1991 Daytona 500 winner Ernie / SAT 3-18-17 / Longtime Cunard flagship for short / Aquarium denizen / Polymer add-on
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Constructor: Roland Huget
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: Antonio ROSETTI (36D: Mozart contemporary Antonio ___) —
Francesco Antonio Rosetti (c. 1750 – June 30, 1792, born Franz Anton Rösler, changed to Italianate form by 1773) was a classical era composer and double bass player, and was a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart.[...] Rosetti wrote a great deal of instrumental music, including many symphonies and concertos. Rosetti also composed a significant number of vocal and choral works, particularly in the last few years of his life. Among these are German oratorios including Der sterbende Jesu and Jesus in Gethsemane (1790) and a German Hallelujah. He is perhaps best known today for his horn concertos, which Mozart scholar H. C. Robbins Landon suggests (in The Mozart Companion) may have been a model for Mozart's four horn concerti. Rosetti is also known for writing the Requiem (1776) which was played at a memorial for Mozart in December 1791. (wikipedia)
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Hmmm, not great. Simply not entertaining, and way too dependent on proper nouns of dubious distinction (many of which cross, which will spell "disaster" for many solvers). [1991 Daytona 500 winner Ernie]?!? That is the epitome of name obscurity. I had IRVAN (correct!) and was certain I had something wrong. And crossing TRIBS? That's just terrible. TRIBS is not not not a thing. I'm solving the puzzle here with three other people in the room and TRIBS elicited nothing but jeers and groans from everyone. Wife had never heard of Bret HARTE and so had DARTE / DAZE. I'm guessing she won't be alone. I briefly had DAMIEN / MOSETTI because I misremembered the minor CT town name. Also, ROSETTI seems not at all important, historically.
E.C. SEGAR was a gimme (8A: Creator of Bluto and Wimpy), but that is going to be serious N.C. WYETH / NATICK territory for people when it comes to the "E" cross. An initial crossing ... a single letter ("E" CLASS)? Brutal.
There are just too many occasions her for people to trip over uninferrable proper nouns. I guess OUSE / ROSETTI might be another. The bigger problem—bigger than obscurity—is sheer boringness. It's a trivia test, and the only entertaining thing about it, that I can see, is the clue on JIVE TALK (33D: Cat's tongue). Most everything else was a slog and a chore.
EX ANIMO ... I coulda sworn it was ANIMA (15A: From the heart, in Latin). I fixed it early, but that was rough. I know who ALDO RAY is, but only barely. Thank god for AXL ROSE, who was the sole reason I was able to take down the NW without much trouble. What the heck is "Death and the MISER"? I had -ISER and still wasn't sure. Nothing about that clue even *suggests* MISER (45A: "Death and the ___" (Bosch painting in the National Gallery of Art)). Between me and the others in this room, we had at least three different kind of FISH before we got ZEBRA FISH. I had TETRA. Brayden and Lena (my houseguests) had both ANGEL and CLOWN. That's not the puzzle's fault—just a fluke (!) that so many answers seemed plausible. Still, there *is* much to fault here. Honestly, I don't know what else to say. There's nowhere good to go from here. I look one way: E-NOTE. I look another way: PAN IN (49A: Prepare for a close-up), which is not a thing—you zoom in, you pan across. Here, I'll let this screenwriter / director explain it to you:
I get that ROSETTI was a kind of trap, in that many many many people will want SALIERI there. But the thing about traps is that you have to have that moment of "oh, wait it's not right" (check) but also "oh, whoa, it's this other thing I know" (no dice). So today, people get the experience of having been tricked, but (because no one knows ROSETTI) never ever get the experience of "aha!" Which makes the puzzle seem dickish. Which isn't fun.
P.S. More Twitter reaction:
[Howard Barkin, 2016 ACPT champion]