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41
Today's Puzzles / Playing around with the July 17 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 17, 2016, 03:54:47 PM »
Matt McKinley likes to create crosswords in which the theme answers have one or two letters added, one or two letters transposed, or one or two letters changed. His crossword today is titled "Crescendo." A crescendo is a gradual increase in the loudness of a piece of music. The word comes from the Italian crescere, "to grow." In each theme answer, a P sound is changed to an F sound. In music, P (Italian piano) means "soft" and F (Italian forte) means "loud." Solvers without a knowledge of musical terms probably will not be able to understand how the title of today's puzzle relates to the theme answers:

Taciturn circus entertainers? QUIETFLEAS
Brilliant bit of deception? LUMINOUSFEINT
Gradually doze during a long meeting? FADEBYTHEHOUR
Charlie's Angels actress on her sloop? FARRAHSAILING
Award ceremony side dish? NOBELFRIES
Panel judging phobic reactions? JURYOFONESFEARS
Charge in an Everglades water taxi? ALLIGATORFARE

"Alligator fare" is changed from "alligator pear," which is actually an avocado. It is called "alligator pear" because of its shape.

http://www.pearvarieties.net/alligator_pear/alligator_pear.html

In the 1929 Marx Brothers movie The Cocoanuts, Groucho's character is trying to convince Mrs. Potter (Margaret Dumont) to buy land in Florida: "Take its fruit. Take the alligator pear. Take all the alligator pears and keep 'em -- see if I care. Do you know how alligator pears are made?" "I haven't the slightest idea." "There you are. That's because you've never been an alligator, and don't let it happen again. Do you know that it sometimes requires years to bring the pear and the alligator together? They don't like each other. Do you know how many alligator pears are sent out of this state every year and told not to come back?"

Today's crossword taught me the Chinese word BEI.  The clue was: "In Chinese, the 'north' part of China's 'northern capital.'"  Beijing literally means "north capital." In Chinese, it is written 北京. The northern Chinese city grew from a 10th century BC  settlement known as Jicheng. The name Beijing was established in 1958, although many non-Chinese still use the former name Peking.

"Like a brioche" is EGGY, which is indeed a word -- but not a good word. "Toledo title" is SRA, "Brest 'but'" is MAIS, and "Roberto's residence" is CASA, none of which are used in English. "Supergirl's symbol" is ESS. No it isn't -- her symbol is an S. I detest the use of "spelled-out letters" in crosswords. Each letter of the alphabet is already spelled out -- with a single letter. Many crosswords use CEE or DEE as, respectively, "average grade on a test" and "below-average grade on a test." Teachers will grade a test with a big red C or D, never "Cee" or "Dee." Never. And Supergirl and Superman wear a red-and-yellow emblem with an S, not an "Ess." Here is an illustrated history of the emblem:

http://www.metropolisplus.com/Superman/

Okay, that's it for me. Up, up and awaaaayyyyy.....


42
Today's Puzzles / Teeing off with the July 15 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 15, 2016, 04:11:11 PM »
The theme of today's crossword by Samuel A. Donaldson -- who is not to be confused with former ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson -- is TEAFORTWO ("No No Nanette song"). In each of four familiar phrases, a "tee" sound is substituted for a "too" sound:

Model high schoolers? FINETEENS
Ornamental ducks? GARDENTEALS
What Fey does in a mushy moment? TINAMELTS
Park statue that might have the real things perched on it? STEELPIGEON

Tea For Two, written by Irving Caesar and Vincent Youmans, was sung as a duet by the characters Tom and Nanette in the musical comedy No No Nanette, which played in Chicago for one year before opening on Broadway in 1925. It's one of those familiar "boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl" stories. Tom wants to marry Nanette but their relationship ends when she runs off to have fun in Atlantic City. Eventually they reunite and break into song as they fantasize about their future together. No No Nanette was made into a movie in 1930 and again in 1940 and a Broadway revival opened in 1971.

In February 1925, Tea For Two became a number-one hit for Marion Harris, an Indiana-born singer who also appeared in several stage musicals. There have also been hit recordings of the song by Ben Bernie, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Tommy Dorsey, the Ipana Troubadors, the Benson Orchestra of Chicago, and April Stevens & Nino Tempo

Samuel A. Donaldson earned law degrees at Oregon State, University of Arizona and University of Florida. For 13 years, he taught law at University of Washington and since 2012 has taught at Georgia State. His specialties are tax law, commercial law, property rights and estate planning. Somehow he still finds time to create crosswords. His puzzles have been appearing in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal since 2008.

"Forward" is UNSHY, "Second chances" is REDOS and "Orator's prowess: Abbr." is RHET -- three awkward answers. "Provençal possessive" is SES, "Der Spiegel article" is EINE, "Der Spiegel rejection is NEIN, "Where el sol rises" is ESTE and "What Spanish Olympians go for" is ORO,  none of which is used in English. "Two-iron, before golf club numbering" is CLEEK. The word is Scottish and originally referred to a large hook used to hold food, pots or clothing. It comes from the Middle English cleken ("to grasp").  The About Sports website has a  detailed description of the golf clubs known as "cleeks":

http://golf.about.com/cs/golfterms/g/bldef_cleek.htm

That takes care of the cleek. Now what the heck is a mashie, a niblick and a jigger?
43
General Support / Re: Can't Open Puzzle from LAT Calendar
« Last post by BALLYHOO on July 13, 2016, 07:02:40 AM »
NOPE
44
Today's Puzzles / The July 10 crossword -- a nice body of work
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 10, 2016, 06:00:49 PM »
"Volumize" is one of those words which, like "crispy" and "hydrated" and "wholesome" and "nutritious," is seldom heard anywhere outside of television commercials. Merriam-Webster defines "volumize" as "to add fullness or volume to (something), especially, to make (hair) thicker or fuller in appearance." Today's crossword by Alex Bajcz is titled "Volumizing" and includes seven familiar phrases with BODY added:

Snoop's job? BUSYBODYWORK
Immunology-themed gathering? ANTIBODYSOCIAL
Central garage item? BODYSHOPLIFT
Royal with a broadcasting award" PRINCESSANDTHEPEABODY
Obstruct one's buddies during a hockey game? BODYCHECKMATES
Crimson Tide wrestler? ALABAMABODYSLAMMER
Benchmark for a movie daredevil? BODYDOUBLESTANDARD

The annual Peabody Awards, named for American banker and philanthropist George Foster Peabody, were first presented in 1940 by the National Association of Broadcasters to honor excellence in radio broadcasting. In 1948, the Awards were extended to television stations and networks. Cable television was added in 1981 and online media were added in 2003. Each year's winners can be seen at http://www.peabodyawards.com/awards

The Alabama Slammer is a cocktail which became popular in the 1980s. It's made with Southern Comfort peach liqueur, sloe gin, amaretto, and orange juice. According to legend, the drink was created in 1975 by a student at the University of Alabama and imbibed to celebrate victories of the university's Crimson Tide football team. 

"Eccentric sort" is GEEZER. We often hear someone referred to as an "old geezer." Apparently there is no such thing as a young geezer. Merriam-Webster defines the word as "an odd or eccentric person, especially an elderly man." It is an alteration of the Scottish word guiser ("one in disguise") and, in some American dialects, is still pronounced like "geyser"  instead of "geezer." In the UK, especially around London, "geezer" is a slang term meaning "a guy; a bloke" and is also used as a term of address in the same way that many Americans call each other "Dude."

"Pres. and veep" is LDRS -- awkward. "'_____ where it hurts!'" is HITEM -- awkward. "90 degrees from norte" is ESTE -- not used in English.  "Beseeches" is OBTESTS, The word "obtest" dates from around 1540 and is now rare. It comes from the Latin obtestārī ("to protest"); ob- ("against") + testārī ("to witness"). Used with an object, "obtest" means "to invoke as witness; to supplicate earnestly; beseech." Used without an object, the word means "to protest." 

Alex Bajcz -- his Hungarian name is pronounced like "Badges" -- was fascinated by plants and insects as a child.  In 2010, he earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Two years later, he earned a master's degree in terrestrial ecology. He is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Maine,  teaching classes in plant taxonomy and studying the reproductive behavior of fruiting plants. And that explains why his Sunday crosswords appear in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times so infrequently -- he's busy with bugs and blooms!
45
Today's Puzzles / Re: The cutting-edge July 3 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 10, 2016, 05:01:13 PM »
Mark, I appreciate your response. I tend to quibble about any word or abbreviation which is overused in crosswords: ALE, ALP, AGUA, ERA, IRA, IRE, ISLE, NNE, SSW, SRTA, UKE, LEI, ALOHA, ARENA, OGLE, ORCA, OREO, et al. As for CACTI and OCTOPI, those plurals are now in common usage, which is why they're included in dictionaries. To me, CACTUSES and OCTOPUSES are the plurals. (Do any Americans use OCTOPODES?) Many dictionaries also say, based on popular usage, that "temp-ə-chər" is now the preferred pronunciation of "temperature" and "kumf-tər-bəl" is the preferred pronunciation of "comfortable." If "comfortable" is pronounced "kumf-tər-bəl," then why is "comfort" never pronounced "kumf-tər"? I am a language purist -- I will always say "com-fort-ə-bəl" and "tem-pər-ə-ture" and pronounce "harass" with the accent on the first syllable.

I'm still, however, trying to figure out why we never say "I aren't" but yet we ask "Aren't I?" The word should be "amn't." It looks strange and it's seldom used -- but it's grammatically correct.
46
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.
47
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 Grammarist.com 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.
48
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 IMDB.com, Biography.com and Wikipedia. The news and pop culture site Forward.com has a nice essay today, "9 reasons we love Mel Brooks on his 90th birthday":

http://forward.com/the-assimilator/343747/9-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!
49
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!
50
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 . . .
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