Default – 335492 Words
PB 9L Filtered  – Complete

I’ll now resume to New 10L 79S. A few weeks ago I started a mini project of filtering British spellings from Default. My initial filter includes entries ending with -ISE, -ISES, -ISED, ISING, -ISATION(S), and -ISER(S). Once I separated out the false positives I rescored the British spellings at 37. This dedicated score level will be useful if I need to isolate these entries for a specific project. I’ll filter other British spellings at a later time, but I’m glad to have those -ISE entries, which were scored at 79 in many cases, under control for immediate crossword construction.

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This is the fourth largest city in Norway. If you’ve never heard of it, maybe you could thing of a csongwriter who would be especially good at finding a rhyme for it in a lyrical couplet.


Trip Payne and I recently had a discussion about the crossword value of entries that are titles missing the initial article. Such entries are acceptable in mainstream commercial crosswords as a convention but are undesirable as they require a “with ‘The'” tag in the clue. I mentioned to Trip that I didn’t include such entries that contain multiple instances of the word THE, e.g. MANWITHTHEGOLDENARM. Beyond that, the division between low-score-acceptable and unacceptable is a bit nebulous. Titles that contain verbs tend to go to the discard pile (GANGSALLHERE, MOUSETHATROARED) but conjunctions and prepositions are okay (KINGANDI, COMEDYOFERRORS). I scored WAYWEWERE as a 5+ letter partial. How do you feel about entries missing the initial THE?




New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default – 335143 Words

Transposal (11): Sodium chloride or magnesium sulfate / Signal that notifies security personnel without an intruder’s knowledge

Plug: I constructed the Post Puzzler crossword that appears in today’s Washington Post — check it out.

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I once came up with the term “Omigod Movies” to describe movies that would elicit “Omigod” responses from people if you admitted that you had never seen them. Some Omigod movies are critical classics, e.g. The Shawshank Redemption, but most are popcorn movies that became pop culture touchstones of a particular generation, e.g. Office Space. Both of those movies, by the way, were on my Omigod list up until a few years ago. Spaceballs is another movie I would put in the category, and while I had glimpsed a few scenes on Comedy Central over the years, I never watched the whole movie in one sitting until last month. The movie-themed Notepad lists that I put together or Default generally come from movies that appear on Top-100 lists from AFI or IMDb. Spaceballs is not a top-100 kind of film, but is popular enough that I jotted down SKROOB, PIZZATHEHUTT, and other entries while watching.

INF (40)

My spelling list minimum score in CCWIN is currently set at 40 (when analyzing .puz files, an entry already in Default with a score lower than this minimum would register as a “new” entry). It was set at 25 for a while, but I was worried that I might be missing promotion opportunities for entries that I have judged more harshly than my colleagues. INF came up in a recent search, which made me wonder about the small set of pinch entries that refer to musical keys. Of the seven 3-letter entries comprising this set, INA, INC, IND, and ING have better clue options than the music reference. INF as an abbreviation for “infantry” may be slightly better than {Having one flat}, though INE is pretty much a key or a suffix, and the former is less bad. Ultimately I promoted INB, INE, and INF to a score of 40.


A few weeks ago, I posted about the entry NERFHOOPS from PB 9L Filtered. A short time later, I read an article about the history of Nerf and discovered that the actual name of the indoor basketball game is NERFOOP (70). Oops.




Default – 334910 Words

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I find that I mechanically give a 50/48 scores to many entries referring to semi-obscure plants. A plant is “smei-obscure” if I have never heard of it, but see that it is made of recognizable root parts that could probably be exploited in clue writing to make the entry gettable in a crossword. These entries aren’t desirable but deserve a fill score marginally above the standard minimum of 40. A related puzzle-world phenomenon is the “plant flat,” a National Puzzlers’ League verse puzzle that uses an obscure plant name as one of its answer words. The plant names yield wordplay options that appeal to certain flat writers, but they are generally dreaded by solver.


Do you prefer DIVED or DOVE as the past tense of DIVE? I prefer DOVE for DIVE by itself, but DIVED when part of a compound construction such as SKIN-DIVE or SCUBA-DIVE.


I recently discovered this website of dialect survey results via a link from Mental Floss. The map plotting responses to the question “What is your generic term for a sweetened carbonated beverage?” resonates with me. It corroborates my recollection of being suddenly surrounded by “pop” drinkers when I moved from St. Louis to Kansas City at age five.


Adam Cohen would be disappointed if I didn’t link to the obligatory YouTube clip.


Default – 334509 Words

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Some Googling confirms that the phrase RACECARD can mean a list of runners in a horse or greyhound race. It makes perfect sense, even if it doesn’t have as much online reference support as the “affirmative action tactic” definition. Still, in plural form, the sports definition would be my preference for clue options.


I Googled this RICHUNCLE to see if it has any in-the-language citations as a stand-alone phrase. A lot of the hits referenced “Rich Uncle Pennybags,” the figure caricatured in the Monopoly board game. My Rich Uncle is a student loan service and How to Murder a Rich Uncle is a British comedy that features an early film appearance by Michael Caine. Even though it is not a dictionary phrase, the character type has been sanctioned by the culture.


I attended a microbrew party last weekend and caught up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. Married couple Jason and Robin told me about their disappointing visit to the recent Denver ComiCon — the tickets sold out too quickly, they had to buy re-entry passes from exiting attendees in the afternoon, they missed George Takei, and too many people were dressed as Finn the Human from Adventure Time. Robin confessed that the only comic book she ever read regularly was Archie. I told her that I was also an Archie fan, and that a new movie with Archie and zombies is currently in the works at Warner Bros. That lifted her spirits. And then we continued drinking beer.


I assume this refers to a type of electrical connector, but find enough justification for the phrase. Can any tech savvy readers weigh in on this?




Default – 334027 Words


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Initially I gave this entry a lower score because it seemed like a dated concept and might struggle with the breakfast test in mainstream markets. I had recently watched the film Hitchcock, featuring a scene in which Hitch battles the with the Paramount studio censor to show a toilet in Psycho. I checked Ginsburg and found that TOILET has appeared in NYT several times without incident (once with the clue {John Denver} — huh?). Wikipedia reports that pay toilets went out of fashion in the U.S in the 1970s but can still be found in other parts of the world. They were once the subject of feminist protests, a fact that could be exploited in a trivia clue. I revised the fill score.


I remember this phrase from the dialogue in the Great Brain children’s book series penned by John D. Fitzgerald. I assume the phrase was indicative of the 1890s, the time in which the books were set. Anyone else remember these books or the phrase?


Maybe I’m not parsing this right in the Google search. Is this something?


I’ve been trying out some some news feeds on Feedly. I wan to find sources of political commentary that don’t clog the feed if I’m not reading constantly. I tried Daily Kos, and while I could sympathize with the political sentiment I found the discourse a bit spiteful. It was the week after the triple scandal struck the White House, and the term NOTHINGBURGER showed up in a lot of the essays, so at least I got a seed entry out of the feed.

New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default – 333858 Words

Transposal (8): House Party hip-hop duo / Gin cocktail

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I recently added AV Club to my Feedly list, and it has proved to be a good source of Notepad additions along with media news. DAFTPUNK showed up in one of the first articles I read. Since I’m so ignorant of contemporary music I was glad to add a group to my personal knowledge base as well as my Notepad. In the days since the Notepad addition, I’ve noted that DAFTPUNK seems to be one of three music acts that AV Club contributors writer about, so I’m a little concerned about the website offering a wide spectrum of music news.


This word, the new French term for what Americans call a “French kiss,” came up in the news this week. I added it to Notepad, but I doubt it will have usable staying power for crossword purposed. Among the news items was this Mental Floss article about recent additions to Le Petit Robert (the French counterpart to 11C). Of note is the fact that the French language already has a verb for “to win an Oscar.” Come on, America English, catch up!


I’ve watched the 15-episode fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix and, like most critics, give it a B minus. The stories with George Michael and Maeby are my favorites; Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat continue to impress me with their comic timing.


Default – 333687 Words


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When my brother was ten years old he suffered an injury that required his leg be set in a cast. He would be largely immobile for several weeks, so my parents eased his situation by setting him up close to the TV and buying toys and comic books to occupy his time. The main toy I remember (I was four at the time) was a miniature basketball hoop that came with a spongy orange ball. In the years that followed, a host of Nerf-branded items would make their way into an old wardrobe in our garage reserved for sports equipment. In retrospect, I believe my dad invested in these rubber-foam items as a way of lowering the bar for three children who showed absolutely no aptitude or inclination for athletics. As an adult, my relationship with NERF is as an occasional crossword entry, and I note that the brand has become associated with toy weaponry more than sport equipment. I miss the more prosaic products like the three-pronged boomerang and that great pool set.


This entry is similar to APTTO. It’s difficult to write a parallel clue for without repeating the TO. Ginsberg includes {Probably gonna} as a possibility for APTTO; it’s a valiant effort. Can you think of a legit crossword clue for OFAMINDTO that I’m missing?