Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019, Evan Mahnken


When Shakespeare was my age, he'd been dead for a year, as the old joke goes.


The anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, and death, is traditionally celebrated yesterday, April 23rd, but all that is known for certain about his very early life is that he was baptized on April 26, 1564. That he was not born on the 26th is almost certain, and the convenience and tidiness of placing his birth and death on the same date is powerfully attractive. That such a named man existed is unquestioned, and leaving aside the authorship question (so as not to DEFAME anyone), the plays that were collected into that "First Folio" in 1623 have been read, translated, performed, and adapted continually since then. Why, just a few weeks ago, Frannie and I saw a very good, modern-dress version of Romeo and Juliet at the Huntington Theater in Boston. And at tonight, if we were so inclined, we could celebrate our anniversary by seeing a performance of Twelfth Night at the Lyric Stage. You can hardly walk through the theater district in any city without passing one putting on a SHAKESPEAREPLAY!

Today we have four film adaptations, FORBIDDENPLANET (The Tempest), SHESTHEMAN (Twelfth Night), WESTSIDESTORY (Romeo and Juliet), and KISSMEKATE (The Taming of the Shrew). The only one I had never heard of is SHESTHEMAN. And it's also from the only original that I have never seen. Maybe we should change our plans! :)

It's a coherent theme, well done. That Mr. Mahnken was able to find this symmetrical arrangement is, to me anyway, quite impressive. I don't know how these constructors do it!

In the fill I enjoyed the inclusion two additional literary figures, AESOP (52A: Fabulous writer?), and, to a lesser extent, TALESE (59A: Gay of the New Journalism movement). And the crossword darling EMOTES takes on slightly more relevance today. Heck, I suppose even PEN (11D: Write down) could be seen as bonus material.

I liked the all-French-all-the-time OUI (28A: "Bien sûr!"), the pair of "ring figure" clues (CARATS & ALI), the ridiculous "34D: Herd noise" (MOO), and my favorite clue today - 43D: Business whose income is computed quarterly? (ARCADE). That's been in a lot lately, it seems, but they're keeping it fresh!

Sure, there's some MSS, NES, and KOP -type stuff, but overall I enjoyed this one.

- Horace


  1. 3:49
    We just watched SHESTHEMAN last month, as it turns out. And Twelfth Night is a wonderful play, well worth the seeing. I am amused by MYSIDES, but not to the point of saying it myself.

  2. 6:47
    I've seen a few SHAKESPEAREPLAYs, but being from the sticks, I don't have much opportunity unless I want to travel for them. I suppose I should watch all of the versions mentioned in today's puzzle, none of which I've seen (although I'm familiar with the music from WESTSIDESTORY, at least).