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.
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.