February 13, 2006


Kevan Choset's timely NYT puzzle offers a BOX OF CHOCOLATES for Valentine's Day (I'll take mine dark, please), plus a little hint of the Winter Games (SLALOMS). Plenty of nice fill, like DRIBBLES, IN COLOR, and I GOT IT.

The Sun is also celebrating Valentine's Day, with Gary Steinmehl's XOXOX hugs-and-kisses half-rebus. In the theme entries, an O replaces [HUG] and an X replaces [KISS], but the O's and X's are merely themselves in the crossing entries. But I want to know who to blame for the harsh MOO clue, "slaughterhouse sound." Could we keep the cows alive in the crosswords, please? So that they can moo in a lea somewhere? Go ahead and clue STD as "Gonorrhea, e.g.," Peter, but please, go easy on our bovine friends.

Monday's Sun puzzle, Robert E. Lee Morris's "Let Us Prey" has a reasonably good birds-of-prey theme, but what I liked best about it was YAHTZEE! (Sorry, but that word must be said in an exclamatory fashion.) YAHTZEE and COBBLER both appear to be new entries, and they're accompanied by five 8-letter entries each composed of two 4-letter words (e.g., DRUM SOLO).


Theme, schmeme: That's basically the theme in Ben Tausig's latest Ink Well puzzle, "Discounts." It's also a pangram, with multiple instances of Q, X, and Z (and one of the Q's is U-free, at the crossing of QWERTY and QBS). There are a couple hip hop entries, JAY Z and HEY YA—which brings to mind the griping in the NYT forum over the weekend, after SNOOP DOGG was in David Quarfoot's Saturday puzzle.

The whole "I don't listen to rap"/"Snoop Dogg's lyrics are misogynist" line of criticism smacks of borderline racism to me, coming from a population that is so disproportionately white (probably about 95% of Stamford entrants last year were white). As others have said, there's no moral standard for crossword fill—nobody complains when Idi Amin shows up in a puzzle. But to single out rap is disingenuous. Crossword fill/clues regular Sean Connery hits women; as mentioned here, country and rock videos also rely on misogynist images (and I'm sure you can think of misogynist lyrics in many rock or country songs). You don't have to listen to hip hop (and I rarely do), but you do have to grasp that it's a dominant force in the music business and in society; it's simply not a fad that's going away any time soon. Hip hop will be in the newspapers (in the past year, Eminem and 50 Cent have been mentioned more often in the NYT than Vivaldi has), and it will be in crosswords, as Will Shortz pointed out. Just learn the names and how to spell them, and you'll be fine.

Tues NYS 4:19
Tausig 3:50
NYT 3:17
Mon NYS 3:05
CS 2:59
LAT 2:54
Newsday 2:48 (on paper)