First, due to the avalanche of "odjaviti" messages I received last night, I have ultimately retained only one subscriber to the ACPT updates, and it's you! Thank you for your interest!! Or did you fail to check your emails last night?
Neil, Liz, and I are settled in and we have finished puzzle 1. We arrived about an hour early, which gave Liz time to make a beeline for the exhibitors of crossword-themed tschotchkes. 4 minutes and $73 later (of which $20 was mine, since Liz had failed to bring enough cash to cover her purchases EVEN BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT STARTED, to say nothing of what is in store), Liz is the proud owner (and wearer) of a "Puzzle Constructors think inside The Box" T-shirt. Uproarious.
Puzzle 1, as you will recall from last year, is a bit of a tension-reliever for the rookies. For example 1-across, "Aerobic exercise popularized by Billy Blanks" (5 letters). [Answers at the bottom--don't peek.] 2-down "Alda of MASH" (4 letters). 45-across "Dresses for ranis" (5 letters). Best to just do the across clues--no cross-letters required for these. Should be more interesting in a few minutes.
This year, Jeff Jenest has a ping-pong theme to his crossword attire. Photo soon to come, but the costume is replete with paddles hanging from his head and about 50 ping pong balls. Very understated.
Whoops, there goes Merl Reagle (of Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday puzzle fame), and Liz is chasing him as if he were the M6 bus.