Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Slow and steady

"So I'm on a mission: to occupy the syndicated space of RPDTNYTCP by appearing daily to comment on the puzzle and to offer a peek into the early days of the blog. My hope is that just as the "prime-time" blog has grown and evolved the syndicated segment can, too. "We're more than one-half, we're more than one-half!" Well, maybe I need to come up with a better chant but you get the idea. If you do the NYT crossword puzzle, even if you only TRY to do it, get over to RPDTNYTCP and leave a comment, dammit!"

That's the concluding paragraph of a piece I posted here over two years ago (My "Occupy" Movement, 10/20/2011  and it seemed like this would be a good time to revisit the topic for an update on the status of events and happenings  surrounding the syndicated segment of Rex Parker Does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle. And I'm happy to report there have been some very positive changes over the last couple of years.

I've maintained my pledge to show up every day (with very few exceptions) and add my comments to the blog, if only to be a constant (and sometimes lonely) presence just to establish that the comment line is still open five weeks later, and maybe encourage other potential contributors to join in. Whether this has been helpful to the cause or detrimental is hard to say, but over time some commenters who had contributed occasionally began to show up with more frequency, and some new names emerged as "regulars" who came to join the party frequently, if not daily. And so a small but burgeoning, active community has arisen where once there was only a ghost town.

A community, even a virtual one, needs a name and we have tried out several over time. My own favorite was "Syn-City" and I still use it on occasion, but the most regularly used moniker for our little chunk of cyber-space is "Syndi-Land" and its denizens are "Syndi-Landers" or just "Syndies".  Recently I've noticed both terms being used with a certain amount of pride attached as the community has developed a character which is quite different from that of the main body of Rexites ("kinder, gentler" is a phrase that comes up quite often) and I think most regard the difference as a good thing.

If Rexville is a hustling, bustling metropolis populated by a cosmopolitan assemblage of erudite contributors all rushing to be to be among first to the finish the puzzle and the earliest to comment, then Syndi-Land is the laid-back exurb where those of us who wish to avoid the stress of the "rat race" can join together and share our more relaxed approach to life in general and puzzle solving in particular. In many respects our little group resembles a retirement community where folks can discuss, critique (but seldom "criticize"), share and compare experiences, views and ideas on any number of topics sometimes even including the puzzle. The one thing we all have in common is that we solve (or try to - a "Did Not Finish" is not considered a failure among our group) the puzzle and come together to discuss it in our own time and at our own pace.  The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that reading Rex's write-up and the comments, and participating in the blog community improves our puzzle-solving skills and makes the experience more fun.

The defining characteristic of a Syndie is that each of us solves the puzzle in our local newspaper, using a pen or pencil (or crayon or whatever) to fill in the actual grid published in the paper - we do NOT solve on-line as do most of the other Rexites. Any one of us could subscribe to the NY Times crossword puzzle on line and solve the puzzle on the day it comes out instead of five weeks later; I think that we choose not to do that is the defining characteristic of a Syndi-Lander. Our reasons may vary but the bottom line is the same: we are content where we are. 

I'm hopeful that other syndi-lurkers will see the commentary going on among the Syndies and feel compelled to join us.  There may even be a "prime-timer" or two who are ready to quit the hectic competition among the early contributors, and they would most certainly be welcomed into our little enclave. "Slow and steady" seems to be a good motto for Syndi-Land - it's how we solve our puzzles and it's how we grow our community.

As I said at the outset, I take no credit for what's happening in Syndi-Land, but I am very proud and glad to be a part of it.

If I can wait five weeks for a puzzle, certainly "MaƱana is good enough for me". Here's what you get when you type it as it might appear in a crossword grid:

With the tilde (a word I learned from doing crosswords) in place, you might get this:

P.S. - A former syndi-lander turned prime-timer commented a while back that she sometimes yearned to rejoin the "bird-watching, star-gazing, cold-enduring" folks in syndi-land. I can't think of a better way to describe our little community!


  1. Diri...So true especially about the laid back attitude.
    I always read the Syndi's because I always make sure I hit the "E-mail" response.
    I really meant it when I said I was getting bored with the "real lifers" the other day - perhaps because they were talking in forked tongues......
    Anyway, you, Ginger, SIS and where is Red Valerian? and the rest of you are just plain fun to read....Keep it up - lots of us turn coats follow you daily. Cheers and yes, ok, well maybe, I'll cheer to HAWKS.

  2. Gill I.P. - thanks for dropping by! It's always good to hear from old friends and it's nice to know that you think of us in the old neighborhood from time to time. I have noticed a change in the tone of the real-time comments recently, with fewer of the long-time "regulars" posting and more newbie critics adding their opinions. From my outsider's perspective it seems less congenial than it used to be. Syndiland, OTOH, has attracted a small but growing group that maintains a mostly positive outlook; needless to say, I like it. Red Valerian pops in from time to time but I gather from her remarks that she's quite busy with other matters (travelling, maybe?) and only has time to visit occasionally.

    As to the Doobie Bowl, I think I have to go with Denver only because I think Peyton Manning is such an inspirational example of how to make a comeback when almost everyone has written you off as a "has-been".

  3. I think it's still congenial - just different. New people, different mind-set and well, you get used to it.
    I'm going to vote for the HAWKS even though I hated them when they beat my beloved Niners. Payton...well - who names their kid that?

  4. "Real-Timers" are definitely less kind and gentle than when I first began. All one has to do is look at comments from a five year-old post and the change is obvious. Syndi-land is very reminiscent of earlier days.

    1. 'Friendlier' is how I see it. And, I think of the regular syndi posters as cyber friends.

      Diri, you certainly provide much of the glue that holds our little community together. I also like how you articulated it here. Thanks

    2. Z - I agree completely. I think even a new reader of the blog could distinquish most of the long-time contributors from the more recent arrivals by the content and tone of their comments.

      Ginger - Your comment reminds me that the questionable short fill that finds its way into almost every grid is often referred to as "the glue that holds the puzzle together". Thanks for stopping by - I appreciate your visit and your comments in Syndi-land.