Sunday, November 20, 2005

Robair Wins A Crossword Tournament

At least he didn't have to wait as long as Ellen Ripstein.

Yesterday was the annual Community Blood Services Crossword Tournament in Ridgewood, New Jersey (just over the border from Paramus). At left, a picture of the winner, the one and only Robair. He won the trophy you see and a $500 check and the thrill of being North Jersey's crossword king.

The finals were a nailbiter. It was basically a two-person race, Robair, and a woman by the name of Elaine who is better known in the National Puzzler's League as "tyger". Robair had a rocky road to his finish, with 31-Down entered as ALOT rather than ATON which screwed up his crossers. But eventually he figured out one of the hardest answers, 36-Across, COTEDOR (Cote d'Or). He walked over to tyger, who finished first, to congratulate her on her win! But he saw that the F in square 24 was entered as an L on her grid, giving Robair the victory. Tough luck for tyger, a smart lady and a great competitor.

On hand to run the tournament was Nancy Schuster, a veteran crossword editor known for her many years working on the Dell magazines. Other guests in the house included New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz (who entertained with some great word games and a selection of bad clues from published NYT puzzles), Washington Post puzzle editor Fred Piscop, and constructors Paula Gamache, Michael Shteyman, and David J. Kahn.

Robair's laid down the gauntlet that he's going to be a force this year at Stamford.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The First Month...

It is now one month to the day that my wife Nancy has left us, and it feels like in some ways she's still here. Her spirit is still a large part of me. In other ways she seems to be guiding me through this journey I'm supposed to be flying solo through. My house taxes were due this week, and they hadn't been paid yet, mostly because I couldn't find the tax bill that had an exact amount. In frustration I grabbed a handful of random papers off Nancy's desk (where I do most of my work these days), and raised them above my head as if to throw them down on the ground in frustration - and there was, written in maroon lettering, 3RD & 4TH QUARTER TAX BILL - DOVER TOWNSHIP.

Whew. As if Nancy had willed it.

There have been trying moments, but we are doing fine. I want to publicly thank everyone who's given support, advice, prayers, and good wishes over the past month and change that we've been in this transition. I also want to thank everyone who went to and supported Nancy's publishing projects based on her homeschooling of our foster daughter (who is also doing fine). In a few days when the final numbers come in I will be proud to write a nice check for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, who will benefit from all transactions of Nancy's books in October.

There are, however, a few that I wish NOT to thank, and that is the handful of death-industry companies that have nothing better to do than to scan obituaries and identify widows and widowers to market monument stones and burial plots to. As we mentioned on this blog a few years ago, Nancy and I had purchased our final resting place already, so there was no need for these vultures to insensitively prey on me.