Enigmatic Variations No. 1285: Outrageous Simile

This was a bit of self-indulgence so I could use a favourite line, which I hoped solvers would enjoy too.

If you were to gather together the skills of the leading Broadway composer of the day, one of the greatest light verse writers of the century and a foremost Hollywood screenwriter, you might expect the resulting musical about the romantic adventures of a statue coming to life to be something special.  And One Touch of Venus (hereafter OTOV) is certainly a bit different.

It was Kurt Weill’s longest runner, but it wasn’t revived for decades and even the recent first cast album took several years to complete.  S J Perelman’s book was a little heavy on the double entendres deterring first choice star Marlene Dietrich from participating.  And Ogden Nash’s verse gave Weill three free-standing hits in That’s Him, Speak Low, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself.  But Nash could be as wilfully recondite as Perelman (who is glorious in small doses, but rather rich for extended reading), and so the show, on the whole, seems to have been rather too much of a good thing.  The first act ends with a paean to the self-sacrificing love of a certain Dr. Crippen (yes, really), which, however glorious the actual song, suggests they were just trying too hard.  (Though,  to be honest, there are aspects of the Crippen story which make the song look a little tame – Vulcana the Welsh strongwoman, for instance, doesn’t get a mention in Nash’s version, and you have to wonder how he resisted.)

I’ve actually seen OTOV twice, and it’s hugely enjoyable, if perhaps a bit advanced for the 1940s scene.  The first act also contains a barber shop quartet (well, one character is a barber), an opener about modern art, and a curious little jaded love song where the singer swears he loves his girl in decidedly negative similes:

I love you more than a wasp can sting

And more than a hangnail hurts

I love you more than commercials are a bore

And more than a grapefruit squirts

It all builds to the outrageous simile I used here: as a dachshund abhors revolving doors.  It’s a bit of a show-stopper in terms of the laugh it generates, and the song pretty well stops there.

How to use in a puzzle? I can’t quote a reference – in fact, a lot of the libretto doesn’t even get many hits on Google, the piece is that rare, so there isn’t even an online reference – so I have to include as much background as possible.  And thus the clues have to carry quite a bit in terms of both source and additional quotation for context.

Fortunately REVOLVING DOORS has symmetrical Os, which makes the need for its reversal also to make words easier to achieve.  The length of this key phrase also determined the grid shape which ended up having an effect on the layout of the whole page, forcing a change in the number of columns for the clues, so as to prevent the cells becoming taller and thinner than usual.  It’s both satisfying and slightly worrying to observe that something so relatively simple can throw the technology into a bit of a tizz.

Do dig out OTOV.  It probably is a bit overblown but the good parts are very, very good:

Venus was a goddess

In a world controlled by gods

So she opened up her bodice

And she evened up the odds.

Which may have been what despatched Dietrich.

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