Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Monday, June 2, 2008

Week 22, NYT Crosswords Day 1: Monday

This is a week of wordsmithery and braincrunching. I've always sort of had an affinity for crosswords but yet I've also never been all that great at them. I am a wizard at Scrabble, perhaps because it's more math and puzzle-y, but I think the linguistic conventions, shorthands and secrets of crosswords have always befuddled me enough to put them down without finishing.

For sure at least I can say that, prior to tonight, I had never before finished an NYTimes crossword puzzle. Now of course anyone who knows about the NYT crosswords knows that they begin with an easy one on Monday and get progressively more difficult as the week goes on. As far as me never before completing on goes, a funny thought occurred to me tonight that the vast majority of NYT crosswords I've ever tried to do have been on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the three hardest days of the week (significantly more so than Monday), as the time when I'm most apt to pick one up is when beginning a trip somewhere.

Anyway, I set out today with the goal that I would do it and try not to get help if possible, to "get over the hump". Here was the puzzle:

Monday Puzzle, 2 June 2008

Begun: 9:28

Finished: 11:02

And voila, done! It took about 90 minutes, but sure enough, I did it, and all on my own except the last few clues in the upper-right hand corner:
10 Across - Evil Organization in "Get Smart" (Kaos, should have gotten that one)
12 Down - City near Provo (Orem... umm...)
13 Down - "Oh yeah? ___ who?" (Sez -- these are the kinds my brain has trouble with)

EmJo, The Texas Crossword Queen--if you can't tell, don't fuck with her

I got help from these last three clues from the amazing EmJo, queen of all words crossed. She did her puzzle today in about 10-15 minutes, the time it took her to get from the Lorimer stop on the L train to Union Square. EmJo does them everyday though, so getting through a Monday in no time at all is really no big thing for her.

I spent some time picking her brain tonight on pointers, strategies and thought processes facing both the maker and doer of crosswords. I am filing these away now and will prepare some thoughts to share on them tomorrow when I do not have to wake up at 6am the next day. She also recently gave a presentation on crosswords, including a slideshow, some of which I will share with you over the course of this week.

I am incredibly curious about the types of folks who become obsessed with crosswords and hope to learn some insights about them this week. For now, I'm happy at least that I can go to sleep having completed my simple goal.


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