Will Shortz Honored with AGPC’s 2012 Sam Loyd Award

Helen Andrews presented AGPC’s prestigious Sam Loyd Award to Will Shortz at our 2012 annual convention in Charleston, South Carolina.

© 2012 Helen S. Andrews

When I was first asked if I would present the Sam Loyd award to Will Shortz, I thought, “What can I say that hasn’t already been said or written about Will?”

I thought of creating a word game involving the letters W I L L S H O R T Z.  In a Boggle-like attempt, I found 84 words before chucking that idea.

Too mundane.

Then the question “WHAT IS CELEBRITY” came to mind.

I’ve always felt that “celebrity” was achieved when you found your own name as either a clue or an answer in a crossword puzzle.  Obviously, that wasn’t going to answer the question in Will’s case.

As I was pondering this question – and at the same time listening to National Public Radio’s program, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” (yes, I am an NPR junkie and yes, I have Carl Kassel’s voice on my answering machine), the host posed a question to a guest panelist which involved a New York Times crossword clue that had caused some controversy among puzzle fans.  To settle this issue on-air the host went directly to the source and Will Shortz came on-air to explain that the word “ILLIN” as he had first heard it in a rap song years ago, has since altered in meaning.

Serendipity met inspiration and new criteria for “celebrity” took shape in my mind.

For example:

Celebrity is when you host a weekly segment on NPR – how long has it been, Will?  I have a team and we are still waiting for one of our correct answers to be chosen for the on-air puzzle after 20 years!

Celebrity is when you appear on a weekly sitcom (even if it’s one that I don’t watch).

Celebrity is when YOU are the answer in the form of a question on Jeopardy!  The category, by the way, was “editors.”

Celebrity could still be yours, Will, if you are on one of David Letterman’s “Top 10” lists.

However, the ultimate instance of celebrity (in my mind) is appearing as YOURSELF (not just as a voice over) in an episode of The Simpsons.

Ultimate, until tonight!  Celebrity is certainly receiving the Sam Loyd Award from the membership of the AGPC.

Thank you, Will, for the honor of presenting this award to you and for challenging us to come up with new thoughts and ideas.  Congratulations!

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