Mudder's fodder / THU 9-23-10 / First company to successfully manufacture bubble gum / Usual Suspects setting / Genetic carriers
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: DAS RHEINGOLD — circles spell out this first part of WAGNER's RING CYCLE, which apparently opened the Metropolitan Opera's 2010-11 season
Word of the Day: James LEVINE (13D: Met maestro James, longtime conductor of the 17-Across) —
James Lawrence Levine (pronounced /lɨˈvaɪn/; born June 23, 1943) is an American conductor and pianist. He is currently the music director of the Metropolitan Opera and of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Levine's first performance conducting the Metropolitan Opera was on June 5, 1971, and as of July 2009 he has conducted more than 2,456 Met performances. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. (wikipedia)
As stunt puzzles go, those of David J. Kahn tend to rate pretty high with me. His competence matches his ambition, which is always nice. Today's puzzle is interesting. I'm not that thrilled with a few of the theme answers — I'm opera-ignorant, but don't most operas have SOPRANOs and BARITONES? and WALKÜRE seems an arbitrary and vicious foreign word, especially considering that it's part of the title of the second part of the RING CYCLE, when what's being ... honored? ... here is the first (see 17A and grid circles). But the puzzle is thematically dense the grid is reasonably interesting, so I enjoyed the solving experience. The ring (of circles) is more of an octagon than anything else, but I can still buy it as a ring, so no major foul there.
- 17A: Musical work in four parts, with its first part opening the Met's 2010-11 season (RING CYCLE)
- 13D: Met maestro James, longtime conductor of the 17-Across (LEVINE)
- 11D: "Die ___" (second part of the 17-Across) (WALKÜRE)
- 35A: Attendee at a 17-Across (OPERA-GOER)
- 59A: Singing voices in the 17-Across (BARITONES)
- 39D: Singing voice in the 17-Across (SOPRANO)
- 44D: Composer of the 17-Across (WAGNER)
- 5A: "The Usual Suspects" setting (JAIL) — Is this where Kevin Spacey was sitting the entire time he was narrating? I have largely forgotten that movie, and I don't have any particularly JAIL-y memories of it.
- 15A: Ireland's ___ Islands (ARAN) — good day to know your Celtic islands. IONA is a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland (23A: Hebrides isle) and the ARAN islands are a small island chain off the west coast of Ireland.
- 27A: With 6-Down, genetic carriers (NUCLEIC / ACIDS) — my limited science knowledge showed up today; got whole thing with just a few crosses in the first word.
- 65A: First company to successfully manufacture bubblegum (FLEER) — I'm guessing this is the same company that made baseball cards. . . wow, it appears they didn't go beyond the first sentence of the wikipedia entry to write this clue (word for word).
- 68A: Trueheart of the comics (TESS) — one of two ladies-of-pop-culture gimmes today; the other was TURNER (48D: Hurt's "Body Heat" co-star).
- 9D: Mudder's fodder (HAY) — There's all kinds of equestrian language I just don't know. "Mudder" is an example. Needed all the crosses here.
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