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11 puzzles by Daniel Kantor
with Jeff Chen comments

TotalDebutLatestCollabs
118/7/20079/27/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0036110
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60030
Daniel Kantor
POW Thu 9/27/2018
TIKIMEATSCIFI
ORALINCHTOGAS
FILLINTHEBLANKS
USEMISERYLIEU
MAOSEENTIE
ASSIGNSARMED
SHADESOFGRAY
SEGALEOSADR
INSIDETHEBOX
THREESEALEGS
HOEONCEELF
ALASSONATASPA
BETWEENTHELINES
IDEASDEARCARP
TORTSORBSEPPS

I love it when constructors do kooky things with print grids. It's neat when a puzzle works much better on paper than in (most) electronic formats — score one for the dead tree edition!

Daniel gives us four examples of self-referential themers, i.e. SHADES OF GRAY goes into boxes that are actually SHADES OF GRAY. INSIDE THE BOX is literally INSIDE THE BOX. Meta!

The difference between INSIDE THE BOX and BETWEEN THE LINES is small — the two sides are bolded on the former, but not the latter — so these didn't feel quite different enough for my taste. Still, four solid themers overall.

(We've taken some liberties in the visual below, adding color to help accentuate the differences between the last two themers.)

Nice grid execution, too. I was already delighted by the strangeness in the grid lines, but my solving experience was enhanced even further when encountering goodies like SEA LEGS, MINIONS, FAKE ID, HEATER as baseball lingo. Well worth the price of a bit of ESS STL SADR.

Great idea, memorable puzzle. I'd love for more constructors come up with ideas on kookifying print grids. There's something so satisfying to this old-schooler when a print version outshines its electronic kin.

POW Wed 10/28/2015
JIGRUSTSDART
ACESENNUIAMES
CANNEDCORNMALE
KNEELSTAXDOT
ATRASSPLITPEAS
SOAKBASEELUDE
SOLBONYCROSS
FOODCOURT
SWIGSHULAMOD
ANISEGISTRACE
DIRTYRICEMINOT
OPESETIODINE
NETSBAKEDBEANS
ARALENEROSCOT
ISPYLOYALSRS

★ What a fun idea, riffing on FOOD COURT to describe edible offenders. Hilarious to think about grains of rice making payoffs to politicians. And I laughed at uncovering the BAKED BEANS (baked = high on pot). All four of the "defendants" were right on. Very well done!

For the love of God, AMADEUS!

Because the FOOD COURT in the center sort of splits the puzzle into a top and bottom half, there's not much opportunity for long fill. It's so important to make the mid-length stuff count. I think Jay and Daniel did a nice job there with WIRETAP, SNIPERS, PSYCHIC.

And what a great clue for AMADEUS: [Famous middle name that means "love of God"] Not only is it gettable for Wolfgang AMADEUS Mozart fans, but people who don't know him can work it out from the etymology trivia.

The clue for GENERAL worked well for me too: [Word in the names of two of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies]. General Electric came easily, but I had to think to get General Motors Company.

The clue for WIRETAP — [Invasive bug] — is so innocuous. Some sort of boll weevil, right? Really strong cluing in the mid-length material today.

The shorter fill did drag me down. Even with a tough arrangement of themers like today's, all I want to do is appreciate how fun the theme is without getting bogged down in gluey bits. It started in the north, with UNC and SNO together. I applaud innovating with a tin monoxide reference to SNO, but it felt like putting lipstick on a pig. There was enough ATRAS, OUSE, OPE, ENERO, MINOT, SRS stuff — all minor, but not in aggregate — that it distracted me from the neat theme.

I wish more cheater squares had been deployed, maybe where the R of RUSTS and L of LOYAL are, to smooth out the north and south. I dug the theme and mid-length fill so much that I wanted this to be a perfect puzzle.

A few years of working with Jim has evolved my thinking. Yes, the short fill bugged me, but the big question for me these days: was I delighted by the puzzle? A resounding yes for this one.

Tue 8/11/2015
LOINSSMITSCAT
ASCOTTEASOHTO
PHONEPRANKCOOP
PANPEONCARNE
PUSHYOURLUCK
APROPOSNBASEA
MOABGEESE
PINONESEARSBACK
YACHTOLEO
SOBBROORIOLES
PLYMOUTHROCK
ADLIBUELESOS
SHINPULLEDPORK
MANOINKSILLBE
STETNOSENOOSE

Nice idea here, PORK pulled so that it stretches through the theme answers. Jay and Daniel had to find phrases that 1.) start with P, 2.) end with K, and 3.) space out O and R, but there are many options out there considering the freedom in where you place the O and R. I thought PLYMOUTH ROCK was a really good one, and PUSH YOUR LUCK was pretty good. (Not having DON'T in front of PUSH YOUR LUCK felt a bit odd.)

On the lookout for bugs ... Bugs Meany, that is

Not a huge fan of PIN ONES EARS BACK or PHONE PRANK, though. I had to look up the former, and it does seem legit, but I doubt I'd personally ever use it in writing or conversation. And PRANK CALL is so much more awesome than PHONE PRANK, which feels a bit dictionary-ish. Finally, mixing YOUR and ONES felt inelegant. Typically Will prefers the ONES usage to YOUR in these types of phrases, but PUSH ONES LUCK would have missed the R in PORK.

Hilarious SOS clue. [Message spelled out in coconuts, maybe] brought me back to my days of watching Gilligan's Island. Anyone remember the time when astronauts were going to pass over the island and the castaways formed SOS out of logs, only to have Gilligan mess things up so they spelled SOL? Sure was nice for Sol, one of the astronauts ... not so much for any potential rescue. Gilligan!

Also enjoyed getting MEANY in the grid, although it's because I've been reading "Encyclopedia Brown" to my nephew. Bugs MEANY makes for such a classic bad guy.

Not an easy layout, with five longish theme answers. Not a surprise to see some gluey entries pop up throughout. I usually try to stay away from OH TO (awkward plural) and SMIT (anything requiring "old-style" in the clue). Considering the repetitiveness of the circled letters, perhaps four themers would have been better, allowing for cleaner fill.

On that note, after getting the first two themers, it was automatic to fill in the circles in the last two themers — a bit anticlimatic. Would have been nice to get more variety. Pulled RANK, AWAY, OUT maybe?

Wed 2/27/2013
EXTOLEVITERIB
KEANEPENINAMA
GREATHORNEDOWLS
IMACSOBIT
SECRETHANDSHAKE
EPAAAHRED
WISPSGEISEL
CHANGEOFHEART
CANONSPOISE
ABAFADCAM
COMPUTERHACKERS
TROUORION
SEENBUTNOTHEARD
ORBIPODSOLDIE
NSACAPOSSLOPE
Fri 12/24/2010
HMMARCHGASCAP
EAURARAESPANA
NUSCHURCHHYMNS
RIOTDIRPAT
MICHAELCAINE
MTSINAIGETAT
EATCELTOUCH
NAUGHTYORNICE
INSOOSLOIRE
ADAGEEASEDIN
CHRISTMASEVE
AVAOAKLONI
SILENTNIGHTTEN
SCENEITREEARE
TICTACSEEDLAW
Tue 1/13/2009
DEKEALOTSALSA
IMACMOORADOUT
AUNTSELMALOIRE
GOALPIGTRI
SKASIGHTUNSEEN
OAREARLEERY
WHOAATRAIN
NOGUTSNOGLORY
ARISTAROOD
RAISENSASLY
MIDNIGHTSUNEKE
ABMSEWROBB
REINSMIXEDNUTS
SYRIAINXSASIA
HEELSNEXTIHOP
Wed 7/2/2008
BOSCOPRAHPLUS
ECHOIRATEOUST
THECOLOROFMONEY
SOLOSZENARGUE
NAPABLEEPS
BELUGACAVIAR
ROUTERNOSYFAB
ANTSTITLEHULA
TSEPINECMINOR
GRANDSTANDER
LAURELASST
OUTIEAOLOESTE
GREENEGGSANDHAM
OARSSALADAUDI
SLOEPRESSTEST
Wed 6/11/2008
SAGEPLEBECOTS
KILNASPENIRON
IDIDNTDOITNAME
TABOOCRINLER
WONTHURTABIT
BOSNIATEAM
ATAGTOROSEY
JUSTWHATIWANTED
ASTORSCHARS
DEESBOWSTO
ITSINTHEMAIL
TREEARIFALSE
WORFLIEABILITY
AUTOININKOTOE
STARAEONSMEWS
Wed 4/9/2008
EPICSHUETABBY
DOORHERRACURA
ANNEOMNIBEBOP
MYSOUPISCOLD
LAPILEACK
AREWEINVISIBLE
CROROEOAKLEY
REMAPUHFWEAVE
ATMFEERAWZED
WHERESOURORDER
SALPAWREA
WHINEANDDINE
PATIOSILODRUM
ATOLLURDUYODA
DENTEPEATONEG
Wed 12/12/2007
HADTHEMASKIED
OBISONARHITME
BLACKJACKANSON
NALAOCAODES
ORINGTWOFORONE
BENDERSVFWYAY
IREMERPOUR
GOLDENPARACHUTE
IDEETEXMOO
BEEEARSPOTTER
BAJILLIONPOISE
CHASRONINCA
GOOEYAGOODDEAL
URBANHAZESAPT
SABRESNELLREY
Tue 8/7/2007
FLASKAWEBEEPS
LACTITHEULTRA
AVERTOILZONES
BADABINGEZPASS
WADEONCE
FUHGEDABOUDIT
HARASSBESTSAG
ANATBAYILSA
INNSPECKARATS
YOUTALKINTOME
PACTCOIN
BADDIEMOBSCENE
OCEANBANKAREN
ELATEUZIEGGED
RULEDSECTESTS