The Rackenwhat?

Reposting our first puzzle in time for the Oscars, and divulging some secret history for our anniversary.

We're 12 days early for our actual one-year anniversary, but we launched with an Oscars puzzle, and so with that ceremony slightly earlier this year, we wanted to take this opportunity both to share that puzzle again — downloads in the link, or ...

— and also to explain why you call us what you call us.

dadgumituh met jmsr525 in 1992 (just over 30 years ago) in high school, where they were introduced by stalwart test solver John Sams. The three of us bonded over our shared interest in movies and making movies together (which mostly consisted of writing down some ideas and then never actually getting them off the ground), and occasionally dabbling in puzzle video games, the most important being 3 in Three, Myst and Lode Runner.

We also took many classes together, including, during our senior year, Communication Arts, which was our school's rehearsal course for the one-act play festival. We were all cast in Winning Season, Ev Miller's take on a small-town high school where three stars from the headed-to-State basketball team are caught drinking and suspended. Sams was the star, with jmsr as the exposition-laden superintendent and dadgum as the father of one of the students accused. dadgum especially relished the opportunity to act "shocked" and play to the back of the room, leading to a moment when our high school theater coach said: "Try not to be articulate during the reaction scenes. Sean, I distinctly heard you say rackin' frackin' that time."

Shortly thereafter, we were working up the idea for a two-hander movie about the usual funny guy-not funny guy comedy film. jmsr had wanted Wesson and Smith as the title because he thought the usual inversion of duo's names would be enough, but as he always does, dadgum kept pitching (you should see our clue drafts), and the only name jmsr liked better was "James Racken and Peter Fracken are Racken and Fracken." We never actually wrote the movie.

Fast-forward 25 years, and we are spamming alts for the name of this blog when dadgum points out that what we really want to evoke is something like The Puzzler (the erstwhile name of the Cox and Rathvon variety cryptics in The Atlantic). Maybe The Teaser, The Poser, The Punchliner … when jmsr says "James Racken and Peter Fracken present Racken/Fracken puzzles" and dadgum immediately replies with "The Rackenfracker." And we ran it past the people we loved and they approved. One said "you'd own the word" for SEO and Sams gave it the big thumbs up.

(dadgum's high school ad lib was of course inspired by Yosemite Sam, to whom we tipped our ten-gallon hat by making our site background the color of his mustache.)

In the interest of posterity (or to be a pain in the posterior), we wanted to provide you, our audience, with a bunch of the alts. Feel free to use these if you need them — jmsr named his college TV show after an alt title from Monty Python — but most of them are terrible, and some are rated R. That said, a new constructor on the scene independently generated one of those titles and has started his own cryptic blog with it, so ... who knows?

Cryptics Currently
What's In the Box
Blank Space Cryptics
Off the Grid
Black Box
The Parse Side
Parsley Populated
Indicator? I Hardly Know Ator
Have Your Fill
Fill Harmonic
Bars and Blocks Forever
The Slash
Enumerable Benefits
Grid Bless America
Fill of Rights
Anagram in Decatur
Cross Purposes
Spell Checking
Unchecked Ambitions
Red, White & Blues Clues
The All-Fun Parsings Project
Hellbent for Letters
a-ha Moments
Unboxing Day
Clues Encounters (Of the Word Kind)
Letter Enlace
The Parsin' Daily
Clue Gulag
The Cluesterfuck
The Query-Poppin' Daddies
The Spinquisition
Riddled with Holes
Your Riddlin' Prescription
The Pickler
You Gotta Be Griddin' Me
The Monkeyfighter
The Rapscallion
The Jukeboxer
The Foothold
The Square Dealer
Surface Tension
Perfectly Cromulent Puzzles
The Double Crosser  

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