I added a new blog link to Pat Tricks because I particularly liked his article called Puzzling Thoughts about crossword clues. A previous post on this blog talked about how what I call Precision Clues are the mark of excellence for a crossword editor and provide a more satisfying experience for me, the solver.
It's fascinating to see the rules clearly and economically laid out but now that I've read them I wonder if I did myself a disfavor. (And maybe you too if you followed the link!) My Sunday Puzzle post talked about how part of the fun of puzzling was figuring out the rules and by reading that list I might have bypassed an aha moment or two.
There are different schools of thought about when you can know too much. Some people sincerely believe that enjoying music means letting the sounds wash over you and swimming in the emotional reaction they evoke without any kind of analysis. If you have a trained ear and focus instead on the harmonic structure or the technique involved you miss out on the intended visceral response.
I tend to think the more you know the more you appreciate. Here's an analogy I like. Anyone can enjoy a baseball game without knowing the rules. There is obvious athleticism, guys in matching outfits throw the ball far and hit it hard with a stick. the hotdog vendors entertain as they walk up and down the stairs. And yet it would be hard to argue that understanding that the home team down by one with two out and a runner in scoring position at the bottom of the ninth has a special drama related to the rules of the game that would be missed by the rule eschewer. (Webster's Revised Unabridged allows that word, by the way.)
Here's a counter argument. When I learned orchestral conducting, part of the training was understanding the complex physical vocabulary conductors employ. Specific movements convey specific intent. The fascinating thing is that while the whole point of those movements is to transmit information to the players who actually make the sounds, they often don't know that vocabulary and they don't need to! From their perspective, there's some goofball with a white stick standing on the podium getting far more than his fair share of the credit. Somehow, though, magic happens. Eye contact is made. An arm swoops in a particular way on the upbeat. An in breath occurs without thinking. And suddenly the oboe starts making beautiful sounds.
It's ok, I haven't corrupted you. If you read this blog you probably already know all the rules. If you construct puzzles you have added a dozen of your own.