Saturday, May 15, 2010


Last year at about this time, during the fourth hour of an unhealthy, brain-altering constructing binge that involved the notion of making a crossword puzzle out of a museum--Lena Horne's voice came over the radio. All construction ceased, as it usually does, when Lena enters the room. There's no choice but to stop and listen in awe.

She had me at the first note of "Deed I Do," a song that was new to me. After it was over, I popped the new song title into my word list and continued struggling with the puzzle. I abandoned the grid shortly thereafter; it wasn't my day.

But a few weeks later, DEEDIDO saved and completed the lower right quadrant of that same, unreasonable, crazy grid. Had it not been for Lena's exquisite timing, that puzzle might not have been made. Thank you, Lena, for stepping in with a song title that fit perfectly into the grid. Sometimes a single fill entry (unrelated to the theme, as DEEDIDO was in this case) can make or break an entire puzzle.

Lena Horne died this week at the age of 92. For as long as I can remember, LENA has been a crossword regular. There are 4-1/2 generations of American history behind the word, LENA. It's a story of race, politics, feminism, art.

She was uniquely glamorous at every stage of her life. . . like in this Gap Ad which captured her dynamic self, looking fabulous at 80. And that voice--it's as strong as ever.

Lena, I will miss you. I think you're a one-of-a-kind talent, the tops, the best . . . 'deed I do.

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