Elvira's love in opera / SAT 12-10-16 / Ambassador sent by the Vatican / Gogol's Aksenty Poprishchin per title / San Antonio-based refinery giant / Island home to Sleeping Giant mountain / US city whose name looks like form of poker / Middle Karamozov brother / Comedian who voiced lead in Secret Life of Pets
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Constructor: Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: TESORO (45D: San Antonio-based refinery giant that acquired Arco in 2013) —
NYSE: TSO aka: "Tesoro Petroleum", or simply as "Tesoro") is a Fortune 100 and a Fortune Global 500 company headquartered in Texas at San Antonio, with 2013 annual revenues of $37 billion, and over 5,700 employees worldwide. // Tesoro is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products, operating seven refineries in the Western United States with a combined rated crude oil capacity of approximately 845,000 barrels (134,300 m3) per day. Tesoro’s retail-marketing system includes over 2,264 branded retail gas stations, of which more than 595 are company-operated under its own Tesoro brandname, as well as Shell, ExxonMobil, ARCO, and USA Gasoline brands. (wikipedia)
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ERNANI" and NUNCIO (31A: Ambassador sent by the Vatican) are well known to me from decades of solving. Like, I couldn't tell you one thing about "ERNANI," but it slid right into place when my brain saw "opera" in the clue and looked at the terminal "I" in the answer. Bam bam. And NUNCIO I had seen before. Dumb luck. I don't know how widely that word is known, generally, but I had it in my back pocket, so I was able to fly through this thing based on what feels to me like specialized crossword knowledge (which, honestly, often feels like it doesn't count—like I got through it not via skill, but via a kind of inside-information scam). I did get bitten by an unfamiliar name, though: ETTORE! (13D: Automotive pioneer Bugatti) (in Arthurian legend, she's a she, so that's weird) (update: whoops, in Arthurian legend, the woman I'm thinking of is ETTARRE ... nevermind!). And then semi-bitten by TESORO, which I didn't know but was able to guess off the TES-.
SNOCKERED? (28A: Three sheets to the wind) I was favoring KNOCKERED or KNACKERED (which I think means "tired"), but ... SNOCKERED? OK. The more I say it to myself, the more plausible it sounds. There weren't many answers I *loved* here (except SLEEPER HOLD), but it held together pretty well. I had STAND NEAR TO for a bit, which is odd. I have never ever heard the phrase PET HATES (7A: Bugaboos). That was, oddly, harder to take than ETTORE. Not knowing an answer is one thing—getting it and feeling like it's phony, that's a much worse thing. But then I notice that the grid also contains "I'M TOO SEXY" and I find myself appeased. Weird how that works.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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