Lexicograph

ic Luminaries
PlusAmerica'sMostCreativeGrosswords
By the Nation'sTopGonstructors

Or Hal Ray Cluesmith2
I

CathyMillhauser
byAlexVaughn
bu can scramble the letters of can seethat.
obscuritiesin thenewspapercrosswords
"Cathy"
to make "yacht." That
Millhauser lives with her husband, that I occasionallylooked at,,,shereis, you can if you enjoy such s o n , a n d d a u g h t e r i n p i c t u r e s q u e calls.
pursuits,which crosswordconstructor SaratogaSprings,New york. Steven,
"But
when I was grown, I visited
CathyMillhauserdoes.She loves ana- an author, teacheswriting coursesev- friends
one weekendand sat down with
grams.
ery other semesterat Skidmore Col- the hostessto help solve the Sunday
"After
all," she says, "anagrams lege.Jonathanis 7; Anna, 5.
New York Times puzzle. To my surhelpedme meet my husband-to-be."
Most days, she allots severalhours prise,thiswasfun. Thefollowingweek,
They did what? She explains:"Mu- to sitting at the kitchen table and con- I wrote her
a bread-and-butternote,
tual friends wantedto introduceSteven structingcrosswords.
Thesehourshave trying to do it in the form of a crossand me, so they asked us both over to grown easierto find now that both chil- word. That
crude attempt was my first
play an anagram game in which you dren are in school (Anna started kin- puzzle
construction-if you can call it
remix letter tiles to form new words.
that.
We liked that-then we starteddating
"But
it wasa start,andI washooked.
and decidedwe liked each other, too.',
I aspiredto becomea publishedconCourtship for anagrambuffs can be
UNCOMMON
structor,like thosein theTimes.I started
"A challenge
nontraditional. Notes in the mail befor crosswordconstructors makingup crosswordsfeaturingmeditween Cathy and Steven sometimes isofindlively, freshways
cal terminology.Why medical termitocluefamiliar
addedafterthoughtsto anagramgames words," saysMitlhauser. "These
words nology? BecauseI was working in a
that the two had played-pointing out,
are
usually
short-rnaybe
hospital,andits houseorganwouldprint
three
or four
for example,that "spume" can take an
letter*-andtheyappearall
my puzzles."
thetime,which
L andbe convertedto "plumes.,'
is the problem.Becausethey'rc so comAround the same time, in the earlv
Thecouplealsonoticedthathis name, mon, the construclor
1980s,she took a high school adult
hasto work hard o
Millhauser,containedthe letters of her
give themuncommonclu€s."
educationnight class in crossword
maidenname, Allis. Good omen? At
Examplesfrom her puzles:
making, taughtby Sidney Frank, who
any rate, they fell in love and married.
was an active constructor. ..I learned
"Rlng bearer?'
"Our
.(gAR t
daughteris Anna," she says
construction
basics,suchas grid sym(Shlrr
ri666l
thlng?'
impishly. "We consideredthe middle
metry
andno
two-letterentries,
('Bay
but what
.1i0GD
Clty rdler?t
nameGram,but we couldn't do that to
I primarily got from him were lists of
sNorh place llke home?" ..ARKrt
her!"
puzzle marketsand namesof editors,',
"Blrthday gfl?.
ftNAME'
Today, Millhauser sometimes uses
she
says.
'Teccd tlre fex?n'
..lsENT't
anagramsin her puzzles. The CrossHer
first two salesattemptswent to a
'Tbo In r row?'
(oaRs{
word Puzzlesof the Month Club feanewspaper
in WestchesterCounty,
gYek,
.0xEIf'
yek, yak?"
tured her creation titled "WHAT'S IN
whereshelived. The first wasrejected.
A NAME?" with themeentriesscram("Too many black squares.")But she
bling thelettersof "Cathy Millhauser." dergartenlast fall). Cathy hasrecenrly persevered
and saw her secondsubmitTheclue"Commentre Delilah?" yielded switchedto homecomputerequipment tal printed.
Elation! Her crosswordca'SHE
CUT ALL MY HAIR." The clue to print her grids and aid otherstepsof reer was under
sail.
"Exclaim
' O v e r s e n t i - m e n t a l i t y her puzzlemaking.
S
o
o
n
,
W
i
l
l
Weng became a
stinks'?"wasanswered"CRY I HATE
In eachof the past severalyears,she Millhauser
customer,
featuring her
ALL MUSH." "Pet-tethertosser'sre- has composedan averageof about a puzzles
in
The
Crosswords
Club.
mark?" was the clue for "I HURL lvly pazzleper week. She sells to GAMES,
"One
of
my
biggest
thrills
was the
C A T L E A S H . " A n d " B e w a r e o f the American Crossword Federation, first time Eugene
Maleska
used
apazzle
tendinitis?"led to "ACHILLES MAy
N e w s d a y , C R O S S W R D , D e l l of mine in the
Sunday New york
HURT.'
Magazines,The New York Times, The Times," she recalls."That
morning,a
Below Millhauser's byline on the W a s h i n g t o n P o s t , s u b s c r i p t i o n friend who knew
my secretleft a copy
puzzle,editor Henry Hook listed three crosswordclubs,and otheroutlets.
of the paperon my doorstepalong with
nomsdeplumethat shesuggested:HAL
Someconstructorsbegansolvingand a gift bag of cream
cheeseand hot.
R A Y C L U E S M I T H , S H I R L E Y A . tinkering with crosswordsin childhood. fresh
bagels.
People
were
callingmeon
CLAMHUT, and HILLARY MUS- Not Millhauser."As a girl, I was left thephoneall morning.
I felt asif my l5
TACHE.All areanagramsof- But you cold by the namesof rivers and other
(Continuedon page 7)

MAKINGruE COMMON

March/April1994

CROSSWRD

Millhauser(fromPage5)
minutesof fame had arrived.
"But my
crosswording
hasn'tall been
triumph.I've hadmorethana coupleof
puzzles rejected. An early one combinedanimalnameswith otherwords.I
still think the theme entries
"schoolmarmoset," "extrovertebrate,"
and"uppercrustacean"
weren't bad.But
the editor turned the puzzle down, and
no wonder. Another theme entry used
theanimal"carabao,"which is anAsian
water buffalo. Yes, I know, who ever
heardof it? That wasn't the only problem,either.In thenonthemeentries,the
pazzleusedunheard-ofplacenamesand
crosswordese
terms. Today I'd know
betterthan to constructsomethinglike
that-I hope."
Considering Millhauser's verbal
flair, you might supposethat her educa-

given their physicalor mentaldisabilities. Or sometimeswe must do the opposite: adapt the environmentsto the
patients.This can be as simpleas providing themwith a long-handledshoehornor ascomplexasredesigningtheir
kitchenspaceto accommodate
a wheelchair."
She adds that "while OT,s focus is
on practicalskills, we may use activities suchas gamesor crafts to increase
range of movement,improve hand
function, or teachcompensationfor visual-perceptual
problems,which often
occur after headinjuries."Sheusually
workedwith strokepatients,theelderly,
or orthopedicinjury patients.
Natural question: Did Millhauser
ever usecrosswordpuzzlesas therapy
tools?"Yes, wheneverI had a patient
who alreadyenjoyed them. They can
motivate such a person, and they're

OCCUPATIONAL
OUTLOOK

"I find
thatoccupationsarea wonderful sourceof themegagsfor crosswords,"says
,
cathy Millhauser. 'And, r1o,that has nottring o do with my occupationalnerapy
bactground.I 'do' occupationsbecausethereare so manyto "hoor" iiom,.
"wlIAT's MY
LINE?," the first Millhauserpuzzleprintedby GAMES ldagazine,
featuredthe following:
"Cemeramen'sJob?tt
'trr mrnufrcturer's
Job?rt
"Pencll vendr'sJob?t
'Terchcr,c
Job?tt
sBlfocd mrkerroJob?"
eCensor'sJob?,
'0ll deder'sJoblrt
t{nnkeepcr's

Job?"

tional and work histories are in wordrich fields. Maybe she majored in English? hasbeen a writer? a teacher?
No. Nothing like that. Shehas written somepoetry (including limerickthemedcrosswords),but primarily her
backgroundis in health,not words.
By profession,she used to be an occupationaltherapist,on staff in hospitals."I seesomeblank stareswhen I tell
peoplethat," shesays."Not everyoneis
surewhatoccupationaltherapy-or OT,
for short-is."
Sheexplainsthat the "occupational'
in "occupationaltherapy" can be misleading."In OT, our goalsgenerallyare
neitherto 'occupy'people'stime nor to
get themjobs.
"We retrain
certainpatientsto dress,
feed,and groom themselves.We try to
helpthemadaptto their environments,
March/April
1994

..lsHo0rlNc STARS'
.sPINNINGWNEELS''
..SELLING POINTSD
I{R,ULINCCLASS'
.?ARTING GLANCES'
.€UITING REI}IARI(SD
(HEATINGPADS''
.O"PENATING R,OOMSX

excellent for improving visual scanning."
The first time career prospects in
anythinglike OT occurredto Millhauser
was the summerfollowing her freshman year at Miami Universityof Ohio
(she is a native Ohioan,from Cincinnati). Working at a camp for handicapped children, she discoveredshe
liked helpingpeoplewith specialneeds.
The following semester,shetransferred
to IndianaUniversitymedicalschool's
undergraduateprogram in OT, where
shereceiveda bachelor'sdegree.
Job opportunitiesin the eastopened
for her after college; she practicedOT
at severalhospitalsin New york City
suburbs,the city itself, and Connecticut. During thesework years,sheearned
a master's degreefrom TeachersCollege, ColumbiaUniversity, in "motor
CROSSWRD

learning,"a subjectthat dovetailswith
her specialty.Shequit therapypractice
in themid- 1980sin orderto concenftate
on raising her children.At aroundthis
time, the family movedto upstateNew
York.
Millhauserlikes to exerciseby going
on three-milejogs, often thinking up
puzzle ideas while sheruns.
Her housestandswithin walkingdis_
tance of the Saratogahorse racetrack,
so traffic on the streetgets out of hand
now andthenin racingseason.(..I have
to schedulemy jogging, my trips with
thekids, andotheroutingsto avoidpost
time," shegrumbles.)
Shesingsin an 8O-voicechoralsociety that gives concertsin the Albanv_
Schenectady
region.
Her son's schoolteacherknows of
Millhauser's puzzle hobby and may
somedayinvite her to contributecross_
wordsfor the classroom,but hasn'tyet
asked.
Millhauseris 42. Her brotheris the
sameage, but he would be; he is her
twin.
On spotringMillhauser'sbyline in a
puzzle magazine,somecrosswordfans
will habitually tackle her puzzlebefore
others.They know that whateverelseit
turns out to be, it will be fun. She is
acknowledgedamongconstructorsand
solvers as one of the wittiest, most
imaginative talents in the game.
Punningthemesare specialtiesin her
repertoire. Her puzzle titled ,.BEE
LINES" featuredthesegroaners:.,Bee's
" "POLLENDROME..,.Song
wordplay?
lyric re bees?" "NO PLACE LIKE
COMB." "Where Noah's beeswere?',
..THE
ARK HIVES."
Her "CLOTHWORD P\JZZLE, perpetratedthefollowing: "Loser?',..ALSO
RAYON." "Ciry?" *LINENGRAD."
"Soap
opera?""SERGEFOR TOMORR O W ." " S i g n s o f c o r p u l e n c e ? "
..DOUBLE
CHINTZ."
"MADE
IN JAPAN', set back for_
eign relations a decadeor two with
themeentries -sHoGUN WEDDING.
and "WAKE Up LITTLE SUSHI." It
informedsolversthat a ghost..COMES
BACK TO HONSHU.'
SomeMillhauserthemesentertainbv
being different from anything thai
would haveoccurredto most construc_
tors. Her "BY THE BOOK" crossword
used tortuous clues to string together
booksof the Bible: "Hutton plays .The
(Continuedon page9)
Page 7

Millhauser (from Page7)
Babe' in Polanski film?" for "TIMOTHYACTS ROMANSRUTH.""Pound
doesreview of hymnsby PoetLaureate
Tate?" for "EZRA JUDGES NAHUM
PSALMS." And "Sayings of Roman
generalbecomebathroomgraffiti?" for
..TITUSPROVERBS
MARK JOHN."
In "POLITICALLY CORRECT,"she
sentup today's socially consciouslanguage."Warm fall period?"was "NATIVE AMERICAN SUMMER.""'Show
Boat' song?"was "SENIOR CITIZEN
RIVER." "Crownpossession
in theIrish
Sea?"was "ISLE OF PERSON."And

beginningand end make"pointer"!
trieswereexpressions
in whichthe same
Another of her tournamentpuzzles letter should have endedone word and
featuredthe mostfitting themeimagin- begunthenext-but Millhauserdropped
able: crosswordsthemselves.
The title t h e l e t t e r ' s s e c o n d a p p e a r a n c e .
was "CONSTRUCTIONSITE," and "Mythophobia?" was "FEAR OF LYsome main clues and entries were: ING." "Hurry-up cleaningjob?" was
"Crossword
constructor'sdiet?" "SCRUB RUSH." "Wheels for a
"SQUARE MEAL." "What
crossword trucker's child?" was "TEAMSTERS
c o n s t r u c t o r sh a v e t o b e a r ? " " A TRIKE.''
CROSS." "Half of a crossword
Then shedid the reverse,apuzzlethat
constructor'sincome?""DOWN PAY- addeda sharedletter."Dent in the LSD
MENT.' "Crosswordconstructor'sla- supply?"was "ACID DRAIN." "Warm
MCNI?"..I HAVENT GOT A CLUE."
up some junk food?" was "HEAT
Sometimes,a theme in one of her TRASH." "Forestalllouse adulthood?"
puzzleswill promptherto usea related, was "STEPON NIT."
but different, idea in a subsequent Finally, she constructedone called

ANAGRAMMAGIC
One of Cathy Millhauser's anagram-theme
crosswords,"MAGIC
WORDS,"appearedin this magazinein 1,992.
"I got theideawhenI took my
sonto a magicshow,"shesays."As we
watchedthe magicianpedonn, I imagineda puzzlethemeaboutan
'anagrammagician' who could produce
illusions-and the illusions
wouldbe anagramsof wordsin the clue."
Shefashionedthe puzzlewith fill-in clues:
"The magiciancan makeNate'sdaily paper
_r'
"NEATLY DISAPPEAR"
"Nate's
paper"]
of
daily
[Anagram
"He can makeLinda emerge,using
_tt
"LEGBRDEMAIN"
"Linda
of
emerge"]
[Anagram
6'Hecan get from Walter's foott'
_
"TEARS TO FLOW"
[Anagramof ..IValter'sfoot"]
"He can make out of Al's forearm"
_
"FLAMES ROAR"
[Anagramof "Al's forearmr']
"What I like is thatthe pluzzlegoesa step
beyondjust the anagrams,"
"I
shesays. tried to make the illusions plausible.Not only were they
anagrams,
butI hopetheyalsowereconcretevisualimagesof thingsareal
magicianmight do. I workedweekson this puzzle,"
"Philadelphia?"was "THE
CITY OF
MALE BONDING."
She thinks up ideas that are devilishly clever but, at the same time, as
simpleas-well, simple as the handin
front of your face. The five themeentriesin heT"HANDYMAN SPECIAL"
(aptzzle featuredin a crosswordtournament)were people who sound like
fingers! They were PINKY LEE,
RINGO STARR, the puzzle world's
THOMAS MIDDLETON, BUSTER
POINDEXTER,and TOM THUMB.
Millhauser's eyes twinkle when she
explainsthat "Poindexter"is a double
whammy:It contains"index," and its
March/April
1994

IT RUNSIN THE FAMIL-'T
Cathy Millhauser's fondnessfor
wordplay datesback to her girlhood.
Her father loved puns, and she acquired the taste.
What about her own children?
Visiting the Millhausers, puzzle
constructorKarenHodge brought a
housepresent,an animal doll covered in crossword-grid designs.
Jonathan Millhauser, age 7, offhandedly named the creature Edward,butbeforelong,hegotabetter
idea. He smilingly altered the
name-to Ed Word.
Another generation of verbal
mischief takesshape.
"RECYCLING

CENTERS." which recycled(doubled)a letterin the centerof
words. "Comebacksfor chicks?" were
"PEEP RALLIES." "Bersy's
family
feud?"was "WAR OF THE ROSSES.'
"Good pest
control product?" was
"EASY RIDDER."
What will shethink
of next?You grin beforeyou've seenit.
Millhauser may one day go back to
occupationaltherapypractice."Or, on
the otherhand,"shesays,"if I'm ableto
build my crosswordinghobby to where
it brings in the income OT did-even
nearlythe income-I probablywill stay
with that full-time instead."
Puzzle fans can hope she succeeds.
Who wouldn't want more opportunities
to tackleher puzzlesfirst?
tr

pluzzle.Theserelated crosswordsmay
appearin the samepublicationor may
not. Her puzzle "REHASH" put "re"
before familiar expressions.A film
critic's office was "A ROOM WITH A
REVIEW." "Animal memory?" was
"THE RECALL
OF THE WILD," and
"'Has dined,' for example?"
was "REPAST PARTICIPLE."
Next, sheconstructedthe logicalreverse-a puzzle that put "er" on the
endsof familiar expressions("Montreal
appliance?"was"CANADA DRYER").
She took related themesto the ex- Connecticutresident
ALEX VAUGHN isan
tremeby constructinga string of three editor of businesspublicationsand a conrelatedpuzzles.In "SLURS," the en- structorof crosswordpuzzles.
CROSSWRD

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