[This article originally posted to http://thewritejob.blogspot.com/2009/09/cross-words-over-crosswords.html on September 30, 2009]I'm a casual crossword-puzzle doer. I work on the LA Times one that my newspaper carries on Sundays, the one in the weekly Onion, and the monthly National Geographic's. I'm not a fanatic over solving entire puzzles. I'm somewhat proud if I complete somewhere between 80% and 100%, but don't fret too much if I'm able to complete only 10 words. High and total completions don't occur often.
In working crossword puzzles, I don't do web lookups, I don't use a thesaurus, and only occasionally look in a dictionary. As another indication of my casual methodology, I use a pen. Oh, sure, I letter in answers that turn out incorrect, then do a somewhat messy job of striking out the wrong stuff. At least I've learned to be a bit conservative and initially skip over words I think I might be wrong about, returning later.
Crossword puzzles seem to have evolved from the ones I used to encounter way back. Or maybe it's because I'm not seeing the types I used to work on. No longer do I see the following kinds of clue helpers:
- Two words
- [foreign language]
Anyway, one puzzle had some clues that I considered irritatingly inadequate; it was an LA Times one (August 30, 2009), themed Organ Transplant. (OK! I'm sure I couldn't create nice-looking, diagonal-axis symmetrical puzzles like those elegant ones I pen in. I'm aware that there are software puzzle creators that make the tasks easier for human creators. I just don't take puzzle solving seriously enough to want to dive in to create any.)
The following list shows the position, the answer, the official clue, and my opinion on a better clue. (Yes, I finally reached the close-in-look part of this blog item!)
- 41A, answer: TATTOO
Clue: Body language
Better clue, IMO: Inked body expression
- 62A, answer: PLUS
Better clue, IMO: +
- 87A, answer: ENDORSE
Better clue, IMO: Recommend
- 31D, answer: TOO
Better clue, IMO: Also
- 37D, answer: ATON
Better clue, IMO: 2000 pounds
- 49D, answer: ANTS
Clue: Farm workers
Better clue, IMO: Picnic "guests"
- 56D, answer: SIDEB
Clue: Cassette half
Better clue, IMO: Single's second-choice song
- 91D, answer: DARTS
Better clue, IMO: Pub target game
- 96D, answer: GLASS
Clue: Calm water metaphor
Better clue, IMO: Window material
- 102D, answer: JIM
Clue: Dandy dude?
Better clue, IMO: Diamond or Slim