Friday, November 6, 2009

Nary a Cross Word

I’ve been dying to write about this but I didn’t want to jinx it.

Do any of you do crossword puzzles? I’m a lunchtime crossword puzzle junkie and I’ve been on a roll lately, which has just come to an end.

I’ve done crosswords on and off for most of my adult life, usually to occupy myself during lunch breaks. During the first 6-7 years that I worked at my current job, I had a pretty stable circle of friends to eat with. During the time around 2002 or so, we always had a big table in the cafeteria and just laughed and had a ball.

Time and attrition has eaten away at that crowd, so as they dwindled, I took up doing crosswords again. Now, every day, I sit at my usual table (or at a table at a local eatery) and do the puzzles in the newspaper.

My primary puzzle is the Baltimore Sun daily crossword. I know that the same puzzle appears in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the Atlanta… whatever the Atlanta paper is called. Once that puzzle is finished, I take a stab at the New York Times puzzle.

If you’re not a regular crossword puzzler, you may not know it but the puzzles get harder each day through the week. Mondays are slam-dunks and then they get increasingly harder through Saturday, where they can be just diabolical. I can usually get Monday through Wednesday without breaking a sweat. Thursday can be tricky and then Friday it takes me the full hour to work on it. The Times puzzles are always a couple of steps harder, to where I don’t have a prayer of getting the Thursday and Friday puzzles.

So, me being me, I’ve made my crossword puzzling into a self-competition. My goal for the last year or so has been The Quest for the Perfect Week. (That’s solving the Monday through Friday puzzles with zero errors.) I came close a number of times this year and actually did it a couple of times.

No, I do not keep a spreadsheet on my results! I know that’s strange for me, considering that I have spreadsheets tracking my Steelers mojo, concerts attended, sporting events attended, blog hits, CD and DVD inventories and gift giving. If Kevin Costner made a movie about me it would be called: I do, however, write my results on my desk-blotter calendar. I track my results on the local and NY Times crosswords and I give myself extra credit if I also hit the Jumble and Sudoku.

Anyway, in late September I started a run of perfect Baltimore Sun crosswords. I was on fire! I was even able to do a couple of Saturday ones too! I never get those… On Wednesday, this week, I was at a Chinese place for lunch and realized I forgot my pencil. I ended up borrowing a pen from the place and doing both puzzles in PEN. Woooooooo! The boy was on fire.

So it was great dismay, this afternoon, that I learned that I missed one box on yesterday’s puzzle.

It was the stupidest little error… the question read as follows:

“Wow, I could have done that better?”

Three letters… I wrote “DOH”, as in the Homer Simpson catchphrase. The answer turned out to be “DUH”.


I totally should have caught it where another clue crossed the vowel. Anyway, I ran off 36 consecutive wins and I have to feel pretty happy about that.

Now it’s time to start a new streak. The clue: Get a _ _ _ _. Starts with “L”.


  1. OMG Matt (my husband) made a spreadsheet for every time the baby would poop, pee...spit up? It was so sad, but so him.

    You can do it!

  2. Learning Excel was life changing for me. You should see the pie chart on my DVD roster... the bar graphs on my NFL picks chart...

    Remember, I'm from the pre-PC era... I had to actually use a typewriter to write research papers. The notion of editing on-screen still tickles me. And charting and sorting items on a list is like white magic. I know, I know... I need help.

    "Hello, I'm bluzdude, and I'm an Excelholic."

  3. My husband has our entire financial history and projections for the future on Excel. It makes me cringe so I leave Excel alone. Much better for you and Rich to do this!

    You don't do the crossword puzzles in ink, do you? I am highly suspicious of those who use ink. It's mental aerobics!

  4. I only did the crosswords in ink that one time, last Wednesday, and that was out of necessity. I have to use pencil because I take a lot of blind stabs that I have to amend later.

  5. I love crosswords - especially the giant, hard Sunday ones. And I refuse to do them in anything except ink.

  6. The Sunday puzzles are the best... I love to just savor those... I often do them during football games... not Steelers game, obviously...

    But pen? Nahhh, I have to do pencil, or else they'd just be a mess. If you can pull off a Sunday puzzle in ink, then you have my undying admiration and respect. And doing a crossword at all with 2 kids? You must be some sort of savant... I raise a glass to you, Gina!

  7. Your keeping score made me smile and think of how obsessive my mom can get about her win percentages at Freecell and Spider Solitaire.

    I do crosswords on the morning bus, but I'm very casual about the whole thing. I do them in red or hot pink ink because I like how it looks. I can throw them in the recycle bin half-finished quite easily. Basically, I'm trying to wake my brain up and keep my head down, both of which are good things on an NYC bus!

    Hope you start another long streak.

  8. I know "keeping score" is kind of silly, but I'm just very competitive with myself. I don't care so much about beating others, but I always try to do the very best I can. And how do you know how you're doing if you're not keeping score?

    Streak is already at 3... including the Saturday puzzle... (I think, anyway... I'll have to score it tomorrow, but I think I have it.)

  9. I'm not a crossword puzzle guy, but almost everyone I know is. But I can appreciate how difficult they are. That's quite a run you had!!!

    By the way, we finally added you to our Blogroll. Sometimes it takes us a while.


  10. Thanks so much, GUYS! I really appreciate the pub. You GUYS are the best!


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