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Samuel A. Donaldson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1610/2/200810/5/20141
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2115403
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100

with constructor comments

See the answer words debuted by Samuel A. Donaldson.


16 puzzles by Samuel A. Donaldson

Sun 10/5/2014TIMBER!
BBSRISQUETIPPPAYIN
RATINTURNONCEAMORE
INIASEASYASABCSOURS
ETHEPERIODSSANSKRIT
FULLTILTFATNOEETS
MERTZSEWUPPLANA
MMIAIRSTEALERSPOTS
DETESTABLEYIELDUTIL
SWALEPRANCPRESOKOA
ELLAANGERSOAPING
INFCSTUDENTSKED
OBADIAHNABOOPDAS
ZINRMARYROUNDCSINY
MESSPSHAWONIONRINGS
ANTESTOPHATSJOEGET
NACHOSAILSBURMA
AILIMPTZEASSESSED
SALMINEOBATISTEHAVE
ELIOTAHEADOFTIMEYAM
ELOPECHINONECARIDO
DYNESHINGLORENATEN
While listening to the Pitbull-Kesha duet "Timber" on the radio for the scrillionth time earlier this summer, my train of thought went something like this:
  1. I really need to change the station.
  2. Timber. That means falling trees.
  3. Falling trees! That could be a crossword theme!

After an hour or so sussing out some possible theme entries, I went with my favorites. Normally with a hidden word gimmick I strongly prefer to have the hidden word straddle the answer words (as in ETHEL MERTZ and BURMA SHAVE). But I couldn't make that work with enough other trees for a Sunday-sized puzzle, so I used some single-word answers too (like INFIRMARY and TIPPECANOE). I felt compelled to have the trees symmetrically placed in the grid, which also limited my options.

Ultimately, Will and his team kept 97 of my 144 clues (67%) and slightly modified another 22 (15%). That means only 25 clues (17%) were brand new. But I won't pat myself on the back too much — it helps that 14 of the clues are [--] or [TREE]!

Thu 9/4/2014
CLEANINPENFIB
TILLSTORSOADO
REKLATSREEDROD
LUSTAMASEARLY
ONCESHAPE
TEMLEHORERBMOS
ARIDETHORSOPH
SIXDAYBOOKVIE
SCOTFROMARENA
EKLUMRAYARODEF
ONIONASIP
VEGASNUTSEGGO
OUIFLIPONESLID
IRSILEUMPIANO
DOTTBSPSANDOR
When I saw FLIP ONE'S LID in the terrific February 8, 2014, freestyle puzzle from my friends Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber, the idea for this puzzle's theme came right away. I was pretty surprised to see from my online research that the theme hadn't been done before. Yes, there have been puzzles where the letters to theme answers are reversed in the grid — heck, there have been puzzles where whole lines and chunks of the grid are to be entered backwards. But none that I found played off of FLIP ONE'S LID and the obvious connection to hats. So I felt the idea was original enough to pursue.

In my first draft, I had "hat" in all of the theme clues, thinking that might be a helpful tip. But all those "hat"s made for awfully boring clues, so that's when I got the idea to be a little more deceptive with the theme clues. I'm glad I tumbled to this, as it's now my favorite aspect of the puzzle.

Looks like my clue writing is getting a little better — this time 42 of my 78 clues (54%) survived unscathed, and another 12 clues (15%) got minor plastic surgery. That means 24 clues (31%) are the original work of Will and his team. I still aspire for better, but I'm pleased with the overall percentage. I'm hopeful that some of the rejected clues were due to space constraints, but I should have been conscious of that myself when writing them. With 78 clues, one can't afford to be loquacious as in constructor notes.

Embarrassing confession: it wasn't until I had printed the puzzle for submission to Will that I realized I had FEZ (not backwards) in the upper-right corner. I even had a clue along the lines of [Shriner hat]! That kind of inconsistency is a rookie mistake, so I'm glad I caught it. The lesson, as always: Zs are sexy sirens, but they'll mess with you more often than not.

Wed 3/19/2014
NOHASSLEASTRAL
PREMOLARBEWARE
RUNALONGBEATIT
ZETAJAYESS
TAKEAHIKEADDTO
USASSGTSAXON
BOTOXSTAIR
BUZZOFFAMSCRAY
AXIONHYENA
SNOWGREATEND
KOLASMAKELIKEA
ITDIDSINAN
BANANAANDSPLIT
URANUSSTATUARY
MYGOSHTOYSTORE
This puzzle's proof that it takes a village to make a crossword. The first iteration of the puzzle was sent back to me in December 2012, to remove some fill like I ATE IT and NSFW. The revised puzzle was accepted in June of last year (in case anyone's wondering about the current waiting time for Wednesday puzzles). After the puzzle was accepted, Will and his team changed three letters in the grid, which affected four answers (AXTON, CROAT, FTC, and NOA became AXION, GREAT, FIG, and NEA, respectively — a considerable improvement to say the least). In addition, the format of the clues to the theme answers also changed. The original clues were in the imperative, each beginning with "Go away." BUZZ OFF, for instance, was clued as ["Go away, bumblebee!"], and ["Go away, outdoor enthusiast!"] was the clue for TAKE A HIKE. Maybe that was a little too obtuse, or maybe it was confusing to have these and other non-theme imperatives in the clues.

Subtract the four new answers and the clue formatting revisions to the six theme answers spanning eight entries and you have 66 additional non-theme answers for which I submitted clues. Of those, Will left only 11 completely unchanged. He made what I would consider minor modifications (like changing [One of the "ice giants"] to [A solar system "ice giant"]) to another 24 clues. That means he completely re-wrote the remaining 31 clues, including, alas, [Newsman Donaldson] for SAM. (My other favorite was [Some fixed figures] for STATUARY, though looking back that was way too hard for an early-week puzzle.)

Normally I would want a higher percentage of my clues to make it through to the end, if for no other reason than my wanting an editor to have confidence that I really do know how to clue a crossword. But I'm fine with the percentage here, as I was originally conceiving of this as a Tuesday crossword instead of a Wednesday puzzle. After all the revisions, it feels more like a Wednesday puzzle to me.

I was happy to fit six theme entries into the grid, especially since the last one paired off three others. I also liked that the arrangement of the theme entries allowed for some open corners, which we don't often see in early-week grids. Sixty theme squares isn't impossibly dense, but the grid does betray some of the complexity in making it all work, at least in my hands. (Hello, SSGTS, A SOU, and SOLEA!) Still, I hope solvers find it entertaining. Those that didn't can just ... go away.

★POW Wed 10/16/2013
ALCAPPOHMYSYL
MOOSHUFARECOE
FLOORMATHISAUG
MAPEIRECRAG
BACONFATHERS
ICHOKEDIRAISE
NOONASIFAHS
THROWINTHETOWEL
OASHSIADARE
BEGOODANNOYED
HISPANICROOM
UTESACHTMAC
MANHERSHEYBABY
ONSEVACLEONAS
RTEXENAPTBOAT
I brainstormed phrases that could work as revealing entries for add-a-letter and drop-a-letter themes. THROW IN THE TOWEL stood out, not only because it allowed for the addition of HIS and HERS but also because it contained 15 letters. Crossword gold!

To class it up a little, I wanted theme entries where the HIS and HERS were appended to the front or the end, not jammed in the middle (e.g., PARIS FRANCHISE). And of course I needed four theme entries: two with HIS and two with HERS. Finally, I felt it important to have a HIS and HERS up top and another set at the bottom. Looking back, I don't know if all of these self-imposed constraints were essential, but I was happy with the symmetrical set of theme entries that emerged. HERSHEY BABY was my favorite.

The grid may not be the smoothest you'll ever see (LEONAS, NIDI, and ACHT, anyone?), but I like to think it was in service of the theme and some of the more interesting non-thematic fill. I spent a lot of time thinking whether it was something of a sin to have I CHOKED and I RAISE in the same line (much less the same grid), but ultimately I LIKED it.

Wed 4/17/2013
AMACABAPOGEE
MANITOBAMINORS
UPGRADEDALEROS
CLEARANCESALE
KERITAXFAVRE
SAWSPAPIES
CAMERAREADYDDT
OHOODETREADO
REVDEPOSITSLIP
PAIDDABPIU
SPEEDCVIMRSC
BLANKETDENIAL
BOURNERHODESIA
IMFINESECURITY
ONFOOTEEKNOS
Tue 3/26/2013
ACDCACEDESILU
THELORAXINTROS
MANALIVESTRODE
FRAMEISPSANG
ETDSTNGEEWHIZ
ESAUAGHASTANO
ROXIEHINGE
LEAPINLIZARDS
DEALTPRANK
OMGINASECSAGS
HOLYCOWAHATUT
NEETEEDGLARE
GLENDABYGEORGE
PAYTONROADKILL
SWEATYOUTISEE
Sun 3/3/2013SEVEN BLURBS FOR SEVEN BIOGRAPHIES
ANTEGGMISREADSCOPE
TEETERONIONDIPCOPAY
THECOOKINGOFJOYARISE
WITGUNNSTOURERDOS
OSOSNEEDORSGETONIT
THEDESTRUCTIONOFEVE
PLAYASKATERAINWEAR
EELERETONHOSEORTS
THESPADESOFJACKNOSEE
CARTSIXILLAID
ORSTHETIMEOFNICKBMW
EDYTARAFRALEE
PARASTHERIGHTSOFBILL
ITISLRONSOLOEDSEL
NAVYPIERCAPOBRUTES
THEDARKNESSOFPRINCE
AURORASALOTHOGTRAP
ABETSSTENORALBPGA
CLOSETHEWARFAREOFART
APAIRAIRINESSALICES
WATTBAYSTATEDONKEY
Thu 10/18/2012
ANYHOOJOEPESCI
DETAINAUTOLOAN
SADDLEINTHEBACK
ASPCATARTE
SPALIEMCISID
HOLEINTHEACE
ENIACITSTBS
DARKINTHESHOT
SSTLOOPETIT
HAYINTHEROLL
ETCBARUAEXTC
DORIAUSRDA
GRASSINTHESNAKE
AMBIENCEMUTTER
RESTSTOPSPELLS
Mon 2/20/2012
ETHANBOMBSTWO
TIARAARIALEON
CENTSSALMONROE
ERGMIMEVOIDS
TRAFFICARTERY
CARELLINMATE
MADAMSPEAKER
IFSROIIDS
RULESOFORDER
KROGERONEILL
PRESIDENTSDAY
SWEEPNEATURN
LUSTAFTEROWNED
OSUSLEPTMONDO
ESPTORSOSWOON
Thu 9/15/2011
HARRESTANIMALH
BREADTHRIBEYES
RESTORECHIANTI
OCTMIOHIDRST
KISSANSELWALT
EBOATIERARNIE
NONUNIONABIDER
CORNERLOT
COSETSCULDESAC
LUCRECANEIEIO
ETESBASALNERF
ALPCENWISIMF
NOTTHATALUMNAE
SORIANOYACHTIE
HKEEPERSCHOOLH
Wed 11/10/2010
POPSLEASTSOLI
EVANAMNIOTMEN
EECUMMINGSREBS
PREFABHHMUNRO
FUDGESONION
JJABRAMSBBKING
LEROYACCTS
ONYXSTRAWRAJA
BISONNIGER
LLBEANWWJACOBS
LEILAPSEUDO
AAMILNEMITTEN
MRISCCSABATHIA
ANNIIAMSOAARP
STIRSNAPSSWEE
Sat 6/19/2010
CRAPSTABLEWOVE
HOLYPERSONANIN
EVILINTENTISAT
RECONSIDERSAVE
IRENEERUSTLER
TREKSELENE
POPESSUSTAINED
ODONJELLSNOTI
PORTFOLIOREWON
URCHINKTWO
PEERSATEUROPE
MALATHENATURAL
ETALHOLESINONE
NEILASSEENONTV
URNSNEEDLENOSE
Sat 6/5/2010
JACKPOTBABYSIT
ULANOVAONLEASH
NEMESISHOTSPUR
EPEESTEEDSPRU
AHAINMESHEW
USTAONZESPICA
BINGOHURRAY
STABLESSAPIENS
EUREKASWEET
TREYSEPICSCAD
ANASANUNOLE
DEMFRINGEORLE
ADAGIOSSLANTED
TOPICALBESIEGE
ENSNAREYAHTZEE
Sat 3/27/2010
GINORMOUSEDNAS
ADAPTABLENOOSE
LOSTSTEAMDOONE
ALASLANATURNER
NIHNAPPERS
SPOTONSTMARK
LEPERBUILTINTO
IDEMDACCAZORN
PINPRICKSJEWEL
STOCKSFOSSEY
CREASESSAG
CASTASPELLWIMP
CRAINAXISPOWER
LEMONCAMEOROLE
IRENAEMERGENCY
Wed 6/3/2009
MALARIALGANDHI
ONEHORSEIBERIA
NONSTOPSASWARM
YDSBESTETTES
SHORJONS
EPCOTSMUTHEM
ULEESALARMIMI
TWENTYSIXSTATES
IATEAMEXOLMEC
LYEGNARAFTER
JAGRAGUA
VISORACMEARC
ANTICSHOTCOCOA
IRANISICECREAM
NECTARCONCORDE
Thu 10/2/2008
RAVENSCATREAD
UPONETUBAIPSE
BATTWIRLERLISP
ICESMUTDECOR
KEROUACTROUNCE
PICKYOURPOIS
ASSETANNAVAS
WANDGANGSFETE
ATADOWNDALES
YUKTERRITORY
GREELEYAMOEBAS
ADENIPREPONT
MAYOBRAINSURGE
EYERCALFINAIR
SSSSCHEFNIXON