Samuel A. Donaldson
Samuel A. Donaldson 

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14 puzzles by Samuel A. Donaldson — 13 solos and 1 collaboration (1 Sunday)

with Jeff Chen comments

See the answer words debuted by Samuel A. Donaldson.

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


Wed 3/19/2014
NOHASSLEASTRAL
PREMOLARBEWARE
RUNALONGBEATIT
ZETAJAYESS
TAKEAHIKEADDTO
USASSGTSAXON
BOTOXSTAIR
BUZZOFFAMSCRAY
AXIONHYENA
SNOWGREATEND
KOLASMAKELIKEA
ITDIDSINAN
BANANAANDSPLIT
URANUSSTATUARY
MYGOSHTOYSTORE
Fun outing today from one of my favorite people in crossword-land. I appreciate that Sam tries for non-standard grid layouts, breaking the mold to deliver something different. It would never have occurred to me to break up MAKE LIKE A / BANANA / AND SPLIT. At first I thought it was odd to have a single themer spread across three grid entries, but after considering the one themer containing SPLIT is split, I grinned.

Neat theme, a bit easy for a Wednesday, as all theme answers were readily inferable once the trick became apparent. I like what Sam's done to make the puzzle harder: look at those big NW and SE corners. Typically rows 1, 2, 14, and 15 get split up into three entries a piece, because using only two entries a piece produces a much more difficult filling challenge. I wasn't a huge fan of some of the short stuff required to do it (ERG, ORU = Oral Roberts U, AST, IRR, and the awkward TYE), but it sure was nice to get some long fill in unusual places. NO HASSLE is such a fantastic opening to the puzzle! That's the kind of 1-across I aspire to.

Today's fill falls in the camp of "let some ugly stuff by in order to achieve some snazzy fill." Man oh man did I like the SW corner: I mean, MY GOSH, OLD NAG next to a SKI BUM with its awesome double-acting clue? Please sir, I want some more! I did hitch a few times though, especially at the randomISH XOX and ugly-looking SSGTS, in addition to the aforementioned short stuff.

Hard to say which philosophy is best, the ultraclean-but-sometimes-lifeless or the zany-with-some-uggos (I don't think there's a clear right or wrong). The XOX section is a perfect example: I hadn't heard of the AXION, and I really appreciated learning something about that particular particle. But was it worth the price of XOX, the partial A SOU, and the chance that solvers will put in OXION/OZOWA or the like? I probably wouldn't have made the same decision as Sam/Will, but that's what's great about a daily puzzle with such a variety of constructors: if you don't like this trade-off, come back tomorrow and you'll get something different.

Off to make myself a banana split, which I'm pretty sure Sam and his puzzle are implicitly giving me permission to do.

★POW Wed 10/16/2013
ALCAPPOHMYSYL
MOOSHUFARECOE
FLOORMATHISAUG
MAPEIRECRAG
BACONFATHERS
ICHOKEDIRAISE
NOONASIFAHS
THROWINTHETOWEL
OASHSIADARE
BEGOODANNOYED
HISPANICROOM
UTESACHTMAC
MANHERSHEYBABY
ONSEVACLEONAS
RTEXENAPTBOAT
★ A few years ago, I was working on a construction at my local bagel shop, and a guy said, "Excuse me, but is that Crossword Compiler?". My first reaction was to hide under the table and/or pretend I didn't speak English, but luckily my second reaction was to shake Sam Donaldson's hand. Little by little we started hanging out along with Jim Horne, and now Sam is one of my favorite people in all of crossword-land. Amazing how a chance meeting can turn into something so awesome.

Sam used to blog daily over at Crossword Fiend and managed to write entertaining pieces every day for about two years while reviewing the CrosSynergy puzzles. One of his best features was "Guess the Constructor", where he ranked three guesses, trying to match the puzzle's grid and cluing vibe to one of the CrosSynergy regulars. If I were to play that game with this week's seven puzzles, I think I could have picked out Sam's in a heartbeat. It's a puzzle chock-full of Donaldson personality, and for that I give it the POW.

Fun theme with a catchy revealer, working on a deeper level than usual "add-a-letter(s)" themes by adding HIS and HERS to each of two phrases. I appreciated Sam's effort to incorporate the HIS and HERS at the ends of the first two theme entries and at the beginnings of the last two. Thoughtfulness like that makes for an elegant execution.

More importantly, all aspects of the puzzle scream SAM DONALDSON! and I love it (yes, I'm biased, but what are you going to do). Sam and I have both been known to 1.) titter at juvenile jokes and 2.) enjoy greasy food, so the base phrases HEY BABY and BACON FAT made me reminisce of the good old days when Sam still lived in Seattle. You throw in I CHOKED, I RAISE right next to each other, the "No acting up!" clue for BE GOOD, "Jeez Louise!" for MAN, and "End of a lame pickup line" for OFTEN and you have yourself a Donaldson signature. BTW, it's a good thing Sam and I are both married because we'd be those two pathetic guys at the end of the bar poking each other, saying, "No, YOU go talk to her!" while giggling a la "Dumb and Dumber".

To be sure, this puzzle isn't without its flaws. I debated for a long time whether to disqualify the puzzle for POW contention solely based on the NIDI/HSIA area, but eventually all the great stuff won me over. And I do like the pairs of stacked 10's in the NE and SW corners, but the trade-off of having a lot of three-letter abbreviations (SYL sticking out) and acronyms made me wonder whether it would have been better to break up COHABITANT and YOU ARE HERE for cleaner fill, especially if it could mean improving the NIDI/HSIA region.

But overall, this puzzle gave me a tremendous smile. Full of personality and enjoyment. Can't wait to see Sam at the ACPT in 2014.

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