Killing some time

Waiting for a flight… NYT Crossword … 8 minutes.

I almost never do these.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t worked a crossword for very long time. 

I usually get hung up with the pop culture references, but this one wasn’t too hard.

I remember that most of them have themes, and that the NYT puzzle gets harder throughout the week.  

Am I remembering that correctly?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TomG says:

    Yeah, Father, but it’s the *Tuesday* crossword! [Right! Not much glory, I think, since it is early in the week.]

  2. Irish says:

    Father, I did that one last night (Monday). The CR alliteration was the “theme.” And yes, I find that NY Times Crossword Puzzles are easier at the beginning of the week. Sunday’s are almost impossible.

  3. Kradcliffe says:

    I used to do the NYT crossword every day when I was a bartender – the staff would work on it together, with customers pitching in. I remember it was dead easy on Monday, pretty easy on Tuesday, and by Thursday or so I was struggling.

  4. Kevin says:

    In ink no less!!! [It’s what I had.]

  5. Frank H. says:

    There is a terrific documentary called WordPlay, from 2006, that really gets into the NYT Crossword and an annual competition. Features NPR’s puzzlemaster Will Shorz. Definitely worth renting!

  6. Frank H: Thanks for that. I think I saw that on an airplane once.

  7. Jason says:

    As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

  8. MargaretMN says:

    Back when I had time to kill (doing fieldwork in grad school in a third world country with no tv) I sailed through Monday and Tuesday’s NYT crossword most of the time. Then Wednesday’s often had a few holes and Thursdays and Fridays were challenging but were usually left more than half unfinished. Luckily, I never was able to get ahold of a Sunday edition but I am pretty sure I would have struck out anyway.

  9. timh says:

    Right; it’s only Tuesday! Sunday’s puzzles can be all over the place easy/hard; that one REALLY depends on the Theme.

  10. bear-i-tone says:

    Glad to see people quoting Thoreau.

  11. I also do my puzzles in ink. I figure that even if my results are messy, at least I get the puzzle done! The puzzles get harder as the week goes on. I don’t bother with the Sunday puzzle because it takes too long to work it. I have too much to do.

    I also NEVER use a dictionary. If I can’t get it on my own… I just don’t get it. I use it to keep my ancient brain cells functioning… :)

  12. jarhead462 says:

    I am not very good at those things.
    But I do hope you have a safe flight, Father.

    Semper Fi!

  13. Charivari Rob says:

    In addition to themes, puzzle creators often have pet words they love to use again and again.

    For example, whoever created the puzzles printed in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette back around 1990 had a noticeable fondness for “nave” and “apse”

  14. Muscovite says:

    Reminds me of Roger Moore’s response in “ffolkes” when the general hears his clever reasoning and comments, “I bet you’re one of those people who does the [London] Times crossword in ten minutes.” He says, “I NEVER take ten minutes.” :)

  15. The Feds says:

    Absolutely correct, Father Z! Monday’s puzzle is usually 7 minutes or less. Saturday’s is maybe once or twice every 3 or 4 months… The best reason for doing crossword puzzles is the apparent negative effect they have on the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. One of my grandmother’s lived to just shy of her 98th birthday, and she used to complete the NY Times puzzle every day, with the help of a magnifying glass. She died from being hit by a car in her little town of Fancy Farm, KY, in the “Kentucky Holyland”. As kids, making a 10-12 hour drive from Cincinnati every summer, we could tell when we got to Fancy Farm by the appearance of statues of the Blessed Virgin in the front yards of farm houses! Great memories!

  16. FranzJosf says:

    Yep. Neophyte that I am, I can finish Mon-Wed in ink. After that….well, er, um, uh…it’s tougher. Nevertheless, enjoy.

  17. Will says:

    In my experience, the Sunday puzzle isn’t so bad once you nail down the theme. After that it’s much easier to fill in the blank spots.
    But holy cow, the Saturday puzzles? Totally impossible for me to complete without some cheating.

  18. Greg the Beachcomber says:

    Back when I did these daily, I found Saturday’s to be the hardest, though Sunday’s was the most challenging to complete because of its size. I was more likely to run into the intersection of two obscure references in the larger Sunday puzzle and leave an open square, whereas Saturday might have three rows of answers that ran the entire width of the puzzle that might take awhile to crack. Great mental exercise, but too easy to let them elbow their way ahead of more important things.

  19. Tito Edwards says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,

    What surprises me is that you read the New York Times.

    If you’re going to read that rag, you mind as well be reading the New York Post or USA Today, but the Times???

    I had you on a pedestal, now after this, I don’t know.



  20. FranzJosf says:

    Did any of you finish the Sunday Magazine puzzle? I got Lou Costello, Groucho Marx, and Savador Dali, but I still didn’t finish it.

  21. Will says:

    Tito: the Times puzzle is widely syndicated.

  22. Subvet says:

    My mother-in-law thought I was an uneducated boob due to a lack of formal schooling. She got quiet the day I finished the NYT crossword in about 20 minutes. Turns out she can NEVER finish one!

    It was the Sunday edition, I never told her I\’m lost on the other six days of the week.

  23. Gloria says:

    The NYT puzzle is in a lot of papers – even our local Nevada County, CA daily. I get the “Sacramento Bee” and do it in there with all the other puzzles (Cryptoquotes, jumbles, etc.). I’m a word freak. I ignore the Sudoku. My brain doesn’t work that way. The Friday NYT is usually the hardest and, yes, the Sunday one can go either way. I start the Sunday one with my morning coffee before I get ready for Church, then finish it when I get home late in the afternoon. By then some of the words I didn’t get earlier pop right out at me. Brain lag?

  24. There was a stack of photo copies of the crossword in the airline lounge.

  25. Joe says:

    “There was a stack of photo copies of the crossword in the airline lounge.”

    Don’t feel the need to explain. The NYT crossword is one of the most challenging.It is always good to recognize the flower in the weeds.Crossword puzzles- and bridge- are statistically cited as a way to offset the devastating effects of advancing age, especially when one is alone most of the time.

  26. Maureen says:

    Some people find sudoku easier if they replace the numbers with letters or other symbols. It’s not really anything to do with math or numbers. You could do it with colored squares, if you liked.

    I love crossword puzzles, but I’ll be darned if I can do cryptic crosswords. I always feel I’m being very clever if I can figure out one or two words in one of those. But I’m sure it’s really all about conventions, just as many crossword puzzles are. If I sat down with a stack of cryptic crosswords and checked clue against answer for a couple of hours, I’d probably catch on. Context is everything, really, when it comes to most puzzles; gather enough context and experience and you can figure out most of them easily. But I can’t quite bring myself to admit that I need to sit down and study in order to figure out a fun puzzle…. Sigh. Vanity, vanity, thy name is me.

  27. AGA says:

    Father, did you have a wireless connection and GOOGLE to help you? That’s cheating!

  28. AGA says:


    Did you have a wireless connection and GOOGLE to assist you?

    That’s cheating!

  29. Peggy says:

    When I was a mere IL state employee who occasionally had to trek from SPFLD to Chicagoland (boy, is that another world!), a colleague and I got into the habit of doing the crossword puzzles on the train home. I recall framing one we did one memorable ride as a memento when she moved on. We had lots of laughs.

  30. A Random Friar says:

    I used to love GAMES Magazine as a travelling companion, but I think they got bought up or subsumed into the same publisher as one of the “adult” magazines, so I dropped them years ago. I see they are now owned by a safer company.

  31. Aric says:

    As has been implied, but not specifically stated, the puzzle gets progressively harder from Monday to Saturday. The Sunday puzzle backs up to about a Thursday difficulty, but is larger and therefore presents a different kind of difficulty.

    Will Shortz, the puzzle editor, has receievd much praise for his work. I do not have experience to compare him to other NY Times crossword editors, but I think he lets puzzle creators fudge on the rule that a crossword puzzle should not contain answers that a well-raised individual would not want to read over his eggs and coffee. In the Will Shortz plus column, he has introduced Ken Ken, a puzzle that puts Sudoku to shame. It can be played for free on the NYTimes website.

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