Sunday, January 8, 2017

Word Search Reduction

Each word, one at a time. Anchovies. Basil. Chorizo. Mozzarella. Sausage.

These are some of the words thought of by this particular, nameless word search creator, for this puzzle titled "Pizza Toppings", in a little, squat, thick black book of 300 word search puzzles, bought at the developing ruins of the only closing Kmart thus far in Nevada, here in Henderson, across from the shopping center where we bring our dogs to be groomed, as we did this morning, and then went to Kmart while they were being groomed.

Just like boiling pork bones for broth for tonkotsu ramen, word search puzzles reduce a wide range of topics to their essence through single words that describe them. In a puzzle about classical music, it's "alto," "canon," "cadenza," "chorus," "clarinet," "rubato," "scale," "score," and so on. Of course, these words have been chosen for this word search puzzle, but a number of factors could factor into it. For example, a puzzle about dance mentions the bunny hop, the butterfly, the can-can, the jitterbug, the jive, and the pas de deux, among others. It could be that the puzzle creator came up with these words ahead of time, and either through quick research, or a love of dance, came up with these words. We never know who word puzzle creators are, or what their interests are, not like New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz, or the writers for Jeopardy!, whose biographies are on the official website and interviews with a few of them can always be found online. You get a sense of who Will Shortz is and what his interests run to. Same with the Jeopardy! writers.

I don't know if one person came up with all the puzzles for this book, titled "Amazing Wordsearch." I don't know where their loyalties lie in this topic. I don't know if in the drinks puzzle, they love egg nog or they love claret, or they love both equally. I do know that a word search puzzle isn't just about searching for the words. The puzzle about birds of California, apropos for me now, lists the smew, the merlin, the chukar, the dunlin, the gadwell. Obviously they're birds, but what kind of birds are they? Such spellings as smew would make me curious enough to find out exactly what they are, while being amused at such unique spellings.

There's even a puzzle about governors of Florida, my home state. There's Jeb Bush, and Charlie Crist, and Lawton Chiles, who was known as Walkin' Lawton for the walk-throughout-the-state campaigns that he undertook. I look at the names, and the few I recognize, where was I in Florida and who was I when they were in office? These puzzles, read slowly enough for names and places and activities and types of music trigger memories, too. It makes a word puzzle even more interesting, beyond wondering who's behind all of it. Whoever it is, or if it was a small staff, they know how to choose interesting topics 300 times over, and actually have the words relate to the topic, instead of how other word puzzle books include words that don't even relate to the topic.

This is also the sturdiest word search puzzle book I've come across. The covers are made of thicker paper and the pages are slightly thicker than your average word puzzle book as well. This is not the kind of word puzzle book to simply start and roll with all the way through. This is a word puzzle book for a road trip, even one or two or more coming up in the next few months to Ventura, California to see about jobs and where to live.

The last trip we took from Nevada to California, we stopped at the Grewal Travel Center rest stop in Baker, and I bought two Big Hero 6 word search puzzle books, one of which I finished about an hour and a half before we got to the Mission Valley Resort near-hovel in San Diego. Then, when we were in Ventura, I bought a hidden-word word puzzle book at a Walgreens there.

This time, I have this one. This is all I need for word search puzzles on the next trip and perhaps the ones after that, because I don't think I'll get all 300 done. I always have books with me too, after all. But it'll also be perfect for the room at La Quinta Inn, when the TV's on and there's nothing on TV, although that may not be entirely true, now that I rediscovered the Los Angeles PBS station on the last trip, and how vastly better that is than the Las Vegas PBS station I've had for four years. If a PBS station is reflective of its area, then Las Vegas sucks by that alone! Not to say that L.A. is ever-phenomenal, what with the freeway traffic and the vapid part of the population, but it's still more interesting.

For sure, I can go back to that rack at the Grewal Travel Center, look at the puzzle books they have, and then leave them alone. I have this now. I have wordy creativity. And nothing repeats.