That Puzzle Guy's Blog I like other things too



Welcome to! Might as well put a bio here.

I'm originally from Connecticut and have lived in San Francisco since 2008. I was lucky enough to go to high school in England, and I returned stateside to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where I got a degree in Information Technology with a focus on Machine and Computational Learning and a minor in Management. I also joined the Phi Mu Delta Fraternity (and remain a proud member). After college, I moved to Chicago for a brief, unsuccessful foray into bond futures trading. Following a period of unemployment, I was rescued by Google, where I was a developer of internal software for the Sales team for over three years. It was a great time, but in 2011, I left to join Lumos Labs, where I design and engineer games to improve users' brains! (You can see my work in Pinball Recall and Tidal Treasures, to name two.) Have a look at my resume to read more about my experience in puzzles and otherwise.

I've loved puzzles for as long as I can remember, consuming Penny Press and, with less success, GAMES Magazine in my youth. I began focusing on crosswords specifically in November of 1998, just after my fourteenth birthday. A teacher in my study hall one Friday afternoon gave me that day's New York Times puzzle to try. I failed pretty spectacularly, but I did a lot better on the following Monday's puzzle, and I was hooked.

I started constructing my own crosswords not too long after that. My first few efforts were terrible, of course, but soon I had enough confidence to start sending them to Will Shortz at the New York Times. My fourth submission led to my first publication on July 4, 2000. Since then, I've been printed there occasionally and in a variety of other places, including regular gigs with the CrosSynergy Syndicate and the American Values Club (formerly the Onion AV Club puzzle); I'm still active at the latter.

I began attending the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2001, placing 101st that year. I'd flown over for the event from England and got about three hours of sleep the entire weekend, but I still had a great time. I was absent in 2002, but I came back in 2003 and I haven't missed the event since. In 2005, I broke through and became the youngest champion in tournament history, and even had the thrill of seeing that win chronicled in the 2006 documentary Wordplay. In 2009, I won my fifth consecutive title, becoming the first person to accomplish that feat. That remains my most recent victory, but I'm still in hot pursuit of my sixth championship. [gnashes teeth]

I'm a big sports fan. I have a very strange set of loyalties; hover your mouse over a logo if you want to know why I like that team. I've arranged them in chronological order of when I started following them.

Whalers UConn Giants Braves
Chelsea RPI Blackhawks Bulls SF City

I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't at least attempt to turn the reader on to my favorite music. I typically like rock (garage/sleaze/etc.) and metal (speed/melodic; I don't care for the dark death stuff). My favorite bands are Hardcore Superstar, The Hellacopters, Imperial State Electric, Backyard Babies, Gluecifer, Turbonegro, Kvelertak, Sahara Hotnights, The Flaming Sideburns, Mando Diao, Caesars, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, DragonForce, Electric Frankenstein, The Hives, The Sonic Beat Explosion, Danko Jones, Bullets and Octane, and The Supersuckers. In other genres, I like Joe Jackson, Bruce Hornsby, They Might Be Giants, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and others. With regard to TV, movies, and books, I gravitate towards comedy and sports.

As John Hodgman would say, that is more information than you require. Enjoy the rest of the site!