March 01, 2008

Saturday, 3/1, the wee hours at the ACPT

I figured I'd write a brief ACPT update before going to sleep, in bullet-point form only without bullets:

It's kinda strange seeing the familiar faces in an unfamiliar context: A hotel lobby without couches. There's been a whole lotta standing around talking, but at least the hotel bar had plenty of seating. Except they kicked us all out a little after 1:00, which, hello, isn't New York supposed to be the city that never sleeps or something? The Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, it sleeps.

The Cru dinner was lovely—a buffet with none of the ridiculous waiting to get in that plagued last year's, decent food, and excellent conversation.

The evening warm-up puzzle event was a seven-puzzle extravaganza crafted by Eric Berlin, with an overarching Brooklyn theme and a meta-answer to be derived from the various puzzles' meta-answers. The puzzles were terrific, but alas, Eric called in sick and so wasn't here to gather plaudits in person. My team (Susan Hoffman, her husband Ed, and I) finished 11th. We didn't finish all the puzzles—just did enough to get the extra answer and move on. But the crosswords and other puzzles were top-notch.

After that came the wine and cheese (and beer and fruit and veggies and chips) reception with the commensurate mingling. I lost my nametag at one point and was recognized by somebody from being on Merv Griffin's Crosswords. (Fame!) I wore my MGC loser-prize wristwatch today in full ironic mode. A woman was wandering around the reception asking for suggestions for improving the game show—I believe she heard any number of mouthfuls!

The reception was followed by conviviality in the bar, with the usual constructorial gossip until the staff evicted us (and not for reason of unruliness!). Saw many old friends and met new people too. Patrick Creadon is here—his new documentary played at Sundance in January and has nothing to do with crosswords. I.O.U.S.A. is about the national debt and the crisis it poses. Patrick tells me it's not nearly as funny as Wordplay and in fact, may not be funny at all. I can't wait to see it anyway.

I'm getting up in 4 1/2 hours for breakfast with some women who are constructors, and the puzzle action launches at the very respectable hour of 11 a.m. This year's tournament constructors are Paula Gamache, Oliver Hill (that's the teenager who lives in Will Shortz's hood), Maura Jacobson, David J. Kahn, Bob Klahn (yay!), Andrea Carla Michaels , Merl Reagle, and Mike Shenk. Call me crazy, but I'm kinda hoping for a Klahn puzzle #5 full of wickedly hard clues.

During the midday break between solving sessions, I plan to hit up the marketplace. I'm not looking for any puzzle books this weekend, but want to pick up some Emily Cureton notecards (Emily's the artist who's been making daily crossword drawings inspired by fill in the NYT crossword (her blog of drawings is listed in the sidebar down on the right). Emily's artwork reflects a a darkly humorous and twisted mindset, while she looks sweet and nonthreatening. It's a great combo, and I love her wry drawings.

The Friday and Saturday LA Times crosswords appeared together on a xerox—I did the Saturday puzzle by Brad Wilber, and it's quite good indeed. Lots of fun fill. I haven't had a chance to do the Friday puzzle yet.

Saturday morning, the NYT crossword will be available down in the lobby, so I'll be doing it on paper (and possibly in the presence of the constructor, you never know) and not really timing myself.

I'll try to pop back in to the blogosphere and post another update late Saturday night.