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Today's Puzzles / The historical January 1 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 01, 2017, 04:03:13 PM »
"What happened then" is the theme of today's crossword by Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel. Today is the first day of 2017 and the puzzle includes events that took place one hundred years ago:

Orphanage founded in 1917: BOYSTOWN
Treats inspired by a coal miner in 1917: MOONPIES
Fundraising items first sold in 1917: GIRLSCOUTCOOKIES
Subject of an act passed in 1917: SELECTIVESERVICE
America bought it from Denmark in 1917: USVIRGINISLANDS
American citizenship grantee in 1917: PUERTORICAN
World Series winner in 1917: CHICAGOWHITESOX

The MoonPie consists of two round graham crackers with a layer of marshmallow filling and a chocolate coating. According to legend, Earl Mitchell, the owner of the Chattanooga Bakery in Tennessee began making the treats in 1917 after a coal miner said he'd love to have a snack made of graham crackers and marshmallow, adding that the snack should be "as big as the moon." Is the story true? Probably not. The name likely came from the pie-like snack having a round shape like the moon.

Technically, the United States did not buy the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark. When we purchased the islands for $25,000,000 on March 31, 1917, they were not called the Virgin Islands and they certainly did not have "U.S." as part of their name. The first inhabitants of the islands were Arawak, Carib and Ciboney. Christopher Columbus named the islands after the virgins who attended Saint Ursula. The "Ursula Islands" might have been a better name. At least nobody would be making jokes about the islands and their inhabitants if the islands were named Ursula. At various times, the Virgin Islands were owned by Spain, Great Britain, The Netherlands, France and Denmark. When the United States purchased the islands, they were known as the Danish West Indies. We renamed them the Virgin Islands of the United States.

"Bach's east" is OST, which is not used in English. "À votre __!" is SANTE, which is not used in English. It is a toast meaning "To your health!" "Table scrap" is ORT. That is a word I have never seen or heard outside of crossword puzzles. Does a young boy ever ask, "Mom, can I feed these orts to the dog?" Does a woman ever tell her son, "Be sure you clean the orts off your plate before you put it in the dishwasher"? "Tagged without reaching, as home" is OUTAT. In a baseball game, if a runner is tagged out before reaching home, he isn't really "out at home." He is "out on the basepath."

Also in 1917, the first World War was raging and thousands of people lost their lives; 168 people died in an explosion at an ore mine in Butte, Montana; 250 died during a race riot in East St. Louis, Illinois; 70,000 were left homeless by a fire which destroyed one third of the city of Thessaloniki, Greece; 1,963 died and 9,000 were injured in an explosion caused by the collision of two freighters in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia. Let us all hope and pray that 2017 is a much better year than 1917 was. In 2008, evangelist Billy Graham wrote a "Prayer for the New Year." It was published in the Saturday Evening Post and is still relevant today:
General Discussion / Who accepts submissions now?
« Last post by baleeba on December 29, 2016, 09:39:44 PM »
Hi all,  I have had puzzles accepted by several places.  But I am trying to get a good understanding of the universe of potential outlets for my puzzles.  Does anyone know what is happening with USAToday?  They don't appear to be accepting submissions any more.  What about the LA Times--they seem to be slower responding than even the NYTimes.  I am thinking maybe they are not accepting submissions any more.  Has anyone submitted to Buzzfeed--they seem to have a totally different sensibility from any other outlet I have seen.  Where else can you submit besides these outlets: NYT, WSJ, Chronicle of Higher Ed, Crossword Club, LA Times, Simon and Schuster, Games, Newsday, Orange County Register, Buzzfeed.  Too bad my local paper, the Seattle Times, just reprints the NYTimes puzzle one week late!  Lee
General Support / Missing Jonesin' puzzles
« Last post by BGoldstein on December 29, 2016, 09:31:23 AM »
I  hope nothing's happened to Matt Jones -- his puzzle links have gone dead.
Today's Puzzles / Unwrapping the December 25 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 25, 2016, 06:04:37 PM »
Merry Christmas, everyone! Today's crossword is by Nora Pearlstone. The letters in that name can be anagrammed to spell "not a real person." Nora Pearlstone is an alias occasionally used by crossword puzzle editor/creator Rich Norris. The puzzle's title is "Holiday Doings." Grey squares form the shape of a Christmas tree and circled letters at the top spell STAR. Several Christmas-related words and phrases are among the answers, including SANTACLAUS, PRESENTS, ORNAMENTS, GREETINGCARD, REINDEER, OTANNENBAUM and ACHRISTMASCAROL.

"Toledo thing" is COSA. That would be Toledo, Spain -- and the word is not used in English. "L.A.'s ___ Center" is AON. The Aon Center is a 62-story skyscraper whose chief tenant is the Aon Corporation, a London-based insurance brokerage. There is also an Aon Center skyscraper in Chicago. "Spacewalks, briefly" is EVAS. EVA stands for "extra-vehicular activity." If I go for a walk in the park, I guess technically I'm doing an EVA.

The crossword includes three relatively obscure names. "Elements Of Algebra author is EULER. Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) first published his algebra textbook in German in 1770. It was titled Vollständige Anleitung zur Algebra ("Complete Instruction in Algebra"). English-language translations are still in print in 2016. "Author Yutang" is LIN. Lin Yü-t'ang (1895-1976) was a Chinese-born author, linguist and inventor. Among his best-known books are The Importance Of Living, The Vigil Of A Nation and My Country & My People. "Poet Levertov" is DENISE. Denise Levertov (1923-1997) was a British-born avant-garde poet, essayist and anti-war activist.

Since we're in the middle of Christmas vacation, you might want to wait until January to read the history of those three people. For now, just enjoy the rest of your holiday season.
Today's Puzzles / The ex-rated December 23 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 23, 2016, 04:41:09 PM »
Today's crossword by David Alfred Bywaters is only his second published puzzle. His first appeared on December 13 and included phrases which ended with a law-related term, such as BASKETCASES and THREEPIECESUITS. "They sometimes intrude at weddings and also in this puzzle's theme" is EXES. Each theme answer is altered by the addition of EX:

Illicit buzzing in the hive? BEESEXTING
Slipshod building addition? RAGGEDYANNEX 
Too much shooting at the table? EXCESSPOOL
Aerosol product that will help you fit in in Houston? SPRAYONTEXAN
Beginning of a very thorough biography? FETALEXPOSITION

The main ingredient of those spray-on tan products is dihydroxyacetone, a chemical derived from sugar. It reacts with amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a pigment called melanoidin. The tan color usually lasts three to seven days. Getting a tan from a spray can is safer than getting a tan by extended exposures to sunlight -- as long as you don't mind being coated with dihydroxyacetone.

"French honey" is AMIE, which is not used in English. "Mazatlán-to-Chihuahua dirección" is NORTE, which is not used in English. "Voulez-vous coucher __ moi?" is AVEC, which is not used in English. (The phrase means "Would you lie with me" and was part of the chorus of Patti LaBelle's 1974 number-one hit Lady Marmalade.) 

"Monthly pmts. reducer" is REFI -- one of many shortened words which I detest:  relo, fridge, celeb, vocab, info, intro, abs, delts, pecs, quads, ute, quints, sarge, mo (for "moment"), sec (for "second"), peeps (for "people") -- and yes, even the theme of today's puzzle, "exes." Is it really that difficult to use complete words?

"Clickbait site, as of Sep. 2016" is OED. On a website, a "clickbait" is a link or a graphic which is often paid for by an advertiser and which supposedly lures the reader to click on it in order to view more content. I fail to see how the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary involves clickbait. Anyway, the OED was first published in 1884 and now contains more than 600,000 words. The third complete updating of the OED is underway. The project is expected to be completed in 2037 at an expense of £34,000,000. If you're a crossword puzzle constructor and you want to fill your grid with uncommon words instead of the much-overused  ALE, APE, ARENA, ASEA, ERA, IRA, IRE, LEI, OBOE, OREO, SPA and UKE, here is where to find them:
Today's Puzzles / The fairly clever December 21 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 21, 2016, 05:07:11 PM »
"A Good Beginning" is the title of today's crossword by Ron Toth and C.C. Burnikel, which appears on the first day of Winter. "Open to attack" is FAIRGAME and the first word of each theme answer can be preceded by FAIR:

Exchange insults: TRADEBARBS
Come-on for new customers: TRIALOFFER
Pretend to be out: PLAYPOSSUM
"Get a move on!" SNAPTOIT
"I'd like a hand": DEALMEIN

To play possum is "to feign sleep or death; to dissemble or pretend ignorance." The possum, properly known as an opossum, often pretends to be dead in order to avoid being attacked by a predator. The first known use of "play possum" dates from 1822.

"¿Cómo ____? is ESTAS, which is not used in English. "Sounding shocked" is AGASP, a word which, like AROAR, I have never seen or heard anywhere other than in crossword puzzles. "Chaotic mess" is SNAFU. The word was originally a slang term used by members of the United States Air Force. It means "Situation normal, all fouled up." Actually, the Air Force members used a different word besides "fouled." Hrrmmm.....let's move on.

"Magazine with Don Martin cartoons" is MAD. The man promoted as "Mad's Maddest Artist" joined the "usual gang of idiots," as the staff has always been known, in 1956. His work appeared regularly until 1988. He left the magazine in 1987 after publisher William Gaines refused to pay him royalties from the sales of paperback books of his cartoons. Martin then spent six years at Cracked, a competing satire magazine, which billed him as "Cracked's Crackedest Artist." Martin, fondly remembered for his creative sound effects -- Splortch! Floi-doip! Ka-wheeeeng! -- died in 2000 at age 68. There is a Don Martin website called "Don Martin Website":

And in 2001, a group of nine people performed a true public service for Don Martin fans by compiling an alphabetical list of all the bizarre sound effects which Martin used in his cartoons:

Happy first day of Winter -- and splatch goosh gashklitzka!

Today's Puzzles / Re: Merry Christmas and Good-bye
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 21, 2016, 02:12:46 PM »
Phil, I appreciate your comment and I shall take your advice to heart. I know what LTRFTW means -- but it looks just like one of those non-words I always end up with when I try to create a crossword puzzle. :D
Today's Puzzles / Re: Merry Christmas and Good-bye
« Last post by phil262 on December 21, 2016, 08:23:52 AM »
Does anyone besides me still care about this thread?

I care.

I visit the site everyday to download the puzzles and I love reading the comments. Don't mistake the lack of replies for lack of appreciation.

Today's Puzzles / Re: Merry Christmas and Good-bye
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 20, 2016, 06:01:12 PM »
Mike, I'm somewhat encouraged by reading your post. I hope you do contribute to this site. I admire people who create crossword puzzles, especially the ones who do so by hand, without the aid of a computer program. I have tried creating crosswords -- and most of the time I wind up with only a 90%-complete puzzle. There are always a few problem areas where I wind up with BBVE or LAHJ or CGYRT and I can never figure out how to make the necessary changes so the entire puzzle is filled with real words. 

I'm sorry the censors wouldn't allow you to use your original screen name. :D

Today's Puzzles / Re: Merry Christmas and Good-bye
« Last post by DangYankee on December 19, 2016, 11:54:04 PM »
I just joined this forum a few weeks ago and was a bit disappointed as to the low level of communication. I am a new crossword constructor but a long time solver. I, for one, would be happy to post if I feel I can contribute something of value to the discussion.

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