Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mind Games

I have rediscovered my love of crossword puzzles. Well, that might be a little strong. I have always enjoyed crossword puzzles, it's just been awhile since I worked on them with any sort of regularity. However, living in a town where not every source of employment is posted online, I've taken to buying a Sunday paper to peruse the classifieds. (Also helps keep me informed of various local going-ons.) And with the Sunday paper, of course, comes the Sunday puzzle.

As a writer I find these kind of word puzzles useful not just for brain stimulation but also as vocabulary improvement aids. I'd never have learned what "dorp" meant if it hadn't shown up in a puzzle. Mind you, I've had very few occasions to then turn around and use that word in real life, or even in my writing, but I have always been of the opinion that knowledge ought to be acquired for it's own sake. If it's useful, that's an additional bonus, of course, but just knowing things makes my life a little bit richer.

Plus it's useless trivia that can come in handy when watching "Jeopardy" or dropped into conversation. I am a font of useless trivia and otherwise little-used knowledge.

Beyond that, it's just a good way to keep the brain limber. My local puzzle doesn't seem to be the NYTimes one, so it's not as challenging as it could be, but it's enough to get me thinking for a while and doing some mental gymnastics I otherwise wouldn't be doing. I like the bigger puzzles on Sunday, not least because of the theme clues. The smaller weekday puzzles, especially the small ones with mostly three and four letter answers, tend to vex me. I don't know if that's a reflection of my vocabulary being too reliant on more complicated words, or just an inability to think small.

The jumble eludes me completely, even though I do pretty good at Scrabble. I think the difference there is being able to actually move the tiles in the game and shuffle them around. When it comes to shuffling the letters in my head, for some reason it's just not that easy.

(Sudoku? Not a chance. Math is evil.)

So while it does, technically, take away from time I could spend writing, I think it provides a needed and helpful distraction. Besides, all work and no play makes _____ a dull boy. (4 letters)

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