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Professor offers online readers a clue

Every day, thousands of people visit Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, a blog that features the answers to the puzzle along with commentary about clues and the puzzle itself.

“Rex Parker” is on Binghamton University’s faculty. You’ll find him in the office of Michael Sharp, an assistant professor of English who took on the pseudonym and started the blog on a lark.

Sharp began doing the Times crossword puzzle with some friends at Pomona College when he was an undergraduate. “It wasn’t an obsession,” he said, “just a fun thing to do on a Sunday.”

He joined Binghamton’s faculty in 1999 and found he had little time for the puzzle. But a few years later, he subscribed to the Times’ puzzle online and picked up where he had left off.

Sharp would talk to other puzzlers once in a while, but it’s essentially a solitary pursuit, and even diehards rarely engaged in conversation about a specific puzzle.

Then he decided to start a blog.

“I had no plan, no concept, no idea about blogs,” Sharp recalled. “I was just experimenting with how to write one.”

Within a year, Sharp had about 6,500 readers per day.

Sharp, a medievalist who teaches courses as varied as Arthurian Literature and American Crime Fiction, sees the blog as a way to create an intellectual community, one that satisfies him in a different way from academic discourse.

“It’s gratifying,” he said, “to be in conversation with other highly intelligent people around something intellectual.”

Read Michael Sharp's blog, Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle

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Last Updated: 10/14/08