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Gary J. Whitehead
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
144/10/200610/17/20130
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0323402
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54120

with Jeff Chen comments

See the answer words debuted by Gary J. Whitehead.


14 puzzles by Gary J. Whitehead

Thu 10/17/2013
BMWNAMATHLSAT
BAHISIDROSTLO
SCOTLANDYARDAGE
BSASUTRAGIS
NEWYORKPOSTAGE
ATHENAEAGER
THOKSTARERS
APPENDAGE
OMBKOALAJED
BYEARFRIEND
ESTREETBANDAGE
ORTCANOEENA
CLASSIFIEDADAGE
TIREMILNERRES
ANSASNEERSPDQ
"Add-a-letter(s)" type theme today, with APPENDAGE parsed as APPEND AGE as the revealer. Nice choice of revealer, although for the longest time I couldn't figure out why APPEND A GE wasn't quite working. (headslap) Also very nice was the inclusion of strong 7's: JEAN ARP, MACBETH, WHOS WHO, MY STARS. That all added to the quality of my solving experience.

The success of these types of themes hinges on the sparkliness of the base phrases plus the wackiness/hilarity of the resulting phrases. E STREET BANDAGE and CLASSIFIED ADAGE brought a smile to my face, but SCOTLAND YARDAGE and NEW YORK POSTAGE felt (to me) a bit too much like real things...only not quite. I would have loved to see more ridiculous clues for the latter two, something like "How caber tosses are measured?" and "Stamp showing a Brooklynite shouting 'Dem Bums!'"? Humor is so subjective (as my poor girlfriend/wife/barbarian well knows).

What I found most interesting about this puzzle was its layout. Note the 15-14-9-14-15 pattern. This makes construction very difficult, because the central 9 necessitates a block of three black squares on either side. Toss in the fact that the 14's must contain a single black square on one end or another, and that means that those single black squares must connect to the black squares at the ends of row 8 (in order to prevent a two-letter word in between). Tricky! The layout here certainly works, but the blockiness of the giant black L's feels a touch inelegant.

You might ask, why not swap the 15s and 14s to avoid that issue? Aha! Because 14-letter entries cannot go into rows 3 and 13 without forming an ugly block of three squares — the same issue as with the first layout. And if the 14s are placed in rows 4 and 12, that smooshes the theme answers together, making for a dense and difficult construction. That's the reason constructors often go out of their way to pick 11s and 15s, trying to avoid 12s, 13s and 14s if at all possible (especially when five theme answers are required).

Finally, an observation about the way the top section splits. Notice how BMW/NAMATH/LSAT break up in lengths of 3/6/4? This is less common than some permutation of 4/5/4 or 3/5/5, because those six-letter words add a level of difficult. Gary has done a nice job in the north section, with just ISIDRO being a slight outlier. The south section demonstrates how tough a set of sixes can be though, with a stack of REAIMS, EN FIN, TOILE, and BEENE all crossing MILNER (who may be more familiar to some, but not to me).

A tough challenge! Interesting to hear Will's comments about fill; I'm curious to see how different Gary would have made this puzzle today. We are blessed to be living in an age where crosswords are rapidly improving with each passing year.

Mon 4/1/2013
SCAMDECCABOOB
VOCEAMEERALVA
EVENDUNDERHEAD
LETEASTASIA
TRICKIRONMASK
ETCHINGDALAI
ONERATEEND
LAUGHINGSTOCK
CODINCISOR
OBITSFORTLEE
NONROMANCHEAT
ONALEASHGRR
NINCOMPOOPGALA
OOOHBENNYATAD
DUPEASSESDOPE
Sat 4/28/2012
CHOCOLATEMOUSSE
EATONESHEARTOUT
NURSECLINICIANS
TSOHASMAC
OASISNITSARAS
REMSIDEPA
INTERNALAUDITOR
MAINTENANCEFREE
MAKEAMENTALNOTE
ICKENDTOO
EPICSTEESTAPH
UAEALEPEU
TAKENOPRISONERS
AHARDNUTTOCRACK
RAISESTHESTAKES
Mon 6/6/2011
USMAASOFLAIRD
PRIXNAPEALTER
CIVICDUTYNASTY
SUEDEADMIRE
CNNMAIDOFHONOR
ZOOMINGOO
ARSONHALOSGTS
RAIDCADETCIRC
SSRSDIORKAZOO
ARKWETMOP
BACKCOUNTRYOPE
ASYLUMLAIUS
STRUMWESTPOINT
SAUTEARTEFLEW
IBSENYSERALTO
Tue 1/18/2011
AMENOMENOVEN
POLIDEREKDINO
POSTSEASONEVEN
ASAWHOLEASSESS
LESIONSEVES
TDSEMERALDS
EYESAVERTAER
PAWIHEARYAZSA
EWESODDYDYES
ENROLLEEGOO
DEESCOALBIN
SPLITSSOCKEROO
TEESULTRASOUND
ATITPAYERUSIA
TEASTEATTHAT
Thu 8/5/2010
CONDEMNSTELLAS
ONTARIOWIPEOUT
ACHRISTMASSTORY
LESTSAITHMMIX
EDYSHADE
MISDOASSRICOH
IPORANIBINARY
CANMIASMALPIE
ANNEALSILLRON
HAYDNQIXEDINA
ATEUPORI
SAKSMOPUPSHIA
TRANSITIONPOINT
AUREOLEMIDWEST
GNARLEDONANDON
Wed 6/9/2010
EPEESMACSTOFU
MICROOSLOIRIS
BLOODMONEYNONO
LENSAREAMOTES
EDOCHERRYCRUSH
MUMBAIEVENSO
SPYONIPSADEW
REDSTARTS
HICIMAXHAZEL
UNABLESELENA
RUBYTUESDAYPTS
STANDGLENTHRO
TERABRICKLAYER
OREMMETAACRED
NOTEITSYBOSSA
Sat 11/21/2009
RAMPUPSALES
SAVETHEPLANET
JAPANESELANTERN
UNITERRISKEDIT
IDEASBATSNABE
CARRMESSEDGES
ELSBAASRAREST
CENTERICE
STILESSOPHWAD
MINERSSTSSADE
ANTALEMSSELMA
REARTIRETIEPIN
MAKEAMENTALNOTE
RESTINTERVALS
STATESENATE
Thu 1/22/2009
BOZOICONSEGGH
ILETNOHOWPALO
GARECNOTEIRON
HFORTHEHILLS
EIEIOPLACARD
DISYUANHTOTOE
BOSNIAPATE
SHRUNKENHEADS
GHIAACTUAL
RADIOHESTSSOB
EWENECKEATME
DRAWBRIDGEAH
ANTESIRENLEHI
XENAEKINGELAN
HENDSEGUETENG
Wed 10/22/2008
BETAARARATATM
OPERLENORETOO
SIAMESETWINESL
CCLEFFIELDMICE
DRESRTAS
SDSEMONATS
MAKEMINEADOUBLE
USEDGETTOLAIT
THEAFRICANQUEEN
MOESLIURNA
ASTERSIL
CLASSTRIPNUBIA
EARTHELIONKING
RTEEASIERABEE
BEDRIPESTSIZE
Thu 8/21/2008
KAMPALATVSTARS
AREARUGRATATAT
VISCERAICINESS
ADHESIVEBAND
RODEOTOADS
SSRSNSAODEA
UTEMASSTHERAPY
SACASPUMAGAY
SPORTSCOVERIRE
ELIETANCOTS
XENIACRUSH
GARBDISPOSAL
JEANNIEDIORAMA
ACTEDASENRAGED
BOLDESTAGELESS
Tue 5/6/2008
CIRCMEOWSEDAM
ALOUATEAMLEGO
DELTAFORCEPLUS
SALAMISARALEE
REALMRASA
MODUSAGOCORGI
ONEGIMMUNEEIN
VALDRETADENS
IIIYENTASPSST
ERNIETETSOEUR
QTRSAESOP
HAULSINUPSALA
ABELDELIGHTFUL
LENDERICAARNE
OTTODOVERROTS
Wed 3/19/2008
MACHOSTSAPPY
IROCEDAMEFILE
LEAHLORENIXON
LASERPRINTER
ESTEEMSOCELOT
TIEIOWAORO
AFLACANTEOTS
RUSHHOURTRAFFIC
AGAIDEOPLAZA
BUTSLIDSEA
SESAMEGOATEED
HARDROCKBAND
JIVEREEOCETTA
ATEATNOSEDORY
MOLDSYSERNES
Mon 4/10/2006
VIALSTALEDAME
INDOARBORILES
ACADEMICCIRCLES
AMIGOONEIOTA
GAPSNEWSY
ABACIEITHER
RARINRBISAOL
ENGAGEMENTRINGS
AGODIRTULTRA
PATTIESLEET
ALIASADES
CANYONSNIXES
TRAFFICROTARIES
ERNOLAUDEARLO
DYEREMBERYELP