Published On: Mon, Nov 27th, 2023

A conversation with Nov. 26 crossword creator Patrick Blindauer

A conversation with Nov. 26 crossword creator Patrick Blindauer
A conversation with Nov. 26 crossword creator Patrick Blindauer

We recently spoke with Patrick Blindauer, who is among the crossword constructors filling in for Evan Birnholz until his return from paternity leave in January. The solution to his Sunday puzzle, “Classified Dads,” is posted below. Scroll down for our discussion, which has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Welcome! Introduce yourself!

A: I’m Patrick Blindauer. I’m an actor and puzzle/game designer living in St. Louis. I currently write for Vox and Yes magazine.

Q: How did you first get into crossword construction?

A: It all started around 2003, when I gave up smoking cigarettes and started solving crosswords, and after about a year I started submitting to the New York Times. I got a lot of rejections, but eventually I broke through and had my first puzzle published on July 21, 2005 (a Thursday).

Q: Do you have a favorite clue you’ve written, whether in this puzzle or a different one, that immediately comes to mind?

A: No, all my favorite clues were written by the late, great Bob Klahn. Like these two from his final NYT puzzle: [Spot on the staff?] for NOTE and [Alphabetical order?] for BLT. So good.

Q: So, you’re a dad, I’m a new dad, and here’s your Washington Post Sunday puzzle full of DADs. How has life as a parent changed your approach to building puzzles, if at all?

A: My crosswords reflect my life, for sure, so my puzzles have had more references to kid lit and dad stuff since my kiddo was born. I haven’t really changed my approach or made any puzzles for her yet. Maybe if I made one inside Roblox she’d be interested.

Q: One of your strong interests that shines through in your clues is musical theater. I’m curious about whether your life in crosswords intersects with your life onstage in other ways?

A: I’m also a musical theater performer, so I do like to include references to that. There is usually another person in the company who’s into crosswords, like the singer/songwriter Sam Sherwood in the production of “Bright Star” I just did. He does the NYT every day, but only for the last few years, so I was able to introduce him to my old puzzles like a proud papa.

Q: You were one of a select group of people who co-constructed puzzles with celebrities for the New York Times in 2017. You worked with actor Jesse Eisenberg on the Feb. 15, 2017, puzzle — what was that experience like?

A: Making a puzzle with Jesse was cool. He really wanted to do something about his in-laws being vegan, and he was a terrific collaborator, though he has yet to get me cast in a major motion picture.

Q: Any other puzzle projects you’d like to promote?

A: There’s a compilation of Vox puzzles that just came out — lots of fun stuff in there. Thanks for the fun questions and the chance to cover for you, Evan. Now isn’t there a bottle somewhere that needs warming?

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