Saturday, June 20, 2009

NYT Sunday 6/21/09 - Die Laughing

Magdalen and I made a slow start to this jumbo New York Times crossword, but soon got into the swing of things. We eventually solved the whole puzzle in what may be a record time for us.

I have mixed feelings about the theme, because I think there was only one quote that either of us recognized - Oscar Wilde's - and even that I knew in a different version. So, with the theme entries, it was just a case of recognizing the famous name - admittedly there was some fun in look at the quote after the clue was solved, as it was often apposite and/or amusing.

My favorite is the one from Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, although those present to hear his last words don't seem to have obliged him by inventing a better quote - something that presumably happened in the majority of cases.
Solving time: 35 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 112a Ross {Supreme leader?}
Theme

"Famous last words": famous people are clued by their dying words.
1a Oscar, 13a Wilde {"My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go"}
27a Groucho Marx {"Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do!"}
32a Lou Costello {"That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted"}
53a Salvador Dali {"Where is my clock?"}
71a Conrad Hilton {"Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub"}
87a Dylan Thomas {"I've had 18 straight whiskies. I think that's the record"}
94a Pancho Villa {"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something"}
110a Errol, 113a Flynn {"I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it"}
20d Marco Polo {"I have not told half of what I saw"}
46d Caligula {"I live!"}
48d Eva Peron {"Eva is leaving"}
68d Bo Diddley {"I'm going to heaven!"}
Solution

Matt Ginsberg and Pete Muller
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersMatt Ginsberg and Pete Muller / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 71 (16.1%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares114 (30.8%)
Scrabble points578 (average 1.56)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

10a ham {Cutup}. I didn't know quite what to make of the one-word "cutup", but Magdalen happily did. The sense used here is actually in my British dictionary of choice - Chambers - but with a hyphen:
cut-up n (orig US) a person who makes jokes or plays tricks
From The Chambers Dictionary
65a Rogers {Mild-mannered Mister}. Magdalen said I'd be able to find a nice clip of the TV show under consideration, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I gather the show was the Sesame Street of its day and was "characterized by its quiet simplicity and gentleness" (hence the clue wording, presumably).



8d ATM {Green machine?}. "Green" as slang for money was new to me, although I'd heard of greenbacks before.

Aleutian and Kurile Islands Air Campaigns11d Attu {U.S. island occupied by Japan during W.W. II}. It seems there is an endless supply of four-letter islands, ports, etc involved in World War II fighting in the Pacific. Attu is in the Aleutian Islands and notable as the site of the only World War II land battle fought on US soil. The Japanese occupied the island in October 1942 and had it wrested from them in May 1943.

21d Brodie {1970 N.F.L. M.V.P. John}. John Brodie was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. After retiring from that, he enjoyed a second career as a professional golfer on the Senior PGA Tour.

51d Gant {Eugene ___, hero of "Look Homeward, Angel"}. The clue meant nothing, nil, zilch, zippo, nada, diddly-squat to me. It seems Look Homeward, Angel is a novel by Thomas Wolfe (1900–1938), not to be confused with Tom Wolfe. Like many first novels, it is a highly autobiographical coming-of-age story, with Eugene Gant representing the author.

Noteworthy

took sides?84a ate {Took sides?}. An awesome example of the art of deception in cluing. (The sides in question being side dishes, in case anyone still hasn't got it.)

85a SRO {Packed, in brief}. Standing-room only - I've seen SRO clued so many times I got this one instantly.

104a illegals {Raid targets}. I'd just finished a puzzle in which Raid at the start of the clue was the insecticide; so I unfortunately jumped to the wrong conclusion with this double bluff.

106a Randi {The Amazing ___ (magician)}; 45d -ini {Magician's name suffix}. Funny that these two contradict each other. Did the popularity of the -ini suffix start with Harry Houdini (1874–1926) or even earlier? I remember seeing something of The Amazing Randi on British TV - and not just magic acts, as he's a well-known skeptic about claims made by psychics.



112a Ross {Supreme leader?}. At last, the recognition I deserve? Well, you might think that, but it could be the constructors had my namesake in mind.



4d Arabic {Like 1, not I}. We thought this clue a clever one: 1 the Arabic numeral is the same as I the Roman numeral.

64d Juno {2007 film that won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay}. Easy - a film we saw and loved on first release.



75d noes {Con man's responses?}. Theory 1: "noes" are what your responses to a con man should be. Sounds good, but here's theory 2: someone who is a con (not pro) to an idea will say "no" to it. I like theory 2 better.

The Rest

6a wham {"Pow!"}; 18a Maori {Kapa haka dancer}; 19a automata {"I, Robot" extras}; 21a beseem {Fit, once}; 22a islas {Cuba y Puerto Rico}; 23a remnants {Carpet store bargain bin}; 24a rile up {Get angry}; 25a the bends {Concern coming up?}; 29a -ite {Mineral suffix}; 30a foci {Pair in an ellipse}; 31a Edam {Red ball?}; 37a stair {Way up}; 39a Uma {Actress Thurman}; 42a AKC {Huskies' org.}; 43a sofa {Cushion site}; 44a Pierre {Mathematician ___ de Fermat}; 46a CPUs {PC cores}; 47a braes {Scottish hillsides}; 50a doggone it {Words of disappointment}; 52a casts {Character sets?}; 55a be polite {Adolescent admonishment}; 57a Aris {Fleischer and Onassis}; 58a Ono {Vocalist Yoko}; 59a penalizes {Puts in a box, maybe}; 60a despot {Kim Jong-il, e.g.}; 63a NWT {Yellowknife is its cap.}; 64a Jas. {Madison or Monroe: Abbr.}; 66a extension {Taxpayer request}; 68a Buy {___ American}; 69a ecru {Hose color}; 70a Peer Gynt {Ibsen title character}; 76a otros {Others, in Andalusia}; 77a fire doors {Building safety features}; 79a narco {Pot grabber}; 80a teen {Wii user, maybe}; 81a Yemeni {Rial spender}; 82a Leos {Ones sharing Durocher's astrological sign}; 86a mores {Communal customs}; 91a iron {Press}; 92a ades {Some pitcherfuls}; 93a e'en {Dark time, for short}; 98a papacies {Vatican rules}; 103a I am too! {"You are not!" response}; 107a Daewoo {Korean carmaker}; 108a played up {Magnified}; 109a olden {Yore-ic?}; 111a SSN {Nine-digit ID}.

1d omit {Strike out}; 2d sash {Tiara go-with}; 3d Cole {Porter, for one}; 5d rise to {Meet}; 6d ward {Voting area}; 7d hues {Apricot and tangerine}; 9d mongol {Invader of Europe in 1241}; 10d Hanoi {McCain residence for 5 1/2 years}; 12d masc. {Not fem.}; 13d Weimar {___ Republic, toppled in 1933}; 14d Islam {Its literal translation is "submission"}; 15d leer {Look like a wolf}; 16d deux {French pair}; 17d emp. {Nero, e.g.: Abbr.}; 26d Ness {Capone's nemesis}; 28d hearten {Cheer}; 30d flag down {Hail}; 32d labs {Bell ___}; 33d okra {New Orleans staple}; 34d U Cal {It has 10 branches: Abbr.}; 35d to-dos {Minor errands}; 36d E for {___ effort}; 37d see {Date}; 38d tribes {Chief concerns?}; 39d upsize {Enlarge}; 40d mutter {[Grumble, grumble, grumble]}; 41d assess {Weigh}; 49d sarongs {Some beachwear}; 52d color in {Fill with a crayon}; 54d ditsy {Clueless}; 56d parch {Exsiccate}; 59d pay-rolls {Employers must meet them}; 60d depots {Points on some lines}; 61d Exeter {Academy town}; 62d stereo {Two-channel}; 63d no time! {"I'm late!"}; 67d inferno {Ball of fire}; 69d Edson {Pelé's real first name}; 71d cen. {About 877,000 hrs.}; 72d area {Info in a real estate ad}; 73d tram {Disneyland sight}; 74d octa- {Eight: Prefix}; 78d res {Hi-___}; 81d yoo-hoo {"Hello-o-o!"}; 83d step {Part of a program}; 86d Mr Cool {Hipster's persona}; 88d Yeager {First supersonic human}; 89d hear of {Learn by word of mouth}; 90d on call {Like many hospital doctors}; 91d in two {Cloven}; 92d Allan {Detective Pinkerton}; 94d Paar {Carson's predecessor}; 95d Amer. {Part of O.A.S.: Abbr.}; 96d VIPs {Stars}; 97d ills {Contents of Pandora's box, except for hope}; 98d plus {Anode indicator}; 99d asps {Phobia of 100-Down}; 100d Indy {Ford role, familiarly}; 101d Eden {Xanadu}; 102d Sinn {___ Fein}; 103d -ide {Chemical suffix}; 105d ado {Kerfuffle}.

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