Tch. This Puzzle Is Too… Puzzling.

July 29, 2012


I don’t what it is, but I’m a total jigsaw puzzle wussy.  Seriously.  Not only do I feel like I’ve suddenly become elderly by doing a jigsaw puzzle (wearing the shawl and listening to Paul Harvey probably doesn’t help), but I’m not even good at it.  Maybe once every two years or so, my wife will suggest doing a puzzle.  And if we do, there’s my wife diligently working on the sheet of blue sky that is the top third and saying, “Good job!” as I proudly announce, “Look!  I made the boat with the dog in it!”

There you go. Lots of patterns and colors. Not much plain space. Let’s puzzle it up!

Whenever we’ve looked at puzzles I’m gravitating toward the pure: clean lines, broad colors – preferably primary, distinct patterns.  Basically displaying the cognitive skills of a toddler.

My wife likes the tough ones where the whole puzzle’s blue or something and you have to have unbelievable patience as you try one piece?  Nope.  Try a second one?  Nope. Third? Nope.  And so on.  By the fourth piece I’m already punching the stupid piece in place and muttering obscenities.

And I like tough puzzles, in general!  Not Nazi-code-breaking type tough, but… you know… I can hold my own with a NY Times crossword.


So, I’m not totally incompetent at puzzles, is my point – and yet show me one of those photomosaic puzzles?  I want to go hide under a blanket.  Those things are awful.  Some sort of impressionistic piece where the colors bleed together?  Prepare for tantrum in t-minus 8 minutes…  With crosswords I like the equivalent of tracking a fugitive.  With a jigsaw puzzle I want the equivalent of tracking Waldo.

Mmmmmm… there he is! Good work everybody. Miller time.

As you may have gathered, we’ve got a puzzle going.  About 20% of it is a sheet of grey background that frames the picture.  My wife is diligently chipping away at it.  I just finished the guy on the bicycle.  It’s like a vacation from dignity.

So I like puzzles even though they seem sort of dull, and I associate them with dotage, and I’m not good at them.  I can barely admit to doing them at all.  But I can’t be alone on this – not necessarily puzzles, but the activity you find fun that you can juuuuust barely admit to liking for whatever reason.  Maybe you’re bad at it.  Maybe you think it’s a silly activity.  But whatever the reason?

Maybe you can only suggest it “ironically” (“Hey, guys, we should – ha ha – go sing karaoke.  ha ha!  Wouldn’t that be lame?  If we did that?  From 9-midnight at Johnny Nine’s Bar?”)

Maybe you hope someone else suggests it so you can ‘be supportive’. (“No, Janice hardly ever picks what we do, so if she wants to play canasta we should.”  “I didn’t say that.  I said I was originally from Canada.”  “Yep, canasta it is.  In support of Janice.”)

For this week’s Weekly Question of the Week?  Give us your best lame activity you enjoy.

Oh, but you know what’s not a puzzle? (how about that for a segue?)  The awesome ideas you all came up with for the “Save the Byronic Man” campaign.  And what a success!  When I put up SJ’s link for the online petition, it only had 5 signatures, and now?  It still has 5.


But aside from that, the ideas were all great, but ultimately you voted for Hippie Cahier and her “We Are The Blogging World” campaign as the leader.  Congratulations, Hippie Cahier, you’re going to be wrangling all our egos as we sing, and also being my blogger of the week!  By all means, take a moment to visit Hippie Cahier.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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95 Comments on “Tch. This Puzzle Is Too… Puzzling.”

  1. speaker7 Says:

    My trip to lameville entails recording myself reading excerpts from Fifty Shades of Grey set to a generic slow jam and then finding the best fart and clown horn sound effects to add that extra class. My husband wonders why I do it since it takes a long time and no one really listens to them, and I try to come up with something convincing like “oh, everybody loves them” but really only I love them.


  2. Kate Says:

    The best lame activity I enjoy…
    About two years ago, I started doing my lecture notes and study notes as MindMaps – the kind where everything has to be done in coloured pencils with as many drawings and as few words as possible. I sit in the front row of lectures and colour in. I study medicine. I’m 28 and I’ve been at university for 10 years. I’m a grown up who sits down and pulls out the colouring pencils to listen to professors of important things like surgery. They look at me funny while they’re speaking but they give me snaps for knowing the answers to their questions later, so nyyerrr.
    Probably need to paste an image to do it justice…


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Like literal images, or mnemonic/metaphor images? Either way, pleeeeease carry this through to your career. “So, Mrs. Voorhees, we’re going to have to do a hip replacement. If you’ll refer to this drawing I did of a cat in a beret listening to a record player: See? He’s a ‘hip cat’ and listening to The Replacements! Isn’t that helpful?”


  3. Valentine Logar Says:

    There are none, if I enjoy them they aren’t lame! Ok, so others may think so but I don’t. I enjoy cleaning out cabinets and closets that haven’t seen the light of day in a millennium, I think of it as treasure hunting. Right up there with this activity I enjoy Estate Sales and just below this Garage Sales in upscale neighborhoods (yes they have them but they call them Neighborhoods Sales or Block Sales).


  4. Sandy Sue Says:

    I had a chance to get our town’s newspaper for a month free. I did–just to get the crossword and Sudoku.


  5. Life With The Top Down Says:

    I do not partake in lame activities, I only point out the lameness of others which is very satisfying. However, if I was forced to admit to something it would be Word Searches. Doing the word search isn’t lame, but doing it because I am amazing at it, followed by expressing my greatness as I’m doing it probably is very lame.
    FYI: If your wife has the patience to do those puzzles without forcing pieces…she is ready to be a mother!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      That’s the problem with any puzzle like that – this huge sense of accomplishment and awesomeness that evaporates the moment you leave the world of the puzzle. I guess it’s like a zen exercise that way.


  6. Go Jules Go Says:

    I can only give one answer to this? Well, then, I submit to you: Coloring. Yes, you heard me. Right now I am working on Disney Princesses. The more juvenile, the better. (Hey, any idea where I can get a Where’s Waldo coloring book?)

    Also, I don’t doubt your crossword puzzle prowess. I’ve learned at least two new words from you this week. Today’s: “dotage.” Though I prefer to think you meant dot-age, as in Pointillism puzzles.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I like to picture you working on the coloring book during a meeting at work, an intense expression on your face, maybe your tongue sticking out of the corner of your mouth a little bit.


      • Go Jules Go Says:

        Whhhhaaaat. B! I did a whole photo ‘bit’ about that before I started blogging (coloring while on a teleconference)! Meaning I HAVE A PICTURE of exactly what you’re describing! It was a Disney Princess, too! I’ll see if I can find it.


    • skippingstones Says:

      I love to color, too, Jules. But I really like those complex figures with interwoven circles or whatnot. It’s very slow and relaxing.


    • Deborah the Closet Monster Says:

      There’s catharsis in coloring! For real. But then, it’s nothing like the catharsis of doing a good puzzle . . . not that I’ve had a chance to do one for, oh, the last three years? (I did buy one recently. Now that I’ve actually cleaned the house, I even have space to put it together! I should get on that.)


  7. The World Is My Cuttlefish Says:

    Well, I have to come clean and say I love jigsaws. I love doing them and I love listening to my mother, aunt and grandmother all muttering under their breaths about the pieces, the shapes, the colours, where the missing edge bit can have got to, how they need the piece in their hand to transform into something more useful – new shape, different colour. But the funnest bit is hiding one piece to put in at the end when they have done all the hard work. Master of the game (or is that ‘lame’?)


    • Michelle Gillies Says:

      I’m with you on the puzzles The World is My Cuttlefish. The more intricate or difficult the better. I find it very therapeutic. I have no idea why, but I have never thought of hiding a piece. That’s brilliant! (maybe a little evil)


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Funny, that reminds me of working on a puzzle when I was a kid with my parents and I slipped a piece in my pocket so I could put in the last one. Shortly after, my dad mentioned that when he used to do puzzles with his family, they’d get so competitive that they’d hide pieces, and how silly that was. I immediately wondered if he saw me take the piece and was being sly, or if it was a coincidence. Either way, it worked.

      Isn’t that a funny instinct? I MUST PLACE THE FINAL PIECE. THAT’S HOW YOU WIN.


  8. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

    Most lame thing? Trying to figure out how many “square feet” of decorative rocks I have for an interested buyer on Craigslist. I freaking spread 25 pounds of rocks all over my floor only to learn she was no longer interested.

    12 square feet.



  9. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

    Oh, and congrats to Hippie Cahier. You may replace my mug.


  10. on thehomefrontandbeyond Says:

    Lame Activity 1 – colouring in a colouring book which was satisfied nicely when my kids were little, but now they are in their twenties
    Lame Activity 2 – cutting and pasting


  11. carolofthebells Says:

    ROFL, Renee! You can’t make this stuff up, huh? And yes, congrats to Hippie Cahier. Well, it’s not entirely “a vacation from dignity” (what a great statement, Byronic) unless one trips or releases the ball a little too late –and uh, high, but folks seem to think bowling is pretty lame. I make no apologies for liking it –nor even for watching it. I do, however, find Bocce ball to be lame. (Yes, there IS a difference.) No worries, B-man –puzzles (and canasta) can be fun for all ages.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I think bowling is fun. At least, if I’m bowling with people who aren’t good at it. Not because I’m competitive and want to win (even though I do), but because bowling with people who measure their scores in deviation from “perfect” and talk about arcs and such kind of change the dynamic. Suddenly I feel like I’m rolling the ball with both hands and asking for the bumpers.


    • Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

      Hi CarolOfTheBells:

      Thank you for enjoying my rocks. I also have sand, if you are interested. Also some artificial cacti. Seriously. These items are hot. 😉


      • carolofthebells Says:

        Well, Renee, I have *decorative sand* coming out of my ears — all stocked up there, but I think maybe Maineiac with your help could profitably move some of those shellacked puzzles off her wall! Wait — you don’t have any kittens painted on velvet, do you?


  12. Michelle Gillies Says:

    First, I am with your wife on the puzzles. The more difficult and intricate the better. I have even done round ones so there are no corners. It is very therapeutic. The best part is when someone else walks in and they gravitate over and put in a piece and before you know it you have a puzzle klatch.
    Probably my lame thing would be those “challenges” where there are two pictures side by side that are supposed to be identical and they ask you to find the 10 things that are different. They make me crazy! I like to pretend that I am good at them but truth be told I never find more than 7 and when I look to see what I missed they are always so obvious!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Some of those image challenges are tough – made tougher by the fact that I associate them with childhood, so they feel like they should be a breeze. Like, “Oh, the cat’s wearing a sombrero in this one” instead of “Oh, her eye-glasses are square-framed instead of oval.”


  13. Fish Out of Water Says:

    I own my own bowling shoes. Need I say more?


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Remember in the 90’s when people would get cheap shoes at Goodwill, then go to the bowling alley, turn them in for bowling shoes, then keep the bowling shoes?


      Oh. Uh, me either.


  14. She's a Maineiac Says:

    Congrats to Hippie! (did Peg think up a clever nickname for you yet?)

    Oh, god the puzzle thing! I am a virgo and slightly OCD-ish, so when I start a puzzle, I can’t stop. Hours will go by, I’ll be starving, falling asleep and my husband will try to tear me away but I’ll yell, “Not now! I have to figure out which wave of the ocean this god****, f%$^ing piece is! Or I’ll just die! I won’t want to live anymore!”

    As for lame things? Is there anything I do that isn’t?

    I like to sing old TV show theme songs while doing the dishes (ask Angie, it’s true)

    I like to knit really long and very misshapen scarves.

    I like to turn the sound down on the TV and sit there and make up my own dialog. (my husband and I did this just this morning while watching the basketball game on the Olympics) It’s more entertaining that way.


  15. Elyse Says:

    The best lame activity? Blogging.

    I cannot believe I am the first to mention this time sucker. It has supplanted knitting and cross stitching and talking with my husband.


  16. earthriderjudyberman Says:

    My favorite lame thing: quoting lines from my favorite movies. My youngest daughter, Jenn, my brother, and I can go thru quite a bit of the script at times. No one else cares. But it keeps us off the streets.

    The other is making puns. O-pun the door now and I’ll exit quietly. Eggzackly like that.


  17. carolofthebells Says:

    Wow. Both bowling AND blogging are redeemed in one day? Life is good!


  18. mona Says:

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for some time and had to comment on the puzzles, I love puzzles! I get the same kind of zen feeling as I did when I was a kid watching Bob Ross… now crosswords are my kryptonite; perhaps because I’m better at reading words than writing them?

    As for useless lame thing that I do; I walk inside malls. I hate shopping, but for some reason I like to walk around malls and buy absolutely nothing. I have yet to psychoanalyze this compunction. Thoughts?


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Oh, Bob Ross… How did a guy that relaxed pass away so young?

      And I start to feel insane in shopping malls pretty quickly. Maybe you have more interesting malls where you are? I suppose it’s environment with a lot happening, and yet nothing happening – stimulating yet soothing? That’s a toughie.


  19. Alison Armstrong Says:

    For your viewing pleasure, an anti-drinking campaign from New Zealand where the protagonist stops his mate from drinking because he doesn’t want to go and live with his Aunty and be subjected to “Puzzle-time”…


  20. Angie Z. Says:

    Congrats to Hippie Cahier!

    I love puzzles! I’m so glad you’re comfortable enough to admit that.

    My boring activity is I can spend ALL DAY watching dry PBS period dramas. I don’t even have to know what’s going on. Just a lot of people suffering from being repressed and tied up in high collars and corsets and a lot of blank, emotionless expressions and I’m like a pig in poop.


  21. Love & Lunchmeat Says:

    What do I do when I want a vacation from dignity?

    You know those triangular puzzles they have at Cracker Barrel? I could do those all day, also Suduku. And then there’s my more generic things, like throwing up in a water fountain in the middle of a test… followed by blogging about it, of course!

    Actually, I should get bonus points for this because I also went back to class and rocked the test. And only a true nerd could do that.


  22. travellingmo Says:

    I love everyone’s comments to this!!! And I’m not a puzzle person. I’m with you Byronic, I’d rather do the crossword. My own lame activities:

    – Reading tabloids. I hate them, but when my coworker brings them and leaves them in the breakroom at work, I devour them like a wild dog

    – Paper dolls. I have a huge collection from my childhood, some of which I made painstakingly with tracing paper and colored pencils. I don’t actually play with them any more, but I will take them out from time to time and ponder over them. And if I’m in a bookstore and they have any paper doll books, I will look at every single one. Embarrassing perhaps, but I do costumes for theater, so I can always say it’s “research”


  23. Hippie Cahier Says:

    Wowza! Thank you . . and you. . .and you for the honor!

    I love jigsaw puzzles, but those photomosaics? Fuhgeddaboudit. Those were punishment in one of Dante’s levels, n’est-ce pas?


  24. The Bumble Files Says:

    Ah, usually what I’m bad at I don’t like very much. I’m going with bowling. Horrible at that, but among friends, great fun! Also, you need to be drinking a little….Just thought of something. Gardening. I’m very bad at that and really like it and wish I was better.


  25. susielindau Says:

    I LOVE puzzles and can spend hours trying to solve them. When I first started playing Sudoku, I wasted hours trying to solve them, only to find that I had made a mistake on the first row… Arggh! I cut myself off cold turkey (where does that expression come from???) and haven’t played in a long time.

    I just asked my husband what my lamest, but enjoyable activity is and he said, “How much time does Byronic Man have?” Then he ironically said mine would have to be asking rhetorical questions. And he’s right! How does he know me so well?


  26. Denise Says:

    O gawd, Paul Harvey!!!! Paul J.F.C. Harvey! I had completely forgotten about the hours of my childhood spent listening to Paul talk about the best vacuum cleaner on the market and other random oddities. This takes me right back to Grandma’s house, in the kitchen, after lunch, working on …puzzles!

    Thanks, Byronic, I’m 7 again.


  27. JenniferVaughn Says:

    I am a citizen scientist with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They have a program called Project Feederwatch that involves identifying and counting the types of birds that visit your bird feeders. Anyone can do it and they send you a neat-o bird ID poster. (Gotta love their tagline: “Embrace the Winter. Count Feeder Birds for Science.”)

    Also I love cross-stitch, reading cozy mysteries, and baking cookies. Sometimes I feel like an 80-year-old woman trapped in a 32-year-old’s body…


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Just think, though – by the time you’re 80, you’ll have everything down pat!

      I love that that slogan. That would make a great TV ad. Someone sitting in a chair looking out the window, sipping tea. *sip* “There’s one.” Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. “There’s… no, that’s the same one.” Sit. Sit. Sit. *sip* Sit. Sit. Sit.


  28. becomingcliche Says:

    Let’s see. Lame activities. I go on a thrift store crawl every few weeks. Looking for Harry Potter memorabilia. I also occasionally play Quidditch. Wait. Was that the sound of me losing ALL of my friends?


  29. Richard Wiseman Says:

    My best lame activity is watching TV.I don’t know why I bother sometimes. 500 Sky channels and all either crap, stuff I’ve seen or stuff I don’t want to see.


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