As anyone who does the xword knows…

I have a rather sketchy cultural background when it comes to the so-called liberal arts. I say so-called because I think the term “liberal arts” refers to a rather fluid set of subjects. I’m thinking here of things like literature, art, music, philosophy, and science (in the broad sense of understanding the world that surrounds us like when does the moon rise, etc.).

I do not have a liberal arts education. My first education was music. There are certainly components of liberal arts in a music education, make no mistake. But there are HUGE technical aspects to it too. My second education? Technical technical technical. Well… Except for the parts where I had to analyze design elements and write papers about them. It was definitely handy to have good reading/writing skills for those classes. So many people in my classes did not.

For the most part, I have dipped in and out of a lot of liberal arts topics more or less at will. I have read a lot of books but not NEARLY as many as my children (30 years younger than me) have. But still, I have a solid high-level liberal arts cultural overview in my head. I usually at least recognize an author or composer or artist or philsopher or scientist’s name, etc., even if I am not intimately familiar with their work.

And then there is the xword. I do the NYT every day on my phone nowadays but I have dipped in and out of it via the actual paper or books forever. If you are a long-time xword do-er, there are certain words that you know because xword. Like “adit” = mine entrance and “aril” = seed covering. I don’t *usually* see either of those in the NYT because they are “oldies” but occasionally they show up when the authors and Will Shortz can’t figure out how else to squeeze some other stuff in.

So I have named a couple of words that I know only through xwords but not (by far) all of them.

Now that I have talked about the xword, I cannot finish without telling you about my uncles Don and Duke. They did the NYT in INK back in the day. When I was a 20-something I often worked on xwords in NYTimes books at the moomincabin. I learned that if I didn’t hide my unfinished puzzles somewhere, Don or Duke would fill in my blanks and errors in ink. I miss those guys a lot but I think I am just about as good at doing the NYT xword nowadays as they were back then. 💜 those old coots.

One Response to “As anyone who does the xword knows…”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I went to a big public university, so no liberal arts focus for me, although I tended to stay mostly in that area. I did have to take hard sciences though and did well. I’m happy that I had a well-rounded education.