J.B. FLETCHER would give the puzzle a more even balance of real and fictional people, so I set to work on producing the final fill.

Filling around eight theme entries containing a J, some of which were stacked, was very challenging. I was and still am pretty happy with how the puzzle turned out, though I'd probably try to use a bit less crosswordese nowadays. I particularly like how crazy the upper left looks with all the O's. I hope you enjoy solving my puzzle, JCTS and all!

Sat 1/18/2014
BANANAGRAMSUSM
ADOBEREADERGEE
TIJUANATAXIGAG
EDITERASABRA
SAVCLUTCHSOON
SETHPALOPOUF
AECTERZETTO
ILOVELAFAIRSEX
FACEPALMENS
IVARREUPGEEZ
DARNACROSSRAG
ITISIDIPWANE
DONTAXONOMISTS
IRAEJECTORSEAT
TYSSASHAFIERCE
I was inspired to build this Saturday puzzle after reading so many blog comments complaining that my puzzles were too easy. NO JIVE ... not! My true inspiration for constructing this puzzle back in April 2012 was that I had a bunch of 11-letter seed entries I wanted to put into a crossword grid, which included BANANAGRAMS, ADOBE READER, and TIJUANA TAXI. I also had a sizable number of 8-letter entries that seemed fresh, my favorites of which were UGG BOOTS and MEGAN FOX.

My original submission contained the entry TINIE TEMPAH (a British rapper) at 60-Across, which Will felt wouldn't be familiar to the majority of solvers. So I reworked the lower half of my puzzle and ended up with a stack I felt was superior to the original. I particularly loved EJECTOR SEAT and SASHA FIERCE, though I also really liked I LOVE LA, FACEPALM, and IF I DID IT.

The long entries did necessitate the duplication of I in the lower left and a few "meh" entries — I found SRIS, ITES, and SAV particularly irksome — though I was (and still am) happy with how the fill turned out. My favorite clue/entry pair is "Professional organizers?" for TAXONOMISTS, though I also love Will's new clue for TAVERNS ("Round houses?"). I hope you enjoy my puzzle!

Mon 12/30/2013
WINGZITIABODE
ESAUAPEDBRUIN
BANEPANTSUITED
ABASHNOAHOTTO
PENTUPANGERHAW
PLASMAPAPERS
REFSGARY
PINTMEASURE
POSEOZMA
SOWHATMESSRS
OPEPONTLEVEQUE
ATRATORAARUBA
PUNTRETURNVIAL
ENACTENVYESTE
REPOSSKATSHOD
I constructed this puzzle, my 100th New York Times submission, in June 2012. I'd seen several vowel progressions from around that time period and decided I wanted to try my hand at constructing one. So I went into my construction software program and figured out how to generate every possible four-letter vowel progression with respect to the second letter. It was quite a challenge to find a vowel progression with only common words that had not already been published, but I finally hit upon PANT/PENT/PINT/PONT/PUNT. I wasn't thrilled that PUNT RETURN ended up forcing PANT SUITED, the only theme entry where the P?NT arrangement isn't completely separate, but I appreciated that all the theme entries felt lively and would be New York Times debuts. The grid was rather challenging, but I still was able to include many entries I really like, such as POWER NAP, SO WHAT, WEB APP and SQUISH. I was expecting the puzzle to run on a Tuesday, since some of the fill is a bit "chewy," though I'm pleased to have another Monday. Enjoy!
Sat 12/21/2013
ANGIENEWYORK
PERKSSOLEMNER
SHEETFUNGICIDE
ERETAMPAACOW
SUNDAYWORLDESE
LUMENOLES
OMANISOWNERS
RANDDCOSTA
ORDEALCLOSED
ELOISTATE
BBSARTHURWYNNE
ELAMEWELLTEX
DALAILAMACHIRP
INEXCESSGUAVA
MCMXIIIINLET

TODD:

Unlike our previous collaboration, this puzzle had a long gestation before being published. I submitted my original version in March of 2012. Will liked the basic idea, but didn't like about 9 of my original entries.

I mentioned my puzzle to David at Crosswords LA in May, and he wanted to see if he could improve on my grid. Turned out he could indeed: we submitted our revised version in June. After several back-and-forths, Will accepted our puzzle this August! We've had to wait almost 4 months for our centennial crossword to be printed ... it's hard to wait that long (ask any kid right about now)!

Finally, I'll note my original version had FUNICELLO at 16 Across, which is definitely more FUN than FUNGICIDE!

DAVID:

It was a pleasure working with Todd on this centennial puzzle. The grid was a real challenge to fill because it not only had a themeless word count (70) but also contained four theme entries with rather unfriendly letter patterns (I'm talking about you, MCMXIII!), not to mention the FUN arrangement. Nevertheless, Todd and I were able to pool our resources and produce a fill we're both very proud of!

★POW Thu 12/12/2013
CEDILLAESIASON
OPENOUTNASTASE
RAMBLERGRAMMAR
NUIAGESAGOOKD
ELLEOSAGEMAAS
RELYTGIJANN
STEEDSONIONS
BEAMGIGI
COVERTISAYSO
BOLOAWECOHN
DENTKNITSSURE
ENDPADTHAILIN
EGOTISMABALONE
MARINERNEMESES
SYSTEMSERASERS
This puzzle was a real challenge to construct, and I imagine it will be just as challenging to solve! I originally came up with the idea in January after noticing that ERASERS becomes EASES after the Rs are literally erased. I wondered if there were any other words that made sense after their Rs were erased, particularly ones with multiple Rs. After that, I spent many hours trying to maximize the theme density, starting in the lower left with my favorite pair of entries, M(R) AND M(R)S. For the first time in many months, I had to use manual construction in conjunction with crossword construction software: I was able to create a word list with all the Rs filtered out to avoid adding nonthematic Rs, but I couldn't figure out a way to get the software to recognize that all entries crossing the thematic Rs had to make sense when the Rs were erased. Thus, the construction process, particularly in the upper half of the puzzle, was laborious—at multiple points, I was convinced that finishing this puzzle would be impossible. Yet somehow I managed to fill a grid that worked! I wish I had been able to incorporate one more R in the upper right, but I just couldn't get it to work without seriously straining the fill. As a final note, I constructed the puzzle in a 72-word grid in case Will Shortz liked the theme but felt the puzzle would be more appropriate for a Saturday.
Sat 11/16/2013
APPLECARERANCH
DOUBLEBEDOMAHA
IMTOOSEXYMATEY
DETNAYAOATERS
ALERRALPHDOE
SOROSNLRBPOKE
STETSAVAGED
ZEALOTBINGES
ALEYARDTYNE
PEONAEROGRIEG
CONDREWUANNA
ONFIRELANDTRI
MOLDYFORCEQUIT
IRULEBADADVICE
XAXESINSPECTOR
I was inspired to construct this themeless, which was submitted and accepted in August 2012, after observing how much more lively fill I had been able to jam into my 72-word January 6, 2012, puzzle than in some of the more open grids I'd been experimenting with. I also had a lot of 8- and 9-letter seed entries I'd been meaning to use for a while, such as APPLE CARE, FORCE QUIT, and, best of all, I'M TOO SEXY, which I think is a great piece of fill! I was particularly happy with how the top stack turned out, since it contains three entries that are New York Times debuts. Also, I thought it was cool that AEON FLUX and ZAP COMIX fit in the same corner, and I figured that the X?X?? letter pattern would definitely give late-week solvers pause! I'm not overwhelmingly fond of ALE YARD or DREW U, but both have been used in other puzzles, and I like the surrounding fill in those areas a lot. Enjoy!
Fri 10/18/2013
STILLDREALBA
CONEHEADSMEAN
ARCTANGENTOATS
RELISTSORIENTE
FAUNASTWINBILL
ADDONJETPLANE
COENGALILEE
ERSDESERETLOB
DETOXEDJONI
STEARNESTAMES
THEOREMSLIMBIC
YESDEARSANTANA
PASALABORPARTY
ETATZENGARDEN
AHSOLEONTYNE
I constructed this puzzle in April 2012. I had recently solved Tim Croce's puzzle from March 9 and remember thinking the grid looked awesome and would be a fun construction challenge! So I decided to rotate the grid pattern, move a few blocks around, and try to fill a similar grid myself.

My seed entries were STILL DRE and ZEN GARDEN, two phrases I'd never seen in a New York Times crossword before. When I noticed that a third seed entry, JASON MRAZ, fit at 25-Down, I started to get excited about how this puzzle was shaping up! The rest of the fill came relatively fast, since the number of options for such an open grid pattern is limited. My favorite corner is the lower right, because it has a lot of Scrabbly letters and unusual entries; my least favorite is the lower left, since it has several tough proper nouns. Nevertheless, I was very happy about how this puzzle turned out and hope it makes for an enjoyable solve!

Fri 8/30/2013
MICHELEBACHMANN
STRATEGICROUTES
THELATELATESHOW
ATTSRIPSEEN
NCISSIOUXDIAZ
CANEPAULETSTE
ONSTARSCRAMMED
ASIFOOPS
AFLUTTERXESOUT
DOESERAPESVSO
ORALSRTASBEBE
SVENARITERP
HUEVOSRANCHEROS
URBANDICTIONARY
PEERASSESSMENTS
I submitted the original version of this puzzle in October 2011, when I was 14. Will rejected it in January 2012 because of a few pieces of ugly short fill (RALE, STG, USAR, and MUSTA), though he liked the 15-letter entries. I couldn't salvage the bottom stack because of STG, though I was able to keep the top one; after many hours of grid wrangling, I came up with a new bottom stack, which I felt contained stronger short fill than the original did. I sent Will the current version of this puzzle in February 2012. Although he wasn't fond of the columns of three-letter entries along the sides and the un-Scrabbly PEER ASSESSMENTS at the bottom, he accepted the puzzle in June 2012.

Will did an excellent job of editing my clues — I particularly like the brilliant "Formula one?" and "Modern mouse hole?"! Also, I'm glad he made my original MICHELE BACHMANN clue ("Candidate who called 'The Lion King' gay propaganda") less controversial. I hope you enjoy solving this one as much as I enjoyed constructing it!

Thu 7/18/2013
MINSKSWMBRAVE
OMANITAOLORAX
CAPEKARREAGLE
MARILYNMONROE
DDIAMONDS
AHNENTENTEASH
REEKEDADJURE
IRANEQUIPETTE
ARTENERVETOAD
FLODIYALG
TARTUPBEIRUT
RUESLATHERAPU
ADAMELIELIPOD
WIKIABC'SOHNO
LOSTASSUSER
Wed 6/26/2013
ASTRAHEAVENOG
BEHARASKEWORE
EXITRAMPAGERAY
NEILLLAWNS
ICKDIETPILLAGE
KOBETHINDYER
ELIXIRELUDE
AGEDIFFERENCE
CAPRIELTORO
BEAUEARPENID
INSTANTMESSCEE
OTHERAPPLE
NILMUSICALPASS
IREENOCHIGLOO
CEYDOPEYTASTY
Thu 6/13/2013
ADOESPNIROBOT
RIGALOEDEJAVU
CARTRIPSEGOYAN
ZEEMUTTEROLE
CUSPISINFOR
LOCHSTLCPUFF
APRSNOOKIBUFF
LEAREARENDNIA
ONCETSETSEDCI
SKEETNTFRYER
GOESAPEOTTO
IUDSARTRELOA
GRIPESWINDOWS8
OCCULTODORETA
TEENSYDENYDIM
Sat 5/25/2013
PURPLEHAZEHSIA
UNDECLAREDATOP
STANDALONEBANS
HOSSTODHORSE
IDEECHAOS
DAVIDSTEINBERG
LINEAWELDAAR
INGLACOSTERNA
EELSLITDECAF
DROPOUTOFSIGHT
SHAMELUNG
SHARPSIRRBIS
HEXAPOWERPOINT
EROSIMAREALBOY
DONEPATSYCLINE
Sat 4/20/2013
GARAGEBANDCNBC
ONECALORIERIAL
INTERDICTSACRO
NEEDLENOSEDKNY
ARGLILIES
CAJUNSFRENEMY
AWARDBRICKIFS
AHMEPLAITONIT
NIBLIONSCHAFE
LAMARCKRAMJET
TEJANOVAL
ABUTZASINZEBRA
LAITHEADTOTAIL
ECCEKOREANARMY
SKEDINDONESIAN
Sat 3/23/2013
SELENAGOMEZABS
EMILYBRONTEURI
MESAARIZONARES
IRTLANEALBERT
PSIAMCOLAFI
RONAHOTBUTTON
ONGOALDOESEXE
KNOWITALL
EMSYEWSMYOPES
GOOUTWITHORNE
GONNAEDOETC
SNOOKIWRITTET
APREDDIEARCARO
CIAREALTROOPER
SENSEEDOYSTERS
Sat 3/9/2013
NICOLASCAGEBAH
ADOBEREADERALE
WARRENZEVONUTA
RAISASISSYBAR
PELEZEALALIT
BYRNEMRPEEPERS
JOEMATMALA
SUDSESVETOES
PRIGYENNTH
DAIRYFARMASTRA
ALFALOAMCHUM
SPITTOONOBOES
HEMWOODFURNACE
ERAINTERRACIAL
STYGASLANTERNS
Tue 1/29/2013
REDSORCASCASS
APOPZILCHANTI
VIVAZAPATAVIAL
ICESAWMAMMAMIA
DADALERS
ABOVOOLIVER
DONORMERSYVES
EXCLAMATIONMARK
NYETBIASAETNA
AVANTIINSET
OBAMANIL
AIRPLANEFERVOR
SLOEHELLODOLLY
IBARANSELTOGA
SOREBAAEDEGAN
Wed 1/2/2013
FROOTKWAIICBM
LORNANASTRARA
OHAREOGLEONIN
RELABELRUNWAY
MOSLEMSEEN
PCPASSAYER
ALASSTRANSECT
YEPODORIZEYAH
SANTAANATORRE
EPHEDRATER
JANECAESAR
SORARENONARAB
EARNPOETSNORE
GNATUVEAETTAS
ONUSBOLLLOOPS
Sun 9/16/2012A GIANT CROSSWORD
ILIAYEGGPEPOFFDAY
BOSSALAIJAVALOUISE
ISMSPIZZAOVENDOMAIN
STEADSEMCEEAFTBLAT
CLUEFROCKAMOILINA
ALLEWISRIASAMIENS
BUTTSINHADNTMEAT
ISHLIPODARARMHOLE
BEEFYTACTEASTBEFIT
BEEPERHERITTBANA
TELEPORTEEOSHEBANGS
ATOBPEILLBKETTLE
BOOLASISIELEMULNAS
UNDERGOLOAALOEGLO
ACLUONTAPUNROLLS
DETOURTSARSTDENIS
BARTECUSTISCHDESE
ARNEPENKUALAHARHAR
SEEMSOCHARLOTTEAMSO
ITSPATLARKSHAMTAOS
LOTTOSELLHEEPENNE
Fri 1/6/2012
JIFFYLUBESTAFF
UNRAVELEDCELLO
MAYBEBABYEXLAX
PRESONOENTITY
EERNOPESTAFL
RASPSVSOPNEA
AIDASOLACED
PATINASURETY
ATINGLEBALI
LAMTALELEWIS
ILEDORAGSINK
NATHANGOATGHI
INREMWERWHOWER
STALEMARIOKART
MAXISDRAINAGES
Thu 12/29/2011
EVAATIPCRED
NASAALOHAHEAD
GLIBNAMETHEONE
ELMONTEATOZ
LEOVIIERIETBA
SEVENLETTERWORD
OONAARIZ
INENGLISHTHAT
SPARLIAO
CANNOTBEPUTDOWN
IDADOURNOEXIT
SODSITEMIZE
INSCRABBLEODAS
NEATTOYEDSERT
AZOVEYESSDS
Mon 11/7/2011
SPASBAGSSPAT
WALKAURALNADA
AGEEPSILOVEYOU
PECLASSBEE
EMOPTBARNUM
RITESORELENE
SETONTBARABIT
CLANSRODBRUTE
AILSLUXEABLER
LEIMINERBOAS
PFCHANGSOER
OLDPHLEVEL
PGTHIRTEENTIDY
OAHUOUTGOUSER
ITEMSEASMANE
Tue 8/16/2011
CROPIMACTILED
LECHNAILERASE
IDEAGOTOHEAVEN
CHASMCRATE
HONEYIMHOMEIFS
ETSEGOXMRADIO
KYOTODINO
TOWEROFLONDON
MAMATAPAS
IPANEMADADFDA
TENKITTYLITTER
OBESERERAN
HIDDENTEXTNONE
ADEERUNISDONS
NOMSGDYNESPAS
Thu 6/16/2011
TASMANBONJOVI
ONEYEARANTIWAR
SANGRIASEEGERS
IDSAYSOHISS
REELHUMTAKES
MISOLISPWISH
AZODOHAESA
HLMFFWVDMRV
XOOAIRESEE
VISEDISCRISD
ILEFTTACNEAL
FISTSALERNO
CLEANERERODENT
SINCEREDOMINOS
IQTESTSBANANA