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24 puzzles by Andy Kravis
with constructor comments

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Andy Kravis

23 Daily crosswords by Andy Kravis

Thu 5/13/2021
GLANDIGORAWED
QUINOASONYRAGU
UPTOWNSALEMSLOT
ITEMGAUDYCOLBY
PARASITECANSO
LATHELANPOL
ATHOSEFLATPASA
THEUSUALSUSPECTS
IRASPREENIDEST
TEDROTEDALI
EGGONTRUEGRIT
PSALMMERYLRAMA
HOMEALONEARENAS
AMENANDYICEAGE
TESSBOSSTASTE

The JASA Crossword Class just ended its spring semester this past week, but we will have a summer semester starting soon. The start date is still to be determined, but information and registration will be posted when it is available.

As always, we're really proud of the work our students put into this puzzle!

Wed 1/20/2021
POETSPAMCGI
COLLISIONSART
MINDMELDINGSOS
UTZODORATOM
MEIRMATCHGAME
OTTOORIONS
WORKERLAINEMT
THEUNITEDSTATES
ABCACAICESSNA
REINERSODA
JOINTPAINPOPE
ATVSNICKPUG
CHIWINEPAIRING
KENONEPERCENT
ORGKNOTSKYE

The next semester of JASA's Sunday programs for adults 50 and over, including our crossword class, will start on February 21. Registration will be available here. The class has been running virtually over Zoom since March of 2020, which has allowed us to open the class to students from across the country (and Canada).

As always, we're really proud of the work our students put into this puzzle.

Wed 9/30/2020
ILLSAYSKEWGMS
GROUPIEPARAOOH
RANKAMATEURSTRU
ANGERACAITWOS
PIESTINKINGRICH
PASSERSGLANCE
ANTIALPSUPDOS
RIPEOLDAGE
BUNDTDYESZIGS
USAUSACHEETAH
FUNKYCHICKENSRA
FREETADAISLAM
APTFOULLANGUAGE
LETANNELIMITED
ODENETSSTATES

We're pleased to see how many of our original clues made the final cut. Our compliments to the editors for their fun STATES clue!

Inspired by Margit Christenson, last Wednesday's constructor, Erik and I will be donating our payment for this puzzle. Erik is donating to Deja's transition fund. I will be donating to the families of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Jacob Blake.

ANDY: As always, I'm so grateful that I get to make puzzles with Erik. (very mutual! -ea) If you're not already solving the puzzles he edits over at USA Today, go do that. You won't be sorry.

Sun 6/7/2020SURPLUS STORE
CATBERTABSENTOPTICS
AQUIVERREELINAIRMAN
SURGERYVERDICTTRIFLE
SANDRAESTATECYANIDE
SATIRERENALNINER
CMONSURPRISEFIGHTERS
ZINCENSUESINLAY
ANTESROMPDIEGONBC
REOHAIFASURLYMAJORS
RIDOFRAPIDLINEN
ATHEISTMOVESBILLOWY
SHEETAILEDHEIST
SURFERBALLSWOWIESHH
TSABACKSMAUITOQUE
SHISHWAISTSRULE
SURPASSEDPERFECTDIAL
ATEATONEILSHAKER
MATCHESDELPHIFORTWO
OHOKAYSURFEITOFANGER
SALLIESCREEDDELOUSE
ANDERSNEEDLEDRAWNTO
Wed 5/20/2020
DONORNABSDICED
AGAMEARIAUVULA
BRIEFESTBRIEFEST
SELLJAYBIRDSEA
EWEKAY
MUSTACHEMUSTACHE
ANASTEVENEMAIL
RIMSMARTSCTV
STOATINCITEHOE
HEATHENSHEATHENS
EELBAY
BATASUSUALBRAS
FLAGRANTFLAGRANT
FORUMTAOSPINTA
STONYORSOADDIN

Working with the JASA class is always a pleasure, and it was doubly interesting to finish cluing this puzzle over Zoom. Like lots of other disrupted classes, despite the pandemic, we meet every week, brainstorming themes, muting and unmuting, changing our backgrounds, and enjoying each other's company.

POW Thu 12/19/2019
CVERREHABEMI
SWATHICEPLANET
AGREECOMPANCAR
DIGRAPHTHORNY
IRANALIASNOM
ELSASYNCBEAUT
LETTILECGI
SPABECHDELHSN
VALALOESAT
UTLEYSWTSRAMS
OSXKAYOSARGO
NOTIMEPOPCORN
STATELINEOHMAN
FIRSTLOOKPEATY
WESZYNGAEASE

Hope you enjoy solving this puzzle as much as we enjoyed making it!

Periodic reminder: the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory is a resource for puzzlemakers from underrepresented groups. If you're interested in writing crosswords (or other puzzles) and would like some tips on getting started, someone to critique your work, or someone to collaborate with, give it a look.

Also, if you haven't already checked it out, Queer Qrosswords 2 was released in September. QQ2 is a collection of top-notch crosswords made by folks in the LGBTQ+ community, which you can purchase by donating $10 or more to an LGBTQ+ charity and emailing Queer Qrosswords the receipt.

Fri 10/11/2019
MCSENCINOGEL
ROMAMOOCOWUMA
POOLIMGAMEIMP
ITGIRLSHANDDYE
BIGGUYENDSWELL
BEYSPCAADOS
WHOASKEDYOU
WHISKEYRING
TAINTEDLOVE
BOLTBETAARC
ROLEPLAYINEVER
ASUSUALECSTASY
HONMULETACLAP
MOIPREWARHOLT
ANTSANESTNES

I'm so proud to once again be involved in a project called Queer Qrosswords, which is a collection of top-notch crosswords made by folks in the LGBTQ+ community. To purchase the puzzles in the newest Queer Qrosswords anthology (subtitled 2 Queer 2 Qurious), all you have to do is donate $10 or more to a LGBTQ+ charity and email Queer Qrosswords the receipt, and they'll email you a copy of the puzzles.

Now on to this puzzle, which was inspired by Andrew Ries in many ways. For one, around this time last year, Andrew held a contest to have a guest themeless puzzle published as part of his weekly crossword subscription; this puzzle was my entry into that contest, and Andrew gave me a lot of great feedback.

For another, I was initially inspired to tackle this grid design after solving Andrew's STAGGER SESSIONS, a self-published collection of themeless crosswords that all had this similar pattern of stagger-stacked central entries (that is, long entries offset from each other usually by one square, so that they loosely resemble stairs). What I love about this particular grid design is that it allows you to start with three fresh marquee entries, and then you still have a ton of flexibility when building outward from the center of the grid. I started this one with WHO ASKED YOU, and I liked the way the WH- of WHISKEY RING looked underneath it. From there, it was off to the races.

I'm very happy with how this puzzle turned out. Some of my original clues were way too out there, but I'm glad a few of the weirder ones stuck around, like the clues for ROLEPLAY and EWE. And major props to Will for the great EROTIC ART clue!

Wed 9/25/2019
EDGARINSEASON
LAURANORMCORE
BRITCHESITCHES
ATTEAVEROOT
AMBLEGNU
BREYERSEYERS
BESTAREAOL
ONOBREXITIDA
ACLAOKISAY
HOMBRESHOMES
CAYCUFFS
AHABLOAFHBO
CEREBRALCEREAL
TAMARINDNOLIE
SLYLOOKSDOLLS

This puzzle was the product of the JASA crossword class's summer semester this year. We're fortunate to always have clever students with a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on. This bunch was particularly interested in current affairs, which led to the generation of this theme.

Our fall semester started this week, but it's not too late to sign up if you're in the NYC area and interested.

Thu 7/25/2019
STRAWBASSCSI
ORISITABLEREN
MOBILEYEARAPP
ADSALESTVMOVIE
MINAJOCEAN
ADAASTUDENT
REALMAMISOBIE
ECHOONPOPPARK
SOSOPIERGIJOE
PETCRATEAND
INDEXSMART
TORRENTARMOIRE
SKITOWNPATROL
OILERIESNEAKS
KALRITZESQUE
Sat 5/18/2019
AFCAGENTMAT
CLAMDRIERCOLE
CASABLANCAUCLA
ESTREETKISSCAM
SHORTRIBNEPALI
SYRIANOUSESON
ATVENTICING
TIGERPROOFING
HERESHOWPIT
ALITEXANCAPOS
NESTEARELATETO
GCHORDSMARINER
MOSSSOMEPEOPLE
AMESELIASNALA
NSATONNELOT

As always, Erik and I had a blast working together. We had a tough time cluing HANGMAN, but the editing team came up with the superb clue [Bad choices in it might cost you an arm and a leg]. We wanted to share a few of our favorite clues that hit the cutting room floor:

  • [PDA screen?] for KISS CAM
  • [Forward-looking figure?] for LOT
  • [Part of a subway series] for TRAIN STOP
Sun 1/13/2019PARLOR TRICKS
SEABEDCEDEDWEEBLDS
UNDONEAMEXWILMAAOL
PARADEFLOATISLEYTRY
BITSDOTARDPARADISE
ELALIRRIGATEARENAS
MENIALICESINGLEMALT
TRAFFICCONEDEADAIM
TAKENTSBGPSJEN
JAHREALSPOOLSLOREN
OLAFISITNONECOHIBA
KARAOKEBARSUCTIONCUP
ENDIVERIPESTNSSALE
SORTAMELMACSOWNNAS
NOHWETSCOTTOOT
CHIANTIHARLEMSHAKE
BAKINGSODATAOEYEPIT
ASHLEESULLIVANORSO
WHOLEHOGGAINEDASIS
LOTDIVESINSIDESCOOP
EREIKEASKEENWHARFS
DELTERRAARTSAERIFY

I like crosswords that tell a story or describe a punny scene. Merl Reagle was the master of this kind of puzzle (as he was of so many things); I also really enjoyed Ross Trudeau's recent puzzle in this style that told the story of two people's quest, fraught with disagreement and indecision, to choose a board game to play. Today's puzzle doesn't reinvent the genre, but I hope it tickles the folks who enjoy such themes.

I was surprised that EID hadn't appeared in the Shortz era (and in previous appearances, it had never been clued as [Islamic festival] or similar), so I was pleased to be able to include it in this grid. I'm also glad I could debut the entry CISWOMEN. My original clue was [Ones whose gender identity corresponds to having been assigned female at birth]; the use of "females" as a noun has always skeeved me out a little, but I appreciate that the essence of the clue was unchanged. Thanks to the editors for accepting and running a puzzle with those entries.

Tue 10/9/2018
DAMNSIMACNEAP
EBOOKGAIAORCA
BUNNYOURSBILL
EPLURIBUSUNUM
DYLANNAPE
SECURITYBLANKET
PALSTWOTOOTH
ALITEASETSSHY
HIPPOHRHCHEM
NOSURPRISETHERE
TREEEVERS
HIDDENFIGURES
OREOCUKEORALB
SKEWISEEOILER
ESPNLEAKMOTTO

ANDY: At the beginning of the semester, we set out to make a Monday puzzle (the only day of the week JASA hasn't yet had an NYT puzzle run). Monday is possibly the toughest day to construct for: the theme has to be accessible to all solvers but also interesting to Will & co., plus the fill has to be squeaky clean. We ended up with a smooth, low-word-count puzzle that we think is very appropriate for Tuesday.

It's a joy to work with the JASA students. We always end up with an embarrassment of excellent clues, and it's a challenge to winnow them down for submission. We just started a new semester at the end of September, but anyone who wants to know more about the JASA class can get more information here.

POW Tue 8/14/2018
PBJRUMBAABIDE
ERAURBANNINES
RODBLASTINGCAP
USEBYSEEMHID
ODESPAIN
SCREWINEXTENT
THREEWAYTIERAE
IRASGMAMARC
PEZPEOPLEWATCH
SKYPEDHEARSES
HOPINREO
SOSTOADANGEL
BORSCHTBELTRAY
EASEDCLASHARF
DRESSHERDSBLT

ERIK: Easy puzzles are so hard to write! Many of our tougher themes have seemed to develop almost instantaneously, but when we sat down and decided to try for an early-week publication, it took us several hours of rejected ideas and general head-scratching to come up with this one theme. Getting a sufficiently clean fill was not without its challenges, either; Andy's grid wizardry saved our bacon a couple of times when I was sure the task would be impossible to complete.

ANDY: I was surprised this wasn't slated for a Monday, though I expect many solvers will welcome a breezy Tuesday.

One challenge we had with filling this grid is that although all the theme answers are 11 letters long (and thus theoretically interchangeable in the grid), we agreed that the articles of clothing should be ordered in the grid from top to bottom as a person would wear them. The loveliest touches in the fill — RUBY DEE, CRAZY HORSE, SHREK, RUMBA, etc. etc. — are Erik's handiwork.

I do miss our original clue for THREE-WAY TIE, [Article of neckwear for Cerberus?]. It brought me no small amount of joy to imagine a three-headed hellhound wearing a little tie on each of its necks, though I admit that the Three Stooges are more suitable for an early-week puzzle.

POW Sat 7/28/2018
ADELEWEBBDADS
CURESWAREECCE
TEAMSPIRITMACE
ETTUHINESODON
DOORDIEFYIEMO
ESPNREMIT
FASHIONPOLICE
JUICECLEANSES
GENDERSTUDIES
ROSENERTE
APPDIXOHSORRY
NAOHTESLARHEE
DRNOINLAIDTILE
EDGENOOBMINIS
RYESANTSCZECH

We started this puzzle trying to get three lively entries to stack nicely in the center, and I think we succeeded with FASHION POLICE / JUICE CLEANSES / GENDER STUDIES. We love brainstorming tricky clues with the JASA class, so we spent a lot of time coming up with clues for these three marquee entries, and we came up with a few beauties that hit the cutting room floor:

  • [Ones who monitor patterns / Group that's strongly averse to clashing / Group that may cramp your style?] for FASHION POLICE;
  • [They're drunk and flush? / Digestive fluids?] for JUICE CLEANSES;
  • [Butler did it / Wave theory field?] for GENDER STUDIES.

We also really liked [Root cause?] for TEAM SPIRIT.

We were very happy with how the grid turned out — there were lots of fun long entries (PAD THAI, JEOPARDY, FUN SPONGE, DC COMICS, NEURO LABS) and very little junk.

Sat 6/30/2018
AGEDWARACEBRR
DRAWBROTOXYAO
MATEOCTANEJIB
INALLHERSNOSE
ROLLEDRITSOVER
ELIARIDAPTEST
AVADUVERNAY
ECIGARETTES
UNCLEMILTIE
FAJITAKANEDXC
EDITORSRESPECT
LOGYTEARERNIE
ORSFELLINIOTA
NBAALLIESSTEM
SSWASSTDAMEDS

I was happy to see that most of my clues made the cut on this one. Some of my favorites were [Bar food?] for GRANOLA and [Churro ingredient?] for ROLLED R. My favorite clue that didn't make the cut was [Coke machines, for example?] for DRUG CARTELS.

While I'm here, I'll plug the JASA (Jewish Association Serving the Aging) Crossword Course I co-teach with Natan Last. Natan and I teach the fundamentals of crossword construction by constructing a puzzle from start to finish with the class. We're teaching a five-week summer session starting July 12th, which you can find more information about here.

Thu 5/24/2018
DISHMARCOSTROT
ACTIARTHURHERE
WHINNYMEETSERIN
SARGESEELWOOD
OBIESJERRYCELLO
NOTSHOTSHELEN
DUDDECLEAK
PASTYHOODING
REVSNRADAD
STAKEITEMSRIG
PAYGROUPONHARSH
ACERUNHCALICO
DOSESPOONERISMS
AMIETENDEDBOAT
YARNSNEEZEINNS

Thanks to the NYT team, not least for their incredible clue at 62-Down.

Also, see if you can figure out this theme answer that was left on the something room floor: [Breaking pitch thrown by an oddsmaker?] (6,6)

Mon 3/26/2018
PERTADDAMSUSE
AVONCREDITNAG
VICTORYLANETUG
ELKNEATAMINO
CURDAVIDLEAN
PEANUTSEDYS
ELVISHCEOCIG
TOETHEPARTYLINE
SISNEWOEUVRE
OFFSSORTIES
MICROLOANTEC
OTHERGOALDAB
MAOCLAIRDELUNE
MLKEAGLEDETNA
AYESPEEDSDYED

I know that some longtime solvers are disenchanted with the vowel progression theme type, but I like seeing it every so often on Monday if the theme answers are all fun and fresh, and if the rest of the grid is clean and breezy.

I hope folks who enjoy Monday puzzles will like this one. I did quite a few revisions of this grid to make sure it was appropriately Monday-ish, but even so, there are still a couple of crosswordese entries like ELOI and TEC that I couldn't find a way around. I'm in total awe of constructors like Lynn Lempel, Zhouqin Burnikel, and Andrea Carla Michaels who consistently produce fun, top-notch Monday puzzles.

Wed 3/7/2018
SANDABECAPOS
CLAUDIUSTOSSTO
UPFORDISCUSSION
BHTEELALIASES
AAADOMINI
ITSHOPELESS
TEAROOMSLEO
TENPENNYAWRATS
RATEDGLUCRETIA
ACEDONTEVEN
CHRISMARTIN
SHONDANAB
SHALALAPEAONE
PARALLELPARKING
EZINESLETMESEE
DYADSCDSNEXT

NATAN: This puzzle was such a treat to make, even by the standards of the already lovely JASA process. The people, for one: we're joined by new faces, like Andy Kravis up at the lectern, who's so encyclopedic we barely need to research for clues anymore, and new constructors like Susan, Tom, Joe, and more, who're injecting even more humor and breadth into these collaborations.

For another thing, this was one of those puzzles where students became teachers — the JASA class came up with the revealer, brainstormed the best theme pairs, drew up the skeleton of the grid, and even bailed us out of a bad fill moment by dropping in OH MY LORD where we'd had OH MY WORD and were coming up empty or trivial.

We were also able to keep a wide-open construction with some nice long entries. Hope y'all like it!

ANDY: This was my first puzzle with the JASA class, and I'm looking forward to making many more with them.

Sun 1/21/2018SUBSTITUTES
SCUBAGOPROALOPTWEE
TENOROAREDCAREBEARS
PLAYFORTIMEENDTABLES
ALLSDEEMSNOGGROK
TOLLEDNOTSAFEFORWORK
AIDESEACHUAENEO
CRYFORHELPLEANTTWAS
EPEEALIENANGNEAR
LIDRECIPEFORDISASTER
BASKSLOTSHELENA
ASSENTSGOGOSCANARDS
CHEESEGALANOVAS
TEMPORARYEMPLOYEESNL
DIEMCABEIEIOQEII
SFPDTUDOREARTHQUAKE
HURJUTROTCEATIN
ELIZABETHANERADREYER
VICEBONOEDITTONE
PIANOTRIOTELECOMMUTE
TOTEBOARDEMILEMANED
SUESPHDSSITESANGRY

We enjoyed creating the puzzle and coming up with possible pairs (WATER FOR ELEPHANTS / LARGE-EARED = "Like the water in Africa" and PAN FOR GOLD / LEPRECHAUN = "He keeps his pan in a pot" didn't quite make the cut). We were really happy with how the fill came out, and we hope that people were satisfied with the difficulty level and the amount of connection provided between the substitutes and the substituted clues.

VICTOR: I think that I am at my best as a constructor when I am coming up with new ways to play with how a puzzle works. I tend to write Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday puzzles as a result, and I think that this was among my better efforts. I also seem to like ideas that are difficult to turn into a viable puzzle, which makes working with Andy, who is an amazing grid constructor/filler, really nice. I like collaborating in general because everyone has different skills, and something good almost always emerges. Now, if I could just learn to nae nae …

ANDY: Victor always has clever and ambitious theme ideas. It's a fun challenge to try to make clean, interesting grids out of them without compromising on theme content. This one needed a lot of tweaking, but eventually, everything just fell into place. I'm really happy with all the fresh non-theme fill we were able to include (ACE OF HEARTS, WALK ON WATER, CARE BEARS, GAYBORHOODS, BOYS' LIFE, PIANO TRIO, TOTE BOARD, SEAN YOUNG, PET GOAT, etc.) with very little crosswordese or junk fill.

Fri 7/7/2017
NAILSALONSTRAP
INVIOLATEPOISE
MOONLIGHTINSTA
EUROSEWINGKIT
SKYLABRODEUP
ERINROSERED
VAGUEBOOKSOLE
EDEMAFYIMANSE
RUTALLNBATEAM
BESTBUYGOYA
RIENZITOPCAT
IMITATORSROLO
MADTVNEILSIMON
PROLEENFORCING
SAFERSETPIECES

I wrote this puzzle the day after I saw MOONLIGHT, which instantly became one of my favorite movies. I submitted the puzzle to Will shortly after the film won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture — Drama (and Mahershala ALI was nominated for Best Supporting Actor); I guessed that if and when the puzzle were published, both MOONLIGHT and ALI would get Oscar-related clues.

I'm glad some of my favorite clues made it into the puzzle, including [Where to stick a needle] for SEWINGKIT, [Business meeting?] for NETWORKING, and [Dimensions without planes] for NOFLYZONES. Some of my other favorites were deep-sixed, unfortunately: [Maria Bamford, for one] for COMIC, and [One of four in Mississippi] for TITTLE. I liked the new clues for ENFORCING [Putting teeth into] and for BOT [What may have a strong net effect?].

My original clue for TONGUE was [It may be silver or sharp], which I wasn't particularly attached to. I was surprised to see that the new clue for TONGUE included "Mandingo," especially given the negative associations with the word, and that "Mandinka" seems to be the preferred name for the language and still does the punny work of starting with the same letters as "Mandarin."

Sun 5/22/2016RISE AND FALL
KTELEPSONSEAJUDD
ARNOMARCOFIRMPROAM
RICAPROTAGORASEDEMA
SCHMITTHANDTVGUEST
TIAMOISTEDUCESYET
SANMARINOALKALIPELE
TAGIONYENGLOSSA
NEABEGSNANOS
CELESTADONIMUSOHMAN
OCATRIRAPTLYSLIME
MOUNTAINHIGHVALLEYLOW
ENDOROSWEGORUENUT
ROSIESTYRENEMEOWERS
SAMOADEALDNA
GAMETETNNGINWIM
ANASTIEOFFAAARATING
STYONSALENOMARNEO
PIERROTVEERENDWITH
AFLACHEARTELLOFECTO
TULIPAMISPIANOPALM
RANTTILOTTERTREE

VICTOR:

I think that the best puzzles I construct, and I think that "Rise and Fall" is one of them, are those in which the idea has a moment when it seems impossible to execute in a publishable puzzle. Triple-checked letters pose a particular challenge because they constrain the fill but do not reduce the number of words in the puzzle, so meeting the NYT's guidelines gets difficult quickly. In the case of "Rise and Fall," fitting the black squares around the mountains and valleys was tough, and then the sharp corners were messy, but it looked fillable when I started out with it (in mid-2014!). Of course, months of false starts later, I was still unsuccessful, so I asked Andy to co-construct it with me.

I like Andy a lot, he's a terrific filler and collaborator, and he seems to think a bit differently from me, which makes us able to find solutions together that we (at least I) might not find alone. The first thing he did was suggest adding MOUNTAINHIGHVALLEYLOW across the middle, which was a great addition to the puzzle — and which is a rather strange song (and not the one by Tina Turner that I suspect most people think of when they see it).

We went back and forth on a few iterations and finally managed to get something we liked with 144 words. Close enough, right? Wrong. Will sent it back for being too wordy, so we hacked at it for another couple of months and got it down to a 140-worder. I hope that people liked the puzzle. (P.S. I started with KILIMANJARO instead of SAINTHELENS, but that proved impossible. Such is life!)

ANDY:

I don't much to add, except that I always enjoy working with Victor. His theme ideas are always unique, which makes the process of constructing the puzzle much more fun.

Wed 9/24/2014
LOAFSNORMAUFO
ARGOTONEAMNEW
MARXATTACKSFAN
PLAYBOYTETHERS
FEZSEAM
ABEAUTIFULMINX
SLEEPPARNIM
WETCELLREPLICA
APTEYERANKS
THELOVELYBOXES
DALIFEE
BRANDTSALLOWED
LAVEATXRAYLOVE
UZISTAELRAVEL
RESTERRYEVENT

This was one of the first puzzles I ever constructed, almost three years ago. I'm surprisingly happy with it, though there are some places where my greenness as a constructor shows.

Firstly, the theme. It's a simple replace-a-letter theme, which I didn't know at the time was a theme type that has been used quite a lot. Specifically, my idea for this puzzle was to take movie titles and replace a letter with X, to humorous effect. I'm actually very pleased with the four theme entries in this puzzle (MARX ATTACKS, A BEAUTIFUL MINX, THE LOVELY BOXES [with Will's idea of a crossword-themed clue], and EAT X-RAY LOVE), since it was very difficult for me to even come up with four symmetrical entries of this type that weren't complete gibberish (for example, FOX A FEW DOLLARS MORE) or uninteresting (SIN CITY could become SIX CITY, but who cares?).

It's a bit inelegant, however, that there's no pattern for which letters get replaced with Xs. I tried to solve that problem by sneaking the revealer X-RATED into the southeast corner of the grid, but the fill turned irreparably sour very fast. In another venue, I might have titled this puzzle "X-Rated Remakes" or "Censored Movies" to make the theme more coherent. Overall, I think the result is funny enough to justify the lack of revealer, and I'm glad Will agreed.

Secondly, the fill. By and large, I think it's pretty clean, but there are some entries that would make me scowl as a solver (I'm looking at you, STAEL, NIM, and RECT). I'm letting myself off the hook for these transgressions since I don't see any obvious ways to improve the fill, and the crossings are all fair.

Finally, I'm pleased at how many of the clues in the final puzzle are mine. I'm especially proud of the clues for DALI [Collaborator with Disney on the film "Destino"] and BETTE DAVIS [Actress with the iconic line "What a dump!"]. There are couple of my clues I wish Will had kept — specifically, I liked my clues for UNFEMININE [Like burping loudly or sitting with one's legs splayed, stereotypically], OLDEST [Like Kevin, among the Jonas Brothers] and the clues for the adjacent TOFU and HAM, which were, respectively, [Vegetarian's source of protein] and [Carnivore's source of protein].

Sun 11/3/2013STOLEN PRODUCE
OBAMATHAWMOTTOCLAP
PARISOONAENRONLAIR
EMNSHEHRDSREINEERLE
LAOSXENAGRAPELEAVES
JCOLEBOILSIXNAYS
ENGARDEBODESBTUS
COMPOUNFRCURCARRTSE
GLEANSIACTDATEBOOKS
ANNIINSECRETSPRIT
ELLEHEKATEESME
OCHNSSSTERLEMONDROPS
CLAYDAUBEDADEN
HARPONAVYYARDITEM
RUMDBILEYNALATEEMED
ESSEDYSBANANASPLITS
ORLETUSKSSHELLAC
SEADOOOUSTSSTIRS
OXODNVERSIYALARANNA
LARSERASEFRUITFLIES
OCTOTILLSTERRLIBRA
STANONSETCAPEAESOP

Andy:

Victor and I met at ACPT 2012, where he sat at the table behind me. We sat in the same seats at ACPT 2013, and he pitched the idea of this puzzle to me. I loved it, but he was still a theme entry short. Eventually, I came up with DATE BOOKS, and the rest is history!

This puzzle is a great example of collaboration in constructing gone right. Victor put together the symmetrical theme entries, then I designed the grid and took the first crack at the fill. We traded maybe eight or nine versions of the fill back and forth until we had something we were satisfied with. Then Victor clued it, and we sent notes back and forth on ways to improve the clues. The whole process took us about three months, and I think letting the puzzle gestate for that long really paid off. Victor is a really creative and skilled constructor, and it was a real pleasure working with him!

1 Variety puzzle by Andy Kravis

Sun 4/5/2020
RUSTLESSLAVIC
ONPOINTPOLECAR
CLAMATOEXTREME
KIDMENSAASSET
EKESRETROETTA
RESETRAGUDORK
WEDTUTURUE
TURNAROUNDTIMES
APEMANEOAR
STANMETSHAIFA
SOLOASTERSNOB
EDITHEERIEDUB
LAZYEYEINSPIRE
STEEREDASPECTS
ESTOPSLENGTHS