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Puzzles for September, 2013
with Editor comments

Sun 9/1/2013 PERSONS OF NOTE
DENZEL1JOGGEDLOUF
ORIOLESSAMURAIBLANC
ONLEAVEPLANETSLATTE
DSLSICHORNECHIMEIN
TASTEDEPELIASASET
HISTORYRETORTS
MACANEYALEMHO
VARIANTJABTAMAEAR
HITITFATIMOFFSTADIA
ARCYOGABAZAARFLIRT
NTHSEEKSACEDTACO
DUBAIREEFEREVANBUR
ROOMERAWAREVELOCITY
USXDOWNQEDARETHAO
BOTSOYACLELAS
PHENOMSHOUSTON
GASLITFEEAREANTED
OCTAGONSWANNEGGKOA
DEATHAALARGEMOANING
ELMO5TSARISTARGONNE
LAPSLINDATGEORGE2
Mon 9/2/2013
APAINEBONBOSS
LAPSETAPERAKE
ISAACHAYESAKIN
STRIKEORTOLES
TATAFINALPHASE
HENCEETON
UGHMEETSEDAM
STATUREPULSATE
SOPHSWINESET
PESOANVIL
MAYONNAISEELLE
OLDLESTIMDEAD
NOAHSTEELYGAZE
ENYAERRSSEVEN
TESTCOSTTRESS
Tue 9/3/2013
WHATSRACARTE
AONELASEAVAIL
XBOXRIVALMINTS
YONAMEBAEAGLE
FRENCHFORYES
TAHOESANY
AGOGREMITNBA
PERSONALPRONOUN
SENLEEKSASST
CDEASSETS
CRYOFDELIGHT
LEONIRENEEQED
USUALMINIATURE
EERIEACESWISE
STERSARTOPTS

This puzzle had been languishing in my files for several years, because I'd run a couple of others with we/wee/Wii/etc. themes. But I thought Dan's treatment was nice — and after a few years the whole idea feels fresh again.

Wed 9/4/2013
JOBAFLACINTEL
AAACUOMONEHRU
RTJOHNSONTWAIN
SHAKEENFLEMING
ESPEURO
SIAMAWARDOHMS
KTCOURICANNUAL
USAMANIACSRIO
AORTASDDRAMONE
SKEWAUSSIONES
OBISSAP
KCAFFLECKWEAVE
NADALREONASSIS
UTICAIDLESALP
TENETDEATHPEN

Last week Joel finished his third year as my summer intern, while he goes to Pomona College. His constructions are always superclean, and he manages to include some great vocabulary besides. In this puzzle I especially like IT'S OK, TWOFACE, PARASAIL, LUDACRIS, and NEW MOON. That's impressive fill for a puzzle with this much theme material. It takes careful placement of theme answers and black squares — and some serious crossword chops, too — to pull it off.

POW Thu 9/5/2013
MAOISMPORTEDD
ONSTARDREINOR
INCITEFENGDYE
LEANEDAHNOLD
RAESCATTERED
CINNIGHTOWL
OSOSATITALOUD
RADIANIDIDSO
POSERFAWNEDER
STRATEGOORR
SPUTTEREDPAR
CANAANDICERS
ANDTTOPUNEVIE
LSUUTESSELENA
EYEMORTTRANKS

I'm amazed that Damon managed to find four pairs of theme answers that would work in this puzzle. And the addition of PORT, MORT, CORP and DORR is sheer brilliance.

Fri 9/6/2013
POVERTYROWGARR
URANIUMOREEPEE
CARROTCAKELPGA
ENYAUARDIALUP
GASPENTEL
ESTERSTEADICAM
WARSAWPACTNITE
ONEBOLSTERDIA
KTELRETIREMENT
SAGEGREENBERGS
CUTSINFAN
BLASTSONODISK
CAROOTHERWOMAN
URDUMSMAGAZINE
PASTEASTORANGE

This is another lovely, clean construction from Brad and Doug. Most of the clues are theirs, too.

Sat 9/7/2013
BURJKHALIFAPIC
ONAUTOPILOTGMA
WISDOMTEETHTMS
EXPOSITSOLDHAT
LEOAMERICA
CIALISSTATERUN
ASIANSUITETLC
NORMSENDSYEAH
TMCMAINESEETO
HELSINKICORNER
ATEINTOEON
CRANIACRONYISM
KINMAJORLEAGUE
ICEANDSOITGOES
TSRLASTRESORTS

The Times's test-solvers found this puzzle tough. And anyone who doesn't know the BURJ KHALIFA (1-Across), as one of the testers didn't, is in for an especially rough time.

Sun 9/8/2013 BUMPER CARS
SPAYTALCMCATSSEPIA
ILIAOHIORICOHEARLS
PARKAVENUECOUGARQUEST
TWIXMARSHPALAUSAO
SEAMENISITELMERS
CAVALIERCAPRIDIPLOMAT
HUEGMAYSERSWAMI
ALHIRTAMOURENYA
BOBCATRABBITACCORD
ROLEXARATALEABS
INTREPIDRAMCHALLENGER
MASSOMASOOBURNT
STORMTROOPERSONATA
AQUIHENCESHANKS
MUNROBITOUZIATF
CELEBRITYGOLFDEFENDER
ONSIDENEMOFLIMSY
AKACOINSTERSEAXIS
MIDGETOUTBACKEXPLORER
PREENCRAMPERASNERF
SIDLEYETISDEMISDAK

Judging by the test-solvers' comments, the clue for 99-Down, "Pussy ___ (Russian girl group)," will raise some eyebrows. But the group's name has been much in the news for several years, including in several New York Times headlines, so I think it's fair game.

POW Mon 9/9/2013
ACTSBLACKWORD
SLOTULTRAALAI
KERRSALARYHIKE
AREAMAPLEVET
PRESSPASSRAISE
GUNSHYMEIR
APTTRAITEARNS
GOODCATCH
SHEENSEOULART
TELLBAMBOO
ELATERABBITRUN
ALPSIEGEREAL
MUSICSCORETHAW
EVERPARERNADA
DADASPATEAMEN

A note about ROULADE (43D) and AGORA (51D): I've heard some people say a Monday puzzle shouldn't have difficult words like these, but I strongly disagree. Of course a Monday puzzle is supposed to be easy, but it can have a hard word or two, if all the crossings are clear. This is especially so for a New York Times audience, which tends to be educated and intelligent. A couple of hard words, if they're interesting and useful, are not a detriment at all.

Tue 9/10/2013
KUMQUATTYPHOON
ATEINTOHORMONE
LETDOWNEDASNER
ERASTEAMEDAGO
SILKRELAY
SAINTSOATS
HYUNDAIKOWTOW
AAAKETCHUPODE
GUNGHOHORATIO
ELKOBOTTLE
BARAKCHOW
EBBBOREDOMIMO
MARCONICHATTER
ALADDINCOLUMNS
GINSENGCHINESE

What I like about this puzzle is the unusual nature of the theme. There are no theme answers longer than seven letters. The information in the theme makes you go "huh, I didn't know that," which is nice.

Wed 9/11/2013
JAFARUNITELS
AMORESCORELAP
WARMBLOODEDIKE
SSTIANDOZEN
MATERNITYWARD
PEYTONPASS
ATEAMPOOLGPS
CARDBOARDCUTOUT
ESSARTSPIETY
LETTADESTE
EXTENSIONCORD
AROMANENUFO
SAYCOLDHEARTED
EYETREVIXACTO
LSDSEEDETHER

This puzzle has been in my files for a long time, because I have a lot of puzzles with word-ladder themes, and I try to space them out. The two long non-theme entries at 3D and 34D are especially nice.

Thu 9/12/2013
TAJLIRRAWARD
ABUBREADDACHA
ROMJACKSPARROW
SUPSQUELLZING
ITSABIRDABODES
TUXESANON
SHIEDBUBBLEJET
KATGIRLSUAE
ITSAPLANEELITE
LEASALICE
VACUUMJEFFKENT
ETONUDALLEBAY
ITSSUPERMANAWL
LIMESSEEMERAE
SCOREDREWSYR

As with all of Ian's puzzles, the fill in this grid is particularly clean and lively. Also, the theme has a twist I've never seen before.

Fri 9/13/2013
CLASPINGANGLE
LASERBEAMBORAX
INANIMATECRAVE
NORADLETTYOU
GLUTEIEASTERN
TILERUMORHASIT
ONECONARTISTS
LANDLINES
FOURLETTEROFT
COINPURSESBRIE
HULKINGSCLERA
ALPGOBSRAGES
ITALYNOTREDAME
SINAIEYEOPENER
EPSONSTETSONS

I'm so impressed with every crossword Patrick constructs — fresh, interesting vocabulary, with no junk. He makes constructing seem effortless, which it definitely isn't. His clues are excellent, too. My favorite one here is 35A.

Sat 9/14/2013
PIZZAJOINTWIFE
ANTIMATTERALAS
WHITENOISELLCS
NILSEESTOKATO
SETSNLGOT
HTSTIEONEON
INHERITNEWWAVE
BIODATAGREASES
ATTACKSSISTERS
RETREATSETE
OKSEPSRAW
LOTSSTEPONSAY
YURIRENONEVADA
IZODISCREWEDUP
NOTESTEELTRAPS

In retrospect, I'm not sure why I accepted this puzzle. Jeff can't construct worth a damn... oh, hi Jeff! Just kidding, of course. You've turned into a first-rate constructor in a very short time. My favorite entries here are 1A, 17A, 37A, 59A, 62A, 64A, 11D, 25D, and 35D. That's a lot of nice stuff! My least favorite are 26A, 2D, 10D (which isn't made anymore), and 60D. Overall, though, the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

Sun 9/15/2013 THAT GIRL
HOGAILSTHEMRAHCFO
ALLUPSETROBEPROSHOP
SEIZEHERSALADIMTHERE
RADIXREILLYSAUCER
ONESETAGEESHARIKIA
ONOSOCKHERPLAYERHGT
MANSLOSTALUMNABENE
LADYBTUSCBER
SCALYATLSHUTHERBUG
STOPGOCHUMPLSAGONY
EAURUBHERCHICKENAIM
ARNIEIOSSOLEABORTS
LETHERBOMBOERTARDY
HONEIREDJAGS
STEPGRATIABIEBOPAL
TORLICKHERBOTTLEHBO
APPIMACSTETSENTIRE
BLAINECHACHADALES
BIRDINGJUMPHERCABLES
ENTENTEIKEAREALSIZE
DESGSTGENLEARLPER
Mon 9/16/2013
PANASAPDAPPER
UPIGALSELAINE
MAMMAMIACANNOT
AROARLEOATRA
STYXMUMMYSTOMB
IBIDISLE
AHAAROOILOST
MILLIONMOMMARCH
IMPELBAALSHY
TEMPHAYS
MAMMYYOKUMLAMA
ATIENTHAARON
CESSNAMMMMGOOD
HITECHEXAMMER
UNSERSRICOADE

The Monday through Thursday puzzles this week were used last Saturday at the 6th annual BAC Fill crossword tournament in Oakland, Calif. Each year all the money raised at the event goes to benefit Families of SMA, which is dedicated to finding a treatment and cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. More info can be found at www.bayareacrosswords.org.

Tue 9/17/2013
LABELESCAPEPSA
INANEERASERAWN
DANCESWITHWOLVES
GORENOISELAW
WILDATHEARTVOTE
SWEETALPEFEVER
JOSAVEMOLARS
DATEMOVIES
UMLAUTREXWAR
GOERSPLIEEJECT
ALOTTHEGRADUATE
NINEIRONPINK
DEADPOETSSOCIETY
ARRSOBEITTOSEE
NEDOPENLYSRTAS

As you probably noticed, the grid is an atypical 16x15 squares, in order to accommodate the theme. I'm happy to run any sort of unusual grid size like this as long as there's a good enough reason and readers get their usual amount of crossword solving.

Wed 9/18/2013
OCTOPISCTVKID
TOUTERHAREIDO
THRONEOPENTEN
AONINERTGUTAG
WRITTEXTMEGA
ATNOTAKEAHINT
MATTERNLAO
ONCEBITTWICESHY
NEOOMNITEC
TEMPLETONABCD
PRIXNOTIRELY
OBEYSASWANNOS
PATHEMPCASINO
URLEMMALISTEN
SKYSOONERRORS

I don't usually run rebus themes on Wednesday, but every once in a while I make an exception. It keeps solvers from getting complacent. This rebus element is pretty easy, so the puzzle felt Wednesdayish to me. Still, I'm expecting complaints from newbies who don't usually do Thursday (or later) puzzles and have never encountered a rebus in a crossword before.

Thu 9/19/2013
LACOSTEGPSARM
APOGEESLOALEA
COLDMASTERYLTR
ELLEANTIOUT
ULANCHOSEDOWNY
PORSCHEDORMER
SISPEACHGEDS
CARTFAIRY
BEERHOYLEEMT
ACROSSEATCROW
CLOCKPICKYARNE
KITIRMASATE
EPICANDYCOATED
NSCATOAIRBILL
DEAPSTMIRACLE

A theme like this lives or dies on the naturalness and humor of the theme examples. I thought these were pretty good.

Fri 9/20/2013
ASKOVERPTBOATS
RAISEDANEYEBROW
ALLKIDDINGASIDE
ROMANINNERSIE
AMERMAJORSTET
TERTITANKNIFE
BAKESDEADON
IBISESPEEPER
AMAZEDMALLS
RILEDBUSTSSHE
ATITPESTSVTEN
PANSEIKOKARAT
ATEENAGERINLOVE
HOSTILETAKEOVER
ORESTESLEERERS

Mangesh Ghogre, of Mumbai, India, is making his debut with today's puzzle. How he and Doug divided up the construction job I don't know. The two pairs of stacked 15s are pretty nice, I think, although three of the four 15s have appeared in Times puzzles before (17A once, 48A twice, and 45A three times). But it's been awhile since they've appeared, and the clues for them are fresh, so I hope solvers will not remember them or at least not mind.

Sat 9/21/2013
LIARSBLASTIT
UNDOCKCOMEONS
SASSONSSANTANA
TWOSTEPSFETTER
FORETELLSSLURS
URBSPIAMATERS
LDSBATTALION
LETTERMEN
CONCERTOSSEA
TOUGHROADMAGI
CONGASOLOHOMER
LOCALSFEVERISH
ALENCONCARESTO
MEDIATERESEES
PRESTOSSONDE

With just 58 words, this grid design is an eye-opener. My favorite entries in it are 6A, 38A, 14D, 20D, 23D, 29D, and 34D. I didn't care so much for ADSORBS, BCS (especially that), SONDE, and one or two other things. But overall this is pretty handsome.

POW Sun 9/22/2013 LETTERBOXES
CASTMATSTHEMSHA
OPORTOTHEOHALOSTAC
DUNCANHANDLEWITHCARE
ORNERYOILAOKOLDBAT
REEDSPRESSSECRETARY
SECPREGATPOMTEL
STACIESRIDALIS
THEFBIANNEAETHER
WAVEESCGAMELAUDE
CIVSOLDOUTMOBSSLIP
READTHISGRIDINBRAILLE
INTOOCTOORBISONEEL
MEANTKENSKIAGADS
ERRORSASHYACIDIC
RATEDAERQUESTS
CRTSAXRAIGSNHEM
TOUCHTONEPHONEOPERA
SCRIBEABELITSWEDES
CONTACTPOISONSANTONE
ACEGAHANABETGUTTER
NORROSYTOROSPYS
Mon 9/23/2013
BRADDUBSOLID
AIDEDASAOBESE
SADIEMENSROOMS
SLICEANDDICE
ETCETCIKEMOP
TOTSTHETHREERS
SIAMELWAY
ITSTIMETOROLL
ACHOORUES
GOOGOOEYESIMAM
ENSDINTAMALE
COSTUMEBALLS
VICEVERSACRAWS
EVADEANNSEWER
TYLERPAXTITS

My favorite theme answer here is THE THREE R'S, especially as R'S are a fun thing to roll. I edited this puzzle on a plane ride to Iowa two weeks ago, fact-checking a few clues once I got back.

Tue 9/24/2013
SHAHSTADTZUS
OUTERTOGOHESA
THEREAGIOERST
DREWBARRYMORE
SCISPIELBERG
CONCEALELS
OMNISIFELLMSG
REEDSTEALMOTH
ERRSHYERPABLO
SOIDAIRIES
PHONEHOMELOT
FLYINGBICYCLE
ROLELENTEUBIE
AWOLERGOSPACE
TENDSTEREYER

I'm astonished by the amount of theme material Kevin managed to wedge into this puzzle, some of it even stacked and/or crossing other theme entries. At the last minute, just before editing, I decided this puzzle needed a theme "explainer," so the circled E and T were my idea. The E was already in place. The center-right and lower-right sections of the grid were revised to get the circled T in a symmetrical position.

Wed 9/25/2013
EBBTIDESASSAIL
TROOPERSIMELDA
HOTWATERRECOOK
ANTDEBASARULE
NCOSRUPTURE
SOMMESTEPTBSP
LOADSUPSUKE
ANAGRAMPLUGSIN
DENNTSBYEAS
SODAEDITSLEET
TABOOEDERNO
LITTERSJAIVAT
IMHEREHARDTIME
NARNIAINTERCOM
EXUDEDDOSSIERS

"Word before" and "word after" sorts of themes have become overdone, I think. This one, though, I think is particularly pretty because the key word combines with both halves of the other theme entries ... and there are six of them, not four. Very impressive.

POW Thu 9/26/2013
BALLDOZENHALF
EPEEIRATEIDEA
SIAMESECATGMAC
TENONSHIPSHAPE
INTOLATENT
WONEDYSYER
EGGRIOTSSEGER
SLOBCLOCKDODI
TENORKOALATAN
LUVDRUMOMG
SCOTIAMILS
DEATHSTARGALOP
AGRIIAMACAMERA
YULETRACYPEER
SEASSIDEDSPOT

I met Tom Pepper and Victor Barocas when I was in Minneapolis two weeks ago. There is a surprisingly large crossword-constructing community there. This puzzle's theme is first-rate, I think.

Fri 9/27/2013
GERMINATELUCIA
OVERTAKESANODE
DOMESTICPARTNER
IKIDARSSKIDOO
VETALAGASLOGS
ASSISIARPFRO
CHANGEONEAL
MCGEEONEPOEMS
ALOESLETTER
METSAWARMPIT
MATDOWNAGAAMY
AREOLAESTAGAR
MINDINGTHESTORE
INIGOAREACODES
AGNESTERMINATE

I think Pete intended this puzzle as a Thursday, but as much as I liked the theme, I didn't think it was powerful enough to devote an entire puzzle to. For this to be a "themeless" puzzle, though, my rule is that the grid has to have 72 or fewer entries, and Pete's original grid had 74. So my colleague Frank Longo revised the construction. The last black square in the sixth row used to be one square higher, and its symmetrical mate in the lower left was one square lower.

This shift lowered the word count by the necessary two words. Then Frank reworked the upper-right and lower-left corners accordingly. The result turned out great, I think — a themeless puzzle with a mini-theme!

Sat 9/28/2013
PAWPRINTMEANTO
REELEDININFERS
ORNAMENTALTREES
POTTIESLEIDEI
OBSESSBISCAYNE
SAONEPIETIN
ATUSMIGNONETTE
LITBIGBANGHUA
SCHOOLMATECERT
DALENEBERNE
TIMESINKGERMAN
IWOTOTBARTOLI
LISTENSTOREASON
TSHIRTRUNTIEST
SHEESHITISNTSO

Judging by comments on the blogs, you either love Joe Krozel or you hate him. I lean more towards the former. Joe is always pushing the envelope, in this case with a super-low word count. As in most puzzles of this sort, there are compromises — as with NINS, D'ALENE, AT US, RUNTIEST, and TREEN crossing TREES.

On the other hand, the grid has a lot of great entries — PAW PRINT, SCHOOLMATE, TIME SINK, SHEESH, MILLIONTH, WENT SOUTH, BIG BANG crossing BIG BANK, and both 15-letter entries. I wouldn't want every themeless puzzle to push the envelope like this. But once in a while? Absolutely.

Sun 9/29/2013 OVERHEARD IN NEW ENGLAND
ENCASESCACHEDEDMOND
SEETHRUAPIECEPAYFOR
TARTANSSPOCKSWILLFLY
STORMPATEHOCHLACES
APPELLATEACARE
CODCOUNTERSDALISNBC
ORATORSPRIVETSTAY
ISRSEAMSUNEASWELL
LITTLEPOTONGOODTERMS
ENEROTOOEASYDERE
DIRECTEDASAPOLITICS
MAREELITISMPETRI
GOBBLEDMESSAGEDENIER
OVULESANIBOCCESTE
TIGESPRINTLEANSIN
ADZMEESEHOTSURGEONS
ANODEMANEATERS
CAPERLAHRSALTESTOP
HOPPERSBAZAAREREMITE
UNEASEEDIBLERITALIN
MERLOTLAPSEDSOONEST
Mon 9/30/2013
PACTIMAMMEMOS
ACHYSADEENACT
STOPSHORTADDTO
PEATERSTMAV
CESSNAPOPSCENE
ATHEARTITUNES
KNOTADORED
YAPCOPSHOWTAU
SAMSONHOGS
COHIBAOCTOPUS
DROPSHOTREISER
RETTACHEAST
AGORACOVERTOPS
CONANUSEDURAL
KNEEDREGSPYRO

Six theme entries plus an "explainer," at 58A, all wrapped in a simple, elegant construction, make for a handsome Monday puzzle. COHIBA at 43A was new to me, but the crossings are good, and everything else seems easy enough. BTW, the Monday through Thursday puzzles this week were used at the 17th annual Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament last Friday, held for charity in my hometown of Pleasantville, NY.

The fastest solver was Glen Ryan, Taftville, CT — perfect in 2 mins. 41 secs. Dan Feyer, a tournament judge (and reigning American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champ), finished this puzzle in 2:05. He beat constructor Ian Livengood, another judge, by about half a minute...on Ian's own puzzle!

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