Saturday, June 12, 2010

Amy Reynaldo: The First Five Years

Now that the Chicago Blackhawks have held the Stanley Cup high above their heads, and the Daley Fountain has been dyed red, it's time to continue the celebration in honor of another winner from Chicago. Tomorrow Amy Reynaldo (aka Orange) celebrates the fifth anniversary of her blog, Diary of a Crossword Fiend. If I lived in Chicago, I'd throw some yellow vegetable dye into that Fountain, and turn it Orange--just in time for Amy's blogiversary.

Not long after her take-no-prisoners inaugural post (aptly titled "Great Expectations") on June 13, 2005, Amy started to blog the NYT puzzle on a daily basis--a discipline clearly rooted in her passion for puzzles.

To my knowledge, she's one of the first bloggers of the New York Times puzzle, and the longest on the job.*

But more significantly for me, over a period of years, she developed the "daily" crossword blog. I'm in awe. Amy joins a syndicate of women inventors who've developed practical, everyday things: the Snugli, the windshield wiper, the modern brassiere, Liquid Paper, Toll House Cookies . . . and now, the crossword blog.

Amy has accomplished a lot in five years. As a top speed solver, she consistently scores high at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. She's written a book (How To Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle); co-authored  a Sunday NYT puzzle with Tony Orbach**; blogged puzzles from many markets (not enough bandwidth to list them here); hosted guest bloggers; presided over a Forum. And that's just for starters.

I don't recall when I first discovered Amy's blog, but this I know for sure: whenever I needed her help or advice, Amy has always been there for me. New York Times blogger Jim Horne, many of you may remember, started out as an independent. (Jim's first essay set the tone for what would be a new, proprietary spin on the NYT puzzle.) Jim credits Amy with help and encouragement during his early days on the blog. This changed the landscape for constructors, as Jim introduced databases and tools that revolutionized puzzlemaking. I can attest to that!

At times there have been dark clouds in the Orange sky. I won't forgive Amy for perpetrating the ultimate April Fools' prank: In a breezy post,  she "resigned" and walked away. I was stunned. For a few, excruciating "It's A Wonderful Life" days, there it was--a blogosphere without her . . . weird and depressing. Amy, if do that again, at least give me some lead time to score a Zoloft scrip!

Five years ago, Amy was onto something new and different. There was no turning back. Today, in addition to the official NYT blog (Wordplay), there are at least four (correct me if I'm wrong!) independent daily blogs devoted solely to the NYT puzzle, making it the most blogged about crossword in the world. NYT higher-ups should be gratified by this much daily attention to a single feature.

Congratulations, Amy, on five years of innovation . . . for being one of the first on the scene . . . and for seeing the crossword puzzle as something to blog about.

*I am aware of Curtis Yee's NYT puzzle blog, dating back to April 2005; Curtis deserves special recognition. I'll clarify later this week. 

**Updated Saturday PM, see comments--thanks Deb!


Deb Amlen said...

What a wonderful tribute, Liz!

Yes, the crossword blogosphere would be a markedly different place or perhaps not even exist without our Amy. And let's not forget that she is also officially a fellow cruciverbalist, what with her NYT debut with Tony Orbach.

Happy blogiversary, Orange. Here's to (hopefully) many more!

Elizabeth said...

Deb, thanks for the reminder re Tony Orbach. He's one of my favorites--I've updated the blog accordingly.

Blogger loves your comments and won't allow removal of the extra one. I say STET! The more, the merrier.