Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Missed Trend

While running an errand in the mall, I passed a bookstore and noticed a display of books about sudoku. According to the starbursts on the book covers and at the top of the rack, this is the “hot new puzzle craze.” The books are filled with grids, with a few numbers in some of the spaces. To solve each puzzle, you’re supposed to fill in the blanks with the digits 1 through 9 in such a way that each digit appears in each column, row, and 3x3 box only once. Uhuh.

Sudoku is Japanese for "number place," described as “…a fever that is now spreading to the United States, as readers of the New York Post and Los Angeles Times can readily attest.” Apparently, it started in Japan in ’86, and went global within the past year or so. You need numbers, but no math is involved, which is a huge relief for me, known far and wide as math-impaired. (I’ve spent years perfecting this clever bit of misdirection: once someone knows that you can do statistics or budgets – well, they want you to do statistics and budgets. There are lots more fun things to do.)

Same with sudoku. Puzzles in general are not my cup of tea. I’d rather read a biography about the inventor of the pencil or listen to Wagner.

Still, I feel bad enough when I can’t identify more than 30% of the people whose pictures fill People magazine. Now it’s worse. I’ve missed another major trend.

Popular culture is a fairly important part of my work as a freelance ad-guy. So I’m going to start dropping it into conversations with clients. “What about we try something with sudoku?” I’ll mutter.

“How do we get the prospect to try your hydrogen blistering inhibitors? Why, sudoku of course!” If I march the idea by enough clients, someone’s bound to go for it. It’s just a matter of numbers.

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