Reading back through some old posts, I comment on how I could usually complete the SJ Mercury daily crossword in 10-15 minutes. I must be getting better, because now it's typically 7 to 9 minutes. This year, I have twice broken the 5 minute barrier, getting them done in 4 minutes and some large number of seconds. Very exciting. But those were the Monday or Tuesday ones, which I think tend to be easier.
Although, interestingly, Saturday's are often easier for me than some other days'. They look hard because they have lots of long words and phrases, but in face those long ones are crossed by much shorter, usually fairly easy, words, and the long ones themselves are not too challenging.
For many years, I just did crosswords without realizing that there was a pattern, until somewhere I read or heard that the New York Times puzzle starts out easiest on Monday and then gets harder through the week until the Sunday brain smasher. I started paying attention to the Merc's puzzle, and indeed in general they're easier earlier on and take longer to complete as the week goes on; Saturday's typically has the long words/phrases; and Sunday's--well, they resort to socking us with the NY Times Sunday puzzle.
And now...back to dogs. Or work. Or both.
Update October 4, 2007: Being the obsessive data-gathering sort that I am, for the last 5 months I've tracked how long it took me to do the puzzles. Apparently my subjective impressions are completely unreliable. (Wait--don't quote me on that--) Each day of the week averages about 9 minutes for me; Saturday averages about 11 minutes. I hit 4:33 this last week on one puzzle--woo hoo. And I attempted the Sunday New York times puzzler, also, and did it in what must be (for me) a new record time of an hour, looking up only six words. But these successes don't pay quite as well as understanding (and writing about) the difference between blitting and alpha blending. ...sigh...