The “C-Word

James Eric Prichard

Crosswords are a lot of fun to do! Here at good ol’ Larry U, 11 crosswords are delivered to your doorstep every week — two a day Monday through Friday, and one on Sunday. Who would not take advantage of this tremendous opportunity? Not me, that’s for sure!
In the daily crosswords provided by The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune you have two distinct types of puzzles. The New York Times is usually pretty witty and has clever clues, and its themes are occasionally outstanding. The Chicago Tribune crossword is a different style, if “worse” is a style. The clues are not very inventive and the whole puzzle is more straight-forward. This puzzle has neither the intrigue nor mystique of the former. It is not necessarily easier than the Times’, but defeating it does not bring the pride that defeating a puzzle edited by Will Shortz does.
Will Shortz’ name comes with a bit of prestige that is sometimes overhyped by crossword fanboys. He does a terrific job as the editor of the “NYT” crossword, but does not deserve the cult of personality to which some word nerds subscribe, especially because crosswords are not all that difficult to write.
I could probably write really good crosswords if I tried. For one, I know a plethora of interesting words. See? I also know a bunch of big words that would be good for those big word spaces. I would not be daunted by a nine-letter gap because I could use plenty of nine-letter words to fill that hole. A lesser crossword author might use two words to fill up that space, like a five-letter and a four-letter or three three-letter words, but I would not resort to such cheap tactics in my puzzles.
I would also not resort to using words from the crossword canon whenever I come up blank. When filling up a four-space gap that starts with A-V, Will Shorty would probably resort to “Avon,” “avow,” or “aver.” If he was feeling especially special he might put in “Aviv,” the clue for which would be the incredibly creative “Tel ___.” I, on the other hand, would come up with a real humdinger. I might put in “avas,” and the clue would be “Something that a pirate says but minus the ‘t’ at the end.” Or I might use “avee,” which you could get with the clue “What comes after s-t-u?” My unique words would truly make my puzzles rare birds.
I would also not make the mistake of having a lot of stupid cinematic questions in my puzzles. I don’t mind seeing a little bit of pop culture in a crossword as long as it is genuine pop culture, but the name of the director of an obscure foreign film does not count as pop culture. I also don’t mind seeing questions about art because I could stand to be a little more cultured, but I don’t consider movies to be art. If you want to be a real artist you should not work in a medium where your work can be compared to “Daddy Day Care.”
If Eddie Murphy is reading this column, I don’t mean to impugn “Daddy Day Care.” I think that you did a great job and I respect the film because it gave me an idea for a summer business that made me a lot of money last year.
Speaking of money, I did my own taxes for this first time this year. At least, that was the plan, but then my dad did them for me again. It is a good thing that he took over because he saved me a lot of money. It turns out that you can claim your “Animaniacs” DVDs as business expenses if you run a daycare.