Mark McClain is a retired corporate manager living in Salem, Virgina. Forty-six of his crosswords have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times
and other publications since 2014. His crossword today includes a sequence of ordinal numbers:
Panama Canal nickname: EIGHTHWONDER
When baseball closers usually shine: NINTHINNING
NYC thoroughfare that becomes Amsterdam at 59th Street: TENTHAVENUE
When time is running out: ELEVENTHHOUR
If McClain had used this theme in a larger Sunday crossword, he might have also included the Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night
and the 1960s garage-rock band Thirteenth Floor Elevators.
The eleventh hour is the hour between 10 and 11 AM, so why do we use "eleventh hour" to refer to the last possible moment when something can be done? The term comes from the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Matthew 20:1-16. Bible scholars note that laborers worked from sunrise to sunset, so the eleventh hour would have been late in the afternoon. In the parable, workers who agreed to work all day for a denarius, a small silver coin, were angry because those who were hired "in the eleventh hour" were given the same pay. However, Betty Kirkpatrick, in her book Clichés: Over 1500 Phrases Explored & Explained
, claims that there is no connection between the Bible passage and the modern-day meaning of the term, other than the wording. I disagree.
The Panama Canal is often called "the eighth wonder of the world." The "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" are the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Pyramid is the only one of those "wonders" that still exists. The Ancient History Encyclopedia has a brief description of these wonders, or, as they were referred to in ancient Greek, themata
("things that must be seen"): http://www.ancient.eu/The_Seven_Wonders/
"Monday, in Le Mans" is LUNDI, which is not used in English. "El ___: weather phenomenon" is NINO, which is wrong. It is "El Niño." "'Still sleeping?' response" is IMUP -- "I'm up." But what if the person is still asleep? Then there wouldn't be
any response. Am I right? Well, am I right? Why won't you answer me? You must still be asleep.