@Father Brown Reading Rex Parker's blog every day (rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com) made a huge difference for me. He gives solutions but also comments on whether he thinks particular clues are good, whether the theme is strong, etc. It made me realize that sometimes when I don't understand something, it's because it's a bad clue -- not because I'm dumb. (Sometimes, I'm dumb).
Paying attention to that kind of stuff, and thinking more critically about the clues and the puzzles themselves, made me a much better solver and made crosswords WAY more fun. Once you realize that puzzles aren't just this giant exclusionary monolith, it starts to feel much more collaborative and engaging. You start to notice which kinds of puzzles you like better, the constructors you prefer, the kinds of themes, etc...
Also, just practice a ton. Start with NYT Mondays and work your way up!
@frenz.lo oh, but camp SO WAS a fashion show. middle schoolers are idiots. just, the very dumbest. i cherish my camp experiences, though, because over the course of like 4 summers i went through an entire trajectory of being a dork, becoming 'popular', and then finally realizing that i wasn't really into trying so hard. when you're very firmly in the throes of Growing Up, it is nice to have this isolated space in which to try out all the dumbest parts of your potential personalities and see which ones feel right for you.
Oh man, I feel like this article was written just for me. Thanks so much, Ben. It always makes me extra happy when I get to solve a puzzle by a woman constructor. I've never constructed a puzzle before (I suspect because I don't think I would be good at it, which I'm realizing is A DUMB REASON) but this article is inspiring me to try.
PS: Loved, LOVED the Emily Jo Cureton illustrations. I "got into" crosswords just as she was doing her crossword project (early 2008), and I remember always looking forward to seeing her spin on a puzzle after I'd worked on it.
@allofthecrafts I don't know if I just have magic powers or what, but I usually soak my chickpeas for like... a day (6+ hours, but also sometimes longer because I forget about them) and it only takes like 20-45 minutes to cook. Maybe it's just because I'm doing small batches?? (or my beans are... really fresh?? I don't know.)
Anyway, I only just started cooking with dried beans last year and have generally found it easier than I expected! Hooray for beans.
@Lucienne Quest for a Maid! deep cuts!!
[edit: beat to this joke downthread!]
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic penis.
@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose thank you <3 she was! she did not understand guitar hero, though.
@fabel that's my nana and my brother! my nana died this summer (the pic is from 2007) so it is extra special to me now.
@stuffisthings 14th and u? i recognize it too! (not my photo though)