Michael Sharp is a well-known blogger and New York Times crossword puzzle solver. He was born in Indiana on August 26, 1952 and grew up in Fresno, California. In the world of crossword enthusiasts, he is better known as Rex Parker. By day, he works at Binghamton University as an English professor teaching Renaissance, Medieval and Arthurian Literature. He has an interesting life that combines passion, skills and intelligence.
In his childhood days, Parker remembers that his grandmother loves to solve crosswords puzzles and watched her working them out. However, he started to get into crosswords when he was in college and solve them with friends. When he stops smoking and had no idea what to do while drinking his cup of coffee, he just solves crossword puzzles in New York Times and started to love it since then. However, he stopped solving crosswords puzzles for a few years at the end of grad schools because he had no access to a free paper. He was hooked again when he discovered an online subscription for puzzles.
Now, Rex Parker is famous as the “King of Crosswords.” He has helped a lot of crossword fanatics to solve the puzzles, give clues and interact with other players. “I feel like I’m maintaining a community, a place where people can come and talk about the puzzle,” Parker says. Apart from his blog, he also considered his Facebook page as a place to hang out and chat. “People have conversations and they love each other, and I could practically not exist. There’s opportunity for back and forth, maybe because I only have about 1,400 Facebook fans. Compared to 20,000 readers a day, it’s a smaller group. I feel like I can actually talk to people in a way I can’t on the blog. … At this point, it’s a more intimate space,” he says.
In 2010, Parker constructed his first original puzzle and enjoyed doing it until now. His puzzles are available in The Los Angeles Times Crossword, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. It took him three to four hours while other takes time to percolate. “They pay very little, but it is satisfying to see them and to have people doing them,” Rex says. While during 2011 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, he was placed 10th in his division and 31st overall. Parker received an award for being second fastest in New York State. He can complete the toughest puzzle in 10 or 15 minutes, though speed isn’t his main goal.
His favorite crossword constructors are Byron Walden, Liz Gorski, Brendan Emmett Quigley and Patrick Berry. Parkers considered them as the masters and have incredibly inventive minds. Their puzzles never leave Rex unsatisfied and surprise him with new clever themes that give him great challenges. “The good part of criticism about puzzles is not saying whether they’re good or bad, but the way it creates talk around something that had been a silent experience,” Parker says.