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26 puzzles by David Levinson Wilk
with Jeff Chen comments

TotalDebutLatest
2612/2/19968/2/2020
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
7135271
RebusCircleScrabble
121.59
David Levinson Wilk
View these same grids with comments from:
Constructor (5)Will Shortz (1)Jeff Chen (5)Jim Horne (2)Hide comments

See the 182 answer words debuted by David Levinson Wilk.

Alternate name for this constructor:
D. L. Wilk
Sun 8/2/2020PUZZLIN'
ICEBERGSHARPTONCUSS
MATINEECOMEHEREASET
STANDINGROOMONLYBEAR
ENTRAPSNAYMEADE
ZANYSLOPJENSALLOW
EPEESEVERLASTINGLOVE
BIRTHSERVINEDEMOTED
RADIOCARTEIXEIRA
ASAOAREROSBOTCAAN
FALLINGRAINMOMJAYNE
IMEANTARPSAOSIRENS
SOROSIINPARKINGRAMP
HATSDMSTRIXRAGYER
LEGALAIDEAGLEEYE
SCAPULAONETONSENSES
QUALIFYINGROUNDSTIRS
UPLASTNGOCUREORSO
IRATEPLOACHIEVE
SORTFEAROFMISSINGOUT
HUGEANTIPODESTOOPTO
YSERTHEATERSYESISEE

In all the times I've tried to explain to my daughter why FOMO drives us to do funny things, I've never noticed how funny it is to parse it FEAR OF MISSIN' GOUT. That's a winner! QUALIFYIN' GROUND isn't that amusing in its own right, but the clue did such a great job of making me smile. The visual of a sea captain saying "Here's the thing about dry land …" is so entertaining.

The other transformations didn't do much for me, as I've seen ROOM → GROOM, LOVE → GLOVE, RAIN → GRAIN many times in crosswords, but all in all, the theme works. It reminded me of a more innovative one from a few years back, playing on a similar conceit.

For a straight-over-the-plate puzzle, bonuses in the fill can be so important. I loved NERD ALERT!, ZEBRAFISH, LEGAL AID, PHONE SEX, even JIGGLES and OUCHIES. That can all help keep a solver's attention.

Smoothness is important, too, though. What do these have in common: SNERT, ENDE, MEADE, EPEES, ENTO, NEY, ENNUIS, YSER? Not only are they common crosswordese, but they heavily feature the free "Wheel of Fortune" letters, RSTLN E. That's not a terrible thing, since some of these can give longtime solvers toeholds into the puzzle, but cutting the quantity of crossword glue in half or more would have been better.

I generally strongly disagree with the philosophy of going under 140 words. Most of the time, a 140-word puzzle can be both more sparkly and smoother than a 136-word one.

I did enjoy quite a few clever clues. MATINEE as [Something never seen at night] is brilliant. George SOROS as "The Palindrome" makes me long to get a cool nickname. And SIRENS as [Rock singers?] is so clever.

I like Sunday puzzles to be more ground-breaking than a g-round breaker, but there's a place for these among certain solving segments — especially those who aren't as crossword-obsessed as me.

Tue 12/17/2019
GRAPHPLAYABAG
MADEAOAREDJLO
ODORLESSGASOFF
VESTERIE
TIRELESSWORKER
BADASSLAHR
OMENAMISHSLO
HEADLESSCHICKEN
ODSOPINEHYPE
ALECGRAPES
FEARLESSLEADER
SMUTHUNS
TOTHAIRLESSDOG
OJOEXPELLAURA
PISREADSEMERY

FEARLESS LEADER = Franklin Delano Roosevelt minus the letters F E A R — in that order! A wonderful find. I've been searching for an exemplary "clues are missing certain letters" concept for years now, and this is way better than anything I've come up with. It's so easy to identify FDR's name even without those four letters, so that you have half an idea of what's going on — and then when you get the other half, it's transcendent.

After solving that one, I thought for sure that this would be the POW! The fact that FDR was a FEARLESS LEADER makes it perfect.

HEADLESS CHICKEN was close in terms of wow factor, H E A D perfectly omitted, while still keeping Rhode Island Red identifiable. I did hear some complaints the last time the phrase showed up, making me wonder if it doesn't have universal recognition (running around like a headless chicken = going in chaos).

Oh, how badly I wanted the rest of the puzzle to measure up to these two findings. ODORLESS GAS was fine, although it's not as easy to smell what _xygen _iflu_ _ide should be, and it wasn't immediately clear to me that oxygen difluoride is an odorless gas.

TIRELESS WORKER had some issues too, as a TAXI DRIVER is a worker, but I don't know that all TAXI DRIVERs are tireless.

Huh. Now that I think about it, is oxygen disulfide odorless? Was it just a coincidence that FDR was a FEARLESS LEADER? I think so, which takes away from my perceived cleverness of the theme. Drat.

HAIRLESS DOG was the one that yanked it right out of POW! contention. _ _ r r _ e _ is … a HARRIER? How is the jump jet a HAIRLESS DOG? I read up on Harriers for five solid minutes before wondering, could there be a dog breed named the HARRIER? Huh.

The gridwork also pulled down the solving experience. As much as I crave bonuses like BADASS, RASSLE, BJORK, EMOJI, it's much more important to deliver a friendly Tuesday solving experience for newer folks. Entries like OJO EPEE SLO don't do that. Having LEPER in your grid isn't great, either.

Such a shame. FEARLESS LEADER is one of those amazing finds that rarely comes along. Cutting out HARRIER to let the grid breath more, and working to upgrade TIRELESS WORKER would have made the puzzle Puzzle of the Year material.

Sun 2/4/2018CRACKING WISE
THEPRUBASSTUBADRACO
AARONSAUTUMNALRICAN
THATSHYSTERICALAVANT
SASSENTIREEAGERTO
TREESFUNNYORDIE
UTERUSMADAMEANS
POLONIUSROBARDSALP
DRYSENSEOFHUMORAPRIL
OISEBEGISEBEENE
PIATOOTSADORNED
EVERYBODYSACOMEDIAN
LACTOSEDACHAMEN
ETHANSADUTAACTE
TAILSTHELAUGHFACTORY
STPUSERIDSSCREAMAT
VARREROOFGOLAME
YOMAMAJOKEADIOS
CHOCULAFILERSOBOE
TARASIWASONLYKIDDING
ORATELABNOTESENIGMA
RENESSTALLONESANDED

I enjoy puzzles that play with shapes. I'd seen "V sitting over I = Y" puzzles before, but I like David's additional layer, CRACKING WISE hinting that not only do the Ys get broken into V over I (see the grid below for details), but it only happens within themers … that are humor-related! Love it when a puzzle goes above and beyond.

Delightful themers. I love me some YO MAMA JOKEs, so that one stood out. But all of them were strong phrases, all related to comedy. Good selections, if a bit repetitive-feeling toward the end.

In my book, the best Sunday puzzles are the ones that scream I'M TOO BIG TO BE CONTAINED BY A 15x15 GRID! This one did not. It's true that EVERYBODYS A COMEDIAN is too long for a 15x15. But while the theme tickled me through the first half of the puzzle, the joke started to get old.

(That central themer apparently is true!)

What might have helped: longer crossing answers (containing the VIs) — shorties like AVIAS and EVITE don't do much for me. Would have been awesome to have even more humor-related phrases crossing the themers at those squares! Now that would have been awesome, and given it a good reason to need a big grid.

A Sunday 140-word grid is almost always harder to fill with clean and colorful material, compared to a 15x15 weekday. It's even harder when you add the constraint of "no other Ys in the puzzle except those in the themers." Stuff like PERINATAL and ARGOSIES didn't do a lot for me — I bet there could have been more of the great ROSE PETAL and POLONIUS long fill in a 15x15 … as well as less AARONS / TARAS, STER / ISE, ACARD / AHERO, etc.

Clever idea overall though, and the title's extra lavier — er, layer — helped me enjoy the puzzle

Tue 12/15/2015
APPCOPSAYSME
HERAHABCLAMOR
SKINOGORAZORS
ONCDEBSENORA
DECOYSSEESTIT
OTELLOURNCHEZ
TESAGAPEGOO
HASINRANINPUT
OCDINALLESA
IFFYLSDADORED
NEWWEEDCANADA
ADAHANOILOTT
JOLSONWWIIOOF
AREOLENOTVRBI
MASTEDNEESEX

BOBS UP AND DOWN = a fun revealer, with famous BOBs going up, down, up and then down through theme answers. Bob DYLAN hiding in CANDYLAND (what a weird mental image) and Bob HOPE in SMOOTH OPERATORS = great finds.

Candy Land

I couldn't quite recall Bob Fosse or Bob Vila, but it was easy enough to figure them out from the theme answers, plus the crossing answers were fair enough. It would have been nice if these two had been as uber-famous as the first two — I was curious what other Bobs could have been placed in the "up" direction. Bob SAGET? Not unless you include some racy words (think of the -GASM ending, ahem). Bob DOLE offers more possibilities. Tough to find others!

I found the cluing a bit odd on PRINCESS OF WALES. That's a perfectly legit entry, but [Elton John's dedicatee for "Candle in the Wind 1997"] clearly indicates LADY DI or PRINCESS DI, yeah? I would have much preferred something like [Lady Di, e.g.].

Tough grid arrangement, with five long themers. Of course, the conceit forces the themers to be placed vertically, but that has the unfortunate side effect of giving the solver the revealer very early in the game. I always find it more satisfying to wait until the end (or at least the middle) before I'm handed the concept. It would have been tough to run BOBS UP AND DOWN horizontally since the four themers would have had to intersect it, but I wonder if that could have been possible.

A handful of gluey stuff is to be expected given the high grid constraints. Most didn't bother me, but things like ORA, TES, ESA, ITE and SOG all added up. SOG especially seems so ... odd. When a three-letter entry of common letter has only been used six times in the Shortz era, that's a bad sign.

Not a lot of long fill — just USED TO BE and PEKOE TEA — but David does well with much of his mid-length stuff like ERSTAZ, Sinatra's FEDORA, JOLSON, IN A JAM. Nice bonuses as I solved.

Wed 4/2/2014
DADEJUMPNEWAT
ITONORCAACELA
SWORDHILTPOTOK
COBAINITATHEE
ORIGAMIIGLOO
SKEEUNDRANOFF
DEICERTEDDY
SEAIRANHITSRI
PURSESIEGES
ARMPITMAOELSA
YEOWSSTREETS
NOWAOCDNIPSAT
SNAKERARECATCH
FESTSONYXSEEM
WAHOODEETTRYA

Okay, all you solvers out there who didn't understand the theme at first, raise your hands!

(My hand sheepishly raised)

After filling in the last letter, I was astonished that I got Mr. Happy Pencil, since WET HOODS looked so odd. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the theme answers were all anagrams of the phrase immediately following "... out of ...". Confused still? [Weapon part that's out of this world] means the weapon part is made up out of the letters T H I S W O R L D. Anagrammed, you get SWORD HILT. Same goes for (out of) THE WOODS and WET HOODS. I thought it was pretty neat, once I got it. A bit of British cryptic crossword leaking over into the US.

"Wacky" phrase puzzles can be hit or miss. They usually need to be really funny, or at least produce an odd mental image to be successful. I liked most of the themers, but none of them spoke to me in particular. I did enjoy that SWORD HILT is a real thing — what a cool coincidence that THIS WORLD and SWORD HILT are anagrams!

I also appreciated some of the lively fill in David's puzzle. I GOT NEXT especially feels fresh and snappy. And it's rare that a four-letter entry will impress me, but I really liked the up-to-date NSFW (not safe/suitable for work). Nice job in adding to the NYT crossword's SFW lexicon.

There were some rough patches here and there. For whatever reason, four-letter random Roman numerals irk me, but that's simply a preference. Some people actually like them, in that they can be inferred, thus providing a toehold in a tough-to-solve section. If they must make an appearance, I usually prefer a crazy math problem, like XXXIII * XLVII or something referencing the fact that 1551 is palindromic. Then again, I'm a dork (and proud of it!).

Not a surprise to see a few glue-y entries in those wide-open NW and SE corners. But if all I have to pay for SEE PAST, NIPS AT, I GOT NEXT, ASTHMA is the partial TRY A, I'll take that most any day. Even better is the NW, which features a bevy of beautiful answers for the price of IT ON, SKEE and DIA. What made it totally worth it to me was my favorite clue/answer: [Paper tiger, e.g.] for ORIGAMI. I always struggle to remember what a paper tiger is (something that seems threatening but really isn't), and I got a big smile on my face when I realized I had been bamboozled.

Thu 5/23/2013
MEYERSETHLBJ
IRENATHREEYEAR
MACYSRAILROADS
ITHASCIRCLES
LUMPTORY
ALGIERSMCSTHE
TEASAGITATOR
MAYBEYESMAYBENO
FRENZIESURDU
ENSRNSHINTSAT
ESTHFETA
UNDERITSEYES
LAUREATESCREAK
VOLLEYERSAMORY
ILEDOSERAWLS
Thu 2/7/2013
ARMANIPOSING
SEASONEDALLMEN
SETHOGENSEETHU
ESTASKANIOUS
SEEMEDFLAG
SINGLETHEAD
ASTASIEALICIA
DARNTEHANDORM
DMITRIIREELSE
NEPHOLOGIST
AWLSTUGSON
NSECEVAMANNA
EHLICHH&RBLOCK
DEBTORSEALABLE
SKEETSMESSED
Wed 7/18/2012
GNASHTRAMLOC
AORTAIANSGINA
SHERMANMANEUVER
HONRHOTRIAL
WALKMANMANUAL
EASTABA
BOUGHTILDIEU
ROMANMANNERISMS
OPALAMTAARON
AYEMEIN
TRUMANMANDATE
AROSEINGWDS
SAMESEXMARRIAGE
PIEDNEINALIEN
SLOORCAWENDT
Sun 6/26/2011T MOBILE
KDLANGADJUSTTOPDOGS
OROMEOMOOSHUSIERRAN
NEWYORKMINUETALTOONA
RANSGEOALTAPENNER
AMOFENALLBESTAREOFF
DOTERSSLILYCAL
FETEOFCLAYIREMEMBER
RUNTIERTRIBLORNA
HOSEDLOYCOWBOYBOOST
ENTSGENKATIESONANT
LEOTOETAKENHEWDAL
INPLAYFEZESTARWARE
CASTPAJAMASSIPSAXES
AMIDEESPNICEPOPS
LETSDANCEIVORYCOATS
TGIKNITSCITRIC
NOGRETASHAKESJULELO
ARRIVETERIOOPKAVA
MAIDENSPREMARTIALSEX
IMPENDSTASINGELMORE
BASSISTASTROSDENNYS
Fri 5/20/2011
GIGISCHWAUMBO
AMINOREADSALA
ROADCONGASDAK
TUNECARONCAKE
HTTPEKINGOMEN
SEARETNA
OPENPANDORASBOX
READONESFORTUNE
INTERNALAUDITOR
UNTOSETT
MERCUNCAPUEYS
ARTENOOILTROT
MILDCOMMAIFWE
IKEAENIACOLIN
EASYRENTENYET
Sun 3/6/2011FOR YOUR EDIFICATION
COAGULATEPNCPARKMUY
OBSESSIONROSALIEINE
WANTEDDEADORALIVECBS
AMESSDUMPSHAW
NARCBURNEDATTHESTAKE
LIENEEARIAREED
HOOKEDONPHONICSALDO
TERSEATANEAT
SIDESTEPALEKEGTIDAL
EGERBLESSEDEVENTELI
THAMALTANOTONBAN
STLCRACKEDJOKESARME
ESSAISOISEEEMERSION
TIOPETAOPEDS
FAITGROUNDEDFORLIFE
ALGAREBSAIMFOR
TOUCHEDINTHEHEADASST
CHAKAHAMETAPE
EANDRESSEDTOTHENINES
LOAITSONMEFOOTNOTES
LESNESTLESAIRCANADA
Sun 1/2/2011WORKS IN TRANSLATION
YESMPLEASTORKSTOCK
ALTOHINDYALEUREPLY
MOOTOLAVSMEARTAPED
APPOINTMENTINSAMARRA
HEARSEIRSOLAFENG
ARTISTEBACKINTHEUSSR
NEALSOISELSIE
ONENIGHTINBANGKOKENE
HURINKYSTOICMSGR
SNIFFSEELBLOND
ONCEUPONATIMEINMEXICO
DRACOPALEDITOR
ANISITALORIOTOSE
VIMANAMERICANINPARIS
ELWESSACSKOAL
DEATHINVENICEITSABET
ABIEKOIRNASENILE
ATREEGROWSINBROOKLYN
CSINYGIJOEEACHILSE
DINARILONAATMONEET
ENGLENESTSDEPTGRES
Fri 10/30/2009
FRANCFINGOTTA
TORAHINAOTHER
ONEMOMENTINTIME
RDACALINERPS
DOODOODOODOODOO
FILCENVIG
THESAHARADESERT
OOXTEPLERNON
DUPLEXAPARTMENT
EEKCANHER
STRAITISTHEGATE
OATSATHALTOI
SWIMSUITEDITION
ANSAEEDMNOONE
DYERSSSSERNES
Fri 6/19/2009
HASTAMANANAMPG
ISAKDINESENERR
RANTANDRAVEZOO
ESTMEREGLUTS
REELSEULOGIZES
TEYJASONPAGE
IMUSSLASHES
OPENITOUTSET
LIVEDTOTAXI
DRAYELLENCMD
JAMESDEANSKIRT
ECASHMARLNIH
AIRALLABOUTEVE
NEIPEARLYGATES
SSEEXPRESSLANE
Fri 3/20/2009
CHATERDASASIF
COLATORCHUTNE
CHARACTERACTORS
POBOYTSOHOPES
ATEESSISM
ATMNTSASA
SOAKEDTOTHESKIN
ATSOMEOTHERTIME
FILLINTHEBLANKS
ENAHESGAT
MVPENTGUS
OLMOSCIROBESE
FEELINONESBONES
FIREFREERASAP
SASSCESTATERN
Sun 9/23/2007FLIP-FLOPS
BEGUNPAINGALASOAPS
BUONORENOOLESTOTAL
BROKEFORGODLIIAMANA
DEVITOKEEPSFORPLAY
BROMINEFARREALMS
COMPLIMENTSFORFISH
DUETBEERESCOS
EENTHEBESTFORWORKOUT
OWENTELSNUNCIO
JUMBOSIZENOAHSNIKON
UPTOADAYFORKINGGLUE
GROINSKEINAPARTHEID
GOSSIPODESPAST
LOSTTIMEFORMAKEUPPET
ETAVONELOWALK
KNOWLEDGEFORTHIRST
BASALTTETORESTES
APPLESFORBOBPOINTE
SERIAAJARALLFORFREE
TRANSHADIJOIEYURIS
ASYETDYESAXEDILENE
Sun 7/22/2007WORST PICKUP LINES
MARYANNCRAIGSROAST
ALOEVERAREDCAPANKHS
JAMAICANMECRAZYBERRA
ADETOPENEINOUR
YOUDBESETONSTUNNING
SEAMYBOOTSYNOSE
AMELIACEEENCTHOS
ORISITJUSTYOUSHIFT
ARCNICCHACHAOFA
KARLHHHLAUREATE
YOUREOUTOFTHISWORLD
COLORADOASSNAES
APTLITTLESSNRBI
DEWEYCANIHAVEYOURS
IRONMLBAXEICETEA
ARFSMOESHASCOTT
YOURETHEONLYTENISEE
SCOREOCTEAUNCO
NOTIEYOUREMMMMMMGOOD
AMENDTVROOMPOPSICLE
PORGYDEEDEESHUSHED
Fri 8/25/2006
LUGSFRANCSOSA
ELEALEVELANAT
ATTNINIGOTCBY
SRTAGEARSEERO
HAHNHENIELIEU
ETATDBLS
COLORADOSPRINGS
ATANDTOPERATORS
ROSIETHERIVETER
TONEMODE
HALTNAFTAINCA
IRAEDRIERSOON
DEUXADLAIHUNG
INGANOLTEEGGS
NAHSTRESSSHOT
Fri 1/6/2006
GONZOJOURNALISM
THAIRESTAURANTS
BETTERGETMOVING
RDSSROABMSSR
ATYOUSAW
FOSTERDADSHEDS
ACTIIIROIOBEY
THESACKOBOISTS
WEEKEOSUNSEAT
ARLESPAWPRINTS
TEACARET
TDSELLSOCNRA
HOTENOUGHFORYOU
ITALIANAMERICAN
SECONDAMENDMENT
Sat 1/8/2005
OBAMAALECEPOS
HOVERNASHTARA
ONEATATIMEALAN
HORNDIRECTLINK
TVSKOING
NOSTRACABRIDES
EVERANDANONRPI
GEMSCORNUMOES
ERILEBRONJAMES
VACCINESCICELY
CIANOAIM
STREETSIGNIBIS
HICSIIMAGINESO
INLACLAMQTIPS
AGERETTESONYA
Fri 7/23/2004
DETROITMICHIGAN
ITSAFREECOUNTRY
MAKEAMENTALNOTE
ELSNASUSCSET
ESTES
ASTSTANHAIM
CHARLOTTEBRONTE
TAKEITORLEAVEIT
ACEUPONESSLEEVE
SKIPEASELED
SKEDS
AMIINEBAMASU
SATELLITESTATES
ATEENAGERINLOVE
STARSINONESEYES
Wed 8/14/2002
DORSAFLORAIDS
IRONSLOCALTEL
ABOOKMUSTBESLA
FRAMEEXPERT
MATTENCLILIE
ALOESTHEAXEFOR
IMPROVENTER
MSSNEGATORHEM
EATATMODENA
THEFROZENXRAYS
WELTADUEERAT
ERASERANGST
LETSEAINSIDEUS
VIEADHOCGENTS
ENDISSUEINSET
Tue 11/7/2000
JAZZSTRAWDAMP
ULEECHINAEDIE
STUDIOAPARTMENT
TISROTEMIOSIS
BABSMGRS
DELANYPALEMPG
ALIBIWACOAIRY
FIVESTORYWALKUP
ODESHOTSDEEDS
EERJUDYDORSEY
GORYMALT
ADONISGIMPFAT
MOMANDDADSHOUSE
FRATARISEXMEN
MARSYENTLYEAS
Wed 8/16/2000
UNIVOTHERUGH
ATLASCROWENRA
WHERETHERESRAM
IRISESABOIL
ASSAILSEALABLE
MACBETHBEHEST
ORALSERIES
RATEAWILLFRIA
FUNGITROLL
HERMANOTHELLO
EXECUTEDORELSE
NEPALVERGES
RDATHERESAPLAY
YRSERREDDIANE
VATDESKSNINA
Wed 10/13/1999
ARBORINCAELLA
BERRANOAHNOEL
BYEBYELOVEJOVE
ASAKLANANOMIE
BROWDDAY
SHOOPSHOOPSONG
STANCEALFAPOL
LOGOAVESIRE
IOUABLEBEMUSE
PLEASEPLEASEME
HERSESTE
LOWCALBRIECAP
SHAHICEICEBABY
ANNOOPALMASUR
TOTOZANYSTATE
Mon 12/2/1996
TOREARBORSANS
APESDIANACLAP
BESTWISHESALMA
OREODESCALMER
OATBRANCAGEY
EMSCOLESLAW
CASASGAYLEOLE
ARIDCONEYIVAN
PENGATORBREST
PACKITINPEA
EIGHTHUGSAND
PERSIASARAZOO
ALESYOURSTRULY
RILEADIEUORAL
KEYSNOTMEBENE