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John Farmer
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
331/25/20061/29/20150
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
21361083
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64275

with constructor comments

See the answer words debuted by John Farmer.



33 puzzles by John Farmer

POW Thu 1/29/2015
ESASHAIGMACAW
SACKLUNCHALOHA
CUTOUTTHEROMAN
ADORNSRAIN
PINTAPEKINGMAN
ESETEATIMEALA
HITMANGTOS
THEICECOMETH
HELPMANANA
ERAALABAMAASS
MANFRIDAYRANCH
AGUAMODELA
MANDYMIDDLEMAN
EXCELEMAILLIST
GEODESARIEASY

Unlike some themes, which take plenty of fiddling with before coming into focus, the idea for this one came at once. I remember precisely where I was at the time — in the middle of our living room moving furniture — the very spot where I abandoned an armoire for several hours while I went to pick theme answers and fill the grid. (Question: What's the most valuable resource a crossword constructor can have? Answer: An understanding wife.)

I wanted to avoid words like MANIACS that leave non-words (IACS) after MAN was removed. I like that the threesome making the final "cut" included RAIN, ICE, and AGUA. That was a bonus — or you might say, as Walsh tells Gittes in Chinatown, "The guy's got water on the brain."

The biggest challenge was getting the Downs to play nice, with six of them crossing three theme answers and two of them crossing four. Though there were other grid possibilities, they had issues too. For the most part, I think it worked out all right.

Regarding clues: If you have a beef with the one for AXE, please take it up with Unilever. If you don't like the ones for ANT or ERA, you can blame me. (I do think it's fun to come up with new clues for short answers.) But if, like me, you find "Chapter seven?" for ETA to be so utterly diabolical that it takes longer than you want to admit to make sense of it, please send your letters to Mr. Will Shortz at The New York Times. (That's really a gem.)

As we used to say when honeymooning years ago in Fiji, "Bula!"

Thu 10/16/2014
CALAISNUDETRE
ALUMNAEPICURES
MENTALWHOOPIES
SCARLETTERAPSE
ALMALSDLEX
LICKWMDEVE
ADOCANEFRAPPE
PERCYBYSSHELLEY
DANUBESTAGAPE
UTENYEBYES
ZACRBIESAU
AWOLLANDONOVAN
PAPALACELOYOLA
PRIMERIBADULTS
ADADENSREPEAT
My soccer-playing, Landon Donovan-jersey-wearing son, Donovan, will be happy when he sees his name in the paper. That said, 57-Across was not the seed for the puzzle but actually the last of the themes answers I found. At first I just looked for answers with repeating letters, not sure where it would lead. Three-letter strings seemed promising and from there I narrowed the choices, eliminating repeats within single words (e.g., Chihuahua) and ones that didn't break evenly across separate words (e.g., atom bombs). By then it was down to a short list of candidates. Adding another angle — e.g., using all names, spelling something with the combined letter strings — was a bit much to ask, so after a final cut (and one close call) I went with this selection. The theme answers felt like a good mix and worked well in the grid.

FYI, the "close call" in my final cut was PIPER PERABO. In her favor: I've seen her on TV and she seems lovely. On the other hand: (a) She's only lovely if you know her and her fame is probably marginal for a theme answer, especially one using word play; (b) The PER in her name and in Percy Shelley's name seemed like a repeat better to avoid; and (c) I didn't want the theme to be too name-heavy and preferred using no more than two names if possible. Another Hollywood name left on the cutting room floor was IRWIN WINKLER. My regrets to his fans and to Piper's.

Happy hunting! Hope you enjoy the puzzle.

Sat 10/12/2013
NASTYGRAMNAPES
INTHEREARORRIN
PARASAILSBOONE
SLOWSDIGOATEE
STPYSIDRO
SROUSUALLYTED
CAMERASHYSTYLI
ADAPTTOFSHAPED
RAHALPROPONENT
FRAEYEEXAMSAO
BADENDMET
STEPINZIAESAU
MIATAPOOLHALLS
ULCERENTOURAGE
GEHRYDEATHSTAR
Filling a grid is an act of discovery as much as construction. Construction implies you know the end product before you begin, as if working off a blueprint. Maybe there's something to that when building a themed puzzle.

Making a themeless puzzle is different. More like a journey, you pick a place to start, head off in one direction or another, not sure what you'll find but hoping for memorable encounters as you try to reach the other end or come full circle. In this case, I set out from the northwest, traveled south, then east, and finally up north again. For the most part, not a bad ride. Every section has a thing or two worth the visit — a lively answer, a clever clue, pleasant accommodations.

One spot where I feared the wheels were coming off was the middle. My attempts to avoid F-SHAPED were for naught. But if you can't get around it, you go through it, so that's what I did. Luckily, there is something shaped like the letter F. For anyone unfamiliar with cellos and their sound holes, don't think of a capital F in sans serif font, but a lowercase f in calligraphy. That's a better image, and the reason that musical types call them f-holes.

I also thought twice about TURTLE DIARY. It offered better crossings than the alternatives, but I imagine not everyone knows the movie. I had good memories of it, watched it again this week, and I'm glad I went with it. The film is a small gem, based on a Russell Hoban novel that is now in print again. I give the title a big thumbs up, too — it looks good in the grid. And it is the end of the week, so why not?

Sun 9/1/2013PERSONS OF NOTE
DENZEL1JOGGEDLOUF
ORIOLESSAMURAIBLANC
ONLEAVEPLANETSLATTE
DSLSICHORNECHIMEIN
TASTEDEPELIASASET
HISTORYRETORTS
MACANEYALEMHO
VARIANTJABTAMAEAR
HITITFATIMOFFSTADIA
ARCYOGABAZAARFLIRT
NTHSEEKSACEDTACO
DUBAIREEFEREVANBUR
ROOMERAWAREVELOCITY
USXDOWNQEDARETHAO
BOTSOYACLELAS
PHENOMSHOUSTON
GASLITFEEAREANTED
OCTAGONSWANNEGGKOA
DEATHAALARGEMOANING
ELMO5TSARISTARGONNE
LAPSLINDATGEORGE2
It all started at 1-Across. The genesis was a brief conversation I'd overheard about Washington. "Which one?" was the question, meaning to clarify whether city or state, but the way my mind works, I thought, which one? Denzel? George? That triggered the CTD (crossword theme detector) in my brain, and pretty soon I had the idea of a double rebus playing off the various paper currency denominations. The dollar sign at the center of the grid needed to stand alone, more or less forcing the 13-letter vertical answers at 31- and 33-Down, which ended up being a variation of a title I'd had in mind. It fit nicely and added, I think, a certain element to the puzzle. That central $ forced the rebuses toward the perimeter, ate into the 140-word allotment of a Sunday grid, and posed a few challenges for the fill. In the end, it all came together, with just a handful of short answers coming from the B-list, so to speak.

Three final thoughts:

1. What do a dollar sign and a crossword grid have in common? Both have 180-degree rotational symmetry. They were made for each other, you ask me.

2. All denominations of U.S. paper currency now in circulation ($1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100) made it into the grid. Higher-value banknotes were officially withdrawn from circulation in 1969.

3. The seven rebus answers total $188. The number 188 represents the ranking of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Who'll Stop the Rain" on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The (money) quote from the great John Fogerty: "Certainly, I was talking about Washington when I wrote the song." Coincidence? I think not. The only question is this: "Washington? Which one?"

Wed 2/20/2013
BOSNIACABAVEO
ASPECTUNURAGU
CHECKMARKSANOS
HAWKBLACKLIST
TEALHOST
FBIAGENTHEYHO
TALESEARCAFAR
ORUYEARENDAZT
AGEDSLCOUTIES
DOJOSPOSTCARD
AGUAPEEN
FACEVALUEKOBE
INKAMATCHMAKER
NYERCPAAIRING
KATSOSHMADEDO
Tue 1/1/2013
ABODEFLINTFOX
RUBESRADARATE
EXAMSABOLITION
TOMEAPRDCAREA
EMANCIPATION
TAKETOTSARS
CUBISMSIMMOO
ABRAHAMLINCOLN
SEANASNEARLY
ARTOOROBINS
PROCLAMATION
CAMEBYANELOVE
OFSLAVERYZOWIE
BRRCELIASTAND
BOPHYMANASSES
Thu 10/13/2011
RACEDFATHOMGDP
APACEONAUTOLEA
DOTHEBRIGHTTHING
ISAOIBMIONIA
OTCBEASTOFEDEN
ALOFTSLURPDADS
DEMONSLEEK
BOUTOFAFRICA
TOILADLIBS
CITYOLAFIDERMA
HOWARDSBENDPOT
ADANOSCIDLVI
SINGININTHEBRAIN
ENGDECREERANEE
REYSWEARSATEST
Tue 5/17/2011
MINETAAHEMIQS
ALAMOSROVEDUE
JIMMYKIMMELCIN
KEYSFAASCANS
MEDSOINGOARCO
AYREDDIEVEDDER
GOOADOSASE
SUPERBTSTRAP
FLAKSIEIVE
ANNIELENNOXPIN
VAILLIEONJOAD
APNEASAWZEST
TAJBETTYHUTTON
ALABREEELLERY
RMSYARNFUISSE
Fri 9/3/2010
IDIDWHATSPIGOT
SAMEHEREOOLALA
ONALEASHBLINDS
BEGETTERSKAGGS
ALINASWOE
RANTSINKERBALL
SWEARTOIDCARDS
GEOAMT
SOSUEMEUMPIRES
EXOPLANETSKANT
MIDONOITO
IDAHOSOPTIONED
NICOLERIESLING
AZARIAMANOLETE
LENNONENSNARES
Sat 8/14/2010
FISTBUMPSPREAD
ATTHEZOOTUILLE
RAREBIRDASSIGN
OLAESPIALSNON
ITTHUNKYDORY
DATAREMYCORES
ENORMOUSJAR
SONATASPUTITTO
NEDSADSTORY
ABCTVWORDOKIE
ZEROEDOUTSYM
TSERUNRIOTOMS
ETCHESSCRAMJET
COHOSTOLDSCORE
SWEETSPESKIEST
Fri 7/23/2010
GRIERPLANB
BRODIEOOLALA
DIAMONDJIMBRADY
RENELONACRE
ORDSWEETENKIA
SCITAGSALESAT
SENSORSTEUTONS
QUIZCRUX
SOUPCONSTOPSBY
PSIANISTONCEE
IMSLEAPERSANN
ROISGAPSNIT
ONTHERAZORSEDGE
DOOVERNORMAN
REATAETAIL
Thu 7/8/2010
ADIDASRCAS
NUMERALSJUAREZ
IMPERIALUNBENT
SPUMANTEGELATI
EREIREFSECOL
REDGRAVECOVE
NOVELSADES
BONSAILEHRER
LIDOMARACA
EGOSTESTINGS
SAMEDANLRENU
SPERRYFEELWARM
OPTIONREVIEWER
FLENSEOPENLATE
ERGSNESTED
Thu 6/24/2010
DIAGNNCOFAMED
ETHIOPIANTHANE
MAILSACKSDANTE
MLKETHEPROBLEM
EYESTOSEEDYRS
COILCIGS
ITMAKESNMETHOD
CHORDOOFSPYRO
BODEANSAREPEL
MRSULUENSETOME
PANGNEVE
SHASTEVIERANT
TAKEASTEEPNMBA
AGINGSEMIOTICS
MATINTRANSACTS
PRADAOSEEDIVE
Thu 3/11/2010
SCABBARKMELDS
MAMEATANACURA
ENYAHOCUSPOCUS
LOTTOZETASRMS
LEASHREBLESE
SSNCEYUNITED
TAMMIEABIT
ABRACADABRA
OLIOANGLIA
KNOLLSEISOTT
OPELABCCANEA
MAVALOHAOWENS
OPENSESAMEAOUT
DEREKOLININRE
ORALSXKESTEED
Tue 11/17/2009
ADENPETDUBS
OCULIELIENLAI
DURANPODBLING
ORATORSENTENTE
RANIGITMOAGAR
OJSWAVES
BOONEWIREPHOTO
USATWINKLENEW
CUFFLINKSERODE
RIGELASO
ESSOALERTSKUA
SPUMONIIMEANNO
SUGARSONKNOCK
ARAGETAGENCLS
TREOSRODEKE
Mon 6/1/2009
STEVEJACKIBM
ERRORSALEENEA
CONANOBRIENJAY
TDSINAGESLENO
LESSONAESIR
MIMIINTIMATES
ATPEACEONE
JOHNNYCARSON
TAMDENEUVE
ABOMINATESNAG
SOLOSGIBEAT
HOSTREDUCEPRO
THETONIGHTSHOW
OONANTEONTIME
NOSPAARALLEN
Fri 5/8/2009
BOOTCAMPS
CAPTAINAHAB
QUIETONTHESET
PUTTCHEWAHS
RAYKOSHERSUET
ENOAPTERJAFFA
STURIASMAXOUT
CURRANTFABERGE
IMLATEGLIBTIT
ELOPEBLAZESTR
NESTCOAXEDCIE
TASBRRRDAVE
PERIODICTABLE
SPACENEEDLE
ISINGLASS
Fri 4/3/2009
OBSTACLEBLEST
ONPATROLSAILTO
FAUXHAWKARTIER
SINEVECHAWAR
BEARTHEBLAME
SMELTOILBELT
DOORSELAATLAS
RUNTSYENSTABS
UPTOPEDGEUCLA
DELILLONICHE
JUSTTHISONCE
OJSTADFOEPSI
SOONASCABARETS
EUREKAILLGETIT
FRITESLEEPERS
Wed 12/17/2008
AWASHLEDEELED
MESMERIZEXRAYS
MACADAMIAPIXEL
EVERYSOOFTEN
TINTTINFLU
ENDGOODOLDDAYS
RGSOMNIJANE
BOYSCOUTS
CARBEBAYESC
DOESWONDERSMAO
SLYAWLMANN
FINEANDDANDY
RAJIVALANADALE
AZURESODAWATER
NOTESTEASTERS
Fri 7/25/2008
TRANCEJAMPACKS
RIDEONUPACREEK
ICIESTMORTALLY
MENDERPLYLESE
WATTLEILLSBOS
AREOLENOOSE
IORSOJOURNERS
SNIPENANSTLEO
TIMEPIECESBUB
DIDOKUPROSE
MOECONFGLOWER
ICANLOLGIBRAN
CAROLINAENROBE
ALLSIZESSTOOLS
HASHEESHTHYMES
Thu 5/29/2008
ONEABARBQHAIG
LAMBACURAARNO
ERIESTRETCHESA
STRAPSTAIACH
THATIAGORAMAI
RETARSENIOHALL
AXENEWTOPEL
MOVEATOWN
LILOPOKECPU
ONEMANBANDSARP
OVAPEETETIRES
KITEXTASSISI
ATHESTREETABED
ORELTANTOAONE
NORMOYVEYCUTA
Sun 4/20/2008SPACED OUT
RESYAZLASTSPCAASP
OCTUREUSUALALANMPH
THEAMERICANCENTURYORO
SHOLOMORRAMINOANIT
RKELLYEVERYTHINGMUSTGO
SODAIDSEARESSAI
ZENFRUSTAAFLOW
THECATCHERINTHERYEALSO
EUROPEELOHENMANVAIL
AGOGAXIOMSBOASTODED
ROSSINISMOKEANDMIRRORS
DORMLIVAIRE
JUMPINTOTHEFIRENECKTIE
EROOEATITFLUTIEEAST
TITSOXIDESERRPORTIA
ECHTFIVESTARRESTAURANT
SHEDSESTATERPI
ROASTRANSPYHEEL
VANCOUVERCANUCKSPAIRUP
IBISMINEOYAYLYRICS
JAGINDEPENDENTCOUNSEL
ASHGEOMNAOMIHUTCPI
YETORLYBMOCSROHAD
Wed 1/9/2008
CARDALAISPLAT
HOOIMEANOMEGA
ARMSIGHTUNSEEN
STINGSANT
MAJORINCLAMBAR
SENSATETVGUIDE
CATSILIE
WHOLEWHEATBREAD
IOLACLUE
THEHUTUINTOTAL
TOORDERFERRARI
DRATORRIN
SHINEALIGHTRAN
AMOURIRISHENE
POUTSCELTSDAY
Fri 12/28/2007
MIAMIEELED
JENNIFERLOPEZ
LANDOCALRISSIAN
ENTSATIATEFDA
TGIFSAONESION
ALOAFLTDOPERA
TENDRILSAMOSAS
DONLEK
ASSIGNSPEGASUS
LUTESAVIANISE
ASETPIANOEDEN
RIARELLENOETO
MEMBERSOFTHEBAR
QUICKBROWNFOX
POTSYROOTY
Thu 12/13/2007
SPAMSJAGSARKS
PETALACRECIAO
ERICALAIDETTA
CITYSTATEANDZIP
SHIPSKYYES
UPIREDEALT
SUBPOENAOESTE
EMAILDOMAINNAME
DAREDMINSTREL
SPIDERSANY
ABAAGEBUNT
GODBLESSAMERICA
AXLETALLRIVAL
ZEALIDOLTBIRD
EDITTEESSEEYA
Fri 9/14/2007
GOFORADIPSOPOR
ABORIGINECLARO
VERKLEMPTASSAY
ARTIEMRTLOTTA
GOWNQEIIENROL
ENOTURNERARI
AHATSUNAMIS
AMBIENTTSELIOT
QUIXOTICHAL
USAAMULETRAJ
ASSADERASMETO
TETRALAOGATOS
IDIOTACTSALONE
CURSEGAZASTRIP
SPEEDSOULPATCH
Wed 4/25/2007
EDWARDQTRHASP
QUAKERWYOITAL
ULTIMATEPURPOSE
ALTOWIRETAPPED
LYSCENTEGO
FORYAMSKIP
AUDENKHANISR
USINGONESNOODLE
LSDONBYVJDAY
DROPTABSAS
AVAOLESHBO
EXACERBATEHEAP
ZONINGORDINANCE
RUINENDNIMROD
ATNOTDSGAMINS
Sat 3/17/2007
RAILBIRDALBUMS
EDGARLEEMAUPIN
CANTEENSOKSANA
USOANTIQUESHOP
STROKESUNREELS
ARENASBITDATA
LADYLMONTEDAT
XEROXCOPY
SYLGELEESERFS
TEAMMIRBOLERO
ASPIRINSUMPTER
GOLDENAGERSSEC
GRACEDLEGALIZE
ENCASEONELINER
ROEPERMORTUARY
Thu 11/2/2006
TRIGPESTOFOPS
BETAANTEDABOO
OVERITALIANJOB
NUMBEROFLETTERS
EPSONMFAOAT
NEBFEZDOG
INFLUXBIGWALL
MULTIPLYBYTHREE
IBIDEEEPAYTON
TSPALTOTS
ACSSSNKABOB
EACHANSWERSCLUE
SHOEPOLISHMATH
ASIFMINEOEZRA
IONSSPECSSEER
Wed 10/18/2006
ACDCMESASJAVA
WAILEXALTOXEN
ESAUTEMPOWENT
ALBERTWILLIE
LEECHED
CLARERHOOVUM
WOMENSABOANIN
THEMANFROMUNCLE
SABULOLBRYANT
NASAREDGAPES
LADYEVE
MILTIEFESTER
UTAHSABINADAM
SEMIONENDPICA
TMENPINESSTEW
Fri 3/17/2006
ETRADELASAGNA
SHORESPARAKEET
TRUMPEDUPCHARGE
HITATEDSELBAS
EVENHANDEDWITT
TERIMILDPOLES
EDSPOSEGUESS
BLUEJEANS
PRIERUMPSBEL
PRADAEMMERENE
ROPEPIPEDREAMS
ASHBIDETESTAS
WHATEVERTHECOST
NOERRORSUSAUSA
SPLINTSRENTER
Thu 3/9/2006
SQUARINSIDE
SUNSETCANNING
BETIDESEPISODE
UNIAXISSPURON
LCECNGADSLAW
HDLTHREEAMID
EMSALSORANS
ACEALAIQSSGT
DRYSDALEUHF
MEETEMERAREC
SPECSLOWASHI
SCARABSOREPEN
RETIRESFARMING
INCLOSEFACEIT
THEBOXUQSNO
Wed 1/25/2006
ERIKISSUEJAMB
LOCILLAMAOBIE
KTELLEMATWEND
SCROOGEMILTIE
BOTCHED
OTRASHAIVANA
SCHEMEALAARON
THEMANFROMUNCLE
URDUDELANYHOW
BEASTLEGPAYS
HOLYOKE
FESTERWIGGILY
OMOOBABELOREO
XMASIDESTBONY
YAKSTENTSINTO