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Puzzles for October, 2014
with Will Shortz comments

Wed 10/1/2014
ABOWPROMSTUD
NEVALINUSTONE
GRANDOPERARIMS
ENTERBRUCELEE
LIIAVOCADOPEAR
INORBITYINTNT
CINECOODUST
PRIEDOPEN
IPSODNATBSP
OSABATUNCOUTH
WALDOPEPPERYEA
LIMETREEEASES
IDOLINSIDEDOPE
SNITLETMEAUER
HOLAROPEMTNS

Generally I maintain two to 15 months of inventory of crosswords, depending on the day of the week. This puzzle, unusually, was accepted three years ago. I held it for so long partly because its theme is of a type that's become overly common, and I like to space out examples. But, also, as the standards for acceptance have risen over the years, grids that passed muster in 2011 might not do so today. Liz's original grid had a number of unappealing entries — RCPT, TASM, ENA, I IS, S DAK, and DELPY — which increasingly put me off. They're all gone now, and I think the result is pretty smooth.

POW Thu 10/2/2014
SMUTFISTNASH
WINOINCAMOLTO
INKSLUAUABBAS
EINSTEINCOEAST
AMOOATROIL
PATRONBADSPORT
ELOVINMRSUN
PALLNARCOISNT
ILIACSCHULZ
PLUTARCHTOEATS
INTOABCSHU
CANVASEQUATION
ONAIRAJARHARD
PASTYLOBSAGAR
SLAYABATROXY

Did you notice in this puzzle that the constructor completely avoided the letter E outside of the theme answers? That's very elegant. E really does equal MC squared here, and nothing else.

Fri 10/3/2014
ARSONISTSDCCAB
NOTSOFASTEARLE
GOATRODEOALARM
LTDILLTRADEYOU
ERINDOSESBOSS
ROUENTESTYLEE
STMARKSUREHAND
MOHSPONE
DIMETAPPSTASIS
UNOCLAROERNST
NAPAICONSTADA
ALPHAFEMALERUS
WIESTBOJANGLES
ANTICATANYRATE
YESNOREGGAETON

Curiously, only 1%-2% of themeless submissions I receive at the Times come from female constructors. The genre is almost entirely handled by men. No one knows why. I think it's healthy to have diversity, though, in all ways, and I welcome more female-constructed themelesses. It's unlikely a male constructor would have used the fresh and lively ALPHA FEMALE (55A) as a seed, which is a perfect example of why diversity is a good thing.

Sat 10/4/2014
BROMANCERIBALD
EASYPOURECOCAR
NTHPOWERLAOTZU
TEARGASDINKIER
EERDUGIDY
SAUCEVARIED
AGNIMARIONETTE
GOTORACKANDRUIN
ABOUTTURNSNEMO
SERIESWISES
RIBITDSHE
ASAGRAYSTIRRER
MIDAIRDIETCOKE
BALZACANNERICE
OHYEAHGETRIDOF
Sun 10/5/2014TIMBER!
BBSRISQUETIPPPAYIN
RATINTURNONCEAMORE
INIASEASYASABCSOURS
ETHEPERIODSSANSKRIT
FULLTILTFATNOEETS
MERTZSEWUPPLANA
MMIAIRSTEALERSPOTS
DETESTABLEYIELDUTIL
SWALEPRANCPRESOKOA
ELLAANGERSOAPING
INFCSTUDENTSKED
OBADIAHNABOOPDAS
ZINRMARYROUNDCSINY
MESSPSHAWONIONRINGS
ANTESTOPHATSJOEGET
NACHOSAILSBURMA
AILIMPTZEASSESSED
SALMINEOBATISTEHAVE
ELIOTAHEADOFTIMEYAM
ELOPECHINONECARIDO
DYNESHINGLORENATEN
POW Mon 10/6/2014
BSAOBOEISAAC
OASNETSMORPHS
LYINEYESPROPEL
THAIORESBALMY
SINGININTHERAIN
ETDROTUSE
HEREAPARDTS
REXMISSINGERS
ARCWHITEDDY
MCIGOTSRA
PUTTINONTHERITZ
ALARMNYROINRE
REBELSMOVINOUT
TALKEREVERIMA
NESTSTEDSLPS
Tue 10/7/2014
RIGCLIMBSALUD
AAREELERATONE
NCORAISEUTTER
DOWNTHEHATCH
ACTIKEYEDUP
LCHAIMSTATOFU
LASPESCILOGON
BOTTOMSUP
BROODAREASPEA
AEROCNNCHEERS
GOESMADSLIP
TOYOURHEALTH
ALIENUNIONERA
GENRETIPPITEL
TOASTSTEEDSAT

I hope I didn't stretch this puzzle's theme conceit too far, as L'CHAIM (28A) would be an odd thing to exclaim at an Oktoberfest. But at least the theme is timely!

Wed 10/8/2014
RAMICETSTATS
USADAZEOHTHAT
BANERINTRUETO
IDIOMNCOINDEX
KAFKAEONLEE
ERNEMEALSRI
ASSADSMONACAB
JOTASHANTIEVE
ANDREININONIT
RYEESTDSMUT
SACUMPATOMS
TUTTOPERNAFTA
STIRUPNEHIMIX
PANINITOILADE
HYATTSPCANAS
Thu 10/9/2014
CASHJEANCAPE
RATEAMIEPOWER
OBAMACARELDOPA
PARASKITRAKPS
CELTONEEYE
CARROTWYATT
ABEETFEELYOLK
KENTBREADMPAA
EDDYOEDSSOUTH
PIXELBUNSEN
FREEZEEHUD
ROBOSUARAPAHO
AVOIDSKINNYDIP
MENDSPIKERAKE
EDYSSPUROMEN

As far as I can remember this is the fourth "uniclue"-type crossword I've run in the Times. That's one in which all the clues (in the print edition anyway) appear in a single list, combining Across and Down. When two answers share a number, they also share a clue. The previous three times I did this are listed on XWord Info's latest summary page. The theme of Joel's puzzle today is similar to John's, but with 10 examples rather than seven, and some of them intersecting. Very elegant.

Fri 10/10/2014
FREEWAYDEAD
PLEASEDOPANTY
TROUSSEAUARISE
ROASTEDCRUISER
OPTIONCHOCULA
UMINNCHEMISE
PANGCHIANTI
ENGCHANTEYRDS
CHUTNEYBEET
CHARTEDPRIMA
CHARREDMOANED
WARRIORBALIHAI
APOLOBARCELONA
COMETOVERALLS
ONESXEROXED

Do you like the "stairstep" of CH- answers running through the middle of the grid? David's construction is very handsome, but I worry that the CH- pattern makes the puzzle a little too predictable.

Sat 10/11/2014
ATWHOLESALESOD
BREAKINGBADEPA
BABYSITTERSMEW
EVESESTEEMING
YERWARDLIST
SOCECOSWAB
AFTERMATHSHEBA
GREASETHEWHEELS
HORSEMATURATES
AGRATENSER
MALTATSKKIP
BARTENDERTARA
ARIADIMEADOZEN
ICUKEVINDURANT
OHMSMARTPHONES
Sun 10/12/2014INNER WORKINGS
RAWDEALWATUSICALAIS
INHASTEAMINOROVERDO
COALCANARYMINENEATEN
ENTRINDTAPASTOAD
ROUNDSQUAREPEGHOLE
MCLEANUPSATREE
ALACKRELITMTEVEREST
CANDYKIDSTORESESAAH
ASAAVIDERATARGO
WHITEHATSAWINRAPPER
MILLIONNOTYEARS
NAGANOORIONTRIFECTA
ERINSNAPPIUSOON
REFCPOTEATEMPESTPOT
FATCHANCEBERETOESTE
AURALREAOBSESS
HANDGOTOHELLBASKET
AMADDATEDEDIENUS
RAPINIHAYNEEDLESTACK
STEERSEVENUPOFFENSE
HISSATSEDERSSECLUDE

This puzzle has an interesting history. Pawel and I went back and forth on the theme many times, as he progressively refined the idea and got better examples. In the end I thought it turned out great — very tight, with all familiar, lively phrases. He constructed the grid, I edited it, the puzzle-testers did their thing, etc. And after the puzzle went to the Times and was all set to be published ... I learned from a solver who got an advance copy that I ran a puzzle with the same theme, using two-and-a-half of the same theme entries, three years ago. :-(

Well, at least I'm consistent in what I like!

It's still a fine puzzle, with an expanded theme (Sunday-size rather than daily), and a solid construction besides. Still worth doing, I think, despite the accidental theme duplication. I hope you agree.

POW Mon 10/13/2014
PORSCHESPACELY
CROQUETCANASTA
SECUREDONETERM
ALLGNAWS
PSATSLACYCARS
ANDSCOMEVALET
NODSAKEGENEVA
DOSTWISTERRET
OKAPISEELYTRI
RELAXTVADALSO
ARTSCHERKEYIN
SALONHER
CHEATERHEROICS
HANGMANMARBLES
INVESTSSPIESON

I've been saving this puzzle for about a year, to run around the time of the baseball playoffs and the World Series. The double nature of the theme — that the grid contains seven games and they're all seven letters long — is what sold me on this. Simple and elegant, with a funny reveal, perfect for a Monday.

Tue 10/14/2014
SCABCHESTGIVE
LARALEVERAWAY
OPENOHAREBONE
TRADESECRETS
HASSLEATABAA
TOUGHOCHERS
LAVAPLOTPOINTS
AMANAIRESTJOE
HANDLEBARSTIOS
TINSELSMUSH
INARESBRENDA
COVERSTORIES
ALVAADOPEOTIS
DOWNTELEXORCA
EASTERECTFEED
Wed 10/15/2014
STABDOCKSDILL
COSIYAHOOELOI
HUCKLEFINNCLOT
ICRIEDREALIST
RHINEMBAPANEL
RUBIKELDERWINE
APEBOATOE
STRAWBLONDE
YULBENABA
RASPBERETAARON
AIMEEEDSHELLO
PRESSEDSAGGED
ISLECHUCKBERRY
DELTHOKEYAEON
SAYSOTROSNYSE

I don't usually run puzzles in which the mutilated theme answers don't themselves make sense. But the reveal to this one was so charming, and the mutilations so clear, I made an exception.

Thu 10/16/2014
CALAISNUDETRE
ALUMNAEPICURES
MENTALWHOOPIES
SCARLETTERAPSE
ALMALSDLEX
LICKWMDEVE
ADOCANEFRAPPE
PERCYBYSSHELLEY
DANUBESTAGAPE
UTENYEBYES
ZACRBIESAU
AWOLLANDONOVAN
PAPALACELOYOLA
PRIMERIBADULTS
ADADENSREPEAT

John's manuscript had the overlapping three-letter parts indicated by circles. I thought that made the puzzle too easy. Anyway, I'm always in need of fresh Thursday-ish gimmicks, so the circles are gone, and — voilà — a Thursday!

Fri 10/17/2014
MOBILEAPPWAITE
ONONESWAYAMAHL
SEENITALLDOMED
TARAGEEDRAKE
BATSALAMIS
STROBESRELENT
THINASAREEDRGS
RETDMARFIDO
UMAFASHIONICON
COMSATSTREAMS
KNOTTEDRAF
DIRACYOGADDT
UTERIALANMOORE
MONETDIETSODAS
BRODYSOLOSHOTS
Sat 10/18/2014
MESSKITSCROTCH
AGELIMITLAURIE
NOSECONEASTUTE
SEEKAPPSSTEP
PSYCHOPATH
AWLTUTEEURIAH
VIAAMINSTINGO
ALSORANCOOPERS
SCENTSCALCSEE
TORTEROLEOSEA
DIRTYHARRY
CRIPTEEMRAFA
HUSTLERAREBIRD
ASCOTSERICBANA
DESERTDICTATED

Evan's handsome construction today has quite a few names, some of them uncommon, which is always cause for concern — especially when they're in the same area, and especially especially when they cross. LAURIE (16A) crossing RAS (10D) may give some solvers pause, but I think "A" at the intersection is the most likely letter to guess. I also worried about SOLER (35D) crossing the difficult STINGO and ROLEO. Evan's clue for SOLER was "Baroque composer Padre Antonio __," who, I have to admit, I'm not familiar with. So I changed this to something more inferable, even if it's rare. Overall Evan writes excellent clues. The ones here for 15A, 36A, 43A, 4D, 12D, and 28D are all his.

Sun 10/19/2014WHY NOT?
BUTTEDGRILLSSHARIFS
ONRICEREDDITGALATEA
OEUVREIDOLSOFTHEKING
HASOUTESSAOLKINDA
IRTAVEGEMESAI
STETCLEARTHEWEIGH
SHECRABEMOOWNCRO
SUNDAEBESTULTRAHIP
UNISENDAKPETRESAVE
PADSTENDTOTTOLKIEN
STEPSSARISTATEOESTE
TAKEONEACELANDDEER
ALICIAAPETILDESRDA
RICKROLLDEVILRAISE
TEKMOLINAINCUBUS
GUISEANDDOLLSVENI
ITLLEGGSOSLIZ
ODOULEONABASHULTZ
NORIMEORREASONAERIAL
ENSNARLASPIREALGORE
DEIGNEDSTRANDBLENDS

An unusual theme today that took me awhile to wrap my head around — puns involving homophones of words containing the letter Y. The Y's are all gone. Usually themes are based on what's in the grid, not what's not. But once you get it, the result is nice, and the puzzle has a perfect, explanatory title. I also like David's elegant touch of avoiding Y's anywhere in the grid, not just in the theme answers.

Mon 10/20/2014A SIGN OF THE TIMES
GADBROMGMTSP
APELETOUIAPU
SPLITSECONDXER
ENSURELITES
TOGAMINUTERICE
HUARTESERAPHS
ACTORSPAN
THEWITCHINGHOUR
HAIRLAPSE
OPTICALCORPSE
DAYTRIPPERLORD
ELROYOREGON
SEAPASSIONWEEK
SSNTOPCLUNYE
ATTSKYHESTEN

Every autumn since 2008 I've run either a themed puzzle week or a Sunday puzzle contest in the Times. In 2008 it was a week of daily crosswords constructed by teens. The following years were, successively, crosswords by Times contributors for 50+ years, members of the Brown University crossword club, all-Patrick Berry, and Sunday crossword contests by Caleb Rasmussen and Mike Selinker.

This year I've returned to the 2011 format with a whole week of daily puzzles constructed by one of the greats of crosswording, Patrick Blindauer. The first five puzzles, Monday to Friday, look like normal crosswords. As the instructions explain, though, they contain the start of a hidden message. The Saturday puzzle completes the message and has cryptic instructions for finding it.

Can the hidden message be identified before the Saturday puzzle is published? I'd be astonished. But then I've been astonished by Times solvers many times before, so we'll see.

BTW, the contest prizes this year have been upgraded to 20 one-year subscriptions to the online Times crossword. These prizes are nice, but (as you'll notice) still modest. Federal and state laws don't allow large prizes for contests that involve any significant element of luck, which this one does. You have to be lucky to be randomly selected from those who submit correct answers.

Still, it's really the fun of the event that's important. Also, if you win, you get your name in Wordplay next Friday.

Happy solving ... and good luck!

Tue 10/21/2014A SIGN OF THE TIMES
REMIXDIGSMARX
ELISAIRONOPER
HIGHCNANASAGA
MARATHONERSSTAT
ALOUSREQOLE
NATLMASSUNWED
ADOOVUMSEP
PARTNEROFWARNER
ORETREKAVA
SIGMAREIDSVEN
APUMPHJETTY
WHATPRISONERSDO
YOREANALTIEUP
ENDSDOLEEVADE
RESTASKSSELES

(see my Note from Monday)

Wed 10/22/2014A SIGN OF THE TIMES
GILTADFATOMS
OBESPINACHXOO
PEEKABOOISEEYOU
FRAUXERAGIN
FINNSILERSEND
TANGOEDSAYINGS
FACETIME
UNCURLSCROLL
SEASANGRIANAE
AWRYTIMONCENT
SLUMPOTCALC
AROMASPONIES
FORYOUREYESONLY
TOFUMONETLEON
AMFMOZONEARTE

(see my Note from Monday)

Thu 10/23/2014A SIGN OF THE TIMES
CHARGESASHIMIS
OUTEATEMPANADA
ALTIMAMORTIMER
XKEELMRUEESA
MITOVENMITTS
OHPLEASEGAB
RITEMERVINBED
CHEDAYSAILAVE
SODOISANSISEE
BATCITADELS
INTIMATESTIM
DOEEOEHIEEEL
LIMITINGDMITRI
ESPRESSOOPIATE
DESERTEDSOILED

(see my Note from Monday)

Fri 10/24/2014A SIGN OF THE TIMES
ORALEXAMSCRASS
REDCARPETZIPUP
GRADUATEDATARI
COMSYETXRATED
HUBASSENTSHOE
ATESTTREESYFY
REDEEMSERTA
TSELIOTTROUPES
ENNISANDALE
JAWSINKSTIMID
UZOLETITGOPTA
LANCESSEAFLIT
ELTONTURNLOOSE
PEONYGINJOINTS
SANKAITSABLAST

(see my Note from Monday)

Sat 10/25/2014A SIGN OF THE TIMES
TRAPMMXLXTINA
RAREAIDEMORES
INTRANSITAMENS
XISLIONSRENEE
CPASPOKIEST
STROHSOATS
KUALAIRRITATES
IDIDNTCATCHTHAT
SENSUALLYERASE
MOABBSIDES
PIEJESUPEPA
ANDORDRANOOER
RADIIIONSTORMS
EPISCUPDOACTV
STETSSEANRASP

(see my Note from Monday)

Sun 10/26/2014Winners' Circle
SCHLUBSSALSASALI
PLAYAREACCLAMPACOIN
HERDULESHHCTORIRREG
SWORNPEPSIINATREE
SLACKESTLENGTHSMOG
HERBELAESCARP
JASPEROPERASPLENDA
ACTORGLASSBATMAN
CHANCOATIBIENTRAP
KINGKONGLEGALAGEARI
PEZFEZFOTOSMUDTIA
OVACRIMINALACIDJAZZ
TESTCLANISMANATOZ
OTILDEBAUERDIANA
KEDROVADAVIDDELTAS
PLATTEHIHOTIE
HAROLOCCITKASPPROV
LILYPADAMUSEBASIL
RAISEINROMESTALBANS
ANNEXUTOPIAASSUAGED
WIGMOMENTDELETES
Mon 10/27/2014
ACMESANNAJOTS
QUOTAPIEROKRA
URBANACRERAIL
ABSDICKVANDYKE
TALESEOASES
REFILLCAIN
OVENPOETSSTP
DEATHVALLEYDAYS
ERRIMPELAPPS
ARIAOUTSET
MEADEJEANNE
DVDRECORDERLOU
LAVAOHIOUMASS
INITONKPLADLE
ISLEPSATYOYOS
POW Tue 10/28/2014
FALCOAMISSGST
ILIACZOWIELEI
ALLTHATJAZZIMA
TATARSOSESTIR
LETOUTTA
DAYSOFTHUNDER
SINSLOANSROY
PSSTTONYATAPE
ACEAERIEOTIS
OLDBLACKMAGIC
GUAVAATE
ANDINBASHTETL
UTABEATTHEHEAT
DEMEXTRANERDY
YDSETHANAROAR

Andrea's puzzle today does something I like. It involves a complete set of things — in this case N.B.A. teams whose names don't end in the plural -s. There's something neat about completeness that appeals to a puzzle solver's mind. Or at least my mind. And as the N.B.A. season opens tonight, this puzzle couldn't be timelier.

Wed 10/29/2014
SELASPIREAQUA
PAIRELLENNULL
FRUITSALADGINA
ORANTIBETAN
ASSAMPANELS
ALPOEGISFAMED
GILPOETKOSOVO
OBIHITSONGKEN
RITUALTRESIRE
ASSNSCOREANTE
CHEWUPBONGS
PARADESBEAD
OPENITSINTHERE
DEEDRESODOLEO
SSNSDREGSWITS
Thu 10/30/2014
FLUIDROBE
PEARCEASONE
SINUSESWHOAMI
CPENDALESDANCERS
PYRESRCATEAT
ECOLPOTATOCRNA
WAGCINRAPMUSIC
ARIZONIANPUP
ETEVERONIQUE
ARCELAGOASKUNC
SISELOCUTELIPO
ECHOKENSOCAL
CHOCOLATECCOOKIE
ETCHERSPORTED
SAINTCENTER
MOSSOREAD

In the print edition (and maybe some other versions) of today's puzzle, the six squares in each corner of the grid, which would usually be black, have been removed instead — to accentuate the cookie's roundness visually. This sort of effect used to be common in grids in crossword magazines, but it's a rarity in newspapers.

Fri 10/31/2014
ROCKBANDSJACK
WHALEBOATTOPOL
ADVISABLESEPIA
NEONSRAWTALENT
DARKRAISETAC
ARTLEIAWEIGH
COGNOSCENTE
BURIEDALIVE
HORRORSTORY
LOOSENETSCDS
APBAMISHTREE
METALLICAKOALA
OFUSEMOUSEOVER
NOBISINCARNATE
TRESCOEXISTED

In Mary Lou's and Jeff's manuscript for today's puzzle, they clued COGNOSCENTE (29A) as "Fortunato vis-à-vis Amontillado, e.g." I almost kept this so the clues to all three central Across answers, including 32A and 33A, would relate to Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado." That would have been neat. But in the end I felt their clue sounded too strained. I went with something more general instead. (Sorry, guys!)