Players receive answer sheets with a series of crossword-style clues leading to two-word answers. An adhesive name tag containing a word, either the “first part” or “last part” of one of the clue answers, is placed on each player’s back. Players mingle and examine the other players’ words to determine their own words by process of elimination. The gimmick is that the two words that form each phrase are not the first word and last word but the first set of letters and last set of letters, e.g. the nametag words FORE and STRANGER form the answer to the clue “National Park employee” (FOREST RANGER).

This was an early effort to create a “nametag” mixer game. I presented it at a party where the guests were mostly non-puzzle solvers. The group managed to figure out the gimmick, in some cases with mind hinting. The game was presented again, with Adam Cohen as moderator, at a New York miniconvention in 2009.


PUZZLE: Rice Milk #8


FIRST (3-7) / LAST (10)

My job’s on the line, that’s apparent.
My boss says my keystrokes are errant.
She won’t tolerate a
Big klutz who FIRST data.
Might LAST be considered? She daren’t!

Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #7 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.

P&A Magazine Offer


Foggy Brume posted this special offer on the P&A Magazine Facebook Page:

Hey folks! Need even more puzzles this summer? Want to fill in those blanks in your back issues for P&A collection?

From now until noon on Monday, we’re running a Fill-in-the-Blanks promotion for P&A. All back issues that you do not currently own can be purchased in one bulk sum for $3 per issue, a savings of roughly 40%. If you have 10 missing issues, that’s $30. If you’ve never bought an issue of P&A, that’s $144 to get every issue.

The promotion is not available for individual issues, only for a bulk purchase. It does not cover issue 50. If you have questions, you can PM me on Facebook or e-mail me at editor at

You have until noon on Monday. Enjoy!

This is a great deal, whether you have holes to fill in your P&A collection or if you have never purchased an issue before. Join the fans of Dr. Stabby and visit the website!

Also, for themeless crossword fans, I constructed the Washington Post Puzzler that will appear tomorrow, August 17. Here’s a link to the official page, or you can get a puz copy (with a little download mojo) from Will Johnston’s site.



Default: 350812
Default with Spaces: 134131

NOTES: Word Spy recently posted the term protologism (72) meaning “a newly coined word that is not yet widely used or accepted.” I have been guilty of placing several such words in crosswords. ABC’s summer reality series The Quest made me realize that I didn’t have LARP (55) or LARPing (55) in Default. The Oxford English Dictionary announced some its 2014 entry additions this week and I added adorbs (65), anti-vax (65) and the Internet acronym ICYMI (45). I had never come across that acronym and had to look up its meaning: in case you missed it.

LISTS: Peter Broda and Alex Boisvert posted to the sharedoc last week. Alex has been data-mining Wiktionary for interesting entries not in other dictionary lists. Additions to my database from the Wiktionary list include coupon code (75), feed the meter (70), and Memory Foam (75). Peter’s list included the usual good variety of utilitarian entries (hand dryer (75)) and some specialized interest vocabulary (midget porn (25)).

GRIDS: I told Evan Birnholz at Lollapuzzoola that I appreciate the crosswords of indie constructors and alternative syndicates because they are more likely to have entries that are holes in my database. Ska group (70) and metal band (70) both showed up in recently solved puzzles, making me wonder what other music-related ___ group/___ band entries I could add to Default. Binaca (65) reminds me of a friend from elementary school who was obsessed with that brand of breath spray to the extent that he wanted to form an investment club simply so we could buy shares of Binaca. The term brodown (70) is new to me and I’m not quite sure of the meaning since I chose to glance at Urban Dictionary’s take on the term. Would someone share their definition of brodown in the comments?

The Indie 500


The existence of The Indie 500 crossword tournament was announced at Lollapuzzoola 7 last weekend. The details of the tournament are being hashed out, but it will take place in May 2015 in the Washington D.C. area and the puzzles will be constructed by Andy Kravis, Erik Agard, Evan Birnholz, Neville Fogarty, Peter Broda, and a sixth “suitably indie” constructor to be determined by an open call for submissions.

The tournament website has gone live and more details will be posted on the site in the coming months.

Lollapuzzoola 7 Memories


Last Saturday I stood in the basement of the All Souls Church in Manhattan with a hundred-plus other people and sang the one-word-off version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” led by Patrick Blindauer. The first time I sang this version of the song was earlier this year, led by Myles Nye at a puzzle minicon in LA. As I sang I realized that for the people in that basement, and many others not in attendance, puzzles have joined baseball as a great American summertime institution. The annual NPL convention in Portland, Maine, had taken place only a few weeks prior and now avid solvers were about to undertake the seventh in the series of The Greatest Summertime Crossword Tournament held on a Saturday in August™. “Me Out to the Ball Game Take” was an appropriate anthem to kick off the festivities of Lollapuzzoola as it conjures both tradition and quirkiness — two values strongly held by crossword fans.

Patrick and his tournament co-director Brian Cimmet made introductory remarks while I met with Mike Nothnagel. I volunteered to be a judge this year as I have done in the past and Mike, the “chief justice,” gave instructions to me and the others in the volunteer corps. I spent the day passing out blank puzzles and collecting completed ones for the five preliminary rounds and I did a little puzzle grading in the afternoon. I enjoyed my volunteer role: I wasn’t nervous about being in a competition so I felt more relaxed to socialize with the other attendees and observe the sea of solvers facing offbeat cruciverbal challenges. I won’t discuss details of this year’s puzzles as many at-home solvers haven’t seen them yet, but I will note that Mike Nothnagel’s Puzzle 2 was a crowd favorite for its you-had-to-be-there element of improv theater provided by Brian and Patrick, and Patrick Blindauer’s clever but diabolical Puzzle 4 necessitated a swath of volunteers to go on emergency Google ticket brigade for solvers requesting hints.

Other highlights of the afternoon included a pop-culture anagram puzzle by Ben Tausig, a miniganza by Patrick Blindauer, a creative challenge in which tables came up with fictitious baseball teams and chants, and a disturbing canister of blue-colored “cotton candy” flavor snack balls. In the tournament final, constructed by Patrick Berry, Patty Varol was the top finisher in the Local Division and Jon Delfin edged out Francis Heaney and Scott Weiss in the Express Division.

My Lollapuzzoola Saturday followed a few days sightseeing along the Jersey Shore with Jeffrey Schwartz who was the fourth-place finisher in the tournament. The delightful Pamela Feiring hosted the Lollapuzzoola Eve party at her beautiful apartment on Central Park West. At the party I met in person for the first time Devil Cross blogger Evan Birnholz. Evan hinted at a puzzle project he was working on and that project was later announced at the tournament; in a later blog post I’ll give more details. Following the tournament I finally got to visit Barcade in Chelsea, with planety of classic video games from the 1980s. Playing an actual Dragon’s Lair game with Joe Cabrera completed a long overdue goal, but I also had fun with old favorites such as Tapper, Food Fight, Xybots, and Discs of Tron. I’m grateful for all the work that Brian and Patrick do to keep this fantastic Big Apple puzzle tradition going summer after summer after summer. It’s a beautiful day — and era — for a crossword tournament fan!

AUTOFILL PROJECT: Intolerable Acts



Default: 350275
Default with Spaces: 133581

NOTES: Ever since NPL Con I feel that I have been catching up on regular work while accommodating special offerings from puzzlers like Mike Selinker, Trip Payne, Matt Gaffney who all happened publish around the same time. I’m also trying to meet my own deadlines for puzzle and game construction, so this month word list development is easing back to a “summer vacation” level of productivity. I still jot a few things down that I read in the news: canvas fingerprinting (70) is an interesting/disturbing web-tracking technique that is too long to fit in most crossword puzzles. Actor/singer Troye Sivan (55; 50/50) crept on to Billboard charts last week with Happy Little Pill (72). I overheard some vegan friends discuss recipes for soy nog (75). And Word Spy is tracking the popularity of pinkification (72) as a term for making traditionally masculine pastimes appealing to women. If the term catches on, maybe the verb pinkify will be back-formated.

LISTS: I finished a Dave Shukan list that I had already pared down to the longest entries, i.e. ones not as valuable for crossword puzzles. Several are entries that he added from a side list of transposal pairs. Intolerable Acts (70) was on the list not because of Dave’s interest in Colonial American history but because it uses the same letters as Scotland’s Balintore Castle.