Ol' Clue Eyes
September 29, 2011 4:24 AM   Subscribe

Frank Sinatra on the New York Times crossword. The Guardian provides some cross-Atlantic context.
posted by KirkpatrickMac (28 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Usher at 4:38 AM on September 29, 2011

Entertainers were a lot more intelligent in Frank's day.
posted by Renoroc at 4:38 AM on September 29, 2011

etc., etc., etc.

I always though that that ellipses were three dots to handle exactly this situation. You have an abbreviation that ends a sentence, which needs two dots. And yet here we have a intelligent man educated in the early 20th century (when they really pounded these things in) doing it "wrong". Was I taught incorrectly?

Also, I laughed at "fountain pen". Not sure how that's harder than regular pen, but it sure shows a flourish.
posted by DU at 4:53 AM on September 29, 2011

Great thread title.
posted by Cerulean at 5:03 AM on September 29, 2011

strangers in the write
two eager puzzlers
answering at first sight
two puzzle guzzlers
we'd be sharing clues
before the page was turned...

strangers in the write
we knew the answers
we were oh so bright
lexicon dancers
what we didn't know
we somehow always learned...

strangers in the write
with pencils ready, we were
strangers in the write
our minds were steady, as we
answered 10 across
"it gathers no moss"
we knew it was "rollingstone"
since then we've never been alone, and...

ever since that clue
we've been together
i hope we can do
crosswords forever
let's do one tonight
for strangers in the write
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:23 AM on September 29, 2011 [8 favorites]

12 up: Bronx.

23 down: Battery.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:26 AM on September 29, 2011 [6 favorites]

Randiest snide rat? Tis a nerd!
posted by pracowity at 5:28 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

                 JUSTIN BIEBER
               September 19, 2015

Dear Rovio,

Many, many, many years ago (I was about 15) I was 
living with my parents in Ontario, and Selena
Gomez asked me if I wanted to waste countless
hours while on tour.  Of course I said yes I would
and she helped me install your "Angry Birds" app
on my iPhone (I believe it was an iPhone 3GS).  The
cost was ninety-nine cents.  The point of this small 
tale is to say that SG's suggestion led me down a dark
path of addiction.

Each day's travel in the Bieber tour bus cost Disney
$5,000.  I don't remember learning a hell of a lot
about singing or performing, but - I sure spent a lot
of time trying to crush those damnable pigs.

My first day with your game I sat in the opulent
comfort of my tour bus, where there were other men and
women being paid to coach my singing or acting or 
interview skills, achieving one-star scores on many of
the levels.  Several days after I started playing I
noticed a stylist sitting next to me achieving three
stars on every single level!  Well, sirs, not to be
outwitted, the next morning on the way to Toledo lo
and behold I toiled at that first level until I had
achieved a three-star score.  And boy did I ever make
a mistake.  I realized that without easy progress 
through the levels to guide me I was in a lot of 
trouble.  After two or three weeks I wasn't doing too 
badly and I fell in love with "Angry Birds," and I 
still am, and I'm proud to say that from that moment
on I never played the next level until I had achieved
three stars, and man was I ever in trouble.  Obviously
trying to sing warmups was impossible.  The challenge
delighted me and frustrated my handlers.  From that
time on I kept timing myself to see how quickly I
could complete one.  Today I would say an average
level takes me 30 to 40 attempts.  A more difficult
one is completed in 90 to 120 attempts.  What a 
miserable way to pass the time and also shirk my

So Rovio, old chaps, keep up the good work and for all
addicts, we thank you!
posted by uncleozzy at 5:31 AM on September 29, 2011 [23 favorites]

Ya know, Bieber tried to solve the crossword, but he couldn't cut it! Siddown, junior.
posted by fetamelter at 5:35 AM on September 29, 2011

c/o The Players Club

Don't you people have homes?
posted by three blind mice at 5:36 AM on September 29, 2011

When Sinatra was 15, in 1940 or so, fountain pens were the only pocketable pens. Ball-points were leaky, expensive, unusable crap until the 1950s.
posted by hexatron at 6:00 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's Sunday ‘fore tea, there's no one in the place
Except you and me
So set 'em' up Gene, you’ve got a little story
You think I should know

I’m thinking my friend, to the end
Of breakin’ your codes
Start at ‘one, down’, my baby,
And one more ‘cross the row...

posted by Capt. Renault at 6:27 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I shoulda done the math. I guess at 74 in 1989, he must have been still using "pen" and "fountain pen" interchangeably. Likely because he probably hadn't had to use a pen himself for 50 years at that point and didn't know of any other kind.
posted by DU at 7:35 AM on September 29, 2011

in this world of outlaws
i've seen lots of funny men
some will rob you with a six gun
and some with a fountain pen
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:40 AM on September 29, 2011

It's not Sinatra, but one of Roddy Mcdowell's home movies includes David Selznick doing crosswords at the beach.
posted by Nelson at 8:03 AM on September 29, 2011

From the Guardian: In the 2006 movie mentioned above, Wordplay, the aficionados interviewed include Jon Stewart, Ken Burns and the Indigo Girls - all of whom, it's fair to say, are easier to imagine wearing a Yes We Can button than Nixon's pal Sinatra.

Why does everything have to be political? (Also, if the New York Times crossword puzzle was run in the Wall Street Journal I think we'd see different results.)
posted by madcaptenor at 8:17 AM on September 29, 2011

My husband and I have been doing crosswords together for years now, and I've been thrilled to see how many famous (read: more important/busy than me) people also sit down to this rather pedestrian pursuit. Thanks for the insight!

Off topic, I am now hooked on reading through these "Letters of Note." Some of them are hysterically funny, while others are inexplicably causing a dust storm in my office. *wipes eye*
posted by blurker at 8:25 AM on September 29, 2011

if the New York Times crossword puzzle was run in the Wall Street Journal I think we'd see different results

The hidden message would always spell out "LOWER TAXES".
posted by DU at 8:29 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just don't get on Frank's bad side or you'll get a different kind of letter!
posted by treasure at 8:33 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

treasure, the cc and copyright notice are the icing on that cake.
posted by blurker at 9:00 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I find crossword puzzles to be repressive. Who are they to tell me how to fill in the boxes.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:10 AM on September 29, 2011

n 1924 the New York Times editoral derided crossword puzzles as "a primitive form of mental exercise" and went on to predict that the public would quickly tire of them.

Can someone with better access then I find this article? The Times Archives keeps crashing on me.
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on September 29, 2011

Okay, earlier this morning when I read this, the headline of this post pleased me so that I wanted to favorite it (even if I later found out it was pulled from the article)

Instead, when I came back to this reviewing favorites as I ate my lunch today, I doodled an inspired-by-it-and-MetaFilter themed crossword puzzle, which I then banged out into a document for those who might be interested in doing something with their own pen and ink. (Sorry, I've never done this before, so I don't know of any online tools that would make it easier to do from your screen.

It's the first time I've ever constructed a crossword puzzle, so do not expect brilliance. Some of the clues are bad and some of them are REALLY bad because I wasn't working with a lined piece of paper so I'd constructed a square or two without the boxes actually lining up. It probably requires too much pop culture knowledge to make a certain type of person happy, but even those usually link with fairly easy answers.

I'm posting it here because, well, it has references to each of the major subsites (plus Music), so I realized what else am I going to do with it?

So, with all of that praise as a selling point, voilà.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:38 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Whelk: It's apparently here, if the reference link on Wikipedia may be trusted (the permissions may have changed due to a small firewall or some other disaster). It was Nov. 17, 1924. In any case, the Gray Lady herself has confirmed it.

The pen of which Sinatra speaks is not exactly an historical curiosity such as John Hancock may have used but rather the best-selling Parker Duofold, a modern fountain pen with "self-blotting" ink from a refillable cartridge. (You may recognize it as the ballpoint descendant dubbed "Big Red".) Sometime later than his tale there was probably the most advanced fountain pen ever made, the Parker 51.
posted by dhartung at 12:39 PM on September 29, 2011

The hidden message would always spell out "LOWER TAXES".

More like 21A: Those whose assets and income are too small to be taxed.
posted by dhartung at 12:40 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, I laughed at "fountain pen". Not sure how that's harder than regular pen, but it sure shows a flourish.

The risk of bleed-through on newsprint demands a delicate hand and a fine nib.

Sinatra grew up in the golden age of fountain pens, . The modern Duofold in that video isn't much like the classic, which uses a button filler; plastic cartridges didn't come along until the Waterman C/F in 1953, when the ballpoint was starting to become ubiquitous. It looks as if Ol' Blue Eyes stuck with fountain pens for correspondence and autographs his entire life.

And American crosswords remain weird and Scrabbly to lovers of British cryptics.
posted by holgate at 1:52 PM on September 29, 2011

Aquatic Mammal (5,3)
posted by hardcode at 2:33 AM on September 30, 2011

ships cat
posted by hardcode at 3:18 AM on September 30, 2011

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