Mythological thread-cutter / FRI 6-25-10 / Native Australian winds / Bellini opera set in English Civil War / George Sand title heroine
Friday, June 25, 2010
Constructor: Robin Schulman and Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: "I DO" — rebus puzzle with 9 "I DO" squares (including five in the central Across answer, "IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO" (34A: Abba hit of 1976)) — further, the first letters of the Across clues spell out a message, which puts the puzzle and theme in context:
Word of the Day: "I PURITANI" (31D: Bellini opera set in the English Civil War) —
I puritani (The Puritans) is an opera in three acts, by Vincenzo Bellini. It is his last opera. Its libretto is by Count Carlo Pepoli based on Têtes rondes et Cavaliers by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine, which is in turn based on Walter Scott's novel Old Mortality. It was first produced at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, January 24, 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended for the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naples; in fact, this version was not performed on stage until April 10, 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari. (wikipedia)
I was my own worst enemy today, in many ways. Started off with ALDA to ARAB to ADDS and thought "huh, not so bad." But things toughened up from there. NW was a slog, mainly because of the deliberately misdirective clue + rebus combo in DIDGER(IDO)OS (18A: Native Australian winds). But here's where I maimed myself—I thought the rebus was "ID"; i.e. I thought DIDGERIDOOS was spelled with just the one "O," and despite "getting" MA(IDO)FHONOR (11D: Shower holder), I somehow just imagined that first "O." And so I went looking for "ID" squares. This quest came to a halt only after I realized the Abba song and saw that "ID" squares wouldn't cut it. Rebus revelation was groan #1, "IDO" (not "ID") revelation—groan #2. Groan #3 would be the worst of all. By a mile. By miles and miles.
See, after groan #2, I found the puzzle quite doable: SE went down very quickly, and NW only a little less so (PALPS, yuck—1A: Bug detection devices?). And then we arrived at the great SW. Neither of the long Downs made any sense to me, but ATE KOSHER went right in (51A: Shunned shellfish, say). Somehow managed to swing PLANT FOOD (56A: You might get it at a nursery) and GO FOR (46D: Fetch), and then ... the fatal blow. Off the "G" in GO FOR, I opt for HOT DOG at 45A: Ballpark fare. Absolutely perfect answer. Further (further!!!) I "confirm" HOT DOG with TOOK TO at 39D: Accepted. Not the greatest fit, but it made total sense to me, and it's Friday after all, so fits aren't always great. The point is, HOT DOG was unimpeachable. And thus began the longest period of freefall that I've had in months and months. Deathly cutesy cluing on SILENT R was bad enough (38D: February 4th, to some?), but with wrong letter solidly in place, answer was completely invisible. Same for WORTH A LOT (30D: Dear). "I PURITANI" was just a bunch of letters to me, so I can't blame HOT DOG there, but ... oh man. Nothing more lethal than having a wrong answer of which you are certain. Wasn't until I really tried plugging "IDO" into any possible answer (I knew it was in there somewhere) that my brain went "Hey, buster. DOG has "DO" in it ... any chance that's important?"... &%^ING CHIL(I DO)G!!! And SA(ID O)K TO!?! Limp to finish line from there, with "U" in (unheard of) TRUSS (37A: Wooden or metal framework) and (extremely unheard of) "I PURITANI" being the last letter in the grid.
Remaining "IDO" answers:
- 19A: Davy Jones or any other Monkee — TV (IDO)L
- 3D: Teen drivers? — LIB(IDO)S
- 20D: Spanish man's name that means "peaceful" — PLAC(IDO)
- 26D: Bribed — PA(IDO)FF
- 27D: George Sand title heroine — IS(IDO)RA
- 28D: Some snowmobiles — SK(IDO)OS
- 35D: Punctilious type, slangily — (I-DO)TTER
- 59A: Good place for a smoke — HUM(IDO)R
- 49D: Birthstone for most Leos — PER(IDO)T
- 25A: Inhabitants of central African rain forests (OKAPIS) — lucked out; was cluing OKAPI recently and so know more than I ought to about them.
- 1D: Final section of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" (PART V) — figured this would be something strange or possibly literally in Greek. No. Just PART V.
- 2D: Brand with the slogan "All Day Strong" (ALEVE) — wanted CERTS. Really.
["When you wanna smooch, does she ... call the pooch?" !?!?!?!?!]
- 4D: Geithner's predecessor at Treasury (PAULSON) — didn't know it off the bat, but it's a very familiar name, so it came from crosses quickly.
- 5D: "Bird" with a flexible nose (SST) — as SST clues go, that's pretty good.
- 10D: Mythological thread-cutter (ATROPOS) — One of the Fates. I wanted Ariadne, but she didn't cut thread—she just gave Theseus thread so he could find his way back out of the Labyrinth.
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