Journalist podcaster Rehm / WED 11-16-22 / Indie band known for their high-concept viral music vidoes / Obsession with being published / Biblical unit of weight / Venue with a token-based currency / Giant Brain in 1946 news

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Constructor: John Hawksley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: It's all Greek (or Latin) to me... — obscure words with familiar suffixes are clued both as what they mean and what they do NOT mean ... the NOT part is what helps you figure out the spelling of the word:

Theme answers:
  • TYPOMANIA (17A: Obsession with being published ... NOT a flurry of transcription errors)
  • ARCTOPHILE (24A: Lover of teddy bears ... NOT a devotee of polar regions)
  • PANTOPHOBIA (35A: Fear of everything ... NOT a fear of trousers)
  • MANDUCATES (50A: Chews ... NOT elaborates condescendingly to a female)
  • METROLOGY (59A: Science of measurement ... NOT the study of urban areas)
Word of the Day: DIANE Rehm (41A: Journalist/podcaster Rehm) —

Diane Rehm (/ˈrm/; born Diane Aed; September 21, 1936) is an American journalist and the host of Diane Rehm: On My Mind podcast, produced at WAMU, which is licensed to American University in Washington, D.C.. She also hosts a monthly book club series, Diane Rehm Book Club, at WAMU. Rehm is the former American public radio talk show host of The Diane Rehm Show, which was distributed nationally and internationally by National Public Radio. The show was produced at WAMU.

Rehm had announced her plans to retire from hosting the show after the 2016 elections. The final program was recorded and distributed on December 23, 2016. Rehm announced she was going to host a weekly podcast, which she began doing in January 2017.

Rehm is the co-producer, narrator, and interviewer of When My Time Comes, distributed by PBS stations across the country. Her book by the same name was published in 2020 by Knopf. The Washington Post describes Rehm as a leading voice in the right to die debate. (wikipedia)

• • •

Did not think much of the theme at first, but somehow warmed to it as the puzzle went on—that is fairly rare. Usually the arc of feeling runs in the other direction: a puzzle strikes me as cute or interesting and then just wears thin by the end. My first thought was "so it's just obscure words that look like they mean something different than what they mean?" And yes, that is it. But there's something I ended up liking about the idea that giving me *wrong* information is actually *helping* me solve the puzzle. There's an odd consistency to it, or near consistency: their opening parts all look deceptively familiar (i.e. they look most like very familiar things ... that have nothing to do with the actual meaning of the word); they all have very familiar suffixes, which help us piece everything together (I thought these were all suffixes of Greek origin, but the -DUCATES part of MANDUCATES is from the Latin ... but I think the familiarity, not the etymology, is the important thing); and, maybe most importantly, their apparent (i.e. NOT) meanings are almost all entertainingly silly, with the silliest of them all, PANTOPHOBIA, sitting dead center, in pride of place, where it belongs. Even though I warmed to the idea as I went on, I think the themers are a little weaker on the bottom—neither MANDUCATES nor METROLOGY has the crystal clear NOT meaning that the first three themers have. MANDUCATES looks more like it means "educates a man" than "educates (a woman) *like* a man. I get that the clue is trying to make an analogy from "mansplaining," but that feels a bit forced. As for METROLOGY ... that's the only one of these five answers where I might actually have guessed the correct meaning. It definitely looks like it could mean "the study of urban areas," but it just doesn't have the "what the hell!?" wackiness or deceptive quality that the others do. Still, conceptually this works, and piecing together the odd words ended up being oddly enjoyable.

The puzzle played a little slow to me, largely because of the weird theme words. The piecing together just took some time. ARCTOPHILE took the most time, as I realized, early and with alarm, that despite having seen Timothée CHALAMET in several movies and knowing his name very well, I somehow knew how to spell his (unusual) *first* name but had neglected to register what all the vowels were in this *last* name (5D: Timothée of "Beautiful Boy" and "Dune"). This is to say I thought maybe CHALOMET ... which, now that I look at it, seems improbable, but that's where I was at. And then I had COS at 22D: Sin : y-axis :: ___ : x-axis but started to doubt it when it really seemed like the clue wanted me to think "Arctic," i.e. ARCTI-, i.e. "I" not "O." So now I'm doubting my 11th-grade trigonometry memory and things are getting to be a bit of a mess. Eventually the "O" became undeniable, but that answer gave me minor fits, and the NE corner in general wasn't helping me along. Utter blank on SPADAY. Needed every cross. Do people still say "Staycation"? Or SPADAY? When I see [Staycation option] I think "... couch?" The worst thing about that corner, though, was of course E-BILL, which is so bad I literally laughed out loud. Actual LOL. Just the worst E-answer I've ever seen (please, constructors, don't use EANSWER, that was not a suggestion). 

Mistakes? Well, I wrote in MASTICATES at first for that fourth themer because it's a word that means "Chews" (how many words for "Chews" do we need!?). No other out-and-out mistakes, but I struggled with SITSKI (1D: Para alpine sport equipment). I think if "Para" had been attached to "alpine" in some way I might have figured it out sooner, but I did not get the disability angle from stand-alone "Para" somehow. If I'm shopping, I think of a "find" as an item that I am purchasing, not the tag *on* that item, so the clue on  SALE TAG was tough for me today (45A: Fun find for a bargain hunter). That's it for struggles. None of the struggles amounted to much; they just put me a little on the slow side. I think the fill on this one stays largely clean and largely interesting, even outside the themers. Strong Downs in all the corners. You've got crosswordese here and there (you know, RESOD, ENIAC, etc.), but there's not much, and anyway it's just functioning as glue, holding ample good stuff in place. There's something old-fashioned-seeming about this theme, and even the overall fill, but it's a delightful kind of old-fashioned. I'm into it. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. One big gripe that I left out, re: the MANDUCATES clue: "to a female"!?!?! "... elaborates condescendingly to a female"!?!?! Unless you're elaborating condescendingly to your pet or a farm animal, that should really be "woman." Maybe there was some idea of not wanting the clue to contain any form of "MAN" (even "wo-MAN") since "MAN" was part of the (fake) cluing concept, but ... calling women "females," oof, whatever kind of feminist intent this clue was supposed to have really backfired there.

P.P.S. I'm now looking at CHALOMET and thinking it seems *reasonable* so I don't think my uncertainty about spelling his name was so unreasonable after all.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 5:34 AM  

Similar problem to @Rex at 5D. I conflated the spellings of the first and last names and entered CHALAMEE. This would have corrected itself if I’d read the clue, but I had all the letters in PANeOPHOBIA and didn’t look until the happy music didn’t play.

Loren Muse Smith 5:40 AM  

Hah – my reaction was like Rex’s - the more I sat and looked at these words, the more the theme grew on me, and I appreciated learning such deceptive terms. Who knew I had raised an ARCTOPHILE – back in the day, Sage had too many teddy bears to count. Well, some were other stuffed animals, but still. . .

I got a kick out of imagining other words that could be misunderstood. A doctor who deals with stuff “down there” has NOT specialized in analogy. Someone who opens bars and taverns is NOT into puberty. And the bajillion kids whose tears and screams ruin the annual picture on Santa’s lap do NOT suffer from claustrophobia.

There are some possible periphery themer volunteers:

SAPPY does not describe someone who’s an easy mark.
TEENY does not describe someone who’s full of angst and snark.
TO GO is not a country
RESOD. . . Well, let’s just say I investigated the etymology of Britishism sod off and quickly moved on.

And while I’m scanning the grid? Reimagining entries? That lipstick color? I’m Not Really a Waitress? If you squint, almost any entry is a contender for lipstick shade these days: UNWISE, OK GO, SPA DAY, START, IT’S ON ME, GOD YES, ICY HOT, ACID TRIP, GUAC (Did you see Garcelle Beauvais’s green lipstick on a recent RHBH episode?)

First thought for 4A was this. Great book.

John - thanks for the fun. This reminded me about a pesky tubulovillous adenoma. . . better call my colonist.

Jocelyn Baker 5:56 AM  

I was quite shocked to see EBILL in Rex's complaints as I couldn't remember that at all. I completely glossed over it as all the other clues made sense. I had to check the puzzle again to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding a reference to WEBAPP (which I, as a gen-Z-er (oof, according to a recent puzzle) thought was a good answer but that was called out in Wordplay).

On the note of the "female" cluing, a charitable interpretation is that Hawksley is referencing the way those mansplaining are known to refer to women as "females." I still agree with Rex though – presenting this in the cluing without there being any indication it's poking fun at people who do this only serves to normalize it. When I saw the clue I interpreted it as a joke, but who knows.

I struggle to think it wasn't intentional considering the answer MAN would pair better with woman in the clue but I digress.

Bob Mills 6:02 AM  

Finished it by trial and error. The clue for RIPENS should have read "Gets ready to be eaten," because whatever ripens doesn't do the eating. Good idea for a theme, even if the contrary phrases are a bit forced (especially MANDUCATES).

Anonymous 6:06 AM  

While I get there is a negative connotation with men referring to women as females, specifically in regards to the incel movement, it is not a negative word in all contexts, and in this case I think it’s fine.

Lewis 7:10 AM  

It’s a TIL puzzle!

I love how this puzzle beautifully overcomes the danger of Naticks or feeling of futility that would normally arise by including five long unknown theme answers. In four of the answers, the clue suggests the first part of the theme answer, and the second part – MANIA, PHILE, PHOBIA, and OLOGY – is common and easily inferred. The other theme answer, MANDUCATES, is crossed fairly.

So, there was great skill in the making here. It’s also an out-of-the-ordinary theme, and I’m a fan of out-of-the-ordinary.

Regarding TIL… A little post-solve exploring taught me that árktos comes from Greek, meaning “bear”. Huh! Also, in a brief foray into METROLOGY, I ran across the pharaoh KHUFU, star of a Sunday puzzle earlier this year, who came up with the Royal Egyptian Cubit, a unit of length equal to the span of his forearm. Hah! Finally, while exploring PANTOPHOBIA I ran into another phobia – it’s an actual word! -- that made me smile: Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (fear of long words).

And so, John, you not only gave me a fun fill-in, you taught me a bit more about the world. Thank you, sir!

JJK 7:11 AM  

Not a fun puzzle for me and I had a Natick at 18D/20A because OKGO was unknown to me and I thought SHEKEL is money, not a unit of weight, so I didn’t want to put it in.

Other objections: didn’t find the theme particularly enjoyable or clever; I think people usually say, “this is on me”, not so much ITSONME; EBILL is awful; the clue for BUCKO was a little off, it’s not really a neutral ‘term of address’, it’s usually said with a bit of a sneer, derisively.

I liked seeing TOTORO in the puzzle, a character that I learned about from my granddaughter.

Karl Grouch 7:15 AM  

Colonists, don't like them at all.
Too intrusive.

I'm for semi-colonists; much more gentle.

By the way, I want to learn how to be attracted by both sexes.
Does anyone know a good biologist?

kitshef 7:16 AM  

Interesting … but not particularly entertaining. Things like WEB APP, SALE TAG, RESOD, EBILL just kind of sit there.

I did like being reminded of OK GO’s videos.

Wanderlust 7:20 AM  

Actually, I think it’s really clever. Think of it as “gets ready-to-eat.”

mathgent 7:21 AM  

As Rex says, how many words do we need for chewing? And we have a word for someone who loves teddy bears?

Wanderlust 7:30 AM  

This was lots of fun. I actually put in MANsplAinS because it was the first theme clue that made any sense to me, and I figured I would be changing one letter to make something punny.

I remember PANTOPHOBIA from an old Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy, in her psychiatric advice booth, is running through dozens of silly phobias with Charlie Brown, and when she gets to PANTOPHOBIA, the fear of everything, he screams “That’s it!” As stodgy as that strip feels now, it was quite clever. I could relate to Charlie Brown.

Watch an OK GO video sometime. They will make your jaw drop.

GAC 7:33 AM  

That's a fun puzzle. Was surprised at Rex's rating, but it made me feel smart.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

I not only say SPADAY, I'd like to have one.

Joaquin 7:51 AM  

A fun puzzle with a whole buncha learnin'(and a fantastic take by LMS). What could be better?

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

Same reaction, in that I wasn't in love with the theme at the beginning, but as the puzzle went on, I got into the groove and really dug it.

Speaking of which, a great OK Go video is right here:
And this one, which I love because...dogs.

A word to the constructor: Rom-coms are not, by definition, SAPPY. That's on you. Little whiff of misogyny there, John.

pabloinnh 8:04 AM  

As I like to say, it's a poor day when you can't learn something, and all the themers were new to me except PANTOPHOBIA, which I have seen somewhere in one of those lists of phobias you see and the last one always seems to be "fear of everything". Never know when you'll need a word like that. As it was I didn't find this puzz especially difficult, which I think makes two days in a row when I disagree with OFL. As Homer says, I am so smrt.

Made a DOOK out of OKGO, had never heard of TOTORO. and it took me way too long to see UNA vez ("once"). Ay ay ay.

My only real nit here is using SAPPY to describe a maple tree. I live in sugaring country and I've never heard anyone say something like "Guess I'll tap that maple over there, it looks really SAPPY". I mean, really.

Nice educational Wednesday, JH. Just Hard enough to be entertaining, and thanks for all the fun.

SB yd-0. I credit a short word list. Pg today in a hurry, I shall revisit.

mmorgan 8:12 AM  

Like Rex, I warmed to this —I first thought it was hokey then I thought it was cute and pleasant and fun. But I don’t agree with his closing gripe about MANDUCATES.

king_yeti 8:27 AM  

I had CHALUMET. URCTOPHOBIA seemed more bear-like

Son Volt 8:28 AM  

Rex nailed this one - not a bad puzzle but came up short in the end. Wasn’t interested in the theme - but the overall fill was more late week hard I thought and that kept it interesting. SHEKEL x ICY HOT, ACID TRIP, ON A SPREE etc - there’s a lot of good stuff here.

Loved Dune but like Rex needed crosses to spell CHALAMET. The OSS - CPA corner was a little flat as is RESOD. Had sex before LAB. GOD YES is on my too dramatic list.

A Thousand ACRES - along with Paul Auster’s Moon Palace are two of the great late century novels. Sadly - ACRES which is basically a modern retelling of King Lear was butchered into an unwatchable film.

DIANE is great but Zen ARCADE is unforgettable .

Enjoyable Wednesday solve.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Donkey KONG and ARCADE 🥰

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

The terms male and female are sexing descriptions of bodies where man and woman are based in gender. Outside of use in reducing human beings to their genitals (part of why it caught on with incels), the terms also are used to exclude and invalidate trans people. Listen to any bigots on fascist media like Fox News talk about trans people and you're bound to hear these words. As such, man/woman/person is significantly preferable!

Bass 8:56 AM  

This would have ended easier (and quicker) if I'd ever heard of OKGO.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Wow, really @Rex? Now it's un-pc to say female? When will the woke stop?

Rachel 9:09 AM  

I also wrote in "CHALOMET" and that messed me up. And I also thought the chewing clue must be "MASTICATES," but that didn't make sense with the clue so that one was hard for me too. The theme is ok.

TTrimble 9:12 AM  

It was slow-going for me too, but definitely fun. All those word rabbit-holes to chase down into! I don't believe I ever knew the Greek for "bear", but it's nice to realize that "arctic" ought therefore to mean, "where the [polar] bears live". [Looking it up] ah, but no, "arctic" is actually a reference to Ursa Major (= great female bear), the constellation Ursa Major always being visible in northern polar regions. But maybe Ursa Major was so invented because bears live in and lord over regions up north?

I am reasonably certain I will never use the word MANDUCATES*. "Masticates", perhaps, once in a score of blue moons. What a crazily obscure word, "manducates". Here's an ngram, which shows that usage of "masticates" beats "manducates" by about two orders of magnitude over the past century. By the way, Rex, I don't understand why, if "mansplains" has "man" as the subject of the verb "'splains", why the fake meaning of "manducates" wouldn't also have "man" as the subject of "'ducates" -- you say "man" should be the object.

I ADMIT I don't see what is so fun about a SALE TAG. The sale itself, okay.

This theme is SURELY a NICE IDEA, though. I really like this puzzle.

*To do so would be begging for a splatting by a SPOILed tomato.

SB: yd 0, but I sense my streak will end today.

RooMonster 9:17 AM  

Hey All !
That was my reaction to the theme. Still wondering if they are real words. The ole brain hasn't seen these words before. Still managed to finish, though.

NW corner was briar-full. Last section, in. Still pulling some briars out...

For some reason, noticed a bunch of mid-Y words, ala ICYHOT, TYPOMANIA, EYE, TYKES, GODYES. Weird to notice.

Well, BUCKOs, ITS ON ME to STRODE away.

"SURELY you can't be serious"
"I am serious, and don't call me Shirley."


Diego 9:25 AM  

Agree with @pabloinnh (8:04) that it’s refreshing to learn new stuff, and I certainly picked up some arcane—and amusing—vocabulary to introduce at my next dinner party.
Found this a tad tougher than the average Wednesday but not challenging (in OFL’s sense).
Really enjoyed it, kudos to the constructor!

Liveprof 9:43 AM  

Regarding absolutely nothing, my granddaughter and I figured out where Dr. Pepper went to med school: U. of Minnesoda

johnk 9:51 AM  

Apparently, today's app/online version uses the This NOT That form. However, the print version strikes through the "not that" phrase, followed by the "This". I wish Rex would also take a look at the print version daily.
For me, this was a Thursday silly game run a day early.

bocamp 9:58 AM  

Thx, John; SURELY lots to MANDUCATE on with this serving! :)

Very hard (Fri.+ time).

Had visions of a dnf, with the NE taking forever to suss out. Having ABU DAbBI and WEB Art didn't help.

Got off to a decent start with SIR, ICI, SHEKEL, KONG, RIPENS & IT'S ON ME, but had ICeHOT, and wasn't SURE of SI_SKI, which hid TYPO.

The rest was pretty much steep downhill SKIing all the way, with lots of moguls to navigATE.

Had mastiCATED, but eventually saw that 'masti' wasn't going to work (needed MAN something). SALE bin before SALE TAG; OCHer before OCHRE.

Unknowns: ICY HOT; COS; Google Sheets; 'A Thousand ACRES'; TYPOMANIA; ARCTOPHILE; PANTOPHOBIA; MANDUCATES; METROLOGY; OK GO; De UNA Vez; TOTORO; Timothée CHALAMET (watched 'Dune', but didn't register the actor's name).

Finally have OPI down pat; yay! :)

I was duly 'eDUCATEd' on this one; so much to learn. Lots of clever stuff.

Liked it a lot; a welcome Wednes. challenge! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

GILL I. 10:16 AM  

I REALLY REALLY enjoyed this puzzle. Two REALLY"s equals a LOVE for me.
Give me a MANIA, a smattering of PHILE and PHOBIA and my angst, agita disappears.
I didn't feel a NOT; felt more like a TISN'T....Cool beans.
I had trouble with names and spelling. I think you could call me an ortographobic? I'll start with 10D. A before H or H before A? I knew the Capital but at first I spelled it ABUDahBI. That AH killed me. I left the floor and went on to greener pastures. Another halt was not really remembering CHALAMET. He crosses AESOP - a name I should've remembered. DIANE was inferable as was TOTORO. I got the names out of the way and concentrated on the theme.
How do you come up with the "clevers?" Do you just sit down one day over a nice glass of Pinot and say "I HAVE THIS GREAT IDEA FOR A PUZZLE?"
I finished this "hard" for me but doable puzzle and really enjoyed it all.
En hora buena Mr. John.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

One other happy coincidence - “typo” sits just under “sic”.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Don’t get “someone who opens bars and taverns”. Please explain.

Tom T 10:31 AM  

Played on the Medium-Challenging side for me, but not because of any unusual holdup in a specific area or two. Just a slow, patient working through all the odd and fun theme words.

@lms: Loved claustrophobia! I also raised an arctophile, whose collection of stuffed critters grew so large that we had to hang small hammocks from the ceiling in two corners of his room to accommodate the vast menagerie.

Although it may seem like there's a spa on every corner these days, I have a feeling that there are LOTS of places where a SPADAY is not a staycation option.

Nancy 10:57 AM  

A gridful of WOE. The theme answers were hard enough but the contemporary PPP done done me in. EMAIL instead of EBILL; KIDDO instead of BUCKO (people say that?) -- I simply couldn't get to my old friend the crossword ELK no way, no how. After somehow sewing up three full sections against great odds (CHALAMET; OKGO; ACME as clued), I gave up in the NW (could have cheated on the Capital, but decided not to) -- and had an ignominious Wednesday DNF.

A very strange puzzle, themewise. But I can't really judge the theme because I was too busy wrestling with all the apps and games.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Took me forEVER to get the “L” of Timothee’s last name (not knowing the indie band and not remembering, for the longest time, the Biblical weight). Finally got it but only through trial-and-error + ‘happy music’. Then … 40 minutes later Timothee Chalamet was part of Stephen Colbert’s monologue (making fun of American pronunciation of French words). Funny how that happens sometimes.

Enjoyed the puzzle and working out all of the new (to me) words.

Blue Stater 11:01 AM  

Ick. Hated this gimmick-riddled mess. Can't we do better than this?

sixtyni yogini 11:12 AM  

Ok, interesting, but to me - meh. And yes, learning new words is good… but 😒🤷‍♀️😒
Was sure ARCTOPHILE was ursalophile (before getting downs.j

jberg 11:14 AM  

No time to read the comments, so two quick points.

The problem with MANDUCATES is that it is a made up word for something we already have a word for, viz., mansplaining. If the fake definition was about educating men, as Rex suggests, it would be fine.

Just yesterday the NYT Science section had a long article about the debate over whether to abolish the leap second. I won't try to sum it up -- but apparently the decision will be made by some kind of world METROLOGY council. If I hadn't read that article I'd have been hapless here.

beverly c 11:15 AM  

This had a slightly more challenging feel than recent puzzles, but ended up being thoroughly engaging and doable. I liked the theme clues and also the hilarious suggestions in other posts. Happy now. Thanks, John H.

Whatsername 11:17 AM  

I was in total harmony with Rex today, maybe a result of doing his crossword yesterday. Anyway, at the START I thought SURELY I was going to hate it because the theme clues seemed like gibberish but after all was done, had decided it was a NICE IDEA and even stopped to admire the finished product. Plus, not familiar with any of those terms and learned a lot which is a nice bonus on a Wednesday. So thanks for the eDUCATion, John.

I also had never heard of a SIT SKI but it looks like a fascinating invention. When I lived in Colorado I skied frequently but never enjoyed the chairlift since I suffer from acroPHOBIA. That was long ago though, and these days a SPA DAY and dinner TO GO is a much more appealing form of recreation.

jae 11:20 AM  

On the tough side for me too. The themers were all WOEs plus I had some spelling issues (e.g. @Rex CHALAMET). ...and after reading “Fear of everything..,” in the 35a clue I put OMNI in the first 4 boxes (I was encouraged by the N in NAN ).

Pretty amusing, liked it.

Joe Dipinto 11:22 AM  

Fun find for a househunter:
"Ooh, honey, over there– a house for sale. That's exactly what we're driving around looking for! How fun!"
(I thought that clue was amusing.)

Other things pantophobia isn't:
• fear of the Pantages Theater
• fear of Pantene hair care products
• fear of actor Joe Pantoliano

Joseph Michael 11:26 AM  

NICE IDEA for a puzzle. Love learning new words and especially like TYPOMANIA and PANTOPHOBIA. A few others with unexpected meanings:

* Offensive or stinky …NOT loud or blaring
* Forgiveness…NOT lack of knowledge
* Tightrope walker…NOT an amusing EMT


Anonymous 11:38 AM  

I went ChalUmet and Urstophile, oops! But in the end it hit the side of rewarding rather than infuriating to uncover my mistake!

Masked and Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Tougher than snot, but a real different, theme. M&A is tiptop OK with different. Had extra challenges decodin the first couple of themers, as they were both under partial CHALAMET protection, who was a total know-no to m&e. Finally broke thru the theme-web of mystery at ARCTOPHILE. Then things got slightly easier-goin. Lost an embarrassin number of precious nanoseconds, tho.

staff weeject pick: ICI. French fill. Almost always slo's the M&A down. Is it pronounced "ICKY"? That'd be kinda apt-ish. But, hey -- maybe that's what they do in French crosswords: Mostly French answers, but toss in an English word now and then. One of them such French crosswords would maybe make for a neat, extra-challengin NYT SatPuz -- and M&A could just take the day off (or hope that @RP did the LAT SatPuz or somesuch). But, I digress, ici-ly.

fave stuff: GUAC/GUM. ICI/ICIHOT. PAWNSHOP. ACIDTRIP. BUCKO. Jaws of Hawksley black square formations, on the puzgrid middle-sides.

@RP: Primo Dr. Seuss PANTOPHOBIA diagnosis pic. har

Thanx for the is & ain't theme fun, Mr. Hawksley dude.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


egsforbreakfast 11:42 AM  

In 1976, fresh out of college, I took a job as a METROLOGist working for a utility company. The pay was $11k/yr and I remember friends being in awe that I was now set up for life. The job was quite interesting, as the first task was to equip and run a small lab that would make all of the company’s measurements traceable to national and international standard measurements. This was particularly important with regard to their one existing nuclear plant and the one that they were in the process of siting. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants you to be able to prove (to within specific tolerances) that what your technicians measure as a volt, a meter, a second or a liter really is what they say it is. This function had previously been farmed out to an expensive third party, but now they wanted to bring it in house. It turns out to involve a lot of really complex problems and I spent a wonderful three years at it until it started to seem too routine and I moved on.

That NW corner could supply a small vignette on its own:

Personal Trainer: SIR, where would you like the ICYHOT?
Frenchman: ICI
PT: Over here we say ICY.
Frenchman: ICI you say ICY?
PT: Oh now look, I’ve got it all over myself!
Frenchman: Mais non. ITS ON ME.

I finished today’s puzzle and found myself smiling at how fun it felt. Thanks, John Hawksley.

Carola 11:47 AM  

Add me to the fans - lots of fun in figuring out the new-to-me theme words and in the additional challenge of the sometimes vague cluing and a few unknown names or terms. A great idea for a theme, and so nicely realized with the witty clues and fair crosses.

TTrimble 9:12 - "But maybe Ursa Major was so invented because bears live in and lord over regions up north?" Coincidentally, I happened to be reading about the origin and placement of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor last night in Ovid's Metamorphoses. After Jove has had an adulterous encounter with the nymph Callisto, who bears his son, Arcas, vengeful Juno transforms Callisto into a bear, leaving Arcas unchanged. Fifteen years later, mother and son meet in the forest, he with a spear, on the hunt. Before he can hurl it into her breast, "Jove stayed his hand and then expunged together their abominations and identities, bearing them upward through the empty air and imposing them on heaven in the form of two adjacent constellations.... in the place of highest honor, where the smallest circle revolves around the pole." (Translation by Charles Martin)

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

@ Joseph Michael: yep. Good ones. And pistology ain't a study of urine, neither. And axiology ain't the study of hackers. Punnology's at least about what you'd expect, at this point, tho.

M&A Runtology Desk [Closest I could get to it here was runology, unfortunately]

Newboy 11:56 AM  

Always fun to bump along with a mid-week puzzle as much fun as John’s has been. Great responses from Rex and commentariat above are the ICYHOT PLATED finish for this morning’s SPADAY…..well, I will need to toss off the quilted comforter to do our meals on wheels delivery route before noon, so I guess it will only be a SPAsmodical morning watching more OK GO videos.

Also fun to see constructor notes and Jim Horne’ suggestion of OK GO video over on xwordinfo site.

Whatsername 12:06 PM  

I forgot to say how much I loved the clue for ACME. Brought back some great Saturday morning memories.

@Roo: 🤣
A hospital? What is it?
It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.

Beezer 12:21 PM  

Ok. I actually revisited the puzzle app to look at my time after seeing so many folks say it difficult for a Wednesday and my time doesn’t indicate that it was slower than usual. I guess that means the “crosses” I needed were in my wheelhouse? Either that or they were fair. I thought the whole theme was fun and seemed remarkably free of junk fill. Even though ICYHOT is PPP, I smiled when I dropped it in. I had NOT heard of OKGO and thanks @kishef for the link.

Surprised that no one else was surprised that a SHEKEL was a unit of weight…to me it is money. So I learned something today (other than what I regularly learn from @LMS).

I don’t paint my nails as often as I used to but I have to give OPI (and Essie) credit…they take their polish names seriously! My current collection of OPI includes Cajun Shrimp and Linger Over Coffee. The Essie are Mrs Always-Right and Eternal Optimist. Oh. They BOTH have one called “Clear”…kinda boring 🤣

Beezer 12:30 PM  

Oh. A Thousand ACRES was an absolutely fabulous (but some would find it depressing) book. It’s presence in the puzzle made me think of when the book club I’m in started, our first “reads” were A Thousand Acres and Bastard Out of Carolina. My friend’s husband (who became a member later) read both (even though he wasn’t a member then) and he suggested we should name the group The Men are Scum Book Club. HAH, anyone who has read both books would know that was pretty accurate!

JonP 12:50 PM  

Is it cheating if you put down the puzzle for a bit to read some news and just happen upon the name of that "Dune" actor in an article?

Eniale 1:05 PM  

Not sure I like Wednesdays any more - they've been getting so hard! And I always have to fiddle around US /Brit spelling, viz. ochre/ocher today.

Anyway my SB news: I got QB in 20 minutes after a long drought.

okanaganer 1:18 PM  

Really enjoyable theme, and @Loren's additional suggestions are HILARIOUS (which does not mean "relating to Mrs. Clinton").


"My Neighbor TORTORO" introduced me to the wonderful world of Studio Ghibli films.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; dbyd pg-1 missing this should've 6er, which I've only ever seen in SB but if I don't know it by now I never will.]

This 'n' That 1:24 PM  

"Female" is now pejorative?!

Yes, rom-coms and maples are indeed SAPPY.

SHEKEL, a Hebrew unit equal to about 252 grains troy. DUH!

Great Wednesday.

Teedmn 1:29 PM  

I love the SAPPY maple tree/rom-com clue and the crime LAB that doesn't make chocolate!

I started out with CHALuMET because I wanted URsa-something to refer to the love of teddy bears. Now that I think about it, I believe the name ARTHUR is rooted in "bear" somehow.

We get E-mailed invoices from just about all of our vendors. Since we print them out when we get them, I sniffed at the idea that it was a paper-saving method. Yet, I also get my utility bills as E-BILLS, my credit card bill, my garbage service, any number of things, so my guess of Email seems ridic now.

But down in the SW is where things got quite dodgy. SALE_A_ crossing _OTORO (huh?) and my METROLOGe (everyone knows that sciences end in Y so what was I thinking? Something like centrifuge or astrophage, maybe?) I can't remember how I dug myself out of that one but GOD YES, I did.

John Hawksley, what a NICE IDEA, thanks!

Unknown 1:29 PM  

C’mon, Rex, I expected to see this clip embedded in the blog today. 😉😂

TTrimble 1:36 PM  

That's great; thanks so much! You've now got me curious about the contents of Metamorphoses.

I learned only recently the explanation of how the Milky Way was created in Greek mythology. Herakles (Hercules) was yet another product of Zeus's infidelity towards Hera, and Hera hated Herakles with a special passion. But it happened that Hera once encountered Herakles as a baby and, not recognizing him, nursed him out of feelings of pity. Baby Herakles suckled so strongly as to cause Hera pain. She jerked away and milk sprayed across the heavens, creating the Milky Way. The divine milk turns out to be the source of Herakles's supernatural powers. (From Wikipedia.)

Anoa Bob 1:58 PM  

A long, long time ago I bought a book on improving vocabulary. I credit it as a catalyst that set me on the path to becoming a word nerd. It was divided into three sections. The first was fairly ordinary words that I already knew. Skipped over that one. The second had many words I was unfamiliar with but looked like ones that would be useful to know. Spent a lot of time on that section. The third had a bunch of obscure, arcane words that I thought would rarely, if ever be seen. I skipped over that one also. I'm thinking that today's themers may have been in that last section.

One thing did stand out to me. Don't peek, but which of the following is not like the others: TYPOMANIA, ARCTOPHILE, PANTOPHOBIA, MANDUCATE and METROLOGY? This old POCOPHOBIAPHILE noticed that one of them needed some help to fill its slot. A few plurals of convenience here and there to support surrounding fill is one thing but having to resort to a POC to make a themer work is a major demerit for a puzzle in my book.

tea73 2:23 PM  

OK, I've just spent way too much time watching OKGO videos.

Prof Karl 2:30 PM  

I was sure the bargain hunter’s find was a RARE GEM. It’s the better answer and I’m sticking with it.

Joe Dipinto 2:36 PM  

@Anoa Bob – not sure if this what you mean, but to me the clue for TYPOMANIA doesn't work. A -mania suffix denotes an obsession with or enthusiasm for something, as experienced by a person or persons. "A flurry of typos" just means...a whole bunch of typos. It makes no sense as a mania description.

mbro 2:36 PM  

Good to see Harold's Chicken in the grid. I'll have a half with hot sauce, please.

kitshef 3:00 PM  

@Beezer. Our book club read Bastard out of Carolina also. It would of course be impossible to pick one book as the worst one we read, but that one is on the short list.

Now that I think more, it's not hard to pick the worst: The Crying of Lot 49.

Joseph Michael 3:24 PM  

@ Masked and Anon, good ones, too, especially since everyone knows that axiology is the study of lumberjacks

bocamp 3:40 PM  

@Eniale (1:05 PM) 😊 for your QB!
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Anoa Bob 4:12 PM  

@Joe D., I agree with your analysis and had similar thoughts while solving but I gave it a "close enough for crosswords" rating (although I hate the whole concept of close enough for crosswords). I was looking at MANDUCATE that, unlike the other themers, is one letter short of its slot. POC to the rescue! I think it's a significant demerit because tacking on an S adds nothing of value to the puzzle, it's just an easy, convenient shortcut that lowers the degree of difficulty in coming up with a set of consistent themers.

CDilly52 4:18 PM  

I learned ARCTOPHILE when I was developing contracts for one of my county clients who was going to host a teddy bear convention at the county fair grounds. The organizer, herself a serious ARCTOPHILE. I had no idea the world is full of so many others, and that they love to congregate!

Charles Shultz’s Lucy taught me PANTOPHOBIA. She mentions it to Charlie Brown in the tv cartoon “Charlie Brown Christmas.”

As for the others, new to me. As is the fear of long words phobia from @Lewis. That’s a doozy!!

As I worked through this one, like others I found myself enjoying it more as I got farther in. Additionally, I was impressed with the breadth of topics included on the fill. Truly something for just about everybody. Thankfully the more challenging areas for me were crossed fairly. Seems I always out the H in the wrong place on my first spelling attempt of ABU DHABI, and today was no exception. Easily corrected since the second theme answer was a — PHILE.
Overall, a fresher type of Wednesday theme. Enjoyable.

Eniale 5:12 PM  

Thanks, @bocamp! You're always so gracious.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

I always knew the shekel as money but money names often come from weights, like pound and lira, so I don't think it was unfair.

dgd 5:26 PM  

"That's it!" to quote Charlie Brown. I didn't know where I heard the word before but you found the source. If memory serves, it was the Christmas Special.

dgd 5:33 PM  

I also immediately thought of that line from Airplane. One of my favorites.

dgd 5:45 PM  

I read the article but totally missed the word! Lucky for me I knew metro could mean measure

I see both you & Rex complained about manducates. True it is a made up word for the puzzle but it is the same pattern as mansplains. The man explains and the man educates. Someone else above agreed with me. So I think Rex is wrong.

Thrasymachus 6:09 PM  

So, whence the moniker “feminist”?? Feeling like I’ll soon be manducated…in the name of science.

B-money 6:27 PM  

I will agree with dgd @5:45 that MANDUCATES was a play on MANSPLAINS, hence the cluing.

This one skewed a bit easier for me than most Wednesdays, but I didn't know the Japanese name, and thought that SALEBAG was the right answer, like a bag full of stuff that was especially on sale.

Gary Jugert 6:58 PM  

This one started out great and descended into darkness and tears. A few too many proper names for me to have any hope of finishing clean.

I found the theme quite amusing. That's exactly what I would think if I encountered those words in the wild.

BUCKO is only a term for a young man if you're a manducator, otherwise it's a good way to get punched in the mouth.

Kind of fun to have PAWN SHOP and ACID TRIP right next to each other because somehow they seem to go together.

Rough stuff for me:

I am from Colorado and have seen lots of SITSKIS, but I did not know they were called that. Did not know the book A THOUSAND ACRES. I did not know SHEKEL was a weight, I thought it was a coin. I don't know who DIANE Rehm is. I'm going to go watch some OKGO videos, and they better be high concept, whatever that is. I do not know who Timothee CHALAMET is. I had to respell ABU DHABI several times. I've never heard of My Neighbor TOTORO.

So it was still fun, but awfully full of obscurities.


1English teacher's smarmy comment upon returning student's term paper with an under emphasis on spell checking.
2 Where Jesus played Donkey Kong.
3 Phrase rarely uttered by my lame-o friends.
4 Prepare podcaster Rehm for a really weird evening soiree.
5 $ One Million Billion
6 White male boomer with working legs.
7 Result of not noticing a wedge of Limburger in the pocket of a second-hand golf bag.
8 Phrase uttered by worst mom of all time regarding son's upcoming journey.
9 The tween years.


Carola 7:08 PM  

TTrimble 1:36 - Thank you for the Milky Way origin myth. I love that "explanation"!

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

“I get that the clue is trying to make an analogy from "mansplaining," but that feels a bit forced.”—the actual write-up

Anonymous 9:32 PM  

As someone who professionally uses and teaches geometry, I have no clue what the sin:y-axis :: cos:x-axis is supposed to mean. Does the clue refer to the conversion from polar to cartesian coordinates for a vector? That is such a narrow definition that it's incomprehensible. I get that in crosswords, _any_ valid definition is allowed, but in math, you have to specify appropriate conditions. It is just as common for the sin to be the X-axis value and cos to be the Y-axis value that this clue just leaves me thinking in circles.

Robin 2:29 AM  

I tried following your new account on Mastodon. What a shitshow.

But nice to see the pix of Alfie beating up the cat toys.

TTrimble 7:32 AM  

@Anonymous 9:32 PM
This refers to the definition of trigonometric functions as "circular functions": we define cos(t) as the x-coordinate of the point on the unit circle (centered at the origin) that is obtained by starting from the point (1, 0) and then traversing the circle through an arc of length t, proceeding in the counterclockwise direction. We correspondingly define sin(t) as the y-coordinate of that point. Hence cos(t) is a measurement along the x-axis, and sin(t) is a measurement along the y-axis.

This is a completely standard definition, and it is the preferred standard in mathematics courses everywhere, or at least in courses that aim toward a calculus-based study of the trigonometric functions. Using that standard, I think the clue is fine.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

@TTrimble Fair enough, this is a common standard, but the clue still doesn't fit: cos(t) is the x coordinate value, not the x-axis. So sin:y :: ___ :x or sin:y-value :: cos:x-value would be appropriate, but equating the axis to the value projected onto that axis would not.

Anonymous 3:06 AM  


thefogman 9:49 AM  

This one must have pleased the PANTs off modern-day Sygmund Freuds. It was clever and well-executed. It took me a bit of time to catch on to the gimmick. Four esses in the corners. Did somebody get a flat? Ssss….

Burma Shave 10:14 AM  




Diana, LIW 11:43 AM  

My name is ALMOST in here. I used to listen to her on the radio.

Anyone wondering, I did just fine on yesterday's and today's puzzles.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for my radio break

spacecraft 11:56 AM  

Medium-challenging, I agree. Stuffed with unknown PPPs. I needed every cross for CHALAMET, and sq. 47 was a natick. Who but Nippophiles (NOT lovers of...nevermind) would know 47d? So was it SALEbAG or SALETAG? Or maybe even SALEMAG[azine]? I had no clue. Went with the T, but it was only a guess.

Nonetheless, I managed to finish with only the SW inkfest involving MAstiCATES, which "SURELY" was the answer. It spread when I determined that 36d started with ACI. Pretty much forced into a D, I continued with ACIDTest instead of TRIP. And don't call me Shirley.

I learned some new words--and names--which I will no doubt never use again. This was a pretty tall order for a Wednesday. Par.

Wordle putter on fire with another birdie.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

Manducate is a real word; it comes from the Latin verb manducare, which means to chew.

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