True Blood vampire Northman / FRI 2-27-15 / Prefix meaning heavens / Frequent demonstrator of doppler effect / Knot toads parliament / So-called Japanese chess / Classic 1984 film in which most dialogue was ad-libbed / Evolutionary biologist who wrote Panda's Thumb
Friday, February 27, 2015
Constructor: Julian Lim
Relative difficulty: Medium (Medium-Challenging for me because Tiredness/Stupidity)
Word of the Day: SHOGI (22D: So-called Japanese chess) —
Shogi (将棋 shōgi?) (//, Japanese: [ɕo̞ːɡi] or [ɕo̞ːŋi]), also known as Japanese chess or the Generals' Game, is a two-player strategy board game in the same family as Western (international) chess, chaturanga, makruk, shatranj and xiangqi, and is the most popular of a family of chess variants native to Japan. Shōgi means general's (shō 将) board game (gi 棋).The earliest predecessor of the game, chaturanga, originated in India in the 6th century, and sometime in the 10th to 12th centuries xiangqi (Chinese chess) was brought to Japan where it spawned a number of variants. Shogi in its present form was played as early as the 16th century, while a direct ancestor without the "drop rule" was recorded from 1210 in a historical document Nichūreki, which is an edited copy of Shōchūreki and Kaichūreki from the late Heian period (c. 1120).
• • •
RISE and ASIA. PEP. RONA and IF AT—all good. But any hope of seeing correct Acrosses was somehow stymied by MAKE (for COST) and ALEC (for ERIC) and a botched Mass. motto word (always sucks to trip on the worst bit of fill in the puzzle) (ENSE). Also, I couldn't remember parliament of OWLS, despite the fact that that was the name of a Batman arc only a few years back (actually, "Court of OWLS"), and despite the fact that my boy Chaucer wrote "The Parliament of FOWLS." Actually, I think it's because of the Chaucer title that I didn't get OWLS, despite the rhyming. Result was sadness and then doubt—I started pulling different little words, some of which were correct. I also forgot that "Spinal Tap" was actually called "THIS IS SPINAL TAP" (14A: Classic 1984 film in which most of the dialogue was ad-libbed), so despite thinking of that movie first, I didn't write it in because, of course, in my head, it "didn't fit." So that whole up-top experience made the puzzle tougher than average for me. But maybe not for more alert people. Here's where I (finally) got started:
From here, the west was easy, but I briefly ran into the problem I feared—not being able to get up into that top part. The problem: MELISMA (20A: Musical phrase in which a single syllable is sung over several notes). Vaguely familiar, now that I look at it, but not in my knowledge base. So I got as far as PSYCHIC and then worried a little. I had wanted TRAMP earlier for 14D: Galumph, so I tried that. Same with ROSEATE. But still … it all felt a bit dicey. But once I got PHONES, finally, this happened.
This was a good puzzle, I think. I would say that this is *in spite* of its design, which looks cool, but which loads up the puzzle with short answers. And while those have their share of predictable ugliness today [shakes fist at ENSE!], overall, they're pretty clean. The central chunks are chunkily varied, and the long Acrosses up top and down south are nice (nicer up top, so I was happy to end there).