(post updated at 9:45 a.m. Monday)
Happy Presidents/President's/Presidents' Day! If you have the day off, I hope you find something fun to do—whether it involves a day of action, hitting up the sale at Guitar Center, or sleeping late.
Monday's NYT crossword is by Andrea C. Michaels. The theme is Run, Lola, Run, or three-word phrases in which the first and last words are the same. Can you think of other candidates for this theme besides the three that were used (BOND, JAMES BOND; HOME SWEET HOME; TIME AFTER TIME)? Timely to have a Britney Spears clue (I'M A as part of a song title) so soon after she was in the headlines. Okay, so she's seldom been out of the entertainment headlines for the past year. But now it's because she shaved her head! (Being bald makes her nose look bigger, doesn't it?) Perfect Monday puzzle here, with tons of easy and crap-free 3-letter entries. Okay, maybe beginning solvers don't instantly associate Swedish air travel with SAS, but they've gotta learn it soon enough if they want to get better at solving crosswords.
Randall Hartman's LA Times puzzle marks Presidents Day with actors who played fictional presidents in the movies. Fun Monday puzzle.
Rich Norris's CrosSynergy puzzle startled me by including the word GOOK, clued as [Icky stuff]. I don't care if it's in the dictionary with that meaning (as a variant of guck). Its more prominent meaning (definition 1, in fact) is as a racial slur used against Asians and Asian-Americans. Here's a historical look at the word. And no, it hasn't lost its punch. It's alive and well, as this link from just last week shows.
The way I see it, if SCUMBAG and SCHMUCK have no place in the NYT crossword because of their used-condom and Yiddish-penis roots, a hateful word like GOOK—offensive not because it pertains to sex, but because it is used against a group of people—certainly should be off-limits. If you're a constructor and GOOK bails you out of a tough corner, I ask you to keep working on the fill. If you're an editor, if you can't find a way to rework the fill to eliminate that word, don't publish the puzzle. You'd reject anything with the N-word, wouldn't you?
February 18, 2007