Friday, December 20th, 2013
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The Shape Of Clues To Come: The Crossword At 100

Crossword puzzle from April 25, 1965, found by David Prasad.

The crossword puzzle, which turns one hundred years old this Saturday, is a native New Yorker. Contrary to popular belief, it was not born in the virtuous, cosmopolitan New York Times but in the back pages of the now long-defunct yellow-journalism daily The New York World, among the ads for breast-augmentation serums. In 1913, The World was one of scores of city papers grabbing at readers with sensational and morbid hooks, high-contrast photos of men in hats standing over fresh corpses, headlines about the secret lechers and killers of the grim urban anonymous. These were the [...]

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16

Solving The Broken Crossword Puzzle Economy

The crossword puzzle can seem utterly authorless. If you haven't caught the documentary Wordplay, or bothered to look up the name that appears in tiny agate type below the grid in The New York Times, you might join many others in assuming that the crossword is written by editor Will Shortz. Or volunteers. Or a computer.

In fact, crosswords are made by people (called constructors) whose status is roughly equivalent to freelance writers—that is to say, low. Puzzles are sent on spec to editors, who buy them or turn them down, and who fine-tune the ones they accept without, as a nearly universal rule, consulting the constructor. Submissions may sit [...]

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