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General Discussion / Re: methods of crossword construction
« Last post by LARadioRewind on July 25, 2014, 06:24:30 PM »
wbg and jorkel recommend Crossword Compiler. Yeah, but then I'd be admitting that I'm not smart enough to compose a crossword all by my lil' self. Today's New York Times crossword has four 15-letter answers at the top and four more at the bottom. That means that there are 30 four-letter combinations which either begin or end an up-and-down word and I can never figure out how the puzzle creator can do that. I remember seeing a puzzle that had eleven 15-letter answers: four at the top, four at the bottom and three in the middle. I've noticed that the majority of the long answers contain many of the most common letters, such as E, S, R, T, D, A and I, and a lot of them are phrases where every other letter is a vowel.  Does anyone know if the puzzle maker starts with only one 15-letter word at the top and then fills in a few four-letter words at, say, 2-down and 5-down and 8-down and 12-down and then tries to come up with the second 15-letter across word? That might be easier than coming up with four 15-letter words to start with. Puzzles appear easy to construct but they really aren't. "Kids, don't try this at home!"
General Discussion / Re: Tuesday, July 22 crossword clue.
« Last post by wbg on July 25, 2014, 09:24:39 AM »
Not that it matters at this point, but there's also the concept of mootness in law.  If events subsequent to the filing of a case somehow end the dispute before the court gets to it, the case becomes "moot" and thus (with exceptions) beyond federal court jurisdiction, which is limited to "cases and controversies."
Today's Puzzles / Fri., 7/25 Jacob McDermott
« Last post by magus on July 25, 2014, 09:15:12 AM »
THEME:   car brands are found "rented" or cut in phrases
Wheels on loan… or as the circles show…   RENT-A-CAR [my newspaper had no circles making the job tough for me]   
One concerned with show horses?   BETTOR [win, place or show]   
Kind of pain?   ROYAL   
Demand upon reaching the other side   KING ME [I thought ocean not checker board]   
Rains hard?   SLEET   
TEMA = bad Italian;  CIAO = good Italian   [because we do use CIAO, but we don't use TEMA]   
Ella, in the States   SHE [sorry --- Ella in the States is a girl's name, not a foreign pronoun never used in English]   
ER staff member   EMT [really?  Maybe in M.A.S.H. units, but I believe the hospital board would be shocked]   
RATING: ;D ;D   
Three grins = Loved it; Two grins = Enjoyed it; One grin = A bit bland for my taste; One teardrop = Not much fun   
Today's Puzzles / Thu., 7/24 Jeffrey Wechsler
« Last post by magus on July 24, 2014, 08:58:15 AM »
THEME:   first word of a phrase is a type of bird, but it is covert
oddly, none --- well maybe "Solemn conclusion"   
Big Bird fan   TOT [as well as a Baltimore Oriole fan, who must be chirping with delight these days]   :'(   
Ajar, in poems   OPE [I've already addressed this error!  Now pay attention.  No poet used OPE to mean ajar, ever (a million if you find one)   
Erudite person   SAVANT [I've met too many erudite people who were not by any stretch savants]   
Juillet's season   ETE [meaning summer is French and never used in English, but -ete is an affix for gamete]   
Fed. org. of neuropsychiatry   NIMH  [oddly there is a great kid's book called Mrs. Frisby [sic] and the Rats of Nimh --- anyway I liked it]   
Three grins = Loved it; Two grins = Enjoyed it; One grin = A bit bland for my taste; One teardrop = Not much fun   
General Discussion / Re: methods of crossword construction
« Last post by jorkel on July 23, 2014, 01:40:35 PM »
If you've given it the old college try -- constructing by hand -- and it just isn't working out, then it's time to buy software like Crossword Compiler.  Be advised that the word lists that come with software are not spectacular, so you may want to get onto the Cruciverb mail list and ask for someone to mentor you in crossword construction.  In the process of doing so, you'll probably gain access to a much better word list.
Today's Puzzles / Wed. 7/23 Steve Blais
« Last post by magus on July 23, 2014, 09:14:30 AM »
THEME:   phrases suggesting smiles
Some emoticons {& theme}   SMILEY FACES   
Three grins = Loved it; Two grins = Enjoyed it; One grin = A bit bland for my taste; One teardrop = Not much fun   
General Discussion / Re: methods of crossword construction
« Last post by wbg on July 23, 2014, 09:02:00 AM »
I have no idea how anyone could come up with three stacked 15-letter answers by hand.  I admire those who can do it, but I know I could not, except by some extraordinary piece of luck.  Brains are organized in different ways.  My late father-in-law had a list brain.  His wife would mention things they needed from the store over the course of the week.  He never wrote anything down.  On Saturday, he'd go to the store and buy everything.  He could rattle off the birthdays of everyone in the family.  Then there are chess brains, looking many moves ahead.  Card brains, people who can tell you who played what card for the whole game.  The doc on a ship I served on was a serious gin player.  He invariably knew what cards I was holding well before the end of the game.  NO ONE could beat him.  It seems to me that manually constructing crosswords is somewhat the same.  The skill can be honed, but you've either got the knack or you don't.

I've spent maybe 40 hours total messing with Crossword Compiler.  I like it.  Seems to me that the only sensible approach for those without the gift, like me, is to start with some theme answers, crosses you like, words you like, whatever, making liberal use of Autofill and cancel.  I think Nancy Salomon made the point that, if Autofill can't fill the grid, neither can you.  If some of what Autofill comes up with seems good, accept the fill, delete what you don't like, and keep going.  You do have to keep thinking about neat words that can be popped in as you go along, including words that are unlikely to be in any word list.

Those are just some meandering thoughts from a neophyte.
General Discussion / Re: methods of crossword construction
« Last post by LARadioRewind on July 22, 2014, 09:59:43 PM »
Hello, everyone! This is my first post...and wouldn't ya know I'd be asking a question instead of offering any helpful advice? But I'm asking because I have been unable to find the answer in any books or on any websites. As duncan points out, making a crossword puzzle by hand is very difficult. I've tried---and tried and tried and tried! I have a hard time coming up with criss-crossing five- or six-letter words and I certainly can't figure out how anyone can come up with three or four "stacked" fifteen-letter words which also make words vertically. If a puzzle maker wants to start with three fifteen-letter words or phrases, how does he determine which word to start with? And does he place the top word first or does he start with the second word? I can come up with thousands of fifteen-letter words and phrases---how about "cruciverbalists"?---but I can't understand how anyone can stack three or four so there are words both directions. Perhaps the people who make such puzzles are using a computer program...but still, how do they determine where to start?
General Discussion / Re: Sunday NYT
« Last post by tgray on July 22, 2014, 05:43:43 PM »
On the left hand side of the screen, there is a heading called "Resources."  Click on Publisher Specifications and then the NYT for max # of blocks and other pertinent information.  For recommended # of theme letters, click on Sage Advice under "Resources" and then "Advice on making a 21 x 21 puzzle" by Nancy Salomon.  Hope this helps!
General Discussion / Re: Tuesday, July 22 crossword clue.
« Last post by wbg on July 22, 2014, 11:43:29 AM »
Law schools hold "moot court" competitions, where students argue a made-up case.  The Ents held an "Entmoot" to decide whether to go to war in The Lord of the Rings.  But there is also a "moot point", which I think can be taken to mean "subject to argument," with a flavor of not being worth it because there's no way to come up with a correct answer.
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