Country singer McKenna / SUN 5-8-21 / Went sniggling / Actress in eight Bond films / Shout at a Greek wedding

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Constructor: Brad Wiegmann

Relative difficulty: Easy (very) (7:42 ... if that's not my record Sunday time, it's close)

THEME: "Mother's Day Concert" — songs clued as if they had to do with giving birth. Looks like they are in some kind of order, ending with birth (?):

Theme answers:
  • "I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU" (24A: Mom's comment to her child during prenatal bonding? [Frank Sinatra, 1954])
  • "CARRY THAT WEIGHT" (30A: What Mom is obligated to do as her due date approaches? [The Beatles, 1969])
  • "HURTS SO GOOD" (49A: Mom's reaction to her first mild contractions? [John Cougar, 1982])
  • "PUSH IT" (54A: Midwife's advice to Mom in the delivery room? [Salt-N-Pepa, 1987])
  • "SCREAM" (83A: Mom's reaction as delivery draws closer? [Usher, 2012])
  • "I'M COMING OUT" (85A: Child's response to Mom's actions? [Diana Ross, 1980])
  • "BABY ONE MORE TIME" (103A: Nurse's remark after Mom delivers the first twin? [Britney Spears, 1998])
  • "THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT" (112A: Doctor's comment after Mom delivers the second twin? [The Who, 1965])
Word of the Day: LORI McKenna (19A: Country singer McKenna) —
Lorraine "Lori" McKenna (nΓ©e Giroux; born December 22, 1968) is an American folk, Americana, and country music singer, songwriter, and performer. In 2016, she was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and won Best Country Song for co-writing the hit single "Girl Crush" performed by Little Big Town. In 2017, she again won Best Country Song at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards for writing "Humble and Kind" performed by Tim McGraw. McKenna along with Lady GagaNatalie Hemby and Hillary Lindsey wrote the second single off the soundtrack to the 2018 film A Star Is Born called "Always Remember Us This Way.” McKenna performed backing vocals along with Lindsey and Hemby, and the song received a nomination for Song of the Year at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. (wikipedia)
• • •

Let me preface my initial remarks by saying that I am sure that they are at least a little unfair. But it's a gut-level feeling that I had solving this thing, right from the first themer that I got ("HURTS SO GOOD"), and that is: I found it all a little creepy. There's just something about a man making a puzzle and turning these very ... physical, embodied, often painful experiences into haha music jokes. I think it was the aggressive focus on the actual fact of giving birth that weirded me out. I mean, giving birth, fantastic, no issues with all kinds of specifics related to the act. It's the weird cutesiness of it all. I really do think that having "HURTS SO GOOD" being the first themer I encountered really just ruined the whole experience. The idea of contractions being a kind of sadomasochistic experience... it just made my skin crawl a little. The rest of the themers aren't nearly as off-putting to me. And I am 100% certain that if the constructor had been a woman, I wouldn't have been *as* put off as I was. But I probably still would've been. A little. When I think of Mother's Day, I don't really think of the actual act of giving birth. I mean, it's clearly important, but it's hardly at the heart of what makes a mother a mother. Anyway, I absolutely admit that my aversion to this whole theme is very possibly highly idiosyncratic and personal. Some of these themers are kind of cute, I guess. But you know what mom really wants for Mother's Day? A woman constructor. 

One other thing is that the songs are all very old. The most recent song is 23 years old. I mean, right in my wheelhouse, thank you very much, but if I'm under 40 (and seriously, lots and lots of solvers are), this is gonna feel a little musty. I'm happy for the puzzle to go old, but maybe widen the range a little. Oh, whoops, I didn't even see that 2012 Usher song there ("SCREAM"). I have no idea what song that is. I know the Michael / Janet Jackson song "SCREAM," but not the Usher one. I guess Usher makes things a little more contemporary. But only just.

I really thought I was sputtering my way through this, so was completely shocked to see my extremely fast (for me) time at the end. There were So Many "?" clues that I actually yelled at the puzzle mid-solve. "Stop!" or "Uggggh!" or something like that is probably what I yelled. But my reaction on looking at what seemed like the 5th "?" clue in a row was visceral. Excluding themers (which have "?" clues by design, so no foul there), I count thirteen (!?) "?" clues. Maybe there are more—I just did a quick scan and sometimes my eyes fail me. But that seems like a lot. And there are a lot in a short space. 60- 66- 70- 72- 79- and 84-Down are *all* "?" clues. And sure enough, the only two places I got discernibly stuck today had "?" clues right in the middle of them. First, PUPAE, oof (56A: Wanna-bees, e.g.?). Because ... they wanna be ... bees? Do they, though? Wannabes are decidedly Not the thing they are pretending / aspiring to be(e). Whereas PUPAE do, in fact, become bees, so ... I dunno about the wordplay there. And that answer crossed TOETAPS, which just wasn't registering as a thing in my brain (43D: Keeps the beat with one's foot). The other rough spot involved 66D: Site of offshore banks? (ISLETS). What shore are they "off" of? The mainland? Because "banks" *are* shores. Also, "banks" are used for rivers and lakes usually, not seas or oceans. The "?" is doing a Lot of work in this clue. So ISLETS, next to PARA (72D: Olympic athlete category) (isn't that a shortening? why doesn't the clue indicate shortening?) crossing the execrable AT A TROT really bogged me down. But, again, apparently didn't bog me down too much, because I really flew through this one. I liked the long Downs in the NW and SE corners. Those are solid. And I liked how fast I went. Everything else was OK. Your taste may vary (considerably). 

Not much needs explaining today, does it? 5D: Beginning that leads to sum? (COGITO) refers to the phrase "COGITO ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"). ERS are [Places to take breaks, for short?] because you take breaks (i.e. broken body parts) there. The other "?" clues all seem pretty transparent.

Happy Mothers Day to all who mother.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. my mom rules :)

P.P.S. from social media ... I'm apparently not the only one who recoiled from this theme, at least a little:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:06 AM  

"ESTOP" crossing "STOP"? C'mon.

jae 12:07 AM  

Easy. Knew most of the songs so this went quickly. Clever and fun, liked it.

Re: Creepy: Brad’s cheeky comments at Xwordinfo are worth the trip over there.

@bocamp - I’m about 2/3 of the way through Croce’s Freestyle #609. So far it’s tricky but pretty doable. Like last week, your milage may very. Good luck!

Frantic Sloth 12:13 AM  

So a Mother's Day tribute puzzle using song titles. I think even @Z can't pooh-pooh that, because it's moms!

Plus coupling pseudo-momilies with hit songs is clever and fun.

Couple of minor nits:

Isn't the lyric "boy, you're gonna CARRYTHATWEIGHT..."? Is this as sung to the MALE seahorse?

My personal nit - and I realize it is a personal problem - is
All you mothers here who reacted that way during the first contraction (mild or otherwise), raise your hand.

I get it's supposed to be cute and funny, but I found it off-putting. Like I said, personal bugaboo.

But no real complaints with the theme or the fill or the overall solve. And it was quick!

Good times!

Happy Mother's Day,everyone!


okanaganer 12:33 AM  

Ya missed a themer, Rex, and it's the best one: I WANNA BE SEDATED. In fact it's the only one I laughed at. As a man I thought the theme was fine; I wonder if women agree?

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT was also a pretty good movie about 10 years ago, where a same sex couple (women) raise kids conceived from a sperm donor. This hits close to home as my close relative's best friend is in exactly the same situation... she and her wife are taking turns having kids. Kinda neat!

Also my closest woman friend (no benefits) had a sperm donor daughter, which worked out great for her. Happy mother's day, ladies!

jmiz 12:42 AM  

Super creepy. Nailed it.

Pete 12:53 AM  

We're missing a themer two here - "Let's Get It On" and/or "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" .

A lot earlier today I was thinking that the one thing that truly separates humans from other animals is our ability to be aspirational. I can't say with any confidence that Mamma elephants love their babies fundamentally differently than do Mamma humans, but I'm sure they don't have grand plans for them when they grow up. That being said, I'm sure @Rex is right that PUPAE don't want to be anything.

JOHN X 2:02 AM  

Rex, in honor of Mother's Day I think you should take a Midol, or maybe ten of 'em.

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

The constructor lost me at FEELS SO GOOD. Spoken like a man who has never had a contraction.

Joe Dipinto 2:13 AM  

I only filled in the theme answers, so I didn't see the complete grid until now. I think it's kind of goofy and fun, not the slightest bit "creepy". But we can fix 49a, if you insist.

Elizabeth Sandifer 3:05 AM  

Pure Natick hell for me here. The worst was SUVA/EVERT, which could have been practically anything, but ELY/ALTA/MCAN wasn’t exactly great either. The bizarre spelling of AMEBA crossing a Spanish word was also rough.

The bulk of the puzzle was indeed breezy, but those last couple of squares were infuriating.

chefwen 3:15 AM  

This was kind of creepy. SCREAMED, SEDATED, HURTS SO GOOD, yikes. I’ll pass. Pretty easy, but not too much fun.

Happy a Mother’s Day to all you mommies.

Captain E. Smith 4:25 AM  

The clue for ISLETS is absolutely correct (“Site of offshore banks”).

Banks in this case are underwater plateaus that extend offshore from mainlands and occasionally rise up to islets and even big islands. The Bahamas in the Caribbean is a bank with many islands/islets, offshore of Florida and Cuba; so are the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean as well as the Grand Banks off of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic, among many others.

Maybe Rex should check the google before he publishes these factually incorrect pronouncements.

Alex M 5:15 AM  

This theme is yuck and I double-checked if the constructor was a man because OF COURSE he was. I'm 29 but enjoy classic rock so the age of the songs didn't bug me too much, but this theme in general is SO patronizing and clearly, clearly male. We should be rioting for a woman on the editorial team at this point. This REEKS of the classic "wow, this never would have see the light of day if even one member of the group in question was asked their opinion on it, but no, we didn't have even a single Black/trans/queer/disabled/etc person in the room, and we're all so goddamn oblivious to why this is terrible it hasn't even occurred to us to go find one to ask." BOO. Sorry to all the moms who had to endure this, you rock and deserve better.

Lewis 6:19 AM  

Brad, Brad,Brad. You sniggling beast. You made me work on this one. There was much out of my wheelhouse, including several of the songs, and I believe you are a king of the one-word vague clue – so many scattered about this grid, such as [Unenthusiastic], [Briskly], [Touches], [Consult], [Complete], [Relations], not to mention more-than-one-word vague clues, like [They’re used mostly on corners] and [It’s broken off].

So I had to work mightily, right along with the puzzle’s laboring mother in the midst of this [Once-in-a-lifetime event] (remember yesterday’s puzzle?).

Overcoming the resistance made for a very happy and satisfying ending, and thank you for that, Brad. And thank you for that memorable moment of confusion where I stared and stared at the incomprehensible THE KID’S A REAL RIGHT. But I have to thank you most of all for teaching me “sniggling”. Where has this glorious word been all my life? I don’t know, but it’s gone right into the rotation, starting with this post.

Colin 6:22 AM  

Interestingly, I tried to fit HURTSSOBAD and scratched my head for a little while until I recalled the real lyrics... so like the rest of you, I was puzzled by HURTSSOGOOD in this context.

The west side hung me up for a long time, because I had TAN for the "Sun follower?" and couldn't see it. I take issue with REM state - REM sleep would be fine, and this is what one gets using Dr. Google, not REM state. And I was hoping that "Org. that delivers" would be ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology)...

Finally, SNORE ("Bad thing to do in class") brought back memories of a college seminar I took. There were only four students in the class, but some of the lecturers were so boring (2-hour long lectures, no breaks; I mean, really?) that I would fall asleep (and sink into, um, REM state). Thank goodness we weren't graded on class participation!

With wishes for a Happy Mother's Day!

Amy 6:39 AM  

Originally submitted as “Labor Day Concert” which would eliminate a lot of the creepy factor imo. NYTimes changed it to mothers Day (says constructor Brad).

Ann Howell 6:40 AM  

Hated this so much, especially because of its creepy theme, but mostly because it was stale and unfulfilling. And as someone pointed out above - ESTOP crossing STOP at the bottom was unforgiveable!

Anonymous 6:40 AM  

Wow, ageism and misandry in one blog post. Way to go Rex.

Anonymous 6:40 AM  

From an actual mother's perspective, this was a horrible theme. That the constructor was a man, trying to make cute labor puns on Mother's Day made it the actual worst theme I've ever solved. There is nothing cute about labor. Labor can be traumatic, sacred, and deeply personal. Trying to make light of it is just a bad call. Gross all over the place, and actually made my stomach turn. Some moms need a break from their kids on Mother's Day, I need a break from the NYTimes crossword after that one.

BarbieBarbie 6:46 AM  

My prediction: two distinct camps on today’s theme. My second prediction: people who’ve directly experienced childbirth mostly in the Likes camp. HURTS SO GOOD brought back memories of the endorphin cascade that introduces a baby to its mom- what a nice way to start Mother’s Day.
I didn’t find this one easy at all. My Rex-multiplier was through the roof. It seemed kind of choppy, maybe because it crammed so many themers in. Anon@1206 already pointed out the STOP/ESTOP Edit Fail.
Enjoy your flowers, all.

JD 6:54 AM  

My son says our family's sense of humor is a combination of wit, crudeness and absurdity. Obviously, as a mother I burst with pride at the thought.

That's why I see this puzzle as having the potential to be a perennial cult classic for Mother's Day. Like the Rocky Horror Picture show of the '70, we can do it multiple times over the coming years and shout out the answers. Scream! Scab! Adult Film! Happy Mothers Day! Take that Hallmark!

I love this puzzle. And if look waaay down at the bottom, you'll see Roses.

JD 6:55 AM  

Oops! I meant Adult Movie!

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

As a woman and a mother I found the theme offensive…particularly by a male constructor. If you want to do a Mother’s Day theme, honor Moms…don’t make light of the birth experience.

bocamp 7:13 AM  

Many thanks, @Brad for this beautifully constructed musical offering! 🎼

Easy++ (except for a technical dnf)

This was a fun hunt-and-peck adventure that resulted in a fairly quick solve, except for having THE KID'S A GO ALRIGHT. Thot GAT & ORS looked fine, but in rereading the clue and grasping the plural aspect, made the correction.

In any event, Happy Mother's Day!

A Mother's Love ~ Gena Hill

yd 0

Peace ~ and Good Health to all πŸ•Š

LJ 7:21 AM  

As a woman, I agree this was bad, and also not fun

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

I dunno. Right away, I saw 66D: Site of offshore banks? as those obscure little islands where you hide your money. But in that case the ? doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Jess 7:23 AM  

This feels like a mockery of mothers, not a celebration of them. This mom did not like this one bit.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

Possibly the easiest Sunday ever, except that I DNF’d. English/American spelling differences caught me again.

I was 100% certain of MITRE, which made my guess for Nibble “ritrat”, which sounded better than “bitrat”.

Knew all the songs but one. No points for guessing which one (Usher).

If it were my puzzle, I would have used Garbage for PUSH it rather than Salt-N-Pepa, which would have given Rex the opportunity to link to a Garbage video two weeks in a row.

Z 7:40 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - And here I thought you knew me better than that. No, I don’t know if “creepy” is quite right, but PPPP (Punny PPP) is still PPP as its core. I didn’t find anything particularly interesting about repurposing song titles to make delivery jokes. It’s hard to tell if the constructor is being serious, but the puns’ absurdity would have played better for a Labor Day Sunday. As it is, HURTS SO GOOD is wince inducing, and SCREAM is most definitely not what I associate with Mother’s Day. I must admit that PUSH IT got a wry smile, since the “IT” in the song title references the beginning of the pregnancy cycle. Just absurd. Amazed we didn’t find a way to make WAP work, here.

ELY crossing DENCH caused a sarcastic “he makes her seem young” to cross my mind. It seems like Crossworld’s favorite Tarzan hasn’t been around much lately. I can’t say I have missed him. I also noticed that AVA and ANA both made the puzzle. I always forget which is N and which is V so always put in A-A and wait for the cross. Already having ANA made AVA easier today.

I didn’t hate this, there’s a part of the absurd inappropriateness of some of this that tickles my funny bone, But cracking jokes about delivery on Mothers’ Day is an odd choice. Evan Birnholz promised a metapuzzle over at WaPo, so that’s next.

amyyanni 7:43 AM  

Not a fan. And I needed something fun today.

Gary Johnson 7:47 AM  

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

I love my wife and also my mother, but come on gals let’s get over this whole childbearing thing. As a father of two I can tell you that the man clearly has the more difficult role. Sure, giving birth may be painful but it only lasts a few hours at most; I had to pay for those births and I’ve had to put up with the bitching and moaning for years now.

Joe Dipinto 7:51 AM  

@JD – I didn't spot the roses. Too funny! It's like, "Oh here, almost forgot these..."

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Vulgar...vulgar...vulgar ....just crude......
Misogyny on Mothers’ Day...
Especially this year when pregnant women have been so impacted by COVID....

You realize mothers have died in childbirth.
Not all babies are healthy...

FrankFDNY 7:56 AM  

Your woke sense has overwhelmed your sense of humor.

Betty J 8:04 AM  

Speaking as a woman and a mother, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I couldn’t even finish this puzzle because it was so hard. Thank goodness I have a husband because he came along and helped me finish it. I know someone who’s going to get some special pancakes today!

I’m so grateful for my husband. Without him and his best friend I wouldn’t even be a mother.

Piper 8:08 AM  

As a mother of an adopted child, I found this puzzle offensive. Being a mother is not defined by giving birth but instead by loving your child.

pmdm 8:23 AM  

The act of giving birth has to include a mother who is in labor. And I think we all know being in labor is hardly pleasant. This type of consideration [almost] never dawns on me while I am solving the puzzle. Perhaps I am too centered in on solving the puzzle. But I could certainly understand how many women would wince at the theme because of their memories. Or whatever.

What turned me off about the puzzle was the PPP. I'm not sure I knew any of the theme entries. Perhaps one of two I got from the crosses, but certainly not most. Not even the Beatles song, and that is the only album of the bunch that I own. Interesting how nicknames of classical music works seem to endure forever (Miracle Symphony, Pastorale Symphony, Pathetique Sonata, Symphony of a Thousand) but pop titles are ephemeral in the minds of those who follow pop music.

So I guess I say OK to the concept but not OK to the execution. At least for how it hit me. At least Z's reaction was more tempered that I though it would be.

Donna 8:30 AM  

I figured that Rex would pretend to be offended by this. Meh. To each their own. Happy Birthing People’s Day. H/T Cori Bush D/Mo.

Barbara S. 8:35 AM  

Reading Rex and the comments posted so far makes me think I must be as insensitive as a brick. It didn’t occur to me when solving or afterwards looking over the completed grid that this was creepy or tactless. I just thought it was a bunch of cute(ish) music-related puns on the act of giving birth. BUT I’ve never given birth. I know that it must be both a profound and a painful experience. But we human beings do sometimes make light of the profound and the painful. Humour like that is sometimes what keeps us going in the face of struggle. And if everything goes well, childbirth results in great joy – the birth of possibility in the shape of a tiny, miraculous person. So I’m now torn about this theme after initially thinking it was fine (if not exactly brilliant). In my innocence, the themer I liked best was I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU, which elicited a chuckle.

And I didn’t find it as easy as some. I wasn’t familiar with most of these song titles. I got hung up in the LORI/COGITO area and, like others, around SUVA/PUPAE. I have to say, Americans, MITER just looks weird. Most American spellings I can adjust to quite easily, but MITER is a hat too far (MITRE, please!). I look for delight in the long downs and felt it was lacking today. MARGARINE, ESOPHAGUS, CAMERA CREW and ADULT MOVIE didn’t do it for me. I prefer to think of lions, tigers and bears in the wild not in the ZOO. The only long down that turned my crank was OPERA HOUSE.

There's some relevance in the quotation today: it's a scene with a mother and a child. It was written by J.M. BARRIE, born May 9, 1860.

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
(From Peter Pan)

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Easy puzzle but, the fact that it was constructed by a man and made fun of labor was just icky. The NYT really is tone deaf sometimes.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Easy and creepy. Right with you, Rex.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Stop crossing estop....boooooo.

GILL I. 8:52 AM  

This was painful...almost as bad as my first birth. Is there a song called "Get An Epidural Before You Die?"
Making it worse is that I didn't know any of these songs. I sing a lot . Usually in the shower or when I'm driving alone. I know I've heard I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU but I couldn't remember it.
The only thing that HURTS SO GOOD is a chocolate fudge ice cream brain freeze.
@Gary Johnson 7:47.....May you come back as a pregnant Mother and go through 28 hours of hard labor.
My CHUM runneth over.

Oh....Brunch today courtesy of daughter and family. Eggs Benedict on the menu.
Happy Mother's Day to all and to all TATA.

JD 9:01 AM  

@JoeD, Right!

@Gary, I've always said men suffer the most and no one cares.

@kitchef, Thank you for ritrat and bitrat. More hilarity today.

Lori 9:05 AM  

I completely second Rex's comments about this puzzle. I too got "Hurts So Good" first and found the lighthearted references to the pain and discomfort associated with carrying and bearing a child kinda offensive. Also the themers were just waaaay too easy. I know it must be so difficult to construct a crossword puzzle and my congratulations to the author of the present one, but it's tone-deaf, to keep within the theme. What Mom wanted today was a good Sunday puzzle. Didn't get it.

GFK 9:12 AM  

Half way through I decided to protest and not finish this insulting puzzle. Hurts So Good???

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

When I typed in 'HURTSSOGOOD' I thought (without checking the sex or gender preference of the constructor, because I don't give a rat's posterior about such things), "Whoo boy, Rex and his wokester lapdogs are gonna freak out". Sure enough...... And none of you hyper-sensitive types are hip enough to know that M*THER isn't even allowed anymore. No, in place of the M-word you gotta say 'BIRTHINGPERSON' which, whatever its merits, is gonna make crossword construction harder. Meanwhile, this took me 31 minutes which is a bit slow these days. Overall, it was a middling Sunday NYT X-word.

CPG 9:13 AM  

I agree

Amy Gaidis 9:13 AM  

Another point on the creepiness factor that I haven't seen made yet - for me, I WANNA BE SEDATED immediately brought to mind the common 20th century practice of "Twilight Sleep" where women were given a drug cocktail that knocked them unconscious during labor. It was supposedly to provide a painless labor experience, but often women experienced all the usual pain of labor...they just didn't remember it after they came to. Of course, they weren't fully conscious so it was impossible for them to be an active, consenting participant in any medical interventions, and they were often strapped to the bed they were laboring in. It might seem like a far off piece of history, but ask your mother or grandmother about her birthing experience and you might be surprised to hear how common this was. So yeah...sedation and labor has a pretty intense history that's a lot less cutesy than this puzzle was aiming to be.

A little more info and other links here:

Nancy 9:20 AM  

I knew going into this puzzle, that, should I decide to continue, I'd be doing it with one hand tied behind my back. But the puzzle egged me on by putting the two song titles I knew up on top: I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU and CARRY THAT WEIGHT. That was the fun part. I knew it would only get harder.

And it did. Much harder.

But I finished. And I'm so proud. I knew none of the other titles, and to make it even worse, there was all the rest of the PPP to contend with. I was helped by the fact that there was a movie I'd heard of called THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, so that answer came in pretty easily.

I have to say that I thought that this pop song-driven theme was pretty clever and impressively apt in its choices, even as I was cursing the pop culture aspect of it. It never occurred to me to find it "creepy". And certainly not because a man constructed it. I just never think that way -- I just never do. And (don't yell at me), but I really think mine is a better way to go through life. There are so many real problems in the world to worry about right now. (Like the fact that American democracy seems to be "going down the TUBES", for one thing.)

Frantic Sloth 9:21 AM  

@Z 740am Yeah. It was partially a feeble attempt to sway you because you're so weak-minded and all. I would say that I really should have known, but that phrase is a nonstarter for me.

Looks like today's comments are an unhappy combination of missed bad jokes and an utter lack of understanding (much less empathy).
I'm declaring it a disaster area and intend to evacuate immediately. You're welcome.

Son Volt 9:23 AM  

Wow - Rexworld all aflutter and dithery this morning. Mothers will be mothers i guess. Odd theme - and a highly segmented grid brought this into slog territory. Some good clueing - COGITO, ESOPHAGUS and others but there was a lot of short, TEPID gluey stuff.

Not overly enjoyable. Happy Mother’s Day to all.

@Alex M 5:15a - thanks for the discourse - but I’m really astonished that you used such a restrictive term like Mom rather than the inclusive birthing person.

BlueStater 9:30 AM  

I'm usually right with OFL on reactions to the puzzles, so I'm surprised at his comments on today's. I thought this was excruciatingly and exasperatingly difficult, with more entries being marginal than not. The Sundays, once a blessed relief from the craziness of the dailies, continue to deteriorate, IMO.

Pete Smith 9:32 AM  

With you on this 100%, Michael. Thanks for your always thoughtful posts.

Sarah Prineas 9:36 AM  

Totally with Rex on this one. Creepy.

Teedmn 10:01 AM  

{Site of offshore banks?} ISLET This clue/answer pair caused me the most trouble today because I didn't know the Usher lyric, couldn't picture what might have broken off with only SE__, or the Olympic PA__ athlete, or what __N followed the sun (84D). Such an innocuous section to have created such a hold-up. I am glad Rex's comments bear me out (no child-bearing pun there).

I knew a majority of the song lyrics so that helped, and CARRY THAT WEIGHT and I WANNA BE SEDATED didn't even need that many crosses, yay!

Toughest trick clue for me was "Wound up on top?" for SCAB. That the phrase was absolutely written in such a way as to encourage reading "wound" as rhyming with "sound" is diabolically clever.

The clues for STAPLERS (20A) and AMEBA (99A) were great. I'm not sure about Raw footage? for ADULT MOVIE. And does anyone buy MARGARINE in sticks? I'm not in the market for the stuff but I picture it in tubs. Not a complaint, just wondering. Google says yes, it comes in sticks. Huh.

Brad Wiegmann, thank you for the day-appropriate Sunday solve.

(But I do get the "slightly creepy" vibe Rex mentions since I have two nieces now nearing their due dates who probably aren't as sanguine about it as these mothers seem to be.)

RooMonster 10:04 AM  

Hey All !
No disputing here that child birth is painful, and sometimes women get hit with post-partum depression, however, I heard a comedian talk about child birth, saying something to the effect of "what's more painful? Child birth or getting hit in the balls? Well, women often say they want another child after having one, men never want to get hit in the balls after the first time!"

@Anon 9:12
Seriously with the BIRTHINGPERSON thing? Jeez Louise, the "wokeness" is getting out of hand. It's Mother, always has been. So in 60 years all pronouns are going to be gender-neutral? What a boring life that'll be. "Thank you, Person" instead of "Thank you Sir or Maam"? The "woke" need to wake up.

That screed aside, puzzles like this, wether run on Mother's Day or Labor Day will always offend some people. Everything that's ever existed will offend some people. It's just the way it is. I thought it a good puz for matching up sing lyrics to Mom/Labor stuff. I don't think it was a stab at demeaning the birth process, it just made for a good puz theme. You can find fault in everything if you try hard enough. Just enjoy this puz as was intended. That's it.

I believe if HURTS SO GOOD and SCREAM were taken out of puz, a lot more would've actually liked this theme. Everything else is pretty inoculous.

Wow, seems I'm a little saucy today, eh? It's not you, ITS ME. Har. I need to take it EASY. Need an ESTOP STOP. No more LIP. EVERT your ears. ZAP the ESOPHAGUS. No if, ands, or ABUTS.

Ok, that's enough. Nice puz, funky looking grid, took it for what it was meant for. Happy Mother's Day!

Two F's

Hungry Mother 10:04 AM  

Pretty quick, but the SW slowed me down.

Gypsy Rose 10:05 AM  

Yuk, yuk, yuk. I feel terrible for all of the women who perhaps had a difficult (or worse) child birthing experience only to have it trivialized like this - and for what ? It seems like they could have done much better with one of the other 200+ submissions a week that they receive.

gpm 10:13 AM  

(So, every man ever)

Silbadger 10:20 AM  

I enjoyed I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU. I like the Ramones enough to smile at I WANNA BE SEDATED. But HURTS SO GOOD? Gross and awful in multiple dimensions! Kind of impressively so. And, as a mother, a (less gross) labor/delivery theme would have been fine on almost any day except Mother's Day! There is nothing complimentary to mothers in this whole thing and excludes a ton of people to boot. F.

GHarris 10:21 AM  

Can we come up with more supposedly birth-related songs? I offer the following:

Clue: Mom who wants a second child Toni Tennille 1979

Answer: Do it to me one more time.

Joaquin 10:35 AM  

The fact that we now have *BIRTHING PERSON* as some folks' preferred description of today's honorees says to me that those same folks have gone over the edge of wokeness. As for me, you'll find me in the "Old's Cool" area honoring *Mothers*.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Those who find this puzzle creepy because they think it pokes fun at the physical pain women suffer in childbirth are perhaps giving WEIGHT and a big PUSH to Gloria Steinem's memorable MOT:

"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

The comments show an utter lack of understanding?
Wow. Just wow.
Amy Gaidis,
The real story of 20hth century obstetrics is the unmitigated, almost supernatural, improvement in infant and maternal survival.
But yeah, you do you.

Hambone 10:38 AM  

Got delayed a bit thanks to the coincidence that OOPS I DID IT AGAIN has the same number of letters as BABY ONE MORE TIME. And both titles work for delivering twins...

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Wasn’t as easy for me since there were a couple of songs I didn’t know. Yes, maybe slightly creepy ... which could have been avoided if the songs were more themed around honoring mom rather than the pain of child birth, but still a nice puzzle.

Robin Ford Wallace 10:50 AM  

It creeped me out, too. Gag.

Brooklyn Roasting 10:57 AM  

Didn’t know “scream.” Figured “so beat”

“Tan” going down on 84 ...para is not Fair-uh? Ruin the whole thing for me.

Matt 10:58 AM  

Missed opportunity: way up in the NW at 13A instead of "They're served in prisons", TERMS should have been clued "Pregnancy lengths" or "gravid concerns" if one wanted to toughen it up.

As for the theme...well, I read the schtick answers in sequence to the mothers in our household, who collectively have given birth to six babies, one of whom is a former obstetrical nurse, and they thought they were hilarious. They couldn't stop laughing at the transition from HURTS SO GOOD to I WANNA BE SEDATED. Said the former nurse, "that's the progression from Moms who come in with a birth plan for natural birth who beg for an epidural later." (I, having only been an observer at several of said births, recuse myself; I was far more outraged at crossing STOP with ESTOP myself.)

Brooklyn Roasting 11:00 AM  

Didn’t know “scream.” So I figured a mothers reaction could be “so beat” (maybe whoever usher is came up with the song like that?) Which made me think “tan” had to be right. Which made “at a trot” impossible, though I knew it was right. At which point I was “so beat” I just quit.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

I couldn't agree more with the yuck-vibe of the whole thing. Let's also not forget that many mothers are mothers *without* the mechanics of childbirth, which does not make them mothers any less.

But I also found the puzzle boring, choppy and uninspiring. Mostly easy but so what. Had to chase it with a different, better crossword to get the bad taste off of my pencil.

Thanks, Rex! Today our crankiness matches!

Sgt. Rock 11:06 AM  

Anybody who thinks this puzzle was “creepy” shouldn’t be doing the NYTX puzzle in the first place.

Grow a pair, ladies.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Rex, I agree with you completely. My first thought when I realized the answer to 39A was "Said NO WOMAN EVER!" Things did not improve from there. This is not the Mother's Day tribute puzzle a woman would have written. I'd venture to say, even a woman who HASN'T experienced childbirth.

Aelurus 11:07 AM  

Am in the not-so-easy camp, knowing only I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU and CARRY THAT WEIGHT and having some trouble with the fill, though nice to see GNU again, and ARM for vaccination location. Increasing uneasiness about the rest of the themers as they were revealed, but like @Barbara S. 8:35, did not seem out of bounds to me until reading many of the comments here, perhaps because I also have never given birth. After reflection, I can see the offensiveness. Agree with @Amy 6:39 and @Z 7:40, respectively, that “Labor Day Concert” would have been a much better title and place to appear. Am off to check out WaPo's metapuzzle, thanks, @Z!

Better news this morning: So the errant gyrating rocket landed in the Indian Ocean. Whew! When Skylab, the first object I knew of to fall out of the sky, made headlines I was working in the Flatiron Building in Manhattan. The company occupied the top three floors and several of us on the otherwise-coveted very top floor thought it would be prudent to take the elevator down to join those lucky employees lunching two floors below so as to avoid a looming potential catastrophe. We were young and foolish and after the landing laughed at ourselves for this cockamamie idea of being safe anywhere near the top of a building if it were hit by an extraordinarily large chunk of space debris. Most of Skylab landed in the ocean, though some bits ended up in a remote area of Australia, obligingly causing no injuries. The small town fined the United States $400 for littering, unpaid until 2009 (this last about the fine learned from “The Strange Tale of the Skylab’s Fall from Orbit,” The Atlantic, September 19, 2011).

Tom R 11:08 AM  

Dumb puzzle. Was annoyed by trying to pick up the theme answers, clues did not help me and basically guessed them from the crosses. Finally got to the last one "Baby one more time" and just hit solve. I never do that, but never is a long time and the puzzle had ceased being fun a long time ago.

bocamp 11:10 AM  

Another thot re: my blunder on the Who song at 112A: even tho I was vaguely familiar with only two of the songs of the 7 themers, I had made sense out all of them until the final one. I think I was a bit worn out by the battle at that point and failed to consider the 'song' theme in parsing the sentence; hence, THE KID'S A GO ALRIGHT seemed to fit the overall whackiness of the theme. I finally realized my error with Gat & Ors, but could have avoided yesterday's HOT MESS by taking the 'song' theme into account and making a reasonable attempt to parse it into something that made sense, song-wise. This is an example of a puzzle where keeping the theme in mind really does/could help the solve.

8 gender-neutral birth terms and how to use them


Thx; looking forward to 609. Hoping for better results than last week (which I will be redoing, as a refresher for all those new terms I supposedly learned) LOL.

pg -4

Peace ~ and Good Health to all πŸ’

Malsdemare 11:10 AM  

I get the cringy response to HURTS SO GOOD, but I have to say that was true for me. My babies were huge and late; the first contraction said, “Yay! Let’s get this show on the road!” Later contractions, not so much.

I disagree with almost everything Rex said today except this: On Mother’s Day, could we please have a woman constructor?

OffTheGrid 11:10 AM  

I like doing xword puzzles so there is always some level of enjoyment. Sadly, the level was pretty low for this one. @Rex described the creepiness quite well. Among other problems, "ALRIGHT" (112A) is never correct.

Phil 11:11 AM  

Relax, naysayers. It’s a PUZZLE, not a documentary.

Malsdemare 11:12 AM  

By the way, in case no one has mentioned it, the category of Olympic athlete is PARA. I edit sport books; that's the accepted term.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@Betty J. 8:04 AM

"I’m so grateful for my husband. Without him and his best friend I wouldn’t even be a mother."

Well, that got my attention!

jb129 11:29 AM  

I don't care if it was "too easy:"

I LOVED THIS PUZZLE & it was a fun way to start the week - thank you Brad for a fun time!

Carola 11:34 AM  

Ugh x 2. First for the theme (the NYT's fault), second for the 7 songs I'd never heard of (my fault).
The only answer I liked was "Go down the TUBES," in honor of the ovum. Downhill all the way from there.

sixtyni yogini 11:40 AM  

Yes, same here, Rex. Was a bit creepy.
But happy Mother’s Day

Joe Dipinto 11:50 AM  

This song should make the retching, puking, creeped-out, grossed-out masses feel better. Unless you think disco is creepy.

CreamyT 11:53 AM  

(Very) easy? Yikes. That doesn't make me feel great. Fun puzzle minus the awful naticks, but definitely didn't find it easy. Above average for our Sundays by a decent amount.

My wife and I struggled quite a bit. We're 36 and 29, so almost all of the songs weren't familiar to us. I knew three of them - IWANNABESEDATED, IGETAKICKOUTOFYOU, and BABYONEMORETIME. Well, I did know PUSHIT, but it took some thinking.

This was a hard DNF for us due to several naticks:


I don't know if this is xword PPP stuff, but man...every one of those was a guess. We got AVA/ETAPE right since AVA was easier to suss out, but it was 75/25 between that and AVI. Absolutely no idea what ETAPE is. Never heard of EVERT or SUVA, REGATTA sounded right, but we had lHEA/REGAlTA as a guess because of "Regal."

An unfortunate end to our 12 day streak. It's frustrating when it's a bunch of naticks. Oh well.

Time to fire up a new one tomorrow.

Also - my wife gave birth to our first child about 6 months ago. So I think that's all fresh in her memory! She thought it was funny enough. Certainly not gross or insulting. :shrug:

George 11:54 AM  

Here you go, just what everyone wanted, 2 more cents on this topic!

0. First of all, to all the people who dutifully spend part of each day visiting this website for the sole purpose of hate-reading Rex's writeups for their wokeness, fine. Whatever floats your boat, spend your time however makes you happy! But in this case, it's NOT just Rex and it's NOT just political correctness. There are real people, your peers and members of your "interest group", writing about real, personal stuff, right here in the comments. Should there be a chance that such comments change how you see certain stuff? I certainly think so; especially if you, like me, haven't experienced it yourself. Don't want to attend a dinner in which rich white Ivy Leaguers performatively wring their hands about societal ills of which they have no direct experience, or demonize "ignorant" people they've never met, straining their necks violently nodding in agreement with each other? Totally get it, neither do I. This is different.

Just because someone out there thinks we should all say "birthing person" now does not mean that the rest of us are ignorant, hateful reactionaries. Just because some dialogue around these woke-related topics isn't thoughtful doesn't mean this entire enterprise, the dialogue that is taking place in millions of little agoras like this one, is intrinsically hopeless or being undertaken in bad faith.

1. "Hurts so good" is weird and red-flaggy. Period. That shouldn't have happened, and wouldn't have happened if the editorial board were doing its job. It would have been objectionable regardless of the constructor, in my opinion. It's just BAD.

2. Some of these seemed, to me, much more objectionable than others when I looked at this after completing the puzzle. I wondered, is there a less tasteless version of this? Yeah, sure -- just leave out Hurts So Good and Scream-- and then it's just "safe" territory and tropes, right? Feel the baby kick, carrying it to term, then the Old Childbirth Classics from film and TV: everyone yelling "Push!", the good-old "give me the epidural, I don't care what I said 5 hours ago!!!" thing from TV shows, then the "surprise, there's a twin!" twist...

3. ...and then I came here to read the comments... and turns out, no, that's not right. "Push it!" clearly felt really weird to a lot of the mothers on here, for instance. And thank you Amy, for educating me/us on why "I wanna be sedated" is problematic. It's a good example of why we should be willing to learn from each other, and why we shouldn't assume that whatever is "safe territory" on TV is also sufficiently thoughtful.

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts here, it helped me quite a bit.

Newboy 11:55 AM  

Solve was choppy, Rex was snippy, commentariat responses reflected self analysis more than puzzle experiences. Got to @Barbara S whose sensibilities parallel mine & stopped reading. Hope all moms adoptive, surrogate, natural or other enjoy their days as they so richly deserve them. And thanks to Brad for grid & ear worm options.

Nancy 12:20 PM  

@Aelurus (11:07) -- Well, we knew the same two songs and none of the others, so maybe our ages are similar. And you are/were in publishing and so was I. So I was intrigued by your interesting and amusing Flatiron Building anecdote: Did you happen to work for either St. Martin's or Macmillan? Do you know Sally R?

I went to your blog profile to find out about your publishing background. I also found that we have many similar literary tastes -- from A.A. Milne to Yeats. As for "Chocolat" being one of your favorite films -- I thought you might perhaps be interested in the fourth demo album on THIS WEBSITE. Lyrics by yours truly.

Z 12:27 PM  

@George - I mostly agree. I just want to point out that most of the language that challenges people doesn’t come from Ivy Leaguers. Anti-slavery Republicans of the 1850’s and LeadBelly are not noted for their Ivy League credentials. As for “birthing person,” makes sense if you realize that gender is not a binary and never has been. Hardly the end of the world if people who do not identify as “women” need a better term. The pearl clutching always amuses me as the clutchers busy themselves accusing others of being “PC.”

Finished the WaPo. Have not sussed out the meta. Time to look again.

jb129 12:40 PM  

After reading the comments, I will agree that it was creepy...

This constructor mentioned how talented his Mom was in his intro - obviously he admires her & respects her so we should give him something for that. And I really enjoyed his puzzle so that's what I was addressing.

But I maintain, this is only a CROSSWORD PUZZLE - I think you all are intellectualizing it too much.

What will we have on Father's Day? A song including "St--ck It In?' Or "Been there done that"?


Anoa Bob 12:42 PM  

My first thought when I opened this grid was "Wow, that's a lot of black squares!", 84 of them as it turns out. A couple more black squares and the grid would have morphed into seven or eight completely closed off sections. My second thought was "Wow, the puzzle starts out with seven 3s in that NW corner, DOC, OPA(!), REM, IRE, HAI, USE and MEW!" That was a harbinger of more to come, a total of 37 of them as it turns out.

So for those who think the theme is pretty much all that matters and that the fill is just perfunctory glue to stick it all together, this one is right up your alley. For the rest of us, we get a stick of MARGARINE.

(Full disclosure: I may be a bit cranky because I only knew two of the songs.)

I wonder if they EELED (74A) in EDEN (69D)?

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

I guess I don't follow Bond flicks as well as I thought. Only female character I could conjure that long in the series was Moneypenny, whose actor I couldn't conjure. DENCH *8* films!! Gad. Lois Maxwell, but 14 entries.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

I had great trouble with WACO because I expected it to be an artificial juxtaposition of state abbreviations, like Texarkana and Calexico but abbreviated. So I thought the two states had to be next to each other.


Honcho 12:51 PM  

What's up with "biteat?"

bocamp 12:53 PM  

@Nancy 12:20 PM

Delightful tunes and lyrics from your 'Chocolat' album. I bet you had fun penning them! :)

pg -2

Peace ~ and Good Health to all πŸ’

Marie 1:01 PM  

As an adoptee this was really uncomfortable. Here I am celebrating Mother's Day with my wonderful crossword-loving mom who happens to have never given birth, so this was a terrible one for both of us. If it was meant to be a "Labor Day" thing then fine, and I didn't really mind the puzzle itself, but it definitely felt like a bad choice for Mother's Day.

Also... "birthing person"? Really? If that's an attempt to be less offensive to some group, whoever came up with it seems to have forgotten about adopters and adoptees. Actual parenthood has little to do with the birthing process. Yikes.

PMM54 1:02 PM  

Can anyone explain 4 across. “Wound up on top?” SCAB. What does that mean?

Rick Walker 1:07 PM  

I really wish Rex would realize that his feelings about the words used as far as being sensitive to feelings or the appropriateness of the clues and answers as far as their political correctness goes gets a bit tiresome.

Alex M 1:08 PM  

Yet another reason this theme sucked... Boiling down the entirety of motherhood to the process of giving birth. (Apparently this was meant for Labour Day, so blame that on the editorial team.) Mother's Day is for moms, not people who have given birth. Not every mom has given birth and not everyone who has given birth is a mom. Adoptive moms, trans moms, even drag moms if that's what feels right to the people celebrating, they're all valid. If you're trying to shit on "wokeness" at least try to understand it first. No one is trying to "cancel" being a mother. It's about expanding definitions, not restricting them.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Only women give birth. There are two sexes and two genders; they are complementary. It takes one of each to make a baby. That’s biology. It’s a fact. That we now have an assistant Secretary of Health in a blonde fright wig and dress doesn’t change that.
Also, it’s worth noting that it is in fact the Ivies which set the tone in a lot of things. Including the language of the woke.
The fun part is that, because it is full of nonsense and bizarre contradictions, it frequently trips over its own “virtue”.
Google what happened in Cambridge when Harvard Medical stated using birthing person.
Some folks were not pleased. Worth a google.

Jill 1:27 PM  

Yay, sexist jokes!

Jill 1:33 PM  

Your jokes are not funny.

David 1:34 PM  

The top part of a wound is a scab, I think.

Nancy 1:44 PM  

How nice of you, @bocamp! I'm delighted you liked the songs. On that same website, you might want to check out the first demo album, DOWAGER HEIGHTS -- David's and my spoof of the Downton Abbey/Upstairs Downstairs genre. And many thanks.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

if you pronounce as past tense of 'wind', then you get SPAT or SNIT etc.
if you pronounce as congealed blood cap, then you get SCAB

Cecilia 1:53 PM  

Liked the puzzle though pretty easy. I thought it was a nice tribute to the large majority of mothers who have given birth with no offense meant to adoptive mothers. The term birthing person is misogynistic.

thefogman 1:57 PM  

In keeng with the theme, 70A should be - Organization that perfoms deliveries.

bocamp 2:06 PM  

@Nancy (1:44 PM) yw :)

I'll definitely check DOWAGER HEIGHTS out. Nothing like a spoof of two of my fave series. In fact, rewatched Downton Abbey not long ago, and just last week binged Upstairs Downstairs for the first time.


Peace ~ and Good Health to all πŸ’

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Can the moderator please delete the posting from 1:13 PM? It's offensive, vile, and inappropriate. How could that posting have made it past the moderator in the first place?

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

Anonymous 2:15
Please explain what on earth is offensive about the post of 1:13?


ghthree 2:55 PM  

I recommend Arthur Godfrey's Mother's Day song. (Hi, @Betty J). Sample lyrics:
"If you Ma lived in Dakota /And your Pa in Minnesota /
And they both were wed, but not to one another.
Then the chances are that, Mister/ By today, you'd be your sister /
And the guy you think you are would be your brother./
If it wasn't for your father, would your mother be your mother,
So remember Dad on Mother's Day."

CDilly52 3:02 PM  

Well, I for one, “. . . GET A KICK OUT OF YOU,” Mr. W. My labor for my one and only delivery lasted almost three days, 36 hours of which were in the transition phase. This was in 1979 when we were not “real women” if we stooped to using drugs for delivery. Anything less than a completely “natural” childbirth, was a stain on our womanly fortitude (or something). So, much to my doc and husband’s individual and collective IRE, as the hours wore on and the task became more and more difficult, my absolute saint of a husband stuck it out, fought with the docs who wanted to do a Caesarian but could not opine with any certainty that either the baby or I were in distress (42 years later, I admit that hell yes I was in distress but would be damned if I’d give up without a good scientific reason), so we carried on.

My poor husband’s task was to keep me on task and distracted - a total impossibility while in transition labor, but what a trooper he was. So, being musicians at the time he decided to go that route and he started rating my response to contractions musically. Nothing was out of bounds: orchestral, operatic and popular music was on the table (so to speak). I will neither bore nor gross out the readers with some examples. Suffice it to say that this puzzle gave me a really big chuckle and sent me right down memory lane.

We ultimately delivered my wonderful daughter, just minutes before the doc insisted that he try a high forceps maneuver and if that failed, the dreaded Caesarian. To the day he died Larry often joked about that experience and called our reward the “best door prize ever.” She certainly is.

So, I was not offended that a man had the temerity to joke about Labor through music and I enjoyed this puzzle. I assume that our constructor’s Mothers’ Day tribute through humor simply marks him as a man willing to help his partner in any way required to be a true co-parent as mine did for 45 years, and to be present to help in any way required.

I thought it had some spectacular word play, “food delivery route” being my absolute favorite. A fine effort in my book. Thanks Mr. W!

PMM54 3:17 PM  

Oh that makes sense. For some reason I could only read that word as past tense of wind. As in “ended up” on top. Guess that was the intended misdirection.

Z 3:22 PM  

@Anon1:47 - Winded? I had to blink twice to realize “wind” as in “wind up,” past tense “wound” not “wound.” Man, do I love spelling. Anyway, yes, I agree with you, wound as in from a cut, not wound as in past tense of wind.

@Honcho - Not BIT EAT, but BITE AT. BI TEAT would fit with the discussion today, though, wouldn’t it?

@2:16 - I imagine because it’s not directed at anyone.

Georgia 3:34 PM  

I really really wanted Huey Lewis' "I Want a New Drug."

bocamp 4:00 PM  


Last week's = by far the toughest; this week's = by far the easiest. Like a box of chocolates … ya just never know. Anyhoo, thx for keeping me in the loop. :)

Peace ~ and Good Health to all πŸ’

sixtyni yogini 4:24 PM  

Here’s two more cents:πŸ’°πŸ’°
🧩Puzz wuz the crossword version of mansplaining. πŸ₯ΈπŸ‘ŽπŸ½πŸ₯Έ however lighthearted its intentions. 🚯

AND giving birth and -wanting- to do it again is SO NOT the equivalent of men being kicked in the balls and -never wanting- to go through it again. The former experience results in A HUMAN LIFE and the latter may result in being unable to contribute to creating a life.

Signed, mad mother...FHubbard


Anonymous 4:43 PM  


it appears that a mod didn't find humour in a reposte to 3:22. so sad. I thought it was funny. no accounting for taste.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Anonymous 4:43,
My guess is the mods were offended by your spelling of riposte not your joke.

Aelurus 6:21 PM  

@Nancy 12:20 – Not St Martin’s, Springer. Just Googled the Flatiron and see that Macmillan, parent company of St Martin’s, ended up occupying all 21 floors by 2014 but in 2019 moved its employees to a larger environment in the financial district. Must have been a very sad day for staff! I loved the Flatiron Building, the revolving entry doors into the lobby, the views, and even its ratcheting elevators. At times an elevator would drop a floor or two then catch itself, hard on the stomach but we all knew it could never crash because we were told there was an enormous hydraulic rod the height of the building buried in the earth. A friend worked in the original World Trade Center and once when I visited, the capacious elevator that traveled directly from the ground to the top, with wide doors on either end, went into freefall on its descent for more than a couple of floors then caught itself. Stomach in throat for sure! And no hydraulics, of course.

Parts of the movie played out in my mind while listening to the four parts of your Chocolat demo album – Vianne singing to her daughter, Anouk, about their traditional wandering ways; the gypsies dancing by the water; a warning for the mayor as the townsfolk experience an awakening; and the duet between Vianne and Roux, the last scene in the movie when Roux returns and Anouk’s Pontouf departs. Charming and apt lyrics, e.g., “went to sea when I was very young but still I’ve learned to say goodbye in every foreign tongue.” The poems you post for us on the blog are wonderful too. Did you write the lyrics first, then music was composed, as, I think, for Hammerstein and Rodgers? Will find my Chocolat DVD and watch tonight! Thank you for posting the link.

Mr. Alarm 6:37 PM  

The constructor forgot one: “you’re havin’ my baby“.
(Awful Paul Anka song, to add to the rest of the male viewpoint on birth mothers).

Yes, I think we all agree with you Rex on this one. I also agree with the overuse of “?”‘s. UGH! As usual, they REALLY push those. To light-heartedly say that an ER IS a place to take breaks, is ridiculous. Broken people perhaps, people with broken bones , yes, but not breaks!! Words matter!

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

Agree 100%. Very offensive and inappropriate. Also thinking of taking a break from the puzzle....

Mr. Alarm 6:41 PM  

Yes, all the double-meanings our English words have!
1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
2. The farm was used to produce produce.
3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10. I did not object to the object.

Amelia 6:44 PM  

You young people saying this is creepy are NUTS. And of course, his twitter followers are his young pals and they adore him, so they will agree with him. He probably gets an assist.

My kids were delivered by a MALE DOCTOR. What was wrong with me? How could I even allow that to happen? Creepy, patronizing, etc. Of course, it was a different era. Unenlightened. We even read Philip Roth then. We went to -- lined up for! -- Woody Allen films.

I will be dead when you youngsters get old. When nothing can be said, or written, or expressed in any way because it might offend someone on the planet.

Have fun.

JC66 7:04 PM  

@Nancy, @Aelurus

Years ago, my son worked for Sally & her husband at St. Martins. Years before that, I worked in the Toy building.

He recently sent me this link which I found fascinating.

Hope you enjoy it, too.

Anonymous 7:17 PM  


Anonymous 7:44 PM  

I found the puzzle creepy, too. Contractions do not hurt so good. They feel like you are being split in two. Not funny.

Oh Please 7:49 PM  

As someone who's actually given birth, I am bewildered by the "creepy" response. We moms are humans, not holy idols who would be offended by corny crossword puzzle themes.

"Carry that weight" inspired me to think 'Oh, how I remember that sensation!' , not 'Bring me my smelling salts!"

Son Volt 7:56 PM  

@aelerus 6:21p - I love the entrance and the entire building but my favorite was the elevation view from the park. Macmillan moved to the Equitable Building on Broadway - adjacent to the Brown Brothers building. A classic early century building with some history but pales in comparison to their old digs. Thanks for the nostalgia.

Jill 8:01 PM  

Nope, transmen are men and some have gone through pregnancy and birth.

Nancy 8:21 PM  

@Aelurus (6:21) -- With the exception of the last song, "Not the Same", all the songs are lyrics first. In fact, "Not the Same" is one of only two songs I've ever written music first -- and in both cases, I sweated bullets. I don't read music; I have to play the melody over and over and over and over again, ad infinitum, before I can write even one tiny phrase; I sometimes find myself working from the middle and going backwards and forwards; and it feels a lot more like solving a jigsaw puzzle than like actual writing. Whereas, writing the lyrics first, I'm extremely fast and once I've found the right rhythm, rhyme scheme and hook, it seldom takes me more than 2-3 hours to write a lyric. (Although there may be false starts before I've hit on the right patterns. If the writing doesn't go very fast, I know I've chosen the wrong hook, the wrong rhyme scheme and the wrong rhythm and need to go back to Square One.)

@JC66 -- It's a small world.

Anonymous 8:47 PM  

Nope. Men are men.women are women. No man has ever been pregnant. And of course no man has ever given birth.
This is basic biology.

Aelurus 8:54 PM  

@Nancy 8:21 pm – I didn’t realize you wrote the music too. That’s even more impressive!

@JC66 7:04 pm – Thank you for that link; it’s awesome! I Googled the Toy building and see it was across the park between 23rd and 25th. What a family confluence in that wonderful area, years apart.

@Son Volt 7:56 pm – You’re welcome; it’s been fun to reminisce about that beautiful 1902 building.

Nancy 9:18 PM  

Oh, no, no, no. I didn't write the music. When I said "music first", I meant that, in that instance, the composer writes the music first, sends it to me, and then I write the lyrics. When it's "lyrics first", I write a lyric and send it to the composer, and he sets it. There's back-and-forthing, of course, but that's the basic process.

I wish I could write music, but I can't. It's a very rare and special gift. Many fine professional musicians -- orchestra players, singers, conductors, people with extraordinary musical abilities -- nevertheless can't write music. I suspect a great many of them are right here on this blog. But thanks for the [unearned] compliment.

Laura 10:27 PM  

"Happy Birthing People's Day"?! That is beyond offensive. You do realize that many wonderful mothers never gave birth... right?

Anonymous 10:32 PM  

Outer Banks?

Dave S 2:11 AM  

The "Hurts So Good" answer didn't strike me as creepy since every woman I've ever been with who has given birth (okay, the total is exactly one), was totally ready to be done with pregnancy by the end. So a first contraction was a welcome sign of the beginning of that end. Now that Rex has introduced an S&M element, I'm definitely creeped out, but I'm not sure by whom. Theme would have worked better under it's original Labor Day title I think though, as someone noted above.

Just Saying... 4:45 PM  

I really miss the good old days, when crosswords were regarded and treated as simply enjoyable mental diversions, and weren't analyzed and nitpicked to death for political incorrectness and cultural insensitivity.
This crossword had an original theme, with clever theme answers. Everything else is the solver's projections...

Dave S 5:32 PM  

@honcho It's "bite at" meaning nibble. That one got me to stare too, wondering what on earth kind of construction was "bit eat?"

Chrissy 5:37 PM  

Such a stomach-turner. The theme was in poor taste. Let's not forget about mothers who have never given birth (either because they couldn't or chose not to) or mothers who have endured traumatic births. There's so much more to being a mother than the physical act of labor, and this cutesy take on childbirth was eye-roll-inducing at best and triggering at worst.

Dr.A 7:45 AM  

Actually, I agree with you completely. I did not enjoy this theme, I thought it was very creepy. Ridiculous.

Unknown 1:34 PM  

Yes! Finally a voice of reason in this thread! (And I am a mother of two, birthed in the usual, old -fashioned way.). Never occurred to me to get all hot and bothered about the theme except that I had to rely on all the crosses I could find, since the opera house is where my taste lies.

Thegreatkates 10:06 AM  

Rex, you nailed the commentary, as always.

Burma Shave 12:24 PM  




spacecraft 1:54 PM  

I had a ton of trouble with this one. CARRYTHATWEIGHT?? That has to be a seldom-played album cut that only a Beatles EXPERT would know. Never heard of it in my entire life. Also not known: IWANNABESEDATED. That anyone would name a song that boggles the mind, unless in fact it's about a patient in pain. And IMCOMINGOUT.

I recognize the Who tune, but please, people, let us NOT single the "L" in "ALL RIGHT." That is NOT all right; it's lazy, pure and simple. STOP.

There's more; the cumulative effect was one of hard work that is destined to GARNER poor wages. Bogey.

Diana, LIW 2:23 PM  

Lots of victory points in my corner today. I had a hard time sussing out an area of the NW. A name I don't know tripped me up. Of course.

But I continued to work on it. And - victory!

(Loved singing those songs in my head whilst solving, too.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords - NOT twins!!!!

Diana, LIW 2:49 PM  

@Spacey - "Carry that weight" is part of a montage of songs toward the end of Abbey Road.

And in the end....the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Some say it predicted the end of the Beatles.

Lady Di

rondo 3:33 PM  

I thought that maybe with the change to the new Administration the left wing fringe hand-wringing, whining and complaining on this blog would lighten up. It has only gotten worse. Because of entitlement? 'Safety'? Confirmation bias? Quite the phenomenon.

To the puz:
"The Kids Are Alright" from the album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy by The Who. Alright is one word, not two.
"Carry That Weight" from Abbey Road. In the medley near the end. Classic. Have probably heard it hundreds of times.
All the Ramones needed to be sedated. Tthey only played fast and fasterNot exactly my cuppa.

Pretty easy. Fun finding tunes.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

Yes! And AVA crossing ETAPE is the third Natick. Nevertheless, loved the puzzle.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

@rondo - completely agree, especially about the Ramones. And that's why they are relegated to cult stations. Not many are into loud, melody challenged songs.

@anon - yes - too many Naticks. But otherwise I enjoyed the puzzle. And it's a crossword puzzle so the theme is ok with me. Creepy is in the mind of the reader.

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