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Welcome to Sunday Puzzle Warm-Up -- a chance to have a little fun on a Saturday night and to get your brain warmed up for Sunday evening's puzzle party.

On tap tonight:

   * a new JulieCrostic
   * answers to last week's puzzles

Last week featured a JulieCrostic and a riddle from the gremlins. The riddle was:

What do you call a parade featuring Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, and Diana Rigg?
Find out the answer to that below...

The answer to the riddle in a moment. But first let's look at the clues and answers to last week's JulieCrostic:

CLUES to LAST WEEK'S JULIECROSTIC

 1. single
 2. letter
 3. something you have to keep adding to copy machines
 4. rat

 5. down
 6. hurry
 7. punch-outs
 8. country houses

 9. common word for Rush Limbaugh
10. bodies of water
11. remains of a fire
12. disgraces

13. allow
14. thaw
15. place to stay the night
16. egg dish

17. star
18. another common word for Rush Limbaugh
19. mythical creatures
20. major mistakes

(If you're new to Sunday Puzzle and aren't familiar with JulieCrostics, here's a quick rundown of how they work. What you do is solve the clues and write the answers in rows. 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.)

ANSWER DIAGRAM:

one  T  note  R  toner  D  rodent
sad  H  dash  C  chads  A  dachas
ass  E  seas  H  ashes  M  shames
let  M  melt  O  motel  E  omelet
sun  A  anus  F  fauns  S  snafus
The verticals read THEMA  RCHOF  DAMES -- which, when properly spaced, spells out The March of Dames...

The March of Dames???

My original answer was The March of Dimes (a non-profit founded in 1938 by FDR to fight polio). But the gremlins changed that to The March of Dames -- which happens to be the answer to their riddle. (Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Diana Rigg are all Dames of the British Empire.) (And, by an amazing coincidence, all three of these women also appeared in the 1968 movie A Midsummer's Night Dream. Hat tip to jwinIL14 for spotting this. I was completely unaware of that fact when I composed the puzzle!)

..................................................................................................................
Puzzle Party / SUNDAY PUZZLE / Puzzle Party / SUNDAY PUZZLE / Puzzle Party /
SUNDAY PUZZLE / Puzzle Party / SUNDAY PUZZLE / Puzzle Party / SUNDAY PUZZLE /

The gremlins have often been a problem over at Sunday Puzzle. But this month they've begun plaguing Sunday Puzzle Warm-Up as well, doing one-offs on the JulieCrostic verticals. (Two weeks ago they changed the verticals from March Madness to marsh madness -- no doubt in anticipation of Jed Lewison's current series.)

So this week I told them it was starting to bug me and that enough is enough. I told them I wanted them to quit doing one-offs to my verticals...

And after they quit laughing hysterically for 10 minutes, they agreed! Well, they weren't willing to quit cold turkey, but they did assure me they would only do a one-off to either Sunday Puzzle Warm-Up or Sunday Puzzle but not both.

So either tonight's puzzle or tomorrow night's puzzle should be safe from them. And surely Sunday Puzzle is a more tempting target for them. So we'll see.

Assuming the gremlins don't sabotage things, the verticals to tonight's puzzle will spell out the title of a classic (but not that widely-known) science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl. When you've finished the puzzle you might look it up on Wikipedia, and then try to locate and read a copy of the novel (and the earlier 1953 novel to which it is a sequel). Here are tonight's clues:

 1. honey maker
 2. purple vegetable
 3. soft close-fitting visorless cap
 4. improved

 5. black sticky stuff
 6. Gary who got in trouble for Monkey Business
 7. diagram
 8. stiffener

 9. MDs
10. Communists
11. groups of animals
12. cunning

13. abbreviation related to vitamins
14. a sip or small quantity
15. emotional conflict
16. a fleet of ships

17. limb
18. strong wind
19. Dr. Zaius's assistant
20. person who fishes

Have fun! And now that you're warmed up, don't forget to come to tomorrow night's Sunday Puzzle party, which goes up exactly 24 hours after tonight's diary posts.

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