November 11-13, 2016

Featuring Will Shortz, special guests, and games and puzzles galore.

It’s a new "Words" weekend with another great line-up! The New York Times crossword editor and NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz is our host, along with composer and NPR quizzicist
Greg Pliska, and some very special guests—Anne Trubek, Ammon Shea, David Feldman, and Aline Brosh McKenna. And, as always, we’ll have games and puzzles galore! Join the fun as we celebrate 35 years of The Wonderful World of Words at Mohonk Mountain House!

Limited availability. For reservations, please call .

Mohonk Mountain House is a National Historic Landmark resort located just 90 miles north of New York City. Overnight rates include breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea and cookies, and most activities, including hiking and use of the indoor heated swimming pool and comprehensive fitness center in our Spa wing.

A Word Challenge by Will Shortz
The following nine words have something very unusual in common. What is it? When you know, think of a 10th word to add to the list.
Submit your answer at the start of the Saturday morning program in the Parlor.

Words Weekend Activities

Friday | Saturday SundayProgram Leaders | 

Friday, November 11

At Sign-In  Packet of Puzzles
When you sign in at the front desk, pick up your packet of Will Shortz word puzzles and contests. Answers/entries are due back at the front desk by midnight Saturday.

8:45 p.m.  The Ancient Art of Handwriting
with Anne Trubek

Anne Trubek is the author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. She'll take us on a PowerPoint tour of old writing technologies—cuneiform tablets, papyri, medieval scriptoria, and other lost writing systems. She'll also discuss, in today's digital age, the dying art of script and the endangered future of handwriting itself.

9:30 p.m.  Cookies and Punch in the Lake Lounge ... Followed by Scramble Scrabble
Gloria and Larry Rosenthal, the founders of the Words weekend, invented this game just for Words, where it is an exclusive, annual event. John Williams, former head of the National Scrabble Association, will help conduct it. Seven-member teams scramble to form words using giant tiles. The members of the team with the highest cumulative score after three rounds will each receive copies of New York Times crossword books from St. Martin’s Press.

Saturday, November 12

10:00 a.m.  Ten Things Most People Get Wrong About the Dictionary (#7 will amaze you!), with Ammon Shea 
Even among academics there is an enormous body of incorrect information and assumptions about dictionaries and the way they function. Ammon Shea, the author of the best-selling Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages, has a clickbait-style list of the top 10 dictionary misconceptions. (We can't wait to hear #7!)

2:15 p.m.  Play Date, with David Feldman
Gather in the Parlor to play new and classic boxed word games as a test of your wordsmanship, sense of fun, and brainy skills. Choose any game from those on display and pick a table to play at. The winner gets to keep the game. Then, if you like, choose another game and play some more. Compete with friends or family who accompany you... or make new friends. Let the games begin!

4:00 p.m.  Tea and Book Signing
Tea time in the Lake Lounge is year-round, but during Words weekend it’s also a book-signing session with the weekend’s authors.

9:00 p.m.  Mohonk Puzzle Treasure Hunt
A team game by Greg Pliska. Come with a four-person team made of friends or family, or form a team when you arrive. Solve a set of interconnected puzzles and follow the clues hidden throughout the Mountain House. Prizes will be given to the first team to finish the hunt as well as one other successful team chosen at random.

Sunday, November 13

10:00 a.m.  How Words on a Page Become Music and Pictures, with Aline Brosh McKenna
Acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter and producer Aline Brosh McKenna is the only Words presenter we've invited back in 10 years. In 2014 she showed us, through a multimedia presentation, how a movie opening is written and edited. This time she'll explain how songs are produced for her hit CW series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend—with examples of lyrics in the process of being written, then demos, and finally finished videos.

10:45 a.m.  Awards
Will Shortz leads the awards program as he reveals solutions to the packet puzzles, reads the wittiest entries in the creative competition, and names the winners of all the weekend games. Triumphant winners will choose prizes from a wide array of puzzle books from St. Martin's Press, reference books from Merriam-Webster, and assorted word games. Leave room in your suitcase!

Program Leaders

DAVID FELDMAN is the author of 13 books—11 of them being collections of Imponderables, including the national bestsellers Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?, When Do Fish Sleep?, and Do Penguins Have Knees? Lately he has been devoting much volunteer time to the Posse Foundation, which administers millions of dollars a year in full-tuition scholarships for low-income kids. He still attends the annual New York Toy Fair in February searching for the best commercial word games for this weekend.
writes for movies and television. She is currently the co-creator, executive producer, and showrunner of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the critically-acclaimed CW show that recently won two Emmys. Her other credits include the movies 27 Dresses and The Devil Wears Prada, for which she was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Born in France, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, Aline does the New York Times puzzle every day, to mixed results.

GREG PLISKA, a composer and musician, has been solving and creating puzzles since he could read. He is a puzzle writer and presenter for public radio’s “Ask Me Another,” and he now creates puzzle hunts for corporate and academic clients. His composing work includes the Broadway play Sylvia and acclaimed productions for New York's Shakespeare in the Park. His recent work includes orchestrations for the film The Infiltrator, the CBS Evening News theme, and the new IMAX theme. This is the 10th year Greg has created an original puzzle treasure hunt for Words.
is a professional logolept—that is, one who takes a keen interest in words. He is the digital content editor for Merriam-Webster. He is also a prolific author. His books include Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation, The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads, and most famously Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. (Dare we also suggest he is a masochist?)
is the founder and director of Belt Publishing, specializing in nonfiction about the industrial Midwest. From 1997 to 2015 she was a tenured professor at Oberlin. She is the author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting and A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers’ Houses. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, MIT Technology Review, Smithsonian, Slate, Salon, and numerous other publications. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio. 

WILL SHORTZ, the director of Words, is the crossword editor of the New York Times, puzzlemaster for NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” and founder/director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. In May, he delivered the commencement address at the University of Virginia School of Law (his alma mater), devoting most of it to an audience-participation quiz. Will owns the Westchester Table Tennis Center, in Pleasantville, New York, and has played ping-pong every day for more than four years. Join him in Mohonk's Game Room this weekend to play a match!

See you there!

Limited availability. For reservations, please call .