PATRICK: If you wanted to bottle the enthusiasm and effort Elayne put into this puzzle, you'd need a vat! Although the two of us live about as far apart as two contiguous U.S.ers can (she's in L.A., I'm on the east coast of Florida), we were able to meet up in Orlando midway through our collaboration, after a show of hers at the Dr. Phillips Center.
Her act was as brilliant as it's ever been — smart, quick, topical, friendly, and with a good dose of local flavor thrown in. Alas, the meeting was brief since she was jetting off to another gig soon after. The only opportunity to talk came as she worked a table in the theater lobby immediately after the show. It was to raise funds for her non-profit animal rescue and advocacy organization, Tails of Joy.
ELAYNE: When the NY Times offered me a chance to do a puzzle with Patrick Merrell, I thought with joy, "Crosswords With the Stars!" I only hoped I'd be a little closer to being Amber Riley than Kenny Mayne, since incredibly, they gave me Derek Hough. Needless to say, I really can't dance. But, like Derek, the talented Mr. Merrell was patient, kind, funny, wonderful, and the best partner you could ever hope for. We laughed for months, and we hope that joy made it into our puzzle. We hope you enjoy it.