Toy brand with plastic figures / WED 2-26-20 / Actress O'Hara with Tony for King and I / Anise-flavored aperitif / Gal pal of Dennis the Menace / Old airline with globe in its logo / Peaceful pastoral scene

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Constructor: Francis Heaney

Relative difficulty: Medium (untimed, on paper)

THEME: BILLIE EILISH — tribute puzzle honoring this singer/songwriter, who won a bunch of GRAMMYs at the most recent Grammy Awards (1A: Award notably won in each of the "big four" categories by this puzzle's honoree). The idea here is she won a GRAMMY in each of the "big four" categories, and her name divides into four equal parts (as seen at the ends of this puzzle's theme answers). I think that's it. There's also her biggest hit ("BAD GUY"), which gets the revealer clue (67A: Hit song by the 1-Across winner whose name is spelled out by the final three letters of 21-, 25-, 47- and 52-Across)

Theme answers:
  • PLAYMOBIL (21A: Toy brand with plastic figures)
  • "HIPS DON'T LIE" (25A: 2006 #1 Shakira hit)
  • TROMPE L'OEIL (47A: Art technique that's French for "fools the eye")
  • "AS YOU WISH" (52A: Butler's "Gladly")
Word of the Day: KELLI O'Hara (30D: Actress O'Hara with a Tony for "The King and I") —
Kelli Christine O'Hara (born April 16, 1976) is an American actress and singer. She has appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway in many musicals since making her Broadway debut as a replacement in Jekyll & Hyde in 2000. She has also acted on television, film and opera, appearing with The Metropolitan Opera. In 2018 she made her West End debut.
O'Hara has received seven Tony Award nominations, first for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the 2005 production of The Light in the Piazza. Her subsequent nominations include The Pajama Game (2006), South Pacific (2008), Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012), The Bridges of Madison County (2014), and Kiss Me, Kate (2019), winning Best Actress in a Musical in 2015 for her performance as Anna Leonowens in The King and I.[2]
She has also played roles in television series, such as Masters of Sex and 13 Reasons Why, receiving a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her starring role in the 2017 web drama series The Accidental Wolf. She has appeared in films, such as Sex and the City 2, and operas, such as The Merry Widow and Così fan tutte. (wikipedia)
• • •

Francis Heaney has made some of my favorite puzzles. He did this candy cane-themed meta-puzzle a handful of years back (around Christmastime, 2013) that remains one of my favorite crosswords of all time—one of the few crosswords that I still think about years later ("Seasonal Staff"—see it here). I encounter his work primarily in the American Values Crossword Club puzzle, and I've been groomed to expect a very clever hook—something that makes the whole puzzle snap into place, some ingenious bit of wordplay, some didn't-see-it-coming gimmick. I make these prefatory remarks to try to explain why today's puzzle was such a disappointment. I never got that feeling of "wow." Worse, I was sure the problem was mine, so I kept scanning and rescanning the finished grid, wondering what the hook was, only to discover, in the end, that it's just ... that her name divides into "four" equal parts (to match (?) the "big four" GRAMMYs that she won earlier this year). Like ... that's it. Since the revealer clue basically holds your hand through the BIL / LIE / EIL / ISH revealer, so there's not really anything to discover (on your own), I figured that, since it's Francis here, there had to be more. Something special. Some extra level. And there just wasn't. It all seemed very flimsy as tribute puzzles go ... though as soon as I write that sentence, I realize that "tribute puzzles" are actually routinely disappointing. At least this one isn't just a bunch of trivia about a dead celebrity crammed hastily into a grid so that the "tribute" can come out in semi-timely fashion. This one at least tries to do something with the whole "big four" thing. It's just ... I didn't even know "big four" was a thing. At all. I couldn't name the "big four" categories. Album song record artist? Is that it? Oh, close. It's Album song record and then Best New Artist. Seems weird to make this "feat" contingent on the artist's being "New." "New" is just a matter of timing, not quality. So you can only win "big four" once in your life? Shrug. ANYway ... I know who Billie Eilish is, I know the hit song, this all should've been very much up my alley. But ... well, it was an alley, but mainly it was dark and I was kind of lost and then it turns out there wasn't anywhere to go because I was really just standing in my backyard the whole time. Or something like that.

Hardest part of the puzzle for me By Far was PLAYMOBIL, which ... what is that? I really (Really) wanted PLAYSKOOL ... that's a thing, right? I feel like I had a lot of PLAYSKOOL toys as a kid, like a barn that made a "moo" sound when the doors opened, does that sound right? Familiar? I don't think they had PLAYMOBIL toys when I was a kid. Wikipedia says the company was founded in '74, which is very much me-as-a-kid time. But I was PLAYSKOOL. So that whole -MOBIL part had me tilting my head. But the crosses checked out.

[the audience!!!! i love this]

The only other real head-scratcher for me was KELLI O'Hara, whose career is so accomplished (see Word of the Day, above) that I'm embarrassed I've never even heard of her. Oh, and I definitely did not know that GINA was Dennis the Menace's "gal pal" (though I do love the use of that phrase in this instance—guys have "gal pal"s too!) (63A: Gal pal of Dennis the Menace). The only girl I can picture in the Dennis-the-Menaceverse is (it turns out) Margaret, a bespectacled redhead who is more nemesis than gal pal. As for the rest of this puzzle, well, it just played like a somewhat disappointing themeless. The west was the wobbliest, fill-wise (ESAI ISEEM SMS), but overall it was solid enough. I just didn't get the aha moment I really truly expected. This puzzle is likely the victim of my having set the bar so incredibly high. Let me phrase that—of *Francis's* having set the bar so incredibly high, with his previous work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. partials are never gonna be *great* fill, but I did enjoy ADOG about as much as I'm ever gonna enjoy a partial (3D: On the internet, nobody knows you're ___" (classic New Yorker cartoon caption)). And "classic" is actually not much of an overstatement. This cartoon's got its own wikipedia page, from which I learned that, "As of 2013, the panel was the most reproduced cartoon from The New Yorker, and Steiner had earned between $200,000 and $250,000 US from its reprinting" (wikipedia)

July 5, 1993 (!!!)
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Z 5:40 AM  

“...just standing in my own backyard the whole time.” Rex nailed my reaction so nothing to add.

@TJS late yesterday - I usually use “@anon-name” for people who post anonymously but then sign their post at the end (“poggius” comes to mind). I do that so people know I’m replying to a post labeled “anonymous” in case they want to see the context for my reply. You, @pmdm, and many others past and present are not anonymous in my opinion.

Lewis 6:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
OffTheGrid 6:32 AM  

@Rex. The farm play set with the barn door "moo' was made by Fisher Price. They had many others, castle, school, house, houseboat. My kids had these in the 70's and my granddaughter played with them, too.

The puzzle was fine. Didn't know BILLIE EILISH but now I do. Don't know the 4 categories but will look them up.

Anonymoose 6:37 AM  

It seems odd to have another female singer/songwriter in the puzzle. Shakira.

Joaquin 6:44 AM  

Sure sign you’re getting old: When you have the BILLIE part and go looking for “Holiday”. Oy …

Lewis 6:44 AM  

@rex -- Thank you for posting that "Seasonal Staff" puzzle by Heaney. That is one big wow. BIG wow.

This puzzle has three palindromes (ONO / PEP / BOB). I don't remember seeing a grid with that many before. Maybe it's happened related to a theme, I don't know, but, as I recall, not in the wild in a puzzle, and it's something I inexplicably look for.

That gave this puzzle some freshness and zing, and there is more (and thank you, Francis!). Three of my four favorite answers were NYT debuts -- AUTOTUNED, TROMPE L'OEIL, DRAWS IN -- and the fourth (AS YOU WISH) has only appeared once before. The ultimate freshness for me was Ms. Eilish herself, who is new to me, and who I will check out. God bless puzzles for pointing me to new knowledge in directions I never would have thought of going!

E. Fitzgerald 6:46 AM  

The fact that AUTOTUNE is in the puzzle and is pretty much used now in the recordings of almost all pop singers told me everything I needed to know about this puzzle. Or, to be more precise, DON'T want to know.

The Joker 6:50 AM  

Flattery is soft SOAP and soft SOAP is 90% Lye.

Hungry Mother 6:51 AM  

Had a D instead of an L, so DNF. Nothing else nice to say.

amyyanni 6:56 AM  

@Anonymoose, exactly!

Music Man 7:00 AM  

I loved it - a contemporary music-themed puzzle! Definitely in my wheelhouse.

pabloinnh 7:09 AM  

Well, I've certainly heard of BILLIE EILISH, because I'm alive, but I couldn't hum one of her tunes. Nor did I know any of the song titles, except TRYTO remember (erase, erase). But the fill itself was mostly wheelhouse stuff and I could look back and see what I didn't know.

PLAYMOBIL a gimmee. Granddaughters. Psycho and BENHUR references, ditto, saw them on the big screen when they were fresh and new. Ou sont les neiges, etc. Surprised OFL The Comicmeister didn't know GINA, she's the cool one.

Thanks for a nice Wednesday, FH. I'm sure it took some work to come up with the revealer, wish it had meant more to me.

Suzie Q 7:15 AM  

Zero entertainment value for me.

kitshef 7:16 AM  

AS YOU WISH deserved a Princess Bride clue, yes?

IMO, Bury a Friend is vastly superior to BAD GUY – but the Grammys always seem to get things wrong. And what are Yoko and Shakira doing horning in on a BILLIE EILISH tribute?

Michael 7:17 AM  

This was a new Wednesday best time, the only hiccup being RUCHED for DRAPED leading astray for a bit.

TOOL seemed mean!

QuasiMojo 7:33 AM  

I never read the last clue having filled that area all in from the downs I guess. So I couldn't for the life of me figure out who the "honoree" was. ONO I wondered. Nah. Shakira? Who? Kelli? Kotb? Typo? Maybe Cher? (Autotuned?) I gave up and came here to learn the hidden answer. Who???? Felt like a SURLY TOOL.

Frankly there are too many similar awards at the Grammies which I stopped watching around the time PlayMobil was invented, whatever that is. All I could think of was PlayDoh. Doh!

DID not like the crossing of KatyDID and I DID. Aesthetically speaking.

Not a bad puzzle really I just missed out on the reveal. And about the last ten years.

Brit Solves NYT 8:24 AM  

Fairly dull puzzle, but OK overall.

Dennis the Menace clue was incredibly confusing, because it's a completely different comic strip over here in England and there is no 'gal pal' (look at Wikipedia: both cartoons first published in 1951, both still published now!)

Nancy 8:30 AM  

Not a "Nancy puzzle", as I'm sure you already know, and my mistakes were real hoots.

My 67A hit song was BED GUY. As in swordsman, natch. Thought for the day: A BED GUY can sometimes be badder than a BAD GUY, no?

Even though actor Morales appears in about 150 puzzles a year, I couldn't remember the second letter of his first name. Nor did I know thw texting format at 46A. I don't know the short version and I don't know the long version either. And therefore, with the clue at 26D being "_____ to remember" and with my having filled in I?EE?, I wrote in I NEED. Which gave me EnAI for Morales and SdS for the texting format. I knew ENAI was wrong, but you have no idea how often I NEED TO REMEMBER. I never remember and I always need to. I SEEM TO REMEMBER never crossed my mind -- mostly because it's a phrase I seldom get to use. As in the case of poor, forgotten-but-not-gone ESAI.

My mistakes in this puzzle amused me greatly. The puzzle itself, not so much.

SouthsideJohnny 8:33 AM  

I was having pretty good success until I encountered TROMPE LOEIL, about which I am clueless. I kept working at it - figured AUTO TUNED could be a thing, it took a while to parse out the O in TROMPE which led me to ORIENT.

I sparred briefly with the double-stack trivia in the south (GINA over ENTS) and finally guessed at the “I” instead of “Y” at the end of KELLI. So I was able to finish despite the long foreign phrase creating some speed bumps for me.

Btw, do rental car companies still try to charge for a GPS - doesn’t everyone just use their phone ?

Z 8:46 AM  

@kitshef - Re: AS YOU WISH - Absolutely. Saw Inigo Montoya in a recent puzzle (I don’t think it was a NYTX) so was disappointed in this clue.

@SouthsideJohnny - Yes they do. And last night Hertz offered us a Sirius Upgrade, along with the extra insurance and pre-paying for gas so we wouldn’t have to fill it up. Just Say No.

I’m in Kalamazoo this week and this morning is a perfect example of “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

LeaveItToYourGoat 8:49 AM  

Got absolutely NATICKed by the ON KP / KATYDID crossing. I guess somewhere down in my vaguest recollection I may have heard of a katydid before, but only because it didn't look completely foreign to me once I plugged in the K for my sixth attempt at that crossing and got the "congrats" message from the app.

Some others were new to me. TROMPE L'OIEL, lol okay. Glad I had all the crossings for that. Same with PERNOD and KOTB. Without the -BIL -LIE -EIL -ISH revealer, there's no way I would've gotten the KOTB / PLAYMOBIL crossing.

Nice dig at Yoko ONO for those who still happen to be salty about her 50 years later.

Finally, for all of you soon to be new parents out there. Do your new child a favor, and give him or her three 4-letter names full of vowels. If ESAI Morales has taught me anything, it's that all you have to do is achieve marginal fame in the real world to gain legendary status in the crossword circle, as long your name carries a cruciverbalist convenience. So here's to Eote Iaus Noie, my future son, may you feature daily in the NYTXW.

Gio 9:02 AM  

@hungrymother Same, DORENA Ochoa sounds reasonable to me.

Nancy 9:04 AM  

@Z's 8:46 comment impelled me to Google "Kalamazoo weather". For anyone who's interested, right now it's 27 degrees and snowing. And I therefore must beg to differ with @Z. For weather like that, there's no good clothing! (Well, if you stay indoors, maybe pajamas.)

Gio 9:06 AM  

I used to bribe my son with PLAYMOBIL. He thought he was a cowboy. His favorite set was the Jailhouse with the sheriff. He locked all those BAD GUYs up.

GILL I. 9:07 AM  

Yeah, I felt like I was just standing in my back yard as well. I might've been looking at the weeds. I'll add another yeah with that PLAYMOBIL thing. I was living la vida loca in '74 so there was none of that stuff hanging around the tapas bar.
Hand up way high for loving anything Francis Heaney. Today the loving spoonful went the way of my dislike of PERNOD. Can't win them all, I guess.
Maybe I was grumpy because I had to solve on my MacBook and I hate that. Printer out of gas. I NEED TO HOLD PAPER IN HAND. I don't want no stinking computer ticking time away and asking me if I want to pause while I get up to make coffee.
Should I hope for a rebus tomorrow? Fingers crossed.

RooMonster 9:10 AM  

Hey All !
@kitshef - Yes! My exact thought. Robin Wright looked the best in that movie than any other movie she's been in. And a young Cary Elwes, always liked him as an actor. He then went on to Mel Brooks' Robin Hood:Men in Tights" which was an absolute hoot!

Seems to me BILLIE EILISH came out of nowhere, then all of s sudden, Bam!, she's this huge star. Not sure if she'd had other stuff before she hit it big. Anyone? And I know she's young, but I hope she's doesn't blow all her money, as fame is fleeting, and one second your a Big Four GRAMMY winner (which is impressive, btw), the next your broke like TLC.

Thought the puz good. Kind of a strange theme in the fact of splitting her name up, but the Four thing seems like a brainstorm thing one couldn't pass up. Fairly straightforward puz, no errors, with three (excusable) writeovers, PoP-PEP, GaS-GPS, ORLo-ORLY (OK, maybe not that one!) Liked it overall.

Awesome clue for 16A! Har.


webwinger 9:17 AM  

I heard and saw BILLIE EILISH on SNL this year and was totally underwhelmed, as I have been by most of the musical guests on the show recently. For someone who still buys CDs occasionally I guess that’s to be expected. I’m reminded of a line Sean Connery spoke as James Bond in Goldfinger (c. 1963), which I recently re-enjoyed: Drinking a fine champagne at room temperature is “like listening to the Beatles without earplugs”. Yes, tone deaf to good new music is what we fogeys are supposed to be.

Banya 9:22 AM  

How can you clue ASYOUWISH without referencing The Princess Bride?

RooMonster 9:27 AM  

@Myself 9:10
Let's try "you're" instead of your. Har. My excuse? When I post on my phone, I try to type and enter faster than if I do it online, because my phone had a nasty tendency to refresh as I'm typing, thereby losing everything I wrote to the ether. Also why I have so many typos. And that's my story. 😋

RooMonster Talking To Himself Again Guy

rosebud 9:32 AM  

We picked up our first PLAYMOBIL in France in 1982 and have been hooked ever since, through 3 sons and now our granddaughter. They make the best toys for imagining anything! I was delighted to see the answer and immediately sent a picture of the puzzle to wake my youngest son on the west coast. That plus Billie Eilish made my day, on a cold snowy start to Lent.

Petsounds 9:35 AM  

Meh. Again. Nothing exciting or joyful or really fun. The late-winter doldrums have obviously set in at the NYT.

The highlight of today's experience for me was reading @Joaquin's comment about where he went after he got BILLIE. Thanks for that!

Bobby 9:50 AM  

@Z, I'm in Kalamazoo this morning, as well as pretty much every morning, and I have to disagree about the weather. I'm sick of this.

Am I the lone holdout who thinks that 33A is just wrong? The IAMS logo is a paw PRINT, not a paw

Rastaman Vibration 9:55 AM  

I was sorry to see the Times throw shade at Yoko ONO. Whether you care for her or not, she gave us the Strawberry Fields Conservancy (in NYC), the Imagine Peace Tower (near Reykjavík, Iceland), and she was a founding member of the very underrated Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band.

Sisters O Sisters .

pmdm 9:59 AM  

While I finished the puzzle, I must admit I could care less about the theme (that I do not know). And I can care less who the constructor is: a puzzle is either good or bad and its constructor never changes that.

Z: I take that as a compliment. Of course, since I have emailed yhou (and Lewis), both of you know my first and last name (but I don't think you know what my two middle initials stand for). I have no desire to be anonymous, but I do have a desire for my email inbox not to be a spam target (which it became when I briefly joined

For those who practice, Holy Lent.

Joe Dipinto 10:02 AM  

This puzzle gets an instant FAIL because of the "Princess Bride" botch. I mean really.

Gio 10:02 AM  

@roo monster I don't think she is going to blow her money. She lives with mom and dad still in an average house. I saw her on James Corden Carpool Karaoke and they go to her house, and to her brothers bedroom, where they recorded hit songs. She seems really down to earth. This carpool karaoke gives a good idea of her personality.

BillY Boy 10:03 AM  

[the audience!!!! i love this]

It's not a new thing, it's not an old thing it's a thing.

Never understand why you go see an artist perform and sing or whoop & holler over the performance.

I like Billie. So does my wife.

mbr 10:09 AM  

47A reminded me of France's 2017 election (Macron vs Marine le Pen). As a plea to not follow in the footsteps of the American electorate, instead of reading "Ne vous trompez pas" (don't be fooled...don't make a mistake), posters read "Ne vous Trumpez pas".

Whatsername 10:23 AM  

Knew I was on shaky ground when I saw GRAMMY, an award program I’ve never watched in my life. Not familiar with Ms. EILISH either since I am not a musical person. I seldom listen to music and only turn on my car radio for a ball game or if I’m desperate for something to help me stay awake. In that respect I was thrown by the mention of other singers in the clues. Those two I actually knew but got me wondering if they were somehow related to the theme. Overall though, an enjoyable puzzle and theme and I had no trouble at all with the solve.

@Joaquin: I was right there with you looking for Billie Holiday.

@Nancy (9:04): There is snow on the ground at my house today and that’s exactly where I am, inside in my pajamas. I have a stack of books, a nice warm fire, and a pot of homemade soup in the fridge. Bad weather maybe but not a bad way to spend the day.

Joe Dipinto 10:27 AM  

@RooMonster – Christopher Cross also seemed to come out of nowhere, and his career kind of tanked within a few years of winning the same four Grammys. Hopefully Ms. Eilish (whose music I've not yet heard) will fare better.

David 10:30 AM  

Music without a key? Could be bitonal or polytonal or modal or non-tonal or atonal or other things. I'm not familiar enough with Yoko's music, but I'm pretty sure it's not atonal. And comparing her music to Schoenberg, Webern, and the rest would be "throwing shade"? I think not.

I've heard of Billie Elish as well, but the last Grammy win I remember was when Kim Kashkashian won the award for her recording "Kurtág & Ligeti: Music for Viola." Social media exploded with the twiterati tweeting "OMG Kim Kardashian won a Grammy??!!! I had no idea she played Viola!!!"

Did this as a themeless. Had a pretty good time with it.

dadnoa 10:44 AM  

Ono.....also female. and I thought the puzzle was quite clever. Of course, my daughter grew up with Playmobil. We still have a pirate ship somewhere.....

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

The fact that Peter Steiner only made $200-$250K from "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" in the past quarter century shows the complete failure of the our ability to protect intellectual property in this country. Had he received even one penny for every time he's been quoted, he'd own his own island in the Caribbean and be set for life.

Newboy 10:46 AM  

BILLIE EILISH Was featured on the Late Late Show in a Carpool Karaoke segment that’s easily accessible on YouTube. Otherwise today’s reveal would have remained hidden. We checked that clip after being mystified by BBC reportage of the Grammy Show. Between Crossworld exposure and BBC newsfeeds it’s a toss up to stay almost current in a world changing rapidly for those of us who recall Garfield as POTUS rather than a pasta gorged feline. Almost naticked on the L for LORENA, probably due to a lifetime of mispronunciation of TROMPE LOEIL? Off to check that French sound and then watch The Princess Bride yet again AS YOU WISH in several previous posts.

TJS 10:48 AM  

@Rasta, she was also a founding member of the "Let's break up the Beatles club", for which she will live in infamy, IMO.

It seems to me that the comment section is getting more interesting, and more amusing, lately. Definitely something I look forward to more than the actual puzzles we have been dealing with.

@pmdm, Is it "I could care less" or "I couldn't care less" ? Hmm.

Again I agree with Rex (this is getting weird). This puzzle was just too straightforward, with no thinking required. Too bad Rex didn't time himself, because I think I might have got within two Rexes without even trying.

Thanks for the laughs, @Quasi and @Nancy.

Brian 11:10 AM  

Monday easy

Nancy 11:15 AM  


Carola 11:16 AM  

Thanks to my habit of reviewing fashion slide shows after award ceremonies, I knew Billie Eilish; otherwise - that is, knowing her for what she's actually known for - I'd have had no idea. I thought the theme was nicely done, but found more to like elsewhere, especially HOT FUDGE x AS YOU WISH and the directive line GO AND SEE BEN HUR, required viewing in my1960s era confirmation class.

Help from previous puzzles: ESAI, LORENA, KOTB, AUTOTUNE(D). No idea: HIPS DON'T LIE, BAD GUY.

Richardf8 11:17 AM  

++1. Of course, once the ri showed up I knew.

What? 11:21 AM  

The good clothing quote I referenced yesterday came from a Danish woman commenting on the fact that Danes, at least Copenhagens, bicycles everywhere, even to the airport trailing their wheeled luggage behind, in any weather. A photo accompanied the article in the Times awhile ago and sure enough, everybody was bundled up and had wide grins on their faces, content to live in such a happy place.
I live in a suburb of Detroit, as do my children , and I finally, after many years, convinced my Florida-happy daughter to buy a proper winter coat. Distraught no more.

What? 11:22 AM  

Another easy solve which gave me the name of someone I’ve never heard of. A waste of about 5 minutes.

Gio 11:26 AM  

@joeDipinto it's incontheeable! Now stop talking in rhymes and I mean it!!!

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Way too many names.

Booooo Wendy Testaburger boo

Masked and Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Helped some, that we watched the Grammy Awards show, a little while back. Unknown stuff that didn't help quite so much: PLAYMOBIL. TROMPELOEIL. KELLI. AUTOTUNED. Lost the appropriate amount of precious nanoseconds. But learned stuff, so ok.

fave stuff I did know: HOTFUDGE. ASYOUWISH. KATYDID.
staff weeject pick: ONO. Eilish gets 4 big Grammys, ONO gets an ATONAL mention. Har-sh.

Weird theme, usin them hidden tush letters. Especially with m&e not knowin two of the tushee themers, and all. But congrats to Billie, on her sweep of those major awards. Puz shoulda maybe mentioned that she sported GREENPAINT on the hair locks that big night, as I recall.

Thanx, Mr. Heaney. A challengin WedPuz, at our house. Good for us, to suffer.

Masked & Anonym6Us


Chris 11:36 AM  

If you don't know Kelli O'Hara, go and find her rendition of "Hello, Young Lovers" from the K&I soundtrack. Apart from her beautifully crystal voice, listen to her use of rubato as she caresses the lyrics. She is a national treasure and should be just coming into her prime vocally.

Bax'N'Nex 11:39 AM  

@TJS- anyone who knows anything about the Beatles (i.e. us old folks) knows that Yoko had nothing to do with "breaking up the Beatles". John was miserable, using, drinking heavily, suffering from depression until he met Yoko. He was ready to leave the band before that, but found renewed purpose (at least temporarily) after they got together.

George and Ringo felt like outsiders and became increasingly frustrated at their being pushed aside by Paul, especially. (John hated confrontation, so just went along with Paul). They were tired of each other and ready for new challenges, except for Paul. So Yoko did NOT break up the Beatles. As a matter of fact, John and Yoko should be remembered as one of the greatest love stories of all time. She saved him from dying of an overdose, alcoholism and worse.

John Lennon is the only celebrity that I felt truly sad upon his death. Such a waste of a kind, loving, gentle soul whose main goal in life was to "Give Peace a Chance" and spread love to the world.

Stepping down from the soapbox now.



QuasiMojo 11:42 AM  

You're welcome @TJS. I agree about the comments lately. And with the way things are of late a few chuckles here each morning are welcome indeed.

BTW, to those worried about Yolo's feelings, calling Ono's music "atonal" is not an insult. Atonal music is a genre or style of music. Schoenberg, Webern and Berg were known for their atonal pieces.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

I'm with you. That's most definitely a paw print. This line of country is akin to the moronic outlines of shoes inside the scanning booths at airports. The image is clearly the outline of a shoe. But you have to take your shoes off, to be scanned. (almost all the time). The image they should use is a footprint.

Frantic Sloth 12:00 PM  

Hand up for bemoaning “The Princess Bride” snub. My only thought for a possible excuse was that maybe it would have been too obvious?

Nah. They screwed up.

As soon as I saw PLAYMOBIL in the grid, I knew Rex was going to put on his cranky pants. Since the only reason I had any idea of its existence was the fact that a good friend of mine owned a toy store back in the day, it’s understandable to me.

Come to think of it, this same friend introduced me to Billie Eilish - and just days before the Grammys aired.

Isn’t it fun when the universe helps with the crossword?

Although I think I’ll always have a mental block about the spelling of TROMPE L’OEIL.

A link for anyone interested:
Billie Eilish Carpool Karaoke

Frantic Sloth 12:08 PM  

You say potayto,
I say potahto.
You say trompe l’oeil,
I say Trump lie.

Let’s call the whole thing off.

jae 12:25 PM  

Easy. Like @Quasi I never saw the reveal clue while I was solving so I spent a fair amount of time looking at the grid wondering who the “honoree” was. I eventually got around to reading the clue for 67a and realized I would have never figured it out on my own.

Pretty smooth, clever, and timely, liked it a bunch!

xyz 12:28 PM  

Some of y'all need to listen to today's honoree a little bit more.

Beatles cover at the Oscars, that Karaoke clip, your loss

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

"So an OEUF and an OEIL walk into a bar..."

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Flattery is soft SOAP and soft SOAP is 90% Lye.

in manufacture, perhaps, but none remains in the finished product. good homophone, though.

Gio 1:06 PM  

@redanman I posted the link to the carpool karaoke because it shows her house where she still lives with her parents, and the regular small bedroom where her and her brother recorded an album. It's cool to see! It doesn't mean I haven't watched and listened to all her other music. Plus James gets her cute personality to come through. Before watching that I had an image of her as moody and depressed.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I don't watch the Grammys but I do know who BILLIE EILISH is and even watched one of her videos, though I don't remember if it was "BAD GUY" or not. I agree with @kitshef that the Grammys often choose wrong. I am totally (still) in love with Radiohead's "OK Computer", which won Best Alternative Music Album in 1998 but not Best Album. What were they thinking? On the other hand, I once bought "Elephant" by the White Stripes because it won the same award as "OK Computer" and let me tell you, what a let-down!!!

I don't know what I think of this theme. I give Frances credit for finding something that ends in BIL. TROMPE L'OEIL is a great answer, rather than splatzing in someone whose last name is O'NEIL. I appreciate the reminder of "Princess Bride". As a butler's answer, 52A seems kind of smarmy. "Yes, madam" would do just fine :-).

I was very confused by _SEE_ at 26D. I was looking for an article-noun phrase there (A day to remember, if it had fit). I was pretty sure 46A was SMS but a SEEM to remember...Good thing HaPS DON'T LIE!

Mr. Heaney, thanks for the Wednesday puzzle. And while I didn't agree with Rex, I love his Dorothy-like description of where he found himself in this puzzle.

Chip Hilton 1:11 PM  

What @Chris said at 11:36.

Sipping a PERNOD, sitting in a Parisian café, watching the world go by. GOANDSEE. It’s IDYLLic.

oisk17 1:19 PM  

DNF on Lorena - Dorena, but should have gotten Trompe L'oeil. Perhaps suffering from Trompe derangement syndrome. Even had I finished correctly, though, a puzzle built around an artist and songs I never heard of is not going to be a good solving experience. Guessed right on Bad Guy and Dorena, but an awful cross from my point of view. Never heard of playmobil, and KOTB only from crosswords (along with Esai)

Worst puzzle in a long time, from my perspective.

Z 1:24 PM  

Be My Yoko ONO

@bobby - so you’re saying Ceci n’est pas une PAW.

BILLIE EILISH is pretty huge right now, but doesn’t “Best New Artist” have a jinx akin to appearing on the Madden Cover and the way the S.I. cover used to have? I mean, Milli Vanilli won that award.

@pmdm - Yep. Can’t believe I forgot @QuasiMojo and @‘merican in Paris (currently AWOL), too. But it was early when I posted.

@Nancy er alii - I grew up in Holland, MI, which means the choice is either adapt or curl up. Today’s weather in Kalamazoo is not a big deal if you have the right clothes. My big question to the Kalamazoo area people here, what’s the deal with Portage? The line between sloppy roads and well prepped roads last night was the city limits (making the “Portage: a great place to live” a guffaw moment as I entered the ‘Zoo).

chefwen 1:38 PM  

All I want to do is comment on the puzzle and thank all of you who wished me a speedy recovery, but Blogger keeps booting me off. Let’s see if this makes it through. Third times a charm, right?

chefwen 1:43 PM  

Ooh, looks like it went through.

Finished this, but was totally out of my wheelhouse. Knew TROMPE LOEIL, but spelling it was a challenge.

If you need me I’ll be out back helping @GILL I weed.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

I have to agree with oisk17's (1:19 PM) last sentence. This crossword puzzle was "popular" culture detritus. I had to stop before I barfed.

jberg 2:04 PM  

@Z - I always heard it as "... only inappropriate attire," an attempt at pedantic humor, I guess. Comes to the same thing, though.

@Nancy, it's hard to take in (even for me, after 5 decades in Massachusetts), but in the upper Midwest 27 degrees is not considered really cold (unless there's a minus sign in front of it.) You'd want a coat if you were going very far, but you might not bother to fasten it. Get down in the subzero range, though, and you start to see parkas with the hoods up (great scene of this in Fargo, if you've seen that), mittens, and snow pants. But people still have fun, skiing, riding around on snowmobiles, or sitting out in a ice shanty hoping to catch a fish.

Oh yeah, the puzzle. Clever idea, good job coming up with some of those endings, but I agree it needs more spark. Not his best.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Same here. In fairness the clue does specify 'the eye', which would make it L as a strict translation.

QuasiMojo 2:05 PM  

Hey @Nancy, you should go down to the Cherry Lane Theater in the Village. They're doing a play called "Esai's Table." Use that next time you construct a puzzle. :)

Ragu 2:29 PM  

Yesterday seemed like a Monday and today seemed like a difficult Tuesday. Either we are having an easy week, or I’m finally beginning to improve. It’s seems like the PPP count has been down a bit lately (maybe it’s just a wheelhouse thing - I know some people struggled with LORENA, for example). I’m not familiar with the artist or the song today, so this was a theme-less for me (also, when the clues start to get to be a paragraph long and start referencing other clues, I lose interest).

Also, KATYDID sounds like it should be a relative of a Steely Dan album.

Francis 2:52 PM  

I mean, I tried to.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

Also, KATYDID sounds like it should be a relative of a Steely Dan album.

turns out my failing memory is right. it's a candy.

Frantic Sloth 3:42 PM  

Apologies to @Giovanni for double-clipping! You saw it there first, folks. I’m just sorry I didn’t before posting.

Z 3:43 PM  

@jberg - I just want to point out that @what made the “As they say in Michigan, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” quip yesterday. My comment was in response to that and landing in Kalamazoo in the middle of some winter weather.

tea73 4:02 PM  

I finished this in near record time despite not knowing BILLIE EILISH. I watch the GRAMMYS occasionally, but not this year. Just finished listening to the song and can see why she won. Quite an earworm.

Lots of gimmes for me - younger son was a huge PLAYMOBIL fan, BENHUR, RADIOS (cute clue BTW).

Only hiccups were forgetting just how TROMPE L'OEIL was spelled - I wanted to still a "u" in there. I spent a gap year in France, but it was a long, long time ago... Other one was putting LyncH instead of LEIGH. Luckily the downs fixed that one quickly.

sanfranman59 4:18 PM  

re TOOL {13D: Easily influenced person} ... hmm ... I thought this term, when used as an adjective for a person, referred to a slang term for a certain male body part ... i.e. "I can't believe he did that! What a tool!"

AUTOTUNED {35D: Artificial, as some modern pop vocals} vocals are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. I know I probably sound like an old geezer, but if you can't sing in tune, don't record yourself! Ugh.

xyz 4:35 PM  

@Giovanni 1:06

Not you, there's a lot of closed minded approach to her music voiced on here. Her appearance on Corden can only be called heart-warming and sweet, such a nice girl.

So much work in their music...

Gio 5:35 PM  

@redanman Some guy on that other blog really has a panties in a twist that Billie E. got a puzzle. Not everybody gotta like her, or has the same taste in music, but that dude is trying to convince everyone that she's talentless and terrible. I like that she's unique. I loved the Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke a lot. If you guys haven't seen it, it's fun. Long at 23 mimutes.

kitshef 5:42 PM  

@Z 1:24 - I've heard that about Best New Artist, too, but I think there is a lot of confirmation bias there. I mean, Bob Newhart? The Beatles? Adele? Right after Milli Vanilli came Mariah Carey, and she's done OK for herself.

ChE Dave 6:42 PM  

Crossing Trompdeloeil with Lorena? A bit obscure as I don’t follow golf and my artistic interests tend towards music and plays. Just square in the middle of a hole in my interests. Embarrassed to say I knew Bad Guy.

RooMonster 7:48 PM  

@Giovanni 11:26
And all who love Princess Bride

That Vizzini, he can fuss...
I think he likes to scream, at us.
He probably means no harm...
He very very short, on charm.
Ah, you've got a great gift for rhyme.
Yes, yes, some of the time.
Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?
If there are, we'll all be dead!
No more rhymes now, I mean it!
Anybody want a peanut?


Z 9:28 PM  

@kitshef5:42 - I looked up the list and it looks like 1-3 winners a decade had less than stellar careers after winning. Crossworld Fave Trina Lopez lost to The Swingle Singers in 1964. 1977-1979 saw Starland Vocal Band, Debby Boone, and A Taste of Honey, none of whom matched that initial success. Rickie Lee Jones, Christopher Cross, Culture Club, and Jody Watley won in the 80’s. The 90’s saw Milli Vanilli and Paula Cole win. The only one that leapt out at me in the naughts was Shelby Lynne - but she might not count for a couple of reasons (I don’t know many country artists so maybe she’s actually still really popular, but worse is that she won a CMA for new female vocalist of the year 11 years before being best new artist. Huh?). There’s a case for saying that during the late 70’s and the 80’s that award was a jinx, but otherwise winning the award seems to signal a bright future in the music industry.

Gio 11:34 PM  

@roo I'm feeling Mostly Dead right now so I'm going to bed. NEVER MESS WITH A SICILIAN WHEN DEATH IS ON THE LINE.....thud

steve 1:14 AM  

It's 1 AM so I'm pretty sure no one will see this. Just noticed the cringeworthy proximity of Lorena and Bob in the SE corner.

jae 2:18 AM  

@Z - I think you meant Trini Lopez

WinthorpeIII 2:39 AM  

Anybody want a peanut?

WinthorpeIII 2:41 AM  


rondo 9:39 AM  

Can’t get much ‘fresher’ than BILLIE EILISH and still OFL complains. Shouldn’t be surprised. One exact quote from a review on the latest Bond theme as performed by said BILLIE EILISH: “It would help if she could sing”. Maybe AUTOTUNE would HELP, maybe it can’t HELP. ‘Nuff said about the state of popular music (and the GRAMMYs).

Indeed, Shakira’s HIPSDONTLIE. Circles around Janet LEIGH and LORENA Ochoa, but Tony winner KELLI O’Hara deserves a yeah baby today.

Nothing egregious, but not much DEPTH.

Burma Shave 10:00 AM  




BS2 10:45 AM  




spacecraft 11:43 AM  

Well, according to @pabloinnh, I am dead. I tried to put together
and wondered "Who's he?" Nor is that the limit of my wonder. SMS??? AON?????? The SMS thing doesn't surprise me; tech glaze-eye applies. But AON? Never heard of them. AOL sure, but AON? And they have an entire BUILDING??? Wait, I have got to look this up.*

Moving on, all this was easy enough to finish on crosses; mercifully there were no naticks. God, I'm old. One mood-lifter was the hot contest for DOD. Too many honorable mentions to mention, but the winner is Marion Crane, who drove Norman Bates out of his skull. Me too, Janet LEIGH.

Fill-wise, there was some pain. The RTD (random time of day) TWOPM is splatzed right in the center. And besides the weird unknowns there was ESAI and YSL, both getting used AFAR too often. Along with AFAR. But I'll give it APAR. Har.

spacecraft 11:47 AM  

*AON is some insurance company. Until this very day in my life, I never heard of it.

leftcoaster 3:18 PM  

Mostly easy -- *except* when putting together the theme -- and fun to do.

Favorite piece of it is HIPS DON'T LIE, a new one. Also got a kick out of the "DOG" New Yorker cartoon.

Helped a lot to know TROMPE L'OEIL, particularly the spelling, which registered from a number of previous encounters. Other parts are also helped by crosses. Remembered Hoda KOTB as an adviser to Hillary C., I think.

Finally, must mention the symmetrical long downs for their contributions, which are the frosting or FUDGE on a the cake.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

I read through all the comments, sure that someone would have this same question, but now realize I must just be dense.
What does ONKP mean? Is it "on KP?" Kitchen patrol? ��‍♀️

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

As usual, I agree with Rex. This was a dull theme for a dull puzzle, and I think even the "big four"/four parts was just a coincidence because there's no other feasible way to break up her name. Granted, there's probably no way to make an interesting tribute to any given trendy pop singer du jour (her fans will find it obvious, and the rest of the world is sick of her being shoved down our throats), but a trite topic and weak fill don't make a fun puzzle.

It didn't even work as a tribute bevause tribute puzzles usually contain numerous pieces of information about the person, but here four of the six are spent just to convey her name. Combine all six, and the only information is that she won Grammys and apparently sang one song.

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

In response to an unanswered previous question, yes, ONKP at 7 Across means "on kitchen patrol."

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