I joined pretty much as a result of attending the Stamford Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 1995. I'd read about that in Games magzine, but not the NPL. I used to live in the southwest, so I never even considered going to Connecticut for the tournament, and once I moved to New York, it didn't dawn on me how close Stamford was.
It was mid-1994, I think; I had just recently started writing puzzles at the time, and by some crazy coincidence, a theatre friend of mine had brought Chainsaw along to a party I was at, and introduced us via the puzzle connection. Chainsaw started telling me about the extracurricular events at the Stamford tournament, as well as the NPL, and I thought it all sounded sort of intriguing.
So then I went to Stamford, where I fell in with a bad crowd… people who wanted me to stay up all night and eat sundaes and play charades. I didn't take much convincing. I think Panther and Qaqaq struck me as the ringleaders at the time, and Treesong was there, too, and–oh, wait, someone already made a Wizard of Oz joke. Anyway, it was one of the best weekends of my life, so I resolved to go to the Portland convention, although I didn't actually get around to joining until right before the con. But Chainsaw was the original impetus. But Panther pushed me harder to join, insisting, “You are one of us.” Maybe they should get co-credit.
First Issue: Jul 1995
Soy sauce from my namesake
I wanted to find a nom that had some wordplay angle to it, so I tried anagramming my name. Well, “Francis Heaney” turns out not to be a very fertile name for transposing, but I did eventually shuffle it into “A yen franchise”. (Mike Morton recently found “Hey, arsenic fan” as well; if I had found that one instead, you might be calling me Abigail Brewster.) What would a yen franchise be, though? A Japanese fast food restaurant, of course. All that remained was to find an interestingly-named Japanese fast food place. At a puzzle gathering in Hoboken organized by Chainsaw and attended by Tyger and various non-NPLers, I asked them for input on the Japanese fast food issue, and Chainsaw thought of “Lunch Boy”. The rest is history/silence/none of the above.