Not strictly adhering to tempo / SAT 2-16-13 / Consul composer / Year Tosca premiered / Zulu's counterpart / Orange children's character / Triple platinum Gloria Estefan album with Rhythm Is Gonna Get You / Creature whose English name genus name are same
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Constructor: Michael Ashley
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: RUBATO (53A: Not strictly adhering to tempo) —
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Not up to yesterday's standards, but OK. Main issue here was what seemed to me like a tin ear. XTREME GAMES sounds like several things that are things, but does not itself sound like a thing (7D: They might include BMX and wakeboarding, informally). You venture an opinion much more than you hazard one; you hazard a guess much more than you do an opinion. You do HAZARD AN OPINION, but it's just ... eh (38A: Dare to put in ONE'S two cents). There are some nice answers here in there, but mostly this is a bit workmanlike and plodding. STOOD IN LINE kind of sums it up—this puzzle is about that exciting. FOZZIE BEAR is the one true bright spot (27D: Orange children's character). I also somewhat like the preponderance of multi-word answers, like GO ALL IN and IN ON IT. But now I'm noticing SENT IN and AS IN (crossing!), which makes five INs in the grid, which is now sapping what little enthusiasm I had for this thing. Bah.
I started slow on this one, with only INXS, 'NEATH, and HOP sitting solidly in the grid for what felt like ever. Tried EXCITER (yipes) and ERIE early on (4D: ___ Railroad, 1832-1960), but pulled them when I couldn't get anything going. Eventually hopped to NE corner, where a lone "S" (at the end of what would becomes ORES) gave me SENT IN, then AS IN, and from that terminal "I" and a limited number of first letter possibilities (thank you, Roman numerals!), I got MENOTTI (18A: "The Consul" composer). After much hacking about, I got to MOZILLA and thus back to FIREFOX. This is part of that "tin ear" issue I mentioned earlier. If you really want to do this corporate name thing at the top of your grid, at least put the names in the right order (MOZILLA comes first: it's "MOZILLA FIREFOX"). FIREFOX opened that NW right up, and then I tore through this grid until the SW, where I slowed right down again. Well, actually, I didn't slow down so much as botch one answer badly. Off the -UB- I wrote in SUBITO for 53A: Not strictly adhering to tempo (RUBATO). Now ... I'm not sure why I know this "word." I feel like it means "quickly" in Latin. Or something in Latin. Actually, turns out SUBITO is *also* a musical direction—meaning "suddenly or abruptly." So, right universe, wrong answer. Ended up with SMILLA (which is something), but also SAGU (which is nothing). Didn't notice until the applet rejected my grid. Remember folks: Always Check Your Crosses. Ugh. Anyhoo, fixed the errors and still finished under 10.
[Zulu's counterpart] might have frustrated me quite a lot if I hadn't had AGHAS (25D: Eastern generals) and FOZZIE to help me out. AGHAS and FOZZIE also got me the HAZARD part of HAZARD AN OPINION. Everyone knows the Gloria Estefan song "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," but I doubt even people who bought the album remember its name ("LET IT LOOSE"). Thus, not my favorite answer. This Butterfield person is someone I'll have to add to my ASA stockpile (28D: Actor Butterfield of "Hugo"). I assume he's the kid in that movie ... yes. Oh, looks like he'll play Ender Wiggin in the upcoming adaptation of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game." Card's having a bit of a P.R. problem at the moment. He's on the board of the National Organization for Marriage (probably the best known and most vocal opponents of gay marriage in the country). He's also slated to write an upcoming "Adventures of Superman" story, and many Superman fans (and comic book stores) are, let's say, less than happy.
For those who missed my Thursday announcement: "American Red Crosswords"—a collection of 24 original puzzles that I put together to benefit the Red Cross's Disaster Relief Fund—is available for download now from americanredcrosswords.blogspot.com. Puzzles were edited by Patrick Blindauer. Will Shortz wrote the introduction. And many, many big-time constructors donated their talents. So go donate to the Red Cross, download some puzzles, and enjoy the weekend.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld