"Sudo-Ku"

2008
Nov
9

Lore Fitzgerald Sjöberg (no relation to Data, JFK or Björk), who I have previously singled out as one of the People on the Internet I’d Like to Be When I Grow Up Except I’m Already Older than Them, has converted his on-line kind-of-a-column for Wired.Com into a kind-of-a-video-podcast. Except, unlike 99.8% of video podcasts, his is professionally made, with pre-written scripts, constantly improving technical values, simple-but-skillful animated illustrations of what he’s talkin’ about, and a healthy dose of attitude. Not as much as the fatal overdoze of attitude of (to make an example) Ben “Yahtzee” Crenshaw’s Zero Punctuation, but the Alt-Text target audience contains 60% less caffeine and 70% less carpal tunnel. Which makes it just fine for me.

Lore’s latest Rant Lite is from his pre-dating-everything-on-the-internet-except-Al-Gore-Porn “Capsule Reviews” series, about Logic Puzzles, and my last minor doubt about the awesomeness of his videos, even when dealing with something as trivial as, well, Logic Puzzles, disappeared completely at 1:59 into the three-minute production, where, instead of loudly expressing his disapproval like every other opinionated ass-hat on the Web, he pauses to give a severely disapproving look. If looks could kill, he’d have the inside track for the lead in “Saw 13: We’re Running Out Of Things To Kill People With”.
Lore Does Not Approve
Whoa. And Woah. When you can get your message and a good chuckle across without saying anything, you have truly mastered the art of video commentary and are ready to get in line at the back door of “60 Minutes” to wait until Andy Rooney keels over.

But I need to address the last part of his video where he deals with the scourge upon the logical landscape that is Sudoku. And while he does correctly define the proliferation of Sudoku books as “Paper Kudzu”, he still “looks kindly” upon it and gives it a B+. Obviously, he has not been afflicted, as I have, with a severe, disabling Sudoku addiction that was harder to beat than the five-star 16-by-16 puzzle in the Sunday Tribune.

Yes, my name is Wendell, and I am a recovering Sudokulic. And I did indeed try to solve the Sunday Tribune 16-by-16 puzzles every week (thinking, how hard can it be, I know hex!) only to be reduced to a drooling wreck who never saw the light of day on Sundays, never completing one successfully even those of supposedly two-star difficulty. I’m not proud of that.

I had to cut off my newspaper subscription entirely to get away from the Sudoku. I was buying Sudoku books, ranging from the 99-cent Dell SUPER SUDOKU publications to 400-page collections authorized by Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, who should have been above this kind of thing himself. I was playing Sudoku on-line… at news media sites, game sites, sites that had no reason to feature a Sudoku game but did… did you know the US Mint had a Flash Sudoku game on its site using nine different coin denominations instead of numbers*?

Yes, I have played the Mutant Sudoku Variations, some even more random than the “Farmer’s Pen” variation that Lore used as an ‘it could be worse’ example in his video:
Lore's Sudoku
Cows, chickens, wolves, cabbages, rutabegas, portable TVs, Trader Joe’s frozen Pad Thai dinners, human cadavers and HOPE. Seriously, that is not the worst possible combination I have seen AND PLAYED.

I practiced every anti-social Sudoku-based behavior featured in the not-very-viral “Sudoku Song” video of 2006, except one.

No, I have never worn a light blue suit four sizes too big.

I thought I would never beat the Sudoku monster, either the unsolvable five-star puzzles or my addiction to them, but then I saw something in, of all places, the xkcd webcomic.
Sudo
I realized that Sudo, the programmer’s term for a command that overrides everything, is part of the word Sudoku. And then I realized that it wasn’t really my fault. I had no control over the Sudoku because it was a Sudo Ku. Once I realized that I carried no responsibility for my Sudoku addiction, it was suddenly easy to beat, as if I had switched over from a Unix-based system to Microsoft Windows. Once I accepted Bill Gates as my Personal Savior… but that’s a story for another time. It’s like a 12-Step Program but you only have to go up to 9. Except on Sunday, when it’s 16.

I’ve been Sudoku-free for over seven months now, except for that incident last week when I was waiting for my car to have its brakes done and there was a newspaper in the waiting room, but I paid my price for that; when the bill for the brakes came, it had all nine digits from 1 to 9 unrepeated.

I did develop a secondary addiction to the xkcd webcomic, but the “Secretary of the Internet” series a couple weeks ago made that easy to kick.

*Removed from the US Mint site after I quit Sudokuing, possibly because I had singlehandedly provided half the traffic to the feature.

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