Who thinks up these clues anyway?

I take the train to work everyday. As one of the “perks” of being a commuter, we get the newspaper from the city I work in (not live in mind you. My hometown paper doesn’t qualify as a paper in my opinion).

As everyone in the world knows, California has budget problems (amongst other things that we won’t discuss right now). This topic has been front and center for months, along with other positive news of the day (week or month) – Iraq, Iran, China, recession woes, health care, etc. The news is just so positive and inspiring, I quit reading the paper…well most of it anyway.

I now skip to the Comic section which also holds the horoscopes, crossword puzzles, and a host of other puzzles (is Suduko a puzzle?). We get two crossword puzzles — one of which is the New York Times (NYT). Both are supposed to start easy on Monday and progress to difficult by Friday. Fine, I can deal with that, I love the challenge and love crossword puzzles. Suduko you can have.

So my three train-mates and I attack this section with glee. What better way to start the day than with laughter and wit? We read our horoscopes (very important when you have 2 Leo’s, 1 Scorpio and 1 Libra riding together daily, all women I might add) and have a good laugh over that. We laugh over the comic’s and then we start in on the crossword puzzles. Most of the time we’re finishing them on the ride home in the evening, on occasion I have finished one in the morning and the NYT’s puzzle on the way home.

Now, about those clues. Over the past year, we have encountered some humdingers, which in the scheme of things seems to have little to do with the direct answer. One stands out (and we still talk about it today) that we had a while back that made me want to wring the writers neck. The clue had two words and included “pageant, ” the word was four letters. Ok, we’re thinking beauty pageant. We’re throwing out words like wave, tiara, you know, things related to a pageant… or so we thought. This word was tied into another word with the clue “mileage stat.” We couldn’t complete the puzzle without these two words.

So after spending a good portion of our ride home trying to decipher these words, we finally got it. Mileage stat: mph (go figure), Pageant *** (get ready for this one): Magi. MAGI? Where in the clue did Christmas show up? MAGI? Are you kidding me?

There have been others that leave us scratching our heads and going “huh,” but that pageant clue really takes the cake. What was the writer thinking — better yet, was he/she hungover, drunk, stoned, pissed off at his/her boss/spouse/significant other, that he/she had to take it out on us poor puzzle solvers?

Seriously, who thinks up these clues anyway? I can only imagine some poor schmuck hunched over the computer, rubbing his hands together with pure glee, putting these things together and saying “Ok, this one is a good one, they’ll never get it. The clue is so obscure it will drive them nuts!” Well, it does and it did. Well done dude(tte). You got us.


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