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The peoples, they sometimes ask me, "Collin, we know that there's no way that we will ever be able to achieve the level of encyclopedic, dictionarious smartitude that you yourself display on a daily basis, but if you were to imagine for a split second that such an impossibilistic transformulation might be achievocated, where would you suggest we begin?"

My answer is a simple one: cryptic crosswords. At the back of Harper's and the Atlantic every month, you'll find cryptic crosswords--they're crossword puzzles on steroids. Each clue is itself a puzzle, and often even placing the answers into the grid requires a little extra as well. Here's an example clue: this month's Harper's puzzle, 5 down: "Put new flavor in substance mess." "Mess" is the synonym for the answer, and the rest requires you to put "new flavor" (N+TANG) into "substance" (ELEMENT), arriving at ENTANGLEMENT. Simple, right? Every clue is like that. Much of the time, I have to let clues sort of sink into my subconscious, where the rules for doing things with language are a lot more fluid. I'm usually better at solving them late at night for that reason.

I'm feeling in a bragging mood today, because I completed this month's puzzle much more quickly than I normally do (and during the day no less), suggesting that perhaps my genius biorhythms are beginning to peak for the month. Usually these puzzles take me upwards of a week, and that's when I manage to finish them, which I do probably only a third of the time.

So that's the "achievement" part of my title. I'm also in a decent mood because today was the final step in the dental cycle that included drilling, scraping, a root canal, and finally, today, a more or less permanent crown. I didn't fully realize, I don't think, how much dread both preceded and accompanied this process, a fact that became clear only as that dread lifted.

So yeah, it's not been a bad day.