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Puzzles for October, 2019
with Constructor comments

POW Tue 10/1/2019
ROAMAHABDEBIT
ANTIFOIESCENE
WELLDRILLTRYST
FIASCOSIPUHUH
IOSCPAZOOIRE
STEWUNDERCOVER
HASHFDRTIERS
OFFSEASON
AZUREAUKKITT
WETLAUNDRYSTAY
ANTTSOAHASUP
IDESDJSOBLATE
TARPSOPPOSITES
EYEUPKOOKMINE
DADDYETDSBEST

Periodic reminder: the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory is a resource for puzzlemakers from underrepresented groups. If you're interested in writing crosswords (or other puzzles) and would like some tips on getting started, someone to critique your work, or someone to collaborate with, give it a look.

Wed 10/2/2019
CACHESPARWAD
UNLINEDHBOEDU
ROUGDEAOUTSIDE
EDENSNOTTINGLL
DESCMEMOONES
ODEELBOW
WARMERNARCSRI
OTHELLOBATCHES
EMOHILTHELENA
BINDSMTA
ACAIMATARATS
LONGSTORYMIMEO
EDITIONPRETEND
REMTIEEATINTO
TRESLYGANDHI

I am a crossword constructor from India. Professionally, I am an investment banker. My wife Rupali Ghogre and I stay on the outskirts of Mumbai with our daughter Eva (named after my favorite crossword answer) and son Advait. I have been flirting with American crosswords since 1997.

This is easily one of the biggest moments of my life. As an Indian, I feel lucky to get this opportunity to celebrate a great global icon like Mahatma Gandhi. And what better occasion than his 150th birth anniversary! While I have had bylines in NYT before, this crossword is also special in another way — it's my debut solo crossword for the New York Times. This is the day I have waited for all my life!

This puzzle is an outcome of the very encouraging response I received for the Fourth of July puzzle with Brendan Emmett Quigley in NYT in 2017. Having celebrated American Independence Day, I wanted to celebrate India. How cool will that be — a puzzle made in India, by an Indian, on an Indian personality who has such a wide global influence across generations. I immediately wrote to Will Shortz that I had a puzzle idea to celebrate a momentous occasion. Will liked the idea and the thought of celebrating this noteworthy occasion.

I aspire to bring more meaning to my puzzle endeavor. This puzzle is a step to drive home that point — just like the three letters GHI snug closely in a single box. It epitomizes that we can also make space for more people in our lives if we open our minds and hearts. There is space for other ideas. And that only makes the crosswords of our life more meaningful.

This puzzle and the historic occasion have special meaning for me. In today's world, marked with conflicts and violence, every moment devoted to spreading Gandhi's message of peace and non-violence is a small step to make this world a peaceful place.

Thu 10/3/2019
PIECEPAVEEBBS
ENDEDOBITTIRE
DAILYYLIADARIA
ANTSALESOLDER
LESTWORETIS
VANITYYTINAV
UMAMIOREOELI
NOCARBSENMASSE
DOTDOORALTOS
ONEWAYYAWENO
DITANEWTIDE
NAUSEASLOTRUM
YIPEBLACKKCALB
PROSBACHOUNCE
DENTASKSSPIED

Very happy to be making my NYT debut, especially with a Thursday puzzle! Thursdays have a lot of my favorite themes, and I hope this one fits in with the rest.

The original plan was a "magic mirror" theme, where magic-themed words reflected across the center of the puzzle. I found lots of trouble getting the grid to work with me, and I later found that David Kwong executed it pretty darn well a few years ago. Ideas developed, and I landed on the idea of replacing the word MIRROR with a mirror image of the word before it. As a bonus, I got to include BLACK MIRROR, which everyone should be watching always.

I'm happy with the edits Will & co. made; I was very much expecting tougher clues in the final version, and the editors delivered. I'm a little sad that DOT got re-clued as an acronym instead of a word, but the other edits more than make up for it, so I'll live.

A note on ABIERTO, as I suspect it's going to be tough for many solvers: I first had DELPHI/RAISE TO/USA/MEDS as 6- to 9-Down, and I think it's much better fill. It was changed because RAISE TO was hella hard to clue; I had [Set at, as a thermostat in winter], which a test solver told me was pretty strange, so I refilled with ABIERTO. In retrospect, sticking with RAISE TO was the move, but the final version wasn't too bad, and I'm very happy with the finished product.

Hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Fri 10/4/2019
SQUADGOALSSTOW
OUTSIDECATHASH
DINNERDATEAXLE
ATEEHELLION
ESCAPEROOM
IDEALSSMELL
GREENLIGHTTEA
ERUDITERAIMENT
LIENONFACTORS
IDTAGLIKENS
HETERONYMS
PIEROGIOGRE
USDAAVOCADOOIL
FLATDESALINATE
FAYESTARSYSTEM

Solvers might be surprised to learn that 1-Across wasn't a seed entry for this puzzle; it wasn't even in the original submitted version. This puzzle began with the grid shape, which seemed interesting somehow (it's unusual in having a relatively low number of Across entries). I did the middle first, which I do NOT recommend as a construction strategy, and generated a number of variants for the big corners in the NW and SE.

The first version avoided infelicities like 6-Down at the expense of liveliness, and was rightly returned with a polite, "close but no cigar." I swapped in the corners you see today and tried my luck a second time, and I hope solvers enjoy the result. My thanks to Will Shortz and the rest of the puzzle team for their improvements to the finished product.

Sat 10/5/2019
SARAMILAACHED
WRITTENINCLOVE
AISLESEATRISEN
TAKENOPRISONERS
ISNTQANTAS
CLOSESJURY
HORUSQUAGMIRES
IGERQUIRETORI
COMEQUICKSHOAL
BIDETHATSO
SASSEDREAP
BYZANTINEEMPIRE
IRULETOPSEEDED
BURMACLOUDNINE
SPEAKHASPSOON

This puzzle dates back to around the time I finished reading the Harry Potter series (fashionably late, I guess). I started with QUIDDITCH, had the idea to line up a few Q's on a diagonal, and aimed to work in three other interesting nine-letter entries with Q's branching out from the center. The grid began to come together when I found the nice arrangement of QB SNEAK crossing BYZANTINE EMPIRE.

I was pleased to come up with the stack in the lower-right, along with IT HAPPENS running through it, with IDIO- as the only real trade-off. Finding a suitable stack for the upper-left took more time, but I think it turned out pretty well, especially with MESONS fortuitously positioned near ANTIQUARK.

I also like the connection that can be drawn between the two fifteen-letter entries, with the first even clued as an adjective. And although I don't typically worry about the number of three-letter entries in a themeless puzzle as long as it's less than, say, twenty, I think it's a nice change of pace to have none at all here.

I feel like the tone of the clues here suits this puzzle well, and particularly like my clues for 51-Across, 6-Down, 20-Down, and 28-Down. Although I'm a bit disappointed that my clue of [ ___ box] for both JURY and JUICE didn't survive the edit, I do like the new clue for TENSES.

Hope you enjoy the puzzle (AT your LEISURE, of course).

Sun 10/6/2019 INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERINGS
WHIRODEBELASVASSAR
DOMEREXREACTIONTIME
SNAPABTALICEBTOKLAS
OGODTORNNURSESENT
ALOTOFRUDEREEDSNAS
HUNTERSTHOMPSONHST
ALEEAPERPITTOAST
BURDENEDGATBEARPAW
ACCARTHURCCLARKE
FASTAPPHYSICSLIED
GURUSIMOUPSCENTS
ATOMOVERTHERELEGO
SUSANBANTHONYSBA
PRETEENAHSSLOWRIDE
AIRESBROOWESAGES
SADSTEPHENADOUGLAS
BSASPURTOVUMMADEDO
EIREREARSESPYLOSS
GEORGEMCOHANGMCLIPS
ITSGREEKTOMEACELAIR
NEESONSHEARSALSSNS

VICTOR: I powered up the Wayback Machine to share some of the failed themers that Howard and I discussed. EE CUMMINGS (EEC) and DH LAWRENCE (DHL) both had nice initialisms, but we dismissed them so all of the entries would go by name-initial-name, not initial-initial-name.

I am of the perfect age to remember RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON as MacGyver and reading RDA's on labels, but, alas, a 19-letter name doesn't leave enough room to put the initials next to it, even if one can make a defibrillator out of two candlesticks and some microphone wire. Same problem for PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.

MARK PAUL GOSSELAAR's 17 letters would have fit nicely with a block and a triplet next door, but we didn't have a good name to put opposite him, so no go, and we decided to skip all name-name-name types, which also ruled out JUNE CARTER CASH (not clear that everyone would know Jewish Community Centers well enough anyway, so also goodbye to JOHN C CALHOUN). DAVID O SELZNICK and JAMES A GARFIELD almost made it onto the list, and HARRY S TRUMAN might have been there had HUNTER S THOMPSON not beaten him to the HST punch.

So, after all that, we ended up with the set in the puzzle. I very much enjoyed working with Howard, and I hope that people enjoyed solving it as much as we enjoyed making it.

HOWARD: In short, I originally told Victor of a theme idea that I had based on initials that sadly never came to fruition (not even close, actually). Victor resurrected the idea and ran with it, coming up with a nice list of candidates. He developed a lot of solid fill and did some of the general heavy lifting on this puzzle. Co-constructing is fairly new for me, so this was a great experience -

I highly recommend it, Jeff ;).

Mon 10/7/2019
OPTTVSSGT
PRANCEOWIEHUH
FORESTFLOORARR
FTSRODLEAGUE
THOREAUFINESSE
NOWREINER
CHIMESAVIODES
PISAOOZESSIRI
ATTNLAYTHORAX
TRIKESALE
SERIALSLENSCAP
EXACTOOURTUE
VINSQUAREROOTS
ESCOUSTCARROT
NTHNYCTEE

Placing theme entries is always tricky. But when they're pinned to specific numbers, it's a major pain in the asterisk. Add or remove a black square anywhere and watch half the grid fall into misnumbered mayhem. Fix one corner only to break another. It took forever to set all seven themers. As a result, my first submission didn't have a revealer—it seemed impossible to fit in.

Of course, Will Shortz and Joel Fagliano then (quite rightly) requested one. Five months and seventeen layouts later — Q.E.D. The Monday slot feels like getting an A+ for keeping the puzzle relatively open and free of crosswordese.

Lastly, a shoutout to my own roots, as the product of an econ professor and a math teacher who've been solving problems together for 35 years.

Tue 10/8/2019
UMPSEPAELVES
PARERAWOMEARA
STENCILSPEERED
ETAHEMHENRI
TEMPOAWARDALD
SAPORSIZEHBAR
IAMNETALOE
CURLINGSTONES
OHNOSOLANN
RAPTLEESSAYST
DIATENTHIHOPE
IMBADAFTYOU
PERIODCREEPOUT
GLENNSAIMAMSO
AIDEDBAACAEN

I submitted this puzzle on February 24th, 2018, the day Team USA curling won men's gold at the Winter Olympics. Do not miss this event in 2022. 10/10 highly recommend.

Also, if you're looking to get into crossword constructing, and especially if you identify as non-male and/or LGBTQ+ and/or POC, I'd be thrilled to offer whatever assistance I can to help you get your puzzles published. Contact me via Instagram (@rosstrudeau) or Twitter (@trudeauross).

Wed 10/9/2019
HAJJBRITASLAM
ISLETUDORELBE
SHOTAWNINGABBR
SLOTGOATEES
STOKERANKBASE
SONICSWINEENSY
AGEPODALL
ALTEREDSTATES
AMYLEODIP
ADLIBTEENSENSE
REALAWEDAGAIN
ASTERIXTRIO
MIENRACIALINFO
ICEDECOLISEAL
SANSDOWELMODE
Thu 10/10/2019
PDFSKOIBADRAP
HEALINNAROUSE
OMNINOCHSTEROL
NONPCAOKIANT
ICIHASSLESLES
CREDECKETAT
SEMIEYENEBS
WATCHYOURSTEP
SECSSLOREOS
HITETOGARTY
SAPMOMBASABOO
ALEIOTAPROFS
HOSPALSTAYENTS
INTIMEIKEAGEE
BESTIRNAPLSAT

The email response from the editorial team on this puzzle came as an "Almost Yes!" due to the obscurity of one of my phrases — ALCO(HOLE)NGINE. Except for the fun phrase W(HOLE)TTHEDOGSOUT, which would've required an entire grid redo, I struggled to find another phrase with the letters H-O-L-E spanning two words, so Joel agreed that a phrase containing C(HOLE)STEROL would be an acceptable replacement.

After a quick revision, my puzzle was accepted on 1/22/19 — the same day that John E. Bennett and Jeff Chen had their clever puzzle published with the EXACT SAME REVEALER — with my interpretation being different enough (thankfully!), to not be rejected for its similarity to their puzzle.

Regarding similar ideas and scooping, Sam Ezersky recently wrote to me and simply said "lotsa constructors think alike"… and I have to agree. Talking shop with other constructors at the ACPT every year, I am always amazed to hear myself and others saying over and over "I had the exact same idea as you!"

Hope you enjoy my concept!

Fri 10/11/2019
MCSENCINOGEL
ROMAMOOCOWUMA
POOLIMGAMEIMP
ITGIRLSHANDDYE
BIGGUYENDSWELL
BEYSPCAADOS
WHOASKEDYOU
WHISKEYRING
TAINTEDLOVE
BOLTBETAARC
ROLEPLAYINEVER
ASUSUALECSTASY
HONMULETACLAP
MOIPREWARHOLT
ANTSANESTNES

I'm so proud to once again be involved in a project called Queer Qrosswords, which is a collection of top-notch crosswords made by folks in the LGBTQ+ community. To purchase the puzzles in the newest Queer Qrosswords anthology (subtitled 2 Queer 2 Qurious), all you have to do is donate $10 or more to a LGBTQ+ charity and email Queer Qrosswords the receipt, and they'll email you a copy of the puzzles.

Now on to this puzzle, which was inspired by Andrew Ries in many ways. For one, around this time last year, Andrew held a contest to have a guest themeless puzzle published as part of his weekly crossword subscription; this puzzle was my entry into that contest, and Andrew gave me a lot of great feedback.

For another, I was initially inspired to tackle this grid design after solving Andrew's STAGGER SESSIONS, a self-published collection of themeless crosswords that all had this similar pattern of stagger-stacked central entries (that is, long entries offset from each other usually by one square, so that they loosely resemble stairs). What I love about this particular grid design is that it allows you to start with three fresh marquee entries, and then you still have a ton of flexibility when building outward from the center of the grid. I started this one with WHO ASKED YOU, and I liked the way the WH- of WHISKEY RING looked underneath it. From there, it was off to the races.

I'm very happy with how this puzzle turned out. Some of my original clues were way too out there, but I'm glad a few of the weirder ones stuck around, like the clues for ROLEPLAY and EWE. And major props to Will for the great EROTIC ART clue!

POW Sat 10/12/2019
FETAWIDTHSCSI
AMORALEVELRUN
NERFPETPROJECT
FRISONREPLACE
ISAACEMOAMEN
COMMASADAMWEST
NOPRESSURERSS
SECRETCODE
DEGREEMILL
ADDSIERRACLUB
DIALTONESAIGON
VOTEADATEENA
ICESAWSRAETAT
LENSFILTERBENT
PSUARARATRAZE
METREMISSOMAR

This puzzle started with the center stack, and namely the entry at 38-Across. DEGREE MILL is a fresh answer all made up of stack-friendly letters, and it played well in this grid. I remember being unsure if SERENA SLAM was going to get Will's approval; that slot could be SERENADING but I much prefer the former, so I was particularly pleased when the puzzle was accepted as is.

Kudos to Will and company on improving the cluing. A good example of this is the clue for SIERRA CLUB, which went from my submitted clue [Green group] to [Green giant], which is a nice upgrade in terms of surface reading and misdirection.

Sun 10/13/2019 LINES OF WORK
BRADSMENORAHLOWPH
RARERIMANAGESALARY
SOFTBALLPLAYERURANIA
UNFITIOTAOOPSGMC
NCISMARYERMINESARI
GOATHERDSNOOZEPERON
UMSITSPECIALIST
ONAUTOACCRADUSTMEH
PALPSPULSARSPARKA
TAPSTADANICKWOMAN
SCHEDULINGCOORDINATOR
PALEROGRETOUTRHEA
BLANCSAMSUNGSTANK
HIEDELINURSERESIDE
ORTHODONTISTCAM
URBANSCOTIAMAGICIAN
SILTSEATACRACEONME
EGOPURRDORATUTUS
CACHEDEPIDEMIOLOGIST
ATKINSOTTOMANAGAME
TESTSFASTONEBORED

Periodic reminder: the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory is a resource for puzzlemakers from underrepresented groups. If you're interested in writing crosswords (or other puzzles) and would like some tips on getting started, someone to critique your work, or someone to collaborate with, give it a look.

Big congrats to the Queer Qrosswords folks on another great set of puzzles!

Mon 10/14/2019
CARDSDEFYMESS
AVAILOREOOTTO
PERSIANRUGMEAN
IREEMTDIVERT
TABRAGSENNUI
AGINHOTMUSTARD
LETONAINTLEO
VOCALCORD
CBSSAILYACHT
FLIGHTDECKPAIR
CADREDUNEPRO
TEASETTOTEST
SHAMMAKETHECUT
PERMIRISEMOTE
ARMYTONYRUDER

I'm a VP of Programming for iHeartRadio. I oversee three radio stations and host two daily programs for the company, one on WNNJ in northern New Jersey and the other on Z93 in the Hudson Valley. These are music shows.

I also host a podcast on the iHeartRadio app that features guests whom I find fascinating. That would include folks like Sebastian Maniscalco, Chazz Palminteri, Katy Tur, John Sebastian, Tommy James, and a bunch more. They all had compelling stories to tell, but the show I'm recording tonight has a personal connection that sets it apart from the others. Will Shortz has agreed to meet me later this evening to record the next episode of ‘Talk to Me with Gary Cee.'

We'll no doubt talk about today's puzzle and his edits, but I'll also arrive armed with questions I've always wanted to ask. Is there a demographic "target solver?" Exactly what steps is he taking to bring more diversity to the grids? Did he ever imagine that one day crosswords would be critically reviewed? And since we're talking crosswords, how about this fill-in-the-blank: "I'd like to receive submissions with more ___." I'll post the interview on my podcast page later in the week.

Tue 10/15/2019
SKYAGENAPASTA
HOETUNEDHARPER
EATMANTOMANTALK
ELIERUTANTIC
PASSFAILCLASSES
SUNELOTRON
ESCORTUNDOALE
ROEBEEPBEEPCOW
INNYECHATBEST
NITSLISDIO
CATCHASCATCHCAN
UMAMIAHIRAKE
TORATORATORAMEW
UVULASSHREWELL
BISONHEADSLAY

How many crossword grids has the New York Times published that are not square (not counting acrostic puzzles)? I have to admit I have not solved enough NYT crosswords even to make a guess...

My first version of this puzzle was 15X15. The editors liked the basic idea of the theme, but thought some of the theme entries weren't lively enough (and, what's more, objected to "paper tape" as a lexical phrase; having done some house painting recently, I have quite a supply of the item). So back to work. The next set of entries was better, but still had too many dings for the editors, as they suggested fitting the theme into a 16X15 (or 15X16, in matrix-speak, i.e., rows by columns) grid. I had not known that a non-square grid was even allowed, but I was happy to comply. With the new format, the fill breathe better, and, as a bonus, I could make a few more fill entries complement the theme.

So! My next submission will be a 1 X 225 (or 225 X 1?).

Wed 10/16/2019
BEACHATMSIDES
AISLEDUPENEXT
WEHEARDTHECATE
LIEDIASSUTRA
ORIGAMICLUBHAD
PALSLEVIS
CREAMCONTIS
FOLDEDBUTINFACT
ONEOUTORRIN
CRAZYLAME
INTERESTINITIS
CORPSATTNLEA
IDOLINCREASING
ETNAOBOETEASE
ROSYSASSENDED

I know quote puzzles aren't everyone's cup of tea, but this one originated quite organically. I teach high school math. About a year ago I was sitting in the Math Office at school. A colleague, Emily, mentioned the Origami Club, for which she is the sponsor. Being the wag that I am (it's a blessing and a curse), I immediately responded with "the Origami Club? I thought that folded." As I was waiting for the uproarious laughter to die down (or begin, I can't remember exactly), another colleague, Phil, chimed in "no, interest in it is in creasing." Maybe Phil is even more blessed and cursed than I.

At any rate, I'm bringing the donuts to the next department meeting.

Thu 10/17/2019
PLACIDBFACUKE
ADDUCEURLONTV
YOUBETDIAGNOSE
SPLICEDGENES
ATTACHEDHOUSES
PTSMARLENA
AFUSSGALGADOT
FINICRONETETE
LEADFOOTPERES
ARREARSRCA
COMBINEDFORCES
UNITEDSTATES
QUARTETSMOSHER
ESPNSETINTOIT
DEBSTSECESSNA

As with many puzzles that start as Sunday ideas, this one ran out of gas when I couldn't come up with enough pairings on the theme title "Joint Session" for a 21x21 puzzle. I settled on four good pairings and placed them in a weekday grid. Then another phenomenon, not so unusual for me, I tried to create as open a grid as I could, thus only 68 entries. So this puzzle has a theme that is probably on the easy side for a Thursday, but gridwise is more like a Friday or Saturday themeless with fewer than 72 words. The result is an amalgam — an open not-too-tricky themed Thursday.

I have been guilty of being one of those constructors who enjoys the challenge of creating grids with "chunky" white sections just because it gives me personal pleasure to interlock long entries. Often this results in some not so great short entries, and I might not get as clean a puzzle as some solvers might like. I believe when constructing crosswords, the solver's pleasure should be paramount, but I confess to being a little selfish about not taking simpler routes to finish themed puzzle constructions by having more of my grids use the allowable maximum of 78 entries.

I also challenged myself by having stacked the longer theme entries. This too creates puzzle construction challenges that are probably otherwise avoidable, but I like the challenge of lining up not so easy to find crossing entries that are restricted by a series of crossing adjacent pairs of letters created by the theme entries. Answers like GAL GADOT, ALAN HALE, REORG, LEADFOOT, SIDEBURNS, and COSTCO are not found often in themed puzzles, but I think they are interesting enough to make up for a less elegant partial like A FUSS or the crosswordese Jewish month of TISHRI.

Anyway, as with many of the puzzles I have constructed over the years, I have learned you can't please everyone every time. But I continue to try my best to please some of the solvers most of the time and continue to enjoy puzzle construction as a hobby that challenges me and indulges my love of wordplay, symmetry and the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Fri 10/18/2019
INITALICSAMWAY
DATEMOVIEVOILE
EVERYVOTECOUNTS
MYNAIRISHCREAM
BONYRANDR
COMINGERODE
HAUTEGLAMORIZE
AHIGUIDEWAD
OUROBOROSAGING
REBUTEMONEY
PEDALSLOE
ILLITERATISURF
TURNSTILEJUMPER
CTEAMCANADADAY
HOYLEONTHEDOLE

Well, I'm glad to say this one came easier than my Times debut this past spring, but it was not without its challenges. While the top and bottom stacks were pretty much set from the get-go, the editing team rightly dinged me for some questionable fill in between. Luckily we were able to meet in the middle, as it were, and the result is what you see here. Thanks again, guys.

There are a few clues I wish had survived the final edit, notably 20-Across ("Mudslide component" — more fun than giving away the store with the brand reference, no?) and 10-Down ("Its name comes from the Aztec word for testicle" — so evocative, and once you know it, you can't un-know it).

One thing I almost always enjoy in solving themeless puzzles is the challenge of sussing out a tricky long answer by chipping away at the intersections. Hopefully, I've provided that opportunity for some of you with those behemoths at 17- and 54-Across.

Lastly, speaking of 17-Across… [Climbs up on ramshackle but still sturdy soapbox] Please be sure your voter registration is up to date. And then vote! Learn more at the nonpartisan sites vote411 or vote.org.

Sat 10/19/2019
TACOTRUCKZAGAT
ADENYEMENATONE
TOLERABLEXANAX
ARTDEGREEIDEST
RESAISLESEAT
NONETOOALAN
LOVERSLANEDOSE
ORAMAGENII
CANEWESTBENGAL
INGAPATHAND
GUNBARRELCUD
BEALEWILDPARTY
DARIAOVERAGAIN
ADDONREFINANCE
YESNOMRTCEREAL

Solvers of last week's Saturday Stumper (Newsday) got a big hint for 56-Across. The clue for MR T. there referenced the cereal. Hopefully, everyone else has seen "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," where the cereal has an appearance. It was Tim Burton's directorial debut, and I pity the fool who thinks he's made anything better since.

POW Sun 10/20/2019 BE PATIENT
AMMANBITES
CLAIRELAGAMECHE
SHALLOWDIPLOTINHATS
AIRBEDSEASELANTONIO
GAMERREARENDERSEDER
EPICPONDTEAMDONT
LESBLOOPIKNOWNNE
YTTRIUMOCCAMGRANGER
URNSORATESIRI
RATEDGCLIPARTBENICE
ERASIGHBODEMUSMEG
DAMPNOUNTHANSHAG
IGORGOTITFIENDPOSE
DORISDELIVEREDTIMED
NAVAJOELITEELATES
IVANITEAPLUMS
EVILOMENSMIAMIHEAT
BIGEYECAVEMANPLINTH
ECIGSKELETONKEYNERO
RAVEOPERATIONEMIR
TRESITSYEASTDYAN

This was a lot of fun to make! (And looks like the red nose made it at least to the web solution, not sure if it'll turn up in print or not). Shoutout to the editing team for the back-and-forth (originally, I was fine if the post-operation word was short and uninteresting, if the hidden part sparkled—I had THIGH in GOT HIGH, leaving GO—but eventually was able to find a set that balanced the clued word and the gettability of the grid entry). Shoutout to friend and Python wrangler Kyle Mahowald for helping me brush up on my scripting skills! I'm a really big fan of out-of-the-box Sunday puzzles, hope this one tickles your funny bone.

Mon 10/21/2019
ESPNASAPHAIKU
LUREGOGODANCER
KNOWSONESONIONS
DOGSENGNSA
NOAHDUNST
LONDONMARATHON
ICESTAREXCEL
FANTHREEONTRY
ERICANORPAUL
BLONDEONBLONDE
PLAITIKEA
IRAINGABLE
SECONDHONEYMOON
TURKEYTROTONLY
OPEDSYENSNODE

Hope you find this puzzle ON point!

I remember debating whether to go with the theme pairing BLONDE ON BLONDE / LONDON MARATHON or MONSOON SEASON / LONDON, ONTARIO - it's a bit inelegant that the second ON in BLONDE ON BLONDE is "on." Ultimately I decided to go with what I thought were the more colorful entries, though I'm still a bit torn on that.

It also would have been nicer if the bigram "ON" only appeared in the theme answers and not the fill. Were I making this today I think I would have tried to make that work.

Tue 10/22/2019
DISKAMPEREFTC
OCHOHOORAHOWL
GEORGEBURNSMIA
CREAMTOTHENS
TOTALTYRABANKS
ALIALASTARTLE
IDEDEDUCASES
ROSAPARKS
AESOPSINSAID
BREWERSMATITO
SEANCOMBSHARSH
CALSSALNACHO
ODEJEREMYIRONS
NEGATTAINELMO
DRSMOSTLYSEED

I'm extremely excited to be making my NYT debut! I'm a 17-year-old high school junior from Washington, DC, and I made this puzzle for a school project. I know it sounds crazy. But, in tenth grade, we were asked to do a "personal project" about something that piqued our interest. I chose to take up constructing crossword puzzles. My mom, older sister, and grandfather love crosswords, and I had just gotten into solving puzzles myself. My English teacher, Tom Heilman, is an experienced constructor who guided me through the process and gave me great advice. Some of my classmates made fun of me because everybody was researching ways to save the world while I was trying to come up with a perfect puzzle, but it all worked out in the end.

I came up with this theme at the dinner table with my family. It started off as famous people whose names are also sentences, with BILL WITHERS instead of SEAN COMBS. I built and filled a grid, only to realize that focusing the puns on jobs would be more interesting. Creating a clean fill was a struggle because I was an inexperienced constructor, but I finally managed to come up with something that seemed worthy of submission.

I'm very happy about the way the NW corner turned out. I love the combination of 2-Down and 3-Down. My favorite clues in the puzzle are [Howl of happiness] and [Muppet with a smartphone friend named Smartie].

I'd like to thank Will Shortz and his team for the great feedback, edits, and clues. I hope everybody enjoys!

Wed 10/23/2019
JAVAPUPALSPAM
OPENAPOLOSLATE
YETIPORESHARES
MOUNTVESUVIUS
ARIANAESPNSPY
FORTUNEPUTT
OVERSRABIDUSES
RENOFAVORSNEAL
EDENISITIRANGE
SALETHEBOLD
SECSERBINURES
PLINYTHEELDER
RETIEEAREDGAZA
INEPTADAGEEKES
GADSDYSONRANK

This puzzle was inspired by an exhibit on Pompeii at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. Accounts differ, but Pliny the Elder probably died trying to rescue his friends from Herculaneum. As Pliny's vessel approached the shore, volcanic debris began to fall on him and his crew. The helmsman advised a retreat, but Pliny replied, "Fortune favors the bold."

Thu 10/24/2019
SNUBAGRAMELBA
PERUSAILALIAS
OMITBUTTHEBEST
TOSNEEZEATOGRE
ELSETOWEAR
HINTATHIPPO
AMILOVESTURNS
MUCHSALADTOIT
SPEARSPYONFLU
NOTESROILED
BURGERLIES
ASISUPMYSLEEVE
LEFTBEHINDAMID
MILERANNASMOG
STENOTHEYYALE

Let's see. I don't have a lot to say. Here's a video of Dr.Fill solving the puzzle.

Needless to say, DF has no trouble here — all the entries are actual words, relatively uncommon for a Thursday! DF was glad to get the break. :) [Not to mention the fact that the words were obviously all in my dictionary as well. I do try not to reuse clues from my clue database, available for free.]

As usual, Will Shortz changed a decent number of the clues. In general, he improved things (as always!). Still, I was sorry to see [Lady Macbeth's concern] disappear for 1-Down and was pleased with my original clues for the 5-Down/6-Down pair, which were [Medically dangerous fibrous material] and [Medically useful fibrous material]. I also had [Muffin type?] for 37-Down; is that allowed in the current political climate?

One final tidbit: I have never put a fill-in-the-blank clue in any puzzle I've submitted to the Times. I figure if Will wants a FITB clue, it's always easy to put one in. So any time you see an FITB clue in a puzzle of mine, it's something that the editorial staff provided.

I hope everyone enjoyed the puzzle!

POW Fri 10/25/2019
GULPTOMSALEM
ONBALANCEALEXA
WHOCANSAYGLITZ
NIMPLATEAUTRY
STBASILDHARMA
RUNEAREOLA
ITDEPENDSOPTIC
TARASOUPSLIFT
SCARFWHATGIVES
YOGURTNILE
SOGOODGLASSED
CANSTABLEDTAU
ALERTWRITLARGE
VAGUENASTYFALL
EDGEDTHOBYES

This crossword was submitted in June 2018. I was trying to think of ways to write a clue for 10-Down that would be a good example, like "'Bum bum buuuum, bum be dum, bum be duuuuuum' for Darth Vader." But that probably doesn't cut it. Hope solvers enjoy the puzzle!

Sat 10/26/2019
BLACKCATDATE
METOOISMMOTHY
WARRANTSBIGLIE
SPINNERMORDANT
SUEALEXONME
MATHLETEOTIS
LEOPARDPRINT
OJSALLRISESTS
BREAKDANCERS
APESONESTEPS
MATSVERYION
ACHATESSAKECUP
EMINORITSAGIRL
RANGYBEATEASE
ANGEIMPELLED

[Biden time?] is so dumb — I've never been so surprised to see a clue survive the edit. Happily surprised! Dumb humor is pretty much my wheelhouse.

I wrote a puzzle for the second iteration of Queer Qrosswords, a wonderful collection of puzzles for a bunch of great causes. I highly recommend picking it up!

Sun 10/27/2019 HOW SWEET IT IS!
WMDBARONMASSESWEAR
HOEOLINEULNARUHURU
OVENTIMERMMIIIGABON
PIPETTEDEMOCDLARIAT
PEDALSTINKGARTERS
ESOTERICCEDEREDO
REWCAROMSORTAANDUP
STNACTNOWISOPODRDA
OPEURALRENDEDY
KELPSLANAICRAZYEYED
ISEECANDYSTRIPEHERA
STARLINGSLAUDEHORSY
SAPINTODERNSOW
ETAFEELMEACCOSTMIA
SETHERAILSHAUNTACI
ISONLIENDISASTER
PILLARSKNEESMATCH
ENDIVEEYESUPETAGERE
ENOTEATWARRURALAREA
PIPERORATEEMILETAD
SEARSKEYEDEPEESOMS

Hi again, Crossworld! Excited to be back with a second puzzle, and especially psyched to publish my first Sunday. Very sweet, indeed.

This puzzle started as a 15x15 weekday puzzle, where I set out to find some grid-spanning themers to create a visual effect — the original theme set was PEANUT BUTTER CUP, MARSHMALLOW PEEP, CADBURY CREME EGG, and PEPPERMINT STICK. I was happy to find four solid 15-letter entries but didn't love that some were brand names and others weren't.

Then I noticed that two of the four were Easter candies, so I went searching for a third, but the best I could come up with was CHOCOLATE RABBIT. Close, but I couldn't get behind it in the end. "Chocolate bunny" feels so much more in the language and the fact that CHOCOLATE RABBIT had never appeared in a puzzle before convinced me that I was stretching. (Imagine my amusement when it debuted last month.)

Back to the drawing board. After a few dead ends, I started exploring the idea of allowing the stripes to include black squares, and it blew the whole thing wide open. Even after applying the constraints that the themers had to be a) words or phrases that could be clued in non-candy ways, and b) actual candies (no gum or mints) there were still plenty of options to work with. So many in fact that it practically demanded to be made into a Sunday puzzle. I had never attempted a 21x before, but it felt like the right time to try.

The final hurdle was the placement of the revealer. It became clear early on that it would need to cross some themers. The fixed vertical stripes didn't allow much room to maneuver, but eventually I saw that I could cross MOUNDS with CANDY at the D. That created a symmetrical 6-letter theme slot, second letter R. I went back to my candy list and had a Hail Mary moment while scanning the 6-letter entries, and there it was — the linchpin of the entire puzzle, and my favorite candy bar at that! You could almost hear an audible click. Or maybe it was a crunch.

I have to say — as gratifying as the "aha moment" can be as a solver, it's nothing compared to the moment when a tricky construction crystallizes into a reality.

Despite the original plan to make this an Easter puzzle, I hadn't intended for the final product to be tied to a holiday. Hats off to the Times editorial team for making the connection and running it today.

Mon 10/28/2019
OSCARCARBOTS
PHOTOTONYANIT
TAKEAGANDERIMO
SHEDATABROIL
ARIANAGRANDE
KAPLANPLANB
ISAACSANEGALL
NEVESTREETGOO
GALAPUMAINERT
ORIONAMULET
COVENTGARDEN
IMSADDAHLIMP
TEDOUTOFDANGER
EGOOPARTGOOSE
SAGRIPESTRAY
Tue 10/29/2019
TRAPAMOKNINJA
REMOLAMAIMACS
OVALINITPOUCH
JONLOVITZPUSH
AKALEAGOTEAM
NESTSCSPANASA
EEKHALSTEW
JENNIFERLOPEZ
COLDCEEORC
DADSKYPEGANGS
SNORESNSAORU
BRIMJASONMRAZ
NAACPAMINAUDI
CEDARYOGIISEE
OZONEZINCSHAQ

This is a bit of an odd theme, and apparently Will Shortz and company were on the fence about it for quite some time. Of course, I'm glad they gave it the go-ahead in the end! I came up with this theme after doing a fairly run-of-the-mill initialism puzzle in the Times a while back (no offense to whoever's puzzle that was!). I was trying to think of the jazziest possible initialism revealer, and Jay-Z sprung to mind right away. Unfortunately, JACOB ZUMA doesn't exactly make for great crossword fare, and there wasn't much else besides. But it occurred to me that the dash could also be interpreted as "to", as in going from J to Z.

Maybe you'll find it to be a bit of a stretch, but I at least hope you enjoy this rather Scrabbly Tuesday offering. Happy solving!

POW Wed 10/30/2019
DALIROBCZECHS
ANAPHORAPROSHOP
BECHAMELEONLINE
MOOREISSUEPEA
POSTDOCTOPUSSR
INTOOPUSGRIT
TEEDECAFSIGN
CAMOUFLAGE
TODOLEAPSADD
AIDSLIDSALOE
PLEAFINSECTION
AKCCREELGAMER
GALILEOPARDONME
ELISIONGOESSTAG
SIPHONALTTOTO

Getting these critters that use camouflage to split across symmetrical rows was quite a challenge, and I tried many arrangements before settling on the one you see. My three goals were splitting the critters in surprising ways (BECHAMEL/E! ONLINE is my favorite example), making sure none of the resulting answers felt like trade-offs (e.g., splitting LEAF INSECT at SECT to make SECTION rather than at ECT to make the prefix ECTO), and having at least two letters from a critter in each theme answer.

For the nonthematic fill, I made smoothness my top priority, since it's so easy for a theme-heavy puzzle like this one to get bogged down by subpar short answers. I went up to the maximum allowable word count for a 16x15, used extra black squares liberally, and fiddled around with the ordering of the theme answers until I'd squelched as many short stinkers as I could. I hope you enjoy!

Thu 10/31/2019
ARMUNLOADMUD
LOAPEIRCEMINI
ETCSOCCERBALLS
CHALICESIRONIC
REDOUSAETS
HOOTENANNIES
IPOTODOTRAM
YANKDEVONLIRA
ALSOIMANDER
IMSPEECHLESS
GASECOHOES
AVATARAMALGAMS
DOUBLEBLINDWOE
OWNSTRANCEART
TSAEASTERYES

Happy Halloween!

I'm a sophomore at Rutgers studying computer science. I have been interested in puzzles for a long time, but an email from my parents years back about a New York Times puzzle subscription introduced me to crosswords. I quickly became interested in constructing them but eventually realized that I needed someone more experienced to motivate me and guide me along. Thanks to Jeff, who expanded on my basic theme idea and demonstrated to me his process for filling a grid.

Thanks also to Kameron Austin Collins and Peter Broda for their early advice and aid, as well as the NYT puzzle team (hopefully I'm not forgetting anybody!).

As for this puzzle, while it may be trick-y, I hope it's a treat.

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