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# Thumbnails

TotalDebutLatestCollabs
176/15/20083/9/20172
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1.81663

## 17 puzzles by Jeremy Newton

 P S A S M A V J A M S C I A R A A V E O P A L S H E F T Y G I G G E T I T A C E S M I D A S D E C O R E F N I C N H L F E M T O O R E A L P H O T O O P F R E T A L I W O R F W W W W M I Z L L L L P E Z B B C N E W S A S Y O U D O A R O U S E C U R S E D W O R K L I F E B A L A N C E L O N E G O G O L L A O S E K E D H U G M E B V D S D E A S L O B S Y E A

I started the WORK/LIFE BALANCE theme in a Sunday-sized grid, with multiple "scales" ... soon after, realizing this is more of a one-note punchline. So I decided a 15x15 puzzle would best drive it home. I loved the idea of taking this concept most of us struggle with on a regular basis and creating a literal representation.

I made a grab bag of possible WORK and LIFE theme answers and mixed-and-matched until I found a smooth combo. Near the end of constructing the bottom half, I noticed by chance that WEIGHS and SCALES fit symmetrically across the revealer. Both help round out the theme, so that was a nice happy accident.

Favorite part was coming up with the two long vertical entries at 5- and 7-Down. Lots of possible combos, which is always fun for a chance to liven up the grid.

Hope you enjoyed it!

 T P S C D S P O S T E D S U B H U T T R E A T Y E S C H E W W H O E S E H O N C H O P H O E N I X A D Z W H E R E A S E D S A U F I T O O B D L I S T E R P A C K R E D F I S H U G L I R I O R I M N O R Y P R E S G D R A T E D C H E E S E E B A Y W H I P U P R U E E V A D E P R Y T I E D O N S I N S W I V E S A S S I S I W E A N S L I N E N S A M E R I C A N G O T H I D C M E W L E D T O Y O U A F F E C T A R I A L I S M S A V A N T I R A W G I T M O M O I B R I N G S T O K E C H I C K E N C O D O P S T O P E D K O A S O B L O X O R C S C H A S I N G M O V I N G A D S I D E F L A B T U T Y I N A N D O R R A L O D C A L H E R O S E E M T O C U T A S H W E A S E L A S S E S S L G A P E A W E T T E D P S Y E S T

As it happens, the seed answer that inspired this theme hit the cutting room floor. I remember feeling pretty giddy about finding THE S-WORD IN THE STONE, which made me think of someone with a sick sense of humor leaving a profane epitaph. In my first submission, that evolved into S-WORD SWALLOWER, a person clued as catching themselves before cussing. But alas, Will Shortz wasn't keen on this hyphenation. Admittedly, you often see it undashed as S WORD, so not exactly strong theme material.

Regardless, I'm proud of finding the solid set of 7 sneakily-hyphenated words that made the cut. My favorite of the bunch is probably B-LISTER PACK, since it evokes a kind of lesser-cool Brat Pack.

Trickiest part was wrangling the dashed Down answers that cross the themers at the hyphens. I tried to stay away from less lively possibilities (I'm looking at you, I-BAR and NON-U), while keeping the surrounding fill as smooth as possible.

Hope you enjoyed it!

 S A R I S S K A G U C C I C H I N A S H O P O S R I C R O C K Y H O A R A B A T E A M I S A W S O W Z I T P E N N A M E S N O S Y C L E R I C A L H E I R T A B O O D U I H Y D E I C U T H R E E R S E L I E M M A O A T O G D E N R E A R V I E W M E R E S K I S O U T C L A S S P O M E T A S H E T C U A D O L F S H E E R T E A R T O K Y O I S U R E W I L L S N E E R A T M R A N D Y

CLERICALHEIR was the seed of the theme. And then HORROR, ERROR, MIRROR, and TERROR came together as a nice quartet. There's something reassuring as a crossword constructor when only a handful of words fit a restrictive word pattern: here, *RROR. I rest easier when not leaving out other possibilities.

I considered a reversal of the puns, where HOAR FROST becomes HORROR FROST, MERE MORTALS becomes MIRROR MORTALS, etc. But ultimately couldn't nail down a strong, consistent theme set I liked.

I found a reduction of "THREE R's" more satisfying — instead of revealing the common word pattern in every theme answer. Chopping off the last syllables of *RROR words seems closer to how most people pronounce them anyways. HOAR, HEIR, MERE, and TEAR pack more of a familiar punch when read out loud.

Being from Texas, I can assure you: these are spot-on pronunciations when spoken with a drawl. "Hold on. Gotta adjust this here rear-view mere."

Hope this was a fun solve!

 T A T A R A I T T F I R J L O I V A N D O D D E R E T O B L U E S F I C K L E T H E R A P I S T R A J A H F A T H O M D A N C I N G C U I S I N E I S N O T S E E T O N E S T E A N Y C A R C S O L I S S S B E A A S A B E A V E R D E C K O U T C A L L O N I F E V E R T E E D B U Y O N E G E T O N E F R I Z Z Y S N O N A H L A M E R P L E A S C O D E D H A R K P O O R L E D G E A B O R C E L E N A I C U S S R M U R R A Y L O V E S C O M P A N Y O R E L S A T I V A S K O K I E P A R D O N S D I G U P D E S S E R T Y E N M O A T M S U N E A E T A L I A T W I S T I S T O O A U T U M N S P E C T R U M H A G G L E S N O R E A R E Y O U F O R I S R A E L T I M E D W E T R E O P E N E M I L Y A Y S P Y E S S E X S E A S

"Sometimes an idea will wait 20 years to be a puzzle."
- Merl Reagle

I dedicate today's puzzle to the late, legendary puzzle master Merl Reagle. This theme was first attempted and submitted as "IS TOO!" to the Times six years back, filled with phrases + the "is" sound. After getting rejected for some shaky theme answers, I kept it around in my hopper over the years, surviving a handful of theme redesigns. This year I landed on a riff on the back-and-forth argument: IS NOT! vs. IS TOO! Sometimes a theme needs some time to percolate before it finds its legs.

Merl Reagle carried around a notepad for brainstorming ideas, always ready for when inspiration strikes. I mostly use my phone to keep track of puzzle concepts. I imagine all of us crossword constructors have our own favorite place we keep our brewing themes, waiting for their chance.

I'm sad that Merl didn't have the chance to flesh out all of the fun and clever theme contenders that lined his notepad. But I'm grateful for all the genius he got to share with us. His wrangling of the English language was unrivaled, and I'll personally miss his raw creativity and witty voice in crosswords.

Thanks, Merl!

 U N J A M G L O B E R E V L O K I C A U S E A H M A D A V E M I N E D L A S E R N A G N A G N A G I N T E L A N T A C I D S M A U N A G O A P E W H A T H A P P E N S S R I S B O N S A I H U M E S S T S I N T D E P O T S C O M E D I C Y O D O G A M I T E M I R C E D E T O Y O U V E G O T A F R I E N D S E W N B A M P R E Y R I V E T E R T R O T E N D U S E S I L O S E T H I C S D E E M S A M P L E R M O N A T H E D N A S C O U L D Y O U P U T T H A T M E T E O R W I T T H I N S C A I R O S T P E T E R P O U N C E P A D B A C H A M A T G E O R G E E L M O D O U B L E D O V E R S L I C K S P A I N E C L E C T I C T I T H E T O W N D R U N K L A U R A O N I O N A R D E R A T O A M B E R S G T S S K Y D R E S S L E A S T

This was inspired with a theme entry that didn't make the cut:

PUSS IN BOOTS, or PUSS IN BOO(S)TS

I really dug the idea of smoothing over the last word of the X in Y gimmick with an entirely new word formed by the overlap. There weren't too many possibilities I found that could fit the pattern smoothly. A couple others from the cutting room floor:

TIED UP IN KNO(T)TS
LIES IN WAI(S)T — Hmm, that doesn't have a pleasant sound to it. Good riddance.

With the eight themers that made it, the biggest challenge was positioning the overlapping "final" words. Because they're not symmetrical, I spread them into as much open territory as possible, without making the positioning of other black squares a nightmare. The resulting grid makes the corners a bit like islands, which isn't entirely ideal. But puzzling out the answers in those corners is still entertaining, I think.

An edit from Will and Joel I appreciate is the clue for MOE, the final word in YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND IN M(O)E. "Good name for a lawn care guy." Since it's part of a theme answer, I like the riddle angle here, which is less gettable than my original clue (referencing the Simpsons bartender).

Lastly, as a wink to the solver, I made the final Across answer in "Getting in the Final Word" the word LAST, from the themer CAME IN L(E)AST.

Hope this was a fun one to tackle!

 W B A L E F L A P H A M T V D A D A I N E D R O S A A C E B R A I S E R O N G D R I N K S S H A R E O N E S B T L E O I I G A T A E N E I D D A U S A X E D G I N E S S T I N Y O U T B E A D E D C L I M B I N G O W L S S T A R E M O O T T M N T T A N Y A P O K Y N C A A T O S E L F P H O N E C O L D M E A L E V E N A L I T T L E B O R E A V A I T A X S T R U M S M A M M A L A N V O R T H E A R L T A S M A N I A N D E N Y S E N A T E S I C K O L E S S E R L A M E B C C S N S Y N C O D E S M O R K A S H A C T U R N T H E W A L L S O O M P A H F T E A O A F P E A C H P I E R E D A L S P O L I S H P R U L E G A L I C I S I O N T R E E D I G E S T I V E A E N U D E S S R A O B E Y U N A F R D E P O T T A P G E R E P A N T Y

My first "Upsides" submission was a 15x15 grid. Will Shortz said he really liked it, but he pointed out a glaring flaw. The Across answers along the left side were actually scaling *down* the wall, before continuing to the right. Like with STUNG hiding STUNGUN, here:

S
T
U
N
G U N

I'd convinced myself early on in construction that my left-side Across answers were climbing, in that they were *overflowing upwardly* against the wall. I immediately saw the goof when Will said he didn't understand the left side. So, back to the grid, I made sure the direction you'd read the climbers was going up:

W B A L E
A
R
T
S

But fixing the left side was insurmountable in a 15x15 grid, so I upgraded to Sunday-size. Which meant the chance to expand some climbers into longer, juicier answers. As well as smooth over some of the subpar fill from the smaller grid.

The southeast DIARY formation was the first set of climbers to go in, interlocking relatively fast. By far, the WARTS group in the opposite corner was the most difficult to nail down. I guess it's easier to start with the back parts of answers? The most enjoyable construction challenge was getting the TETON climbers to avoid repeated words. NO TAX, NOT EVEN A LITTLE, NOTE TO SELF were carefully chosen as to not share the same beginning word.

Really pleased how this turned out. Hope the solve was fun and a nice mystery!

 T I M E S L I T I C E T C B E R S H I E R P A S S I N G G O S H E R A G A R N E R A T T E N T I O N W E A R Y A V A P U R E T K O S E X I E R R E C K O N S O S E W N D I S S I N G P I L E T I N T E D C R U I S E S B Y T E E N T S A S O U P E T H A N P O N Y E X P R E S S S S R S L O M O T R O O P H A I A R S M E A N S T O A S S N E L L Y E T I L T D G A M E T H E S Y S T E M V O L K I L L F R E E T C M I N A F U N K N E E A I L S T O P S T R I P E A N N P O P A W H E E L I E O B E S E B O N A O T T E S P Y W A T E R G A T E J U S T A S T O U R S H O T F O R D C U P L I P B A L M S N O G O O D U N S E L A L E M T A E I O U Q U A R T E R S I Z E H A I L P R A W N U L U L A T I O N W A X E N P E N N E L K S S O N G M E R E

First, I want to credit Will and Joel for the puzzle title. I suggested "Final Cuts", but "Multifaceted" is a much cooler way to hint at the gemstones. Thank you, guys!

So, this here was a rebound from a rejected 15x submission with hidden gems. Your usual circle-related-words-in-longer-and-hopefully-colorful-answers theme:

• TROPICAL PUNCH (OPAL)
• RUB THE WRONG WAY (RUBY)
• THE MIAMI HERALD (EMERALD)
• GAME THE SYSTEM (AMETHYST)
• and GEM CUT, the revealer.

Pretty solid, I thought. Especially the lengthy AMETHYST and EMERALD spanners. But the Shortz rejected it for two reasons: Not all circled words spanned across their parent words (OPAL). And more importantly, he wanted all circled gems to be fairly long. RUBY and OPAL were admittedly easy to wrangle.

Round two, I went for a more elaborate, Sunday-sized theme. Since I was working with gemstones, I considered a SWORD IN THE STONE concept — with different types of swords (EPEE, SABER, etc) wedged between gems. But quickly ditched that, since my list of sword types felt strained.

SET IN / STONE was a strong alternative. I first planned to thread synonyms of "set" through gems, since "set" has a wide range of meanings. I started with GEL wedged between AMETHYST in GAMETHeSYSTEM. But ultimately, this set-up felt too tricky to reveal to the solver. And seemed daunting to keep the synonyms of "set" airtight.

When finding that the word SET itself nestled nicely inside AMETH YST, the rest sorta fell into place. I noticed an "E" lurking between most of the gemstones. So, the embedded SET would thankfully work and be nicely centered. When starting grid placement, I found ROSETTA would join three centralized gem answers. From there, I spidered out and filled the remaining themers. And with a little luck from the Crossword Gods™ (cue Clark Griswold house-lighting chorus), the SET segments landed in symmetrical spots, which helped call them out more.

That's about it. I hope this was an enjoyable solve!

Favorite clue that made it: "Baywatch" stars often jogged in it (for SLOMO)
Saddest sacrifice: Having to drop THEMIAMIHERALD (EMERALD) so that the theme would work. Maybe I could use it in the sequel: 2 Faceted 2 Furious?

I'll see myself out.

 S I C K O F B R A I L L E W A F T S E L A I N E R E S C U E M E I M O U T X E R X E S I O F P E R S I A N O L T E T S P S S N R E S S W E L L U P F O U R X F O U R S T E R E O B U R L A P E R N R O W D Y W A G A G U A S S H A Y L O B E S M I E N T H E W I N T E R X G A M E S L O N G U S E A L O T C T H I N G I S M P G O S L O B E O F O M I T S G R O U C H O M A R X M U S T A C H E M E T R O S I L O S L A W A E S R L S T I N E N I K L B A R S I C E M P R O F E S S O R X A V I E R T O R N S H O U T A C N E R S V P D U N I B L E S S H I T G E I S H A P O O R M E S O L V E F O R X E N T H U S E S P A X T C B A A D E I G N R E T U R N O F D O C T O R X A H O O T A D A M S A L E L O O N I E M I N D Y S T E E P E D D O W E L L
A puzzle featuring RX as the theme has been a personal "constructor vendetta" for me. Maybe it's the lure of that damned Scrabbly X, or the excitement of getting a theme out that no one's done, or some unhealthy deep-seated obsession with prescription drugs.

My first RX-related submission to the Times was a 15x15 rebus, the second a 21x21 rebus. Both had not enough theme material and some really strained theme entries (example: RxKBP clued as a chess move). Two rejection letters later, I submitted a 15x15 with entries containing RX in the very middle (COLORXEROX, DEERXING, etc) with PRESCRIPTION as the revealer, but The Big Guy said not quite interesting enough.

Next, I tried an (unsubmitted) idea, involving a diagonal offset of R and X in the grid, to represent how Rx is often hand-written or how it's displayed on drug store signs. The horizontal theme entries dropped down one row at the X, then continued along their way. While sort of a neat trick (and "Medicine Dropper" was screaming to be the puzzle title), I thought this offset gimmick would be too arbitrary for some and probably too easy to figure out the R/X locations for others.

My final attempt at the RX theme involved a more visual gimmick. I hit upon the phrase FOLLOW THE PRESCRIPTION as some kind of directive / theme revealer. So then, I needed something to drive the solver to follow "RX" pairs across the grid. Going from SICK to WELL was an appropriate solution, I thought. After arranging theme answers to create the RX conga line, the originally-planned phrase FOLLOW THE PRESCRIPTION could only find room in the puzzle by splitting into FOLLOWING THE / PRESCRIPTION. And as luck would have it (thank you, Crossword Gods), this answer pair crossed nicely with my center entry, GROUCHO MARX MUSTACHE.

I originally shaded the RX squares to highlight the journey from SICK to WELL. But Will wisely hid their locations — it works much better that way. I'm super pleased how the trail of RX's turned out. And I'm relieved that my RX vendetta is over.

 N O R M A N S S G T A S P O B J O V E R L A Y D U O S B O R N M A O P U P I L S S L I P U P B L O O P E R S E M O S T A M E N B E A C H B A B E A D A P E R S E U S S U E S R E P W A N T O U T B A I T T R A A T H E Q U I P A U P A I R O Y E R S B U T T R E S S E D D E S S E R T T U B B A S L E N Z A H A U R L S L I B R A S U B P A R R A P B U S E L T O R O A U N T S A R I S E N W A R S A W W A S R A W L A S E D E P E E H I T D E N T U F O D E R O G A T I V E E V I T A G O R E D S P O T S E X T R A S A W G E E U M A U P A P A P A Y E S L E T S G I G O L O S S O L O G I G R P S S C E N E S H O P S E N T R A T W A O R I E N T A L X E R X E S S E X R E X M O S T A M E I T E S V E N T U R E E S T L E S S O S P R O C E E D
 Q U A K E R S R I N G B E L L S S F P D E N V E L O P I R A E I N O I L T R U E D E A D A S A N A I L P O W E R L O C K S L A Y D I V A E N C E S C H S E T C A L C O T I S A R E E A R N E R O R U R A L B O A P R E Y E R A T O U S N A E S T A C D C O U T G A M E S S T E M R T E S L S T C R O S T I N E S E X Y S I D E A T A L O S S E S T D R P T S A N I L M A X I M A S W I N A P R I Z E P R I S M W A N E H O L D T H E O P E N B O P S N A D A A T I S S U E E P I C A L O T A V E R T J O E T N T S E G A C L O Y V A N C E J E D I T I S A H S K A L E A L O H A M E N U R B I H O T E L M A N E D G E T O N D O R M O N E D A M O O R G R H E A R O B S A S E A A B C D O Z A W A T R A P S P I D E R S F O U R S E D A N H A I R H A R D H I T T Y R E S E E Y A A L L Y E M E R S O N
 M R T D E L T S M I M I Y E S O M A H A R A N A T B E E T H O V E N E S P Y S A C T V O D E T O J O Y D E S P I S E E V E N S E G G O N D A L I V H F O F N O L T C O L E E L S T E L L Y E E K S T R Y I T D O W D A D D C R A M C C U P S S E E D Y H A Z I E S T I N C M A J O R C L A Y D O U B T P I A N O K E Y S O R Z O S I N L A W S H O L A Z Y A G A M E S I N
 G E T S A N A I D A H O S T R I N G S A C H E F O R S E V E R T O O S O O N B L E A T E D A L L O R E D I N C A R G O S A W E N O L A M H O E R I K W O W T E A R D R O P O I O V I S C E R A L D R T S O F T C O L O R F E Y S U N C H I P S O E I R O A S S E S S A S N N E A F R A I D G R E T E L P G A A B S E N C E O A U C T I O A L L E R G Y K O D A K P M S K O A E B B E T U I S E L A P S E O T H E B U T T O G R A C E S S T Y G E C K O S A T O M I C E S O B I G O R I B C A G E O S E T R A J I V M G M L A S S H A N A C H O E M O T I O A L C O N A N I M O T O Y O U M E L N A N U Y A Y M E R I S E N U S O B L O G S T O Y T O I T O E I R O I S T P A Y S P E S T O I B E A M A C E S W A R D H U E T Z U S M U T S T R I F E S E N T E R E D L E T I T B E T H E T R E E L I G H T I N G C E R E M O N Y A A M C O L O C N O E E V E S E G E R G I S H S U E O S S T S P R A G E
 E N Y A O P E C B A S S C O B R A M O O R V E T O L M N O P A X I O M T R U M P E T H P L A Y E R S L O N G I D R Y E R I S I S E D S E L G E S G T O C E L E B R I T Y D I E T H S T R A N G E U S D E I N I R A N E T E S T O A B I J O U R O C K E T H S C I E N T I S T S C U T T E S L A O H M S R A H S R T A A N A L I T T E R B A S K E T H S P A S T I C O A S I S O T T A W A N P I C K E T H F E N C E S T S O E L O I C O O O D E S H O A R S N A M S H O E S T R I N G B U D G E T H T R A N Q T H E N T A G G N A T T U G A R I S E C R E T S A F G H A N B L A N K E T H L A G N A E D U E B Y E S A U N O V E L T U N I C B U C K E T H B R I G A D E S E L I Z A E M A I L O B I T T O O K S T E E R S T D S E A V E E N V Y
 O D D E S T P O W C A M P I S L E T S N O I D E A A R E O L A E C A S T R O N E S T E D S C A M M E R O K T H E N O T C N A M E P E S U R N S I N G W H O S F G O T O T B A S E F A C T S T H O M S O N O N E I D A S C A V E A R T D E O X Y N O V I C E S A N O I N T B A D D F A C E M A S K R A I N D E L A Y O M O O S N O R T Y S T D S G A R C R I S C O U V R A Y T A K E S A N S T A N C E D U T C H E X O T I C L I L B A T E I T A L I C A T O Z A L T E R E G O S G A M E R O O M E A S Y A U G E R S S H I A T S U S P R I T E R N E S T O N Y T I M E S R A I L S A T T H I S S J U L Y F B B Q S R S I D E T A N S L A T C R U T E M P C O D O N D O P E I N H A S T E A L I E N S P O I S O N N E U T E R S S A B I N E S I E S T A G A P E S A T H Y M N A L
 S U I T G L E A M C A N A N N O R A T I O M O S T M P T P L A Y E R S O L I O L C D A S S B E S T O F F U N P O P U L A R E M A N V A S L I D S S S H O O T E R V E N E E R I D O W O R K T F S R E O T O Y I N G S Y S T E M I C S S N S A P E T A N K S U R F A A R E A S C R A P E R R E V O R G W H E N L A T O Y A J S O N A I D E E M I L E U S T A M C Q T E N D S P A T T
 S T U A R T R O S I E O M E G A P A S T O R E R A S E C A R O L E R Y O K O O N O L I F A N A U G M E N T E T E B A J O B E Y S M T Y C O B A T T S A W A I T P O O R A T M O S E E I N G R E D G U T S Y T R I O T R A D O M M I S S I O N S R A O C K A D A Y T O I T G A T O C A D R E S W A N N B E N E F I T S O T O A U S T I N G I A N T I T O O M A N E R B O A R D A N C I E N T M A N B R A Y O A T E S L I K E S O B I G S I N E W A V E F E L T S B A E R S D A T E N I K I M O L D D E C O S A D R E N A L I N E J K I E I M H O A B R A M B O N E S C A N S S U E R H A C K D W E L T T R O T C L E J O S H A R A T J E S A R E M A S C A R A F R A H T E P I S O D E A T E A W A Y A C H O O P E R U K E N E S T S M O T O R S E E D E R
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