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General Discussion / USA Today editorship
« Last post by Bruce Venzke on May 20, 2016, 12:20:37 PM »
Cru ~

Let's get Fred Piscop a job! The "nation's newspaper" should have a quality crossword editor, and I think Fred is a good, logical choice for that position. Here's a comparison of themes/theme entries from the last four Parker-edited USAT puzzles with four that Fred did the editing (in a kind of a rush situation, I might add).

The quality difference seems quite clear to me. Join me in urging that Fred Piscop's temporary status as USAT crossword editor be made permanent.

USA TODAY 4/30    Fishy Personalities by Fred Piscop
Fishy “Star Wars” hero? FLUKE SKYWALKER
Fishy actress in “The Aviator”? SKATE BECKINSALE
Fishy U.S. president? PIKE EISENHOWER

USA TODAY 4/29    Free Throes by Fred Piscop
Maps of Arctic ice movement? FLOE CHARTS
Establishment of blackthorn farms? SLOE STARTS
Places to get caviar? ROE HOUSES
Mobile podiatry offices? TOE TRUCKS

USA TODAY 4/28    Beneficial Elements by Frank Longo
Element used by a Trojan War hero? ACHILLES HELIUM
Element used by a highway patrol cop? SMOKEY BARIUM
Element used by a sore loser? BITTER ERBIUM
Element used by a Green Beret? COMMANDO RADIUM

USA TODAY 4/27 MV Tease by Elizabeth C. Gorski
Tarzan’s standard pick-up line? YOUR PLACE OR VINE
Sally’s wicked habit? FIELD VICE
Utterly boring egoists? VAIN DRAGS
Angelic woman of letters? VANNA FROM HEAVEN

USA TODAY 4/26 Talking About You by Victor Fleming
Health and happiness WELL BEING
Invitation recipient’s query WHO’S GOING
Feline caller’s words HERE KITTY
Greeting clued by the first parts of … SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

USA TODAY 4/25    King Movies by Fred Piscop
1958 Elvis movie KING CREOLE
1961 Elvis movie BLUE HAWAII
1962 Elvis movie KID GALAHAD
1964 Elvis movie ROUSTABOUT

USA TODAY 4/24  Presidential Firsts by Fred Piscop
President of the U.S. (1929-33) was his first elected office HERBERT HOOVER
President of the U.S. (1849-50) was his first elected office ZACHARY TAYLOR
President of the U.S. (1969-77) was his first elected office ULYSSES S. GRANT

Here are the last four "Timothy Parker-edited" puzzles prior to his "step-back":

USA TODAY 3/2 Smile for the Camera by Lucia Cole
House surrounder in the American dream PICKET FENCE
Visually attractive PICTURESQUE
Lace edging PICOT
Cowboy’s vehicle PICKUP TRUCK
Parts of state parks PICNIC AREAS

USA TODAY 3/3 A Better Puzzle by Mary Jersey
Heart rate reduced BETA BLOCKER
Currently unemployed BETWEEN JOBS
“Friday the 13th” actress BETSEY PALMER
Barney’s wife BETTY RUBBLE

USA TODAY 3/4 Be First by Bill Bobb
The Masters posting LEADER BOARD
Comparatively weighty HEAVY AS LEAD
Get a dance started TAKE THE LEAD
What a starlet wants to be LEADING LADY

USA TODAY 3/5 In Other Words by Norman Wizer
Burned-out post office? CASE OF BLACKMAIL
Chitterlings chef? MAN WITH GUTS
Remains of a no-good pharaoh? CRUMMY MUMMY
Squirrel’s nest? NUTCRACKER SUITE






Today's Puzzles / The May 19 crossword, no kidding
« Last post by Thomps2525 on May 19, 2016, 02:59:07 PM »
Greg Johnson's crosswords have been appearing in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times since December 2013. His theme for today's crossword is INNERCHILD ("Psychology subject"). Within each theme answer is a synonym for "child":

Overindulged oneself: WENTOTOWN
Don't Go Breaking My Heart duettist: KIKIDEE
"Looks pretty good, huh?": WHATDOYOUTHINK
Communications feature since the 1870s: QWERTYKEYBOARD

And, speaking of synonyms, the crossword also includes the abbreviation of "synonym." SYN was clued with "Case, for instance." The words "for instance" are not used in the usual way here -- "case" is a synonym of "instance." The clue would have been more logical without the comma.....but then it wouldn't have been so cleverly misleading.

The QWERTY keyboard is so named because those are the first six letters on a keyboard or typewriter. Christopher Latham Sholes, a Milwaukee newspaper editor and printer, patented the first modern "Type Writer" in 1867. It had two rows of characters:

- 3 5 7 9 N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
2 4 6 8 . A B C D E F G H I J K L M

All the letters were capitals and the I could do double-duty as the number 1. Over the next six years, Sholes tried several other arrangements of characters before the Type Writer's manufacturing rights were sold to firearms manufacturer Eliphalet Remington & Sons. In 1873, Remington finalized the modern QWERTY keyboard and five years later introduced a typewriter which included small letters as well as capitals. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers this explanation of the keyboard:

"Popular myth holds that the QWERTY maximizes efficiency by placing the most often used letters in the most accessible places, but the truth is that the QWERTY was actually designed to slow typists down. Sholes’ first typewriters were cumbersome and jammed easily if the keys were pressed too fast, so he picked letter positions that let the typist go faster than a pen but not fast enough to jam the machine."

"Photo file format" is JPEG, which is the most widely-used method of compressing, storing and sending digital images. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, a committee of technology experts who developed the format in 1992.

"Dance provocatively" is TWERK. What Americans now call "twerking" is actually the mapouka, a traditional dance that originated in Côte d'Ivoire, a West African country also known as Ivory Coast. "Twerk" is believed to be a hybrid of "twist" and "jerk." And now we probably all have an unpleasant image of Miley Cyrus in our mind. :)
General Support / Can't Open Puzzle from LAT Calendar
« Last post by JLU on May 18, 2016, 09:48:49 AM »
The error message I'm getting is:  The feature you are trying to use is on a network resource that is unavailable.  Then an error code 1706.

Can someone help me with this?
Today's Puzzles / Thank goodness it's the May 10 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on May 10, 2016, 04:31:44 PM »
As a child, Janice Luttrell developed a love of words and a love for crossword puzzles by watching her father solve each week's Sunday Chicago Tribune crossword. Her own puzzles have been appearing in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times since 2009. Today's includes these theme answers:

Oil metaphor: BLACKGOLD
Peanuts outburst: GOODGRIEF
Distress call at sea: MANOVERBOARD
Off-the-cuff comment: CASUALREMARK

"Pre-weekend shout" is TGIF -- "Thank God [or Goodness] It's Friday" -- and the first word of each theme answer can precede "Friday."

In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November. The following day is considered to be the start of the Christmas shopping season. Since the early 1960s, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as "Black Friday" because department stores and discount stores make a lot of money, enough to put them "in the black," i.e., reaping a considerable profit. Many stores started opening at 6 AM on Black Friday and then a few stores began opening at 5 AM or 4 AM or even earlier. A few stores now open at 7 or 8 PM on Thanksgiving Day and remain open during the overnight hours. "'Tis the season to be greedy."

People might question why the Christian holiday which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ is called "Good Friday." In the 8th century, one of the meanings of "good" was "holy."

Casual Fridays are observed by many businesses. On that one day each week, employees can wear casual clothes instead of suits and ties.

The title character of Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe spends 28 years marooned on an island. One day -- a Friday -- he rescues a native who is about to be eaten by cannibals. The grateful native willingly becomes Crusoe's servant and Crusoe names him Friday. Thus, a loyal competent aide or employee is now called a "Man Friday" or "Girl Friday." 

"Those girls, in Spain" is ELLAS, which is not used in English. "Land surrounded by agua" is ISLA, which is not used in English. "Slope overlooking a loch" is BRAE, which is not used in English.

"Chicago fire Mrs." is OLEARY. The fire of October 8, 1971, killed 250 people and destroyed 17,000 homes and buildings. It is popularly -- but erroneously -- thought to have started when Mrs. O'Leary was milking a cow in the barn and the cow kicked over a lantern. In truth, the fire started in the middle of the night when the O'Learys and their five children were asleep in bed. The fire did start behind the O'Learys' house but the Chicago Fire Department was never able to determine the cause. Chicago Republican reporter Michael Ahern, who had written about the cow kicking the lantern, admitted shortly before his death 40 years later that he and two cronies had made up the story to make his article more interesting. Yes, it was indeed interesting -- but false. By the way, the fire did no damage to the O'Learys' home. Go figure!
Today's Puzzles / The high-tech May 8 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on May 08, 2016, 05:31:29 PM »
Today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Pam Amick Klawitter is titled "Communication Update" and cleverly adds a word to each of seven familiar phrases to form the names of modern methods of, well, communication:

Emeril's gateway? FOODWEBBROWSER
Tiny pair of media hosts? TWOPEASINAPODCAST
Security for sailors? SAINTELMOSFIREWALL
Online photo exchange for redheads? GINGERSNAPCHAT
Having returned to the world of public performances? BACKINAFLASHMOB
End of a 'Great Reuben!' tweet? CORNEDBEEFHASHTAG
'Got a film to share?' ANYTHINGFORYOUTUBE

Emeril Lagasse studied culinary arts at Diman Vocational High School in his home town of Fall River, Massachusetts, and at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1990, after working as a chef for 11 years, he opened his own restaurant, Emeril's, in New Orleans. He has hosted several television series and has written 18 cookbooks. He now owns 12 restaurants. We all know what a "web browser" is but the term "food web" is much less common. It refers to all the food chains in a particular ecosystem, or, to put it more simply, "who eats who and what eats what." (And no, that is not part of an Abbott & Costello routine. :) )

Saint Elmo's Fire is a weather phenomenon that sometimes occurs during a thunderstorm when a strong electric field ionizes the air around a ship's mast, a church steeple or an airplane's wings and creates a corona discharge which appears as a glowing ball of light. The phenomenon is named after the patron saint of sailors, Saint Erasmus of Formia, who is known in Italian as Saint Elmo or Saint Erasmo. A detailed explanation of the "fire" is at

A hashtag is a symbol (#) which Twitter users can attach to a specific name or word when they make a post, or Tweet. When Twitter users search for a specific topic, all the posts containing that name or word prefaced by a hashtag will be displayed. The hashtag is also known as a "number sign" (as in "#9") and a "pound sign" (on a telephone keypad). The symbol is actually called an octothorpe. The name is believed to have been coined circa 1969 by a Bell Telephone Laboratories employee. "Octo" likely refers to the eight points of the symbol but linguists are unable to explain the last part of the word. "Thorp" is the Old English word for "village" and there was an athlete named Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) but neither seems to have any connection to the word which refers to the # symbol. It's a mystery!

"Shooting marbles" is TAWS. The word "taw" dates from the 9th century and originally meant "to convert (an animal skin) into leather by treatment with mineral salts such as alum." The word derived from the Old English tawian, meaning "to do; to make" and later came to mean "flog" or "beat." In the early 1700s, marbles began to be known as taws.....but why? That is another mystery! And finally, "Sorcerer" is MAGUS. That word sounds awfully familiar to me, for some reason.
Software / Technical / Explaining Entries/Clues in Crossfire
« Last post by RichP on May 08, 2016, 01:39:30 AM »
Fellow Crossfire users, how do you provide supporting information/references for an entry or a clue? Unsure how to best provide supplementary information when submitting to publications in Across Lite format.   
Today's Puzzles / Re: The off-color May 6 crossword
« Last post by fggoldston on May 07, 2016, 08:08:31 PM »
That's interesting I don't think I have ever heard it pronounced that way - also don't think I've ever known anyone who's actually been there - hah.  BUT the clue did reference a song in which they pronounced it incorrectly so it could be argued that....  you know ... it is a homonym in this case, so I think we should give Burnikel a pass on this.
Today's Puzzles / Re: The off-color May 6 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on May 07, 2016, 04:03:57 PM »
"Wight" is pronounced "wīt" -- but C.C. Burnikel used the word as a homonym of "white," which it is not. "White" includes an "H" sound.

Some more trivia for you: authors Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens and poets John Keats, Alfred Tennyson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow all lived on the Isle of Wight at various times, though none for very long.
Today's Puzzles / Re: The off-color May 6 crossword
« Last post by fggoldston on May 07, 2016, 11:40:55 AM »
I enjoyed the puzzle and never had any idea that "Wight" might be pronounced differently.   I am puzzled and intrigued now - HOW is Wight pronounced?
Today's Puzzles / The off-color May 6 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on May 06, 2016, 05:01:21 PM »
C.C. Burnikel thought she was using four homonyms of colors in today's Los Angeles Times crossword. She was wrong. She used only three:

Bonanza star: LORNEGREENE
Entertained the kids, in a way: READALOUD
Cottage site in the Beatles' When I'm Sixty-Four: ISLEOFWIGHT

The puzzle's theme is OFFCOLOR ("Risqué...and what each long answer contains"). Blew and blue are pronounced the same. So are Greene and green. So are read and red. But Wight and white are not homonyms. Some people might pronounce "white" as "wite" but such a pronunciation is incorrect, just as the pronunciation of "temperature" as "tempature" is wrong and the pronunciation of "comfortable" as "cumfterble" is wrong. Common, yes -- but wrong.

Isle of Wight is an unincorportated community in Isle of Wight county in southeast Virginia. Christopher Lawne, an English merchant, established a plantation in the area in 1618 and named it Warrosquoake, a variant spelling of Warraskoyak, a Native American tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy. In 1634, King Charles I of England divided Virginia into eight shires (the British equivalent of counties). The region settled by Lawne and other colonists was named Warrosquoyake Shire -- another variant spelling. In 1637, the shire was renamed Isle of Wight County, after an island off the south coast of England from which many of the Virginia settlers had come.

"Summation symbol, in math" is SIGMA. Sigma is the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet. It is written as Σ (upper case), σ (lower case) and ς (when it is the last letter of a word). The function of the Σ symbol in finite summation is explained at

Anyone with an IQ of 35,000 or above might be able to understand the explanation. I certainly couldn't.

"'Ideas Worth Spreading' acronym" is TED. In 1984, architect Richard Wurman organized a TED conference in Monterey, California, to display the latest innovations in technology, entertainment and design (TED). The second conference was held in 1990 and has been held annually since then. In 2000, control of the now-worldwide TED conferences was purchased by Future UK, a British media company owned by Chris Anderson, an Oxford graduate and publisher/entrepeneur. A year later, ownership moved to Anderson's non-profit Sapling Foundation, which has a goal "to foster the spread of great ideas, to provide a platform for the world's smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most-inspiring teachers so that millions of people can gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by the world, and to help create a better future." There are now several offshoots, including TEDMED, TEDx, TEDxYouth, TED Fellows, TED Women and Ted Salon.
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