(Quick sidebar: I have a perverse fascination with "Chinese Democracy," in fact, it was my favorite record of last year. I know it's a Guns N' Roses album by name only, but still, it's boss in my book. Okay, back to the spiel.)
There's still one hurdle we crossword constructors are facing: Our fame is strict anonymity, especially underneath the Shortz juggernaut. Duff says: "I experience many triumphs and failures against the legendary puzzle master Will Shortz and his wicked crossword makers." Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be considered "wicked." Especially in Boston where "wicked" is an adverb. "Wicked pissah," for example. It's just high time some of us superstar constructors share some of that spotlight.
Now I understand that Will's the face of the whole puzzle world. After all, he's earned it. He's done more for this field then, well, just about anybody. I mean, name one aspect of puzzledom and it's a pretty much sure thing Will's going to be part of it: The Times crossword, the NPR Sunday puzzle, the National Puzzlers League, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, The World Sudoku Championship, The World Puzzle Championship. His face, or at least name, is plastered all over almost but not quite half the books in your local puzzle section in your bookstore. Then there was that "Wordplay" movie a couple years back, and a cameo on "The Simpsons" too.
And that's just the public end of the what this guy's done for puzzles. Seriously, go into his basement and you'll see it looks like the last scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Only it's not a warehouse of government secrets, it's pretty much every single piece of puzzle-related ephemera you could imagine, and thousands of pieces you couldn't dream of. To be not only the face, but also the editor and the historian of puzzles is an awe inspiring achievement.
The fact that anybody remembers a name when it comes to anything puzzle-related is northing short of amazing. It's almost like a Pavlovian dog thing. If "puzzle," then "Shortz." To the casual observer, it's like one guy's running the whole show. Case in point: way back in the dark ages when I started telling people I began selling puzzles to the Times, a couple friends responded, "doesn't one guy just make 'em all?"
Which is all well and good (like I've always said, the fact that we're talking about puzzles in the first place is a great thing). However, there are more than enough personalities in this biz to go around. Hopefully blogs like these (and the ones under PUZZLE FOLKS to your right) will turn out to be the great equalizer.
Quick note on the puzzle: I was struggling to come up with a quality blurb to really drive the gimmick home, until I remembered of the line in the classic (and crosswordese) Nas jam "The World is Yours". And yeah, I know that one of those guys wasn't a president. Hope you enjoy it. New one on Friday.