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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.
Today's Puzzles / January 17: Today'sh croshwordsh
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 17, 2016, 05:00:46 PM »
In today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Joseph Groat, the letters SH replace TCH in familiar phrases:

Convenient snack? NOSHINONESBELT
Outback outlaw? BUSHCASSIDY
Score for Hawkeye's team? MASHPOINT
Clothing magnate David posing with a bass? ABERCROMBIEANDFISH
Self-cleaning laundry? SMARTWASH
Avoid diner dishes? ESCAPEHASH

The puzzle's title: "Sh!"

With Trump and Cruz sniping at each other and Hillary and Bernie sniping at each other, the "Political Promises" theme of Patrick Merrill's New York Times crossword is especially appropriate. The answers reveal the truth behind all those promises:

"I will maintain a strong defense!" WHENOPPONENTSATTACKME
"Deficit spending must stop!" DONATETOMYCAMPAIGNNOW
"Education will be my top priority!" IVEGOTALOTTOLEARN
"Unemployment will be a thing of the past!" FORMEIFIMELECTED

Very clever.....and, unfortunately, that is probably the way most politicians think. If Merrill ever decides to quit making crosswords, he could likely become a political satirist for Mad magazine.

"Back" was FRO. In the US, we never hear the word used today except in the phrase "to and fro," although in certain British dialects the word is still used in place of "from." The word "from" dates from the 11th century and comes from the Old High German fram, which means "forth" or "away" and derives from the Old English faran, which means "to go." The word "fare" also comes from faran. "Fro" dates from the 14th century.

The January 15 New York Times crossword included AMATI, the name of an Italian family of violin makers. Today's Los Angeles Times crossword included STRADS for "Treasured strings." STRAD appears quite often in crosswords. I wrote about the Amati family and now I can write about the Stradivari family. Both families lived in Cremona, Italy and both families made stringed instruments. The Amati family made instruments from 1538 to 1740. In 1656-57, Antonio Stradivari studied under Niccolò Amati and began making his own instruments in 1658. The Stradivari family continued to make instruments until 1743. Strads are reputed to produce better sound than modern violins but when comparison tests are performed, almost no one can tell a difference. The highest price ever paid for a Stradivarius violin was $15,900,000 in a 2011 auction:
Today's Puzzles / Catching some Z's: The January 16 crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 16, 2016, 03:21:18 PM »
Today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Alan Olschwang had no theme but it included 12 ten-letter words and phrases and only 28 black squares. There were also six Z's, four of which appeared in the first across word, RAZZMATAZZ ("Showy display"). The other words containing a Z were ZAIRE, ZHOU (Mao successor), ZZTOP, RITZES, Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Barry ZITO and last Tudor Monarch ELIZABETHI.

"Much more than dislikes" was ABOMINATES. We often hear the word "abomination" but the verb "abominate" is much less common. Merriam-Webster gives this origin: "Latin abominatus, past participle of abominari, literally, to deprecate as an ill omen, from ab- + omin-, omen."

"Walking on the beach, maybe" was SANDALED. Yes, someone walking on the beach could be wearing sandals but that is an awkward-sounding word to have in a puzzle. "Get cozy at bedtime" was NESTLEDOWN, which is an awkward-sounding phrase to have in a puzzle. "Bout div." was RND, which is an awkward-looking abbreviation to have in a puzzle. I have never seen "round" abbreviated that way. Perhaps the abbreviation exists only in crosswords.

Byron Walden's crossword in today's Daily News had no theme either but it included 12 ten-letter words and phrases and two 11-letter phrases. There was also one Z, with ATOZ crossing MSMAGAZINE.

"Targeting the Fourth Estate" was ANTIPRESS. Yes, it's a real word but not a very common one. It means "Opposed to or acting against the press." "Franklin who sang Piece Of My Heart" was ERMA. Erma Franklin was the older sister of Aretha Franklin. Aretha also had a younger sister named Carolyn. Erma and Carolyn each had two hits on the Billboard r&b chart. (Aretha has had 99.) Carolyn died of cancer in 1988 and Erma died of cancer in 2002. Erma recorded Piece Of My Heart in 1967. A year later, the song became a much bigger hit for Janis Joplin and her band Big Brother & The Holding Company.

"What to eat to lose weight" was LESS. Very clever.....and sensible. In one of Johnny Hart's B.C. comic strips, the character known only as "the fat broad" asked Dr. Peter what she could do to lose weight. Peter told her, "Try the ELF diet." She asked, "ELF?" Peter said, "Yes---Eat Less Food." :)

I have an abbreviation of my own: GMC. No, not General Motors Corporation. It is my wish for the Cruciverb site: Get More Contributors. I shouldn't be the only person commenting on each day's crosswords. Where is everyone?
General Discussion / Re: Good clue for ATE OFF?
« Last post by stephenbishop on January 15, 2016, 08:04:12 PM »
Replying to old post for fun... ATE OFF --> Feasted from friend's food
Today's Puzzles / January 15: Crossword Puzzles R Us
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 15, 2016, 04:02:02 PM »
In today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Jeffrey Wechsler, the letter R replaces the letter C in five familiar phrases:

Pet peeve? IRKFACTOR
Barista's schedule? PERKINGORDER
Response from a dog on a horse? BARKINTHESADDLE
Satisfying sight to an Istanbul clothing designer? TURKINYOURSHIRT
Jerk in a cove: DORKOFTHE BAY

That last one could have been a Weird Al Yankovic parody of Otis Redding's Dock Of The Bay but he obviously never thought of it.

"Organization monitoring brownfields" is EPA. The word "brownfield" dates from 1992 and refers to land where a commercial or industrial facility was once located, land which may be contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution such as solvents, paints, pesticides and chemicals. Such land may sit vacant for decades because the cost of cleaning it up is more than the land is worth.

There is no theme in Barry Silk's New York Times crossword but there are three clever clues:

Junk removal service: SPAMFILTER
Store in the Middle East? OILRESERVES
Round numbers? GREENSFEES

"Violinist's prize" is AMATI. Four generations of the Amati family (1538-1740) produced violins, violas and cellos---or "celli," if you want the proper Italian plural---in Cremona, Italy. Some of their instruments are now worth more than $600,000. If you'd like to own  one, you can take part in the auctions on the Amati website:
Today's Puzzles / The January 10 crosswords: Mark your calendar
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 10, 2016, 03:58:09 PM »
It took me a while to figure out how to solve today's New York Times crossword by David Woolf. None of the first words and phrases I filled in seemed to have any connection to the puzzle's title, "Record Of The Year." I assumed the theme answers would be music-related. Then I realized that the words and phrases which I had not filled in---because nothing seemed to fit or make sense---were the ones which fit the theme. A "record of the year" is a calendar and the three-letter abbreviations of each of the twelve months (except for May, of course, which needs no abbreviation) were part of the grid.....and each abbreviation filled a single square. For example, the intersecting words CAPRIS and APRICOT shared a square containing the letters APR; and the intersecting words CAUGHT and SLAUGHTER shared a square containing the letters AUG. Whew!

The theme of today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis was much easier to figure out: There isn't one. Well.....I suppose there is, if you want to get technical. The title is "Mixed Doubles" and the long answers are phrases which combine two words that we never hear together:

Dinner and a movie? DATESTANDARD
Rotten luck in Rotterdam? DUTCHWHAMMY
Ceremony for the Jetsons? SPACEWEDDING
Lenscrafter employee? VISIONAGENT
Citations from an underwriter? INDEMNITYQUOTES
Answering in the form of a question? JEOPARDYDUTY

Bizarre! But let's move on. "Georgia native" is ATLANTAN but not every Georgia native is from Atlanta. The clue should have said "People from Georgia's capital." "Suitor" is BEAU.....but does anyone in 2016 even use the words "suitor" or "beau"? I kinda doubt it. "Gregg users" is STENOS. Does anyone in 2016 still work as a stenographer? I kinda doubt it. There are many types of stenography, more commonly known as shorthand, but all of them use curved lines, symbols and abbreviations to enable someone, such as a secretary or school student, to quickly write dictated letters and lectures. John Robert Gregg, an Irish-born educator and publisher, devised a simplified form of stenography in 1888. Instead of symbols representing words, Gregg's system uses symbols to represent the actual sounds of the words. For example, the last three letters of "laugh" are represented as an F. A detailed explanation of Gregg shorthand is on good ol' Wikipedia:
Etc. / Re: General rules for filling in a grid?
« Last post by RichP on January 09, 2016, 12:24:38 AM »
A couple of ideas after you have followed Thomps2525's excellent suggestions . . . when adding strings of 2 or 3 black squares to a 15 x 15 you might try positioning them around the top and bottom of the 5th and 10th column for three discrete sections of 4-5 letter words across the top and bottom of the puzzle (or the 8th column for 7 letter words). You'll then have an idea of where other black squares need to go in the center to complete your grid. I find it helpful to start with words that bisect 2 or more themed answers, particularly where those crossings will result in a word with awkward letter combinations (e.g. a "y" and a "y"). If you can't find good words for those crossings, it may be necessary to fiddle with the positioning of your themed clues. Once the difficult crossings are resolved, I like to work the section nearest the most difficult crossing (i.e. with the fewest alternate words that could be substituted to complete the crossing) to make sure that I can find clean fill for that section.
Software / Technical / Re: Comparison of CW Construction Software
« Last post by RichP on January 08, 2016, 11:44:09 PM »
Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion!
Today's Puzzles / A message about the January 3 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 03, 2016, 03:12:32 PM »
The title of today's crossword by C.C. Burnikel, "Online Chat," pretty much gives the theme away. "GroupMe exchanges, briefly" is IMS and the eight longest answers are phrases with the initials I and M, including ICEMACHINE, IRONMAIDEN, INNERMONGOLIA and IDINAMENZEL (not "Adele Dazeem," as John Travolta called her at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony).

IM means "Instant Message" or "Instant Messaging." The technology that allows computer users to send messages back and forth was developed in the mid-1970s and first used on PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations), a private instructional network established in 1960 at the University of Illinois. The PLATO system allowed students at UI and other universities to learn Latin, chemistry and other subjects via computer. Instant Messaging technology was popularized in 1996 by the Israeli-based company ICQ (pronounced "I seek you"). At its peak, ICQ was used by more than 100,000,000 people worldwide. ICQ is now owned by the Russian Internet company GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app developed in 2010 and now owned by Microsoft.

And don't worry---none of the above information will be on the final exam. :)

Today's puzzle includes a higher-than-usual number of individual black squares -- 19 -- and a higher-than-usual number of foreign words: AMIE, ELREY ("The king of Spain?"), ESA, HAJJ, IDEE, MONTE, MUSEE, NIE ("Never, to Nietzsche"), ORO and SENAT ("Haiti governing group"). A cute clue was "Spot check?" for LEASH. A disgusting answer was POOP, for "Skinny." Both words are slang for "inside information" (among other things) but this section of the grid could easily have been reworked so COOP, HOOP, LOOP or BOOP (as in "Betty Boop") could have been used instead of POOP. Gak!
General Support / Re: Kevin McCann, Your Email Doesn't Work
« Last post by jackburden on January 03, 2016, 12:49:20 PM »
I sent a test email to Kevin's address 3 hours ago and have not received any error messages.

David, can you try from a different email account and see if you still get the error?
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