225. MEmoRiaL

October 4, 2015

merlmemorialA 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.

roomRobert 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.

220. Number Six … and Not

March 30, 2015

6jerseyThe 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 »

213. Eighties Ladies

November 12, 2014

Compliments of Time Home Entertainment, here’s a free “Jumbo” crossword from their latest People Puzzler book, Holiday Funfest!

80sLadiesCLICK HERE to download a PDF

The crossword’s theme is female singers of the ’80s, with an added quirk — it’s 100 percent man-free!

More about the book in an earlier post, on Amazon, or take a look inside at Barnes & Noble.

Theme idea & puzzle edit: Lisa Russell • puzzle & art direction: Patrick Merrell • photo editor: Linda Pacheco • book editor: Cutler Durkee

Answer PDF


212. Puzzlers x 3

November 5, 2014

Space Puzzlefest: The multi-talented Patrick Blindauer has another one of his super-entertaining puzzlefests available for purchase. This time around the theme is outer space, with an interconnected set of crosswords leading to a final answer. I’ve already signed up! Just go HERE to join the fun.

Twice a Week Puzzles: The only thing better than a Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword is two of them! And that’s just what you’ll find every week (Monday and Thursday) on his site, HERE. Brendan possesses one of the great crossword minds on the planet, crafting sparkling grids, unique themes, and clever clues with seeming ease. He’s also known for putting things in his puzzles you won’t find anywhere else. Brendan’s puzzles vary from easy to medium to hard (always labeled) in both themed and unthemed varieties.

Weekly Crossword Contest: Crossword great Matt Gaffney has been running a weekly crossword contest since 2008, to rave reviews. That’s 336 contest puzzles! (How’s that even possible?) Each involves not only a top-flight crossword, but an ingenious meta puzzle that awaits once the grid is filled in. Check it out HERE every Friday.

208. Dead Tree Version

February 2, 2014

The work of Randall Rosenthal is pretty darn amazing. The photo shown below (click to enlarge) isn’t a stack of real newspapers. It’s a sculpture carved from a single piece of wood, then painted in exacting detail.

I got an added surprise when I realized the crossword lying atop the pile is one of mine, appearing in The New York Times on December, 18, 2011. CLICK HERE for an article showing how Rosenthal works, and to see more of his sculptures.

And CLICK HERE to see another Rosenthal sculpture that features Randy Ross’s October 2, 2005 NYT crossword (thanks to Jeff Chen for identifying the puzzle).

193. Ambigram Crossword

April 11, 2013

settheoryBLAST FROM THE PAST DEPT.: This recent talk of ambigrams dredged up memories of a crossword I put together for Scientific American in 2006. It was written before I dabbled in ambigrams, so I hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but that’s what it is.

Sciam‘s website still has it up [CLICK HERE]. Since the crossword appeared on two pages, the grid (“blank puzzle” is how its described) and clues are on separate PDFs.

TIP: Download the PDFs (using the arrow icon in the upper right) rather than printing directly from the site. When I printed directly, the image didn’t rotate and ended up getting cropped.

190. Crossword Clue of the Day: April 1

March 31, 2013

Female buffoon? (6 letters): [ A S S E S S ]

• Click the clue to see a (completely unhelpful) visual hint.
• Highlight the bracketed space with your cursor to reveal the answer.


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