In the mid-seventies, my late sister (Gnome, Katharine Hall) and I were avid participants in the Dictionary Rally, an annual contest wherein the contestants were furnished with a paperback dictionary and a list of “tasks” to perform. The Rally had three rallymasters, one of whom, Fun, John Ferguson, was at that time a krewemember. Fun sent us minisamples in early 1977, and we were both hooked shortly after that.
My first exposure to the full-blown 'Nig, however, was a little less satisfying. I was on a cruise to Alaska with my first couple of issues in hand for relaxed solving, and I recall finally throwing away the first issue in complete frustration. Later on, Gnome and I were joint solvers–both working individually on each issue up to the deadline for final submission, and then working collaboratively to see if we could get a complete. We did manage to get a couple of completes, and several missing only one flat or crypt. I got a note from Blackstone commiserating us for coming so close so often. Gnome passed away in 1989, and I stopped sending in my sols, but I still try my hand at solving.
First Issue: Jun 1977
After I had been a NPL member for several months, I tried my hand at composing, and consequently, I was pressed to adopt a nom, It was late in the year, December, I think, and the Christmas rush was upon me. I had to find presents for my wife, (although she was the only one I had to find gifts for) and the family finances were not in the greatest shape. So, as I was snarling at everyone and everything, someone said “Don't be such a Grinch”, and the light dawned that that would be the perfect nom for me. For a long time, I told no one how and why I had settled on Grinch as my nom. It finally came out at a minicom at Sir Ohm's home in LA a few years later. Hudu was also at that meeting, and I assume you have his answer to the same question. In retrospect, my nom could just as easily have become “Scrooge”, but that wouldn't have been as much fun. But I still snarl at Christmastime.