Friday, April 4, 2014

Over 15,700, In 1944, New Litzer of the Month Tom Pepper, and a Longtime Mystery Solved

This week's post is going to be shorter than usual since I'm going to be at a Latin convention over the weekend, which would make Maleska proud!  Although I probably won't have a chance to work on many crosswords, I'll be busy competing in a Jeopardy-like game called certamen and puzzling through Latin grammar and derivatives tests.  And, of course, there will be a banquet and party at the end of the convention . . . perhaps I'll hear someone use the pre-Shortzian crosswordese EVOE, even though it's more of Greek exclamation than a Latin one.  (Okay, full disclosure:  That someone would probably be me, and I highly doubt that my knowledge of fusty crosswordese would endear me to the STOLA-clad ladies!)  Anyway, on to less Juvenal (pun intended) matters.

It's been a very busy week on the litzing front!  Friday afternoon, Susan O'Brien sent in 7 puzzles, which were followed by 10 proofread puzzles Saturday evening from Todd Gross.  Early Sunday morning, Brad Wilber sent in 7 litzed puzzles; that afternoon, Denny Baker sent in 4 more, which were followed by 10 more proofread puzzles from Todd and then 31 more proofread puzzles from Tracy Bennett that evening!  Early Monday morning, Nancy Kavanaugh sent in a mega-batch of 24 Sunday puzzles, then just a few minutes later, Barry Haldiman sent in 14 more puzzles.  Later that morning, Todd sent 11 more proofread puzzles, which were followed that evening by 4 litzed puzzles from Mike Buckley, who put us at 15,700 on the litzing thermometer and into 1944!  Tuesday afternoon, Susan sent 4 more puzzles, which were followed eight minutes later by 10 more proofread puzzles from Todd.  Wednesday morning, Todd sent another 10 proofread puzzles, then another 8 puzzles that night, and another 10 Thursday afternoon—way to go, Todd!  Then Thursday night Lynn Feigenbaum sent in 2 puzzles, which were followed by 10 more proofread puzzles from Todd Friday morning.  And this week Howard Barkin sent 8 puzzles too.  We're now at 15,714 on the litzing thermometer—thanks so much again, everyone!

As I mentioned, we're now in also 1944, which was the year the first widely used sunscreen appeared!  According to Wikipedia, the product was developed by airman (and later pharmacist) Benjamin Green for soldiers and called Red Vet Pet (for red veterinary petrolatum—no wonder the name got shortened!).  Later, Coppertone acquired the patent and sales soared.  Here's a picture of the original Coppertone girl ad:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

This week I'm also delighted to announce the April Litzer of the Month:  Tom Pepper!  Tom has litzed more than 100 puzzles and is a New York Times constructor and avid Boggle player—to read more about him, click on the Litzer of the Month tab above or here.

I'd like to conclude this post with an inspiring story about how the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project has been able to help the community at large.  Last Saturday I received an e-mail from Elizabeth Sharf, whose great aunt Edna Dampman passed away on January 30, 1977, at the age of 98—after, among other things, solving a Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle.  Elizabeth was interested in seeing the January 30, 1977, crossword, because she was writing Edna's life story and preparing it for her mother, who is now 91 and was an avid crossword solver until her eyes failed.  Elizabeth wondered whether there was a Sunday puzzle that day and hoped to be able to solve the longtime mystery of which puzzle her great aunt had been working on.  The January 30, 1977, puzzle just happened to be the brilliant puzzle by Dorothea E. Shipp I posted on Scribd some time ago.  This crossword is unlike anything I've ever seen before in a pre-Shortzian puzzle and certainly must have been an inspiring conclusion to many years of solving the Times Sunday puzzle.  In any case, Elizabeth was very happy to receive the puzzle, and I was pleased to be able to help her commemorate her great aunt, particularly since her first name (Edna) is very crossword-friendly!  Here's a picture of EDNA Ferber, whose name has shown up in many a puzzle:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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