puzzle see below
live from mumbai, it's the 35th episode of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest! this week's puzzle, "They've Got It All," has as its theme three mysterious people, whose first and last names total 11, 12, and 13 letters. let's see what we can glean from the grid's theme answers:
so we're looking for three famous people whose names span the entire alphabet. and with only 39 (edit: should be 36) total letters to cover the 26, that's a pretty serious restriction on the amount of possible duplication. i don't know how it would be possible to solve this puzzle without using google or some other reference. i tried, and came up with nothing. WAYNE GRETZKY was the wrong number of letters for the hockey player, and i had nothing for the other two answers. my knowledge of country music runs pretty thin, thinner even than my knowledge of hockey players.
i mulled this over for about ten minutes, and then put it on the back burner all weekend while i gorged on australian open tennis and the super bowl. finally, this afternoon my office mate tim and i gave up and resorted to online resources to solve the puzzle in earnest. my first stop was this wikipedia page, where the entry Jacques Barzun (born 1907) pretty much jumped off the page at me. 13 letters? check. aged? 101 and counting—very much check. looks like he might fit into a pangrammatic trio of famous people? hell yes, with that sexy JQZ combo. one down, three to go. and i've never heard of this guy, so i am glad i finally gave up trying to do it without google.
having crossed off J, Q, and Z (and ABCENRSU) we then scoured this page of country singers. tim found Dwight Yoakam, who seemed to be a good candidate: 12 letters, and we could cross off DGHIKMOTWY. i'd never heard of him, either, but tim had. i guess he's probably as "famous" as jacques barzun.
that left us with FLPVX for the hockey player. my first thought was pavel something, but sadly, there wasn't an NHL all-star named pavel foxnut. but scouring rosters of 1990s NHL all-star games revealed Felix Potvin, who's our third mystery man. so there you have it: three people who've "got it all," as in all the letters of the alphabet. felix potvin, dwight yoakam, and jacques barzun. i'll go out on a limb and say they've probably never had dinner together.
this one definitely wouldn't have been solvable for me without google, but what about everybody else? whether you had to consult outside references or not, i'd be interested to hear how you came up with the three names (if indeed you did). leave a note in the comments section.
noteworthy stuff from the fill:
February 03, 2009