Archive for June, 1998

zz: Hidden X Term for Puzzlement (7, 9) (Reader Comments and Addenda)

Don Monson notes that the rec.puzzles.crosswords newsgroups is more oriented toward cryptics than toward American-style crosswords; sounds worth checking out. He also mentions an amazing program called Crossword Maestro that solves cryptic clues for you. Here's an example of the program's approach to a clue from this column: Save father unusual present on his day […]

zz: Hidden X Term for Puzzlement (7, 9)

Not all crossword puzzles are created equal. In an American-style crossword puzzle, you're given a definition for each word; you then come up with a word that fits both the definition and the puzzle. In a British-style crossword puzzle, also known as a "cryptic crossword," you're given a clue for each word; each clue consists […]

yy: Minced Spam

Arthur once received a piece of junk email with the subject line "Priceless Information - 200 Unusual Secrets." It was apparently an advertisement for a collection of "secret" methods of doing things; the spam listed the titles of the secrets, but of course not the secret contents. Some of the secrets turned out to be […]

xx: What Has It Got in Its Pocketses?

As any algebraist or fan of The X Files knows, x often symbolizes an unknown quantity. This week's column is full of unknown quantities. In a previous column, I discussed Anglo-Saxon riddles, which used a certain alliterative form and often suggested a risqué answer as well as the mundane one. I neglected to mention, however, […]

ww: Punctuated Equilibrium

Computer folks hate to waste time or syllables. I've heard that commands in the UNIX operating system are so short and cryptic because one of the creators of UNIX hated to type. In the spirit of brevity, short whimsical names have been assigned to many items of punctuation: for instance, rather than saying "exclamation point," […]