July 26, 2006

The anatomy of this blog

The left two thirds of this page contains the most recent batch of posts, as you all know (unless, maybe, you're getting posts via the RSS feed—I don't know how that works). New posts used to have the What's on the right side in that long sidebar? Do you ever look at that?

The first item of note in the sidebar is Crossword Links. You've got the NYT forums (I peruse the "Today's Puzzle" forum daily). Next, Will Johnston's indispensable Puzzle Pointers page (where I go for a fix when I'm jonesing for things like the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, a week's worth of Sun crosswords, the Hex/Hook Sunday puzzle, and the Sunday Washington Post puzzle. Then there's cruciverb.com, where I'm a paid member so I can access the crossword database (so handy!) as well as downloading the Across Lite version of the LA Times puzzle each day. Barry Haldiman's site is great when I want to know if an NYT constructor is new, when the last time a constructor had a themeless NYT, or the date of someone's previous Sunday puzzle—or if I want to download an old NYT puzzle that my mother's just found in an old newspaper (you have to be a paid NYT crosswords subscriber to do so, I believe). Constructor Patrick Merrell's site has samples of his illustration work—would you believe the back of the Alpha-Bits box?? And at Merl Reagle's site, you can order his books and do sudoku online (if that's your poison). Last, the OneLook site tells you which dictionaries include a given word (complete with links), and also lets you find words/phrases that fit a pattern (handy when constructing and trying to find something to fit a *G***L* space).

Next in the sidebar is a handy box with a button that allows you to help support this website with money. This blog is work, and it costs me money (e.g., SiteMeter fees, prize books) as well as time. I've kept the site ad-free so far, but it would be nice to cover my expenses. If you value having an ad-free space for crossword conversation, you might consider chipping in once a year to help me keep it this way. (Thanks to Dave and Barry for their donations!)

Then we have Blogs of Crossword People. I check in at most of these sites daily, though the bloggers have varying degrees of crossword-related content and varying posting schedules.

The next section is brand new as of today: Amazon links for books I personally recommend. (Those aren't paid ads—Amazon will give me a wee commission if you click on the link and buy the book in question, though. And remember, if you buy a used copy via resellers at Amazon, the hard-working author gets zip, but if you buy a new copy directly from a bookstore or website, the author's royalty account gets a boost.) Henry Hook's Twisted Crosswords is probably the one puzzle book I've enjoyed the most (it has umpteen types of variety puzzles). Matt Gaffney's new nonfiction book, Gridlock, is also warmly recommended. And Francis Heaney's Holy Tango of Literature is laugh-out-loud funny for English majors and other literature fans. From time to time, I plan to rotate other books in and out of this section. I hope you buy these books and enjoy them as much as I did.

Then there's the list of recent posts—blah, blah. And links for monthly archives. If you're trying to find something you remember reading at Crossword Fiend, forget about Blogger's "search this blog" feature up in the blue bar at the top. You're better off using Google or another search engine to track down the post you're looking for.

Any questions?