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Daniel Mauer author page

7 puzzles by Daniel Mauer
with Constructor comments

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79/13/20172/7/2024
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Daniel Mauer
Puzzles constructed by Daniel Mauer by year

Daniel Mauer is a software engineer in Massachusetts.

Wed 2/7/2024
UMPIRECHILIFDR
ROOTERLUCIDLEA
LALALALALOLAYAM
STOLIOMANIGIFS
ISAWITSON
CHCHCHCHCHANGES
PREMILETESLA
RAMAETERNEROTI
OZONEAVOWLOL
MYGGGGENERATION
LEGALINON
IDOLLAIRSRADAR
SUBPPPPOKERFACE
ANIJASONPIERRE
YENSLEDSADWEEK
Thu 12/1/2022
ANTICIMAGCIEL
TURNONAPOONME
BRIGGSGROWNUPS
ITSANOGONACRE
RUTALMOSTTHERE
TRANCESHOUSTON
HENSNOUSORO
WAITFORIT
UNABRETRAMP
SENSORSPREENER
NOTQUITEYETNAE
DAUNTNEVADANS
BAREDALLALISTS
IDEATIAMINUTO
BASKELIPATION

Technically, this is a low-key Rocky Horror (Picture) Show theme, inspired by the memorable lyric: "So come up to the lab / and see what's on the slab / I see you shiver with ANTICI... [long pause] ...PATION!"

So thanks upfront to Richard O'Brien and Tim Curry for lodging that one in my brain back in high school. If you're reading the first and last Across entries aloud, you must use your best Dr. Frank N. Furter voice.

I had the first/last entry conceit in my notepad for several months before I thought up a way to flesh out the theme. Once I had that, other than the grid layout being somewhat constrained — WAIT FOR IT, which I really wanted, only worked smack dab in the middle with three black squares on either side — the construction was pretty straightforward, and I'm happy with the result. My only regret is that there was no reasonable way to have a five-letter penultimate Across answer, which Rocky Horror fans could probably guess would have been "SAY IT!!!"

Finally: There were a few notable clue changes worth mentioning; my original HOUSTON clue was "The 'Ho' of New York's SoHo" which I liked, but I really like the moon landing clue as well. In final editing, I was hoping LIL could be clued as "Sumpin' Sumpin' lead-in," but it wasn't to be. And for BIB, credit to the editing team for "Accessory for running or dribbling," which is a killer misdirection.

Hope you enjoyed!

POW Sun 5/15/2022 Way Out West
METSSISTINEGERBIL
ETRESCREAMINSOLOIST
THEMOTHERROADMARMOTS
REVIVERVONPAOLO
ELITEOMITFOLKSYHIP
ORDEALBASTECORA
PAINTEDDESERTSQUALOR
STREAMERINGUNPACK
HOVKOREANOKSHOOT
ANISEGEMHURTINT
WENTGATEWAYARCHOARS
DEAICONYAKINTOW
SILENTXNIACINIPA
PUSHEDRANDONTDOIT
INVERSECADILLACRANCH
ETESLLOYDEATSAT
RONONMEDSBAITNANAS
PEEVEPANACETONE
CRAZIERROUTESIXTYSIX
DEPENDSENTHRALLPITT
CARNEYDETESTSERAS

My wife Sandy and I drove Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica in the early aughts, and it was among the most memorable of our many road trips together. There are dozens of quirky, unexpected, beautiful and just plain weird things to see along that road, and it's a neat window into a particular American past driving through it all. Highly recommended!

The theme started with the realization that ROUTE SIXTY SIX and THE MOTHER ROAD were the same length, and finding that surprisingly, neither had ever appeared in the Times puzzle. I like crosswords where the grid's arrangement has meaning, so eventually the idea of using state abbreviations to "draw" the road's path came to mind. It didn't crowd things too much, leaving room for the symmetric trio of natural, monumental, and offbeat attractions as theme entries (CADILLAC RANCH was a personal favorite stop). Would have loved to include some old-time classic Route 66 oddities, but on their own they're mostly quite obscure, and I was happy with this theme set.

This is my first Sunday New York Times puzzle, so I'm especially excited to see it printed on the glossy paper. I hope everyone enjoys it!

Thu 1/21/2021
HABIBSNAPEDS
AMAROCANIVETS
MODERNISTSICEE
METACEIMALONE
BARTONODEDON
COKIETSPDYES
DIEDSITUATE
CDSYESORNOMFR
CASTLESAREA
ACHYSICBIPED
PROAMSHAILED
DEGREESAUGABE
ANNATURNSIGNAL
STADIMACFAUCI
ICENOPESITKA

Thursday is my favorite New York Times crossword day: I love puzzles that stump me until, at some point, it clicks. This one is my second published "Tricky Thursday," and I hope the theme gives solvers a bit of that "aha!" feeling.

My first attempt at this theme just had the "signals" applying to Down answers, signifying the direction to continue from the circled square — so an "L" meant you'd proceed toward the left side of the grid. But as I started to fill it in, I realized it felt completely wrong, since turning left when driving south sends you east, not west. So, I decided to aim for actual "turning" and to make it work for both Down and Across answers. To find word pairs that could support that, I wrote a computer script to help crunch through millions of possibilities. Thankfully, I found enough decent pairs to make it work.

All those crossing theme entries put a lot of pressure on the fill, but after some back and forth with the editing team and a couple of revisions, I'm pleased with the result, and I hope you enjoy it!

Some favorites in the puzzle:

  • Clue that hit the editing room floor: "Golf tournaments for which one might qualify by being a celebrated guitarist" for PRO-AMS
  • Beverage: AMARO
  • Place: the Temple of Dendur at the MET
  • Clue the editing team wrote: "People calling the shots at the zoo?" for VETS

Finally, cheers to my lovely wife and our wonderful extended family, and here's to a happy and healthy 2021 for everyone. Happy solving!

Mon 11/25/2019
NADIRGASPNES
ONENOORCASATA
SNACKATTACKSCI
LAUGHLEASHED
DAMNRIALAUTO
RUEBACKONTRACK
IDINAAPART
PINETARSPURSON
WINEDNEATO
CRACKISWACKBIS
HOLAPITHGOSH
AVERAGEHADAT
REXYACKETYYACK
MRIELTONALGAE
SSSASISNEEDY

Hello solvers, this is my third published NYT crossword, and my first Monday. You probably won't be shocked to learn that the spark for this one was the realization that SNACK ATTACK and CRACK IS WACK had the same double-rhyme and the same number of letters. Plus, just repeating "ack" a whole bunch of times sounds inherently funny to me, so there was my theme. The original version I submitted was rounded out with BACKING TRACK and RACK AND STACK, and was rejected because it turns out the latter phrase, though fairly common in my line of work, isn't actually something most people have ever heard. However, Shortz et. al. indicated they'd be interested if I could replace that last themer. Couldn't find another 12-letter entry, so it needed a significant rewrite, but it worked out, and here we are.

Since my other published puzzles were a Wednesday and a quite tricky Thursday, I'm excited more people will be able to tackle this one!

A few notes:

  • I learned while constructing this puzzle that Haring's "Crack is Wack" mural visible today at Harlem River Park isn't the original, which was initially painted without city permission, later defaced, and then painted over, after which a new version was promptly commissioned by the NYC Parks Department. Lots more to the backstory, it's worth a look. And coincidentally, the mural has been out of sight since 2015 due to road construction, but was restored over the summer of 2019 and unveiled just a few weeks ago!
  • The editing team changed a few entries, one of which — ONE NO — I would have needed every single cross to fill in (originally I had CREMA there, clued as "feature of a well-pulled espresso"... as for bridge, I know precisely nothing). The section at 40/41-Down was also replaced in editing.
  • 10-Down: shout-out to my lovely wife's home state!
  • Of the clues that hit the cutting-room floor, the only one I miss was for 59-Across: "T. ___ (distant relative of a parakeet)" 🦖🐤
Thu 1/4/2018
12DOWNARFACT1
STEVIEREACRE8
IOLANIMACARENA
ERAELLMELACC
SENSLABCASTER
DOTETARANTINO
ENTERERANTS
4WARDINGADDRESS
4AGEMEANSIT
ALLOWEDINDUOS
CRISISNEVPRES
RUTETSXIISAW
OSTINATOENRICO
SEEDMAXDMINOR
SSRSPRY48DOWN

Hello solvers! This is my second published puzzle, and I'm pretty excited about it. I had the idea late last year in the context of "pointers" in computer programming: a chunk of memory that doesn't store relevant data itself but instead, points to another location in memory where the data can be found. Seemed an interesting concept to use as a trick in a crossword, so I got to work.

While thinking of words with "digit sounds" in them to cross the location answers, 4WARD popped into my head, which led me to 4WARDING ADDRESS — a perfect metaphor, and it was 15 characters long. Eureka! The 4 and S both fitting into the xxACROSS answers was a nice bonus, and really tied the theme together.

What made this a bear to construct was that only some digits work as sounds in other words, and adding or removing even a single black square could totally change the entries' numbering. Furthermore, the "forwarded" answers had to be reasonably interesting on their own (thanks to Jeff Chen, who took a look at an early version, for pointing out the importance of that last bit). Put that all together, and you have a lot of constraints to deal with.

It took a ton of work to get it into shape, but eventually, it was ready to submit. Will liked the concept, and after a bit more work it was approved. There was one significant editorial change worth mentioning: originally I had actual clues for the "forwarded" answers, marked with an asterisk, e.g. "Granted access*" at 38-Down instead of "Allowed in". The destination locations were clued with just an arrow, and the revealer clue was "Something to leave at the post office... or what the answers to the four starred clues each have". Will felt it would be a little too difficult to make that large a mental leap in solving, so it was changed to what you see now. I'm happy with the result, and proud of the puzzle. Hope you enjoyed it!

Wed 9/13/2017
MOPSPOWECLAT
IBETHUESBRIDE
LEPETITDEJEUNER
OSSIEGMANELM
EINEKLEINEDES
SRIEZRA
BRIOOLESEENIE
UNAPOCADEGRACIA
TAMERCUTEMEIR
SLAWARP
HMONACHTMUSIK
OEDGLUESHOAL
THELITTLETHINGS
STAINSLOERIAA
YADDAANNKANT

Hello all! Dan Mauer here. This is my debut crossword puzzle for the New York Times (or any other publication, for that matter).

A little background: Around 2013, my lovely wife (with whom I'd been solving the NYT puzzle for years) had the idea of us each making a small puzzle for the other to solve for fun, and through that I realized I really enjoyed crossword construction. When I learned that any random person could submit a crossword puzzle to The New York Times, I set a goal for myself to construct a "real" puzzle good enough to make the cut. Didn't take long to figure out how difficult that was! But, four years and many submitted-and-rejected attempts later, I am thrilled, honored and freaking out that puzzlers around the world are going to be solving a crossword I created.

As for the actual puzzle: it was LE PETIT DEJEUNER that sparked the idea for the theme — someone had used the term on Twitter and I briefly attempted to crack a joke about how it was THE LITTLE THINGS that really mattered. The joke wasn't funny enough to post, but at some point I realized both of those phrases were 15 letters long, and the puzzle grew from there. EINE KLEINE / NACHTMUSIK came to mind instantly, and UNA POCA DE GRACIA followed shortly thereafter. The fill was another story...

When I sent in the completed puzzle, Will Shortz responded that he liked the theme "a lot", but that the fill needed work. A lot of work, as it turned out. Lots of crosswordese, too many partial phrases, and so on; It took about three months, several revisions, and finally some much-appreciated help from Jeff Chen of XWord Info, who helped me to develop a better eye for fill and suggested some changes to the grid layout and a few of the long vertical crosses for this puzzle (including ORANGINA and EBENEZER which I really like) that made working around all the theme entries less impossible.

Before reading his notes here, I didn't realize how much time he'd dedicated to this effort. Super generous, and in addition to making this a better puzzle our correspondence undoubtedly has made me a better constructor.

Finally I got a yes, and I couldn't be more excited. I hope you enjoyed solving it.

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