Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Title: They Died With Their Birthday Hats On
Author: Ogden Porter (Peter Gordon)
Theme: People who died on their birthday.
  • 18a: Vice president who died on his 96th birthday, 5/16/1920 (LEVI P MORTON).

  • 23a: Catcher who died on his 72nd birthday, 12/20/1972 (GABBY HARTNETT).

  • 37a: Gangster who died on his 59th birthday, 7/17/1954 (MACHINE GUN KELLY).

  • 51a: Actress who died on her 67th birthday, 8/29/1982 (INGRID BERGMAN).

  • 60a: Talk show host who died on his 81st birthday, 8/11/2006 (MIKE DOUGLAS).

This is kind of a weird Monday theme. It's vaguely interesting trivia, but not at all the kind of thing you would actually expect someone to know. And if, like me, you're not up on your 19th-century vice presidents and/or your 1920s ballplayers, then it's pretty darned obscure. On the plus side, there are five theme entries, and each died in a different decade of his/her life, from their 50s to their 90s.

  • 10a: Dick Vitale's cable channel (ESPN).

  • 14a: Queen in a speech by Mercutio (MAB). From "Romeo and Juliette".

  • 17a: Vow before testifying (I DO). A nice departure from the almost obligatory wedding clue, here we get the response to "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...".

  • 21a: Rho lookalike (PEE). Could have easily gone to potty humor here, but no... a boring Greek letter clue instead.

  • 22a: Sauce made with pignoli (PESTO). Mmmm.

  • 33a: With 34-Down, three-time World Series of Poker winner (STU / UNGAR).

  • 56a: Borden mascot (ELSIE).

  • 68a: "Let's Get It On" singer Marvin (GAYE).

  • 70a: Boston ___ Sox (RED).

  • 1d: Skosh (SMIDGE).

  • 2d: Angle unit in math (RADIAN). 2pi radians = 360 degrees.

  • 4d: Danny's "Do the Right Thing" role (SAL). That's Aiello, not Devito.

  • 5d: Letter in El Al's logo (ALEPH).

  • 6d: Olay rival (NIVEA).

  • 9d: Orange leftover eaten on Black Friday (YAM). Day after Thanksgiving.

  • 11d: Command to a fidgety child (SIT STILL).

  • 24d: Bright-eyed and ___-tailed (BUSHY). I've always wondered where this phrase came from. And I've always liked it.

  • 25d: Abominable Snowman (YETI).

  • 32d: George Smiley, for one (SPY). Well, I was pretty sure it wasn't a SPA.

  • 36d: Name signed on MLB baseballs (Bud SELIG), the commissioner of baseball.

  • 39d: Chicago ballpark eponym, once (COMISKEY). This is at least the fourth baseball-related clue or answer this puzzle. Does that seem high?

  • 48d: Key of Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony (F MAJOR).

  • 49d: South-of-the-border order (TAMALE).

  • 53d: Shirk one's responsibilities (DOG IT).

  • 57d: Snoopy's original owner (LILA). I only vaguely recall this plotline, and I couldn't tell you what she looked like at all.

Not too much to say here. This puzzle didn't do much for me, but it wasn't terrible or anything. I wasn't crazy about the theme, which is a problem when you have five theme entries since it doesn't leave a lot of room for sparkling ancillary fill.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

i'm up on my old ballplayers and vice presidents (GABBY HARTNETT came to me with just the G in place), but i've never heard of MIKE DOUGLAS. who is that, exactly?

Patrick Jordan said...

Mike Douglas hosted a syndicated talk show from the mid-1960s through 1982. In 1967, the program received the first Emmy Award for Individual Achievement in Daytime Television.
It was much like Merv Griffin's program -- the host would often perform a song to open the show, followed by interviews with celebrities of varying levels of fame. Probably the most memorable of Douglas's shows were the ones featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono as co-hosts for an entire week in 1972. Those episodes were released as a DVD set by Rhino.