Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Title: Happy Birthday
Author: Ogden Porter
Theme: The bicentennial of the birth of Darwin and Lincoln.

It's an interesting coincidence that Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day and the same year. For our purposes it's somewhat unfortunate that their birthday is on a Thursday this year since it makes for a pretty easy-for-a-Thursday puzzle, though Mister Gordon -- excuse me, Mister Porter -- does make it interesting. Use use of numbers means this puzzle is not strictly by the numbers.

I think even if I hadn't just read an article about Darwin and Lincoln in Smithsonian magazine I would have remembered that they shared a birthday. All I had to do was slide Abe into the 14-letter slot (16A: He was born on 56-Across: ABRAHAM LINCOLN) and Charlie into the 13-letter slot (37A: He was born on 56-Across: CHARLES DARWIN) and then slip their birthday into the aforementioned 56-Across -- only FEBRUARY TWELFTH wouldn't fit, FEBRUARY TWELVE was iffy-sounding. A couple of scratch-outs later and I realized we had numbers in our crossword puzzle. 56A: See 16- and 37-Across 12FEBRUARY1809.

Cool. And it led to 6 more crossing down entries with numerals.

56D: When SNL ends: 1AM

57D: Jr. alternative: 2ND

55D: Air Force stealth jet: F117

58D: Part of many toll-free numbers: 800

59D: Bond: 007

60D: When Clinton was prez: 90S

and a couple more acrosses too:

63A: M: 1000

66A: Pioneering Boeing planes: 707S

By the way also born on February 12th (though not in 1809) are Boston Celtic Bill Russell and Doobie Brother Michael McDonald

So you probably figure guys born 2 days before Valentines Day all have beards.
Well then how do you explain Salem Witch Trials instigator Cotton Mather (born February 12th, 1663)?

Easy, he decided to grow his Darwinesque beard on top of his head.

Other cool entries include 53A: Satisfactory UPTOSNUFF

22D: Aviation editor of Cosmopolitan in the 1920s EARHART I mean, who knew Cosmo ever had any interest in aviation other than articles about joining the mile-high club.

I was less impressed by 5D: Cyberjunk SPAM MAIL just because I've never heard it called that. It's usually either "spam" or "junk e-mail." I do like the word cyberjunk though, conjuring up images as it does of "Sanford and Son" as written by William Gibson.

That's all for me. Happy birthday, Abe, Bill, Cotton, Charles and Mike.

See ya next Thursday.


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