Swedish-based international clothing giant / WED 10-20-10 / Material in Canadian tuxedo / German word slangily extreme / One of three original muses
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Constructor: Finn Vigeland
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: H & M (37A: Swedish-based international clothing giant ... or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues) — two-word phrases where first word starts with "H" and second word starts with "M"
Word of the Day: Nino ROTA (54A: "The Godfater" composer Nino) —
Nino Rota (December 3, 1911, Milan – April 10, 1979, Rome) was a world-renowned Italian composer and academic who is best known for his film scores, notably for the films of Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti. He also composed the music for two of Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespeare films, and for the first two films of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy, receiving for the latter the Academy Award for Best original Score in 1974. // During his long career Rota was an extraordinarily prolific composer, especially of music for the cinema. He wrote more than 150 scores for Italian and international productions from the 1930s until his death in 1979—an average of three scores each year over a 46 year period, and in his most productive period from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s he wrote as many as ten scores every year, and sometimes more, with a remarkable thirteen film scores to his credit in 1954. Alongside this great body film work, he composed ten operas, five ballets and dozens of other orchestral, choral and chamber works, the best known being his string concerto. He also composed the music for many theatre productions by Visconti, Zeffirelli and Eduardo de Filippo as well as maintaining a long teaching career at the Liceo Musicale in Bari, Italy, where he was the director for almost 30 years. (wikipedia)
Ambivalent toward this one. Impressive number of theme answers (6 + central revealer and possibly HI MOM, though that clue isn't starred...), but H AND M means almost nothing to me (Swedish? Giant?) and I really wanted to see HOLY MACKEREL and you could make puzzles one after the other with a letter-AND-letter theme (R&B, B&O, J&B, etc.). Doesn't seem that imaginative. Also, there were some icky obscurities (ARHAT, KIEL, non-Mia HAMM) (31A: Enlightened Buddhist; 63A: Germany's ___ Canal; 37D: 2004 Olympics gymnastics star Paul or Morgan), as well as the mind-bendingly horrible ASTARE (Like Fred when he gazes intently?) (45D: Rubbernecking). Cluing felt really RATCHETed up—thorny all over. "Canadian tuxedo?" (51D: Material in a "Canadian tuxedo")—Are you all up there really that backward that you think DENIM is fancy suit material? Not sure why, but ERESTU seems worse as a complete song title than as a partial clue for ERES (6D: 1974 Mocedades hit). HORACE MANN is the eponym of our local elementary school, so I liked that, and HAUT MONDE, though tough to get, is a cool phrase. Ditto HASHMARKS and LIVE CHAT (4D: Real-time online conversation). I think I admire more than I dislike today. Clue that unnecessarily threw me the most: 30D: Like 12-hour clocks (AM/PM). I just couldn't conceive what a "12-hour clock" was. Turns out, it's ... a clock. Like 99% of clocks you encounter in the world. Just not military.
- 17A: *Megadeth's music genre (HEAVY METAL) — started up here in the NW, and thought I'd sail through this thing in no time. Zero resistance. Then I hit ...
- 27A: *"The Lion King" song ("HAKUNA MATATA") — how in the bleep do you spell that? My first instinct was "AKUNA MATADA"
- 43A: *Hilton head, e.g. (HOTEL MANAGER) — see, again, Not Wednesday cluing. I guess the lowercase "h" in "head" should have told me something, but it didn't
- 58A: *The Father of American Public Education (HORACE MANN)
- 11D: *Lines on a football field (HASHMARKS)
- 33D: *Society (HAUT MONDE) — ugh to the vagueness of that clue
Now if you'll pardon me, I'm off to try to start a MNEME MEME... (47A: One of the three original Muses + 64A: Internet ___ (viral phenomenon))
- 40A: Hi-tech heart (CPU) — the "heart" of your computer, that is
- 52A: Viking training camp? (FJORD) — cutesy clue that tries hard to make you think of football. Did Vikings really "train?" In FJORDs?
- 57A: Who once remarked "You can't stay mad at somebody who makes you laugh" (LENO) — how would he know?
- 61A: German word slangily used to mean "extremely" (UBER) — as in "I find the KIEL Canal UBER-fascinating."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]