You may only see a few faces in front of the show, but it takes a village to bring Lollapuzzoola to life. We’ve got a superstar village – if you have the time, check out their links, follow them on social media, and find out where you can enjoy more of their work!
Brian Cimmet (he/him | @cimmet) co-created Lollapuzzoola in 2008 and is beyond grateful to all of the contestants, constructors, contributors, colleagues, and co-hosts/co-editors Brooke and Sid for helping to bring another year of this tournament to life. Elsewhere in puzzles, Brian co-hosts the weekly podcast “Fill Me In” with Ryan Hecht and presents an original contest crossword there twice a month. In real life, Brian lives in central New York with his wife Toni and son Oscar, and teaches Musical Theater at Syracuse University. His weirdest memory of NYC is getting lost between two parties on Staten Island back in the time before anyone had smart phones (or cell phones, even).
Co-Editor, Co-Host, Constructor
Brooke Husic (she/her | @xandraladee) is so thrilled to construct for her third Lollapuzzoola and to host and edit alongside Sid and Brian! Find her indie themelesses on her blog, mainstream themelesses at The New Yorker, and easy themed puzzles at the USA Today. Her favorite subway line is the Q.
Co-Editor, Co-Host, Meta Co-Constructor
Sid Sivakumar (he/him | @sid_sivakumar) is an MD/PhD student based in St. Louis, MO. He co-edits themeless crosswords for AVCX+, and you can solve his puzzles in various other venues, including the New York Times and his (now cobweb-covered) blog, Sid’s Grids. This is his third time constructing for Lollapuzzoola, second time co-hosting and co-editing with Brooke and Brian, and eighth time flying through LaGuardia this summer.
Ella Dershowitz (she/her | @EllaDershowitz) started constructing crossword puzzles about two years ago, inspired and guided by her long-time friend and now frequent collaborator Aimee Lucido. She is blown away and honored to be part of this mindbogglingly awesome lineup and extremely excited to attend her first ever Lollapuzzoola this year. Ella has lived in New York City for most of her adult life. She loves that it is such a welcoming, wanderable city where you never know what adventure you might stumble upon in a given day. That said, she should probably admit that she screams every single time she sees a rat or hears an unexpected rustle in the folds of a trash bag.
Francis Heaney (he/they | @fheaney) writes and edits puzzles for AVCX Classic and AVCX Cryptic (among sundry other venues) and is Executive Editor of Puzzlewright Press, the puzzle imprint of Union Square & Co.
Rafa Musa (he/him | @rafaxword) lives in San Francisco. He joined Twitter in 2021 to try to befriend his puzzle idols, and has made crosswords a core part of his personality ever since. His puzzles have appeared in AVCX, USA Today, Universal, and LA Times, as well as his blog. He was a Lollapuzzoola solver in 2020 and 2021, but it’s his first time constructing for a tournament. Almost all his friends have moved across the country to NYC in the last few years, so he’s hoping to do a NYC trip in the short window where East Coast weather is nice!
Will Nediger (he/him | @bewildering_ly) is a puzzlemaker from London, Ontario, where he lives with his wife and their two kids (the collectively supervocalic Julian and Joseph). His indie puzzles are at blog.bewilderinglypuzzles.com, and his other puzzles can be found at many other venues, including The New Yorker, Vox, and The Browser. His favorite novels about NYC are The Age of Innocence and Speedboat. He won’t be defending his Lolla 14 championship, but only because he’s constructing this year.
Paolo Pasco (he/him | @gpaolopasco) is Assistant Crossword Editor for the Atlantic and an incoming data scientist for a company in San Diego. He also has a crossword website called Grids These Days, which he swears he’ll post for again if he can just get this one idea to work. After competing in Lollapuzzoola 9, writing crosswords for #10, #11, and #12, and co-writing the meta suite for #14, he’s excited to be on this year’s very stacked roster. A frequent visitor to New York City, he would like to give a shoutout to Jake and Max for letting him crash on their couch all those times including this one.
Pao Roy (they/them) is a counselor and social worker living in New Orleans. They began constructing puzzles in college for the LSU Daily Reveille. Their puzzles have since appeared in the NYT, AVCX, and USA Today. They were born and raised in Queens, NY, and want you to know that Queens is absolutely the best borough.
This year, we’re excited to include some additional content to the tournament festivities. The constructors below have contributed to the bonus content this year.
Kate Chin Park
Kate Chin Park (she/her | @kateschmate) is a former Brooklynite who has moved away from NYC twice, and the second time seems to be sticking. Her favorite NYC memories are probably blueberry cake donuts, Vietnamese coffee, focaccia della nonna, roast pork buns, the N1 (iykyk), frozen blackberry brambles, baked ziti, the general availability of chicken over rice with white sauce and hot sauce on most street corners at night, and the general availability of iced coffee on most street corners in the morning. Kate has published puzzles with numerous outlets and posts indie puzzles on her blog, crosswords schmosswords.
Kelsey Dixon (she/her | @giltcomplex) is a Chicagoan and thusly committing a significant amount of treason by participating in a New York themed “Lolla.” At the tender age of 6 she skinned her knee at the Times Square Mars 2112 restaurant and has been in a one-sided beef with the entire city ever since. She started constructing in late 2021, and her puzzles can be found on her blog, crosstina aquafina, as well as at Lil AVC X and the USA Today. When not constructing or solving she likes to tweet about how much she loves Chicago, and how nice it is to live in a city where people don’t pile garbage bags on the street.
Shannon Rapp (she/her | @sharpenorah) is a research administrator at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, as well as a mom to two cats and one middle-schooler. She started making crosswords in 2020 and began writing for her puzzle blog in early 2021. Since then, her puzzles have appeared in AVCX+, Lil AVC X, Crucinova, on a dozen or so other blogs, with some fun new bylines coming very soon. She is also very excited to be constructing for Lolla! Shannon also writes for Daily Crossword Links and Crossworld News and Notes, sister publications you should definitely subscribe to. Her favorite thing about New York is the surprise bit of quiet that can be found amid all the activity – you just might find her at the nearest cafe with her crossword clipboard and an almond milk mocha, just people watching.
Carly Schuna (she/they) is a circus artist and coach living in Madison, Wisconsin. She made her first (really, REALLY bad) crossword by hand in 2013 and then gave up for the better part of a decade. Since then, she has had puzzles published with the Inkubator, Universal, Crosswords Club, LAT, and NYT. Her three dogs have no appreciation for her keen wordplay and athletic prowess. Carly’s favorite parts of NYC are the general bustle, the street musicians, and the subway acrobats.
Chris Piuma (any/all | @wordgarbler) is one of the editors at Lil AVC X as well as a crossword constructor, and has spent much of the last two years streaming crosswords on Twitch. Otherwise, Chris runs a small podcast network, hosts a game show, makes music, designs books — all the usual stuff.
Bonus Puzzle Suite constructor
Foggy Brume (he/him | @foggybrume) is the prolific creator of P&A Magazine and Puzzle Boat. He’s authored over 2000 Mystery-Hunt style puzzles in the last two decades and is also an avid board game player. He and his wife live in Arizona, where yes, it gets a little warm at times.