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Puzzles for May, 2022
with constructor comments

Sun 5/1/2022 Blank Expressions
AHALTESCHMOISHNIB
REXREEDSHOOINSDUALIPA
PHLEGMYFORTLEEABRAHAM
WAPGOODNEATSADS
ANGELENOPAPALWARNZONE
DEADNHEADTOGCASUALSEX
LASSIPLANETEARTHSOAMI
ITSDOTIMELOCALSGET
BOYSDUEIBARSHMOSEAS
OWENCLARIONELON
ABASEEWEDMSEIDSUGAR
LANAISTOOKNOVERFIGARO
ARIREEFLAHTIETRESMU
BNSIDESAERATEDHARPNON
ABEFORTASMIOROCKSOLID
MATSSOLARSAILDIRE
ACELUPINEPEDANTNED
KARATEENDUSERGOOSES
EBERTOUSTSSLOPE
SWEATSNITMARSTARNDATE
TILDESNOWPIERCERHUMOR
ADAMSETPHONEHOMEACELA
TENETSEANTOTSTENDS

Despite the shorter theme entries, this puzzle was deceptively challenging to construct. Eight pairs of crossing answers with limited options (the U only had two) all in a set order is tough to build around. In fact, I couldn't fit everything in without going up to a 23x grid. So hopefully people enjoy it as there are 31 extra words to trudge through.

I never thought I'd debut any 3 letter entries, yet this puzzle somehow has two. Glad to see they both survived the final edits.

POW Mon 5/2/2022
ACHOOEDSSALEM
PLANKNYEUSAGE
NEVEREVERRINGS
ERAALIBREADTH
WINEMARIABAE
SCANSBEARSEARS
REALMENACT
LADLEFLASK
NIGELROYCE
HOVEROVERKURTA
ATETEXTSPEAT
HALFASSNAPTNT
AFOULTHIGHHIGH
HANESEBTDARLA
ANGLODOESWEET

Excited to be back in the Times!! Proceeds from the puzzle will go towards #SettlerSaturday funds. Hope you like it!

Tue 5/3/2022
DIALOGEDITALL
IGNOBELNORITEA
MINGLEINTHECROWD
EVOOSCARSENDS
SEDANIPAATE
OMGTANGLEDWEB
ACMESTOLEATA
CHINESEDYNASTY
EONTOTALGNUS
SUITTOATEEOUT
RANTENRECON
WIKIEARLAPLSU
HANGINGBYATHREAD
EGOTOGOIMANAGE
WOWTROYSNARES

It only took 12 years, but I've finally put out a puzzle theme that honors my ethnic roots (I am an extremely un-Chinese Chinese person). My original submission was Sunday-sized, with two other theme entries, and dynasties in reverse chronological order. Will suggested that I shrink the idea down to a 15x, and this was the final product.

It is a little bit inelegant that the CHIN in CHINESE is there because of the etymology of China, which was (probably) named after its first dynasty, although I am told that scholars do disagree. More elegance points might be taken away because it really should be QIN anyway, since we use Hanyu Pinyin nowadays. Please do not spam my inbox with complaints.

Wed 5/4/2022
ZAPTHEDOWICE
ILLSEUGENENHL
TOUCHETYPESCAL
INTROPTSDOPE
GOESONTHELAME
ETNACAMERA
ALANIFSOSETON
REVATTACHEANA
ITALYATTAAXEL
ASLEEPANAT
PASSEJUDGMENT
SANSYENEMAIL
ARCGOTDOWNPATE
NTHATTILAOCHO
DYELEADERPEN

At one point, while trying to come up with crossword theme ideas, I was thinking about how certain theme types have been done over and over again. I guessed that there probably is a puzzle whose theme is add a letter for each letter of the alphabet. At some point, I came up with this idea, which has just a little twist on the theme type. To come up with theme answers, I looked for words ending in é and stumbled upon ATTACHÉ, which luckily worked as a revealer.

My earlier submissions had WRESTLING MATÉ, which the editorial team thought was too nonsensical and didn't match the other French words, and MILITARY COUPÉ, but the team thought coupé was too obscure. Joel came up with GOES ON THE LAMÉ, and the puzzle was saved! My favorite is GOT DOWN PATÉ, which I think is just funny to picture.

I hope you enjoyed solving!

Thu 5/5/2022
FIBKORUNASGSA
AHAADDSALTOCD
MATHTEACHERLIE
IDSAYCORDEN
STIRSOONPEEN
HONSPIRALONCE
COOLDUDEREX
SLITETONACC
DEARTRIPSTAO
TOQUEHULASIMP
ELUDEEPITTOPS
CLEESEEUR
HINTTRIALDATES
SECTSUNFLOWERS
SEEYESTERYEAR

Fibonacci's whole shtick is showing up in unexpected places, so I guess it shouldn't have been so surprising that his name has exactly nine letters, and there are exactly nine Fibonacci numbers that appear in a standard weekday crossword. And yet, when I first made the realization, I truly, audibly, nerdily gasped.

I'll be donating the $750 I'm making from this puzzle to Fund Texas Choice. Access to affordable, safe abortion shouldn't be a political issue; it's a medical necessity. Safe abortions save lives. I hope you'll consider giving too.

Fri 5/6/2022
SEAMAPFLOATS
POPTARTSENSEI
ICESHOWSTOTING
GEMSIPHONTAN
ONEWAYTRIPWBA
TENAMTISTCELL
HEWENTTHERE
WINORGOHOME
WINDOWFRAME
PANESALYANSEL
EKEGRINDSTONE
TATEISNERBEN
SNOODSGREATEST
ADUNITDADVICE
TAROTSRESTON

As a father myself, here's a bit of DADVICE: try to avoid inserting your kids into every conversation. Most people will just inwardly groan.

Anyhow, speaking of my kids, this puzzle was constructed during paternity leave last June after my second daughter was born. I might have even done the majority of cluing in a sleep deprived, zombie state whilst she slept on my chest. I guess she was my lucky charm, as this is my first puzzle to get accepted and published anywhere. While I've been constructing puzzles (ever so poorly!) since high school, it's really only in the last few years I buckled down and put a lot of effort into honing the craft.

For the puzzle itself, I started with WIN OR GO HOME and stacked HE WENT THERE over top. The three middle down stairs were next to fall in place, and the corners quickly took shape after. Totally serendipitous that 35- and 36-Across ended up next to each other as well. As a solver, I love stair stack themelesses, so I was pleased with how the two crossing stacks turned out. I hope you solvers out there enjoy the final result!

Favorite clue I wrote: 21-Down.

Favorite clue from the editors: 1-Across. Fantastic way to kick off the puzzle.

Sat 5/7/2022
FIFTHSMADAM
UNREALOXEYES
JOANNERELENTS
ITTAKESALLSORTS
NEPALAIRIER
STROLLSRAVES
RISENYUMHELL
MIDDIDMEHFEY
STEPTAGTUDOR
NADALDEJAGER
BOOYAHTOPUP
CROSSOFFTHELIST
ARTSIERONESIE
SUISSEROTATE
BETTESTEWED

Although I write the Wordplay column about the early-week themed puzzles, I most enjoy constructing themeless puzzles — I can't resist a pretty block pattern. This puzzle started with the two 15-letter entries, and then I built a pretty grid around them.

I'm thrilled with how the puzzle turned out, and I'm particularly happy to feature 44A (icon!) and 17D (my hometown team!). My favorite clue that survived editing is 56A, and my favorite clue written by the editors is 32D.

I recently co-edited a pack of 16 reproductive justice themed crossword puzzles along with Claire Rimkus and Brooke Husic called These Puzzles Fund Abortion Too (TPFA2). All donations support the crucial work of seven abortion funds around the country that help people who cannot afford abortion and its associated costs (like travel). Donate by the end of May to get the full pack!

Sun 5/8/2022 Two-by-Two
IBMSGOBUSTPDFSSHOP
SISTERSISTERARIAHOPI
MONACOMONACORANTOMEN
LOGONHOMAGETEENS
FAWNSITHKUDOPIBB
ALMAICEINLOUIELOUIE
TOURBUSAGEEXTRAEXTRA
SONTAGHOTSIRSTET
ERRELKOHNOMPSBONA
ASAPYESNOTSARHORNET
ETCETERAETCETERA
SURPRISESURPRISE
CRIKEYUSERDOSASSERF
LEVYNTHIDESMMALEO
AREAAAAEONAPPALL
NAMESNAMESETDKNEEPAD
KNOCKKNOCKRINGSASIS
VOTEFUELDARTCCED
GRECOGOAWAYIRULE
YODABENDPEOPLEPEOPLE
MOORARGODOUBLEDOUBLE
SSNSAMORWISETOTACK
Mon 5/9/2022
TEMPORAMSEEP
KARATJOKEULNA
OUTROOBITDEER
THISONESONME
ITSYTECOKAY
TOOBADFORYOU
AWFULPEETBRB
LETSLIPASHTRAY
ORGTRAMERUPT
SHALLWEDANCE
MAYABOASODS
PASSTHETORCH
DRATICEDHAPPY
ACNEGRAYIRATE
SHAMHUMATTAR

I submitted this theme just a day or two before the Times ran an excellent Ross Trudeau puzzle with the revealer THIS TOO SHALL PASS — so I was initially quite doubtful it would be accepted. I hope enough time has passed since then that solvers are ready for a different take, and that this one feels fresh and sweet. The adage, I think, is at once timely and timeless.

If I were making this puzzle today, I would choose different fill for the upper middle region of the grid; the pileup of proper names in this version — in particular the TEC/JOSEF and PEET/REA crossings — seems far from ideal, especially for a Monday. I will also have to hope that my clue for PARTY BUS [Vehicle you can raise the roof on?] finds another home somewhere down the line.

Tue 5/10/2022
IPODPSALMTRAM
MENUONSETRACE
PREVAILINGWINDS
SUGARHADHATCH
LMAOERIN
PULLEDSTRINGS
IPADOTHDELETE
EDYSSITELON
DOULASNOTIMED
PENTAGONBRASS
EDAMKNEE
HARPSOOHAFLAT
THESOUNDOFMUSIC
MONOGRILLGARB
LYONHANDYETSY

I've always been into music and wordplay, so I liked the idea of a theme that had both, which is how I settled on orchestra section names as parts of phrases that have nothing to do with orchestras.

"Pulled Strings" came quickly and went into the grid easily — I love the wordplay in the clue, substituting "know-who" for "know-how" #dadjokes. "Pentagon Brass" began life as "Military Brass" but I just couldn't come up with surrounding fill that was up to snuff.

I got lucky on the revealer — I had titled the puzzle "The Sounds of Music" in my head, and when I was having trouble coming up with a revealer, it occurred to me at some point that it was staring me in the face. "The Sound of Music" has 15 letters, which was perfect for matching to "Prevailing Winds."

My heartiest thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein for not calling their show "The Sounds of Music" and also to Robyn Weintraub for her gentle-but-firm feedback and generous mentorship along the way.

Wed 5/11/2022
BLOWSITASIAREF
RONALDOTTOPEMO
ROCKINGHORSEMIG
SEETOELICANE
AEONSWILDTURKEY
REVBIDESTEEMS
INEDIBLEHIE
DRUNKENCHICKEN
SCIHARASSES
CRETANSALTCTA
RAGINGBULLBLAST
AMENASKKOALA
NOSPARTYANIMALS
ENTOGRESENATES
DASWOODLEGREST

Why are there random, non-theme-related animals in the grid, you ask? Those are the designated drivers. They're not happy about it either.

This puzzle was accepted in March of last year. A few months later, Alina Abidi's excellent debut puzzle ran in the Times with the same revealer (in the singular). I appreciate that Will and team spaced them out a bit, and I enjoyed seeing how the same revealer can yield very different puzzles. Some lower-brow than others, clearly.

I didn't intend for all four theme animals to be of the barnyard variety, and was pleasantly surprised to discover this well after the fact. #accidentaltightness #eieio

Enjoy! And please party responsibly.

Thu 5/12/2022
UTAHNATHAWAII
NINAOPSADAPTS
PENNUBERMENSCH
CREDITSLIPDOH
CVSINSTA
LAYBODHIAWE
SPORSETITSCOL
NAIVETEBRONTES
ONEEAROYEAIDE
WESSABREMRI
ATWODREF
EMUHAAGENDAZS
FLIRTATIONOREO
UMLAUTNYEWISP
ROASTSSAWNETS

I submitted this puzzle in June of 2019 after adapting it from an early metal umlaut version that featured the theme answers The Accüsed, Spin╠łal Tap, Motörhead, and Mötley Crüe.

If you're interested in learning how to make crossword puzzles, stop by Cursewords Live tonight (Thursday) at 9pm eastern, where Parker Higgins and I will be building a crossword live from scratch. You should also feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or Rossword Puzzles, where I publish a free indie grid every Sunday morning.

Fri 5/13/2022
CHARTSPFOWLS
ROMANACLEFLEOS
ARENTWEALLDION
ISNTANYTAKERS
GETWITHKINDER
ROBOTOPEDSEA
BATONCORDCONK
TCHOTCHKECRUDE
SEATLAYABOUTS
STYLEDCONS
CIORHYTHMS
PILAFRAISEHELL
ADULTSITESADIE
DECLUTTERTRIMS
SAYPLEDDAYS

If you're looking to read a ROMAN À CLEF, we recommend "Cassandra" by Christa Wolf (Jan van Heurck translation)

If you're in the mood for a sweet rom-com like "To All the BOYS I've Loved Before," we love "Always Be My Maybe" and "The Half of It"

If you're seeking newer R&B music than "SAY My Name," we have "Have Mercy" by Beyoncé protégé Chlöe on repeat

Sat 5/14/2022
ASTONISHSTUB
SCREENCAPGOODE
SHORTFALLERROR
AWLSILLYSTRING
YALLNEOPAY
ITISWHATITIS
PROFITSICAIDE
HOMEGYMMENSREA
ELALPOPWOKEST
WEREDONEHERE
SOODASDOES
CONSULTANTSHAH
ADIOSOLDELPASO
MILNEMETROAREA
ONESDONTTELL

Hi! My name's Ada Nicolle (she/her). I consider this a very special puzzle to me, because it's both my first solo themeless in the Times (my favourite type of puzzle to construct) and my first NYT puzzle published after coming out as trans last year. I'm published under my real name, finally. (Any old name you knew me by is dead and I'd appreciate if it was never used again.)

Now, I'm going to be a cornball just thank a bunch of people:

Thank you to the New York Times Games team for updating my previous NYT puzzle bylines with my correct name.

Thank you to everybody who supports my crossword Patreon Luckystreak Xwords+, where I post a fresh new themeless + a bonus puzzle weekly. It helps me afford many costs of living and being trans, and it's where I get to be me the most.

And finally, thank you to my friends and family who have supported me through my transition, as well as the incredible crossword community by my side. In a world where trans people are regularly vilified and mocked, y'all give me hope for a better future. I'd like to give a specific shout-out to Jenna LaFleur and Anna Gundlach, two amazing crossword constructors who have helped me so much in being comfortable with my transfem identity <3.

That being said, please donate to your local LGBTQ+ organizations and transition funds. Legislation in the U.S. is constantly threatening people like me and the people I love, and criminalizing our existence as a whole. It's hell out here, but it's a battle we have to keep fighting.

Now onto this puzzle:

  • INFINITY POOL was the seed entry here.
  • So glad my clues for NEO and ADIOS were kept!
  • Love the new clues for PAY and PELOTON.
  • OLD EL PASO, DM me on Twitter @adanicklmao, I would love free stuff. (Or, on the contrary: other brands who want to prove they are better than Old El Paso, DM me on Twitter @adanicklmao, I would love free stuff.)

Seeya!!!

POW Sun 5/15/2022 Way Out West
METSSISTINEGERBIL
ETRESCREAMINSOLOIST
THEMOTHERROADMARMOTS
REVIVERVONPAOLO
ELITEOMITFOLKSYHIP
ORDEALBASTECORA
PAINTEDDESERTSQUALOR
STREAMERINGUNPACK
HOVKOREANOKSHOOT
ANISEGEMHURTINT
WENTGATEWAYARCHOARS
DEAICONYAKINTOW
SILENTXNIACINIPA
PUSHEDRANDONTDOIT
INVERSECADILLACRANCH
ETESLLOYDEATSAT
RONONMEDSBAITNANAS
PEEVEPANACETONE
CRAZIERROUTESIXTYSIX
DEPENDSENTHRALLPITT
CARNEYDETESTSERAS

My wife Sandy and I drove Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica in the early aughts, and it was among the most memorable of our many road trips together. There are dozens of quirky, unexpected, beautiful and just plain weird things to see along that road, and it's a neat window into a particular American past driving through it all. Highly recommended!

The theme started with the realization that ROUTE SIXTY SIX and THE MOTHER ROAD were the same length, and finding that surprisingly, neither had ever appeared in the Times puzzle. I like crosswords where the grid's arrangement has meaning, so eventually the idea of using state abbreviations to "draw" the road's path came to mind. It didn't crowd things too much, leaving room for the symmetric trio of natural, monumental, and offbeat attractions as theme entries (CADILLAC RANCH was a personal favorite stop). Would have loved to include some old-time classic Route 66 oddities, but on their own they're mostly quite obscure, and I was happy with this theme set.

This is my first Sunday New York Times puzzle, so I'm especially excited to see it printed on the glossy paper. I hope everyone enjoys it!

Mon 5/16/2022
MARESASOFEGOS
AWASHTOGANOAH
ZAPPAWALLVOTE
DRINKLIKEAFISH
ADDEELFREE
RUNLIKEADEER
AESOPRELYGRE
FLOWSWAYSTGIF
EMUALOTGASES
WORKLIKEADOG
BEETNUTSTS
WATCHLIKEAHAWK
DOLTEARLJAMIE
ROLLRIMEOZONE
ELSESCATBEAST
Tue 5/17/2022
GOATSABETAWOL
ARNIEMYNACOPE
BEEKEEPERSTORN
SOWINGNOTELAG
OHOLYNIGHT
OLSONOWLGNASH
YOUTUBESTUNT
SUBTLYALOHAS
SALUTENFUEGO
TREVIRIMSTREW
DECAFLATTE
PATYAMSSTYMIE
ALIASPELLBOUND
SLOBELLESULKY
SYNCREFSPRESS

I live near Chapel Hill, NC and have been constructing crosswords since 2019. Many thanks to the Internet crossword community and especially everyone who's ever test-solved a puzzle and shared their feedback with me.

My favorite entry in this puzzle, making its only second appearance, is 44-Across, which gives me an opportunity to advocate for the more frequent appearance in US crosswords of a language spoken by over 50 million Americans.

Favorite clues of mine that made the final cut include 17-Across, 8-Down, and 58-Down. My favorite editorial addition is the 10-Down / 11-Down combo.

Potential theme entries that went by the wayside in the brainstorming process included OPIONEERS, OCANADA, OHENRY (the writer), OHHENRY (the candy bar), DETOXDIET, Seattle's UDISTRICT, and the late, lamented mall bookseller BDALTON.

Data points for fellow aspiring constructors: I submitted this puzzle in January 2021. I believe this was my fourteenth submission to the Times. The editing team made no changes to the grid I submitted.

Since 2020 I've been posting puzzles on my blog Lexicon Devil. Please check them out if you haven't already. You can also follow me on Twitter and Twitch.

Wed 5/18/2022
SOFAPIPEDVSIGN
IMACLLANOOHBOY
LAYITALLOUTTHERE
ONEDAYLUCRETET
INFOGHOST
PICKUPTHEPIECES
GABSLEWENCORE
RUSSCOWLHANG
ALEASTIOTATSA
FINDTHERIGHTFIT
ERODEYETI
OHMASIDEWILLOW
SEETHEBIGPICTURE
LLAMALAGEREXES
OPTINELOPEREST
Thu 5/19/2022
MPGARCSLOWES
AHANAOMIOVALS
DISCIPLESCUTIN
ALTACALLTIME
MIRRORTEARNS
SPORTEDSCRUBUP
TWINTOPEKA
PALEOPAYTIDES
OLIVIABETH
HOMEICETAKEOFF
LEOEXOSOPHIA
RAISINETEGGS
FLINGSTRIKEOUT
GODNOTOTESORE
SWEARPERUDEN

I call this one "Following Instructions."

My original submission was trickier. Each of the "following" entries needed to be chopped up in order to be understood as instructions:

LIMERICKEY / PULLEY

RESUPPLIES / TAKESUP

ARTHOUSES / STEALTH

REVERSAL / STRIKERS

For example, you needed to interpret PULLEY as instructions to "pull EY" from LIMERICKEY.

So I was trying for maximal trickiness, but the Times crew rightly suggested that they're not so consistent, and they asked me to try again. The set we ended up with feels more elegant and pleasing, I think. I was sad to see LIMERICK/LIMERICKEY go, but overall I'm really happy with the improvement.

A few more clues for MIRROR, from the cutting room floor:

  • Where an engineer may see TIM on their sweatshirt
  • Where mom is still mom
  • WOW — it's the same in one of these!
Fri 5/20/2022
OMNIABUTCLAM
LOINCLOTHOHARA
DOGNAPPERCAKES
SHUTPRESCIENT
MAHOAHUGAS
ARSENICTORME
HOURSUPERSONIC
ABRAPRINTZENO
SOFTTARGETAVID
TEENYDOGMATA
NTHRIFFNOB
IRENECARANICK
CANESVELAZQUEZ
HYENAODDCOUPLE
ESTAROOTESPN

I built this "backward" — beginning in the SE and wending my way up to the NW. Perhaps because English speakers are used to reading, it can be easier to see a grid taking shape when starting near the upper left corner, but some seed entries work better in other areas, where they have more room to breathe.

Here the seed was 57-Across, an artist I greatly admire. He was difficult to clue for a Friday, so I went with my initial inspiration — my late father, who could happily spend all day in a museum. The 2003 exhibit "The French Taste for Spanish Painting" was one of the last he attended, and the framed poster is still hanging in my childhood home.

Another personal touch is my love of geography, which comes through on the right side with the 10-Down/30-Down pair. I'm thankful my clue for 30-Down made the cut — there are many potential angles, from the fascinating history of Indian Ocean trade and the development of Swahili to the Kalashnikov on its modern flag, but when I encountered this fact, it was a pleasant surprise, and I wanted to share that feeling.

Sat 5/21/2022
CARPAYMENTCRAP
OREOCOOKIELOLL
MEDSTUDENTACLU
MODISHJETSKIS
ALITESTARHINO
SATBATHTOYDAN
MARRYUPROLE
TVGUIDEREFILLS
WOODMEATRUB
ITOSETPLANEBB
HEDDASPECAMIE
ADVILPMALLOTS
ROIDHANDPUPPET
DUBSDRIVESHOME
STETSTARSHAPED

RYAN: Thrilled to collaborate with Yacob on this Saturday puzzle! Yacob and I were in the same a cappella group in college (The Princeton Nassoons), and incidentally this puzzle is coming out during Princeton Reunions weekend when we'll probably be together for our alumni arch sing. It was nice to attempt a higher word count themeless than I usually make (and which Yacob is so excellent at making) and I'm happy with all of the great entries we were able to squeeze in.

If you're interested in more challenging puzzles from my end, check out my indie blog McGrids.

POW Sun 5/22/2022 Parting Ways
MDPHDBROPOLWHIM
AERIEIANERATHINE
STOPSIGNSREVERENCE
COGSINCHSOAMIGUT
AXEPIEHOLECOPIERS
RENALWOREATOP
ASYLUMSETCKENOSHA
TMISHOESPAS
DEPOSITIONTORN
AMORCORNICEERODE
RAGEBONYRELEVANCE
ANTGERLTEFAD
NOREGRETSASIANUSE
CHESSREACTTOSLED
IMACANIMATIONS
NATSPLATSRI
INSIDERARKCHAPTER
CECEOATHTERRA
BODYARTINSHAPEIMP
APERERUNHERRSLIP
REVOLTINGMILESTONE
BRINYADOIREPAGER
SALELOTRSSABYSS

Paul's original proposed title for this puzzle was "One Way or Another" (like the Blondie song). His first thought was that the theme entries would have to be on diagonals (with circled squares) because he didn't think it would be possible to have them read both forward and backward. But David thought it might be by using a program.

Karen sifted through many, many single-spaced pages of candidates and, after removing the junk, whittled them down to 10 pages; everyone then discussed the best candidates to arrive at the final theme set.

Having flexibility in the grid size, because The Times occasionally publishes nonstandard sizes, was key to making this puzzle work. The taller and narrower 19x23 size David chose worked well, and he thought it might fly because it "played" like a 21x21 and even had 140 words.

Karen filled the grid, David made some changes, and because they didn't agree on one section (which neither of them liked), they decided they would separately fill it and then reconvene. They ultimately ended up using some parts of each person's fill. The 1-Across entry, MD-PHD, was the most controversial—no one was thrilled with it, especially in that position, but it allowed for the best fill in the upper left. After Paul did a draft of the clues, everyone helped finalize them.

Constructing newcomers Karen and Paul realize they're fortunate to have a crossword editor as a son!

Mon 5/23/2022
BARSGPASASSET
EXECRENTFIERI
ALSOOLDEFLEAS
NETNEUTRALITY
ETCEMIRADS
SETAHAAMULET
PLAYPOSSUMTATI
OLLIEAUGSATAN
KEEPSPELLCHECK
ERNESTYERRHO
NYTPUTTGUM
SHADOWCABINET
ADHOCGILLMAGI
SNOREACAIIDOL
PAWNSSENDCAST
POW Tue 5/24/2022
VANSPALEADCAR
CHEAPENABREAST
RAWSILKPARABLE
FEELEYED
ORCASEELTOWED
BOARTAMANERO
SOLACERIDEIAN
MUSICALCHAIRS
AIMOHIODUMDUM
YENSORBSPARE
NSYNCPEAALLEN
OHNOYOLO
SPACIERSWADDLE
YOGAMATHEREIAM
NEOPETSISMNGO

As a (non-musical) actor and avid musical theater fan who first discovered crossword puzzles as a backstage activity, this puzzle combines two of my absolute favorite things. It's very near and dear to my heart.

I made this puzzle just over a year ago when theater was shut down, and I missed it terribly. I could not be happier for it to be coming out at a time when there are so many incredible live shows up and rocking.

Shout out to any fellow theater folks solving backstage or in the booth and to audience members solving at intermission!

Wed 5/25/2022
PARKALPHAIDLE
IRONRURALNEER
PODIUMCASTSCAR
EMITSIMPOSTORS
RANUSAHEM
CRANIUMAPPLE
SHERYLSMOGION
COPYADAPTALSO
ALIGAIAISLETS
MEDIUMSCHOOL
ERAENDOVA
SCRIMSHAWOASIS
HAMSTEDIUMTALK
OPIEARENTOGLE
TOSSRANGEMEAD

Although I'm happy to be back in the NYT, I can't say I'm too proud of my work this time around. Ideally, a puzzle featuring wacky phrases would have all of them land well, but my thoughts on some of these themers have changed since the puzzle was accepted. Perhaps some of the fill might help improve the solve, but with some overly familiar short stuff, my hopes aren't too high.

Shortly after I started constructing, I wanted to do a theme focusing on the elements, just to practice filling a grid. The idea transformed into adding IUM to the ends of phrases after I saw the "add some letters" trope appear in various crossword outlets when I first started solving. As a rookie constructor, I struggled with the fill and shelved the concept. Later I revisited the idea, but instead, tried inserting IUM in the middle of familiar phrases. I developed a set of themers, filled a grid around them, and sent in the puzzle.

Based on rejections of my previous submissions that I thought were better than this one, I didn't expect a positive response. But to my surprise, the concept was appealing enough to get a conditional acceptance, so what do I know? Not much, apparently. However, the grid needed some revisions and theme entry changes before getting the nod. Thanks to the editing team for their suggestions that helped push this one across the finish line. I'm pleased my clue at 65A survived.

Thu 5/26/2022
ABBAROSSEMIT
SLOGONTAPLOCI
HOURSEEYASPIT
WRESTLINGMATCH
OHDEARNOOROLE
BAARUBDIAPER
ORIGAMICLASS
EDNABIOIOWA
LOWBALLOFFER
ARMANIAASFAT
FITIPSOCHECKS
ELECTIONSEASON
WETSNAIADPLEA
ZUNIGROGUNOSH
SPASSNAPURSA

My inspiration for this puzzle was Alex Eaton-Salners' "One for the money / Two for the show / Three to get ready / Four to go" NYT crossword of May 22, 2019. I wondered what other well-known verse could be similarly reinterpreted, and soon chose a personal favorite: the start of the chorus from Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler." Enjoy!

This one's dedicated to my Dad (who introduced me to that song, card games, crosswords, and so much more) and my son Dan (an awesome kid who recently teamed up with his buddy Alex to compete in the 2022 North American School Scrabble Championship, earning a Top 10 finish in the Championship Division).

Fri 5/27/2022
CATFISHESTOAST
ONEINCOMERULED
LONGPAUSEATLAS
SALSSKIRT
ITTIDESALOHAS
TOWNEWHIREEDU
ARIDDIEHARDFAN
LOTUSNBASEEPS
INTHEWEEDSFETE
ATETISANESLET
NORMANRONASRS
FUDGEISLA
OPERARADIODIAL
WHEATOPENMATTE
SIDLESTAGEMOMS

It has come to my attention that I am debuting the phrase ALL THE FEELS in today's puzzle, and for that, I would like to apologize.

I am sorry. There is no place for this kind of outdated, childish slang in the New York Times crossword. I want to make it clear that I fully respect grammar and always have. I am the son of a mother, the brother of a sister, and the husband of a wife who all use proper syntax.

This puzzle was submitted in November 2020. It was a different time — the world hadn't yet seen the trailer for Avatar 2. I thought it was okay to decimate the English language in print by abbreviating "feelings" to simply "feels."

That was wrong, and I take full responsibility for my actions.

I would like to apologize to my fans. You deserve better from me. Namely, a better vocabulary filled with sophisticated, erudite words like "fastidious," "resplendent," and "delicatessen."

Please know that I am doing the work and pledge never again to use other juvenile slang, such as "amazeballs," "awesomesauce" and "totes adorbs."

This has been a real wake-up call, and today I am a much more humble man. And so I deeply regret that all this has stained what is otherwise a flawless Friday crossword with perfect clues.

I will be taking a break from this platform (until my next puzzle is published).

Love and peace,

David

Sat 5/28/2022
ASAPOCHREDJED
PAPERTRAILYOGA
PASTASAUCESHOD
BEAVSTEPSONS
LETHEHIND
IAMRATWAXRAG
TRAVELEDINSTYLE
ARRIVESONTHEDOT
LIVEINTHEMOMENT
ODEETSTAONEO
LAWSSANTA
WORSHIPSEVES
DIVEORATORICAL
IKEAWATERSLIDE
SIRSSNERDAGED

Thrilled to be back in the NYT for another Saturday! This was my first attempt at a triple stack, and I am pretty thrilled with how it turned out. As a solver, I don't like how most puzzles with stacks tend to sacrifice the more fun mid-length answers (7-10 letters), so I wanted to try to jam as many into this version as I could.

In retrospect, I would probably try to restructure to either improve or just cut off the two outer ones (MARVEL OVER and JOHN DRYDEN are not quite pulling their weight), but otherwise, I hope this puzzle provides some fun beyond just solving the stack.

Sun 5/29/2022 A Monumental Centennial
TVADSPANGOGHSASH
HOBOKEPTTROUTUTU
ANEWBIRTHOFFREEDOM
INTERNETEARCLIPS
LINCOLNMEMORIAL
MASSEYSOULSCRAGGY
EVAFDADOZENFADRAE
LOVESICKBAGBENSTEIN
TWIGPERSKYRUEHANS
ORRDOCNODSET
BUREAUCASHCOWSTRESS
EGOTISMBEARDBOOMMIC
ELFLAPAGREEATVANA
PITASHONESTABEERNST
HOPSWARHEROSPEC
CELLARSPACIFIC
CHUICUTAPPOM
LENGTHSPSEOREGANO
AVIATESRINMAHATMA
WROTETOEDTSBALOAN
SENORSSTERNS

DAN: The extended quote for 21/23-Across:

"... It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

--Abraham Lincoln (Gettysburg Address)

Here's hoping this puzzle finds you well as we get ready to celebrate the 100th birthday of the LINCOLN MEMORIAL (5/30/22). I'm humbled and thrilled to be a part of today's publication. The story of how Lincoln rose to power and ultimately became both the "SAVIOR OF THE UNION" and the "GREAT EMANCIPATOR" is awe-inspiring. In considering his life, I think the thing I admire most about HONEST ABE is his firm resolve to love his enemies and work alongside his political opponents. If only the snippet "WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE WITH CHARITY FOR ALL" was symmetric...

To read more about Lincoln, check out Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals." It is a must-read.

Big thanks to Jeff for slogging through this one with me. The tradeoffs were tough, but the 150+ email exchanges were worth it.

Mon 5/30/2022
STAFFBEEFAMOS
PEARLAMMOLORE
YAHOONOUGATBAR
NOLAPOINT
NEUTRONSTARLGA
EARLLAPELGEES
ORGANORATE
NEWBEGINNINGS
NASALPERIL
SEASSTEELROLE
CNNNOODLEBOWLS
ASTROBEES
NUMEROUNOAISLE
TRAPDREWSTAIR
YENSENDSTYPES

The idea for today's puzzle was a happy accident: back when I came up with the theme, I was sitting on a plane without internet, turning over phrases in my head. Once I became fascinated with 37-Across, it was a matter of implementation. I tried phrases starting with GNU and KNEW, and then worked my way to NEWTONIAN PHYSICS and the like, before arriving at the final product.

Given that I graduated from college in the last few weeks, the publication timing feels especially apt.

Thanks for solving!

Tue 5/31/2022
AMPLELIAMMOSH
NOOILELSAANTI
VOODOODOLLLEAK
ILLSWTSASTUTE
LAPCLOTHDIAPER
ACUARM
ONRUSHPRODONS
LETSPUTAPININIT
EDYSMAWTIDILY
PANLOO
BOWLINGLANENBA
ACHIERICETROT
SHINATMMACHINE
RESTCUBEPANDA
ARTYEGOSANGST

BRAD: Sam and I have been published as a team elsewhere, but I'm proud to be part of his first collab in the Times. I feel enriched by working with someone of his talent and also by having some glimpses into his life as a history teacher and a dad since my late father taught high school social studies.

Having this puzzle reach print is especially satisfying because there were so many levels of decision-making for us. Since we ended up with drafts at two different word counts, did the additional black square help or hurt our chances? Should the revealer be a grid-spanner, or something shorter like "PUT A PIN IN (IT)"? If we kept to the most obvious definition of pin, would the tautness be congratulated, or would the editorial team respond more positively to a variety of pins?

When Sam proposed we flesh out this idea together, he had a worksheet with many senses of "pin." Ultimately, we submitted a version set entirely in the realm of pins as fasteners, so when Will asked us to revise the bottom half of the puzzle and swap in BOWLING LANE and ATM MACHINE for our original DRESS DUMMY and BOUTONNIERE, we had to laugh at the déjà vu.

Another interesting note: After we had this puzzle tentatively accepted, it took us a while as a team to get our revision in shape. Tracy was kind enough to check in on our progress and let us know that since our submission THREE other puzzles had come in with our PIN theme. She would send regrets on those as long as we still planned on finalizing ours. Amazing how the crossword hivemind works!