Default – 333647 Words

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The spec sheets of most professional crossword puzzle markets restrict partial entries in some way, though the definition of a partial is a bit murky. Some feel that any entry that can be clued without a literal blank line is not a partial. Some feel that the entry should have replacement value and some feel it should have dictionary value. To me, INATIE is an entry that meets the first threshold only, ONADIME meets the second, and LONGHOURS meets the third. In the major markets the editor makes the call, but as I construct more puzzles independently I have to go with my conscience.


I’m still “litzing” old New York Times crossword puzzles for David Steinberg’s Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project. In the puzzles from the mid-1970s and earlier I notice some spelling variants that find personally nostalgic. RUMANIA and MOSLEM are two that come to mind. I remember that these were common, if not predominant spellings used in my earliest social studies classes. Then, at some point when I was in high school, ROMANIA and MUSLIM completely took over. It’s possible that my association with the older spellings may be related not only to schooling but to puzzle solving in my youth. When I solve a clue calling for the Greek goddess of wisdom, I still tend to enter ATHEN- and then check the crossing to see if the last letter might be an E. An old spelling variant that I was unfamiliar with until recently is EMPLOYE for EMPLOYEE. I thought it was a Times error and had been correcting it in my litzing files until Trip Payne told me that it was an legitimate word. Thanks Trip and sorry David!


If I don’t got Mojo Nixon then my list could use some fixi-i-i-i-i-i-i-n!


Default – 333496 Words

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The Kodak company is divesting its way through bankruptcy as the film photography industry capitulates to the digital age, but I think the brand is strong enough to justify a high fill score. I do wonder if children born today will ever have occasion to learn the term KODAKMOMENT. A few defunct brands survive as nostalgic artifacts of popular culture — the roadway signs of BURMASHAVE come to mind. What other examples can you think of?


LIE/LAY verbal phrases give me a headache. Patrick’s list contains LAYACROSS — is that present tense or the past of LIEACROSS? Or is the phrase not worth including at all? For ABOUT, I can find evidence that both LIE/LAYABOUT and LAY/LAIDABOUT are valid. The former (to hang around) is more attractive than the latter (to strike blows on all sides). I also wondered about LIEDABOUT. There are replacement-value clues for the entry such as {Misstated} but I didn’t feel strongly enough to add it to Notepad.


New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default – 333377 Words

Transposal (8): Turned pale / Trucker’s nickname


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I pulled OneLook entries in the form *BABY* when I had some free time last week. After scoring this entry, I wondered if I would find any other BABY + animal name entries, aside from titles, that are in-the-language phrases. BABYCHICK is the only other one I accepted. Someone added BABYZEBRA as a redirect to Wikipedia’s Zebra article for some reason.


There was a recent One-Day quiz on the Learned League trivia site dedicated to Video Game music. One of the 12 questions referenced an arcade game from the ’80s (my era) — it was the only question I knew. I’m happy to see this recognizable Generation X arcade game character in a Peter Gordon puzzle.

UDIS (50)

This brand of natural breads shows up on my Facebook views often, but it could be because I’m a Coloradan and Udi’s is based in Colorado. How many of you are familiar with this brand?


When I noted the length of this Notepad phrase, I decided to try another 16×16 grid. While I need no additional evidence that 16×16 is a clunky set of dimensions for a crossword, especially with black squares that allow four intersecting 16-letter entries, I still enjoy the novelty of the grid type. I wanted to use some form of “Holy Schneike” in the clue for SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR but I couldn’t get the parallelism to work. I think the seed was ultimately overshadowed by other entries, including the unfortunate TESSELATE which took focus for negative reasons.




Default – 333106 Words


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This color gets its name from the iron oxide-rich soils of the East Indies, from which the pigment is derived. I wasn’t familiar with the color or its etymology until I came across it in the PB9L list. I guessed that it might be an insensitive reference to Native Americans, and even after discovering the true origin I find the entry problematic. A trivia clue referencing the etymology, and allaying concerns of the solvers, seems the best way to go.


Patrick Berry’s list of eight-letter entries contained the entry COLDSLAW. I asked him about it and he explained, apologetically, that it was not a legit term but rather a colloquial “eggcorn” misspelling of COLESLAW. I’m assuming that JELLYROLE has a similar explanation. Does JELLYROLE have a meaning that I’m missing?


The Wiktionary entry for the verb phrase JUMP ROPE includes JUMP ROPES, JUMP ROPED, and JUMP ROPING as alternate inflected forms. I’m not ready to add the last two entries to Default, but note that {Jump roped (5)} forms a cryptic crossword clue. What’s the answer?


New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default – 332973 Words

Transposal (this time with clues for you to solve; enumeration 9):

Led on using a false Internet identity / Horribly drunk

Self-promotion: I recently joined the regular rotation of constructors for the Post Puzzler. My first puzzle appears this Sunday on the Washington Post’s puzzle page, or you can download the puzzle from Will Johnston’s site.

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This entry, the Spanish word for grandmother, was already in Default with a low fill score, but its appearance in a recently solved Across Lite puzzle gave me the chance to reevaluate it. In the past I considered it an unfamiliar foreign term (fill score 35), but now it’s become a reasonably common Spanglish reference in more widespread Latino popular culture, e.g. Abuela Claudia from In the Heights.

FCKC (50)

I’m researching Seattle area attractions at work now, and wrote an ad paragraph for Reign FC, a team in the emergent National Women’s Soccer League. When I had a break, I jotted down all of the NWSL team names for the Notepad. FC Kansas City is apparently abbreviated FCKC. It’s an initialism that will probably cause a few double takes until people get used to it.

IAD (60)

I downloaded a public radio app for my iPhone to provide a listening alternative to music for lunchtime runs. The app flashes banner advertisements on the screen — iAds — while the audio streams. I don’t have reason to look at the screen much while listening to NPR so the banners are kind of pointless, but the entry IAD should be handy for puzzles.


When I added this to Notepad, I figured that it would probably not be a welcome entry in a puzzle for a mainstream venue, e.g. New York Times. I checked Ginsberg for NIPPLE(S) to see if it is ever clued anatomically. The only NYT instance used the baby bottle part, which is the approach in almost citations.