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Neil Patrick Harris author page

1 puzzle by Neil Patrick Harris
with Constructor comments

Neil Patrick Harris
Puzzles constructed by Neil Patrick Harris by year
POW Thu 8/24/2017

NEIL: I must say, I was beyond flattered to be asked by Will to participate in a NYT puzzle creation. I'm a big fan of games and puzzles (And Will, as well) and I work through the crosswords every week (I'm really just a Monday and Tuesday guy — Wednesday through Sunday is for people a lot smarterer). With all of this acquired knowledge, I thought that crossword creation would be challenging, yes, but attainable.

How very wrong I was.

The process of designing a crossword puzzle is a futile exercise in utter frustration. Staring at a blank grid was daunting. Finding a list of random yet interesting words was its own challenge. But just when I thought I was nearing completion — just when I figured I was starting to figure it out — I realized how wrong I was. Changing one word meant two others needed to change, requiring further changes. My house of cards collapsed remarkably fast, as did my spirit.

In short(z), creating this puzzle was very difficult. And this is a relatively easy one..! My respect for puzzle masters and creators has increased, ten thousand-fold. I'm forever thankful to David Steinberg for mentoring me through it all. And by mentoring I mean pretty much creating this magical grid on his own and fixing my frequent mistakes, all the while supporting me as if I was smarter and more helpful than I actually was.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

DAVID: Still can't believe I had an opportunity to make a crossword with Neil Patrick Harris (somebody pinch me!). Will asked me last summer about doing a puzzle for this series, but I didn't happen to know any celebrities who solve the NYT crossword. I was a bit bummed at the time but figured I'd just plow ahead with other crossword projects. Earlier this year, though, the stars aligned (pun intended): Will had just gotten in touch with Neil Patrick Harris, and Neil liked the idea of co-constructing a puzzle. He just needed a NYT regular to work with him, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time!

Neil and I knew from the get-go that we wanted to do a magic-themed puzzle, because Neil is seriously as amazing at magic as he is at acting and emceeing! Neil sent me a list of his favorite magic tricks (minus explanations, of course, because what kind of magician reveals his secrets? ;) ), and I sent back a bunch of ideas for how to turn these tricks into crossword themes. Of the various ideas, Neil picked this one as his favorite. After a few back-and-forths with Will, we settled on the current set of theme entries and set to work on the grid.

Getting all the disappearing letters to work required some serious wizardry, and I don't think I could've done it without Neil's enthusiasm and encouragement! At one point, I was convinced the idea was impossible and was ready to scrap the puzzle altogether, but Neil's excitement inspired me to keep trying on the grid. We finally did end up with something we liked, though, and I have to say I'm pretty proud of the resulting puzzle!

I even threw in NPH at 1-Across as an homage to Neil, clued as "Drs. Horrible and Howser," but Will wasn't fond of that, so NPH did a disappearing act of his own in the upper left corner for the final version. Once the grid was done, Neil took a stab at the clues, and then I filled in the gaps. We hope you enjoy!

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