A long time for Shortz

NYT puzzlemaster passes another decade at the helm

Published November 19, 2023

Hello crossworders! I hope you’ve been brushing up on how long you’re supposed to cook your turkey. But it’s not time yet, so let’s dive into this week’s potluck of puzzles! 

The New York Times just saw a big anniversary in puzzledom: Will Shortz has now been at the editorial helm for 30 years. His first puzzle was published Nov. 21, 1993, and he’s edited each of the 10,000+ newspaper crosswords that have been published since. 

This week, the NYT published a recap of Shortz’s tenure, along with puzzles you can solve from the archive, and NPR featured an interview last week as part of their Sunday Puzzle (among Shortz’s other gigs is as puzzlemaster for that feature). They’re both fun pieces to check out – as well as this lovely New Yorker interview from earlier in 2023. What a run for Will (so far!).

In his honor, I’m spotlighting only NYT clues this week.

Clues you can use

Tuesday, Nov. 14 (New York Times, constructed by Matthew Linzer)

Long-running hip-hop magazine, with “The”  = SOURCE

Established in 1988, The Source stands as a cornerstone in hip-hop journalism. Founded by David Mays and Jon Shecter, became a trusted arbiter of musical excellence with its iconic “Five-Mic” album rating system. Over the years, the publication diversified its content, covering politics, social issues, and fashion. Although the magazine no longer has a print edition, and its live Source Awards haven’t aired since 2005, The Source continues to be a beacon in the world of music journalism.

Thursday, Nov. 16 (New York Times, constructed by Paolo Pasco)

“___ Mack” (2010s Disney show) = ANDI

Created by Terri Minsky, Andi Mack is a coming-of-age TV show that premiered on the Disney Channel in 2017. Created by Terri Minsky (Lizzie McGuire), the show revolves around Andi Mack (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), who discovers on her 13th birthday that her sister Bex is actually her mother. As Andi navigates the challenges of adolescence, friendship, and self-discovery, the series addresses themes of identity, family dynamics, and personal growth. The show received acclaim for its diverse cast (including Joshua Rush as Cyrus Goodman, the first gay Disney Channel character), as well as its tackling of issues such as teen pregnancy. (And as a crossword person, I must say that ANDI as a name is a more satisfying answer than “AND I.”) Like many shows involving aging child actors, the show ended in 2019 after three seasons. 

Friday, Nov. 17 (New York Times, constructed by Hemant Mehta)

Home of the Green Wave = TULANE

Founded in 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana, Tulane is a private university in New Orleans, a symbol for the Pelican State, and a major sports school, having hosted three Super Bowls in the pre-Superdome ‘70s. Their football team won the first Sugar Bowl, a home game, in 1934. Famous non-sports alumni and faculty include sci-fi/fantasy author N. K. Jemisin, actor Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky, of Starsky & Hutch), and Louisiana governor and senator Huey “The Kingfish” Long. Finally, their Green Wave team name comes from a circa-1900s victory song (much like Alabama’s Crimson Tide).

More puzzle folk

Tufts University wrote a nice article this week about professor Michael Berg’s debut crossword in The New York Times back in March. Something he noted, which I agree is one of the best things about constructing a crossword, is “just playing around with the clues and trying to put in something for everybody.”

And lastly, a happy birthday to Marjorie Woolfolk of Virginia, who celebrated her 106th birthday this week. According to her local TV station, “The mother of five with 21 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren loves nature, crossword puzzles and organizing photos.” I’m no data scientist, and I don’t quite understand the connection between causation and correlation, but it sure sounds like to me solving crosswords can make you a centenarian!

I plan to solve crosswords until I’m 106, but for now let’s take it one week at a time. Enjoy some puzzles this week, and happy early Thanksgiving!

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday. 

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