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Etc. / Re: General rules for filling in a grid?
« Last post by LARadioRewind on November 22, 2014, 04:55:41 PM »
I hope vpelss is still around. You might try locating a copy of Random House Puzzle Maker's Handbook, first published in 1981 and reprinted in 1995. Authors Mel Rosen and Stan Kurzban recommend selecting a theme and then coming up with a long list of words and phrases that fit the theme. They should be at least nine letters in length. Avoid words with lesser-used letters and avoid words with long strings of consonants or vowels. Since the puzzle needs to be symmetrical, select two or three pairs of words of equal length. The theme words should be three or four rows or columns away from the grid's edge. Then put a black square at the beginning or end of each word. Add strings of two or three black squares protruding from the borders. Maintaining symmetry, add black squares to the grid in such a way that you don't wind up having to use overly long words. A grid will be easier to fill if you use words with alternating consonants and vowels. If one letter ends two different words, it should be an E or an S.

I hope that's enough information to get you started. Good luck!
Today's Puzzles / Re: Sat. 11/22 Brad Wilber
« Last post by LARadioRewind on November 22, 2014, 03:29:03 PM »
"Professor Magus, I'd like to present my research on today's crossword."

"All right, Steve, but I would hope that you won't make your usual complaint about Roman numerals."

"Well, um....Okay. I'll leave that part out. Today's puzzle had only 27 black squares. That was good. That meant that the puzzle contained 198 letters. There were 30 E's, 25 A's, 19 R's, 15 S's and 12 I's. Those five letters comprised more than half of the fillable grid. Today's crossword is typical. Puzzle creators rely too much on words with common letters. They should challenge themselves to use more words with a J, X, Q or Z. In Scrabble, those are the letters with the highest point value. If crosswords were Scrabble games, these guys would never win! They play RETREAT for seven points? Okay, I play JAZZ for 29 points! I want to see more creativity in crosswords and not so many of the most common letters. really won't let me mention the Roman numerals? No? All right, I'm finished."
Today's Puzzles / Re: Fri., 11/21 Mark Feldman
« Last post by magus on November 22, 2014, 09:41:12 AM »
Mister Magus also objects to your using the objective and not the possessive case before a gerund.  {note "your" before "using"}  But he forgives you.  :)  [but why am I referring to myself in the third person --- what a bore!]
Today's Puzzles / Sat. 11/22 Brad Wilber
« Last post by magus on November 22, 2014, 09:32:47 AM »
THEME:   none, but 27 blocks
Right-leaning type?: Abbr.   ITALS [note singular "type"]   
Drivers can be seen in them   GOLF BAGS   
Wimbleton five-peater   BORG [yes, he was phenomenal --- five times on grass!  But I never understood the term "three-peat" meaning to win three (usually in a row), playing off the term "repeat."  The way I see things, it should be "two-peat" since the initial win was twice repeated.]   

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 / Re: Fri., 11/21 Mark Feldman
« Last post by LARadioRewind on November 21, 2014, 04:34:33 PM »
Mister magus objects to me calling AFRO an archaic word. I'd better not say anything about ANON. ;)

In the New York Times puzzle appearing in today's Daily News, "Like many dogs' tails" is the clue for AWAG. I was positive that I would not find AWAG in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. AROAR and ASEA are words that often appear in puzzles and I was surprised that neither of those words is in the dictionary either. The prefix "a-" is defined as:

1. on; in; at: abed.
2. in (such) a state or condition: afire.
3. in (such) a manner: aloud.

That prefix allows crossword constructors to create words that are needed to fill a grid. I doubt that "awag" has ever been used before but it would seem to be a legitimate word based on the dictionary definition of "a-." Does everyone approve of the "a-" words or do a lot of people think they're adumb and alazy?
Today's Puzzles / Re: Wed., 11/19 C.C. Burnikel
« Last post by LARadioRewind on November 21, 2014, 04:23:36 PM »
Mister magus, I don't like to discuss anyone's age, including my own. I may be old enough to be your father---and maybe not. But the "son" reference comes from Senator Beauregard Claghorn, a pompous southern politician played by Kenny Delmar on Fred Allen's 1940s radio program Allen's Alley. One of his familiar phrases was "That's a joke, son---ah say, that's a joke." Claghorn was the inspiration for Foghorn Leghorn, the pompous rooster character created by Warner Brothers animator/director Robert McKimson.

And I never said that "knave" was among the now-archaic words used by Shakespeare. I said that I haven't heard anyone use the word in the 20th or 21st centuries. I posted the link to a site which I thought crossword enthusiasts would enjoy seeing. Maybe we can all start using those archaic words in our everyday speech. We can confuse our friends...or make the words popular again...or both!

Today's Puzzles / Re: Wed., 11/19 C.C. Burnikel
« Last post by magus on November 21, 2014, 09:41:20 AM »

To refer to me as son is less than polite, certainly not gentlemanly, and tone-deaf coming from one not old enough to be my father.  But I forgive you.

I went to the site you provided and noted that KNAVE was not listed as anachronistic or "old" or "unfamiliar."  Odd that you would provide a link proving your objection to the term is unfounded --- and not mention it.  But I forgive you.

As for referring to AFRO as obsolete, what can I say.  You seem to reject the general consensus of academics, linguists, and worst of all me!  For that I cannot forgive you.  :)
Today's Puzzles / Fri., 11/21 Mark Feldman
« Last post by magus on November 21, 2014, 09:26:22 AM »
THEME:   initial sound of a phrase is changed to create new meaning.
Where donkeys make noise?   BRAY AREA [gray area]   
Small matter   ATOM   
TV monitor   FCC [I was thinking something like CRT]   
What mayo might be   SPANISH [as in Cinco de Mayo]   
Any day now   ANON [kind of a stretch, maybe if "yesterday" were added to the clue]   
Excellently   WELL [I guess colloquially they are the same, but it's too imprecise for me]   
Some tough cluing, and I like crossing YENTA and SANTA.   
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 / Re: Wed., 11/19 C.C. Burnikel
« Last post by LARadioRewind on November 20, 2014, 02:46:51 PM »
My comment about leaving some unpicked nits on the tree was a joke, son---a joke.

Authors and playwrights use contemporary language. I would never refer to an author as archaic but in the year 2014 a lot of the words found in great literature are now archaic. I don't want to see archaic words in puzzles. You know I even consider "afro" to be archaic! Anyone who is interested in words---which is probably everybody who comes to this site---will enjoy this huge list of now-archaic words that appear in Shakespeare's writings. Definitions are included:
Today's Puzzles / Re: Thu., 11/20 Jeffrey Wechsler
« Last post by LARadioRewind on November 20, 2014, 02:37:20 PM »
I, too, loathe the expression "Yada yada yada"...and I've seen YADA in quite a few puzzles recently. Even one "yada" is too many.

Today's crossword has 42 black squares, and that number is another thing I'm seeing in far too many puzzles. Use no more than 36, puzzle makers. Thirty-two or fewer is even better. Make me happy. In today's crossword are four foreign words (COSI, EAU, ETTU, OLE), ten abbreviations (ADT, ALA, AOL, AVE, BTW, CSI, ENT, LITHO, OAS, SAS), an archaic word (OER) and Roman numerals (III). There are also three similar terms: AFEW, ALOT, ATON. But there is one bright spot: the puzzle includes the first name of actor Keir Dullea, which I had never before seen in a
crossword. Dullea appeared in dozens of tv shows and movies, including The Thin Red Line, Bunny Lake Is Missing and 2001: A Space Odyssey. His latest film is Space Station 76 (2014). So this week we've seen the names of Sabu and Keir Dullea in crosswords. Maybe Zasu Pitts, Faye Bainter or Vera Hruba Ralston will be next.
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