Leader in electronic music with multiple grammys / SAT 4-25-15 / Bonus round freebies on Wheel of Fortune / Beacon of wise per Shakespeare / Notable features of David Foster Wallace books / Brand name with 2/3 capital letters in its logo / Group with motto self above service / 17-time all-star of 1960s-80s
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Constructor: James Mulhern
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: György LIGETI (62A: Composer György whose music was featured in Kubrick films) —
György Sándor Ligeti (Hungarian: Ligeti György Sándor [ˈliɡɛti ˈɟørɟ ˈʃaːndor]; 28 May 1923 – 12 June 2006) was a composer of contemporary classical music. He has been described as "one of the most important avant-garde composers in the latter half of the twentieth century" and "one of the most innovative and influential among progressive figures of his time".
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Very hard, but a weird kind of hard. The kind of hard that was mostly easy but then dead-stop. Then medium and then Dead-Stop 2: The Revenge. The dead-stops came, not surprisingly, in the dead-end alleys in the NE and SW. Those were like completely separate, self-contained, wholly different experiences from the broad swath of puzzle from NW to SE. Just brutal. And things started out so well. Here's what my puzzle looked like just 5 seconds in:
Back to the fun middle! Sailed almost too easily around the bend in the SE and over to the entrance to the SW corner, which, like the NE, didn't want to let me in. Here, I have to quibble with the clues on the gateway answers (i.e. those Acrosses across the top of the SW section). [Space racers] is screaming for a "?" The U.S. and the SOVIETS were indeed involved in a Space Race, but no one in the world, let alone outer space, would call either party a "racer." Come on. That's nuts. And bananas. Banana nut bread, that is, without the deliciousness. And then "CHOCOLAT" (42A: 2000 film set in France that was nominated for five Academy Awards) … oh, actually "CHOCOLAT" is fair. Arcane, to me, but fair. It's the clue on ATLAS that irked me—34D: Global superpower? How? I get that it contains maps, which makes it kin to a globe, but what is this "superpower" of which you speak? It's a big book. It can't fly and doesn't have heat vision. In fact, it has no powers, beyond the powers that any books have. "?" is not saving that one [Ed.: Whoops. My bad. It's ATLAS the guy mythologically holding the "globe" on his back … clue is fine, brain is not. Carry on].
Even after I got the top part of the SW: trouble. If it hadn't been for the outright gimmes of AYN (45A: First name in Objectivism) and VONNEGUT (39D: Author who created the fatalistic optometrist Billy Pilgrim), I'd never have finished. Even with them: trouble. A bygone Secretary of Energy? A bygone movie music composer? A SCAPULAR?! And AD UNIT? Nixon memoir? I really wish the payoffs had been stronger in these tough spots. Instead of the exhilaration I felt early on, I ended up feeling exhausted. It was also unfortunate to finish up in the weakest part of the grid (which wasn't terribly weak, but still—no joy but VONNEGUT down there). I love the buzz and energy (and relative cleanness) of most of this puzzle, but ultimately found it slightly too proper-noun heavy overall. Still, it's only truly faulty in the SW. There are different kinds of hard. NE was Hard-Good. SW, Hard-Mean.
P.S. Should "notable" be in the clue for an answer that contains the word "NOTES?"
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