Monday, April 14, 2014

Hozom’s comment 4/10 (extra post)

This week’s installment of Word Salad didn’t get posted until the evening, so I couldn’t include a comment in the puzzle no. 3,321 post.  I’ll update that post and also double-up the material here.

Hozom’s comment: “Sam Who?” in which Hot and Trazom field complaints over general knowledge and cultural literacy (not theirs, but what they expect of their solvers).  They might have cherry-picked some particularly favorable examples in Satchmo and Sam Spade, but I agree that solvers would be poorer off if such references, even to the latest vapid pop stars were ruled out of the puzzles.

Look at it this way: one of the things you hope to get out of solving a cryptic is the intellectual stimulation of seeing words and phrases in new ways: things like clever and fitting anagrams or a funny Spoonerism.  Learning a new fact or two along the way ought to give you the same kind of reward, not to mention a more rounded intellect to engage with the world around you.  

If you're still not convinced, consider that that person or work of art in the cryptic clue you're thinking of carping about might show up in another puzzle somewhere else, so even if those facts have nothing to do with you or your cultural preferences, they'll make you a better solver.

Hot and Trazom are right on target in saying that an unfamiliar definition ought to be matched with straightforward wordplay.  I was going to say the same thing.


  1. We didn't pick Satchmo and Sam Spade. They were the examples given by our correspondent.

  2. I stand corrected. And I definitely disagree with your correspondent. There are lots of pieces of our American cultural heritage that young people ought to be familiar with, and Satchmo(*) and Sam Spade certainly fit in that category.

    *--I was very pleased that Sabers was able to recognize Satchmo's voice when he heard it on the radio tonight.


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