, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Interview with Gary Cee


Nov 17, 2011

Interview with Gary Cee

I mentioned earlier this year that Gary Cee's EYE OPENER is one of my favorite puzzles in 2010. Amazing interlocking of theme entries.

Gary only started constructing in 2007, but he already had 8 puzzles published by the NY Times alone. Today is Gary's 4th puzzle for the LA Times.

What's the inspiration for today's theme and what were the other theme candidates you also considered?

I pulled up to a traffic light and saw a bumper sticker that included the words "the wrong way." A common phrase is "rub the wrong way" or "rubs the wrong way," which was a nice 15 to go through the middle of this grid. So I went to work to find theme answers that included or broke up s-b-u-r and came up with today's theme answers.

I adored the theme entry intersection in your last EYE OPENER puzzle. I'm curious: Were CAFFEINE & NICOTINE parts of your original theme entry consideration or did they just come up in your filling process?

Gotta be honest, I totally lucked out on that one in the fill.

What's your background? And how did you get into crossword construction?

I'm the program director and afternoon host at 101.5 WPDH in New York's Hudson Valley. I've been here for 8 years and was previously at WLIR on Long Island. I'm the author of 'Classic Rock,' a coffee-table book released in 1995 that's still available from online book retailers. Grew up in Patchogue, Long Island, but now I live in LaGrangeville, just east of Poughkeepsie.

I started making puzzles in 2007 as a hobby, and got a ton of rejections before being accepted first by Will, then by Rich.

Which part do you normally spend the most time on in the construction process: theme brainstorming, gridding or cluing?

I'm not a patient person by nature but I've learned to become much more patient in the gridding process. That's the part I spend the most time on.

What makes a puzzle special to you? What kind of theme & fill fascinate you?

Anything funny and clever, I suppose. Lively vocabulary, fresh fill, clues that make me laugh, etc.

What puzzles do you solve every day and which constructors do you find most inspiring?

I do the NYT puzzle every day, but Friday and Saturday are very tough for me. My favorite constructors are Patrick Berry, who's been the most inspiring, Brendan Emmett Quigley, Joon Pahk, and Matt Ginsberg.

What would we be surprised to know about you?

I'm trying to finish writing a symphony!


Lemonade714 said...

An insightful interview, with another musically inclined constructor. We really have an interesting cross section of careers represented in our puzzle makers. I found it interesting his first sale was to the NYT and he does not seem to do the LAT puzzles.

Hahtoolah said...

Nice to "meet" you Mr. Cee, through C.C.'s interview.

Anonymous said...


Matt Ginsberg said...

Aw, shucks, Gary! Many thanks for the kind words. Makes me want to spend more time constructing! :)

Steve said...

Thanks for spending the time to let us get to know you, Gary.