Friday, March 07, 2008


Last night on the bus ride home, I sat next to a guy who had the newspaper folded over to reveal the crossword puzzle. He didn't seem to be working on it anymore, and I kept squinting at his lap to see if I could read any of the clues. I thought I'd keep myself from boredom if I could puzzle them out. Alas, my eyes were too weak. He was clutching his Blackberry and fiddling with it. As we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and went through the tunnel into Marin, he continued to stare at the Blackberry screen, although clearly nothing was on it but the logo. Eventually, the Blackberry made a connection, and he started using the teeny tiny keyboard to type in stuff. I realized that he was using his PDA to Google the crossword clues!

This seemed like cheating to me. In fact, it is cheating. I wanted to say to him, "use me, not Google!".. but by this time I noticed that he smelled a little funny and seemed a bit anti-social. I wasn't sure I really wanted to engage. In the half hour-long ride, he had entered quite a few clues, but only written down two or three answers. It takes more than Google to solve a NY Times puzzle. It takes a human brain, and an eye or an ear for puns. Since starting to do the weekday puzzles, I have gotten progressively better. I notice that when I start out intensely, I'm looking for facts and hard answers. As it goes on, I relax into the rhythm of the puzzle and I feel around for the fun, twisted answers, based on double-entendres. Today, there was a clue: "bug zapper?" - the answer was "cure".

If that guy is googling today, maybe he'll find the answer here.

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