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6 puzzles by Lisa Bunker
with Jeff Chen comments

TotalDebutLatestCollabs
610/3/20012/14/20210
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1111020
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62111
Lisa Bunker
POW Sun 2/14/2021SEALED WITH A KISS
SNARUMPANAMBIORCAS
YOMAMAOXONOUNLEACH
STEFANWISPIESTSISQO
TARTONEALLTHESEQUA
ELISCRLOUSTRANQUIL
MOCSTOPUSNINCBETS
TAPERCHARTERUS
ARESOHYPETORPBR
CAPTAINPAPONSALE
BESEATEDALLIASKCRUS
ARSESVICEVERSACAIRO
NEUTGENERISHUNDRARD
JARETOECOANARCHY
OLYIFIISTOSANAA
OPENFLOORATTAR
NOSETGILLDVISENIT
EXTRACRTSIEGESMAHI
ITATHETAFRERRYATAN
GENIINOTLEASTONIONS
HAZELTAROITERSTLNE
SMARTSTAXREXEAREAL

★ For years, I've been pounding the table that the NYT Sunday crossword is missing a huge opportunity to take advantage of color printing in the magazine. I love today's concept, incorporating the color red to represent RED rebuses in the print version. It's so smart to have the first rebus be REDR, as in "red R." I've spent a ridiculous amount of time brainstorming color concepts with lots of folks, and this is a true WITT (Wish I'd Thought of That).

Not only that, but the letters tacked on to RED change, spelling out a meta answer. RUBY LIPS doesn't feel like a jump-out-of-your-chair-and-praise-the-heavens final answer, but it's solid enough and appropriate for Valentine's Day.

Five years ago, I would have never picked this as a POW! There would have been way too many execution flaws that would have disqualified it many times over. It's fantastic that Joel helped Lisa along — Sunday 140-word puzzles are challenging to create. I wish he'd had more time to push her to revise a few more times. There are so many partials, abbreviations, tough foreign words, prefixes — everything that editors call out to avoid on their specs sheets.

I also wish RUBY LIPS had formed the shape of lips. That would have been mind-blowing. I'm not sure that's possible to do with a perfect set of lips, given the stringent constraint of placing eight crossing themers in fixed places, but even a rough shape of lips would have given this some Puzzle of the Year consideration. Along with much stronger execution, of course.

All those qualms are from the technician in me, though. That annoying blurghole sometimes has to take a swift kick in the pants from the solver in me who adores innovative, audacious ideas, especially those that take advantage of the NYT Sunday Magazine's huge advantage of color printing. Fantastic concept, Lisa!

Fri 10/27/2006
JACKBLACKEQUUS
INHERITORSUPPE
GARGANTUANEGRI
GTOSEARACERIN
LONGSGALAEAVE
EMILBIGSPENDER
SYCAMOREICERS
ZEALRONA
UPPEDFORESTER
SHARONTATEEERO
TONSBOSHADANA
INTPARTIALLED
NELLYPORTLIEST
ONEILINAMORATA
VOGUEDESERTFOX
Fri 9/8/2006
SQUAREJAWABAFT
PUNCHLINERETRO
AIRCOOLEDCARES
RTEPLAGIARIST
RESOLERECDFHA
ESTRADAHEELED
DOSEDLIMOXENA
LEMONDROP
APESYETIPEACE
LINEALIBERIAN
AKCDALIANTRIM
BEHAVIORALTRA
AMATIPARTISANS
MAIMSEQUINOXES
ANNEEZINCOXIDE
Tue 4/19/2005
CABLEBABARBRA
ALIENSIEVERAH
REDSQUIRRELOJO
OROTUNDTRAMWAY
MTNITEMSPIN
FROAMIABET
AMBLECIAOSERE
COLORFULANIMALS
CPUSREBSMIRES
TEESERAAMC
WIREGOGORDA
REHEELSDIDGOOD
IRAGOLDENEAGLE
TILAVAILSTEEL
ZEELEVELTERSE
Mon 12/23/2002
SALKLETMEBLAH
AGUNAVIANOAHU
JAMESBEARDDIME
APPEARCODERED
KEYHASPRAG
LITTLESHAVER
NABOBRAVELAGE
OWESCOTESCROP
VOLALLENSAYSO
ALLINALATHER
STPUSERTAB
QUALITYABJURE
URSARAZORSEDGE
ADENALEUTSOUR
DUADPEERSTREY
Wed 10/3/2001
BANGINFERBLUR
AGUEMILLELORE
LEMONPLUMORANGE
DEBRASPONGED
GRIPEELK
SEVENSEVENLEMON
CROIMPELTALE
RITASLIDSODE
UKESUPSETRID
BARPLUMCHERRIES
IONSAMOA
SPECIESPRADO
SEVENSEVENSEVEN
TSARCLARAFILE
SONYOFTENYVES