Default: 343659
Default with Spaces: 125055

NOTES: I watched Gravity this week (four down, five to go on last year’s Best Picture nominees) and added some space-related terms to the Notepad: deorbit (65), space debris (75), Kessler effect (65), and MMU (40). Hannibal Buress was a guest star on Ask Me Another this week and mentioned working on a goat farm (75). My sister has told me numerous times about her dream of starting a goat farm but I never thought of adding the phrase to Default until I heard it on a webcast. I finally got around to looking up the spelling of Maltesers (55), a candy brand occasionally referenced on the BBC program QI. I guess it’s just a British Isles variation on Whoppers malted milk ball chocolates.

LISTS: Alex Boisvert mined some Eugene Sheffer and Thomas Joseph published crosswords and added the new entries to the sharedoc. I remember the Sheffer crosswords from my college days — they ran in the local newspaper of the small Kansas town where I attended school. I pulled just over 500 non-matches from the list Alex posted. The new entries include some dry book and film titles (The Sea Lions (60), The Rite (60)) and long partials (your eyes (35)) but also many good words and phrases: beach blanket (80), bungee jumper (75), and tin roof sundae (80). I’m about halfway through the list and am very happy with the additions. Thanks, Alex!


Letter Go!


Last year I had the opportunity to encounter a set of five things. I learned that the names of these things are A, B, C, D, and E. In fact, these names were made verbally clear to me: “A as in Alpha, B as in Bravo, C as in Charlie, D as in David, and E as in Echo.” What are these things?

I read about these things in a Wikipedia article this week, which reminded me of my encounter from last year. Some of you might be familiar with these things. Others might need some more information than is offered in the previous paragraph. Feel free to ask yes-no questions, a la lateral thinking puzzles, in the comments.




(Visual Puzzle)

Players form two teams. In each round teams try to solve a picture rebus puzzle that is divided into pieces. Teams reveal pieces and earn a chance to guess the rebus by choosing cards in the style of the memory card game Concentration. Cards contain words, and if the chosen cards’ words match as members of a particular category then a rebus puzzle piece is revealed. Each round features 12 word cards and twelve matches, which means that each word is part of two matches: SHELL is a “brand of gasoline” but also a “pasta shape”; BOW TIE is a “pasta shape” but also an “item worn around the neck”; etc.

concentration puzzle

* * *

The picture rebus part of the game is a taken directly from the NBC game show of the same name, but the word matching is based on a category overlap mechanism I’ve used in other puzzles and games, e.g. Triple Bonds in Crowd-Pleasing Puzzles. The game debuted at a LA miniconvention. Andrew Bradburn was one of the players and he volunteered to help write subsequent iterations and also present the game at NPL conventions. In LA, the word cards were letter-size and distributed among the teams so that a player looking for match would choose two people to hold up their cards. At con, teams were smaller and the word cards were index cards arranged on a table. An amusing situation occurred in the debut game which featured the category “types of jelly.” The card words were PETROLEUM (also “things that come from a well”) and KY (also “state postal abbreviations”). The match was discovered, but one of the older players halted the proceedings so that someone could explain to her what KY Jelly was.

Ten Across Scholar

I completed Patrick Blindauer’s College Puzzlefest yesterday and received my diploma from Xword University!



Patrick’s extravaganza contains a full course load of excellent crossword puzzles with clever meta-answer extractions. Now that I have my honorary degree I’m sure the job offers are going to come pouring in!



Default: 343188
Default with Spaces: 124568

NOTES: Xfinity cable had a Watchathon last week (Watchathon not added) and I watched all eight episodes of HBO’s True Detective. The performances Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, as Martin Hart (65) and Rustin Cohle (55), were engaging, but overall I found the series good, not great — a little too reminiscent of other recent dramas highlighting murder investigations and Southern Gothic culture. From Martin Hart to Minh, I added entries from the musical Miss Saigon. I know almost nothing about this show but its long Broadway run suggests that its characters  (Gigi Van Tranh (50)) and songs (Why God Why (70)) should be reasonable fill for mainstream crosswords.

LISTS: I added many nice entries from the share doc last week including Depression glass (75), hibiscus tea (75), Kobe beef (80), and Last Week Tonight (70). The share doc receives its share of adult entries, e.g. fake an orgasm (25). In the middle is buttload (55). It’s a tad crass but it certainly passes the BEQfast test.

PUZZLE: Rice Milk #3


ONE (“3 ^6”) / TWO (3 6)

Hey, Mike Nothnagel, what should I eat?
Quaker Oats? Malt-O-Meal? Cream of Wheat?
You are ONE, knowing all,
So it should be your call:
Choose my TWO, make my breakfast complete.

Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #2 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.



Last week I posted a photo of my April Fool’s day lunch and asked readers to identify something not in the photo that would go nicely with the other items. The lunch items appearing in the photo were:
DAISY brand sour cream
a bit of HERB (specifically, thyme)
an Orange JULIUS
and an ALEXANDER cocktail

Each item references the name of a character in the Chic Young comic strip “Blondie.” The missing item was revealed to be two words totaling 15 letters. The intended Blondie-character food item with this enumeration is a DAGWOOD SANDWICH.


The winner of the contest, selected randomly from the correct entries, is Katie Hamill of Arlington, Mass. She will choose between either a copy of Sit & Solve® Tough as Nails Crosswords or a JPEG file drawn by me. Congratulations to Katie and everyone who submitted a correct answer.

Also, congratulations to Team plugh, the winners of BAPHL 9: Forbidden Rhode Island. The puzzles from yesterday’s puzzle event are now on the website.