How to Be A Crossword Fraud (Or, I’m Sorry)

Wow, a daytime post for once!

Yeah, yeah, but enough about that.

If you’re like me, you always wonder how people can manage to solve New York Times crossword puzzles on Friday and Saturday in insanely short times, like one minute (it takes longer than that to read the clues, for crying out loud).

Today, however, I inadvertently figured out by doing it myself.

So, like most days, I did the daily crossword online. Saturday is usually the toughest one, for me at least, because there are no theme answers like Sunday crosswords and there are usually tough and obscure clues. I was actually proud of myself after today’s attempt; I managed to finish in a respectable 8 minutes and 26 seconds, without a single mistake. Wondering how I stacked up against the other competitors – seventy-five hundred, as of now – and for some reason, my time failed to register. It actually told me that I hadn’t done the puzzle at all yet, which was obviously false. Sometimes glitches happen, and I just go back to the puzzle and refresh the page, and it submits my time, but this time, everything was completely gone and the timer was down to zero. Having just finished it, I remembered it all, and typed it in pretty quickly. I was going to wait until 8:26 so I could get an accurate time, but I accidentally put in the last letter, clocking me in at 1 minute, 37 seconds, which is probably among a world record. I went back to the main puzzle page, and sure enough, it logged my 1:37 attempt rather than my 8:26 attempt, so according to the official stats, I’m now #1 for the day, ahead of AlbyAtLarge, who solved in a piddling 1:39, unless he or she encountered the same issue I did.

So…yeah, technically, I guess that makes me a fraud for today.

“I’m a fraud, Elle! It’s not like normal women can have this ass!”

Anyway, I’m guessing that while some people might just be that good (and others just cheat for bragging rights), those five-minutes-or-less solving times are results of having done the puzzle, the site failing to register the correct time, and then redoing it quickly just so it registers. So no, I am not a super genius, I just accidentally beat the system. Whoops.

In other news, though, I scrolled down, and my original solving time puts me in a very respectable 193rd place, tied with Jimmy.Leroux, just behind the 8:19 solving time of TBowker and just ahead of the 8:27 solving times of CousinAki and TonyR.

And for someone who usually struggles to place in the top 500 – or even the top 1,000 – of a Saturday puzzle, that’s pretty darn good.


So SO Much Better

VIVIAN: Elle, this isn’t some little sorority thing –

ELLE: Oh, I know, this is a big sorority thing.

This morning, I woke up to some of the most pleasing and surprising news I’ve heard in weeks.

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winners were announced: First, 60-year-old Indian child protection activist Kailash Satyarthi


Wait for it…

Pakistani education, childrens’, and human rights activist, terror attack survivor, and all-around hardcore take-no-prisoners chick

Malala Yousafzai. 

At age 17, she is the youngest Nobel Laureate ever.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Malala Yousafzai and Elle Woods together in the same sentence? Actually…looking at what I just typed, it is kind of weird. Kind of like that comic strip panel with the bikini girl and the burqa-clad woman passing each other on the beach. One is very real and one is very fictional, but both women stand up for their rights. Both represent the underdog, and fight tooth and nail with their words to get what they wanted. And what they got was more than they ever expected. They defied the odds and are indeed “so much better” than before.

I don’t want to share too many details of what happened to me this week that deterred me from posting too much, but suffice it to say that this victory for man(and woman)kind makes me put the petty issues going on in my own life into perspective. There are people out there – some real, some on our stages and our cinema screens – who deal with problems that involve more people than just themselves, or their immediate friends and family. There are problems out there that affect communities, cities, ethnicities, and even entire countries, yet living in the microcosm that we inhabit, we tend to ignore the seismic issues going on around us in favor of the unimportant phantom tremors of crap that make us roll our eyes, grit our teeth, and stamp our feet. As humans, we should all look out for one another, not as friends, not as relatives, but as members of the same species that deserve a chance at life, at love, and at happiness. We do not know how much longer we will be on this Earth, but we’re fucked if we continue to spend what time we have remaining using warfare to tear each other down, whether it be physical, virtual, verbal, or psychological. Genuineness and truth of the heart are values that our society suppresses, yet without our hearts we would not be able to function.

Literally. We would be dead.

So let’s learn from Malala, and Elle, and what the hell, Kailash Satyarthi too. Look at all they have accomplished, in less than 100 years of life, collectively. If we really put our hearts, minds, and spirits to it, think of it – we could live three times the lives we have, it terms of quality and output. We, too, could achieve greatness, reach our own goals, whatever they may be. Let’s spend our time wisely, loving, caring, and looking out for one another, opening our hearts to a greater good.

It is kind of a cool ironic twist. Just last year, I posted an entry with my thoughts on Malala and my hopes that she would win the Nobel Peace Prize. And now that it has indeed happened, that’s one more door opened, one more light turned on, one more ray of sunshine beaming down on the planet we call home.

Dear Malala: I don’t know what you’re doing right now, but I hope it looks (and feels) something like this:

(PS: Welcome, first visitor from Fiji. And yes, I did make that last gif myself, thankyouverymuch.


So Much Better

Sometimes, a little victory can go a long way.

So, about a month ago, the grad student organization that I’m in had a meeting. One of the topics was how to increase sources of revenue. Someone brought forward the idea of selling concessions at a university theatre show, but noted that “it hadn’t done well in the past.”

After some conversation, I was among the few who suggested, “Why don’t we try it again now? What do we have to lose?” in the face of a sea of nay-sayers.

So, fast forward, we bought snacks and sold concessions. I helped.

Fast forward even more, to today. We had another meeting and I found out that we actually turned a profit with our concession sales! Granted, it wasn’t a huge profit, but there was money where there wasn’t before, and now we’re actually planning on doing it again.

As the treasurer for our organization, this was a victory for me. Someone put forward an idea, I pushed it, we did it together, and now we are all better for it. I can’t take full responsibility, but as the group’s treasurer and someone who was committed to believing that this was worth a shot, it was refreshing to hear that finally I’m doing something right.

This calls for a Legally Blonde-esque celebratory YouTube clip.

Oh, and thank you to viewers from Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Brazil who have recently visited and helped me have a six-continent day earlier this week!