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General Discussion / Re: Puzzle Killers
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 21, 2016, 06:15:05 PM »
"Puzzle Killers" sounds like the name of a rap group. :)

Puzzle Maker's Handbook, a 1981 book by Mel Rosen & Stan Kurzban, includes a list of "Entries to avoid." Among them are references to sex and violence; obscure abbreviations; uncommon foreign words; and variant spellings, Scottish, Gaelic, dialect, obsolete, archaic. However, I see variant spellings and archaic words quite frequently: AEON, AMEBA, EEN, OER and many others.

The authors also advise that answers must be in good taste: "Most editors won't allow RAPE as an answer even if you define it as grape pomace."
General Discussion / Re: looking for setters
« Last post by RichP on February 21, 2016, 12:49:33 PM »
I suggest emailing and asking for your information to be included on the publisher specifications and publisher chart pages. The publisher chart lists rates paid by other publications.
General Discussion / Puzzle Killers
« Last post by RichP on February 21, 2016, 12:41:09 PM »
Does anyone know if there is a list of puzzle-killers (which Will describes as "an absolutely heinous entry — the entire grid gets tossed right out of consideration")? If not, is there interest in starting such a list (on Cruciverb perhaps)? I saw Jeff Chen offered such a list for those who upgraded to "regular" user status on XWord Info. This would seem to reflect his own opinions of these words. All these words previously appeared in NYT puzzles so they weren't puzzle killers? Maybe there are words that appeared in pre-Shortz era puzzles that Will has since designated as puzzle killers. Assumedly, this would only be identified directly to constructor of the rejected puzzle.  It would be particularly helpful to identify three, four, and five letter words that we might otherwise be tempted to use as glue.     
Today's Puzzles / A smashing good February 18 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 18, 2016, 04:11:22 PM »
Bruce Haight came up with a unique theme for today's Los Angeles Times crossword. Here are the clues:

'Pay attention' (Ford)
Type of pride (Honda)
Minute Maid Park player (Chevy)
Beat (Ford)
Venomous snake (Dodge)
Space explorer (Ford)
Atlas, for one (Nissan)
Western skiing mecca (Chevy)

The central answer is TBONECOLLISIONS, clued as "Car mishaps." Each of the four pairs of theme answers includes a horizontal word and a vertical word which are models of cars and which share a letter -- circled in the grid but in boldface here -- and form the shape of a T.  The answers, in order, are FOCUS & CIVIC , ASTRO & TEMPO, VIPER & PROBE, and TITAN & TAHOE.

We "common people" refer to a collision in which the front end of a vehicle hits the side of another vehicle as a "T-bone" but insurance companies prefer the term "broadside collision" or "right-angle collision." Without witnesses, it is very difficult to prove who is at fault in such an accident. More information is at

In Greek mythology, Atlas was the Titan who held up the sky. In modern times, he is often erroneously depicted holding up the earth. If he really was large enough to hold up the sky, I'd love to know where he bought his clothes. :)

Also in today's crossword:

Convened again: REMET (Awkward)
Place for a key: Abbr: IGN (Awkward)
Time for new growth: Abbr: SPR (Awkward)
Like many roofs: EAVED (Awkward)
Seine sight: ILE (not used in English)

"Prize for a picture" is OSCAR. This year's Academy Awards ceremony will be held on February 28. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has presented the awards every year since 1929 when the "best picture" award went to the World War drama Wings, a silent film starring Clara Bow, Buddy Rogers, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper. Why is an Academy Award popularly called an "Oscar"? Nobody is certain. It is most likely that Bette Davis nicknamed the award for her first husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson. However, some historians think the nickname could refer to Oscar Pierce, a cousin of the first executive director of the Academy.

I think it's sad that the number of people commenting on crosswords here is smaller than the number of people running for President. The late New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once observed, "If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, nobody's going to stop them." Similarly, I suppose if crossword fans don't want to participate here, I can't stop them. I just wish I knew how to get more people to take part in the discussions. On most days there isn't even a discussion. There's a monologue. *Sigh*
Today's Puzzles / Deep thoughts on the February 15 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 15, 2016, 04:06:23 PM »
Today is February 15, 2016, the third Monday in February. Most calendars and many state governments say today is Presidents' Day. However, the federal government designates the holiday as Washington's Birthday. Most Americans erroneously assume the holiday is to honor both Washington and Lincoln. Because Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia do not celebrate Lincoln's birthday (February 12), Lincoln's birthday has never been a federal holiday. Washington's birthday is February 22 but the legal holiday always falls on a date from the 15th to the 21st. That's government for ya!

Today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Robert Morris has DEEPEND ("Pool diving area") as the central answer. The first word of each theme answer can be preceded by DEEP to form a familiar phrase:

Scatterbrain: SPACECADET
'Sweet dreams': SLEEPTIGHT
The President's annual salary, e.g.: SIXFIGURES
Prince film featuring When Doves Cry: PURPLERAIN

Deep Purple was an instrumental written in 1933 by Peter DeRose. Mitchell Parish added words in 1938 and the song became a hit for many artists over the years, including Larry Clinton, Jimmy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby, Artie Shaw, Paul Weston, and April Stevens & Nino Tempo. The rock group Deep Purple took their name from this song because it was the favorite song of the grandmother of the band's guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore.

"Deep-six" is a colloquial verb meaning "To discard, cancel, halt; to put an end to something." It comes from a nautical term referring to a depth of six fathoms, which is equal to 36 feet or 11 meters. "Deep-six" originally meant "To throw overboard." Sailors figured that anything which sunk to a depth of six fathoms was irretrievable.

"Like a noisy stadium" is AROAR, a word which appears in many crossword puzzles and a word which I have never seen or heard anywhere except in crossword puzzles.

"1971 Eric Clapton hit" is LAYLA. Um...not quite. The original version was recorded in 1970 by Derek & the Dominoes, a British quintet with Clapton as lead singer. And the song was not much of a hit in 1971. In the US, it stalled at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, it didn't even chart. A longer version was released in 1972 and reached #10 in the US and #7 in the UK. Clapton had a hit in 1992 with an acoustic version of the song. Before going solo in 1970, Clapton had also played with the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith. The poor guy just couldn't hold a steady job! :)
Today's Puzzles / Re: Getting to the heart of the February 14 Crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 14, 2016, 06:43:55 PM »
I'm guessing another basic rule was broken by the central letter of the vertical phrase ILUVU. There was no other word crossing the U. It was separated by a black square on either side. The square containing the U was unnumbered. It could have been numbered and used "College abbreviation" as a clue and then the crossword would have contained a one-letter word. Would that have been an improvement? Maybe. Maybe not.

Today's Puzzles / Re: Getting to the heart of the February 14 Crossword
« Last post by rbe on February 14, 2016, 05:53:29 PM »
I liked the heart grid pattern,but it broke Cruciverb's basic rule number four.

"Do not use two-letter words. The minimum word length is three letters".
Today's Puzzles / Getting to the heart of the February 14 Crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 14, 2016, 02:29:24 PM »
Valentine’s Day originated as a day of feasting to honor two early Christian martyrs in Italy, Saint Valentinus of Rome and Saint Valentinus of Interamna (modern-day Terni). How does overeating honor anyone? Anyway, it was not until the mid-1300s when the day began to be associated with love and romance. And then in 1910 Joyce Hall founded Hallmark Cards in Kansas City and the martyred saints were immediately forgotten. :)

"Cherish the Thought" is the title of today's crossword by Rich Norris and Joyce Michaels Lewis. Thirty-one black squares form the outline of a heart and within it are the phrases ILUVU and BEMYVALENTINE. Nicknames for one's "valentine" are found at the starts of the theme answers:

Ingenue's benefactor: SUGARDADDY
Venezuelan wonder: ANGELFALLS
Weasel relative: HONEYBADGER
Offer that can't be refused: SWEETHEARTDEAL
120-year-old candy: TOOTSIEROLL

"Get up" is WAKEN. I disagree. A person can waken and remain in bed. I imagine many people do that, especially when a Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday.

"Craving" is YENNING. Yes, "yen" can be used as a verb. The word dates from 1906 and comes from the Chinese yáhn, which means "a craving." A decade letter, "yen" began to also be used as a verb meaning "to have an intense craving."

"Dutch astronomer who lent his name to a cloud" is OORT. That is also a word used by the Swedish Chef, one of the Muppets, but I digress. Jan Hendrick Oort (1900-92) discovered that the Milky Way rotates and he confirmed and developed the theory of galactic rotation. He was the first astronomer to postulate the existence of an enormous sphere of comets surrounding the solar system. This sphere is known as the Oort Cloud. A picture and brief description can be seen at
General Discussion / looking for setters
« Last post by edsm on February 13, 2016, 03:35:25 PM »
Hi everyone!

I hope I've found the right place to post this...

For a new, bi-monthly magazine aimed at a specific public, I'm looking for setters..

Who would be interested in helping us in the making of the puzzles?

As the magazine is mainly aimed at a USA public there will be about  2 regular USA style crosswords  (one could be a clues-in squares one) and one cryptic puzzle in each issue
I'm also looking for one UK style crossword and then for some more smaller style puzzles (honeycomb, sudokus, binairy, wordsearch, codeword, clues in squares, rebus,...more details will be explained in a later stage )
The puzzles are aimed at a wide public so the majority shouldn't be too hard but one or two can be on a higher level

If you think you could be one of the right people to help please let us know with what you could help us and on what terms.

Thanks a lot and looking forward hearing from you!
Today's Puzzles / Yo, it's the February 12 crossword!
« Last post by Thomps2525 on February 12, 2016, 05:06:20 PM »
ROCKYBALBOA is the "Fighter whose stock greeting affects" the four long answers in today's crossword by Jeffrey Wechsler. The character of Robert "Rocky" Balboa was created by Sylvester Stallone, who portrayed Rocky in seven movies. His most recent portrayal, as the trainer and mentor of boxer Donnie Creed in the 2015 movie Creed, earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

Balboa's "stock greeting" of "Yo!" is added to each of four familiar phrases:

Eschew medical attention? STAYOFFDOCTORS

Staff doctors work at a hospital or medical center and are also known as attending physicians. They also charge way too much. I know from experience that they can lean into the doorway and ask "How are you doing?" and then charge a fee for a "consultation." Grrr!

Generic City Hall dog? MAYORSROVER

NASA has sent seven Mars Rover robotic exploration vehicles to Mars but only four of them have been successful. To learn more, visit

Essay on medication? YOGITRACT

"GI tract" is the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the alimentary canal. which.....well, I think we all know what it does. I don't need to explain it.

Why some seek a certain cactus? FORPEYOTESSAKE

Peyote (lophophora williamsii) is a cactus which yields the psychotropic alkaloid  mescaline. But who is "Pete" in the expression "For Pete's sake"? In the 1800s, a popular expression was "For the love of God." Many people thought it was blasphemous. In the 1880s, the expression "For the love of Mike" began to be used. Three decades later, "For the love of Pete" was common and was possibly a reference to Saint Peter. "Pete" then replaced "God" in the expression "For God's sake."

"Make effervescent" is AERATE. Until I consulted the American Heritage Dictionary, I thought the clue was wrong. I still do. Air is not carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide is not air. However, dictionaries record all common usages of a word, even if some of those usages are technically wrong. Thus, we have a third definition of "aerate." 

1. To supply with air or expose to the circulation of air.
2. To expose to oxygen, as in the oxygenation of the blood by respiration.
3. To supply or charge (liquid) with a gas, especially to charge with carbon dioxide.

Air and oxygen are not the same, so I could make a strong case for saying that the second definition of "aerate" is also wrong. I won't dwell on it though -- I don't want anyone here accusing me of blowing a lot of hot air. :)

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