Climactic musical finales / FRI 4-16-10 / Crookes tube emission / Clandestine maritime org. / Rialto attention-getter
Friday, April 16, 2010
The term stretto (plural: 'stretti') comes from the Italian past participle of stringere, and means ‘narrow’, ‘tight’, or 'close’. In music the Italian term stretto has two distinct meanings: (1) In a fugue, stretto (German: Engführung) is the imitation of the subject in close succession, so that the answer enters before the subject is completed. [...] (2) In non-fugal compositions, a stretto (also sometimes spelled stretta) is a passage, often at the end of an aria or movement, in faster tempo. Examples include: the end of the last movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; measure 227 of Chopin's Third Ballade; measures 16 and 17, of his Prelude No. 4 in E minor; and measure 25 of his Etude Op. 10, No. 12, "The Revolutionary."
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Like two puzzles in one — train wreck up top, cake walk down below. Not knowing STRETTI killed me, as I couldn't foresee the Italian "I" plural, and thus couldn't see GNARLIER (18D: More difficult, in slang), and so on, and so on, and so on. Also, really, desperately wanted TAPAS something for 17A: It has a lot of small dishes (TASTING MENU), so everything after "TA-" was empty for a while once I realized TAPAS wouldn't work. Had EGYPT at SINAI (9D: Six-Day War setting). Later, had JOIN at OLIO (15A: Mix). Didn't know "COULDA Been the One" (2006 Rihanna song) and took ForEvah to get the (to my mind, yucky, and yuckily clued) IDENT. at 25A: Security need: Abbr. Clue on ANIMAL PELT was so oddball that it took many crosses to turn up (21A: Forest cover?). So, essentially, everything west of PARENTHOOD (11D: Pop's condition) was rrrrough up there, even with ILLINI (14A: Marching ___ (Midwest college band)), ASLAN (23A: Narnian guardian), and SCARECROW solidly in place.
The rest of it — about a Wed-Thu level for me. Minor hesitations here and there, but nothing major at all. LETTER N? (42D: End of discussion?)?? Can you do that? With any letter? I tried ET CETERA in that slot, I think. Then possibly LECTERN, but that made no sense. Finally acquiesced to the improbable LETTER N. It may surprise those of you who are aware of my math / science ignorance that I took CATHODE RAY (27D: Crookes tube emission) down off just the "C"; I also took SCARECROW (26A: Its purpose is frightening) down off just the "W," but that didn't feel as impressive. Overall ... well, I've seen more inspired work from Eric. This was Just OK for me. Solid. Fine. No big complaints. COULDA been worse.
- 16A: Post-Manhattan Project agcy. (AEC) — Atomic Energy Commission. Learned from xwords. Often want NEC, which is ... a Japanese IT company.
- 19A: Guilty, in a legal phrase (REA) — as in "mens REA"
- 33A: They're checked for life (PULSES) — sooo good, this clue. I couldn't get beyond coats and hats for some reason.
- 58A: Women who may break people up? (COMEDIENNES) — had the ending and was briefly wondering if there was an opposite of YENTAS...
- 64A: Rialto attention-getter (NEON) — "Rialto" = theater. I was thinking more along the lines of "AHEM" or "Turn off your cell phone you #$$%ing *%!@"
- 2D: Offerer of the Matmid frequent flier club (EL AL) — no clue, but didn't matter. Entered EL AL with no crosses. This clue is kind of awesome in its attempt to be fresh. See also the clue on OMOO (52D: Novel with the chapter "Farming in Polynesia").
- 5D: Clandestine maritime org. (ONI) — Office of Naval Intelligence. I really want ONI to be clued as [Creature of Japanese folklore]. ONI is also a comic book press, which is how I know the Japanese monster meaning.
- 7D: Company with the stock symbol DPZ (DOMINO'S) — wow, makes a lot of sense in retrospect. In prospect, however, it looked like a drug company.
- 8D: I, for one (ELEM.) — Iodine is an ELEMent. I was like "I is ELEMentary how?"
- 26D: Longtime human "Sesame Street" role (SUSAN) — Could remember only GORDON. Then got some crosses.
- 47D: Michael with the memoir "work in Progress" (EISNER) — back-to-back media exec clues, with 49D: TV executive Arledge (ROONE).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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