June 12, 2009

Crossword Fiend's Fourth Bloggiversary Contest

Can you believe this blog got its start four whole years ago? That's eight half-years, if you're keeping track. And sixteen consecutive quarters. How many crosswords have I reviewed here? A ballpark figure is 7,000. Holy Maleska, Batman! That is a heckuva lot of puzzles.

At the beginning, I was the only daily crossword blogger in America. But in a country with 300 million people, a good 15% or 20% of whom do crosswords, there was room for more. So now there are a few more blogs that focus on the New York Times puzzle: Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, Ryan and Brian Do Crosswords, and the Times' own Wordplay blog written by Jim Horne. In the past year, two of my favorite constructors have launched their own blogs and create new puzzles for their readers—Brendan Quigley asks Can I Have a Word with You? and Matt Gaffney runs his Weekly Crossword Contest. And just this spring, Rex, regular pinch-hitter PuzzleGirl, and I began a new blog devoted to the L.A. Times puzzle, L.A. Crossword Confidential. Wow! Crossword fans can now spend an inordinate amount of time online with like-minded people. I love it.

So, how best to celebrate one's fourth bloggiversary? A contest! When former agency FSLIC was in a recent crossword, I mused that a "Hidden Former Agencies" theme could be truly abysmal. COAT OF SLICK OIL has FSLIC embedded in it, and the OEO (Office of Economic Opportunity!) hides in DAY SAYS HELLO, EOS (Eos being the goddess of dawn).

Now, one of those phrases is a 14 and the other's a 15, and I didn't dream up any other theme entries to fill out the set, much less write clues. But it made me want to see more horrible theme ideas. So that's the contest: Concoct a dreadful crossword theme with at least three entries (ideally with word lengths that follow traditional crossword theme symmetry), write clues for those entries, and include a brief explanatory statement or title.

"What's the prize, Reynaldo?" you demand to know. "We're not doing any stinkin' thinking unless we might win something." The writer of the best worst theme (as determined by my personal whims—whatever makes me laugh the most will be in strong contention) will win this:

A signed copy of Dean Olsher's upcoming hardcover book, From Square One: A Meditation, with Digressions, on Crosswords. Dean'll write an inscription for the winner. (Thanks to Dean and Scribner for the prize.)

Oh—if you're wondering what to get me for my bloggiversary, the traditional gift for a fourth anniversary is fruit (!) or flowers, and the modern alternative is...appliances.

Leave your contest submissions (limit two per person) in a comment on this post. The deadline is Sunday, June 21, at noon Central time. Have fun and remember: Be bad. Be really bad.