Friday: Celebrity Guest Blogger Dana Delany

By Deb Amlen / April 14, 2011
FRIDAY'S PUZZLE — If you do the New York Times crossword puzzle every day, you know that some of them are light repasts and some of them are multicourse feasts. Now that it's Friday, we have survived another week of puzzle challenges, and I consider this one by Patrick Berry a sweet finish to the weekday hustle. An AFTER-DINNER MINT, if you will.
We have a special guest with us today, and I was very pleased to learn that she is not only a terrific actress and health issues activist, but she is an experienced crossword puzzle aficionado as well. Among many other roles, Dana Delany won an Emmy for her role on China Beach, co-starred on Desperate Housewives as Katherine Mayfair, and is currently starring in the ABC-TV series Body of Proof. She sits on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation and memorably underwent a televised mammogram to increase awareness on the live broadcast Stand Up 2 Cancer in 2008.

Let's welcome Ms. Delany and see how she did:

Dana Delany's Solving Notes
When I was a child, I used to watch my mother sit at the counter with a drink, peanuts and the New York Times crossword puzzle. Or at the beach in a low chair with her Bain de Soleil and the Sunday puzzle in the summer. It was the height of sophistication for me.

I dabbled with the Sunday puzzle when I was in my 20s, but I didn't make the full commitment until I was 40. I was shooting a miniseries in Austin, Texas called "True Women" about the intrepid females who pioneered that wild west. They also had a LOT of hair. Which meant spending two hours in the make-up trailer adding extensions and crimping with a curling rod. Or rather, Joanie my hairdresser did; I just sat there bored. So my co-star Annabeth Gish and I started doing the puzzle. I wasn't very good at first but I quickly became addicted and faithfully completed every day of the week. Over the years, I have cut back to only Friday and Saturday with an occasional Thursday for fun. I need to do other things!

Now, let's discuss the iPad and the electronic crossword. It is my method of late, but I find the Google search way too tempting. And I do admit to succumbing once in a while. But not this puzzle. It was refreshing to pull out the ballpoint pen and remember the good old days. I am not sure if I found this Patrick Berry (for whom I have great respect) puzzle relatively easy because I used a pen or not. Maybe it's a different neural pathway. Now that I am playing a former neurosurgeon on Body of Proof I should know the answer to that.

This was one of those puzzles where I didn't know all of the answers, but they became clear the more I filled in. I usually like the long crossings, but they may have made things a little too easy.

There were a few movie references, which should be easy for me. However, I actually went to the premiere of The Children of Men (love Alfonso Cuaron films) and did not realize it was based on a P.D. JAMES novel (1A). But I got PIETA (1D) right away, which helped. Not a lot of Michelangelo works that would fit. Again, I saw Eastern Promise, but can only remember Viggo Mortensen wrestling naked in the steam room; was he tattooed? (17A). I knew that the Clint Eastwood movie was The Outlaw JOSEY Wales (3D) but who knew Josey was spelled like that? One movie reference I can never get is all the Harry Potter characters (38A). They appear everywhere now and I think I have only seen one of the movies. Never read any of the books. So I might have to rectify that if only for my puzzle solving abilities. Other film references were GRIPS (43D) and BAIO (52D). I kept wanting the last one to be Adam, because I think he's funny. But I knew in my heart "Matter of contention" (52A) had to be BONE, hence the old crossword standby BAIO. There were a few too many crossword gimmes for me: EER, EELS, LAM, ACHE, APSE. Do people actually pray in an apse? Thank god for churches – what would we do without "nave"?

I did like the crossing of SURGEON GENERAL with POLICE SERGEANTS. Those are two words where I constantly have to think twice about their spelling. Which leads me to my final story: My name is a good one for crossword puzzles. As my mother reminds me, it's not because I'm famous, it's because I have a lot of vowels. However, I am famous for being one of the few errors ever made in the New York Times crossword puzzle. They used me as the clue, but spelled my last name "DELANEY" instead of "DELANY." [Deb says: Hat tip to Patrick Merrell for setting up this link.] Which, of course, threw the whole puzzle off. I happened to be doing the puzzle that day and quickly realized what the problem was, as I am used to people spelling my name wrong. DELANEY is much more prevalent. If the clue had been "Star of NYPD BLUE" it would have been correct. Kim Delaney is a lovely actor and a friend of mine, but no, we are not related. I felt kind of bad about the whole thing, but honored to have a place in the annals of the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Thanks for playing, Ms. Delany (no "e").