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General Discussion / Learning How To Construct Grids
« Last post by Glenn9999 on April 25, 2016, 07:04:47 PM »
I am interested in getting some questions answered about how to construct a crossword grid now, after getting into solving them for a year or two now.   Presently, I have not located any references that answer my questions. 

Are there any good accessible references in mind that specifically answer laying out a grid in a good way to facilitate fill, how to determine or help whether fill is possible, or any rule of thumb on how to best create fill?  I feel I made a good first try, but ran into problems that took a whole weekend to try to work out that I couldn't do it too well trying to fit a "interesting" word or two in and ended up with several boring words in the whole grid (cue Wah Wah horn).  And if I can't find other words in the grid that I'd be excited to see...

Also, what makes a "good theme"?  I came up with a good basic one to do this learning grid off of, but hopefully for what I do, I hope to find something that's as exciting to me as some of those fill words I like to see.

But the main thing is if I'm going to do it, I need to learn how to do it correctly.  And in that sense, have at least the chance of being published.

So, any suggestions?
General Discussion / Re: Crossword Compiler 6 or lower?
« Last post by fggoldston on April 24, 2016, 12:11:10 AM »
Thank you!   I appreciate that.
Today's Puzzles / The em-inent April 22 crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 22, 2016, 05:05:38 PM »
Today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Jeffrey Wechsler includes STICKEMUP ("Robber's demand"). Four long vertical answers have the letters EM stuck to the beginnings:

Snoopy starting a trip? EMBARKINGDOG
Lining with raised decorations? EMBOSSINGAROUND
Mideast leader's personal CPA? EMIRSAUDITOR
Insurance for royalty? EMPRESSCOVERAGE

STICKEMUP made me think of Jack Benny's most famous comedy bit. Benny was quite generous and charitable in real life but on radio and television he portrayed a tightwad and miser. On a 1948 episode of his radio program, Benny is confronted by an armed robber who demands, "Your money or your life!" Benny didn't respond. The robber repeated the demand: "Look, bud, I said your money or your life!" Benny elicited a lot of laughter with his reply: "I'm thinking it over." The clip can be heard at

"____ work: menial labor" is SCUT. The term "scut work" dates from around 1950 and its origin is unknown. It may derive from "scuttle." It may derive from the Irish slang word scut, which refers to a foolish or contemptible person. It may derive from the Old English scitan, which means "excrement." It may derive rom the now-obsolete Scandinavian word scout, which meant "to treat with scorn" and came from the Old Norse skuta or skute. It may derive from a slang word used by medical personnel to refer to junior interns. To add to the confusion, James Joyce's 1939 novel Finnegans Wake includes this line: "He was immense, topping swell for he was after having a great time of it, a twentyfour hours every moment matters maltsight, in a porterhouse, scutfrank, if you want to know..."

"Hair care brand since 1930" is BRECK. Breck Shampoo was launched by John Breck in Springfield, Massachusetts. For more than 50 years, Breck's magazine ads featured pastel portraits of women who became collectively known as "Breck Girls." Among the more famous Breck Girls are Cheryl Tiegs, Farrah Fawcett, Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, Kim Basinger, Cybill Shepherd, Jaclyn Smith and Patti Boyd, former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton. The Breck brand is now owned by the Dollar Tree discount store chain.

Cornell University graduate Robyn Weintraub has been creating crosswords since 2010. Her puzzles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times and she created a Cornell-themed crossword for the 40-year reunion of the class of 1971. Her New York Times crossword today has no theme but it does have some clever clues, such as "Bass parts" for FINS, "Thoughtful gift?" for ESP, "Sharp shooter?" for NAILGUN and "Fox coverage that might be controversial" for FUR.
General Discussion / Re: Crossword Compiler 6 or lower?
« Last post by stickler on April 21, 2016, 06:11:40 PM »
If you follow my instructions a file with the same filename will be produced with a different extension (CC4-5.1 uses a .CC4 extension, versions above use .CCW). However, I suggest you use File->Save As CC4-5.1 and change your filename so you don't mix them up. When you "Save As", a new file is created and the existing file is not affected.

David Stickley for free international cryptic crosswords
General Discussion / Re: Crossword Compiler 6 or lower?
« Last post by fggoldston on April 21, 2016, 01:46:03 PM »
Thanks!  :) I got an e-mail telling me that the specifications are a little out-dated on this site right now for some of the publishers.  I sent them a puzzle though a long time ago and have heard nada...  I thought maybe it might have to do with the format I used.  But now I am thinking that it might simply be that they didn't want it and it is easier to ignore the puzzle then to respond with a rejection.  But that would be rude, unless of course the idiot who sent you the puzzle didn't follow your specifications that you went to so much trouble to post!  In which case, I can just see the receiver getting the e-mail, trying to open the attachment and thinking, "Argh! Another one who can't follow easy instructions!  I will file this in the 'Constructors who don't follow my instructions' folder."  I mean I sent it early January...  I will follow your instructions but can you tell me, will this nullify the newer version of the CC I have or can I have both sitting on my desktop?
Thanks again for the response.
General Discussion / Re: Crossword Compiler 6 or lower?
« Last post by stickler on April 19, 2016, 06:17:54 PM »

When you go to Save As, the current CC format is the default shown by "save as type" under the filename entry line. Other types are available by clicking on the dropdown arrow, including XML and the one you want CC 4-5.1.

You can also save (export) in Across Lite format in CC by using the File->Export function.

David Stickley for free international cryptic crosswords
General Discussion / Crossword Compiler 6 or lower?
« Last post by fggoldston on April 15, 2016, 08:12:13 PM »
I notice that Crosswords Club requests that we submit in Crossword Compiler 6 or LOWER.  I just bought Crossword Compiler and am not sure how to lower the settings or what it is that makes 6 and lower so special.  Can anyone help me out with this?  They also say that they accept Across Lite text, but I have a feeling this is not the Across Lite that I have sitting on my computer either.
Today's Puzzles / The April 14 crossword: X marks the spot
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 14, 2016, 03:50:59 PM »
Before becoming a crossword puzzle creator in 2007, Mike Peluso taught French, German, Spanish and Latin and spent ten years as vice principal of a high school in Kent, Washington. His crosswords have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Games magazine. His crossword for today includes this clue: "When translated into English, beer brand that hints at the common feature of the five other longest puzzle answers." The answer is DOSEQUIS, which is Spanish for "two X's."

Nachos, e.g.: TEXMEXDISH
Stipulation on le menu: PRIXFIXE
Start of an old news announcement: EXTRAEXTRA
Where gas and lodging may be found: NEXTEXIT
Historic Chicago-to-Santa Monica route: SIXTYSIX

Prix fixe is French for "fixed price" and refers to a meal offered by a restaurant at a set price. Table d'hote, literally "table of the host," means the same thing. Are there any restaurants which do not have a fixed price for their menu items? I've never yet seen a menu that says "Make us an offer."

The Chicago-to-Santa Monica highway was designated U.S. Route 66 in 1926. It was also known as the Will Rogers Memorial Highway. After many realignments and construction of new interstate highways, the original Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985 but portions of the original road still exist and many are marked by signs saying "Historic Route 66." When you watch Pasadena's annual Tournament of Roses Parade on television, you're seeing Colorado Boulevard, a section of the original Route 66.

As for Dos Equis, the lager was first brewed in 1897 by Wilhelm Hasse, a German immigrant who in 1884 had established a brewery in Veracruz, Mexico. Hasse named the lager Siglo XX ("20th Century") and it became popularly known as Dos Equis ("Two X's"). The popular name soon became the official name. The lager is now produced by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, a subsidiary of Heineken International.

"Virginie, par example" is ETAT, which is not used in English. "CVI halved" is LIII -- and Roman numerals do not seem to be used anywhere in the 21st century except in the titles of movie sequels.....and crossword puzzles.
Today's Puzzles / April 10: The SSSSunday crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 10, 2016, 03:57:18 PM »
"Squad" is the title of today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel. "Twisty turns" is ESSES, which is also the "quad" in the eight longest answers, each of which contains four S's. In other words, an "S quad." Among the answers are FIRSTCLASSSTAMP, CASEDISMISSED, JUSTASISUSPECTED, CHRISTMASSEASON and CUSTERSLASTSTAND.

Many crosswords contain three-letter spellings of letters of the alphabet. CEE, DEE and ESS are the most common. CEE, DEE and ESS are also unnecessary -- there is no reason to add extra letters to C, D or S. In crosswords, "Average report card grade" is CEE, but has any student ever received a CEE on a test? Nope, the teacher uses the letter C. And a winding curve is an S curve, never an "Ess curve." The English language has 26 letters and each letter is its own spelling. There is no need to add two additional letters to any letter. Nobody ever does that -- with the exception of crossword creators.

"Puerto Rico, por ejemplo" is ISLA, which is not used in English. "Feliz año nuevo time" is ENERO, which is not used in English. "Pain usually pluralized" is THROE. A throe is a severe pang or spasm of pain, such as occurs during childbirth. As a plural, throes refers to a condition of extreme difficulty or trouble, such as a nation being in the throes of economic collapse. The word comes from the Middle English throwe, which was originally thrawe and derived from thrāwu, meaning "affliction," and thōwian, meaning "pain."

By the way, the cost of the aforementioned FIRSTCLASSSTAMP is two cents cheaper today. A temporary price hike was enacted in January 2014 and was set to expire after it generated $4.6 billion for the Postal Service. As of today, the cost of mailing a first-class letter is 47¢, down from 49¢. Each additional ounce is 21¢, down from 23¢. The rates for postcards and international mail have also dropped. However, the Postal Service is now facing a potential loss of $2 billion annually and is seeking to reinstate the price hike.

"Something In The Water" is the title of today's New York Times crossword by Randolph Ross. Among the answers are five types of vessels immediately above bodies of water: RAFT is on COLORADORIVER, FERRY is on NEWYORKHARBOR, OILTANKER is on  ARABIANSEA, GONDOLA is on GRANDCANAL and TRAWLER is on CHESAPEAKEBAY. A sixth vessel, UBOAT, is also in the grid -- beneath ATLANTICOCEAN. A cute and clever theme.

"Head of the army" is LATRINE. Will Stockdale (No Time For Sergeants) would have liked that one. "Sant' Gria brand" is YAGO. In accordance with a 2014 European Union ruling, Spain and Portugal are the only countries which can use the word "sangria" for their red-wine-and-chopped-fruit beverages. The word means "bleeding" and refers to the deep red color of the beverage. Yago is based in St. Louis and therefore can not use the name "sangria." They instead use the similar -- but odd -- name "sant' gria."
Today's Puzzles / Th' April 3rd crosswords
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 03, 2016, 07:14:57 PM »
Yes, th' April 3rd crosswords. As I began filling in the grid of today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Gail Grabowski, it took me a while to figure out the theme. The puzzle's title, "This Is In," doesn't make any sense. The theme answers are familiar phrases which are missing a "th":

Bud who's been fired? CANNEDBRO (canned broth)
Search online about auditory issues? GOOGLEEAR (Google Earth)
GEICO gecko's financial counterpart? CREDITCARDEFT (credit card theft)
Editor's marks in the margin? LATERALINKING (lateral thinking)
Streams stocked with elongated fish? GARBROOKS (Garth Brooks)
Part of a project to recycle golf accessories? TEEGRINDING (teeth grinding)
One fastidious about table manners? EATERCRITIC (theater critic)
Consequence of a heist injury? ROBBINGPAIN (throbbing pain)
Displeased reaction to election turnout? VOTINGBOO (voting booth)

"This Is In"? Sorry, I still don't understand the title. "Th Is Out" would have been a dumb title but at least it would have been logical.

"Twistable snack" is OREO. That word seems to appear in almost every Sunday crossword. I'm sure Nabisco appreciates all the free advertising.

"___ polloi" is HOI. "Hoi polloi" comes from the Greek οἱ πολλοί, which means "the many" or "the majority." In English, the term has taken on a negative connotation and is usually used as a derogatory reference to the working class or the so-called "common people." Since "hoi polloi" means "the many," the phrase "the hoi polloi" is redundant. Yes, just like "ATM machine" and "PIN number".....or "free gift."

Today's New York Times crossword is by Natan Last, who interned under Times puzzle editor Will Shortz while attending Brown University. Titled "Jumping To Conclusions," this crossword was very challenging.....and very confusing. "Heard but disregarded" is the two-part answer INONEEARAND/OUTTHEOTHER. The completed grid includes EAR in each of six spaces containing a circle. EAR is part of six vertical words such as FEARED and CLEARING. The six theme answers are horizontal. Among them are WHEREAREMYKEYS ("Common query from one about to leave the house") and IHAVEARIGHTTOKNOW ("Indignant reply when someone withholds information").   

Now, you may think this crossword doesn't sound all that challenging. But wait -- there's more! Each theme answer occupies portions of two lines. For example, the two abovementioned phrases appear in the grid as:


I used slashes to designate the single squares containing EAR. So the phrase WHEREAREMYKEYS literally goes in one "ear" and out the other, as does the phrase IHAVEARIGHTTOKNOW. Each phrase, as the puzzle's title suggests, jumps to its conclusion. Whew! This puzzle was much too confusing for my taste. Perhaps it can be appreciated only by members of Mensa International.

"___ rima, meter of Dante's Divine Comedy" is TERZA. Terza rima ("third rhyme") is a stanza form created by 13th-century poet Dante Alighieri. Each stanza of a terza rima poem contains three lines of 11 syllables each. In the first stanza, the first and third lines rhyme. The first and third lines of the second stanza rhyme with the middle line of the first stanza, and so on, so the rhyme scheme is ABA, BCB, CDC, DED, et cetera.

The terza rima stanza form is much more easy to understand than today's confusing "in one ear and out the other" puzzle answers. I wonder if Dante ever created any crossword puzzles. :)
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