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Today's Puzzles / Re: The cutting-edge July 3 crossword
« Last post by mmcbs on July 07, 2016, 07:28:37 AM »
Well, on that plural question, we (constructors and editors) rely heavily on Random House Unabridged Dictionary to determine what is "right" or "wrong", and CACTI and OCTOPI are acceptable plurals. Like it or not, usage often determines linguistic evolution sometimes (as you correctly pointed out) trumping etymology or logic. Surprised you'd quibble about SSW et al. (valid abbreviations for directions that are well-known), and not ALER - which is pure crosswordese IMO, not in any dictionary that I'm aware of, and seldom used in sports headlines or slang.
Today's Puzzles / The cutting-edge July 3 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 03, 2016, 05:56:34 PM »
Today's crossword by Mark McClain is titled "First Cuts" and each of the seven longest answers begins with the name of a type of saw:

Mouse feature: SCROLLWHEEL
Music in a shell: BANDCONCERT
Domino effect: CHAINREACTION
More than an idea: CONCRETEOBJECT
Begging the question: CIRCULARLOGIC
Olympic sport since 1988: TABLETENNIS
Something to deal with? COPINGSTRATEGY

For an Olympic sport, the name "table tennis" sounds much more impressive than the more common name of "ping pong."

The coping saw -- the name comes from the French couper, "to cut" --  was invented in the mid-1500s. It is a variant of the "frame saws" used by the Romans. It consists of a thin steel blade attached to a wide U-shaped frame and a handle. A carpenter can drill a hole into a narrow piece of wood, then put the detached blade into the hole and re-attach it to the frame and be able to cut curved shapes into the wood. Think of the ƒ-shaped holes in violins which, through the passage of air, increase the volume of the music played.

"French school" is ECOLE , which is not used in English. "Nashville-to-Louisville dir." is NNE -- and could crossword creators please put a halt to the use of NNE and SSW in puzzles? Thank you. "Rudely sarcastic" is SNARKY, which derives from the mid-19th century dialect word "snark." meaning "snore; snort; find fault." The Hunting Of The Snark, an 1876 poem by Lewis Carroll, turned the snark into an imaginary beast -- which can be considered a predecessor of the Lorax, the Sneetches, Zizzle-Zazzle-Zuzz and other Dr. Seuss characters.

"Sonoran flora" is CACTI -- but "cactus" comes from the Greek kaktos and the preferred plural is cactuses. However, most botanists and horticulturists prefer Latin names and therefore use the plural "cacti."  "Yeah," you say, "but what about the plural of 'octopus'?" Well, "octopi" is commonly used -- but it's wrong. As explains:

"Octopi, the supposed plural of octopus, is a favorite among fans of quirky words but it has no etymological basis. The form was created by English speakers out of a mistaken belief that octopus is Latin and hence pluralized with an -i ending. But octopus comes from ancient Greek, where its plural is octopodes. The word octopus did not exist in Latin until scientists borrowed it from Greek in the 18th century. And if it were a Latin word, the plural would take a different form and would not have the -i ending)."

Hank, a character in the Finding Dory movie, is an octopus but he has seven tentacles, not eight. Technically, he's a septapus -- and the plural of septapus is.....umm.....let me get back to you on that.
Today's Puzzles / Producing the June 28 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on June 28, 2016, 04:53:40 PM »
Jason Chapnick lives in Florida and has collaborated with several puzzle creators, including C.C. Burnikel and Marti DuGuay-Carpenter, but today is the first time he's collaborated with Jeffrey Wechsler -- and this is the first time that Jeffrey Wechsler has collaborated with anyone. Today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Wechsler and Chapnick includes these clues and answers:

"1977 Hitchcock parody": HIGHANXIETY
"1976 parody of pre-talkies": SILENT MOVIE
"1974 Western parody": BLAZINGSADDLES
"With 'The,' 1968 parody of dishonest Broadway financiers": PRODUCERS

The puzzle also includes MELBROOKS, who directed those films and is celebrating a birthday today. Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn. He was taught to play drums by another Brooklyn native, legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich. At age 20, Mel changed his last name to Brooks, after his mother's maiden name of Brookman, and began working as a drummer and stand-up comic at clubs in the Catskill Mountains. In 1949, he became a comedy writter for Sid Caesar's tv variety show and a year later joined the writing staff of Caesar's new sketch comedy series Your Show Of Shows. Brooks and fellow writer Carl Reiner created the famous "2000-year-old man" sketch. Brooks and Buck Henry created the spy parody series Get Smart.

In 1968, Brooks produced his first feature film, The Producers, in which a producer and his accountant scheme to stage a Broadway musical which they know will flop -- and then they can abscond with all the investors' money. However, the musical, Springtime For Hitler, turns out to be a big hit. A stage version of The Producers ran on Broadway from 2001 to 2007 and won 12 Tony awards.

In Silent Movie, Brooks plays a producer who wants to film a silent movie. He reasons that there have been no silent movies made in the past 40 years and such a film would now be considered a novelty and would be highly popular. Silent Movie, which, like real silent movies, includes quite a few cards with printed dialogue so we can understand what's going on, contains what I consider to be the most clever gag ever filmed. Among the many famous actors whom Brooks telephones to ask if they'd like to star in his silent movie is French mime Marcel Marceau. In his on-stage persona of Bip the Clown, Marceau (1923-2007) performed worldwide for six decades. He never spoke during his performances. In the film, Marceau gets a phone call from Brooks asking if he'd like to appear in Brooks' silent movie. Marceau yells "Non!" (French for "No!") as he slams down the receiver. The only word spoken in a silent film came from someone who was famous for never speaking -- a truly inspired and brilliant gag.

More details of Brooks' life and career can be found at, and Wikipedia. The news and pop culture site has a nice essay today, "9 reasons we love Mel Brooks on his 90th birthday":

"Tip jar bill" is ONE -- and I find it odd that almost every serve-yourself frozen yogurt business has a tip jar. We get a cup, we fill it with frozen yogurt, we weigh it and then we pay the cashier -- and we're expected to give him a tip? For what? "Go for eagerly, as a chance" is LEAPAT. Does anyone ever say "leap at a chance"? I've always heard "jump at a chance," never "leap." As far as leaping at a tip jar.....forget it!
Today's Puzzles / It's the, er, June 26 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on June 26, 2016, 03:02:33 PM »
Vice versa is a Latin phrase meaning "with the order changed; with the relations reversed; conversely." "Vice Versa" is also the title of today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Mike Peluso. Each theme answer is a familiar phrase which has been altered by replacing a long "I" sound with an "ER" sound -- "vIce vERsa." Although.....shouldn't it be "verce vīsa"? My head is spinning. Let's move on:

"Stockpiles" becomes STOCKPEARLS ("Gems kept in inventory?").

"Flight training" becomes FLIRTTRAINING ("Coquette education?").

"Nothing to hide" becomes NOTHINGTOHERD ("Reason for cowboy unemployment?").

"Knife wielding" becomes NERFWIELDING ("Like one brandishing a Super Soaker?").

"Silver lining" becomes SILVERLEARNING ("White stallion at school?", a reference to the Lone Ranger's horse).

"The best of times," part of the opening line of Charles Dickens' 1859 novel A Tale Of Two Cities, becomes THEBESTOFTERMS ("Optimal payment arrangements?").

"Arabian Nights" becomes ARABIANNERTS ("Mideast cry of despair?"), The Dictionary Of American Slang explains that "nuts" began to be used as a synonym for "crazy; very eccentric" circa 1914. Circa 1932 the word began to be used as "An exclamation of disbelief, defiance, contempt, dismay, etc." By 1935, the variant "Nerts!" was also common.

Answers containing "the" are usually frowned upon by crossword editors but today's puzzle includes three. In addition to THEBESTOFTERMS, there is THENBA ("It has finals in June") and THEBLOB ("'Terror has no shape' sci-fi creature"). The Blob, the titular character of a 1958 film starring Steve McQueen, was an enormous jellylike blob which rode to earth on a meteorite and started engulfing and dissolving everyone it touched. The film also starred Aneta Corsaut, who would play school teacher Helen Crump on five seasons of The Andy Griffith Show.

"'Mr. Mojo ____": Repeated words in the Doors' L.A. Woman" is RISIN. The song was the title track of an album released in April 1971. Lead singer Jim Morrison would die of a heroin overdose die three months later, although there was no autopsy and his cause of death was officially given as "heart failure." In the song, he repeated the line "Mr. Mojo risin'," which is an anagram of "Jim Morrison."

"Digit in diez" is UNO, which is not used in English. "Madre's hermana" is TIA, which is not used in English. "Sapling" is TREELET. Yes, "treelet" is a word but not a very common one. "One-celled critter" is AMEBA, but almost everyone on earth spells it "amoeba." "Forum garments" is TOGAE, but almost everyone on earth would say "togas." Crossword creators are allowed to bend the rules of language and spelling -- but they shouldn't be.

"Jump shot shape" is ARC -- but an arc is a path, not a shape. "Eight-time Coty Award winner" is BEENE. Geoffrey Beene (1927-2004) -- his real name was Samuel Bozeman Jr. -- was a New York fashion designer. The Coty American Fashion Critics' Awards were presented annually from 1943 to 1984 by the Coty Company, a perfume and cosmetics manufacturer founded in 1904 in Paris and now based in New York.

I can't think of any clever way to conclude this post. Nerts!
General Discussion / Re: RISC
« Last post by mmcbs on June 26, 2016, 08:04:44 AM »
Hmm, doubt anyone would accept this entry for publication . . .
Today's Puzzles / Re: Chronicle of Higher Ed 6/24/16
« Last post by Thomps2525 on June 25, 2016, 06:46:12 PM »
Fine thing! I often complain that very few people post comments about the daily crosswords. Today someone does -- and then says "Never mind." That's okay, though. I hope Vince will be a frequent contributor here, and his post gives me an opportunity to write about the Chronicle Of Higher Education, a newspaper published 43 times a year for college and university instructors and administrators. (It's published biweekly during the summer months.) Online, the Chronicle is published every weekday and offers news, discussion forums and job listings. The website is

and the crossword puzzles can be accessed at

"It won't take much, in a way" is TREY, which is a playing card with three pips. No, that is not a reference to Gladys Knight's old singing group. In this case, a pip is a diamond, heart, club or spade. The word came from the Latin trēs and the Old French treis, which meant "three."

Today's crossword also includes ZORTZICO ("Basque dance rhythm"). Umm....."zortzico." Yeah, of course. I, uh, I knew that one. Really. Don't you believe me?
Today's Puzzles / Re: Chronicle of Higher Ed 6/24/16
« Last post by Vincehradil on June 24, 2016, 02:21:47 PM »
Nevermind. I got it after a while.
Today's Puzzles / Chronicle of Higher Ed 6/24/16
« Last post by Vincehradil on June 24, 2016, 10:30:11 AM »
I don't get 19A. It won't take much, in a way. (TREY)  :'(
General Discussion / Re: Learning How To Construct Grids
« Last post by 4wd on June 21, 2016, 11:06:11 AM »

check out the crossword constructors handbook by patrick berry focuses on a 15x15 grid though techniques can be applied else where.

Doesn't appear in Amazon, as does most other books I've seen recommended.  Sorry.

sorry for the late reply been a little busy, you can get a copy from his website costs less to get it from there, was previously named Crossword Puzzle Challenges For Dummies and its available on amazon though it's a lot more expensive if you purchase it from there. here's a link
Etc. / Which publisher is represented by "sn" in the Puzzle Database?
« Last post by mdavid on June 20, 2016, 10:21:18 PM »
Which publisher is represented by "sn" in the Puzzle Database?

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