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A Coupleof FloppySolutions

PlusAmerica'sMostGreativeCrosswords
By the Nation'sTopGonstructors

entered
thecrossword avid solvers,addictedto the crosswordin thetorpedoes"insteadof "damnthetorpeflrances Hansen
in
BIG
a
way
nearly
30years theSundayTimes.Intenton filling in every does."
ff.r"n"

L
agowhenshecreateda Sundaysize blank spot in the grid by early afternoon,
Hansen'seggpuzzlecreatelastir. While
(23 x 23) crossword,typed it on custom "they wouldtelephoneeachotherfuriously most solvers enjoyed
tle gimmick, one
printedoversizedpaper,packedit in a large Sundaymorningsuntil they all completed "rotten egg" complained
bitterly to editor
envelope,andmailedit to New YorkTimes the puzzle."
EugeneT. Maleska:"I havebeena crosseditor Margaret Farrar.
Hansencouldn'tunderstand
herfriends' word puzzle fan for almost50 years.But
Not knowingany of thecrossword-sub- obsession
with crosswords;
nor hadshethe what hashappenedto the oncegeat Sunmittingrules,
Hansentloughtthiswouldbe time to solveon Sundaymorningbecause dayNew YorkTimespuzzlesdistresses
me.
an appropriateway to gain Farrar'satten- shewasbusy
teaching
Sunday
school.
When The'gimmicks'areridiculousandtoday's
tion. She was right; the p:uzzlecouldn't she"retired"af.teral2-year stintshejoined is theworst.How aboutgoing
backto good,
possiblybe ignoredas it coveredFarrar's her friendsin their crosswordpursuis. A regular,challenging,
intelligentpuzzles?"
entiredeskandspilledover onto the floor. yearlatershesentthatfirst puzzleto Farrar.
This was a minority opinion, for other
Unfortunately,the oversizedpaperwas
solverssentappreciativenotesto Maleska
merelyHansen'ssmallestsubmission
error. Mary had
alongwith completedpuzzlesthat hadall
a little lamb
Shehadbeensolvingcrosswordsfor only a
theeggsdrawnneatlyin thegrid;onesolver
yearat this time and "had this crazy idea Shesaid it gaveher grief
evenuseda setof coloredpencilsto decothatconstructinghad to be easierbecause If shehad had a little ham
rateeveryegg.Farrarcongratulated
Hansen
youknew all the answersbeforehand."
"I'm still
postcard:
with
a
missing
a few
"I made
everymislakein thebook," she WouldMary havea beefr
eggs,but sofar thereis noneon yourface.,'
"I
recalls. usedtwo-letterwordsand hada
Whenthelimes recentlycelebrated
its 50th
veryhighwordcount."Hansennow admits
After her puzzle debutedflansen sent anniversaryof the Sunday crossword,
thatshehadnever"heardof a word count Farrar a puzzle that would become her Hansen'seggpuzzlewas
reproducedin the
(themaximumnumberof wordspermitted trademark.It was basedon her original special
supplement.
in the grid). I did know rhoughthat the poetryand simply titled, "Limerick":
Flansenis alsorecognizedfor her witty
puzzlehadto be symmetrical."
and punny clues. For a ptzzle on snake
"Sald W. SomersetMaugham
Farrar rejectedthe puzzle,sentHansen
punst}teclue, "Why did the snakesbreak
'I shall visit the lslandof
Guam.,
a two-pagesheet of puzzle-constructing
their engagement?"was answeredby
If I find lt ls hot,
"Anaconda
rules,and encouragedher to rework the
they hada fight."
I
shall
leaveon the spot.
gdd. If she followed theserules, Farrar
Hansen's
work appearsin numerous
I
detest
feellngoverly waugham."
promised
"My biggest
tolook atthepuzzleagain.
Hansen
publications.
marketis theZos
wassufficientlyencouragedto acceptthe
Farrar was reluctant to use the p:uzzle Angeles Times syndicate,edited by Jim
challengeand had the unenviabletask of becauseshehad neverpublisheda cross- BoldL" Because
Hansenconstructs
somany
fixingthepuzzle.In retrospectshesays,"I wordbasedonoriginalverse(manypuzzles of thesyndicate's
Sundaypuzzlessheuses
shouldhavestartedover from scratch;in- had beenbasedon quotedverse)and she the pseudonyms
of Letitia Luxton and
steadI cut and pastedand reworked the neededconvincingthatFlansen
hadcreated Franny Bancroft. She also contributes
puzzle."
the limerick. WhenHansensentcopiesof regularly to The CrosswordsClub, Dell
The energyexpendedwas worth it for her publishedverse from the women's ChampionCrossword
Puzzles,TheWashFarrarpublished"Ykcowrebbaj" in Janu- magazines,
Farraracceptedthepuzzleand ington Post, The New York Times,
uy 96a. Solvershadto look at crosswords paved the way for what would become CROSSW RD
Magazine,andthe Simon
in a newdirectionwhentheyansweredthe Hansen'strademark---original
limericks
in
&
Schuster
books.
Sheconstructsabout50
clue,"Well-knownpartof ' Ykcowrebbaj"' crosswords.
puzzlesa year,preferringto work in the2l
by writing in the grid backwards:
OvertheyearsFlansendevelopedanother x 2l size, but creating smaller ones as
"ebarg
tuo shtaremomeht dna"
speciality-rebuspuzzles,wherea familiar required.
Alwaysfacile with words, Hansenhad symbolis substitutedfor an answerword.
Someof Hansen'sotherassignments
inhonedherskills by readingvoraciouslyas Shehasconstructedpuzzlesusingmusical cludecreating
custompuzzlesfor corporaa child and in her adult yearsby playing symbols(Becky#);blant<s
("_check', and tions.She'sconstructed
puzzlesfor Random
Scrabbleand creatinglight verse,which "point _"); arrows ("Mia F+ "); eggs Houseto usein its
in-housemagazineand
she sold to Cosmopolitan and Good ("Wall Streetlaysan 0 "). Shealsocon- for a major
carcompanyto usein its showHousekeeping magazines.
structeda "bleep" puzzlewhereoffensive rooms.
Most of Hansen'sadult friends were wordswerechanged
to"bleep,"e.g.,..bleep
(Continuedon page 7)
July/August
1992

CROSSWRD

Page5

Hansen (from Page 5)

and thenconcentrates
on amassingall the is themorning."
words,sentences,
andphrasesshecanfind
Severaltimesa monthHansen
journeys
Now a 72-year-oldwidow, with grown to fit thetheme.,,I look
in booksandI think into Manhattan
to
attend
operas
unO.turri_
sonsandpreteengrandchildren,Hansen,s aboutthetleme."
Sheconcentrates
on get- calconcerts.
AlthoughHansenisextremelv
life revolvesaroundpuzzles,exercise,mu_ tingpairsof entries
of thesamelength,ig., knowledgeable
in classicalmusic. shl
sic, family, and friends.Her daily routine two l0-letterphrases
at a time,for symmi_ doesn't bombardsolvers
with obscure
startswith breakfast and The New york try.
..If I
musical
references.
..I
can
use
anariathat
Timesdatlycrossword. solve theTimes
Sheplacestheentrythemesinto thegrid I know instead
of an overworkedentryI,ll
puzzleeverymorningwith my secondcup andthendiagrams
aroundthem.Her favor_ useit, but I don,tgo out
of theway to use
of coffee; that's part of my waking ui ite part is the construction
of the puzzle arias."
process.
It's a goodway to getmyselfinto itself. Shetries not
to repeat definitions.
Many of her puzzlesare basedon her
a working frame of mind becauseI'm but.will write
down favoritecluesif she original five-line limericks
or four_line
thinkingwordsat that point.,'
feelstheybearrepeating.
Ifshe's stuckin a verses(seesamplesonpage9).
Hansenfirst
llansenthenretreatsto heroffice on the cornerduring
theconstruction
phase,she'd createsa versecomposedof 2
I or 23 letters
first floor of her homein Metuchen,New rather use familiar
words than try to use in eachline. Shehas to
be carefulalso to
Jersey.The l2-by - l2bookcase_lined
room termsthat the solvercan't possiblyknow. keep
the beat. "sometimes you have to
is filled to the brim with referencebooks Her goal is to "have
the solver finish the relinquisha much more apt
word just be_
and file cabinets.Formerly dubbed..the pluzzle.If the
solver can't completethe causeit won't fit."
lorturechamber,"Hansenhasrechristened pluzzle,theconstructor
hasfailed."
Althoughthemajorityof herversecon_
theroom"the escapehatch.',Sheworksfor
Hansenworks steadilyfor four to five forms
to the 2l-letter limit, someeditors
severalhoursata timeon hercommissioned hours and really
enjoys constructing...I haveallowedherto break
wordsin unusual
work.
almost think I'd rather be working than places.
Unsuspecting
solversmightbecon_
Her extensivereferencesinclude two doing anything
else.', She takesa break fusedwhentheycomplete
a lineln thegrid
complete
encyclopedia
sets,at leastl0 un_ around mid-afternoonwhen she
heads and seean unfinishedword as they
abridged
did in
dictionaries,
..I
includingall l3 vol_ outsidefor a long walk. usually
havea "With Malice TowardNone":
umesof the Oxford English Dictionary, destination-the post
office,library, grocery
Benet'sReader's Encyclopedia,six
ATOI.ERJA}TNNNOFTABRT
books store,etc., and if I don't I'll walk for a
ZE.OU
of quotes,andreferenceson films, comics, while."
NDSE\ERAI.ELIESONHTSCXIEE
songs,sports, literary characlers,etc.
SEWIIEI|ToI.DIE!4USTS:I{ATHEs
Work continuesin theevening...At night
Hansen
admitsto being.,hopeless
AT DNOTflIIINTUIEY?REI{EL
in sports,,, if I'm homealoneandwarcningiV t'tt tite
but tries to includethem in her work. Her my workin
@METOEATIiITATNIEYPI.EJASE
with me.I can'tjustlookat TV.
favoritereferenceis .,TheAlmanacof Fa_ If theprogram
is goodI'll watchTV; if it,s
Ilansenhaslivedin Metuchen
mousPeople,"which gives information mediocreI'll probably
almostall
get moreinterested of her life; her family
movedtherewhen
aboutfamousfolks from all areas_film. in what'son my
lap."
shewastwoyearsold.Shemetherhusband_
theater,
politics,music,etc.Hansenfindsii
Hansen'sroutine
varieswhensheattends to-be when she was
"comprehensive
16, but her parents
and handy.',
exerciseclassesat the local yMCA in the packed
her
off
to
her
mother's
family in the
Claimingto getherinspiration
from,,the morning.Shethendeferspuzzlinguntil the
Southwhenshewas lg to makeherdebut
ideafairy," Hansenfirst thinksof a theme afternoons
"preferred
but her
workingtime
(Continued on page 9)

"Into

THEMESANDCLUESFROMTHEHANSENFILE

the Woods" - an example of what Hansen


calls an |

..Bunyen,splckrxcutout?,,

,,il;::::ilfil;::'=
nll,.3{"'n"ouzzlewhichshederinesas"""6p;;;;l;;;;;
| "Malapropisms"
"How

"VYhy

the tree grew greenertt


the tree'swlfe berked"

"How the
tree's wlfe wes uprmtedrt
"I{ow the
tree kept her plantedr,
"How they
burled the hatchet"

"Quiptic
Comments":
"Any compllment
from 8rlch?"
"Why we missed
Mark's arrlval?"
('Poet
John's last words?"

..He opened
another brench,
..Shecalled
lta shedy deat,,
..She started
to pack her trunk,
..Crooned
don,t evr leafme,,
..she sald
baby take e bough'

..A pleasant
Remarque,,
.iDldn,t meet
the Twaln,
..What ls done
is Donnel

"Bunyanesque"
- anexampleof a themecarried ..exFemes,,:
to
"Bunyan'ssan{}9altt
"Bunyan's
lce culslrt
'Eunyan's daily
constltutional?rt
's barbecueplt?',

"The Palnted
Desert"
ttMulr

Glaclertt
"Oregon
Trall,t
..Jackson
Holert

...,mnd(.rno^,

ff;l#;,T;*,

"X.rated fllm?"
"Advlce to the
uptight?"
'rDon
Julnts concern?tt

"Phonographlc
movls',
"Sit back
and relapse',
'"The
erroneous zones"

"On

TheLinks" wasostensiblya golf puzzle,but hadnothing


to do with tlwt game.Rather,the;.gine',-wlls to find
wordsthat
followedtheclue words:
"6 over?t,
,aPr,r4?rt
"4 under?r,
"4 down?"

"Lookworkprsslapdoturn
"Avanctevionval

tt

ueterrdt

"Stetem Inegraduatehandrt
"Pourrlghttroddenstage',

anda "trap" at 3-Down:


tt5 uPTt

'dTooretadtsecraordlarbr'*

* Hinc to be readbackward
CROSSWRD

Page 7

Hansen (from PageT)

andeditorswho meetregularlyfor lunchat


a Manhattanrestaurant
to socializeandtalk
shop.Theluncheonsstartedabout25 years
agowhenanavid solver,aMr. Morgan(his
first namehasbeenforgotten),nradelunch
dateswith MargaretFarrar,
WillWeng, and
"He
theHansens
simultaneously.
calledme
and told me he was having lunch with
MargaretandWill; thenhecalledMargaret
andtold herhe washavinglunchwith Will
and me and could we join him? We all
agreed,not knowing, of course,that the
othershadn'tagreed."

into a dozeand crashedthroughthe paper


into Crosswordland."He "recognizedit
immediately,for admisweregrazingunder
a dhavaandan ai hungfrom a tondoin one
of the salas." He encounteredfamiliar
crossword
deni2sn5-"[ya (MissGardner),
Evita (_ Peron), and Monk (Iazzman
Thelonius)...who
were ired (angry)about
beingtrite (overworked)."Bakercontinued
in this mannerand managedto include
more than 60 items of Crosswordese
into
thepiece.
WhenHansenwroteto compliment
him

and spenda year with relatives.(Hansen


was presentedto society via a seriesof
parties,dances,
andsocialevents."It wasa
highspotofmylife,"recallsHansen.)
When
she returned,her future husband@rnest
Hansen)proposed;however,her father
wouldn't let them marry until Ernie was
earningat least$50 a week.That goal was
reached
whenHansenwas21.
The couple had two sonsand Hansen
playedtheroleofa typicalsuburbanhousewife-caring for her home and children
and furthering her husband'scareer (he
becamea bank president).During those
A defiantold maid,praylorgiveher
Maryhada litiletamb
dayshermainoutletfor intellectualpursuits
Remarked
witha bit of a quiver
She
saidit gavehergrief
consistedof afternoonroundsof Scrabble "Tonight
I shallsmoke
lf
she
hadhada litileham
"Our
withtwo closefriends.
childrenwent
Anddrinktill I choke
Would
Maryhavea beef?
to the local elementaryschool,just two
And nutsto my lungsandmy liver,,
blocksawayandcamehomefor lunchevAn unladylike
lassof Montana
eryday.As soonastheyreturnedto school
TomThumbwas hightypaid
Was
seen
in
a
dirtybandana
we got togetherat one of our housesand
"Unclean!,'
Buthere'sthe grimreport
When
they
hollered
playedfurious gamosof Scrabble. We
Despitethedoughhe made
Shesaidsomething
obscene
wereruthlessin our pursuitof filling in the
PoorTomwas alwaysshort
And
lelt
in
huff
a
for
Havana
grid and amassingthe most points.,,
Knowingthat they had only two hoursto
An aesthetic
otdmanof Duluth
Thedooris wideopen
pursuethis hobby madethe friendsultraWentto livein a telephonebooth
you pratileon
While
competitive,and they dubbedtheir game
Onedayfeelinghot
You
you aregoing
"killer
say
Scrabble."
He abandoned
the spot
Willyou
ever
be gone?
'To perspire,"
No one in Hansen'simmediatefamilv
,lsurmuth.,'
heremarked,
sharesher love of crosswords.tter htl
SomePersiansflewintoa pet
"wouldn't
husband
do the crosswordsin
TwoANTAowlssat in a lree
With
somepeoplenamedMedes
the newspaperbecauseanswersweren,t
Thesheowlsaid,"We'reon TV"
whom
lheymet;
"Aha!"the owl
there.However, he did solve puzzlesin
said,ashoot
What
the
fuss
was about
"l get a grand give
booksbecausethey had the answersin
to
a hoot."
Or
how
it
turned
out
back."
I
really
can't
say;
I forget
Hansen,awarethat her husbandwould
An uxoriousmanwas so light
lookup theanswers,alwayspretendednot
He wascaniedawayby a kite
Hersmilemightbe bolder
tonotice.WhenErniewassolvingshewould
He flewoverthecity
And
longsincetorgotten
clearher throatand stampher feet to warn
Crying,"Lord,whata pity,
lf
she
hadn'tbeentotdher
himof herimpendingentrance
intoa room;
lwon'tseemy missustonight!',
Bicuspids
lookedrotten
thatwouldgive him time to turn thepages
backsoshewouldn'tcatchhim lookingat
Hansenmet MargaretFarrar and Will on the column he sent her
the original
"I didn't
theanswers.
carehow much he Wengthroughthisfirst luncheonruse.And illustration that accompanied
the article.
lookedat theanswers,"recallsHansen.Her it becamethestartof a monthlyroutinethat Shehadit
framedand
ithas
aplace
of honor
sonsdon't solvepuzzleseither...It,s not continuestoday.At first, theluncheswere in herhallway.
theirthing."
attendedonly by Farrar, Weng, and the
llansenestimatesthatshehassoldseveral
.
Hansens.
Later,othereditorsandconstruc- thousandpuzzles
in hercareer,andwhilenot
Like mostpeoplein the .,biz," Hansen torsjoined. The groupformerly met at the becomingrich
from her eamings(,,asfar as
hastwo setsof friends-those who create CafedeFrance,butnowlunchesat another time goesyou're
very poorly paid"), she's
crosswords
and those involved in other restaurant
on thewestsideof Manhattan.A used her crosswordmoney to buy
henelf
pursuits.
Herlocalfriendsconsistmainlyof coreof 15peopleattendregularly.
luxuriesshenormallywouldn'thavehad.
atight-knitgroupof widowswho socialize
Oneof Hansen's
mostmemorable
crossSelf-effacingand modest about her
"If one
frequently.
of us wantsto go to the wordexperiences
occurredwhenherpuzzle achievements,
Hansenis in thebusinesbemovies
we call up anotherandsay .round servedastheinspirationfor humoristRussell causeshe
loveswhatshedoes...Ireally
hateto
up theusualsuspects' and we all go to- Baker's classic "Crashing Into besensible
aboutanything.All I wantto dois
gether."
Crosswordland"column of January19, havefun with crosswords."
tr
Hansenvisits often with her crossword 1975. Baker, thwartedin his efforts to
"determine
friends,
especiallyformerTimeseditorWill
whetherDr. Dolittle'sduckwas HELENE HOVANEC
is editorandpubWeng.She'soneof a dozenconsructors namedDabbab,Dabnabor Dabrab...fell
lisherof Kids, PuzzleExpress.

HANSENVERSE

July/August
1992

CROSSW RD

Page 9