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  • Writer's pictureLa Liz Liz

Our New Crossword Home Welcomes IGA-Mania ... and All manner of Inspo

Updated: Jul 9

Welcome to our new home! I've been checking under the hood and putting some finishing touches on this new website. If you've built a website, you're well aware of the many moving parts that need to be addressed and tweaked. To date, the walls are plastered, the paint is drying. but we're still waiting on furniture. A rug just arrived, purchased on a whim: "Carpet Diem!" We're here for it and delighted that you stopped by.

I'm often asked about the things that inspire my crosswords. This question was posed in an interview 20-plus years ago, and the answer remains the same. The everyday-ness of life creates the content. Books, music (all genres), food, recipes, art, architecture. tennis, people, walks on the beach, day trips around NYC, a spider spinning a web, root vegetables, minerals, pets and dishwashers. Though I've created my own word lists, I don't rate words according to difficulty level. I just use them on an "as needed" basis.

A fantastic new word has landed in our court. It's a bread-and-butter three-letter powerhouse: IGA. As in Iga Swiatek, the reigning French Open champion. At only 23, she's racked up five Grand Slam singles titles. At No. 1 in the world for over 100 weeks, Iga has elevated the playing level to new heights. Full disclosure: my father was born in Warsaw (as was Iga), so I have a special fan-girl-ness here, but Iga's stats tell the story. It's ever exciting to find a new 3-, 4- or 5-letter word that fits into our crossword "workhorse" category. In my book, if you've won even one Grand Slam singles title, you've served, volleyed and aced your way into the crossword. Witamy, Iga!

Books also play an important part in puzzle writing. It takes me forever to read a book these days because I'm constantly taking notes and jotting puzzle ideas in the margins. (No one wants to borrow my books because the insides resemble Rorschach test results.) I just finished Amor Towles superb collection of short stories, Table for Two. (More on this in a later post.) My current read is "Free Food for Millionaires," Min Jin Lee's riveting novel (which brings back memories of my first just-out-of-college job on Wall Street). And Safiya Sinclair's "How to Say Babylon" -- a memoir that grabbed me from page one and wouldn't let go. I was fortunate to have seen Ms. Sinclair speak at Simon & Schuster's 100th Anniversary at Town Hall in the spring.

Safiya Sinclair at Simon & Schuster's 100th Anniversary, Town Hall

These are just a few inspos that inform the work. The most directly-creative inspiration probably comes after musical performance and study. This should have its own category, as I believe that music performance and practice re-charges the brain in a patternlike, interactive way. Most of my Sunday puzzle ideas (especially those with visual themes) came about after orchestra rehearsal or a string quartet session. The mental and physical musical workout seems to translate to words and crossword patterns. I have no idea how it works -- but it just does. I'm glad to be back in the viola section of our local symphony orchestra. I look forward to seeing these fantastic buds when rehearsals resume in the the fall.

The gang's all here -- a nonet of violas

It's always a pleasure to hear from our subscribers, many of whom have been with us since the beginning of the Crossword Nation. We're in our 13th year of providing weekly puzzles -- and going strong. Thank you for supporting our little shop of puzzles. Until next time, I remain cruciverbally yours,




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