On Monday, November 23rd, Ben Pall, a Franklin Lakes resident attending Indian Hills High School, will become the youngest author of a New York Times crossword puzzle. First published in February of 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the puzzle was considered a good diversion for a nation at war. Today, The New York Times crossword is considered the premier crossword in America- possibly the world.
Here’s a link to an interview Ben had on the NYTimes wordplay blog.
The Times seeks out puzzles that are intelligent, literate and entertaining, and one can assume Ben Paul as the author shares those characteristics. According to the NY Times submission form, “The clues in an ideal puzzle provide a well-balanced test of vocabulary and knowledge, ranging from classical subjects like literature, art, classical music, mythology, history, geography, etc., to modern subjects like movies, TV, popular music, sports and names in the news. Clues should be accurate, colorful and imaginative. Puns and humor are welcome.”
The monetary reward for having a crossword published in the New York Times is a couple of hundred dollars, but the bragging rights are priceless. The prestige of being published in the NY Times is one that would be appreciated by anyone of any age, but being the youngest author brings an added sweetness to the honor. There is a particular loyalty, appreciation, and respect that is shared amongst those who eagerly look forward to each and every NY Times puzzle…and it is one of the few sections of the paper one must pay to gain access to.
The editor of the NY Times crossword puzzle, Will Shortz, has become a pop figure himself with the documentary Wordplay which featured famous politicians, sport stars and rock stars who are NYTimes crossword fans. Below is a trailer for the Wordplay movie and a music video of the movie’s theme song.