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53 puzzles by Erik Agard
with constructor comments

TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5311/6/20121/26/202025
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1156783121
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62280
Erik Agard

52 Daily crosswords by Erik Agard

Sun 1/26/2020FOOD ENGINEERING
MRPIBBSPURCARBATM
EARNERHIREACORNSIA
SKINNYJEANSTIMEFLIES
SEMINAANTENDALANIS
ANAITODAISSINE
BARGRAPHSRIPCURRENTS
AMYABUOBITSCHOREO
YODELERNAPESCOTS
ELSEAGEDMINEGRR
OBIEINTERRANDARIA
WHATASTEALLIZCAMBAGE
ANTEACESBONETARMS
DOETVADALOGSLIM
MOONSLENTTOOLATE
TWOBITFLASHHADRUE
CORNERBOOTHEYEPOPPER
HEADEUROAVERIO
ALPACASHOPLONECLIP
COPYPASTEUPANDVANISH
HOERACERFERNALICIA
APRAIDEFAMENICEST

I made a bit of a tactical error in building this grid around 62-Down. I construct most of my themed puzzles this way, starting with a seed answer that intersects one or more of the theme answers. I try for that answer to be something that makes people who don't see themselves enough in crosswords feel seen. The NYT puzzle is a big platform, so it feels like a wasted opportunity to not do that. Finding the right seed answer can be very time-consuming, but since clues (like 89-Down, which was originally [Orji of "Insecure"]) and even shorter answers (like 79-Down, which was the record label TDE) often get changed in editing, it's necessary. So that's what I tried to do here, except it didn't occur to me that the Beyoncé song at 62-Down could be reclued with a more general meaning. (In the words of the great Tiffany Pollard: "Beyoncé, sweetie, I'm so sorry.")

As an editor, I understand the impulse to make things accessible to as many people as possible, and a general phrase is likely to be more widely known than a song title. Still, it's hard to imagine, say, the answer I'M A LOSER being "translated" in this way, which raises questions about who gets to be a part of the puzzle's intended audience. As a constructor, it hurts to have such an essential thing negated - but I'll take it as a reminder to always be as precise as possible in my efforts until the day I don't have to be.

Thu 1/16/2020
FETASPRIGSCHAI
AARPTOETAPRODS
UTEPANGORAORAL
NIALONGBROWNIE
ATTENDELDERS
JOURNEYMAN
MEGAPEEWEEOTIS
EXECSSTOWPIANO
LANKATSKSASKUP
MESSYGREEK
ETAHONEYBEEATL
BALTDIRELYOKIE
OBOEUNITASANTE
OLGADECIDEFEUD
KEYSERASERSETS

JEFF: Once in a while, some oddity of the English language will strike me, and I'll have to stop whatever I'm doing to write it down. Genealogy to geology by "taking a knee" (the "knee" syllable removed)? Pretty sure I stopped somewhere awkward, like in the middle of an intersection.

There had to be more examples like this, right?

*crickets*

Think harder, dammit!

*more crickets*

Luckily, Erik had asked if I wanted to do a themeless with him, and I sent him this concept. Maybe his mind would turn up more.

Sure enough, HONEYBEE to HUBBY came to him quickly. Yes!

And JOURNEYMAN to GERMAN? Who could possibly think of that? Genius!

To round things out, he came up with NIA LONG to ALONG and BROWNIE to BROW, too.

The answer to every problem clearly is to get Erik involved.

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.

Sat 12/7/2019
TENJAMAICANRUM
RYEIMETSOMEONE
EEKGOTTABOUNCE
STOWSHEIRSNAT
CECEPANDACIGS
HEADBANDSCREE
ITSGONEOGLE
CHEESELOWFAT
DOSTCOMMISH
GSIXWRAPPARTY
CRANLIARSTEAR
HENPANICSEATO
ITCHECKSOUTWII
BETARELEASEAND
ALARMSYSTEMYES

KEVIN: I hope my co-constructor Erik Agard won't mind when I say that he is a genius. I witnessed clever clues pour forth from him the way that melodies sprang effortlessly from Mozart's fingertips at the piano as he improvised for his audiences.

Wed 11/20/2019
ACTTDSZESTS
CHANCEITINGOTS
COMOESTAGOTEAM
TOPOLLUZTGI
BLACKPANTHER
EWWSPRINGBREAK
AAHSSONCALC
UTAHEPCOTMITT
ETALIMASNOB
ORCHESTRATEERA
PLASTICCRATE
DENCULHEGEL
OVINESEMPANADA
CEDETOSPINYEEL
LOGANHEEANA

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.

Sat 11/2/2019
AMILLILAKEBEDS
TINEARIWILLNOT
BANANACOMEATME
IMONQUIKCHEEP
RICESSTENTRDS
THERESTNORM
HENMEEKFIEND
ACTORDIRECTOR
TERREDEAFTEA
EDNAFRACTAL
ASHNACRENAOMI
DHABICERNRODS
LABELERSCOMBAT
INLEAGUEIDEATE
BEATPOETSENDER

PAOLO: This one started with Erik's home-run clue/answer pair at 38A; from there, I filled the right half of the grid, and Erik worked his magic on the left. As always, Erik was a joy to work with. So many things I love about the finished puzzle are his, including the clues for 42A/60A/61D, and sliding the entry A MILLI into 1A. I really miss his clue for 48D: [Apt name for a fan of "Transformers?"].

Also! Hit up the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory, especially if you're a person from an underrepresented group who's interested in writing crosswords.

ERIK: Pretty much everything that I pride myself on as a constructor/collaborator, Paolo is better at, including the being kind part. It would be infuriating if I didn't feel so lucky to be alive at the same time as him. If you haven't solved his puzzles at Grids These Days, fix that.

Sun 10/13/2019LINES OF WORK
BRADSMENORAHLOWPH
RARERIMANAGESALARY
SOFTBALLPLAYERURANIA
UNFITIOTAOOPSGMC
NCISMARYERMINESARI
GOATHERDSNOOZEPERON
UMSITSPECIALIST
ONAUTOACCRADUSTMEH
PALPSPULSARSPARKA
TAPSTADANICKWOMAN
SCHEDULINGCOORDINATOR
PALEROGRETOUTRHEA
BLANCSAMSUNGSTANK
HIEDELINURSERESIDE
ORTHODONTISTCAM
URBANSCOTIAMAGICIAN
SILTSEATACRACEONME
EGOPURRDORATUTUS
CACHEDEPIDEMIOLOGIST
ATKINSOTTOMANAGAME
TESTSFASTONEBORED

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.

Big congrats to the Queer Qrosswords folks on another great set of puzzles!

POW Tue 10/1/2019
ROAMAHABDEBIT
ANTIFOIESCENE
WELLDRILLTRYST
FIASCOSIPUHUH
IOSCPAZOOIRE
STEWUNDERCOVER
HASHFDRTIERS
OFFSEASON
AZUREAUKKITT
WETLAUNDRYSTAY
ANTTSOAHASUP
IDESDJSOBLATE
TARPSOPPOSITES
EYEUPKOOKMINE
DADDYETDSBEST

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.

Sat 9/21/2019
TRACKDOWNDEAL
REPAIRSHOPIAGO
IMPRESSIVESTEW
BOEUFOPALTOMB
ERASERLARVAL
CALORIFICLIETO
ASSCAMERACREW
SOCIALIST
MAJORINGINSAG
AGAPETEAKETTLE
LEBRONSUREDO
WNBAELBARIPER
ADINCOARSENING
RENOKUNTAKINTE
ERGSTHEMASSES

joon and erik: we originally had "manmade" in the phrasing for the 8-down clue, and are grateful to the nyt team for the thoughtful edit there (as well as other improvements like 46-across). hope you enjoyed the puzzle!

POW Mon 8/26/2019
CASTSBIBSLAUDE
ONEUPALOEESSEX
BAABAABLACKSHEEP
RIMRUETABMMA
ASSERTNICEST
BOOBOOBEAR
IKNOWLILONICKI
OREOSENDONBONA
TICKTAKETOSMOG
ASKSURLIEOXO
BYEBYEBIRDIE
DROOLERICINSTA
RANGEYOLKTATUM
ATEINEDGEENACT
TESSADEERDESKS

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.

POW Sat 8/10/2019
STEADICAMMAIA
POWERMOVETURNT
LIESAHEADATEIT
ALLOWEDIMITATE
YELPERECOCAN
REDSUPSOLD
OPPSTIPSAUDIS
WHATDOYOUEXPECT
NORUSHRAPESSO
ENABLETWOS
RESLASITSLIT
SLIPUPSUNREADY
HITONHALTERTOP
INIGOERNESTINE
PECSDEARSANTA

ANNA: I'm so excited for this puzzle to exist — this is my first NYT print puzzle, and working with Erik is a great experience. I've had puzzles previously in the LA Times, American Values Club, minis for the NYT app, the Indie 500 and Crosswords LA tournaments, and I'm also now the puzzle creator for Kinfolk magazine. I've been solving puzzles (or trying to) since I was something like ten years old, so this is a kind of huge deal for me.

Erik and I have created puzzles before, which is always wonderful. For this one, Erik provided some 15-letter entries to start a puzzle with. I picked the big central across one, put in 6-Down, and the whole northwest chunk just kinda miraculously fell into place. I'm not the best at making these wide-open themelesses, but I love solving them, so pulling this off felt real good. The smaller northeast/southwest portions were weirdly much harder to get into place. Our original cluing probably skewed a bit more Millennial/Gen Z, but it's nice to see that a lot of our clues stayed in place, or at least carried the same essence.

Thu 7/25/2019
STRAWBASSCSI
ORISITABLEREN
MOBILEYEARAPP
ADSALESTVMOVIE
MINAJOCEAN
ADAASTUDENT
REALMAMISOBIE
ECHOONPOPPARK
SOSOPIERGIJOE
PETCRATEAND
INDEXSMART
TORRENTARMOIRE
SKITOWNPATROL
OILERIESNEAKS
KALRITZESQUE
Sat 7/6/2019
IPASSTAPEPDA
MONAEIMAXBRUN
DIDJAMOTORBIKE
OSHATBSIBEAM
WOOKIEELPSSKI
NNWNARCOLEPTIC
PABLOCASALS
DECLARATORY
DARLENELOVE
DONEANDDONELAS
RTEIDSFIREAXE
OCCURAFCSTIX
POOPEMOJIATILT
IMONGUACMENLO
TSKMIRETEXAN

I wouldn't submit this puzzle today. As a constructor it was satisfying to be able to fill that wide-open space in the middle, but as a solver I'd prefer a themeless that's packed with fascinating answers and/or clever clues at every turn (like this recent Caitlin Reid masterpiece - so jealous) over an architectural feat held together by less interesting stuff like 32-Across and 18-Down, and, worse, too many names. (I'm hardly anti-name, and I was excited to highlight 33-Across*, but everything in moderation.)

Hope you enjoyed it anyway, and thanks as always to the NYT team for having me!

*although the clue is a textbook example of how, in contrast to men being clued by their work/accomplishments (see 32-Down), women in crosswords are often contextualized by their relationships to men

Mon 6/17/2019
SCRUBSLAMMOS
PRUNESLOBEAAH
FUNINTHESUNCSI
SETGOODSONAIR
MALTAROUSE
ICICLESPLAT
MADEINTHESHADE
ORESIONCRAW
BACKINTHEBLACK
HIRESLAUGHS
TERESABENE
USERSEPICSOOH
PICEYEINTHESKY
AGORENTSEALED
CNNSAYSERODE

YACOB: I found Erik after he mentioned the Facebook group he created (Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory) in the XWord Info notes for one of his puzzles in 2018. I reached out to ask him for ideas on how to improve a theme idea I had in mind. He responded fifteen minutes later with a bunch of useful feedback. Two months later, he checked back in to see if that theme idea had materialized and asked if I was interested in co-constructing a puzzle. I said yes, and this is the puzzle we produced! Since making this puzzle, we worked together on another one that ran as a part of the Lollapuzzoola tournament last summer.

Just wanted to shout out Erik for being an awesome mentor! And also, if you're interested in learning how to construct, the Facebook group is a great place to start and look around for resources and potential mentors.

ERIK: If memory serves, this is the lowest proportion of clues I've ever had changed by editors from submission to publication, which seems like a strong argument either for collaboration in general or for working with Yacob in particular (I highly recommend both).

POW Sun 6/2/2019STONERS' FILM FESTIVAL
ALOFTATTNTVPGWAFTS
SOFIATAROHEROELLIE
PUFFPIECESAXEDBOONE
CITELATERONPOTSHOTS
ASHELMGAWKFRIAR
VERDEUTESALITMIA
HIGHDRAMASMOKEBOMB
ELROYGERMIHAVEEDIE
ELISLANDOMATESTENT
LEDSEISDUPLESCOLDS
JOINTRESOLUTION
CASABAEASESRUNTTCU
LLAMAKNITEMITSROOK
ALIAKENNYDOSEGUIDE
ROLLINGINTHEAISLES
ATMDISSAFROFLEES
ALISTPEAROLDTWA
BAKEDHAMCHICANACRIT
AVIANNOAHDIRECTHITS
MONDODOPEETTANIECE
ANGSTSTEMDYEDTASHA
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
Tue 4/30/2019
ALOHASERFSMOG
CONESIDEAPAPI
CHEAPTRICKLYES
RANDREESEAINT
ANDSOONDISC
LAYSZECHUAN
GOTATCHEEKTMI
UTEPGROUPLION
ATEQUITSWONKA
CONSULTSFAN
VIALROYGBIV
LOOMIMEANJUDE
IAGOBODYDOUBLE
STUNLOGOUMBER
THEEEDENIPADS
Wed 4/17/2019
ROTHMOSSYJAWS
ACREANIMESAVOW
STALECEREALMAKE
CADETSARIATEA
AGENTBURNTTOAST
LOOAEONSORTS
NFLLAMBPEP
FIXBREAKFAST
BRATGIFYUP
APNEAETTUNAP
MEALYAPPLESLATE
IRESLURHEIFER
GUNNSPOILEDMILK
ASAPOINKERISLE
SEERLEEDSTHAD

ALISON AND ERIK: This puzzle blossomed from an email exchange riffing on a previous NYT puzzle that had HOT OATMEAL as a theme answer ("What's the alternative? Cold oatmeal?!"). The realization that LUKEWARM OATMEAL (15) is the perfect length to span a weekday grid sent us down a rabbit hole of, with increasing semi-seriousness, suggesting suboptimal foods for theme answers. When we thought of the phrase FIX BREAKFAST and its dual meaning, we knew we had something legit.

We had a lot of fun creating this puzzle (and a fair amount of horror upon realizing that some common breakfast foods do not Google well — please just take our word for it), and we hope you have just as much fun solving it.

Wed 3/20/2019
TRIPCLOTHAVA
RAVEDONHOTSAR
ICANTSLEEPAWINK
BENTOIBCCAF
ERAKITCHENSIN
VENAAXECAP
FRANCEMTJADE
POURHOTPIAREA
ARMYAKANEWER
CURBOAACTS
MAKESYOUTHPDT
IREDVDALLAY
DISAPPEARINGINK
DRIBEATENBENE
SANGREYSTSOS

AMANDA and KARL:

This is our first puzzle ever accepted by the New York Times after Erik jump-started our construction efforts. We received the news when we were in Oregon, watching the total solar eclipse. Amanda still remembers the e-mail with Will Shortz closing with "Welcome Aboard!" Among the clues, we can appreciate the couple of nods to California along with the lead into one of Karl's favorite poems, "Jabberwocky."

ERIK:

Of the clues not written by us, my favorite is 31-Across. Wish I thought of that! I'm unsure about 1-Down — I fear that "making" implies that those groups had more agency in the historical creation of that system than they did, or that the "?"-ness of it all is a bit too flippant for the subject matter. I hope I'm wrong. Thanks to Amanda and Karl for helping turn an okay idea into a great idea, as they always do.

Wed 3/6/2019
WHIMLIONICANT
PENAOMOONOVAE
MARCHOFPROGRESS
REARSEXDRAT
SITWEBBEXPO
KOHLSLIMNANGER
EDIEDELILABILE
WINTERWONDERLAND
EDGILYXIIIENID
RESTSLIMBBUTNO
SATEASTIPOT
TAILATLOKRA
SPRINGHASSPRUNG
ASADAALAIANDY
RENEWLAMBMEAN

Mary Lou:

Erik got in touch with me last January about co-constructing a themeless. We emailed a few times about it before I shared a grid I'd been playing around with. It had the LION->LIMN->LIMB->LAMB words in the corners and three other themers. Together we came up with three themers that were stronger than the ones I had initially chosen. Erik then arranged them in a grid with a ladder structure. I filled the grid and Erik tweaked it slightly. We worked together on the cluing. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with Erik. So glad he reached out to me. Hopefully we'll get back to that themeless soon.

Sun 2/24/2019EVERYTHING EVENS OUT IN THE END
CHEWBACCACLUBLIDS
DEVIATIONRIFECELIE
SMALLTOWNSALONWHILST
LSUSOLDSEPIAULT
PASSANTYULERPIMOL
IMPMEWLREINDEERRIDE
GEARDOITDARTSONG
SCREWPLUMBGAOLLAIR
THEFARMTEAMAGRIETNA
YESSIRSWINGINGSIGN
SANGTOVOYAGE
ISNOTTOOINTOONIONS
NAANETREPROTESTPOET
KITSDODOSYRIASOLAR
LIESFIFAGASPDATA
FOOTNOTEFONTSERTLEN
URNAVELEADLEEWARD
MMARENEWSTAYCRO
BOLGERWHATARETHEODDS
LOTUSEASELOSESLEEP
ENVYSPUDAWKWAFINA

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.

POW Tue 2/5/2019
HAMMYSPFLUBE
APBIOCHERAPOP
READYWHENYOUARE
JONIBUNGEE
LIUBLURICA
DANNYAINGEHISS
ATSEASEAMNIT
MITPRECEDESMU
UNISOARSITON
PANSBREATHMINT
CHAIWWIATE
OBTAINALEC
SOUNDSLIKEAPLAN
LOADOGRECREME
ONLYNAEHOIST
Sat 1/19/2019
TAKETHISCROAKS
ONALEASHUVULAE
POTBELLIEDSTOVE
ADIALEARNAH
ZEEDOTMMAEKE
MOWBIELTAR
CASESENSITIVE
MICHELLEOBAMA
PERSONALSPACE
RNCTIPSOBS
ISUSISPTALIP
VWSASIAAIDA
YEAROFTHEMONKEY
TACOMAACIDTEST
ORTEGAHEADEDTO

ERIK: None of my favorite clues from this puzzle are mine: 34-Across (a clue which could have never existed if this puzzle was published at the time we wrote it - trust the process!) and 23-Down came from the NYT team, while 31-Down is a classic Paolo fanute. Thanks to all involved for the collaboration!

PAOLO: Speaking as the person who saw Erik write the clues for 17- and 35-Across, I can tell you Erik is being modest as per usual. It was a pleasure to collaborate again with this Jeopardy! champ, crossword wunderkind, and major force behind the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory (which you should totally hit up if you're an aspiring puzzle maker who's underrepresented in any way). Echoing my thanks to the NYT team, and I hope you enjoyed the solve!

Sat 12/15/2018
HAMMCHUPACABRA
ECRUHESITATION
RUMSUNDERSTOOD
TROTTRADETALKS
ZAMBEZIPSI
ESPSITNSPIN
RENTACOPGOOSE
DEMIHINESCLAW
ONICEGARLICKY
HOTELBARENE
GRRCDDRIVE
SUPPRESSEDTRIX
ILLBETHEREEARP
BEERCOOLERAQUA
SEASONPASSMIST

Just gonna retweet my and Doug's constructor notes from last month, adding that The Inkubator can now be found here, and that the house clues I most enjoyed in this one are 24-Across, 40-Across, 25-Down, and 26-Down. Happy holidays!

Tue 11/27/2018
VOWEDABCSTUB
CROCUSROLEERE
REMAKEFRIEDEGG
ARENTNOMINEE
CANDIDATESAINT
HEISTSHOELETS
IRSOATYRHO
COMPUTERPROGRAM
ETAOUSTERA
SWATDRIPHOTEL
UHURAEDITORIAL
NONAMESLATIN
GOTTARUNGHOULS
OPISILTSOLEIL
DIESETHTESTY
Sat 11/17/2018
ATFIRSTCHEAPIE
TRACEEELLISROSS
TELEVISIONPILOT
AXLESTASTYALA
CEOSERIESERAT
HSNCRUSTWROTE
KAINEDORIES
CRANKSHOWODD
BAABAAMOVER
ABDULWINEDLAT
SOILLEADSTECH
ECOLLAMAPESTO
THEBOOKOFMORMON
WORLDSERIESRING
ONATEARTWEEZES

With the publication of this puzzle, the two of us each have one more Saturday NYT appearance (1) than every woman constructor combined (0) in 2018. Here's hoping that will change in the coming weeks — if not, it could be the fourth time in eight years that the NYT has gone ohfer on publishing women on Saturdays.

You can find more stats on XWord Info; additionally, if you're a woman seeking a constructing partner, feedback/test-solving on your puzzle, or perhaps just someone to yell with about how low the number zero is, you can contact us and many other constructors through the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory.

And one last plug: it's not too late to throw your support behind The Inkubator, a forthcoming weekly puzzle from crossworld stars Tracy Bennett and Laura Braunstein.

Also, we're very proud of this puzzle! Thanks to the NYT team for having us, and for the brilliant clues at 17-Across and 9-Down.

Sun 10/28/2018MATCH PLAY
TRACTSAPBSDOCTERI
BACHATABOLTONOREAD
SWEETANDSOURNEGERGO
ANTEHEARTANDSOUL
ERRSTILTJPOPARTS
SHEESHLEIABLACULA
PEACHESANDCREAMEATS
NAPTIMETAKEYOGIRHO
BANEDSSUNNIER
TARANDFEATHERSTONER
DALAISURFAGUAELEGY
IMMUNERIGHTANDWRONG
APOLUNESHEDIS
NONSEASAAHSONESTEP
ANDYSTANDUPANDCHEER
CUESTASSHAMOTELLO
OPRYRSVPSPEWMESS
STOPANDSTAREETRE
WIKICOPMIXEDDOUBLES
ARIEUNOONITSCROOGE
BEESPETSGTSKOWTOW

Here are the clues for some scrapped theme answers:

  • [Jacked in]
  • [ABC powers]
  • [Ring-a-levio]
  • [Arlen Specter]
Thu 10/18/2018
THEDABCHANDUD
MERIDAFATELINE
SLIDERLGBTICON
MENLOGABFEST
TENHITAT
GLAMEGOSLEPEW
RIRITOTELVIRA
ABCSCOLONEXIT
DRESSYAUGRICE
SADATEVIEYEAR
BECCALEV
LATERALBLOAT
OCEANIANEDITOR
SANTERIARECODE
SITRORYTRENDY
POW Fri 10/12/2018
NESSADAGEPRAT
OCTATUPACFISH
WHATSTHEBIGIDEA
LOTIONGAZEAT
EBERTMCSMESSI
TOMEPEONSRHYS
MOOBAGNOLDOAT
EMTIRAQWARTSO
SETDEDUCTSGAS
EROSDEEREJUBA
ESSEXTSAFANCY
LIGHTBULB
LATINOROBUST
AVENGENAENAE
BADASSSTRODE

ERIK: Can't spell "Bruce Haight" without "bright"! As a solver, I'm always excited to see this multiple Orca nominee's byline on a puzzle, so it's an honor for me to join him for his 43rd NYT crossword.

BRUCE: Erik is the reigning ACPT champion, having blown thru a super tough finals puzzle in the record time of 4 minutes 58 seconds back in March of this year. So many people wanted so badly for him to get his first win there, and for him to do it in such dramatic fashion was amazing. Also in March, he was named as one of the two crossword constructors of the year (for 2017) by Diary of a Crossword Fiend. When you work with a brilliant 25-year-old like Erik you try to stay out of his way and not embarrass yourself.

The "grid-art" here was my idea, but Erik came up with the fabulous second theme entry WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA. He also came up with about 90% of the fill on this grid — the inside of the bulb was particularly hard to fill cleanly. I wouldn't have even known how to spell MEGADETH, and since I am 65 years old, you would be right in guessing I don't have much of their music on my iPhone. The clue for 31-Across was Erik's idea also — pretty funny I think.

It was a ton of fun working with Erik, and thanks to Will and the editing team for allowing BADASS and making us fine tune the fill. I'm super pleased with the way the puzzle turned out - hope solvers enjoy it!

Wed 9/5/2018
JUTSDANETITANS
ASHESTANOCELOT
CHEERLEADTENETS
OEDOMANTAUT
BRONCOSDOLPHINS
EGODEMONSIVAN
DAFOEORAKNEEL
TEAMBUILDING
SPEWSENTANION
ODIEGETOUTNTH
PATRIOTSBENGALS
TWOSRULEPGA
BATHOSLUNISOLAR
URBANEATTNRAMI
GIANTSSHUEONES

TEAMBUILDING as a revealer came about as we brainstormed for a different puzzle. The last Super Bowl must have been on Amanda's mind because PAT-RIOTS jumped out immediately as a funny way to say PATRIOTS. Turns out a lot of team names can be broken down into other words! We went about making a list and, with the theme set selected, moved onto the grid.

Erik has an amazing knack of connecting theme entries (4 in this case) and he built the majority of the grid. We had originally clued the theme entries to both be people (in some way or another) to stick with the TEAMBUILDING concept, but this works too!

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.

Sun 8/5/2018GHOSTED
CASAWENTFLORATRIODE
ACEREACHRIPUPSEALUP
PARTYTRAYAMISSANGLEE
NIECELAMAZEHEARTRATE
NEATELIJAHISEE
IRANGATETEUTONSDEALS
TASTETESTRITUALSPOI
ADLERATOMCARMENMCRAE
LIARIRONORESOARING
YOMGRANITAUSBPULSE
LOSTINTHESHUFFLE
YEASTAGONOTTRUEBAH
ATTAINSSENEGALBADU
CHATTYCATHYETONABNER
HERSAMHILLLOCALCALL
TRIEDLIEFLATDEPLANES
MAGINIACINPARA
GAMERRAGEBOXOUTYARDS
APARNAORALSBRASSBARS
GORGESTVSETEGGOIMIN
SPEEDSHESSELESTCAPS

ALISON: I am a grad student at UC Berkeley in global health and infectious disease. I went to Emory University as an undergraduate and then got my Master of Public Health degree from Berkeley in 2017. I started "solving" the NYT crossword with my grandma when I was a kid (with erasable pens) and got more and more into solving them during grad school (with normal pens, mostly). On a whim, I started making puzzles a few months ago with a friend after we saw that Rex Parker (Michael Sharp) had offered his help to any aspiring constructors. Rex referred me to the Facebook group called the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory, and I sent my first-ever puzzle to a handful of "test-solvers," including Erik. The feedback I got from the dozen or so people who replied was all genuinely kind, supportive, and helpful. I'm so grateful for everyone's help and encouragement—especially from Erik, who became my de facto crossword mentor, and then co-constructor. We began collaborating on a few puzzles and submitted "Ghosted" in the middle of April.

ERIK: Ever notice how in the phrase "green energy," ENERGY is GREEN mixed up with a bonus letter? We set out to find out if there were any other phrases with this property; a computer-aided search turned up a large handful of possibilities, ranging from the erudite (ALFRED ADLER, ANDRE DERAIN) to the colloquial (FAST FACTS, RIDE-OR-DIE). Alison noticed that, using only phrases that dropped the letter in the second word, we could spell out PHANTO, which we found to be (most of) an apt description of the disappearing letters. The toughest part was trying to find phrases for the M and the S, since nothing in our wordlists would work and we had to search manually. How did people do this stuff before computers? Thanks to Alison for sharing her debut byline with me, and to the NYT team for having us.

Mon 7/16/2018
OPALSWAGPERMA
PACETALEIMOUT
ELLAOXENLOOMS
COUNTRYCODEFBI
IIIMRITAG
COUNTERFEITCOIN
CNNSIRPOOP
SOFASGAPNOBEL
AMENMICAGO
COMPLETECONTROL
OUIFYIROE
ATLCOMECORRECT
RAITAETONEVER
STARRRACESILO
EERIESLOTALLY

This theme has been done a few times over the years, so I did my best to use answer phrases that weren't in those previous puzzles.

Sun 6/17/2018TRICKY TRIOS
STALLSUTESCAPBRASS
OOHOOHNOSHADOROUTE
SNAPCRACKLEANDPOLDIE
ASSKILORCAUNCLIPS
TENORTIEDLIAISE
PASSKUKLAFRANANDE
HUMPTYOOFCREEALA
IRAIDTAGSCLIOSWNYC
SALDIANECLASPVENOM
HELSINKIBRINIMALONE
WYNKENBLYNKENANDD
AMONGSTLUPELIMESODA
MERCSOVERTZOOMSMIC
AWLSSTEWSHENNASICU
LSDHEHEFATRADNER
PETERPAULANDYRIDA
MOOLAHHURLARGUE
WAITITIANIYALLLAO
AFLACLASTONESTANDING
SIEGELIESAGANASCAR
HADESSLRAHOYDELETE

AMANDA AND KARL: We are from the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoy many shared hobbies, one of which is crossword puzzles. Amanda renewed her interest in crosswords a few years ago and introduced them to Karl when we first met. After a few attempts at constructing, we got more serious last year after a chance encounter with Erik Agard at ACPT 2017. Erik mentored and guided us as aspiring constructors through several puzzles and is a constant inspiration for us. We are delighted to have one of our collaborations with Erik as our debut NY Times puzzle. We would also like to express gratitude to Will, Sam, Joel, and the rest of the NY Times team for their kind encouragement and invaluable advice.

ERIK: With crossword tournaments, it's more about the people than the puzzles. The 2017 ACPT was fairly painful for me on the competitive front, but I met these two, so on balance, it was a fantastic weekend. I'm grateful to A & K for regularly blowing my mind with fresh ideas, fills, and clues, and for allowing me to be the third banana in this cruciverbal trio.

AMANDA AND KARL: We originally had LASTMANSTANDING as the revealer but realized after brainstorming that there were trios we liked with a non-"man" as the last one listed. Erik came up with LASTONESTANDING which nicely solved this problem. While creating the grid, we struggled with how many theme entries to include and how to "hide" the "standing" names. After many iterations, we decided to go with quality over quantity, and this turned out to be a very good decision, as it made for an open grid that lent itself to better fill for the "standing" names. Erik did an incredible job finding those long downs that cross three(!) theme entries. We shared the rest of the fill and cluing duties and are very happy with the result.

Working with a collaborator like Erik is a joy, with both sides being open-minded and motivated to make the best puzzle we can.

We are also very pleased to be debuting WAITITI and FURIOSA!

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)

POW Sun 5/13/2018LOVE AT FIRST SITE
NBAJAMPSASSWAMBAT
SATIRERUNTIAGOSOLE
FRENCHCONNECTIONEATS
WRAPSONREPEATOPERAS
ELIOCTAORSOHYDRA
ELONBOOYAHDREAM
PENGUINSEANBEANERA
ADESTUDFINDERHOMEEC
BESTIERUBBERMATCH
AWEDBERYLNASTIES
PETPASTATRISHRNS
FASTCARMASONBOGS
ACTIONITEMSFLIPON
CHEESEOPENFLAMESMET
EERTRINIDADMONDAVI
NANASPACTENAKIN
AZUREMIMEHENSTEL
MINERSTOOTSIESPAIGE
APINORGANICCHEMISTRY
SPOTROUTCALEONESIE
SONTOYSKNEEBATONS

NEVILLE AND ERIK: We don't really know what to say. Our hearts are very full at this moment.

It's an honor and a privilege to work with the Times team, who pushed us to improve on our original fill and preserved our constructorial voice through the edit.

P.S. To all those competing in next month's Indie 500 Crossword Tournament: may God guide you in your quest.

Mon 4/9/2018
URLAMAAPPLET
LEAHCATTHRIVE
TAKEACUTHAILED
ALECGUINNESS
KORONEMORE
ANDYGARCIASHEA
DIRECULIMS
AGESYEARSFOOT
PIXRAWEAVE
TRESAVAGARDNER
SILENTIGEE
SILVERSCREEN
ITHACAREUSABLE
CHIMESOARLASS
EXPERTSPFYET

As usual, thanks to the NYT team for crafting some of the best clues in the puzzle, including 15-Across, 4-Down, 40-Down, and 58-Down. And apologies to Anna Gunn, who was cut from the original draft.

ICYMI: The Puzzle Collaboration Directory is a Facebook group created to provide resources for people of color, women, and other underrepresented folks who are interested in learning to make crosswords. (If you're not on Facebook, you can email me at agarderik@gmail.com and I'll get you started.

Fri 3/23/2018
MALTAEPSFTLB
ATEOFMOORROOM
STARRPOLICEBOX
KISSONTHECHEEK
CHIPPYHAZES
OURSCENEXIV
DJINNOARSRANI
IANKIBBUTZCOD
ENIDNILEAETNA
SETADATEHMM
TIRESFIBBER
MAKEUPTUTORIAL
GOLDMINERNADJA
UCLATILLICEIN
SKYYNESSERVE

My thanks to whoever wrote the clues at 16-Across and 57-Across, two of my favorites in the puzzle.

Thu 2/8/2018
WELSHRAMADAN
ELITISTARAPAHO
SILENTOMEGRYAN
TAYEDIGGSMOSS
PIXARBAN
SAULEDUSARA
ANSELELGORTNOT
AGESAGOTMOBILE
BLUMARISATOMEI
SOPHDEFTEXT
EOSSCAMS
WAIFHOLLYWOOD
SHUFFLEAMRADIO
SIDEEYEWARNING
STIRREDHANKS
Fri 1/12/2018
THATSATALLORDER
EACHONETEACHONE
ARAISININTHESUN
MAKEAFRESHSTART
MELOMSTSE
REUPPED
SPAREDNOEXPENSE
CAMELIDECLAIRS
INCLASSDIURNAL
OXOTSP
IMACNACREISAO
RABATMLIDEALT
VICTORIASSECRET
INDEPENDENCEAVE
NEEDSTOSLASHER

Always wanted to do a quad stack. Probably won't go for the quint. Love and appreciation to the stack god Martin Ashwood-Smith, one of my favorite constructors to solve.

POW Sun 12/10/2017FULL-BODY CAST
AWALKSHELINNOTIME
TOMEITALIBHOTLINES
OWIESEVOKESETHAKITT
MEGASTARELWAYVITAE
DONCHLESLALOMILE
NAVJOHNLUIZAMO
ZAPMOIRAONENOLO
ETONCOINOPBANGOR
ELSALANCERPORKADOBO
ATBATATTUNESOIR
INDDENZELWASGTONKGB
STOPBONSAIVISIT
TACOSTANDMICHELLEOH
SCHEMEHEALERYADA
KIEVTEETEXTSROT
RYANPHILLPEIAN
USESAVIOROLPLATT
RENALNOTREPASTRIES
BITPARTSETCHEDCULPA
ANTIGONESUTRAOTTER
NEONSIGNTSARDOSES

LAURA: I've been solving crosswords all my life, it seems — my grandfather, who was an immigrant, would solve puzzles to practice English, and he used to ask for my help when I was a kid. I've only been constructing for about a year. I'm a librarian at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and Andrew Kingsley (an NYT constructor), who recently graduated, used to work on his grids in the reference room. We would chat about puzzles, and one day I decided that if puzzles were things that people made, I could make them too.

I've been so fortunate to have friends and mentors who have supported me through the process of learning to construct. Recently, one of my favorite speculative fiction authors, Charlie Jane Anders, tweeted that a definition of success that makes her happy is "getting to be associated with people I admire, who keep surprising me." That is also my definition of success in crosswords. Last winter when I started trying to make puzzles, I never imagined that within a year my first NYT byline would be shared with Erik Agard, whom I admire so much as a constructor and a person.

Erik and I had been looking for ideas for co-constructing, and one day he emailed with this idea about names of body parts hidden in phrases, and thus ensued a 67-message email chain where the idea evolved, first to something with book titles, then to a meta idea, then finally to where it ended up with actor names. Some entries rejected from our final list included JIM [BACK]US, RED [BUTT]ONS, the non-specific M[ORGAN] FREEMAN, and someone with the awesome name of JACK [NOSE]WORTHY, who had a bit part in "Event Horizon."

ERIK: Laura is a true umptuple threat: solver (finished top-100 at Lollapuzzoola in her tournament debut), constructor (wrote a great puzzle for this year's Boswords tournament), blogger (her reviews at Crossword Fiend and Rex Parker usually get a laugh out of me), community pillar (consistently an outspoken advocate for women and other underrepresented groups in crossword construction)... and she's a kickass librarian and probably some other stuff I don't even know about. She's one of those people who can take your one pretty good idea and turn it into three great ideas; it was as much a pleasure to write this puzzle with her as it is a privilege to share her first NYT byline.

Wed 11/29/2017
ACROSSFASTOREO
SLEEPYALMAREAP
SUPREMECOURTCASE
TBSABATESRAMEN
SKORHAY
MILALALATOTALS
ANIMECONTOURKIT
INBOXHOJOTAIKO
MIRACLEMOPSURER
STASESSUSSMANY
RUBPAPA
SCOOPINSIDETAU
TEMPTATIONISLAND
ICEEVENDSTEREO
RENDASEAMOTOWN

Many of my family's holiday traditions have changed as I've neared adulthood: we phased out the fir tree a few years ago, dinner is now takeout, the presents have shrunk in size but grown in meaning, and so on. But some things will never change - for one, the holidays just aren't the holidays without A Motown Christmas playing on our ancient stereo. I'm away from home at the time of this writing, but I'm looking forward to getting back in a couple of weeks and getting to be with my folks while Stevie Wonder bodies "Ave Maria" in the background. Thanks to the good people at NYT for publishing this near-and-dear theme

Sun 10/8/2017POWER BALLADS
TSAIMPELASSETGPS
ALLACIRCATEARATOOH
BILLYOCEANARCADEFIRE
STEFANPREGGERSTONED
GRRPADDUNERUG
GREENDAYSPEEDSARP
RODSEICASSCOLDPLAY
ISLECROONSTONEMATE
TAYLORSWIFTIWONTCEL
THYINROADFORREAL
PROWMETALLICAYESM
SEENOTEONEONEDOI
ETCWOLFSTHESPINNERS
ARATNORSEASTONSTOP
LILWAYNENEOSNAYYMA
COLSETTLEMCHAMMER
UMAZERORUEDEO
ATLASCEMENTEDTITLES
FRANKZAPPASUPERGROUP
ROTAIROUTASIDEOGRE
ODETOPSYREESEYOW

ERIK: Music and wordplay are but two of Alex's superpowers (you can see some of her punny drawings on her Instagram), so when this puzzle's then-half-formed theme needed rescuing, I knew who to shine the Bat-Signal for. Through a couple of revisions and upwards of a hundred emails, the collaboration was always fun, and I'm looking forward to her next puzzle.

ALEX: Erik was the true superhero here — zipped nimbly through the bulk of the work and picked up after all my snafus. I'm a super-newbie to everything in the crossword world, but I do enjoy myself a good pun every now and then, so this was fascinating and foreign and exciting and daunting all at once! And I owe much thanks to Erik for inviting me to sidekick this mission in the first place.

For your enjoyment (we hope), here are some of the theme answers from the cutting room floor:

[Human Torch's favorite band?] (3,7,4)

[Blade's favorite band?] (7,7)

[Wonder Twins' favorite band?] (5)

[Storm's favorite rapper?] (6)

[Beast's favorite singer?] (6)

[Wolverine's favorite guitarist?] (5)

[Lady Deathstrike's favorite band?] (13)

[Banshee's favorite band?] (5,5)

POW Mon 9/11/2017
PSISOSPADLSD
OMGPOMADEAPE
MALAYPENINSULA
PROFSLEDARID
TORTILLAFLAT
OWESEA
PALEODAWES
EGADHICKMAXX
AUKDASHESLPS
RAEILLINILOW
PERFECTGPA
FLUKESHAWL
LEADMOOTMAIL
ARCOPAPAPLEA
LAIRTHATELON
ALDAYULERAND

ERIK: Earlier this year, Paolo mentioned he'd had an idea for a LA LA LAND puzzle; he had WALLA WALLA and LAKE PLACID but was having trouble finding more theme answers. Feeling like a genius, I quickly rattled off what I thought were some solid additions: DALAI LAMA? LAPIS LAZULI? BLACK FLAG? SOLAR FLARE? He responded "ooh those are good" ... and then very gently and casually hipped me to the fact that his themers were both LANDs and not just LA LAs. Woah.

This illustrates two things I know to be true about Paolo: one, that his puzzling brain has access to levels of holistic awareness that few others are capable of reaching (you can now see this on display every week at his website, Grids These Days); and two, that his emotional intelligence is comparably enviable. If I were starting some sort of Crossword Thing and needed someone to put in charge of editing or wrangling or what have you, Paolo would certainly make my short list.

Big thanks to Will et al. for getting this thing into Monday shape. It's hard to write clues that are evocative and concise and accessible all at once, so I appreciate the help. The 35-Across clue is maybe a tad more derogatory than the one we submitted (a Larry Bird reference), but maybe that's our bad for putting it in the grid? That aside, I'm very satisfied with the way this one turned out, and I hope you enjoyed it.

PAOLO: As a longtime Glutton For Pun solver, I am overjoyed to be collaborating with Erik Agard himself. After solving his excellent 2017 Oscars-themed puzzle, I went to Twitter to flood him with praise via direct message. Somewhere in the ensuing conversation, I brought up my idea for a LA LA LAND-themed puzzle (with only the entries WALLA WALLA and LAKE PLACID at hand). Thankfully, Erik was open to collaborating, even though making a puzzle inspired by "La La Land" may have gone against every fiber of his being. It says something about his graciousness, and I'm grateful for that. He found MALAY PENINSULA and TORTILLA FLAT to round out the theme, and so it went.

Another note: I almost feel like there's a "Moonlight"/"La La Land" situation between the GFP and NYT puzzles. As with the two movies, I feel like both of the puzzles have their own merits. This puzzle is like "La La Land"; it's meant to appeal to general audiences, and it'll be consumed by more people than its counterpart. Fun, breezy — mass appeal. Erik's solo puzzle, on the other hand, is like "Moonlight"; more independent, and consumed by fewer people, but absolutely mold-breaking.

I will say this about both "Moonlight" and Erik's Oscar puzzle: if you haven't experienced either, you need to remedy that post haste. This is to say: Erik Agard is an absolute cruciverbal artist, and I am honored and humbled to have been able to work with him. Hope you enjoyed!

Sat 9/2/2017
CASTRPGSPORK
RICEBEERLAUREN
IRIDESCEONEDGE
CTRTAKEGARAGE
KAOSTANGENTIAL
EXCOPTHESTONES
TICTACOLEO
SOUTHSUDANESE
BEDSTIMING
ADDRESSESOUTRO
QUEENSUGARSHOD
UNITASAVOWLLD
INCITESEMINOLE
LEERATETAGERES
ADDERSONODES
Sat 7/29/2017
DUCTSCANILIVE
INAWEEASYMONEY
ESSENCEMAGAZINE
TAKESANAPMETAL
AVESMYRRHNILE
RETTONOOOGALT
YDSWEDCUTELY
KIWIKRIS
CRUETSYAMLSD
PHEWOCTNEGATE
RIGANOBIGALIA
ICEINBOULEVARD
MANTOMANDEFENSE
ENCIRCLESTUNIS
DAYSAILSSPENT

Thanks for having me back so soon - I wasn't sure if I'd be allowed back at all after my last puzzle for the Gray Lady, which I hear was raisin' quite the controversy.

Anyway, there's way more "I'm not convinced anyone has ever said this in real life ever" answers than I'd like in this grid: EFTS? CUTELY? VENALLY? DEADEST? TWEEST? Get outta here. Not wild about AVES or MCI, either. Otherwise, I like it. The editing team did a great job dialing up the clues.

"Girls Trip", which takes place at Essence Fest, is currently in theaters, so 16-Across (one of my seed entries for the puzzle) feels timelyish.

Thu 7/6/2017
RSVPSIGHBRAD
UPCSOSLOEURO
MARTINLAWRENCE
ARRSDYEDAFTER
BAETEXTBIPODS
FITESPBONA
ASIANEBAYTPS
BIRDSRIMSTONE
NEOPIBBPYLON
PARAOBIEWE
BISTROKORNDAM
UNTAGGAPEMANY
STEPHENHAWKING
TREETALLONCE
SORTATOMREEL

I have to shout out two indirect inspirations for this puzzle:

-Elizabeth Gorski, the Crossword Nation auteur: it was in one of her Crosswords with Friends puzzles that I first saw the triple-black corner design that you see in the NW and SE here. I was like, "Wait, you can do that?? The universe won't implode??" It's bailed me out many a time when I've had to fit in almost-but-not-quite-grid-spanning theme answers, and it was indispensable for this puzzle. Also, I think it looks pretty.

-Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel, the LeBron James of crossword construction: I'm totally biting her style here with these double-stacked long downs (1&2-Down, 33&34-Down).

Hope you dug it.

Thu 5/25/2017
DRAGARNOSPF
EUROSOARSLEIA
FEELPURPLEIRAN
FRENCHIGUANA
REBRANDADOPOR
CLUESTANLEST
AIRSHOWSMDI
ROLLOFICONS
RYEOMAREPPS
PARTARMIDEST
APEFWDEATAWAY
COVERIVERSON
ILLGOFIRSTCAMP
FLOGICIERELLA
YONENDORIBS

The idea for this puzzle came to me as I was watching the documentary IVERSON, which I emphatically recommend, even if you're not big on sports. The grid went through a couple of revisions, chiefly to remove this extra theme answer: [The blood of Jesus, say?] (6,5). I am fully at peace with that decision.

I am less at peace with what is going on at 4-Down. Not my clue, not my president, not my breakfast test. If this worsened your solving experience at all, my apologies.

On the bright side, I got a kick out of the shortcut at 12-Across and the vocabulary at 40-Down (both Shortz et al.'s finds). Not sure I'll ever have occasion to use the former, but I promise to work the latter into as many conversations as I can think to.

Thanks for reading, and stay well.

POW Sun 1/8/2017THE DOWNSIZING OF NATHANIEL AMES
BCCSISISPACEHTS
BORAOPAHSUNRAOARS
CLOVECIGARETTESENRON
RACERDORAGBEERDARTS
AWKIKEPROSEPOETRY
DAPSIRREEPAINTAHAS
IRONDYERHORNCANOLA
OSTEENVIDEOSNOUTURN
ARESMINKDANKDOJ
SCURRYAWAYSCUMSEIKO
TARTSLOGHEEPSNES
AGLOWMEETMALIEMPIRE
MEHHMOSREINTROI
EDITIONMIXCDSJEEVES
NUJAZZHICSLULUDINE
SPARASONEREVERBCTA
CHARTTOPPEROERERM
TAKEATESTIDBETUSUAL
ARIESTHANKSINADVANCE
GENLHOUSENYROKITS
SAGOTRAGADSETES

erik: it's always a pleasure to collaborate with peter (an indie crossword legend + one of the most brilliant people i have the good fortune of knowing) and this puzzle was no exception.

i'm happy we were able to sneak a shoutout to another indie puzzling titan into the grid. did you spot it?

also, a tough bonus puzzler: what's a 2-word, 10-letter phrase that consists of two names "downsized" like the ones in this theme? hint: the names are both actresses, one from the ‘60s and one contemporary.

Sat 9/20/2014
STREAKSLEADUP
QUIRRELLANGINA
UNDERDOGSTREWN
ANDASPECTRATIO
DELTSLOSESEP
SLEWAPEXPOLL
OPTICSODDY
PROJECTRUNWAY
CLAUSRIFLE
LAITCOMORAVE
AYNSHUNASTIN
MAGICTRICKSHOF
ARENOTCOCACOLA
TEARUPSTUNTMAN
OARERSSPAREST

if you found this puzzle challenging, then you should really thank mr. shortz, because the one i sent him was a lot harder. my favorite clues of will's are [Muscles for some fraternity guys?], [Sportsperson who may take a bow?], and [Macs and such].

Wed 8/28/2013
BABEEMITSITCH
ICESNASALSOLO
THESULTANOFSWAT
SERENITYWOUNDS
SISPARE
HATSTATUTEHST
OAHUETONGRATE
PRESIDENTHOOVER
EGRETAGEEDRIP
SHEARMADASENS
ALESRUB
HORRIDMAKEUPTO
IHADABETTERYEAR
TITOARGONERIC
SOARTEEMSRUTH

This is a textbook quote puzzle. The textbook was Mankiw's "Principles of Microeconomics". It was my freshman year in college (go 32-Down!), and we were learning about inflation. Fun fact: in today's dollars, 1-/67-Across would be outearned by the average MLB player, whereas 38-Across would make more than twice as much as his current counterpart. Well, I say fun. I mean egregious. Hope you liked the puzzle.

Tue 11/6/2012
SECRETMSPACMAN
ELAINERHUBARBS
GODBLESSAMERICA
APEDEMALS
ETALZITLAPIS
VICTEALIRA
BEHINDTHESCENES
OREDRETHOONS
RIGHTONTHEMONEY
ICEEMERSEX
SALASTAJROTC
DALGAGROI
PRESBYTERIANISM
UNTURNEDBAHAMA
BADPENNYBALLOT

1 Variety puzzle by Erik Agard

Sun 11/18/2018
COVERALLLATTES
ACADEMIAAMOUNT
STRIDINGPIERRE
SANTOGOFERMOT
AVISSEOULROUT
TISBURNTQUITE
TAHITISOCALLED
SENDNOTE
PASSAGESTARMAC
ODIUMCODEROUT
DOTEMALESBUDS
CPUPILAFIONIC
ATARISCARLOTTA
SETUPSEMISSION
TEENSYDEBATERS