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The Simpsons


Two favorite Sunday traditions, together at last!

While they're known for having a not-always-obvious theme running through the ups and downs, the next New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle will feature a more familiar thread than usual.

[Cue theme music] "The Simpsons..."

America's first cartoon family trades favors with the New York Times this weekend, when the Sunday magazine's infamous crossword will boast a Simpsons theme and puzzle editor Will Shortz and noted crossword creator Merl Reagle will lend their voices to that evening's episode, "Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words."

Get your pens ready and clear off a comfy chair—Sunday's puzzle will feature a message integral to the episode, which features Lisa discovering that she's (surprise, surprise) a crossword whiz, only to have Homer bet against her when, short on cash, he gets mixed up in an underground cruciverbalist gambling ring.

He'll need Shortz and Reagle's help to win his little girl's trust again, for sure.

"One of the great things about working on The Simpsons is that when we do a show on a particular subject—be it politics, sports or music—we do it right," said executive producer Tim Long, who collaborated with Shortz and Reagle on the upcoming Times puzzle.

"In this case, we hired master constructor Merl Reagle to design every single crossword puzzle visible throughout the episode. Conscientious or obsessive-compulsive? You be the judge!"

Sounds right up Lisa's alley, whichever it is!

Both Shortz and Reagle, who sold his first crossword to the Times at 16, were featured in the 2006 puzzle-themed documentary World Play, which included testimonials by Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton.

"The world [the film] depicts is just so vivid and real, and Will Shortz has such an understated charisma about him," Long said. "I understand that when Will makes public appearances, women throw their No. 2 pencils at him."