Best (Crossword) Correction Ever: A Six-Month Anniversary


Last week we marked two fairly auspicious anniversaries in crossword history, celebrating 15 years since the release of Wordplay and 150 years since the birth of crossword inventor Arthur Wynne.

There are loads of crossword-related anniversaries worth celebrating. The birthdays of constructors and influential editors. Anniversaries of events like ACPT, Lollapuzzoola, and others.

Heck, in a few years, we’ll be seeing the centennials for Margaret Farrar’s first book of crosswords for Simon & Schuster AND the invention of the cryptic crossword by Edward Powys Mathers (aka Torquemada), not to mention one hundred years since there was a Broadway musical revue about puzzles!

(Somebody really needs to get to work writing Wordplay: The Musical.)


[Dancing Will Shortz cameo!]

Well, this week, we have a somewhat less momentous anniversary, but still something that brings a smile to my face when I think of it.

But first, a bit of context.

If you’ve read a newspaper for any length of time, you’ve come across the corrections section. Corrections are part of newspaper publishing. No matter how good your content or how thorough your editing and proofreading, some things slip by on occasion.

This is as true for the crossword as it is for any other section of the paper. Back in April of this year, a Tuesday mini crossword puzzle featured incorrect clues for two across entries, and the correction appeared the next day.

Some corrections are better than others, more memorable, more interesting. And today is the six-month anniversary of what I consider to be the best correction, crossword or otherwise, ever in the New York Times.

correction 1

But, hilariously, the story doesn’t end there.


[Image courtesy of]

They then had to issue a correction for the correction, which is just icing on the cake:

correction 2

Then, a sharp-eyed puzzler on Twitter under the handle @CoolKrista pointed out that the correction was STILL wrong. You see, the first Muppet to lobby Congress was Kermit the Frog in the year 2000.


[Image courtesy of, specifically an article titled
“Kermit’s political affiliation,” which is just so great.]

(And yet, the water remains potentially muddied. After all, do you consider Big Bird a Muppet? Because Big Bird went to Congress back in 1989.)

These are the sort of minutiae-filled rabbit holes that the Internet was pretty much designed for. How can you not love it?

You can follow the whole saga on the New York Times Wordplay Twitter account. Please enjoy.

Oh, and Happy Six-Month Anniversary, Best Correction Ever. We salute you.


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5 Questions with Schmovie creator Sara Farber!

Welcome to another edition of PuzzleNation Blog’s interview feature, 5 Questions!

We’re reaching out to puzzle constructors, video game writers and designers, board game creators, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and puzzle enthusiasts from all walks of life, talking to people who make puzzles and people who enjoy them in the hopes of exploring the puzzle community as a whole.

And I’m overjoyed to have Sara Farber as our latest 5 Questions interviewee!

[Sara, alongside husband and partner Bryan
and their product testing toddler.]

Sara is a writer and content creator who has worked on numerous toys, games, and products for children and adults alike. From fill-in-the-blank story templates to interactive CD-roms and games with educational components, she combines fun content with classic puzzle games to make the most of a child’s playtime.

The debut creation of her company Galactic Sneeze is the movie mashup party game Schmovie, which encourages players to conjure up hilarious movie titles that match different cards drawn at random. (A perfect puzzle-theme generator for crossword fans, to be sure!)

Sara was gracious enough to take some time out to talk to us, so without further ado, let’s get to the interview!

5 Questions for Sara Farber

1.) Many of the products you’ve worked on involve a heavy learning aspect as well as gameplay. What’s the secret to making learning fun, especially for a young audience?

Great question. I aim to create content that engages in a meaningful, enjoyable way. I include silly jokes, rhymes, playful songs, and games. I infuse humor into everything I do… not just for the kids, but for the parents as well. If mom and dad have to hear the same counting song over and over again… it better be a good one!

Sometimes toys will have a character say, “learning is fun” or “I love to learn!” I’d rather have kids discover something is fun on their own, rather than convince them via a Jedi mind trick.

2.) You not only masterminded the creation of Schmovie, but you wrote the questions for Hasbro’s Pointing Fingers Game. What about these sorts of free-form party games appeals to you, instead of more formal board games or other formats?

My favorite projects are ones where I help develop the personality/voice of a brand, especially when it involves a comedic spin. Creating a party game is about packaging fun in a strategic way. It involves devising a clever schtick, coming up with a killer name, creating a simple yet engaging play pattern, and in most cases… infusing it with humor.

I enjoyed working on Pointing Fingers because I was asked to come up with hundreds of wacky scenarios. And Schmovie has been a blast since we’ve essentially provided a platform for players to be creative and funny. The game creates new memories and inside jokes for players, and I love reading the hilarious titles submitted on our Facebook page.

3.) You’ve worked with some pretty well-established characters, including Elmo, Dora the Explorer, and Scooby-Doo. Like many puzzle designers, you have to put a new spin on a recognizable brand. What’s your process for working with established properties while still adding your own touch?

There’s more flexibility with some brands than others. The key is to know the character and the “do’s” and “don’ts” of the property inside and out before diving in. I watch a lot of kids’ TV shows, read episode scripts provided by the licensor, and stay current on what toy and game companies are doing. My goal is to bring a fresh approach to classic play patterns. Rather than including a traditionally sweet preschool-sounding song, I might work with a composer to create a jazzy little number or a funny rap.

Some brands, like Penguins of Madagascar or SpongeBob SquarePants, are awesome to write for since the characters lend themselves to so much humor. Others are less about distinctively funny characters and more about the unique situations they find themselves in. If I’m writing a script for a toy or digital game with a more complex play pattern, I spec out the logic first so I know every single condition I need to write for. Then I go back and write all the character dialogue. And then I’ll go back through and kick it up with humor, sounds, and music to bring it to life.

4.) What’s next for Sara Farber?

My time is split between running Galactic Sneeze, the “fun stuff think tank” I founded with my husband, and taking on consulting/freelance projects for larger toy and game companies. I enjoy the mix. We’re currently working hard to spread the word about Schmovie. It launched in September at select retailers, and recently hit the shelves at Barnes & Noble. (W00T!)

We’re currently focused on inventing rather than publishing, which means we come up with concepts and then pitch them to larger toy and game companies. We have a few new games in the works we’re excited about. We also developed a story for an animated feature film that we’ve been looking for the right home for, as well as a kids’ TV show. The cool thing about running a “fun stuff think tank” is that we’re always working on fun stuff.

5.) If you could give the readers, writers, and puzzle fans in the audience one piece of advice, what would it be?

Always bring a game to a party. Never bring a fruitcake.

Many thanks to Sara for her time. You can check out Sara’s latest projects on her website and the Galactic Sneeze website, and be sure to follow her on Twitter (@SaraFarber) for games, humor, and updates on all her endeavors. I can’t wait to see what she (and Galactic Sneeze) come up with next.

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