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Default - 332497 Words

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     DOLCEVITA (70)

Titles from fiction can be crossword entries with the leading article removed (and referenced in the clue), but I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen that convention used when the leading article is non-English. If I had DOLCEVITA in a puzzle I’d clue it ans an in the (Italian) language phrase, but what would you think of {1960 Fellini film, with “La”}?

     ENEMYLINE (50)

I think this phrase is inferably valid in singular form, though it’s difficult to find satisfying citations on Google. 50 is about right.

     FORFEAROF (55)

This awkward phrase doesn’t have many good clue options: {Due to concerns about} or {In order to prevent}. It makes me think of the line from “The Faeries” quoted by the tinker in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: “We daren’t go a-hunting/For fear of little men…”

New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default - 332284 Words


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     DEBUTLP (60)

I picked up this entry from a BEQ puzzle. I originally thought that it was a semi-contrived term that would work well in a puzzle known for pop music references. Then I discovered via Ginsberg that it appeared in a recent Ben Tausig puzzle, and also gets a fair number of Google hits. Is 60 a fair score?

     FOURTHYEAR (70)

When I discovered that FIRSTYEAR, an entry in a Karen Tracy puzzle, was not in Default, I added it to the Notepad along with SECONDYEAR, THIRDYEAR, and FOURTHYEAR. I could have added more, but the clue options begin dwindling after four, aside from Congressional terms and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts career. I wonder how many YEARs Frank Longo has in his database.

     REHOE (30)

This entry was already in Default, but I set Crossword Compiler to highlight any grid entry not in the database with a score of at least 40. That way I get a chance to re-evaluate an entry with a low score, based on its appearance in a current crossword. Alas, REHOE didn’t make parole this time, but I did enjoy thinking about situations in which one’s hoeing is so unsatisfactory that it needs to be done again.


Default - 332086 Words

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     CHOKEBACK (60)

I am frequently reminded by my practical side that fill scores in this project will merely help coax puzzle entries into general areas of priority. But, there is a small part of me that wants every individual fill score to be as meaningful as possible relative to all other entries’ fill scores. Phrasal verbs provoke more scrutiny than other types of entries because I have overvalued them in the past (based on comments from editors). Most transitive phrases get a 65 score, but CHOKEBACK has basically one potential object (tears) so I went down to 60.

     CORNFLAKE (65)

This entry tickled me when I thought about all the pluralized product names I have in Default for which corresponding singular forms could be added for the sake of thoroughness. Of course CORNFLAKE has an adjectival sense (as a type of food coating) that makes it more useful than, say, FROSTEDFLAKE or COCOAPUFF. Hmm, RICEKRISPIE is not currently in Default. Could that be clued as an adjective, e.g. {Kind of treat}?

     CRAZYFOAM (80)

As a child I remember seeing this product on supermarket shelves but not in my bathroom. My interest in superheroes was minimal so the incidental presence of Superman or Batman on a can of bath foam didn’t inspire me to ask for it when accompanying my parents on a shopping trip. I wonder if Patrick Berry used it as a kid, and that’s why it was in his list. Any Crazy Foam fans out there?

New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default - 331866 Words


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     AMIRITE (65)

Stella Zawistowski used this word in a Facebook post this morning. I’d seen this version of “Am I right?” before, but the post inspired me check of prevalence of the spelling via Google. Sometimes a slang term hits me for Default inclusion on first enclounter, and sometimes it takes multiple readings or hearings before I think about it as a crossword entry.

     GETANA (45)

BEQ recently posted his 2009 ACPT puzzle “Allow Me To Introduce Myself” on his blog, giving me a rare opportunity to harvest a tournament puzzle for entries. Aside from the themes (including the great CHOCKFULLOINUITS) the only entry I didn’t have was GOTAB, clued as {Did some above average work}. It’s not the most natural construction for a verbal phrase but I gave it a pinch score of 45 and added inflections for all the letter grades.


I found a YouTube channel with episodes of The Mole from a different countries, and I’ve been watching UK and Australian versions for the first time in addition to re-watching the U.S. editions. My favorite contestant from the second U.S. season is a Spanish teacher named Katie, remembered for her emotional outbursts and attachment to a stuffed cow named Meadow Muffin. The euphemistic HOLYSCHNIKES was a common exclamation for Katie. The friends of mine who use the expression remind me of Katie in one way or another.


Default - 331704 Words

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     ABUGSLIFE (80)

Patrick Berry, who is fine-tuning his own puzzle word list, recently made it through 9-letter entries, so we exchanged lists as we have done in the past. As a point of pride, I try to find out the number of new entries that Patrick receives versus the number I receive. Patrick responds to my queries in a grateful but cryptic manner: “Lots of good stuff in here that I didn’t have — Thanks!” I suspect that I benefit more from the exchanges than he does, and I also blanch when I discover the omissions from Default. ABUGSLIFE? Really? Why haven’t I gone through all the Pixar films for database additions? My Default is a long way from being a “Stump the Database” contender.

     BAMBOOHUT (1)

When Patrick and I exchange lists, we leave out low-scoring entries. The list I sent to Patrick contained 9-letter entries scored 40 or higher. The overwhelming majority of the PB 9L entries I have reviewed are good to great, but I’m not sold on BAMBOOHUT as a dictionary-value phrase. I feel that Jeffrey Harris may want to give me grief about my earlier defense of GRASSSHACKS, an entry he disliked in one of my past puzzles. To me, GRASSSHACK feels natural while BAMBOOHUT doesn’t. What are your opinions on GRASSSHACK and BAMBOOHUT, or any other tropical edifice?

     BERRYTREE (50)

This, apparently, is another name for the gooseberry. I thought it might have been a made-up entry that Patrick slipped into his exchanged list. You know what an egomaniac Patrick is.


Shortly before ACPT, I received a Facebook notification that my name was referenced in a conversation thread about Ophira Eisenberg. The stand-up comedienne and host of NPR’s Ask Me Another was scheduled to be a guest commentator at the tournament. On Facebook, someone commented that Ophira would be popular among crossword enthusiasts because her name is 15 letters long, and Doug Peterson was kind enough to post a link to my Unthemely puzzle from last year that used OPHIRAEISENBERG as the seed entry. Ophira, in on the Facebook thread, was delighted to discover that she was the star of a crossword puzzle. She sent me a friend request and reposted the link on her own Facebook wall. I was very endeared by the exposure and new Facebook contact — Doug, I owe you one! So, I thought I’d try JONATHANCOULTON, another 15-letter celebrity who is Ophira’s musical costar on Ask Me Another, as a seed form my next Unthemely puzzle. Maybe it’ll lead to another connection — it couldn’t hurt.


Default - 328243 Words

DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #34.PUZ / Unthemely #34.PDF

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     RIVERALIVE (45)

Geraldo Rivera’s CNBC show ran from 1994 to 2001. The show’s title is inferrable but 45 is as high as I want to go. Also, when I adjusted the score a few days ago and just before starting this blog post I read the entry as RIVER ALIVE, which sounds like some kind of theme park boat ride.

     ROGERAILES (60)

In one of my early blog posts I mentioned my refusal to use IDI or AMIN in crossword puzzles. The enormity of the former despot outweighs the handiness of name. Based on my political views, I find Roger Ailes despicable, but he’s not so wicked that I wouldn’t use his name in a crossword; AILES does have a useful letter pattern. If you construct puzzles, do you let your politics influence your choices for entries and clues?

SABBATICAL is an appropriate start to the S entries in New 10L 79S because I am going to take another break from scoring the list. Patrick Berry sent me another section of his word list and I’d like to add the entries not currently in Default — about 3,000 words.

New Additions

Added Across Lite files/Notepad
Default - 328198 Words


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     ANTIGRAV (65)

I re-read Tyler Hinman’s “War on Fill” blogpost this weekend. While going through the comments, I was reminded of the fact that the term “autofill” conjures many negative stereotypes within the crossword community. One commenter proposed that most autofill constructors rely on word lists downloaded from CRUCIVERB or Ginsberg. Thus autofill puzzles are inferior because, by design, they hinder opportunities for original vocabulary. The commenter also touted CrossFire compiler software for enabling the constructor to fill manually when the word list lacked fill options for a given entry space. When I have trouble finding satisfactory fills for grid sections, I can generally fix the problem by isolating a troublesome entry space and checking OneLook for options not in Default; that’s essentially the fill process used by pencil constructors. ANTIGRAV is an entry added to Default to help a problem area in Unthemely #33. ANTIGRAV was not used in the final puzzle, but another OneLook addition was. It’s a reasonable solution to the word list limitations cited by the blog commenter. I’m interested to find out more about differences between CrossFire and CCWIN. Does anyone know of some online CrossFire tutorials?


My friends have given generally poor reviews of  this new, Lent-friendly McDonald’s offering. It’s hard to say if it will stay on the menu, though the defunct MCDLT still gets occasional play in crossword grids. Has anyone tried a MCBITE?

     MOMAGER (70)

Portmanteau word coinages remain popular, and I tend to let Google hits guide me for word list inclusion and fill score. I heard MOMAGER (mom/business manager) on Smash and found the Google results promising. INDIGNORANCE is another portmanteau I encountered recently. I love the concept, but it’s hasn’t yet impacted the cultural vocabulary outside Urban Dictionary. What are your favorite new portmanteau terms?


Default - 327915 Words

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Entries relating to the annual Golden Raspberry Awards for critically-panned films may have been featured in crosswords, though Ginsberg only lists one instance of RAZZIES in a 2012 WSJ puzzle. When I added the entry to Notepad, I decided it would make a fun seed for Oscar season.

     RENCOUNTER (30)

At first I thought this was a typo, but discovered that it is an archaic term meaning “to meet casually.” It’s related to the French term RECONTRE, which is also in 11C but unfamiliar to me.

     RENSSELAER (65)

When I met Dave Tuller in 1998, he told me that he had attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and suggested that I must have come across the entry RPI in a crossword puzzle. At the time I had no knowledge of the school or memory of that crossword entry. I’ve seen it since then, and the entry reminds me of Dave, as well as Tyler Hinman. Over the last few months I’ve been marathon-watching episodes of All in the Family on YouTube. I was reminded that a minor character in the later seasons, after Archie buys Kelcy’s Bar, is a blind man who frequents the bar. I thought that the character had the same last name as RPI founder Stephen Van Rensselaer, but Wikipedia lists the character’s name as “Van Ranseleer” per a closing-credits screen shot. I wonder if that was a production misspelling.


Default - 327862 Words

DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #33.PUZ / Unthemely #33.PDF

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     QUIRKINESS (70)

55 is my baseline score for entries with the suffix -NESS. The entries tend to yield uninteresting clues and the NESS letter combination invites dull crossing entries. My friend Dave feels the same way about -ING entries, particularly that pairs of -ING entries are likely to intersect when they are assigned overly generous fill scores. I will bump up the scores of -NESS entries if they have some good letters (QUIRKINESS) or better-than-average clue potential (BUSINESS, HAPPINESS, TRUTHINESS), but 70 is my limit.

     RAPPELLING (63)

When a verb ending in a single letter L has multiple spellings for -ed and -ing inflections listed in Merriam-Webster dictionaries, the -led/-ling version is usually listed first, followed by the -lled/-lling version. The single-L is more common in American English and the double-L in British English. RAPPEL’s inflections are listed in reverse order. I’m guessing that the two spellings are roughly interchangeable and scored them that way. I have no experience with cliff descents on either side of the Atlantic, so I don’t know for sure if the spelling difference is regional. Ginsberg lists no entries for RAPPELED, RAPPELLED, or RAPPELING, and only one for RAPPELLING.

     REACCUSTOM (50)

…And into a long list of RE- entries, most of which of will be rescored in the 50s or lower. It’s better than the UN- entries, and the list is broken up with the occasional interesting entry such as REALMADRID and REDREDWINE.