College in Down Under slang / WED 3-30-16 / Flopper in basketball / Part of insects body that holds legs / Calvin Hobbes conveyance / Arcade game played on incline / Trumpet guitar effect

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Constructor: Andrew Reynolds

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: CLIMATE CHANGE (34A: Environmentalist's concern ... or a hint to the circled letters) — contiguous circled letters are, in four different answers, a jumble (or "change") of the letters in "CLIMATE"

Theme answers:
  • CHEMICAL TESTING (17A: Some lab work)
  • MEAL TICKET (2A: Source of income)
  • DIRECT MAIL (49A: Like some ad campaigns)
  • SATELLITE CAMPUS (56A: School branch)
Word of the Day: ERIC the Red (5D: ___ the Red) —
Erik Thorvaldsson (Old Norse: Eiríkr Þorvaldsson; 950 – c. 1003), known as Erik the Red (Old Norse: Eiríkr hinn rauði), is remembered in medieval and Icelandic saga sources as having founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland. The Icelandic tradition indicates that he was born in the Jæren district of Rogaland, Norway, as the son of Þorvald Ásvaldsson, he therefore also appears, patronymically, as Erik Thorvaldsson (Eiríkr Þorvaldsson). The appellation "the Red" most likely refers to his hair color and the color of his beard. Leif Erikson, the famous Icelandic explorer, was Erik's son. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a tried and true, red white and blue theme type. Some revealer phrase with CHANGE or CRAZY or DANCE or some other word signifying "mix the letters up," and then a bunch of phrases that feature the letters in the other revealer word all jumbled up and strung across two words in a bunch of theme answers. For example, here's a CHANGE OF HEART puzzle from three years ago. Anyway, you get the picture. You can probably imagine a lot of phrases around which one could, theoretically, build this type of theme. This one is solid, for sure, with very decent theme answers. But it was a bit of a letdown to solve because you get the gist of it right away—I actually got the revealer before I got any of the themers, but even if I'd uncovered CHEMICAL TESTING first, I would've known *right away* what the revealer was. This happened to me today with a different puzzle in a different paper, where, one answer in, I not only knew the revealer would be BREAK BREAD, but I could easily go down and fill in the other "broken" breads, just by inference, with no crosses or anything (PITA, RYE...). Conceptually solid, this one is—a serviceable example of a well-worn concept. But the AHA came early, not late, and it came as an "Oh, you again," not a "Whoa, who are you!?"

Longer Downs in the NW and SE corners are nice, actually. I do want to say something about some subpar short fill here, not because it's particularly bad today (it isn't; not particularly). I want to be clear that when I grouse about stuff like ASSN, CUL, AAH, OTIC, -IER, SSE, LOC, ATO, TOBE, etc., first, it's not that any one of those is a dealbreaker (though honestly -IER is close). It's that when they pile up, they become irksome. And second, they become more irksome the easier the grid is to fill. If the puzzle is not terribly theme-dense, then these kinds of one-star answers should be at a bare minimum. In a theme-dense puzzle (esp. a very good one), I can put up with more. In a sparkly themeless, I can put up with more. But in a fairly ordinary themed puzzle, I expect the constructor to polish The Hell out of the grid. Just so we're clear.

I did my first ever Twitter poll tonight. Just a one-hour poll asking readers which is the better cross: TEAM / -IER (which is actually in this grid) or TRAM / IRR. The results aren't as surprising as my mild change of heart (!) about the vast superiority of TRAM / IRR. Hang on, let me check the final results now ... Well, with 7 minutes left, and 58 votes in, TRAM / IRR. is still crushing, with 74% of the vote. But puzzle whiz Jeffrey Harris claimed that IRR. was a "crossword invention," like SOR. for "sorority." I find IRR. a perfectly normal abbr., having seen it on clothing tags in outlet stores when I was growing up. Or So I Thought. Trying to find visual evidence on line is proving well nigh impossible. I still believe that abbr. is legit, but Jeffrey, as usual, appears to be something other than wrong. So while I'm still #teamtram (as opposed to #teamteam), I'm less indignant than I was at the choice that was made in this grid.

Lastly, it's worth noting, in case you didn't catch it up top, that ERIC the Red appears to be an ERIK, in actuality. Is this a fudgeable spelling? Strikes me as at least mildly IRR.

Lastly lastly, if you mentally reparse NORSEMEN, you might get a phrase that makes you giggle like the 8th grader that you are I am.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

Easy and KINDA ho-hum. Yesterday's was more interesting and tougher.

Liked the clue for FAKER.

I've seen both the C and K ERIK before for The Red guy. My first impulse used to be K, now I just wait for the cross.

Put me down for TRAM/IRR.

This was OK but....what @Rex said.

George Barany 12:12 AM  

@Rex, your review of @Andrew Reynold's puzzle is spot-on. Despite (or maybe because of) all the crosswordese, the puzzle played very easy, with the specific long theme answers, as well as the overall theme, emerging with just a handful of crossing letters.

As a chemist, I should be delighted to see CHEMICAL_TESTING as a grid-spanning theme entry, but something doesn't quite seem right. Does it imply that chemicals are being tested--in which case the better term is "assay"--or that materials are being subjected to chemical analysis--"analysis" being more in-the-jargon than mere "testing." But maybe I'm just being anal about this.

I'll close by noting that were I ever to want to head from my adopted home state to the state where the current Governor was just busted for a sex scandal, 61-Down would instruct me as to what direction to travel.

Anonymous 1:03 AM  

An okay puzzle. I use CRUX, so the circled squares weren't available, not that it mattered. Climate schmimate. Only sun cycles matter. A warmer Earth is a better Earth for humans.

- Brennan

jae 3:00 AM  

@Z from yesterday - Since when is a 3 to 5 mile hike over often hilly terrain carrying a 25 pound bag not a good workout? On the other hand, if a golf cart is involved, you are correct, there is no workout.

chefwen 3:01 AM  

Must agree with the easy rating. Finished far too quickly for a Wednesday. My only write over was reverting back to yesterday's puzzle and filling in tees for 35D, well, the T and E worked.

59D down also had me stymied for a while as I had Yankee on the brain and not the act of pulling something, TUG finally worked its way in, oops!

The reveal didn't need any letters in place to get and that helped with filling in the rest of the circled letters.

Good one that should have been just a tad bit more difficult to solve.

John Child 3:39 AM  

Pretty good puzzle IMO. A couple of groans, but I like jumbles, and this came in spot-on a Wednesday time.

Can we call climate change a charged political topic still? There certainly are deniers among us... But then again, a non-trivial percentage of Americans believe Elvis is still alive.

Here are a couple of political puzzles for you to consider. Entirely safe for work, but perhaps not for some people on the right of the spectrum. Green Eggs and Canadian Bacon and Supreme Effort. Enjoy.

Ellen S 4:18 AM  

Huh -- I actually liked "IER", thought it was clever at the time I filled it in. "IRR", I'm trying to remember from when @Rex was a lad, whether I ever saw that abbr on clothing tags. It seems like I have, but I may just be remembering my early days as a solver. IRR is right in there with ADIT, ALOE and all the other glue my hubby taught me.

Loren Muse Smith 6:13 AM  

MEAL TICKET is my favorite.

Had a huge brain fart on the "Friends, Romans" guy – put in "Otello" only hoping that speech had made it into the opera. Sheesh.

Rex – I'm with you on IRR, but nowadays, isn't the tag or label just split in half to indicate there's some funny business going on with the construction?

KINDA – I always wanna use this now instead of "kind of" because it just fits what I'm saying better, not because I'm trying to be all cutesie and casual. So I'm sorta pulling for it to become a
full-fledged adverb with its own GRAMMATICAL MEANING.

Liked STINKO ANTIC. My best one involved bandanas tied around our foreheads so our eyebrows were pressed way low over our eyes. And we were using flashlights as microphones. Good times.

So I don't speak math, and I couldn't find online if I'm right, but aren't there 5040 possibilities of letter combinations? (7!) ?

I never give much thought to anagrams, so I have no gut instinct about whether it's harder or easier to do this with 7 letters vs 4, say. But wow – 7 letters to arrange is a lot, right? And once you plug in your letters, there's not a lot of wiggle room there to come up with phrases that'd fit. ISLAMIC TERRORIST, CELESTIAL MECHANICS, and CHARISMATIC LEADER – too long. And icky. Kudos to Andrew.

jberg 7:21 AM  

Some of my ancestors were NORSEMEN, so it's always nice to see them in the puzzle. As for the spelling, you can see in @Rex's WOD note that it was actually spelled with the Old Norse letters, some of which look like English letters and some of which do not. So it's really a transliterative choice, it seems to me, although if you want convention, it's Erik.

@Loren, I always admire the way you say something must be very hard, then immediately do it several times! Beyond my energy level.


Word ladders coming!

CFXK 8:01 AM  

Of course IRR is real. Stamped right there on the price tags in ALL CAPS and, often, right on the label in the neck or waist band. I am quite sure of this. We knew it well. It was the preferred clothing line of my mother for her school age boys (which were outgrown too quickly, but found second lives as the Hand-Me-Down line of clothing).

Hungry Mother 8:06 AM  

Played kinda hard for me, so I was surprised at my quick time. I felt a DNF stalking me, I don't know why.

NCA President 8:20 AM  

My time was on the low end...about :30 off my best time, which is probably more due to me taking hits off my coffee and trying to see through to my screen while my cat makes herself comfortable on my lap. In these early week puzzles every second counts.

Since the NYT updated their site and the applet keeps track of time, (whereas with PuzzleLite I had turned off the timer), I now somewhat care about my time. I don't care that I'm competitive with the likes of Rex and his 3 minute times, but I compete with myself just for fun. So any more when I do puzzles with shaded in squares or circles or whatever, I don't pay any attention to them because it slows me down. I only pay attention when I'm clearly not going to get my best time and it appears that the hints to the theme will actually help.

Today was a fast puzzle so I didn't bother with the shaded squares so the theme was completely wasted on me. I guess when I look back on it and see what the theme is, I KINDA go, "oh, yeah" but other than that it really didn't move me.

I will say I'll take this kind of theme 9 times out of 10 over the last two previous tortured pun puzzles. While this theme may be easy and tired, I didn't groan once today, thank the gods.

So maybe it's the relief from the grade school pun puzzles of Mon and Tue, or maybe it's the decent fill (PILFER, STARR, PASSE, THORAX, SKEEBALL), whatever...I liked this one...not enough to marry it, but I'd probably have a beer or two with it on a Thursday night.

Chuck McGregor 8:33 AM  

Either I got lucky or this was a very, very easy puzzle. Ignoring the fact there was a theme, I sailed through it, but got the NYT’s “Almost There” pop-up. I quickly found the error in 1d and replaced the hastily-filled-at-the-start “VT” with “FC” for the win. I knew it was one of the other and had simply guessed incorrectly.

It was a puzzle that I puzzled out. It felt like playing a song or reading through a musical score for the first time. For me that means getting to know the basics: tempo, rhythm, chord structure, melody. After that, I try to find ways to play that add the sparkle, emotion, and DRAMA that creates a CLIMATE of “real” music. Somehow this puzzle seemed stuck in the basics like my first play-throughs: (usually) solid but needing “polish”(@Rex).

@Leapy yesterday: You are technically correct :>) :>)

@LMS today: I’m kinda with you on sorta making them full-fledged adverbs and I agree with your 5040 (7!).

“KINDA ho-hum” (@jae) info: I had 4 GIGs in the last 5 days.

ARISE!! It’s Hump Day


Z 8:36 AM  

@LMS - And Symmetry. Agreed on the "been done," but the themers are a notch above in my opinion.

I'm #teamteam. I am sure I've seen IRR in the sale bin, not just puzzles, but that or IER are equally gluey in my book. I prefer TEAM to TRAM, though, purely on the "which am I more likely to see today" standard for fill.

@jae - What percentage of golf rounds are played without a cart? As with all things human, what those at the top of the game do is amazing to the point of incomprehensible. And you only have to look at the physical toll on Tiger to know it is a tough game. But 100% physical for most of us? Nah.

@Brennan - I used Crux but stopped because it stopped launching after an iOS update. I may just try it again.

@John Child - I was just noting yesterday that "Climate Change Denier" was used on a sports talk show to mean "person who denies the obvious because of personal financial interest" (as in NFL owners and tobacco companies).

pmdm 8:42 AM  

Eric or Erik. Enescu or Enesco. Sadly, crossword editors allow constructors to use whatever spelling the grid requires. It is quite fitting to complain about that.

Roo Monster 8:51 AM  

Hey All !
Look at the data of the previous 100-200 years, and you'll see the core temperature of the Earth is rising. Scientific fact. So the CLIMATE CHANGE deniers amaze me. Regardless if you're Republican or Democrat. Just sayin.

Puz was good, if, as others mentioned, easy for a Wednesday. Not too much dreck. Never notice the dreck much if lots of nice longer answers. GRILL PAN is wonky to me. Known as either Frying Pan, or Skillet. Did like the themers, all normal type phrases. And a "Calvin & Hobbes" clue! Loved that comic.

Ha, with an AHA and an AAH. And STAIR-STARR. KINDA neat, STINKO!


RAD2626 9:00 AM  

While I agree that this puzzle was on the easy side - yesterday's took me 2 minutes longer - I liked the theme especially that the mixed word was 7 letters. Maybe because I used to do Jumble every day and marvel about how each word only had one correct spelling, I do not get tired of this kind of clever wordplay. Thought each of the themers was quite good.

The clue makes IER a winner. Very clever and I do not recall seeing it before.

Mike D 9:06 AM  

Infantile puzzle week continues.

chefbea 9:13 AM  

Easy the theme right away.
Now to get out my grill pan!!!

cwf 9:22 AM  

Ugh, too easy and too humorless. The single misdirect clue, "Front end?", solves to the very unfunny IER. I want my puzzles to wink at me less clumsily and more often.

Nancy 9:41 AM  

I suppose anything that makes people think about climate change -- even in the most bland and trivial way -- is a good thing. But basically, I found this puzzle a mindless bore. And while yesterday's puzzle "drove" me to great gobs of verbiage, this puzzle leaves me with just about nothing to say at all.

L 9:43 AM  

Really easy fir a Wednesday, no? I'm kind of irritated about AAH and AHA in the sane damn puzzle.

Sir Hillary 9:51 AM  

Yep, easy. Worked top-down, figured out CHEMICALTESTING, then filled in CLIMATECHANGE right away. Not a novel theme, but very well executed -- 7-letter scrambles are not easy, but AR got four legit entries out of them. Plus six more 8/9s in the corners. All to say, I never even noticed the short junk today.

Horace S. Patoot 9:55 AM  

I can tell you that "irr." was a very common entry in the dictionary in the 50s and 60s. In fact many of those "irrs" are no longer irregular as the language develops. Also, during my student years, I proudly ripped several IRR labels off of my new clothes. So I knew it well before crosswords.

Lobster11 10:06 AM  

Quick and breezy Wednesday for me. Ho-hum theme, but enough lively entries to keep me entertained for the brief time it lasted.

My only complaint is that I've never seen "wah-wah" spelled WAWA in any music-related context. Sometimes it's shortened to just "wah" -- as in a "wah pedal" for a guitar -- but not WAWA. According to the Google Machine it isn't technically incorrect, but I still don't like it.

DJG 10:17 AM  

IER has the big advantage, in my book (and Webster's), of being an entry in the dictionary. But you can find IRR as an abbreviation for irregular on various acronym/abbreviation lists, and people seem to recognize it, so I'd say they are about equal.

I wouldn't put IRR on the same level as SOR, which isn't in the dictionary and which I've never before seen used as abbreviation for sorority. SOR is like ENER (for energy), which I've heard WS is trying to phase out of the NYT puzzle altogether.

Masked and Anonymous 10:21 AM  

TEAM/IER. Definitely. Bullets:
* TEAM has PB1 Usage Immunity. TRAM, IER, and IRR do not.
* IER was easily elevatable by the {Front end} clue.
* IER could be further elevated with a {Start of reply to "Do you think this dress makes me look fat?"}.
* TRAM/IRR has less letter variety.
* TEAM IER sounds cool, as a phrase. Sorta kinda like some player that wants to put the "I" back into "team", or somesuch.
* TEAM/IER is the underdog in the poll. So … it is more desperate.

@muse: KINDA ain'ta word, already?!

fave CLIMATECHANGE in puz: LITECAM. But, it's a gray area.
fave CLIMATECHANGE of all the 7*6*5*4*3*2*1 - 1 (7!-1) combos: LIME CAT.

Fun solve, with lots of extra long stuff to sort out. Only 72 words!
Thanx, Mr. Reynolds.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

know yer tourney grideratti:

Bob Kerfuffle 10:23 AM  

Good one, IMHO.

One careless w/o, 6D,AGGIES >> AGATES.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

IRR is also "Internal Rate of Return", a very common financial measure. It's on my financial calculator, it's an Excel function, it's perfectly useable. And better than irregular, in my opinion.

Paul Johnson 10:41 AM  

A couple of things I've learned from crossword puzzles. Way too much about marbles AGATES, STEELIES And even way too much more about misogynous, lurid, vulgar rap "artists" Dr. DRE, LIL X and on and on. Plus just what program do you run to find 7 letter anagrams buried on common words and phrases? A bit arcane. Even odd. Certainly very crossword-ese.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

@Loren - Themers may be hard to think of, but they're not hard to find. If you have a database of crossword entries, and know a little about globbing (global search) and regular expressions, you can easily find any and all instance of an anagram of climate in the database. A simple search for *[climate]* will get you all entries which contain an anagram of climate.

Sorry to lift the curtain, but computers & robots are better at just about everything.

Joseph Michael 10:44 AM  

Didn't know what a flopper is, so my PVT for 1D left me with VAKER and THEMICAL TESTING in the NW. (!)

Like the discovery of a scrambled CLIMATE in DIRECT MAIL and in MEAL TICKET. The orher two themers felt strained and not very interesting.

Could have done without AHA and AAH and the two ON's among other poor fill, but overall thought this puz was KINDA OK.

puzzle hoarder 10:51 AM  

Once again I've come to work without printing out the puzzle and had to solve on the phone. This roughly triples my solving time on what would have otherwise been an easy puzzle.

phil phil 11:12 AM  

IHR THAM ..texter's opinion on christmas , (i hate rudolf). Seuse character from Spain

IBR TBAM...waffling texter qualification, (in both regards). Defective ski lift

Must be others

old timer 11:18 AM  

Looking back now I see that I forgot to write in STINKO -- I had "stoned" and knew the word had to end in an o because ORE. So a technical DNF for me. The puzzle was quite easy for a Wednesday.

When I was growing up, Mr. Red's first name was ERIC, not Erik. And I guess clothing manufacturers made a lot of mistakes, because plenty of sale items at Penney's or wherever were marked IRR.

Alex 11:23 AM  

I had a Dream that I was (maybe) going to be the first to mention Internal Rate of Return. I was pretty far down the comments before I saw Anonymous's post. And that IS a very commonly used abbreviation in finance.
I was sort of surprised that Rex let the Aah and Aha in the same puzzle slide. . . .

Lewis 11:35 AM  

@nca pres -- Great closing line!

Never got stuck anywhere on this one, probably on the easiest end of Wednesday, at least for me. I was left thinking, why hasn't anyone thought of this theme before? It seems so obvious. But there it is. I learned that W is a vowel in Welch, and I like the cross of ORATOR and DRAMA, plus the answers PILFER and MEALTICKET.

This was for me a maintenance puzzle, keeping the skills active without working them very hard. As I like that in my fitness workouts, I also do in my crossword solving. So... good one!

Andrew Heinegg 11:35 AM  

For such an easy puzzle I almost dnfed it because of my confounded habit of substituting the spelling of Emory University for emery board, which brings me to a nit to pick. Perhaps because I am older, I have only heard it said as emery board and not emery. All that being said, this puzzle was a 'success' to me on account of Algeria being the largest country in Africa. Never would have answered that if asked and happy to have a piece of information from the daily mental exercise of the puzzle solving;

jae 11:39 AM  

@Z - 100% of my rounds, but I agree that 100% physical is not the case. My point is that walking the course and carrying the bag is a pretty good work out.

Lojman 11:54 AM  

@Rex - I, like you, an am unreformed 8th grader. Your last last comment led me to the following clue: "Part of the motto of the adult film industry's mail delivery service?"

Sorry, couldn't resist.

@George Barany - I agree - CHEMICAL TESTING has a certain 'green paint' feel to it. Sure it's a thing, but cross-worthy?

Enjoyed the puz, got slowed down by quickly putting JarS for JUGS and not checking the down crosses.


Z 11:58 AM  

@Anon10:41 - AND if your crossword database includes an exhaustive list of 10 letter to 15 letter phrases. Perhaps Mr. Reynolds used a computer, but compiling that database seems harder than using the old gray matter to me.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Love that Satie piece.

Themes are way overrated.

Proud Mamma 12:39 PM  

Also had pvt
Also (correctly) I had Erik before I had to concede to Eric

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

When I hit 34A, I stopped a second to check out the gray sections and saw the CLIMATE anagrams, which I found fun. Definitely a much easier puzzle today than yesterday. The theme is not PASSÉ and there's a lot to like: the STARR playing a GIG, the NEGATE AGATES, the sTEAM-IER cross; the possibility that when Mom WEANS her baby she gives WAWA instead. PILFER and THORAX nice to see for a CHANGE.

Thanks, AR.

beatrice 1:53 PM  

There are some nice words here, as others have pointed out, one being SEMPER. A now renowned work of the Renaissance was written by John Dowland, 'Semper Dowland semper Dolens' ('Always Dowland, always sorrowing'). He wrote both a version for solo lute and for consort. Here is the latter, played by a consort of viols. (If MrZ has the same idea, I just hope he posts the one for lute..!)

mac 2:02 PM  

Easy Wednesday. It must be hard to do, but it's always disappointing when the scrambled letters don't mean anything.

Phew, I was afraid, the last couple of days, that I might not make it to the ACPT because I got a bad case of sciatica, but I'm much better this morning!

MattG 3:06 PM  

To echo a previous poster, IRR is very common in finance as Internal Rate of Return, I don't see why this would be too esoteric for a crossword. I also feel like I've seen Irr. as in "irr. verb" moreso than on clothing.

Chronic dnfer 3:28 PM  

Dnf'd at fater/steepall. Oh well. I chalk it up as another victory. Very quick for a Wednesday. Off to golf.

Anon 10:41 3:35 PM  

@Z - Crossword Compiler sells a huge database for < $29. You can get the NYT database easily & cheaply. You can run a regular expression search of the entirety of Wikipedia. Hell, you can even grep the web if you want to find sentences which contain an anagram of climate. You may have to do a bit of thinning out on the last one though.

I'm not saying that what was done by Mr. Reynolds, only that it is done.

Leapfinger 3:49 PM  

Criticizing those nice 7-letter word-spanning anagrams is not only SEMPERFIdious, it's anti-CLIMATic. I personally can't speak against CLIMATE CHANGE; this past Winter, the CLIMATE in these parts has CHANGEd every couple of days. (Yeah, I know, it's the weather that's changed,not the climate.) As for 'deniers', I've never understood how hosiery fits into the issue.

Am also with @EllenS in the IRR/IER imbroglio: I found it very humorous just for being so ... front-IER than thou. Admitting I often create my own amusement.

So I can live with not having the K in ERIC, but don't understand the K in FAKER. Is a FAKER in basketball anything like a naked bootleg in SKEEBALL?

I need to find out before we bring Syracuse to Heel.

Leapfinger 4:00 PM  


I stared again at line 2 of @jae's comment and got it.

FAKER like flopping to pretend they took a charge. Or the 'who-me?' wide-eyed innocence after a flagrant foul.

That's my final for now.

Anoa Bob 4:33 PM  

I agree with what everyone else has said, even those who disagreed with each other.

The clue for 28 Down REM, "Dream state", is incorrect. REM is a sleep stage, not a dream state. REM gets its name from the Rapid Eye Movement that occurs during this stage of sleep. (All other stages of sleep get bundled together as Non-REM, or NREM sleep.)

If you wake people during REM sleep, they will often, but not always, report a kind of dreaming called narrative dreaming, i.e., dreaming that has a story line. If you wake people during NREM sleep, they usually report either no dreaming or dreaming of a non-narrative kind, like single images or sensations. So both REM & NREM can be but are not always associated with dreaming.

There are several other, lesser known events that occur during REM. Brain wave patterns change from the slow frequency, high amplitude of NREM to a higher frequency, lower amplitude brain wave typical of a waking alpha wave pattern. The first psychologist to see this change on the EEG readout thought his sleep subject, his ten-year old son, had awakened. When he went into to check, his son was still asleep. So early on this stage of sleep was called "paradoxical sleep".

Skeletal muscles become paralyzed during REM. There's a sleep disorder where the person wakes up but is still lingering in REM. They are awake and conscious, but still having dream imagery and they are unable to move! Can be terrifying.

And during REM there is genital arousal in both males and females. This is independent of dream content, i.e., the dream may have no sexual content. I used to tell students, half-jokingly, that nature keeps the engines warmed up in case an opportunity to engage in reproductive activity might come up during the following day.

So there are several ways to clue REM, but "Dream state" isn't one of them.

Martín Abresch 5:47 PM  

The more that I look at this puzzle, the more that I am impressed.

I thought four of the five theme entries were great: MEAL TICKET, CLIMATE CHANGE, DIRECT MAIL, and SATELLITE CAMPUS. I'm with @George Barany and @Lojman on CHEMICAL TESTING being slightly off, but it's not a bad entry. Then consider that the anagrams are seven letters long and that (as @Z observed) that the anagrammed sections are symmetrical. These were well-chosen theme answers.

I'm a bit confused, Rex, on why you classify this puzzle as "a fairly ordinary themed puzzle" rather than a "theme-dense puzzle." The theme answers take up 63 squares, which is precisely one-third of the 189 letters in the grid. I think that this qualifies as "theme-dense."

Also impressive is that Andrew was able to keep this puzzle to 72 words. I like the unusual design of the grid. I like the heavy black ink at either end of CLIMATE CHANGE: we don't often see blocks extending from the edge a full five spaces. This makes for interesting corners, with side-by-side eight-letter answers in the NW and SE and banks of six-letter answers in the NE and SW.

I also liked that, given all the restrictions, Andrew still obviously worked to include interesting fill: SKEE BALL, SEMPER FI, PILFER, GUARANTEE, ANTIC, STINKO, KINDA, ALGERIA, THORAX, VOWEL, ON OR ABOUT. I liked how Ringo STARR led into Bonnie RAITT—let's here it for musicians whose names end in a double-consonant!

Last, the clue for VOWEL ("W" is one in Welsh) reminded me of an observation that a British friend of mine once made: that texting shorthand and Welsh look alike.

Z 6:51 PM  

@Anon10:41 - I still don't see the efficacy of using search functions on Wikipedia, let alone the Web. How many times will the 5039 anagrams of CLIMATE hit? Of those hits how many will be useful phrases. How many useless positives will there be? What sort of secondary filters will you need to find a phrase like SATELLITE CAMPUS? Still sounds like a lot of work to me. Me, I'd use a printout of the 5039 anagrams and see what popped for me. This has the added benefit of my not needing to know any UNIX command language. GREP the Web has a vaguely salacious sound to it, so I'll try to avoid it. Unless, of course, @LMS got her examples by GREPping the Web. Then it would have Museical Immunity.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

Looove the word PILFER. Would give anything to be a better PILFERer than I am.

"What are you doing?"
"Oh, just pilfering a little time for myself... When that's finished, I might repilfer some more."

Tita 9:57 PM  

@Anoa Bob - is that what happened to me when I woke up suddenly because I heard a loud noise on the balcony off my bedroom, 3 floors up, and was unable to move or scream? It was a terrifying moment that I remember clearly, though it happened probably 40 years ago!
Somehow, that is comforting, because it means it waas indeed only a dream. But what an awful, vivid feeling of helplessness!

And I thought that the only awesome thing I learned from this puzzle was that cool factoid about Welsh!

@mac - glad you're feeling better!

So I just signed up for ACPT. Had been on the fence, but now will be there, pencil sharpener in hand!!
Watch out, 391st best solver in the world - I've got you in my sites!!

T. Bell 10:44 PM  

'Second STARR to the RAITT, and stRAITT on till morning'

Directions to Neverland, as Peter Pan pipes them.

kitshef 11:45 PM  

Back from Worlds in Boston and catching up on puzzles, which I was looking forward to a great deal. Then first out of the bag is this weak entry. Very lame theme, poorly revealed (CLIMATECHANGE is a concern for everyone, not just environmentalists).

Hoping for better on Thursday ...

Anonymous 11:33 PM  

I agree. I thought it was an error, but I suppose the spelling could be interpreted as more onomatopoeic than technical.

spacecraft 9:49 AM  

Wow, I never expected OFL to call this one "solid." The theme? It's just a 7-letter anagram across two words. Not much punch there. And the fill? The FILL? ONORABOUT "subpar," for sure. I have to pay for THORAX with XED?? No thanks, I'll wait till it goes on sale. AAH and AHA in the same grid? Other horrors, too numerous to enumerate here, abound.

His parting comment, though, did bring a chuckle; my favorite take on that pun follows:

"She was only a stableman's daughter, but all horsemen knew 'er."

For D of the D, we go to JUGS: Raquel Welch along with Mother and Speed.

Anyway, it's unusual for me to pan a puzzle worse that OFL does, but here goes: double-bogey.

Burma Shave 2:12 PM  


I KINDA GUARANTEED I’d ARISE and come later,
but my WEANS she did TUG,
while I STAIRed at her JUGS,
ONORABOUT the time I touched ORATOR.


Waxy in Montreal 3:08 PM  

WAWA, Ontario, with a pop. ONORABOUT 3,000 is famous up in these parts as the home of the Giant Goose monument hovering over the Trans-Canada Highway.

KINDA anticlimatic theme, quite unnecessary to solving the puzzle. Only writeover was TRAIL before STAIR but La SCALA's own Bonnie RAITT NEGATEd that.

And who knew? The VOWEL 'W' apparently sounds like 'OO' in Welsh; as PILFERed from Wiki - cwm (Welsh for "valley", is pronounced coom).

rondo 3:08 PM  

Oh, the old word jumble comes in for another whirl. The MEALTICKET for a puz in the NYT. The word I jumbled or bumbled or stumbled over was SToNed for STINKO.

Surprised ASKIN is never clued as Hogan’s Heroes’ Leon, who played Gen. Burkhalter.

Ballet is not for he-men NORSEMEN.

Musical yeah baby of the day is Bonnie RAITT, who also shows up frequently. She and Tori Amos from yesterday must be forever lodged in puz-making software.

Any Packer fan worth his/her salt would be in near outrage for Ringo instead of Bart STARR.

LOC without Tone-? TIRANA without sore ass Rex?


Not much DRAMA in today’s puz. I guess the word jumble will never become PASSE.

rain forest 3:24 PM  

I'm a TEAM/IER man, natch.

I KINDA liked this one, and didn't really notice an excess of -ese, not even the AAH and AHA, until it was pointed out. I liked the inclusion of PILFER, ANTIC, STINKO, and learning that ALGERIA is Africa's largest country surprised me. I also liked the look of the grid.

People who can identify the theme before getting the revealer amaze me. I couldn't see it after getting the first two, and so CLIMATE CHANGE (which is real, folks. Get rid of your gas-guzzling F150s. All of Europe is doing just fine without them) was a real revealer.

Easy one, but somehow enjoyable.

Diana,LIW 4:51 PM  

A mostly enjoyable, for me, and finishable Wednesday. (So of course it's designated "easy.")

Got CLIMATECHANGE immediately but didn't fill it in 'cause I thought "whoa, way too easy." But the crosses soon showed that I was right.

Basically solved as a themeless. Kept trying to make the shaded sections make verbal sense. Not quite...

Completed the puzzle around a doctor's appointment this am. Got my own lab results. 2.5 years cancer free and not a bad word in sight - was told to go live a good life. Hooray!

Diana, No longer waiting for those Lab Results!

Teedmn 11:52 PM  

@DLIW, yay for the good news!!

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