, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Thursday December 17, 2009 Samuel A. Donaldson


Dec 17, 2009

Thursday December 17, 2009 Samuel A. Donaldson

Theme: SECRETARIES (54A. Heads of the tails of 18-, 23-, 36- and 48-Across) - The tail word of each theme entry is a US department headed by a secretary.

18A. Court strategy: ZONE DEFENSE. Secretary of Defense. Basketball court.

23A. Some contractions: FALSE LABOR. Secretary of Labor.

36A. Mid-Atlantic nickname, with "The": QUAKER STATE. Secretary of State. Pennsylvania.

48A. Like hikers' snack food: HIGH ENERGY. Secretary of Energy. The dates & cashew Larabars are my favorite snacks.

Great clue for the unifying theme entry SECRETARIES.

Samuel A. Donaldson mentioned in his interview that he's fond of non-theme multiple-word entries. I counted 10 in today's grid.

I also liked the three weaving "court" clues:

18A. Court strategy: ZONE DEFENSE.

13D: Take to court: SUE.

56D. 1973 court name: ROE. Roe v. Wade.

Lovely echo. Small details delighted me.


1. Retired flier, briefly: SST. And SKY (28D. Pilot's beat).

4. Angry trick-or-treater, perhaps: EGGER. Is this a common word? I've never used it.

14. Last half of a drink?: TAI. Last half of Mai Tai. Stumped me.

15. 22-Across lullaby syllables: LOO RA. And IRISH (22A. Lucky ones?). The luck of the Irish. Was unaware of the Irish lullaby "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral"

16. Part of a Valentine's text message: I LUV U

17. First name in objectivism: AYN (Rand). The only objectivism name I know.

20. Escaped convict's need: FAKE ID. Nice answer.

26. 35-member treaty gp.: OAS (Organization of American States)

29. Apt name for a herding dog: SHEP. And PEKE (52D. Short dog, for short). Pekingese. We just call it lion dog in China.

30. U.K. awards: OBES (Orders of the British Empire)

31. Moved furtively: SNUCK

33. Alley Oop's girlfriend: OOOLA. Finally I remembered her name.

35. Like mud puddles: SLOSHY

38. Contests on horseback: JOUSTS. Wrote down RODEOS first.

40. "__ Nothing": 1993 Whitney Houston hit: I HAVE. Loved "The Bodyguard". Did not remember this song though.

42. Cause of a run: SNAG. Oh, pantyhose run.

43. __ dire: jury interview: VOIR. Voire dire (vwahr deer) is new to me. I do know the individual French words: voir "to see" & dire "to say". Makes sense.

47. Old CIA foe: KGB. And JFK (38D. Queens airport, familiarly ) & ORG (39D. Nonprofit's URL). Three abbreviations are crowded in this section.

50. Political exile, for short: EXPAT. Well, I am a just Chinese expat living in the US, not an exile.

53. __ it over: ruled: LORDED

58. Hot season for a Parisian: ETE. Yawner.

59. Word after control or neat: FREAK

60. Pocahontas's spouse: ROLFE (John). His name escaped me.

62. Where ham is often found: ON RYE. Not a fan of rye bread.

63. Sellout lack: SEATS. Was thinking of the traitor "sellout".

64. Sgt.'s superiors: LTS ( Lieutenants)


2. Checkup request: SAY AAH

3. Wind chime sound: TINKLE

4. "Popeye" creator Segar: ELZIE. Only knew him as E. C. Segar.

5. They usually aren't enough, so it's said: GOOD LOOKS. Oh well, even with good brains, still not enough for some men. Look at Elin Nordegren.

6. Poly- ending: GON. Polygon.

7. "... __ he drove out of sight": ERE. "But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight..."

8. Boom boxes: RADIOS

9. Hi-tech airport connection: WI-FI

10. Pints' contents: ALES

11. Midway attraction: FUN HOUSE. Have never been to one.

12. Sports bar array: TVS

21. Advocate, as a cause: ESPOUSE. Nailed it.

25. Demeanor: BEARING

27. Düsseldorf "D'oh!": ACH. Alliteration again.

31. Croat or Serb: SLAV

32. At no time: NOT EVER

34. Wild things to sow?: OATS. Sow wild oats.

35. One way for an actor to exit: STAGE LEFT. Had trouble obtaining this answer.

36. Many a Canadian francophone: QUEBECER. Oh, did not know a person from Quebec is called a Quebecer.

37. Old Iranian VIP: SHAH

42. Indian instruments: SITARS. Indian lute.

44. It's no picnic: ORDEAL

45. "Yeah, yeah, very funny": I GET IT. Lovely clue/answer.

46. Comics cowboy Red and others: RYDERS. Not familiar with this comic or the cowboy at all.

48. Magician's prop: HAT

49. Rhinoplasty targets: NOSES. Rhino is a prefix for "nose".

51. Picture of bones, often: X-RAYS

54. Northern Cal. hub: SFO. San Francisco International Airport. What does O stand for? (Added later: See this great link from Warren.)

55. Coastal bird: ERN

57. Pier gp.: ILA (International Longshoremen's Association)

Answer grid.

See you tomorrow!



Dennis said...

Good morning, C.C. and gang - had fun with this one; I thought the theme was quite clever, and as C.C. pointed out, our constructor likes non-theme multi-word entries, as do I.

Don't think I've seen 'egger' before, although it does make sense. 'Sgt.'s superiors' gave me pause, as there are many ranks between a sergeant and a lieutenant. Unknown for me was 'Elzie' Segar. All in all, a really good Thursday puzzle.

Today is National Maple Syrup Day.

Today's Words of Wisdom: "You know you're getting old when everything either dries up or leaks." -- Unknown

And here's a couple quotes from people who have quite a grasp on the obvious:

- "For NASA, space is still a high priority." -- Dan Quayle

- "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father." -- Greg Norman

Dick said...

Good morning C. C. and all, for me a great puzzle this morning. I seemed to be on the same wave length as Samuel Donaldson and the fill came quickly and without hesitation. I had a couple of pause moments, to check the perps, but otherwise non stop. 16A is one that caused me to pause as I wanted to write in “I Love”, but I just could not make it fit with the perps and then the aha moment.

It looks like we will struggle to get into the 30’s today. Not a good day for it to be so cold as several of my outside Christmas lights have gone out and need to be replaced.

@ WM from yesterday I am sorry to hear about you cat. We have three and would miss them if something happened. I did see an interesting sign at the Vets. Office it read, “Do not consider this as doing something to your pet, but rather doing something for it” and was addressing euthanasia.

Hope you all have a great Thursday

Dennis said...

WM, just read last night's posts, and I'm really sorry for your loss; as others have said, we all know just how gut-wrenching that can be and what you're going through, and my thoughts are with you. I've held off for 3 years now on even getting another dog, 'cause I don't ever want to have to go through that again. I am glad, however, that the news on your husband is so encouraging.

As to the old car thing, guys develop an attachment for them, probably similar to what many women have for old pocketbooks; no logic involved.

Anonymous said...

@Mr. Merl Reagle, I am eagerly waiting for your revelation of the hidden message.

Lemonade714 said...

It is raining here in paradise, but this puzzle was an excellent way to start the day. Really busy with en of the year madness, but wanted to add my wishes for you WM, life is a challenging ride.

Elissa nice to see your words, a great day of discussion yesterday, and now a fun 'secret.' Always nice to hear from the constructor and the editor.

Stay warm all wonderful popsicle people.

Hahtoolah said...

Good Morning, CC and Friends. I loved this puzzle. A big AH HAH for me when I figured out SECRETARIES before getting all the other theme clues. Lived the clue for that: Heads of the Tails ...

I didn't read ONRYE as two words. I got the answer through the perps, and thought that was some sort of pig sty. Thanks for your explanation. D'OH!

Favorite clue: Cause of a Run. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a snag in a brand new pair of stockings. Well, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration.

Another rainy day in Southern Louisiana, too.

QOD: Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do. ~ Jean-Paul Sartre.

Hahtoolah said...

Question: 16A reads, "Part of a Valentine's text message." The answer was I LUV U. What is the rest of this message?

Anonymous said...

ROSE and LOVES yesterday, I LUV U today.

Anonymous said...

Wow I sucked at this one. Gotta go. Have way too much to do. Have a great day.

Mainiac said...

Good Morning CC and All,

This one fell together just opposite of yesterdays, NW to SE. Fake ID and False Labor were a good start but I had to go on line to see red to get High Energy and Ordeal. Duh! Adding to the aggravation was I didn't Get IT!! Very fun puzzle and clever.

WM, Sorry to hear of your loss. The biggest problem with pets is we out live them. We went "petless" for only 5 months when we rescued three kittens. Then we added the puppies. Gluttons for punishment I guess but boys love them. We are we having fun!

Bitter cold here. We've finally gotten the Arctic air you mid western folks have been enjoying.

Good news for me. Ice fishing season opens January 1st! If this keeps up we may be able to fish opening day.

Have a great Day!

Anonymous said...

C.C. In SFO, the O stands for Oakland

kazie said...

Hi all,
I enjoyed this one except for getting stuck in the top midsection. Had SCI for GON, which made a real mess of it, as well as looking for a legal term for ZONE defense.

There were a few really nice words that don't show up often, such as ESPOUSE and LORDED. I did have to g'spot ROLFE, I thought she married John Smith.

I left the end of Quebecer blank until the perps helped because I've only ever seen it as QUEBECOIS.

I'm also sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Pets can be better friends than people sometimes. Good news about your husband though.

Spitzboov said...

Clever puzzle. BZ!

Had to g'le ELZIE and SEATS. Agree with Kazie about Quebeçois. Thought QUEBECER was kind of clumsy. Liked VOIR dire. Think: "My Cousin Vinny" Joe Pesce. Had poly'mer' before polyGON fell.

ETE once again. 3rd time this week. A plethora of été's.

2º here this am. Expecting high of 9º.

Jeannie said...

I thought I was going to get through a Thursday puzzle without hitting the g-spot until I encountered “Elzie” Segar. Oh well. I thought this puzzle was a fun one with a clever theme. Favorite clue was “pilot’s beat” – sky. Got some perp help with Ayn, obes, and voir. I too wanted rodeo for contests on horseback.

C.C. I am with you, I am not a rye bread fan. One of my favorite sandwiches is a Reuben and when I order it I ask for whole wheat bread.

Hahtool, I agree. Number one, if one must WEAR the dreaded hose, it infuriates me when I get a run in a brand new pair.

Dick, here I was celebrating that today the temp was going to climb into the 20’s!

Crockett1947 said...

Good morning, all.

C.C., typo in the write up on 1A: Retried=Retired.

Even with Google's tribute to Mr. Seger recently, I stumbled on ELZIE. Should have gotten the L from the cross, but just didn't compute.

Wanted 54A to be two words, and looked at the SECRET_ _ _ _ S for a bit before I could get the V8 moment. Loved the cluing/answer for ON RYE. I love the really dark rye bread, schwartzbrot.

@lemonade714 Someone once said "Life is not for sissies," I believe. So true. Looks like the actual quote refers to Old Age.

@kq Hope you have a successful, unstressed day.

@spitzbovv BRRRRRRRRRR!

Have a great Thursday!

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All, As in life, I found the second half (bottom) of this puzzle easier than the first. So I filled in SECRETARIES before I got any of the rest of the theme answers. That made it very nice to go back and get some lovely AHA's when filling out the others.

I didn't know about QUEBECER, I agree with Kazie. I always thought it was "Québécois". I googled post-puzzle and found out there can be a difference.

Got a standard blood test this morning, so I'd better get ready to be out amongst 'em.

Jazzbumpa said...

Hi gang -

WM - My condolences also.

North West corner flummoxed me today. FALSE LABOR - wow! I was never going to get that. FAKE ID! Yikes. Just couldn't get in tune with the chicanery, I guess.

Great theme, and tight execution. 54A SECRET ARIES are the homes of clandestine eagles.

But half a drink? Please, constructors - no halves of anything, ever. And
I don't want to see ETE again before next winter.

Gotta run. Busy week.

JzB the EXIT STAGE LEFT trombonist

Dr.G said...

Dennis, egger may make sense in that it fits the grid, but what does it mean? The closest I could find was short for a ham & egger.

eddyB said...

Good morning all.

Don't know about this puzzle. Went to 54A first thing and as I read the clue, I had a strange feeling that I had seeen the puzzle before.
As Yogi would say, "It was Deja Vu all over again". Maybe it was at another site. Anyway, I had no problems with it.

We may reach a balmy 60 today after fog last night. Every thing outside is wet.

For those who are interested, Merl's birthday is Jan 5th. He will be 60.


Dick said...

@ Jeannie and spitzboov, I guess one should count their blessings rather than bitch. 20's doesn't look so cold to me now. High of 9 BRRRRRR.

JimmyB said...

C. C. - I always thought the O in SFO was for the last letter in San Francisco. Oakland has it's own airport.

Struggled with NW corner until I looked up ELZIE.

Seems like we've seen a lot of AYN and ETE lately.

Dr. G - Some nasty trick or treaters have been known to throw eggs at houses they were displeased with, hence "eggers".

Jeannie said...

In honor of Maple syrup day here is one of my favorite pork chop dishes. This one's for you Dennis

Mapled Pork Chops

6 pork chops (1 inch thick)
¼ cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 1./2 tsp salt
½ tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp pepper
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brown pork chops and arrange in a flat baking dish. Mix together all the other ingredients and pour over pork chops. Cover and bake 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more. Remove chops to a platter. Thicken the sauce with flour and pour over the pork chops.

3 of Four said...

CC - Lots of interesting TLA airport codes like ORD for Chigaco's O'Hare (originally ORcharD Field) pretty sure that SFO is San FranciscO. Some were two letter weather station designations that had an X added to the such as LAX. Many strange acronyms that go back to the origin of the area where the field is located.

3 of Four said...

@ Dr.G - One of the "tricks" done in response to no candy is to "egg a house". Which is to literally throw raw eggs at the party that failed to "treat" - Hence the throwing party would be an egger.

Yep, been on both ends of that formula! Egger and Eggie

JD said...

Good morning CC and all,

This was not a great puzzle for me, no fun aha's, and the NW corner threw me.Got tinkle /shep, but 1&2 D would not come to me.I'm not familiar with voir, expat, or ILA, and had no clue what a francophone was.I G'd Rolfe, because I also thought it was John Smith, and Alley Oop's girlfriend.
I had secret, but could not complete secretaries. D'oh, not a high energy morning, some major snags.BTW, most people in CA don't even wear panty hose anymore, just occasionally.

No fav. clues but I do like the word, wafts.It's poetic.

Think I'll go celebrate maple syrup day with a waffle.

Annette said...

Hmmmm...I guess you switch to the maple syrup when yesterday's chocolate and whipped cream run out. It works for me!

Jerome said...

A fun puzzle indeed. I had just as good of a time doing the fill as I did uncovering the theme.


A bit of inside info- Something to avoid in grid design is a large group of black squares. However, sometimes it cannot be avoided. The center of today's puzzle, QUAKERSTATE, has such a group at each end of the entry. It's pretty much what you get when that center fill is 11 letters long. I've heard Nancy Salomon refer to this as the "Dreaded Utah formation" because of its shape.

Crockett1947 said...

@jerome Thanks for your insider tidbits. Fun pieces of trivia to know.

DCannon said...

I'd give it a degree of difficulty of about 7. Like most, I had to look up "Elzie," but that is the only one. Since I already had "Quaker State" I knew 36D had to do with Quebec, but had to rely on perps for the ending. Once I got "secretaries," the last of the related clues "zone defense" fell. (I was reading "secretaries" as "secret Aries" for a while.) Did not know "Obes" but let the perps take care of it. Also "SFO."

We are mid-60s now. Might get to 70º mark by late afternoon. I'm sorry for all of you who are in the deep freeze.

I love Reuben sandwiches and only on rye bread. I like some rye but not the ones with a lot of caraway seeds in it.

kazie said...

SECRETARIES took me a while too--I stared at SECRET for quite a while.
Francophone is French speaking, anglophone is English speaking.

I forgot to say earlier I also g'ed ELZIE.

You only need the ç when the "c" is soft like an "s", so C.A. was right with québécois.

I guess we get a heatwave tomorrow: 30 degrees!

Anonymous said...

Love the way you explain the answers. Very educational for 'crossword beginners' like me. THANKS. BTW - Red Ryder was a comic strip in the 40's or 50's. In the 50's or 60's a Hanna-Barbera cartoon had a large cat (maybe a lion) called 'Snagglepuss' who was a real 'ham' and would always use the expression "Exit Stage Left."

Spitzboov said...

@Kazie: Mea culpa.
Don't know why I wanted the 'sw' sound.

Bill G. said...

In honor of Maple Syrup Day, I'll suggest you try real maple syrup over coffee ice cream. Yummy. Salted peanuts make a good addition too.

Anon: The picture with C.C. is a baseball card.

Anonymous said...

That was stupid. I'm totally embarrassed now.

Bill said...

Well< I'll try this again. Had a post yesterday and just as I hit the enter key my update reboot screen flashed. Since the default is reboot, when I hit enter that's exactly whatit did. By then I was fed up with the machine so I walked away. 4 for 4 today. Well, not quite. ELZIE threw me but I got the rest. That should be good for something.
The other day we had SUB URB. When I entered URB the only thing I could think of was UpRight Bass, because that's the acronym for my instrument. Strange how the mind works sometimes. (or doesn't).
CY'all Later.

Frenchie said...

Good afternoon all, this finish frees me up for the rest of the day. There were many fun answers. I particularly like multiple word entries. One snag occurred for me, though. For Valentine's text message, I had a mental block. I tried to put it together, such a simple thing, you'd think. I saw it as, "I LU VU." It irritated me and continued to do so until I red C.C.'s post. I felt relieved! I will, hopefully, not ever make that mistake again!
Oh, I've not often heard 'Quebecer' used but I wouldn't have considered 'Quebecois' as a spot on response to that clue.
Enjoy the season even if 'the weather outside is frightful!' (Or like here, 68 degrees and fair, high today 71.) Annie, our incredible daughter, came over last week and decorated a tree in our empty nest. How special is that? Gifts are starting to accumulate under our beautiful tree. I'm having a hard time trying not to 'peke!'

Warren said...

Hi C.C. & gang, a tricky puzzle for Thursday, I think we finished ~75% of it before my wife left today...

I probably liked 'ILUVU' the best.

RE: SFO airport code?

here's the best information I could find:

"Airport 3 letter codes are assigned to simplify information for Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, etc. This keeps the system more uniformed. The three letter code usually will start with the first letter of the City where the airport is located. Then, the FAA will try to assign the second letter of the City if possible. To answer your question, the letters are sometime arbitrary because NO 3 letters can be the same. So for San Francisco, the SF is self explanatory, the "O" is arbitrary."

Plus the following link gives name origin's for all except SFO :Airport ABC's

BTW: Oakland's airport code is OAK

PJB-Chicago said...

Happy Secretaries' Day, it would seem!
Nifty puzzle on a drizzly day: I liked the craftsmanship [craftpersonship, excuse me] in the theme and the cluing. Nothing too tricky but just a nice "flow." My unknowns didn't cross: RYDERS and TAI and spelling of ELZIE. LOO RA. Fun fill: SAY AAH, FAKE ID [I never had one--yeah that's my story] and LORDED. "EGGER? Why, no, I didn't cuz I like'er!"

Quebecer is the seemingly preferred anglophone version. The "ois" ending in English can have association with the separatist movement. English-speaking Quebecers [I have seen the -cker ending too] use the -ois ending referring to their French-speaking neighbors or to the "movement." Friends from Toronto stick to the -er suffix, too. None of them are longshorepersons or ILA members, that I'm aware of.

No experience with SNAGs in pantyhose whatsoever, but it's a frequent lunchroom conversation at work. Men's socks last a long time. But they don't give our legs such a delightful shiny, tan effect!

Crockett1947 said...

@bill If your instrument is a URB, what other styles are there? I can't bring any visual to mind except yours!

@frenchie What a lovely gift from you daughter!

Spitzboov said...

Re: airport codes. Toronto's YYZ or Montreal's YUL could make good future puzzle fill?

carol said...

Hi C.C. and all -

I had jury duty this morning (7:45) and took my printed c/w with me (as well as some others), a book and the newspaper (such as it is), anticipating a full day. Surprisingly we were all excused at 10:20! Guess everyone on the roster for the whole day settled.

The puzzle was easier for me than yesterday. I put EGGER in for 4A but had trouble with 4D because I didn't know who Popeye's creator was.

JD: I had the same trouble with the SECRET part but that was it.

I had never heard of a Canadian francophone either.

Dan Quayle was such an embarrassment!

eddyB said...

Hello again.

Don't forget the Alec Baldwin skit on the special SNL Show tonight.


Bill said...

Bass viol, acoustic bass, upright bass, standup bass, bass fiddle, bass violin, doghouse bass, bull fiddle...... All other names for a Double Bass or the bass viol used in symphonies.
As seen in the avatar on the right.

Clear Ayes said...

Bill, Just read your last post. I've liked this poem for a long time.

Concerto for Double Bass

He is a drunk leaning companionably
Around a lamp post or doing up
With intermittent concentration
Another drunk's coat.

He is a polite but devoted Valentino,
Cheek to cheek, forgetting the next step.
He is feeling the pulse of the fat lady
Or cutting her in half.

But close your eyes and it is sunset
At the edge of the world. It is the language
Of dolphins, the growth of tree-roots,
The heart-beat slowing down.

- John Fuller

Bill said...

CA, That about tells the story of playing the doghouse.
Thanks for the mental picture

Clear Ayes said...

We're in the midst of "Luscious Days". Is maple syrup exclusively a Canadian and American treat? I wonder if any other country produces syrup from their maple trees.

A few years ago GAH were on vacation in the northeastern part of the country. We were driving through Vermont and spent a night at Shore Acres Inn on North Hero Island, which is located on Lake Champlain. The inn has a very nice restaurant and our appetizer was bacon wrapped scallops drizzled with Vermont maple syrup. It was absolutely delicious. Something about that combination was unforgettable. I've tried recreating it, but the bacon or syrup must have been an "ours only" ingredient. It isn't on their menu any more, so even if we go back someday, we will be disappointed.

Bill G. said...

I'm always disappointed when we go out for breakfast and 'real' maple syrup isn't an option. I would be happy to pay a bit extra for it but it's usually not available. One time I even brought a small bottle of my own in Barbara's purse. A big improvement over that imitation flavored stuff.

Crockett1947 said...

@bill I guess I'm just dense on this topic. Are all of those names that apply to the same instrument, or are they distinctively different in some manner?

Jerome said...

At the risk of my stellar reputation and good name, I'm making a prediction. A prediction that may forever cast a shadow over the fact that I've never in my life been wrong about anything. Not even once.

Merl's hidden sub-theme. I've got it! Though the Amazing Carnac and the Amazing Randi may be dazzling in their ability to know all through luck and pure guesses, I, in fact, really do know all things past, present, and future.

Someone close to Merl is having a baby. If Merl says that's not it, he's wrong.

Chickie said...

Hello All--I finally filled in all the blanks, but had to Google Alley Oop's girlfriend, Popeye's creator, and Pocahontas' spouse. All were unknowns. I had secret down and ar_es and I still couldn't get the whole word. I wanted two words, so again, C.C. came to the rescue. I had put in Left Stage for an actor to exit, and I know better, but it sure fouled up the SW area for a long time.

I Googled the SFO question and originally the O stood for Oakland area. Therefore San Francisco-Oakland Area. Then Oakland got it's own airport and the O in SFO was kept because of the airport coding system for pilots etc. Oakland's airport code is OAK.

My favorite clues today were Where ham is found , and Cause of a run. I love ham sandwiches. Another reason to have a huge ham for Christmas dinner--the leftovers.

Bill said...

They ALL refer to the same instrument. Slang names coined by musicians to describe their bass.

Crockett1947 said...

The story of Merl's puzzle from yesterday is now posted on L.A. Crossword Confidential. A very nice story.

Clear Ayes said...

Wow, Jerome, Great deducing! I'm impressed by your conclusion. I had to go back to Merl Reagl's puzzle to see if I could find the same clues that seemed so evident to you. Nada for me, except that ARLEN LATIFAH is a pretty cool name for a baby. I hope for his own sake that Merl hasn't mistaken having a baby for creating a new "12 Days of Christmas" puzzle.

Dennis said...

Stores have gotten very busy, so I haven't had much time for commenting during the day.

Crockett, a warm story indeed. Obviously a good, caring man.

I wonder why he didn't tell us, as he said yesterday.

HUTCH said...


Crockett1947 said...

@dennis According to Orange's write-up, Clara solved the puzzle today, so letting the cat out of the bag yesterday just might have been enough to spoil the surprise.

Dennis said...

No, I meant today.

Crockett1947 said...

Sorry, I misunderstood your question.

Robin said...

so I was close in saying it was a family name/names?

Robin said...

Ahhh what a cool story and idea Mr. Merl ! Kudos to you.....

Lemonade714 said...

The Cab Ride

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There ere no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her.. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated 'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said. When we got in the cab, she gave
me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?' 'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly...'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'. I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice.. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. 'What route would you like me to take?' I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow
in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. 'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse. 'Nothing,' I said 'You have to make a living,' she answered.'There are other passengers,' I responded. almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. 'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.' I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life... I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?
What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve
around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID ~BUT~THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

Hahtoolah said...

A beautiful story, Lemonade. Thanks for sharing.

Clear Ayes said...

What a heartwarming story about Merl's puzzle. That was a very nice thing for him to do.

Tinbeni said...

As to Merl's reason for his wednesday puzzle.

I guess you could say, as to your prediction and "never being wrong" ...

Well there's always the first time.

Welcome to the Human Race of imperfect people.

PJB-Chicago said...

Dang, this blog had me crying again this evening. You won't hear me complaining about it though, because stories like these remind me~~sappy as it might sound~~of what matters most. It's moving to hear about people being kind and good to others, and the effects that has.

I'd thought very highly of Mr. Norris and Mr. Reagle before, but they, along with others behind the scenes, pulled out all the stops to make that puzzle truly mean something that matters to Clara, her family, and us solvers.

Lemonade714: your story pulled heartstrings I didn't know I had still intact! Thank you for recounting it...

I plan to pass both stories on to friends.

p.s. Jerome: QUICK, I need lottery ticket numbers by tomorrow! [giggle] Great ESP there, amigo. Your reputation remains unblemished!

PJB-Chicago said...

Crud, I hit PUBLISH too quickly. Jerome, that was still a good guess, and your insights into puzzles and people who make them are much appreciated around here. I hope to see something you built sometime soon.

JD said...

Hutch, why are you screaming at Hahtool???

Wow, that was a very impressive story. Dennis, I was wondering the same thing; kept looking for his comment today.

windhover said...

Today and tonight remind me why I
hang on to this blog when I rarely get to solve a puzzle until it's old. When I try to tell people, "There's this group of people who blog every day about a crossword puzzle, and almost every day they go off on tangents about their lives", nobody ever gets it. Sometimes I see their eyes glaze over and the Jumbotron on their forehead says, Get a life, pal. I guess it's one of those "You had to be there" things. I'm glad I am. Thanks, people, every one of you.
I still don't know what Merl's revelation was, 'cause this is the only blog I look at every day.

WM said...

Late post as I have been gone and sharing time and some granddaughter shopping with our daughter and then dinner with the divine Miss Lucy and her parents. I want to thank everyone for all your kind comments and especially Jeannie for her understanding.

The puzzle was a huge surprise for me as on my first glance through I was sure it was not going to get finished at all. Started last night and somehow this morning before I was totally awake and caffinated things started coming together...first fill WAFTS then SHEP and I had bits and pieces of the themes forever, and like others, wondered for a long time what was SECRET...??? :o(

This was a muttering hairpuller and I pulled each word out a letter at a time in some sections...but just before I left to go shopping it all came together...Ta Da..

On the kitty, we do have the consolation of our foundling, once feral brother and sister darling, daring, duo, Jack and Jill who are missing their friend. My lovely husband, ever a sucker for cute furry faces, and rescuer of Oregon orphans(he's brought home 4 of them over the years...Taz was the second to last) fell in instant love the fluffy grey littermates in our vet's office about 7 months ago( even after had I behaved myself about not asking for any more kittens). I know I have would have missed having kitties in the house and this has worked out well...

Dennis...liked the WoW today as it maybe means I am not as old as I think...yay!

Lemonade that was a wonderful story...

And on Maple syrup...I even have a recipe for brussels sprouts, sauteed with bacon and drizzled with maple syrup...seriously good.

Anonymous said...

Enough SST.