A week ago - I was on vacation last Wednesday - I opened my email account, to be inundated with messages from colleagues, family, long lost friends and complete strangers, all of them saying that I REALLY needed to check out the crossword puzzle in that morning's New York Times. It took me awhile to actually locate a copy, but when I opened to the puzzle page, the very first clue - One Across - read "NPR Broadcaster _____ Conan."
It's a good thing no one was there to see me blush. I remember many years ago, when Red Holtzman, the great coach of the New York Knicks, found his name as a clue in the Times crossword (if memory serves, the clue was "Holtzman and Trotsky" and the answer of course - "reds") and said, "Now I can die happy." And I have to say, I'm almost there. Everybody knows that yesterday's paper isn't used for anything but fishwrap, but compared to the ephemeral nature of radio, this amounts to immortality. And it suggests that the Times puzzle editor regards my name as general knowledge.
That'll make your head spin.
Some of you know that I know Will Shortz, the Times' Puzzle Editor (and Puzzlemaster on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen) as I do play-by-play at the finals of his annual crossword puzzle tournament, captured on film in the documentary Word Play. After I emailed him to say thanks, he replied that he had played no favorites - the clue was provided by the constructor.
A week later, the euphoria has subsided a bit, but it's nice to think that I'm up there with "Cuban refugee boy," "Xavier Cugat singer" and "Cheers regular."
I'd change my name to "One Across," but that would screw up my chances of making the Sunday puzzle.