Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NYT Thursday 9/23/10 David J. Kahn - Haven't We Met Before?

It's hard to conceive of a thematic New York Times crossword more perfectly suited to my knowledge and interests than this ... and yet, I found I don't enjoy the solving process half as much when I know everything about the theme: part of the fun of solving is using intuition to fill the gaps in my experience, and learning something in the process.

I actually made reasonable progress with non-theme clues along the top, so didn't encounter Ring Cycle at 17-Across until a couple of minutes had gone by. We've been well aware of the Met's new production and have already booked our tickets for the Live in HD relays of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, reckoning these shows will be sell-outs at our local cinema.

Lincoln Center Fountain SilhouetteSo having got that, the remaining theme answers fell into place easily and I was a little surprised to have spent as long as 9 minutes on the whole puzzle. Having 60-Down as ETO (European Theater of Operations) rather than Iwo (Jima) was partly responsible, making me think 59-Across might be something specialized to the Wagner repertoire - Heldentenor or the like.

Incidentally, only the first two operas of the cycle are featured in the puzzle and there's a perfectly reasonable justification for this, to my mind: the Met will only put on Rheingold and Walküre in the 2010-11 season, adding the final two operas the following year. Creating a whole new production of the Ring Cycle is such a complex undertaking that even as well resourced a house as the Met takes a good time to put it all together.

We're particularly looking forward to seeing the brilliant Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel in the role of Wotan and super soprano Deborah Voigt in the role of Brünnhilde.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 28d ESP {Medium strength?}

David J. Kahn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Answers relate to Der Ring des Nibelungen aka the Ring Cycle, Robert Lepage's new production of which begins at the Metropolitan Opera on September 27. The first opera of the cycle, Das Rheingold, appears as the ring of letters starting from square 21.
17a Ring Cycle {Musical work in four parts, with its first part opening the Met's 2010-11 season}
59a baritones {Singing voices in the 17-Across}
11d Walküre {"Die ___" (second part of the 17-Across)}
13d Levine {Met maestro James, longtime conductor of the 17-Across}
39d soprano {Singing voice in the 17-Across}
44d Wagner {Composer of the 17-Across}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDavid J. Kahn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares[not calculated]
Scrabble points288 (average 1.54)
Video of the Day

62a 'O Sole {"___ Mio"}. 'O sole mio is a globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898. It has been performed and covered by many artists, including such stalwarts of opera as Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Mario Lanza, The Canadian Tenors, and The Three Tenors, as well as rock/pop artists such as Bryan Adams, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Vitas (who sings it in a high countertenor range) and Elvis Presley (It's Now or Never). Luciano Pavarotti won the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for his rendition of 'O Sole Mio. The lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro, and the melody was composed by Eduardo di Capua. Though there are versions in other languages, 'O sole mio is usually sung in the original Neapolitan language. 'O sole mio is the Neapolitan equivalent of Standard Italian Il sole mio and translates literally as "My Sun" (not "Oh My Sun").

I always associate the song with ice cream: a version of the song ("Just one Cornetto...") supposedly performed by Renato Pagliari (although this is disputed by Pagliari's son, Remo) was used for decades on British television to advertise Cornetto ice cream. In the ads, it is usually sung by a Venetian gondolier, despite Venice being hundreds of miles from Naples.

The Doctor is IN

68a Tess {Trueheart of the comics}. I.e. Tess Truehart of the Dick Tracy strip.

28d ESP {Medium strength?}. A medium supposedly has ESP = extrasensory perception.

48d Turner {Hurt's "Body Heat" co-star}. Body Heat (1981) stars William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Richard Crenna.

60d Iwo {W.W. II site, briefly}. I.e. Iwo Jima.

Image of the Day

Moulin Rouge

52a Moulin {___ Rouge}. Moulin Rouge (French for Red Mill) is a cabaret built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. Close to Montmartre in the Paris red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, it is marked by the red windmill on its roof. The closest métro station is Blanche.

The Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Today the Moulin Rouge is a tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. Much of the romance of turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's decor.

Other Clues

1a dank {Like many a cellar}; 5a jail {"The Usual Suspects" setting}; 9a hawk {Peddle}; 13a libel {Suit material?}; 14a acne {Unwanted spots}; 15a Aran {Ireland's ___ Islands}; 16a ensue {Come next}; 19a veered {Went off on a tangent}; 21a dear {Sugar}; 22a aka {Letters between a name and a nickname}; 23a Iona {Hebrides isle}; 24a rise to {Meet, as expectations}; 26a dud {Turkey}; 27a nucleic {With 6-Down, genetic carriers}; 29a dowsers {Divining rods}; 31a été {Somme time}; 32a Sven {___ Kramer, 2010 Dutch Olympic gold medalist in speed skating}; 34a use {Practice}; 35a operagoer {Attendee at a 17-Across performance}; 39a sum {Bottom line}; 41a Gen X {Boomers' kids}; 42a tow {What you might need after a breakdown}; 45a congest {Clog up}; 49a Roth IRA {Savings vehicle}; 51a opt {Decide}; 54a a pig {Eat like ___}; 55a MRI {Hosp. test in a tube}; 56a INRI {Letters on a crucifix}; 57a Elston {Yankee ___ Howard, 1963 A.L. M.V.P.}; 63a anew {All over}; 64a mete {Parcel (out)}; 65a Fleer {First company to successfully manufacture bubblegum}; 66a to-do {Bother}; 67a arow {In ranks}.

1d dine out {Patronize a bistro, say}; 2d absence {It may be excused}; 3d neural {Kind of network}; 4d Klee {Artist Paul}; 5d jar {It might get tips}; 6d acids {See 27-Across}; 7d in need {Strapped}; 8d legato {Smooth and connected}; 9d hay {Mudder's fodder}; 10d arcades {Pac-Man centers}; 12d kneads {Folds, presses and stretches}; 18d crow {Exult}; 20d drive {Motivation}; 25d icer {"Happy Birthday" writer, say}; 30d Sur {Big ___}; 33d nag {Kvetch}; 35d OMG! {"Yikes!," online}; 36d Geri {Spice Girl Halliwell}; 37d on one {Down ___ knee}; 38d Ext. {No. after a no.}; 40d untired {Peppy}; 42d tiptoes {Sneaks (around)}; 43d orioles {Birds with hanging nests}; 45d combat {Fighting}; 46d emit {Issue}; 47d Sonoma {County next to Napa}; 50d hassle {Bother}; 53d lie to {Mislead, and more}; 58d loft {Artist's pad?}; 61d sew {Clinch, with "up"}.


Gareth Bain said...

We also had those "Just one Cornetto" adverts! And "Hah!" I thought the Turner was Tina - thanks for clearing that up!

Also - I've come across the remark before - that a puzzle will often be too familiar to be entirely enjoyable for afficionados and simply do nothing for those that have no knowledge whatsoever - me I was somewhere in between, no opera knowledge, but general knowledge and reading the novel helped!

Magdalen said...

I was hugely grateful for a theme I knew! (And you can imagine how happy Thacher looked when I told her the theme, even if she doesn't do the puzzle herself.) (Sorry -- inside joke: my grandfather was the managing director of the Met over 70 years ago, and my aunt Thacher was an extra for several of their productions. I solved the puzzle in her edition of the newspaper, with the accent being on the "paper.")

I do not expect to be able to solve tomorrow's puzzle. I figure it's 50-50 whether I'll be able to solve a Thursday puzzle on my own.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Gareth. That Tom Holt book is new to me ... interesting. Yes, there is a danger with these tribute puzzles that they can divide solvers into lovers and haters and that's especially true with Wagner of course, as compared to e.g. Old MacDonald.

Magdalen, if Thacher is interested in seeing Rheingold, the HD relays are on October 9 (live) and October 27 (encore).

Daniel Myers said...

The Moulin Rouge, to me - though having visited there during a sojourn in Paris where I met an ex-aimee - will always, first and foremost, be associated with one its most famous habitues, and one of my favourite artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Crossword Man said...

Never been there DM ... does absinthe make the heart grow fonder?

Daniel Myers said...

LOL, Ross---Indeed it does!