Actress Graff / MON 7-19-10 / Location in Donizetti opera / Environmentalist in Dr. Seuss story / Citi Field player for short
Monday, July 19, 2010
Constructor: David Blake
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: -MORE "rhymes" — even though "MORE" rhymes with only one of these endings ...
Word of the Day: LAMMERMOOR (62A: Location in a Donizetti opera) —
Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico (tragic opera) in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor. The opera premiered on September 26, 1835 at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Donizetti revised the score for a French version which debuted on August 6, 1839 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. The story concerns a feud between two families, the Ashtons and the Ravenswoods. When the opera begins, the Ashtons are in the ascendancy and have taken possession of Ravenswood Castle, the ancestral home of their rivals. Edgardo (Sir Edgar), Master of Ravenswood and last surviving member of his family, has been forced to live in a lonely tower by the sea, known as the Wolf's Crag. The Ashtons, despite their success, are threatened by changing political and religious forces. Enrico (Lord Henry Ashton) hopes to gain the protection of the important Arturo (Lord Arthur Bucklaw) to whom he intends to marry his sister Lucia. (wikipedia)
As rhyming goes, this is pretty (read: very) inexact stuff, but the lively (mostly proper noun) theme answers make for a very interesting grid indeed. That LAMMERMOOR / AMALIE (47D: Charlotte ___, capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands) / ILENE (65A: Actress Graff) bit alone make this a bit gnarlier than the average Monday. Also thought the clue on RIVALS (48D: Coke and Pepsi, e.g.) was pretty tricky. Not the word that first comes to mind. COLAS? SODAS? Etc. Not RIVALS (though clearly, they are, in fact, RIVALS). [Michigan and Ohio State, e.g.] I'd have gotten right away. But I'm not complaining; just explaining the (relative) difficulty ranking today. JAY MOHR is certainly crossworthy, but not a household name for a lot of you, probably. BENJAMIN MOORE is familiar, though my mind went "SHERWIN-WILLIAMS" and then went blank. I have never seen ENDIVES before (49A: Salad greens), but that's one of the few really fishy answers in the grid (see also REEDIT—57A: Go over again with a blue pencil). Longer stuff is really lovely, esp. POLEMICAL (3D: Tending to cause an argument) next to SILLY ME (4D: Words before "And here I thought ..."). PLETHORA too, and I have a soft spot for the word STEVEDORE (34D: Longshoreman)—no idea where I got that! So I was entertained, even though the theme seems awfully flimsy.
Speaking of ENDIVES (i.e. odd plurals), when we got back from our walk in the woods with the dogs today, I looked over and noticed that the treats we've been giving the dogs lately are called PURE BITES. Before she could get out of the car I said, "Hey honey, you know what that anagrams to?" Her: "Tell me." Me: "PUBERTIES!" Her: "I love being married to you." I think I detected a *slight* tone of mockery in that last bit. Less adoring wife, more patient woman humoring man with persistent and only occasionally amusing behavioral disorder.
- 17A: "Yes, go on" ("TELL ME MORE")
- 24A: 1969 Stevie Wonder hit ("MY CHERIE AMOUR")
- 38A: Former host of TV's "Last Comic Standing" (JAY MOHR)
- 51A: Big name in paint (BENJAMIN MOORE)
- 62A: Location in a Donizetti opera (LAMMERMOOR)
- 15A: Environmentalist in a Dr. Seuss story (LORAX) — blanked. Wanted HORTON.
- 19A: William ___, Hopalong Cassidy player (BOYD) — I'm sure I've seen this clue before, and I'm equally sure it made no difference today. Blanked. BOYD is a character on the fantastic F/X drama "Justified":
- 33A: Famed '50s flop (EDSEL) — this, I knew. I appreciate the alliterative cluing.
- 9D: University attended by J.K. Rowling (EXETER) — I had no idea. And I thought EXETER was the equivalent of high school. EXETER Academy. Crap, that's probably a U.S. prep school. Yep, Phillips Exeter Academy. Never mind.
- 12D: Louisiana waterway (BAYOU) — balked at this one, as I always think of BAYOU as swamp, i.e. not moving, i.e. not a "way" to anywhere in particular. Seems I'm mistaken.
- 61D: Card game based on matching groups of three (SET) — never heard of it or seen anyone play it. I know I've encountered it in xwords, but since it's a perfectly ordinary word, it never sticks as a game. Unlike NIM. Bah.
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