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VOL. 35 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 20, 2011

New class of constructors published

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Two weeks ago I wrote about LifeQuest. (Thanks, by the way, for all the nice feedback on that column.)

In that column I noted that I was teaching a class. ‘Tis a Puzzlement. That was the title of the class.

“ ‘Tis a puzzlement” is a repeating line in “The King and I.” Each week I started my class with a Power Point slide with this phrase, separated into two parts, in a crossword grid.

One week someone who was not a member of the class came in and stared at the slide for a few minutes and then asked, “Who is Tisa?,” pronouncing the final word as though is rhymed with Lisa.

Anyhow, in class five of eight, I asked the class to take a list of one-word movie titles, combine two titles to come up with the title for a film that could have been made and give the resultant product a crossword clue.

After they had done this, we listed their answers, discussed the project and came to a consensus on three 15-letter answers.

I then opened my crossword constructing software and made a grid around the three answers selected.

We then – I, with their input -- filled the grid with good, lively vocabulary. Each member of the class was then assigned three answers for which to write clues.

I did a smidgen of editing to the end result, which appears as this week’s I Swear Crossword elsewhere in this periodical.

In the space that is left, let me say how proud I am of this curious, energetic group of people.

I was, in fact, so impressed with their theme selections, and with the final finished puzzle fill, that I wrote an email to my friend Will Shortz, puzzle editor of the New York Times, offering him the puzzle.

He replied:

“Thanks for the puzzle suggestion. The ‘movie mergers’ idea, I think, is a little too familiar, so I’d better say no. But I appreciate the offer.

“I like the idea of your eight-week puzzle class and what you’re doing with it. It sounds terrific. /s/ Will.”

Shucks!

What a coup it would have been for the LifeQuest puzzle class to wind up with its group-effort puzzle being accepted for publication in the New York Times!

Oh, well …

For the record, here are some of the theme answers that did not make it into the puzzle:

• Defecting Minnesota baseballers? UNFAITHFUL TWINS

• Cessna that’s too big to fly? TITANIC AIRPLANE

• Jumbo-sized voltage regulators? BIG TRANSFORMERS

• Wail of one who’s overdosed with Final Net? HAIRSPRAY SCREAM

• Realizations occurring in North Dakota’s largest city? FARGO AWAKENINGS.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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