Slate’s Culture Gabfest on HBO’s Getting On, the hoaxy saga of Elan Gale and Diane in 7A, and the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle with guest Will Shortz.

Will Shortz Names His Favorite Crossword Puzzle Ever

Will Shortz Names His Favorite Crossword Puzzle Ever

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Dec. 4 2013 2:27 PM

The Culture Gabfest “Eat My Shortz” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on HBO’s Getting On, the saga of “Diane in 7A,” and the crossword puzzles with Will Shortz.

The Culture Gabfest has moved! Find new episodes here.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 272 with Stephen Metcalf, John Swansburg, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page here:


The sponsors of this week’s show are and Audible. Go to and use the promo code “CULTUREFEST” for your no-risk free trial and bonus offer. Get a free audiobook from Audible’s collection of more than 100,000 titles and a subscription to a daily audio digest when you sign up for a 30-day free trial at

Culturefest is on the radio! “Gabfest Radio” combines Slate’s Culture and Political Gabfests in one show—listen on Saturdays at 7 a.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. on WNYC’s AM820.

And don’t forget you can find Culture Gabfest T-shirts for sale in the Slate store.

On this week’s episode, the critics discuss Getting On, a new HBO comedy set on an extended care hospital wing.  Do the show’s representation of the elderly pose a departure from the bumbling, slapstick seniors of network TV? Next, the gabbers discuss one’s right to privacy in the Twitter age. Inspired by the faux Twitter feud between Elan Gale, a producer of The Bachelor, and “Diane,” an anonymous—and perhaps apocryphal—passenger on Gale’s Thanksgiving flight, the critics wonder: Should all our public experiences be open to Twitter-criticism? And finally, the Gabfest welcomes Will Shortz, editor of the New York Times crossword, to celebrate the puzzle’s 100-year history. Guard your ulnae and hide your etui. The critics get Shortz’s take on crosswordese.


Links to some of the things we discussed this week follow:


John: The New York Times acrostic puzzle, constructed by Henry Rathvon and Emily Cox every other Sunday


Julia: “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney & Wings

Steve: The rock duo Best Coast, the redware pottery of Lauren Mundy, and the late Peter Kaplan, celebrated editor of The New York Observer. (Julia flagged John Homans’ obit as worth reading.)

Outro: “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney & Wings

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Chris Wade. Our intern is Anna Shechtman.

Follow us on Twitter. And please Like the Culture Gabfest on Facebook

Stephen Metcalf is Slate’s critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

John Swansburg is a senior editor at the Atlantic.

Julia Turner, the former editor in chief of Slate, is a regular on Slate’s Culture Gabfest podcast.