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WE INTERRUPT THIS DIARY FOR AN IMPORTANT NOTE:
The regular Sunday Puzzle will return tomorrow, Sunday September 8th.
We respectfully request your attendance and participation.

- snicker -

the gremlins

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THE WARM-UP DIARY, ALREADY IN PROGRESS

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, alas, is on recess until September.] [But on the bright side, your brain cells should be nicely warmed up by the time Sunday Puzzle returns].

From now through September is  Summer Songfest. Each week the acrostic verticals spell out the title of a noteworthy song; and each week I'll provide a YouTube clip of the song from the previous week at the top of the diary.

These warm-up puzzles are intended to be new-puzzler-friendly. So if you've never tried Sunday Puzzle before, and are scared to dive in the deep end, come on and dip your toes in here. Tonight's puzzle is waiting for you right below...

Before I post tonight's puzzle, let me confirm the gremlins' announcement. It's true: the regular Sunday Puzzle will return tomorrow night! Yes, I previously said it would return Sunday the 15th. But the gremlins convinced me to re-start early. Here's the full story:

I won't be home for another couple of days, and had been planning to wait until next Sunday to resume the regular Sunday Puzzle series.

But two of the gremlins woke me up one night recently, and one of them sort of snickered to me, Hey, you know that additional Summer Songfest warm-up puzzle you made but weren't planning to use because you already have enough queued up to last until you get home and because you thought maybe it needed something more?

I knew immediately which one they were referring to. It was the one I was still debating on a subtitle for. I liked Small Wonder or Small Delight, but thought those might be inappropriate, and I liked Superman's girlfriend might be confused but you don't have to be: It's Sunday Puzzle... but thought that might be a little long. Anyway, I nodded yes, curious to hear what the gremlins had in mind.

Well, the gremlin said with a perfectly straight and sincere face this time, we think you should use it to re-start the regular Sunday Puzzle. It's such an easy puzzle that you don't need to be there when it goes up, so you can re-start a week earlier to let folks know that Sunday Puzzle is back.

I waited for the muffled giggles and suppressed snickering. There were none.

So I asked directly, "What mischief are you gremlins planning?"

Us? The first one asked with a totally surprised and innocent look on its face.

We'll be good, we promise, the other one said with an equally innocent look.

Hmmm, I thought. They had given their word that they'd behave. What good possibly go wrong?

So I went ahead and typed it up on a library computer on a day I was able to bike into Cherryfield, and queued it up, and it's all set to go up tomorrow night at the usual time. Meanwhile, here's tonight's puzzle to warm up with.

This is a JulieCrostic.  If you're not familiar with this kind of puzzle, don't panic -- full instructions can be found directly below tonight's puzzle, along with the answers to last week's puzzle.

Tonight's puzzle has 6 rows, with 3 answers per row. Hope you like the puzzle -- and hope you enjoy the song.

 1. Helen Adu
 2. helpers
 3. farewells

 4. warm up
 5. grain commonly used in making bread
 6. something you might put on the door

 7. Holbrook and Jordan
 8. greets
 9. generous

10. fly
11. exams
12. person who spends time on the water

13. enter
14. specialized language
15. famous case against Virginia

16. pay attention
17. dangerous creature
18. member of almost-extinct religious sect

For those of you new to Sunday Puzzle, here's an explanation of How JulieCrostics Work:
To solve the puzzle, figure out the answers to the clues and enter them into a grid of rows and columns. For the warm-up puzzles on Saturday I generally tell you how many rows and columns there are in the grid; for the regular puzzles on Sunday that's usually left to the solvers to figure out.

All the rows in the grid will be the same length (i.e. have the same number of answers). All the answers in a column will be the same length (i.e. have the same number of letters).  And the words in each column are one letter longer than the words in the column to its left. That's because...

Each word in a row has all the letters of the word before it plus one new letter.  For instance, if the clues for a row were (1) Alaska governor, (2) mountainous, and (3) clarify, the answers would be PALIN, ALPINE ( = PALIN + E), and EXPLAIN ( = ALPINE + X).

Write the added letter in the space between the word which doesn't have it and the word which does.  For the row in the example you'd write:

PALIN  E  ALPINE  X  EXPLAIN

When you have solved all the clues and written down all the added letters, the added letters will form columns that spell out a message of some sort. It might be a person's name, it might be the title of a book, it might be a familiar phrase, or it might be a series of related words. Your challenge is to solve all the clues, fill in the vertical columns, and figure out what the vertical columns mean.

To show you what a completed puzzle looks like, here is the solution to last week's puzzle.  
airy  F  fairy  L  fairly  
sets  I  sites  X  sexist
role  R  Lorre  L  roller
slam  E  males  F  flames
dire  B  bride  I  Birdie
hens  A  Shane  V  havens
Shaw  L  shawl  E  whales
The verticals read FIREBAL   LXLFIVE.  When properly spaced out and punctuated, and with number converted to a numeral, that spells out "Fireball XL5", a '60s science fiction children's program. (I never cared much for the show itself, but would often watch at least a little in order to hear the great theme song.)
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