December 21st – National Crossword Puzzle Day with Joshua Rae

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Podcast Recommendations for National Crossword Puzzle Day

Today’s guest is Joshua Rae, Outreach Specialist at FRONTLINE PBS.

Use #CrosswordPuzzleDay for all things related to this day. 

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Podcast Gumbo is produced by Paul Kondo each week. Paul also writes the Podcast Gumbo newsletter where he recommends 3 unique podcast episodes every Wednesday.

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Hey. This is Paul Kondo. This is the Podcast Gumbo podcast and I’ve got a rhetorical question for ya.

Are you like me and find those things we call National Days, like Cheeseball Day or worse, Moldy Cheese Day, amusing? Yeah, me too. So each week, I’ll have one of my podcast friends challenge me to find an episode related to one of those days and I’ll be releasing it on the actual day it occurs. 

So, let’s get to it. What is today’s National Day?

Hey Paul. It’s Joshua. Question for you. What do you call a puzzle that can often be found in newspapers? It’s nine letters. The answer to the question will lead you to the National Day I’m interested in. As you may know, I love puzzles and I’d love to know about the history of this specific kind of puzzle. How long have they been around and was Wil Shortz there when they were invented? I appreciate your help. Thanks Paul. 

This next comment is out of love and not made to make fun of my guest, Joshua. He recorded it 7 times because he didn’t want to be shown up by all my friends who are used to talking into a mic. I assured him that just because many are hosts of their own podcasts doesn’t make them any good at it. Yes, I just made fun of some of my friends that have made me the huge success that I am. 

If you couldn’t figure out Joshua’s question, today, December 21st, is National Crossword Puzzle Day. To give a little bit of history, an English journalist named Arthur Wynne invented the crossword puzzle. It is said that he created the first published puzzle in 1913. So that probably answers Joshua’s query about whether Wil Shortz was around.

So attempt to do the crossword puzzle from today’s NY Times and show how us you fared using the Crossword Puzzle Day hashtag. 

Today’s recommendation about this day is from the Weird Work podcast. Weird Work interviews people with your not typical jobs. In this episode, they interview the aforementioned, Wil Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor at The New York Times. Shortz talks about the origin of the famous crossword and other puzzling things.

Today’s challenge comes from Joshua Rae. Joshua is the Outreach Specialist at FRONTLINE PBS. Recently, he reached out to me to let me know about a podcast that FRONTLINE created with the BBC entitled I’m Not a Monster. I’m Not a Monster is a story of a family from Indiana that ended up joining the Islamic State caliphate. But what is the mother’s role in all of it? Check out this 10-part series and let me know what you think. 

For today’s third recommendation, Joshua recommends an episode of The Allusionist called, Crypt, Decrypt. Our friend and host, Helen Zaltzman, discusses crossword puzzles. It’s not tough to imagine there are crossword puzzle tournaments and this one comes straight from one known as Lollapuzzolla. Imagine trying to say that one time fast. 

For today’s Extra Hot Sauce, all I’ll say is come back on December 26th for a very big announcement. 

As always, take a look at the show notes for links to all the podcasts mentioned in this episode as well as other life-altering information. To make it easy for you, there’s also a link to a podcast playlist that will contain all the episodes ever mentioned in this show. 

See you next week sometime for another round of recommendations. 

Are you still listening? Do you still want more podcast goodness? If so, get on over to and subscribe to my newsletter today. 

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