Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LA BAMBA STAR MORALES: Slate introduces The Shortz Factor, a measure of how frequently a name is invoked in the NYT's crosswords compared to other pages in the newspaper.


  1. Professor Jeff10:23 AM

    For those who dislike clicking through slideshows:
    7. URI Geller
    6. YMA Sumac
    5. Mel OTT
    4. ESAI Morales
    3. ERTE
    2. Charlotte RAE
    1. ERLE Stanley Gardner

    As someone who's getting ready to participate in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament for the first time this March, I've gotten verrrrrry familiar with this group. One almost wonders if some Crossword Casting Cabal is at work in the entertainment industry, making sure that new crossword-friendly celebrities emerge every so often to provide constructors with much-needed fill. "You say your name is India.ARIE? Really? You're hired!"

  2. Fred App11:06 AM

    They left out Uta Hagen.

    I've often wondered how long a person has to have faded from popular consciousness before they are no longer considered a legitimate crossword answer. Won't we get to a point -- pretty soon, probably -- where virtually no one doing a NYT crossword puzzle knows who Uri Geller is?

  3. Genevieve11:29 AM

    A friend suggests that Eero Saarinen must be up there.

  4. Genevieve11:29 AM

    You've got a point, but how many people doing the NYT puzzle knows who Yma Sumac is, except from other puzzles?

  5. Probably not, because there are a fair number of Saarinen references in the regular Times because of the JFK Terminal that he built.

  6. Devin McCullen1:05 PM

    As someone who did go through the slideshow, they really should have found a better photo of Charlotte Rae.

  7. Jenn.3:04 PM

    Good luck!  Dare I hope that we'll get a report?

  8. Professor Jeff3:19 PM

    Thanks for the good wishes. I'll certainly try to write something up when I get back (it's March 16-18). I have no idea how I'll fare, but I figure the story value is worth any potential humiliation. (I also suspect that at least one other Thingthrower may be competing -- perhaps even defending his title. Are you out there, Dan F.?)

  9. Marsha5:34 PM

    I feel the need to link to one of my all-time favorite short stories - "Yma Dream" by Thomas Meehan. Here's audio of Christine Baranski reading it. Do not listen to this while drinking soda.