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Puzzles for October, 2022
with Jim Horne comments

Sat 10/1/2022
MAINBDAYSLIM
EAVEBLARETIRE
CROWDSURFSAVON
HORSEMENYELENA
ANYLESONESEC
PITCHOUTADE
TONELOCPLOD
GERTRUDESTEIN
BASKEGALITE
ALTPOSENUDE
BLAMEDVMIJAY
YEMENISUPEREGO
FREESHOOEDAWAY
AINTTBONDMEMO
TATSSONGALES
Sun 10/2/2022 Le Puzzle
ASSHATFEELOKAYSHIP
NIKOLAADVOCATESTENO
TRICKLEQUESTIONHARPO
SEPALTSEANHORMEL
YDSLOEWSSVELTETINS
AGINOLDIEOHMLOCI
URBANERIOTSTEPENID
SEEMEADDSDATAADELE
ILAYNILEPAYEXTRA
NITMIMESOWERNOTPC
GELCAPOHHENRYOMEARA
FELLAFOOTSPITALAB
ATTEMPTSSINEMANY
GRASSFOESKICKHACKS
EARSPLUSHONKHONEYS
STETEATEASELERIC
TEARATHENSWEANSOKS
ADRIFTCROPAPEUAE
TAUPEALLOVERTHEMAPLE
EAGLEDIABETESCALLED
SASEALTEREGOKNEELS

In Jeff's list of -LE games, he missed the brilliant LETTERLE. Word length is one, and you have 26 chances to get it right.

Mon 10/3/2022
BELBERGSACUTE
EMUIDAHOMATEY
HINGEUPONPRONE
EGGONSIPGPA
AREAMATCHPOINT
DEADMANDEBATE
SETAIOLIDANSE
TINDERDRY
UPDOSEIEIOPCS
SLAYERNOSWEAT
BUMBLEBEESINTO
GMOFIXANDSO
ASIANDATINGAPP
MINTYELECTNAT
ANGSTSTAKETWO

Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII's second wife (of six!), and if you recall the poem — Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived — you'll know she was, indeed, beheaded, as per 1-Down.

SIX is also the name of a recent all-female Broadway musical about those six wives. Anne Boleyn gets the best song. ("Everybody chill, it's totes God's will.")

Unrelated to Queen Anne, I predict an uptick in Hinge sign-ups today.

Tue 10/4/2022
IBMPRODLPGA
POILEOICOHAN
ASTROPHYSICIST
SCRAWLEVIL
SHESYANNIICE
PLAYEDCUPID
CRUSLEWRPGS
RUPAULIVLINE
ANTIMICACAL
ZOOMEDALONG
ENSRAVENETAS
PURRCIARDI
EYESONTHEPRIZE
STEERSODAKEG
ODDSAGEDESE
Wed 10/5/2022
OSLOATBATMEME
RIENROACHOVAL
ARABELITELEGO
LIFEANDLIMBO
IRONSITSON
FINETOOTHCOMBO
FANGSNEEVAIN
LICOCTARCLSU
OLASARFHELPS
JUSTPLAINDUMBO
OPERACHIRP
ALITTLELAMBO
CAINSHIFTTOON
BLOGNOVAEHEDY
DANETRENDSTYX
Thu 10/6/2022
CIVETDDTARCO
ACIDIFIESLOLL
MERGELEFTLOUD
EDIEAUTOMATES
OILINGRAY
STENOALMAESC
ANTEMUCHO
HAWTHORNEPOOL
IRONDATAMINED
NERTSIOTA
TSKHANSSLUGS
SIDTHENOW
COREVALUENCAA
UNIXPARESDOWN
TEATTRADITION
SSNSSALROLLS
Fri 10/7/2022
ZEBRACLEAVAGE
APRONSHANGERON
ISAWITESTEEMED
ROVEOFFSRASP
EMERALDOMGDAL
KERRATTILA
KETANJICOOLLY
BOGOBROWNELIS
ANGORAJACKSON
CABLESASHE
ICEDEFTEASHOP
LOAMEPEETUBA
LATEGAMESHAMES
USERNAMEEILISH
STREUSELMEDEA

Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen win the "first to include KETANJI BROWN JACKSON's full name" race. The new Justice was sworn in on September 30. The Andy Borowitz headline in The New Yorker was Ketanji Brown Jackson Bravely Infiltrates Shadowy Alt-Right Group.

We have yet another crossword co-constructed by Mr. Chen. I presumed he made so many with partners because he was too lazy to fill the whole grid himself, but it turns out Jeff genuinely loves team-constructing, both with established constructors like Mary Lou and with newbies.

In the NYT alone, Jeff has puzzles with a record 51 collaborators. His 92 crosswords trails only the great Nancy Salomon, who paved the way for so many new constructors, including Wordplay queen Deb Amlen. Other familiar top collaborators include Andrea Carla Michaels, Erik Agard, Brad Wilber, and Doug Peterson — all respected practitioners of the art. Some constructors like Erik, Brad, and David Steinberg are also editors. You could argue that every puzzle they publish on their respective venues is a collaboration too.

Building puzzles with friends is fun, but so is solving with friends. If you're a competitive solver, you might barely remember struggling through a mid-week puzzle, bouncing ideas off someone you love, and cheering together when a tough answer breaks through, but it's a joyful activity. I don't have real data, but I suspect most solvers work with others. Try it yourself if you're used to struggling on your own. Or even if not.

Sat 10/8/2022
CREDOREDDBRB
LOCALCOLORCREE
IMAREALBOYAONE
PERKBEARMARKET
SODATAXPORTER
LOLDRUMSOUT
TVSETWAITSPSA
HUESZHUZHWEST
UVALEONECANOE
SUNBURSTTOY
ZEALOTPOLARIS
PETCUSHIONHINT
ALTOTEMPAGENCY
GALSARABLEAGUE
ESEREMYODORS
POW Sun 10/9/2022 Rise to the Challenge
INACOMAHSWEEPSCOT
MILITIAINHORRORHART
SHARONAMAHAYANARUDY
CHIMNEYHDIESEL
TATABEATHCOMMANDER
UVACAMPHONDAUSA
BELARBORHPICKERSFO
ARMORELISHAEGESTED
SUBMARINEHCAMOPILE
EDSELGAHOVAARTS
CLIMBSTHELADDER
DIEUARIHUBENEWS
USSRDCONHREPAIRMAN
NICEJOBCHORALAESOP
ETACHERRYHTULIPAWE
PERTOOTHLILTBIC
TELEPHONEHOVALOINK
SCRAWLHPAINTER
PEONULTRAHOTCENTIME
CLODSEARCHESELBOWED
ALMSHOUSEHSLYNODS

Super fun puzzle!

Jeff gave you a link to find words with at least 4 I's in a row, but what if you want at least 4 of any letter? I'm afraid we're going to talk RegEx again.

Nah, I'll just give you the link.

Pro tip: make sure "Show bogus" is checked to see all the results, because any word with that many repeated letters is likely to be specific to a theme.

Mon 10/10/2022
PRIMPSAPEDMCS
AERIALNATOAHI
SPARRINGPARTNER
TOTEMPOLEARIAS
ATEHERBAPP
TACOYESEWE
SEASCAPEFOODIE
PARALLELPARKING
ASTRALMALTESES
SYDMILPLAY
PEPNAPABAR
SEGUEBOYGEORGE
PARTSDEPARTMENT
USEPULPINANER
DYENOSYPARTWO
POW Tue 10/11/2022
LIARCLADPASTE
ORSOLUCAASPEN
GOODFAITHCHARD
INFEARLEEMRI
COYROCKINROBIN
AREAHEATKONG
LETSPLAYABATES
STARLILY
GATEAUFILTERIN
ADINROOMDINO
PRETTYPENNYPHO
KEGENTYEETED
INANESUPERGIRL
DAMONISITODIE
SLEDSNAGSSETS

Ailee Yoshida is the youngest female constructor in NYT crossword history.

Wed 10/12/2022
KALEBASRULERS
IDEAALYENAMOR
LOWRIDERFORAYS
LSDMARIEVIAL
MUSTANGSALLY
SLUMPSTAPES
TOGAAMIGACEL
ACLFASTCARALE
TOYIGIVEAMMO
TAXEDBIDSON
MERCEDESBENZ
CLUESPLATQED
JETSETAUTOTUNE
ONHIRETRIMAYA
BASTEDESTCYAN
Thu 10/13/2022
CODANBAFABLES
ADAMOEDLIAISE
REBUTTEDOLDMAN
BASSOBLAREDOUT
EGOLADEN
NORMBBALLACT
CHEERIESTALERT
IFCYEAHIGHLIE
SUITEHOMESALES
NPRMETEDTOSS
RADARSEE
PROVOLONESILOS
RECANTSKIPTOWN
ELAINEFEDUGLI
POLLEDWDSPOST
Fri 10/14/2022
HATHAYOGAPLOYS
ILHANOMARROBOT
STUDYDATEENSUE
SODAENEWSGERM
BALIENDUSE
BULBBDAYSAP
TUBASPOOPEMOJI
AYESPRONEOVEN
DIRTYJOKEAVERT
ANDATMSDIRK
GROWONSHOE
ATITPINTOSLAB
RIVERGOINSTYLE
CMEREHANKAARON
SERIFTHESTREET
Sat 10/15/2022
MAGICSHOPSTAMP
AMERICANOPOPUP
RISKTAKERAMISS
ARTSINESSCAST
CIAETCETHNO
ATLASMEHCOLOR
SETTERPETABYTE
HVACSODA
WHALEPODYESMAN
EATENDUHTEASE
BITITPSALIM
LUSHITWASNTME
LINUSEPICPOEMS
ENEROCANTUNSEE
OGDENENGINEERS
Sun 10/16/2022 Terminal Connections
MUCHOSEMIMINORPAPAL
EBOOKIRENECARAATARI
NEWTSDEARMADAMSHRED
RATIOLEONAOSAKA
BIGNEWSLICHENS
BLUENILERELRAMSDOWN
IONTEACEREMONYDIO
TOGACROISSANTBARR
EMARKETINGTRADENAMES
LESSENIGOTIT
STREETREHOUSEILIADS
THUSFARDUNSTDESKSET
EONTASGUVWONAMA
MUSTIESTUSSHONDAFIT
SANDSTONETHEMEROOM
GTAAWEAYEALL
HERHASTRITTRBILAG
ISOGONSCARIESANGOLA
AQUAOTTOMANSETSAWOL
LUNGTHERONETTESZUNE
LEDSETDSSOILAPES
Mon 10/17/2022
ABELEVILAWAKE
TODODANALEGIT
BUGSBUNNYALONE
AGITAMARC
TIEMICKEYMOUSE
SERBDONNEMCED
UTILERELAY
ALFREDENEUMAN
SNAFUCARTA
ITMECOATITRAP
MISTERSPOCKEVE
MAYSANGER
REFERIMALLEARS
AGENTFOREALSO
NODUHYMCATEEN
Tue 10/18/2022
PALGARAGECAPS
ALAICONICOLEO
IFIMBEINGHONEST
LADIESGINGKO
ELSWIENER
BOYOHONDOAHAB
APEMORTDATIVE
RESERVEONESSPOT
BRONTETERPPIT
SANDREARMHYDE
GOBALDGOD
BEAVISEERIER
ANDMAKEITSNAPPY
PAGEEUROPEPEA
TIESSPAWNSYEN
Wed 10/19/2022
DISCSEDGYSMOG
ASAHILOLAPAUL
INVERYPOORTASTE
STEWIAMBADORN
TAPSALANON
INCONSOLABLY
SEEYAILLSASS
INNLATEFEEWOE
SEARVATCHOUX
UNIRONICALLY
LEANEDONES
MAGICTWODAIDE
FRANKLYINCENSED
ATITOKRARILED
OHNOPEENENEMY

Jim here, sitting in for Jeff Chen, who is trying to figure out whether NENE and ISIS are reduplicative or just duplicative.

The jokes in this puzzle, in case you've led a sheltered life, are called Tom Swifties. You don't need to know that, but if you find them amusing, you can now search for lots more. "I can't remember what I was supposed to buy here at the store," said Tom listlessly. And so on. A Tom Swifty crossword relies on the cleverness of the answers, and these are all good. I appreciate that two of the four end, not with simple adverbs, but with phrases. IN VERY POOR TASTE is tasty. FRANKLY INCENSED is hilarious.

LMFAO is clued delicately as "Electronic dance music duo," but we all know it stands for Laughing My Ass Off. Or something similar. Crosswords, at least at the NYT, has always danced close to the edge between titillation and offense, and that edge changes over time as culture changes. Innovative words creep in, sex references are more common, but it's not just an expansion of acceptability. As sensibilities adapt, we become squeamish about certain words that used to feel fine. (Anyone who watches the news knows that describing this as "woke" can praise or insult.) Why is it ok to see IDI AMIN in a crossword but not HITLER? It's complicated. Words like CANCER are avoided even though there's an anodyne astronomy meaning. Let's not talk about the baseball term BEANER.

Who gets to decide if an answer word is amusing or offensive? That would be the editor, and this is a game no editor can win. Will Shortz knows he can't please everyone, so he and his team try to thread the needle as best they can.

Indie puzzles can be instructive counterexamples, often finding humor by pushing traditional taste boundaries while striving to be more culturally expansive. From the perspective of mainstream publications, they provide a helpful laboratory for how their own puzzles might evolve.

There sure have been a lot of IAMB-related clues recently, I think. (Therefore, iamb?)

Thu 10/20/2022
RCAAGESHAPPEN
ARMMORAIGUITY
GUYIVEGOTAPLAN
UMPEDCARSULLY
BOXSETGPS
ETTAHAIRBOW
ASHTWAINBLUR
COLAEONGAZE
THEYHELIOCON
SORORALRISK
EVATAMEST
CHEESDGEHAHAS
HARLEMSHAKEENT
UNABLEEMIREGO
BASALTESTEPOW

Jim here, sitting in for Jeff Chen, who is taking swimming lessons at THE Y.

There are so many ways Thursday constructors can twist the standard rules. Here are some popular violations:

  1. Rebus entries (more than one letter in a box)
  2. Answers entered backward*
  3. Writing outside the grid
  4. Writing inside blocks* (black squares)

1 and 2 are well supported whether you solve electronically or on paper. No. 3 doesn't work well in an app, but paper solvers have no problem. No. 4 is unique in that, no matter how you solve, there's no good way to scribble inside already black squares. This makes people cranky. (We get mail.)

To overcome this solver reticence, you at least need a solid justification. Today's BLACK SHEEP works. Liz Gorski turned all her consecutive black squares into BARs. We've had a Solar ECLIPSE, BACK in Black, black JACK, black ICE, etc. Jeff Chen did one with black CATS.

Do you love these puzzles or consider this nonsense an unforgivable sin? Perhaps it's a case of MORAL AMBIGUITY.

Disclaimer: I was curious how often these various gimmicks occurred. The two starred links above are newly created for this post, and it's likely neither is complete. Let me know if one of your favorites is missing.

PS: What are the answers that hide LAMB, assuming you don't want it at either the beginning or end of the word? Here are the ones we know of. No RegEx required.

POW Fri 10/21/2022
EBAYBASTELAWN
SOSOONTOEIDEA
PLAYITCOOLLURE
NONOTTHATBALE
USACLOTFACADE
BAEBARTON
HANGONASECOND
WAITRIGHTHERE
WINTHELOTTERY
ANDUEYRAN
RETURNBEADINA
COLTCONCERTOS
DAWNDRUNKDIALS
UVEAVENUEPLIE
GELSREDIDEYES
Sat 10/22/2022
ADDISABABAEVES
COASTLINESMALL
ISTHATAYESPLEA
DEABASINSTUNS
PAIREDUHYEAH
DOLLSEASON
TOILETAPUECHO
HINTSATPROSHOP
ANTIIAMPHTEST
MALBECREST
WAGERSLOSERS
IDAHOVISTAMIX
SEMIPOSTALCODE
PLUGITSALLOVER
SETHNEARLYWEDS
Sun 10/23/2022 To Be Continued
ANTIQUESTORESAROMA
LOOMURGESTAXICAPED
LIONENOCHODINHYENA
OCTOPUSTIMETCBYNAG
WESTIEMIRACLEONICE
ALSIOTAHARPONES
SACRACONSNONEARG
ALOOFACEHYPEMUSCAT
GARBAGEDUMPSCREEDS
ANNODINISPYBRARDA
BETWEENTHELINES
PERFARPALSNOBIMUS
HATTERKALEIDOSCOPE
INHOMEIRISNEDDENTE
ETATAKEBDAYRAYON
ACMEMESAPOORHON
DRAMALESSONSUNDOCK
MAREXEDFIREFRESHEN
INKEDCOVEISAIDLADE
NIECEONCESISALORAL
SATONMARTHASTEWART
Mon 10/24/2022
SANSCLEFTACTI
EMITHELLORUED
ROPEODEONMBAS
FRANCISCOGOYA
SETTODAMN
SELMANASAL
ADDDIEGORIVERA
PROPSTAREYANK
PEDROPASCALTOE
SWOONPALAU
PUMAINCUR
JOSEFELICIANO
PSISCRAIGTRIO
DIVACOSMOATOM
AXELASTERSANS
Tue 10/25/2022
DISCRASPMAPS
OREOANTEPURSE
LOEBCAENIDEAS
ANSYELPREHASH
POPTABSAUCE
SNOBBYUNTENDED
TABIPOSELY
TERRANODAPPLE
ICURUNEFOO
SONICAREOOPSIE
CRIESWOOING
SPIKEDGENTTAR
ELSIELAOSVIBE
AILEDOMNIMOOT
REARTESTINXS
Wed 10/26/2022
ROOMBATHATSUCKS
AMPLERHOLEINONE
MARKETRESEARCHER
PRYRHONELOEB
AMUSEOSLO
MASTERSTRATEGIST
CRAMOHIOMOO
JONALLFOURSPAD
OATMOOTMEMO
BRANFORDMARSALIS
OMNICLEAR
DRNONAVALOPS
READILYAVAILABLE
APPLIESTORODEIN
MOSEISLEYSWAYED

Jim here, sitting in for Jeff Chen, who is still telling his often-repeated golf story.

I know, I know, you're disappointed Jeff's not available, and you're afraid I might bring up the dreaded RegEx. Fear not! Today, we talk Python. If you know a little bit about programming, I have a recipe for how you can find words that fit today's theme yourself at the end of this post. If not, we can still discuss technology in crosswords.

Everyone suspects that computers are somehow involved in construction. That might feel like cheating. There were undoubtedly some master craftsmen and women who created impressive grids before personal computers were available, but trust me, the overall quality of fill now is way better than it was 20 years ago. Still, we don't want our puzzles to feel computer-generated.

They don't because computers, at least today, can only take construction so far. Machines can quickly find many alternatives for your fill or, just as important, quickly determine if a corner is likely unfillable, but many iterations informed by a human's artistic sense are needed to create a puzzle worthy of publication. It's common for constructors to spend months working on an idea that might never work out.

Computers help in other ways too. If you're the thousandth person to include EMU or OREO in a grid, you can search the web for an interesting tidbit to include in a clue. If your theme is words that include some peculiar property, maybe all the letters are in reverse alphabetical order, you can find lists of such words. And if you want to find words with no vowels other than E or E is the only vowel, you can have your neighbor's kid write a Python script or a RegEx query after he mows your lawn.

Someday there will be a successful Crossword Turing Test where it will be impossible to tell if a new puzzle had any human intervention. Computers can already solve puzzles as quickly as all but the fastest humans. I hope they feel the same joy I do when I complete a grid.


Here are the promised programming steps:

  1. Crank up your Python environment. (Here's a good free one.)
  2. Copy and paste script #3 from our Python Samples page.
  3. Download the latest XWord Info word list (requires an Angel account) and copy it into the same folder as your Python program.

Running that program returns many results, including all of today's themers, but most are boring: ONLY TIME WILL TELL and CAST YOUR MIND BACK are just phrases. LETT HERE CORD SHOW is better, but "show" is a full word. TWOD RINK MINI MUMS is better. There isn't a lot, and Mr. Seigel found an impressive set.

POW Thu 10/27/2022
VOIDSOUTHORCS
PINAOUTDONOLA
SLOTCREPEECON
BREAKADIPOSE
RAGBRAYSFACES
ERACAFESFROST
DONTWASLYE
ONCEERIVONCIS
NPRCISTALL
AMANAMANICTOW
POWERINONECVS
UNASKEDGOTOE
SAKSCACTIENDS
ICEEHIMOMEDIT
CONEORATESOTU

Jeff is right that finding words for this theme is best done by coding, but just for fun, let's try RegEx.

Transformation at the first letter finds POWER MOWER and the old toys ROCKEM SOCKEM and BETSY WETSY,

Changing the last letter gives us TALL TALE and BREAK BREAD, but also QUEEQUEG and SWEEPSWEEK (although the latter doesn't break nicely in half).

Mid-word transformations like DONT DOIT are also possible but harder on our poor web servers.

Fri 10/28/2022
ATSEAOHMSBAT
DREAMHEELALDO
MUDRAGREYNOHO
ICANTLOOKDOWEL
TENEIDDINARS
FUNTHUSFEE
BURNERACCOUNT
CINNAMONTOAST
ROOKIEMISTAKE
URLGUYSANY
BROTHSAPTSIT
BIGOTLIFEHACKS
IDIGTOFFELENA
SOSOWIFIMINOR
HRTONYXSTEWS
Sat 10/29/2022
SOCIALCLASS
MIRANDARIGHTS
SUNRISEMOVEMENT
ACTINLBSSONIA
KHANMASTSOOPS
SOXHAITIANGEE
CONDENSES
THREEWISHES
SHUNTYIPES
ITEMSCRUSIXAM
DOHSFEINTASTI
OLASINGLETCIS
LIVEINTHEMOMENT
DESSERTSPOONS
SPIDEYSENSE
Sun 10/30/2022 Sending a Message
STAIRSGOITERDESIRE
WENTUPAIRTIMEUSENET
ELNINOMAITAISMELTED
ALANTURINGSTEAMFIX
ROWSEENATALKAMAD
NISSANIMITATIONGAME
NUCLEIIRONSPORTIA
JITSUGNUAPTFRIEND
INOILEASEDEPIAPSE
GRUELSTELELOOKS
SIREVERSCLUNKDAM
BYSEXSHINSCHEME
AEROETCPINGSHITON
STRAYSANIEEKAVERS
MONGOLCLARKSISTER
ENIGMAMACHINECASSIS
WEEANASTURBANOLA
SPYDRAGSCRYPTOGRAM
OFYOREBLINKATADRATE
FOLDERAAMILNENEATEN
TREADSSMILEDASSESS
Mon 10/31/2022
MEMESNARESHOD
EXAMHODORPAVE
NEMOATHOSARIA
SCAREQUOTESPDF
ASSAYPCSTEE
PERTIAGREE
ALIDOOMSCROLLS
DINEPIETASEAT
DEADLETTERSEND
SUNGODPECS
YENGASAWARD
PICGHOSTWRITER
IMAMONTOEPACE
LASESNOOTEROS
EXESEARLSSINS
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