Members of the crossword community have been posting reminiscences, tributes, and expressions of condolence following the untimely death of puzzle legend Merl Reagle on Saturday. I, like many others, regard Merl as an early influence and appreciate his philosophy of crossword puzzles being entertainment first and foremost. I never established a close personal friendship with Merl and only interacted with him a handful of times at tournaments, but he was always warm and and good humored and he offered support of my work. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his life-partner Marie and the others who were close to him.
Brian Cimmet and Ryan Hecht interviewed Merl at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2009 and used the interview as an episode of their Fill Me In podcast. I have a copy of that episode in my iTunes library and, listening to it again, am reminded of how articulate and engaging Merl was when speaking about crossword puzzles as a business, as an art form, and as a social community. Here is a link to that episode (thanks to Alex Boisvert who posted in the comments).