Sunday, October 4, 2015

Updated List of Missing Puzzles, Plus an Olio of Todd Gross Pre-Shortzian Constructor Research

Project Update

After sorting through the pre-Shortzian constructor names and posting the remaining PS Notes on XWord Info recently, I went through my records and put together an updated list of the missing puzzles, whose 143 dates are listed below.  A few other dates not included below were problematic, and some puzzles (such as, but not restricted to, 10/11–10/18/65) have PDFs in ProQuest, but the PDFs aren't of the puzzles that should have run—they show repeats of puzzles that appeared earlier.

If anyone wants to help search for these puzzles, be sure to read the previous posts about the missing puzzles first.  I still think the only places we might find them at this point is in old books of the daily Times crosswords (best bet) or in the Times's International or Los Angeles editions, both of which published the puzzles concurrently.  Unfortunately, now that "everything" has been put on ProQuest, locating actual copies of these old editions, even in microfilm form, may not be possible through traditional channels.  It's always possible, though, that someone somewhere kept copies of all the old International or Los Angeles papers, though after all these years their condition probably wouldn't be good.

1953 (9):  11/30, 12/1–12/8
1958 (17):  12/12–12/28
1962 (4):  12/15, 12/16, 12/23, 12/30
1963 (13):  1/6, 1/13, 1/20, 1/27, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17, 3/24, 3/31
1965 (13):  9/18, 9/25, 9/26, 10/2, 10/3, 10/10, 10/11, 10/13, 10/14–10/18
1978 (87):  8/10–8/12, 8/14–11/5

Olio of Todd Gross Pre-Shortzian Constructor Research

Litzer, proofreader, and historian Todd Gross recently sent me the results of some more of his research on pre-Shortzian constructors—here's an olio of those findings, with constructors listed alphabetically in the order of their last names.  (Puzzle totals listed may be less than the actual puzzle totals, since many puzzles lacked bylines.)

Emory Cain

Todd discovered this obituary of Emory Cain, who began his lifelong newspaper career at age 12 and published 10 puzzles in the Maleska era.

William Canine

Todd also found a puzzle published in The Lethbridge Herald [Alberta, Canada] in September 1941 by a William Canine.  The puzzle appeared 40 years before "the" William Canine's first New York Times puzzle, which was published on October 16, 1981, so whether or not this is the same person is unclear, though it seems likely.  William Canine published 65 puzzles in the Maleska era and 2 during Will Shortz's editorship.

Part of 1941 puzzle by William Canine.

Walter Covell

Photo courtesy of Conservatory Craftsmen.

Todd also discovered this obituary for Walter Covell, an entertainer who published 33 puzzles in the Maleska era and 1 in the Shortz era.  Googling a bit, I discovered that Walter also has a brief bio on IMDb, which mentions his 1985 Clue VCR Mystery Game credit (as Colonel Mustard).

Chester (Chet) Currier

Photo courtesy of

Todd found quite a bit on Chester (Chet) Currier, who published 12 puzzles in the Weng and Maleska eras and 6 in the Shortz era.  Here's an excerpt from Todd's e-mail about Chet:

He worked for the Associated Press, and while he did compose many crossword puzzles for them, his main beat was business.  In fact, he worked for Bloomberg after the AP.  Though a native New Yorker, Chet moved . . . [to] Manhattan Beach [California] in 2005 . . . but, alas, didn't get to live there long, having passed away in 2007. . . . Chet wrote crosswords for the AP as well as business articles.  At least once, he wrote an AP article about crosswords. . . .

Here's that article, which appeared in the March 5, 1979, Schenectady Gazette and is about that year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament:

Image courtesy of Google news.

Todd also directed me to Chet's Wikipedia page, as well as to an obituary of him in the American History of Business Journalism, at

Betty Jorgensen

Although he wasn't sure he'd found the correct person, Todd told me about some research he'd done on Betty Jorgensen, who published 69 puzzles in the Maleska era (and under Mel Taub), as well as 8 in the Shortz era.  Here's Todd's report:

An S&S puzzle of hers mentions Oregon, so I used that to try and find her. . . . Well, I found a Betty Jorgensen in Portland, born in 1919 and passed away 2008.  I was able to find her obituary on the Oregonian web site. . . . Alas, the obit made no mention of crosswords, which is odd considering how many she published.  So I can't be sure I have the right person.  I've found other Betty Jorgensens, but they aren't in Oregon and don't seem to be good candidates.  I have found out a fair amount about this Betty Jorgensen . . . but, again, nothing tying her to crosswords.  But she wrote poetry, which seems fitting.

Hopefully we'll be able to identify Betty definitively at some point in the future.

Bob Lubbers

Photo courtesy of Wikia.

Following up on his research on Louise Earnest, Todd discovered some information about Bob Lubbers (who, he noted, is likely the second-oldest living New York Times constructor after Louise).  Bob, a cartoonist, published 1 puzzle under Weng and 4 in the Shortz era.  Todd found this article that, despite the byline at the top, appears to be by Bob Lubbers.  Following up on Todd's lead, I discovered that Bob has his own very extensive Wikipedia page that mentions his crossword activities!  It's a fascinating overview of Bob's creative activities and also links to the National Cartoonists Society Web site, where I found this "bio" in the Members Directory:

Image courtesy of the National Cartoonists Society.

Marjorie (Lamont) Pedersen

Photo courtesy of Medford High School.

Todd also discovered an obituary of Marjorie Pedersen, who published 12 puzzles in the Weng and Maleska eras, as well as a long document about her from the archives of Tufts University, from which she received her B.A. and where she was chairman of the Department of Shorthand and Typewriting.  Here's something that appeared toward the end of the document:

Originally published at Tufts University.

Todd wrote:

I'd never heard of this, so I asked Will about it.  He hadn't heard of it either (though he pointed out such an event wouldn't have been the first ever such meeting, he'd arrange something similar in Fairfield Co., CT in 1977).

He also found more information on someone he thinks was her:

I found a few pictures of a Marjorie Lamont, all of whom look like the same person.  But one is a high school picture from 1939, when she would have [been] 21.  So I'm enclosing a picture from a different (but not far away) high school, when she would have been 17 (almost 18).

I'm pretty sure she was born Marjorie Louise Lamont on 8 Jun 1917 somewhere in the Boston area.  In the 1940 Census she was living with her parents in Medford, MA working as a teacher in a secretarial school.

Here's what appeared next to her photo in the Medford High School 1935 yearbook:

Image courtesy of Medford High School.

Joy L. Wouk

Finally, Todd discovered that a special edition of Random House's Sunday crossword series (volume 25) mentioned that Joy was the "sister of noted novelist Herman Wouk."  Apparently, though, she was actually Herman's sister-in-law—her husband, Victor, was Herman's brother.  Joy, who published 124 puzzles in the Maleska era (and under Mel Taub) and 9 in the Shortz era, passed away in 2008, as documented in this brief Times obituary.

Thanks so much again, Todd, for all your great research and leads!  It's especially nice, too, to finally have photos of some of these constructors!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Prolific Pre-Shortzian Constructor Louise Earnest Turns 100—and 49 More Puzzles Are Identified!

Near the beginning of August, I received an e-mail from litzer, proofreader, and historian Todd Gross, who'd been contacted by Andy and Harriet Earnest, the children of pre-Shortzian constructor Louise Earnest.  Louise published 79 puzzles under the editorships of Margaret Farrar, Will Weng, and Eugene T. Maleska and was approaching her 100th birthday, which is today!  Happy Birthday, Louise!  Louise kept excellent records of her puzzles (and correspondence with puzzle editors), and with Andy's help, I was able to identify 49 more puzzles, previously listed in my records and on XWord Info as having been constructed by "Unknown," that were actually constructed by Louise!  This was truly a bonanza—thanks so much again, Andy, for your help in compiling the list of Louise's works, complete with their 1-Across and 1-Down entries and actual or approximate publication dates!  And thanks again, Todd, for putting me in touch with Andy!  My hope is that there will be other similar "finds" in the future, though perhaps none quite as major as this one!  To see all of Louise's New York Times puzzles on XWord Info, click here.

I hope to have more on Louise in a future post, but in the meantime, please enjoy the following, courtesy of her family.  The photo was taken during a period when Louise was actively constructing puzzles and originally appeared in The Bantam Great Masters Winning Crossword Puzzles, which was published in 1980.

Cruciverbalist Louise S. Earnest Celebrates her 100th Birthday,
September 16, 2015!


The Earnest Family

Louise published her first crossword puzzle in The New York Times on July 16, 1957.  More than 25 years and countless puzzles later, she still “enjoyed the thrill of putting in that final letter.”

Through the years, Louise worked with three editors of the New York Times puzzles:  Margaret Farrar, Will Weng, and Eugene T. Maleska.  Her favorite remains Margaret Farrar, whom she credits with encouraging her to continue constructing puzzles.  Margaret’s handwritten kind words were “all [she] needed to keep going.”  A note from Maleska in 1979 said, “Hereafter, I suggest you place the extra stamp inside the return envelope.  If you continue to send me such fine puzzles, you won’t need a 30 cent reply.”  Clearly Mrs. Farrar was not the only editor who appreciated Louise's puzzles. 

In addition to publishing in The New York Times, Louise was a regular contributor to crossword puzzle book series, including those published by Bantam House, Pocket Books, and Simon & Schuster and edited by Farrar, Weng, and Maleska.  In 1980, she was awarded one Fourth Place prize and two Fifth Place prizes in Bantam’s Great Masters Crossword Puzzle Hunt, edited by Will Shortz.  Her puzzles have appeared in more than 40 books, many of which contain several of her creations. 

Born in Dover, Pa., in 1915, Louise lived most of her life in the same small town.  She married William H. Earnest, a CPA, in 1941, and her family includes a daughter, Harriet Earnest, a CPA in Warwick, N.Y.; and a son, Andrew Earnest (Janet), a retired Chairman of the Department of Mathematics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  Finding herself a housewife raising two children, puzzles became a mental sanctuary for Louise.  Her puzzle board (along with a large eraser!) was never far away when she was washing dishes or ironing shirts.  An inspiration would strike, and more blocks on the grid would be filled in.  Constructing the puzzles was the challenge; “writing the clues was easy.”

When asked what gave her the idea to create a crossword puzzle, Louise replied, “The puzzles of the day were so easy, I figured I could do better.”  Explaining her focus on word agility, Louise said, “With two CPAs  and a mathematician in the family, figures were being well taken care of, so I felt words should be given a chance—hence crossword constructing for me.”  Rest assured, family and friends knew better than to expect to win a game of Scrabble from Louise!

In a generation when few women attended college, Louise earned a B.A. in Romance Languages from George Washington University.  She is the recipient of an award from the Republic of France for excellence in French studies.  Louise thoroughly enjoyed her time in Washington, D.C., and took full advantage of all that the city had to offer.  Her first years of marriage found her in Philadelphia, but city life gave way to home town living back in Dover in order to raise her family. 

Louise’s passions include several other areas.  An accomplished painter in oils, her last one-woman show was held at the Lycian Center in Sugar Loaf, N.Y., in 2005 to celebrate her 90th birthday.  Louise began a life-long love affair with traditional jazz as a teenager.  She and Bill spent a lot of time listening to records from their collection of several thousand—many old 78s from the 20s and 30s—and traveled far and wide to search out good live jazz.  For more than 20 years she coordinated a coed “Great Books” discussion group.  Flea markets were always an adventure to seek out an antique doll to add to her collection.  Bill and Louise were also community activists, joining with other parents to ensure that Dover-area schools were accredited.

Her idea of fun?  A trip to New York.  “I really feel deprived if I don’t have several trips a year to check out the museums, shows, and galleries.”  Special travel through the years included a trip to France shared with her daughter to celebrate her 70th birthday, and trips to Sanibel Island, Florida, where she liked to “vacation whenever possible . . . for complete relaxation.”

A cherished puzzle memory was the invitation to attend a luncheon held at the Tower Suite of the Time & Life Building in 1974 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Margaret Farrar’s work as editor of crossword puzzle books for Simon & Schuster.  It was a wonderful opportunity to travel to New York and to meet the lovely person with whom she had corresponded for so many years.  A line from a personal note from Margaret is one of Louise’s favorites to quote:  “Thank you for all the delicious puzzles.”  

Louise now resides in Warwick, N.Y., with her daughter, Harriet.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Moving Forward" Metapuzzle Wrap-up

Still wondering how the "Moving Forward" metapuzzle worked?  Although quite a few people wrote to me saying they were stuck, only 11 solvers actually submitted an answer, so the puzzle was clearly much more of a stumper than I'd intended!  Well, whether you tried it or not, the time has come for an explanation.

Let's start with the note, which specified that the answer was a "two-word phrase especially appropriate now that the project is essentially over."  The note also contained a link to the XWord Info page listing all the entries commonly used in pre-Shortzian puzzles that have yet to appear in a Shortz-era grid.  As everyone who submitted an entry realized, this page was essential to solving the puzzle.  But the note also contained another hint, albeit a very subtle one.  Were any of you wondering why the third sentence was written in such a clunky way?  Why did it read "To learn more about the crosswordese entries featured in this puzzle, each of which has been used zero times in the Shortz era, go to," as opposed to something like "To learn more about the uniquely pre-Shortzian crosswordese entries featured in this puzzle, go to . . . "?  Well, more on that later!

The next step was to solve the puzzle.  Most solvers naturally gravitated toward the longer entries, and a handful of them noticed that all but the last one were hiding pieces of pre-Shortzian crosswordese from the XWord Info page.  Here's a picture of the solved grid with the pieces of pre-Shortzian crosswordese highlighted:

Now, notice what happens when you arrange the pieces of pre-Shortzian crosswordese by their order in the grid:


The first letters spell BAD CROSS . . . which was the most common incorrect answer!  Remember, the answer was supposed to be a two-word phrase especially appropriate now that the project is essentially over.  Although BAD CROSS is the right number of words and relates to the pre-Shortzian puzzles, it doesn't quite fit the description.  So what was the purpose of BAD CROSS?  Well, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a deliberate trap, but its overarching purpose was to be a hint for the next stage of solving.  The other major hint in the grid was POLISH, POLISH, POLISH—if BAD CROSS were indeed the answer, then why include POLISH, POLISH, POLISH rather than sticking with the original eight theme entries?  Another tip-off was that certain easier-to-fill areas of the grid were filled much more poorly than you might expect.  Take a look at the upper center, for instance, which contains both LLB and EELERS.

So, armed with BAD CROSS and the aforementioned observations, the next step was to notice that nine of the Across clues were unusually lengthy/awkward.  What did these nine clues have in common?  The word "zero," which was also forcibly worked into the third sentence of the note and which describes the number of times each piece of pre-Shortzian crosswordese on the XWord Info list has been used in the Shortz era.  I've listed the strained clues and their answers below:

Not zero-skilled ---> ABLE
Its slope is never zero ---> RAMP
Make display a time other than zero, as a parking meter ---> FEED
Reduce to zero health in a video game, say ---> SLAY
Situation with zero ways out ---> BIND
Salon treatment invented at least 3,200 years before zero, informally ---> MANI
Person making zero sense ---> LOON
Shows zero originality ---> APES
Prefix associated with elevations greater than zero ---> ACRO

Well, you might be wondering, what's so special about these nine entries?  All of them have been used many times over in the Shortz era.  If you look more closely, though, you'll notice that each of these entries is also one letter different from a piece of pre-Shortzian crosswordese on the list.  What happens when you "recreate" each piece of pre-Shortzian crosswordese?  First off, you'd notice that a second piece of pre-Shortzian crosswordese from the list is formed each time a substitution is done correctly.  Thus, changing ABLE to ATLE also changes BAA to TAA, etc.  Here's what the grid looks like before and after the pre-Shortzian crosswordese substitutions:

When the letters at each bad cross are read in order, they spell TIMES PAST, which is the correct answer to the puzzle:  The project, which converted all the available Times puzzles published before Will Shortz became editor into a digital, fully analyzable format, is basically a thing of the past at this point.

It took a long time for the first correct solution to arrive in my inbox—I was seriously worried I had made the puzzle too hard and would have to give a hint!  So I was thrilled to receive not just one but two correct submissions at exactly the same time (10:59 a.m.) on Friday, August 28!  More followed—here's a list of everyone who sent in the correct solution, along with the dates and times (Pacific time) of their submissions:

1.  (Tie) Emma Astroth, Friday, August 28 10:59 a.m.; Jay Winter, Friday, August 28 10:59 a.m.
2.  Louis Lana, Friday, August 28 4:55 p.m.
3.  Kyle Dolan, Saturday, August 29 4:43 a.m.
4.  Jeffrey Harris, Sunday, August 30, 4:17 p.m.
5.  Nicholas Harvey, Sunday, August 30, 6:18 p.m.

I used a random number generator to pick a winner—Jeffrey Harris, who coincidentally also won the previous metapuzzle contest (Metaleska)!!!  Congratulations to Jeffrey, who will receive a $50 iTunes card, and to everyone else who submitted the correct solution!

Thanks, too, to all the solvers who entered or attempted to enter the contest, and special thanks to Jim Horne and Jeff Chen for hosting the puzzle on XWord Info!

Before I wrap up this wrap-up, though, I'd like give a special shoutout to my favorite incorrect answer, which was submitted by Ralph Bunker.  After noticing the hidden pre-Shortzian crosswordese in the long entries, Ralph zeroed in on the entry CANO, which he discovered was Latin for "I sing."  Ralph also noticed that "I sing" is a homophone of "icing," which he noted could describe the finishing touches on the project.  Ralph's final answer, therefore, was "I sing."  Kudos to him for coming up with a very clever answer I'd never even anticipated!

Finally, here are a couple more interesting coincidences and observations that relate to "Moving Forward."  First of all, Matt Gaffney happened to publish a brilliant metapuzzle whose gimmick also involved changing single letters of grid entries to make new thematic ones last week, which I have a feeling may have subconsciously helped a number of the correct solvers!  So I'd like to give a shout-out to Matt for reading my mind . . . and for being the true master of metapuzzles!  Second, as Barry Haldiman noted, the entry CANO isn't as undesirable as the other pieces of pre-Shortzian crosswordese now that former Yankee Robinson CANO has become famous.  Finally, Jim Horne e-mailed me a couple days ago noting that a piece of pre-Shortzian crosswordese on the list—ARO (clued modernly as "Michael Sheen's character in 'Twilight'")—had been reused in the Sunday, August 30, 2015, New York Times puzzle.  After panicking for a few minutes, I was relieved to see that I hadn't used ARO in my meta!  This just goes to show that even the ugliest-looking bits of pre-Shortzian crosswordese can sometimes be salvaged, so we shouldn't necessarily assume that all the uniquely pre-Shortzian entries are bad!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Project Done—1942 through 1951 Puzzles Up, Next Steps, and "Moving Forward" Metapuzzle

Project Update

Big news:  Thanks to Jim Horne, the 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, and 1951 proofread puzzles are up on XWord Info, which means all the available pre-Shortzian puzzles are now there and the project is essentially done—appropriately enough, on Will Shortz's birthday!  Happy Birthday, Will!

I still can't believe we were able to accomplish this feat in just four years (or three years, two months since the project's official start).  I'd like to extend a huge thank-you to everyone in the crossword community who helped me accomplish my dream of having all the pre-Shortzian puzzles in a digital format—there's no way this could have happened without all your continuous time, support, and motivation.  As a community, we've accomplished something that each of us individually would have dismissed as too challenging and unrealistic, which I think is very special.  We've created a resource that will entertain curious minds for years to come, change the way we look at the history of crosswords (and maybe even history itself), and ensure that the names of the exceptionally prolific pre-Shortzian constructors won't just be footnotes in puzzle history.  We can now learn lessons from generations of earlier constructors, and we just might find a handful of usable entries for our own puzzles that were previously lost to time.  And even if most of the uniquely pre-Shortzian entries are too obscure, it can't hurt to have an extra 52 years of clues to draw from!  The uses for the database we've created are only limited by the creativity of the crossword and puzzle community, which I'm convinced is boundless.  But perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project is that a whole world of possibilities can become reality through teamwork.  If an impractical high school freshman can watch his dream come true one step at a time over the course of four years, who knows what else can be accomplished?

I'd like to take a moment to thank all the litzers again, especially Mark Diehl, Barry Haldiman, Nancy Kavanaugh, Jeffrey Krasnick, Denny Baker, Howard Barkin, and Ralph Bunker, who were the most prolific.  Their totals, along with the totals for all the other litzers, can be seen on the Litzer & Proofreader Totals page.  (Some of these totals were slightly revised recently after I recalculated them from my current spreadsheet.)

Thanks, too, to all the proofreaders, of whom there were far fewer.  Proofreading was less appealing to many people, but it was an essential part of this process.  I didn't keep a running total of the proofreaders' totals while the proofing was under way because I didn't want people to compete with each other and race through the puzzles.  I calculated those totals recently, though, and you can now view them at the bottom of the Litzer & Proofreader Totals page, underneath the "found mistakes" tallies.

Special thanks to Mark Diehl, who was not only the Litzing King but also the Proofreading King!  Even more amazing, Mark's old-school litzing by hand beat out more technologically advanced (and very impressive!) optical character recognition litzing methods—congratulations again, Mark!

Thanks, too, to Todd Gross, not only for his litzing and proofreading but also for his painstaking research on pre-Shortzian constructors.  Todd's findings have been a major feature of numerous posts and added a richness to what might otherwise be just a list of constructor names.

Along the same lines, I'd like to thank all the pre-Shortzian constructors—and friends and relatives of constructors, or simply crossword aficionados—who provided interviews or sent in reminiscences of, or memorabilia from, pre-Shortzian constructors and times.  These have been delightfully entertaining and informative, and I hope to add new ones in the future.

Special thanks, too, to Barry Haldiman, who gave me the puzzles he and various other people, including project litzer and proofreader Denny Baker, had begun litzing back in 1999.  These puzzles got the project off to a running start—thanks again, Barry!  Barry also provided much historical context for the litzing and helped tremendously in tracking down copies of puzzles missing from ProQuest on good old-fashioned microfiche.

A few other people have offered to help search for the missing puzzles, contacting libraries and even the Times itself to that end.  Even though none of these efforts has proved successful so far, they've been great starts and helped rule out a number of formerly promising possible sources—thanks again to all the puzzle detectives!

I'd also like to thank everyone who's made a financial donation to the project.  Jim Horne was the first, generously giving the project a month of his XWord Info donations, and in the past few years several other people have contributed as well.  These donations have been much appreciated and helped pay for prizes and other expenses.

A few people have also helped by donating old books and newsletters, which have been exceptionally useful—thanks so much again!  I'm still making my way through the newsletters, and I'm always on the lookout for more old books containing the pre-Shortzian daily New York Times puzzles with bylines.  I'll be updating the Pre-Shortzian Crossword Books page as soon as time permits, but suffice it to say I'm still missing many of these old volumes, some of which may be the only way we can identify the remaining anonymous constructors.

I'd also like to thank the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project Advisory Board members, Jim Horne, Stan Newman, and Will Shortz.  They've been incredibly helpful over the past few years, and I think it's fair to say that without them, the project simply would not have taken off.  Thanks, Jim, for being the best partner in all this that anyone could ever want—XWord Info is a masterpiece, and I'm honored that I've been able to contribute to it in a significant way.  Thanks, Stan, for the hundreds of books, newsletters, and, most important, your encyclopedic knowledge and memory of the pre-Shortzian era and people—you've been a tremendous support (not to mention a delightful lunch companion!).  And thanks, Will, for being so generous with your time and advice and allowing me to hunt through your treasure trove of crossword books for constructor names—you are not only the Puzzlemaster but an inspiration, and I hope the project's completion makes your birthday an especially memorable one!

Finally, I'd like to give a shoutout to Kristena Bergen (aka my mom, Karen Steinberg).  If I wrote about everything she's done to help with the project, Blogger would likely implode, because there would simply be too much!  In addition to helping with the PDF downloading, puzzle-packet assembling, litzing, and proofreading, she spent countless hours just helping to keep track of everything, pitching in wherever and whenever needed, and making a final pass through almost all the available pre-Shortzian puzzles before I sent them to XWord Info.  Mom never took credit for any of the work she did, but without her this project never would have gotten as far as it did so quickly.  On behalf of us all, I'd like to give her a virtual round of applause with a standing ovation!  My mom is my hero, and if I can grow up to be a fraction of the person she is, I'll consider myself even more fortunate than I already am.  I love you, Mom—it is truly an honor to be your son!

Next Steps

Now that there are no more puzzles left to litz, proofread, or look through before sending to XWord Info, you might be wondering what's next for this project.  As I mentioned in a previous post, many tasks still remain.  First, the rest of the PS Notes from our litzers and proofreaders need to be entered onto XWord Info.  I'll be working on that over these next couple of weeks before heading off to college.  Second, the constructor names on XWord Info need to be standardized and, in some cases, updated.  When I was doing research at Will's house last summer, I was able to find the first names of many constructors for whom the only identifying information we had was a last name or a pair of initials.  I entered all this data into my spreadsheet but didn't make changes to the actual puzzle files because they were already up on XWord Info and because the focus was on finishing the rest of the puzzles.  As for the standardization, Jim Horne has pointed out a number of instances in which the spelling of constructors' names has been inconsistent.  Some of the incorrect spellings are simply oversights, but in most cases, different sources (i.e., the Times itself and books of reprinted puzzles) used slight name variations.  For example, it's clear that Marian Moeser and Marion Moeser were the same person, yet 22 puzzles are listed on Marian's XWord Info page and 15 on Marion's.  When time permits, I'll also be posting information on the project's style guide and editorial decisions, which will clarify how words and punctuation were usually handled.  Finally, I'm going to keep trying to hunt down the missing puzzles.  I haven't had a lot of success recently, but I haven't lost hope yet!

"Moving Forward" Metapuzzle

Last but not least, to celebrate the final major milestone of the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project, I constructed another 23x23 metapuzzle, "Moving Forward."  The puzzle, in either Across Lite or PDF format, will be available on XWord Info at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time today from a link I'll insert here——and also post on Twitter, Facebook, and Cruciverb.  Very important instructions will appear in a notepad in the Across Lite file, so read carefully!  Send your answer to preshortzianpuzzleproject at gmail dot com (using the standard format).  The deadline for submitting your solution is September 2 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time.  You may only submit one answer, so be sure you're 100% happy with your answer before clicking "Send"!  One lucky winner will be chosen at random from the correct solutions.  That person will receive a $50 iTunes gift card courtesy of the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project!  Even though only one solver will receive a prize, everyone who submits a correct answer will have his/her name listed in a wrap-up blog post (unless you tell me you'd rather not have your name appear).  Names will be listed in the order in which the correct solutions came in.  Have fun—and good luck!