September 29, 2011, 10:00 pm

Friday: Officially Starts to Work

20110930-191333.jpgDavid Hunsinger for The New York Times Bailey, a Brittany, with her litter of one-day-old puppies.
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By Joe Krozel

FRIDAY’S PUZZLE Recently, I have been the lucky recipient of mail from people who tell me that they do not always understand when I am joking.

This is totally understandable, of course; humor is subjective, much like curly hair or freckles. I’m sorry, that’s genetic. I always get those two confused. Anyway, I felt bad that some readers were missing out on the fun, so as a public service to those who tend to miss my humor, I’ve decided today to highlight all of the jokes in this post from hereon in both clearly and definitively through the use of a highly technical punctuation symbol, the asterisk. This is especially important in the next paragraph, as it will hopefully keep me from being sued by people who don’t realize that I am operating strictly from the Soupy Sales School of Humor Writing.

So, you have an extra $5,000 lying around* and for the life of you, you just can’t figure out what to buy Will Shortz — historian and collector of puzzle paraphernalia — for his next birthday.** According to Alan Connor, the cryptic crossword blogger at The London Guardian, the bidding is now over, but you could have been the lucky winner of a small collection of letters from Frank Sinatra to the former New York Times crossword editor Eugene Maleska. It turns out that Ol’ Blue Eyes was quite a crossword puzzle fan, and he and Mr. Maleska struck up a brief correspondence in the 1980s and 1990s. The letters between the singing legend and the wordsmith included personal anecdotes, and the winner of the lot will have some intriguing and unique reading ahead. And if you ever feel bad about your completion times, take solace in the fact that Frank Sinatra himself took 30 to 40 minutes to finish a daily puzzle, and 90 to 120 minutes to complete a Sunday grid. I’d like to thank Mr. Connor again for the tip, and if you love British cryptic crosswords, head over to his blog and read his very funny column.****

But enough about Frankie. I don’t know what color eyes Joe Krozel has, but he is back with a puzzle that I found to be quite unusual for his style. Maybe he’s trying something new. The grid is quite open, but there are no 15s, no incredibly long, stacked entries. What it does have is a stunning number of fresh entries, particularly near the center of the grid.

There are far too many to mention, but I particularly liked SPARKLED and JACK “Book ‘Em, Danno” LORD. If you want to see just how original the entries in the grid are, pull up the solution here and then click on the “Analyze View” button at the bottom. I also thought it was nice to see two artists, PAUL KLEE and RENOIR(S) so close together.

Mr. Krozel is fronting like it’s all about the JACKSONS, or “20s”, but we know that it’s really all about the Benjamins:

Your thoughts?

* I’m kidding. No one has an extra $5,000 lying around right now. Except maybe Lady Gaga, and she would probably not spend it on puzzle letters. She would probably just glue the bills to her body and parade around on “The View”.
** Still kidding. Please do not go out and buy him an expensive birthday present. There will be no talking to him if he starts getting $5,000 gifts.***
*** Ha ha! Once again, a totally untrue and humorous joke. Will Shortz is very easy to talk to. I swear.
**** No, seriously. He’s very funny. So is Will Shortz.

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