New-Wave

Crosswordese
PlusAmerica'sMostCreativeGrosswords
By the Nation'sTopConstructors

humanmind is far betrerthan Nancy'spuzzleshavespannedthesizecat- York, where the dinner table was
6 (fan"
an arena
"ny
computer," says Nancy egories.At first, sheconsEuctedonly the for puns as membersof the family
I
nied to
INicholson Joline, a versatile larger, Sundaysize. After a few years,he top each other with ouftageousplays
on
constructorwhoseoutputis seenregularly urgedher 0otacklea daily with a low word words. Playing anagramswith her grandherein CROSSW RD lvlagazineand,The count. As you know, theseare often the motherandcousinssharpened
herability to
NewYorkTirncs.Large-size,themedpuzzles unthemedpuzzles with those wide-open see words from
all angles. She attended
with numeroustricks in word and design white spacesthat appear the end of the Barnard College and majored
in Modern
have become the trademark of this week. At the time The New york Tinus EuropeanHistory. "This gave
me lots of
remarkablewoman whose creationsare daily usuallyhada 76-wordfield; however, bits of material I
can draw upon.,,
lookedforward to by her many fans.
the late JordanLasherhadcreatedapuzzle
After graduationshe worked briefly in
As with many,enteringinto the world of with a record-low 58 ennies.Although he advertising.
Writing of a different nature
puzzloconstructionwasby accident,rather had achievedttre figure, Maleskafelt that occupied
her time while she raised two
thanby design.Nancy's enftanceonto the Lasherhadtakena few libertiesto keepthe daughters.For
a while she was a reporter
pluzzlescenein the mid 1980swas some- word countdown.
for a local newspaperwhere she covered
what unexpected.Though not a regular
RecognizingNancy's skills with grid the police beat. And, when the girls were
crosswordsolver,uponfinishinga Sunday and words,Maleskasuggestedthat shetry growing
up, she worked for an education
New York Times puzzle,shethen sat back somelow-word-countpuzzlesthat would materials
company.
andthought"What a dumbpazz)e,Icando qualify as '"Iimesworthy." Afler she had
Nancy'sgreatinterestin sharingherway
better." So, after studying the physical
with wordscontinuesin a runningScrabble
makeupof several Sunday grids, and the
competitionshehashadwith her youngest
arangementof thematicwords, shesetout
daughterfor 25 years.Though she is the
to makea better pazzle.
only puzzler in the family, they take an
This very first Ey, using the only referinterest in her work and delighted in a
encebooks she had on hand, the World
puzzlewheresheincludedthenamesof her
BookEncyclopediaanda Webster'scollefour grandchildren.
giatedictionary, took muchlongerthanshe
Now sheassistshusbandEverett,anenthought,andreallywasn'tveryeasy.Itwas
gineerconsultantin airport planning...We
sentto EugeneMaleska, then the editor of doneseveralin fre low 60s,shefelt confident
complement each other. I am the word
TheNewYorkTimcs.ln retospect,shefeels to tackle a 58er.For severalweeks,every person.
He is the numbersone. I edit his
it wasn'tany good, but he did acceptit, minuteof theday,hermindwasfocusedon reports. gives
He
methescientificinformaalbeit with the complaint that he had to this challenge. "When it was finally [ion." As
the numbersperson,Everettis
spendthreehoursediting it.
complete,I wasn't sure who was more very familiar with computersbut Nancy
This inaugural effort, entitled LATE exciled,Geneor I." This accomplishment usespaper,
pencil,a typewriter,andacopy_
SHOWTRIVIA, appearedin a Simon and was written aboutin TheNew yorkThrus ing machine
forconstructionof herpuzzles.
Schusterpublication, which ldaleska was house organ, and won for her a Wynner Shefeels
her mind is the mostcomplexof
also editing at the time, and launchedher Award from CROSSW RD lvlagazinefor
all devicesandwith her growing collection
ptzzle career. Maleska must have seen Best Crosswordin a Daily Newspaper.
of referencematerialsat herfingertips,and
promisein this, her first attempt,for he sent
Less than a year later, this record was her brain in high gear,shehasall the facts
pu;zle specificationsand lots of advice.
broken with a 56er by a fellow Long Is- close by. 'Even if there were a computer
NancyfoundworkingwithETM (asshe landerwhich alsoappearedin thehrnes.At program
ableto supplymewith all thefacts
referredto him privately) to b a very re- thefirst opportunity,Nancysetout to equal
my brain can,I wouldn't want to useit. It
"Many
warding experience.
constructors that feat, and succeeded.As far as she would seemlike painting
by numbers."
havefoundhim to be a difficult taskmaster, lnows, they jointly hold the record for
a
orr occasionthough,Nancy doesmake
but he wasalways positive and wonderful 56er. Calling a puzzle like that a real use
of a recent gift from Everett. A Lanto me," was how shedescribedher puzzle "brainbuster," she often thinks of the ex- guage
lvlaster,which shecalls a.,gadget,"
educationunder his excellent tutelage. panseof while squaresand wondershow and
which summonsup words of certain
Nancyhad only met Ivlaleskaon a single shedid it. "I compareit to having quintulengths and letters placed snategically, is
occasion,and that was brief. Their contact plets: it's an accomplishment,but not one no
ma0chfor her quick mind, andoften she
wasthroughthe many notesand letters she you're in a hurry !o repeat."
can outthink it.
hassavedthroughoutthe years.
The youngestchild in a word-oriented
Nancy feelsthepleasureof consEucting
With lvlaleska'shelpandencouragement, family, Nancy grew up in
Queens,New
(Continuedon page 7)
Fall1995

CROSSWRD

Page5

Joline (from Page5)

NANCY'SNUANCES

is in the physical working and designing
and placementof the theme words. Her
gleatestenjoymentcomeswhen facing a
freshly-preparedgrid with themeentriesin
placetobeginconstructionof a newpuzzle.
Filling in the squaresis her preference;
comingup with thebestenftiesis her passion.
As with most constructors, puzzle
makingis not a pa$-timething for Nancy.
Itemsof interestwith new subjects,plays
on words,andsolutionscanoccurto herat
anytimeandhavingapadandpencilhandy
to record them is necessarywhen these
inspirationsstrikeat oddtimes.Her mindis
constantlyworking andplaying with ideas
thatcanbecomethemes,entries,andclues.
Overthe years,Nancy hasmaintaineda
scrapbookof tidbits of information. Articles,notes,words,titles, and otheritems
arecatalogedfor future reference.It is kept
asan ongoingand growing sourceof material for ideas and topics. She feels the
hardestennies
to cluearetheeasiestwords,
andspendsa lot of time thinking up new
(Continuedon Page9)

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Fall1995

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Page 7

Joline (from Page7)
waysto presentwordsandcluessoasnotto
givethewholesecretof thepuzzleawaytoo
quickly. Shedescribesherselfas a wordhoundandtrivia seeker."Having an excellent memoryandbroadfactualknowledge
helpstoo."
In the Jolines' home on Long Island,
Nancy'swork areais anL-shapeddeskin a
well-lighted, windowedcornerof their den.
Closeathandis herIBM Wheelwritertypewriterandshelvescontaininghermostused
verificationvolumes:Benet'sReadersEncyclopedia,
TheGreatSongThesaurus,
The
InternationalDictionary of 20th Century
Biography, and the most used,Random
House unabridged,2nd edition. When
browsingin bookstores,the referencesections are her favorites.
Liking thechallengeof creatingttrelarger
puzzles,the 2ls and the 23s, and the
unthemed,wide-open 15s, she concentrateson these,thoughsolversconsiderher
rebuspuzzles,
andthosewherethecluesare
hiddenin the solution itself, o be her specialty.In additiono this magazineandThe
NewYorkTimes,herpuzzleshaveappeared

in the WashingtonPost,Dell ldagazines,
SimonandSchuster,andthenew seriesby
RunningPress.
And,Nancydoessolvepuzzlestoo.British crypticsremaina sourceof enjoyment
andshehasevenconstructeda few. Keeping up with the happeningsin the puzzle
world,Nancyis alwayslookingto seewhat
otherconstructorsaredoing.Shelikes the
ones with the funny, punny themes,the
plays on words,and the puzzleswith the
cluescontainedwithin theentriesandgrid.
Nancygivesalotof creditto Will Shortzof
The New York Times for encouragingthe
developmentof this morecomplexandinfinitely more interestingpuzzleover the
last two years.
Nancy admiresShortz'stalentsand
abilities, as well as his gentlemanly
ways.Nancyfeels Will is a tremendous
assetto the puzzle world. Last spring
she attended the American Crossword
Puzzle Tournamentin Stamford,Connecticut, and she had a chanceto meet
with him and chat with some of the
foremost constructorstoday. Her fans,
the solvers, were also delighted to see
her and discusstheir favorites.

Corresponding
regularlywith otherconstructorsacrossthe United Statesthat she
has met throughoutthe years,and hearing
from either strangersor old friends who
havedoneher puzdes are sourcesof pleasure. From time to time she meets with
fellow constructorsandeditorsin New york
City for lunchandsharingofideas.In addition to thq awardby CROSSW RD lvlagazine,of whichsheis veryproud,shehasalso
received four Margaret Awards and two
nmner-up Margarets from the editors of
Simonand Schuster.Nancyadmiresmany
of her fellow consfuctors and credits the
lateErnstTheimerasbeingoneof themost
creativewith words. Of today's constructors, "They are all wonderfuland talented
people.Somearecleverwith puns,othersat
cluing, or original themes.They are nice
interestingpeople,thekind you'd find to be
goodcompanyon a longjourney.'
Nancyfeelsthat constructingcrosswords
is a wonderfulvocationandthanksall those
who havehelpedher as well as thosewho
supporther efforts. Shelikes this niche she
hasfound and considersherselflucky that
sheis ableto do it well, andenjoy it at the
sametime.
tr

That'sright.
The man in the middleis not
wearing a CROSSW RD
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Don'tbe likethe man in the
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CROSSW RD MagazineTshirtscomeinMedium,
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Fall1995

CROSSWRD

Page 9