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January 22, 2007 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Since Wordplay has come out, crossword puzzles have been on the rise. If you want to join in on the fun, read this primer by Will Shortz to get started, then download Across Lite, head to Cruciverb, and do free puzzles in the right-hand sidebar. Will Johnston's page contains a huge repository of Across Lite puzzles. If you get stuck, can't figure out why an entry is correct, or just want to chat about a grid's brilliant construction, try reading the crossword blogs. The best two are Diary of a Crossword Fiend and Rex Parker Does the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. (Caution! Spoilers abound!) And, if you want to try your hand at constructing some crosswords of your own (submission guidelines for various papers here), Crossword Compiler is an outstanding piece of software. [Via this AskMetafilter question]
posted by painquale (26 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks, painquale!
posted by squarehead at 1:14 PM on January 22, 2007


In an odd bit of synchronicity, we just saw the excellent Wordplay this weekend. Highly recommended.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:18 PM on January 22, 2007


BTW, AcrossLite will not work on Intel Macs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on January 22, 2007


It is my life's ambition to either become a crossword puzzle editor or finish the Saturday NYT puzzle.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:40 PM on January 22, 2007


Though I suppose the latter precludes the former...
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:41 PM on January 22, 2007


Blazecock (or anyone), what crossword programs would you recommend for Intel Macs?
posted by jtron at 1:48 PM on January 22, 2007


Good post, I have not seen Wordplay yet and had forgotten about it, thanks for reminding me. About 5+ years ago I had a job that was very conducive to crossword puzzles, I got pretty good and could finish the NYT Sunday rather consisently. I now look at them and feel like that part of my brain has atrophied.
posted by marxchivist at 1:54 PM on January 22, 2007


The only way to do the crossword is with a pen and the dead tree edition of the New York Times, at least for me. Doing one on the computer is sort of like reading a book on the computer.
posted by caddis at 3:10 PM on January 22, 2007


From USA Today Crossword submission guidelines: "Themes should be upbeat, avoiding negative expressions and depressing words such as 'diseased.'"
posted by smrtsch at 3:22 PM on January 22, 2007


am i the only person who's pretty much stopped doing them since that movie came out?
posted by paul_smatatoes at 3:24 PM on January 22, 2007


Funny- since "Wordplay" came out, I have noticed a decline in the quality of the NY Times puzzles during the week.

It seems like they are trying too hard to be clever and/or overdoing it with the themes.

Friday's & Saturday's are still ok. But Monday through Thursday the puzzles are bordering on overkill with the themes.
posted by wfc123 at 3:36 PM on January 22, 2007


Blazecock, I use AcrossLite on an Intel Mac at work with no troubles. (I just use the "print" function; I don't actually work the puzzle on my Mac Pro.)

I was regularly doing the NYT crossword in newsprint before Wordplay came out, and the movie made me ask, "How are all those geeks getting those nice clean printouts of the daily puzzle, anyway?" Which led me to subscribe to the Times puzzles online, and now I happily work on my clean printouts instead. (I can always buy the paper if I really want to read the whole thing, but generally I just browse it on my desktop PC< handheld, or phone.) I don't think the point is so much being able to work the puzzles on screen -- although that's interesting in itself and you can compare your times with other solvers etc -- as it is having a nice, clean, manageable printout that I don't have to squint at during my morning commute.
posted by Joey Bagels at 3:52 PM on January 22, 2007


I really like this post, as my username might suggest.
posted by sixacross at 4:57 PM on January 22, 2007


we just saw the excellent Wordplay this weekend. Highly recommended

Ditto.
posted by ericb at 5:19 PM on January 22, 2007


Since Wordplay has come out, crossword puzzles have been on the rise.

Wordplay was made because crossword puzzles have been on the rise.
posted by spock at 5:19 PM on January 22, 2007


I'll tell you what drives me nuts: non-cryptic crosswords.

with a cryptic crossword you KNOW you got the right answer

with a straightforward crossword, you can never be sure that your 10-letter synonym for 'Mathowie's Community Weblog' is the right one. Does he have *another* one?

My favorite crossword setter of all time is/was the Guardian's Aruacaria, aka The Rev. John Graham, the 'Tiger Woods of Crossword puzzles'.

From his profile: "Not all compilers, it has to be said, approve of these methods. He used to be seen by some as a dangerous heretic. There are those, even now, who think he is undesirably liberal"
posted by unSane at 5:31 PM on January 22, 2007


From the Shortz primer:

my all-time favorite clue, "It turns into a different story" (15 letters), results in the phrase SPIRAL STAIRCASE.

Worth it just for that!

My wife and I do crosswords together just about every evening, and since we think the same way, much of the time when I see an answer I'll just wait a few seconds, knowing that she's probably about to write it in. We'll have to see that movie, I guess.

I'll tell you what drives me nuts: non-cryptic crosswords.
with a cryptic crossword you KNOW you got the right answer


Funny, I feel exactly the opposite. I can't stand cryptics (but my wife enjoys them).
posted by languagehat at 5:41 PM on January 22, 2007


"Themes should be upbeat, avoiding negative expressions and depressing words such as 'diseased.'"

One of the constructors for the Times makes the same kind of point in Wordplay. Namely, that people sitting down to do their crossword at breakfast don't want words like bile and pus.
posted by smackfu at 9:01 PM on January 22, 2007


This is great! Thank you so much, painquale!
anybody know how i can get eraser marks off my monitor?
posted by merelyglib at 9:34 PM on January 22, 2007


I'm glad everybody is enjoying their crossword puzzles and all, but honestly, if you weren't into them already, Wordplay wasn't all that exciting.
posted by muckster at 10:06 PM on January 22, 2007


*cough* SIDEBAR *cough*

Excuse me. I'm probably coming down with some sort of a cold.
posted by rossination at 10:23 PM on January 22, 2007


AcrossLite doesn't work on my iMac G5 edition without Classic, which I have never bothered to install.

Is there any crossword puzzle software that is OSX native?

(Could I be any dweebier?)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:37 PM on January 22, 2007


One of the constructors for the Times makes the same kind of point in Wordplay. Namely, that people sitting down to do their crossword at breakfast don't want words like bile and pus.

Not me, I like a good heaping of bile in the morning. And I'd probably be a lot better at crosswords if they were death-themed. I'd get "catafalque" in a heartbeat.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:39 PM on January 22, 2007


Great post! I will be reading more at home...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2007


Blazecock Pileon writes "In an odd bit of synchronicity, we just saw the excellent Wordplay this weekend. Highly recommended."

Same synchronicity for me!
posted by OmieWise at 10:23 AM on January 23, 2007


In an odd bit of synchronicity, we just saw the excellent Wordplay this weekend. Highly recommended.

Actually, that's probably just coincidence ;-)
posted by jckll at 4:05 PM on January 23, 2007


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