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Overview Edit

Inspired by the documentary Wordplay, Ryan and Brian decided to attend the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2008, despite never having been particularly interested in crosswords. They finished the bottom 20% of the standings at that tournament.

In response to that poor showing, they set out to improve their skills at solving (and speed solving) crossword puzzles. A week after the tournament, they began to write a blog called Ryan and Brian Do Crosswords (now defunct). Shortly after that, they recording the first episode of the then-untitled Fill Me In.

Season 1 concluded with Ryan and Brian visiting the 2009 ACPT, at which Brian claimed first place in the tournament's E Division.

Highlights Edit

  • Includes 45 episodes which started on March 31, 208, and ended March 17, 2009.
  • Origin of the catchphrase "Have we started?" (Episode 1)
  • Composition of the Viewer Mail song
  • "Fill Me In" is named by Amanda Yesnowitz (Episode 16)
  • Birth of Lollapuzzoola puzzle tournament
  • Interviews with Jim Horne, Patrick Blindauer, Dan Feyer, Andrea Carla Michaels, Vic Flemming, Dave Macleod and Barbara Olsen, Ben Tausig, Barry C. Silk and Doug Peterson, Matt Jones, Tyler Hinman, Will Shortz, Merl Reagle, and ACPT 2009 participants
  • First iteration of what would become the Thunder Round (Episode 20)

Episodes Edit

Num Date Title Synopsis
1 3/31/2008 [Untitled] NYT puzzle recap, 3/24-3/30. Includes what has become an audio catchphrase, “Have we started?”
2 4/7/2008 [Untitled] The week in NYT puzzles; Rolos will never be the same.
3 4/8/2008 Monday Mini Episode We tried a 5-minute format. It didn’t work so well.
4 4/12/2008 [Untitled] A partial week of puzzles. We hadn’t yet fallen into the weekly program we are now.
5 4/15/2008 [Untitled] Another partial week. “Zambezi and oat” appears for the first time. Also Viewer Mail becomes “Viewer Mail.”
6 4/21/2008 [Untitled] The first (failed) contest began here.
7 4/29/2008 [Untitled] The contest went unsolved, so it continued. Another week in puzzles.
8 4/29/2008 [Untitled] Another attempt at a mini episode. Another failed attempt.
9 5/5/2008 [Untitled] We screwed up the sound quality (worse than in the first eight episodes).
10 5/12/2008 [Untitled] Sound quality returns to the D- level we offered before.
11 5/19/2008 Ground beef and moderate anger. Our first titled episode. We still haven’t titled the show, but the episode has a name.
12 5/28/2008 Long distance submarines. …because that’s how it sounds. Brian works away from home a lot, so some episodes were recorded via Skype. This was the first attempt.
13 6/3/2008 Gotta buy a pole. More Skype, but a little better. Also, we fake having a sponsor.
14 6/10/2008 Nicknames, vowels and Vanna White. The whole premise of nicknames evolves further.
15 6/16/2008 We remain nameless, and yet we forge ahead. Still better with the long-distance sound. More nicknames show up.
16 6/23/2008 Six puzzles for the price of seven. Amanda gives our podcast a name, and “Fill Me In” is born. It only took sixteen episodes.
17 6/30/2008 Longer than it needs to be (that’s what she said). More puzzle recaps, as always. Nothing really new, to be sure. 
18 7/4/2008 The crossing of two fruits. We announce our first tournament. We also post our very first crossword construction. It’s not very good. 
19 7/14/2008 No time! No puzzles! Desperate for anything, we try the 5-minute format one more time.
20 7/29/2008 Broken microphone and all. We didn’t know it then, but the pre-cursor to the Thunder Round happened here. 26 puzzles in four minutes.
21 8/12/2008 We have a caller! We receive a live phone call during the episode. This is definitely a highlight. Probably our first highlight.
22 8/18/2008 The period goes inside the quote. The voice of Madeleine Kahn. And we’re getting psyched for Lollapuzzoola!
23 8/24/2008 Want some snacks? It’s our Lollapuzzoola recap episode.
24 8/29/2008 Put a sock in it. Problems arise with the Viewer Mail Theme Song.
25 9/9/2008 Brian goes to plaid. Oh, crap. More long-distance horribleness. The microwave serves as our timer. 
26 9/29/2008 Now with sprinkles of smarterness! Our first real interview, and it’s with Jim Horne, blogger extraordinaire. 
27 10/13/2008 Can’t we leave one open, professor? Another interview, this one with Patrick Blindauer. 
28 10/27/2008 Except it might be #029, but we lost the old #028, so this is now #028. We upgrade to two microphones. What are we, a real show?
29 11/5/2008 Election day results — pancakes or tacos? Which would you pick? Interview with Dan Feyer. And we talk about who just got voted into the White House.
30 11/10/2008 Life as a Monday — an interview with Andrea Carla Michaels. The title says it all. Well, all except “Nikolai.” 
31 11/25/2008 You be the judge. Another interview, this time with Vic Fleming. Also, at the time, we mis-numbered this as Episode 32. 
32 12/2/2008 Oh Canada. It’s a group interview with Dave Macleod and Barbara Olson, constructors from Canada. 
33 12/9/2008 Interview-less, and thus, title-less. We get a personalized puzzle from Episode 31 guest, Vic Fleming. 
34 12/16/2008 The Song of the Volga Boatmen. Brian and Ryan have totally different approaches to solving a Saturday puzzle.
35 12/22/2008 Slice this open and cry! A chat with the editor of the Onion’s crossword, Ben Tausig. 
36 12/29/2008 Rhymes with puzzle. Two new downloads for our viewers, including the amazing sheet music form of the Viewer Mail Song. 
37 1/12/2009 Pie-thagorean Squares (and other math that doesn’t exist) Ryan invents new math.
38-1 1/19/2009 Part 1: Too much to squeeze in there. We recorded way too much, and split it into two episodes. And we interview a couple of favorite constructors, Barry C. Silk and Doug Peterson. 
38-2 1/20/2009 Part 2: Beating a dead horse. We recorded way too much, and split it into two episodes. And we interview a couple of favorite constructors, Barry C. Silk and Doug Peterson. 
39 1/26/2009 Jonesin’ for Podcasts An interview with Matt Jones of Jonesin’ Crosswords.
40 2/11/2009 Jell-O in a box. We begin to get jazzed up for the 2009 ACPT.
41 2/17/2009 The Cold Open. That title means something in television comedy, we think. On our show, not so much. 
42 2/24/2009 [Insert kickass title here.] It’s a tough-to-hear interview with Tyler Hinman. He’s a genius, so it’s worth struggling through the bad audio.
43 3/3/2009 Season Finale – The 2009 ACPT Despite being the so-called finale of Season One, this is where at least one of us (Brian) thinks the show began to take off. Before this, too much rambling nonsense. After this, plenty of rambling nonsense, but also occasional structure. This episode is super-sized, but it’s a fun recap of the 2009 tournament. Lots of interviews with lots of people, including Will Shortz.
44 3/11/2009 We met him at a bar… on a Saturday… Delaying the start of Season Two, we put up an episode comprised almost entirely of interview footage cut from Episode 43. This one is all about Merl Reagle. 
45 3/17/2009 Finally, the final finale. It’s more cut footage from Episode 43. We think of these last two episodes as the bonus features on the DVD box set. 
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