Friday, January 14, 2011

Time for you to leave

How soon the Nation's Newspaper of Record forgets:

The crossword puzzle on Tuesday provided an erroneous clue for 51-Across, seeking the answer “Grasshopper.” The clue should have read, “Term of endearment used by Master Po for young Kwai Chang Caine in TV’s ‘Kung Fu’ ” — not “Term of endearment for the Karate Kid.”

One of the reasons "should have" is bad form for corrections is that we're left unsure what and how much it's supposed to cover. Does "should have" mean that's what was submitted, with the error having been inserted somewhere in-house? Or did Master Po in radio's "Kung Fu" refer to young Caine as "Capybara," thus requiring the distinctions? Or is there some other reason the correction couldn't have simply said "Term of endearment for young Kwai Chang Caine"?



Blogger John Cowan said...

I think you are off the mark on this one. This is not a factual correction, but a verbal one, of the form "strike out these words and insert others". Whether the problem arose in-house, or the composer found it afterwards, is immaterial, but I'd guess the latter.

A clue in an American-style crossword is meant to have a certain level of difficulty, and the more details given, the lower the level. After all, it could simply have said "Kwai's nickname" or something of the sort, which presumably would have been out of line with the difficulty of the rest of the clues. (Gotta love those clues that say "Afghan city".)

10:20 AM, January 14, 2011  
Blogger fev said...

I'm going to have to stick for my general disdain for "should have" corrections.

What's being corrected is (pretty much without doubt) composer's error: whoever put the puzzle together thought "Karate Kid," not "Kung Fu." Fine. That's what the correction needs to fix -- the clue "should have" invoked the TV show, not the movie. When you start throwing in what Master Po said to whom, you're playing facticity -- in this case, trying to make up for (or mask) a trivia blunder by piling on more elements of trivia.

My view of corrections is that you should admit you screwed up and have done with it. You can't make the initial blunder any better by showing how much "Kung Fu" trivia you _do_ know.

12:20 AM, January 16, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see blunders in the Sunday Boston Globe crossword fairly regularly, but I've never heard of them being corrected before. (Of course, I have no reason to look at the weekday papers, never mind the corrections, but I've honestly never heard of this sort of correction before.)

1:40 AM, January 16, 2011  

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