New York Times crossword May 22 / Constructed by Bob Klahn
Shhhhh! Not because there’s a surprise party for the New York Public Library‘s 100th birthday tomorrow, but because, well, it’s a library. The stately building is a bastion of history, knowledge, books and — if you believe the Ghostbusters — ghoulish librarians. (Having grown up in L.A., that movie may have vicariously served as my first trip to Bryant Park.)
So today’s puzzle rightly honors the milestone, as referenced in the title and a comment at the top of the clues: “Note: The New York Public Library turns 100 on May 23.” The theme clues provide a quick glimpse of the library’s more eccentric holdings:
“The Library’s rare first-edition printing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is, to its publisher’s chagrin, ___” SUBTITLED ‘A PARIOTIC SONG’ (24 Across). “Norbert Pearlroth spent 52 years of 60-hour weeks in the Library’s Reading Room collecting material for ___” RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT (43 Across). “The Library’s Special Collections include one of George Washington’s creations, ___” A HANDWRITTEN BEER RECIPE (69 Across). “The Library’s Periodicals Room was the source of most of the excerpted material in the first issue of ___” READER’S DIGEST MAGAZINE (97 Across). And “The handle of Charles Dickens’s ivory letter opener, in the Library’s collection, is ___” THE PAW OF HIS DECEASED CAT (120 Across).
The New Yorker, too, is acknowledging the 100th birthday this week with its cover featuring the library’s guard lions — named Patience and Fortitude — and a Sketchbook page inside illustrating other curiosities in its collections: Mary Shelley’s hair, Charlotte Bronte’s pencil, Malcolm X’s briefcase, S.J. Perelman’s typewriter, Jack Kerouac’s reading glasses and Virginia Woolf’s walking stick.
The page notes that 60,000 people showed up to check out a book the day after it opened on May 23, 1911, and that the library now houses more than 60 million books, artifacts and ephemera.
Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall so I can’t link to it. The artist is Maira Kalman.
My one quibble with the puzzle is that the milestone itself isn’t worked into the grid as an answer. Back in November, the puzzle was about lighting the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, but you didn’t know that until you solved 148 Across.
Confession #1 Dept.: I actually had to double-check my answers to the first two theme clues because the crossing words were so foreign to me. I figured out that there was a typo in “The Star-Spangled Banner” first edition, but was it A PATIOTIC SONG or a PARIOTIC SONG? The clue for 11 Down was “‘Jabberwocky’ birds,” referencing a poem full of made-up words. Great. So was the answer BOTOGOVES or BOROGOVES? I looked it up. It’s BOROGOVES, making the national anthem a PARIOTIC song.
Confession #2 Dept.: The same thing happened with George Washington’s artifact. I knew that it was A HANDWRITTEN BEE_ RECIPE. Beef? Beet? Beer? The clue for 60 Down was no help: “Easily handled, as a ship.” Yafe? Yate? Yare? I looked it up. It’s YARE. So old George made his own suds. Awesome.
Around the Corner? Dept.: I first heard of Johnny Depp in the ’80s when he was on the TV show “21 Jump Street.” Didn’t know the “Setting of Johnny Depp’s feature film debut” was ELM STREET (87 Down). The horror!
New Slang Dept.: “This is not going anywhere” is a STAYCATION (59 Across).
Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Grace in film” is Philadelphia’s own Grace KELLY (91 Across).