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.
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?
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.
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
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 »
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.
Several days after the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people including four cartoonists, the National Cartoonist Society (NCS) put up a collection of over 130 cartoons dealing with the tragedy. They can be seen here.
The current issue of the NCS’s newsletter, just out this week (despite the Nov./Dec. dateline), used my cartoon to illustrate the event on its cover.
On Saturday, February 7, I hosted the 16th annual crossword tournament at the Westport Library. Over 100 competitors tackled four unpublished New York Times crosswords. When all the solving was complete, Andy Kravis stood victorious in defending his title, with Jan O’Sullivan close behind and Glen Ryan third with one blank square.
Will Shortz has hosted all the previous tournaments but was unable to attend this year. He was busy hosting a national table tennis tournament at his center in Pleasantville, New York.
George Barany has put together a puzzle-suite contest titled “Enigma Variations.” And there are prizes, including two paid registrations for the upcoming American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, books by top puzzlemakers, even a copy of Zep. Check it all out HERE. Hurry, it ends January 11th.
An action-packed tale of adventure, intrigue, and gadgetry for kids; a baffling, multi-step puzzle for adults hidden in the art.
In a thud of inspiration about 25 years ago, I wrote and sketched up a book called Zep (in the Curse of the Evil Dr. Sumac Who Lives Next Door). The book’s 130 pages were held together using a single binder ring. When my daughter came along, I started reading Zep to her, and it soon became one of her favorite stories.
For years I’ve dreamed of turning Zep into a real book, and the time has finally come. But I’m looking to do something I’ve never done before — self-publish.
You can help in that effort by pre-ordering the book on Kickstarter (you’ll also get some insider extras). There are additional levels of involvement, such as buying yourself a piece of original art from the book, that will help in funding the project. EVERYTHING IS EXPLAINED HERE.
Compliments of Time Home Entertainment, here’s a free “Jumbo” crossword from their latest People Puzzler book, Holiday Funfest!
The crossword’s theme is female singers of the ’80s, with an added quirk — it’s 100 percent man-free!
Theme idea & puzzle edit: Lisa Russell • puzzle & art direction: Patrick Merrell • photo editor: Linda Pacheco • book editor: Cutler Durkee
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.