, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Interview with Jack McInturff


Nov 19, 2009

Interview with Jack McInturff

Today's "Fools Rush In" is our 9th Jack McInturff puzzle since the switch last March. 7 of his grids are about wordplay.

Many of you probably still remember Jack's "It's IR-IR-tating!" puzzle, in which Jack swapped every IR with RI. His "L-adder" & "Let me C" letter addition wordplay puzzles are all quite memorable.

Jack has had over 120 puzzles published by Rich Norris since he started constructing for LA Times. His puzzles also appeared in NY Times and NY Sun.

What is the inspiration for this puzzle? What are the other theme answers that did not make the cut?

I was shocked to see that this puzzle proposal was first submitted on November 28th, 2008. so I'm hard pressed to remember any inspiration. Normally, it doesn't take that long, but there were many revisions and response times from Rich Norris has increased quite a bit.

My original theme proposal was: CLEAN AND JERK, CRASH DUMMY, APRIL FOOL, INSIDE DOPE AND PROJECT CREEP. Actually there was enough for a 21 X 21 but it didn't happen.

What is your background and how did you get into crossword construction?

I have an Engineering degree, but when I retired a second time it was as Chief Financial Officer of a small Boston college. Don't know how that happened.

I found a simple crossword puzzle maker on my old Macintosh Performa computer and caught the bug. I then invested in Crossword Compiler and joined Cruciverb. The rest was history, as they say.

How would you describe your style? And what kind of theme/fill do you favor or eschew? You seem to be fond of "Word that can follow/precede..." or other wordplay.

Some would say I don't have much style and they would be right. As a result of this question, I made a list of the many types of puzzles that I have seen. This may help my creativity. I enjoyed doing "rhyming" puzzles but then Rich discontinued them. I did like "Word that can follow/precede..." Now Rich has too many of them also.

I try to be creative in my fill. "Orange". the puzzle commentator, once said of a puzzle I did "The fill seems old school". It's probably because I'm 79 years old and that's what I remember. It did give me a wake-up call, however, and I'm trying to be more current. I also like to have biblical or church clues or fill as a reminder of eternal values.

What is the most proud puzzle you've made and why?

The puzzle I am most proud of is my first one published in the LA Times on Friday April 16th, 2004. A friend in San Diego sent us the paper with the puzzle in it and my wife actually framed it.

What kind of books/magazines do you read for puzzle inspiration?

I don't read books for puzzle inspirations. I walk every day for at least an hour and random thoughts or signs I see may trigger an idea. Most of the signs I see these days are "House for Sale" Not very inspirational!

What puzzles do you solve every day and who are your favorite constructors?

I solve the LA Times, NY Times, CrosSynergy and USA Today puzzles. My favorite constructors are the editors Rich Norris, Patrick Berry, and Peter Gordon. I have always liked Lynn Lempel. (His or her?) puzzles are so straight forward and uncluttered.

Besides constructing crossword, what else do you do for fun?

I like to read. Just finished " The Bridge of Sighs" ( Maybe there is a puzzle there somewhere ) I like church activities and skydiving. Just kidding about skydiving LOL


Dennis said...

A most enjoyable interview. Wow, 79 years old - I'd be happy with just controlling my drool should I reach that age. Very impressive. Also, he got me at the end with 'skydiving' - my first reaction was, "holy s**t!"

Yeah, I can see some old-school flavor in the puzzles, but to me, that's not a bad thing. I like the feel of Jack's puzzles although I'd be hard-pressed to say exactly what it is. And Jack, I'll take creativity over style any day. Bottom line is, your puzzles always please.

Great interview, guys.

Anonymous said...

Fun interview.

Lemonade714 said...

Realize this man had his first puzzle published when he was 73-74 years old; never give up!

Thank you both

Argyle said...

Jack, this woman is skydiving at 95. Story

Orange said...

Good to have some background on this constructor. I've been doing so many of his puzzles for years, but had never met him at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament so I didn't know he was 79.

Jack, Lynn Lempel is a she. I like her work, too, especially on Monday puzzles. She's one of the CrosSynergy/Washington Post team, so that's where to find most of her puzzles these days. (And, of course, while it's possible to be as good a constructor as Patrick Berry, Peter Gordon, and Rich Norris, it's incredibly difficult to outdo them—they're among my crossword all-stars, too.)

kazie said...

Wow, he's more than three times as old as the youngest constructor we've had. Wonderful inspiration to us all, and an informative interview. Thanks C.C. and Jack!

MJ said...

Thank you, C.C., for another fine interview. I enjoy Jack's puzzles very much. They seem to me to have less crosswordese than seen in puzzles by so many other constructors. Thank you, Jack McInturff.

Crockett1947 said...

Another great interview! It's so nice that you take the time to get us the story from behind the scenes. And for all of the constructors, it's marvelous that they share their backgrounds and likes/dislikes.

JD said...

Loved this interview, CC.
Mr. McInturff, you are an inspiration!!!

Unknown said...

That's my grampie! He's leaving a legacy of crossword puzzle "doers"!

Severo said...

Fri Nov20
GEO not GMC was the maker of Trackers and sold by Chevrolet

Frenchie said...

Le felt awkward early on. It was, however, worth it when addle popped up! Jack McInturff, your puzzles are skydives! I'll jump with you anyday!