Thursday, July 18, 2013

On Crosswords (Puzzle No. 3,289)

On Crosswords: Thoughts, Studies, Facts and Snark About a 100-Year-Old Pastime
by T Campbell (köehlerbooks: 175 pp., $14.95)

This book got and deserved some nice blurbs, but I was not quite as impressed.  What struck me most was how obviously the book needed an editor.  There's lots of interesting content, but it reads like a stream of blog posts.  There aren't really chapters, and having that more traditional structure might have helped Campbell organize the content better.

But there are plenty of interesting tidbits in the book, and you can pick it up for a few minutes whenever you feel like it and have a satisfying read.  In fact, something like this is better taken in little nibbles: the better to appreciate the puzzles Campbell writes about.  They're the extremes, the oddities, and the inside jokes.  We also learn about the publishers' side: the proclivities of New York Times editors, the rise and fall of Games magazine, and the somewhat prudish standards of Dell.

Nearly all the book is devoted to straight crosswords, and particularly those of the kind the New York Times would print.  There is room for a comparable history of the cryptic (which may need to be [or already has been] written by a Brit), and even more so for a history and taxonomy of variety crosswords, which I think we’re in a particularly good age for. 

On to this week's The Nation puzzle (the PDF of which was posted late).

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): moderate to hard.  I got the top right first; it got a lot easier once I sussed out the theme.

Themework: see 26a.  As it says, three of the clues don't give you the entire answer.  The purists will be upset, but I liked it.

Hozom's comment: "Capital Gains," in which Hot and Trazom talk about the convention of ensuring that a clue that is capitalized leads to an answer that is capitalized and vice versa.  They also sneak in a mention of how sometimes they'll make you insert a space into a clue word to work out the answer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.