No one gets the credit, or rather, the large handful of friendly NPL members I met at the 2009 and 2010 American Crossword Puzzle Tournaments all share the credit. They all suggested I would enjoy joining the NPL, and they were correct. Closer to home my fellow Chicagoan, Minimus aka Bob Petitto (great nom, by the way), whom I met at the 2009 Chicago crossword tournament, was another longtime NPLer who inspired me to take the plunge.
Manx and WILLz, whose work I enjoyed in Games magazine as a kid and still do in their respective newspapers to this day, and the latter of whom has been using my puzzles on the radio over the past few years, were further reasons for my warm feelings toward the NPL. Likewise with Fraz's nifty work: he edited the cryptic in the New Yorker, where I solved every one they ran. And of course Hex, whose skills are as comprehensive as their puzzles are elegant; I have particularly admired their dazzling cryptics in the Atlantic. It may sound like a cliche but I am completely sincere when I say it is an honor to belong to a puzzle club with these wonderfully talented and likeable people.
So, later in life (age 38) than many, though probably earlier than others, I joined the NPL and have indeed enjoyed the experience. Most memorably so far, I attended my first Con in Seattle over July 4th weekend in 2010 and had an excellent time.
First Issue: February 2010
My name is Ben Bass. A few years before joining the NPL, I started writing a blog called “Ben Bass and Beyond.” (Apparently a national retail chain has since ripped off the name, cynically exploiting my site's massive worldwide popularity for their own commercial advantage.)
Some of my literally tens of readers have since started calling me Beyond – one of them announces “the Beyond!” when I walk into a room – and writing the blog has proven rewarding and satisfying, so I have come to feel a kinship with the word. Thus, when I joined the NPL, I passed up the obvious surname puns such as Treble, Profundo and Largemouth (though the latter is probably the most appropriate) in favor of the affable wordplay inherent in the name of a blog I still hack away at several days a week. Incidentally, I invite you to stop by http://benbassandbeyond.com and double my daily traffic total.