so will shortz, the Times's crossword editor, has this to say about crosswords, and Sudoku:
"People do puzzles for many reasons. Chief among them is that puzzles give the solver a feeling of being in control. Most of life's challenges don't have black-and-white solutions, and many have no resolution at all. We jump into the middle of problems and muddle through as best we can. With sudoku - or any other human-made puzzle - carrying it through from start to finish, and finding the perfect solution in the end, can produce a feeling of great pride.
The audiences for crosswords and sudoku, understandably, overlap greatly, but there are differences, too. A crossword attracts a more literary person, while sudoku appeals to a keenly logical mind. Some crossword enthusiasts turn up their noses at sudoku because they feel it lacks depth. A good crossword requires vocabulary, knowledge, mental flexibility and sometimes even a sense of humor to complete. It touches numerous areas of life and provides an "Aha!" or two along the way. Sudoku, on the other hand, is just a logical exercise, each one similar to the last."
i can see why crossword addicts and Sudoku addicts have a lot in common, frequently to do with their common need to fill in the blanks, and to be in control of what they are doing. life almost never has clean and easy solutions, and neither does it have a delete button, or an eraser. nor can you scratch things out, as fill-in-inkers invariably do. but with puzzles, you have the knowledge and ability to do all of these things.
but i also do Sudoku and crosswords for different reasons. crosswords help me to stretch my mind, twist it around a bit, see the world from a different angle. to find new ways to use words, and new meanings for old words; to feed a wacky sense of humour; to poke fun at people, places and events. but Sudoku does the opposite. it helps me to focus, to concentrate, to centre my brain in logic and order and process. it works the brain, while at the same time being mindless. almost like meditation, really. i think of it as a way to prime the pump, as it were.
not that i have very much time, or opportunity, to work on either crosswords or puzzles now that work has begun pretty much in earnest. that said, i've discovered that i really like my work, and the people i work with. it's all turned out well, so far - i hope it continues. :)