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_ L _ _ W _

What other common 6-letter English word, besides ALLOWS, has an L as its second letter and a W as its fifth letter?

Welcome to the second edition of Sunday Puzzle for beginners.

Sunday Puzzle is a regular feature at Daily Kos.  It features puzzles suitable for group puzzle-solving.  The puzzle clues and answers often feature references to historical figures and events, spotlights on noteworthy books, allusions to classic anti-war and civil rights movement songs, and other educational tidbits.

But the puzzles in the Sunday Puzzle series can sometimes be a little intimidating to newcomers.  So now there's also Sunday Puzzle for beginners, to give new people an introductory version of the types of puzzles you'll find in the regular series.

The main feature in the Sunday Puzzle diaries is usually a JulieCrostic, so that will usually be the main feature in these Sunday Puzzle for beginners diaries as well.  Here's one to get you started.

Today's acrostic has 16 clues: four rows with four answers per row.  The grid for today's puzzle, and a complete explanation of how these acrostics work, can be found right below the clues.

1. Communist
2. Phelps
3. Released
4. Mudguard
5. Unhappy
6. Soft drink
7. Prods
8. Experienced sailor
9. Kind of party
10. Amount
11. Mad
12. More pretentious
13. Shaft with blade
14. Swine
15. Aristocrat
16. Lack of signal
The rules for this type of acrostic are simple:  for each row, the answer is of increasing length, such as a five-letter word, a six-letter word and a seven-letter word.  Each next size word is formed by adding a letter to the previous answer and scrambling.

In the box in-between each answer, put the extra letter.  For example, if your answers were HEARD, ARCHED, and CRASHED you'd place a "C" in the box between HEARD and ARCHED and an "S" between ARCHED and CRASHED.

When you've filled in the grid with all the answers and all the added letter, the columns made up of the added letters should spell out a set of related words.   It might be a person's name, such as CHARLES DICKENS (spelled out in two columns).  It might be the title of a book or movie, such as GONEW ITHTH EWIND (spelled out in three columns).  It might be almost anything.  Your challenge is to figure out what the verticals say and what they mean.

Here's what the grid for today's puzzle looks like:

4 by 4 acrostic grid

And here's an illustration of what a completed grid for this type of acrostic might look like:

+ * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + *
+ * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + *

NOTE: for anyone interested, Sunday Puzzle Workshop -- an occasional feature which will demonstrate how to do puzzles -- appears right below the fold.  This week: an explanation of Crypto-Gremlins and a demonstration of how to solve one.

And now: Sunday Puzzle Workshop, an occasional feature which will teach you how to solve some of the other types of Sunday Puzzle puzzles.

Last Sunday two puzzles in the regular diary went unsolved: the Ana-Gremlin  and the Crypto-Gremlin.  I'm going to demonstrate how the Crypto-Gremlin could have been solved.

First, here's an explanation of what Crypto-Gremlins are and how they work:

Crypto-Gremlins are a new kind of cryptogram -- ones which can't be solved by online programs alone.  That's because before encoding a passage, I alter the text so that every word begins with a consonant or consonant sound and that every word ends with a vowel or vowel sound.  If the words don't naturally begin or end that way, I add letters of my choosing to make sure they do.

Take, for instance, the sentence The cats are attending university to learn ballet.  

1. The and to begin with consonants and ends with a vowels, so they're  fine and would be left alone: THE, TO.

2. Cats and learn begin with a consonants, so that's okay, but they also end in consonants, which is not okay; therefore I will add a vowel of my choice (either A, E, I, O, U or Y) to the end of each: CATSE, LEARNO.  

3. Are ends with a vowel, so I don't need to adjust that; but it also begins with a vowel, so that does need adjusting: QARE.

4. Attending begins with a vowel and ends with a consonant, so it needs adjustment at both ends.  I'll change it to something like KATTENDINGE.

5. Ballet looks like it would need adjustment but it doesn't; the word ends with a vowel sound, so it gets left alone.  BALLET.

6. Similarly, university looks like it would need adjusting but it doesn't; the u at the beginning has a consonant sound so it's left alone. UNIVERSITY.

Now the sentence reads The catse qare kattendinge university to learno ballet, and that's what I'll encrypt.

If a word is capitalized in the source material, I capitalize the first letter of its encrypted form.

If a word is hyphenated, I treat each of its parts as a separate word.

I try to keep the word encryption consistent; if I change CAT to CATO once in a quotation, I try to change CAT to CATO every time it appears in that quotation.

I will generally use all 6 of the standard vowels (A, E, I, O, U, and Y) at least once at the end of a word, to make the puzzles easier to solve. So you will generally be able to recognize right from the start which letters in the puzzle are vowels and which are consonants.

The bolded words at the top of each Crypto-Gremlin are the quotation to be deciphered; the unbolded words at the bottom give the source of the quotation.

That's basically it. It may sound complicated, but Crypto-Gremlins are actually fairly easy to solve once you get the hang of them.

PS: I recommend going to the American Cryptogram Association site and using the handy tool you'll find there to aid in trying out letter substitutions.

And now, here's the Crypto-Gremlin which was posted in last Sunday's Sunday Puzzle diary.
“Onsquar qupt preston creator, knish gltpr clt irrsu fugz glr otpgn, eumr fugz glr ernpgh.”

-- Blueubr Styoryn Pgniltbr, fnmn Etyst Alrpgryduresh

And here's a demonstration of how to solve it.

1.  Copy the text and go to the American Cryptogram Association site, where they have a useful tool you can plug the text into which will help you make letter substitutions.

2.  Look at the encrypted text and identify the vowels.   In these puzzles I generally try to include each vowel at the end of at least one word, so this is easy to do.  The vowels for this message are R, T, N, H, U and Z.

3.  Look through the encrypted text to see if there are any 3-letter words.

Yes!  There are two 3-letter words which appear: CLT and GLR.  

3-letter words are less common in Crypto-Gremlins than in regular cryptograms (because many 3-letter words either start with a vowel or end in a consonant, and thus become 4-letter or 5-letter words).  And they are usually natural (i.e. have not been adjusted), because there are very few two-letter words consisting either of two consonants or two vowels.  

A 3-letter word must be either consonant-consonant-vowel or consonant-vowel-vowel.  In this case we can see that both are CCV rather than CVV.  The most common CVV word is THE, so that's what one of these words probably is.

GLR appears twice in the text, CLT only once.  So let's try GLR = THE.

4.  In the encrypted text, two words appear in sequence: GLTPR CLT.  This now appears as TH - - E and  - H -.  The T in CLT could be either an O or a Y -- but since it also appears in GLTPR,  it's much more likely to be an O for WHO.  Try C = W, T= O.

5.  Aha!  GLTPR must be THOSE.  Plug in P = S.

6.  Look at ERNPGH.  The N is a vowel.  The remaining vowels are A, I, U and Y; since the N follows R (which is E), it's most likely to be an A.  Try N = A.

7.  Aha again!  Reading what we have of the sentence, it's likely that GLR OTPGN is 'the most' and GLR ERNPGH is 'the least'.

8.  That leads to the realization that PRESTON = 'seldom'; that leads to CREATOR = 'welcome'; and that leads to KNISH = 'and'.  From there it's easy.  The decoded text reads:

“Madvice viso seldoma welcome, -and- those who needi -it- the mosta, like -it- the least-.”

 -- philipe dormera stanhope, -aka lordo chesterfield-

Cleaned up, that says:
“Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least.”

 -- Philip Dormer Stanhope, aka Lord Chesterfield

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