Monday, July 17, 2006

COLUMN: Sudoku

Sorry, folks, no column from me this week.

I know, I know. Please stop crying. It's not my fault, I swear.

It's not as if I've been too busy with my many philanthropic pursuits and stimulating hobbies (though, it must be said, the new Invasion Map Pack for Call of Duty 2 is pretty sweet.) It's not because my new kittens are turning my apartment upside down (including the tragic weekend mauling of one very innocent Hardee's biscuit in my trash.)

No, this time you don't get a column for a far more sinister reason: I was maliciously thwarted by the Japanese.

That's right, you heard me. The Japanese have sabotaged my writing skills, my ambition, my willpower, and the few remaining shreds of my dignity. And those cunning little buggers have done it all with a new weapon -- and it's one more powerful and mighty than all of the world's militaries combined.

I speak, of course, of Sudoku.

Sudoku (which literally translated means, "Way to finally get even with Yankee scum") is the latest logic puzzle fad from Japan that's sweeping America. Wikipedia says that the aim of the Sudoku puzzle is to "enter a numerical digit from 1-9 in each cell of a 9x9 grid made up of 3x3 regions" wherein "each row, column, and region must contain only one instance of each numeral."

Shane, however, says that the aim of the puzzle is to get through it without grinding your teeth down to the nerve each and every morning. "Puzzles" are supposed to be a form of entertainment. Sudoku is simply excruciating mental torture.

When our papers began carrying the puzzles, I was intrigued. They're tiny, cute, and look like an inviting and fun distraction. Then I actually tried DOING one. Within 5 minutes, I was already getting a headache behind my right eyeball. By the time I had passed ten minutes, I had already snapped a pencil in two and felt my resting heart rate go up 10%.

Yet strangely, I've become addicted to the evil things. It's like my own personal OCD or something - I can't focus on the day until I've filled in all 64 squares. And it's not as though Sudoku puzzles are fun - they're not. I just HAVE to do them, is all. I might have a problem. I'd form SA (Sudoku Anonymous,) but I fear half the Quad Cities would show up.

How on Earth did I become addicted to a number puzzle of all things? Usually I avoid numbers like the plague. From a young age, I realized that I was, in a word, mathtarded. Wait, I'm sorry, that's inappropriate -- let's just refer to is as being "numerically challenged." I spent my early school years coasting through classes, and then I hit 8th grade Algebra and my coasting ship hit an iceberg.

Imagine the look on my parent's face when my usual A-/B+ report card came home with a D. It wasn't pretty, but then again, neither am I when it comes to math. My father, the Physics junkie, duly and hopelessly spent countless hours trying to tutor me. When he finally gave up and bought me a programmable calculator that was capable of doing ALL my physics homework for me, I knew that even Dad had witnessed the maxing out of my mathetical prowess.

But, upon consideration, Sudoku has very little to do with math. All you have to do is NOT repeat any of the nine numbers; otherwise, they don't relate to math at all. It could be nine LETTERS and employ the same logic. That's when it hit me: Sudoku is little more than a fancy game of Clue.

Remember in Clue, when you had that little sheet where you checked off possibilities, like once you knew that Col. Mustard definitely did NOT use the candlestick in either the Kitchen or the Conservatory? Sudoku is JUST like Clue, except there's NINE people (Great Uncle Burnt Umber, perhaps?) nine weapons, and no secret passage from the lounge to the conservatory.

The puzzles range from "easy" (translation: hard) to "hard" (translation: solvable by only God,) and I need someone to take them away from me so I can go back to having a life. I truly wonder if the Japanese are planning to attack America, and sent us Sudoku as a distraction. Ninjas could be crashing in through my windows right now, and I'd just be like, "If THAT box has a 5 in it, then THIS box MUST be 4? Right?"

So I say we veto this migraine-in-a-box and send it back to Japan. That way we can get back to the good 'ol American way of life -- you know, driving Hondas, watching Ichiro Suzuki hit home runs, and playing our Sony Playstations.


Wendy said...


I never would have expected you to have gotten addicted to Sudoku but, then I never expected you to get addicted to Nascar either. ;)

Not surprising to you, I'm sure, but I've been doing Sudoku for years - long before they became the latest craze. The best part of there being a craze is NOW I can buy whole books of the silly things. :D

Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

Sudoku rocks!

Linnea said...

Seriously, man. Put down the Sudoku. Step away. Do a crossword puzzle. They are far better for you.