1781 Mozart premiere / SAT 3-31-12 / Knighted diamond magnate Oppenheimer / Hugo-winning 1994 memoir / Cityhopper carrier / Demographic lauded in 1965 song / Beano alternative / Temple of Vesta locale
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Constructor: Scott Atkinson
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: "IDOMENEO" (2D: 1781 Mozart premiere) —
Idomeneo, re di Creta ossia Ilia e Idamante (Italian for Idomeneo, King of Crete, or, Ilia and Idamante; usually referred to simply as Idomeneo, K. 366) is an Italian language opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as Idoménée in 1712. Mozart and Varesco were commissioned in 1780 by Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria for a court carnival. He probably chose the subject, though it might have been Mozart. (wikipedia)
Best themeless I've done in a long time. Telling (I think) that it's a 72-worder (the maximum). Crisp and entertaining, with almost no pips or seeds or stones or anything to make you gag or crack a crown. Interlocking 15s are beautiful. Longer answers in the corners do their jobs, solidly, handsomely. Words are words, names are names. And all the mediocre fill is short and somewhat obscured among the array of black squares toward the center of the grid. My favorite part is probably the symmetrical musical face-off right in the middle of the grid: MONKEES vs. THE CARS! (Victory goes to THE CARS by TKO, in case you're wondering). My second favorite part of the grid was "I, ASIMOV," mainly because I guessed (and I mean Guessed) it off just the "I" in TIME (20A: It's often shown with hands). Woo hoo! Worst parts (for me, personally, as a solver) were "IDOMENEO" (not a title I know; really want it to be "I, DOMENEO") and ERNEST Oppenheimer (not up on my diamond magnates, I guess) (13D: Knighted diamond magnate Oppenheimer). But those are probably names I should know, esp. "IDOMENEO"; thus the problem is with my brain, not the puzzle. Best clue: 43A: It's often in the spotlight (XENON).
- 16A: Singer with a black V-shaped collar (MEADOWLARK) — First thought, for reasons I don't understand at all: BOBBY VALLI (who, it turns out, is the brother of Frankie)
- 17A: Food product for the eco-conscious (DOLPHIN-SAFE TUNA) — I want to call this clue "killer," but that seems inappropriate. Fantastic, contemporary, in-the-language phrase. THAT is what you should build themeless grids around.
- 19A: "That man" in "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" (EMILE) — didn't know this, but still got it easily from crosses. My main question: a. is that really how you spell "OUTA"? and b. why have I not seen that in puzzles? (not that I want to)
- 33A: Seize, old-style (REAVE) — usually not that excited by "old-style" answers, but I like this one because it intersects another "old-style" answer, reminding us of that old adage: "Never let 'em REAVE your SNEE" (23D: Old dagger).
- 53A: Ray with lines (LIOTTA) — saw right through this, got it off the "L." This "...with lines"-type clue is almost always an actor.
- 60A: Features of some Amerindian embroidery (PORCUPINE QUILLS) — got this off the "QUILLS," which, when I put it that way, is not that impressive-sounding an accomplishment. Beautiful answer.
- 66A: Brand name used by Jersey Standard (ESSO) — off the "E," confirmed only by the fact that the next two crosses were plurals.
- 46A: Language that gave us "catamaran" (TAMIL) — first thought: FARSI.
- 3D: Demographic lauded in a 1965 song ("CALIFORNIA GIRLS") — another wonderful, genuinely funny clue. "Demographic" = aptly inapt.
- 8D: Wheels from the Netherlands (EDAMS) — "What are some Dutch cars?" he wondered, stupidly.
- 29D: Beano alternative (GAS-X) — that's a nice little four-letter answer. Surprised I don't see it more often.
- 37D: Cityhopper carrier (KLM) — dang, the Dutch are all over this thing, what with their cheeses and their planes and their porcupines and ...
- 46D: Temple of Vesta locale (TIVOLI) — another one I didn't know. Good thing about all the stuff I didn't know was that it was surrounded by stuff I did. Crosswords!