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)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SHOGI (22D: So-called Japanese chess) —
Shogi (将棋 shōgi?) (/ˈʃɡ/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) chesschaturangamakrukshatranj and xiangqi, and is the most popular of a family of chess variants native to JapanShōgi 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was played as early as the 16th century, while a direct ancestor without the "drop rule" was recorded from 1210 in a historical document Nichūreki, which is an edited copy of Shōchūreki and Kaichūreki from the late Heian period (c. 1120).
• • •

My normal strategy of throwing down all the short Downs as fast as I can, first answers that come to mind, and then looking back and seeing if I can pick out the long Acrosses with the help of pattern recognition … did not work today, despite the fact that many of my first guesses for the Downs were correct. 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:

Courtesy of the gimme GARP (32A: Robin Williams title role). From here, the bottom was done in under a minute. Seriously. It was the mirror image, the opposite, the world upside down, compared to the north. Probably helped that STEPHEN JAY GOULD (52A: Evolutionary biologist who wrote "The Panda's Thumb") spoke at my college when I was a senior, so I got him off the -LD. Yes, that definitely helped. But after SHALL WE went in (48A: "Ready to go?"), Every Single Short Down off of that was obvious, so the bottom was Monday for me. Ended up getting SPARE THE ROD without ever reading the clue.

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.

From there it was ERIC and OWLS and quickly all was done.

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).
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    MDMA 7:35 AM  

    Did anyone else want "nobel laureate" instead of PRISONER OF WAR?

    GILL I. 7:43 AM  

    I had to think of the planet I was living on in 1984 since I'd never heard of THIS IS SPINAL TAP.
    Plopped in MIMEO first because I remember the blue ink that got on your hands and feet and hair and teeth back in the dinosaur ages.
    Stared a lot...had another glass of vino...went downstairs and for some very inexplicable reason, immediately got STEPHEN JAY GOULD... I wanted to do the SHALL WE dance the MINUETS because I found another answer I actually got.

    Ramette 7:43 AM  

    Idiot is an iq level, not insanity

    Glimmerglass 7:51 AM  

    The only Jay Gould Iknow was a robber baron, not a biologist, so I had to get this guy's first name from a few crosses that left STEPHEN as the only choice. Otherwise, the south was easy, butI had to work backwards up to the north. Oddly, it was GRISTLY that got me up there --that unlocked THIS IS SPINAL TAP. Fun, hard puzzle.

    Unknown 7:52 AM  

    Medium challenging Friday. Another DNF. 60 minutes. 5 googles. 3 errors corrected in overtime/after the "Almost" message appeared. I googled to learn that PETE was a character on Mad Men, ERIC was a vampire, SHOGI is Japanese chess, ROSEATE is a word that might mean pink, owls come in PARIAMENTS. That was enough to suss the rest. I ended with 3 findable errors [Nestle brand]EcYS/[Nuts]IDoOTS/[Racket]coN. As of this hour, I am ranked 1657/3713, but I think I am last among those who didn't quit, but can't be sure. Someone, please figure this out. What do the NYT Wordplay web site numbers mean?

    A 1984 movie list-search to find THISISSPINALTAP knocked out a lot of entrenched wrongness:
    [Line items?] braNdS
    [Stand] takE
    [Energy] vim
    [___ first] Itsa
    [Some old fashioned hosiery] nylONS
    I wasn't going to see THISISSPINALTAP from that mess of wrong crosses.

    Traction came in south, SE and east. Everything else was very slow.

    @MDMA, I thought about Nobel Laureate, but then I remembered the Sartre famously refused the prize.

    Anonymous 7:56 AM  

    What a fucking great friday puzzle! Challenging but sussable, interesting cluing, educational, high-brow and low-brow. That, my friends, is how you make a puzzle. And that, also, my friends, is why the lady is a TRAMP.

    Smell the Glove 8:02 AM  

    It's a good thing my keyboard goes up to 11! Now I'm going to Break Like the Wind with my Big Bottom, and I'm going to visit the Sex Farm on my way to Bitch School.

    DShawMaine 8:04 AM  

    Second try at a comment (when will I learn not to leave this page to check something?). I liked this puzzle even though a DNF due to my 45-minute maximum attention span. Had a different experience than Rex did in that the top was easier than the bottom. I always want to put in "seamed" for old-fashioned hosiery clues (one of these days it'll fit). Thought that all the long crosses were excellent - not tortured in the least. I think an occasional ENSE or NHRA is a small price to pay for that. Fun.

    Sir Hillary 8:17 AM  

    Nifty puzzle -- very cool grid to look at.

    I dropped in THISISSPINALTAP right off the bat, but despite getting ASIA, PEP, RONA, IFAT, OWLS and then GRACEPERIOD, I still couldn't crack the top section. I kept wondering if Churchill and Sartre may have been ministEROFWAR, even though the idea of Sartre as a government official made no sense. Total mental block, so much so that I had to start again at the bottom (NHRA was my entry point) and work back up both sides to finally finish up where I started. Rather like the figure-eight itself. PRISONEROFWAR ended up being my last entry.

    I like the symmetrical compassion of GRACEPERIOD and SPARETHEROD.

    Favorite entry: PSYCHIC. Looks wonderful in the grid. (By the way, can you parse that as ""Gangnam Style" guy style?)

    Favorite clue: Group of people. That is superb.

    This is the second day in a row that I have zero complaints. Hope Saturday continues the streak.

    r.alphbunker 8:26 AM  

    I give this puzzle 5 squares.

    My solution looked similar to Rex's except that he got more done at the top before reaching the bottom where the solver-friendly STEPHEN JAY GOULD awaited. I typed the answer in backwards off the LD because I didn't know if it was STEVEN or STEPHEN.

    Loved THIS IS SPINAL TAP both as a movie and as an answer.

    Danp 8:49 AM  

    I'm happy to learn the word MELISMA. Whenever I hear this on shows like American Idol, I call it warbling, and I hate it. Now I know a word that appears to be a portmanteau of melody and miasma. So I'm happy.

    dk 8:52 AM  

    🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 mOOOOns)

    I was positive it was Here is Spinal Tap. I was wrong.

    I penned in Mork. I was wrong.

    Thought NONZERO was too east to be true. I was wrong.

    Nearly 1 enjoyable hour later i figured out that PHONES and vetoes could be line items and i was done.

    Love the grid design as welll.

    Bird 9:04 AM  

    Very nice puzzle. I got the bottom first then clawed my way back up to the top. Was relieved to finally get 14A cause I knew the answer was in my brain somewhere.

    - Liked YOU AND I crossing over to SHALL WE.
    - Agreed that some IDIOTS are not insane.
    - REDDISH before ROSEATE.
    - PRIME MINISTER also fits at 12A but wasn't sure about Sartre.

    Unknown 9:10 AM  

    @ralph, You dropped in "IFAT first" off nothing. You didn't consider "Itsa first"?
    Also, you went with DIN off the N, rather than coN. How did you know to do those? Those and many others you avoided because you already had solid crosses were the banes of my solve.

    I agree THISISSPINALTAP is a great movie. I would have gotten it off any of a number of content-related clues, e.g., [Movie that put 11 on the volume dial], but as clued -- and with my wrong crosses -- I was thinking Monty Python: Meaning of Life? Life of Brian? I was totally blocked by decent albeit wrong crosses. I think I'll fail this way every time I have a chance. *shakes head*

    duaneu 9:16 AM  

    Same experience as Rex here. Breezed through the bottom and just couldn't get any traction up top.

    Unknown 9:16 AM  

    I was lucky to have two big gimmes in SPINAL TAP and GOULD, plus who can forget the aroma from MIMEOs?

    That S in MELISMA/SHOGI could have been any letter for all I knew. Fortunately between the crosses and educated guessing I got it on the second shot.

    PETE and ERIC were cross-abetted guesses.

    Medium puzzle, but a good medium. A combination of elation and frustration.

    Ω 9:22 AM  

    MELISMA/SHOGI is a fair crossing?

    Big Fat DNF. Shows I don't watch include Mad Men and True Blood (basically the same show, aren't they?). I was guessing ERIC or ADAM for the vampire and PETE or naTE for the other vampire. Having nyLONS didn't help. nylONS I've heard of. RAYON seems to me to be only in something, never RAYONS as a thing in and of themselves. ENSE? Absolutely no clue on MELISMA. Even now it looks like a typo to me (and to blogger, but what does blogger know? It doesn't even recognize "google" as a word).

    @Dick & Lee - Colloquial usage works. e.g. "People who watched the llama chase live on the internet are nuts." "People who watched the llama chase live on the internet are idiots."

    @Nancy from last night - The Arizonian Puzzle Blog. I was way way way over the limit of 3 posts, so I hope you are around today.

    Hartley70 9:24 AM  

    @MDMA yes, I wanted Nobel or another literary prize also.

    The bottom half of this puzzle solved easily last night, despite having to get Mr. Gould off the crosses. I left the top half until this morning and I stared at blank squares for an eternity. I wanted amnesty for GRACE, zip for PEP, stringy for GRISTLY etc. I resorted to one google, films of 1984, and as I scanned the list, I knew immediately the movie in mind. I will never be memorizing the release years of 30 year old movies, not even Oscar winners. There's a limited amount of space left upstairs and I don't want to add a lot of clutter. That goes for 3 letter Scrabble words too!

    In any case, the movie title gave me all I needed to polish off the top.

    jae 9:27 AM  

    Medium tough for me too.  Unlike Rex and others, top half medium, bottom half tough.   Did not know EDYS was a Nestles brand,  had trouble seeing IDIOTS and IMAGER and had a personal Natick at the SHOGI/MELISMA cross and guessed wrong. I went with G. So, my first DNF in quite a while.  

    I understand that honey and sugar are synonyms for DEAR but I don't quite get the clue?

    Still trying to figure out  if PETE is an ahole.  Every now and then he does something redeeming.

    Very interesting grid, a bit of zip, liked it, except for the DNF.

    jberg 9:31 AM  

    All I had up top was IF AT (thought 3D couldn't be ASIA because the clue was too specific -- not only the tiger cubs but the original tigers are there; and I was so busy trying to remember Hedda Gabler's name that I didn't think of Ms. Barrett), all I had in the middle was TRAMP, plus some wrong asnwers (I did try moRk, even knowing it was wrong), but STEPHEN JAY GOULD was a gimme (knew him in grad school), the bottom then filled itself in, and I slowly clawed my way back up.

    @casco, the secret of IF AT rather than IT'S A is that ellipsis at the end -- it has to be a phrase that goes on to something else. As for coN, that's a great wrong answer, but I never thought of it.

    nylONS before RAYONS, iONized before NONZERO.

    And I've never seen a ROSEATE tern, but it helped me get 16A all the same.

    Great, difficult puzzle.

    Whirred Whacks 9:31 AM  

    Had (My) DINNER WITH ANDRE (1981) before THIS IS SPINAL TAP, and DITTO machine before MIMEO.

    I read a lot of GOULD in the 1980s. He died far too young.

    The book version ends with GARP being murdered in the gym; the movie version ends with him being transported by emergency helicopter to hospital.

    Amusing discussion yesterday of what the "rules" are for what constitutes a DNF.

    Nice puzzle, Mr. Lim.

    chefbea 9:39 AM  

    Too tough for me...and I can't blame it on too much celebrating yesterday. I kept looking for a them...but alas..there was none. Maybe tomorrow

    Carola 9:44 AM  

    A striking grid, and a lovely puzzle, although I found it on the easy side for a Friday...once I got going. I got off to a slow start on the Acrosses, with only ANT, MELISMA, DIN, and STEvEN JAY GOULD, which I then erased as one letter too short.

    But the T and L stacked on the left got me GRISTLY, and from there I got enough of the Downs to reveal the long Acrosses and it was steady going until the end. Many pleasures: ROSEATE, CAT’S EYE, YOU AND I...SHALL WE? and the bracketing GRACE PERIOD and SPARE THE ROD (hi, @Sir Hillary). Last letter in: the H in NHRA x STEPHEN.

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:48 AM  

    Very nice, Medium Friday.

    Started as usual looking at Across clues until I could make a reasonable guess - all the way down at 42 A, GAP. But built on that, and filled everything else reasonably smoothly. I see above some mention of the cross of MELISMA/SHOGI. I guessed right, but thought there would be more complaints.

    Steve M 9:52 AM  

    Did from bottom up but tough top

    RnRGhost57 9:58 AM  

    Xcellent Friday puzzle.

    Smell the Glove

    pmdm 9:59 AM  

    STEPHEN JAY GOULD also helped me a great deal in the bottom, as he apparently did to many. And yes, Whirred Whacks, he died far too young. I loved him in Ken Burn's Baseball series. He was the only one who correctly sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame. For years he wrote an essay in Nature magazine that members of the American Museum of Natural History received for free. I know of no writer who could compose more lucid prose dealing with very complex subjects than Mr. Gould.

    In my opinion, Z, it's a close call about MELISMA. It's certainly a fairly common musical term. Perhaps it is more recognizable to Opera and lied fans than instrumental music fans. It's tough where to draw the line.

    Here is a musical piece that is perhaps the ultimate in melisma. No words at all, just melisma. All you classical music fans, see if you can guess the piece before clicking on the link.

    r.alphbunker 10:00 AM  

    @Casco Kid

    What @jberg said about the ellipsis. Notice that I entered IFAT at the 12 minute mark and then stalled for 13.5 minutes before I saw PERIOD. In fact, I was just about to give up and ask for help when I saw PERIOD. The GRACE came soon after and I was finished in 5 minutes. Since this breakthrough used the I of IFAT, it might have happened even if I had entered Itsa.

    Perhaps this cartoon describes the difficulty of describing where ideas come from during a solve.

    wreck 10:00 AM  

    Put me in the "bottom up" club. "THIS IS SPINAL TAP" is what let me finally crack the top, but it still took awhile to suss it.

    Arlene 10:01 AM  

    This fun solver googled for GOULD and ENSE to get some traction. I also put in IFAT right away.
    My favorite bird is the ROSEATE SPOONBILL - similar to a flamingo - so that PINK clue made me smile.
    And SPARE THE ROD may seem "lenient" but is actually more effective parenting.
    A good Friday puzzle - no rap stars!

    pmdm 10:03 AM  

    I meant NATURAL HISTORY magazine, not NATURE magazine.

    Nancy 10:14 AM  

    Hi, @Z, I'm here. I'll check the link after I post. And I agree that the MELISMA/SHOGI crossing was a potential Natick for everyone. I guessed at the S, and so I finished successfully.
    Other than that, I loved this puzzle. No names, no junk, and, for me, no gimmes other than RONA, A POP, INGE and AGAR. I "knew" STEPHEN JAY GOULD, only I didn't; I knew it at one time, but this was not that time. And here (from yesterday's discussions on this blog) is a great argument for not Googling; I was tempted; it was such a long, critical answer and it was (almost) on the tip of my tongue. But it eventually came in through the crosses and the genuine solving of the puzzle gave me a real satisfaction that I wouldn't have had if I'd looked up the answer. A nice, tough, interesting puzzle.

    Queenie 10:22 AM  

    Really liked this puzzle! Ended up surprisingly easy despite my occasional feelings of despair at all that I didn't have a clue about. I plugged away and ended up finishing faster than a usual Friday.

    @danp this quote, an aside from an answer in a Cary Tennis column on, captures my feelings re: melisma perfectly...

    "That’s OK. We all have pet peeves. Me, I have serious concern about the trustworthiness of people who commit wanton melisma. I don’t think jail time is called for in all cases. I think community service would usually suffice. But still, I have a problem with it. I especially have a problem with improvised melisma in standards, and in “The Star Spangled Banner.” I don’t think I could really date anybody who would do that. It just seems like such a monumental lapse of judgment. But that’s just me. I generally keep quiet about it."

    Anonymous 10:27 AM  

    IFAT, youfat, weallfat! A DOOK if I ever saw one...

    John Child 10:27 AM  

    Bottoms up here too after a lot of flailing. It only three write overs in the end. Medium-challenging is about right.

    Cheerio 10:30 AM  

    I had MINISTER OF WAR before PRISONER OF WAR. I was thinking, Huh? Who would have guessed that about Sartre? And can Asia really be wrong?

    Anyway, I loved this puzzle. Thanks to Julian Lim!

    Evil Doug 10:34 AM  

    SteveM@952: That's a little personal but thanks for sharing.


    Lick it good! 10:36 AM  

    Nigel Tufnel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like - I'm really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it's sort of in between those, really. It's like a Mach piece, really. It's sort of...

    Marty DiBergi: What do you call this?

    Nigel Tufnel: Well, this piece is called "Lick My Love Pump".

    Maruchka 10:43 AM  

    A clever diagram, lots of white, Julian Lim, and I'm in for a tough one. Appreciate that the solves are literate, but not my cuppa.

    3 googles and several do-overs later -
    Is it just me or is RAYONS just wrong? Never, ever heard this in my long-legged life.

    Fav of the day - (Parliament of) OWLS. Daughter's avatar. Like the art, too @Rex.

    @Gill, @Whirred - Love the Ditto v. MIMEO. What was the worst? Peeling off the inky paper, then it wrapped itself around everything.

    Joseph Michael 11:02 AM  

    This was a TOUGH NUT TO CRACK. The south fell first with SPARE THE ROD which I got off the downs. The last to go was the SHOGI/MELISMA cross.

    Isn't HOMO here a prefix and, if so, shouldn't it be clued that way?

    Like the clues for SIREN and STORAGE SPACES and the shout out to THIS IS SPINAL TAP. Though challenging, this was a great puzzle.

    Ludyjynn 11:07 AM  

    ROSEATE spoonbills are such oddly beautiful creatures. Large flocks of them can be observed close-up at the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island FL. Winter months offer the best viewing of these and other migratory birds there.

    I liked this puzz. a lot despite a DNF. Started off strong in the South, worked North w/ some, but not complete, success. Cheated by checking Rex to get GRACEPERIOD, which opened up what I was missing. Sigh.

    I ordered 2 fig plants to be delivered in Spring for Summer harvesting. Anyone here ever grow them? Any tips to cultivate them properly in the Mid-Atlantic?

    The smell of MIMEO ink is engrained in my sense memory from the '70s. What a messy process.

    Was tickled to see RONA Barrett in the grid, one of gossip's grande dames.

    Thanks, JL and WS.

    pfb 11:16 AM  

    A hard time getting started, and had THISIS_P_NALT__ and was sure it was open something. I knew I knew Stephen Jay Gould but it just wouldn't come out. Anyway, finished in 36 minutes with numerous stops to swim and work.

    Nice challenge and a sense of accomplishment finishing.

    AliasZ 11:29 AM  

    This was an utterly enjoyable puzzle for me. I found the six grid spanners beyond reproach, and there was no junk fill to speak of.

    French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) was also a PRISONER OF WAR, taken to Görlitz and imprisoned at Stalag VIII-A in 1940. There he composed his "Quatuor pour la fin du temps" (quartet for the end of time), first performed in January 1941 to an audience of prisoners and prison guards, with the composer playing a poorly maintained upright piano in freezing conditions.

    - I had no idea Steinbeck wrote anything that took place in LAP, AZ. I would love to live there, it sounds like the perfect place to retire.
    - Isn't "Thy Will be done UNEARTH" a part of a prayer or something? Sounds so familiar.

    I will now paraphrase a conversation between two IDIOTS, ERIC and PETE that I overheard at a nearby street corner:

    "Wait a MINUET, let us, YOU AND I, go to this BUSLANE local DATE BAR and pick up some chicks, SHALL WE?" "Not on URANO. My wife MELISMA will kill me if she ever finds out. She becomes a GRISTLY bear when she gets mad. Besides, that is a LOCO motive to go to that DATE BAR." "Are you calling me LOCO?" "No, I am calling your motive LOCO." "It sounds like you are afraid. I wonder what she'd do to you if she found out about Grace. By the way, your old lady is a TRAMP." "Oh yeah? First, I don't know anyone called GRACE PERIOD. And it looks like your wife ROSEATE a whole cow, she's so fat." At that very moment a big-boned lady appears out of nowhere, ready to strangle Pete: "I FAT? I'll show you...!" So I hightailed it outta there. Such is life in the big city.

    Let me close with two pieces of music: a MINUET and a MELISMA. Too bad I could not find RISË Stevens singing the latter.

    I had great fun with this puzzle. Thanks, Julian.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:35 AM  

    Aren't ditto and mimeo the same? The ink was purple not blue. Tiny carp: clue should have "sugar" capitalized: a term of address. Melisma is not a proper noun, so it's a fair crossing, @Z. Rayons are what girls had to wear before nylons became freely available again, nylons really made a difference; ask any member of the greatest generation who wanted to hit it off with a European girl back just after the war (the Big one, as Archie would say). Only one potty-mouth anon today, that's a relief. I'll never be able to keep up with names of characters in TV series, don't watch them, except on PBS. I'm not an elitist snob, just don't have the time. Even with Tivoing, I can't keep up with my own kind of programs. BTW DNF except for googling (a lot).

    old timer 11:43 AM  

    Easiest Friday in a long time, for me. Which is to say, tough, but Google-free. ENSE is there as a trap. Many people know there is one State with the motto "Esto Perpetua" So I confidently put town "esto". Turns out the Massachusetts ENSE is the beginning of a much longer Latin phrase.

    Up top, I quickly had ASIA, RONA, OWLS and IFAT (say, does Apple have an iFAT app?). Thus though I was looking for some sort of literary award for Churchill and Sartre, I had (something) OF W-- and that helped me remember that Churchill had been a PRISONEROFWAR, in South Africa I think. After guessing RAYONS and PHONES, it was easy to remember the movie.

    Like Rex I found the bottom quite easy, though I had forgotten GOULD's last name. I also thought "The Pearl" might have been set in JAPAN, so my final writeover was to change that to LAPAZ crossed by NONZERO.

    Great puzzle, and obviously challenging to a lot of folks.

    Anonymous 11:49 AM  

    This is probably a really dumb question, but what makes PHONES line items?

    OISK 11:54 AM  

    @Fred - Mimeo ink can be any color - we used black and red. Rexograph (the process with the sweet smelling fluid) ink was usually purple. @Ludyjynn - nice to meet another birder. Have seen roseate spoonbills at Green Cay in Palm Beach County also.

    I have actually heard of "This is Spinal Tap," although I could not have told you whether it was a movie, a record title, or the name of a rap group. The product names annoyed me as usual. Never heard of a "date bar," didn't know that Edy's was a Nestle brand, (nor do I care) never heard of "Ichat" (it may have annoyed me in a previous puzzle) and filled in "melisma" last, correctly guessing "Shogi".

    Finished correctly, so that is one in a row...Second consecutive week where I DNF on Thurs. ( a rap clue) and got through Friday. Despite my usual annoyances, this was a fine and apt Friday puzzle. A good mental workout, with some interesting trivia. Thanks, Julian.

    pfb 11:54 AM  

    Telephone Lines--Like the ELO song.

    John V 12:01 PM  

    I am rarely on Julian Lim's wavelength and today was no exception. Threw down melisma, as I was singing some last night. Very little else. Miserable DNF. One of my worst Fridays in a very long time.

    Nancy 12:25 PM  

    @Queenie (10:22) Haven't heard of Cary Tennis any more than I've ever heard of MELISMA, but I gather the latter is plain awful, while the former is extremely witty. His quote was very funny and I'm going to check Mr. Tennis out online and see what other opinions he has. Thanks for including.

    RooMonster 12:27 PM  

    Hey All !
    Let me start this with ... DNF! (Cue shocked music) Yes, yes, had to Goog a few answers :-( The musical phrase, Disinter, Galumph, and Japanese chess. Still had a mess in W. Had laYS for Nestle brand, and ado for DIN. So even after the Goog for MELISMA, still took some time to suss it all out. Technically a double DNF, as had 3 wrong squares. ROSEATa/ENSa, SIREt/NOtZERO, HoPe/JAo. But, no writeovers (other than lays/ado, that is) after the Goog for those 4 clues I didn't know. Feel free to judge me as you will. :-)

    Neat looking grid, ended up with 45 black squares, though. High for a 15x. But still open spaces. Good 'un Julian Lim. Even though I struggled, did figure out most of it, so I'm taking it as a win!


    mac 12:31 PM  

    Real Friday, which I needed to piece together, starting at the bottom.

    I failed at the melisma/shogi crossing, put in an O.

    The parliament of owls reminded me of the congress of baboons....

    Master Melvin 12:33 PM  

    Churchill was captured during the Boer War. He escaped and walked across a desert to freedom.

    In one of the great Churchillian turns of phrase he wrote that he was accompanied by a vulture which "manifested an extravagant interest" in the state of his health.

    Mohair Sam 12:57 PM  

    Wonderful Friday puzzle, thanks Junian Lim.

    @MDMA (and others) - Yup, was ready with Noble laureate. But knew THISISSPINALTAP dead cold, and OWLS also a gimme - so I was saved. Not aware that Sarte was a POW until today. Know OWLS because of 3 years living in England and the occasional political jibe that either a group of wise owls or the British legislative body are misnamed - they have nothing in common.

    Once again we succeed due to the power of team solving (Mrs. Mohair and I) - Me: "I'm naticked on the _HOGI clue, it's either 't' or 'c'". Spouse: "It'll be a soft sound for music, try 'S'." We probably suss our way through 80% of potential naticks this way.

    Ecce 12:58 PM  

    Joseph Michael @ 1102: "group of people" is a genius clue referring to the genus (group) of "people," which is HOMO. Not a prefix in this context, but bloody brilliant.

    RIP Leonard 1:08 PM  

    I expect we'll see a Star Trek puzzle in the coming days. I might brush up now.

    Clark 1:12 PM  

    Next to my right knee is the booklet A Conspiracy of Ravens. (I didn't cheat.) There is some good stuff in there. A whisp of snipe, a charm of goldfinches, an exultation of skylarks, a murmuration of starlings, an invisibleness of ptarmigan, a mural of buntings.

    @pmdm -- here is my guess at your ultimate melisma. I tried to find one with no ad at the beginning, but I failed. So I give you Anna Moffo.

    Numinous 1:18 PM  

    Big DNF for me. I had to google for ESNE, JAY, GARP, and SHOGI. I had no idea that TWATG was made into a movie. I read about a third of that book before I geve up; ennui got the better of me.
    I wanted train before SIREN, I hear a lot off them especially at night. I loved the clue for PHONES once I twigged the answer; gave me a big AHA smile.
    I never saw THIS IS SPINAL TAP either. I guess I'm poorer for the lack of that experience.
    SPARE THE ROD went in easily with only three downs plus the S before I got MINUETS.

    I've been having severe anomia today as I only slept a couple of hours last night anticipating an early start to go to wound care. That trip got canceled by my wife due to black ice on the roads early this morning.

    Too bad this was themeless. I was expecting the symbol in the center of the grid would represent something arcane. Even so I was very impressed with the slickness of the puzzle. Brilliant, Mr Lim, even if I do feel worked over by you.

    Brookboy 1:34 PM  

    Put me in the camp that found this puzzle to be quite challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. Even after lurking/occasionally contributing here for years, I continue to be surprised at the level of criticism directed at puzzles in general, and at Mr. Shortz in particular. Thus it is nice and pleasurable to read the many positive comments today about this puzzle. Let me take this opportunity to thank Mr. Shortz for publishing this winner.

    I'm sure everyone here knows this, but I feel obligated to point out that Winston Churchill began life with a speech impediment called a "lateral lisp", and some say he also had a severe stutter. Not only did he live a varied and storied life, he overcame real obstacles to become one of modern history's great orators. His quick wit and humor became legendary, and he left us with a number of memorable quotes. An amazing person, all in all.

    I wanted 12A to be "cambridgelads" or "oxfordstudent", but no such luck.

    Like so many others, I found my initial traction in the south and worked upward. Nothing was easy and so many answers were enjoyable and entertaining,

    Thanks to both Mr. Lim and Nr, Shortz.

    Steve J 1:53 PM  

    Challenging, DNF, but an enjoyable Friday for me.

    Dropped in THIS IS SPINAL TAP right away, but even with that giving me a few downs, it took a long time to see GRACE PERIOD and PRISONER OF WAR. Bottom was slower to reveal itself to me, and I didn't help myself by dropping in waltzes instead of MINUETS and each instead of A POP. Also, I kept thinking it was Stephen J Gould, not JAY.

    @Z: I don't know MELISMA or SHOGI, but I didn't find that a tough cross. S strikes me as being the only logical letter that can go there phonetically. I think it's a tough-but-fair Friday crossing.

    mathguy 2:00 PM  

    Since I don't time myself, I measure the difficulty of a puzzle using what I call the MGI (mathguy index). It is the number of squares filled by entries I don't know minus the number of squares filled by gimmes. Today's was -4 (23 - 27). Friday puzzles average an MGI of +33. Negative MGIs usually occur Monday through Wednesday.

    The negative MGI is explained by the small number of squares filled by entries I didn't know (CATSEYE, MELISMA, SHOGI, ERIC).

    I liked the puzzle because of the quality of the long acrosses.

    beatrice 2:04 PM  

    Some other examples of MELISMAta

    Gloria patri
    Gregorian Chant

    Orbis factor (Maker of the World)

    Maronite Christmas chant

    Greek Orthodox Chant

    Ambrosian Chant

    Coptic Chant

    Raga Sur Malhar

    Don McBrien 2:04 PM  

    Guessed GHOGI as well. MELISMA just didn't sound like a word. With hindsight, MELIGMA sounds like a disease.

    allan 2:07 PM  

    Challenging for me, with lots of corrections. One man's gimme is another man's struggle. GARP was my last entry.


    Anonymous 2:09 PM  

    Cancer that is hard to diagnose represents a real MELIgMA.

    Anonymous 2:23 PM  

    Piece of cake for me except that I crossed SIREN with MORK instead of GARP. Ugh.

    mathguy 2:37 PM  

    Since I don't time myself, I measure the difficulty of a puzzle using what I call the MGI (mathguyindex). It is the number of squares filled with entries I didn't know minus the number of squares filled with gimmes. Today's MGI was -4. The average MGI for a Friday is +33. Negative MGIs are normally for Monday through Wednesday.

    There were seven gimmes (more than usual for a Friday) and only four entries I didn't know (CATSEYE, MELISMA, SHOGI, ERIC).

    Nevertheless, I liked it. Sparkling long acrosses.

    Nancy Klein 2:40 PM  

    You people are all too hard on yourselves. If you have to google for a ridiculous crossing like shogi/melisma then that, in my book, is not a DNF.
    Anyone who did that has my permission to consider the puzzle successfully completed.

    Leapfinger 2:50 PM  

    Let us go then, YOU AND I,
    When the evening is spread out against the sky
    Like a patient etherized upon a table;
    Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
    The muttering retreats
    Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
    And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
    Streets that follow like a tedious argument
    Of insidious intent
    To lead you to an overwhelming question….
    Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
    Let us go and make our visit.

    In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.

    If I could I surely would
    Write as well as STEPHEN GOULD.

    Entries as good as that are rare as Hens' teeth.
    I fall in the camp that worked best from the bottom up. Thought both the clueing and entries were (as in Liquid Sky) 'Delicious, delicious!'. Would have thought LISLE more likely than RAYON, and also considered STEELIE, but went with CAT'S EYE, probably because of Margaret Atwood. Only write-over was for SIREN; I thought that TRAIN gives a pretty good Doppler effect, but GARP would not be denied.

    The best part of MELISMA is the fine sampling it elicited. I knew the form, but not the term. The word I did know is MELaSMA, which may well be a portmanteau of MELanin and MiaSMA (hi @Danp).

    I also liked PSY CHIC as a Gangnam fashion trend, and the nod to PETE MINUET'S purchase of Manhattan. The COST was NONZERO, but close; he BOT it for Amir 60 Dutch guilders ... and that's no Abulbul (hi, @aging soprano and @FredRom).

    @Gill I, some day you'll have to catch SPINAL TAP, if only for the 19" replica of Stonehenge. That totally drives home the No.1 lesson in grade school problem-solving: Pay attention to the units!!

    "We have just BBGUN to fight!"

    Ω 2:54 PM  

    Having read the comments and looking up MELISMA I've decide that it is a very poor crossing. First, both words are transliterations, so both are only a half step above random spellings. Second, both take specialized knowledge that is far from widespread (even here with a stronger classical music bias than the rest of society many were befuddled). While not a natick because neither are proper nouns, I think this fits the spirit of the concept. As for "the S can be inferred" argument, that was just a lucky guess. R, T, P, G, L, N, and M are all plausible.

    Anonymous 3:21 PM  

    Downs on the top also a problem for me.

    Meat was STRINGY.

    Women wore NYLONS.

    People CLOMP about.

    Energy is VIM.

    Sir Hillary 3:29 PM  

    Today's what is or isn't a fair cross debate is like yesterday's what's a DNF debate -- mildly interesting but ultimately unresolvable due to personal taste and/or knowledge. I personally found yesterday's WAGGLED/ANNO cross "less fair" (code for "harder for me") than today's MELISMA/SHOGI cross.

    Clark 3:35 PM  

    @Z -- MELISMA showed up in English more than 175 years ago. At what point do you stop holding its origin against it? Or do you consider all English words of Greek origin to be transliterations? (I agree with your specialized knowledge point.)

    Steve J 3:53 PM  

    @Z: We'll have to disagree on MELISMA (as @Sir Hillary said, it's ultimately subjective). For me, the S was not a lucky guess: It was the most logical choice given English phonetics, along with the little bit I know of Japanese pronunciation. Of the letters you noted, R, T, P and L all result in awkward pronunciations that are highly unlikely in English. G, M and N could work, but they all feel less likely in both words than the S, at least to my ear.

    Ω 4:03 PM  

    @Clark - Does Peking ever stop being a transliteration? And when we decide that Beijing is closer? Compare MELISMA to PSYCHIC. PSYCHIC is an English word derived from Greek. MELISMA is a Greek word used in English. When does it become just an English word? Heck if I know. Maybe after another decade of misuse onAmerican Idol.

    Benko 4:08 PM  

    Agree with @stevej that "S" is easily the most logical letter there.
    @whirred: Glad to see I wasn't the only one whose thoughts first went to "Dinner with Andre."
    @pmdm: I'm guessing a certain Mozart aria but will check the link now.

    beatrice 4:08 PM  

    And for those who prefer their music more strictly 'Classical'

    'Exultate, Jubilate', Mozart

    'Der Hoelle Rache', Mozart The Magic Flute, (Queen of the Night's 'Vengeance Aria')

    And for Ludyjinn and everyone who loves Vivaldi

    'O qui coeli', sung by the luminous Elly Ameling

    Benko 4:09 PM  

    @pmdm: Nope! I was thinking of the Magic Flute.

    Clark 4:39 PM  

    @Z -- I would say that both melisma and psychic are English words derived from Greek. (And a dictionary that I trust in these matters backs me up.) Proper names of places are a different kettle of fish. Melisma names something that is not itself inherently Greek. Peking/Beijing is a pointer to something that is quite literally within the jurisdiction of the Chinese.

    Anonymous 4:43 PM  

    the north absolutely crushed me forever. had RONA & ASIA and PEP/VIM- stumbled into IFAT and then it all fell into place. never heard of melisma. a good friday puzzle.

    Mike 5:37 PM  

    DNF because of the entire top third. Just couldn't crack it despite having a few of the downs. Ruined my two week streak, too.

    Teedmn 6:34 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Teedmn 6:46 PM  

    Today was the epitome of the perfect Friday puzzle, in my opinion. Thanks, Julian Lim!

    Like so many others, the bottom went fast. I MINUETed up to PSYCHIC in the west and GARP in the east and sat there for quite some time with only TRAMP and ERIC downs (didn't want to commit to ASIA or RONA or PEP).

    BBGUN wasn't leading me anywhere so I took the b's out and put in HOV in. I wasn't helped by having NOt ZERO in for a long time at 40A. Having seen spoonbills in Mexico helped change Reddish to ROSEATE. I finished at BRIARS (Br'er Rabbit didn't Live there, after all) and even in a decent time. Let's hope tomorrow is equally as nice.

    @Carola, I did pretty well on that last Cryptic, only hard in the SE. So there's hope for me yet! Let me know if you run into another that easy, thanks.

    beatrice 8:20 PM  

    I thought that I might find a more dramatic version of the so-called "Queen of the Night Aria' on YouTube, than the one I posted earlier - which was good, but made during a recording session, and a bit strained at the top. And find one I did, as well as the Queen of the Night's other aria, both from the same production, led by Sir Colin Davis at the Royal House.

    The singer is Diana Damrau, and these performances are simply stupendous, in every way.

    'O Zittre Nicht'

    'Der Hoelle Rache'

    retired_chemist 9:25 PM  

    Nice puzzle, solid Friday.

    Bit of a Natick at MELISMA/SHOGI but I guessed right the fisrt time.

    Thanks, Mr. Lim.

    Anonymous 9:44 PM  

    Really liked this one, in every way -- Spinal Tap's one of my favorites, and the layout was striking. It played a bit easy for a Friday at a shade over 10 mins for me.

    Queenie 10:16 PM  

    @Nancy. Glad you appreciated it. Cary Tennis is often funny and/or insightful. Sometimes he's wrong, but mostly not.

    Wanton melisma on the other hand - always, always wrong. Cary and I are outliers in this opinion, perhaps. Think Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. Makes me want to poke out my eardrums, but that wasn't the consensus at the time, for sure. Britney Spears is an example of the melisma-vocal fry unholy alliance. These things make me have warmer feelings for more current , can't really sing pop stars like Ke$ha, and that is a danged miracle.

    HHeine 10:40 PM  

    Basta, beatrice, basta!

    Zu viel ist ungesund.

    Nancy 11:10 PM  

    @Queenie -- I probably would hate melisma, too, if I had the slightest idea what it was. I don't remember how Whitney Huston sounds or what her technique is and I've never listened to Britney Spears even once.But does melisma have anything to do with the way Idina Menzel sings? To me, Idina Menzel is a disease. I would cross the street, nay the country, to get away from her shrill, over-the-top shrieking.

    Fred Romagnolo 5:36 AM  

    @Beatrice: if you can find the recording, Florence Foster Jenkins does the most astonishing Queen of the Night of all. Melitza Korjus, in another direction, also.

    Unknown 6:41 AM  

    I was so sure about 'What's Up Tiger Lily' for the ad-libbed movie until I had a 'Y' left over at the end... Doh! I knew about MELISMA (Mariah Carey's technique of choice) but never heard of RAYONS - Always thought they were called 'nylons'. I really enjoyed this puzzle though - Happy Friday!

    TonySaratoga 7:50 AM  


    Glunko 11:02 AM  

    Finished on paper in a speedy 8:24. Easier than the usual Friday.

    retired_chemist 11:58 AM  

    @ Cynthia - nylon is the more recent of the two fibers. They are chemically different. Nylon works much better and is probably cheaper so we haven't seen rayon stockings in many decades. Hence the clue.

    H & P 9:14 AM  

    C'mon people. The crossing of melisma with shogi should have been edited. I call foul! Not real crazy about Pete crossing bot either. I got this puzzle in a reasonable time, but I guessed on those 2 crossings. One with my experience shouldn't have to guess. Get real!

    rondo 10:36 AM  

    Holy smokes Bullwinkle! If I had not known STEPHENJAYGOULD from reading his Mismeasure of Man, I probably would not have finished. Had very little before that one. So basically finished his one from the bottom up. Got the 1984 movie from the TH and AL, was thinking of Mel Brooks movies at first but none of them fit. Who knew that college Music Appreciation would come in handy for MELISMA? Almost worth it now!? Old enough for sure for MIMEO.

    Interesting grid configuration with just enough connections to tie it together. Quite the challenge for me, but I really liked it.

    spacecraft 12:22 PM  

    Sometimes I'm so tough I scare myself. After yesterday's debacle to come back and nail this one feels really good.

    The first run-through of the clues gave me OWLS. PERIOD. I thought: I know nothing here; I'm never gonna get this. But then I saw IFAT, even IFAT first I rejected it because of the FW juxtaposition on 2a, because I thought of the phrase OF WAR--and promptly went astray with ministEROFWAR! OK, so I don't read a lot of biographies. But soon after, THISISSPINALTAP cried out for admission, and that did not at all fit with the "minister" part--though it did fill out the NE and back-formed GRACEPERIOD for me. At once I saw PRISONEROFWAR (headslap, of course!), and the north was done.

    The rest was gettable because it was FAIR. The only outlier up top was ENSE, and MELISMA needed every cross, but sly as the clues were, I can't point to anything and cry foul.

    I also can't point to any RRNs, or RDs, or any of the other crapola that far too often infuses NYT puzzle grids. A real breath of fresh air; one of the very few grids, IMO, that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a Berry. A+.

    Burma Shave 1:18 PM  


    As ICHAT with a PSYCHIC on a JET,
    She says that YOUANDI never met.
    DEAR, SHALLWE fill in the GAP
    on that LOCO IDIOTS map
    and HYPE that DATEBAR we’ll never forget?


    BS2 1:32 PM  


    Some call her a SIREN,
    Others call her a TRAMP,
    But there’s no COST for admirin’
    I get a RISE from that vamp!

    --- ERIC RONA

    DMG 1:58 PM  

    First run through yielded AGAR and nothing else! Came close to,tossing in the pen, then a stab at JET presented me, slowly, with JAYGOULD, and finally UNEARTHing his first name from somewhere gave me a chance of an actual solution. Eventually got it all except I chose C for the MELISMA/SHOGI crossing. Ah well... Blogger ate yesterday's post, so wonder if this will survive.

    2025 not so hot!

    rain forest 2:06 PM  

    After yesterday's DNF (double-naticked in the SE), it was nice to get back on the horse although that North section was a bit of a bear. After going vim=>PEP, got PERIOD and DATEBAR, then had to finally change PoiNtS (thought I was sooo clever there) to PHONES. This took longer than it sounds, and even after PRISONER OF WAR went in, the other two long answers came slowly.

    Somehow GRACE PERIOD doesn't mean a time of forgiveness, at least to me. But it had to be, and then I finally remembered the full name of the movie. MELISMA just happened en passent as it were.

    Very good, medium challenging puzzle.

    anyomous in Montreal 8:07 PM  

    Syndicationland chiming in. Why is a "genus" a "group"? Sounds pretty distant.

    leftcoastTAM 9:48 PM  

    @Burma Shave 1:18pm:


    r.heeb 8:05 PM  

    For the longest time I had PINALTA on the spinal tap grid and I was stymied. Up in Altar just didn't have the same ring to it...

    Alandre 10:01 AM  

    I always turn to Vampire any time I want to. I became a Vampire because of how people treat me, this world is a wicked world and not fair to anybody. at the snack of my finger things are made happen. I am now a Powerful Man and no one steps on me without an apology. I turn to Human beings also at any time I want to. and am one of the most dreaded Man in my Town. I became a Vampire through the help of my friend who introduced me into a Vampire Kingdom by giving me their email. if you want to become a Powerful Vampire kindly contact the Vampire Kingdom on their Email:

      © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

    Back to TOP