Thursday, January 13, 2022

Word Games Replace Political Diatribes

 I don’t normally tackle the daily crossword puzzle in The New York Times, reserving my grey matter for the paper’s Sunday puzzle and Spelling Bee in the magazine section. So I was caught off guard when my daughter-in-law Allison texted to ask if I had done Thursday’s NYT crossword and that I should check out the clue to 45 Across.

Retrieving the Arts section before it hit the recycling bin, I read the clue: “Suburb about 20 miles WNW of Boston.” It required a five letter response. 

Without hesitation I knew it was Acton, home town to Allison, Dan and their brood of two children, a goldfish and a Chinese dwarf hamster. I was duly impressed they live in a town crossword puzzle-clue worthy.

I have supplemented the two aforementioned weekly puzzles with three daily mental challenges. As I am usually up at midnight, I recently began to log onto the daily Wordle quiz which goes active at the stroke of a new day. 

Not familiar with Wordle? Neither was I until The Times ran an article on it 10 days ago ( I’ve been hooked ever since. I can’t go to sleep before completing each day’s puzzle, usually accomplished before 10-15 minutes. Here’s the link I use:

Shortly after 3 o’clock each morning—yes, dear reader, I often emerge from slumber at that dark hour—and, contrary to all medical sleep advice, open up my iPhone to work on the Letter Boxed and Spelling Bee challenges that are updated at 3 am daily. 

I’m addicted to the Spelling Bee which is different from the Sunday version. On Sunday, six letters in a circle surround a seventh letter in the middle which must be used in all five-letter or larger words you find. You get one point for each word; three points for using all seven letters. 

The daily Spelling Bee also displays six letters around a seventh. Four letter words are acceptable. Points are allotted based on the number of letters in each word. Your score determines your level of competence, from beginner to genius. I am determined to accept nothing less than genius, a status I usually attain even if it takes hours, though not at one sitting, er, lying down in bed. I’ll usually stop by 4 am, if necessary, resuming when I m more alert. 

Here’s a link to the daily Spelling Bee, which in all honesty, am not sure will open for you as you might have to be a Times subscriber:

Between Pickle Ball, Spelling Bee and other word games, I’m spending my COVID retirement days exercising a variety of muscles. What I am not doing is spending lots of time reading news accounts of how our country is going crazy. So you’re seeing fewer political postings from me. Instead of writing diatribes in the middle of the night I’m playing word games. Works for me. Hopefully for you, too.