Composer Siegmeister / SAT 12-15-12 / Ottoman dignitary / Guitar-spinning group / Move with bobbing motion / Three-sided carrier / Film producer Fayed / It blew in 1707 / Its central deity is Amatrerasu / Dweller in hall Bilskirnir / 1980s Argentine president Alfonsin /
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Constructor: Will Nediger
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: ELIE Siegmeister (51A: Composer Siegmeister) —
Elie Siegmeister (b. January 15, 1909, New York City – March 10, 1991, Manhasset, New York) was an American composer, educator and author.His varied musical output showed his concern with the development of an authentic American musical vocabulary. Jazz, blues and folk melodies and rhythms are frequent themes in his many song cycles, his nine operas, his eight symphonies, and his many choral, chamber, and solo works. His 37 orchestral works have been performed by leading orchestras throughout the world under such conductors as Arturo Toscanini, Leopold Stokowski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Lorin Maazel, and Sergiu Comissiona. He also composed for Hollywood (notably, the film score of They Came to Cordura, starring Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth, 1959) and Broadway ("Sing Out, Sweet Land," 1944, book by Walter Kerr). (wikipedia)
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What a difference a wavelength makes. Whereas yesterday I struggled to get a grip, today I sliced clean through the grid, despite not being familiar with more than a few key answers (most notably the marquee answer: CHANDLER, ARIZONA (35A: City of a quarter million founded on a ranch site)—is that a well-known place? Generally, I think a central 15 oughta be legitimately famous for *something*). After some tentative, weak initial guessing in the NW—where I wanted FARSI or BANTU for 1D: Origin of the word "cheetah" (HINDI) and ETNA for 4D: It blew in 1707 (FUJI)—I decided I would gut-check the Downs (starting at 5D and heading east) in quick succession; that is, I wrote in the first thing that came to my mind (via my gut, presumably). This got me AGA (right!), NUT (right!), BALSA (er ...), HARE (right!), ATTN (right!), I-don't-know, and I-don't-know. I could tell BALSA was messing things up, so I removed it, and NINJA TURTLE jumped right out (17A: Raphael, e.g.). No problems after that, except with INAUGURATOR (15A: Swearing-in figure), which I didn't know was a word, and LOLLOP (10D: Move with a bobbing motion), which I *really* didn't know was a word. After that I took the easy MENLO PARK to the Very Easy CLAREMONT (13D: Home of Pomona College) (Rex Parker, c/o '91), and half the puzzle was done.
Had ARIZONA but no idea what was supposed to be in front of it. Was able to throw SHOELACE across the grid into the west, and there I performed my greatest miracle—I got HAS DIBS ON from just the "H" (32D: Claims) Just the "H!" I demand some kind of award for that, 'cause that is some damn fine guessing. Confirmed it immediately with RMN and OSO. Then there was the small matter of the SE. Couldn't decide between FT. ORD and FT. DIX (44D: Neighbor of McGuire A.F.B.), but did manage to get AVID, ARI, and EWAN, and between the "V" and "W" in that set, picked up CAVE DRAWING (53A: Bit of ancient art). This made everything else easy, and I ended with the "E" in LEGOS (47D: Toy snappers).
Crossword-famous ANI DIFRANCO finally gets the full-name treatment, which is nice (57A: Singer who founded Righteous Babe Records). I always like it when people whose first or last names are crosswords get their full-name due. Love the clue on ALI (16A: Onetime giant in decking). Completely fooled me. Stunned to uncover DODI, mostly because I'd totally forgotten he once existed. Such a huge name in 1997 news, now (by me) forgotten. Clue on ZZ TOP made me laugh (and helped me change PEPPY to ZIPPY). If you don't know what the clue refers to ... well, here:
In deity news: never heard of Amaterasu, but pieced together SHINTOISM from just the first and last letters (31D: Its central deity is Amaterasu). Also, had -HOR before I ever saw the clue at 48D: Dweller in the hall Bilskirnir (THOR). There's something about THOR's being boxed in the corner by SHINTOISM that I really enjoy. Nobody puts THOR in a corner! In non-deity news, RAUL Alfonsin is somebody (36D: 1980s Argentine president Alfonsin). Never heard of him, but I had the -AUL, and figured "hmmm ... probably not SAUL ..."
This puzzle was a pleasant distraction from an otherwise horrific day. I would like to say something profound about all the murdered children in Connecticut, but all I have at the moment is incoherent rage and despair. I'm just so sorry.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld