I joined after receiving a minisample from Faro, who I contacted in college because I finally wanted to get a subscription to Word Ways, which I kept hearing about. I learned about Faro and Word Ways from his bio article in The Four-Star Puzzler. I had also considered joining the NPL after seeing the Centennial convention puzzles in Games in 1983, and had heard of it earlier, though only mistily, when convention puzzles were printed in The Four-Star Puzzler late in 1981. So I would list Faro and those two articles. The first NPLer I met was Qaqaq, followed closely by Blade (ne Swordsman), when I made a puzzle stopover at Emory University.
Not much I can say for recruiting others. I can claim four nommed nonmembers in my family: Mom (Henrietta or Henny), and my three sisters (all younger), Carole, Lisa, and Alida (Ali). I helped Ali write a puzzle on cowherd/chowder, for which she continued the bird scenario by choosing the nom Parrot. Mom then agreed to the nom Quetzal, which neatly continues in the alphabet and also, due to colorfulness, matches her profession as art teacher. We proposed Raven to continue the string for Carole, but she never formally accepted it. Lisa later chose the nom Froagie as an alteration of froggie. All these noms are also personality-descriptive.
I did recruit Moanself (Linda Provisos) and Dodo (Hubert Cordonnier), who went to my college, but neither of whom lasted long enough to make a directory. The first nom is a pun on “my own self”, the second is another bird, with a French twist. Also, Trash and I together gave a year's subscription to Barbara Bush, but her membership did not of course stick.
Source: email from Ostrich.
First issue: Mar 1989
Originally I chose a nom very deliberately. I wanted something that was unique, that was memorable, that was durable, that involved respectable wordplay, that was self-agreeable, and that demonstrated what was most important to me. Well, the most important part of my life is God's relationship with me in Jesus Christ. [….] So I eventually settled on Ostrich because the last six letters anagram Christ, whereas the first six letters anagram Cristo (Spanish for Christ). (I wouldn't say that I have quite enough Spanish to be bilingual, but I follow it.) And an ostrich is big, eccentric, odd-looking, rare, a bird but flightless, holding records for speed and size of eggs and yet known best for its lack of common sense. I later found Job 39:13-18, which sheds more light on the topic. It's an excellent Barbara-Walters-style nom, and I'm sticking with it.
I've had a lot of mileage out of combinoms. In fact, I was so inspired by “Jaq the Qaterer” and the fecundity of the directory as to write my own top ten combinom list early (it appeared in September 1989). I don't have my files handy to list all my combinoms that have been proposed; a few of the more prominent ones are:
Ask the current statistics-keepers about other noms used.
Finally, the two of us had for some years coheld the pseudonom Dumbo, A., of W. Nowhere, MA, as a secret identity, eventually discovered by Sibyl. That nom is an even more complex game; it is arrived at by “transposition, translation, and retransposition”.
The first confirm is that, reading from the center, “mud” clues Dirty Jack and “boa” [feathers] clues Ostrich. Now transpose DUM and BOA to their only arrangements in The Wordbook, mud and abo. You might note that the headwords in 9C where these two words are found include “mover” and “abjurer”.
The second confirm is the city, “W. Nowhere”, since W. is “M over” and Nowhere is a Caesar shift of “abjurer”. (Massachusetts was chosen only because we could make that a convenient anonymous mailing point.) Next, translate “mud” and “abo” by counting 16 entries backwards from each in 9C (counting heteronyms as one entry), which brings you the the equal-length “muck” and “able”.
For the third confirm, muck and able are in Baus under DIRT and RICH, elements of a straight Dirty Jack/Ostrich combinom. Finally, transpose “muckable” into “black emu”, which is the final confirm: dirty black, black jack, and emu/ostrich. This set of convolutions was dreamed up by ourselves over a Palm Beach County weekend that had way too much time in it.