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Puzzles for August, 2013
with constructor comments

Thu 8/1/2013
OBSAFIRSTTWIG
RATSLOOPSHONE
CRACKUNDERFORCE
ACTAESSAAREA
SAURONKOS
REDUCEDISTANCE
TYRANTTIME
HAZESERGCECIL
EGADICETEA
POPULATIONMASS
ONOVOLUME
THUDRANIOLES
PHYSICSFORMULAS
COMEDETROPERE
PUNSSTAINSNYX

Tracy Gray's clever "Infractions" puzzle was my creative inspiration here. I loved Tracy's concept of representing a third word by stacking two unrelated words, so I tried to find a new twist on that type of thematic expression.

In general, the fill in most areas of this heavily constrained grid is decent. The SE, NE and SW corners are all pretty nice. Maybe changing LODI to LOKI and re-filling the SW would be a slight upgrade. But it's hard to imagine a way to improve the SE corner, given its triple-stacked, unmovable theme answers. Nor was there anything to be done to eliminate NIC and CMI beneath DISTANCE / TIME.

I did make two indisputable mistakes:

In the NW I messed up by using SAURON at 23a, which produced the entries OBS (ungood) and ACTA (doubleplusungood). Having struggled for so long to finish the trickiness of the rest of the grid, I was slipshod in filling that section and never considered alternatives to the Dark Lord after I saw he'd fit. It evidently didn't take much for me to fall under his evil sway. I would be a terrible Ring-bearer.

The mistake at the grid's bottom (DE TROP instead of BETTOR at 64a) can be chalked up to inexperience. The reason for NOR I instead of NOT I, CDS instead of CBS and MPS instead of MRS was that I was endeavoring not to duplicate the I in DARE I / SAY. These days I wouldn't blink twice at such a repeat. DE TROP is legitimate, but BETTOR would have been a substantial improvement. The kicker to all of this, of course, was that Will ended up cluing NOR I as [Me neither] instead of [Seaweed wrapped around sushi] — creating the very duplication I had contorted the fill to avoid in the first place.

That physics-related ERG hanging out at the center of the grid? Pure happenstance. Some people liked its inclusion there as an easter egg, and others found it inelegant. Tough to say.

Fri 8/2/2013
KIDNEYBEANLATE
ANYONEELSEERIS
TRENCHCOATGENT
ZEDAIRFRANCE
LULUULULATE
SHIITESLIST
WARGAMEEXTENDS
UHOHNCAA
MANTRASBRADAWL
SUVAREVERSE
SEVENAMUBER
PLECTRUMSGWB
LEGOIRAQIDINAR
IVANCAYUGALAKE
TENDEISENHOWER
Sat 8/3/2013
SOTHABERDASHER
WHOONCLOUDNINE
EPARICKYNELSON
ELFMANHANSMRT
TEARSBALEKAMA
SARIWORFANSEL
OSEWAXTABLET
PETMICEMAEWEST
HITORMISSRPI
GOETHBALKMSRP
AREAORLYTIVOS
SSWGAILWONOUT
LIEDETECTORITE
ONLINEFORUMCUR
GOLDENSPIKEEPS

BRAD:

The old adage of "good longer stacks start with the stacking of useful shorter stems" was especially true here, as I realized ONLINE went nicely atop GOLDEN, and what remained was to pick compatible tails. Doug liked LIE DETECTOR in the stack and added MALL COP; he's also responsible for those two great clues.

We tried a few design configurations in the middle and realized we'd have to have some long vertical entries too or the word count would tip over into 72 or 74. BOXER BRIEFS won out over other –EFS we tried. I had just been doing some work in the trenches at the end of the alphabet on my word list, so new addition WAX TABLET helped matters a lot, facilitating ___ FAMILY.

And we had to decide whether or not to have the vertical 15s, rather than going with SEWELL or NEWELL or LOWELL or whatever. TO A FARE-THEE-WELL had actually been on my list of possible seed entries. But did we ever take some ribbing for it (fewer people seemed to recognize it than I expected) — and since the puzzle appeared the Saturday before Lollapuzzoola, some of the ribbing was in person! Still, I think this was a grid most solvers were quite happy with.

Sun 8/4/2013SHOULD I CALL THE REPAIRMAN?
PACESAFTSLILTKEPI
UBOLTGAULASIADICES
RARERARBORISTSINTRA
RANGEKEEPSCUTTINGOUT
EYESHADESELITES
FDRTEASARENAIMPS
JUSTWENTDOWNGLAZERS
OBTAINUNEVENTENOR
ROOMSHASSTILLGOTBUGS
DINEBERTSLOWLANE
SEWAXEEATDAH
ADRENALSASSYRTAJ
FAILEDSOMETESTSHEAVE
RUBLETONNESMULDER
ADEPTATISONTHEBLINK
NITALATINHULASTY
PIPPINECCENTRIC
DEVELOPEDASHORTBROOM
OZARKIDENTICALPOURS
TRIESNYETDOMEINNER
SANDGEDSEASYESTOP
Mon 8/5/2013
AGITACLOCKSRA
ROGERROCHEHEN
COUNTRYSTARALA
AGASSIEARELAL
DONEFORDGALAXY
ELASTICSETTLES
SSSIFATCOAST
KEITHMOON
CASASYEPSPSA
ASCRIBENETGAIN
PHOENIXSUNIRAN
STUNGPAUPTIME
IRRDAILYPLANET
ZAGSPREEANGST
EYETEEMSNOSEE
Tue 8/6/2013
ASSDISCSWISS
DAKSERTAPINTA
DYETAKECHANCES
UNTIEITADAMS
POCKETKNIVES
HERONERODES
ELBATOREARENA
BOOCOPCARSMVP
ALOHAFATEBOYS
YAKIMAUNION
PINCHPENNIES
IRISNRAUNZIP
LIFTWEIGHTSIDA
LOSERMAMIENET
STORYPROPGRE
Wed 8/7/2013
SEISABJECTARE
CYSTPRAGUETAR
ARLORINGEDSIN
REALMONEYITEMS
EENYKUWAIT
CHINAUMAMI
ZOOMLENSESSTNS
ALTOLOOSETOUT
REAMINNAMEONLY
ESTEEXFILE
SCONCEPEAL
QUITEKILLMENOW
URNNEWDADMACH
ASKELAINEOSHA
DESSINGERNAST
Thu 8/8/2013
DOGGYBAGPAWSAT
ERASABLEAXIOMS
FISHHOOKLESSEE
LOLAYUKSSHORT
ALARMOOHBRIS
TEMPESTDIVORCE
ESPSOILTONYAS
HORSESHOE
SHRUNKDIEDMAA
MAILSINPROFESS
USDANOROINKS
SHAHSTOLDROSA
HOBOESTIREIRON
EULOGYCLEANCUT
STEPONSTARGATE
Fri 8/9/2013
OMAHAELMSSERF
HELENKICKBOXER
CAPRIGERALDINE
ATHOMESITUATED
LEANERSBEEP
CABSREFBOOST
UTENAILCLIPPER
TETANNULARELI
TRIBUTEBANDNFC
ASCOTSICPESO
AIRSREORDER
SCOTLANDTHEFED
ARTMUSEUMALIKE
KATESPADERARER
EBONSKEWEWERS
Sat 8/10/2013
GODELESCHERBACH
PRIVATEAUDIENCE
SUMANDSUBSTANCE
DESGREAT
PANESPHILINDS
OROSBETSAFOOT
TAKZORACRINGE
SPOKEOFFTHECUFF
DAMASKEROSSOA
AHINTZWEILEON
MOSSDEWYPARDO
ATARIAIM
ONESECONDPLEASE
PUTSTHEKIBOSHON
STATEASSISTANCE
Sun 8/11/2013ADDED SATISFACTION
SHAMSFLEAAJAFARAD
CABOTPOUNDLOGABIDE
RIATAOUNCEFEASTUPON
AFTERALLAHORCATTEST
MAEDLIIMPEACHES
SUBTITLESMOANSPA
JUSTSAYNOAHREARSPAY
IMOUTSADVOLTALONE
BAWDHOTDATESSTANZA
POESYIDEAMERGER
HOOKAHLINEANDSINKER
BIGKIDEVERJOLTS
STREETABSOLUTEPELT
ITEROWENSVISTUTEE
DESITINALEFTBAHRAIN
ERSMANOFIRESALES
UPHOLSTERTABCSA
CUATROAIDAUNTIEAHEM
ONTHEEDGEETHYLACERB
WIRESRAGREUNESTAVE
STIRSEYEASHYTITER
Mon 8/12/2013
FOURABBOTHUFF
DRNOVOLTAENOL
AGHAONAIRAFRO
INHIGHSPIRITS
TUTEDSCITES
UNCLESWAIN
NIHILISTICGIVE
ITENAHINTANOS
CEDEGINGIVITIS
DRONEADELA
ASTROSKINAY
STRINGBIKINIS
KIEVROBOTLIED
EPEEISEREIFSO
WEDSTEXTSEYES
Tue 8/13/2013
SPCAASHESPARE
WEANSWIRLARES
ITRYPATROLBOAT
GRETIMWILLDO
SUBMARINEPOLYP
CEASEEXPO
SHAREIPADPOWS
AIRCRAFTCARRIER
GOSHLOUTVOLTS
KILNSETTS
GIJOEDESTROYER
ONETENNOSCAY
BATTLESHIPROSA
ANTEOKAPIBOON
DEARNYJETINNS
Wed 8/14/2013
COSTAHEXADNSA
OCTETAMICIOER
NEALEVENDSDIS
JARLSBERGCHEESE
ONTTATDAMN
BIOSGOLFCOURSE
SAFERAROD
FLIMSYALIBI
EMILNONPC
WIFFLEBALLBAIL
EPEEOASSLO
THINGSWITHHOLES
BOGALIASINUSE
ANNBONGOLEMUR
RESSPOOFLAPPS
Thu 8/15/2013
WIPEDMVUSED
ADAMCRUETNEAR
ROTCRANTOPITY
SEAOFCORTEZ
EYEOFTHETIGER
CFCRTSDEBDEA
EFLATSSERUMS
LEICAMUDREPOS
ETNABANJOHOTE
BEEINONESBONNET
BASSEQ
SEEYOUINCOURT
MAWRMCGEEIOUS
IGORELGINSANE
CAKYDAYNETREX

This puzzle was written by one of my mother's favorite constructors.

I had EYE OF THE TIGER and BEE IN ONES BONNET for the longest time, and it took me a great deal of digging to come up with two more consistent theme answers. Thankfully I SEIZED UPON SEE YOU IN COURT while digging deep into the xwordinfo database.

But even then, the grid layout was a bear, because the mismatched lengths (11, 13, 15, 13) not only required mirror symmetry but extra black squares, and I ended up having to stack two theme answers due to all the constraints. The west and east sections were remarkably difficult to fill, so I had to think a long time to come up with a good clue to rescue E FLATS as an answer (luckily I've listened to the 1812 Overture well over a thousand times!).

I wasn't sure if the overall construction was actually feasible, so after many iterations, I was simply pleased to escape with all my fingers still intact.

Fri 8/16/2013
ATWARFLEESAPS
BURMARAILCLAW
ONIONRINGSRENE
DESKONTHELEVEL
ESTPUGETEWELL
BALLERINAS
PRAGUENEEDPBS
DYNASTSSAFARIS
QEDSTEPRODEOS
PIEALAMODE
GEORGTACITMAP
ERGONOMICSLPGA
IRISBATESMOTEL
COVEITESIRENE
ORESTEDSLEDTO

Two days before Christmas 1983, I lost my best friend to an automobile accident. I remember having two thoughts upon hearing the news. One, I must survive this. Two, it will be a long time before life is normal again. The poet John Ciardi said that "Hell is the denial of the ordinary." Blessed is routine. I had been yanked out of mine.

During this trying period, I couldn't read, couldn't concentrate. One evening, I turned to my stack of puzzle books. It was providing me, I realized, some manner of psychological white noise. As long as I was going back and forth, back and forth, the grief was kept at bay.

After a few months, who knows where it came from, the idea occurred: I bet I could do this. I constructed five anacrostics and wonder of wonders, they were accepted. For the next 16 years, I filled my days with anacrostics, crosswords, cryptograms, variety puzzles, and loved every minute.

One thing I can say about this particular puzzle is how much and how long I agonized over one entry. A constructor has to avoid the taboo, the politically incorrect, even the merely tasteless. It seemed screamingly iffy to me, and I worked a long time trying to find something else, anything else. No go. So I hope solvers will have some fun with this one.

Sat 8/17/2013
ABLEMSNBCABRA
NAANILIEDMEAN
TYPEWRITERSTAND
FADHOTSPOTRDA
ARENASMECCAN
RESETANNPOULT
MAKEMINEADOUBLE
DELICIOUS
SIDEWALKARTISTS
OTEROLSDSNARE
MESSRSMISLED
EMERADIOADTVA
SORRYFORTHEWAIT
ANTIELATEEINE
YESMSENORTROD

The starting point for this puzzle was actually the symmetrical interlocking design (and "smiley face"), followed by my trying to fit in some conversational phrases. I was concerned that TYPEWRITER STAND would be a bit dated as well as any reference to the "Brothers" brand but, heck, there are quite a few of us older solvers out there.

Writing themeless puzzles, like solving them, is still a work in progress for me, a learning experience: firstly, to be able to fill the grid with words/phrases that as much as possible allow for inventive cluing. Secondly, this puzzle showed me how Will Shortz can take a potential Saturday puzzle and alter its clues in an astonishingly inventive way to increase both challenge and interest, with a lot of humor thrown in as well.

Sun 8/18/2013EDGINESS
TELEPHONEBARCLOTHES
INITIALEDRUERAVIOLI
CHASTISEDATLUNENDED
KAIROSYCOINSRESEE
ELSISNOREPEATED
TOEATNANIFFIERCAF
DOGGRAILTERIGARR
OFMERICONOPARVERGE
FOESALOUETTEDESREE
FUNTBRONTERISESINT
ERNEBORDERLINESMETH
NCOSAYSTBIMINIASIR
SONTAGHORSECARNONO
ILIEDBEENETETEGNAW
VOTEDFORIDLEESSE
ERELIBIDOARRGRIND
ENSCONCEETATDOO
PICASLAUDESTUBITT
IMALONESODFINALEDIT
PAPEREDEMEPRECIPICE
EXPRESSREDDEDICATED

This is probably my "edgiest" 21x puzzle theme, and among the hardest to execute. Whew! The puzzle evolved over many months, close to a year. Note to budding constructors: Don't ever try a location-specific theme (in this case, theme words that follow the grid's perimeter) unless you're willing to tear your hair out, gnash your teeth and become a BORDERLINE psycho. The most time-grabbing work was yet to come — achieving an accessible fill. Good puzzle themes need it; an interesting fill allows solvers to build out to the edges and discover the theme. Many versions later, I came up with this one. The FINAL EDIT was indeed a relief. A memorable grid word was SADDLE SORE ("'It's a real pain in the butt"). Though not part of the theme, it plainly sums up the construction process. All in all, the final product was well worth the effort. A "fringe" benefit. :)

I hope you enjoy it!

Mon 8/19/2013
YAKSLEAPERAMP
ADAMALPINEGEE
OMNIPOPPYSEEDS
OGRESLEAXOUT
SNAKEEYESRINSE
FIRODEDOGEAR
OSOSAERATE
HONORSTUDENTS
ORATORTRIM
TRACEDASAADA
HEROSWALLPAPER
ECONBAGIPODS
CAMERAFILMROLL
ONAORELSETOIT
WTSBERETSARPS

In the beginning I was sending in so many puzzles and getting so many rejections, it's hard to remember the trials and tribulations of each one. I thank Will, though, for considering my many attempts and offering helpful suggestions.

I think this puzzle has one of the few themes that came to me spontaneously - inspired by a roll of toilet paper. That roll didn't make the final cut, but there were many other theme entry possibilities to work with. By that time I had rounded up some family members to serve as testers and take the heat off my husband, a faithful NYT solver. That helped me to step back from the puzzle and get some perspective before my final edit.

Tue 8/20/2013
INTOROSAPASTA
NORIOBISARNEL
FIELDWORKTRINI
ADAUSEFSTOPS
METOOHOLYWEEK
YAYSTHERODDUI
KASEMUNAPT
LABORMARKET
STARSICEES
NOBSONNETTERM
LUCKYDOGASTER
SOUSEDRATUGH
PLANTDOUBLEDAY
BETTEEVILMELD
ASSAMDONEISEE

Don: I heard the name Abner Doubleday and thought it was interesting. Knowing how CC feels about baseball, I thought she would enjoy it.

Wed 8/21/2013
STANDANATOWNS
SINEWDECOWAAC
WAITANDSEEISTO
REOUNHAT
GOOFFONATANGENT
MARASURFSSTY
CHACHASURAL
SULTANATEOFOMAN
ARDORSENORA
GIALOUISGEAR
INSTANTANEOUSLY
JAPANANN
OTISUNATTESTED
EIREZINCICARE
SEEDITCHLINES

First, thanks to Jeff and XWord Info for presenting this forum. As I recall, the idea for this one just popped in my head, as they sometimes do, and I thought it would be fun to give solvers a hidden-word puzzle-in-a-puzzle. I was very fortunate to come up with the theme entries, especially those that contained TAN twice. After working out the placement of these theme entries within the grid, I got even more lucky to find some nice fill that could string two or more of these together; getting AUSTRIA to cross all three in the middle really worked very nicely.

Will offered a number of suggestions, which led to some reworking of a few areas, and this resulted in a nicer and cleaner final version. I then drafted up the clues which I aimed to be fresh and lively. Besed on the theme, Will thought it would be good to run during beach season. I hope you all enjoy! I guess we'll just have to WAIT AND SEE!

Thu 8/22/2013
CTHEDOGSOFFBAC
IHAVENOIDEAAPB
ORIOLESNESTTHO
POLATSEACROIX
EWESWISCAANS
PROPHTTP
ALGAEORRSETA
DONTCUSWELLCYOU
SOULROETIERS
EMITDODO
APSOSHETNCAR
CHIENCAPESAMO
AOLGUADALCANAL
TRESTPAULIGIRL
CASTOOCLOSETOC

I sent Will my first version of this crossword more than two years ago. It was the thirteenth puzzle I constructed. Before August 2011, I'd received nothing but rejections from the NY Times so "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You" just popped into my head.

I was trying to figure out how to use it as a theme when I found Ms. Kelly's June 22, 2006, Point of no return rebus. Thanks to Ms. Kelly, problem solved. The original grid, with eight unsymmetrical call boxes, wasn't exciting enough, but Will did like 38A. That was all the inspiration I needed to construct an entirely new version. I decided, in this case, that less was more, so I went with a call box in each corner along with the two in 38A. The only other answers in both versions are BACALL and CALLAS.

Sadly, this version was rejected, too, which surprised me because my mentor, Adam Perl, had a slightly different take: "I thought this puzzle was fantastic - challenging without being frustrating. The theme is excellent and very well carried through the puzzle. 'Don't call us...' was brilliant. The two sets of three eleven letter words were very good. I didn't find anything too crosswordy in it." Based on Adam's encouraging words, I decided to give it one more shot and added CALL BOX to the grid. Will wrote back, "Your CALL rebus 15x is looking pretty good…"

Hope you enjoyed it as much as Adam.

POW Fri 8/23/2013
PEDICABBRAPADS
ARIGATOEATENUP
PANARABRIHANNA
ASKLLBTSARISM
TOOLSINLETS
JUSTASECOND
UNIONSHOPSMOET
BURPSENEWELSH
AMISMACNCHEESE
RIDESHOTGUN
STRAWSSEALS
WEELASSCLEIRE
APLENTYRUBSOUT
BEARDENEPICWIN
SEXTAPETATIANA

Oddly enough, this puzzle's seed answer — JUBA — was also one of the shortest. The South Central was the hardest part to construct, mostly because I clung to SIDESHOW BOB at 40-Across for-ev-er (pronounced Sandlot style). Also, I must have been hungry when I made this since a CHALUPA and MACNCHEESE combo is downright delicious.

Sat 8/24/2013
XENOALISTGRAF
ATONLENTOHALO
CHOCOLATESHAKES
TAKENOPRISONERS
ONSCUTANDPASTE
GUTMOT
ZAIRESEAWORTHY
ARNOSPURNASIA
KICKSTARTONKEY
PERMFG
IMAGINETHATSAM
COMETOTHERESCUE
APPLEPIEALAMODE
RULEARUDEUNIT
EPEEDENSEGETS
Sun 8/25/2013CAPITAL L'S
EWERNAPAEELERCACTI
BARITONESUVULAORLON
BRIGHTESTROCKCONCERT
SENSORTOPEKAENVATE
RECORDESQDENVER
JUNEAUIONSUTERO
MANIDOSAGEREISSUING
TRIPTYCHSATEENENDUE
ASTEROEDLABRATCEDE
RIDLOSETOCAVESIN
SAPBOSTONAUSTINTEA
PREMEDSDOESNTLET
RONAOHDARNDESCITES
IMACSORDEALRISKFREE
GALAPAGOSTERESAFONZ
RINGOCECEALBANY
HELENAPARATTLEE
ITOCIDPIERRETRAVIS
THISISATESTINPATIENT
UNSETLORCAABUGSLIFE
POESYYOYOSLCDSSLOW

Once I had the idea for this puzzle, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are exactly eight six-letter state capitals (not counting my own STPAUL!), and that all of them had workable three-letter blocks. It was a bit of a challenge trying to make a grid with enough room for the L's all to fit symmetrically. I also didn't want any six-letter words starting with the first three-letter block because it would be too misleading. PIETAS at 116-Across is the one, and I decided that by then, the solver would probably have figured out what is going on and would not be inclined to write PIETAS like a normal entry.

The fill was difficult but ended up okay, and then Will cleaned up some weak spots. I tried some other things at various times (NITTANY for TIFFANY, DENTISTS for DENOUNCE), but this is where it ended up. If it weren't for Kaley CUOCO, I am not sure that I would have been able to unsnarl the NW quarter of the puzzle. I hope that people enjoyed it.

Mon 8/26/2013
LEGITGLOOBAMA
ALITOAOLTUDOR
MANUPSWEETTALK
PLANBSHOVEMES
EASYAIRAS
FRESNONFLRACE
LEAADAGEBIPED
ARSONMIRLAPSE
SUTRAENNUILAN
KNOBANGSNEERS
RSVPFEEDS
OVANEARSDPLUS
CENTERCUTAIOLI
HIGHCTIETENET
SLEEKSTSEDGES

I was researching potential words to justify vertical theme answers. Why? Why not, I say. "Hanging" was vertically appropriate and that led to LOW HANGING FRUIT. I scrapped BLIND MELON at 38-Down since the band wasn't quite Monday-appropriate as a theme answer and, most important, the fruit grew in the ground instead of dangling from a tree. Hope solvers like this one, it's hard to make 'em any easier. Come for the SWEET TALK, stay for the CENTER CUT. Enjoy!

Tue 8/27/2013
CLAMANGLEABBY
AIDAROLEXSALA
STORMFRONTSCUM
TURBOMOTOUKES
SPELLSMOLARS
ETCHGETBY
HOSSHOLDMEARA
ENTTWODOORGAP
ACEEATSUPBETS
PEEVEREBA
LODGESROTGUT
INTOANNESHOVE
NERDFRENCHOPEN
CIAOFORGOIRAE
ALPOENTRYLOST

Initially I had TWODOOR as 45-down with CARFIRE symmetrically placed in the 4-down slot. This led to some uninspiring fill, a change of plan, and the theme placement as you see it today. Thanks to Nancy Salomon for help on the development of this theme.

Wed 8/28/2013
BABEEMITSITCH
ICESNASALSOLO
THESULTANOFSWAT
SERENITYWOUNDS
SISPARE
HATSTATUTEHST
OAHUETONGRATE
PRESIDENTHOOVER
EGRETAGEEDRIP
SHEARMADASENS
ALESRUB
HORRIDMAKEUPTO
IHADABETTERYEAR
TITOARGONERIC
SOARTEEMSRUTH

This is a textbook quote puzzle. The textbook was Mankiw's "Principles of Microeconomics". It was my freshman year in college (go 32-Down!), and we were learning about inflation. Fun fact: in today's dollars, 1-/67-Across would be outearned by the average MLB player, whereas 38-Across would make more than twice as much as his current counterpart. Well, I say fun. I mean egregious. Hope you liked the puzzle.

Thu 8/29/2013
TTADROLDEMYHR
YHTNAMOELIOTE
RETRACENACIRRUH
OSHOERDNALOC
AELSTOTSTIMO
EUGESANIRTAK
KRYPTOAIG
GIMLETEOFNEWT
APOSEINES
TYPHOONBRIDE
REUSEIPUTELY
ANTGLENSEWES
BROOKLYNCYCLONE
BORNEOEIREHOV
INSEAMROTSCHE

The original (rejected) version had THE PERFECT STORM at 55a, crossing OF NEWT. Having found a way to thread two EYE extensions (of which there were precious few) through two theme answers apiece, I was sure no other suitable 15-letter entries existed and so stopped looking. I felt fortunate to have those entries and was convinced the puzzle's constraints all but precluded alternatives. There must have been 30 ways to fill the lower middle, none of which was more than marginally acceptable. Every attempt included at least two of the following: TMAC, NOTCHY, OEUF, EFOR, NTS, PUNTO. Discouraged, I began researching again.

As soon as BROOKLYN CYCLONE materialized I thought I might have hit the jackpot. The new entry filled the un-fillable section cleanly and improved half the grid. The rush of such an aha moment during construction, when a seemingly intractable grid or fill problem resolves itself, dwarfs all the happy epiphanies I've experienced while solving.

From a practical standpoint the hardest parts to fill were where entries ran in only one wrong direction and crossed three themers (the ROLE PLAYS/LEERING AT sections), and the transition areas where abutting entries ran in opposite directions. These sections required spacial gymnastics that are difficult to describe but involved rotations about axes and bizarre, walled-in grid patterns. (I'm hopeless at filling by hand). Strangely enough, finishing the NE corner was a simple matter of filling a modified SW corner and reverse-transposing the fill back to the NE.

Thank you for reading and solving!

Fri 8/30/2013
MICHELEBACHMANN
STRATEGICROUTES
THELATELATESHOW
ATTSRIPSEEN
NCISSIOUXDIAZ
CANEPAULETSTE
ONSTARSCRAMMED
ASIFOOPS
AFLUTTERXESOUT
DOESERAPESVSO
ORALSRTASBEBE
SVENARITERP
HUEVOSRANCHEROS
URBANDICTIONARY
PEERASSESSMENTS

I submitted the original version of this puzzle in October 2011, when I was 14. Will rejected it in January 2012 because of a few pieces of ugly short fill (RALE, STG, USAR, and MUSTA), though he liked the 15-letter entries. I couldn't salvage the bottom stack because of STG, though I was able to keep the top one; after many hours of grid wrangling, I came up with a new bottom stack, which I felt contained stronger short fill than the original did. I sent Will the current version of this puzzle in February 2012. Although he wasn't fond of the columns of three-letter entries along the sides and the un-Scrabbly PEER ASSESSMENTS at the bottom, he accepted the puzzle in June 2012.

Will did an excellent job of editing my clues — I particularly like the brilliant "Formula one?" and "Modern mouse hole?"! Also, I'm glad he made my original MICHELE BACHMANN clue ("Candidate who called 'The Lion King' gay propaganda") less controversial. I hope you enjoy solving this one as much as I enjoyed constructing it!

POW Sat 8/31/2013
JIMMYFALLONPBJ
AREYOUREADYALA
KINGSRANSOMROC
ESSOLBSRERACK
SHADSICKTICKS
OSCARSSHAQ
TISSUEPIEKUDU
OTHELLOSAGETEA
GAOLMACMODEST
ALOEATOAST
PITCHSNLOMEGA
ACETICSAWALUM
RIMMAGINOTLINE
TZUORIGINALSIN
YEPMEANSTREETS