Staples graduate publishes a second original crossword puzzle in the New York Times

Staples graduate publishes a second original crossword puzzle in the New York Times

By: Izzy Connors ’18

After having his first self-made crossword puzzle featured in the New York Times on July 8, 2015, Ryan Milligan ’08 had his second original crossword published in the Times on March 28, 2017.

The crossword puzzle is “Tom Swifty” themed, where celebrities are the subjects of the Swifties. According to an article that was posted to the New York Times website regarding the puzzle, Tom Swifties “are the puns that connect the action in a sentence to an adverb that follows a name, like so: ‘I like modern painting,’ said Tom abstractly.”

Milligan wrote for the Times that he got the idea when he was listening to Taylor Swift and “thought it would be cool to turn her last name into an adverb and clue the phrase as Taylor, swiftly.” After his friends connected his idea to the concept of Tom Swifties, his “puzzle was born.”

Milligan told Inklings that his unique skill for writing crosswords began his junior year of high school. “I’d write a crossword every Friday and print off 150 or so copies and leave them in the Staples lobby,” Milligan said. “My first crosswords were truly terrible, but over the next eight years I kept submitting puzzles until my first was published.”

In a Facebook post from the day his debut crossword was published in 2015, Milligan expressed his pride and excitement about achieving his long-term goal. He credited his successes to his friends and family, claiming that he “couldn’t have done it without them.”

One person who is particularly proud of Milligan’s accomplishments is his former violin teacher, Adele Valovich. “Ryan always had a passion for crosswords. As a student, he was always either doing or making crossword puzzles. They would always be all over the orchestra room floor,” Valovich said. “When the various sections were waiting to rehearse a certain section, they would be doing his crosswords.”

In addition to his unique crossword puzzle skill, Valovich remembers Milligan as an excellent violinist and said that his talent was a factor of his success. “I always knew that Ryan would be successful. Anyone who continues to play an instrument all through high school demonstrates the determination and grit that is the hallmark of a successful person,” Valovich said.

Milligan’s recognition from the New York Times is also being commended by Staples students. Anna Sivinski ’18, a regular reader of the New York Times, said that although she does not do the crosswords herself because “they’re hard,” she thinks that “Milligan’s ability to write his own is cool” and his accomplishment is “really admirable [because she] can’t even imagine writing one [herself].”

The crossword puzzle was published in today’s Times newspaper, and Milligan shared a clue for the puzzle on the Times website. “Today’s puzzle is my favorite to date,” Milligan said. “I love a good pun and happen to be a big Taylor Swift fan.”