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Today's Puzzles / The April 1 crosswords, no foolin'
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 01, 2016, 09:35:57 PM »
If Jeffrey Wechsler wanted to advertise his April 1 Los Angeles Times crossword, he could say "Bonus -- 7% larger!" The grid is 15x16 instead of the usual 15x15. There are three 16-letter answers. Each of the four theme answers includes a string of six circled letters. Another answer is clued as "Sir Edward Elgar composition whose title has never been solved -- and a hint to this puzzle's circles." Since I have no way to put circles around letters here, I have denoted the puzzle's circled letters by using boldface:

Rail transport landmark: STEAMENGINE
Reprimand to one not picking up: YOUREMAKINGAMESS
"How surprising!": IMAGINETHAT

The Elgar composition is ENIGMAVARIATIONS. The circled letters are variations of the letters found in "enigma." Elgar composed Variations, opus 36 in 1898-99. Popularly known as The Enigma Variations, the orchestral work features several musical themes. Two of the themes represent Elgar and his wife Alice. Each of the others represents one of Elgar's close friends. Elgar explained -- although without really explaining anything -- that the work has a principal theme.....but the principal theme is neither played nor heard. Perhaps the work includes a hidden melody or hidden counterpoint. Perhaps a portion of a symphony by Bach or Beethoven is hidden in the work. Musicologists have yet to figure out the "enigma."

"Columnist Barrett" is RONA. Born Rona Burstein in 1936, Rona Barrett began a syndicated newspaper gossip column in 1957 and began appearing on television in 1966. She now runs the non-profit Rona Barrett Foundation, which is based in Santa Ynez, California, and helps senior citizens to find affordable housing and supportive services:

"Pâtisserie cake" is GATEAU. In France and Belgium, a pâtisserie is a bakery specializing in pastries and sweets. By law, a bakery in either of those countries can not call itself a pâtisserie unless it has a licensed maître pâtissier (master pastry chef) who has served an apprenticeship and passed a written test. A gâteau is a light cake with a rich icing or filling -- and the word is not used in English.

Peter Gordon's April 1 New York Times crossword includes four 15-letter phrases and this clue: "17-across, with 34-, 40- and 60-across, a somber message for our loyal fans":


I did say today is April 1st, didn't I? :)
Today's Puzzles / Vowels and P's: The March 20 crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on March 20, 2016, 06:19:17 PM »
I am always amazed that crossword creators continue to come up with clever themes. However, I was not amazed by Rebecca Durant's puzzle in today's Los Angeles Times. It has a theme but it is one of the weakest themes I have every seen. Titled "Border Pairs," the puzzle includes phrases which begin and end with two vowels, including AEGEANSEA, OATMEALCOOKIE, OOLONGTEA and EUCALYPTUSTREE. Another answer, VOWELLANGUAGE, hints at the puzzle's theme. "Vowel language"? Yuk!

The grid also includes ALTE, AOUT (French for "August"), DEI, ESSE and ISLA, none of which are used in English, and our old familiar friends Mel OTT and UMA Thurman. "Moonlight Sonata directive" is PPP. In written music, a P is what is known as a "dynamic indicator," a symbol that tells the musician how softly the passage should be played. P stands for piano, which means "soft." PP, pianissimo, means "very soft" and PPP, pianississimo, means "very very soft." There are a few classical works in which certain passages are marked with as many as six P's, such as the bassoon solo in Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony. Musical notation can also include an F for forte ("loud") or FF for fortissimo ("very loud").

Joel Fagliardo's New York Times crossword is titled "Double Crossed" and has a theme that is clever as well as cerebral. Each of the ten theme answers contains several pairs of letters and another letter which appears only once. Here are some examples: HIPPOCRATICOATH has seven pairs of letters but only one R. GOESUNDERGROUND has seven pairs of letters but only one S. PRETTYPENNY has five pairs of letters but only one R. When the puzzle is completed, the solver can form a word from the unmatched letters in those phrases. From top to bottom, they spell REMAINDERS. Whew!

"Fairly recent" is NEWISH -- a very awkward word. "Out of favor" is INBAD -- a very awkward phrase.  "Small-capped mushrooms" is ENOKIS. I had never seen that word before. And "Feliz ___ Nuevo" is ANO, which is misspelled -- it should be AÑO -- and is not used in English.

"____ Hawkins dance" is SADIE. Al Capp drew the Li'l Abner comic strip from 1934 until 1977 when declining health forced him to retire. He would die of emphysema two years later. In 1937, a series of strips featured a homely unmarried 35-year-old named Sadie Hawkins, whose father came up with the idea of a "Sadie Hawkins Day" featuring a foot race. All the eligible bachelors in the town of Dogpatch took off running and if Sadie could catch one of them, he'd have to marry her. Sadie Hawkins Day became an annual tradition in Li'l Abner, with all the unmarried women chasing after the unmarried men. Sadie Hawkins Day was the inspiration for the Sadie Hawkins Dance, any school dance in which the girls invite the boys, instead of the other way around. For more about Sadie Hawkins Dances, go to
I've asked around and no one has been able to give me a clear answer on this.   Can someone here help?  Thanks!
General Discussion / Re: Seeking causal mentor
« Last post by VB on March 19, 2016, 07:11:08 AM »
Marty -

I'm by no means the best potential mentor around - I get busy on occasion with my day job, and I have no illusions of being a great constructor - but I'm happy to provide any help that I can if you'd like.  E-mail me at if you want to discuss it further.

- VB
General Support / Re: Problem with most pages on
« Last post by robgonsalves on March 13, 2016, 10:39:10 PM »
Thanks, much better!  :)
Today's Puzzles / The March 13 crossword plug-in
« Last post by Thomps2525 on March 13, 2016, 06:10:11 PM »
"Plugged Nickel" is the title of today's crossword by Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel. In the United States, the five-cent coin we call a nickel was originally pure silver. Nickel coins minted since 1946 have contained 75% copper and 25% nickel. The expression "Not worth a plugged nickel" means "worthless" or "valueless."  Back in the days when the nickel coin was pure silver, con men would drill a fairly large hole through the center of a nickel and then fill the hole with an inferior metal. Thus, they could spend the "plugged nickel" and retain the silver from the center. After they accumulated enough of those centers, they could sell the silver for extra cash.

And today's crossword has absolutely nothing to do with any of that.

Nickel is a silver-white metal. The word comes from the German Kupfernickel, which literally means "copper goblin" and refers to a mineral called niccolite. The mineral contains nickel arsenide but has the color of copper. I'm not sure how the deceptive color is similar to a goblin, so please don't ask. The symbol for nickel is "Ni" and each theme answer in today's puzzle is a common term with the letters NI inserted -- or, you could say, "plugged."

Sweet tooth? SUGARCANINE
Signal that nails are dry? MANIBELL
Rejection of a parcel? PACKAGEDENIAL
Flier with a magical rod? DIVININGBIRD
Ace garage door mechanic? GENIEWHIZ
Part of the ad that sells the product? FINISHINGHOOK
Superhero who doesn't do well in a crisis? PANICMAN
Carrier pigeon's daily delivery? NEWSCANISTER
Nocturnal critter enjoying a meal? DININGBAT
Ralph Lauren's Celebrate Radio clothing line? MARCONIPOLO

That last one is a reference to Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), an Italian inventor and electrical engineer whose pioneering work in wireless telegraphy and long-distance radio communication earned him the unofficial title "The father of radio." Marco Polo (1254-1324) was an Italian merchant who traveled extensively in Asia. The polo shirt was introduced in 1972 by fashion designer Ralph Lauren. It was a knit shirt with a collar and a placket with two or three buttons and it resembled the shirts that had traditionally been worn by polo players. has a simplified story of Marconi's life and his invention of radio:
General Support / Re: Problem with most pages on
« Last post by admin on March 13, 2016, 01:45:34 PM »
Fixed. Sorry about that.
General Discussion / Seeking causal mentor
« Last post by PuzzlePunisher on March 12, 2016, 10:31:57 PM »
Greetings all,

I'm new to construction and seeking a mentor. By mentor, I mean someone to causally bounce ideas off. Im a full time accountant. That being said, I do aspire to create puzzles that are of a quality high enough to be published.

After reading the sage advice column, I decided it would be wise to introduce myself. My name is Marty, I'm 32, and I am an amateur crossword crusher. I also hope that constructing puzzles will improve my ability to solve.

If you have experience with construction and don't mind showing me the ropes, please feel free to contact me.

Today's Puzzles / The March 6 crossword hits the bull's-eye
« Last post by Thomps2525 on March 06, 2016, 04:20:39 PM »
"Bull Session." No, that is not a reference to any of this year's Republican Presidential debates, although I suppose it could be. Actually, that's the title of today's crossword by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis. Familiar phrases are changed by the addition of BLE, loosely pronounced "bull":
Mogul mishap? SKIBUMBLE
Lowly glowworm? HUMBLEBUG
Turkey's affectionate peck? GOBBLESMACK
Lens cover for a low earth orbiter? HUBBLECAP
Slip while washing dishes? SPONGEBOBBLE
"Those are stone fragments, all right"? AYTHERESTHERUBBLE
Henry VI's "O God, forgive my sins and pardon thee"? NOBLEEXIT
Warning about an escaped horse? STABLEALERT

"Gobsmacked" is a British slang word which dates from the 1980s and means  "astounded; astonished; extremely surprised." "Gob" is British slang for "mouth." The second part of "gobsmacked" refers to the gesture of someone who is suddenly surprised clapping a hand over his mouth.

"Ay, there's the rub" is a line from Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, written circa 1600. It is part of the soliloquy which begins "To be or not to be." Hamlet is contemplating death and suicide and says, To die, to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub." "Aye" is also spelled "Ay" or "I" in various early printings of the play.

The "O God, forgive my sins" line comes from another Shakespeare play, King Henry VI, written in 1591. Those are the last words spoken by Henry VI before he dies after being stabbed by his uncle, Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, Lord Protector of England.

Also in today's puzzle:

The overused words IRE, OBOE and OREO.

AMOI, AVION, ETRE, MERES, NUOVA, RIAS and SEI, none of which are used in English.

INKWELL ("Where there's a quill?"). Does anybody in the 21st century still use quill pens and inkwells? I highly doubt it.

Well, that sums up today's "Bull Session" crossword. Is it time for the next Republican Presidential debate? :)
General Discussion / Article
« Last post by Gayle Dean on March 05, 2016, 01:26:19 PM »
Has everyone seen this??  I'm flabbergasted.  Follow the link provided in the article and many of you will see your own puzzles there that have been duplicated exactly and republished under false names.

A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World

A group of eagle-eyed puzzlers, using digital tools, has uncovered a pattern of copying in the professional crossword-puzzle world that has led to accusations of plagiarism and false identity. Sinc…
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