Pet dogs and cats affectionately / FRI 1-6-23 / Leading disability rights activist in the 2020 documentary "Crip Camp" / Alt-rock band with the 2001 hit album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot / Eponymous region of France / Arcade game character with a propeller beanie

Friday, January 6, 2023

Constructor: Erica Hsiung Wojcik

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ELLIE Greenwich (41D: ___ Greenwich, co-writer of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Da Doo Ron Ron") —
Eleanor Louise Greenwich
 (October 23, 1940 – August 26, 2009) was an American pop music singer, songwriter, and record producer. She wrote or co-wrote "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Be My Baby", "Maybe I Know", "Then He Kissed Me", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", "Hanky Panky", "Chapel of Love", "Leader of the Pack", and "River Deep – Mountain High", among others. [...] Still in college, in 1962, Greenwich got her first break in the business when she traveled to the Brill Building to meet John Gluck, Jr., one of the composers of the Lesley Gore hit "It's My Party". Needing to keep another appointment, Gluck installed Greenwich in an office and asked her to wait. The office turned out to be that of songwriter-producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Hearing piano music from the cubicle, Leiber poked his head in and, expecting Carole King, was startled to see Greenwich, who introduced herself and explained her reasons for being there. Recognizing her potential as a songwriter, Leiber and Stoller agreed to allow her to use their facilities as she wished in exchange for first refusal on songs she wrote. They eventually signed Greenwich to their publishing company, Trio Music, as a staff songwriter. [...] On October 28, 1962, [Jeff] Barry and Greenwich married, and shortly afterward decided to write songs exclusively with each other [...] Barry was subsequently signed to Trinity Music, and he and Greenwich were given their own office with their names on the door. Before the end of 1963, Barry-Greenwich had scored hits with songs such as "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You" (The Ronettes), "Then He Kissed Me" and "Da Doo Ron Ron" (The Crystals), "Not Too Young To Get Married" (Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans), and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love, all co-written and produced by Phil Spector. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well, today is the first day since before my NZ trip that I am trying to do things on a "normal" schedule; that is, sleep during sleeping hours and then wake up at 4:30am to solve and blog. Puzzle came out at different (and much more humane) hours in NZ. Then, when I got home, jet lag made resuming a regular schedule immediately impossible, so I stayed up late to solve/blog ... then I got COVID (not fun!) (thanks, 16-hour plane ride with actively sick unmasked people all around me!). So my sleep schedule remained ****ed and I was writing in the middle of the night, whenever I happened to be awake. But I'm feeling much better now, and so ... yes, trying to resume a normal, or at least normal-shaped, schedule. Up and at 'em! Results today: well, not great. A breezy zoom-zoom Friday, for me, this was not. It started that way, but by the time I hit the middle of the grid, this one turned into a proper Saturday puzzle. Proper noun after proper noun that I either flat-out didn't know or that I knew ... but is *that* how you spell it? (EMORY, John TURTURRO). I'm more than willing to write off much of my struggle to post-COVID out-of-shapeness and general fatigue. But the first part of the puzzle was so promising! I literally "awwwww"'d at FUR BABIES!

But things turned a little for me coming out of that corner, starting with LTE, which I realize is a real abbr. that I see on my phone all the time, but oof, of the modern initialisms, it is one of my least favorite (I honestly still don't know what it stands for, and I've looked it up a bunch of times!). And then came the name avalanche: Port LOUIS (no idea), TURTURRO (knew it, but wanted it to be TUTTURRO for some reason), YODA (knew it!), VIET (nope ... but inferred it ... but wasn't 100% sure ...), EMORY ("*not* EMERY *not* EMERY *not* EMERY...") ... all running through the hardest of them all, for me: JUDITH HEUMANN (35A: Leading disability rights activist in the 2020 documentary "Crip Camp"). If you don't know her, that last name, yee-ikes. I've seen "Crip Camp" drift past on the Netflix home screen a few times, but have yet to watch it. Maybe now? I've heard good things. Anyway, all those long Acrosses were hard for me to see (and I don't really get the wordplay on [Big ticket item?] => COURTSIDE SEAT ... you have a "ticket" to a "big" ... sporting event? I guess). Then the proper noun parade continued out of the center with JR PACMAN (not, somehow, PACMAN, JR.) and ELLIE and CONAN and ouch that clue on BRIE, that stung ... Look, this much name-ness makes the puzzle feel like a trivia test, and even when the "fresh" names happen to be right up my alley, there's a limit to how much I can take and still enjoy the puzzle. Every name here seems perfectly puzzle-worthy, but when, as a solver, you get hung up trying to put together names, this tends to sap your ability to appreciate or even remember the more entertaining and clever elements of the puzzle. But again, my brain is not back to 100% so it's possible that on a normal day, this plays much closer to the snappy Friday that I love and yearn for always. 

UTA was a name I didn't know (5D: ___ Pippig, three-time winner of the Boston Marathon), but it's just three letters and it's in a section with no other names and a truly delightful and varied assortment of other answers. I think the change from NW corner to puzzle center was so drastic that it made the center seem more dire than it was. Possibly. Beyond names, I had difficulty ... where? Well, CUE SHEETS. I know CUE CARDS and CALL SHEETS, but CUE SHEETS, that got me. I'm more familiar with "YA HEARD?" (in rap/hip-hop contexts) than "YA HEAR?" though I guess I do know the phrase "Y'all come back now, YA HEAR?" Is that from "Hee-Haw?" Does Minnie Pearl say that? Or do I still have a fever? Am I even blogging right now? Or is this a Minnie Pearl fever dream? LOL it's "The Beverly Hillbillies" that I know that folksy closing line from! Of course! Nevermind about Minnie Pearl and "Hee-Haw." I think we *all* fever-dreamed that.

["We'll dress like Minnie Pearl!"]

Had "I'LL BE FINE" before "I'LL MANAGE" (56A: "Don't worry about me"), which would've been a hell of a trap if that corner hadn't been otherwise very, uh, manageable. Had LOVE SC- and still couldn't see LOVE SCENE, which is definitely on me and my out-of-shape solving brain (12D: Hot take?). Overall, if there were some way to bring the name temperature down on this one, I think I would've enjoyed it quite a bit. Something about the combination of trivia and my current physical state made solving a bit of a slog today. Sigh. Onward! [headdesk, crawl to kitchen for coffee...] 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 7:00 AM  

I had trouble with [Big ticket item?] => COURTSIDE SEAT until I realized it was misleading because it was so straightforward. A “big ticket item” is something expensive, and a courtside seat is an expensive item. The fact that it requires a ticket is secondary.

Gunner 7:09 AM  

Courtside seats are expensive (big ticket items) seats at pro basketball games.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Really tough to get started. The first thing I was sure of was LOUIS at 23D, and the first cross I felt good about was xxPACMAN crossing CELLO BOW. Then once I started getting some traction things got easier.

But then it was really hard again at the very end, with the VIET/HEUMANN cross. I didn't know if it was JUDITH H_UMANN or JUDITH H _UMANN. If that second H is a middle initial, it opens up a lot of possibilities for the blank. But the man(?) at 29D sounded Vietnamese so that gave me a reasonable guess at the ‘E’.

Eater of Sole 7:20 AM  

nude SCENE before LOVE SCENE
I'LL be fine before I'LL be sAfE before I'LL MANAGE
dolma (!) before ACORN, guess that would have merited a '?'

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

Glad you’re feeling better, Rex.

Yes on 35A. I googled it. Offensive to see an obscure proper name with a unique spelling, a long answer, in the middle of the puzzle.

Colleagues - don’t judge me. 😀

Harryp 7:31 AM  

Ala Yoda, “Beats me it did!”

Son Volt 7:33 AM  

Surprised this one fell as easily as it did - a lot of the useless trivia Rex refers to went in with crosses. The grid is a little awkward - flows THRU the center longs but the NE/SW corners are isolated.

Liked TREASURE TROVE, EYE OPENER and CREPE PAN. The VIET x HEUMANN cross is rough as is JR PAC-MAN. Didn’t know ELLIE but it turns out she’s written some of the greats.

CELLO BOW was oddly clued and NATATORIA must have been backed into somehow. Not a WILCO fan.

Workmanlike but not a lot of Friday fun.

Darden Smith

SouthsideJohnny 7:41 AM  

Rex described very aptly how this one devolved into a trivia contest - which is surely one way to increase the difficulty to Friday-level. I’ll bet that experienced solvers will have to utilize all of their skills, savvy and experience when faced with a section like the one containing Star Wars, Port LOUIS, Mr. TURTURRO, Ms. HEUMANN, VIET somebody and EMORY for example. That section is pretty much a non-starter for me, which is fine as I usually struggle on Fridays. Personally, I do find it more enjoyable when I have a chance to hold my own late-week, which isn’t the case with a plug-and-chug “It’s either in your wheelhouse or it ain’t” type of puzzle.

Twangster 7:43 AM  

I saw and loved Crip Camp (it has some neat Grateful Dead references, by the way) and still had a very hard time coming up with JUDITH HEUMANN. Having MR PACMAN at first held me back the most.

pabloinnh 7:53 AM  

Hand up for the VIET/HEUMANN cross. Since I solve on paper, I stuck in an E and then went to the blog for confirmation. Success! Fortunately I am married to a JUDITH which cleared up my confusion about it maybe being MR PACMAN. I suppose the propeller beanie was suppose to be revelatory. Not for me.

I know NATATORIUM but have not seen it in the plural, side eye to the ACORN clue, ELLIE clue was a disguise, and I wonder if anyone who is childless knows what an EPIDURAL is. Speaking of childless, I suppose it is the reason for people referring to FURBABIES, which I sincerely wish they would not do.

Nice chewy Friday, EHW. Every Hard Working cruciverbalist will enjoy this one, and thanks for all the fun.

Now back to contemplating our dismal weather and wondering why mud season in NH has begun in January. I mean, really.

Brainpan 7:56 AM  

Had to google what a "sob sister" is and now I wish I hadn't. Yikes.

Joaquin 7:58 AM  

17A - FUR BABIES - Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
"Everyone thinks they have the best dog and none of them are wrong."

JJK 8:11 AM  

This was a DNF for me bc of the NE - forgot all about WALDO and would never have thought of him anyway, wanted nudeSCENE before LOVESCENE (and those are generally hotter than love scenes, which can be quite staid.) WILCO was way off my radar, and CREPEs can and are eaten any time if the day. Otherwise not a hard puzzle, but I second comments about the many unknown proper names.

Wanderlust 8:22 AM  

Ditto on mR PACMAN before JR PACMAN. I thought, there’s definitely a Ms Pacman so there must be a Mr too. But no, I guess he’s just plain old Pacman. That mistake held me up for a while on JUDITH HEUMANN.

Other than her, I knew most of the propers. I loved “The Sympathizer” and I remembered the author’s first name was Viet, which is appropriate for the subject of the book.

I loved BADGE next to SNEER because it made me think of the sneered line, “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.” OMG, I just looked it up, and that was not exactly the line from “The TREASURE of the Sierra Madre.” The line was longer in that movie. And the first time it was used in the more familiar shorter form was in …. an episode of “The Monkees!” Then later in “Blazing Saddles.” The things you learn while solving crosswords.

I have spent the past week around the RIO GRANDE - not the well-known part on the Texas-Mexico border, but further upstream in New Mexico. I am at the Santa Fe airport as I write this. An amazing trip exploring Pueblo culture and history. Chaco Canyon is breathtaking, and winter is a good time to go because you practically have the place to yourself - as long as snow doesn’t close the dirt road you take to get there. We visited Taos Pueblo in a snowstorm. Also amazing.

Barbara S. 8:24 AM  

This wasn’t my favorite Friday puzzle but it wasn’t a slog. It had a degree of challenge that I liked and was up for. It did have a lot of names – I’m less bothered by PPP than many here but at some point I did start to think “no, not another person/place/thing I don’t know.” They were all fairly crossed, though, in that I didn’t have to look anything up. The VIET/HEUMANN cross was probably the most difficult, but I thought an E was by far the most likely choice.

1A did not come immediately. I didn’t have much of an idea about any of the long acrosses in the NW, although I got the shorties OPUS and REM. But once I started filling in the downs I was OK. INFOR, TAUPE, SOB, TRIKE, MIEN and EASY (which I initially mistook as EASe) all came quickly and provided a helpful framework for those across answers. I offer thanks to the SB’s NATANT, which helped with NATATORIA. I thought that was a great word, and I also liked CREPE PAN (yum), FUR BABIES (aww), TREASURE TROVE and EYE OPENER (for which I really wanted EYE poppER).

[Big ticket item?]/COURTSIDE SEAT: My take on the ? is that normally “ticket” in the expression means the price tag, but in this case, “ticket” actually means a ticket you would buy online or from the equivalent of the box office and show at the door to get in. And – stop the presses! – YODA DIED!? I haven’t seen any Star Wars movies since The Attack of the Clones (which I hated) and yeah, OK, I knew one or two things would have happened in the SW Universe in my absence, but YODA DIED?! OMG, I’m in mourning.

[SB: yd, -1. Missed this, a legit word but not one I much use.]

mmorgan 8:30 AM  

I had ILL be okay, then ILL be fine, before, finally ILL MANAGE. I guessed wrong on the U_A / NATA_ORIA cross, which was a Natick for me.

Sam Ross 8:34 AM  

VIET inferable but crossing HEUMANN - that last square was very much a stab for me to finish the puzzle.

Weezie 8:39 AM  

Oh, I just loved this one, but I tend to be much more into PPP than most. I do think there were a few Naticks, but it was within a few seconds of my average solve time for a Friday.

A big help was that I got the NW almost immediately thanks to my luckily knowing NATATORIA off the bat. That's only because about four years ago, I snuck into the abandoned former crown jewel of the Borscht Belt, Grossinger's resort, shortly before it was demolished. Their Natatorium was a marvel of mid-mod architecture, and Jackie Robinson and Liz Taylor were frequent Grossinger's guests in its heyday. You could feel the history just thrumming through the places; it's a total shanda that it was demolished.

In general, some very clever cluing, some new-to-me trivia, a fun Friday challenge.

TaylorSlow 8:52 AM  

While I'm not suffering jet lag and recovering from COVID (So sorry, Rex...), my experience with this one was virtually identical to Rex's--except for 31A, which I thought was easy. Filled in the NW corner with no trouble at all and already had visions of a Friday PB dancing in my head as I cruised into the NE and got that one taken care of in record time too.

Knew Port LOUIS because I play Worldle! Got TURTURRO because I worship him. But JUDITH HEUMANN/VIET/JRPACMAN/CUESHEETS did me in. Finally finished by just inserting letters, deleting them, inserting new letters here and there. I think all of the clues for those answers were fair...except for having to know JUDITH HEUMANN for all those crosses. That's not just a Saturday--that's a hard Saturday.

CELLO BOW came easily but still sounds weird. Just didn't bother at first with 44D because I don't watch daytime TV. HA! Got me and my snooty attitude but good! Really liked KNEE DEEP, LOVE SCENE, TREASURE TROVE, LEVEE, WALDO. The term FUR BABIES always makes me cringe a little, it's so cutesie, but I really loved Emily's original clue for it: "Dependents that you can't claim for tax purr-poses." Too bad Shortz didn't.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Definitely had to rely on a lot of crosses and a few guesses (VIET/HEUMANN made the most sense), but if I finish a Friday in under 30 minutes, I'm happy. Never heard of NATATORIA (or NATATORIUM for that matter), so guess #2: is it TAUPE or TOUPE? (aided here by the reasoning that it's probably not like the hair thing), and finally, UMA? UNA? ULA? ... eventually found it (is Uta Klemperer somebody? oh that's Otto, Uta Hagen apparently did some work with Werner Klemperer though). Glad you are feeling better Rex.

Paul & Kathy 9:01 AM  

It's not you, it really was that hard.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Amy: other than needing the downs for Ms Heumann (and I resolve to see Crip Camp), this had a fine Friday flow. As a woman of a certain age, knew SOB & as a Boston Marathoner, knew UTA, so the NW pretty much fell into place. Did have INFER for 1D, which led to wanting OPUS to be Epic for a bit.
Enjoyed Rex's squib about Ellie Greenwich, thanks.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Ugh, I didn’t like this and Friday is typically my favorite day. Just couldn’t get the vibe of this one (CUESHEETS? HEUMANN?). I hope his was in somebody’s wheelhouse because it wasn’t for me!

TaylorSlow 9:12 AM  

OH! Forgot to thank Emily for including ELLIE Greenwich, a name completely unfamiliar to me, and yet the songs she wrote comprised much of the sound track of my early teens, and I think that "Be My Baby" is among the top 10 pop tunes ever. If you haven't heard Darlene Love sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" go immediately to YouTube. Do not pass GO, etc. Really happy to have been introduced to the person who wrote those great songs. An amazing career, and Bruce Springsteen called her "an incredible rock and soul songwriter."

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I love that EPIDURAL ran a bit down the spine of the puzzle.

RooMonster 9:22 AM  

Hey All !
JUDITH! I screamed with fist in the air. She got me my one-letter DNF (which isn't happening as much as it is used to, so that's a good thing.) Had that Natick with an O. VIoT/HoUMANN. Shoot, with names, it could be any of the 26 letters, with a possibility of a rune or two.

NATATORIA, you say? Sure, OK. Indoor swimming pool wasn't clear enough? You go ahead and and give it a name 85% of the populace doesn't know? Why isn't it WATATORIA?

Tough in all spots, but managed to wrangle it down, save the O/E miss. Some fun clues, some fun missteps. Had BAgel for BADGE first. Clue was "Achievement indicator". If you hate it, BAGEL. Yes? 😁

LOVE SCENE next to CREPE PAN. Pronounce CREPE like CREEP. Har.

Quad block of L's in SW for @Lewis. Also, four EE's in NE. Plus, a rare HH . A's and N's and M's and E's, oh my! in the SW.

JRPACMAN thusly named (my opinion, have no proof) because of MS PACMAN. Still could've been PACMAN JR with no blowback. Didn't get anywhere near the popularity of its parents.



One F

Nancy 9:29 AM  

There were two Natick-y crosses today. I guessed one correctly and whiffed on the other:

Correct: The JUDITH H?UMANN/VI?T cross. I'm thinking he/she will spell their name like the name of their country -- VIET -- and I'm right. Sometimes it's good to go with the obvious.

Wrong: The NATA?ORIA/U?A cross. I guessed an "L". Why? I thought that maybe indoor swimming pools reminded people of the amniotic fluid they swam in pre-birth and therefore I liked the NATAL root. I have no idea how NATATORIA was coined or what it stands for -- and I can assure you that I've never once heard of it.

I'm also having trouble with the JRPACMAN, WILCO, YODA, WALDO fill, but IT'S JUST ME and I'LL MANAGE.

Much too much pop culture in this puzzle for my liking. But at least I learned NATATORIA -- which I'm sure I'll have forgotten by noon today.

Smith 9:35 AM  

My comments lately have been disappearing, so here's a short take: pretty much what @Rex said.

Top and bottom filled in in a flash, more struggles in the center. Loved EPIDURAL, for reasons others may understand :).

But it was kind of a "Lewis morning" if you will, the old faith solve. Just kept plugging stuff in until other stuff revealed itself. Somehow saw TREASURETROVE first and that really helped!

@Gary there's EMORY again, as I said when it last appeared (with the CDC).

@Son Volt "not a WILCO fan"😆🤣😊

Poly Hymnia 9:41 AM  

Cue Sheets are a thing in themselves, unrelated to cue cards and call sheets.

They are music accounting forms used to track the music used in any kind of professional production. Upon submission to ASCAP, they determine the distribution of royalties to the owners of the music.

mathgent 9:45 AM  

Like Eater of Sole (7:20), I would have liked DOLMA for "What might roll in the leaves," but ACORN? I don't get it.

An OK puzzle, but the cluing was kinda clunky.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Minnie Pearl's famous entrance line was HOWDEE!!

Liveprof 9:50 AM  

Yo Yo Ma's CELLO BOW reminded me of a viola joke: How do you know when the violist is playing out of tune? ANS: The bow is moving.

Yo Yo Ma was an extraordinary child prodigy. He played instruments at age 3, and by seven was brilliant enough on the cello to play for President Kennedy.

Even more remarkable -- in the womb on the morning of his birth, he strummed "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" on his mother's umbilical cord.

Karen Lynch 9:51 AM  

I was sure your word of the day was going to be NATATORIA! That’s a new one on me. I’m thinking of calling a Red Roof Inn today and asking if they have a natatorium!

Liveprof 9:55 AM  

Another neat note on Yo Yo Ma (from wikipedia)

In addition to his prolific musical career, Ma collaborated in 1999 with landscape architects to design a Bach-inspired garden. Known as the Music Garden, it interprets Bach's Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello (BWV 1007), where the garden's sections were designed to correspond with the suite's dance movements.

Toronto enthusiastically embraced the design, originally planned for Boston, and it was subsequently built in the Harbourfront (Toronto) neighborhood.

Tom T 9:55 AM  

Undone, ridiculously, by the youngest member of the PAC clan--jR! Ridiculous because if you have _ UDITH it should be obvious that it should be a J. But all I could imagine there was a mister or a doctor. I was sure my failure to hear the happy music was either UTA/NATATORIA or VIET/HEUMANN related, but those I actually had correct before IO tried to guess at alternatives.


NYDenizen 10:05 AM  

The clue should properly be: “big-ticket item” to differentiate from “big ticket-item”.

Bob Mills 10:13 AM  

I'm willing to bet that nobody over the age of 80 could solve this puzzle without cheating. Way too much modern lingo for me.

Gary Jugert 10:13 AM  

Whelp, this felt like alphabet soup for me, since I Go-ogle-d for WILCO, JUDITH HEUMANN, TURTURRO, and VIET -- all actors and writers. I guess that's how you make a Friday Fri.

I'LL BE FINE then I'LL MAKE DO before I'LL MANAGE. Lots ways to say FUGGEDABOUTIT.


1 Complaint in a music lesson regarding the overall difficulty of an activity you thought would bring you joy.
2 The scent of strife.
3 Enjoy the French countryside in the slowest possible way.
4 Urban myth that brain freeze promotes hair restoration.
5 Six feet eleventy-seven with flowing locks of gingerism and a whole lotta ew.


Beezer 10:22 AM  

Something is wrong because I solved this puzzle in record time (for me) and felt kinda smug when I saw Rex had it as medium-challenging. I pretty much had the same holdups as @Rex and others. Initially plopped in PACMANJR but quickly saw that was a dead end. (@Roo, it apparently IS called JRPACMAN but my memory conflated it). I briefly wondered if Yo-yo Ma was left -handed but threw caution to the wind with CELLOBOW. Sounds weird to me too!)

@Son Volt, I think I was busy with child-rearin’ when WILCO was popular but I’ll give them credit for the fact that they toured the Midwest a ton AND always picked smaller, more intimate venues. I’m into Nick Offerman “humor” books and his “Where the Deer and the Antelope Roam” chronicles his many camping escapades, one of which was at Yellowstone with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo). Quite an unlikely threesome but they are good friends.

@TaylorSlow…I play Worldle too! I will shameless cheat on it if I’m toward the end by looking at maps but I figure it has helped me immensely with my knowledge of geography so I just look at it as my quasi-geography lesson for the day.

Sir Hillary 10:28 AM  

Aw man, @Smith beat me to it, but "not a WILCO fan" coming from someone called Son Volt elicited a spit-take here. Wonderful. Is Jay Farrar amongst our ranks perhaps?

As to the puzzle...I am a total trivia/ pop culture nerd, so extensive PPP never bothers me personally and is often in my wheelhouse. But objectively, I sympathize with those who feel differently, and this puzzle was a bit overloaded with trivia for sure. I am also not a fan of the COURTSIDESEAT clue (why the "?") and even less so of the goofy YOU/ARE clue pairing.

Still, there is plenty to like here. A nifty central stack and lots of good 8/9-letter entries in the corners. No real groaners either. As someone with zero sense of musical equipment, CELLOBOW seems slightly green-paintish to me, but I imagine that it's a very specific thing (different bows for different string instruments...right?). I have heard only of Pacman Jr., but I can only assume that JRPACMAN is legit. I enjoyed the WALDO clue as well.

All in all, a solid start to the weekend.

andrew 10:30 AM  

Highlight was learning about ELLIE Greenwich, whose songs in the early ‘60s could have chronicled the Bill and Hillary story.

Then he kissed me!
Be my baby!
He’s got the power!

Followed by Hanky panky!
And then, Lesley Gore’s Maybe I Know (which should have been HRC’s campaign song in ‘08 & ‘16):

Oh, maybe I know that he's been a-cheatin'
Maybe I know that he's been untrue
But what can I do?

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

I figured the Crip Camp person had renamed herself, using the familiar “Jesus H. Christ” template, and so entered her name as Judith H Humann.

egsforbreakfast 10:39 AM  

I loved, loved, loved this puzzle. My favorite part was that the constructor foresaw the hall-of-mirrors effect that would come from the entanglement of YOU and ARE in a sort of “spooky action at a distance”. See how the answer to “Who’s the solver of this puzzle?” starts in your brain as IAM, but then you get to thinking about who “I” would be to the constructor and the fact that 39A is sitting empty. So maybe the constructor is asking for a response and you say, for 27A, YOU!!! But this instantaneously causes the entangled entry to display ARE. But, the constructor is not, in fact, the solver. So who is the YOU here?

Eventually, my mind having given out, I wondered how this whole clue device would work in other instances. For example, if 17A were clued: With 51A, answer to the question “what do you notice olfactorally about cats and dogs?” The answer is, of course, FURBABIES SMELL. Is this good stuff, or what? It sure beats cluing the words separately.

Every time I glance at 35A I briefly see JUDITH THE HUMAN.

I’m not a great NATATOR, but I would never ILLMANAGE any NATATORIA.

This puzzle was challenging but didn’t really hold my interest. I thought it was well crafted, but kinda dull.

bocamp 10:57 AM  

Thx, Erica, for this crunchy offering! :)


Decent start in the top 1/3, but the remainder was hunt and peck.

Dnfed at the UTA / NATATORIA cross; had a 'p' in place of 'T'. I think 'em(p)orium' influenced the 'p'.

Guessed right on the 'U' at the JUDITH HEUMANN / EPIDURAL cross.

Had 'lbs' before GMO, and wanted 'afro' in lieu of MANE, so the SE was tough.

The upper case 'S' in 'Story' was the key to TOY.

Wanted Goodman before TURTURRO; Moue before MIEN; hAVE before SAVE.

Always have trouble with EMeRY vs EMORY.

Unknowns/hazies/learnings: NATATORIA; WILCO; LTE; AVI; JUDITH HEUMANN; 'Love Island'; RIO GRANDE; TAUPE; JR. PAC-MAN; CUE SHEETS; ELLIE; LOUIS; TURTURRO; VIET; EPIDURAL; GMO; CPA (didn't grok the 'extensions' part of the clue).

'Crip Camp' (A Disability Revolution) is well worth the watch. (in Canada, currently on Netflix)

Lots to chew on from this puz; enjoyed the challenge! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Daveyhead 10:57 AM  

@Son Volt

I read your comment and saw the link to Darden Smith, then left the doctor’s office and got in my car and heard “Over My Beating Heart” by Mr. Smith :)

A true talent more people should know.

Joseph Michael 11:02 AM  

So Mr. Potato isn’t an arcade game character with a propeller beanie and “Crip Camp” isn’t about Judith H. Numann? A treasure trove of crossword fun this was not.

Mary McCarty 11:06 AM  

@egsforbreakfast: you seem to be the only one on this blog who gets the meaning of NATATORIA. For the rest, it’s from
Latin nata-re “to swim”> natator “swimmer”>natatorium “thing / place pertaining to a swimmer”. The -a ending is the common neuter plural (like “data”.) Fairly common noun-from-verb formation, like “Audi-re> “auditor”> “auditorium”.

BobL 11:06 AM  

@egs. your first and last sentences are quite perplexing.

Neat puzzle, wanted spectacle before eyeopener.

Joe Dipinto 11:06 AM  

Is Yo-Yo Ma the only cellist in the world? Just wondering. I have some cds with other cellists' names on them but maybe they don't really exist.

Ellie Greenwich was the subject of one of the very first "jukebox musicals" in the 1980's– "Leader Of The Pack". She sings lead and background vocals on this, with husband/songwriting partner Jeff Barry doing the bass "doodle-oodle-oodle-oo"s.

andrew 11:07 AM  

EMORY Conference Center was a client of my ad agency in the ‘90s.

Any misspelling would cost me personally so you can BET I did the E-M-O-R-Y repetitive spelling often.

In the ‘80s, missed Pabst being spelled “Past” in my brochure copy and had to eat the cost of a reprint. Apparently, they were sensitive about their brand dropping like a stone in market share…

Whatsername 11:24 AM  

On board with Rex today. Liked it but would have loved it minus the difficult names. However, all is forgiven with the combination of FUR BABIES and RIO GRANDE. One of my favorite things on a cold winter’s day is to snuggle under a blanket with my four-legged family and read while reruns of that legendary western play in the background. As a matter of fact, I have all four episodes on my DVR right now. I can think of nothing more enjoyable than joining Gus and Woodrow on that epic cattle drive while I work my way through a bout of non-Covid crud.

Smith 11:26 AM  

@Beezer 10:22

That's a book I'll have to read! We were busy with child rearin' at that time as well, but part of DH's contribution was a non stop sound track, so very familiar with WILCO, *and* I loved, loved, loved Lincoln in the Bardo!

Whatsername 11:48 AM  

@Joaquin(7:58) That’s one of my favorite quotes too. Another is from A.A. Milne: “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.”

Beezer 11:48 AM  

@Smith…Offerman narrates his audiobooks and I’ve never “read” him in print. Hearing his voice as he tells his stories (and opining) is most entertaining!

Pete 11:49 AM  

@Andrew - I wondered what happens to people in ad agencies when there's a big screw up. In recent years I wanted to speak to the president of (I think it was) Bank of America and ask if they really wanted to be advertising "the enormity of Bank of America". Seems odd to be spending millions of dollars to convince people you're a gigantic monstrosity, but then what do I know about advertising? On the other hand, it was the truth, so there's that.

jae 11:53 AM  

Tough Friday for me too. Major WOEs were JUDITH, VIET and LOUIS (as clued), plus I struggled with spelling NATATORIA and @Rex TURTURROW. I MANAGEd to finish with some good guesses, but @Rex is right about the trivia fest. Didn’t hate it.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Definitely check out Crip Camp, one of the best documentaries you’ll ever see. Done by close friends of mine, Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham. Riveting, and inspiring, and anRiveting, and inspiring, and a good guidebook to activism. And check out Judy’s book Being Heumann.

J.W. 12:16 PM  

Buttery smooth for me, only 10 minutes on this one. I guess there were a lot of names? I don't really notice things like that, especially when they're as fair with crosses as these. I've never heard of Judith Heumann, but I trusted the crosses, and when I really believe in them, it rarely goes wrong for me.

Had the exact opposite reaction on FUR BABIES: a deep sigh. I'm not exactly high on the primacy of humans, but it's still a piece of nomenclature I could do without.

CELLO BOW and CREPE PAN felt green-painty, though I could be talked out of it on the latter.

Re: JR. PACMAN—I guess a propeller beanie isn't the telltale symbol of childhood it used to be. Also, Jr. Pac-Man is not to be confused with Baby Pac-Man, an odd mix of Pac-Man and pinball, where you start out with no power pellets (the big ones that let you eat ghosts) but you can exit the maze out the bottom to transition to pinball, where you can earn them with your pinball wizard skills. Naturally, the controls are very stiff—all the better to keep you feeding it quarters. Thankfully, I've only ever played it at free-play arcades.

Whiffing on NATATORIA completely is I suppose one thing, but Naticking on it when you have most of the letters is inexcusable. That's straight Latin. Though it probably helps that from my personal experience everyone calls the indoor attachment to the local water park "the natatorium." Mind you, this is in Texas. Texas. If even we know what a natatorium is, well ... come on, y'all.

50A: "Sound of suffering ... or pleasure" — In 2005 I worked in a Dillard's, near the men's "alternative" (read: not formal) clothes. They piped current music through a stereo that had a CD changer in it. (If I never hear "Beverly Hills" by Weezer again, it will be too soon. It was the first time Rivers Cuomo had gone truly stoopid, and the appallingness of it was still fresh. But anyway.) Sometimes I'd put my own discs in there. One time I decided to put Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures, which has "The Torture Never Stops" on it. I won't link it, but ... well, if you know, you know. Anyway, the stereo was gone the next day. They never brought it up with anyone—it just. Wasn't there.

Anoa Bob 12:30 PM  

I had no chance finishing this one. That middle section was my undoing. Trying to piece together "The Big Lebowski" dude was tortuous.

There was a time when the RIO GRANDE was indeed a great river. Its yearly flooding created a vast alluvial plain known as the RIO GRANDE Valley. Where it exited into the Gulf of Mexico left a delta that still can be seen on maps as a "bump" along the deep south Texas coast line.

Those days are gone. Because so many water hungry users conspired to ILL MANAGE the river, it is now more of a KNEE DEEP stream by the time it gets close to the coast. Sometimes it doesn't even make it all the way. A more fitting contemporary name would be RIO CHICO.

OISK 12:30 PM  

@Bob Mills....I am 77, and finished without cheating - close enough? Never heard of Wilco, Judith Heumann, Jr Pacman, Swole, LTE, Uta Pippig, Viet Thanh, natatorium.. never saw Lonesome this was nowhere near my comfort zone, but it was somehow manageable. Nata_oria, since it was clued as a plural, has a singular Nata_orium. Similar construction to auditorium, so I guessed the "t", ... If you construct a puzzle full of pop culture references that are completely unfamiliar, but one can STILL solve it, my compliments on the construction! Doesn't mean I liked it, though...

Gen 12:38 PM  

I also struggled with this one- kept trying to fit “not” “me” where “you” “are” were supposed to go

Joe Dipinto 12:39 PM  

For the people who play Worldle, Globle is also fun.

pabloinnh 1:13 PM  

The verb "to swim" in Spanish is "nadar". When we got to this in the course of studying AR vers, I always threw in natatorium, just so my students could learn a fancy word.

Maybe one of them is doing the NYT crossword today and remembered it. I'm going to think so regardless.

JC66 1:26 PM  

In 1957, when I was a freshman at Ohio University in Athens, OH, I went to the NATATORIUM (they only had one) to swim and/or play water polo almost daily. I'm not sure if I've heard the word since, but it went right in today without a second thought.

Smith 1:39 PM  

I'm not as old as @JC66, but I went to a school that taught French only up to 4th grade, French and Latin in 5th and 6th, and your choice after that (French, Latin and Greek for me). I remain eternally grateful to my long gone parents for providing me that early linguistic boost. Of course on the other hand in my family we were forbidden to learn German (refugee father), so I only started a year ago.

CDilly52 2:04 PM  

Illinois had a NATATORIum, but everyone called it “the pool.” I guess we all saw the sign so many times that the word stuck. Thankfully, that and so many other entries made this one easy. Until the SE.

My solve went very smoothly, no zipping or whooshing, just steady and consistent progress. Left to right; move down and left to right. Then I hit the “Love Island” clue. I know for sure that the original (and the clue did not specify the US iteration) “Love Island” aired on ITV - Irish Television. And that’s where the clog began and time stood still.

Being a huge Yo Yo Ma fan girl (and a terrible cello player throughout high school), CELLO BOW at least got me started in the bottom-right, as did MOAN, but the ITV created a big logjam.

RIO GRANDE helped. My daughter in 5th grade played Sluefoot Sue in her class production of “Pecos Bill, “ complete with her ride on a giant sparkling catfish down the RIO GRANDE, following Bill’s having dug the river with a stick to cure the historic draught. It just took me almost as long to figure out the error and the answers to “Achievement indicator” (BADGE) and “muscly, in modern lingo,” SWOLE. I just don’t get out enough among those creating the new “modern lingo” I guess.

Finally saw BADGE, growled about CBS being technically incorrect, and that answer helped me finish I’LL MANAGE and EYE OPENER.

Pretty fair Friday. Easier than usual, but with yesterday being such a tough act to follow, I give this pretty high marks.

Lyn 2:19 PM  

Thanks for reminding me of Chaco. Been over 30 yrs, but the magic still holds.

Masked and Anonymous 2:21 PM  

Yikes. Nat-tick-nanosecond arrgageddon.
JUDITHHEUMANN had an excess contingent of bodyguards:
LTE/LOUIE. TURTURRO. VIET. EPIDURAL. EMORY. maybe LOVESCENE, for a while. At least I knew YODA & sorta JRPACMAN.

staff weeject pick: UTA. Always excitin to get some new UTA meat. Know yer marathon champs!

SWOLE … har

Thanx, Ms. Wojcik darlin. re: 27- & 39-Across: IWA SNT a solver of this whole rodeo.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


Beezer 3:54 PM  

Thanks @ Joe DiPinto, I’ll check out Global, although when I think of all the puzzles I do…something has to give and I’ll say for ME it’ll probably be Worldle!

Nancy 4:04 PM  

It's uttered in Texas,*
It's heard in Ohio,**
It's seen in an Illinois gym.***

However absurd
It's a New Hampshire word****
Declares Pablo -- we'll listen to him!

But here in Manhattan
(Unless you take Latin)
You won't hear this word in our schools.

Don't babble to me a-
The pools of New York are called...pools.

* @JW
** @JC66
*** @CDilly
**** @pabloinnh

Anonymous 4:19 PM  

BIG TICKET ITEM: If you get a big ticket (traffic ticket), you go to court, hence COURTSIDE SEAT.

JC66 5:54 PM  


Good one!

pmdm 5:59 PM  

Irritated that I had an !! AM concert at attend at Lincoln Center which broke up the solving experience. Don't think that was the reason I didn't care that much for the puzzle. My reaction might have been due to the PPP.

Mr DiPinto: I remember Pablo, of course. Today I watched Carter Brey who is quite good. Listen to the BachFest on WKCR between Christmas and NYD to hear some older recordings of the Bach Cello suites. Of course,that's about 11.5 months away now. But you are correct: Yoyo seems ubiquitous now. I even remember seeing his (I think at Radio City Music Hall) on Jeopardy! Guessed the correct answer to the Double Jeopardy even before he started playing. After all, I though they would never allow him to play an except of the Britten or Kodaly sonata. Or any of the other compositions in the surprisingly large list of solo cello compositions, most written the the end of the Romantic era.

Sailor 6:09 PM  

@ Nancy, please see:
NYU Palladium Natatorium
Flushing Meadows Natatorium

Beezer 6:33 PM  

Late and probably no one will see this but yes, I was familiar with NATATORIum. I think most folks think of it as a competition pool…ala NCAA swim meets and diving competitions and above (arena style). The indoor pool at a hotel is usually called…an indoor pool.

dgd 6:45 PM  

FWIW I agree with what you said about natatorium.
I only got it fairly quickly because of SOME knowledge of Latin. My guess is that if you are going to spend all the extra money on a racing quality pool you are going to want to use a bigger word!

Nancy 6:46 PM  

@Sailor -- Well, I'll be darned! You could knock me over with a feather. I'm not familiar with either of those facilities. The pools I've swum in in NYC are all "pools":

The 92Y
Asphalt Green
John Jay
The one in Central Park at 110th St.
The one at Chelsea Piers
The one in the Carnegie Park building
The one in the Claridge building
The one in the Monterey building (the size of a postage stamp)
The saltwater pool on E 57th or 8th or 59th -- don't know the name
The pool on the top floor of the Dalton High School building

And then all the various hotels I've been in assorted resort areas-- from Florida to Puerto Rico to Anguilla to St Martin to Bermuda to Grand Cayman.

Not one of them was called a NATATORIUM.

I guess I've been swimming in the wrong places. I find your post very interesting, @Sailor.

pabloinnh 7:17 PM  

@Nancy-Brava and bravissima!

You may be familiar with them in another sense, as a place for clandestine activity, e.g.

Fee fee fi fi fo fo fum
I smell smoke in the natatorium...

Wait, I'm being told I misheard that.

Never mimd.

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

Found this one easy other than the near Natick of UTA/NATATORI. Guessed right with the “T” but found that to be a bit unfair of a cross. Found the construction pleasant enough but just would have liked a bit more teeth and less proper names.

egsforbreakfast 7:25 PM  

@Nancy. I liked your poem considerably. But I have to quibble with the rhyme of “me a” and “natatoria, it believe it rhymes more with “bore ya”. I could rewrite your last stanza to reflect my presumably superior sensibilities, but who on the face of this earth would do that sort of thing?*. Hope this doesn’t dredge up memories that are too painful.

*For those scratching their heads, @Rex rewrote a significant portion of @Nancy’s 12/21/22 NYTXW as part of his blog commentary and did it in a way that didn’t seem to improve it. Kind of a double slap in the face.

B-money 8:11 PM  

If you're a runner, and especially if you've run the Boston Marathon (thru NATICK, I might add!), then UTA Pippig was a gimme. If I recall, she won Boston maybe three times in a row, probably after Grete Waitz's reign. (and just looking her up, yes, she did it 3x in a row, with a best of 2:21 in the 90s which is still a world-class time, although now with doping and super-fast shoes, some women are sub 2:18 which just defies logic.)

I thought the puzzle was tough but far, but for me the DNF was because of the crosses with Crip Camp/Port LOUIS/and LTE. Killed me.

Nancy 8:33 PM  

Hi, @egs --

It's not pronounced nah-TAH-toe-REE-a?? That's how I was pronouncing it in my head. (You must understand that I've never in my life heard anyone actually say it.)

You're saying that it's pronounced nah-tah-TOR-ya? Is that it? Didn't know that. Would have written the poem differently.

Thanks for your shared and very welcome outrage over Rex's puzzle re-write. But it was my collaborator whom Rex was truly dissing; Will Nediger is the one who creates the grid and the fill around the theme answers -- and it was the grid that Rex decided to redo. And you're correct -- it was quite a lousy rewrite.

I'm hoping that Will doesn't read the Rexblog and never saw it. Certainly he never mentioned it to me. And therefore I never mentioned it to him either.

Nancy 8:47 PM  

Hi, again, @egs --

I just listened to Google's online pronunciation.

It's NAY-tuh-TOR-ee-a

So I should have rhymed it with "emporia".

Joe Dipinto 9:26 PM  

@pmdm – there's also the infamous avant-garde cellist Charlotte Moorman:

On February 9, 1967, Moorman achieved widespread notoriety for her performance of Nam June Paik's "Opera Sextronique" at the Film-Makers Cinematheque in New York City...During the first movement, Moorman played "Elegy" by the French composer Jules Massenet in the dark while wearing a bikini that had blinking lights. For the second movement, she played "International Lullaby" by Max Mathews while wearing a black skirt, but while being topless, and was arrested mid-performance by three plainclothes police officers. She was not able to return to perform the last two movements of the work. As a result of "Opera Sextronique", Moorman was charged with indecent exposure, though her penalty was later suspended, and gained nationwide fame as the "topless cellist."

Her roommate early on, who got her into experimental performance, was one Yoko Ono. I wonder if she became famous for anything .

Blog Goliard 3:48 PM  

@CDilly52: The ITV you’re thinking of would surely be the British commercial broadcaster (; who are the original perpetrators of the Love Island franchise.

In the Republic of Ireland, the national broadcaster is RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann). The main commercial company is now branded as Virgin Media (formerly TV3). UK channels are also widely watched there, so it would only cause confusion to try to call an Irish broadcaster “ITV”.

Milwaukee Talkie 8:50 PM  

LTE crossing TURTURRO? Brutal. VIET crossing an obscure name? Why not just clue it as "Kind of Cong"?

Minor cringe at FUR BABIES. That's on my "Ugh List" along with "if you will", "workaholic", and "at the end of the day".

Someone called this puzzle "crunchy" and another said "chewy". Don't know either of those terms, nor whether they can simultaneously describe the puzzle.

Rex, why did you write "I'll be fine" for 56A? Didn't you immediately see that the B and F had to be wrong?

Finally, YA HEAR for "get me"? Ugh.

spacecraft 10:24 AM  

I never knew there even was a JRPACMAN. With two letters in front of PACMAN, I assumed (you know what that does) it must be MSPACMAN. Then the middle made no sense. Eventually TsEASURE had to become TREASURE, so then...MRPACMAN?? I thought the dude was just PACMAN, period. You know: "ITSJUSTME." But then there was MUDITH somebody. (Wow, talk about your UBER-obscure PPPs!) Eventually decided it had to be a JUDITH.

The rest of it wasn't too bad, difficulty-wise, but oh brother, that name! Kinda ruined it for me. Par.

Wordle birdie.

Diana, LIW 1:13 PM  

As you might guess, the MW area was my downfall - a giant Natick. Who? Who? Who?

The rest was just fine for a Friday, filling in bit by bit as it should.

Diana, LIW

thefogman 1:22 PM  

Not big on this one. It looks like it started as a themer that was abandoned with leftover theme bits still in place. YOU ARE sounds like the letters U and R. And there are several answers that have UR in them (FURBABIES, COURTSIDESEATS, TREASURETROVE e.g.) but not enough to make a solid theme. So this is neither fish nor fowl. Nothing really to SNEER at here. Just not my cup of tea.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

I cry foul! Natatoria is not a swimming pool. It is a building that houses a swimming pool. Well, if not foul, certainly sheesh.

Burma Shave 2:20 PM  


all OILY and SWOLE, I mean,


Unknown 3:35 PM  

If there were regularly so many proper names in these puzzles, I'd quit doing them. Hated this one.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Whenever I see the word natatoria(um), I think of colleges and universities.

rondo 5:31 PM  

For me, easier than yesterday. But that name . . .
Wordle par after a BBBBB start.

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