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Did you know that the crossword puzzles in the Lansing Star are written by top-notch professionals? The Star is very fortunate to have professional puzzles in our Entertainment section, thanks to Rochester puzzle maker and software developer Sam Bellotto, Jr. Mr. Bellotto wrote the software we use to display the puzzles on our site, as well as writing many of the puzzles we will feature from week to week. Additionally he has lined up some top names from the crossword world to provide puzzles for future issues.

Mr. Bellotto's CROSSDOWN began nearly a dozen years ago as a personal crossword construction program to help Mr. Bellotto develop puzzles. Since then it has grown to become the crossword development software of choice for serious professionals and amateurs alike. A clever feature exports puzzles to a Java "aplet" used to display puzzles on the Web -- this is what we use on our Crosswords page.

Here is the lineup of puzzle writers you will be seeing in the Star:


Adam Pearl has constructed a Lansing Landmarks puzzle for our first issue, and will be contributing puzzles in the future. Mr. Perl has been a resident of Ithaca since 1957 and holds a BA in Music from Cornell University. He founded Pastimes Antiques in 1979 and has operated it continuously in the Dewitt Building in downtown Ithaca.

An avid puzzle constructor, Perl has created over 500 crossword puzzles and has had his puzzles published in The Ithaca Journal, The Ithaca Times, The Bookpress, and the New York Times.

500 crossword puzzles and has had his puzzles published in The Ithaca Journal, The Ithaca Times, The Bookpress, and the New York Times.

Sam Bellotto, Jr.

Sam Bellotto, Jr. graduated from Long Island University, Brooklyn, with a major in journalism in 1972. He spent the next 15 years editing and writing for magazines in New York City. He had always been a crossword solver, but eventually solving became too easy. For a bigger challenge, he tried his hand at constructing.

"My first few efforts were resoundingly rejected by then New York Times Crossword Editor Eugene T. Maleska. But he was extraordinarily kind and helpful. With his patient assistance, I ultimately sold my first crossword to the Times Sunday Supplement. Talk about starting at the top!"

After that Mr. Bellotto appeared regularly in The Times, Simon & Schuster, Dell and all the traditional puzzle markets. In the early '80s, Maleska called him one of crossword-dom's up and coming new stars. In the early '90s Simon & Schuster named him one of the top ten constructors in the country. Random House has placed him in their "elite of puzzledom."

Additionally Mr. Bellotto has rounded up puzzles for the Star by these crossword notables:

John M. Samson is crossword puzzle editor of Simon & Schuster. He is probably the number one crossword constructor on the planet. In addition to his editorial duties, he constructs specialty puzzles for a wide variety of top-name magazines, celebrities, and corporations. He also lives in upstate NY, near Utica.

Gayle Dean is another of the most recognized names in the puzzle biz. She is a real fan favorite. In any poll taken of the most well-loved constructors, Gayle's name is sure to turn up, often. A Florida rseident, she is an avid outdoorswoman.

Raymond Hamel is a regular contributor to all the major crossword markets, Ray is co-founder of the CrosSynergy group, a crossword syndicate, the author of The New York Times Trivia Quiz Book and trivia editor for The New York Times website.

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