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)

THEME: H_LL vowel progression 

Theme answers:
  • 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) 
Word of the Day: Giuliano AMATO (7D: Former Italian P.M. whose name means "beloved")
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)
• • •

Painful on multiple levels. First, there's the self-imposed level—I failed to check all my crosses, spelled 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

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Charles Flaster 12:18 AM  

Agree with Rex but still felt there was some decent substance--LOATH, HAIKU, and HULLABALOO( brought back some college memories ).
RULE OF LAW has to symbolize the delicate texture of today's political climate .
Reasonable debut for Brent and thanks also to Michael.

chefwen 12:27 AM  

My biggest complaint was that it was so easy I hardly remember doing it, there was no solving involved.

As I looked after finishing, trying to find something positive to say, O FART popped up like it did for Rex, that gave me a good chuckle, so it had that going for it, which was nice.

Larry Gilstrap 1:04 AM  

It's Monday!

The bravest thing I ever did was to teach poetry to high school students. Flop sweat before the books were opened. The poor kids had been HAIKUed to death, at best, or over-sentimentalized, at worst. Someone once defined poetry as interesting words in interesting patterns, like a good crossword puzzle. Five-Seven-Five seems more like a combination to a gym locker than poetry.

When I was a sophomore (in more ways than one) at Glendora High School, I adored my English teacher Miss Rose. Imagine Barbra Streisand in The Owl and the Pussycat. She assigned that we write a HAIKU. I submitted:

The kaleidoscope
of life, we are but tiny
bits of broken glass.

Next day she read it to the class and swooned. Awkward! Friday it appeared in the school newspaper. As I remember, some kid with grease under his fingernails pinned me up against the gym wall and used some abusive language. Martyred for art.

Greg 1:20 AM  

This was the first time in my years and years of doing the NYT crossword that I came in under 4 minutes. I have no idea if it was good or bad, it was so off the charts easy that I never had a second to think about it.

Ellen S 1:37 AM  

I had trouble with 33 D. It's happening, I honestly had trouble thinking of an alternative to arbitrary governance. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

But O FART makes everything better.

Larry Gilstrap 1:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CDilly52 1:52 AM  

Like many who have already weighed in, I was nearly finished before I even considered if this had a theme. Then, with just a few squares to fill I was certain I had made a mistake when I looked up at the top and saw O, FART! Wasted a few seconds laughing and then wondering if today, like yesterday was going to be word splits. But no.

jae 1:53 AM  

Easy for me too. Did not even see HAIKU.

HILL STREET was the granddaddy of shows like NYPD Blue, The Wire, Shades of Blue, The Shield...but not Law & Order, Blue Bloods, Chicago PD....

Liked it about as much as @Rex did.

Archibald MacLeish 1:55 AM  

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown...

A poem should not mean
But be.

Moly Shu 2:47 AM  

Kudos to @Rex for not going down the ACAB road. That, and the NIMES/AMATO pair emanating from OFART put this in the did not like category for me. HOLLis queens would have been great. It's Christmas time in Hollis Queens, mom's cookin' chicken and collard greens.....
@LarryG, nice haiku.

thfenn 4:07 AM  

I liked it. Some Josee and the Pussycats, and Jim Croce, some nice wine and champagne, a favorite constellation, a favorite TV show, some sports (including an answer that reminded my of how great Warren Moon was). Very easy and pleasant, all good for a Monday, IMHO. Got today's version of 'crazzlepopper' with OLAF crossing FOL, and a reminder to check the crosses, both of which kept me from a new best time, but enjoyed it.

Anonymous 4:55 AM  

I fully agree with Rex on this one. Amato crossing Nimes does not belong in any puzzle, let alone a Monday puzzle. Also, I really dislike having to spell words that should only be spoken, not written. For a person who does the puzzle the old fashioned way - in the actual paper (International Edition, I live in Switzerland), I do not understand the "When I checked the puzzle I saw that I had a mistake and it took me a full minute to find it" comment. That means you did not finish! It's okay. Don't feel bad. And, I do not believe many of the commenters on their times. I can't even read all of the clues in 3 minutes, how can you possibly answer all of them in under 3 minutes?

Lewis 6:14 AM  

To go with that O FART, we have an ABUT as well as its reverse TUBA.

A Monday puzzle on 8/11/14 by Bernice Gordon and David Steinberg had the exact same theme, which duplicated only one answer (HULLABALOO), and, in case you're wondering, the other answers were HOLLANDAISE, HILLBILLY, HELLENISTIC, and HALLELUJAH. Interesting to compare the fill of today's puzzle with that one -- worth a look. The first puzzle did not have a grid spanner, which gave the constructors a bit more breathing room.

I liked LOATH (and I wouldn't have loathed LIKED if it was there), but that AMATO/NIMES cross would have been tough for me even on a Saturday. Congratulations on your debut, BRENT!

Passing Shot 6:50 AM  

O FART, I liked this one. Maybe it's because I'm relatively new to puzzles and thus, "tired" themes like vowel ladders are new to me, but this was fun. Went by quickly and I'm not sure I read all the clues, I just filled in letters as the words appeared. Didn't catch on to the theme until I was done.

Aketi 7:01 AM  


kitshef 7:24 AM  

Clue for 46A could have been fixed by making it Tom Hanks, but not Otm Shank.


That is all.

Leapfinger 7:29 AM  

I agree that finding REMOW was clownish, but my main pain lay elsewhere. After the first two themers, I thought the vowel shift would be in H_LLO, like maybe
HALLOFFAME (Haul off aim?)

So BAJAmbug, but I'm LOATH to say I was disappointed, as I thought it solved pretty cute and didn't scream for a RE-DACTOR. It was able to PIN ONE on with HASTE STAYS and SLEET THAW. Plus, I didn't have to be an ASTROphysicist to remember the original Great Edmonton OILER.

Still, the highlight was that O-series, seriesously:
Can't you just see the storyboard? Straight out of WC Fields

Just to go off on a tan gent, RULE_OF_LAW set me to thinking of the cruel-drool-ferrule-gruel OF_LAW, and I GOT TO wondering: what exactly is so grueling about gruel? I spose it has something to do with millstones grinding fine but exceeding slow...?

ONE question still niggles/needles/nettles: Is the Iron Man Competition ALL FE MALE? Enquiring minds...

Enjoy y'all's Monday, remember that Life is A CABernet, Old PAL! Life is A CABernet!!


chefbea 7:40 AM  

I do not time myself...but this was the quickest solve ever...way too easy!!!

Nice that we had Hello - after Adele stole the show at the Grammys

wgh 7:44 AM  

O untimely fart

Hungry Mother 7:50 AM  

Fastest ever for me, slow for most of you.

evil doug 8:15 AM  

O fart! You deceive!
Camouflage for liquid waste,
The White House reeks now.
~Al Roker

r.alphbunker 8:28 AM  

Solved with only down clues. With a misspelled HULLABALLO in place my options for the Spanish wine region were R{AEIOU}L{BHJMN}A. Had to show the across clues to see my error.

Details are here.

Z 8:30 AM  

Gwen Stefani has 40% of this vowel progression covered all by herself.

NIMES is three times larger than Lehi, UT. Just sayin'.

ELO 8:31 AM  

Hello, how are you?
Have you been alright through all those lonely
Lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely nights?
That's what I'd say, I'd tell you everything

ArtO 8:34 AM  

Why all the bragging about fast times? It's Monday. Get a life!

Love OFART in its parts. A decent Monday chuckle.

Nancy 8:43 AM  

A bore. This came and went
So fast I hardly knew
That it was there at all.

@Larry Gilstrap (1:04 a.m.) -- What a fascinating and hilarious comment! And your last sentence is absolutely priceless! It was the high point of doing this pointless puzzle.

Leapfinger 8:51 AM  

Agree with @Nancy's assessment 0843.

Except that @Larry G should have closed with 'Martyr of art'.

Norm C 9:00 AM  

What we have these days seems to be RULE O' FLAW

bookmark 9:07 AM  

Nimes is where denim fabric was invented. DeNim (from Nimes).

I am not a robot 9:39 AM  

@Larry, Reading your comment made this puzzle worthwhile. It's too early in California to be cracking up but I'm laughing on the inside.

And if it doesn't rain today and the dam holds up, I think I'll remow the lawn. It just occurred to me that anytime you're mowing the lawn you're merely "remowing" it. I hope I can unthink that.

AZPETE 9:44 AM  

Solved with all downs, no trouble with NIMES / AMATO cross. Easy.

Unknown 9:50 AM  

Easy puzzle.

@ArtO Mentioning times isn't necessarily bragging, just a pointer for the puzzle's difficulty or ease.

Since I did the puzzle in near record time (nothing to brag about), I started on the Saturday puzzle and discovered there were three references today that revealed answers or hints to that puzzle. Isn't that a no no?

GHarris 9:50 AM  

Crossing Amato and Nimes was made palatable by adding beloved to the clue. Surely that gave everyone the m and the other crosses were easy as was the puzzle in general.

GILL I. 10:21 AM  

"Martyred for art" made my morning....
If anybody should ask, I'll save you the time and let you know right now that there are 22 O's in this puzzle. OHO!
PSA will always be Pacific Southwest Airline to me. First discounted airline in the USofA. Smile painted on the nose of each plane. Miniskirts, hot pants, free drinks for friendly passengers - you gotta read "Long Legs and Short Night." Why, O Why can't someone invent another PSA?
A FIFTH of MOET should be the RULE OF LAW. Add a splash or two of RIOJA. Where is @NCA Pres?

RooMonster 10:54 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with easy people. Agree with funny OFART. Agree with Rex on vowel progression theme.

As for YesterPuz, the ole brain didn't want to work for a while, so it took me a good chunk of the day to finish. Twixt work interruptions and slow brain activity, it stifled my solvequest (Hi, M&A). Didn't comment cause by that time was too late, and who cares what I would've had to say? :-)

O city today. 23 of 'em.


Anonymous 11:09 AM  

I was thinking of "rewash" and "remow". I think you can do both but I would never use "remow" in a sentence. If the dish isn't clean the first time, I hand it back and ask the wife to rewash it. If the grass gets too high, I will set the mower blade higher the first time and mow it. Then, I will immediately lower the blade and remow it. However, I would just the wife that I mowed it twice (not remowed it). Yes, this puzzle had some problems and hard words, but I enjoyed it. We have some marvelous haiku poets among our commentators!

RooMonster 11:13 AM  

Oh, lots of A's also, 26. Only 4 U's for the Masked One, though.
@M&A, 6 F's, 1 G. Har.


Z 11:32 AM  

@Jennifer Freeman - I tend to do CrossSnergy puzzles in a bunch and have noted multiple spoilers between it and the NYTX, sometimes when there is a week or more difference between publish dates. It happens. I used to wonder if dupe answers between puzzles was intentional on Shortz' part, but I think it is just happenstance and more a curiosity for pattern seeking creatures than anything else.

Joseph Michael 11:38 AM  


old timer 11:47 AM  

I don't expect Monday puzzles to be works of art. Seems to me to make the puzzle super-easy you have to have King OLAV and PSA and the rest. I will agree with OFL that there have been more elegant Mon puzzles than this. But I would at least grade it a C today.

8 minutes pen on paper and 7 is the best I ever do. Snagless, or as Erica Jong once wrote, zipless.

Couldn't Resist 11:47 AM  

Oh, I just farted
Did you hear a melody
Or was that just me?

Unknown 11:53 AM  

Naticked at Amato crossing Nimes... on a Monday!

puzzle hoarder 11:54 AM  

I've spent far more time this morning comparing this puzzle with it's near twin from '14. The contrast in puzzles reflects the contrast in their constructors. The story behind the timing of their publication is also interesting. The other puzzle was created by one of the NYT's whiz kids and a veteran constructor who's first Times puzzle was in 1953! Today's is primarily the baby of a debut constructor who by his own comments has been struggling to get into the NYT. This makes me think WS must be like a teacher with students in regards to new constructors and when he sees improvement his standards for acceptance can be subjective. This puzzle has a solid and timely debut in RULEOFLAW and AMATO crossing NIMES is to it's credit. What is to it's discredit is of course the contrived nature of two of its theme entries. ALLFEMALE may be quite a clunker but it's passed muster twice before.
@Nancy r.e. yesterday you are well on your way to being the troll magnet for 2017. Persist!

Jack Effin Gladney 12:00 PM  

Played slowly for me today. I got gummed up in the NW by plopping down OLAF and by putting LEERY for 2-Down and FAD (???) for 4-Down. (FAD for fader? I dunno.) Even when I was moving quickly in other parts of the puzzle I never quite felt like I was on its wavelength. Ended up about 40 seconds slower than a typical Monday.

Not sure why Rex took an underhanded shot at the LA Times puzzle. On many days that puzzle is superior to the NYT's.

Canon Chasuble 12:08 PM  

A normal, easy Monday, Trivial Pursuit laden with 22 proper names or acronyms (not counting 10A). So I started by filling in the Trivial Pursuit answers and got stuck immediately at 3D when I found that "dreadful" did not fit.

Lojman 12:47 PM  

Shattered my own record of 4:55 - came in at 4:37. Honestly thought I was much lower than that. It was only the speed of my thumbs and quick glances at crosses to make sure I wasn't falling to some HULLABALOO trap, a la OFL. Didn't think it was as junky as Rex did - just seemed like a very smooth, predictable Monday NYT crossword.


Masked and Anonymous 1:09 PM  

"The pewit flies up
Into a dull evening sky,
Summer's small hell-no" har

"The O' fart goes to sit
In his morning's O' lav
And solve the O' L.A.T." har

fave tossed-out offering: CRUMB.
staff weeject pick: TSE. Or TZE, dependin on yer department.
fave longdown combo which it's probably past time for: RULE OF LAW, ALL FEMALE.

Thanx, BS and MB. Also, thunx, thenx, thinx and thonx. [auto-correct just had a day-um hemorrhage, btw]

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Teedmn 1:14 PM  

I shook my head at 3D's clue - really, the only ALL FEMALE band they could come up with was a cartoon show? So I looked up the Runaways' Wikipedia page (Joan Jett, Lita Ford, etal.) and the first line describes them as an all-female band!

My mother's birthstone was the OPAL. Over the years, she had several OPAL rings, all of which she managed to crack, which she said was bad luck akin to breaking a mirror. She also tried to keep it OILEd so as to prevent the cracking. Too bad we didn't have the internet back then - that has been debunked as myth. Turns out that opals are similar in strength to glass so you should avoid wearing them when they could be damaged. Probably Mom's upholstery business was to blame for the demise of her rings. They are very beautiful stones.

You can mow and mow and REMOW and still that annoying grass persists on coming back! I hate mowing and the whole idea of mowing. If something ever happened to my husband, I would plant the whole lawn in prairie grass. What a waste of time and energy lawns are.

Congratulations, Brent Sverdloff, on your debut!

Norm 1:40 PM  

No need to dis the LAT puzzle. It is superior to the NYT many days.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Hi! Great website!

I'm curious as to why the B in "abs" is red?

Unknown 1:45 PM  

any flaws in this puzzle were immediately forgotten and forgiven when I reached the clue for ROAN. As far as I can tell, this is the first time if has been clued correctly. Gave up ranting about this year's ago, figuring no one cared. I have to believe it was one of today's constructors, so thank you Brent and/or Michael!

Jim in Chicago 2:15 PM  

This passed my easy, easy test, which for Monday is "can I start with 1A, fill in all the downs from that answer, then fill in all the new across, then the new downs, etc." without leaving any blanks and without any unattached answered. I did it today. Nimes was a giveaway for me. I've been there - lovely city.

pmdm 2:25 PM  

Considering your comment, puzzle hoarder, that you may be interested to learn that that is an entire 3 year lapse between Will's acceptance and today. Explains why others seem to have forgotten about the duplication of the theme.

Andrew Heinegg 2:27 PM  

Unfortunately, the NYT crossword seems to be on a dull roll, as it were. The puzzles seem uninspired which leads to the bloggers having a bit of that crossword favorite: ennui. Hopefully, it will be better later this week.

JC66 4:16 PM  

@ anon 1:44

In Across Lite, the active square is red.

Unknown 4:32 PM  

Agree with much of what was already stated. One actual ERROR, I believe... Freezing rain and sleet ARE NOT the same thing. Sleet is frozen rain (ice) falling from the sky during cold weather (winter). Freezing rain is rain that freezes on contact with the cold ground.

Wm. C. 5:00 PM  

@Z --

Life is a Cabaret, old CHUM ...

I saw the play in NYC the year it opened, mid-60s. Joel Gray, Lotte Lenya, Jill Haworth, etc.

Doc John 5:08 PM  

Would you have liked HELLO, HOW ARE YOU any better if he'd clued it as the first line to R.E.M.'s "Pop Song 89?"

Unknown 6:14 PM  

Thanks for the reply. Rereading my blog entry I realize I wasn't clear that I' was referring to references in today's blog by Rex, you and one other that appeared to be about Saturday's puzzle.

Z 7:14 PM  

@Jennifer Freeman - Spoilers are, indeed, a no-no. Since I made no reference as to why I made my reference I thought I was being sufficiently abstruse to anyone who had not solved the previous puzzle yet. Point taken, though, that someone doing the earlier puzzle might have gotten an extra hint from my post (and Rex's blog).

Brian 7:31 PM  

Do you consider this 'cheating'? You have "one or more errors" using the app. So you take a screenshot and switch apps to Pictures. This stops the timer, and you can look for your error(s) at your leisure.
When found go back to the xword app and correct it. P

Happy Pencil 8:14 PM  

@Numinous, I feel I should defend my own honour, since you said I had "bitched" about the homophone in yesterday's puzzle! ; )

I won't reveal the homophone here, for those who haven't completed that puzzle yet, but I will clarify that I have no problem with homophones of common words -- the appearance of "our" and "hour" in the same puzzle, for instance, would not irk me (or probably be noticed by me). But I think it is an issue when both words are fairly uncommon, as was the case yesterday, whether the words share the same origins/meanings or not. In yesterday's puzzle, I thought, "Well, X can't possibly be the answer because we already have Y in this puzzle," so it did impact my solving time -- and that's a no-no in my book.

By the way, the author Sobel mentioned in yesterday's puzzle (won't say the first name -- no spoiler) wrote a fascinating book called LONGITUDE, about how people learned to accurately measure longitude using a clock/chronometer. It's quite a brief book but a completely engrossing account of how one seemingly small problem had enormous implications. I highly recommend it to any of the posters here who are looking for book recommendations.

Well, obviously I should have posted yesterday, but I was having too much fun out in the snow! Today's puzzle seemed mostly fine to me. Sorry the guys got supplanted by Bernice Gordon and David Steinberg, but personally I have no memory of that earlier puzzle.

jberg 8:41 PM  

Not much of a theme, but I liked it better than some -- partly because I think HULLABALOO is a real word, not just onomatopoeia. Plus the attack on Pres. Trump at 33D - hope he leanrs.

On the other hand, I've drunk a lot of RIOJA and never seen a label where it was preceded with 'La.' So I thought that was an unnecessary qualifier.

As for NIMES, come on -- surely you had ON FOOT, so it starts with N, has 5 letters, can only be Nancy or NIMES. I opted for the first, but a FIFTH of good Scotch helped me see the light.

Finally, I'm no poet -- and I loved Larry Gilstrap's poem - but doesn't a HAIKU have to have some reference to the season?

ahecht 9:13 PM  

I don't know how the video clip wasn't this today:

Seems way more appropriate.

Sherm Reinhardt 9:27 PM  

I studied abroad in NIMES as a tyke, so that wasn't a problem. It's a working-class city stuffed in between the university town Montpellier and the more famous Arles, but it has beautiful Roman ruins. A worthy southern French burg.

Amato Cosa Moet 9:46 PM  

Straight out of Adele's #1 song sung on the Grammy's last night!!!
"Hello, how are you?
It's so typical of me to talk about myself I'm sorry
I hope that you're well
Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened"

Could not be more timely!!!

The good thing about the three year delay is that they got paid $100 more, which is great when you collaborate to have a little extra. It's A LOT of work, as you can imagine to get $150, three years later!!!
(Vs LA Times puzzle which pays all of $85, TOTAL!)


I feel I must chime in on this one, as a Monday constructor, who has championed vowel progressions in the past, and a friend of both constructors!
Asamatteroffact, I'm a little jealous that I didn't get to work on this one directly with Brent... Michael and I became collaborators originally bec I needed help laying out five themers in a Monday grid for just such a puzzle (H*CK) and I didn't know how to use computers then. Five intersting themers in alphabetical order is no mean feat.

I'm thrilled for Brent's debut and I'm happy to have helped pass the torch from Michael to Brent.

First of all, people out of the blue began maligning this type of puzzle a couple of years ago out of nowhere. I think it's hard to come up with fresh Monday ideas without having to throw out a formula that can lead to some fun entries.

Actually, I do not refer to these as vowel progressions...I think of them as vowel change poetry (not as deft and hilarious as @Larry's HAIKU, which is a great word to have in the fill) HALL HELL HILL HOLL HULL has wonderful bounce and flavor.

It is very hard to get five long themes into a Monday grid and deal with many many constraints on fill as a result.
The A entry has to match the U entry in length, as do the E and O entries. To have the I-entry be a 15 letter gridspanner is wonderful and HILLSTREETBLUES seems perfect.

HULL really only yields HULLABALOO which is why it was the overlapping entry between this puzzle and Bernice and David's, which got first airing bec of a bit of a stunt to match the oldest and youngest constructors, which had to run first, and lucky it did, bec Bernice died shortly thereafter.

So, given that HULLABALOO (10) had to be matched by a 10-letter HALL, I think HALLOFFAME is perfect.
By the way, HULLABALOO isn't just spoken, it was the name of a super fun TV show which brings back fun memories of go-go dancers.

Amato Cosa Moet 9:47 PM  

MANY puzzles have at least one theme answer in common (often with different overall themes) and yet this puzzle introduced a few new words as well. Again hard to do on a Monday.

More leeway then on the HELL and HOLL entries. Although HOLLYWOODHILLS has the requisite length, it would dupe the HILL in HILLSTREETBLUES and throw some confusion to have another H-LL entry out of order.

I would argue that HOLLYWOODACTOR is not a green paint answer in that it's now used by some ghastly folks to malign even greats like Meryl Streep! "Those "Hollywood" actors" vs NY stage actors or non-actors. It has grown to be in the language.

I would also argue that HOLLISQUEENS altho more local flavor would be too obscure for the other 90% of Monday solvers outside the 5 Boroughs.
(e.g., this Minneapolis/San Francisco gal has not heard of it)

Mondays are very very hard to have "Monday" fill when constructing bec we don't always have control over which days things run.
( when I'm constructing, I swear THIS time it will be a Tuesday, but it always runs on Monday, which I've now come to accept and love)

Bec this is a simple theme (tho again I stress a very complicated construct to work within) it falls on a Monday. So MUCH fill restriction yet they still had great words like RULEOFLAW, HAIKU, ALASKA, RIOJA.

OFART is a bit OF(abrainf)ART, but seems to have caused some chuckles.
No standard was lowered on any level, in my opinion.

I don't think there was any lowered standard involved here on any level... REMOW is not ideal, but I hate how one word out of 78 can sink a puzzle in some solvers mind...

Not saying I would put NIMES into a Monday, but how great is that that @bookmark points out the denim is from De nimes and that's wear blue jean material is from!
Learning something on a Monday is a good thing!

And I didn't know AMATO, but certainly the M is inferrable (?) to anyone with the most basic of understanding of Love in Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.

Point is, this kind of Monday theme is perfectly legitimate...
It's a theme-type I feel is unfairly maligned (even by my respected colleagues in construction)
C'mon, you have to have FIVE themes, that have to match in length, AND be in alphabetical order AND have fill that is gettable to new and old solvers alike.

So I'm trying to shed light, not to browbeat you into liking this any more than you did, but to understand a tiny bit more where they were coming from.
I thought it was a H-LL of a debut and about time!!!

JC66 10:10 PM  


Enlightening post. Thanks.

GILL I. 10:48 PM  

OK, Andrea....When do we see you quest blog again?
All I ask for in every single puzzle is that you make 1A and 1D something I can smile at. Don't give me that Bull**** OLAV/F or a Roman Numeral or tell me to go look at 89A to get the other half of an answer or find another clever clue for an OREO. Start my puzzle day with something clever. Make me want to continue and I will probably LOVE the puzzle....;-)
This from someone who has never constructed because I can't!

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Guaranteed to increase your overall happiness quotient:

1. Ignore, forget, avoid any attention to crossword puzzle themes. Irrelevant to solving a fun puzzle.

2. Stop watching, listening or believing to any national news from lame stream media.

Burma Shave 11:41 AM  


has GOTTO be ONE CRUMBy, TERSE way to start
when you OGLE ALLFEMALEs, but funny,
in your HASTE they’re LOATH to be works OFART.


spacecraft 11:59 AM  

Is there, like, a "PRE-Monday" without being Sunday? I mean, you could practically give this grid to a five-year-old. It's more like what Dell used to call a "Fill-in" puzzle: the grid is unnumbered and the clue list is replaced by a list of entries that appear within it, arranged by letter length.

And yet...and yet: without the qualifier "...whose name means 'beloved'" we would actually have a true Natick! How can that be? I do appreciate, as @ACME says, how hard it is to build one of these, and am the first to admit it's so daunting I don't even try--but people DO it and they do it a lot better. One line did make me chuckle, in the same vein as O FART: 33-down. "Alternative to alternative of arbitrary governance:" RULE O FLAW--or, the current administration.

OFL's point about half of the theme starting words standing alone is valid; the thing would come across more smartly if they didn't. In, as they say, a perfect world. Though not by any means a man of refined PALATE, even I am starting to get tired of vowel progressions--or "vowel change poetry." Hard to believe, even with the considerable density of theme, that the fill couldn't have been worked up at least a little better. To have two Hispanic words cross each other just so you can cram a J in there? C'mon, men.

Even the DOD candidates have paraded many times before. ELLA? ENYA? I don't even care. There was an actress on HILLSTREETBLUES; I don't recall her name. Her character was a royal bitch, but she was a real yeah baby. Okay, for HAIKU and for that HILLarious 33-down, take the "double" off the bogey.

leftcoastTAM 1:03 PM  

Easy, but it's Monday; so, medium.

Good Monday crossings: OVULE, PALATE, RIOHA with HULLABALOO.

Didn't notice the vowel progression.


leftcoastTAM 1:11 PM  

Oops! RIOJA. Ouch!

rondo 1:52 PM  

Yeah, easy and perhaps not the greatest Mon-puz ever, but I didn’t mind so much. If OFL has any new tricks for a Monday, well let’s see ‘em. Waited until the very end for that M in NIMES/AMATO and after reading the clue for 7d more closely it made that M the very best guess.

I’ll need to revisit my computer wallpaper art by R. CRUMB. Haven’t used that ONE in a while.

ELLA and ENYA are always winner, but appear too often. The Bangles started out as an ALLFEMALE band, but did have a guy play bass in their heyday, however, Susanna Hoffs is definitely ALLFEMALE. Yeah baby.

Say what you will about this puz, if I had constructed it I’d figure it would need to be in the HALLOFFAME.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Anyone else notice this puzzle could appear in 1997 without changing a thing? "Houston player, once" is the most up-to-date clue, followed by PM Amato from 1992.

Diana,LIW 5:16 PM  

It was a Monday puzzle. Nothing wrong with that.

I've said this before. The problem with having a lot of "current" pop culture in a puzzle is Pop Culture has exploded in the last 20 years. There is no common ground - no one can keep up with all the music, TV, movies, shows, books, celebrities, computer programs, apps, cell phones, and on and on. We're not a 3-station TV nation anymore. So we'll always have Lucy and Ethel. And ELLE and ENYA. Even if it makes you say OFART.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

centralscrewtinizer 8:16 PM  

The Labial Friccatives were an all-female band I heard once. O FART.

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