October 4, 2015
A memorial for crossword-constructing legend Merl Reagle took place on September 27th in Tampa, Florida. About 125 people attended.
It was a beautiful setting in a large room on the top floor of the Vaughn Center at the University of Tampa. Twenty-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows along two walls provided sweeping views of the surrounding area … as much as you could see given the rainy weather, which was torrential at times.
People mingled from 5:00 to 6:00, munching on hors d’oeuvres while Liz Hollister and John Minor played guitar and sang songs in the background. A slide show of Merl tidbits played in a continuous loop on a large screen at the front of the hall. From 7:00 until 9:00, a fittingly eclectic mix of friends shared reminiscences about Merl. There were many laughs and a few tears.
Robert Miles, an international keynote speaker, served as master of ceremonies. Six others followed: Al Scudieri, a former FBI special agent; Jeffrey Walters, whose wife Merl had made a special puzzle for; Vic Fleming, a district judge and crossword constructor; Patrick Creadon, the director of Wordplay; myself, with a notebook filled with 400 writings collected from the crossword community; and Bill Duryea, an editor at politico.com. Marie Haley finished things up with some poignant thoughts.
About a dozen of us, including Marie, had dinner together afterwards at a nearby hotel, Le Méridien, telling more stories. Toward the end, Judge Vic pulled out his guitar and serenaded us into the night with a rendition of “If You Don’t Come Across.”
A video of the speeches, taken by Nancy Shack, can be seen HERE.
September 29, 2015
In this week’s People magazine, I’ve got a crossword puzzle with a “star of Everest” as its theme. I’ll have additional puzzles appearing every three weeks.
In the October issue of MAD magazine, I’ve got a Donald Trump poem (a sound bite-friendly four lines long). I also put together many of the articles, as part of a summer stint working there, and managed to sneak one of my mice onto a page. Can you find it?
September 14, 2015
ZEP PRIZES have been randomly awarded to seven of the correct puzzle solvers.
And the winners are …
• Amy Goldstein & Mike Shenk: (A) Lincoln Zephyr ads
• Erin Rhode: (B) Zephyr bowling shirt
• Richard Pardoe: (C) Zephyr train brochure
1st PLACE • Steve Williams: (D) Zephyr lettering set
• Joe Miller (E substitution): two Zep books
• Andy, Iris & Stella Keller: (F) Yma Sumac record
• Jonathan McCue: (G) sumac berries + print
The five remaining correct solvers will each get a bonus copy of the book.
April 17, 2015
Just click on the image above to check it out.
April 16, 2015
I’ve wanted to tackle the subject of creativity for a long time, and now I have. On April 15, I launched a new blog called Uh…Oh!
Creativity isn’t a magical skill bestowed upon a select few at birth. It’s an ability everyone possesses.
Uh…Oh! will explore how creativity works and how to tap into it. It will delve into topics such as the importance of perseverance, the myth of brainstorming, the unconscious, mood, the days of yore when muses ruled the creative universe, the androgynous outlook, brain research, psychology, art, science, and who knows what else. It’s a fascinating field with many intriguing avenues to explore.
In addition, you’ll find interviews, profiles, videos, guest columns, brainteasers to strengthen your creative wiring, and lots of original and vintage images.
The quick address for getting there: http://uhoh.xyz
March 30, 2015
The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Almost Victory
The scene: the onstage battle at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament between five-times-in-a-row winners Dan Feyer and Tyler Hinman. Howard Barkin added a wild card to the mix, making his fifth trip to the big boards (once as a C finalist).
Tyler radiated a renewed hunger to take back the title, racing to fill in letters. In contrast, Dan solved with methodical speed. In the end, the result was the same. Within less than eight minutes, they both had just a few letters to go. And I honestly wondered if we’d see the first tie in tournament history. Read the rest of this entry »
March 4, 2015
Years ago, when MAD released all their issues on CD-ROM, I fashioned this palindrome: O.K., Alfred now on CD-ROM. Uh, he’s a gas, eh? Humor! DC: “No wonder, flako!”
Then another, apt for any skewered celebrity: Damn! I saw I was in MAD.
And finally, an anagram of Alfred E. Neuman: Mundane ear elf
MAD filed them away in the appropriate receptacle.