|This puzzle honors a milestone birthday for Nick Nash [click here for his LinkedIn profile] and pays tribute to many of his interests and experiences. To get this project underway, Professor George Barany was approached by his long-time friend at the University of Minnesota, Myrna Smith, who introduced him to her own friend Karen Lundholm, and then reacquainted him with Bonita Sindelir, whom he had first met when their respective sons (Jesse born 1982; Michael born 1987) overlapped as "students" at the University of Minnesota Child Development Center. It should be noted that all three ladies are friends of Nick, with Karen having known NN back in the century before this one … and then some. [In our byline photo, taken during a joint vacation in Norway, the ladies are conveniently arranged left to right in alphabetical order, and they are all wearing Viking hats.] As per our standard protocol, the ladies brainstormed for a long list of words and phrases evocative of the honoree, and the Professor brought to bear his considerable creativity and experience to fashioning a draft answer grid that was amenable to cluing—much of it idiosyncratic to its subject. The photo to the right was taken just as Nick had the first opportunity to contemplate 'his' crossword puzzle. Is there a good clue for 'gobsmacked?' (You could look it up ...)
The puzzle's title is captivating. The honoree has had, for some time, a major infatuation with Scotland, its people, and one of its major liquid industries. There is no ostensible reason for this infatuation: it is one of those things that just happened. The ramifications have been far-reaching and long-lasting. This puzzle reflects many bits and shapes leading to this tapestry, from the love of the country to the enjoyment of its whisky. NN prefers the single malt whisky, but plain old "scotch" is quite acceptable. As we all—puzzle creators, puzzle's honoree, and puzzle's contributors—are Minnesotans, the reference to one of our State’s major industry creations—Scotch Tape (3M)—is a very nice touch.
[GB adds: I was happy that Karen and friends liked my original idea for the puzzle's title, and direct the interested reader to this site which explains more about Scotch Tape from the point of view of my own specialty, chemistry. It was also quite sobering to learn that Scotland's brew of choice is spelled without an "e," ˆ la Perec.]
Nick began his career as a teacher (English and Latin), and then moved on to school administration. He returned to Minnesota for a doctorate and spent some years at The Ohio State University with a focus on educational administration. In the mid-70's, Nick changed careers when he became vice president for programming at Minnesota Public Radio. One of his many creative contributions was initiating the first live, stereo, digital broadcast to the United States of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, England—a popular Advent Service occurring annually in King's College Chapel since 1918. Nick recently completed a chapter on the history of this Service for a book of essays to be published on behalf of King's College on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the completion of the Chapel. [NN adds: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is heard live on Christmas Eve on BBC Radio 4 at 3 p.m. GMT and rebroadcast on Radio 3 on Christmas Day. The BBC has broadcast the service every year since 1928, except for 1930, and Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media has broadcast it every year since 1979. The program is available for listening online for about two weeks after the live broadcast. In the early 1960s, BBC television began a television program called Carols From King's. It is a stripped down version of the live service with slightly different music, readings from the Bible and other sources, and edited prayers. Viewers often believe that what they are seeing is the Òreal thing,Ó but it is not. That said, it is a satisfying experience and does convey the beauty of the space and its remarkable acoustic. Click here for the 1954 service recorded in black & white (42 min; shortened from the full version). More recent versions can be found on YouTube with a bit of creative searching, e.g., click here and be prepared to be enchanted for hours. If pressed for time, you may enjoy a chemistry-inspired April Fools' laugh (90 sec) found by clicking here.]
Following several fruitful years in radio, Nick again changed careers and founded The Nash Company, specializing in musical gifts. Among his early creations was "The Complete Conductor Kit" for persons wishing to conduct an orchestra in the privacy of their own home. His company has evolved to its current focus on the sales and distribution of conducting batons and noseflutes. Nick's love of vocabulary, theater, and music is inherited and routinely fed by trips to London and throughout the internet. He considers himself well celebrated to be the recipient of one of George Barany's crossword puzzle tributes.
Below is a non-comprehensive list of those answer words and/or their clues that we thought might require special explanation:
- 1-Across: BEATS. The clue pays homage to
baton products available from NN's company.
- 6-Across: REED is clued as "thatching material used in the roof of Frank Anderson's cottage." Obviously, an experienced crossword solver requires only the first two words of that clue. Frank Anderson was a producer for the BBC in Outside Broadcasting for many years, and took NN under his wing early on. Broadcast of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was part of Frank's BBC production portfolio from 1939–1979. He lived in a thatch-roofed cottage that was built in the 16th century.
- 17-Across: STEPHEN SONDHEIM has long been a hero of NN for his brilliant music and lyrics. NN, through his company, designed and distributed products [t-shirts, mugs, etc.] on topics taken from Sondheim songs, all with the approval and consent of SS. [GB adds: SS's commitment to the cryptic form of the crossword puzzle is legendary, and this nugget has been incorporated into the clue. Turning to SS composer/lyricist, a hard-bound edition of Finishing the Hat adorns my personal bookshelf.]
- 25-Across and 71-Across: SINGLE MALT whisky is a prized product of Scotland. Most whisky is blended from several distilleries and includes a portion of grain alcohol, but the most highly prized is single malt—that is, whisky from one distillery. Ingredients for single malt are limited to water, YEAST, and barley; the result is aged in casks, often in once-used bourbon casks from the USA. Scotland’s whisky regions include Highland, Lowland, Island, Speyside, Campbeltown, and Islay (eye-lah). All whisky is good; some is better than others. Dalwhinnie is among the most benign single malts; Ardbeg is full of peat smoke and, literally, breath-taking. This is a topic requiring constant study.
- 30-Across: CELT is clued as "Druid, e.g."—relating to the early inhabitants of Scotland and the UK.
- 35-Across: BACH is clued as "P.D.Q. ___, alter ego of sometime crossword constructor Peter Schickele." NN is a great admirer (follow the links) and once did a t-shirt for P.D.Q. with the music staff broken and all of the notes piled up once they fell off. [GB adds: Parallel to our discussion of SS, it is amazing to learn that the multitalented PS also dabbles in crossword construction, as sampled here].
- 41-Across: CHAGALL—another very favorite artist of NN and his family. Many years ago, NN's father bought a Chagall lithograph, "The Bouquet, 1955." All members of the family loved this art, leading to a problem of determining who would inherit it. NN suggested that the painting be shared, with year-long custody rotating among the family. Whoever lasts the longest will get to keep it. [GB adds: Chagall's "The Fiddler" has been chosen to adorn this puzzle's main page.]
- 43-Across: ENV, a shortened version of "envelope." The clue "ltr. holder" includes a "signal" that the answer word is also an abbreviation. To liven up this piece of fill, we recalled that NN’s father has the initials EVN.
- 46-Across: Did you know that legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille was the UNCLE of pioneering musical choreographer Agnes de Mille? And yes, we've vetted the different spellings of the last name.
- 49-Across: NOSEFLUTES (link to a wikipedia page). NN markets thousands of these musical instruments; his customers range from kids to troops to diplomats. A lot of fun for not much money. [NN adds: The nose flute is a slide whistle without the slide: The flexibility of the oral cavity allows the change of note. 85% of newbies get it within five minutes; 10 percent after a cocktail or a beer in fifteen minutes; 5% remain hopeless/clueless. Interestingly, speech therapists often use the nose flute with pediatric patients because it exercises certain muscles inside the mouth. Mainly itÕs just fun. The instrument is correctly called a humanatone and dates from the late nineteenth century. ItÕs been the greatest surprise in the history of my little enterprise, and it has taught me that you may think you know what business youÕre in, but itÕs your customers who tell you what business youÕre in.]
- 64-Across: ERIC MILNER-WHITE was Dean of King's College Chapel, l918–1941, and then Dean of York. Through wit and diplomacy, EMN installed A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols as a traditional Advent Service at King's College. He is NN's hero.
- 67-Across: LEAR. Simon Russell Beale is a contemporary English actor. One of his most recent roles in the London theater was the title role in Shakespeare's "King Lear." [NN adds: I have seen Beale in "Jumpers," "Hamlet," "London Assurance," and "Collaborators", but missed his "King Lear." He is one of the under appreciated great actors of a generation ...]
- 69-Across: OBEY. "Islay" is the name of NN's Scottish terrier (see photo further below on this webpage); it is also the name of an island off the west coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides, home to eight single malt distilleries [expected to be nine by the end of 2015]. "Shambles" is the name of NN's homestead, and also refers to the casual gait of Scotties.
- 1-Down: BOSS. Gordon Schofield and Jack Culbertson each, at one time or other, was an early "boss" for NN.
- 3-Down: AREA. Northwest Area Foundation. Located in Minneapolis/St. Paul, this Foundation supports many non-profit arts enterprises.
- 4-Down: TIPS. "Wobble glasses" have round bottoms and do not tip, a property that is good for serving whisky, among other liquids. These glasses are often found on ships and places inclined to roll.
- 9-Down: DANPATCH. "Savage pacer" refers to the great horse and champion pacer Dan Patch, owned by Marion Savage and housed at "Savage Farms" in Savage, MN.
- 11-Down: DEED. "Good" work refers to NN's mission to help turtles trying to cross the road from lake to swamp get safely across without getting hit by cars. Often painted turtles, sometimes snappers. The process literally stops traffic.
- 25-Down: SAVES was clued as "Quick stats" and represents a tribute to NN's lifelong love of ice hockey. Jonathan Quick, of course, is the goalie for the LA Kings, who clinched the NHL 2014 Stanley Cup against the NY Rangers, shortly after NN's big day. [GB adds: I first heard of Quick while researching this puzzle that was constructed in the midst of the 2014 Winter Olympics. I like the misdirection inherent in the clue, since most solvers won't associate "quick" with a proper noun. Earlier drafts referred to two other of NN's favorite goalies, Ken Dryden and Gump Worsley, each of whom strikes me as worthy of his own puzzle. And in a late-breaking editorial suggestion, I learned that NN loves a certain local college team—not to worry, we have a puzzle about them too!] [NN adds: At Harvard, I wrote about hockey for the Bureau of Sports Information, covered the North Stars as a lark during my radio years at MPR, and then settled in to WCHA college hockey at Mariucci. Nowadays I favor womenÕs hockey, because they play the game that I remember playing as a kid. The high speed, hard-hitting game in the NHL is of less interest to me, except during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Al Shaver was one of the three best hockey broadcasters on radio I ever heard [New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman would agree]. In Toronto, the Hewitts, father and son, were right up there, as was Danny Gallivan of the Canadiens. These days, the voluble Mike Emrick (who holds a doctorate by the way) shovels more information down your pie hole during a game than anybody in the history of the sport.]
- 29-Down: LAC Qui Parle County is a MN county just south of the location of the Kensington Runestone. The runestone is a controversial find with possible direct links to early Vikings in MN. For more information, visit here.
- 60-Down: SHOE. The reference to John Lobb, longtime shoe maker in London, is a tribute to a pair of hand-made shoes inherited by NN from his father; they fit, once upon a time, and he can't bear to give them up.