August 20, 2009
When I was a kid, my Pop would come home every evening, hang up his suit jacket, put on his sweater, and pick up the evening paper. He read the paper and then settled in to do the crossword puzzle. He always finished them, too.
I started doing crossword puzzles in college and kept it up while I was on the road. I once even completed a Sunday New York Times puzzle; that was a day for a celebration! Then I kind of let them slide and pretty soon quit altogether.
Well, a few weeks ago I was looking at the Sunday Washington Post puzzle, just kinda idly reading the clues, and I just sorta picked up a pen and started filling in words.
I didn't complete that one, but the next morning I looked at the weekday puzzle. And that one, I did complete.
Thus was born -- or reborn -- a crossword puzzler.
Now I can't get enough. I do the daily puzzle every morning. On the way into work, I pick up the Post Express paper and do that puzzle at lunchtime. On Monday, I fire up a classic New York Times puzzle online. On Thursdays, I pick up the City Paper and do that puzzle. (It's a tricky one, too! I usually have to resort to Google for at least one answer. I am not proud of this, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.) Every evening I do a puzzle or two on BestCrosswords.com. I only do the American (as opposed to British) style with straight (as opposed to cryptic) clues, because I am a wuss and easily frustrated. Online puzzles are okay, but there really is nothing quite like folding a newspaper just so and and filling in the squares.
Sunday afternoons, of course, are reserved for the Sunday Washington Post puzzle. It takes me a couple of hours, but I can usually finish it. (I confess to a few Googles on that one, too.)
So, imagine my delight when, as I spun through the channels last night, I found the PBS show Independent Lens, which was playing the documentary Wordplay. It's all about crossword puzzlers! It featured Will Shortz, the puzzlemaster of the New York Times, and the crossword competition he sponsors. But it also featured several well-know puzzlers, including Bill Clinton and Jon Stewart.
It was a really good and fun documentary, but it also convinced me that competition is not for me. These folks are timed; scoring is based on both speed and accuracy. I prefer a more leisurely approach.
And, of course, a pen.
Yes, a pen.