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General Discussion / Re: filling a tough corner
« Last post by 4wd on February 08, 2016, 07:04:04 PM »
Oh, thought I'd get a decent word list as they've got lots of additional stuff. Thanks for offering, have emailed you the grid :)
General Discussion / Re: filling a tough corner
« Last post by mmcbs on February 08, 2016, 01:42:47 PM »
You have partially answered your own question, as the default word list in Compiler is not very robust. If you would be willing to share the grid with me, I'd be glad to take a look at it to see if I can help. email me directly at (and also if you are targeting the puzzle for a particular spot, tell me that, too).
General Discussion / filling a tough corner
« Last post by 4wd on February 08, 2016, 08:20:29 AM »
Quite new to crossword construction and currently filling my first themed puzzle, my theme entries are quite catchy, though I'm having problems filling a corner, seems there aren't a lot of available fills and it's driving me nuts, been at it a couple days now.

how do you guys/gals tackle a tough corner ??

I've tried abbreviations, brand names, lowering the grid fingers etc. trying to stay away from obscure entries. 

Haven't got gold membership as yet so I'm working with Crossword Compiler's built in word lists.
Thanks in advance  :)
Today's Puzzles / The February 7 crossword: Easy as ABC
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 07, 2016, 03:41:37 PM »
Today's Los Angeles Times crossword is by Alan Olschwang, a retired attorney who has been creating puzzles since 1994, and includes seven three-word phrases, each of which has initials matching the initials of a United States President. The puzzle is clever.....and so is the title, "Presidential Firsts."

On a lark (#35): JUSTFORKICKS
Austria's Railjet, for one (#33): HIGHSPEEDTRAIN
Changes the play at the line of scrimmage (#21): CALLSANAUDIBLE
Words from a returning traveler (#43): GUESSWHOSBACK
Drinking song popularized by the Glenn Miller Orchestra (#36): LITTLEBROWNJUG
D.C. trip highlight (#27): WHITEHOUSETOUR
Could be more productive (#34): DONTDOENOUGH

The Presidents, respectively, are John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Harry S Truman, Chester Alan Arthur, George Walker Bush, Lyndon Baines Johnson, William Howard Taft and Dwight David Eisenhower. Harry Truman served as a Senator from Missouri, 1935-45, then spent three months as Vice-President before succeeding to the Presidency upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt and remaining in office until January 1953. Truman's middle name was simply the letter S. His parents gave him that middle name to honor his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.

Lyndon Johnson is one of only four men who served as a Representative, Senator, Vice-President and President. The others are John Tyler, Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon.

"Snickered" is TEHEED. That is very awkward. "Papal garment" is ORALE. The word comes from the Latin word for "mouth." I have no idea what the connection is. An orale, more commonly known as a fanon (from the old Germanic word for "cloth") is a round cape worn by the Pope when he is presiding over a Mass. "Half a patio pair" is TONG. But can half of a pair of tongs really be called a "tong"? I don't think so. And if the pin fell out of a pair of scissors, would each half be called a "scissor"? Or is one half of a pair of pants called a "pant"? Is half of a pair of shorts a "short"? Is half of a pair of glasses a "glass"? And why is each of these objects referred to as a "pair" anyway? We can debate these issues in our next linguistics class. I will have you all pair up with one another. :)
Today's Puzzles / Be on the lookout for the February 2 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 02, 2016, 04:06:32 PM »
C.C. Burnikel came up with a cute idea for today's Los Angeles Times crossword. Circled letters at the beginning and end of each theme answer spell COP:

Conceal, as misdeeds: COVERUP
Place to buy a Nikon: CAMERASHOP
Obeyed the corner traffic sign: CAMETOAFULLSTOP
For Better Or For Worse, e.g.: COMICSTRIP

"Warning about sealed-off escape routes from the police, four of whom are aptly positioned in this puzzle's circles" is YOURESURROUNDED. The puzzle would have been better if the COPs appeared at the corners of the grid and the word CROOK or THIEF or ROBBER appeared in the center.  Burnikel may have even thought of such an idea and then rejected it as being too difficult to work out. If I ever see her, I will ask.

And why do we have the expression "full stop"? If a stop is not full, then it isn't a stop; it's a slowing. At theme parks, many attractions warn riders to "remain seated until the vehicle comes to a full and complete stop." If "full stop" is a redundancy, then "full and complete stop" is really a redundancy.

There are many three- and four-letter words which appear quite frequently in crosswords. Among them are ALE, ASEA, ERA, ERE, IRA, IRE, LEI, ODE, ORE, SPA and UKE. There are also a few words which have two different spellings, allowing crossword creators more options for "fill words." Today's puzzle includes AEON ("Very long time"). I have never seen that spelling anywhere except in crosswords, so I was surprised to turn to the Merriam-Webster dictionary and discover that "aeon" is the preferred spelling. By whom?, I wonder. "Eon" is considered to be a variant spelling. The word comes from the Greek aiōn, which means "age."

Among the other words with two spellings, either of which can be---and is---used in crosswords are AERIE/AERY, AMEBA/AMOEBA, CENTER/CENTRE, ERN/ERNE, JAIL/GAOL, REATA/RIATA, SMOKY/SMOKEY, STORY/STOREY (referring to a level of a building), THEATER/THEATRE, UEY/UIE (a U-turn) and WOOLY/WOOLLY.

Today's Puzzles / I offer you the January 31 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 31, 2016, 03:53:04 PM »
Mark Bickham's crossword in today's Los Angeles Times is titled "Misaligned." My one-word review of today's puzzle---and its title---is "weak." The title is also the clue to one of the answers, OFFCENTER. Seven other answers include the consecutive letters O-F-F: THEOFFICE, SHOWOFFORCE, SHIPOFFOOLS, PEACEOFFERING, REPEATOFFENDER, SMIRNOFFVODKA and CIRCLEOFFRIENDS. All the OFFs are either to the right or the left of the vertical center line of the puzzle but that hardly makes them "misaligned."

Complaint department:

"Sics on" - LETSAT (Awkward)
"Bit of a chuckle" -  HEE (Awkward)
"Sweater sizes: Abbr." -  LGES (Awkward)
"Occasionally" -  EVERANDANON (Archaic)
"Granada gold" -  ORO (Not used in English)
"Wee" - SMA (Not used in English)
"Napoleon's légion" - ARMEE (Not used in English)
"MLX ÷ X: CVI" -  (Roman numerals? In the 21st century?)
"Shipping overnight, perhaps" -FEDEXING (Federal Express is popularly known as FedEx, but how did FedEx become a verb? Although, if Google can become a verb.....)

"Dogpatch conditional" is IFN. Dogpatch was the impoverished mountain community that was the home of the Yokum hillbilly family in Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip, which ran from 1943 to 1977. The titular character was hardly "li'l" but that's a topic for another time. Capp was quite skillful at creating "hillbilly talk." The Yokums always said "if'n" for "if." In the very first Li'l Abner strip, Li'l Abner declared, "Accordin' to the sun, it hain't supper time -- but the way mah stummick feel, it must be." You can see that first strip (and all the thousands of others) at

"Our Gang assent" is OTAY. Our Gang was a series of 200 comedy shorts produced by Hal Roach from 1922 to 1944. They were groundbreaking because they depicted black children and white children together as equals. In 1955, 80 of the films were syndicated to television and the "gang" was renamed The Little Rascals. The exclamation "Otay" originated with Eugene Gordon Lee, who played Porky (1935-39) and had a speech impediment which made it difficult for him to pronounce the letter K. The character of Buckwheat, played by Billy Thomas from 1934 to 1944, also began saying "Otay" and the word is now usually -- and erroneously -- credited to him. Thomas died of a heart attack in 1980. His son co-authored a biography, Otay! The Billy "Buckwheat" Thomas Story.
Today's Puzzles / The January 28 crossword makes a state-ment
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 28, 2016, 04:11:31 PM »
The clue to the central answer in today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Robert Morris is "1980 sci-fi thriller." The answer, ALTEREDSTATES, is a hint to the four theme answers, each of which includes an altered name of a state. Those "altered states" appear in circled spaces. Since I have no way to make circles here, I have put the altered states in boldface:

Weasel relative: PINEMARTIN
1988 Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winner: GEENADAVIS
Christmas, for many: PAIDHOLIDAY

Virginia, Maine, Nevada and Idaho, altered. A very clever theme today. Altered States was adapted from a novel by Paddy Chayefsky based on the research of John C. Lilly (1915-2001), a physician and psychoanalyst who acted as his own "guinea pig." He researched sensory deprivation by taking psychedelic drugs and then being isolated in a flotation tank. He wanted to learn how doing those things would affect a man's senses and state of consciousness. Why did Lilly feel the results of such research was important? Who knows? Anyway, Altered States marked the film debut of both William Hurt and Drew Barrymore. Hurt played a scientist whose sensory deprivation experiments turned him into a caveman-like character. Yeah, the storyline was totally illogical. Movie critic Leonard Maltin called it "ludicrous."

"Twice cinq" is DIX, which is not used in English. A better clue would be one referring to Fort Dix, a former Army post in New Jersey. The Fort was named for John Adams Dix, a former New York Senator who briefly served as Secretary of the Treasury and was a Union general in the Civil War.

"Whitney, by birth and by education" is ELI. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, a mechanical device which removes the seeds from cotton. "Gin" is short for "engine." The device was patented in 1794. The word ELI appears in many crosswords and is usually used in reference to a student at Yale University. The college was founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School of Connecticut. In 1718, after Welsh merchant/philanthropist Elihu Yale made a sizeable donation to the school, it was renamed Yale in his honor. A Yale student or alumnus is popularly referred to as an Eli (short for Elihu) or a Yalie. Here is a detailed history of Yale and its traditions:
Today's Puzzles / January 24: A farely good crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 24, 2016, 04:15:58 PM »
Today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Fred Piscop is titled "Fare Play" and is filled with puns which use alternate meanings of words referring to cooked food:

Inebriated fare? FRIEDRICE
Illegally taken fare? POACHEDSALMON
Fare constantly questioned? GRILLEDCHEESE
Fare after successful medical treatment? CUREDPORK
Soundly defeated fare? CREAMEDCORN
Fare at the Friars Club? ROASTEDNUTS
Excessively pampered fare? CODDLEDEGGS

STEAMEDRICE would have been better a better choice than STEAMEDMILK but RICE had already been used in an answer.

"Coddle" means "to treat with extremes or excessive care or kindness; pamper." In cooking, it means "to cook (as eggs) in liquid slowly and gently just below the boiling point." I'm not sure how anyone could cook something "gently." Anyway, the word comes from the Middle English caudel, which derives from the Latin calidus, meaning "warm." Calidus is also the source of the word "cauldron."

The Friars Club, founded in 1904 in New York City, is well-known for its "roasts." Those are banquets at which a famous person, usually an actor or comedian, is subjected to good-natured ridicule by his friends and fellow actors and comedians. From 1947 to 2008, there was also a Friars Club in Los Angeles. It was founded by Milton Berle, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante and other celebrities who had moved from New York to Los Angeles in order to be closer to Hollywood, the motion picture industry and the rapidly-growing television industry.

"Appears gradually" is FADESIN. "Fade" means "to lose strength or vitality; to lose freshness or brilliance of color; to sink away; vanish." One might question how an image in a movie could fade in. "In motion pictures, "fade" means "to change gradually in loudness or visibility" and therefore a movie image can fade either in or out.....although "fade in" contradicts the original definition of "fade."

Okay, I'm done now. I'm going to fade out.....although maybe I shouldn't say that. "Fade" comes from the Latin fatuus, which means "foolish; insipid; fatuous" and I would prefer to not be thought of in that way. :)
Today's Puzzles / A few bites of the January 20 crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 20, 2016, 04:35:27 PM »
I vant to bite your neck.....and then I vant you to see if you can deduce the connection between these answers in today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Mark McClain:

Police surveillance: STAKEOUT
Reversed counterpart: MIRRORIMAGE
Trattoria basket filler: GARLICBREAD
Railroad track piece: CROSSTIE
Daytime observatory setting: SUNSPOT

All right, I probably gave away the theme when I said I vant to bite your neck. "Folklore creature traditionally averse to the starts" of those answers is VAMPIRE. The word dates from 1732 and comes from the Serbian vampir. Merriam-Webster defines "vampire" as "the reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave at night and suck the blood of persons asleep." Bram Stoker's Dracula is the most famous vampire. A history of the belief in vampires can be found on the Live Science website:

"Unimportant" is TWOBIT. In Colonial America, the most widely used currency was the Spanish dollar. A coin worth one-eighth of that dollar was called a real (pronounced ray-ahl). When you watch a movie and hear pirates talking about "pieces of eight," they're referring to the real. The Americans called the coin a "bit." The term "two-bit" came to mean "cheap or small of its kind; petty; small-time." In 1794, the United States adopted decimal-based currency but the 25¢ coin, the quarter, continues to be referred to as "two bits." In his 1964 hit King Of The Road, Roger Miller mentioned getting a "four-bit room," i.e., a hotel room costing 50¢ per night.

ERDE ("Earth, to Mahler"), NINO (which should be NIÑO), ENERO and TORERO are not used in English and therefore should not be used in American crossword puzzles, although they are---and much too frequently.

Paula Gamache put a lot of effort into creating today's New York Times crossword. The central answer is DEADEND ("Cul-de-sac") and each half of each theme answer can be preceded by DEAD. Those answers are WOODDUCK, AIRLINE, BODYWEIGHT, EYEBALL, LETTERHEAD and SEAHORSE. I can recall only three or four other crosswords where each half of the theme answers can be combined with one particular word to make a new phrase. Such puzzles obviously are not easy to come up with.

 "Let a hack do the driving" is CABIT. As a verb, "cab" means "to travel in a cab" and dates from 1835 but I have never heard the expression "cab it."

"Assail with expletives" is CUSSAT. "Curse" comes from the Old English curs and dates from the 11th century. "Cuss" is an alteration of "curse" and dates from 1768. I wonder who decided to "alter" the original word.....and for what reason? After all nobody has ever started calling a purse a "puss" and nobody has ever started calling a nurse a "nuss."
Book Releases / New crossword book
« Last post by mmcbs on January 20, 2016, 03:47:52 PM »
I'm pleased to announce the publication of my book "Unplugged Crosswords".
This book has 150 puzzles (132 15x & 18 21x, 135 themed, 15
themeless). They are "medium to hard" (which means that most on this list
will be able to breeze through them). It's available from (ISBN
978-1516860418) for $8.99 plus shipping (free shipping for Prime), or from
my CreateSpace store at (here, you have
to pay shipping, but through February you can get a $2 discount using code
9HVG2KRH). Anyone interested the publication process or more about the
book, please feel free to email me privately.
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