Spanish compose Isaac / SAT 7-11-15 / Alternative to Pantene / Star close to Venus / Jordan was part of it in 1984 / 1970s-'80s Olds / Served with sauce of mushrooms tomatoes olives oil wine / Yossarian's Catch-22 tentmate
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Constructor: Joe DiPietro
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (but I did it first thing in the morning, before coffee, so ... it might be easier)
Word of the Day: Isaac ALBÉNIZ (2D: Spanish composer Isaac) —
Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz y Pascual (Spanish pronunciation: [iˈsak alˈβeniθ]; 29 May 1860 – 18 May 1909) was a Spanish pianist and composer best known for his piano works based on folk music idioms. Transcriptions of many of his pieces, such as Asturias (Leyenda), Granada, Sevilla, Cádiz, Córdoba, Cataluña, and the Tango in D, are important pieces for classical guitar, though he never composed for the guitar. The personal papers of Isaac Albéniz are preserved, among other institutions, in the Biblioteca de Catalunya. (wikipedia)
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SERENA and LISA SIMPSON in your puzzle, and I'm basically yours. You could probably throw a OES or an- IEST in there and I'd barely notice. Luckily, this puzzle had nothing so horrid in it.
[Don't try me, puzzle!]
SERENA was my first answer in the grid (16A: Star close to Venus), LISA SIMPSON took longer (my only problem with that answer is its clue, which is kind of corny and utterly non-iconic; Lisa has said a billion better things; but whatever) (24A: TV character who said "I learned that beneath my goody two shoes lie some very dark socks"). Despite SERENA and a few more answers in the NE, I couldn't get the corner to work, largely because of MARENGO (?) and LOGJAM—I had the "J" and still couldn't put that one together. Wanted my speechless one to be a MUTE. So ... I tried to get into the SE via MEESE RISE EXP, but NEX- made me want NEXIUM. Is NEXIUM a thing? Ah, yes. A heartburn pill. Probably not great for your hair. NEXXUS, ugh. That answer would have to wait for the very end.
So where to? Threw down NBADRAFT with no help (17A: Jordan was aprt of it in 1984), and that jumpstarted the whole northern section. Finished off the NW and, from there, put enough pressure on the NE (via LISA SIMPSON and TITLE SONG) to finish it off. But no hope getting out of NW via the bottom because ALBENI-... was a mystery. Now that I see the "Z," I know I've seen the name before. But today, no DICE (which is almost the answer I put in for 35A: Game for cats). Without the "Z," couldn't see EZPASS, so ... stuck. Rebooted in SW, which proved very, very easy, as ORS (actually ERS) led into the surprisingly obvious YENTAS (66A: Members of the meddle class?) and extremely literal ACIDITY (39D: Nonbasic property), bang bang.
Got ORR (gimme) (58A: Yossarian's "Catch-22" tentmate), then figured 45D: Unspecified quantity had to be something something-AMOUNT. Hey, XAMOUNT, OK. But ... but ... stuck. Stuck on a single letter. UN-RACE (!?!?!?!?) (46D: Free from tension) and M-A (55A: What a suit may hold). It's only because all the surrounding fill was indisputable that I didn't tear things out. I actually ran the alphabet once, but FrankenBrain either forgot "B" (classic FrankenBrain) or didn't recognize it. I was thinking "suit" = cards, not bizness. Anyway, FrankenBrain took a second (non-EZ) pass at the alphabet and finally got UNBRACE. Sad to end on the very worst stupidest stupid word in the grid, but ultimately I just thought back to SERENA and LISA SIMPSON and I started feeling better again.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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