Posted by: Nathan | April 18, 2009

Crossword Craze

A month ago or so, someone at my job left one of those trashy celebrity magazines open to a crossword puzzle half completed. A coworker and I finished it up, and I enjoyed it very much. Since then, I’ve been doing more and more crossword puzzles in my spare time. They’re an excellent combination of clue guessing and vocabulary knowledge/expansion!

My best source for crosswords is the New York Times Digest (thanks, Kyle!). Their puzzles are legendary for good reason. I’ve attempted maybe five and solved but two. The Friday puzzle I attempted was a joke! I was way out of my league. However, I do have a Monday and a Tuesday puzzle under my belt. I do a lot of crosswords online also. Boatload Puzzles has 4000 free ones, and I’ve been through a number of those (they’re easy).  USA Today is kind enough to upload their crossword puzzles to the web for free, and I like those a bit more. You can choose to have your errors revealed to you or have them hidden if you want to fumble through. There are several other sites out there as well.

There are lots of interesting little facets of crossword puzzles that I enjoy. Many of the clues turn out to be puns or little jokes once you solve them. That’s always fun. There are also times when my literary knowledge comes in handy, which makes me happy. I also like that I learn a lot of new words (apse and setto come to mind), so the more I do crosswords, the more I’m prepared for the next one. It’s also interesting how often one sees certain words. I’ve put IRS into several puzzles.

Crosswords have also brought the pencil back into my life from its long absence. I much prefer pens, but I make too many mistakes to use one while solving puzzles. I suppose I could alter my method of guessing and erasing later, but I like it that way.

One tiny complaint I have is that some of the clues can be pretty shady. I appreciate clues that highlight different meanings of a given word, but sometimes the clues aren’t even synonyms of the answer or are far too vague. In Tuesday’s NYT puzzle, for example, the clue for 12 down was “A mushroom producer, for short.” Correct answer: “A test.” No, not “a test,” but “A test” as in atomic test. That’s sketchy. I also wish I knew more French, as a random mot or deux frequently appear.

Still, the pros of this new hobby far outweigh the cons. I intend to buy a crossword puzzle book soon so I can have crosswords with me on the go. Hope you enjoy the links I provided above if you’re so inclined. And, no, I do not intend to start doing Sudoku puzzles. I realize no math is involved, but I much prefer words to numbers.

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