Dear friends, solvers, readers, and puzzlers everywhere:
It is with immense pleasure and gratitude to announce that I have been selected to write the weekly Sunday crossword for The Washington Post Magazine, a position long held by the late, great Merl Reagle. The first puzzle will run on December 6. I can barely put into words just how excited I am for this new journey I’m about to take; but I’m gonna try to put it into words. Today, by the way, just so happens to be the ten-year anniversary since my wife Vicki and I started dating, so today seemed like a great day to share the happy news.
It goes without saying that I have some very, very big shoes to fill. Merl wrote some of the funniest, most clever puns you will ever see in a crossword. He was a pioneer in the indie crossword movement, something for which I owe him a huge degree of credit. As I wrote in late August after Merl passed away, my biggest regret as a crossword constructor was that I didn’t get the chance to get to know him better on a more personal level when I had the chance. So I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do his legacy proud — and maybe create one of my own — by writing a good, regular puzzle each week for a long time just like he did. It’s the best way I can get to know him better now.
A Big Life Change like this often means making some changes elsewhere, and the first one I need to address is this website. While I’m excited to begin my work at the Post, it’s a bittersweet moment for me to announce that I will no longer be writing a weekly puzzle on Devil Cross for the foreseeable future. I’d grown attached to this place, chatting with many different readers and sharing what I love to do each week. Devil Cross is not going to end completely, however — I may write the occasional blog post when the inspiration strikes, and in fact, my hope is that I will publish at least one more puzzle here before my first Sunday Post puzzle goes live. I’m just one short of my seventieth free puzzle, and that seems like a good number for wrapping things up. And you never know; maybe one day, when I’m more settled in with the Post and I’ve got some spare time, I may write more Devil Cross puzzles again. In the meantime, though, please keep supporting the other independent puzzle writers in my sidebar by solving their puzzles and showing them some love. They’re the main reasons I started my own site.
The second big change for me is that I am also no longer going to be an editorial and organizational co-leader of the Indie 500 Crossword Tournament. As much as I loved helping to run the inaugural tournament last May, my new responsibilities with the Post are likely going to keep me pretty busy. But I know that anyone who’s at all interested in attending the next tournament or solving the puzzles from home will be in good hands with my other co-founders. If I can make it for the 2016 tournament, you’d better believe I will be there.
There are really too many people for me to thank for this opportunity in one blog post, so I won’t list everyone right now. I’ll be sure and write a more thorough post about that later. I’ll just say that many, many people deserve my deepest gratitude for helping me along the way to become a better puzzlemaker and inspiring me to make crosswords my career. It’s not every day that a person can say that he’s found his dream job, but I feel confident that I’ve found it — and never in my wildest dreams did I think that when I started Devil Cross that it would lead me here.
I hope to see you all on December 6!
And now for something completely different.
It’s time for another “Something Different” puzzle! If you’ve never tried one before, here’s how it works: most of the answers are made-up, nonsense phrases. But you can still solve the puzzle since the short answers are often legitimate words and the crazy clues are generally straightforward enough to lead you to the correct answer. If you have the clue [Sort of like Republican presidential candidate Donald], the answer might be TRUMPISH. Just make sure to keep an open mind while you solve and, most of all, have fun with it; these are remarkably fun to write, after all.
On a more somber note, you may have heard the sad news that the crossword world lost another giant: Henry Hook recently passed away at the age of 60. I did not know him personally; I never spoke to the man in person. But I do know that he had a very, very creative imagination for puzzles. I also learned that Henry was a pioneer of the “Something Different” puzzle along with the late Merl Reagle. Obviously I owe both men a lot just for that alone. With both of these puzzle legends passing on within two months of one another — along with the fact that today’s a day for dressing up and being a little crazy anyway — today seemed like as good a day as any for a crazy crossword.
Enjoy the puzzle. Rest in peace, Henry.
(Tip of the hat to Erik Agard, whose puzzle this week has a similar shape.)