But I digress.
One thing that keeps coming up over all these years is that us puzzlemakers bemoan the fact that really isn't any new themes out there. And it's true, to a small degree, that a lot of the most fertile material has been strip-mined bare in the ninety or so years that crossword puzzles have been around. Granted, there have been trailblazers in the field (one good example is Peter Gordon's editorial work for the New York Sun), but typically the schticks are kept to the same basic principles. To wit: phrases beginning (or ending) with words that belong to a set, add/drop a letter, puns, rebuses, the aforementioned quotes -- to name a few.
They all work. But it does often feel like you're spinning your creative wheels.
But isnt it kind of like saying there's only seven stories in Hollywood?
And aren't pretty much all pop songs about love in some form? And don't they all use the same finite number of acceptable chord progressions?
Yet all these rules haven't stopped the barrage of entertainment out there. Everyday, artists are filled with the need to retell the same classic stories in their own voices. Sure, some get all freaky and ape Stan Brakhage or Captain Beefheart. But doesn't even their rule-breaking stuff tell us something about the human condition?
The beauty of playing with the English language is that it's one of most versatile instruments out there. It's become the gigantic melting pot of neologisms and culture. In fact, from a puzzlemaking standpoint, it's almost easier to make puzzles today than it was even ten or fifteen years ago. A parade of new celebrities and slang enter into our vocabulary daily. And well constructed puzzles should do that too.
Before I go, just a quick thanks to Simon Vozick-Levinson over at Entertainment Weekly for dropping the science about this blog.