When I first started building the database at www.xwordinfo.com I kept wondering when I'd get to that Patrick Merrell crossword I remembered so well. It never showed up because it wasn't there. It doesn't fit the standard electronic format. I finally built a close-enough approximation, not so much because an Across Lite version is valuable in itself, but so I could include that puzzle in my database, give Mr. Merrell credit for it, have all the answer words indexed properly, and so on. It's available now for the first time on a web database.
Let's go back to January 15, 2004. If you don't remember this crossword I want to encourage you to try it on your own but I don't want to tell you anything about it. To get the best experience, print out this PDF file and solve it the old-fashioned way. If you're out of paper, my Across Lite version mostly works but don't read the notepad until you're done. Of, if you insist, view the answers at xwordinfo.
Ok, I'll reveal one reason why I love this puzzle. 37 Down might be my favorite clue of all time: "Extinct Namibian shrub genus: Var." Now, go forth and solve.
Update: it turns out today's Thursday puzzle by Michael Langwald (answers) is a dandy too. There's a bit of a maternal bent with Charlemagne's mom and Jesus' grandmother. I was feeling good that the theme tumbled out quickly but I wondered if anyone even slightly younger than me would have trouble. I also wonder which "Fields" was meant at 4 Down. I'm hoping W.C. but I suppose Sally would also qualify. [John Farmer points out that Sally is only a Field, not Fields. I really must chastise my fact-checking department for this. - JH]
Today's image is Mr. Henry VI, friend of crossword constructors everywhere. Who cares what else he accomplished; in 1440 he founded a public school he christened the King's College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor, commonly known to solvers everywhere simply as, well you know.