SUNDAY, Jun. 21 2009 — Invader of Europe in 1241 / Scottish hillsides / Pot grabber / McCain residence for 5 1/2 years
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Constructors: Matt Ginsberg and Pete Muller
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Famous Last Words" — 12 famous people are clued by their last words
Word of the Day: Exsiccate (56D: PARCH) — intr. & tr.v., -cat·ed, -cat·ing, -cates.
To dry up or cause to dry up.
[Middle English exsiccaten, from Latin exsiccāre, exsiccāt- : ex-, ex- + siccāre, to dry (from siccus, dry).]A very doable puzzle, but one that took a lot of effort to get through because of the nature of the theme. The clues (the last words) provide only oblique hints as to what famous person they belong to, and even then, those hints are usually only really obvious in retrospect. I mean, is there anything about "I'm going to heaven!" that really screams "BO DIDDLEY?" Not that I didn't enjoy the puzzle; I did. Some of the last words were oddly apt, or funny, though only GROUCHO's last words were easy to attribute to their speaker.
- 1A: (With 13-Across) "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has got to go" (Oscar / Wilde)
- 27A: "Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do!" (Groucho Marx)
- 32A: "That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted" (Lou Costello)
- 53A: "Where is my clock?" (Salvador Dali)
- 71A: "Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub" (Conrad Hilton)
- 87A: "I've had 18 straight whiskies. I think that's the record" (Dylan Thomas)
- 94A: "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something" (Pancho Villa)
- 110A: (With 113-Across) "I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it" (Errol / Flynn) — yesterday would have been his 100th birthday. See lovely tribute here.
- 20D: "I have not told half of what I saw" (Marco Polo)
- 48D: "Eva is leaving" (Eva Peron)
- 46D: "I live!" (Caligula)
- 68D: "I'm going to heaven!" (Bo Diddley)
Biggest struggle was in middle of the puzzle, for three reasons. One, no idea who CONRAD HILTON was, though I could have guessed he had something to do with the Hilton hotel chain. The CONRAD part ... not forthcoming. Add to that the insane-looking and (to my mind) fairly useless abbrev. or James, JAS. (64A: Madison or Monroe: Abbr.), and then throw in my complete inability to recall a movie I actually saw, "JUNO" (64D: 2007 film that won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay). That "J" was the very last letter I filled in. Also had crazy trouble in the NW, where my refusal to believe OMIT was the answer for 1D: Strike out kept me from getting a good toehold. If I leave something out, I have OMITted it. I see that OMIT can mean "remove what has already been set down," but I would use the word CUT, and the puzzle would usually use the editorial word DELE. Bah. Otherwise, it was just bad luck on my part up there. MAORI seemed an improbable answer for 18A: Kapa haka dancer, so I didn't commit to it, and SASH (2D: Tiara go-with), COLE (3D: Porter, for one) and RISE TO (5D: Meet) were all oddly elusive. I wasn't stumped so much as I was stumbling. Feels like I went at that corner several times before it fell. In fact, I'm pretty sure I had to get WILDE in the NE in order to get OSCAR in the NW, which finally broke things open. Oh, and I almost got Naticked by the GANT / NWT crossing (51D: Eugene _____, hero of "Look Homeward, Angel" / 63A: Yellowknife is its cap.). Yikes. NWT = Northwest Territories.
- 19A: "I, Robot" extras (automata) — so ... robots, then.
- 30A: Pair in an ellipse (foci) — learned this from crosswords.
- 47A: Scottish hillsides (braes) — a handy Scotticism to have in your arsenal.
- 57A: Fleischer and Onassis (Aris) — I keep looking at this answer and wondering what an "ARIS" is.
- 79A: Pot grabber (narco) — oh, man. Love the clue, though I hate the word NARCO (we say "NARC!").
- 82A: Ones sharing Durocher's astrological sign (Leo) — I don't get it. His name is LEO. Is he really named for his own astrological sign?
- 107A: Korean carmaker (Daewoo) — still don't see these much. Hyundai and Kia, I see.
- 9D: Invader of Europe in 1241 (Mongol) — went looking for a specific person here.
- 112A: Supreme leader? (Ross) — oddly enough, this was part of a joke on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon just two nights ago (topicality = Iran).
- 10D: McCain residence for 5 1/2 years (Hanoi) — "Residence?" Really? I gotta say, if I'm being held against my will and tortured, I'm probably not going to think of the place where that's happening as my "residence." Am I getting mail there? No? Ok, not a "residence."
- 11D: U.S. island occupied by Japan during W.W. II (Attu) — learned it when I learned ATKA (the other crosswordy Alaskan island of note).
- 21D: 1970 N.F.L. M.V.P. John _____ (Brodie) — no idea. Little worried about that "D" for a few seconds until I figured out the cheesy trick at 31A: Red ball? (edam).
- 45D: Magician's name suffix (-ini) — this clue seems odd / dated / nuts.
- 86D: Hipster's persona (Mr. Cool) — :( ... JOE Cool, I know. Mr. Clean, I know. This guy, "???"
- 97D: Contents of Pandora's box, except for hope (ills) — very nice. And informative.
- 100D: Ford role, familiarly (Indy) — wrote in CLEO without even thinking, as hers was the only name that came to mind when I got ASPS at 99D: Phobia of 100-Down. INDY here = Indiana Jones. Ford = Harrison.
- chimpocalypse I'm so boring I downloaded a crossword app for my iPhone. Now I just need a knitting app and a complaining about the kids of today app
- KBFina Why am I still doing xwords at 4 am? I think there needs to be an intervention.
- ThinkSideways Day 12 of Turning 40: I now like doing crossword puzzles. What's next, bingo?
- OdeToCode Passed a guy on the highway who was clearly holding a crossword puzzle and pen at the steering wheel. HELLO!! 5 letter word. Starts with m.
- sylviegreen69 I'm sick of living in the sticks, we don't get newspapers and our Town Criers shit. You should hear him trying to cry the crossword.
- paullemat I'm in the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Today - 6 Down! Yeah!!!! http://tinyurl.com/ly9ram [my favorite by far]
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