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Stella Zawistowski author page

21 puzzles by Stella Zawistowski
with Jeff Chen comments

TotalDebutLatestCollabs
218/26/200411/22/202114
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Scrabble
1.59
Stella Zawistowski
View these same grids with comments from:
Constructor (6)Jeff Chen (6)Jim Horne (2)Hide comments

See the 90 answer words debuted by Stella Zawistowski.

Collaborator: Bruce Venzke
Alternate name for this constructor:
Stella Daily

20 Daily crosswords by Stella Zawistowski

Mon 11/22/2021
SOLEWOREAGENT
OPUSAXELPATIO
FANTASYBASEBALL
ALKALIOILSLED
BUTTONUP
UPCMYSTERYMEAT
PROSOASRANDY
BUSTOUROPENSUP
ONTAPALIYULE
WESTERNWALLETA
COIFFEUR
FLAGTCUINEVER
ROMANCELANGUAGE
OPERASLOTSIGN
GENRETYCOELSE

I used to spend hours at my local Barnes & Noble, cozied up in an overstuffed chair with a page-turner. When the final "Harry Potter" book came out, I took the day off work and lounged there from open until close!

Not surprisingly, that branch is now closed. I did buy drip coffee there, but that might not have been their preferred business model. Ahem.

I appreciated how well Stella hid the book GENREs. For example, FANTASY BASEBALL misdirects away from books much more than FANTASY WORLD or FANTASY SERIES would. Even with as much time I spend around books — a new library book is the one sure way to soothe either of my kids when they break down — I was still stumped on "Name That Theme" after WESTERN WALL. (ROMANCE LANGUAGE finally made things click.)

Tough as nails themelesses are such a different GENRE than Mondays. I'm a big believer in the philosophy of your opening corner setting the tone for your solvers. SOLE as a 1-Across gimme is perfect. ESTAB is not. Even LUNK and ALKALI could slow newer solvers down.

Stella's themeless experience showed through in her long bonuses. I loved getting BUTTON UP and COIFFEUR in unusual locations. A shame that AWFULLY and PILE INTO weren't awfully sparkly, but they're perfectly fine.

My one eyebrow-raiser: I don't know that crossing AOC and TYCO is fair on a Monday.

It'd have been great to open up the grid more in the center — it's too close to a separated top and bottom half — but a great theme for this book lover.

Fri 9/24/2021
BETENOIREEPSON
ICELANDERNACRE
BOXBRAIDSCRUDE
INTERIORHOTBED
ARMOREDCARS
SPLATSCALE
ELOPEDKIMHAIL
LEAPDAYLEMONDE
LADSTUGTURTLE
FILETLASER
IMAGINETHAT
MAKINGSEMIPROS
AFIREMONOPLANE
MINORAMBULANCE
SASSYREARENDED

Whoa! Stella is flexing with those gigantic upper left and lower right corners. Almost mirrors the keg she's holding in her profile picture. [What's not to like?] indeed!

The knock on quadruple stacks (no matter what their length) is that it's extremely tough to fill them with both color and clarity. BETE NOIRE (with that genius [What's not to like?] clue) is an excellent way to kick things off, and BOX BRAIDS feels fresh. I didn't know the term, but this is the kind of learning that I like in a crossword — two words that I can easily piece together.

INTERIOR doesn't do much except take up interior space, though. Foreign rivers like ELBE are called out on most editors' specs sheets as to be avoided.

The opposite corner wasn't as strong. It is squeakily spotless, but there's nothing flashy to anchor it. I don't love an AMBULANCE over a REARENDED vehicle. A MONOPLANE is a real thing, but I'd bet a minority of editors would count it as an asset. I doubt many would tick it into the liabilities column, but I couldn't say the same for GIROS.

Much more eye-catching: ARMORED CARS and IMAGINE THAT. Fantastic answers, both laden with imagery, fun, and even wonder.

Some constructors have posed the theory that themelesses don't need to shine in their grids but can stand out through their cluing. No doubt, [Dance around?] is cleverly repurposed for the circular HORA dance. I enjoyed IDIOMS clued as lessons for an advanced lessons learner. A TURTLE playing Atlas in Iroquois stories is cool trivia. I still would have liked more pizzazz in the grid entries themselves, though, especially for a 70-word solve.

Sat 10/31/2020
BESTSELLERSCAR
ACCENTAIGUCANA
CHARLESTONARID
KORNARTSRAMI
EECALGERTAPAS
DREAMONICEBATH
COSAPAMCEE
MALLETSPEEDS
ALABIBSTUN
TOWPATHAEROSOL
TUNASULTRAVOL
RESTSTEPREDO
ETATCAERPHILLY
STLOUNDERRATED
SEENDISPOSSESS

That clue for PATTON! I read it five times and still didn't understand. PATTON suggested that you shouldn't die for your country? Make "the other dumb bastard" die for his country?

Apparently, I'm the dumb bastard (who still doesn't get it). Great clue, I'm still chewing on it!

Fun clue for ALOUETTE, too. I started by swearing up a blue streak, how the #$%@! am I supposed to know French songs … ah, right. Jaunty ALOUETTE, indeed!

A week and a half ago, I had the NYT Tuesday puzzle, and I got a flood of angry feedback about crossing SATRIANI with ISSA. Completely valid vitriol; I let my personal assumptions blind me, instead of going back and carefully assessing whether or not I was setting up solvers for a win.

Similarly, I ended up with one error today, although I didn't feel confident about several spots. A cloud might SPUD across the sky … since clouds look like mashed potatoes? PAERPHILLY, sure, why not?

That cheesed me off.

Thankfully, my high school French came back for ACCENT AIGU. If ETE wasn't beaten into my head through crosswords (same with TERN), that could have made a guess like ACCEN' L'AIGU seem possible. Not probable, but possible.

CARAPACE is a surprisingly common(ish) crossword entry. Although it's a bit esoteric, it has such beautifully strict consonant/vowel alternation, making it ideal for the middle of crossword stacks. I remembered it from a previous crossword, but I'd be sympathetic to solvers who put in CORAPACE / CONA or CERAPACE / CENA.

I got an exhaustive workout from this one, appropriate given Stella's CrossFit studliness. I don't imagine I'm the only solver who she smashed with that keg (pictured above) today, though, so it's not my favorite of her products. Still, it's useful for me to swallow a big mouthful of humble pie once in a while. Getting crushed only motivates me to improve my solving skills.

Tue 7/14/2020
LETINARMSSHOW
OVENSLEAHCARE
RENTFREEZERISE
CREEORDERAROD
ATTRACTLIPS
EPAWHOLEHOG
PHASECRACKIRR
RANTPLONKTREE
OWNGRANDARTSY
SKIPPINGRBI
EEOCYOUANDI
ECHOEMAILNORN
SOAPWICKEDGOOD
TALLANTEOLIVE
AXLERIISTELEX

I grew up in the Bay Area during the Joe Montana era, so it took me a while to get over Steve Young pushing out Joe Cool. A young buck who wore a HAIR SHIRT under his jersey? Turns out, my ignorance was shameful; Steve Young was well up to the task. Watching him dominate a Super Bowl was a sporting highlight of a generation.

One-word Broadway musicals have been tapped for crosswords many times over the years, a quick search for RENT phrases turning this one up. I appreciated Stella's attempt to freshen the concept with phrases rarely seen in crosswords, HAIR SHIRT and WICKED GOOD likely to be new to some solvers. The latter is a Bostonian phrase in usage a few decades ago.

ANNIE HALL was a standout, as there's something clever about repurposing a movie to create a kooky Broadway-related phrase. I wasn't hot on WICKED GOOD because it's so tortured-sounding as a terse review, plus, if you didn't know the phrase already, you might have trouble figuring out the intent of the theme.

Tough way to start an early-week puzzle, with LORCA and EVERT crossing CREE. That would be fine for a later-week puzzle, but that corner could stop newbs in their tracks. As interesting as it is to feature the poet LORCA, I don't know that it's a sound choice for a puzzle with a simple theme, especially crossing CREE.

This puzzle would be a tough sell to even mid-level solvers, what with EEOC, GPO, IRR, NORN, NSF, too. Toss in ABU RIIS and TELEX and I'd have liked a polishing revision.

I did appreciate SHERLOCK, WHOLE HOG, and PRICE WAR, though. It's great to get some juicy bonuses to keep up one's interest.

Sat 6/20/2020
MIAMIDEADSPOT
BUGLERINDICATE
ADULTSALACARTE
SHANELANINA
SENIORSCONNAP
INAGROOVEGHOUL
HITMEAIDA
SKETCHESOFSPAIN
KAYEPTRAP
INERTCATALYSTS
PECAOLOUTPLAY
ARMPITFLASK
MANEATERTRALEE
ADDALINEDECORS
PAYMENTSSEEMS

I'm a huge jazz fan, so it was a thrill to be able to plunk in SKETCHES OF SPAIN with no crossings. (There are rumors that I tried BITCHES BREWWWWW first, but I'll never admit that.) It's not one of my top five Miles Davis albums, but some people love its dreamlike qualities. If you're interested in broadening your musical horizons, I'd listen to these first:

Kind of Blue. The best-selling album that defines cool jazz.

Walkin'. Impossible to get the opening trumpet declaration out of your head!

The Complete Concert: 1964. Hard-driving rhythms, led by a young Tony Williams on drums.

Miles Smiles. This album, while too cutting-edge for mainstream listeners, features one of the few pics of him smiling, and one of his best tracks ever, "Footprints."

Bitches Brew. Not for the faint of heart! Some might call it noise, I call it genius.

And if you get a chance to read his autobiography, definitely check it out — as long as you don't mind copious f-bombs.

Thinking about Miles's music put me in my HAPPY PLACE. IN A GROOVE is so apt.

There were a few too many DEAD SPOTs in the grid, long slots filled with neutral entries like INDICATE, PAYMENTS, ADD A LINE — a risk you take venturing into 68-word territory with such big corners like the SW — but I appreciated so much of the sentiments Stella incorporated. Wanda SYKES speaks volumes right now. And in the vein of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), I'm hopeful that from all the turmoil and protests comes more landmark civil rights legislation.

I enjoy it when a constructor's personality comes through. I'm rooting for Stella to debut the CROSSFIT GAMES or a MUSCLE UP.

Sat 1/25/2020
DONTJUDGEMEAMI
EVERANDANONLAM
FIGUREEIGHTMGM
ANGERNEEMANE
TEASESILLTIMED
DOWNSAMATI
SLAGLAGSCOTIA
PALAVERLOOSEST
OBAMASAUSARME
ROBINPIXAR
TRANSFERDEFANG
SIMSLOBVALOR
BOADURANCEVILE
RUNEMILYBRONTE
ASSBEALESTREET

Stella's back! I'm always entertained by her social media posts involving her lifting something gigantic over her head. I was tickled by her profile pic and the mantra on her T-shirt.

Once a week, I have a climbing session with a bunch of folks where we work on stuff that's too hard for us. It usually involves clenched teeth, unexpected falls, taping up cuts, and plenty of pain, but that's the way to get to the next level.

Similarly, reaching for stuff that was too hard for me in today's puzzle left me exhausted. Better off for it, though.

Jim Horne and I enjoy exchanging thoughts about puzzles, and I figured DURANCE VILE was something cultured, literary folks like himself would feel smug about knowing. His impression of the puzzle overall? "Loved it, except I had no idea what the heck DURANCEVILLE was."

I have a feeling it's not as fun a place as Margaritaville.

I know GAMINS from crosswords, similarly with PALAVER. I felt high and mighty that I could plop in that crossing letter with no problem. Take that, non-solvers-extraordinaire! Peons, can't even determine that it's not PALEVER / GEMINS or PALOVER / GOMINS (that's a goblin + gremlin hybrid).

Jim said he felt smug knowing Ravel's "Pavane Por UNE Infante Defunte." I, as a classical cellist, of course dropped that in too, not SES then LES then ILE then UND then AAAAARRRGH! None of those make any sense, of course, only a gamin would even think of them.

Similarly with "lemniscate." Exactly 50% of Jim and I dropped in FIGURE EIGHT without blinking (hint: not the guy who took roughly 63 years worth of math through an engineering masters degree).

One's assessment of a themeless has a large component of "how smart did this make me feel." Sure, there are many other criteria, like quality of snazzy long entries, quantity of crossword glue, solving flow, fairness of crosses, but it's so much about smugness. Things that are good for you don't usually generate the shot of elation that a piece of candy delivers.

Mon 5/5/2008
SPAMMACSSEGAR
TADAALAWIRENE
ONUSDOMECITGO
WELCOMEPACKET
ELTORORADOPS
TENNISRACKET
LBJSEEPYENTL
IOUSYEASTLORE
BRIARNOAHWOO
YELLOWJACKET
ASLAHAERASES
INCOMEBRACKET
COACHMILOTORI
AURAEEROOISIN
MIDASDEBTCHET
Tue 1/15/2008
GALASVOCALIRS
ALANAAISLEVIC
ZESTFORLIFEOVA
ACHIEVEASTRAL
RASCALKYLE
TACOLEADFOOT
EXODUSMOATORC
CLASSLESRAWER
HESEZIOGAZEBO
TODIEFORTRAP
OLGAPUFFIN
COURICNEONGAS
TRATONEOFVOICE
ERRADEPTALLOW
TEDRETIESOAPS
Sun 1/13/2008 BABY TALK
NOWNOWFLAKCLUDAWNS
AVIATELIMAOOPALEUT
TUFTEDOVERSHOTNIFTY
OMEARAWESTWEFORGET
GLISTENSIRANINBC
OBOETHRUAPEOTBEOE
CEEDREPATENTWEATHER
ALSORANSLEDTOWHIRR
LOONEYEMIOPULENCE
AWNEDPEASEEKESODED
GIANTWIZARD
OCTSPESOERECTGOMAD
FOOTPATHERASECEDE
FREEHOLSENBAILSMAN
ARTWINKWETTERRCSOZS
LAHZENGISEWOKCREE
LETNASALARROWKEY
WAKEVICTORIAEARWIG
AMISHEXISTENTARIANA
FANTAREETESHVAUNTS
TWEENYRSOLESENMESH
Wed 9/19/2007
BAHFALLCATNIP
ORUASEAAIRACE
AIMCHICKFLICKS
RABBISENTFRET
LEASEARLESS
JOEYLAWRENCE
AMPSAHIBARNAZ
MAIMBIGOTSERB
SNERDSONICRNA
COLTREVOLVER
ALCOHOLOMOO
LIEFQEIIEXURB
CALFMUSCLESSOO
ORTEGAKIRILAC
ASSERTYARNYMA
Wed 5/23/2007
BASTESWABABED
ATEUPHALOSASE
NODESADENCRAW
AMAITRIEDTOBUY
NIKOLAIART
ACAMOUFLAGESUIT
ANTAMEXTOE
FEARSPYCENT
OAFSHOEGSA
BUTICOULDNTFIND
SALCAREFOR
ONEANYWHERETMI
SERACOILTEHEE
LAICORELCLEAR
ORESWEDSHINTS
Tue 2/6/2007
ASCIIZIMASKIM
SPAMSEDOMMEMO
HAPPYJUICEIVAN
ENTREESSCHTICK
UTEHAHN
BOYDPIQUEDBAT
OTOESOUPTIARA
SHUNSWASONCDS
SERTAARESTOOT
ARELOSTTOENRY
TUTUFDR
ACOLYTEGAUCHOS
GOATFABERGEEGG
USSRISONIDIOT
ETTATEXTNERDS
Tue 11/21/2006
RENEWSOFATASK
AROSEEDERBLUE
PENALSEAMAIDEN
MILITARYBRASS
OWETOEBID
RAMOUTWOREPAR
GIBEDODAMENU
IVEGOTNOSTRINGS
EEROWILEXMET
SRSBOXFULSALL
ARBNEONAE
SANTAANAWINDS
ORCHESTRAADHOC
CIAOEWERNAILS
KARLSTAYTYPEA
Thu 9/21/2006
SOOTIESTASCENT
TOLERATENOONER
DZIEKUJEGRAZIE
SENSEONBUTTONS
DOHLISI
RODEANTESSMEE
AWARDSHAHAELL
INNERTAKPORGY
TEKEVANYUCCAS
TREKASKTOTIRE
LARKEUR
ALTAVISTAEELED
XIEXIEOBRIGADO
ENROOTNARCOTIC
SKINNYEGRESSES
Fri 6/23/2006
OLDWHATSHERNAME
YOUHAVENOCHOICE
SADOMASOCHISTIC
LESSHONE
SHELERGS
EKEASFORRUN
READSTHERIOTACT
NEVERHADACHANCE
STEPSONONESTOES
TETLENTSLET
ROAMROAD
CARBLOON
ONETHINGATATIME
AURORAAUSTRALIS
STARESINTOSPACE
Wed 4/26/2006
TEARSDEBMOSSO
ENRONUSAABCTV
ELIZABETHNEALE
TAEPALOTAYLOR
HILTONPARCEL
ANATWILDING
TODDLESAGEOIL
ARESOACKSANTA
PANFISHERUSED
SNIFFLENOSE
GAYESTBURTON
WARNERBOOPENO
IVANAFORTENSKY
LITERENLRELEE
EVERSZEESWAYS
Tue 9/13/2005
ARCODELFTNEMO
SAHLEMILEOXEN
SHELSOLARNINE
REALITYBITES
NATIREETTAS
CHARLESTONCHEWS
OSHEAUKEIDLE
ACROBATIC
DIALEWELAPAZ
AFRICANSWALLOWS
MITZIHUBNEA
DAILYDIGESTS
LOEBSAUTESOOT
ECCLALDERTOME
OTOETEENSSNEE
Fri 1/7/2005
NEVERMORESCARS
STOLEAWAYCOMIN
WELLILLBEARECA
SLEEPINGBAG
TWINSETINDIANS
RANOUTREBA
INURERECOLLECT
ADIMROLEXELIS
DATABASESMALTA
LIEDWIRIER
SARCASMBADNESS
SNOOZEALARM
GOODERESPONSES
TUNERINTERBANK
SKEDSETERNALLY
Tue 11/16/2004
BESTONENDCEDE
ARNORUMOROMAR
YOUMUSTBEJOKING
HOBBSMASBILKO
OPESFEE
WHENPIGSFLYPLO
HARDERYAOISAY
ALMANACTRASHTV
LEAKNODINTAKE
ESSTHERESNOWAY
AHAANTI
ADIEUAGRKIOSK
AINTGONNAHAPPEN
REINDIEGOSANE
ETTAESTEEOLDE
Thu 8/26/2004
RIFEPRATTBRAN
ENOSRICHEIONA
ERRSOCEANSTATE
VOTESFORWOMEN
EARNSSRA
DDETYKERACER
SUSANBANTHONY
MASCDOONEMUSE
AMELIABLOOMER
HASATANNATNT
ATFUSHER
JULIAWARDHOWE
PHONOGRAPHRUMP
HELDRADIOESAI
INTOEDENSWEND

1 Variety puzzle by Stella Zawistowski

Sun 8/8/2021
ACCOSTSTURGEON
TACRARE
ADMIREDARTSONG
REEEFSTO
INREALLIFEDIET
OMVIDCI
RANGEENCHILADA
EDLT
LAMBASTESERNIE
UATHPTO
CASHBIPARTISAN
TSLNNATA
ALABAMAKINDRED
NGSITII
TREASUREDEALER