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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?
Today's Puzzles / Playing around with the July 17 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 17, 2016, 03:54:47 PM »
Matt McKinley likes to create crosswords in which the theme answers have one or two letters added, one or two letters transposed, or one or two letters changed. His crossword today is titled "Crescendo." A crescendo is a gradual increase in the loudness of a piece of music. The word comes from the Italian crescere, "to grow." In each theme answer, a P sound is changed to an F sound. In music, P (Italian piano) means "soft" and F (Italian forte) means "loud." Solvers without a knowledge of musical terms probably will not be able to understand how the title of today's puzzle relates to the theme answers:

Taciturn circus entertainers? QUIETFLEAS
Brilliant bit of deception? LUMINOUSFEINT
Gradually doze during a long meeting? FADEBYTHEHOUR
Charlie's Angels actress on her sloop? FARRAHSAILING
Award ceremony side dish? NOBELFRIES
Panel judging phobic reactions? JURYOFONESFEARS
Charge in an Everglades water taxi? ALLIGATORFARE

"Alligator fare" is changed from "alligator pear," which is actually an avocado. It is called "alligator pear" because of its shape.

In the 1929 Marx Brothers movie The Cocoanuts, Groucho's character is trying to convince Mrs. Potter (Margaret Dumont) to buy land in Florida: "Take its fruit. Take the alligator pear. Take all the alligator pears and keep 'em -- see if I care. Do you know how alligator pears are made?" "I haven't the slightest idea." "There you are. That's because you've never been an alligator, and don't let it happen again. Do you know that it sometimes requires years to bring the pear and the alligator together? They don't like each other. Do you know how many alligator pears are sent out of this state every year and told not to come back?"

Today's crossword taught me the Chinese word BEI.  The clue was: "In Chinese, the 'north' part of China's 'northern capital.'"  Beijing literally means "north capital." In Chinese, it is written 北京. The northern Chinese city grew from a 10th century BC  settlement known as Jicheng. The name Beijing was established in 1958, although many non-Chinese still use the former name Peking.

"Like a brioche" is EGGY, which is indeed a word -- but not a good word. "Toledo title" is SRA, "Brest 'but'" is MAIS, and "Roberto's residence" is CASA, none of which are used in English. "Supergirl's symbol" is ESS. No it isn't -- her symbol is an S. I detest the use of "spelled-out letters" in crosswords. Each letter of the alphabet is already spelled out -- with a single letter. Many crosswords use CEE or DEE as, respectively, "average grade on a test" and "below-average grade on a test." Teachers will grade a test with a big red C or D, never "Cee" or "Dee." Never. And Supergirl and Superman wear a red-and-yellow emblem with an S, not an "Ess." Here is an illustrated history of the emblem:

Okay, that's it for me. Up, up and awaaaayyyyy.....

Today's Puzzles / Teeing off with the July 15 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 15, 2016, 04:11:11 PM »
The theme of today's crossword by Samuel A. Donaldson -- who is not to be confused with former ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson -- is TEAFORTWO ("No No Nanette song"). In each of four familiar phrases, a "tee" sound is substituted for a "too" sound:

Model high schoolers? FINETEENS
Ornamental ducks? GARDENTEALS
What Fey does in a mushy moment? TINAMELTS
Park statue that might have the real things perched on it? STEELPIGEON

Tea For Two, written by Irving Caesar and Vincent Youmans, was sung as a duet by the characters Tom and Nanette in the musical comedy No No Nanette, which played in Chicago for one year before opening on Broadway in 1925. It's one of those familiar "boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl" stories. Tom wants to marry Nanette but their relationship ends when she runs off to have fun in Atlantic City. Eventually they reunite and break into song as they fantasize about their future together. No No Nanette was made into a movie in 1930 and again in 1940 and a Broadway revival opened in 1971.

In February 1925, Tea For Two became a number-one hit for Marion Harris, an Indiana-born singer who also appeared in several stage musicals. There have also been hit recordings of the song by Ben Bernie, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Tommy Dorsey, the Ipana Troubadors, the Benson Orchestra of Chicago, and April Stevens & Nino Tempo

Samuel A. Donaldson earned law degrees at Oregon State, University of Arizona and University of Florida. For 13 years, he taught law at University of Washington and since 2012 has taught at Georgia State. His specialties are tax law, commercial law, property rights and estate planning. Somehow he still finds time to create crosswords. His puzzles have been appearing in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal since 2008.

"Forward" is UNSHY, "Second chances" is REDOS and "Orator's prowess: Abbr." is RHET -- three awkward answers. "Provençal possessive" is SES, "Der Spiegel article" is EINE, "Der Spiegel rejection is NEIN, "Where el sol rises" is ESTE and "What Spanish Olympians go for" is ORO,  none of which is used in English. "Two-iron, before golf club numbering" is CLEEK. The word is Scottish and originally referred to a large hook used to hold food, pots or clothing. It comes from the Middle English cleken ("to grasp").  The About Sports website has a  detailed description of the golf clubs known as "cleeks":

That takes care of the cleek. Now what the heck is a mashie, a niblick and a jigger?
General Support / Re: Can't Open Puzzle from LAT Calendar
« Last post by BALLYHOO on July 13, 2016, 07:02:40 AM »
Today's Puzzles / The July 10 crossword -- a nice body of work
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 10, 2016, 06:00:49 PM »
"Volumize" is one of those words which, like "crispy" and "hydrated" and "wholesome" and "nutritious," is seldom heard anywhere outside of television commercials. Merriam-Webster defines "volumize" as "to add fullness or volume to (something), especially, to make (hair) thicker or fuller in appearance." Today's crossword by Alex Bajcz is titled "Volumizing" and includes seven familiar phrases with BODY added:

Immunology-themed gathering? ANTIBODYSOCIAL
Central garage item? BODYSHOPLIFT
Royal with a broadcasting award" PRINCESSANDTHEPEABODY
Obstruct one's buddies during a hockey game? BODYCHECKMATES
Crimson Tide wrestler? ALABAMABODYSLAMMER
Benchmark for a movie daredevil? BODYDOUBLESTANDARD

The annual Peabody Awards, named for American banker and philanthropist George Foster Peabody, were first presented in 1940 by the National Association of Broadcasters to honor excellence in radio broadcasting. In 1948, the Awards were extended to television stations and networks. Cable television was added in 1981 and online media were added in 2003. Each year's winners can be seen at

The Alabama Slammer is a cocktail which became popular in the 1980s. It's made with Southern Comfort peach liqueur, sloe gin, amaretto, and orange juice. According to legend, the drink was created in 1975 by a student at the University of Alabama and imbibed to celebrate victories of the university's Crimson Tide football team. 

"Eccentric sort" is GEEZER. We often hear someone referred to as an "old geezer." Apparently there is no such thing as a young geezer. Merriam-Webster defines the word as "an odd or eccentric person, especially an elderly man." It is an alteration of the Scottish word guiser ("one in disguise") and, in some American dialects, is still pronounced like "geyser"  instead of "geezer." In the UK, especially around London, "geezer" is a slang term meaning "a guy; a bloke" and is also used as a term of address in the same way that many Americans call each other "Dude."

"Pres. and veep" is LDRS -- awkward. "'_____ where it hurts!'" is HITEM -- awkward. "90 degrees from norte" is ESTE -- not used in English.  "Beseeches" is OBTESTS, The word "obtest" dates from around 1540 and is now rare. It comes from the Latin obtestārī ("to protest"); ob- ("against") + testārī ("to witness"). Used with an object, "obtest" means "to invoke as witness; to supplicate earnestly; beseech." Used without an object, the word means "to protest." 

Alex Bajcz -- his Hungarian name is pronounced like "Badges" -- was fascinated by plants and insects as a child.  In 2010, he earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Two years later, he earned a master's degree in terrestrial ecology. He is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Maine,  teaching classes in plant taxonomy and studying the reproductive behavior of fruiting plants. And that explains why his Sunday crosswords appear in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times so infrequently -- he's busy with bugs and blooms!
Today's Puzzles / Re: The cutting-edge July 3 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on July 10, 2016, 05:01:13 PM »
Mark, I appreciate your response. I tend to quibble about any word or abbreviation which is overused in crosswords: ALE, ALP, AGUA, ERA, IRA, IRE, ISLE, NNE, SSW, SRTA, UKE, LEI, ALOHA, ARENA, OGLE, ORCA, OREO, et al. As for CACTI and OCTOPI, those plurals are now in common usage, which is why they're included in dictionaries. To me, CACTUSES and OCTOPUSES are the plurals. (Do any Americans use OCTOPODES?) Many dictionaries also say, based on popular usage, that "temp-ə-chər" is now the preferred pronunciation of "temperature" and "kumf-tər-bəl" is the preferred pronunciation of "comfortable." If "comfortable" is pronounced "kumf-tər-bəl," then why is "comfort" never pronounced "kumf-tər"? I am a language purist -- I will always say "com-fort-ə-bəl" and "tem-pər-ə-ture" and pronounce "harass" with the accent on the first syllable.

I'm still, however, trying to figure out why we never say "I aren't" but yet we ask "Aren't I?" The word should be "amn't." It looks strange and it's seldom used -- but it's grammatically correct.
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