Thursday, October 27, 2011

Discobolus sculptor / FRI 10-28-11 / People Its Leaders muralist / Filling yarn / Fictional maker earthquake pills elephant bullets

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: José Clemente OROZCO (2D: "The People and Its Leaders" muralist) —
José Clemente Orozco (November 23, 1883 – September 7, 1949) was a Mexican social realist painter, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others. Orozco was the most complex of the Mexican muralists, fond of the theme of human suffering, but less realistic and more fascinated by machines than Rivera. Mostly influenced by Symbolism, he was also a genre painter and lithographer. Between 1922 and 1948, Orozco painted murals in Mexico City, Orizaba, Claremont, California, New York City, Hanover, New Hampshire, Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Jiquilpan, Michoacán. His drawings and paintings are exhibited by the Carrillo Gil Museum in Mexico City, and the Orozco Workshop-Museum in Guadalajara. Orozco was known for being a politically committed artist. He promoted the political causes of peasants and workers. (wikipedia)
• • •

I just like the way this grid looks—like some kind of angry monster from a "Space Invaders"-era video game. I'm never as impressed as I probably should be with stacks of very long answers, but as low word-count puzzles go, this one seemed pretty solid. I mean, yeah, lots of -ERs (BEARERS and RANGERS and TEASERs and GENDERs, for example just to name stuff in the middle), but all as part of interesting answers; plus, the short stuff is really not terrible, which is all I ask from these Big White Space puzzles.

I actually found this puzzle very easy (it's not often I can do a Friday under 6). After the obvious -ER to RCAS opening gambit (which went nowhere), I went after those short Downs in the north. After A FIT and DREA and the "S" at the end of 8D, I had TEA SETS, then guessed RHEE, and that gave me more than enough for A RUN FOR THE MONEY (not a phrase that sounds right ... A RUN FOR ONE'S MONEY, or MY MONEY, or YOUR MONEY ... THE MONEY seems strange). And, as is typical with stacked 15s, one is all you need to make short work of the whole lot. Made a good guess at ENO (20A: Composer of "1/1," "1/2," "2/1" and "2/2") and then followed Ginger Rogers IN HEELS straight down the east coast of the grid. Thought BERSERK (23D: Crazy way to go?) was BANANAS, but I knew K-TEL had to be right (39A: "Hooked on Classics" company), so ... yes, BERSERK. Got LANES. Every good solver has ACA and DECOCT in his bag somewhere, so those were no problem, and bam, there I was, clear on the other side of the grid.

Hacked my way from the NW down after that. Just guessed OROZCO (having most of the crosses in place), and then started closing in on those long central answers from the west side of the grid (turns out I ate most of my meals junior and senior year directly in front of a giant OROZCO fresco, "Prometheus"). I once considered putting "GO RANGERS" in a fruit rebus puzzle I made (33A: Winter cry in New York), so that answer didn't seem strange to me at all. Guessed SEAGRAM (which I know better as a wine cooler), and then worked my way into the SW corner. BRAM was a gimme, and I got BAALS from there. Once I finally remembered TRACEY Ullman (how could I forget?—her show is where "The Simpsons" got its start back in the late '80s), then down went SYSTEMS ANALYSTS (which always makes me think of Martin Prince on "The Simpsons"—that's his dream job). And ... poof. Done. I just had to trust that BRAHMAS (34D: Some rodeo bulls) was right (I'm not quite up to speed on my rodeo terminology). Last word in was ANTI-GUN (42A: Pacific, perhaps).

  • 50A: Fictional maker of earthquake pills and elephant bullets (ACME CORPORATION) — from whom Wile E. Coyote purchases ... everything, I guess. 
  • 53A: Feature of the ideal path (LEAST RESISTANCE) — spent several long seconds trying to make LEAST DISTANCE work.
  • 4D: Amsterdam-based financial giant (ING) — had AIG at first, which was right enough to help me get FORGIVE ME FATHER... (17A: Part of many confessions).
  • 10D: Filling yarn (WEFT) — Not a word I have occasion to use or see ... ever. I was surprised to see it in my grid when I was done.
  • 15D: "Discobolus" sculptor (MYRON) — thought I'd never heard of him, but then remembered saying that before. Pretty sure he's been Word of the Day before.
  • 25D: Jerry in the Basketball Hall of Fame (SLOAN) — another former Word of the Day (I think). Longtime coach of the Utah Jazz.
  • 43D: Abram of "This Old House" (NORM) — I know lots of NORMs. This isn't one of them. NORM is the new WEFT.
  • 51D: Wilfred Owen poem "Dulce et Decorum ___" (EST) — "It is sweet and fitting (to die for one's country)"—as you can see, Owen's not quoting Horace approvingly:
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum estPro patria mori.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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