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from ARCHIVES - in category 28. Clueless?

Trying times

In Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style , E.B. White talks briefly about indefinable writing style, exemplified by Thomas Paine’s famous line “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He compares it to other variations on the same line, including “Soulwise, these are trying times.” White notes that “soulwise” might be considered a silly word, though that is not the main reason why the second variation is inferior. A lot of crossword puzzles have their own variations on “soulwise.” It is on…

from ARCHIVES - in category 28. Clueless?

A morass

I think that one of the odd effects of modern technologies is that everybody can develop their own personal sets of ethics on various topics like, for example, file sharing and downloading music. Gamers can choose to look up various spoilers and cheat codes, or not. For crossword puzzle fans, there is the possibility of finding out all kinds of obscure facts and words from the internet. This dilemma is not really new; there have always been dictionaries and atlases abounding with clues. But toda…

from ARCHIVES - in category 28. Clueless?


I don’t usually get around to doing weekend crosswords but I went ahead and did the Saturday one this weekend while I was on a roll. If I recall correctly, the Post used to have a somewhat different puzzle style on Saturdays, but this one is not very different from the weekday editions: I am having trouble rating the difficulty of these: none of them seem too difficult. I guess this is similar to Friday’s, about a 4 out of 10 . It gets some props for not having anything terribly stupid or inappr…

from ARCHIVES - in category 28. Clueless?

Loping and Lopping

Here’s day 2 of this experiment, quick before I run off to bed. Not too hard: I will give it a 4 out of 10 . So I was curious about “lop” (50 across) and I had to look it up, because I grew up talking (occasionally) about “loping shears.” Yet my bedside dictionary is telling me there is such a word as “lopping.” I guess maybe I have heard “lop” a few times, but only as “He’s gonna lop his fingers off,” not in a discussion of gardening tools. The same little dictionary lacks the word “scut” but I…

from ARCHIVES - in category 28. Clueless?

Beam Weapon

Hello. I am experimenting here with a silly idea but I don’t know that anybody else is doing it. I do the Washington Post crossword puzzle pretty often — not like every day, but often. I like crossword puzzles yet they are always, without fail, unsatisfying. They are either too easy, or they have inaccurate clues, or (most often) they have some obscure clue about the square acreage of Nauru that nobody would ever know in a million years. But at their best, they stimulate your mind a bit and they…