24 Across: PARLORXGAMES – Will Shortz, eat your heart out! I have conquered thou!
Seeing my sister-in-law, Katie set 30 goals to reach before her 30th birthday reminded me to flip backward in my little notebook to see the goals I’d set for myself this year. I’ve read that the best way to achieve goals is to write them down. No, I do that every year and it never works out for me. I’m pretty sure the the best way to achieve a goal is to first write it down, then remember that you wrote it down and then actually do it. Last year I forgot where I wrote them down. When I found them I chuckled to myself; # 3, “Don’t eat french fries.” Whoops.
This year’s goals have been broken down in six categories; career, financial, physical, social, intellectual and family. My number one intellectual goal was to finish a Wednesday New York Times crossword puzzle without the aid of the answer key or my smartypants-crossword-whizkid wife. Which brings up another goal achieving problem I have – overly lofty ambitions. As of January 1, 2010, I’d never even completely finished a Tuesday puzzle.
I’ve missed more Wednesday puzzles than I’ve attempted this year but the goal still stood. On a recent flight from New York to Atlanta I plucked August 18th’s puzzle from my backpack. It was Aug. 23 and I immediately saw that the puzzle’s author, Alex Boisvert (Shortz is the editor) had an “X” theme going. In fact, two of the clues were nothing more than “X”. There was also a sort of before and after thing happening with answers like XMENINBLACK and PANDORASXBOX. I knew this puzzle was mine when I saw 24 Across: “Event that includes Snowboarding Charades and Motocross 20 Questions?” Motocross in a NYT Crossword? How cool is that?
At midnight, August 28 on my way to bed after two beers and nearly falling asleep on the sofa, I stopped at the kitchen counter for a look at the puzzle that had been killing me all week. I had ten squares and eight clues left to solve including that damn, elusive 24 Across. It’s funny how things just hit you in the head at the strangest moments. For six days I’d been trying to figure out how to make the word PARTY fit into the first six spaces of 20 Across. Large African antelope? I owned an ORYX bicycle for ten years! How did I not see that one until the final moments?
I can’t believe completing a puzzle was my number one priority for 2010. Looking back in the little red notebook reminded me that I’m also supposed to be stretching everyday (whoops) and running a sub 21:00 5K. That’s going to hurt as much as the crossword.
Because you gotta have goals…