36 Comments

  1. I’m assuming a friend of the cartoonist has solicited the New York Times comic editor to run a specialized crossword message next saturday, they do that now and then, and this comic is just a personal shout out.

  2. It seems his Mom is not only looking for the perfect crossword, but a relaxed opportunity to complete it.

    So it not only must be Saturday NY Times, it must next week’s puzzle. With the current puzzle she has the constant distraction of other people working on and discussing the same puzzle. Plus if she’s doing it on the print edition, she has to deal with people sharing the rest of that section. With next week’s puzzle she’s spared all that and can truly do the puzzle in peace.

    Until people discover she has next week’s print edition, then she won’t have a moment of peace.

  3. “Free time until she finishes it.”

    If it’s *next* Saturday’s, her free time starts now, and it’s a
    week until she can possibly finish it.

  4. No, you missed the point. (2) was free time until she finishes it. By picking _next_ Saturday’s puzzle, she will have free time _all week_ in addition to however long it takes her to actually do the puzzle once it’s published next Saturday. Much better than the few free hours she’d get if she picked last Saturday’s puzzle (even if it hadn’t been started).

  5. No one? They’re not really that hard. You want hard? Check out the puzzles that The New Yorker just started offering. Them suckers am HARD.

  6. And if it’s the Saturday puzzle, the most difficult of the week, it could be a long long time before she finishes it.

    Like the opera singer who was condemned to death by firing squad.
    “Any last requests?”
    “I would like to sing my favorite song all the way through before I die.”
    “Granted. Begin now.”
    “One billion bottles of beer on the wall, one billion bottles of beer ….”

  7. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really like how this comic is laid out. Nice job, Mr. Mallett.

  8. Local paper – Newsday also has increasingly hard puzzles during the week – not just the crossword, but the suduko, and the other puzzles also.

    I did not think that the NY Times Saturday puzzle was the hardest – I though it was the Sunday one. My dad would talk about someone and to explain how smart the person was he would say “He does the NY Times Sunday crossword in ink.”

  9. The sunday ones are cleverer and bigger. So they take more time and have more places you can go wrong but in word for word difficulty the sundays are about a thurs level of difficulty.

    But although the saturdays are hard they are not impossible. I didn’t want to be the guy who says “well, *I* can do them…” but … well, they are hard but not so impossibly iconicly hard so as to make the joke actually work.

  10. I always finish the Saturday NYT puzzle. I’m not saying I get any help, nor am I saying I don’t get any help.
    DId I just work some double-negative mojo, or does the sentence make sense?

  11. I can finish the Saturdays completely about one third to one half the time. If we’re talking “completely except for all but three or four squares or so,” about three-quarters of the time.

    And yes, the Sunday NYT puzzles are more fun (depending on definitions of fun), but difficulty-wise are about on a Thursday level.

    My local paper runs the NYT puzzles in syndication one week after they appear in the TIMES, so I guess in contrast to the upcoming experience of the kid’s Mom, I’m somehow doing them in “minus-one-week’s ‘free’ time.”

  12. I almost always finish the Saturday puzzle.
    BTW today’s (Tuesday) NY Times puzzle is by Gary Trudeau and his son, who is a constructor, with the theme of comic names. An easy Tuesday one.

  13. “Local paper – Newsday also has increasingly hard puzzles during the week – not just the crossword, but the suduko, and the other puzzles also.”

    The Post-Dispatch sudoku have a “star” designation at the bottom. Monday is 1 star out of 5, increasing to Friday at 5 out of 5. Saturday is, of course, 6 out of 6. It really is pretty hard too.

  14. When I was in college and early working days, I did three crosswords per day. The Post-Dispatch had their own puzzle and the NYT, then another in the old Globe-Democrat. Then one day I decided I was tired of crosswords and I haven’t done one in full since.

    In the lab at work, some of the guys would work the puzzle as a group. They would sometimes get stuck and bring me in as the “fixer” to unsnarl whatever mess they had created.

  15. Brian in STL: But. . . but. . . 6 out of 6 should be no harder than 5 out of 5. If they’re going to make it really hard, shouldn’t it at least go up to 11?

  16. The Saturday NYT puzzle might be the most difficult of the week, but I always found Thursdays to be the most frustrating. There is usually a gimmick, like multiple letters in a square or answers that don’t make sense unless you apply a “rule”. If you figure out the gimmick, it’s the best puzzle ever. If not, it’s a complete waste of time.

  17. When my nephew delivered papers (back in the stone age) they would deliver the inserts the Friday before, My sister thought it was really a big deal that she could read the comics TWO WHOLE DAYS before everybody else.

    What can I say? There’s not a lot to do in her little town.

  18. “Brian in STL: But. . . but. . . 6 out of 6 should be no harder than 5 out of 5. If they’re going to make it really hard, shouldn’t it at least go up to 11?”

    If I could explain, I would.

  19. I hate it when the last empty square is at the intersection of “1920’s Broadway dancer” and “Scandinavian forest plant.”

  20. “When my nephew delivered papers (back in the stone age) they would deliver the inserts the Friday before, My sister thought it was really a big deal that she could read the comics TWO WHOLE DAYS before everybody else.”

    When I used to deliver the Post-Dispatch in college, the comics sections came on Wednesday. That meant we had to do something with them for three days (we threw those on Saturday). Those were 25 to a bundle, so something like 30 bundles to manage and not have anything happen to them. For a time we rented a storage locker and they’d put them in there. My father didn’t like the cost though, so we went back to storing them in the garage.

  21. MiB @ 11, this is from my quotes file:

    One of the rules of modern crossword construction is
    “Never cross an unknowable with an ungettable.”

    But some people don’t follow the rules.

  22. Agreed, Mr. Grumpy. I can usually finish the Saturday Times puzzle in about half an hour, and scores of people (at least) at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament are faster than me, like in the 5- to15-minute range. But I’ve been doing crosswords for 50-60 years.
    I hadn’t heard of the New Yorker puzzle; thanks for the tip! It doesn’t seem harder to me. Might just be an unfamiliar editorial style.

  23. “When my nephew delivered papers (back in the stone age) they would deliver the inserts the Friday before, My sister thought it was really a big deal that she could read the comics TWO WHOLE DAYS before everybody else.”

    When I delivered papers in the 70s, I loved being able to read the Sunday comics on Wednesday. However, I found delivering the inserts earlier in the week wasn’t worth the effort I saved on Sunday. Invariably, when I collected the following week, someone would complain that the Parade section or comics was missing from their Sunday paper.

  24. We can read our Sunday comics on Saturday morning. Our newspaper delivers the section with the comics, ads, etc for the Sunday paper with the Saturday one. (Unless one has Sunday only delivery.)

    I actually don’t read them until Monday night – I read the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday papers Sunday evening as I don’t have a chance before.

  25. I get the comics on Saturday even though I don’t get a daily on that day. That’s how we did it when we delivered. It was easier than throwing a large paper on Sunday. We had a color-coded route book to indicate whether a customer got daily only, Sunday only, or both.

  26. Brian – this was a fairly recent changeover. I guess they figured it was easier. I forgot that most people’s papers are thrown these days. Mine still comes in the newspaper tube.

    When they switched to “flip” delivery I wrote to the publisher and told him that I would be discontinuing my delivery as my mother taught me not to pick up things off the ground as anything on the ground is garbage.

    At least a decade later I still get my paper in the newspaper tube – and yes I do tip for it.

  27. re “my mother taught me not to pick up things off the ground as anything on the ground is garbage.”

    Surely there must be a vast number of exceptions to that rule? For starters, what if your mother fell down on the ground, hurt herself, and asked you to help her back up?

  28. Shrug – I was annoyed at many changes with the paper, including the delivery method. At the same time they switched to the “flip” delivery they also switched from after school delivery (which had been done by generations of boys – more recently also girls) as their first job, even Robert filled in for a friend doing this), and since it was now an am paper they were missing much news from the day before – for example from the time of the change until a couple of years ago the newspaper the day after the Oscars would not contain the winners of the late awards – the big ones – as they had to go to press before those winners were announced. The paper on the ground was another annoyance, hence the comparison.

    My mom if she fell, and I was the one there, would have me call my sister to have BIL pick her up as he would do so, so much better than Robert or I could.

  29. Brian in STL – I realized after the fact, that the idea of moving the comics section to the Saturday paper to help with throwing the paper makes no sense. The sections which are delivered early would then make the Saturday paper too heavy to throw – I realized this when I brought in the Saturday paper and then decided to switch the sections to the Sunday paper to compare. The Saturday sections of the paper delivered on Saturday are more pages than the Sunday sections delivered on Sunday.

    And the comics etc do come with the Sunday paper if that is all one gets. It is not tossed on Saturday.

  30. Brian – sorry to go on – but the Sunday paper here has so many sections transferred to the Saturday paper, that the Saturday paper is larger than the Sunday one would be if the sections were still delivered with the Sunday paper. It is not just the comics – but all the ads, the features section, the classified, etc. Mostly on Sunday we are just getting the news and sports delivered.

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