Friday, November 11, 2011

Record producer Talmy / SAT 11-12-11 / Musical great grave unmarked 150 years / Player of evil Blofeld / All-Star Dark of 1950s Giants / Relatives of arroyos / North Platte feeder

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ANTA (26D: Broadway acronym) —
The American National Theatre and Academy (ANTA) is a non-profit theatre producer and training organization that was established in 1935 to be the official United States national theatre that would be an alternative to the for-profit Broadway houses of the day. // The ANTA, which by law was to be self-sustaining, sponsored touring companies of numerous shows to foreign counties in the post-World War II in the 1940s and 1950s, owned the ANTA Theatre on Broadway, played an important role in the establishment of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center, was the main membership organization for regional theatre in the U.S. before ultimately having a greatly diminished role in the 1980s. Today as an entity its main focus is the National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. (wikipedia)
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I've been constructing for a few hours, so I don't really know which way is up, and I'm not sure what to say about this (fine) puzzle. It's kind of blurring together with the puzzle I'm working on. I even had ANTA in my grid, before getting rid of it (it's pretty bad fill ... though I've got something at least as bad still in my grid at the moment, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere, so I can't judge too harshly—it's legitimate, and when there's not a lot of other clunkers, sometimes that's good enough). I know that my solving experience was really uneven, timewise. That is, I was lightning-fast in some patches, and turtle-slow in others. The whole bottom of the puzzle was something close to a cakewalk, but it took me a while to work my way down there, as (with some patchy exceptions) I crapped out in the NW and NE and the center to begin the experience.

Started the puzzle with OJO, which let me get the MAJESTY part of HER MAJESTY (6D: Lead-in to some royal names). Names in the NE were tough to crack, but I got LOIS LANE right away (16A: One whose crush was caped), which allowed me to deduce FLYWEIGHT with little effort (11D: Boxing class). Got the eastern ends of the long middle answers, but couldn't crack either (remembering that Barry is from the D.C. area *might* have helped me with CAPITAL BELTWAY (39A: 495), but also might not have). Finally got to HAY / IAN / APRON and then just shredded the bottom of the puzzle from there. Felt like a Tuesday puzzle there for a bit. Worked my way back up and finally pieced together the NE and ended up in the NW, where I'd begun. Last letter in was the "G" in ALEGRE / AGNES (a tough proper noun crossing) (15A: Pôrto ___, Brazil + 4D: Georgia's ___ Scott College).

Interesting to see LARAMIE as a river (41D: North Platte feeder) and JABBAR as a non-Kareem Abdul (32D: Al-___ (one of the names of God in Islam). Love the clue on CUPHOLDER (30D: Place for some car fluid). Had no idea Ray LIOTTA was ever on "ER" (20D: 2005 Emmy winner for "ER"). Nice trivia on the J.S. BACH (1A: Musical great whose grave went unmarked for nearly 150 years), though I feel somehow like the initials should have been signified in the clue somehow. I know Max VON SYDOW (18A: Player of the evil Blofeld in "Never Say Never Again") only from some 80s art house movie ... "My Life as a Dog?" ... no ... "Pelle the Conqueror?" Yes! Never heard of IRA Berkow (24A: Pulitzer-winning sports reporter Berkow), but IRA is a man's name in three letters, so no problem. More of a problem was SHEL Talmy (51A: Record producer Talmy). Yee-ikes. Wow he arranged and produced some pretty great songs, such as ...

Another mystery name—ALVIN Dark (great name!) (7D: All-Star Dark of the 1950s Giants). I didn't realize the Nazi-hunting group in "Inglourious Basterds" was the O.S.S. (10D: "Inglourious Basterds" org.) I think I was too distracted by the suspense and massive bloodshed to notice details. I learned about WADIS from crosswords, but wanted other less exotic words there at first like DALES and GLENS (which aren't really cousins of arroyos at all). Wish I'd gotten a chance to appreciate the clue on "DUKE OF EARL" (28D: The "me"in "nothing can stop me now," in a 1962 #1 hit). I had OF EARL before I knew what was happening, and just glanced at the clue, noticed "hit," confirmed what I assumed had to be the case.

The younger, still-living ASSAD is in the news a lot now, and not for his benevolence (45D: Name of father-and-son world leaders). Lastly, this ADANA place (50D: Turkish city or province), I'm seeing it more and more in puzzles. Or maybe I'm seeing it the same amount and I'm just noticing it more and more. At any rate, it's a city of over 1.5 million people in south Turkey, just inland from the Mediterranean, and is a major commercial and agricultural center, so it seems eminently crossworthy and is hereby officially filed in my memory banks.

Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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