Monday, June 30, 2008

Puzzle People

Happy Birthday to our Puzzle Person of the day LENA HORNE.

LENA HORNE was born on this day in 1917. That makes her 91 years old today. Phew, that's a lot of candles! Although she no longer works on the stage and screen, you can still see her in many crossword puzzles.

Puzzlers often complain about clues referring to people who were famous in years gone by. While that is true of LENA HORNE, who first became famous in the 1942 movie Stormy Weather, she continued working well into the 1990's.

Here are some facts about LENA HORNE that may help you with a future puzzle -

  • She was a Jazz singer most famous for her rendition of the song Stormy Weather from the movie of the same name.

  • She played Glinda the Good Witch, in the movie The Wiz starring Michael Jackson in 1978.

  • She won a Tony award and 4 Grammys including a Life Time Achievement award.

  • She made many appearances on TV shows in the 80's and 90's including Sanford and Son, The Muppet Show, The Cosby Show, A Different Word, etc.

Both her first name and last name have been used as answers to clues. Here are some examples.

21 down Jazz Vocalist Horne
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #40)

49 down Lena of "The Wiz"
(Universal Crossword, Proper Setting, By Dennis Halmet, edited by Timothy Parker)

26 down Horne who sang "Stormy Weather"
(New York Times, July 4, 2007, by Patrick Blindauer, edited by Will Shortz)

Photo credit: Library of Congress

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Crosswordese link

Can't get enough of that crosswordese? Hop on over to for more. You'll find a word of the day, clever clues with explanations and more.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Clever Clues

Clever Clues are the most fun. It's like a riddle you have to figure out and usually gives you a laugh when you get it.

49 down Kind of race
(Universal Crossword, Grin and ...., by Mike Tomkins, edited by Timothy Parker)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Foreign Clues

Foreign words and phrases often appear in crossword puzzles. Don't worry you don't need to be fluent in another language to answer the clues. Most of the clues use very easy and common phrases.

Try it for yourself:
24 across Home, por favor

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Puzzle People

Today's Puzzle Person is AVA Gardner.

AVA Gardner was a Hollywood actress. She started acting in 1942 and continued making movies into the 1980's.

She was nominated for an Academy Award for the movie Mogambo. She didn't win but I hear it's an honor just to be nominated. (She lost to Audrey Hepburn.)

She was married 3 times to famous men - Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra.

AVA is clued in easy puzzles with very straightforward clues that include her last name.

Here are 2 examples -
47 down Filmdom's Gardner
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #40)

13 across Gardner of old films
(Dell All Easy Crosswords, July 2008)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

End of School Special

Where I live today is the last day of school. Hooray! "No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks!" Just don't say good-bye to crossword puzzles.

Here are a few school clues to celebrate the day.

5 across Graduate's keepsake
(Universal Crossword, Proper Setting, By Dennis Halmet, edited by Timothy Parker)

41 across School subj.
(Kappa The Original Easy Crosswords Double Issue, v. 70)

45 down You can stick with it
(Universal Crossword, Tinge of Puzzlement, by Tom Genners, edited by Timothy Parker)

I hope you'll stick with crosswords and have a great summer!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Poetry words are my worst subject in crosswordese. I always get them confused. So, it's time for a poetry slam* - OER vs. ERE!

Let's start with OER. OER is actually a contraction (think O'ER) meaning over.

Here's OER used in the lyrics of a song. Bonus points if you can guess the name of the song.

"OER the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming."

ERE means before.
Here it is in a poem by Lord Byron written in 1810
"Maid of Athens, ERE we part,
Give, oh, give back my heart!"

Now on to the slam ERE we forget the reason we're here. I will give you some crossword clues. You tell me if the answer is OER or ERE.

9 down Above, to a poet
(Penny Press Good Times Crossword Puzzles, October 2007, puzzle #1)

23 across Before, to Poe
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008)

2 down Prior to, poets
(Dell All Easy Crosswords, July 2008)

86 down Anthem Contraction
(New York Times, April 27, 2008, by Oliver Hill, edited by Will Shortz)

*Poetry slams are really poetry competitions where poets compete against each other at live events. Each poet reads an original poem and is given a score. The poet with the highest score wins.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crossword Trivia


Know what it is? No it's not cooking ware delivered to your door step. (you know a (frying) pan (tele) gram.)

I'll give you a hint -
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Give up? It's a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once. I learned the sentence above when I took a typing class in school. Yes, it was before computers and yes, I'm that old!

Crossword puzzles can be pangrams too. They use every letter of the alphabet in the answer grid at least once.

Here's a Criss-cross style pangrammic puzzle for you to try.
Entertainment Crossword

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Learning New Things

As I've said before, I always learn new and interesting things when doing crossword puzzles. Here's a clue from a puzzle I did recently -

24 across Egg-laying mammal
(Universal Crossword, Tinge of Puzzlement, by Tom Genners, edited by Timothy Parker)

The only egg laying mammal that I knew about was the duck-billed platypus but that didn't fit. I was able to fill in the answer using the crossing clues. In case you didn't look already, the answer is ECHIDNA. I've never heard of an ECHIDNA before. So, I looked it up on the internet. Here's what I learned from the National Zoo website -

photo from Smithsonian National Zoological Park

  • There is a short nosed and a long nosed ECHIDNA.

  • Along with the duck-billed platypus they are the only egg laying mammals in the world.

  • They don't have any teeth. They catch their food with their sticky tongues.

  • They lay an egg into their pouch. They baby hatches and stays in the pouch for up to 2 months.

  • They live in Australia and New Zealand but none live at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Clever Clues

Clever clues require "thinking outside of the box." You can't be stuck on any one definition of a word. You have to be prepared to look at a clever clue in new and different ways. But first you have to recognize that it's a clever clue!

Sometimes clues seem pretty straight forward. For example, here is a clue from a puzzle I did recently -

8 down They take bows during performances
(Universal Crossword, Tinge of Puzzlement, by Tom Genners, edited by Timothy Parker)

But the available letters and spaces did not seem to fit a straight forward answer such as actors or musicians. I checked the crossing clues to make sure I didn't make a mistake. Yes, I was pretty certain that the V and the A were correct. That meant it was time to analyze the clue again.

I was reasonably sure that the last letter was an S since the clue said THEY. So, I'm looking for a plural noun.

Next, I looked to see if any of the words in the clue have alternate meanings. That's it! Bows has a few meanings. Bows can be people bending over from the waist after a performance or it can be weapons that shoot arrows or it can be part of musical instruments drawn across the strings to make music during a performance.

The last definition seems to fit the best. So, now I'm looking for stringed instruments that use bows. Do you know what it is? Check your answer at the drop box above.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Going head to head today, two words that appear often in crossword puzzles - ERA and EON. They both have similar meanings and they both have 3 letters. So, how do you know which one to use?

Let's take a closer look -

An Eon is described at, as an indefinitely long period of time or the largest division of geologic time. In Astronomy terms, an EON equals one billion years.

An ERA is described at, as a period of time marked by distinctive events or characters. It's also a descriptive word for a time period which something belongs, such as in the ERA of crossword puzzles.

So, an EON is a really, really long time and is often used to describe Geologic time periods and ERA is an unspecified period of time often used to describe historical time periods.

Test your knowledge in ERA vs. EON
The answers to the following clues will be either ERA or EON.

56 across Geologic stretch of time
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection June 15, 2008, puzzle #40)

7 down Noteworthy age
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection June 15, 2008, puzzle #33)

20 across Distinctive period
(Penny Press Easy Crossword Express v.117, puzzle #1)

14 across It keeps going and going...
(New york Times, June 17, 2008, by Steven Ginzburg, edited by Will Shortz)

9 across Influential time
(Universal Crossword, Proper Setting, By Dennis Halmet, edited by Timothy Parker)

24 across Very long time
(Dell Puzzle Lovers Easy Crosswords, June 2008, puzzle #109)

53 across Time Period
(Dell All Easy Crosswords, July 2008, puzzle #1)

Bonus Question -
Which word ERA or EON appears more often in the New York Times Crossword puzzles according to the NYT Crossword database xwordinfo

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Croswordese - IDLE

Sorry for the late post, I guess you can say I've been IDLE. I've IDLED away the day reading books about IDLE pleasures while sitting in my car with the motor IDLING. After I finish this post I think I will IDLE down the path and enjoy the last day of spring.

Speaking of IDLE, that brings me to today's Crosswordese word of the day. If you haven't figured it out by now, today's word is IDLE.

IDLE is an adjective that means not working, inactive, time not filled with activities or in use, lazy. It can be things that are not really important or things that are meaningless. As a verb it means to do nothing or do something slowly with no real goal or objective.

Here are some ways that IDLE has been clued in various crossword puzzles. Learn this crosswordese and you won't be IDLE when it comes to answering clues.

16 across Gathering dust
(Universal Crossword, Adorable, by Henry Quarters, edited by Timothy Parker)

26 down Unoccupied

71 across Jobless
(Penny Press Good Time Crossword Puzzles, Oct 2007, Puzzle #27)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clever Clues

I'm experimenting with a new way to display the answers and hints. Underneath the clue you should see a drop down box with the spaces and a letter to get you started. When you want to see the answer, simply click on the arrow and it will show it to you.

I hope you like it. Try it out on this clever clue from Universal Crosswords, Fightwords, by Marsha Handley, edited by Timothy Parker.

55 down They have pins at one end

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Ode to Crosswords

O, Crosswords let me sing your praises!

Don't worry I haven't lost my mind. I'm just exploring another area of crosswordese - poetry words. Words like ODE, OFT, OER, ERE. I see them in the clue list with tags such as ___, to a poet. But what do they mean?

See if you can guess today's poetry word from the clues below. It's a type of poem that's elaborate or meant to be sung. All three examples have the same answer. You can find it below.

54 across Adoring poem
Dell Easy Crosswords Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #33

16 across Keats poem
Penny Press Easy Crossword Express v.117, puzzle #1

42 down Poetic tributes
Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #40

_ _ _

To check your answer, highlight the area above the dashed line. But before you do that - check the hints below.
hint #1 It's one of the words in the examples of poetry words above.
hint #2 Look at the title of this post.

Monday, June 16, 2008

On-line Puzzles

Yahoo Games has crossword puzzles you can play on-line. New puzzles are added every day. Got to>games>word. Scroll down the list to crossword.

There are a choice of different puzzles including Daily Crossword with hints. After each clue is a search for hints button. The puzzle window is split in half. The top half is the puzzle and clues and the bottom half is the search results from Yahoo. It's a great way to practice your puzzle skills knowing help is close by.

Give it a try!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

I prepared a little Father's Day Quiz for your enjoyment. As always the questions are clues from various crossword puzzles.

I hope you enjoy it. Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

Happy Flag Day!

Today is the birthday of the US Flag. It was on this day in 1777 that Congress officially proclaimed the Stars and Stripes as our National Flag.

To celebrate I have created a special puzzle for you to solve.

First, solve the 4 crossword clues. Then read the 4 answers in order as a single clue to the final answer. Good Luck and, as always, you can highlight the area above the dashed line for the answers.

45 across Caboose color
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, Puzzle #19)
_ _ _

21 across "_____ Christmas"
(Kappa Easy-to-Do Crosswords, vol. 133, puzzle #94)
_ _ _ _ _

56 across Police-uniform color
(Dell Puzzle Lovers Easy Crosswords, June 2008, puzzle #18)
_ _ _ _

54 down One who'll put you in stitches?
(New York Times, October 18, 2001, by Elizabeth C. Gorski, edited by Will Shortz)
_ _ _ _ _

Final Answer -
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
photo from National Archives and Records Administration.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Learn Something New

One of my favorite parts about crosswords is that I learn something new with almost every puzzle. When I come across an interesting clue that I don't know the answer, I try to look it up. Here's a recent clue that had me curious.

5 across Ionian and Ross
(Dell Easy Crosswords, v. 70, puzzle #1)

_ _ _ _

Do you know the answer? Highlight the area above the dashed line.

I didn't know the answer and had to look it up. I found out that Ionian and Ross are both seas.

The Ionian sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea, located between Greece and Italy.

The Ross Sea is a deep bay and is part of the Southern Ocean in Antartica.

Maps from Cia World Factbook

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Did you know...

Crossword puzzles follow specific rules. One of those rules is....
If a clue is plural, then the answer will be plural also.

For Example -
36 across Climbing vines
(PennyPress Easy Crossword Express, v. 117, puzzle #2)
The answer is IVIES.

Because the clue said vines, the answer is ivies. If the clue had said climbing vine, then the answer would be IVY. Get it?

Try it for yourself. Some of the clues below are singular and some are plural.

22 across Bowling pick ups
(Kappa Easy Crosswords, v. 70, puzzle #1)
_ _ _ _ _ _

8 down Hive buzzer
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, 6-15-08, #1)
_ _ _

57 across Farmer's measure
(Penny Press Easy Crossword Express, v.117, puzzle #1)
_ _ _ _

23 across Victories
(Awesome Crosswords for Kids, Trip Payne, Sterling Publishing, p.6)
_ _ _ _

Check your answers by highlighting the area above the dashed lines.

How did you do? Did you notice on the plural questions even if you didn't know the answer, you did know that the last letter was an S. Maybe it didn't help you here but when you are solving a crossword puzzle, filling in any letter will help you with the crossing clue.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


How well do you know geography? Crossword puzzles frequently use the names of rivers, mountains and places in clues. If you are a geography whiz than it's all a no brainer, if not... well you can always get a helping hand from the crossing clues.

Here are 3 geography clues that have the same answer. Test yourself to see how many clues it takes to guess the correct answer. Good Luck!

39 across 4,100 mile long river
(New York Times, 11-8-06, by Lee Glickstein and Nancy Salomon, edited by Will Shortz)

Do you know what it is yet?
Need another clue?

49 across African river
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, 6-15-08, puzzle #33)

Still Stumped?
OK, one more clue and that's it!

52 across Cleopatra's river
(Kappa Easy Crosswords, v. 70, puzzle #1)

The answer is
_ _ _ _
Highlight the area above the dashed line for the answer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Crosswordese - ARIA

ARIA is the crosswordese word of the day. This musical word appears in crossword puzzles often. Learn it and crossword puzzle watchers will be singing your praises!

An aria is a song in an opera sung by the main female star. (She's sometimes called a diva.) It's sung as a solo and is usually the high point of the show.

Here are some clues with the answer ARIA from recent crossword puzzles -

23 across Diva's performance
Universal Crossword, Come Around, by Clyde Crane Pool, edited by Timothy Parker

54 down High point at the Met
Universal Crossword, Lights on, by Jules Mack, edited by Timothy Parker

33 across Diva's delivery
New York Times, May 27, 2008, by Adam G. Perl, edited by Will Shortz

51 across Diva's song
Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, Puzzle #83

Monday, June 9, 2008

Crossword Links

Here's a bit of fun for your Monday.

I'm a huge Simpson's fan and I found this Simpson's Trivia Criss-Cross on-line. Test your knowledge of America's funniest family.

Good Luck!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Clever Clue

Today's Clever Clue is brought to you by Universal Crossword, Fighting Words, by Marsha Handley, edited by Timothy Parker.

60 across Baker's dozen?
_ _ _ _

Traditionally, a baker's dozen means 13. It goes back to the old days when the baker would throw in a free baked good if you bought 12 (one dozen=12.) But thirteen doesn't fit the space for the answer.

The clue ends in a ? So, that means I have to put my thinking cap on and be creative with possible solutions.

Hmm..... A baker uses flour, butter, milk and......... That's it! There's something else a baker uses. It comes a dozen to a carton and the answer will fit the spaces.

Have you figured it out? Check your answer by highlighting the area above the dashed line.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Crossword Dictionary

When you are having trouble finding answers, there are many resources on-line to help you. One place to look for help is an on-line crossword dictionary such as One Across.

The nice thing about One Across is that you can type in a clue or a word pattern.

If you don't know an answer and you haven't been able to fill in any of the crossing letters, type in the clue and the number of spaces in the pattern box. Hit the GO! button and it will give you some suggestions.

For example, I typed in Choir singer and 4. In this case, I got back 2 answers - ALTO and BASS. After checking the crossing clues I found ALTO fit perfectly.

If you know some of the letters, you can type in the answer where it says pattern. Use ???? for the letters you don't know.

This time I tried finding a clue that I knew the 2nd letter was m. I typed in the clue - skip over. In the pattern box I typed ?m??. I hit the GO! button and I got back 1 result - OMIT. It fit perfectly and I was able to finish my puzzle!

Click on the word One Across to give it a try.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Opposites Attract?

There is one type of clue that you may NOT be familiar with. But do NOT worry, it is NOT hard.

You may have guessed that the type of clue I'm talking about uses the word NOT. Well, you are NOT wrong! When NOT appears in a clue, like in the examples below, the answer will be the opposite.

Try it for yourself -

49 across Not happy
_ _ _

32 across Not late
_ _ _ _ _

15 across Not even
_ _ _

All of today's clues are from Trivial Pursuit for Kids Crosswords, by Trip Payne, Sterling Publishing, pgs 12, 22, 50. It's a great book of crossword puzzles. Get your own copy at your local bookstore.

As always you can check your answers by highlighting the area above the dashed line.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Puzzle People - Mae West

Mae West was an actress popular during the 1930s. She was known for her glamor and her humor. Her first name MAE appears often in crossword puzzles.

She starred in films with famous actors of the time such as Cary Grant and WC Fields.

My Little Chickadee, Go West Young Man, and I'm No Angel are just a few of the films she starred in.

Here are some clues you MAE find helpful -

20 down West of film (Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #5)

66 across West of "My Little Chickadee" (New York Times, June 3, 2008, by Pete Muller, edited by Will Shortz)

52 down Hollywood's West (Easy Crosswords, Kappa Publications, Vol. 70, puzzle #11)


Fun Fact - Inflatable life jackets used during World War II were called Mae Wests because they gave the appearance of having a curvy body like the actress. However, this fact does not appear often in crossword clues!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008



_ _ _ _

Today's word is ????

Well, you have to guess. Here are a few clues to help you out.

2 down Mike Myers Creature

(Universal Crossword, Meal Time, by Andre Clarkson, edited by Timothy Parker)

32 across Bad guy in a fairy tale

(Trivial Pursuit for Kids Crosswords, Trip Payne, P 75)

16 across Shrek, for one

(New York Times, by Barry Boone, edited by Will Shortz, June 2, 2008)

Think you know what it is? Highlight the area above the dashed line to check your answer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Clever Clues

My favorite part of a crossword puzzle is the clever clues. It's like a riddle I get to figure out.

See if you can figure out these clever clues from Universal Crossword, Suit to a Tee, by Alice Walker, edited by Timothy Parker -

35 across What's in the bag?
_ _ _

4 down They're at odds with odds
_ _ _ _ _

33 down Decimal preceder? (hint: don't know this one? Ask your librarian)
_ _ _ _ _

Highlight the area above the dashed line to check your answers.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Foreign Words

Some answers to clues are foreign words . But how do you know which language to use for the answer? The clue will always give you a hint.

Here's an example -

4 across Tijuana time out
(Universal Crossword, Matter of Fact, by Kelsey Lanyer, edited by Timothy Parker)

_ _ _ _ _ _

Tijuana is a town in Mexico. The language they speak in Mexico is ?????

Spanish! So, that means the answer will be a Spanish word. I gave you the first letter, see if you can figure out the answer. As always, you can check the answer by highlighting the area above the dashed line.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Crossword Trivia

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle is a favorite of many puzzle fans.

Did you know the NYT Crosswords get harder as the week goes on? It's true the easiest puzzle is on Monday. Tuesday is a little harder and so on and so on until you get to the hardest puzzle on Saturday.

What about Sunday, you ask. The NYT Sunday Crossword is the biggest at 21 squares by 21 squares. (a weekday puzzle is 15x15.) But it's only as hard as the average Thursday puzzle. That's still pretty hard!

Now you know more about the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

Reynaldo, Amy. How to Conquer The New york Times Crossword Puzzle. New York:St. Martin's Griffin, 2007.