A hundred pennies for my thoughts…

Today’s blog post marks my one-hundredth post for the PuzzleNation blog. With the one-hundredth anniversary of the Crossword a few months away, I’m proud to add my own little PuzzleNation milestone to the long, proud history of puzzles.

One hundred posts. Boy, posting twice a week adds up fast, doesn’t it? Appropriate, since a jiffy is 1/100th of a second. (Sorry, I’ve got number trivia on the brain.)

If this blog was a TV show, this post would’ve marked it for syndication. (A syndication deal would allow a channel to run one rerun of the show every weekday for 20 weeks.)

The 100th episode is always a big one for a show, and since they nearly always happen in the fifth season of a show, they’ve had time to plan something special. Weddings, showdowns, big doin’s. How I Met Your Mother staged a big musical moment, The Office had the Dunder-Mifflin picnic (and Pam’s pregnancy announcement), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Buffy dying (again).

But my one-hundredth post isn’t the only milestone to celebrate. We’re closing in on the blog’s two-hundredth post overall in a few weeks!

While we’ve still got a ways to go before we’re in the same arena as Gunsmoke or The Simpsons (635 and 531 episodes, respectively), 200 is nothing to sneeze at. That’s the average number of seeds in a strawberry, and the average number of lights on a Christmas tree. (Sorry, more number trivia. I can’t help myself.)

I don’t have anything nearly as grandiose as the examples above planned. Instead, I’d like to go the Seinfeld route and look back on some of my favorite posts. Like the 100 tiles in a standard Scrabble set, I’ve chosen carefully. =)

Of course, I have to start with the 5 Questions posts, which have quickly become favorites of mine (especially after getting to chat with Wink Martindale!). Having the opportunity to talk to puzzlers, event organizers, authors, and celebrities about what puzzles mean to them is an incredibly cool experience, and I hope the readers enjoy them as much as I do. (Click here and scroll down to see every installment so far.)

And speaking of puzzles (as I often do), I have to include a pair of clue-centric posts featuring terrifically clever and funny clues (some of which were deemed too tongue-in-cheek for solvers).

This one goes back to last year, but it still makes me laugh. It’s my puzzle resume, detailing all the puzzly experiences that led me to PuzzleNation.

In the same spirit, we have this post about how solving puzzles is actually excellent training for the aspiring James Bond-style spies among us.

And no list of favorite posts would be complete without this lovely bit of puzzle romance.

Last, and certainly not least, I present an introduction to the Diggin’ Words dogs, our friendly anagram-loving pooches.

Thank you, puzzlers, for your enthusiasm and support over these last 100 posts. I’m looking forward to celebrating many similar milestones with you in the future.

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation blog today! You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check out our Classic Word Search iBook (recently featured by Apple in the Made for iBooks category!), play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!

Now can you dig that?

There are a lot of great puzzle games out there, but only a few have characters to go along with the puzzle solving.

Several PuzzleNation games have characters that drive or contribute to the actual solve of the puzzle — Crossword Raiders and Tanglewords among them — but my favorite is easily Diggin’ Words, our timed anagram game, because of the Diggin’ Dogs.

In the game, the dogs dig up seven letters, and it’s up to the solver to assemble as many words as they can (from 3 to 7 letters) from those seven in the time allotted.

It’s up to the Diggin’ Dogs to dig up those letters and cheer you on as you shuffle and noodle over the numerous possibilities.

But other than a friendly demeanor and a penchant for amateur paleontology, what does the average solver know about the Diggin’ Dogs?

Precious little.

So, it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce the seven lovable pooches who make Diggin’ Words possible.

From left to right: Stormy, Barkley, Copernicus, Sam, Veronica, Lorenzo, and Kana.


The elder statesman of the pack (Stormy’s 3 months older than Lorenzo, the next oldest), Stormy assembled this elite team of expert hole-diggers from a wide range of friends, colleagues, and confidantes he’d made over the years. He’s wise beyond his years and proud of his fellow Diggin’ Dogs.


The troublemaker of the group, Barkley is mischievous and playful, always ready with a joke or a squeaky-toy prank to lighten the mood. He also participates in a howling barber shop quartet every Saturday night around midnight behind the farmers’ market.


Alert, attentive, and all around excitable, Copernicus (Nicky for short) is enthusiastic enough for a dozen Diggin’ Dogs. Of course, if letter-inscribed bones rocketed out of the ground in your owner’s backyard, you’d probably be the excitable type too.


You may recognize him from the famous Dogs Playing Poker painting. Sam has since retired from the professional circuit and now spends his time panting expectantly while players try to anagram on the fly under his watchful gaze. He also enjoys barking at passing cars, birds, and sometimes, nothing at all.


Veronica is a former Iditarod champion who stepped down after four consecutive victories. Now enjoying a peaceful lull before her next adventure, Veronica joined the Diggin’ Dogs for some much-needed R & R. Digging up these bones and shuffling the letters around is the perfect way to stay in fighting trim.


With his love of quoting Shakespeare and coloring suggestive of the Phantom of the Opera, Lorenzo is the mysterious one. No one quite knows what breed or mix he is, and he’s happy to keep them guessing.


The sweetheart of the group, Kana is the affectionate one in the pack, with everyone’s best interest at heart. She keeps bowls of water offscreen for any of the dogs that start panting too heavily, and makes sure everyone sits far enough back that the bones won’t hurt anybody. You can also thank her for the lack of visible drool.

Without these adorable pups, Diggin’ Words wouldn’t be nearly as fun to solve. Thanks, guys and gals. There’ll be an extra MilkBone for each of you tonight.

And thanks for reading. As always, keep calm, puzzle on, and I’ll catch you next time.