One of the only paper-copy papers I read with any regularity is Style Weekly, which I enjoy, with two exceptions:  the movie reviewer 1) doesn’t live in Richmond, and 2) hates movies; and the crossword puzzles.

I like  word puzzles and games.  I get by on answers, but I am not a genius.  I’m only good at most things because I am an excellent guesser.  However, I think the crossword puzzle in Style (edited by David Levinson Wilk) is ridiculous.

It functions under a puzzle title that sometimes describes a handful of  clues or an answer.  Sometimes all the answers are puns or have bold circles around them that, in most other puzzles, would be explained as to how they come together.  The same clues themselves are used from week to week, and the repeated answers are usually unfamiliar abbreviations (how do you abbreviate “apple”?  It’s not even a long word), odd portions of uncommon phrases, and just strings of letters (“SSE, “EIEIO”, “STU”).

Not to mention the week’s puzzle that was just a combination of possible menu choices at a Mexican/Chinese restaurant (“Food served at Wong’s and Juan’s”, or whatever).  Oh, and the three-year-old as an exotic dancer clue.  Also the guy who invented the womb chair was a clue/answer two weeks in a row, which is only remarkable because I had never heard of him before and this happened right after we saw his exhibit at the Virginia Center for Architecture (which, by the way, is an amazing building and worth a visit).  That’s not really a criticism of the puzzle, I just thought that was weird.

Out of context I know that discussing a crossword puzzle sounds strange, but even in context it doesn’t make much sense.  My first assumption each week is that every letter is a typo, until I realize that “Would —” is an actual clue.

Maybe this a daring, new way of producing crosswords, or maybe Wilk just hates his job or is just a computer-generated program (my other theory is that he uses a 100-year old thesaurus to come up with answers and has no grasp on the English language).   There need to be rules!

This thing is becoming the new “Family Circus” — just something that I pay attention to get myself riled up and angry.  It’s how I feel alive.  When I first started the puzzles early last year I used to be able to finish them in one night, now I only get about halfway through with the help of Google.  Maybe it’s me.

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