NCIS actor Joe / FRI 8-8-14 / Anderson of Nurses / It was you, operatically / Lovingly, on a music score / Rostock bar stock

Friday, August 8, 2014

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Piscine

THEME: Goldfish — Three little goldfish swimming northwest.

Word of the Day: MAIDEN (7D: First ) —
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, east London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band's discography has grown to thirty-seven albums, including fifteen studio albums, eleven live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.
Pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden achieved initial success during the early 1980s. After several line-up changes, the band went on to release a series of US and UK platinum and gold albums. Despite little radio or television support, Iron Maiden are considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, with The New York Times reporting in 2010 that they have sold over 85 million records worldwide. The band won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002. As of October 2013, the band have played over 2000 live shows throughout their career.
• • •
Hello, crossword fans. Doug here, filling in at the last minute. One of Rex's subs bailed out, so I got the assignment. Lucky me. Right now, I'm sitting in a room in Manhattan with PuzzleGirl, gearing up for Lollapuzzoola on Saturday! She says "Hi" to everybody. Have you signed up for Lollapuzzoola yet? If not, stop reading the blog and get on it. I'll be here when you get back.

Interesting mini-theme in this one, with the fishy squares relating to the two 15-letter entries, SOMETHING'S FISHY & ON THE WATERFRONT. I'm semi-comatose after a big dinner at Shake Shack, so let's jump right to bullets.

  • ALL THAT (37A: Excellent, in slang) — I had the H from ROHE and typed in BITCHIN. BITCHIN is a more bitchin' answer than ALL THAT, don't you think? 
  • FOP (60D: Metrosexual sort) — Fun word.
  • LOOK-SEE (62A: Gander) — PuzzleGirl liked this one. I do too. (How's that for incisive commentary?)
  • LEAN-TOS (39D: Rough housing) — That's a nice tricky clue.
  • OSCARS (28D: They're clutched during some speeches) — Clue of the Day. Loved it.
As I look back at the grid, I see a lot of subpar short stuff: AS AN, OSIS, EROO, ROHE, EIS, ALIA, NOI, ESOS, HOS. The fish were fun, but the plankton-level fill needs work.
Signed, Doug Peterson, Sleepyhead of CrossWorld


jae 12:33 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Putting in 1a without any crosses was very helpful.  Resisting GRE because I thought 1600 (2 x 800) was the max was not helpful...I just checked, it was revised in 2011.

Did not know NEMESIS as clued and was iffy about AMOROSO. 

Ahi before ORE.

So, Joe SPANO is still around?  I remember him from Hill Street Blues in the early '80s. 

Pretty good Fri. Liked it, but Doug has a point about the fill.

Steve J 12:36 AM  

Didn't recognize the central black squares as fishes, so even when I filled in 15A was left wondering WTF that one was about.

Aside from that - and a couple truly awful partials - I liked this a lot. The two 15s were very nice, GASOHOL and NEMESIS were both good, and there were a few outstanding clues.

And this had that quality I love in a good themeless of having clues that at first seem like the answer could be anything, and as pieces come together you find yourself going "oh, of course" when you fill in the correct answer. I definitely had that reaction with spots like LOGS OUT, SEDATED, MAIDEN.

Enjoyable Friday.

wreck 12:38 AM  

This was a long drawn out Friday for me even with 2 or three googles thrown in. I guess it says a lot about me when the "bad fill" items are the only answers I get on the first pass! I didn't notice the "fish" for the longest time (even with hint thrown in). That said, it was a pretty good puzzle and kept me interested all the way through.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni 12:45 AM  

None of the frescoes in the SISTENE chapel are of, or pertained to, any Pope Sixtus, hence none are SISTENE.

Rex Parker 1:00 AM  

Turtle. Swimming NW. That is all.


Rex Parker 1:07 AM  

Oh, one more thing. I spelled it "Mies van der ROWE" and thus had ALL TWAT.

The end.

John Child 1:42 AM  
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John Child 1:44 AM  

OtIc for OSIS; never heard of SERT; and ALLpHAT sounded reasonable == a major DNF.

SERT as a muralist shows up on page 9 of my Google search. That's pretty marginal for a word crossing a medical term and some sort of slang.

And you kids get off my lawn too!

Brett Chappell 2:08 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle mostly, and I caught the fish theme quite early. It took me over 25 minutes to fill out, and still, I ended up getting buried on ALLTHAT and SERT.

I'm not clued in to the nuances of slang, I guess. All that? Roger that.

chefwen 2:47 AM  

A little slow out of the gate, but picked up steam early on. O.K. a couple of Googles (hey, it's Friday) gave me a leg up.

Snack idea - 1/2 a package Good Seasons Salad Dressing Mix, 3 Tbsp. Orville Reddenbacker's (sp?) popcorn oil. Throw in a package if Pepperidge Farms Goldfish, any flavor, stir around, throw fishies back in package and you have a whole new taste. Quite yummy!

55A@ Rube, where are you?

Beside my couple of Googles, I really liked this one. HOS and LOSERS gave me a chuckle.

Moly Shu 6:48 AM  

DNF for me at OSIS. Had OtIC, OtIS and other variations, hi @JohnChild. Also forgot ERITU, had EReTU which gave me TeTRATE. Seemed as plausible as TITRATE. I hoped it's pronounced with a long I. If not, it sounds like it might be a measure of the speed at which dancers gyrate at a gentlemans club. Liked the puzzle, especially GANGNAM and STAN LEE. Did I mention TIT RATE?

James Dean 6:50 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. Clever cluing and many fresh answers. Not happy that ESOS made its daily appearance, and not sure that FOP, a word well past its shelf life, has anything to do with "Metrosexual" which is also a little past its use by date. But overall it was an enjoyable Friday.

Danp 6:59 AM  

Very nice theme and mostly nice clues. Two nits to pick, though. 1) En suite is a French term that, as far as I know, is never used in English to mean as part of a series. 2) Fop suggests excessive vanity and is used in a negative/judgmental way. Metrosexual only means foppish when used sarcastically.

Loren Muse Smith 7:23 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:24 AM  

Hey, Doug, PG – have fun at the tourney! I sure wish I could be there. And thanks for coming to the rescue, Doug. You da man. Bitchin write-up.

Rex – I laughed at your "all twat." When I was in sixth grade, Mom told us that that word meant "rear end," so I had an unfortunate, awkward few weeks there until it was all sorted out. Sheesh.

I had the same experience as @chefwen – not much at first, and then slowly but surely things started to fall. @chefwen – how's it going over there? Y'all still ok?

With apologies to Shelley, that "Wind" had me immediately thinking music, and then when I revisited those squares sans clue, I put in a ridiculous "spinets," picturing five little pianos on a stage.

My "Adam's apple" neighbor was "pharynx" first. And I had to change my "itis" (yesterday is still on my mind) to OSIS.

I got DEMI from the crosses but had no idea what a demi-john was. A urinal?

Seeing ONE UP with inflection made me stop and marvel:

"There Nemesis was, running around one upping everyone with her outrageous revenge stories."
"Stan one upped everyone at the party when he whipped out his kazoo

What other prepositions can be inflected verbs? down, except, off… Cool

That SPANO/NGO cross was really hard for me. I guessed that N because of all the times I've seen Nguyen for a Vietnamese name. Clever me.

Until the bitter end, I had "loners" for LOSERS, wondering about the "it" in the clue.

On the show Survive the Tribe last night, the Huaorani of the Amazon rainforest upped a nice little LEAN TO lickety split. I'm telling you, that's a great show. Hey – any professors of anthropology out there? I have soooooo many questions.

So, Bruce, I saw the fish immediately and scanned the clues to see if there was some kind of theme. Yay! I like a Friday once and a while with a theme. Nice job!

Glimmerglass 7:47 AM  

I'm always behind the curve when it comes to slang. I've never heard ALL THAT to mean "excellent." To me, it means, "everything." Since I've also never run across SERT, ALL pHAT seemed reasonable. Nevertheless, as a Friday puzzle, I thought this was ALL THAT. (See, I can learn.)

GeorgeG 8:01 AM  

Agree with Danp that en suite is weak, and crossing wat is weaker. The clue for thyroid should be a proper medical term, rather than a lay term. Here, larynx instead of the Adam's Apple. Loved many clues, especially oscars and titrate.

Uma 8:06 AM  

Slowly making my way through the week. Glad that I got On the Waterfront and saw the fish.

I love Fridays and Saturdays for the cluing where anything can work until you get the crosses - put in Wahabbi for Saudi Arabia because it seemed fun.

Finishing with help I sat back and thought about different meanings of a word. Despite all the thinking can't figure out Rostock bar stock. Anyone? What is EIS? Thanks.

Lewis 8:07 AM  
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Lewis 8:11 AM  

That was a refreshing no-nonsense-with-a-smile review Doug (and PG), and refreshingly terse comments from Rex. On top of this enjoyable puzzle, great Friday start.

I did see the fish right away, and as with @stevej, this opened up bit by bit. I would like to say I haven't heard this meaning for ALLTHAT, yet it came right out of my head in a flash. I had DUCK before MISO. I loved the clues for LOSERS, GASOHOL, LEANTOS, and OSCARS. GANGNAM opened things up quickly. Answers that sparked the grid were LOOKSEE, ENSUITE, ALAMODE, and THYROID (just kidding).

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): What can you find nine times in the lower half of the puzzle that is not to be found even once in the upper half?

If you wish to post an answer, just write one appropriate answer number, or use I'll give the answer later this afternoon.

Lewis 8:12 AM  

@uma -- Rostock is a German place, and EIS is German for ice.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Danp said...

"... En suite is a French term that, as far as I know, is never used in English to mean as part of a series."

That's exactly what it does mean. When we call a bathroom an "en suite bathroom", it means that the bathroom is part of a set of rooms (even if there's only two rooms... go figure).


NCA President 8:24 AM  

Had itIS before it diverticulITIS v. diverticulOSIS...the eternal question I ask myself in my quiet moments.

Thought this was easy-ish for a Friday...since I didn't have to google and only checked for incorrect letters once...had SPAdO/dGO first (which looked, you know, asian enough) then guessed and put that N in there because I've seen a few football players that start out with that NGO combo. Just a little racist of me, I know...but hey, everyone's just a little bit racist, right?

ENSUITE is new to me. I would have guessed it to mean enclose or put into a suite, didn't think of it as episodic. I also didn't like NOI, but I appreciate the correction of the actual, usually mis-quoted phrase.

joho 8:33 AM  

Great write up, Doug! You pointed out my favorite clues, "Rough Housing" for LEANTOS and "They're clutched during some speeches" for OSCARS -- what a visual that conjures up!

I got ONTHEWATERFRONT and had SOME up top and could only think of the line," I could've been SOMEbody. I could've been a contender."

My problem is the fish in the middle don't look like fish to me! @Rex, turtles, ha!

I do like the line a lot, though, SOMETHINGSFISHY. Fresh and fun.

I'm surprised more here didn't think was easy for a Friday. I did it all before bed which is unusual. Most times I see the puzzle with new eyes -- and brain -- and finish up I the morning. I was going to say like, "Shooting fish in a barrel" easy but I don't think that's the case!

Anyway, enjoyed it, thanks, Bruce!

Generic Solver 8:44 AM  

Didn't like the fact that one had to recognize a set of black squares that vaguely (at best) resemble fish to understand 17 across. In fact I got 17 across by simply having enough crossing letters (as I suspect was the case for many others), and for no reason having anything to do with recognizing the fish gimmick. In fact, I'd say the fish idea was kind of a "flop", as a "fish out of water" does.

dk 8:48 AM  

OOO (3 mOOOns)

Just made it over the 3rd moon bar. Cheesed off over the alleged fish - perhaps they are cubist fish. Mostly cheesed as I had SOMETHING FISHY, knew I was missing something…. it took 4 minutes to get the S.

I also had GANGMAN instead of…. the right answer. But Rostock clue and NEMESIS reminded me of Freya resulting in MAIDEN. There is a reason they call it a neural net.

Now off to get milk as I am out and cannot make another espresso beverage. 2 parts espresso to .5 part steamed milk - breakfast of champions.

@DANP: Best so far. Pompous clerk: Your room's bathroom is en suite. Wiseass dk: Is that not redundant? You know like saying something Au Jus is also served in its own juice. Pompous clerk: Sir, there is juice in the mini bar. Humbled dk: Uncle. Pompous clerk: Need two keys.

Phil 8:56 AM  

Talk about weak fill..
..when's Rex returning

Anyway thought the black groups were arrows and wondered how to put in 'North by Northwest' ;P

ROwE error and therabouts was my nemesis. Not knowing SERT

jberg 9:18 AM  

Maybe slang of the 1940s -- it is ALL THAT and more... Anyway, I had it, everything right, and convinced myself that a) if it was slang, it had to be PHAT, and b) I was probably confusing the muralist with the architect SERT, so maybe the muralist was really SERp. Hence finished with an error.

AMabile before AMOROSO, and Sour (is in a little sharp or flat) before SIGN.

NGO DINH DIEM was a dictator, but I guess a cross-ref didn't work. Can't imagine his starting a apeech "IN RE..."

NOI am your father sounds like something Yoda would say.

OK, the theme. I suspected fish as one possibility, but also considered ribbons -- pink ribbons, yellow ribbons, blue, rainbow, red-white-and-blue -- any of those things people pin to their lapels or paste to their bumpers, excpecting you to know their arcane color code. (There's help though.)

Or maybe the ribbon on a garter -- so I was looking for SOMETHING borrowed or blue, maybe. I needed the crosses to get FISHY, and then--ON THE WATERFRONT? I guess I've seen it, but probably in 1954 (or 1955 if it took that long to get to Sturgeon Bay). It's about longshoremen, right? Are there fish in it? Or does Brando famously declare that there's SOMETHING FISHY there? ON TH was enough to get it, but the thematic link was less satisfying than it might have been.

I never thought of turtles, though.

Maruchka 9:26 AM  

@ Loren - I also really wanted pharynx early on, but could not see an x in 33A, unless index (magically) had 2 more letters.. and DEMIjohn showed up recently as an answer relative to wine vessels, when I wanted jeroboam. ALL TwAT - LOL..

@ NCA Pres - Diverticulitis v. diverticulOSIS has plagued my mind on occasion; fortunately, not the nether regions. Just don't eat caraway SEEDs whatever you do.

@ Lewis - Is 61A a propos (accent grave)?

Thanks, Bruce. I lived on Haight Street, back in the day. Groovy, man.

Casco Kid 9:33 AM  

Another tough one. Unsussable. 90 minutes. 4 googles. 6 errors.

ERITU doesn't seem to come from any language. I went with ERaTU as Eras tu is Spanish (an operatic language) for [It was you,] and era' tu is an acceptable phonetic contraction in some areas like Cuba. Italian [It was you] "Che si era" looks nothing like ERITU, so ERI TU must be something more or less purpose-built by the librettist. Ugh. I'm guessing @AliasZ nailed this one.

[As part of a series] ENSUIng. How is ENSUITE responsive? That doesn't make any sense in any language, does it?

ENSUIng and ERaTU errors gave me TaTRAng for [Test the strength of, in a way] which seemed like a strength testing character in an opera in which ERITU means something. The puzzle gets harder when you start losing faith in the constructor to deliver meaningful clue-answer pairs.

I googled for Dean ACHESON (dope slap!), LONI Anderson (yeah, well), NGO Dinh Diem (should know him!), and Sr. SERT, who is truly new to me. I also googled for Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" which was comprised of five cantos, I learned. In the end SONNETS came out of the crosses and educated guessing.

ALFA is [Bravo preceder]? Oh, I get it. As in ALPHA, but with clever spelling. I had tada then oles. My bad?

Cute grid art.

NOI [am your father] Luke was a surprise. I don't remember a debate, but I don't really remember the movie particularly well. I went with asI, which I corrected to sOI when ACHESON went in.

Base players are CADS? Electric or acoustic? Both?

[Sharp or flat] is an accidental. The clue would be more credible if it printed the sharp and flat SIGNs as symbols. Or maybe that would make the whole puzzle waaaaay to easy . . .

New: WAT, ASTER as clued, ENSUITE, DEMIjohn, ALFA as spelled, and the moral character of bass players. C'mon.

Maybe a year from now ERITU will be automatic, and I'll know the full taxonomy of every variant of ASTER. Something to look forward to.

John V 9:36 AM  

Liked. Easiest Friday in memory.

Wanted ILLTHAT but recovered just fine.

1A was v easy, a nice start.

Z 9:42 AM  

She's ALL THAT, another Pygmalion rip-off, came out 15 year's ago, so hardly overly new slang. More likely is that it has come and gone without being noticed. Knowing the movie certainly helped me out.

I saw bombs, not fish, so I was thinking the 1954 Best Picture was probably some WWII flick and could not get much traction in the north. Add that "Luke, I am your father" suggested a possible rebus and it took a little unpacking. ACHISON came to the rescue on the misquote. Finished the south first, returned to the north where GASOHOL opened up the north, and SOMETHING'S FISHY finally cicked. Hand up for no idea on SERT.

Joe SPANO is a frequent guest star on NCIS, playing FBI agent Fornell on the premier episode and showing up four or five times every season since then.

Doesn't SUITE mean "series?" seems pretty on point to me. Likewise, FOP strikes me as the Gay Nineties term for metrosexual, vanity and all, so also on point.

@Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni - It's SISTINE, and all the works in it are referred to as SISTINE.

A theme on a Friday - a nice switchEROO.

Z 9:48 AM  

I wonder if ACHESON ACHEs for an I or if it is just I.

chefbea 9:49 AM  

Too tough..googled but still DNF

@Doug thanks for talking over today and good luck at enjoying your Lickety Split puzzle book

RooMonster 9:53 AM  

Hey All!
Medium-Challenging here. Had to look up a few answers (is it really cheating if you do it to yourself?), but once I got a foothold, most (not all) of the answers came to be. Not thrilled with the Star Wars answer, I thought it was "Luke, I" Am Your Father?? Can someone explain INRE for the dictator clue? (He said Dictator, Uhh-huhh [Butthead]) Also, with @lms on DEMIjohn?? Saw that SOMETHING was a miss (thought that was what theme was going for) with the grid, but didn't see the fishies until I read the write-up (mind sees what it wants, I guess). @MolyShu, LOL at your definition of TITRATE!!

ALLTHAT was a TV show, no? I did hear that, nostly "She's ALLTHAT and a bag of chips" And to show my slow gerbil on the brainwheel, what is GRE?

From the SUNBELT (maybe)(Las Vegas)


Fred Romagnolo 9:59 AM  

@Casco: He was his best friend, thus the use of the familiar in the aria ERI TU. I figured they were three little docks till ('til) I got FISHY. TIT RATE is funny; and it was used recently. DiverticulOSIS is a condition; diverticulitis is an inflammation of that condition. I wanted jumPS AT, but came round ('round?). Clue for HOS was excellent, same for LOSERS.

Fred Romagnolo 10:02 AM  

@Roo: Graduate Record Exam

Steve J 10:07 AM  

@RooMonster: "Luke, I am your father" is one of the most common movie misquotes in existence. Scroll down to to see the actual dialogue.

As to your other questions: One can dictate a memo, and memos often start with IN RE. And GRE = Graduate Records Exam.

@Moly Shu: I also had EReTU and TeTRATE. TITRATE - especially with your definition - is much better.

Nancy 10:12 AM  

I thought that SERa was the muralist; hence had ALL a HAT for the slang phrase. Made as much sense to me as ALL THAT. Other than ahat, finished, but with difficulty. And sorry, Bruce -- the black squares look nothing like fish to me!

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Re: 10D - Radio alphabet is ALPHA, BRAVO,... Not Alfa!!!

r.alphbunker 10:27 AM  

Interesting puzzle. Had to recover from the following errors but still finished fast for a Friday. Details are here.
GANGsta {"___ Style," first video with a billion YouTube views}
ALIi {Ovid's others}
SUNBird {Where snowbirds flock}
miRo {Spanish muralist}
DEar {Prefix with John}
sOI {"___ am your father" (classic "Star Wars" line)

RooMonster 10:28 AM  

Aha. Thanks @Fred and @Steve J!


Masked and Anonymo4Us 10:29 AM  

As Yoda would say, "NO, I, IT IS".
Dancing graham crackers. Far out. Usually I only see that kinda stuff after a chocolate milk O.D.

Grid has the rare angler's symmetry. Different breed of FriPuz, all the way around. fUnky fUmsUp. I'm doin the wave, dude.

Nice catch of weejects...
* GRE. Great beginning, no matter WAT the entry.
* HOS. Some mall walkers, also.
* NOI. Outstandin clue save, here. Beats the tar outa "Reversed ion??"
* WAT. "Sight on the water front?"
* EIS. This was gonna be EINS, but it had a NGO.

Had TRACHEA in the official M&A solution, before THYROID. Yet, I didn't feel SERTin.

ERATU = "It Ain't I", in some ROC opera. See there? U learn so much, around here.

ROHE DEMI EROO. Yeah, ok. I can see the RODEO, in there.

And that's not all! Superb OSCARS clue. Ok, that's ALIA.

Thanx for the demi-themed FrPuz, y'all.


AliasZ 10:35 AM  

More than two or three throw-away entries in a themeless (pardonnez-moi, "mini-themed") Friday puzzle are nine too many. It took away some of the pleasure from my solving experience of this otherwise interesting puzzle.

It is true: ON THE WATERFRONT SOMETHING'S FISHY all the time: the smell.

I enjoy grid art. I caught on to the visuals but initially those three little fishies looked like three tied black ribbons. Not until I got the answer to the "Hmmmmm..." clue did I take a second look and thought, hmmmmm, I guess they could be fish of you step back a few feet and squint. Or crossed fingers. Or crossed legs. Or pretzels. Give it a LOOKSEE. Rorschach, anyone?

- Why 5 m's in "Hmmmmm..."? Because 6 would've been too many.
- ENSUITE: ENCLOSE in luxurious hotel accommodations.
- OILRICH: Like a greaser's hair.
- ALFA: Romeo, O Romeo.
- SISTINE: Because seventeen doesn't fit.
- ACHESON: What a sore muscle does without treatment.
- TITRATE: Fee charged for testing the ripeness of cantaloupes.

Here is a piece from the album AMOROSO by João Gilberto.

"Yes, Mrs. Kowalski, it was me, not Harvey (my imaginary rabbit friend) who rang your bell. Me rang the bell, him ran away." Between I and you, this sounds good to I. Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules.

Carola 10:37 AM  

Liked it a lot - cute puzzle with the fish and many other pleasures: MAIDEN, OILRICH, AMOROSO, DOORMAT, , ENSUITE, SISTINE... I saw the fish right away, so SOMETHING FISHY went right in, but I needed FRONT before I got the OSCARS winner (it won 8).

I also enjoyed OIL RICH positioned over FISHY (omega-3 connection) and the possible headline TOPSEED ONE-UPS LOSERS.

Help from previous crosswords: SERT and GANGNAM (I'm not among the billion who have viewed the video but remember it appearing in clues for psy).

Lewis 10:39 AM  

@maruchka -- indeed!

evil doug 10:43 AM  

Actually, "alfa" is correct. Here's the story....

The creator of the phonetic alfabet was a huuuuuge fan of The Little Rascals. So he assigned 'alfalfa' to represent the first letter of the alfabet. But Carl Switzer--a Nazi sympathizer, as it turns out--sued over the use of his character's name because it made him look bad in the eyes of his German fans. So 'alfalfa' became 'alfa' in the aforementioned phonetic alfabet....

'Sierra' was thisclose to being 'spanky', too!

ps, anonymous moron: Do your research next time.

retired_chemist 10:43 AM  

Easy. Liked the mini-theme and much of the intermediate length fill, but did not like some of the poor short fill. That last is pretty much the same complained about by others. Makes MISO mad.....

Presumably TIT RATE is something you pay HOS (22A). NOT going to bring up Rex's ROwE error..... at least explicitly.

Old enough that ACHESON was a gimme. Also LONI, sort of, though I do not recall the show.

Thanks, Mr. Haight.

Numinous 10:46 AM  

GRE, @RooMonster, is the Graduate Record Examination which (supposedly) tests one's aptitude for Graduate schools.

The CEO calls Ms. ASTER into his office and asks her to bring her STENO pad. "Ahem," he begins. "IN RE the excessive use of bathrrom tissue and clogging of the DEMIJohns . . . ."

I thought the clue for 10D should have been "Follower of Alf". Got this one in under 45 minutes, ok, ok, 3 seconds under 45 minutes only one typo. I misspelled MISO. No googles.

@lms, even it it wasn't ALL TwAT, TAIL END is there anyway.

Pretty easy for a Friday, I thought.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

@anon 10:15, @evil's incessant dickheadery aside, the non-standard "Alfa" spelling is used to make the phonetic alphabet more internationally accessible. Spanish speakers, for example, wouldn't get the 'f' sound from 'ph'.

Maruchka 11:02 AM  

P.S. @ Chef B - Had a similar thought IN RE: PF GoldFISHYs. How about - add some EDYS Mud Pie ice cream to the mix? Salt, sugar, AND butter fat.

Casco Kid 11:03 AM  

@jae, @roomonster, @stevej, @numi

A bit of received wisdom here: GRE scores supposed correlate well with likelihood of finishing graduate school, as not finishing graduate school is a very, very common occurrence. I understand that it is a rare case for good correlation between a test score and future performance.

In my case, my score was in the he'll-finish-but-he'll-make-it-look-hard, and that's exactly what happened. Still does. ;)

Perhaps our educators @Z, @jberg, @LMS, @others can comment.

Susan McConnell 11:06 AM  

Lol @retired_chemist. I was thinking of alternative clues for TIT RATE as well. But I thought yours was ALL THAT and a bag of chips.

mathguy 11:10 AM  

There were some very nice clues. "Sounds from some mall temps" for HOS; "A wild card is unlikely to beat one" for TOPSEED; "They're clutched during some speeches" for OSCARS; "Where Sotheby's is BID" for NYSE.

I knew SERT, ERITU, and TITRATE from these puzzles alone. I just learned TITRATE recently.

Good to learn that SISTINE means coming from the popes named Sixtus, primarily Sixtus IV.

I was looking at the blocks going from left to right instead of from lower right to upper left. Even after I got SOMETHINGFISHY I didn't recognize them as fish.

@jberg: I also didn't like adding the reference to SOMETHINGFISHY to the clue for ONTHEWATERFRONT. It was unnecessary and distracting.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

What does 7D clue, "First", have to do with "Iron Maiden"? The meaning of maiden, as in maiden voyage, is first. First voyage. First time out. Hello?

And rating the puzzle as "piscine" is not useful. The puzzle is not fishy, nor is it fish-like. The clues were about "fishy", but we blog readers do expect ratings to be ratings. Pretty easy puzzle -- except for northeast for me, since neither gasahol nor gangnam were in my wheelhouse.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Jae, Joe Spano is still around. He has an important role in NCIS, which is a top rated show. Big time around. I remember him from Hill Street also, and I'm still around.

Amoroso and Nemesis were gimmes for me, totally in my wheelhouse.

John Child, Sert was a gimme for me also. It's a thousand times more important in Western culture than gangnam.

Michelangelo, wtf, Sistine definitely is the Sistine Chapel of Pope Sixtus's era, and there are famous frescos in the chapel. Are you the spectre of Michelangelo? What's up with your misspelling, Sistene? Crosses with miso soup -- Sistine.

Loren, a demi-john is a type of glass container. I learned the word from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott when I was a kid.

Acheson also a gimme.

No I am your father, also easy.

From the responses today, it seems to me that Western culture is in a decline. Opera, art, fuggedabout it?

Anoa Bob 11:35 AM  

Eis esos hos amoroso? Noi, loni osis. Spano miso eroo!

Wat Demi inre, Nehru eritu. (Roc & Rohe sert ngo.)

Atan alfa alia nit?

Leapfinger 11:49 AM  

So I looked at the empty grid and saw 3 ICBMs (hi, @Z, me too on the South THING!). Guess I was TAUT too much SDI. And the even look like Pepperidge Farm GoldFISH.

Funny how the mind doesn't see SOMETHING till it sees it.

Had XIPHOID the CRICOID before THYROID. TMI. Also did the 'spinet thing, like @lms. Have seen the 5-piano THING staged but not spinets, whch would be kool.

Ran the ALFAbeta tons o' times; somehow, thought of GUNBELT before SUNBELT. SIGN o' the times.

How slow was I today? Took me for dang ever to see LEAPS AT. Oy. I took the SAT at age 31, because one program I applied to wouldn't accept a GRE score in loo (er, en suite). It was an education to see how teacher-proctors relate to HS students. When asked if juan could be excused for a bathroom break before the test started, the answer was "Listen, you'll just have to settle down.". That certainly alleviates bladder pressure.

Thought VANILLA before ALAMODE, and PRISM blew my MINED, but was really tickled by the ode to O SCARS. Shoulda known that everyTHING nowadays is MAIDEN China; too often I TOPSEED when I shoulda turvied.

e.g., Thought that mercury thingy had to do with NiCAD batteries. Whew. That SERTainly was a disASTER as RUBE ROCs go...

At TAILEND, however, it was ALL THAT and a bag of quips, Bruce H. MISO pleased.

Z 11:51 AM  

Anon11:17 - Have you lost your Ulnar Nerve?

@Casco Kid - "Predictor" is such an interesting choice of words for the marketers of the GRE to use. Here's the story problem I learned:

In the Old West there was a near perfect correlation between the quantity the amount of alcohol consumed in towns and the number of ministers and churches in towns. So is it that the increase in alcohol brought more preachers to town or is that the increase in preachers drove more people to drink? We'll let y'all ponder that for a little while.

@anonymous10:56 - it is not "incessant dickheadery." It is "incessant duckheadery.

@Alias Z - I am happy to see you still have your Ulnar Nerve.

@everyone who doesn't see fish - perhaps this will help.

@Casco Kid - the answer to my little story problem is neither causes nor predicts the other. Both are the result of population growth. Likewise the alleged predictive power of standardized tests. There is some pretty good research, for example, that nearly 2/3rds of test scores in Michigan (K-12) can be explained by poverty and family structure (if you are a kid with a poor single mother, good luck. And if you are a school that serves an area with lots of poor single parents - well I'm sure a for profit Charter School will fix everything (har)). I've no idea about GRE tests, but the claims of the company who makes their living by selling the tests' "predictive" powers are suspect. (PS - I'm sure I've shared this little example before - sorry for the repeat, but it is still apt)

OISK 12:12 PM  

Titrate and thyroid are easy gets for a science teacher! Never heard of gangnam - what the heck is that? (no need to reply - I will Google it) Very happy to have finished this one, although I think it is an easier than average Friday - I had four DNF last week, but have sailed through this week so far. Liked the clue for "Oscars" very much. The pleasure of first staring blankly with no idea at all, and then suddenly seeing the perfect, apt, answer is a large part of the joy of solving. Fine puzzle, Mr. Haight.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:22 PM  

Really liked this puzzle.

Solving on paper, thought I had finished with just one write-over at 8A, LEAPS IN before LEAPS AT.

Then came to the blog to find major mess at 26 A, OTIS (the new portmanteau suffix formed from OSIS and ITIS) and 27 D, SERA instead of SERT!

But I still really liked the puzzle.

PS - I know it's late in the day, but am I the only one beside our substitute reviewers who will be at Lollapuzzoola 7? (Hey, if so, I'm guaranteed to finish in third place at worst!)

Leapfing 12:28 PM  

@Lewis, I'm invoking @lms' bookkeeper.

@Alias, João Gilberto is the Master of suadade.

@Z, what you're saying (first)is that correlation can't be misconstrued as causation. What you're saying (second) has too much to it for me to compress for this board.

One ought not conflate dick/duck-headery with monocular vision.

RnRGhost57 12:32 PM  

"Haight is love."

Cfxk 12:32 PM  

Re 31A: actually, in playoff soccer when a penalty shoot out is used to decide the outcome of a game, ties do have losers. The shootout decides which team will be eliminated from the playoff tournament, but the actual score of the game remains a tie (though technically in soccer, these are known as draws).

Z 1:10 PM  

@LF - Yep - and then I implied (through all the poor typing) that correlation also ought not to be construed as "predictive." In this case I would not be surprised to find that the "predictive" power of the GRE is a bug, not a feature (to mis-borrow from software coders). But, again, I don't really know. It is just that I'm a little bit more than slightly cynical about the testing/industrial complex.

3 1/2 and out.

Dolgoruky 1:40 PM  

It's sistIne!

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Wow, evil Doug - Do you have road rage issues?

oldbizmark 2:01 PM  

Really tough friday for me. Had a DNF because of ROC, ROHE, ALL THAT, TITRATE. Thought that was the junkiest of the junk fill I have seen in a long time. Also had MIRO before SERT, of who I was unaware.

Casco Kid 2:08 PM  

@Z You bring up a familiar criticism of standardized testing. I don't doubt that your point of view is accurate. The curiosity (if the info is accurate) is that it ever works. But as they say, even a broken watch is right twice a day.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

I thought for a while I was going to finish a Friday easily, without the need to Google even one time. Then the SW killed me through a series of errors. The crossing of SERT and ROC was the first killer. I thought it might be ROC, but when I Googled ROC I got many possibilities, none of which looked promising at all. Still, I thought ROC was the best choice. But like several others here I thought 37-A had to be ALL PHAT, giving me SERP for the Spanish muralist--not very likely.

ENSUING made excellent sense for 63-A. I struggled with 61-A, trying DOORMEN first, then DOORMAN. Though neither seemed terribly appropriate, I convinced myself that a DOORMAN could be thought of as submissive rather than assertive (although I have heard of very assertive doormen). I simply couldn't think of DOORMAT. The culmination was that I ended up with 40-D being TITRANG and with my wondering what that could possibly be.

So much for an easy Friday.

r.alphbunker 2:20 PM  

A possible apocryphal story about clocks. A tourist noticed that the two clocks in a train station showed different times, asked the stationmaster why and was told that if they showed the same time then two clocks would not be necessary.

Mark 2:24 PM  

Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" is a sublime poem. Shelley was one of the prime inventors of non-violent resistance to tyranny (see his Prometheus Unbound) whose influence passed through Thoreau, Shaw, Gandhi, King and changed the world for the better.

jdv 2:53 PM  

Medium. I liked it. The bottom half was easier for me. Spent half my time in the NE; should've seen PRISM a lot sooner than I did. I like asymmetrical grids when they're justified, like today. I would have liked this puzzle more if there was a single rebus square in the SE corner containing the word 'shark'. That would give the three random fish some motivation.

jae 3:09 PM  

@Casco, Z, et. al. -- In the late 60's the Psych Dept. at the U. of Illinois developed a metric to predict success in the lst year of their graduate program. Part of the metric involved ignoring the verbal score of the GRE and doubling the math score. This made sense because a big part of the lst year of grad school was advanced stats. Fortunately for me I killed the math section.

Also, SERT shows up with some frequency so it's probably a good idea the commit him to memory. The same goes for puppeteer Tony SARG.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

GREs ought to test for ability to deal with isolation. After coursework and comps, one is pretty well on one's own. This hapless student went to her advisor's office, only to be told he was away in Nepal. "Nepal, really? When will he be back?". "In two years", said the Very Nice Secretary. Guess that notification went out through the Oversight Committee.

Lewis 3:21 PM  


Double letters.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  


Usually, one WRAPS UP before one LOGS OUT, so... Was just clever enough to think RAJAH before NEHRU.

Wasn't AMOROSO that annoying contestant on The Apprentice several years ago?

Have ridden on the ACHESON-Topeka-Santa Fe, but never once called it a TRAINEE, being well past the choo-choo stage.

Very entertraining, Mr. H.

mac 3:28 PM  

Medium Friday, and definitely fishies, when you live practically under the smoke of Pepperidge Farm.

Odd coincidence: this morning (before I had done the puzzle) someone mentioned that he and some friends are going to watch a movie at the beach, bringing a screen and a projector. He wondered if they might see "Jaws", I mentioned "On the Water Front".

I also didn't think the clue for fop was quite correct. @dk, so right about the faulty use of au just and en suite! I was wondering for a moment if we had seen the Russian word for ice in a puzzle before, then Eis showed up.

@Bob Kerfuffle: see you tomorrow!

Outlaw Z 3:50 PM  

@Casco Kid - not a criticism of standardized tests but of the abusers of the resulting data, the companies that profit from those abusers, and most especially politicians who abuse data to justify their (too often bad) "solutions." Hmmmmm, do I end with Nancy Reagan's "Just say no" or James Thurber's "It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers?"

seastate5 5:02 PM  

Surely you're joking, Mr. Evil Doug. The NATO alfabet was deliberately constructed to use words that were either practically international (whiskey, hotel, etc), or broadly recognized by Americans and Europeans. Alfa is the way the first Greek letter is spelled in most European languages, which tend not to use the "ph". Which begs a whole nother question which I won't go into.

Zeke 5:28 PM  

MAIDEN is incorrectly clued. MAIDEN never means first, it means you haven't done 'it' yet, whatever 'it' is. A ship's MAIDEN voyage is in fact her first voyage, but that doesn't mean that MAIDEN means first. It means that she hasn't done 'it' yet, that she undertakes the voyage as a MAIDEN. A MAIDEN race is for horses who haven't won yet. It's never about first, it's about not having done it.

bswein99 5:31 PM  

Loved "Sounds from some mall temps" as a clue for "hos"--just think of some of the awful alternatives.

r.alphbunker 5:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 5:50 PM  

My understanding of the relationship between a clue and an answer is that you can replace the clue by the answer in some sentence and get a sentence that says the same thing. So in the case of first/MAIDEN

S1: It was the ship's <first> voyage
S2: It was the ship's <MAIDEN> voyage

Replacing S1 by S2 results in no loss of meaning.

The requirement that the clue and the answer be synonyms is a stronger requirement.

Useless Reference Works 5:59 PM  

Merriam-Webster - 3 : first, earliest a ship's maiden voyage, the maiden flight of a spacecraft, - 8: made, tried, appearing, etc., for the first time: a maiden flight.
Oxford Dictionaries (US) - 2. Being or involving the first attempt or act of its kind.
The Free Dictionary - 6. first: a maiden flight.
Wiktionary - (figuratively) Being a first occurrence or event.
The Urban Dictionary - 3) First

emphasis added

mathguy 6:28 PM  

@r.alphbunker: Lovely description of the relationship between clue and entry.

Whirred Whacks 7:01 PM  

Do you have other stories like this one? (I like it.) Seems like a Nasrudin Sufi story!

Anonymous 7:06 PM  

Loved the oscars and hos clues. I knew right off the bat what the 54 best picture was, but I thought the three center squares were boxing gloves! (I coulda been a contender...) , so the fishy clu had me stumped for quite a while.
Overall, fun puzzle.

Zeke 7:08 PM  

@Useless Reference Works

Merriam Webster
Alibi: 2) : an excuse usually intended to avert blame or punishment

So yes, you've chosen your name wisely.

Mohair Sam 7:55 PM  

Busy day, we just got to this. Tough puzz for us, but we got it. Highlights were @Rex's mistake and Doug Peterson's use of the picture of the brother from "Orphan Black" as an example of FOP (awesome character, great actor).

Fish. They were fish? OK.

ENSUITE. S'il vous plait? Wife says she's seen it used in English, OK.

Expobill 8:12 PM  

worse Xword of the year by far

Anonymous 10:33 PM  

OMG. Hideously difficult for me. NE and SE were almost impossible. Took me almost a full hour. Plus, those were fish? Yikes. Once it was done, I liked it, sure, but oh brother what an ordeal.


Arlene 10:38 PM  

I guess being the 91st person to comment means that it's all already been said. Finished with Googling - saw the little fishies - and now don't have to wait too long for Saturday's puzzle to appear.

Uma 7:42 AM  

@Lewis. Thank you.

Kirkpat 12:46 PM  

Re: SISTENE: Maybe none are Sistine, either, but I've never had MESO soup. You?

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Good puzzle and sufficiently puzzling for Friday (after several weeks in a row that were far too easy). Chiming in on "Fop" and "Metrosexual". Born are obsessive about how they are perceived in public. Main difference is a mextrosexual is not only concerned about his clothing, but about his weight and muscularity, while I don't think a fop can't be overweight, in fact I think there were lots of overweight fops. Also, a fop dresses flashy while a metrosexual dresses obsessively neat -- top quality clothes, but not flashy and always without a wrinkle, ironed a hundred times over. But these are minor differences within a category of people who are overly concerned with their public appearance, so the clue is accurate regardless of some of your objections. P.S. -- A classic metrosexual is Mike G. on ESPN's morning "Mike and Mike" show, in fact jock Mike openly derides him as a metrosexual.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

I guess my brain just closed down. Got everything but the NW corner. Never heard of Gangnam. I had something fishy and America but the rest is blank. Boo me! May you acquire a big black wart on your nose, Mr.

Ron Diego


spacecraft 12:27 PM  

I tried to guess the black shapes; fish did not occur. After solving and having another LOOKSEE, I concede that, with block shapes, that's about as well as you can depict a fish--but they still don't really look like fish to me. They look like...kites. (I can hear Lucy now: "You blockhead!")

To the puzz itself. Though endweek-clued, this one was a very crackable nut. AMERICA gave me an easy start in the NW; then I had the early brainchild of ONEUPS for bests, and with NYSE and EDYS I had SOMETHIN_______.
Trying to get "closes a session" with ___SOUT, that square has to be G, so: LOGSOUT. Ah, THAT kind of session. Good ol' Dean ACHESON helped in the NE, then I never considered bitcHin' (@Doug, that's so '50s!), going straight for ALLTHAT, hold the chips, and TITRATE. RUBE and SUNBELT left me with --ATE-- in the middle of the 15er--which was all I needed for ONTHEWATERFRONT, not only 1954's OSCAR winner, but one of the best pictures of all time.

WOE: ENSUITE (really? Smells...well, you know.) Along with APs NOI and ATAN, plus the awfu EROO, this blunts some very fine longer fill; those 7x7 corners are not easy to do, taking this nice asymmetrical grid down to a B. Still enjoyed it though.

5201: Knock-knock-knockin on heavens door.

rondo 2:17 PM  

ENSUITE is fine by me. I had to look it up some years ago to make sure which type of facilities were included in a certain lodging situation.

654: no good

DMG 3:43 PM  

I seem to be the only one who thought those "fishes"
were "fours"! So I didn't "see" them until I finally got THYROID off OILRICH. Not that solved things. I had LoveSiT for too long, and my starwort was an eSTHER. So much for the NW. By the time I got ATCHESON, I just didn't care to sort the rest of it out. (Rostock,which spell master insists has a capital R, sounds like something from Maleska's era.) Only other misplay was itIS, which left my now numb brain q wondering what GASOHiL could possibly be!! In retrospect, why did that clue have a question mark? Off to lick my wounds, and contemplate the only semi-readable Captcha I could get after something like ten tries...

822. Out and out.

Longbeachle 3:59 PM  

Eri tu. Perfectly good Itaian for It was you.

Dirigonzo 5:16 PM  

I'm not up on current slang and I know not of Spanish muralists and Mies van der whoever so ALLSTAR seemed perfectly reasonable for "Excellent". My ignorance is not the puzzle's fault so I'm not complaining. (I should have known rITRATE was wrong though.) OTOH I really liked the clue for LOSERS (Things that ties never have) and I wanted Ovid's others (57a) to be ALIi because of the plural - am I wrong about that?

410 - that's just rubbing salt in the wound.

rain forest 7:28 PM  

Liked this one a lot even though I DNF'd at the ALLTHAT/SERT crossing. Never heard that "all that" means perfect. I think ALL PHAT is way better slang.

I thought the shapes were Space Invader entities moving in a SE direction until I got SOMETHING'SFISHY, and then I saw the boxy fish swimming in a NW direction.

The very cluing trumps some of the greasier fill for me.

324 Knockin' on the same door, @Spacey.

Unknown 2:45 PM  

I'm back to catching up on back issues, so this is about a year and a half late... Pretty easy puzzle, but I did have a beef with "alia" used as a plural. I was taught that "others" was "alii", and "other" was "alia". Apparently I've either misremembered or have forgotten some usage quirk here... I would have written the clue as "Ovid's other". Had to change it once I got "sedated".

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