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Welcome to Sunday Puzzle Warm-Up, a weekly opportunity to have a little fun and to get your brain in gear for the regular Sunday Puzzle (which now posts on Friday).

It's now June, so Mystery Month is over. I don't have any special theme planned for June, so the puzzles this month will simply spotlight whatever's on my mind when it comes time to type up the diary.

And what's on my mind today? You can find out the answer to that -- as well as the answers to several politics trivia questions -- by solving tonight's puzzle.

This is a JulieCrostic.  If you're not familiar with this kind of puzzle, don't panic -- full instructions, and an example of what a completed puzzle looks like, can be found directly below tonight's puzzle.

If you'd like to take part in the group solving, come on down to comments and join in. We're friendly and we love having new people!

If you'd prefer solving the puzzle on your own (or if you come along late, after the solving party is over), no problem. Just set your comment preference to SHRINK (so you only see the subject lines of comments); then, if you get stuck, look for a subject line identifying a comment dealing with one of the clues you need help with, expand and read that comment, and you're good to go.

(I'm usually around Saturday evening while the diary is active to provide any needed help, and I also check the comments periodically during the week, so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.)

Tonight's puzzle has 5 rows, with 3 answers per row. Have fun, and I hope to see you in comments!

 1. unit of hay
 2. what George W. Bush deserves a lot of
 3. talk aimlessly

 4. kind of cell
 5. silences
 6. time of great interest in sex

 7. immature 13s
 8. field and wing
 9. suppress

10. not any
11. "The Great Commoner"
12. close at hand

13. unlike Graham Chapman, this politician didn't get better
14. ten to twelve
15. most recent

As promised above, here's an explanation of how JulieCrostics work. (And immediately following the explanation, you'll find an example of what a completed puzzle looks like.)
An Explanation of JulieCrostics

What you do is solve the clues and write the answers in rows. (Tonight's puzzle has 5 rows, with 3 answers per row.)

Each word in a row contains all the letters of the previous word, plus one new letter. Write the added letters in the space between the word which doesn't have it and the word which does.

The vertical columns created by the added letters will spell out a word or phrase. The object of the puzzle is to solve all the clues and read the vertical message.

All the rows have the same word-length pattern. If the first answer in one row has 5 letters, then the first answer in all the rows will have 5 letters. For example, here's the answer diagram for last week's puzzle. That was an 11 x 3  puzzle (11 rows, with 3 answers per row).
rear  C  racer  U  curare
rest  A  stare  M  stream
nail  S  slain  P  spinal
is on E  noise  L  lesion
dogs  O  goods  E  goosed
Arte  F  after  D  rafted
curs  T  crust  K  trucks
save  H  shave  N  havens
Fred  E  defer  A  feared
nose  C  scone  V  covens
task  R  stark  E  streak
The verticals read CASEOFTHECR   UMPLEDKNAVE -- which, when properly spaced, spells out Case of The Crumpled Knave, a Fergus Breen mystery by Anthony Boucher.

Alas, Boucher wrote only 7 mystery novels. But he wrote numerous mystery and science fiction short stories. He edited many excellent anthologies. And for many years he wrote a weekly column for the Sunday New York Times book review section, "Criminals At Large", featuring mini-reviews of recently-released mysteries so that mystery readers could know what was out there and what was worth reading.

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