CROSSWORD UPDATE….In case you’re wondering (and you are, aren’t you?) I’m still doing crossword puzzles 12 months after I started. But I’m still not doing them very well. As usual with things like this, my learning curve was admirably steep at the beginning but then plateaued fairly quickly. In the case of crossword puzzles, the problem is that not only do I have a bad memory, but I apparently don’t have a burning desire to really improve it either. So I’m constantly running across words that I’ve seen before and should know, but don’t. Blecch.

Anyway, Saturday’s NYT puzzle stumped me this week. DORA MAAR? HANK Snow? MARANTA? Aunt ELLER? NINONS? Never heard of ’em. And what was up with MICR clued as “Minute: Prefix”? I mean, MICRO, sure, but MICR? Isn’t that the stuff at the bottom of your checks? Blecch again.

Now, what I usually do when a puzzle stumps me is click over to Amy Reynaldo’s Diary of a Crossword Fiend to see if she had any trouble too. (“Trouble” in her case defined as taking about 60 seconds longer than usual, of course.) If she did, then I don’t feel so bad. But this time, no dice. Saturday’s puzzle didn’t seem to give her any particular heartburn.

In fact, it was worse. Staring out at me from Amy’s site today, almost as if it knew that I had come by because of torment over my feeble crossword skillz, was something else: her new book. I vaguely knew she was writing one and figured it was just a book of puzzles. But no. It’s called How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle: Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Master America’s Favorite Puzzle. Precisely what I allegedly need. And only $9.95!

So I guess I should buy a copy. Back when I first started doing crossword puzzles I remember browsing through my local Barnes & Noble thinking there ought to be a book dispensing advice about solving puzzles, but I didn’t find a thing. There were hundreds of different collections of puzzles themselves, but no advice. So this seems like a book whose time has come. I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve read it.