Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

June 2007


Are you into crosswords? The other day, with a gazillion letters across and none of the down words filled in yet, I ran into a clue, “Former big-city mayor now senator.” So I try
“B-E-R-N-I-E-S-A-N-D-E-R-S.” It was two squares short. So I write “B-E-R-N-A-R-D-S-A-N-D-E-R-S.” Only picked up one letter. Shoot! 

 “What could it be?” I thought. Then it hit me — “I-B-E-R-N-A-R-D-S-A-N-D-E-R-S.” “I” for Independent, right?

Vermont has crept into the world’s consciousness, in every way. It used to be cheese, cows and foliage. But over time, Green Mountain culture insinuated its way into everything: M*A*S*H may have helped put Toledo and Ottumwa on the map, but Larry, Daryl and Daryl lit the front porch lights of bed and breakfasts all over Vermont. Once the world got used to Green Mountain coffee, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Vermont Teddy Bears, could crossword clues be far behind?

Like my childhood hometown (four letters, “City in Oklahoma.”), you haven’t made it until you’re a regular clue in crossword puzzles. 

Usually, I do crosswords in pen, so I’ve got to be very confident before I fill in a long string of boxes. While I’m looking for a way to get into a puzzle, I do three-letter words, either across or down, I don’t care. I often pick up snotty little words used in crossword puzzles only: “O-R-T,” for instance, a three-letter word defined in clues as “food scraps.” Do you know anyone who feeds a pet ort? Didn’t think so. 

I wonder if public relations firms hound crossword writers, their publishers and editors with suggestions of how to use their clients’ names or products in puzzles. You know, like “Local magazine celebrating the completion of 23 years of uninterrupted monthly publication: “B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S-P-E-O-P-L-E-V-E-R-M-O-N-T”

By the way, it turns out the puzzle writer of the clue I referred to earlier was thinking of Dianne Feinstein, former mayor of San Francisco. I missed the import of the word “big” in the clue, apparently.