Former Italian PM whose name means beloved / MON 2-13-17 / Alternative to arbitrary governance / Chandon's partner in champagne
Monday, February 13, 2017
Constructor: Brent Sverdloff and Michael Blake
Relative difficulty: Medium (normal)
- HALL OF FAME (17A: Rock and roll has one in Cleveland)
- HELLO, HOW ARE YOU? (23A: Words of greeting)
- "HILL STREET BLUES" (36A: 1980s cop show that TV Guide once ranked as the greatest TV drama of all time)
- HOLLYWOOD ACTOR (46A: James Earl Jones or Tommy Lee Jones)
- HULLABALOO (58A: Ruckus)
Giuliano Amato OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [dʒuˈljaːno aˈmaːto]; born 13 May 1938) is an Italian politician who twice served as Prime Minister of Italy, first from 1992 to 1993 and again from 2000 to 2001. Later, he was Vice President of the Convention on the Future of Europe that drafted the European Constitution and headed the Amato Group. He is commonly nicknamed dottor Sottile, (which means "Doctor Subtilis", the sobriquet of the Scottish Medieval philosopher John Duns Scotus, a reference to his political subtlety). From 2006 to 2008, he was the Minister of the Interior in Romano Prodi's government. On 12 September 2013, President Giorgio Napolitano appointed him to the Constitutional Court of Italy, where he has served since then. (wikipedia)
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HULLABALOO like it sounded in my head (i.e. "-BULOO"), and then spent a full minute after I'd finished trying to track down my error. The spelling of nonsense words is one of my least favorite things about crosswords (see the recent terminal-"H" version of YOWZAH, for instance). But that was entirely my fault. There are reasons you always check the crosses, *especially* with something like HULLABALOO where spelling could get dicey. But back to the pain. Honestly, I filled in OLAF / OSHA 1, 2 and thought "oh ... no." Sometimes you can just feel cruddiness coming right away. (note: I know it's OLAV—I'm just trying to be historically accurate about what happened) (I fixed it soon thereafter) (OLAV is *not* any better, crosswordese-wise). And sure enough the fill continued to be quite poor, especially up top. Due north is an abomination. Truly terrible. OFART is a terrible partial; it has all the charm of O, FART! (where is thy sting!?). And it's over a French department capital (sigh) (NIMES). And *those* answers cross AMATO (!?!?!?!? on a Monday?!?!?!), REMOW (you must be joking), and the perennially grid-marring TSE. All in a row. How do you leave that section like that? How do you not try harder? How do you not send the grid back for edits? It's all a mystery.
The theme is tired—I've done a vowel progression before, so maybe it's just a thing every constructor does once. But this one seemed particularly weak. It's not restrictive at all, especially since the answers have different word counts, and sometimes the H-LL is its own word and sometimes ... not. HALL OF FAME and "HILL STREET BLUES" should've been ditched in favor of answers that began with words that *contained* "HALL" and "HILL," (e.g. HALLOWEEN or HALLELUJAH, or HILLARY). Consistency. Elegance. Craft. Come on. Try harder. Also, HOLLYWOOD ACTOR and HELLO, HOW ARE YOU? are not good answers. HOLLYWOOD SIGN or BOWL or HILLS, all better. All specific, real things. You just mean movie actor, so HOLLYWOOD ACTOR sounds ridiculous. HOLLIS, QUEENS or HOLLAND TUNNEL could've given you some NYC flavor. And as for "HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?"—it's a thing one might say, but it's pretty limp and robotic-sounding. Hello Stranger, Kitty, Dolly, Goodbye, all better. No one says "ALL-FEMALE" band. It's all-girl band, if it's anything. This thing is maybe an LAT puzzle. It's not (or shouldn't be) NYT-worthy.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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