Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Syndication synchronicity

I'm addicted to the NY Times cross word puzzle - I do it every day (except Saturday). But I don't get the NY Times and I don't subscribe to the puzzle on-line, which means I have to solve the puzzle when it is published in "syndication". As a consequence the puzzles that I get in my local daily are ones that originally appeared five weeks earlier (except on Sunday, when it's only one week earlier - I have no idea why.)

Usually this time delay is not a problem, except maybe when the puzzle is published to coincide with a particular date or event such as some notable birthday or a holiday. For example, the "April Fool" puzzle published on, you guessed it, April first, is traditionally a puzzle with some neat twist in honor of the occasion, but if you are solving it on May 6 the significance of the publication date may elude you, thus complicating the solving process. But this is a minor inconvenience and usually being a "syndication-solver" is not a problem.

Except there is a blog, "Rex Parker does the NY Time Crossword Puzzle" to which I am also addicted. It's a wonderful site that adds immensely to the pleasure of doing the puzzle - and it helps make you a better solver, too! But of course Rex and all of the contributors to his blog solve in "real time" (which is to say, because they solve on-line, the night BEFORE the puzzle actually appears in the New York Times.) So by the time I, and all the other syndication-solvers arrive at the blog, the "prime-timers" (as I call them) have long since left the room and moved on to the future. Pretty much everything there is to say about the puzzle has been said so it can be hard to add a comment that means anything.

Recently someone posted a comment on Rex Parker's Facebook page that being a syndicated solver on the blog is like showing up late to a party and all that's left is some watery punch and a drunk passed out on the couch. Rex liked the metaphor and suggested that we syndi-solvers should have a NEW PARTY of our own when we arrive at the blog. That conjured up in my (admittedly sick) mind an image of a bunch of rowdies showing up for a party long after the invited guests had gone home and the host had retired. And that reminded me of a Jimmy Buffet song which may not be literally applicable, but I think it's close enough to describe what the party in syndication-land may look like - because we may not be on the "A-list", but damn, we still have fun! So here it is - judge for yourself. (Substitute "Rex Parker" for "Jimmy Buffet" and I think it works pretty well.)


  1. I am another "syndy solver" who agrees with everything you said in your blog. I sometimes want to post a comment but feel it is pointless for all the reasons you so eloquently stated. We really should have a SYNDY SECTION on Rex's blog for those of us on the "B" list!

  2. @anonymous 7:49pm - you missed my point, we have the whole place to ourselves, say whatever you want to say! Sure, the "prime-timers" have picked the puzzle to death but that doesn't mean there's nothing left to say. Your experience and your opinion are as valid as anybody else's, even if they are five weeks later. We're "Gypsies in the palace", let's just enjoy the joint while we have it!

    Oh, "eloquent" is not a term that usually applies to my ramblings, so thanks for using it - I'll take it as a compliment, no matter how undeserved.

  3. Ha! I missed the syndi-solver's comment, so I'm glad you posted it here. Funny stuff. (And so true!)

    I occasionally think about popping for an online subscription so I can join the A-list, but I really enjoy solving on newsprint with ink. When Rex's blog was fairly new, I popped in to a "current" blog to ask if others shared that same predilection and learned I'm definitely not alone. There's just a very tactile satisfaction from how smoothly the ball point glides on the newsprint, and how the ink sort of sinks into the paper.

    I googled "blank, unlined newsprint" a few days ago thinking that way I could still get my tactile satisfaction while also joining the A-listers, but there are always at least a handful of us syndi-solvers who pop in now (where there really weren't at the beginning), so it doesn't seem terribly necessary anymore. Besides, if I were an A-lister, I never would have found your blog, as I know I wouldn't bother to go back to see what people were saying about a FIVE (not sure why I had it in my head it was SIX) week old puzzle.

  4. Hey @Deb, nice to see you back! Here's something I've discovered - if you leave a comment on RP's blog using a google account, Blogger gives you a box to check to receive subsequent comments by email. Lots of the "prime-timers" read comments this way, including those from us in the blog boonies.

    But you're right about the newsprint - plus I feel like things are just less competitive back here in syndi-land. Have you ever noticed that when a prime-timer makes a typo in a post, they immediately post a correction! Way too "anal" for me. Plus, there are some pretty astute comments from syndicated solvers lately - @Nullifidian, @NotalwayrightBill, @Red Valerian, @Waxy in Montreal and of course @You always have something interesting to say.

    Rex said a while back that over half of his readership is from syndicationland, so clearly we are a force to be reckoned with!

  5. I'm not surprised that more than half of his readership is from us late-comers. After all, how many people actually subscribe to the NYT outside of New Yorkers? I'd love to, but I can't afford two newspaper subscriptions and The Denver Post keeps me up to date on important local news as well as national and world-wide events of note (and, MOST importantly, carries the syndicated NTY crossword puzzle).

    Wasn't aware of the check box for comments, so thanks for the heads-up. And re folks who immediately correct their mistakes: Ha! Whenever someone does that to me via text or IMS, I just say "Whew, I was so confused when you typed "cant" instead of "can't. Thanks for clearing that up!"


  6. Just a note to add to my previous (Anonymous) comment - I agree with Deb about the pen and paper thing (is it an age thing, do you think?) - Probably not, as Deb doesn't look anywhere near as old as I am! It IS satisfying to actually hold the pen and fill in the little squares, just about the only time I put pen to paper these days except for my grocery list. Anyway, now that I have (sort of) made two new "Syndy" friends, perhaps I will add my two cents' worth to Rex's blog in the hopes that SOMEONE will read them!

  7. @anonymous 6:14pm - welcome back! No post on RP's blog goes unread. Commenters who post using a gmail account, including many prime-timers, can get email notification of subsequent posts no matter how much later they are made. When you do post I hope you'll adopt some kind of identity so we can distinquish you from all the other anonymice who post there.

    Oh, a parting thought - @Deb's remark about getting her "tactile satisfaction" made me think about puzzle-solving in a whole new way. (Sorry - sometimes I can't help myself.)

    See you on RP's bolg!

  8. @Anonymous - The sunglasses are hiding a lot of the evidence that I'm no spring chicken apparently. :) I second Dirigonzo's request that you use a name of some sort over on Rex's blog so you don't disappear in the morass of anonymice (cute plurualization, Dir - and I'll try to watch how I describe things around you from now on! ;)

  9. @Deb - I didn't coin the pluralization, I got it from posters on RP's blog where it shows up from time to time.

    I hope I didn't give offense with my "tactile satisfaction" remark - it's not easy living with the inner 15 year-old who resides in my 64 year-old body.

  10. OK - you have both convinced me. I am now posting on Rex's blog as "Pippin" (a nickname my father gave me when I was a child).

    And no offense at the "tactile satisfaction" remark - it made me smile!

    Pippin (formerly one of the anonymice)

  11. You know, it took me a couple of years to post on Rex's blog, but when I did, and I read responses to the odd comment, I felt sort of validated. Probably, were I an "A-lister", that wouldn't happen. So, thanks, @Diri. You are a magnanimous and gentle soul.

    1. @rain forest, thanks for visiting and especially for your comment. Sometime I feel like the guy in the Motel 6 ads who says, "We'll leave the light on for you". It seems like more and more commenters drop in and a few decide to stay - I try to play my small part in making them feel welcome.