What I Learned From a Crossword Puzzle


Newspapers used to be a common sight in my living space. I left them, spread out on the floor or draped over an armrest, if I was ever interrupted mid-page. I'd cut out recipes or book reviews to save so I'd remember the titles when new books appeared in stores several months later.

Technology has definitely altered my reading, writing and rhythm. I no longer subscribe to a newspaper and read three or four aggregated news feeds. I went from reading them on my laptop, to an iPad and now almost exclusively on an iPhone. A recent discovery: technology has given me a completely new experience with crossword puzzles.

When I was addicted to hardcopies, Sundays brought the New York Times puzzle to the Honolulu Advertiser. I would fold it neatly to expose the square puzzle and all the clues, as well as to provide a solid pad for writing. I wasn't methodical and liked to fill in as many as I could and then guess my way around with a light touch of the pen.  I rolled my eyes at the puns and shrugged my shoulders at the words that fit perfectly, although new or foreign to me. Filling every little block was my goal.

Thanks to Google, I am now addicted to instant answers. On Saturday, I sat down with a puzzle and I had no idea "who was the first to stab Caesar", except that there were five letters in his name. I found out that Casca was the first of many and that Julius endured over twenty stab wounds. The man should have listened to his wife.

Wait, there's more.

  • There are some answers that I figured out but didn't understand so I googled. I had never heard of comic Josh Blue and what a delightful discovery it was to find this short video.
  • After watching the movie about Secretariat, I couldn't believe that there was a more winning horse so I had to find out more about Kelso, the only one to be named Horse of the Year for five times.
  • I have never read Steinbeck's East of Eden and when I went looking for "Aron's girl", I learned a lot about the story and characters (Abra, was her name). Now, I'm tempted to read it. In fact, I can download it to my Kindle right now for a mere $7.50.

Because I had such fun with my new crossword M.O., it became the focal point of a page in my old journal book that I've had for over sixteen years. Back in the days when I read a lot of magazines, in hardcopy, I would clip pictures and articles and paste them in this book in a very orderly fashion. When I ran across Bruce Kremer's pages, I knew I had to throw some images, doodles and notes down too. 

All of this chaos was inspired by a grid and some clues, a mobile phone and my favorite search engine. Maybe I'll buy another paper this week. I'm fascinated by what I don't know. Yet.