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31
Today's Puzzles / April 19: Something's fishy
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 19, 2017, 05:02:27 PM »
C.C. Burnikel came up with another clever idea. Today's crossword includes this clue: "Ingredient in some Asian soup, or, literally, what each answer to a starred clue has." The answer is FISHHEAD.

Garage alternative: CARPORT
Droopy-eared dog: BASSETHOUND 
Testimony preceder: SOLEMNOATH
Common cause of food poisoning: SALMONELLA
Garment with a fitted waist & flared bottom: SKATERDRESS

A skater dress is so named because it resembles the characteristic style of dress worn by female figure skaters. A skater dress is actually just a short A-line dress:

http://plussizeprincess.com/2013/01/what-skater-dress/

Salmonella is a bacteria of the Enterobacteriaceae family. There are two species, Salmonella enterica and Salmonella bongori. The bacteria were named for Daniel Salmon, a veterinary pathologist with the Department of Agriculture. Some people get flowers or butterflies or streets or mountains named for them. I wonder how Salmon felt about his name being used for bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website has detailed information about Salmonella:

https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/

The now-acceptable use of product names in crosswords is possibly getting out of hand. Today we have ARI ("Pop singer Grande's fragrance"), ALPO ("Shepherd's dinner, perhaps"), AMANAS ("Some kitchen appliances"), HPS {"Officejet printers"), NOKIA ("Finnish tech giant") and SPEEDO ("Racer's swimwear brand"). A clever clue is "Present mo." My first thought was APRIL but the answer is DEC, the month when we give and get presents.

To conclude, here is a recipe for fish head soup -- but please don't expect me to eat any!

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/fish-head-soup-1200791

32
Today's Puzzles / April 17: Today's best puzzle
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 17, 2017, 07:47:51 PM »
Bruce Haight came up with a cute idea for today's Los Angeles Times crossword: "Highway segment for slower traffic" is RIGHTLANE -- and the end (the right side) of each theme answer can be followed by LANE.

Friends of man's best friend: DOGLOVERS
Tidy sum that doesn't sound like much: PRETTYPENNY
Sport involving some rolling on the grass: LAWNBOWLING
Forgetting the unpleasant parts: SELECTIVEMEMORY

The expression "man's best friend" was first used by Frederick II, former King of Prussia (1740-86). He was unmarried and preferred to spend time with his greyhounds rather than with people. He referred to one of his dogs as "man's best friend" and even asked that he be buried next to his greyhounds on the vineyard terrace at his residence in Potsdam. However, his nephew and successor Frederick William II instead ordered the body to be entombed next to the body of Frederick I near the Potsdam Garrison Church.

In 1967, the Beatles had a number-one hit in several countries with Penny Lane, written by Paul McCartney. There is indeed a Penny Lane in Liverpool. One day in November 1966, Paul was waiting at a bus shelter for Beatles bandmate John Lennon. While there -- or whilst, as the British would say -- Paul wrote down descriptions of what he saw, including the bank, the barber shop, the roundabout and the nurse selling poppies for Remembrance Day, and turned his dsescriptions into a song. The "shelter in the middle of the roundabout" was the Penny Lane Bus Station, which no longer exists. After the Penny Lane song was released, Beatles fans stole all the street signs.

"Columbus craft" is PINTA ("The Painted One") -- but is it really? Historians say La Pinta was a nickname. Ships in Columbus's time were named after saints. Columbus also had the Santa Clara (which was nicknamed La NiƱa) and the Santa Maria. No one is certain what the Pinta's real name was. For more information about the three ships, go to

http://www.indepthinfo.com/columbus-christopher/nina-pinta-santa-maria.htm

And before you ask, no, I don't believe there was ever a ship called the Santa Claus.
33
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by ryanspuzzles on April 17, 2017, 02:14:04 PM »
Fantastic advice everyone. Thank you.
34
Today's Puzzles / Figuring out the April 16 crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 16, 2017, 03:38:32 PM »
Today's Los Angeles Times crossword by C.C. Burnikel is titled "Action Figures" and features eight familiar terms adapted to apply to famous people:

Sally having fun? PLAYINGFIELD
Nathan at quarterback? PASSINGLANE
Doris during a workout? TRAININGDAY
Comical Samantha busy stitching? QUILTINGBEE
Director Oliver working on pizza dough? ROLLINGSTONE
Nicolas taking a swing? BATTINGCAGE
Singer Al making a strike? BOWLINGGREEN
Lucille on a trampoline? BOUNCINGBALL

Brand names used to be taboo in crosswords but are becoming increasingly common. Today's puzzle includes OREO ("Sister brand of Nilla"), OLAY ("Maker of Regenerist products"), IMAC ("Computer with a Magic Keyboard") and SERTAS ("Perfect Sleepers, e.g."), and ATE was clued with "Had Subway fare."

"Many a pizza slice" is OCTANT. I was unfamiliar with this word. It dates from the late 17th century and comes from the Latin octo, which means "eight." Merriam-Webster defines octant as "an arc of a circle equal to one eighth of its circumference, or the area enclosed by such an arc with two radii of the circle." Now I won't be baffled if I ever see pizza advertised at a particular price per octant,

Timothy Polin's New York Times crossword today also includes names of action figures -- more specifically, Western actors. Even more specifically, Western actors and their horses. The puzzle is titled "Saddle Up!" and the actors' names are directly above the names of their horses: ZORRO is on TORNADO, CISCOKID is on DIABLO, TONTO is on SCOUT, LONERANGER is on SILVER, ROYROGERS is on TRIGGER, and DALEEVANS is on BUTTERMILK.

My favorite Western actor was Gene Autry, whose horse was named Champion. During Autry's lengthy movie/tv career, three different "Champions" appeared in his films:

http://www.geneautry.com/geneautry/champion/

The Reel Rundown site has photos of several Western stars and their horses:

https://reelrundown.com/celebrities/Horses-of-Famous-Western-Film-Stars-and-their-Sidekicks

That's all for today. I'm going to go take a west. Er, I mean rest.







35
Book Releases / Re: New York Times crossword puzzle books
« Last post by Glenn9999 on April 13, 2017, 03:34:16 AM »
Anyway, I suggest getting all seven volumes from a local bookstore. These stores need our support.

Not trying to be snotty here, but should note that the ones I'm aware of would never carry anything like this.  Ever.  Unless you count "Pennypress" or "Dell" as "anything like this", of course.

Anyhow, thanks for the heads-up (and thankfully they're not novel-bound).

Edit: and a question.  How does this set differ from the set released in February I see on Amazon?  I suppose these are actual quarterly releases?  And how does one tell the difference between one and the other?
36
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by Glenn9999 on April 13, 2017, 02:22:13 AM »
Let me add some detail here. I make a weekly puzzle for our local library and I figure most of my audience doesn't do very many crosswords so I try to keep it between Monday and Wednesday level.

I guess by "pretty bland" I mean most of my clues come across as the sort of brief "definition" clues you see in big puzzle magazines

It won't be too hard if you're keeping it around the Tuesday level.  Remember that you can always change context on a piece of fill.  You can go with some dictionary part in some way, but you can apply it to culture of various kinds too.  For instance, if you look up a word and figure out it's in a popular song or movie title, you can always pop it in as a fill in the blank or something related and jazz up the grid that way.  For instance, to use an example from today's publications, you could code ATLANTA as [Georgia capital] or [Golden Globe-winning Donald Glover series].   The first is about a Mon/Tue level, the other one is late-week stuff.  Of course, you wouldn't want to do that on a word that by itself is hard, but it's a way to change up things and more or less is what Stickler is suggesting.
37
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by stickler on April 11, 2017, 09:32:03 PM »
I'm going to admit to being a complete novice when it comes to writing US crosswords, but, as a writer of over 6000 published cryptic crosswords, and a fan of US crosswords, I'd like to offer some observations. A cryptic clue has two distinct parts, the definition and a secondary part often called the wordplay.  A good cryptic clue puts these two parts together seamlessly and the only way to do that is to explore every aspect of the definition possible. That is, the more options you have with the definition, the better chance there is that you can find a matching wordplay. My goal with the definition and the goal of the typical US crossword writer is the same. My advice is to explore every aspect of the answer, meaning look up the word to be clued in multiple dictionaries and thesauruses (including doing searches of the entire reference's entries), Wikipedia etc, and find out where it's used, what it's part of, use around the world etc. With a lot of information something should emerge that's a little different to normal that hopefully will add spark to your clues.

The Stickler

www.stickler.com.au for a free weekly international cryptic with clue help and worked solutions
38
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by 4wd on April 11, 2017, 05:07:37 PM »
4wd: That may be a big part of my problem: I'm trying to rush the process. It might help if I take a couple of days to think over my fill and play around with the possibilities.

yup, it'll help you lots, I rushed stuff as well when I started was only till I took it easy that everything clicked.
 Another habit of mine is to print the filled grid with the clues, that way its easy to edit/update em. Looking at a screen all the time can distract you, pencil and paper works best for me.
39
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by ryanspuzzles on April 11, 2017, 04:28:17 PM »
4wd: That may be a big part of my problem: I'm trying to rush the process. It might help if I take a couple of days to think over my fill and play around with the possibilities.

Glenn9999: That actually does help a bit, and it confirms my suspicion about the fill/clue connection.

Let me add some detail here. I make a weekly puzzle for our local library and I figure most of my audience doesn't do very many crosswords so I try to keep it between Monday and Wednesday level.

Quote
From what I gather in all of my puzzle solving and what I've read, the words in your grid (i.e. "sparkling fill" according to the guides here) are what keeps it from being "pretty bland"

I've actually stopped using themes so that I can focus on fill for a bit. It seems to be helping so far.

Quote
What do you mean by "pretty bland"?

I guess by "pretty bland" I mean most of my clues come across as the sort of brief "definition" clues you see in big puzzle magazines (like [Morning moisture] for DEW, [Notable time in history] for ERA, etc.) To me those sorts of clues are fine in moderation, but I still want to toss in some fun clues and a tiny bit of wordplay to keep the puzzle just a small bit... puzzling.
40
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by Glenn9999 on April 11, 2017, 11:43:16 AM »
But more often than not, the set of clues I come up with is pretty bland.

What do you mean by "pretty bland"?

So I was wondering: What are your strategies in coming up with clues? Also, are there any good references or resources out there that you use to help brainstorm?

I haven't been able to successfully build a complete grid yet - my biggest obstacle.  This is mainly for coming up with words/phrases that are interesting to me that'll work with the themers I have in the places I have them - probably could if I did allow that "bleh" feeling to creep in.  From what I gather in all of my puzzle solving and what I've read, the words in your grid (i.e. "sparkling fill" according to the guides here) are what keeps it from being "pretty bland" - which is why I asked what you meant by that exactly.

As for clue writing (something I got a whole lot more confidence in when I get to that point), a lot depends on your theme and your targeted difficulty (day).  The big key is making sure your clues are syntactically correct and interesting.  Monday clues are going to (perhaps) be a lot more "pretty bland" simply because you want to point them more directly to the answer, while you get to play around more with later week stuff.   Your chosen theme, and the prerogative of the editor will play a large part in how much of your clues survive if the editor takes the grid.  Several of those "advice posts" to the left also suggest to not be too "cute" with a lot of your clue writing, which may be the kind of advice you're needing.  Note several puzzles are cataloged in different places, and you can always use them to look up your fill words and see how they have been clued in other grids.

So maybe your advice might be the same that I probably need to take with my grid building: To not worry so much.  Hard to tell, though.  See also, this.

Not sure how much of this helped, but hopefully it does.
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