Polonius: What are you reading?
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
I rationalize my obsession with word games by thinking of them as therapeutic strategies to stave off senility. By working through the NYT, Washington Post, and New Yorker crosswords each day, the reasoning goes, I’m keeping my synapses clean, firing them like sparkplugs, raging, raging against the dimming of the light. A simpler and more truthful explanation is that I enjoy word games, and if I really cared about my cognition, I would replace my daily rounds at Chico Feo with trips to Crosby’s Seafood Market to stock up on salmon, trout, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines.
Anyway, of all the on-line opportunities for etymological engagement, my favorite is the New York Times’s Spelling Bee. And no wonder. I’m literally a genius at it.
See for yourself.
Here’s today’s game. I’m one word short of achieving Queen Bee status and have until 3 AM to find that last, remaining, elusive word (one that I’ve probably never encountered).
A word game I really suck at is Scrabble Grams, a subsidiary of the Scrabble Empire, copy right circled R. As in Spelling Bee, you must unscramble seven “tiles” into words, the longer the more profitable, a seven-letter word yielding a 50-point bonus. Essentially, you’re playing a game of Scrabble against Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster, and in that sense, the best you can hope for is a tie.
That I’m good at Spelling Bee but bad at Scrabble Grams lies in the layout. I react to the circular much better than the linear it would seem.
Wordle, which has taken the world by storm, is as much a logic game as it is a word game. You have five chances to unscramble a jumble of five letters, and as you progress down the grid, you can see a dwindling number of letters available, so in essence, you’re engaged in deductive reasoning.
Today I lost, ruining my streak, despite having the first three letters in place by the third row.
Wordle 407 X/6
Oh, woe is me, alack and alas! How all occasions do inform against me! Fie on it! Fie!
Hey, but there’s always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow . . . but then again one day there won’t be a tomorrow, and then again, that’s a consummation devoutly to be wished, according to Hamlet, who after almost three acts worth of peppering Polonius with barbs, eventually stabs him to death.
So, Hamlet is finally successful in shutting him up.
The sword is mightier than the pen, you might say.
And with that, Adieu!
 Oh, but the Little Devil on my shoulder is citing clinical studies that claim that social interaction is beneficial for the elderly.
Here’s a sample, “Results: Qualitative analysis identified eateries, senior centers, and civic groups as key places to socialize. We identified significant positive associations between kernel density of senior centers, civic/social organizations, and cognitive function. Discussion: Specific neighborhood social infrastructures may support cognitive health among older adults aging in place.
BTW, Chico Feo is technically an “eatery” and Hamlet calls Polonius a “fishmonger,” though he’s probably using slang for “procurer” as in “pandar” or “pimp” rather than a merchant of high fatty fish that enhance mental acuity.
 A very dangerous adverb, yes, a precarious modifier (though not literally).
 By the way, I’m an atrocious speller, as my regular readers have no doubt noticed.