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Puzzles for July, 2022
with constructor comments

Fri 7/1/2022
ATTAATEFORTWO
FLOWNPOLARBEAR
LEDINROLLAGAIN
ORIGAMIILLPTA
UTENACHOSPOET
REFIGOATNOTRE
DOCENTSSOD
RIDESHOTGUN
CATTHRONES
PSALMHAHAKEPT
RATEBEGETSDRE
ALTSAGLAUGHIN
YOUGOGIRLMEETS
DONOTIRONMELEE
ONEPOTATOASPS

CHRISTINA: I'm thrilled to be sharing a byline with one of the best themeless constructors in the business! Caitlin and I connected three years ago when I reached out because we were both stay-at-home mom constructors at the time. We bounced ideas around relating to nursery rhymes, but never ended up making a themed puzzle. About a year and a half later, we reconnected and made this puzzle, with I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT as a seed. As the grid evolved, only the TEAPOT remained, but I think the puzzle is better for it.

I learned so much from Caitlin about themeless construction. Her puzzles are always so sparkly and clean, which I always strive for in any puzzle. She pushed me with this one to keep reworking it until we were 100% satisfied with every section.

CAITLIN: As Christina mentioned, we've been looking to collaborate on a puzzle together for a while now. I'm excited that that time has finally come!

Christina is a pleasure to work with and diligently aims for clean, fun fill. It's no wonder the LA Times wanted her for an assistant editor! A lot of my favorite fill and clues we submitted were hers like 57-Across and several other cute ones that sadly ended up on the cutting room floor. I also loved the editing team's clue for 18-Across. Hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Sat 7/2/2022
THESCREAMPATIO
HEXAHEDRASLASH
WALLABIESSINAI
ADONUTTATKIT
CIVETSGELBIDS
KNEWTURKANNO
GREATRECESSION
THISONE
NETFLIXSPECIAL
ORALGRAYPSAS
SEXYHATDRATCH
EATUSBFEEROE
ADIOSBALLERINA
REMAPICALLEDIT
TREKSTEXASTECH

If I recall correctly I saw a tweet by Jason Alexander saying he feels dumb when it comes to weekend crosswords, so I figured I would put his (14-letter) name in a themeless puzzle. Yada yada yada, many iterations later, and NETFLIX SPECIAL ends up in the JASON ALEXANDER spot!

Sun 7/3/2022 Expansion Pack
OSLOUNFITHELPBEAST
RHEANORAHETALELLIE
BOTTOMLINEACRECAPRA
SOSMETEOLDERBROTHER
GRATEDTASTYIMEASY
STEINETHNICONES
PUTTINGGREENANDSWAH
ATOZEAGERANTSAHME
NUNFALSETRUTHFLAIR
WHIRLPEORIALETGO
ASIANINCONTACTARSON
BUTTEVALUESNASTY
USHERAPARTSPOCKOAK
THISANEWBOOTHMULE
SITACTSCHARLEYHORSE
PSISALECTOITSON
ATARUNSMACKSCATHE
GIVINGTHANKSHULUCON
AMENDHANGTHIRDPARTY
TERCEUNDOAERIEREIN
ESTERSTARBETONETSY

The idea for this puzzle came from the way my university assigns email addresses: first initial plus last name (plus a number, but I left out that part). In my initial submission, the cluing reflected this origin. For example, the clue for 23-Across was [Name: Takeaway. User ID: Direct path], giving one clue for the full answer ("name") and one for the abbreviated answer ("user ID"). The editorial team suggested the different framing that you see in the published puzzle, and I think it's a big improvement!

Mon 7/4/2022
YSLFREAKSWAM
ATEBANTAMMERE
PASSINGTHETORCH
ARLOALOEGEL
TRIPLECROWNHIC
YESIDOSTOOGE
LESSIMHO
ASPIRINTABLET
BTUSLETO
OBRIENROYALS
TOETOWNANDGOWN
THATTOOERAS
STATUEOFLIBERTY
KONASLEEVEIAN
IMDBFETEDETC

My first try at this puzzle had SUPPLY CHAIN as a theme entry — Lady Liberty is indeed striding over a broken chain, but it is half hidden by her clothing and difficult to see from the ground. The editors nixed that one. I would have rather used robe than gown, but we couldn't come up with any decent wordplay for robe.

I think 72 words with some difficult entries like ARC LIGHT and AT BOTTOM will be pretty challenging for a Monday, but we'll see what solvers say. I like the powder puff clue the team came up with for LILI because its proximity to EDER makes that a challenging area.

POW Tue 7/5/2022
LAPSSALADMINE
EXITIMAGEEMIR
ALSOLADENRONA
FEARLESSMAGNET
YENSBABE
GRABATVARYRED
ROLOBLANKSPACE
ACTORELFSUDAN
SHAKEITOFFTORT
PERDOORROUNDS
SOWNHEAP
BROWSEDEARJOHN
YURIYOINKOBOE
OLAFOUNCEBIAS
BELTURGEDSEXT

Hi, we're Margaret and Eileen — so excited to be writing to you all! We're both medical students at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Margaret grew up in Poland and started solving crosswords to improve her English after moving to the United States at age 16. For many years, we were (almost) daily solvers, but had never considered constructing until we met each other.

We started working on this crossword a year ago while on vacation together in Maine. We picked the Taylor SWIFT theme because:

  1. She's fantastic,
  2. We wanted more crosswords with women and by women, and
  3. People who like words should give her music a try.

As Taylor alludes to in one of the hidden songs mentioned above, there's nothing more frustrating than trying to solve a crossword and realizing there's no right answer. We hope you don't feel that way solving today. Please feel free to reach out to us about anything Taylor- or crossword-related (eileenw@bcm.edu, Malgorzata.Nowakowska@bcm.edu).

P.S. Eileen here. On a personal note, despite my best efforts over many, many years, I have yet to fulfill my greatest life goal: meeting Taylor! (Well, and becoming a great E.R. doc.)

Wed 7/6/2022
JACKBRAGAALPS
ACHERERANWAIL
BEANIEBABYMICE
SSNTRIPCARAD
CPARAYBAN
PRELLTHEUNAPP
ROSASHOWBOATER
UGANDALENTTO
DERBYHORSETREX
ERESINAITEARY
SOBERSESC
OFTENETASTAD
NOSEMAGICTRICK
TRAYAGENTEVEN
OKRADOMESVERY

Sam Koperwas: When our high school-age son was waiting for a friend to come by, we decided to whip out the chessboard. We both knew how to play — the horse goes like this, the castle (also known as a "rook") goes like this... et cetera. Friend comes in, sees me about to make a move, says, "Whoa! You can't go there. You do that, then he'll go here...." Son and I exchange a look. Hmmm, guess that's how you really play this game.

So after my first few submissions came back from the NYT with polite but blah responses, I reached out to Jeff Chen, who I was advised might be generous enough to work with and mentor a new constructor. Soon enough, after some trial and error — okay, much trial and error — wa-la! — my first puzzle in the Times! How cool!

That said, a word of warning. Do not get involved with this guy... unless you want to learn how to really play this game. So tip of the hat to Jeff (pun — couldn't resist), but to make a clean, tight, and enjoyable puzzle — it's a lot of work! And also highly gratifying. I'm glad to commit to the effort and look forward to the next opportunity.

Thu 7/7/2022
ABRABARBSOFFS
BROTINUREWRIT
YOUONLYLIVELIVE
SIGNALEDENVET
SLEEPYERATO
DEBTSSCOLDS
ASPOAKSTROUT
BLINDBLINDSTUDY
LASERITOOSEX
EMCEESSTOAT
ORATEFLIMSY
ELSMATHUPTAKE
GOODYSHOESSHOES
GLUEINUSEERIE
YARNSORTSDINS
Fri 7/8/2022
STATUSQUOINTOW
LEMONCURDNUHUH
ITSTOOBADERATO
DOTETINSSTIRS
NEMOTUMSULAN
LINTSAYGRACE
CROPKLEENEX
MIRAGAEVADDT
AREAMAPRARE
GODSPEEDNUMB
INTODRUBPOLS
CRICKWAIFTOTE
AUDIOARTEDITOR
CLEANSTOLENCAR
TESLAPENLIGHTS

Following a period of constructing themelesses with black squares laid out in advance of filling (including the SPREZZATURA themeless from April), I changed approach here, starting with STATUS QUO at 1A and letting the grid design emerge organically as dictated by the fill. (This required a lot of filling 'by hand' without using computer aids.)

The NE and SW quad stacks were serendipitous, and I'm especially happy with how they turned out. I'd like to acknowledge Sam Ezersky, whose notes for the Saturday 1/16/21 puzzle served in part as an inspiration, for helpful discussions about themeless construction philosophy.

Sat 7/9/2022
CHICACRAFTBREW
LAGOSLUNARYEAR
ABORTABOMINATE
RATSOMADEMAGIC
INTERACTEDTANK
NEATLAOSLUNGS
ERGELKSDOR
TOOTSIEBONEASH
APEGONGREI
SITBYBADEDIAZ
OVALZAZIEBEETZ
LATEMODELINTRO
INATANGLECOTAN
DEMOREELSEVADE
SKIPASSESPOSER
Sun 7/10/2022 Movin' On Up
ROFLAWEDTREATTEMPT
OURSCALERASTAANAIS
STUDFARMSAZTECBRINK
ARILIMITSEEOOLONGS
OTHOURIAHREBRAND
BASPANICBADRIP
TEARSATEDAMBROUHAHA
ARTDECODENIMOCTAGON
DOORSTOPSOLEMNELOPE
SSNSNUGNATOCRONES
STURIBNOTHIS
CATNAPGARBOHHIWAS
ARIALSENIORSENDHELP
RESPECTTAXEDAURELIA
LATESHOWRITARAILCAR
ASHIRANIGHTFLO
EVILEYEGENUSTOMB
HASIDICAWLAMUSEEAU
OREOSOHGEEBARCRAWLS
SCALAUBERSINGACASE
ESSAYPORESTEEDEGAD

CHRISTINA: I am SO excited for Scott to be making his NYT debut! Scott and I have made several puzzles together, and this is one of my favorites. We initially made this as a 15x15 puzzle. The entries on the bottom were mostly the same as these, but instead of having longer phrases on top, we had 4 and 5 letter words that became other words with an ON. "TONY" was clued as "Ty, after Movin' on up," etc. The NYT team liked our long entries but felt the gimmick was a little too one-note. I suggested reworking the idea as a Sunday, and this is what we ended up with.

Scott did most of the grunt work on this one — sorting through a long list of words that are other words with/without "ON," and compiling a list of any that were potentially promising in a 4-page document. He has a knack for wacky clue writing, and most of these were his. He has what it takes to be a great constructor: patience, a good sense of humor, the ability to internalize feedback, and a willingness to work hard. We have more puzzles coming out in other outlets, including the LA Times and The Atlantic, so keep an eye out for his byline :)

SCOTT: The old TV sitcom theme song this puzzle is based on has long had a special place in my heart. It's a tribute to hard work and perseverance and a reminder to occasionally take a moment to celebrate the fruits of your labor, like the Jeffersons do in the opening credits of the show. All while never forgetting that you didn't get there alone. That's not to mention the uplifting gospel choir rendition of the song — I dare you to listen to it and not tap your foot!

I love the cluing stage of puzzle-making, and I admittedly (much too often) think I'm pretty clever with clues. But Christina's clue for ‘TIS THE SEAS is one of my all-time favorites. I still grin every time I read it… pirate voices start jabbering in my head!

Christina showers me with accolades in her notes, but we both know this puzzle would have never gotten off the ground without her magic touch. Only one of us is a crossword rockstar (hint: not me). As noted, hard work alone isn't always enough… we all need the support of others to succeed. So, thanks, Christina, for bringing me "up in the big leagues" with you!

POW Mon 7/11/2022
CASHIMPSOSCAR
OHIONEATNAOMI
DARTSEGARURAL
WHITEKNUCKLE
ILIADREUSE
MARREDTHRASH
BLUEPRINTSSHE
EARSOARSTAR
ATEGREENTHUMB
DELETESPRITE
GRASPROPED
FINGERPAINTS
ARENAANTELACE
TAROTSKEWOVAL
SNOGSMOMSGERM

The theme came to me literally right before bed when I realized that BLUEPRINTS could have an alternate meaning. From there, I quickly thought of GREEN THUMB and FINGERPAINTS, but I struggled to round it out. I couldn't think of a way to incorporate getting "caught red-handed," so I went with WHITE KNUCKLE, which I landed on around 5 in the morning.

The fill is completely different from what was first accepted. About two months ago, I tested out some new constructing software by ripping out everything except the theme answers, and I managed to put together the new fill in a few hours. I sent it to the Times, and the rest is history.

Special thanks to my dad, who has been doing crosswords for years and has always supported my constructing efforts. I also wanted to acknowledge Evan Birnholz, who has gone out of his way to give me helpful feedback on this puzzle and many others. Lastly, shoutout to my friends who put up with unsolicited emails every time I make a new puzzle (many of which can be found at my site, crossedup.net) and to my nearly two-year-old niece, who is going to be a fingerpainting prodigy.

Tue 7/12/2022
ALDADAYECCO
LOINGENOAGROK
TWENTYFOURHOURS
IFCONEDIMEMSU
MAULSRENAMBER
ATTACKATASTE
CAINACHY
SPRYDOFOROTTO
LIEDIANEOHH
CEDARRAESTRUM
DALAIPLOTS
LIMOSMIAMI
SLEEPWAKECYCLES
HORNARESOALMA
EATSNIGHTTAUT

In April of 2021, I was reading Matt Walker's fascinating Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams and wondered whether there might be a way to make a puzzle with a visual of the circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycle. I decided to try putting CIRCADIAN RHYTHM in circled letters in a wave pattern across the approximate center of the grid, with SLEEP-WAKE CYCLES above and TWENTY-FOUR HOURS below. I also put DAY in the center of the first row and NIGHT in the center of the last.

After some tinkering (which included a couple of suggestions from my son, David, about block placement), I submitted the puzzle in mid-April. In July, Wyna Liu wrote saying the team was interested in the puzzle but wanted a few revisions to the fill. She suggested switching the positions of SLEEP-WAKE CYCLES and TWENTY-FOUR HOURS. I submitted a revised grid, and the team made a few additional fixes to one corner. I then clued the revised puzzle, and on July 27, it was formally accepted.

Many thanks again to Wyna and the rest of the team (and, of course, to David for his block suggestions!).

Wed 7/13/2022
BITEPABLOOAKS
EDENEQUALBRAN
ALASGUSSYAGRI
DEMURALASMELT
JEANVALJEAN
LGAMAINLOTTAM
PACTSTEERRIDE
GLORIAGAYNOR
ALBUSPENCEASE
LIPSYNC
RENEDESCARTES
POPEYEYAHWEH
IDOSANNESRILE
NEXTTIARAONME
TOYSELWAYEGAD
Thu 7/14/2022
TADBASICRINK
USERERIKAICON
RACEAFTERSOAVE
OHOHOHALENAW
WIREMESHONIT
MARCOMADNESS
DONNOONANOVAL
EMOJIPORMNEME
ANNOSERAPENEW
FIRESIDECOAT
ALOTEARDRUMS
INNACETEARAT
PODPROGRAMNICE
AMORMOCHAKAHN
DEMOSTAINH2O
Fri 7/15/2022
DUETFRAYMMA
INLAWPROMOTION
STEPHRESCUEDOG
SOCIALITERAGER
TOTEMSCOMEDY
PRICESTUTU
RIVALTOOTHPICK
AGESLURPEENAE
MASSEUSESRETRY
LINKARCHES
PUPUSADOCILE
ONEILBOWLGAMES
SPACETIMEHIALL
TIREFIRESTRIBE
SNLTODDSLAW
Sat 7/16/2022
SPECSAYCAP
WOMANCALAMARI
ILOSESOLOPARTS
METHUSELAHDEFT
DEAROLDDADBIO
DWARVESODELL
ALTERNGRAMS
BARNESLASERS
BANDEDTESLA
ATESTHOTCOMB
RPMSTARTABLOG
SHOPHYPERBOLIC
TONECOLOREVENS
ONEACTERRERUN
WESSHYROPY
Sun 7/17/2022 It's All On the Table
AMARETTILOCHSLABS
VENETIANREPAIRAISLE
QANNESLAEMERGEGETAC
GUTAESOPNETRKEVENT
AAASROASTHAMRKO
HILTINHASTENERDIER
INSOMNIATABUDOEST
INTURNTYRAYAKS
ASPENSLOETDSBAR
MARAUDSMITTUTILPEP
PLOTTEDPLABOINFLAME
SEWELANSSEASSLAVIC
WHITEQRHEAUBERS
FORAASHESUNUPS
EVENSTSARSNLHOSTS
BRENDANSUBSETSPURE
AGRMORTIMEREPEE
SURFATSIONLOUISNRA
ISAACIDIGITSMOKJETS
LOTTARELICSESTEEMED
SNEERRENEROUNDERS

My biggest surprise in constructing this puzzle was that, as a software engineer, I did not write a custom program to help myself. Maybe I should have!

In the beginning, I found plenty of potential entries containing suits and ranks, and the deck felt stacked in my favor. But as I made choices deeper into construction and raised the stakes, I created more mind-bending constraints. Changing even one card could mean all bets were off, and my tools didn't help much with multi-valued cells. While I found HEART, ACE, TEN, and KING easy to work with, the other values were much trickier! Was there no limit to how much work this would take? Still, the challenge was exhilarating, and I was all-in. I made lots of my own low-tech aids, including tables of good and bad entry patterns I could consult to avoid playing with an unwinnable hand. Even so, I flushed a ton of grids in the process.

My favorite themers I wish could have worked were F(ACE)BOOKSTAL(KING), GET(SEVEN), and ALIEN(QUEEN) but .. it wasn't in the cards.

Thanks to Kevin Der, whose construction advice and persistent prodding helped me make this puzzle about as good as I possibly could, and to my wife Jamie, who endured the late nights and inconvenient distractions while I obsessed over cracking this nut!

Mon 7/18/2022
HARSHGALARAZZ
ELOPEARIASALOE
ATSIXESANDSEVENS
POETMINTYRESET
TATABAAS
EDGARNADIRSPDT
BRAKESGURUCARA
BYLEAPSANDBOUNDS
ELLSOTISAMPERE
DYSGRANTSNHLER
BOERCLIO
CAIROGOOEYLULU
ONPINSANDNEEDLES
ATOMOZZIEGENIE
LIDSBEENGRASS
Tue 7/19/2022
SCAMPIAHABACER
OLDIESLOCIIONE
FOOTTHEBILLROLL
ACRETEESKUBLAI
SKAFACETHEMUSIC
TSARIAMB
ARIALREIGNBRAY
SHOULDERTHEBLAME
HONEOUSTSAEGIS
RAGSARSE
BACKTHEFIELDQBS
OPORTOLSATFUEL
LIMATOESTHELINE
TABUESAUEMOTED
SNOTLOSEATESTS
Wed 7/20/2022
ZITIMALTILIAD
OPENUBERVISTA
DOCCOMEDYALUMS
SHRUBSONKP
IRAUSCIPSO
MISSINGTHEMOCK
LOCIOHARASOB
IRESIGNFERNERY
MRIDECAFISEE
PICKACODANYCOD
SEERKMSUAE
BOZOSAYSHI
OMANILOANSHOCK
ROBOTEPICOREO
ABYSSWILETATS

Hi everyone! I'm from Woodcliff Lake, NJ, and soon to begin my second year at the University of Chicago, where I study philosophy. Other than crossword puzzles, my interests and hobbies include performing stand-up comedy, playing fantasy football, and making my own board games.

I'm not exactly sure where the idea for this puzzle stemmed from. At first, the theme only included the sound change in the answers, not the Boston-related clues. MISSING THE MOCK, for example, was just clued as "Late to the roast?" Though I had to cut a few theme answers I liked, I'm glad I could add in that second layer. I think PICK A COD ANY COD is my favorite theme answer for its evocative image. Some others that didn't make the cut include CRIMINAL AT LODGE and CREATIVES POCK.

My favorite clues I wrote are 18-Down, 54-Down, and 57-Down.

Finally, apologies to my brother Noah, the most avid New York Yankees fan I know, for such a Boston-centric theme.

Hope you all enjoyed the puzzle!

Thu 7/21/2022
PCTCOBPOLISCI
OOHADOEVENPAR
OMICRONRATFINK
HIGHPROFHADES
CHIBIGGAME
SCHOLARLYREV
HAVETOEREMAI
OCELOTSRELEASE
LETPOINOTNEW
DROPDOWNMENU
PARTNERDOC
STORYSTORECRE
HAWKISHONESEED
ATEINTOACEAMI
DARTGUNDEFNET

Three years ago, Anne Marie noticed that many of the menu options on the computer can be found at the end of longer words, making a fun theme. Eric suggested the revealer DROP DOWN MENU, which became the start of our first crossword collab (hopefully one of many!), which was accepted when OMICRON was just a Greek letter.

After filling this puzzle, we noticed that lots of the words were a little dark, so we reworked the SW corner to be a bit less harsh than the NE. We particularly like the 4x4 section of the puzzle starting with 14-Across with its diagonal symmetry.

From solving partners to constructing partners, we're thrilled to publish together, and hope that you enjoy the puzzle!

Fri 7/22/2022
RAWRRICEEAST
ALOELEMONSAUCE
YARDITSDOORDIE
KHAKITRIOS
WHOOPEECUSHION
HEFTEDASPEN
AMASSBRAINGAME
MARSLAINHOP
ONTHETOWNSHOTS
OSAKAPLAYTO
WHITNEYHOUSTON
BRASHOPRAH
LISTENTOMEFETA
UTTERBORESIRAN
REEDAYESTEXT

I submitted this puzzle with the title "Prank Themeless," and my intent was for it to run on April Fools' Day if accepted, though I can't say I'm sad this one got bumped to make room for Evan Mahnken's ingenious "four solutions" puzzle!

Anyway, the first answer I seeded in was WHOOPEE CUSHION, though that's only part of the prank depicted within this puzzle's grid: The other part involves the last four letters of a certain answer crossing WHOOPEE CUSHION. I'll leave the rest for you to figure out. Happy Friday!

Sat 7/23/2022
EDWARDIRAWDEAL
NARWHALEMIRATE
AMIRITEPANETTA
MANANAOGDEN
EGGTOSSDARINS
LEESCOTILLARD
SSRWILEYPOST
CHEFSKISS
PHONELINENIB
LOGICGATECOCA
SETSEESSHAPED
UNFITKABOBS
GNASHEDMISSILE
AIRTAXIRETINUE
REMOTESTROTTED

Over the past several years, I've admired and enjoyed themeless puzzles with wide-open middle sections — particularly from Ryan McCarty (he has numerous eye-popping grids!) — and I wanted to take a shot at writing one myself. In addition, getting a themeless puzzle accepted these days — with so many constructors writing such wonderful puzzles — has been challenging, so I figured I would try something I had not done before. (My rejection pile is well-populated with 70-word themeless puzzles…)

Making the grid took much longer than usual, but I lucked out by having flexibility in the NW and SE corners by having the letter patterns ????SCIENCE and ALPINE????? to work with. As a longtime teacher of AP Statistics, I was happy that one of those slots became DATA SCIENCE. Also, for a long time, the entry WHO IS THAT was WHO IS THIS. Happily, the former led to much cleaner and more interesting fill. I hope this provides a fun Saturday challenge for solvers!

As you read this, I am likely making last-minute preparations for the Boswords 2022 Summer Tournament, which is this Sunday, July 24. It's both an In-Person and Online event, and there is still time to sign up at www.boswords.org.

POW Sun 7/24/2022 Going Somewhere?
ACRESAMIDTSAESS
PROMOBASEAHIVEEPS
HEROWORSHIPPEREGRETS
IDSSPASESAFRETNOT
DOCKIMPUGNFRAGRANCE
HOESIMONSOIRSKA
TRACERKARYNDREAYSL
BICHROMEGLOBEEVAL
ASHICESEADOONERVE
RECECLATNERDTRIALS
AERODROMEARSEANKH
FORKSULUTIERDISH
YODELSBEFITVERONA
IFSETHANFROMEAYEAYE
BEAUALEACEVIV
IMPOSTERSYNDROMEZEKE
TEACHSUMOGUYTONER
STLEODAWDLESPROUST
ALLROADSLEADTOROME
TILERSHEADELOPE
DISCSDRYREFER

JESSIE: Talk about sharing a byline. Today's puzzle is the first time anyone will see the name Jessie Trudeau in print — Ross and I will be saying our vows about 30 minutes after this puzzle goes live! We're so deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity to briefly elevate the word "née" out of the realm of crosswordese.

ROSS: I love Jessie more than cake. There wasn't room in her Times Magazine bio to note her many recent accomplishments, so I'll take the opportunity here. Last week Jessie successfully defended her Harvard Ph.D. dissertation, "Machine Gun Politics," which explains how and why politicians partner with organized crime. She's starting a postdoc at Brown when we return from our honeymoon, and next fall, she'll begin her appointment as Assistant Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University.

If you're interested in learning how to make your own crosswords, you can reach out to me via Twitter or my personal site, Rossword Puzzles, where I post a free, original crossword every Sunday morning.

Mon 7/25/2022
SALSACARBSLIL
AROARALERTONO
BIRDSOFPREYLBS
REEFERHUABLOT
ELSAGRANDPRIX
CASHBOOP
TIBETYETISODD
IDIDNTMEANTOPRY
POTOVERTENSUE
TRODACRE
TENNISPROBLAH
SARANEOROYALE
THEANNIEPROULX
EONJESSEINDIE
WEDAREELTEENS

Hi, I'm Mike (he/him). I live and work in Minneapolis, including a side-hustle (as pictured in uniform) for my beloved MN Twins helping guests have a great experience at Target Field while I get paid to watch baseball. Now that I've been published in the NYT, I guess I have another side hustle?

As is often the case, I was doing some mental word exercises while trying to fall asleep, this time searching for one-syllable words that start with either a consonant blend or digraph and end with the five long vowels (Blay, Blee, Bly, Blow, Blue..no. Shay, She, Shy, Show, Shoe ... no. Why Won't My Brain Sleep ... no) and stumbled into what I thought was a tidy little set of actual words with a unique spelling of each long vowel. (Only the "O" word actually has an "O" at the end). I'm a sucker for elegant examples of simple themes, found five long entries I liked and loved that I would get to debut a favorite author in Annie Proulx if accepted. I put this one together fairly quickly from there.

Many thanks especially to Tracy Bennett over at NYT for the always kind and always helpful feedback through many previous rejections (22!) and for the suggestions that ultimately got this one accepted.

Go Twins!

POW Tue 7/26/2022
ALTOWNBASNORT
WOOLHOEDLONER
HARDCIDERARESO
INSERTITTVIN
LEONAWIFEHOOD
ERSPRINTMEDIUM
SENDPRICES
APRSLOUPENEST
COOKIELISA
EASYTARGETSPJS
CHEESIERKARAT
AHAREFHELENA
LEMMAFRIEDEGGS
ORBITLAVAUGLI
USONEEYEDTOYS

Today marks the first (and I expect only) day that I will look favorably upon eggs of any kind. The funny thing about a distaste for America's favorite breakfast food is that there is quite literally no way to avoid them. That said, when you spend time avoiding, people tend to fill you in on all the different ways you have yet to give them a go. "Well, have you had them poached? Over a steaming bowl of ramen? Deviled? Soaked into bread or baked into a pie?!"

I unfortunately have, and although I certainly won't enjoy them in a meal, you can sure bet I am enjoying them in the New York Times. That's all for now, and if anyone wants to collaborate on a puzzle about, say, olives, you know where to find me.

Wed 7/27/2022
TRAPSWEBSNOGO
ONTOPEDITAPED
TAMPAAGRAGENY
SCAREDYPANTS
CITIESANAIS
BLACKHATETOILE
SKOLTREATREY
EMPTYSUIT
MSGOMNIAIDES
ELECTSTURNCOAT
SINAIBAKERY
STUFFEDSHIRT
ATITTAPANORSE
GENACRUZICEUP
EDENHEREAKIRA

I'm thrilled to be back with another puzzle, and this time it's a light-hearted theme that might (?) give you the motivation you need to clean out your closet.

I've always had EMPTY SUIT and STUFFED SHIRT stored in the same corner of my brain, as they feel silly and visually evocative in similar ways. I thought it would be fun to build a theme around them, and started by adding SCAREDY PANTS, which brings to mind the delightful SpongeBob SquarePants. GOODY TWO SHOES was also in the mix for a while, as well as a series of possible revealers that never quite hit the mark. A big thank you to the editorial team for suggesting that I drop the revealer and look for additional examples, which led me to a pair of shorter finds. BLACK HAT is a fun one, evolving from its roots in Western flicks to become a current term in cybersecurity.

I like to give each of my crosswords a title, and for this one, I think "Does It Spark Joy?" sums things up nicely. Hope you enjoy it!

Thu 7/28/2022
ANTICADOHOMER
DIANAPORABOVE
UNRIGRHAPSODIC
BESTIRTOHEEL
ARINEAREST
AGAVEHAVEN
BOSCDONEGADOT
BRITSITKALANE
CARIBDOINOMEN
LIVERUNGER
DARTGUNASS
TECHIESALLOW
CANOODLEDMILNE
ALONGIDOEMAIL
DESKSCUTLOYAL

BILL: Hello from my corner of the universe in Chicago! The gimmick for this puzzle landed in my brain after loving Caitlin Reid's truly kickin' puzzle from April 2020. After trying to figure out how to do this myself, I quickly realized I needed to team up with an expert and contacted Jeff. Thank goodness I did. He's not only an excellent constructor and fun to work with, but a great crossword mentor.

Ok, back to the puzzle-making. While intrigued by the idea, Jeff suggested tightening up the theme by spelling out something in circled letters and encouraged us to think through how to provide a great solving experience before diving in too deep. 70+ emails (and one initial rejection) later, you have the puzzle you see today. We hope you enjoy it!

A bit about me, I am an in-house attorney for a Chicago-based tech company called SpotHero and a proud double-Illini. I currently live in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood with my wonderful wife and our rescue dog, who have both been very supportive of this new hobby I picked up during the early days of the pandemic. I was initially introduced to crossword construction by my sister-in-law, Alie, who I was lucky enough to share a byline with yesterday in her crossword puzzle debut in the Universal Crossword!

In addition to Jeff, a special thanks to Robyn Weintraub, who was the first person I reached out to in the crossword community after starting to make puzzles and who has been incredibly generous with her time and advice.

JEFF: Hopefully, solvers didn't think we were CUTting corners today by giving them blank circles. Back when Bill and I were ideating this in 2019, it seemed obvious that each circle could be filled with a letter that formed two valid words. For example, ANTI-AGING turns into ANTI(C) / (C)AGING.

When I test-solved this a week before publication, though, I wondered, why am I adding in a C when that corner was supposed to be CUT?

Sometimes it's best not to ask questions.

Fri 7/29/2022
ATARIBEESCAB
BASICCABLEBOLO
ITSMEAGAINAMIE
TATSROYCAREER
HALFTAMRON
ISPOKETOOSOON
DELTARAGESDDS
EROSPITASPORK
AFTBICEPNOWAY
DRINKSAREONME
SEENASROTH
DIVESTATLPLOP
ANISAPRILFOOLS
MACESHOESTORES
PIESIDSCHEST

Hi solvers, IT'S ME AGAIN. I hope you enjoyed today's puzzle. My favorite clues I contributed are the ones for TOGA PARTIES (fun times between the sheets… tee hee) and PLOP (can't you just see/hear that failed stone skimming attempt… or is that just me?).

Of the ones I didn't have a hand in creating, I like the clues for BEE and ELI — great sneaky/clever wordplay always makes me smile.

Sat 7/30/2022
CUREALLSISPOSE
OPENSEATFLIPON
STAYSANESINEAD
MOMADAMSDORKS
OPSFBIWHITE
MIALIONTRU
ISTILLDONTGETIT
THREELEGGEDRACE
COUNTONESLOSSES
HOEMOOSCOT
FLINTBARMEL
CRAIGEELSMENU
HELLNOGUIDEDOG
EASTONONNOTICE
FRESNOSTOMACHS

Saturdays are my favorite puzzle of the week to solve, so I'm ecstatic to debut with a themeless (sharing the weekend with my favorite constructor, Robyn Weintraub, is icing on the cake)!

I started constructing crossword puzzles as part of a family challenge where each member set an improbable goal with the hope that we could all learn to embrace failure and love being really, really bad at something new. I've loved word puzzles since elementary school when I would "solve" the crossword by asking my dad nearly every clue... so learning to make the puzzles seemed like a fun challenge, and getting one in the NYT seemed like a near impossibility.

This puzzle started with trying to build a central triple stack grid with long downs running through them and chunky corners. I didn't have a seed entry. Instead, I just focused on trying to work in lively answers that would leave me with fun cluing angles and limiting gluey bits as much as possible.

My favorite puzzle clues are the echoed "Pot holder" clues, and my last-minute addition clue for HOTEL CASINO.

Bio: Lance is a pharmacist who recently moved to Mint Hill, NC, so his family could be closer to nature, hiking, and adventure. He helps his amazing wife homeschool his 11, 8, and 5-year-old kids. The older kids will be learning crossword solving/constructing this school year, so hopefully, it will be a race to see which of us will appear next!

Sun 7/31/2022 Why, Why Not?
SRIRACHAWIMPEDDEFER
WIDESHOTELAINEENOLA
ALLSTATEBELLYBOTTOMS
MEYERSREDTEABART
COMBATREADBRIEFED
SALTALEOLINAXE
PPECAGEESCAPEELUTE
LOADUPCAMPYCOUNSELOR
ALGERIADIODESTITLE
SLUMBERPARTSAMOA
HOESCLASSSPURONSSW
LIEONGRIMYREAPER
ACTEDATTESTARACHNE
THREETIMESALADIGUESS
PAIRORATORYEASERET
ARCAMESNAHSEIS
ROOMBASFAIRYFIGHT
ROUTALLSETLEASTS
MADISONCOUNTSTARTOUT
PAESEENAMORWISEUPTO
HARTSGETSTOFESSESUP

This theme came about serendipitously. Luckily, I happened to notice the wordplay potential when the revealer phrase popped up in something I was reading. It might not be the most efficient way of generating theme ideas, but keeping your brain in "crossword mode" while going about your day can occasionally yield fruit.

Overall, the grid-making process was fairly smooth. As the themers only needed a single letter removal/addition, there were ample options to choose from. I did struggle a bit with the position of the revealer. For those purists out there who like their revealers to be in the final across slot, just know that I fought hard to make that happen, but couldn't quite pull it off. At least not without some ugly fill options that I wasn't willing to accept.

One thing that might be of interest to constructors is that the editorial team did a minor 4-cell rewrite in the southwest corner. Presumably, the motivation was to get rid of my original entry in 113A: OBESE. I don't think that is a purely taboo entry as it appeared in a puzzle last month, but it does violate the "good-vibes" principle, so it might warrant a lower score in your word list.