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Elizabeth A. Long author page

13 puzzles by Elizabeth A. Long
with Jeff Chen comments

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137/16/20072/18/2018
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Elizabeth A. Long
Puzzles constructed by Elizabeth A. Long by year
Sun 2/18/2018 SEE 68-ACROSS
APSEMISSALSFIBCRED
DEUXONTARIOURETHANE
INITOCELOTSTORRANCE
OUTRUNETNABINGERROR
SPEAKSFLYFOILIRE
VEERGIMLETSHOES
HOPITAYURALAWAITS
QUIRKNEATERMETE
SIEGEKARTSLUMBERPAY
RIGRECAMIESRRR
ICONNAMEDROPPERLOTS
MUGSOFIAUSEJOB
PRIMCOLORSALPEUTICA
AONEEGGSONTUTOR
PORTERPEREEDUSYNC
TONYSSERIESONCE
DEEGENAEARLYAMEN
PHONEMARSSARIELTORO
ALCAPONEMINORCAERIN
SEALIONSREDDEERRACE
SRTARESTRIESONSLAT

I find it incredibly frustrating when I can't figure out a theme until late in the game, so the payoff has to be worth it. Definitely the case today! Elizabeth is a NAME DROPPER, hanging names off the bottoms of phrases … and doing so in a way that forms a kooky phrase!

EARLY AM(ERICA)N is a perfect example. EARLY AMEN is amusing, creating an image of a person wishing and praying for church to end. And what a neat find, ERICA in there, with AM(ERICA)N forming AMEN. Very cool.

I love it when a puzzle leaves me with a "how'd the author come up with all of those?" feeling. I imagine it was simply a matter of putting in the time, searching for words that work in this special way, and figuring out what phrases fit with those words. Still, it seems a bit magical that Elizabeth found so many good ones.

I mean, SLUMBER PAY as a fee for testing mattresses is funny. And SLUMBER P(ART)Y as a base phrase is great!

The cross-referencing was necessary, but it sure did increase my grumbling for those first 15 minutes of my solve. There's not much I like less than being forced to jump around, searching for a particular number. This is a crossword, not a number search, goldarnit! But again, the payoff was worth it.

Also worth it was the grid execution. Granted, Elizabeth went to 144 words, four past the usual max, but with so many pairs of intersecting themers, it was likely necessary. I didn't even mind, considering she still gave some bonuses in EXTRA VIRGIN, LOTUS EATERS, SEA LIONS, LIT A FIRE, even the fun PROBITY.

I'd love to see Will change his spec sheet to "max 140 words for a Sunday ... except if the theme complexity warrants 144." There was still a good amount of HIER, CYL, SRTA, etc. kind of stuff, but a tad less than we usually see (in spades) in Sunday puzzles. Not having to slog through a ton of gunk is a fantastic thing.

I considered this for the POW!, given the neat concept and great finds. If only there hadn't been *quite* as much frustration in my first 15 minutes …

Tue 2/24/2015
BLASSUSMCHOWL
LANCENCAAOPIE
ENDUEDANLRUNG
EARLSSUNGLASSES
PIELIKEAARE
ENANCOOFF
BRERIDEALHUE
LADYJANESBLINDS
AGEEMCEENODS
HENABUOWN
SNUBSTOOLIE
ZANESLAMPCOVERS
IMAXATIEDANES
NOSENOTASTONE
GRADTREKYESES

Amusing take on the "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon, playing on "famous person named Grey" + "synonym for shade." EARL Grey, LADY JANE Grey, ZANE Grey are all crossworthy, methinks. It might have been nice to have everyone of the same ilk (all British nobles, e.g.) or three people from completely different backgrounds, but that's a minor point.

Some people have asked what Will means by "colorful entries," and this puzzle helps me make some observations. First, "colorful" or "vivid" is a very subjective term, so Will and I will undoubtedly disagree on many entries. But here are a few qualities that I think help add to a NYT crossword:

Manganese in various states of processing
  • Multi-word phrases. CALL A CAB rolls off the tongue. Single words can often be tough to make sing, especially ones that are "filler" in everyday conversation. Between CALL A CAB and something like COMMUTE, I'd take CALL A CAB most any day.
  • Terms that are fun to say. STOOLIE is a perfect example. SCULLERY too, for me at least. I'm sure people who work in food prep would shrug at SCULLERY, but I hear this term infrequently, and it just sounds fun.
  • Terms fitting the NYT's target demographic. People who read the NYT tend to be highly educated, so elements (pun intended) such as MANGANESE are appropriate. One caveat: it would have been great if the clue had pointed out a fun fact about MANGANESE, like its use in alloying stainless steel, as even most chemists can't remember Mg's chemical neighbors on the periodic table by memory. Not a lot of fun to try to answer a clue that's essentially: [random element].

These are simply my observations on what I think Will (and Rich and other editors) tend to favor. Each one has his/her own preference of course, so it's impossible to generalize with 100% accuracy. Will, want to weigh in?

Thu 1/16/2014
HOGADAMLARSON
ANECDOTEAMANDA
CANOEISTDOTEON
KNEWTEEDICERS
REFARFHRS
STARESLACES
CATSUPGODOT
HOEDOTTEDIREA
PAIRSUNBELT
BELLAPEOPLE
VANPJSDRE
DOTAGEATMZAHN
AIMLOWYOUDOTOO
PLATTENUTRIENT
SANYOSETTUDEE

What an enjoyable solve from Elizabeth today. Not a huge amount of overt theme material, so it felt more like a themeless as I was going. But what a nice surprise when I sat back to figure out what was really going on. At first I thought it was simply a O representing a dot over each I, but no, it's a full DOT. Very cool!

I personally tried a similar idea a year ago, but I just used Os to "dot" every I. I also wanted to pull off zero extraneous Is or Os (no dot-like Os floating around the grid), so during my solve today I was slightly put off by what felt like me to be superfluous Os — they seemed like orphaned "dots" that didn't belong to any Is. That's my own issue, though.

And the more I thought about my own (failed) experience, I liked the trade-off here. I still think there's a certain inelegance in having an O where there is no matching I (yes, I know, I can be super picky), but I really appreciated the cleanliness of Elizabeth's grid. And Will brings up a good point, that no I is left unDOTted.

That brings us to the revealer. DOTTED I is a brief touch, right to the point. I think DOTTED THE IS (11) or DOTTED ALL THE IS (14, maybe using a 14 x 16 grid) would have been more elegant an entry, but adding more theme material will almost always make the construction harder. Plus, a seven-letter entry like DOTTED I can go right in the middle without causing construction problems. Notice how HOE and REA (instead of banks of black squares) flank DOTTED I? That means the sides of the grid can be broken up in many, many different ways. A 9 or 11 or 13-letter revealer in the dead center makes construction more difficult, because it places a few black squares automatically

The fill is nice and smooth, although more marquee long fill would have been nice. Almost all the longest answers (all eight letters long) are single words, and aren't super snazzy. "Speaker's aid" helps to make ANECDOTE a better answer, and "Passed on, in a way" does the same for REPEATED — that sort of misdirection could have helped spice up the other eight-letter fill too.

And saving the best for last: "What some waiters never see?" as in "Waiting for GODOT"; that's absolutely brilliant cluing. More of that, please!

Mon 12/17/2012
DAMEDIEMACTUP
ALEXURDUBOISE
KITTYHAWKURGES
ANERANILENEST
RESULTNUMBER
DEAFKEILLOR
JADEGAPRELIVE
ALACATSCANLED
MONGOLILLTYRO
BEDROOMIDLE
EISNERSIXTHS
CELSGLEESTOOL
ALITOOCTOPUSSY
VIOLADUNKREEL
SANERYEASEASY
Tue 1/17/2012
MIFFBATHEAPES
ODORAFOOTDRAW
TALENONOSVOTE
THICKRESBIPED
SOCKEYEEYESORE
LYEAGATES
MERESTNOWADAYS
ABAWOWLET
OBTRUDESFLOSSY
SABINERAN
VINCENTVANGOGH
ONAIRSSEKOREA
WAKEMOUTHIDES
EWESELITENEST
LESTTOTEMGREY
Thu 12/1/2011
BLACKJLUMBERJ
LOGINSBARCODES
UNSTOPANNALIST
ERRATANOSIR
SHADRACHSODA
KALTEETERNEW
ADMITDOTER
JACKINTHEBOX
HOSEDFIRMA
AMFSUDOKUZEN
PALLPINGPONG
PREOPDENIRO
LIESOVEROILIER
EATERIESNEEDLE
JHORNERJFROST
Fri 4/1/2011
GOGOARMRESCUE
ARONIIIAVERSE
ZINCRFDCANALS
EGGOBEDNRA
MIALOWCLASS
BORINGECODRAY
ARENASOATNINA
REIGNAFTKUDOS
HINTOTTSCONES
ODERDOHNUBILE
PARALYZEAHH
FASRECTRAP
GRAFTSORSROTE
NODICEANAOMIT
PEACHYDIGNAPS
Mon 11/29/2010
IDLEBOSHNOAH
READEXPOGENRE
ALBSLEAPEWERS
QUEENANNESLACE
WILLIISPGOSS
ASEKISSOFDEATH
REDSDOHANTSY
HEADBAND
FOCALSOYACCT
TRAFFICCONEHAI
DARTSOUREALM
CREAMOFTHECROP
SLEDSPFUIAGRA
HERBSELBEREIN
OSAYREEDDREI
Wed 2/17/2010
SPAREBOASTFTD
TALONADLIBARE
AGOODDELTANEV
LONDONBROILTAI
ADZRELUNLOADS
GAOTOUTISLA
CUTONDANIEL
BAKEDALASKA
NEAREDMONKS
ECHOBINGTOW
ALAMODEGILONA
TIMROASTTURKEY
EPIARTOONOLAN
NSAMILANAPACE
SENACERSRESTS
Wed 7/30/2008
LAMBPEASLENTO
ORALALUMIVORY
OHIOSADANATAL
FANTASTICAND
ATEBEEKNEECAP
SYLEDGYALE
MASTSSLOETRIO
ITWASALLWRITTEN
ATANPAINROANS
MILHAUSSIP
ICEBERGAWNPHD
WITHAFEATHER
LIMASTRODOLIO
EVENTEIREGODS
DEGASRAESAXIS
Thu 7/17/2008
CUREBELLESPAR
ITALORIELPINA
RUNGLILACLENT
CRINKLEPRAISES
ANNANATILT
IOTASCASABA
WHIRLIGIGLAG
RATTLEREPISTLE
ERAARTICHOKE
NETTLEMANIA
WORDSEPSOM
LORELAISPREADS
AMIEUNITYSUED
VESTQATARUNTO
ONESSHONEPASS
Mon 7/30/2007
WIVESFACTBIKE
EMILEINORUKES
SMALLDIMERENT
LUCILLESBALL
ENOSOLEATETAU
YOMSCITYCOONS
SPATETILDE
SALLYSFIELD
SNAFUPARRY
POWERPCCANGAM
ADSGRAVENARNO
NEILSDIAMOND
LEGOOLIOLOUIE
IRISRAGUMUSES
ZANYISNTAREST
Mon 7/16/2007
OLDSCOMACOOLS
RIOTUSEDALCOA
SAGEBRUSHNEEDY
ORGANSOYAAGE
MAHICOSTNER
SESSIONSUTES
EMTWNWRASPED
LIRATOUGHTRUE
FRISCONRAARA
PIAFGUILTYOF
OCTAVIABRIO
POEEXPOLUCIA
AMANAHONEYCOMB
RESETIZODALAI
TREESDEMSNEXT
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