The Los Angeles Times online crossword is easier than the New York Times’. It also has a faultless interface that never falters, making speed part of the experience and leading to my daily back-and-forth e-mail with Eric Zorn; if you can beat 7:23, you can beat me today. (Late-breaking reply from Eric: You’ll have to squeak in under 6:38 to beat him.) I’ll give you a 20-second head start if you’ve never done the LAT puzzle; puzzles have their own underlying logic and favorite wores, and it takes a few run-throughs to get the hang of a new editor. I frequently think that Uma Thurman will live forever, along with Nick and Nora’s dog Asta, for having a short first name that’s mostly vowels: 42 across: She killed Bill.
The NYT crossword is more difficult and has a suckworthy online interface. I figure if paying the outrageous monthly home-delivery price for the Times (59 tax-deductible dollars per, but still) qualifies me for anything, it should be a crossword experience to match that of its Tribune Media services competitor, but no — I had to download a craptastic Java applet, which was slow and stupid and didn’t work well. I tried the iPhone app for $1.99, but it’s also clunky, features only a few puzzles free and has the worst background music imaginable, yes, worse than Scrabble.
Also, maybe someone could enlighten me: We all know Will Shortz is editor of the NYT crossword, but what’s involved with “editing” a crossword puzzle? It either works or it doesn’t, right? Is he the one who tells the originator, “I think what you need here is an Uma Thurman clue,” or do people who sprinkle their puzzles with Uma, Asta and Oona just know he’s the one to sell them to?
Bonus fun fact for Hoosiers: Shortz is an IU grad. Degree is in “enigmatology,” the only known possessor of such a sheepskin, in a course of study he designed himself. Fun fact for all, via Wiki:
He says that his favorite crossword of all time is the Election Day crossword of November 5, 1996, designed by Jeremiah Farrell. It had two correct solutions with the same set of clues, one saying that the “Lead story in tomorrow’s newspaper (!)” would be “BOB DOLE ELECTED”, and the other correct solution saying “CLINTON ELECTED”.
I’ve had my problems with computer games in the past, but with the LAT crossword, I think they’re solved. It has a beginning, a middle, an end, and a crowing or cowering e-mail to mop up, and then I’m done. All my bad habits are now on the iPhone, encapsulated in one game (Wurdle, an electronic form of Boggle), and lo, it appears I am not alone. Fortunately, I can leave my phone on another floor and get some work done.
Which I should go and do now. I was out and about all day yesterday and short on the bloggage, but you shouldn’t have to do bloggage on the day Sarah Palin appears on Oprah. Sounds like she did her usual. Let’s all say it together: Poor, poor bunny rabbit. Everyone is so mean to you! You thought Katie Couric would be just another mom, talkin’ teenagers and the gray hairs they give ya. But no.
You should have plenty to bat around today. Thanks for that sweet potato recipe, Mary — I think I’m going to be making that one this year. The week should ease up considerably by tomorrow. I’ll have more of my head in this game then.