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Peter A. Collins
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905/2/20067/22/201511
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with constructor comments

See the answer words debuted by Peter A. Collins.


90 puzzles by Peter A. Collins

Wed 7/22/2015
RISESEERSPITZ
ONEDAMMOHENRI
SHAGLAIDRETAG
SUPERVILLAIN
IMOAOLASLUSA
NARCSSAVILEROW
INTOTOLETANNE
NAVELRING
FRETEXOSOLELY
DEVILRAYSBELIE
AXEADMHIEEVA
CHOPPEDLIVER
ZORROLORENANO
ARBORESPNSTUN
GRIPESEATPEPE

Does CHOPPED LIVER go bad after two years? I hope not. That's how long this puzzle has been waiting for publication. In the acceptance email, Will's assistant (at the time) said the fill was good and Will was happy to give it a thumbs up, but this kind of theme was getting overdone. So either I just slipped in under the wire or I'm the guy who killed the genre.

My clue for NOBEL was [___ Prize (Tutu won one)]. I realized at the time it was an unnecessarily fussy clue, but I loved the sound of "Tutu won one." Maybe I should play 2211 in the daily lottery today.

My Aunt Annie, who thinks I use too many sports and popular music names in my puzzles, will be happy that I classed things up a bit with ROSSINI and HENRI Matisse.

ZIG and ZAG landed in opposite corners — for no particular reason. And I assure you that INHUMAN leading directly into REX is not a reference to anyone in particular. Honest.

Tue 6/16/2015
IPADIVSSCAUP
MOSENETCHEESE
HOTFUDGEBURGER
ICECREAMSTAIRS
THROATSGTOSSE
INLAREVUP
MASSIMONTACIT
ONKPLEPEWWAVE
POSSEMETALNYE
ASNERTOTO
ADAPOSREGALER
LOGJAMMARINARA
ONIONSRIGATONI
HOTDOGEDURIIS
ATAILSSNALEE

Hmmm. I can't remember what sparked the idea for this puzzle. More than likely I was just hungry at the time.

Originally I had a symmetrically placed TOP/OFF in the grid, but we (by "we", I mean Will Shortz) thought it wasn't necessary and served to make the fill that much more tortured. I agree that the puzzle's better without them.

Mon 6/8/2015
MEDSTAMPACRAP
AMOIAXIOMREPO
CINDERELLAALAS
STEERSLOETATS
DOGSILOVEYOU
STEROIDONESWM
DEADTIJUANA
SALEMMANSLATE
RAWEGGSIRON
ASPRANEFFECTS
MARATHONOONA
EMERYVATRADII
NOMEDEMOLITION
RAINALEROEATS
ASEAMSDOSSNAP

MAN movies. There certainly are a lot of them. I restricted myself to films with titles that go ____ MAN -– no hyphen (sorry, Spider-Man), and no leading "The" (like The Omega Man).

Now I need a volunteer to build a similar puzzle around film titles that go AMERICAN ___. Off the top of my head you've got PSYCHO, HISTORY X, SNIPER, BEAUTY, GRAFFITI, and GIGOLO to start building around.

Any takers?

Thu 5/21/2015
ABEETOLDEBARK
BRAGHROAROQUE
BARGEEARTHSIGN
RELOFMONKEYS
ORSPAGED
DECORSBAREAYE
ERODEDRIERREEF
BAROABIDEELLE
TSIMPSONLAZIER
EENAHOYEXACTS
EDGERACE
RAISEDTHEBAR
BARNSTORMEVADE
BIESELIEAESOP
SLOTMINNDRESS

This one went through the submission-rejection cycle a few times before it was deemed ready for prime time. The last snafu was due to my not noticing that I had DEBAR as one of my fill answers. Needless to say, with BAR being an integral part of the theme, that was a bit inelegant.

Having five instances of BAR on top of ??? constrained the fill to some degree. Does anyone like to start off with a partial phrase fill-in-the-blank at 1-Across on a Thursday? Maybe. I guess it does give a quick toehold. There were few other options given that 1-Down was ??BR.

I didn't like resorting to the prefix BARO- as one of my BARs, but that left-center section gave me few other choices, and the others (I forget what they were now) resulted in even more tortured fill. I recall that at one point I thought I'd solved the problem only to discover that I had ERASED crossing ERASED. Such is the life of a constructor.

Thu 4/16/2015
PETERRATAASHY
TARSIEDUCFEUD
ASIANLITELEGS
YOUGOYOURWAY
LBOSBECAME
DIVEINPIELAN
PETITEBACKWARD
ESSEMOMATTA
DRAWKCABBATEHT
AEBWARTESTRA
LERUALAELP
ENIMOGLLIDNA
AJEDENALRUOCS
DOZISUPOIKAHK
SEEDTSENNEMEY

JOE: This puzzle concept came to me when I noticed that the two main theme entries were equal length: constructors lo-o-ove when that happens! The literal interpretation of them virtually begged running them in opposite directions. To build up the theme further, I decided to run the corresponding background fill the same direction. Next, the theme suggested that I might enlist a collaborator, so I called upon Pete. From there, I would fill one half of the puzzle, flip it around, and ask Pete to fill the other half. So that was the basic logistics.

When I construct, I think about fairness to the solver. I guessed there would be solvers who would be very unhappy about the trick in the lower half of the puzzle, so I addressed this in two ways. First, I included the helper entry BACKWARD in the top half of the puzzle ... preparing the solver ahead of time. Second, I made sure that the theme was completely absent from the down fill so that solvers could opt out in that way. That was the least I could offer.

By the way, the other "helper" entry DRAWKCAB was more of a joke than anything else ... not much of any help to the solver I suspect. But it was fun to claim that — technically — the same word appears twice in the puzzle!

PETE: Yes, this one was definitely Joe's idea. When he asked me to go along for the ride, I was more than happy to.

Beyond what Joe said, I'll just add a couple of things. Did you notice the necessary palindromes (ESSE/MOM/ATTA) through the horizontal midline of the puzzle, and BOB vertically intersecting MOM? My clue for BOB was "Go up and down", which I thought was appropriate given the circumstances.

Second, did you notice PETER in the top half of the puzzle and JOE in the bottom? Of course you did.

Sun 1/11/2015PERSONAL STATEMENTS
JAFAROLORDPRISMBAT
EPOCHMASAILOTTOIDI
SHARONSTONEASSINZAG
SIMONESLOGANPROTEGE
EDSDASENOSSLAUGHTER
BATHESHOOTPAR
ESAUEAVESENGMEWLS
BOBBYSHERMANTOYSHOP
BARBETEOSPAARHOPE
SPALLLOCKAOLMECLED
SYLVESTERSTALLONE
PEISEALEUHURANOMAD
AMOSANODLISENTIRE
PENCILSBEVERLYSILLS
ARSONAFRARNIEOKOK
RAPSHEETASLAN
MYLESSTANDISHPITROO
COLDWARLATTERFLOORS
IGAELENALORETTASWIT
NIMAMAINELOPESHANE
GSATSKEDDENSETANGO

I knew I was taking a chance with this puzzle, since the core concept — repurposing an initial S in someone's last name as a possessive S added to his/her first name — had been done before (for instance, see 9/14/2009). I was hoping that the added twist of cluing the answers in a fill-in-the-blank manner with two possible interpretations would sufficiently distinguish this puzzle from its predecessors. I also like the fact that one S (in BOBBY'S HER MAN) is repurposed as a contraction, and that three of the last names can be parsed into an S and two words (HER MAN, TALL ONE, and TAN DISH).

This puzzle rose from the ashes of a failed puzzle I wrote about a year ago. The theme-revealer in that one was BOAT PEOPLE. It featured the names of several people whose last names ended in a nautical term (Rhoda MorganSTERN, Tim TeBOW, etc). One of the entries was BEN STILLER. I noticed that one could interpret that name as "Ben's tiller", and I was off and running. Alas, poor Ben. Even though he inspired this puzzle, he didn't make the final cut. He's like one of those young geniuses that create a successful start-up company only to be voted out once the venture goes public.

Other names that didn't make the cut included BRITNEY SPEARS, ISAAC STERN, ROBERT STACK, LEON SPINKS, and KATEY SAGAL.

I did a little clue analysis on this puzzle, which I've never done before. I went through clue-by-clue and rated each clue Exact (if it was the same as my clue, with a possible tiny modification), Almost (if the gist was nearly the same, but the wording significantly different), or Different (if the clue went in a completely different direction from mine). Of the 140 clues in the puzzle, I rated 86 (61%) Exact, 15 (11%) Almost, and 39 (28%) Different.

Mon 12/29/2014
ASTORMENUSLUR
MARTIONINTONE
EYECONTACTYWCA
NSALITCHIMILD
DOTCOMTEETIMES
ABITSHEP
OHBROTHEROSAGE
DUOZEROGCUT
DEBTSYOULOSTME
MICHXOUT
TEACHESTBTEAMS
HARKNORMALBOA
ISLESPELLITOUT
NYETOPELNORSE
KAYSNYSEESTES
For those of you who care about such things, I mailed this puzzle in on November 13, 2013, and it was accepted on February 5, 2014.

Every time I look over the grid, I want to read TEA CHEST as one word — the bizarro superlative TEACHEST. You know: teach, teacher, teachest.

When I submitted this puzzle, I didn't think it would be a Monday — possibly a Tuesday or Wednesday. But it seems that lately Monday themes are getting a little less straightforward and predictable. I think that's a good thing. I like a Monday with a little bit of a twist.

In looking over the grid, I guess there is nothing that really prevents this puzzle from being a Monday. The proper nouns MARTI, NIMITZ, HENSON, and MOTT might give some solvers pause. Possibly even BOB MARLEY, who makes his NYT debut today (and I think it's high time).

Speaking of Bob Marley and high times, I see that his family wants to lend his name to some kind of commercial marijuana venture. His daughter, Cedella Marley, said "My dad would be so happy to see people understanding the healing power of the herb". I think the Marley family might have an easier time touting the "healing power of the herb" if Bob hadn't died at 36. But who knows — without the ganja, maybe he would've died at 26.

Fill-wise, the only thing that really bugs me is ERO. TOS is a little hard to take, too.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Wed 9/3/2014
DEPPDECORMICA
OVEROCULOASAN
CANOFWORMSGANG
SCHMORECREATE
PRIVYCOUNCIL
DAKTARIENTS
ETASOCTANATTY
LIZWCHANDYERA
ITALOYETIPROD
KAOSOCEANIA
JOHNFKENNEDY
EASTSIDEIDOSO
SRTAHEADSTARTS
SEANAMPEDYEAH
EDNATASESSOYA
To be completely honest, themes like the one in this puzzle (where all the first or last words in various phrases are synonyms for a word in the revealer) have never really thrilled me too much. They just don't seem to have the level of wordplay I expect. I don't think I've ever had another one of these published.

So why did I write this one? There are a couple of reasons. First of all, about a year ago I saw a notice (I can't remember where) stating that Will Shortz was relatively low on Monday puzzles. I don't have very many Monday puzzles under my belt, and I really appreciate the skills of Lynn Lempel, Andrea Carla Michaels, and others who can make fun, interesting puzzles while working with the limited palette of Monday-friendly vocabulary. So this was my attempt at a Monday puzzle. I only missed by two days.

Second, about the same time I saw Will's message, I solved a Fireball contest puzzle by Peter Gordon with the title "Head Start." My immediate reaction upon seeing the title was to think that Peter's theme was similar to the theme of my puzzle. That idea didn't last long. If you know the Fireball at all, my kind of theme would be way too straight forward for Peter. Nonetheless, I thought it would make a good Monday theme, so I rounded up a few phrases with "head" starts, and went to work.

I do, however, like the sonic semblance of the symmetrically-placed ISAAC STERN and KAZAKHSTAN.

About the picture above: Will and Liane (Hansen) were on an NPR barnstorming tour — if you donated enough money to your local station, you could come and have a glass of wine with the Weekend Edition host and the Puzzlemaster. Even though this was from before my puzzle constructing days, I did slip Will a puzzle idea I had for the NPR Sunday Puzzle. I'm happy to report that he actually used it! That was the start of my puzzling career.

I guess you can take that last comment two ways.

Fri 7/25/2014
MAYOASTISWEPT
ELAMCHINCHILLA
DOWNGOESFRAZIER
SENIORSAUGZAP
PUNOLDGOATS
STARRBOLEYN
TOLEDOOHIOCOSA
DISSENTBIALIES
SLOEATALLCOSTS
NELLIECUEIN
ASHTREESTOD
TEAOASTURNSTO
BRITISHSOLDIERS
ARTICHOKESNAIL
RAITAPASAELMO
My biggest concern with this one was the seed entry — DOWN GOES FRAZIER. While it certainly has resonance with me, it is over forty years old and it's about a sport whose popularity has largely dimmed in the public eye. So how many younger solvers and non-sports fans are going to go be flummoxed by that one, I don't know. For those of you who don't know the reference:

Also, I think it helps if you say "Down goes Frazier" in your best Howard Cosell accent — if you know who Howard Cosell was.

Fri 6/27/2014
ONBASEBUMSDRS
MOOREDAGENCIES
IRONEDRANALONG
TAKEMYWORDFORIT
RTSANTEUP
MEETGIMELPSAT
ALTETTUPETRA
DOUBLEENTENDRES
ARRAYCROCINT
TONSITHASOKAY
SAMOANONE
HOTASBLUEBLAZES
APPLAUDSIMPORT
NAKEDEYEBEANIE
SHEASANSCREEN
About two years ago, in an email exchange with Amy "The Crossword Fiend" Reynaldo, I mentioned that it was HOT AS BLUE BLAZES that day in Ann Arbor. I then mentioned in the same email that that phrase would look good in a themeless puzzle. Shortly thereafter, I wrote this. Actually, this is version 2 — I needed to do a minor fix-up before it was officially accepted.

I often like to fool around with themeless grids while I wait for inspiration for a themed puzzle. Many of those themeless puzzles either fizzle out unfinished, or never get submitted even if I do finish them. And even if they do die on the vine, they're still valuable exercises in that they force me to increase my wordlist.

Tue 5/20/2014
WADEDBMOCUSDA
AMUSELIRESHUT
TACOSTANDSHASH
TSKPONETENTO
BRONCOSTADIUM
IDIOTSYERAPE
NOLAHANSON
DELMONICOSTEAKS
SNOREDAMER
APOILEOTTAWA
TEXACOSTATION
BOYLEIRONDIE
ARGOHIDDENCOST
TIESAGEEERWIN
SANSBOSNDONNA
Some puzzles go from conception to publication in a matter of several weeks. Some others languish in prison for years. This is one of the latter. I mailed it in over three years ago, and for three years it's been peeking through the bars of its cell wondering when it would be set free. My very own little Jean Valjean. Maybe the Innocence Project needs to look into this.

I'm glad that all the themed entries are two words long, so there aren't any unnecessary tag-alongs that don't contribute. Including extra words always makes the theme a little less elegant. For instance, if I'd chosen to use NEW MEXICO STATE, the NEW would just go along for the ride — like it's third-wheeling on a date or something. Never a good idea.

I do remember trying to brainstorm themed entries that break COST other than between the O and S (MAGIC OSTRICH?, Pecos Bill's little brother PECOS TIM?), but didn't have much luck, so I went for the consistency of having them all split the same way.

As for the fill, I like A MAN DOWN. It's one of those rare phrases where the indefinite article is necessary. MAN DOWN doesn't make sense, and no self-respecting hockey player would say "the Blackhawks are playing ONE MAN DOWN."

Sun 5/11/2014FOR MOTHER
TARPHOPIHAREMJONES
STEELDRUMUNITEOVOLO
PLATELETSBINETEENSY
PCTTOMBDREWBREES
MOMISAACNOHIT
OHHENUTRIAREDHEAD
NAPASGRUDGEDTERESA
GREYSOERSOWNORTH
POLEBARNAKANANWOOL
CLARABOWTOVTRESS
SSNLODEIRASHIPADS
LEUMIOENTOLLFREE
COLATAGNATALLIANCE
ATEUPNHLGARTRE
TONGUETEACARTMOM
SHIHTZUSHORTIEMAI
LARDSAUDENMEANT
PALISADESNEROORBIT
LEONIEXISTINDICATED
URGEDRULERAMERICANA
GOOSESPLAYLENSISSY
First of all, happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. I'd like to dedicate this puzzle to my grandmother. My mom passed away several years ago, but her mom is still going strong. Grandma will be 104 next month. She's a little frail, but sharp as a tack (even though she's never done a crossword puzzle in her life). In fact, she's one of the few people still around who were alive when the first crossword was published in 1913. For all I know, she could've babysat Bernice Gordon. She was born when Taft was president, she was nearly two when the Titanic sank — but she still hasn't seen the Cubs win the World Series.

This puzzle has a bit of history behind it, too. The first version I submitted had the same (more or less) grid design — my intention was for a cross-stitched kind of vibe, with the big M-O-M running diagonally through the grid. But aside from the grid art, the only themed answers in that one were the last two Down entries — MOTHERS and DAY (where MITTENS and DAY are in this version). It was a low word-count (132) puzzle that I intended to feel like a themeless. I think it had some really nice long entries. It got nixed due to the paucity of themed material. After that, I let it sit for a year and a half. I dragged it back out this winter and upped the themed entries, putting in a whole bunch of "mothers" all clued as "Mother ___", as in the current version. However, I also included a couple of other themed entries, both clued as "Ma ___" (BARKER and RAINEY). Will said I was getting closer, but because of that inconsistency (which I chose to look at as "variety") and a bit of iffy fill, I was asked to do a rewrite. Then another. Then another. Then another. Counting the "themeless" version as number one, what you're looking at is version six. As I told Will, luckily I enjoy the process as well as the product.

Who can plan things like having the clue for RODMAN immediately precede the clue for KOREA? Serendipity is a wonderful thing, as well as a wonderful word.

Did you notice that the grid has near-symmetry? In order to be fully symmetric, the blocks would've had to spell M-O-W. Maybe I'll save that for my John Deere tribute puzzle.

Finally, it's a bit unfortunate to have PUTTING ON WEIGHT, MATURATION, and LAUGH LINES in a Mother's Day puzzle, but please — DON'T START IN ON ME!

Sun 3/30/2014MUSICAL INTERPRETATION
AMINDETNASBCCBATON
SANTOTWICELAUDATORY
SUBSISTENCEOUTERMOST
ORATIERTHECLOCKCOO
CADENTKINERKFCDANL
SMOKENORSEFADER
THEWATEREARNSOMENS
GEARAXEDTAOLOOFAS
MRPIBBOVITZSTARDUST
TOELOOPIKESEATBELT
LOATEENAGERVE
BEDSTRAWEFTSILVERS
TIMETIMESTABSALLDAY
SEPTETBAHRIPAAIRS
PRIORYOUINLAMBASTE
RUSSOSNOOKPOLIO
AMIRTUETOROSSACRAL
DOCBARROOMSAPODINE
DRIVENMADDICKANDJANE
ISSUEDATEANGELILLER
TETESNODBOISENOSES
I think the inspiration for this one was seeing some other puzzle where the juxtaposition of certain entries played into the theme. I just can't recall which puzzle that might've been. What I do recall is that this grid was rather tough to fill — tougher than you might expect given that there are only six songs in the grid (by the way, my title for this was the rather bland "Six Numbers"). Since the themed entries are not symmetrically placed, as I attempted to fill the grid cleanly, I'd constantly plunk a black square down in one area only to find I'd wiped out part of a themed entry in another area. For a long time I tried to squeeze in a seventh song (the Temptations "CANT GET next to YOU"), but I eventually gave up.

One minor inconsistency I just now noticed is that five of the themed entries has a preposition hinted at by the placement of the words/letters (AROUND, ON, IN, AFTER, BY), but not in the sixth (RISING).

I'm glad Will kept my clue for "Alibi IKE." As a boy, I remember my dad reading that short story to my brothers and me. It was one of the few times I saw Dad laugh so hard he was incapacitated. The other time I recall is when we went to see "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" at the theater in the early '60's. When Jimmy Durante died on that hillside, and his leg shot out and kicked the bucket, I thought Dad was going to need medical attention. Childhood memories like that are priceless.

★POW Tue 3/4/2014
DRDOOMIBMPC
JARULEBRAID
EVENEREARNS
DISCOVERINGIDA
SSEDINEETAT
AHIAWAYBLARE
BENJAMINQUELLS
EDGEDINFURCOAT
LADPRINT
GOFLYSHADRODS
EUROAMENIBET
ITASKUNKSCALA
SENSEIOLDTIMER
HACKITMISSTATE
ATEASESNLYSER

BRUCE: Pete Collins and I have been friends since childhood, when our families used to vacation together on a small lake in Wisconsin. He agreed to mentor me in 2012 when I got interested in constructing crosswords. I got this electricity puzzle idea when I was "block-doodling" one day on the computer and noticed I could make a pretty realistic looking kite. My wife Liz suggested I tie in Ben Franklin so I worked some lightning bolts into the grid. The first version had BEN and KEY attached to the bottom of the kite string, but that did not fly. I loved the grid art though, so I shipped the puzzle to Pete to see if he could get this project off the ground — I'll let him finish the story. Thanks for everything, Pete!

PETE: Bruce and I share an interest in "grid art." I think this grid is particularly nice, with the kite and lightning bolts. But make no mistake — this one is Bruce's baby (I'm just the godfather). We went back and forth several times, with the kite being oriented various ways, before we settled on this arrangement. In addition to the grid art, I really like the highly unusual diagonal symmetry — and the three pairs of themed answers. And our reward for getting this puzzle published? We get three Benjamins!

★POW Wed 2/12/2014
SHEESHNEPALI
SHARPEIINDIANA
TURNINGTHETRICK
PTAHOIDIA
TKOSNELLPOS
CLICTOTIEOVID
AEROROASTNEVE
TRIMMINGTHETREE
EEKAYE
MACDELOLESST
IDOLIZEMALACHI
SILICONAGEDOUT
TELLINGTHETRUTH
SUITETHANERIE
XESSHUNTMSN
This puzzle's history stretches back over two years, and it started with the grid design. I hope everybody noticed the three block T's in the grid. My original version had four themed entries consisting of three-word phrases, all of the form T* TO T* (TURNED TO TROUBLE, TRUE TO TYPE, TOOK TO TASK, and TOE TO TOE. As it turned out, I was taken to task for the last one — Will didn't like the repeated TOE. So TOE TO TOE gave way to TEN TO TWO. That also was, apparently, tough to take. After a major reworking, we settled on the current three phrases of the form T* THE T*.

One other thing to mention about this puzzle: my final submitted version had two options at 11-Down. Either LAIMBEER or LAID OVER. Will went with LAID OVER. For those of you too young to remember the "Bad Boys" days of Pistons basketball in the late '80's and early '90's, Bill Laimbeer was probably the most disliked Detroit athlete ever — until Ndamukong Suh came along. Either LAIMBEER is too obscure, or he doesn't pass the "breakfast test".

I hope this thrills the throng.

Wed 1/1/2014
ERNESTVICCHIC
GEISHAOWEOONA
BUROAKCOSNATL
ENVREBASHERRY
RIAPAULINASUP
TONOENDTARGETS
NATIANSDONHO
HAPPY2014
CAVEREELSIRT
HEIRESSAUSTERE
IRAWATUTSICIA
MADMENBEAMIRR
ETUIDUONEATEN
ROCKAKANONAME
ARTELETANGLED
It's an honor to have the first puzzle of the new year. It's perhaps a bit unusual to have a rebus puzzle on a Wednesday, but here it is. And I guess this puzzle couldn't run on any other day but January 1.

I think 2014 uses all the digits that have homophones, other than 8/ate, and that's if one is willing to allow "oh" to stand for "zero". I'm sure some will take exception to that bit of cruciverbalistic license.

The grid was a bit difficult to fill, primarily because of the side-by-side-by-side-by-side themed entries. What you're seeing is the second incarnation of the puzzle. Will asked me to rework my original version. That version contained some rather ugly fill, such as ROYG and TEENTSY.

Happy New Year to all!

★POW Wed 11/20/2013
AHEADGPAASSOC
VALSEARTTULLY
OBELIZOORHODA
WACGEEPOIWGN
INTENDNAPOLI
NERDSHAPEANOD
GROGERRETRE
AMACDROMSHY
EARROWNOFEEF
ALGARITORUSE
RUNNINGONEMPTY
SPEEDSBEATEN
HITSIMAGEFARM
ONITLIBRAIKEA
TECSKASEMAEON
A couple of weeks ago I was at a dinner engagement where I struck up a conversation with the gentleman across the table. He was quite interested in the fact that I constructed crossword puzzles. We had a nice chat, but at the end he said "I don't like it when they put that crazy stuff in there — like circles." At that point, I stared down at my plate and started pushing the peas around with my fork. I think I changed the subject to baseball.

Needless to say, I'm sure that guy is not too happy today. To add to the "crazy stuff", I threw in a couple of unchecked letters. The fact that the grid has left-right symmetry (as opposed to the usual rotational) might just throw him over the edge.

I wonder how many solvers will be confused by the two 15-letter down entries, thinking that they must be thematic. Well ... they aren't.

Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" was a big album back in my college days. I can still hear the songs bouncing off the walls of my dormitory (as I pulled my pillow over my head trying to get some sleep).

Thu 10/24/2013
ADAPTTOINKPOTS
RENEWEDDECODES
TANGOEDEGALITE
SRAWRSSABINE
CATTDS
ANALYSTPIEHOLE
MORAHEAVENON
BOOMERANGEFFECT
ISMLOTTEABAR
TEASETSARTICLE
AVAEEL
AFLARESTKTRI
FLOUTERAUCTION
ISOTOPEKRISTIN
BOLEROSENTAILS
This one started with ELEVATOR OPERATOR. First, I thought it was interesting that this 16-letter phrase alternates between vowels and consonants and that it splits evenly into two 8-letter words. That's enough to get a constructor's mind churning. Next I thought about an elevator going down and back up, and a puzzle idea was born. BOOMERANG EFFECT (fifteen letters — yes!) seemed like a good revealer, hinting at the back-and-forth nature of the themed entries.

The side-by-side themed answers made filling the grid a bit of a challenge, since I was locked into two consecutive letters on 28 occasions. I'll admit that a few of the entries are a little on the ugly side (the symmetric pair of abbreviations WRS and STK strike me as the worst offenders).

One thing I like about the grid is the way that two pairs of themed entries tie symmetrically into the theme-revealer — the extreme E and R of ELEVATOR OPERATOR and the middle E and F of NEGATIVE FEEDBACK lie on BOOMERANG EFFECT. I think "grid architecture" is an often unnoticed or undervalued feature of a puzzle. The likes of interlocking themed entries and (perhaps to a lesser extent) grid art are often subtle. They might not add much to the solving experience directly — especially if speed-solving — but at least for me they often make me sit back and say "Hey that's pretty cool!". Granted, grid architecture can't make up for a dull theme or lousy fill, but it can be the icing on the cake.

Fri 10/11/2013
FAWNABBATASKS
ECHOHEARIRENE
MEATTHERMOMETER
ASTARTRYMETWA
HRAPSAGAL
PLAYMEORTRADEME
SAPSOXERPISAN
ESPONYTOLATNO
USEASGINOSHOT
DONTEVENGOTHERE
SHEENPIES
CTNKEATSLYCEE
WHERESTHEREMOTE
TAXEREUROARAL
SITESDREWNETS
Well, the seed entry of this one was WHERES THE REMOTE — something that anyone with kids has uttered too many times to count. My goal was to have interlaced 15-letter entries, but I wanted to stick to 15-letter entries that hadn't been used in the NYT before. I almost achieved my goal — MEAT THERMOMETER has been used a couple of times. But the other five are debuts, as are the two ten-letter entries (ARMY STRONG and OXYGENATED). The down side of this kind of grid layout is there aren't the usual wide swaths of open space as there are on many other themeless puzzles.

I see fellow Ann Arborite Jason Flinn constructed the NYT puzzle a couple of days ago. If you haven't caught on yet, it's all part of our plan to elevate Ann Arbor to the cultural center of the universe. Worldwide domination will soon follow.

First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

Fri 9/27/2013
GERMINATELUCIA
OVERTAKESANODE
DOMESTICPARTNER
IKIDARSSKIDOO
VETALAGASLOGS
ASSISIARPFRO
CHANGEONEAL
MCGEEONEPOEMS
ALOESLETTER
METSAWARMPIT
MATDOWNAGAAMY
AREOLAESTAGAR
MINDINGTHESTORE
INIGOAREACODES
AGNESTERMINATE
Well, this is a surprise. The puzzle I submitted was a 74-worder. Because of the theme, I thought it would be used on a Thursday — or even on a Friday, if conventions could be broken. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that some major reengineering took place. Two black squares were shifted, which resulted in a 72-worder. That necessitated the NE and SW corners being completely reworked. I feel like someone else should get co-constructor credit. As a result, I don't have the same sense of ownership, I suppose, but I still think it turned out quite well. I am glad, that NATALIA made the cut, as that's my second oldest daughter's name.
Tue 9/17/2013
LABELESCAPEPSA
INANEERASERAWN
DANCESWITHWOLVES
GORENOISELAW
WILDATHEARTVOTE
SWEETALPEFEVER
JOSAVEMOLARS
DATEMOVIES
UMLAUTREXWAR
GOERSPLIEEJECT
ALOTTHEGRADUATE
NINEIRONPINK
DEADPOETSSOCIETY
ARRSOBEITTOSEE
NEDOPENLYSRTAS
I remember the genesis for this puzzle came to me on a rainy night a couple of years ago as I was driving back to Ann Arbor from Detroit. For some reason, the Muse seems to speak to me while I'm driving my car or walking my dog. I was thinking about "Dances with Wolves", and noticed that the letters DATE were hiding inside. As I quickly tapped out the length with my fingers on the steering wheel, I was a bit dismayed to find that it was "plus-sized" at 16 letters. Before I had pulled into my driveway, I'd found "Dead Poets Society" — also 16 letters — and I was off and running.

I'm sure there are many "date" movies I could've chosen from, but these all seem to be fairly classic (although I must admit I've never seen "WIld at Heart" — is it a classic?).

Here's a little personal fact about Elmore LEONARD (40-Down). He and my father-in-law went to the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, with Elmore being a couple of years older. About a dozen years ago, at the U of D High School auction, Elmore put up, to the highest bidder, the right to have the bidder's name as a character in Leonard's upcoming novel. My father-in-law was the high bidder, so now he and my mother-in-law's names are immortalized in "Tishomingo Blues". My father-in-law is a gangster and my mother-in-law is a high-end hooker. Nice.

Tue 7/30/2013
DAMASKSJAGMAO
ICEBLUEABUSERS
PERSONARESPECT
EGGOTITHE
SATISFACTION
OPALULCEREBBS
LIKEAURALERA
VEEROLLINGLOT
ECUBRITSTONE
DEPTCLIOSONCE
WHATSGOINGON
BOWIETRIP
IMAGINEERASERS
LETSRIPSEDALIA
ENTSTASESSION
Wed 2/6/2013
BIGAMYEGGALMA
ONESIENRALEIS
ASTHMACOSECOL
SENIORPROJECT
TTOPSLUMETUAW
AGESTHORPE
BALLEATOMENS
BRAISEDDESIREE
GORMESRITSAR
UPROARIONA
NEYTANGONABOB
BROKENPROMISE
ASIAIVEAMINOR
MARVSETGISELE
BODEHRSSESTET
Tue 1/15/2013
BAITICANTHOOK
ULNANOUSEORSO
NORMSHEETNITS
THEPAPERCHASE
SADMIRETHNIC
DIRECTROUTES
WAHINEOASAVI
HUEVORODPATEN
ERRAOLFINERY
LABASSISTANT
PLINTHOTTRAT
CAUGHTUNAWARE
CRIBREICEABLE
DUDEAREASIBET
REELYARNSFISH
Wed 12/12/2012
EQUISTEAMSLOT
SULKHOBBITAVA
PETEROTOOLEWAX
OURHEELEAR
SEALYDAVIDLEAN
ASSUMEASSANTE
VESSELSSCAR
SLOSCAREUPEND
HIFIHUNTERS
ALATEENDOUBLE
WORLDWARIZELIG
ALIENNAOTB
JOBBESTPICTURE
ANILETOUTUSER
MEAERUPTSTEST
Tue 11/27/2012
ARALFOXYHAFT
BONEODIEEERIE
FLOGTINALYCRA
ALLALONGTHESEM
BEDLAMSECT
ATATATRAIN
WATCHTOWERUSNA
IRATEFASSTEEP
LILIPURPLEHAZE
TACOMANATO
NAPSTIRADE
EMIJIMIHENDRIX
BANJOELANASAP
ARDORLINCROLE
NYSELADYENOL
Fri 10/26/2012
SQUAREPEGBEDIM
TURQUOISEERICA
PIOUSNESSDAVEY
ECLATTETEATETE
TKOBANAZORES
EIGHTYCRUZTAT
EYEHOLESLOSS
REBAVOID
MARXTOPKNOTS
FITFLEXEGRETS
ONAJAGBIDNAP
ROBOCALLSAMATO
GROUTPOODLECUT
OCULOGOLDENERA
TATERADDRESSED
Wed 9/26/2012
MEALSPFCGRAS
APNEAAILSLIMY
FINALWVAOASES
ICONONERADENO
ASUTHEKICKISUP
NOENDNASA
ENCINOXEDTHAI
FIELDEXTGOALS
TARPPAXCORSET
ASSTSLASH
ANDITISGOODMOP
PORNODOLTPANE
PLATAITITERSE
LIMESRADURKEL
YEARTBSGUSTS
Fri 9/14/2012
JOHNDENVERCOG
EPISODEONEPURE
DECAPITATEITGO
INKIFSVASSAR
HEYSMELTING
RIPERRIOMONDE
INONLOSTBALLOT
NTSBEATLESINO
GETMARRIEDSNOW
ORMERANYSTERN
FLATRATEGEL
FISHESRODSTE
INTOCOCONUTOIL
REEDAPPLECORES
ERRPAULREVERE
Wed 8/22/2012
ASSADDSTMAMET
LOOFAETEAMARE
GOLEMSOTROXIE
WATERRATS
CMDGERMANYIDS
HERBERTPERATIO
ALAEISAOSTHAN
STURMUNDDRANG
GROUNDSPEED
JOHANNGOETHE
OSTDOGSTAROEN
IMBUERTEORBIT
NOONMARCOHERE
ESAIIDEALOYER
DIRTRESTEMOSS
SDSOASESBUS
Wed 8/8/2012
BCCAARONBARON
AOLSMOREOMANI
ELITABOOXENON
ZAMBEZINCOANE
BORONGAUNTER
ALDRINFRITO
MUONSSEERHOME
UAWKITTENSVAL
RUNSCOENTHEUS
IVANSPEORIA
JASMINEBOROS
ADAXTCANODIZE
CABLERADIIZIA
ONIONANEEDEMS
BONOSBONDSDAY
Tue 7/17/2012
DOJODOCKTADA
ALUMDINAHAVEC
MESARATSOBIKE
POTHEADSMOLDER
FAUCETEVE
OSOROMANIAASP
CARGOVANANNA
ERNESTHEMINGWAY
AGODOEROTARU
NEWBLANDLYREP
SEESWEETS
ZITHERSINSEAMS
AMORALIGNEDIE
CHOUTUSHYMARX
KONGEMITSTAY
Mon 6/18/2012
ZESTGUTKISSUPS
INCHUNHOCEANIA
OTOEESOLETITBE
NOWHEREMANNOBS
UNREALEAT
GOLDENSLUMBERS
FOLKWAILILL
ANIMICHELLECAY
NOVITOOGENE
WECANWORKITOUT
OSOKANSAS
COHNREVOLUTION
HEYJUDEITEANDY
UNPOSEDNUTLCDS
BOOBOOSGPSEASE
Tue 6/12/2012
BRRDAVESWEAR
ROEAGEEHITTER
ANDDONCORLEONE
DARKAGEMUDDEL
INSTHEBRIDGE
LAVANOELINSET
THERMOREAVE
DAROVERTHERES
NOONEARTIST
TWEENDRABROPE
RIVERKWAISOB
ENEINARATTRAP
ANNIVERSARYALI
TESTEEICONVAT
ROARSBENEONT
Wed 3/21/2012
BLURTSTHELOT
RANCHODEARONE
IMPAIRCORDOVAN
SARNETHERSERA
KNICKVASESYON
ECCOPSISUBOLT
THEQUEENOFSOUL
SADNATORAW
ESCFAINGLO
ARETHAFRANKLIN
DIEGONOORSATE
ERSPHNOMBURTS
NAPEOOLALAELI
ICETRAYSABIDED
RECTORSBYNAME
OSTENDSIFTED
Wed 2/15/2012
TABSTHAISINRE
ECRUWANNANEAT
ATOPOSKARAERO
MAKERSLIONSDEN
ERABERNINI
SANTEEGRANTS
UTESLEPTORGAN
MALAINHOTLETO
ARENAEDDIEXER
CIVICSANNERE
ASHTRAYORR
ARTESIANPSYCHE
COOTFLINTDIET
MARTFLORAESME
ERSESYNCSREPS
Mon 11/21/2011
BEHINDZITBLUE
ADAGIOACERONS
BIGOTSNEAATIP
ETSAVEBOYTOY
SAGOCAREENS
BROWNEYEDGIRL
RERANALPSENG
INANEGALAPNEA
TONRITALAYER
GREENEYEDLADY
AREARUGETAS
BATMANFRABAR
AIRSIMOLOYOLA
SNEETEXINONIT
EYESELYITUNES
Tue 9/27/2011
VIALTODDLEMAR
ACLUHEREONAMI
CHICKENYARDRIM
CAWERNIONS
DIGITALYEARBOOK
ONOSLIEREENSY
ODOMRNSCPA
ROPERUGTOOMANY
TISTRUSLAV
PIPITHEINZESE
ANIMALINSTINCTS
LUXEETAROE
ARICATCHINALIE
CEEAVERSELAME
EDSBERETSEXPO
Wed 9/21/2011
ZEBUARYANSMCA
IRANREEDITIAN
GARDENGROVEDVD
ELOIERASER
PURRSOCEANSIDE
EMUSINONUZIS
UPBEATRUMPENS
BAKERSFIELD
OPEAMIESAUCES
FIRSCTRSNASH
SANTAROSATERSE
ONEDGEMART
RICINNERCITIES
TSKLIESONETTA
STSENCODESTAX
Sat 9/17/2011
PATTIMEDSTRAP
ALIENABDUCTIONS
VOLKSWAGENJETTA
ETEEASENUDIST
SOCKRONDO
SCENTEDREENTER
HATESCLAWSOTO
ESTSFAITSDRAW
ATECURSEEERIE
FERRULESEXCELL
ATLASREIN
AWHILEPLUMTAM
PAIDASTEEPPRICE
INVESTMENTTEAMS
AGERSIDSSOLES
Wed 8/31/2011
LAPPSODASINMY
ODORTROLLCODE
CALIFORNIAGIRLS
IMOVERITTEC
ADENHELPME
PLATOSWOEELAL
RAKERBOHRDART
OVIAMORISTTKO
PINSACROWATER
ESTANAYBOLERO
RHONDAARAB
COGBROCADES
LITTLESAINTNICK
ABOURABATIATE
ROOMSTYNEALOE
Wed 7/20/2011
ROYALAGESHAIR
ARENASAMEARMA
BBGUNAFARJEAN
BIGTENFLAPJACK
ITSADELPHI
BIDEHISSAT
ORGANISMSEGO
THEAFRICANQUEEN
IERSIGOURNEY
COMBATERIN
ASHANTIBAL
ALANKINGAIRACE
JUNKROAMSENNA
ACTISUITOATES
REINTKOSFLUSH
Wed 7/6/2011
PHDSEZRAINEPT
EEROSOARSEXES
KNOWATOYOTAWONK
ONSETUEYS
EASTTOWESTCASH
ONLINETABLE
AIRLLDSASHES
SPOTPALELAPTOPS
PATOISASIRTE
ENOLABRANDS
RAREWESTTOEAST
ROOFUNITE
REMARKALAKRAMER
ELITELIVETANS
VIDEOLEANETTE
Wed 6/8/2011
TENTSJAMASOB
SPOOKALASALEK
PETRISUDSFATE
SEVENCOMEELEVEN
ALANREA
NANTESPETERSON
APESHARESEASE
CRAPSLOOTABLE
ROTABOXCARLED
ENORMITYTIMERS
AIGAHSO
ONALOSINGSTREAK
NELLHOSERANTO
EAVEOWENALVIN
PALTACTMESTA
Tue 3/29/2011
STAVESHANWASP
ARRESTTSOOCTA
TAYLORMTGMUIR
OLAVCLEOPATRA
NANETTEROONE
THESANDPIPER
ATVETALZANE
THEMERITSEINE
ARNEBEATNED
BUTTERFIELD8
RARERTESTOUT
ELIZABETHILSA
LOCOESESUMMER
KOLALCDONEONE
OPENSOSLASSOS
Wed 3/9/2011
ASANSACKSLAM
MEMOACMESLOGE
FLYINGHIGHIVES
MASSAGEEIDERS
ELYGHALI
LEILADAYENOCH
OLLAERRANDRAE
BLOWININTHEWIND
EINSLEETSABED
DEANSSTSAKIRA
BEATSAMI
COBALTEVENPAR
ABLETAILINGOFF
SOURYORBAUSED
HERSLEANPEWS
Sun 2/27/2011V-2
HUMVEESMIXESCHIVIED
ENTITLEARENAOUTINLA
TEACHERTONALSPANNED
HAREVIETNAMVETSCOME
RAVEFLEWEONSRACE
ATRESTDROOLEDSEVENS
CHARLESSOLESFLYINTO
ESTSLAWDADFRINTSB
AGATESVFEEDME
MTVAVATARGARNERVIS
CHIPSINREPOTCOSSACK
CELLVINCEVAUGHNTREE
AFLATCOANCHORSRAIMI
BEATITMSTEURDUNCAN
EDGEDINMESASTENDONS
ELEVONRODSUNNIS
LOVEDONESVWHITENESS
IGOTOUELEFIATRSVPS
MRIVESTALVIRGINSEEG
AECEDESLAVEOSUINT
SSERURHATEDNAPNTS
Wed 2/2/2011
LASTBLUEDROP
OTTISRANDREPS
BEALLASHESSHES
BARTABAMAANT
ESTATESSTATES
RESTTAUSAHIT
SIGNEGRETS
ISLANDERSLANDER
STILLEIAMB
MACEESSESOLA
ORANGESRANGES
JARLOOSMOLTS
USINGSINGARETE
TACOISNTHERES
SPEDRTESSSRS
Wed 9/22/2010
MALAYDEBIRATE
AMOLEEPANEXUS
ROSESRIADIETS
LEIFERICSSON
IBNSIDINERT
NAGSCELINEDION
HAHONESBTU
PRESIDENTWILSON
ITAGREGASP
PERIHELIONDRAW
STRADSOSERE
OLDMACDONALD
GAUNTOVALADED
APNEAOERILENE
STARRSRSDARED
Tue 8/10/2010
LEADADDUPLOAD
INSONUEVALPGA
STEWILLERCEES
TRANSMUTATION
POETBOOSTS
SCANHESULTRA
HOOTIETUBJAIL
AIMALCHEMYNET
SLEWKAYWARCRY
TETONBLUNAES
ADORNSRANT
PSEUDOSCIENCE
AMATZIPITDOOS
NOPEIRENEPLAT
GOADEELEDGOLD
Thu 7/29/2010
ADMITRAWHOYAS
TOILEEWEALULA
ENDORSANDRAKES
ANDSCISTERNS
MILEHIGHSTADIUM
SEEINNOOHTRI
PDQLUXJUGS
TOQUENORTAPES
ABUTAOLLAX
LOARPMVOXSAT
CENTERICECIRCLE
DOMINICAIHOP
STAYALERTBOONE
AIREDECOADOZE
CLYDESERRELOS
Tue 7/13/2010
SNIPARENAGNAT
TOTELATEREINE
EVERYBITANANGEL
MAMMALAPELHRE
ICYSINTAX
HASTHEHOTSFOR
EVETWOTOTRIPE
REEDSTABSADAM
ASKUPERIESELI
ABSOLUTEWORST
VASSARDEB
ELYTERPSDROVE
TELLSITLIKEITIS
CRUEDEUCEETAT
HOMEASSAYNOLA
Tue 6/29/2010
LOBBYSANSMETZ
AWIREETATARIE
PENALNOVAIAMB
SNOWLEOPARDTOR
CLEARLEONORA
ECUDRIPANA
BALESTATOCSIN
BLACKANDWHITE
SCROLLDABOMEN
LIEAMASUMA
SPRINTSPROWL
KOIKILLERWHALE
USSRTOONHOTEL
NEEDBETEALOSS
KYRAESTDTERSE
Tue 6/8/2010
OMANPLUSBREWS
DOLEADZERACER
INGAJOIEOSHEA
STARMAPMETHODS
THEMAMASSHE
IRAOUTEREAR
SEWSSTONERELI
TWISTANDSHOUT
OERHIREONACME
PREVENTSOAS
AIRTHEPAPAS
FAIRSEXONEBELL
ABOILBASTALIA
RENEEOPERLENT
MESSYXRAYLEES
Tue 5/18/2010
SALADESQPOSTS
ADELEPEUIVORY
SHELFAMINEXUS
HORSERUSTLER
ACSCULIANERE
STEELTRUSSES
ABBASTASTATES
PLANBSTLSTEVE
AORTASEOSERES
ROBERTSRULES
TDSFATGONGOA
MIXEDRESULTS
DORAGAAAUNITS
ECASHMTNEDDIE
NTESTYETDOEST
Wed 4/21/2010
FLIPDROPFROM
LOREDOLLSDINO
OGREENDUPANAT
WEEDSREGISSIT
GEESESEALERS
BLUESTARSTE
AOLEGISYETIS
DIAGONALPARKING
ENRONNEATMOT
ATFSCOOPERS
SANDALSEZRAS
AREPEELSISHOT
LURKEXXONTAMO
ALDOREVUEARAM
DESIDITSSERB
Sat 4/3/2010
SLACKJAWEDCOED
TABULARASAAXLE
ONEFINEDAYDIAN
ROLFENEUTEDIT
ALAGLADROTINI
GIRLOSIRISZEN
ENDUESNEPALESE
TATITPKE
QUIETINGIAMNOW
UNDENDRUNSERE
ASIANSALGAWBA
SHAHPENTLEWIS
HAMMANNIHILATE
EDIECRIMENOVEL
DENTEYEOPENERS
Wed 3/24/2010
ESCAPEALAIAPE
SHADOWBAYSSOX
SIRREEODEALEI
ERDARIVERBOATS
SKITSNESERNST
NEAPSALF
SEABRIARSEBAN
STLOUISMISSOURI
NASDSTYMIEDCX
OOMINLAW
THEUNOWNALEPH
WORLDSFAIRLIRA
AWEETUIABUSER
NICCASTDURESS
GETKNEESMERSH
Wed 3/3/2010
ARESQUARESPED
MELSUPPEDAHSO
ALIREDANDWHITE
SIZEBARHALAS
SCARLETTOHARA
RACEDELANEY
ASCOTMEREDNA
ROLLOSCARBECK
CSIEDYSDARES
HAMELINGARR
BLANCHEDUBOIS
IDONTIMASRTA
VIVIENLEIGHCAT
AMENCARNESALA
NEROOBOISTSYN
Thu 2/11/2010
ATMOLEARYDEBS
CBERARTOOAQUA
DERNGETTYSBURG
CACAOSRIOTALE
MYTHIANPET
EMANCIPATION
HRSEMTEUROPA
OUTVOTEAPLENTY
SHOOINSLSSOS
PROCLAMATION
DERIRANASH
ASUUSNAITCHES
REPUBLICANHOLE
MATSAMEBAOGLE
SLOEWANESSION
Tue 12/29/2009
JIVECAGEYREB
EBONABOVEMERE
ROLLEDOVERATIT
KSULEDSTATS
MISTERNICEGUY
ALEVEPEDRO
ROTOAUSSIEFOP
LOWRENTTOWLINE
ONOICIESTOXEN
ANOLDBLESS
BRAVENEWWORLD
IOWANICICUR
RAMSANOTHERONE
DRATDENTEASTI
SSNSATYRETON
Wed 12/9/2009
HELMSAGESMOCK
ADIEUXEDTOMEI
SWORDLILYARENT
PINESOLARAL
ENEBLOWDRYERS
DALESARIDSTOA
WONALSOTAP
NEWWORLDORDER
DIXSHELNEE
INTOALAISTAPH
FEELDROWSYNIA
REAMLUCKIER
BRIARFIELDWORK
ADOREARTLANCE
MARYSYESVISED
Wed 10/21/2009
BOYIMALLSABLE
ANANIVEAAURAS
DUMBSDOWNTRENT
ESSOWWIGEORGE
TREASURER
MICHAELSENATOR
ONDECKKEGOVO
BARRETISVINOS
IWOIRAJINGLE
LEMONDEJACKSON
SALESSLIP
BROWNEOBIOHOS
RABATCRASHTEST
AGILEMECCAALE
DEEDSISHOTPOP
Wed 8/19/2009
ALAWSTOATOWES
SEGATOMCATHOMO
TIOSERENOWDRIP
AFGHANPRESIDENT
SNOOTNRA
GREATGRANDPARENT
RIALSEXAMTOO
IATETRAGICSHOW
ETESHEDINANE
GARAGEDOOROPENER
LTDNORSE
THESECRETGARDEN
HOAXARISTASEXY
SUZIDAMIENAMEN
TRESBEENSTIDY
Wed 8/12/2009
SAGFIGHTMOBY
ACNEACRIDORLE
MOANTEENSIBIS
PULLAHEADFRATS
ERYLOSTCRECHE
RETRIMWHOOSHED
EDIEEHUDS
CAPTAINAHAB
RESTSMIRA
ANISETTEHATRED
MARTYRWHOMDVD
APERSSHOWCASES
ZONESLANTBEAT
ELIAROLEORELO
DICKOBEYSADS
Sat 7/4/2009
SERBENIACAWET
ALEAMONGONANO
ROCKGARDENNITA
THEUNITEDSTATES
RIDALOPTALENT
EMEERNEWATDDE
ALSNANPURR
STARSANDSTRIPES
ARISPRESEL
CARSPANSSECTS
KVETCHCHAIART
REDWHITEANDBLUE
ALAIRODSTEIGER
CELLELATEDOSE
EDELSLYASENTO
Wed 6/17/2009
ACTASALPSIEGE
SHALTBICCLARA
TIKKICMLIOTAS
ONEARMBAMISNT
CLIMBBALLADE
TRAINSETRIOTER
DARNGRAMS
STEERTUBPIPES
UCONNTREE
WIESELKEROSENE
ENDUSERRENAL
THENOAROLDAGE
TANGONOROATEN
ELITEBOOATEST
DECORYTDNESTS
Thu 6/4/2009
HAMLETDEISTS
POSTURERESORTS
INTAILSALLRISE
COOPSTAWABBIE
ARLOFSLICSUMP
REAALIENORTOE
DETONATELEGEND
PETEROSE
HITSATMORELAND
EOERAREBITIER
ADMSXENONALAE
PIPETCUTIGETA
EDUARDOIGNORED
DERNIERCITRONS
SASSEDSLOANS

JOE: This puzzle was one of my favorite to construct. The theme idea originated with Pete Collins, who envisioned the base path as SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE and HOMER. The problem was that they weren't the same length, so the grid faced symmetry challenges. I struggled for hours ... even making each theme entry plural. Subconsciously, I avoided the past tense — thinking they would be the same length as the plurals and harder to finesse into a coherent wording of the theme. But I was wrong. When I finally came around to trying that notion, it was like hitting the jackpot; everything just fell into place. My advice to other constructors: look hard for natural symmetry and focus on variations that don't fight the fill process.

PETE: This was Joe and my fourth collaboration out of nine (and counting?). I think it was my favorite, along with our first (Sunday, August 3, 2008). Our early collaborations usually arose from me coming up with a crazy idea, getting stymied trying to construct a grid, then throwing the grid at Joe and begging him to finish it. Joe never backed down from a challenge — even if it did result in hours of teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling. I'm especially proud that this puzzle landed in "Will Shortz Picks His Favorite Puzzles".

Mon 5/25/2009
ZEROBOWSSLAB
AXESOLEOCORE
PINTOLINAVID
STEELMAGNOLIAS
ROBHEMAN
JIBTOASTSGTO
ADAPTORSCAT
BIGMOMMASHOUSE
BOGSSTOPPER
AMYGROPESSRI
JANETRES
PRELUDETOAKISS
REALALAIINLA
ANNOCLODROOF
MOSTTOSSTREE
Sat 5/2/2009
STYSASHESBIC
OKRAUMIAKSENA
PIERBAGMENLPN
TMANATEEOMOO
IPSTRIPLECROWN
MOOSHURAINER
ANNIECOASTTRY
PREAKNESS
COBELWAYEAGER
UPRISEDYNAMO
THEFAVORITEMPS
REESDEARRELS
ALDSTIGMAOBOE
TIEASSISITOYS
EARLETSONSYS
Wed 11/19/2008
NOPARNIPSALTE
EVITAAGROROWS
DOZENZEALGOOS
ZACHARYMONTE
LEATHERELATION
ADZODERAGENE
DOZEONASENSES
WINELOVER
MONAMIIVEATME
ANOSCIEGOREX
REPRESSRANPAST
SALUTOUTSTEP
ACABELLAASPER
LACINDAKSTERE
ATENGENEKORAN
Wed 11/12/2008
COBRAFOAMTGIF
APRILARLOARTI
PAIDAVISITLEAN
ELMBENICEAGE
SMARTINVESTOR
AMYTEASES
MOIRAPSATSEAR
ARMYCLAREZANY
PENARABSWILDE
OBLATECIN
PUTSINATRANCE
APHIDSANGDRS
TEEDTHERATPACK
INREOMNIITMAY
ONESNOONPASSE
Tue 11/4/2008
ADESACROSSFAT
TERILEANTOALE
ELECTIONDAYNIL
AIMEETORABES
SLIMMEDPREVENT
EATLOWEVOLTA
HEMLINEVICTOR
CASTAVOTE
LOUVREVACATES
ANNIVVENAYEN
BEREAVEELGRECO
CPASIIIAHERO
OATBALLOTBOXES
AGEONEIDADATE
TEDODDESTAMES
Wed 10/8/2008
ALFSPADSSEDAN
DEIALEUTKARMA
HARDBACKEDITION
OSPREYAVANRA
CHOYBAKEDCAKES
SHARIAIR
ESQELISACIDER
SHUFFLETHEDECK
SHOOTSTAIRWOO
LEDONPOT
DUCKDECOYSAMOS
ESAALTTAMALE
BUICKDEALERSHIP
TAROTALERTEVA
SLOTSRLESSREL
Mon 9/22/2008
MANICOMAHATHE
ENOLACANONROM
MOTETCRAMSORA
ONACRUISEALONG
SAHARAPROPS
ARARATSOAR
REBELINORECON
EELLUGNUTSAVA
ALECNOELNAMES
AMURCOVERT
APRESTROWEL
ILLBEAROUNDARR
NEATBONEARTIE
ERNULNARYIELD
ZOOPEALSSORES
Thu 8/7/2008
ABAAAMATMSGS
LEIGHDOTOATIT
TONEITDOWNMESA
RUNNINGONEMPTY
CTNEROS
DARYADJSATTEN
ERETHROWITHOME
NODSIONICSOAR
TOOTHENAMELLIV
EMCEEESSAISLE
TMANADM
CHOCTAWINDIANS
LOBEGOLDENMEAN
OPELARIAGABLE
GIRLTEAKNOTE
Sun 8/3/2008OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!
TEEMALOADMLIXAGASP
AXLEVALLIEINESHINE
REVERENDEVERENDSOREN
PRETENDSELITELISTEN
STSYUMHISTORYISTORY
UNEATENEMIT
SAWTOSEATACAWEOLAV
SPOTLESSPOTLESSSWORE
REWEDSWONTGENOME
RSTUPITSTOPITSTOP
ISAASKINERREDSRS
MANDATEANDATEGETS
ENGINETOILORELSE
ATESTFINALISTINALIST
NARCEEENYMPHSVIDEO
JIVEPEDAGOG
LABOREDABOREDOILSHE
UNOCALGOFORMANTOMAN
ENOKISONATINAONATINA
GENESOREGLATKETROT
OXEYEBASESTAIDOKIE
Fri 3/21/2008
ROSEBUSHESUSAF
ERASERHEADSQMI
POLARBEARSAUER
OSTLASTSNIELS
TINASMADEIT
AROUNDSAMZOO
DARTEEYOREERR
AKAOSMOSISBAD
MENLIESONVOTE
ALGMGRCOAXER
NEESONABOUT
DAZESINOUTOJO
EVEROCEANLINER
VESTTESTTAKING
ESTABETSYWETSY
Thu 2/21/2008
ROBEPSATTHIS
UPATATADREADE
SAUCEPANSERROL
ELMLARDAPED
FILTERBASKET
IBARSARIANNA
SASSAMNIONOTT
ALICHEWSATCAT
ABARESTEDSKIL
CONCERTLISLE
SAMDONALDSON
ORLEAIWAQUA
CANOEMIXEDNUTS
ITEMSARIDOINK
NAYSISEEUTES
Tue 2/5/2008
PALEOGEEAMBER
ELEERULELOOSE
PARKEDILLEGALLY
SRONEDLIT
IMINTROUBLEHEP
ORSNAIROXO
EMORYDRESCHER
MARMHERBSHOCK
CREATUREBOSSY
ECOIRISPER
EOSPRESSAGENTS
USAPREIII
LENGTHYMEETINGS
OVULEEBANMERS
SATYRPARTPREY
Wed 1/30/2008
PALETTEBOBCATS
AGONIESONEIDAS
KEGGERSLEGGING
ARPEGGIOAGT
AMIGOSREFRY
LIMEDMIRROES
OSEYAZNARNIA
HALFDOZENEGGS
ADDERSLOWIMF
DATAMINSANAA
AMEANILLEST
APUPEGGYSUE
BEGGARYVEGGIES
MALARIAENGARDE
SKITTERSTOREUP
Thu 12/20/2007
DAFTOVENLOSIN
OLLANEMOACHOO
EVERYENTRYTHATS
SAXILESAIRWAY
SPEEACNE
INTHEGRIDHASTHE
DAWESNITREN
ENOSSPITSMOST
ANAOATMOUSE
SAMEFIRSTLETTER
SIREVASE
BUSTLEATRAARM
ASTHEENTRYSCLUE
RELETCAANABET
ODORSONYXTASS
Mon 7/9/2007
MAMMALYESMAAM
ERITREAARREARS
SEASTARCATNAPS
IONSHOAD
ALANISATFETC
COLASPBSDROOP
COLIAIDCOSELL
ENEOCTOPUSROE
NIGGLEMOPTINA
TERRAJEDSINES
SOOTINSINGLE
WORNTHEY
ROADTAXBARTABS
PRAIRIEARRIERE
MARMOTSIAMSAM
Mon 7/2/2007
CARATSCHECRAB
ONECUPHALLANA
STUCCOWALLAMEN
ASPSTIFFARMING
FOSSEOUSTS
JASONCOOP
ALIESPEEDSGUY
WORSECONDITIONS
STEGOTTENRIDE
CATSDONOR
SWORDASPEN
TIMESTABLESFAA
ELIABEFOREHAND
ACTSARAERMINE
DOSEROBSTORES
Thu 5/10/2007
REHABONKPKEEP
AVILAPEARNAPE
TENADDEDTOSEVEN
ENDGUNSPEWEES
MINETHEO
HUNDREDOVERFOUR
ATOLLLASSDRE
YETIDADDYRIIS
ORIHUMEPENCE
FIFTYMINUSEIGHT
HAMSNUNN
SMARTYMIRAEVA
FIVETIMESELEVEN
PLEANOGOTRENT
DOSTGMANYARDS
Wed 3/14/2007
TEACHCSISPPPN
ALCOAOUSTZONE
RETOPNLERZOOM
PNUPPCTUREARNO
TAPEREEAST
PRIMPMTOSSA
SPROENIDUPPNG
ALAPREDONPNOT
POTPEDALENEWS
STENTSYOUNG
GATOMRISPN
OKAPOPNIONPECE
PUPLWAITJERKS
URALETTEATILT
SENSDEESSAFES
Mon 2/26/2007
STORMDENTINAS
CARNEAVEANART
APASSAGETOINDIA
MELSCARSLEAZY
HAMMATEE
GARAGEATTENDANT
ADELEWORDROO
MODELIENSESTA
MRIFAREDROID
ANGELSANDSAINTS
SOTSROME
SARTREYODAOER
THEHIDDENAGENDA
ASPENATEELCID
BOORSBIDDIETS
Mon 11/13/2006
SPARWOODSPREK
LEGOABBIEROTE
AREADEISMAONE
BUDDHISTHOLYMAN
SANELES
SAWINGMAIDCAW
PRIDEBARNMOPE
ANDESPACKANIMAL
MIESODESENACT
SENARESDAISES
ALTDOTS
BLAZEINBROOKLYN
EASTCAROMIIII
NITEOPINERENT
ERICSATEDTUGS
Thu 5/18/2006
PIGLOTPDAATIT
ONEONEARCNEMO
STOVESTUETEAM
TORENTRMSINXS
UNGLDRIMSCI
PEELHEARSTDLE
ORANOUTLET
OUTVOTEFUCHSIA
APIECEELKE
FITCABLESBAST
LGORODHASTO
HARERIARATTAN
OLANBITALLURE
PACEISHTEETER
IRKSSHEASSESS
Tue 5/2/2006
FLAMESABEORGS
ROYALALASTELE
OVERMONTHSOMEN
MESARIOTJOANS
DUCTSMOLINE
ATROPHYTAKEN
SEANCECUKEEMU
ANDASTATEAVIS
PSIVTENAMPERE
OHARESWOONED
EDWINAQUITS
DRAKECABSTACO
GAVEPUTAHOLDON
ACERIBARREEDY
ROSSPERUESSEX