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General Discussion / Re: Learning How To Construct Grids
« Last post by mmcbs on February 01, 2017, 03:10:15 PM »
General Discussion / Re: Learning How To Construct Grids
« Last post by Glenn9999 on February 01, 2017, 11:31:00 AM »
those 13s / inconvenient lengths can be a pain, just keep at it and you'll make great progress plus the book will give ya a couple "ah ha" moments

FWIW, if people read this and wondering how goes, I just finally decided to go with "any theme that will work" since I've been having problems coming up with workable themes I like.  I ended up with a kind of silly one (11-13-13-11), but probably won't publish anyway for being too trite and repetitive.  Good to be able to go on and have something to work with I suppose. 

Problem is, the way the letters line up, I'm finding it hard (grid layout or otherwise) to get good fill - I had to pull out DAWNOF (as in "Dawn of the Dead", again non-publishable I'm sure, ??W??F is the target in the grid right now) for fill just to make it possible to fill the rest.

Like I say with the solving, I'm sure I'm missing something.  Hopefully though, it can be figured out soon. :)
Today's Puzzles / The January 29 crossword is now here
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 29, 2017, 04:23:18 PM »
Robyn Weintraub has been creating crossword puzzles since 2011. Today's is her 11th to be published and is her first Sunday crossword. The title is "Nowhere" -- but it's to be read as "No W here." Each theme answer is a familiar phrase with the W omitted. In fact, there are no W's in the entire puzzle:

Cheating millionaire? HEELOFFORTUNE
Black kitten crossing your path? LITTLEOMEN
Transgressions timeline? THEAGESOFSIN
Matching food containers? IDENTICALTINS
Tony Soprano's quilt? DONCOMFORTER
Wrigley's in-house hip-hop group? GUMRAPPERS
New England proceedings concerning allergic reactions? SALEMITCHTRIALS

Cats were first domesticated around 3000 BC in Egypt. They were revered, not feared. But in the 16th and 17th centuries, black cats began to be associated with witches. Superstitious people started regarding a black cat, especially one which crossed their path, as an omen of death or misfortune. A history of the superstition is at

As for those supposed "witches," 32 people accused of witchcraft were put to death in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut in the 17th century. Twenty of those were convicted during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93. The History Channel website explains the hysteria:

"Each" is APOP, a term I have never seen or heard anywhere except in crossword puzzles. "Happy, in Juárez" is FELIZ, which is not used in English. "It's done in Paris" is FINI, which is not used in English. "Don't Bring Me Down group" is ELO. Yes, the Electric Light Orchestra did have a hit song with that title in 1979 -- and ELO appears in crosswords quite frequently -- but music fans know that the first hit song with that title was by Eric Burdon & the Animals in 1966.

"Like a pin" is NEAT. The phrase "as neat as a pin" means "Particularly tidy, orderly or well arranged" and was originally "as neat as a new pin." When pins were made by hand, they were often rough and misshapen. When pins began to be made by machines, they were uniformly smooth and shiny. Thus, the expression. The earliest known example of that phrase in print, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, appeared in 1787 in Columbian magazine and referred to a man who was "as neat as a new pin." At one time, "neat" also meant "shiny."

Now if you'll excuse me, I want to go to Ebay and see if I can get a good price on a case of neat pins.

Today's Puzzles / The handy January 25 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 25, 2017, 04:20:18 PM »
Bruce Haight began constructing crossword puzzles five years ago. Many of them involved what he calls "stunts." One puzzle had no E's, one had no three- or four-letter words, one used only nine different letters, one used each letter of the alphabet at least four times.....but, unfortunately, the "stunts" required the use of a lot of questionable entries. Haight submitted 38 crosswords to the New York Times before puzzle editor Will Shortz finally accepted one in 2015. Haight's puzzle today is titled "Hand Jive."

"Pay attention, man!" is DIGIT. In today's crossword, "Dig it" is to be read as "digit." The word comes from the Latin digitus ("finger; toe") which derives from the Greek deiknynai ("to show"). A digit is a finger, a toe, or one of the numbers 1 through 9. A zero is usually considered to be a digit as well. Each theme answer ends with a type of finger:

"C'mon, loosen up!" LIVEALITTLE
Place for lefts and rights: BOXINGRING
Market measure: STOCKINDEX
General principle: RULEOFTHUMB

"Thumb" comes from the Latin tumēre ("to swell"). The origin of the phrase "rule of thumb" is unknown. It refers to an oft-used, albeit inaccurate, method of measuring distance or alignment and  involves extending an arm and holding the thumb in one's line of vision. The first known appearance of "rule of thumb" in print is a 1685 book titled Heaven On Earth, which quotes a sermon given by James Durham: "Many professed Christians are like foolish builders, who build by guess and by rule of thumb and not by Square and Rule." Obviously, using one's thumb and guessing at a measurement is not any kind of a "rule." It's the opposite of a rule -- but the phrase somehow entered our vocabulary.

The little finger is often called a pinky or pinkie. The word comes from the 19th-century Dutch pinkje, which means "little finger" and is the diminutive form of pinke ("pink"). In the United States, a wedding ring is traditionally worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. The custom derives from an ancient (and mistaken) belief that a long vein connected that finger to the heart. The vein was called, in Latin, vena amoris ("vein of love"). A Wikipedia page explains the wedding-ring customs in various countries:

"Far out!" is NEAT. So today's crossword includes "Neat" and "Far out" and "Dig it." I know this is 2017 but those three phrases are more befitting 1967. I suppose, then, we could say the puzzle itself is boss, fab, gear and groovy. Right on!

General Discussion / Re: Word counts / limits
« Last post by mmcbs on January 20, 2017, 04:44:11 PM »
There's one editor (John Samson who edits the Simon & Schuster MEGA Crossword Puzzle books) that has a strict limit of 12 3-letter words in a 15x15 grid. That works out to about 15% if you have 78 words. This constrains the theme entry lengths somewhat, but as pointed out earlier, the 3-letter words are limited, so that's the reason for it. For most markets I think the quality and variety of the incidental fill overall is more important than the 3-letter word count. But clearly, when choosing a grid to fit your theme entries, selecting one with fewer 3's would be advisable.
General Discussion / Re: Word counts / limits
« Last post by 4wd on January 20, 2017, 01:18:01 PM »
no problem :)
General Discussion / Re: Word counts / limits
« Last post by Wallokes on January 20, 2017, 01:07:18 PM »
Thanks, that's helpful!
General Discussion / Re: Word counts / limits
« Last post by 4wd on January 20, 2017, 12:42:00 PM »
Try to keep your 3 letter entries down to about 20-25% of your grid, though if you go a little over that
its fine. I find some grid designs wont work unless you go a little over. Reason being there aren't much
cluing options for threes, longer entries have more possibilities.

General Discussion / Word counts / limits
« Last post by Wallokes on January 20, 2017, 11:05:16 AM »
Are there any rules of thumb on the number of 3 letter words that a puzzle should have?  For example, if I have a 76 word puzzle should I try to limit it to no more than 20 or 24 3-letter words?
General Discussion / Anyone willing to field some theme questions?
« Last post by Wallokes on January 19, 2017, 10:38:24 PM »
Hi all,

I'm starting to dip my toe into the constructing waters, and had some questions about (specific) theme ideas and their plausibility/difficulties I might anticipate with them. If anyone is willing to let me shoot them the occasional email with a question or idea, I'd appreciate it enormously--if you reach me via personal message I'll switch over to email if you prefer.  Thanks!

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