High School Reunion

New York Times crossword Feb. 6 / Constructed by David J. Kahn

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a running joke as the theme in an NYT puzzle. I kinda like it that way; not really a fan. Maybe Will just didn’t want to give us any heavy lifting on Super Bowl Sunday.

The set-up is in the title — “High School Reunion” — and the joke is told through italicized theme clues and answers. It goes like this: “A woman went …” TO SEE A NEW DOCTOR (23 Across). “In his office, she noticed a …” DIPLOMA ON THE WALL (31 Across). “She remembered having a high-school crush on a handsome, dark-haired boy with …” THE SAME NAME (42 Across). “However, this man was balding, gray-haired and …” JUST AVERAGE LOOKING (53 Across).

It continues: “She thought he was much too old to have been her …” CLASSMATE (68 Across). “Nevertheless, she asked him if he had attended her high school, and after he said yes, she asked ‘… ?'” WHEN DID YOU GRADUATE? (79 Across). “He answered, ‘In 1971. But …'” WHY DO YOU ASK? (92 Across). “The woman exclaimed …!” YOU WERE IN MY CLASS! (106 Across).

And the groaner-of-a-punch-line: “He looked at her closely, then asked ‘…?'” WHAT DID YOU TEACH? (118 Across).

Rim shot, please. I guess “faintly amusing” might even be charitable; it’s more like the equivalent of a drawn-out knock-knock joke. (I almost called it a Dixie cup joke until my husband told me he had no idea what that was.) And wouldn’t the year of the doctor’s graduation be on the diploma anyway? Details, details.

Philly-Area Trivia Dept.: “TV Guide’s Pennsylvania headquarters” (8 Down) is RADNOR, an affluent town in a string of Philadelphia suburbs known as the Main Line. TV Guide’s founder, Walter Annenberg, lived in the area and owned The Philadelphia Inquirer for a while. He later sold all his broadcast and publishing endeavors.

24/7 Dept.: “Lands’ End rival” (74 Across) is LL BEAN, whose flagship store in Freeport, Maine, has the biggest duck boot you’ve ever seen and is open 24 hours a day.

Last week's solution substituted the numbers 1-12 for animals in the Chinese zodiac.

Paper Menagerie Dept.: I was curious to see how Will would print the solution for last week’s puzzle, which required squeezing entire animals into single squares. Turns out he substituted the numbers 1 through 12 for the animals and then put a key at the bottom.

Not a bad way to handle it, though I was secretly hoping for itty-bitty pictures of a dragon, monkey and rooster.

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4 thoughts on “High School Reunion”

  1. I enjoyed your commentary on the “High School Reunion”, and agree it was a bit at the Elementary joke level. Nonetheless, I was unable to get another copy of the paper of that date, and had already solved it, one of the rare times I fully complete the task, and thought it might be fun to pass on to classmates with whom I will hopefully spend a weekend at our 60th reunion this summer. Can’t seem to track down a bland copy to reproduce, and its too early to be in one of their anthologies! Any ideas? Would appreciate it if you can help.

    This is first time I have come across your website (I am not an inveterate puzzle solver), and will look forward to checking into it again now and then.

  2. Kathy..forgot to add: my sister, who passed away a few years ago in Philadelphia where she had lived for about thirty years, was an inveterate. She did all her puzzles in ink, and rarely failed to complete, one of the reasons I envied her, and one why I didn’t try to match her in that skill.

  3. Glad you stopped by! And have fun at your 60th reunion. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a way to get another blank grid without paying for the Times online crossword membership. (It’s not a bad deal, but may be more than you’re looking to spend.) You might try e-mailing the Times blog Wordplay to see if they can help. Here’s the link.

  4. Details, indeed…the diploma must have been from med. school,not high school. She had to ask if he went to her high school…

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