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Continued: Minnesota crossword puzzle-makers think inside the box

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 16, 2013 - 10:08 AM

Barany agreed. “It’s probably one of the lowest-paying jobs you could find” on a hourly basis, he said. “It’s strictly a labor of love.”

The odds against getting a puzzle published are stiff, too, with major publications getting 10 times as many submissions as they can use. “There are a lot of smart people out there with a lot of good ideas,” Barany said.

The puzzlemakers need a working knowledge of a vast array of subjects, from clothing to cooking, from classic literature to pop culture.

“I like that they involve both language and trivia,” Barocas said, adding that he was stuck on a puzzle until someone mentioned TV self-help guru Dr. Oz. “I had to look him up because I’d never heard of him.” Barany added: “My Achilles heel is rap singers.”

There’s one other occupational hazard: Trying to get the puzzle you’re working on out of your mind when you should be focusing on something else, Barany said.

“My kids are older now, but when they were young, I’d sit at their baseball games going through words in my head, counting the letters,” he said.


Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392

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