Default – 336832 Words


I also constructed the Puzzler in today’s Washington Post. You can check out the puzzle here.

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I once pitched a variety cryptic crossword idea to Mark Gottlieb who was at the time an editor for Games. The gimmick involved adding the letter V to certain answers, And I told Mark that one of the transformation in my grid-in-progress was OMIT to VOMIT. The entry struck me a mildly problematic in construction mode, but when I actually said it out loud to Mark I realized that there was no way that the idea would justify the inclusion of VOMIT. The fill score of 15 for UPCHUCKING might be a bit severe; the term isn’t suitable for a mainstream venue but it could be a fill option for some other project. Sometime soon, perhaps when I’m done with the 10L entries, I’ll reevaluate the 10s and 15s in Default for possible promotion.


11C suggests that the verbal phrase VEG OUT first began appearing in print in the 1980s. The inflected forms of VEG, i.e. VEGES, VEGGED, VEGGING, must have been arbitrary, as there are no other verbs ending in G with a /j/ sound to use as a model. VEGES is confirmed by the electronic version of 11C, though it does not appear explicitly. Ginsberg contains VEG and VEGOUT but none of the inflected forms. I thought VEGES would have some hits, but it might be a blind spot due to its odd spelling/appearance and the fact that it doesn’t show up in common sources of words used by constructors (OneLook, CCWIN starter lists, etc.)




New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default – 336797 Words

Transposal (8): Units in age comparisons for some pets / Hits a home run

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GTA (40)

I came across this abbreviation in some recent reading. I checked Ginsberg and found one instance of it as an entry. I’m just curious to know how many people are familiar with it (or can deduce what it might likely be an abbreviation of). Ping if you know it.


I jotted this term down after seeing an article about “Mountain Dew Mouth” which is afflicting parts of the country in which that soft drink brand is especially popular. Do you think this entry could be used in a mainstream venue? In an indie venue, do you think it evokes too much negativity for comfort?


I’m very happy for crossword constructor Andy Kravis who triumphed on the first installment of this NBC game show. The enjoyment of watching Andy set aside, I wasn’t won over by the show’s format. Multiple-choice trivia is a popular foundation for contemporary game shows, but I can’t sustain a lengthy interest. MSQ’s additions to the standard format tended to detract rather than enhance. The producers may find ways to improve the show in future installments, but I prefer trivia formats such as Jeopardy! or better still Million Dollar Mind Game where the removal of multiple choice allows questions that require more insight.

TWERK (65)

Over the weekend I caught up on crossword downloads by solving about two weeks of accumulated puzzles. The entry TWERK, or a theme entry containing TWERK, appeared in at least half a dozen of the puzzles I solved. Clearly the Miley Cyrus VMA incident inspired several quick-turnaround constructors to take advantage of this newsy dance move. I have no idea if the term has staying power, but the possible twist-jerk portmanteau etymology makes it inferable at least.



Default – 336509 Words


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UN* words make of the majority of longer Default entries starting with U. Scoring has progressed at a good clip, with most scores 60, 55, or 50. The entries ending -ED and -ING may cause a holdup as I check to see if they are adjectives or (also) verbs. I probably came across UNCLOUDED in the 9L list, scored it as an adjective, and moved on. UNCLOUDING prompted me to look up the verb UNCLOUD. It’s not in all dictionaries, but appears as both transitive and intransitive.


I have scattered memories of the premiere broadcasts Saturday Night Live’s early seasons. My brother was a fan of the early shows, and while part of him wanted to share with me his appreciation of Steve Martin and John Belushi another part was  relieved that I usually asleep by the time it aired. When I was old enough to stay awake for SNL, the show was in its Dick Ebersol years and I imprinted on Piscopo and Murphy, and then later Crystal, Guest, and Short. It’s a period that received low regard in the grand scheme of SNL, but I remember it fondly as it represents my coming of age. While watching some reruns on Netflix, refamiliarizing myself with “You look mahvelous,” and “I hate when that happens,” I was was struck with the 16-letter catchphrase of fictional songwriter Irving Cohen, intermittently directed to an omnipresent offstage pianist just before the aging Vaudevillian, played by Martin Short, would gambol off into an impromptu lyric construction. When trying out this seed in a 16×16 grid, I found an opportunity to fit in MICROWAVEPOPCORN, also on my seed list, and recent Notepad addition LIKEUSONFACEBOOK. The seed entry at 18-Across proved to be a challenge for some solvers, but I chalk it up to a bit of self-indulgence, which is the wont of an constructor in an indie context.

New Additions / UNTHEMELY #39

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default – 336450 Words

Transposal (10): San Francisco 49ers linebacker / Knick-knack player in a children’s song


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Since my Labor Day trip to Las Vegas, where trivia knowledge ended up being a major theme of group discussion, I have renewed an interest in visiting the Sporcle website. Christopher Morse, a prolific writer and editor of Sporcle quizzes, filled me in on some additions to the site, including “badges” that represent particular quiz accomplishments. I’ve been able to snag some of the low-hanging-fruit badges, such as Blender Settings and U.S. Presidents, and after a couple of tries I earned the badge for naming all the teams in the Big Four Leagues. With some work, I think I can get some of the more challenging badges such as Countries of the World or Elements in the Periodic Table. I’ve also been reminded that Sporcle quizzes can be a handy source of data for the Autofill Project. CORRUPTBARGAIN was taken from a quiz on presidential scandals; I knew the answer by virtue of the musical Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson.


I succumbed to all the social pressure and bought some kale last week to put in my lunch salads. I used a variation of a recipe I heard on NPR: some kale mixed with Romaine lettuce, carrots, pecorino cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, and an olive oil/lemon juice dressing. Not too bad. I’ll keep that recipe in the rotation.

YLVIS (65)

I jotted down this Norwegian variety show name when its video “The Fox” was recently released, going viral. Conventional wisdom claimed that the video would be the “Gangnam Style” of the season. How’s it doing?




Default – 336265 Words

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The base score for demonyms in Default is 60. If the entry has no clue potential other than some variation on {Resident of…} then the score remains at base, or is perhaps lowered. TENNESSEAN, while not abounding in interesting letters, can be clued as the Nashville-based newspaper so I added five points. If Alex Rieger from Taxi were maintaining Default, he might add DELAWARITE and give it a higher score than DELAWAREAN.


Does anyone use this term for a roll of toilet paper? It’s inferrable, but I’ve never known anyone to use it. I wonder if it’s regional. I tend to read it is TOOTSIEROLL, but that could be either mental dyslexia or a childhood preoccupation with Wacky Packages.


I think this is an eggcorn for TRACTHOMES that ended up in Default by accident (like Patrick Berry’s COLD SLAW). Does the phrase mean anything that I’m missing?


While going through the TURN* phrases, I noticed that many colors showed up. According to Default, one can turn RED, BLUE, GREEN, YELLOW, WHITE, and COLORS. Any more I should add?