Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kim Possible

Serena Williams' meltdown during her match against Kim Clijsters at the 2009 U.S. Open generated some flashbacks. Years ago, John McEnroe put a face on "judge abuse," his aggression so frequent that tennis authorities established a code violation protocol as a deterrent. The code worked; tennis has enjoyed a relatively peaceful run since McEnroe's retirement. Serena was fined and has moved on.

In tennis, justice was swift, making the world a kinder and gentler place. Mercifully, it prevented such abuse from spreading to officials in other arenas, namely: judges who preside over traffic courts, pie-eating contests, and crossword puzzle tournaments.

In an earlier post, Joe mentioned Kim Clijsters. That got me thinking: KIM is one of the most versatile words in crosswords. It can be clued in connection with:
  • Tennis player Kim Clijsters
  • Actresses: Basinger, Novak, Delaney 
  • Musicians: L'il Kim, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth 
  • Kim is a 1950 film starring Errol Flynn. 
  • Kim is a novel by Rudyard Kipling 
  • Kim is a song by Eminen (misogynist-ick violent dreck -- not in my puzzles)
So many angles for constructors to trick us! The novel approach still rules . . . . puzzlemakers like the book titles. Did you hear them cheering when Frank McCourt published 'Tis?

Solver's Takeaway:  Keep socking away those short book titles like KIM or 'TIS. Important, as well, are: Toni Morrison's SULA, Vladimir Nabokov's PNIN and Herman Melville's OMOO and TYPEE.

A new KIM has glided onto the solving grid . . . the exquisite Korean figure skater Yu-Na Kim, who won the 2009 Worlds. Look for her at the Vancouver Olympics next month, and in future crosswords. YUNA is pure cruciverbal goodness, the first YUNA in this constructor's word list; she joins a handful of four-letter words beginning with "Y" and ending with "A." And any skater who wins the Worlds is grid-worthy, in my book.

You've seen LUNE clued in fill-in-the-blank style: "Debussy's Clair de ___"  Here's Yu-Na KIM skating to Clair de Lune.

If only Debussy could see this . . .


Nancy S. said...

This is the most gorgeous blog site I ever saw. Too bad your many friends don't know it exists!
I wish you lots of good luck and interesting comments on it. How do you manage time for it?!

Joe Krozel said...

Ha! I love the remark about maintaining civility at PIE-EATING contests... one can only imagine how throwing around insults might lead to other messy behavior! (As a bonus, I get to add an entry to my wordlist with four consecutive vowels! Or is that term too much of a stretch?)

Elizabeth said...

Nancy, thanks! "Manage" is a generous word because I'm usually on the verge of spiraling out of control.

Joe, I didn't notice the vowel run in PIE-EATING. If anyone can put a new spin on a puzzle theme (or invent one), it's you!


Joon said...

liz, i've always loved your puzzles and now i love your blog. just added YUNA and YUNAKIM to my word list; she'd escaped my notice, but seeing any famous korean in the grid makes my day, so i'm happy to see her join se-ri pak, ban ki-moon, and daniel dae kim. and although YUNA could already have been clued as {Final Fantasy X heroine}, i'm guessing the champion skater will be more appealing to mainstream solvers (and editors!).

Elizabeth said...

Joon, wow, what a great collection of names! I especially like Ban Ki-Moon. I'm rooting for Yu-Na for Olympic gold; her artistry is breathtaking. Welcome, and thank you for your kind words. There's always a teachable moment in your puzzles -- I like the depth you bring to the craft!