1972 Eastwood western / SUN 9-16-12 / Title heroine Gustave Charpentier opera / Androgynous SNL skit 1994 movie / Highest taxonomic rank / Obsolescent belt attachment / Nonhuman villain classic 1968 film / First bishop of Paris
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Constructor: David Steinberg and Barry Haldiman
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "A Giant Crossword" — a JACK AND THE BEANSTALK puzzle, where the title of the story winds, vine-like, in circles, from top to bottom of the grid. Four theme answers start with FEE, FI, FO, FUM, respectively, and the rest of the giant's exclamation is the answer of the main revealer clue: "I SMELL THE BLOOD / OF AN ENGLISHMAN" (3D: With 50-Down, cry made in [the circled letters] after the starts of 54-, 33-, 30- and 14-Down)
Word of the Day: "LOUISE" (21A: Title heroine of a Gustave Charpentier opera) —
Louise is an opera ('roman musical') in four acts by Gustave Charpentier to an original Frenchlibretto by the composer, with some contributions by Saint-Pol-Roux, a symbolist poet and inspiration of the surrealists.The opera depicts Parisian working-class life. However the city itself is in many ways the true star of this very atmospheric work - invoked at various points during the opera. A French example of verismo opera, it tells the story of the love between Louise, a seamstress living with her parents in Paris, and Julien, a young artist. It is the story of a young girl's desire for freedom (associated in her mind with her lover and the city of Paris). (wikipedia)
• • •I SMELL THE BLOOD / OF AN ENGLISHMAN" with just a cursory glance at the clue. In fact, I may only have picked up "cry," but once I had the "I SMELL" part, the "cry" wasn't hard to deduce. After that, it was off to the races, where I was most entertained as I dashed around the grid. This is an expertly filled grid. Very few groaners, lots of gold. Even the stuff I didn't really know, like AL LEWIS (36A: Grandpa Munster portrayer) and "JOE KIDD" (20D: 1972 Eastwood western), was gettable from crosses, and lively enough to make the momentary worthwhile. Was especially fond of "IT'S PAT" (120A: Androgynous "S.N.L." skit turned into a 1994 movie), "SHE BANGS" (71A: 2000 Ricky Martin hit), TELEPORT, ATATURK, THE LIONS (my team!), SISKEL, and ANAEROBE (not so much for the word as for the clue—39D: Septic tank worker?). Found it mostly easy, overall, though I really struggle at the very end with that NE corner. Got OLD-TIMER but couldn't get OFF DAY, "LOUISE" (?), or DOMAIN (25A: Highest taxonomic rank) off their first letters. So I worked cross after cross until they fell. Didn't help that I confused LINA Wertmüller with LENI Riefenstahl.
- 61A: Obsolescent belt attachment (BEEPER) — fantastic clue. I was completely befuddled, and then once I got it, the clue seemed perfect. That's how a tough clue is supposed to work.
- 74A: It's separated from N.B. by the Northumberland Strait (P.E.I.) — I got this by wondering "What the heck does 'N.B.' stand for ... New Brunswick!" I.e. Canada, i.e. three-letter initialism for a province, i.e. Prince Edward Island or P.E.I.
- 77A: Half of a Yale cheer (BOOLA) — know your Yale-isms! ELI, ELIHU, BOOLA, and such.
- 102A: First bishop of Paris (ST. DENIS) — apparently you don't have to signal the abbrev. in the clue when the abbrev. is "ST." Good to know.
- 106A: Onetime billionaire investor Laurence (TISCH) — assumed he had something to do with the TISCH Center for the Arts, but no, this is a completely different rich TISCH who made major philanthropic donations in NYC. This TISCH has his name on the Children's Zoo in Central Park
- 69D: ___ Dorney, locale of 2012 Olympic rowing (ETON) — Another smokescreener, or whatever we're calling clues that sound elaborate, fancy, or obscure, but have very common answers.
- 100D: William ___ Henley, "Invictus" poet (ERNEST) — never heard of him or his poem. I think "Invictus" was a rugby movie with Matt Damon, right?
- 105D: 1960s TV spy org. (U.N.C.L.E.) — I was thinking of bad guys (a la KAOS) and so took longer than I should've on this one.
- 117D: Nonhuman villain of a classic 1968 film (HAL) — starring KEIR DULLEA, a name you should really, really commit to memory, or some day it will show up in a puzzle and absolutely floor you.