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General Discussion / The Big Reveal
« Last post by Marty on August 02, 2016, 01:35:39 PM »

I have been working on several puzzles in an attempt to get one accepted by the NYT. The feedback I am getting ranges from "Too straightforward" to "Did not excite Will enough".

I am seeking some advice on ways to improve or generate a reveal in a way that creates that "aha" moment.


Today's Puzzles / July 31: The art of the crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 31, 2016, 01:32:26 PM »
Art Nouveau is a style of art, architecture and decorative arts which emphasizes curved lines that harmonize with the natural environment. Art Nouveau was most popular in the years 1890 to 1910. And Art Nouveau, which means "new art" in French, is properly pronounced "är noo-vō" but is often mispronounced "art noo-vō" -- and that brings us to today's crossword by Jake Braun. It's titled "Art Nouveau" and includes eight words and phrases which are altered by the addition of ART:

Lewd weasel relative? DIRTYOLDMARTEN
Prefer not to serve the drinks? MINDBARTENDING
Apt wear when drinking gin cocktails? MARTINISKIRT
Special area for booting up again? RESTARTROOM
iPad owners' gatherings? APPLEPARTIES
Garb for the Scottish seaside? BEACHTARTAN
Group that controls film cartoons? ANIMATIONCARTEL.
Patterns for moving supplies?  CARTONTEMPLATES

"French king" is ROI, which is not used in English. "French friend's address" is MONAMI, which is not used in English. "Civic duty, perhaps" is AUTOLOAN. "Honda Civic," get it? A very clever clue. "Promising, as mine walls" is VEINY. The word means "Full of or exhibiting veins; veined" and is used in reference to various parts of the body, especially the arms, legs or forehead. I suppose the word can also refer to a mine but I have never heard it used in that context. "When Will ___ Loved?: 1975 hit" is IBE. Yes, Linda Ronstadt had a #2 hit with the song that year but the song was originally a hit for the Everly Brothers. It reached #8 in July 1960.

"Blue text, often" is URL. When referring to words or speech, "blue" means "risqué; suggestive; off-color" but most URLs also appear in blue -- and are usually underlined. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, a string of text which is used by web browsers to link to webpages, documents or programs. URLs are more commonly known as "internet addresses." A simple explanation of how URLs work is at the About Tech website, which you can get to by clicking on the, uh, URL:
Today's Puzzles / Ooh, it's the July 27 crossword!
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 27, 2016, 03:50:54 PM »
On television, "Ooh! Ooh!" was frequently exclaimed by Officer Gunther Toody on Car 54 Where Are You and Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter. In today's crossword by Jeff Wechsler, the exclamation -- or at least half of it -- begins six phrases:

Wonka worker: OOMPALOOMPA
Plays it like Cary Grant: OOZESCHARM
Expressions of delight: OOHSANDAAHS
Butterfingers' comment: OOPSYDAISY
Comet-filled region of space: OORTCLOUD
Chinese beverage, literally 'black dragon': OOLONGTEA

But does anyone who accidentally drops something ever say "Oopsy-daisy"? I highly doubt it. He would probably just say "Oops" -- or, depending on what he dropped, maybe utter a few cursewords. "Oopsy-daisy" is commonly uttered by an adult as he picks up a child, especially a child who has just fallen. The word is a variant of "upsy-daisy," which is a variant of "ups-a-daisy," which is a variant of the 18th-century expression "up-a-daisy," which is related to "lackadaisacal," which means "lacking enthusiasm or determination" and is an extension of "lackaday," which is a variant of an old expression of regret, "alack the day." "Alack" is a combined form of "ah, lack."

According to the Universe Today website, the Oort Cloud, which is named for astronomer Jan Oort, is "a theoretical spherical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals that is believed to surround the sun at a distance of up to two light years." It is theorized -- but has not been proved -- that this giant cloud is where comets originate:

In Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, a 1964 novel by Welsh author Roald Dahl, the Oompa-Loompas were black pygmies from Loompaland who work in the chocolate factory. In response to excessive criticism over stereotyping, Dahl put out a new edition of the book in which the Oompa-Loompas were white-skinned and golden-haired. The look of the Oompa-Loompas changed again in movie adaptations released in 1971 (starring Gene Wilder and Peter Ostrum) and 2005 (starring Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore).

"Juillet's season" is ETE, which is not used in English. "Stuttgart cubes" is EIS, which is not used in English. "Mimic" is APER, a word I have never seen anywhere outside of crossword puzzles. That concludes today's discussion. For our entertainment, let's all sing the songs from the 1964 Charlie & The Chocolate Factory movie. The lyrics are on the Roald Dahl Fans website:

We'll start with this one. The lyrics seem tailor-made for "Oompa loompa doompety doo, I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you......."
General Discussion / Re: ELTHAM
« Last post by mmcbs on July 24, 2016, 03:39:02 PM »
Generally, no, I wouldn't expect it to be OK, except in some the edgier puzzles that often use words that most of us don't know.
Today's Puzzles / USB! USB! The July 24 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 24, 2016, 02:53:26 PM »
During the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, we can chant "USA! USA!" Today only, we can chant "USB! USB!"-- although it is certainly not mandatory. The USB, Universal Serial Bus, is the industry standard for connections between peripherals (such as mice, keyboards and printers) and computers. A "bus" is a communications system which transfers data via cable, optical fiber or software. Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, and Nortel teamed up to develop the USB in 1994-95. A detailed history of the USB is at

And yes, in computer terminology, "mice" is the preferred plural of "mouse," although most dictionaries say "mouses" is also acceptable. Perhaps -- but it just doesn't sound right:

Today's crossword by C.C. Burnikel is titled "Making Connections." Answer 120-down is USB, clued with "PC connection found in this puzzle's eight longest answers":

Sacred conviction: RELIGIOUSBELIEF
Gillette razor for women: VENUSBREEZE
2009 recession response: STIMULUSBILL
Not something to kid about : SERIOUS BUSINESS
Department of Commerce division : CENSUSBUREAU
Apple Store support station: GENIUSBAR
Omaha Steaks Private Reserve product: ANGUSBEEF
Eponymous explorer of the Aleutians: VITUSBERING

Vitus Bering was a Danish-born cartographer and navigator who led two exploratory expeditions to the northern Pacific region in the 1700s:

"Day after dimanche" is LUNDI, which is not used in English. "Madre's hermanos" is TIOS, which is not used in English. "These, to Luis" is ESTOS, which is not used in English. "'Fat chance, Friedrich!'" is NEIN, which is not used in English. "Protest topics: Abbr." is RTS. Yeah, I suppose -- but in the context of civil rights, "rights" is never abbreviated. "Morning hours" is AMS. That is another awkward abbreviation. Who ever makes a plural out of "a.m."? "Brightest star in Cygnus" is DENEB. Um, okay. "'I'm an idiot!'" is DOH, an exclamation which is popularly attributed to animated character Homer Simpson but originated with James Finlayson, a squint-eyed actor who appeared in 33 Laurel & Hardy comedies. Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, did indeed adapt Homer's "Doh!" from James Finlayson.
General Discussion / ELTHAM
« Last post by pleaselose on July 22, 2016, 10:22:32 PM »
Do you think a publisher might accept the use of ELTHAM if clued in a way to help the solver?

For example: "London suburb found in HAMLET"

The crossing fill is all fairly straightforward, the answer is "gettable" largely from the clue alone (I can certainly see a solver jumping to ???HAM at the very least), and because the answer is anagrammed in the clue, you also get closer to it as you solve.

I was originally going to dismiss ELTHAM out of hand, except that it fits so cleanly.  I still plan on ripping it out and looking for alternate fill, but hey, if a handy clue can push it through, I might try.
Today's Puzzles / Re: Newsday Sunday "Spelling B"
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 19, 2016, 03:37:30 PM »
"Technically correct." Indeed. The website, which uses the Random House Dictionary, lists "bathyscaph" and "bathyscape" as variations of "bathyscaphe." Now I know the spelling in the puzzle is not a mistak. ;)
Today's Puzzles / Re: Newsday Sunday "Spelling B"
« Last post by mmcbs on July 19, 2016, 03:18:27 PM »
That's pretty awesome! BATHYSCAPH is the spelling as in the puzzle, and it is a variant spelling per RHUD, so iffy, but technically correct.
Today's Puzzles / Re: Newsday Sunday "Spelling B"
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 19, 2016, 03:10:49 PM »
Mark, I knew the spellings of all but one of those "B" words. I thought the valkyrie's name was spelled with only one N, not two. Thanks to good ol' Wikipedia, I discovered that the original name of Brünnhilde in Norse mythology is Brynhildr -- which looks more like a line on an eye chart:

Now -- is "bathyscaph" a misspelling? The deep-sea submersible vehicle known as a bathyscaphe was invented by Auguste Piccard. The first one was constructed in 1946-48. The name comes from the Greek bathys ("deep") and skaphos ("vessel; ship"). I consulted several dictionaries and websites and can find no source which gives the spelling as "bathyscaph." On the Oxford English Dictionary site, I got this message:

"No exact match found for 'bathyscaph' in US English.
Did you mean 'bathyscaphe'?"

Today's Puzzles / Newsday Sunday "Spelling B"
« Last post by mmcbs on July 18, 2016, 05:05:28 PM »
Stan Newman dazzles us with this magnificent puzzle based on the simple theme of 10 long words that start with B (betcha don't know how to spell very many, if any of them).

BRZEZINSKI - Carter's National Security Advisor

BRUNNHILDE - Wagner opera Valkyrie

BOURGEOISIE - Middle class

BRAGGADOCIO - Empty boasting

BOYSENBERRY - It might get into a jam

BOUTONNIERE - Lapel adornment

BATHYSCAPH - Deep-sea submersible

BETELGEUSE - Star in Orion

BARYSHNIKOV - Former American Ballet Theatre head

BROBDIGNAG - Swift's land of giants

The remainder is the usual crosswordese-free patter with notable entries such as PODCASTS, SUN DEVIL, SIZEABLE, and EYE CANDY. Could have done without ERECTORS, but what the hey?

Fun ride. How many could you spell without the perps?
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