A Puzzling Situation

(Sunday Paper, Volume I, Issue 18)

I love a good puzzle. 

(Shocked to hear that I like a task that keeps my mind occupied? Maybe you should see Silly Mind Games I and Silly Mind Games II.)

Someday we'll get more in-depth into everyday morning routines, but for now we'll focus on Sundays.

These days Sundays are the best, because there's the NFL and pennant chase baseball, so I can have a lazy Sunday afternoon like a champ.

(This year the girls are doing fall softball for the first time, which blows up lazy Sunday mornings, but the positive spin on that is that it helps the afternoons come more quickly.)

So there's a lot to look forward to on Sundays...but perhaps nothing brings me more joy than the Sunday puzzles.

Here's the quick Sunday summary - we get Sunday delivery of The Boston Globe and The New York Times. I will write another time about my struggles to read the newspaper correctly (the original original Sunday Paper from years ago gets into this a little bit if you care to read that, and I will probably address it again sometime), but that means every Sunday I have the Globe crossword and the puzzles in the Times to look forward to.

I do the Globe crossword first. I like to use it as a bit of a warmup, get it out of the way. (Forgive me for being an obnoxious native New Yorker, but it's just not as good a puzzle as the Times one.) Then by late Sunday, depending on whether I'm engrossed in a Jets game or some other activity...because sometimes it's not until Monday night....I'll tackle the New York Times crossword. I've gotten pretty good at it. (Funnily enough I usually can't completely solve the Globe crossword. Maybe that's why I am biased against it? Nah.)

But, all that said, that's not what I actually came here to write about today. It's the other puzzles in the New York Times Magazine that I've started to come to love. There's always a 'Variety' puzzles page, pictured above. There's some kind of Sudoku (and there's also a KenKen with the crossword) that I don't pay much mind to. Then there's an easy little word puzzle that I've never really struggled with - the one shown above is called 'Winding Down' and that rotates with another one called 'Projectors'....there might be another in the mix too - some kind of hexagon grid, I forget what it's called.

Then there's the Spelling Bee, which is a good brain exercise. My oldest daughter has started to enjoy this one too - she actually found a couple of words I didn't last week.

Then there's the Acrostic (which is another rotating puzzle - occasionally great word puzzles rotate in but often it's a 'Puns and Anagrams' or a 'Diagramless' crossword, both of which I'm still not that great at). I've come to look forward to and love (and get really good at) the Acrostic. You can read the directions in the picture above...and see the completed version below. It's usually super-challenging, but I'm getting to a point where I've developed some strategies that have worked for me the past couple of times the Acrostic has appeared.

The puzzles are a weekly highlight for me. And not only on Sunday. When I sit and wait for the girls at their dance classes on Monday and even Tuesday, the puzzles are something I can do if I don't have work with me. I always feel good doing them - I feel like I'm exercising my brain.

And it's quite a feeling of satisfaction when I solve them.


*Here's something that's still a new enough occurrence that it's thrilling when it happens: I got an unsolicited assignment this week - 3 articles, in fact - that pay better than I expected and are right up my alley in terms of interesting to research and write. I kind of feel like a real writer when that happens.


*Friday night I was at The Comedy Studio. It was a full house and it was a great show. And I wish I did better. I fumbled through a joke. I'm not even sure the audience noticed - I still got a laugh. But I know it wasn't exactly right. And I obsessed over it a little. But I thought about it and I watched the video and the rest of the time on stage was very good. It just wasn't perfect. And when I'm at The Comedy Studio on a Friday night I want it to be perfect.

*This week has some good shows too - I'm at McGreevy's on Tuesday night - that's on Boylston Street in Boston, and I've never seen them not pack it in there. And then on Thursday I'm hosting another show at Speakers in Marlboro. I love hosting...and those shows always have good lineups. So come on out and let me guide you through an enjoyable evening. Details are at the Calendar link at the top of the page.

What I've Been Enjoying

*I really enjoy the Baseball Tonight Podcast, with Buster Olney. But I'm not going to recommend another podcast to you this week, like I seemingly do every week. In the past couple of weeks, Olney has had great interviews with broadcasters that I think you might enjoy. Last week he interviewed Joe Castiglione, and they talked about his time in the Red Sox booth and it was a great conversation. I recommend it to my Red Sox fans friends. And it made me think it would be great to hear a similar conversation about the Mets. Then lo and behold, this week he had an amazing conversation with Howie Rose. If you have time to give each a listen, they're really worth your time. The links above go to the ESPN podcast page. The Castiglione link is just the interview...the Rose one is the entire podcast - but he comes on at about 36:00 in. Both interviews are roughly 20 minutes long.


*Speaking of Howie Rose, it's been another crazy up and down week for the Mets. I can't wait for these next 7 days to be over....hopefully with the Mets in the playoffs. It's just so much work and I don't even know if I'm having fun watching these baseball games. Not that the post-season will be any easier, I suppose.

*The Jets? It's early yet...and they'll probably lose today...but it's not been a bad start. Even better, this week is three out of three games I can watch them at home on regular TV.

*I posted this on Facebook a little later in the day today because last week's Sunday Paper didn't seem to pick up much traction at all. Maybe it was because it was so baseball-oriented, maybe it's because people didn't want to be bummed out like they were the previous week with my September 11th reflection...or maybe it's just that Sunday is a slow day to try to get internet traffic. But I kind of married myself to that day by calling this the Sunday Paper. So hopefully today's gets more eyeballs. I write to be read, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to make sure people are reading. And if you're reading right now - thanks. I appreciate it.