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Today's Puzzles / Understanding the June 17 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on June 17, 2016, 04:34:39 PM »
As a child, James Sajdak developed an interest in crossword puzzles by watching his father solve each day's Chicago Daily News crossword. Sajdak earned a degree in linguistics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and began teaching ESL classes (English as a Second Language). He began creating his own puzzles in 2005 and they have been published in the New York Sun, New York Times and Los Angeles Times. When he comes up with a clever theme, he often comes to the site to see if the idea has been used by anyone else. The theme of Sajdak's crossword today is BOTTOMSUP ("Toaster's words"). "Bottoms up" is the way four pairs of words are to be read:


"Literally, books": PLACES UNDER ARREST


"Literally, commits perjury": LIES UNDER OATH


"Literally, forms an obstruction": GETS UNDERFOOT


"Literally, sacrifices to save one's own neck": THROWS UNDER THE BUS

"Bottoms up!" is an American idiom. The Cambridge Dictionary says the words are "sometimes said by people in a friendly way just before drinking an alcoholic drink together." Some sources say the expression is a direction to drink the entire beverage at once, in which case the empty glass could be set back down with the "bottom up." I tend to doubt that explanation -- but I question why the "Bottoms up!" phrase is even necessary. No one can lift just the bottom of a glass. One either lifts the entire glass.....or lets it sit on the table.

"Physicist's proposed particle" is AXION. Wikipedia describes the axion as "a hypothetical elementary particle postulated by the Peccei–Quinn theory in 1977 to resolve the strong CP problem in quantum chromodynamics. If axions exist and have low mass within a specific range, they are of interest as a possible component ofcold dark matter." Well, that certainly clarifies things!

"Beantown landmark, with 'the'" is PRU. The Prudential Center, colloquially known as the Pru, opened in 1964 in Boston and covers 23 acres. It includes a shopping mall, restaurants, offices, a convention center and the Prudential Tower, a 52-story skyscraper which is one of the headquarters of Prudential Financial (formerly Prudential Insurance Company). When the 749-foot Tower opened, it was the second-tallest building in the world, behind the 1,249-foot-tall Empire State Building in New York City. Now, in 2016, the Empire State Building is only the 30th-tallest building and the Prudential Tower is not even among the 130 tallest! The world's tallest building is now the 2,717-foot, 163-story Burj Khlifa ("Khalifa Tower") in Dubai:

I'm guessing the tenants on the top floors need to wear oxygen masks. :)
General Discussion / WSJ time frame for puzzle submissions
« Last post by fggoldston on June 16, 2016, 04:08:21 PM »
Since there is no time frame posted in the specifications posted by WSJ and especially since we are told to just 'be patient' I don't want to re-send a puzzle I submitted to WSJ in March.  But the last time I submitted one, I got a response a month later and I am coming up on 4 months this time which even Will Shortz seems to think is an unreasonable amount of time for NYT submissions.  Is the address for WSJ ( still a correct one?  Does anyone know if WSJ is really backed up or something?  And would anyone know if I should just sit tight, or go ahead and re-submit to a different e-mail that I have on file for them (which seems like an underhanded thing to do if one of his helpers is backed up and I bring that to light by sending it out to another).
General Discussion / Re: Learning How To Construct Grids
« Last post by fggoldston on June 16, 2016, 03:51:14 PM »
I have built a lot of crosswords from scratch (though I haven't sold a lot of my puzzles, but to be fair I've only tried to do that sporadically until very recently).  Nonetheless for many years I built them without the use of a computer program and this is what I learned.
1. Keep your theme entries as far away from each other as is humanly possible!  Try NOT to cross them - it will give you ulcers.
2.  I always start with the smallest amount of black squares possible so that if I find myself in a predicament I still have the option of adding one and not feel guilty about it.
3.  Sometimes deleting a black square is the answer.  I always try to delete a black square now first, instead of trying to add one and it has saved me quite a few times.
4. If I find that the grid has more than ONE unworkable or problematic area right at the beginning - I rearrange the entries.  Sometimes an entry with a Y that lands in the middle of the crossing word or a Z at an end-spot ends up being better than an arrangement that leaves those odd letters in their best spots (like the end or beginning of a word.)
5. Never throw any of the 'attempts' OUT.  Hang onto them until the sheer volume turns into a fire hazard or at least until you've completed the puzzle.  You might go back to one of the ones that you gave up on and find that a new-fangled tv personality or a phrase you hadn't considered before SAVES the BEST one!

General Discussion / Re: Learning How To Construct Grids
« Last post by Glenn9999 on June 15, 2016, 06:32:55 PM »
More self-referential stuff for when I sit down soon to get it done (while I take way too much time on grids, I'm solving about 95-98% of them successfully now): RichP refers to this thread.

Just to sound it out for myself as I think I may be getting on the track of how to answer this, minus the rough pictures I could draw and put in (video would be even better) - 15x15 here of course: Observationally, it looks like most grids are "woven together" then filled in. 

1. Start by placing the longer theme type answers (or whatever required for the theme) alternately from top and bottom to maintain symmetry and preserve a legal grid (answers of 3 characters or more).  But black square after themers and then set word on other side.

2. Then form crosses with verticals using the bounds of the grid to fill a lattice some place again working from top and bottom.  Leave one black square between words again in the middle.  These represent the words that one would have the most freedom to define for themselves and can be themers as well.

3. I'd have to play with it a bit after that, but I would say this is where you would have to word-shop, fit things, etc, etc.  Farthest away from the intersections is where you want your "odder" lettered words, closer to the intersections you want to take whatever (reasonable) you can get...

To answer a quick question from elsewhere, yes I'm well-aware of the software (CCW, etc).  But I want to learn how to do it instead of have a program do it for me.  Because I have a very particular set of skills...skills I might want to use. :)

check out the crossword constructors handbook by patrick berry focuses on a 15x15 grid though techniques can be applied else where.

Doesn't appear in Amazon, as does most other books I've seen recommended.  Sorry.
General Discussion / Re: RISC
« Last post by Glenn9999 on June 15, 2016, 05:37:11 PM »
RISC = Reduced Instruction Set Computing

So I'd say specifying "computer" is redundant.

"CPU that performs a limited set of operations extremely quickly" would be the "succinct definition" I would go for if I was going for a crossword clue.
General Discussion / RISC
« Last post by greg sheffield on June 15, 2016, 03:33:00 PM »
Is there a more succinct definition for RISC than:

A computer whose central processing unit recognizes a relatively small number of instructions, which it can execute very rapidly.

Thank you!

General Discussion / Re: Learning How To Construct Grids
« Last post by 4wd on June 15, 2016, 12:07:15 PM »
check out the crossword constructors handbook by patrick berry focuses on a 15x15 grid though techniques can be applied else where.
Today's Puzzles / Something fishy: The June 12 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on June 12, 2016, 04:37:37 PM »
It's June. Most schools are closing for the summer. You might wonder why Ron Toth and C.C. Burnikel chose "Going To School" as the theme of today's crossword. Well, actually, the title refers, I'll let Merriam-Webster explain it:

"You may not think of your education as relaxation, but, believe it or not, the word 'school' can be traced back to a Greek word meaning 'rest; leisure.' The Ancient Greek scholē came to be applied to the philosophical discussions in which the best of Greek society spent their free time. The meaning of scholē was extended to the groups who listened to a particular philosopher, and later to the set of beliefs held by such a group. When the Latin schola was borrowed from Greek, the emphasis fell more on the place where a philosopher spoke, and it is the sense 'place of instruction' that was ultimately passed to English. A group of fish is called a 'school' not because they resemble students in a classroom. The word 'school' in this sense is borrowed from a Dutch word that means 'crowd' or 'throng.'"

Nine clues are names of fish -- but not really:


The word "shark" derives from the German schorke, which meant "rogue" or "rascal." (The English word "shirk" also came from schorke.) "Shark" originally referred not to the fish but to someone who preys upon others, e.g., a "loan shark." Beginning in the 17th century, a swindler or cheat was called a "sharp." The term "card shark" eventually began to be used as a synonym of "card sharp" -- even in today's crossword. But it's wrong.

"Book with a year on its cover" is ALMANAC. The earliest known appearance of the word is in an opus written in 1267 by Roger Bacon, an English philosopher and Franciscan friar. The word referred to an astrological calendar. Many sources say "almanac" derived from al-manākh, an Arabic word meaning " the climate." Other sources say al-manākh does not appear in any Arabic texts and suggest that the word is a Spanish variant of Arabic. "Almanac" may also derive from the Ancient Greek almenichiaká, which means "calendar." The exact origin of the word is uncertain. An almanac gives deatils about weather, tide tables, world history, sports, politics, music, population data, weights and measures, and hundreds of other subjects -- almost everything except the origin of the word "almanac."

"Against a thing, legally" is INREM. The Latin phrase in rem means "in the thing itself" and refers to a lawsuit involving property as opposed to a lawsuit against a person. For a detailed explanation -- but not necessarily an easy-to-understand explanation -- check the Farlex Legal Dictionary at
Today's Puzzles / Re: Frankly, it's the June 8 crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on June 11, 2016, 02:40:10 PM »
Thank you for the "thank-you" -- but I never left. I don't comment on each day's puzzles, only the puzzles which have an unusually clever theme and/or include uncommon words and phrases. I started reading at age four and I used to read the dictionary at night. I not only learned thousands of big impressicve-sounding words, I learned all the Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes so when I saw an unfamiliar word in a book or newspaper, I could usually figure out what it meant without having to look it up in the dictionary. Ever since, I have been a philologist -- someone who studies languages and their histories. "Philology" comes from the Latin philologia, from Greek philologos, from philia ("love") + logos ("word, speech"). can we get more crossword enthusiasts to participate here?
Today's Puzzles / Re: Frankly, it's the June 8 crosswords
« Last post by fggoldston on June 11, 2016, 10:36:38 AM »
I'm glad you're back.  I enjoy reading your critiques and getting the extra information about the entries and clues.  I was worried that maybe you had given up :)  and started to feel guilty since it doesn't seem anyone ever thanks you for posting these.  So thank you and welcome back!
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