Saturday May 28, 2016 — NYTimes Crossword No. 0423
What I love about Saturday crosswords (wait — or do I hate it? — sometimes I can’t tell …) is that even when you get a good start in one part of the puzzle, that success does not necessarily carry over into other areas of the grid. Today was a day like that.
I completed today’s crossword in ninety-eight minutes, which is not impressive, but is two minutes better than last Saturday. And, hey, I finished. I remember times when I couldn’t complete a Saturday crossword, and that, not too long into the distant past.
I love games, and I love rules. So I have rules for myself in doing the crossword, like no cheating. I can’t look at the solution while solving, or go to dictionaries, Google, etc. If I’ve got to guess, then guess. If I’m stuck, like irretrievably, then walk away and come back later. I’ve had grids set by my bedside for hours, days, or weeks, partially resolved. But I am determined, and I always solve the puzzles, once started.
Monday crosswords are (generally) so easy that I must add rules to challenge myself, such as, I can only answer connectors, or I can only answer the clues in numerical order. Once I establish the rule for the day, you can be sure I will follow it. Otherwise, where is the fun?
Mistakes — a word about them. I make mistakes in almost every puzzle. I use a ballpoint pen, so I’ve got to write over my bad letters. I usually spot and correct my errors. But, sometimes, I really don’t know the word, and I end up with a mistake in the final grid. I believe integrity requires I leave it, admit my failures, and move on. By solving the grids, I am not trying to establish my intelligence. I am having fun. If this ever stops being fun, rest assured, I will stop.
I do this, challenge myself, set my mind against the clock, accurately report my results, to show that if I can do this, then you can too. Just a few years ago, I couldn’t complete even a midweek puzzle. But hard work and perseverance pays off, even if your pursuit is something so pedestrian as the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. So, if your purpose is something bigger, like inventing a teleportation device, or curing cancer, I encourage you: please do it. Not for the Nobel (though that’s nice), but instead for the good of mankind.
That’s why I write about the NYTimes crossword — for the good of mankind.
Today I started at 33A: OHARAS (1936 Novel family). It was the only clue I saw from the gate that looked even remotely familiar.
Not so fast. Remember what I said about Saturday crosswords being a little more difficult than that? Once I moved to the next section, I felt like I was starting over. And I had that same feeling four or five times today. But, I don’t 1A: RAGEQUIT (Give up out of frustration, in slang), which clue I only resolved because I started actively looking for a “Q” (found it!) and a “J” (MIA), hoping for today’s grid to include all twenty-six letters, which I love (there’s a name for that, but I can’t recall what it is… anybody?)
I had some difficulty in the SW, starting with misanswering 48D: RABBI (Black hat wearer) as “Rogue.” I finally got a foothold when I came up with 53A: TOGAS (Some party wear), and finally got 59A: ARABIA (“Aladdin” setting), which should have not been nearly so difficult for me, but I was thinking so many other things.