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LAT Mon. 3/26 Ki Lee


Possible Title: Easy As 3-4-5-6

Good Ones:
Spirited meeting?   SEANCE
Theme: phrases beginning with numbers described here as elegant
One is business who is no stranger to the elegant {theme}   EXEC

By the Way:
“The Simpsons” storekeeper   APU [I don’t know anything about this show, or Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings, or "X-Men," or "Dungeons and Dragons" which together appear in the LAT more often than references to Shakespeare, Milton, Pope and Keats with which I have at least a nodding acquaintance. Too bad for me.  Not sure what to make of this.  I guess pop culture has supplanted, in Xwords at least, what in my generation was considered “culture” --- “Words. Words. Words.”

RATING:  ;D Three grins = Loved it; Two grins = Enjoyed it; One grin = A bit bland for my taste; One teardrop = Not much fun

Regarding culture v. pop-culture...

I try to keep in mind that a crossword appears in a newspaper, and therefore, what appears in the crossword should reflect what is in the newspaper.  Topical references are especially valuable.  Most papers that publish crosswords also have a sports section, and an arts/entertainment section (including TV listings!), comic strips, and, of course, the news of the day.  That APU or JLO appear more in crosswords than SARTRE or RODIN makes sense in that it reflects the relative mentions of these things in other parts of the paper.

But of course there are also plenty of references to the historical (TSAR), the literary (ODE), and the artistic (ARP). 

Ideally (to my mind) it has both - and lots of variety.


If I get your point, the controlling factor in entries for a Xword that appears in a newspaper is what that newspaper most often prints.  This would explain why APU appears more than RODIN.
Newspapers are more likely to refer to pop culture than is, say, Smithsonian. 

However, newspapers have always run Xwords, but the puzzles did not stress pop culture over traditional culture; they stressed tradition.  I am noting a cultural change in newspaper Xwords.

Like you, I enjoy the diverse sources that comprise today's Xwords, which are less "academic," more fun, and perhaps more challenging for people like me. 

Yet I do feel that we may be losing our most ennobling culture in favor of the more fleeting.  I'd rather Tiny Tim refer to the Dickens character rather than to a ridiculous ukelele player because the former conjures a wonderful reading experience I had as a boy.  That latter was an embarrassment. 

But I'm an old teacher, and we pedants tend to mourn the loss of our youth.


Good points, Anthony.  I think probably APU is low on a constructors list of words to use, but you raise a good point about cluing (i.e., Tiny Tim).  For example, ADO could be clued as "kerfuffle" or it could be clued as "Word in a Shakespeare title".  My guess is you get the latter more often later in the week than earlier, which shows that most solvers do find the academic references more difficult.


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