Singing rodent of cartoondom / WED 1-18-23 / Acronymic title for a legendary athlete / Plaza resident in fiction / 1983 hit song that begins Domo arigato / Drugstore chain known for its long receipts / Feminist assn since 1966

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Constructor: Lindsay McBride

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Nice truck..." — actually, PICK-UP LINE (59A: "Come here often?," e.g. ... or a hint to 17-, 30-, 35- and 43-Across); all the answers are "lines" (i.e. things one might say) regarding picking someone / something up:

Theme answers:
  • "IT'S MY TREAT" (17A: 59-Across from someone who's paying?)
  • "ANSWER THE PHONE!" (30A: 59-Across from an anxious caller?)
  • "CLEAN YOUR ROOM!" (35A: 59-Across from a frustrated parent?)
  • "DO YOU NEED A RIDE?" (43A: 59-Across from a carpooler?)
Word of the Day: THE G.O.A.T. (23A: Acronymic title for a legendary athlete) —

Not many people can claim to be the G.O.A.T., but those who can are the Greatest Of All Time in their field. Most often, the acronym G.O.A.T. praises exceptional athletes but also musicians and other public figures.

On social media, it’s common to see the goat πŸ emoji in punning relation to the acronym. (

• • •

This is one of those puzzles where the themer clues are basically begging you to go down and start at the bottom, with the revealer, so that's what I did. Solving a bunch of longer answers completely through crosses, with no idea why they are what they are, isn't particularly fun, so I went down and worked my way to PICK-UP LINE, and then the themers I got after that were not just befuddling unclued (or ... preclued) phrases. The revealer payoff wasn't dramatic, but it worked well enough. Take a familiar phrase (PICK-UP LINE) and reorient it in a bunch of different ways–a line about picking up the tab, a line about picking up the phone, etc. It's textbook stuff, really. Not exciting, a little bit corny, but smooth and neatly executed, and no cornier than most pun-driven themes. None of the theme phrases feel forced (the way they sometimes can when you're trying to make them come out as a symmetrical set). In short, the theme is just fine. The puzzle played harder than normal (for me) partly because of the theme (i.e. the clues are all cross-referenced, so you had to piece them together with part of the clue missing), and partly because of trivia, specifically names, specifically two names I didn't know, specifically two names I didn't know that come from The Exact Same Field—two Olympic athletes. Names are a fine and necessary part of puzzles, but ... it's always nice when the clues bother to broaden the range of those names. Two names from a very narrow area ... not great editing. I'm just getting hammered lately by LEE clues. Didn't know LEE Shubert the other day, didn't know Suni LEE today. I'm fairly sure I've actually seen ELAINE Thompson-Herah in the puzzle before. I have a vague memory of making her my Word of the Day. But that didn't help today. So ... theme, names, and then a lot of "could be a bunch of things"-type clues made this one slow(er) going for me. But not rough. Just slow.

Got EBB/ELIOT quickly, right off the bat, and thought I was going to start flying, but then LEE got involved and wow BE SEEN was not my friend (3D: Appear in public). Needed every cross. Had BESEEM at some point and thought "well that's ... quaint." Clue on MAGS was a tough one (esp. since I only ever see the abbr. MAGS in crosswords) (18D: They have issues, in brief). My students TURN IN assignments all the time, and increasingly they do this electronically, which may be why I went with TURN IN and not HAND IN. We even have software called "Turnitin"—it's semi-evil surveillance software that identifies all the parts of a student's paper that are taken from other sources. It's a way to catch plagiarizers (the plagiarism arms race, don't get me started ... I did not get into this field so I could be a cop; at this point, I just go over proper citation methods, explain the zero tolerance cheating policy, and then turn the policing over to the machines. I also craft weird assignments that make plagiarism a near impossibility, though with the new AI, who the **** knows...). So I tripped over HAND IN, then tripped over "UM, NO" (had "UH, NO"). Then really tripped over I.T. PRO (had I.T. GUY ... which made it look like I was going to get GIPSY (!?!!?) at 22D: Certain itinerant musician (PIPER), which had me going "oh ... no no no don't be that." And it wasn't!).  

The only answer I really hated today was NO SPIN—that was the slogan of a ONETIME right-wing talk show host, so ... barf. Actually, I think technically it was the name of a segment (maybe?) on his show: the "NO SPIN Zone." Or maybe that's just what he called his show (I'm not bothering to look it up). The very claim "NO SPIN!" reeks of fraud, like ... it's the thing you would claim if you were actually the spinniest spinner who ever spun. "NO SPIN!" "Oh, shut up, spinner." NO SPIN was also just hard to parse, and hard + repugnant is pretty much the worst combo you can encounter as a solver. That FROND clue is pretty awful, but in that semi-charming way that bad puns are awful, so keep the FROND clue, ditch NO SPIN entirely, I say. I had LOYALIST before LOYAL (space) FAN (36D: Die-hard follower), so there was yet another way that my progress was measurably impeded. We got the rare ONO/ENO Daily Double today. That means you've got to drink! (it's time for ONO/ENO, the world's slowest drinking game!). I love (love!) that ALI comes directly after THE GOAT in the Acrosses, since one of the first times I ever encountered the G.O.A.T. acronym was in a Taschen bookstore where they had a giant book on display, all about Muhammad ALI. Its title: GOAT! I thought, "what a weird thing to call him." Now I get it.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 5:54 AM  

Typical Wednesday difficulty. tAO before HAO for the Chinese "good" at 32D. My Chinese is even sketchier than my Dutch, etc., from YD.
@Rex LOYAList before LOYALFAN at 36D.
The clue for 64A should indicate it's a shortened form, since INVITE is short for "invitation". Or is INVITE as a noun accepted on its own now?

OffTheGrid 5:57 AM  

Solid theme but didn't enjoy the fill much until I got to FROND. I laughed and that made the puzzle for me.

Joaquin 6:23 AM  

I never fail to be gobsmacked when a constructor is revealed to be a high-school student, such as todays. When I was in high school, I spent my spare time setting off cherry bombs in the school parking lot. Lindsay McBride, OTOH, is getting a very cool puzzle published in the New York Times. Quite an accomplishment; well done!

Anonymous 6:36 AM  

I'm surprised Rex didn't call foul over 4D heyNOW and 65A NOW.

smalltowndoc 6:59 AM  

Nice puzzle. Like Rex, I went for the revealer first to make sense of the other themed clues/answers. That made the whole much more enjoyable.

Regarding cheating on essays and term papers using A.I., the first time I heard of this was yesterday, when my wife told me it was a thing (chatbot?). Apparently, it can produce A+ quality work (notice I said "quality", not "worthy"). The entire concept is very scary to me. One temporary fix that teachers have been using to get around this novel method of cheating is to have the student discuss the topic at hand in terms of their own life experiences. I say "temporary" because how long will it be before the "bot" will be able to do a deep dive into the student’s social media accounts and successfully add the required personal touch? The days of actually going to the library and researching the topic seems so quaint nowadays.

SouthsideJohnny 7:00 AM  

Monday we had a hint with the foreign words crossing and we got a foreign themed grid yesterday. Today we have MR ROBERTO, AEON, a chipmunk and two peeps from the Olympics. I get a feeling we are getting geared up for a pretty trivial Thursday offering.

Wanderlust 7:03 AM  

I definitely have a different solving philosophy than Rex - I like trying to figure out what unites these themers rather than rushing down to figure out the revealer first. No idea today, so I had a nice aha moment when I got PICK UP LINE.

Find some real PICK UP LINEs in the puzzle, other than the obvious “I’m FROND of you” (in a fern bar).

HEY NOW, baby, you are THE GOAT when it comes to hotness.

I’d like to INVITE you over to my place to get NESTED with me in bed.

I am a LOYAL FAN of your ADULT movies.

I could go on, but you can’t hear me anymore over the jeering.

I liked the puzzle - four different kinds of pick-ups. Fun.

Lewis 7:27 AM  

Well, I was entertained, challenged, and affirmed by this puzzle. This was an A-1 experience for me.

First, there was the riddle theme. I filled in the entire grid except for the SE corner on purpose, just so I could guess the reveal. And I tried, and I tried. Nothing. I looked at first words, last words, ardently foraged for connections. Nothing. “This better be good,” I thought. Finally, I began to unveil the reveal, one letter at a time, and when I got to PICKU, it hit me big, a thrilling WOW/YES/PERFECT slam. Inside I bowed down to the wordplay excellence, and for having been so joyfully bested.

So much for being entertained and challenged. Now for the affirmed part. My favorite clue, not because of cleverness but because of trueness, was [Drugstore chain known for long receipts]. Yes! OMG! Those receipts come rolling out like room-width streamers, containing chapters of content, and then, it seems, they double the width of my wallet. Sometimes there are even more than one on a single purchase! Boo, CVS, on your receipts, and thank you, Lindsay, for letting me know with your clue that there are others who have noticed, and probably ugh as I do when handed said receipts.

Lindsay, to your quintet of long-O enders – UMNO, ERGO, MR ROBOTO, ONO, ENO – let me add a triple BRAVO. This is a most impressive debut in concept and execution. It’s plain to see you’ve got the knack, and I selfishly hope you’ve been bitten by the construction bug. Thank you so much for this!

Gary Jugert 7:50 AM  

Been awhile since we laded on so many unapologetically unfamous people and things in a clump like this. Sure, you cross 'em, hope some assumptions are true, and when you get the congrats sign you think, "I should go look some of my answers up," but you don't because the puzzle is finished and you got lucky using your trained-to-kill noggin. And honestly, for me, I'm sure knowing an Olympian named Elaine will never come up again in my life. Or will it?

Breezy upper half, who's who lower half. I liked "pick up your room" the best.

I'm amused by πŸ¦– comments on AI especially in light of my current M3GAN obsession and love of robots in general, but yes, the day of the forced school paper is coming to a close as the machines will soon be writing academic drivel and it'll actually be worth reading.


1 Pasadena, California.
2 The dude standing behind the potted plant.
3 PR Department's recommendation for producing a hit Christmas album.
4 "My mother spelled it Geoff, but meeting you has caused me to rethink my relationship with her."
5 Proper response to a millennial any time xi's complaining.
6 Result of M3GAN becoming sentient, realizing it was incorrectly gendered, and renaming itself based on its own perceived powers.


Alice Pollard 8:01 AM  

Kinda thought the theme would be Greatest of all time folks. Starting with Ali. Had LOYAList before LOYALFAN. JEFF Bridges cleared that up for me. Always loved his work. Had snow then corN before BRAN. I wonder if Brian ENO has any idea he is so ubiquitous in the crossword world. ELOISE seems to be recurring of late.

Son Volt 8:07 AM  

I liked the layered nuance of the dense theme - revealer could have been a little more splashy. Overall fill felt trivia laden - no idea on ELAINE.

I thought FROND was the highlight here. IT’LL, UM NO and IT PRO etc don’t help the flow and of course ELIOT was off - February is the cruelest month.

Enjoyable Wednesday solve.

ALVIN Youngblood Hart

Laura 8:11 AM  

Fun puzzle, but Rex did a better job of saying why than I can. Really loved today's column. Gave me more clarity on my morning ritual. And the gripe about no spin just made me enjoy that answer, too. Pity the irony couldn't be in the clue.

I enjoyed the theme. Not because it was super clever (that's tomorrow I hope) but because I can imagine coming up with a clue that is as fun and clever as this one. Nicely done.

J.T. Horpe 8:13 AM  

The concept of "THE GOAT" serves two (questionable) purposes, and these two only:

-to give sportswriters something to write about when they run low on ideas.

-to give bar patrons something to fight about after a couple of beers.

Otherwise, the whole concept is ridiculous.

On a side note:

Those of you from Boston will immediately recognize that the two purposes form a rhyming couplet.

So there's that, I guess....

pabloinnh 8:28 AM  

Glad I don't speed solve because it was Eraser Day at my house, starting with HOLDON (no), then HANGON (no) before HEYNOW. Then, how do you spell ISAIAH amyway? UHNO, (mo), LOTTA (no),and of course LOYALIST (no again). The happy music wasn't playing in my head so I went back and put the M in MRROBOTO, and then remembered the song, and the S in NOSPIN, which then made sense, and then gave my eraser some time off.

I'm in the "try to guess the theme" crowd and didn't see PICKUPLINECOMING so nice aha! there.

I retired from teaching Spanish just as translation programs were getting too good, and I am not sorry about that. Teachers I know are having students do any lengthy writing assignments in class, no phones of course, which is the only approach that makes sense. I occasionally had to ask a Spanish I student when we had studied the Imperfect Subjunctive, but I never got a good answer.

Very impressive stuff, LMB, and Let Me Be among the many who want to see lots more from you. Thanks for all the fun.

mmorgan 8:30 AM  

I found this more clever than groan-y — very nice variations on the meaning of “pick-up,” all smooth and reasonable and pleasant. I also had turn in before HAND IN. I never used the TURNITIN software — I could usually just smell plagiarism. Out of many memorable experiences, my favorite was one particular time I received a paper that clearly had been lifted from the internet (I found it verbatim online). I confronted the student about it and showed her the paper online. She burst into tears, telling me, “I didn’t take it from the internet! My roommate did!”

I guess she thought that made it alright.

Kent 8:37 AM  

I’m not sure if I’m proud or ashamed that FROND was my first guess without any crosses.

I resisted the urge to jump to the revealer, but figured out the themers were also pretty straightforward as “something X would say” so I don’t think that added much to the difficulty. And the theme answers seemed very much in the language (though I wonder how long “pick up” will be associated with answering the phone).

Hand-up for turnIN and ITguy.

TaylorSlow 8:45 AM  

I liked the theme a lot--very clever. Did what Rex did: headed to the bottom of the puzzle to get the theme and proceeded from there, and with the same overwrites too--Uh NO, turn IN for HAND IN. Didn't hate any of the clues, and really loved FROND.

Thanks to Rachel Fabi's column, I know that this puzzle was created by a senior in high school. To say I'm impressed would be to wallow in understatement. ELOISE, MR ROBOTO, JEFF Bridges--these are not part of the typical high school world. Very nice to see them here, along with NOW. Looking forward to more puzzles from Ms. McBride.

The plagiarism thing. When I was teaching a college creative writing course, a member of the Very Important football team turned in a short story that took place in Spain. During the Spanish Civil War. Right?? I called the student in, asked him some ridiculous questions about his interest in and knowledge of the Spanish Civil War, watched him sweat, and finally said, "Turning in a plagiarized story is terrible, but turning in one by Hemingway and thinking I wouldn't notice is downright insulting." Kid's eyes bugged out. The story was not by Hemingway he said--it was by his roommate. Who had given him the story and told him he had written it and gotten an A on it in another class. If AI is so good that it eliminates incidents like this one, well, what a shame.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

I had IT BRO before IT PRO and thought it was weirdly and hilariously judgy. Alas. Fun puzzle!

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Amy: hope you like your Tuesday class, Rex, and that Thursday's group is full of thoughtful, witty students. Today's puzzle ran a bit slow for me, too. That's just fine; gave me my money's worth. Theme is clever (even though I groan, I like puns and dad jokes). Pick up your room is just ripe for language nerds to pick apart. Have a good day. Today would have been my mom's birthday and since I learned Xwords at her side, reading clues and calling one out when I knew it, felt it okay to mention here. (She was a pen, never pencil, solver.)

webwinger 8:48 AM  

Thought this puzzle was exceptionally clever and really enjoyable. Great theme concept and execution! My solving experience was very similar to @RP’s, and I was pleased to see he rated it medium-challenging. I too had no idea re the two Olympians, and agree it would have been better to clue them differently, but I managed to get both from crosses, in fact finishing today with absolutely no help from my pal Google (yay me!) Had to LOL at today’s RexRant(TM) on NOSPIN. FROND was outstandingly groany. All in all a fine Wednesday in Crossworld. Hat off to young debut constructor Lindsay!

Wundrin' 8:49 AM  

I've always thought that an "Aha moment" in crossworld was when a solver figures out what's happening theme-wise or grasps a difficult clue. How is it an Aha moment when the solver needs the revealer to understand?

TTrimble 8:55 AM  

Speaking of cheating and lying, Bill O'Reilly, once a dominant ratings force, is decidedly in the has-been camp now, and so I think it's ok to claw back NO SPIN. Insofar as honesty and integrity, increasingly quaint notions though they may be (hi @smalltowndoc), haven't left us entirely.

(Oof, that sounds a little oratorical. I was about to go OFF about kids these days, some of them anyway, who are a lot more cynical about such quaint notions than kids used to be, at ONE TIME.)

Yes, this ChatGPT or whatever it's called has been unleashed over at the mathematics question-and-answer site where I'm a moderator. Wanna know something? It sucks. No, I mean it: it spits out gibberish and said fact is instantly detectable by the pros. A lot of people may think that math would be a bailiwick for today's AI, but no: left to itself, MR ROBOTO can't think and it can't visualize and it doesn't know what words mean. It only simulates without knowing what it's doing. It turns out that intelligence is a lot harder than they used to think. (If anyone is listening, I'm not talking about fully formalized mathematics; I'm talking about machines trying to simulate talking the way human mathematicians do when they are having a mathematical conversation.)

Anyway. Really nice JOB, Lindsay McBride! Looks like you've been at it for years.

While Rex may be stuck on Bill O'Reilly, there are newer odious types on today's scene like this Jordan "CLEAN YOUR ROOM" Peterson chap. Although his star may now be EBBing from view. LOL.

LOTSA trickiness in today's. I put down superFAN before LOYAL FAN, and tAO before HAO. Like Rex, "turn IN" before "HAND IN" (despite the fact I'm a hand-in guy: I still like homework handed in on paper, with handwriting on it). Also like Rex, BE SEEN took a while to come into view. For the Tchaikovsky piece I put in [letter TBD] followed by "sharp" at first, which was not the sharpest move -- soon those letters came off and MINOR took its place.

The "THE" in "THE GOAT" seems to sit there very naturally; I didn't even notice it. But I'm sure we'll hear some outcry today. Some "balking", if you will.

SB: 0 yd; I'm on a roll, for me that is (4 in a row).

RooMonster 9:09 AM  

Hey All !
Nice way to handle the Two 14 Themers and one 13 in the middle. 14's can be tough to get smoothly in a grid. That's the reason why the Five Blocker swaths on either side of the grid. Also, said Themers are only one row apart each, another tough obstacle, but handled rather nicely by Lindsay.

Chuckled at the -ese-est of -ese today, ONO, ENO, OOH, UTE. Thought OOH was OHO at first. My silly brain thinks OHO is -eseier than OOH. Not sure why.

Nice F block in SE. Some UPs today, PICK UP LINE, UPDO, EATUP. Got an UNUM and an UM NO. Doubles not often seen, RR (twice) BB. 42 Blockers, high. Could've got rid of the two cheaters in the "L" shaped set (Blocker before ITPRO, after LOTSA). 22 threes.

Did like this puz. Question for @Anoa Bob - That last square S only enables one POC, as E NEWS is not really a POC, NEWS can't be NEW. Happen often, or is that an oddity?

Four F's

egsforbreakfast 9:10 AM  

Rex’s thoughts on how NOSPIN is used in real life, with which I 100% agree, got me thinking about Fox News, which pretty much ruined my day. But I found myself picturing Roger Ailes and a group of his brown-nosers in a bar trying to come up with the perfect tagline/slogan for their soon-to-be-launched network.

Ailes: Now guys, you know we’re moving heaven and earth to create a network dedicated to being unfair and unbalanced. We need the perfect slogan for that.
Lackey: Hey, boss! What about “Fair and Balanced”?
Ailes: Brilliant, Lackey.

You don’t see much about “down dos” in crosswords or otherwise, but plenty of UPDOs. I’m down with that.

The Ford F Series is another PICKUP LINE.

Very enjoyable puzzle. Congrats on the debut, Lindsay McBride.

Bob Mills 9:13 AM  

Liked the puzzle, but didn't like UMNO as an answer to "Yeah...I don't think so." Would have finished it in less time without that complication (because I had never heard of the song it crossed). I had UHNO for a long time.

Bruce R 9:28 AM  

Ali was one of the greatest but probably not the GOAT. Not sure there is a GOAT in men's boxing. Floyd Mayweather finished his career 50-0 whereas Ali was 56-5.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

ELAINE Thompson-Herah was your word of the day on Thurs, Oct 13, 2022

lydianblues 9:43 AM  

While peering into a fish tank in a aquarium store, looking at the leafy water-plants and sea creatures: “with fronds like these, who needs anemones”….

Whatsername 9:49 AM  

I hadn’t planned to take time to comment today but I liked this so much! Then when I discovered this was a debut I had to at least stop in and say wow! And from a HS senior at that! Very impressive! Very cleverly done Lindsay. Hope to see LOTSA puzzles from you in the future.

What fun it was to EAT UP this excellent Wednesday. At first before I saw the revealer, I was curious because the themers didn’t seem to make sense. But what a sweet aha moment when they finally did! I also like that she slipped in the feminist group NOW, in relation to the clue used for the revealer. That was an especially nice touch. Plus HEY NOW and LOL, both of which might be likely responses to that classic PICKUP LINE.

jberg 9:52 AM  

Like Rex, I gave up and went to the revealer -- I mean, the theme clues tell you to go there. Got it with no crosses, which made getting the others more fun.

But then I had an unnerving experience -- I won't call it 'senior moment,' but you know what I mean. I looked at the clue for that girl living in the Plaza and said "ElainE!" Since I had the other ELAINE already, I was in shock. Moments later I realized that she was ELOISE, but I still haven't recovered. The only explanation I can think of is that when I was a young lad in an a small town in Wisconsin when ELOISE was being published, there was a lot of talk about a NY nightclub named "Elaine's" and the neuronal wires must have crossed for a second.

At least I had the sense to put in LOT_A and wait for the cross.

So today we get a Chinese word clued by its definition, and a Latin word clued as if it were English. I'm going to have to bone up.

The other way I can tell I'm getting old is that I wanted Lloyd for 57-A. Good thing he didn't fit.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

The theme is so cute and imaginative and the fill is so breezy and entertaining that I'm going to forgive MR ROBOTO. And I did struggle with this answer since I had UhNO and was wondering what on earth I was going to do with hRR. But then I said, Aha, if it were UMNO I would have a Mr Someone-or-other beginning with an R.

Another stumbling block for me was the itinerant musician. All I could think of was GYPSY, where only the P worked, and I wouldn't get PIPER until after I had ITPRO -- which I was slow to get too.

Here's ELOISE again. Welcome back, you adorable child, it's always a pleasure to see you.

A bright, breezy, sassy and enjoyable Wednesday that offered a nice dollop of challenge.

bocamp 10:36 AM  

Thx, Lindsay; I was very FROND of your potpourri! :)

Med. (altho felt tougher)

Started with a laugh; had EBB crossing EA POE.

Needed all the crosses for MR. ROBOTO.

With the advent of computers/tablets vis-Γ -vis 'homework', I wanted seND IN before HAND IN.

I somehow managed to miss the ELOISE books in grade school, so have finally decided it's time to catch up. Got 'The ELOISE Collection' audiobooks on hold.

Fun adventure; liked this one a lot! :)
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Howard C. 10:39 AM  

Sugar Ray Robinson was actually the boxing GOAT

Newboy 10:45 AM  


Almost gave it a pass when EBB/ELIOT arrived early, but LOTSA fun ensued. Glad to share a morning with this debut that maybe wasn’t THE GOAT but was certainly able to float like a butterfly & sting like a bee. And any friend of Mr Ross is on the path toward stellar success in Crossworld. Rosswords and Puzzles That Need a Home are two favorite alternatives when the early week grids become fill-in-the-blank disappointments. ERGO, it is a pleasure to say thanks to LindsayπŸ‘πŸΌ

tea73 10:49 AM  

Uh NO prevented me from seeing MR ROBOTO for way too long. (Not a big Styx fan.)

Nice debut.

webwinger 10:51 AM  

FWIW, today’s ELOISE reference came right after I watched the 1957 movie musical Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn (whose work I’ve been much into lately) and Fred Astaire. Their performances were both delightful, as expected, but the real revelation was a third lead played by an actress named Kay Thompson, age 48 when the film was made, who easily held her own alongside her iconic co-stars. She has only a handful of other film credits, but was an amazingly multitalented individual, among whose accomplishments were authoring the Eloise books. She was also the BFF of both Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli.

Tom T 10:57 AM  

Like Nancy and others, my only big stumbling block was the UhHO. Didn't we have that as the answer within the last week or so? I at least thought we did, so I put it in confidently, and even wondered if there was such a thing as BeAN flakes! (LOL) But that only produced HeRO BOTO--but HEY NOW, "DOMO ARIGATO, HEROBOTO" could have been a big ALT hit--or, said with LOTSA sexy inflection, a weirdly interesting PICKUPLINE: "Domo arigato, hero boto, may I INVITE myself to YOUR ROOM? DO YOU NEED A RIDE? IT'S MY TREAT.

Ok, end of creepy.

I briefly had EMajOR before EMINOR (hello, kealoa), but ALVIN came to the rescue.

Excellent debut puzzle!

Joseph Michael 11:02 AM  

Congrats to Lindsay. The puzzle was mucho HAO.

Glad someone else had something to say about those ridiculously long CVS receipts. Watching one stream forever out of the payment device is enough to NETTLE anyone.

“HEY, NOW, hurry up! Our bus is here!”

“Sorry. I’m only halfway through my receipt.”

OffTheGrid 11:09 AM  

I do the LA Times crosssword, too. I just did last Saturday's (14th). Very nice theme-less. Helps make up for NYT themed that day. The LATCWP is free. HERE'S A LINK

Nancy 11:14 AM  

I didn't realize as I was solving this puzzle I enjoyed so much that it was a debut puzzle from a high school senior. That is SO incredibly impressive! Hearty congrats, Lindsay! I think you're destined to have a lot of LOYAL FANs in your future.

mathgent 11:17 AM  

Liked it, but I wasn't as sharp as Nancy and got Naticked at UMNO/MRROBOTO.

As I was going through the comments just now, I was thinking that they were all pretty dull. And then I came to Lydianblues (9:43).
I stopped and read it to my wife.

GILL I. 11:20 AM  

Well, this was a sweet little mood change to come to....first smile this morning!....I made the mistake of turning on the news this morning only to find out that our fun little racist, Marjorie Taylor Greene, has been placed on the House Homeland Security Committee. Imagine that! All I picture in my head is her yelling at the boarder patrol agents for not letting "illegals" drown in the Rio Grande.
BUT.... then I get this really nice Wed. puzzle from a high schooler, no less. You have LOTSA talent Ms. Lindsay...hope to see more of your efforts.
I never want to go sniffing out the revealer before I've done my homework. It feels like eating your dessert before the main course.... I somewhat understand that if you've been given a dish full of kale and okra....I'd do the same. But there was none of that here. IT'S MY TREAT to myself to come to the end, gulp the cherry on top and yell AHA and OOH to the PICK UP LINE finale.
Did 57D also need blow? Shall we ask JEFF, OLAF and ELI?
I didn't have many struggles except with THE GOAT. I imagined ALI ramming his opponents? And the only clue types I don't particularly like are those key ones involving a symphony. Pick any letter in the alphabet and make it a major or a MINOR. Is that green paint?
We have another few days of rain so I won't just yet scrape the moss off of my toes.

jae 11:30 AM  

Medium-tough. Delightful, made me smile. Liked it a bunch. An excellent debut!

No erasures and ELAINE (Benes would have been a gimme), LEE and HAO were WOES.

Liveprof 11:39 AM  

@lydianblues (9:43) -- love it!

Nancy 11:49 AM  

@webwinger -- And, as I think I mentioned the last time ELOISE appeared in a puzzle, ELOISE was supposedly based on Liza herself -- who I guess was then an adorably precocious (and maybe a little bit bratty) child.

Masked and Anonymous 11:53 AM  

This was a theme muffin where all the themer clues were absolutely insistin that U consult the revealer's clue. M&A, bein the (semi-)obedient type, headed there pronto, read the clue, figured out the revealer answer without any letters, and then easily cruised thru the puz. Even MR ROBOTO and GOATs couldn't slow m&e down much. Fun, breezy solvequest, at our house.

staff weeject pick(up): HAO. As in "Hao nao braon cao". [Chinese bull's pickup line.] [Otto Correct went plum nuts, on that there quote.]

some fave stuff along the way: HEYNOW. THEGOAT & ALI combo. EATUP line. ONETIME.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. McBride darlin. And congratz on a primo debut -- not bad for a high schooler. Keep up the hao work.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

p.s. @Gill I: Thoroughly enjoyed all of yesterday's reminiscin on comment gallery folks from the past. Bob Kerfuffle and r.alphbunker are both still at it, over at, btw.

p.p.s.s. Went to an optometrist for the first time in 4-5 years yesterday. After careful analysis, the doc said everything looked good, and -- get this -- that M&A's eyesight had *improved* quite a bit, for some reason. Cool. Perhaps I'm now agin backwards? Yeah … didn't think so.

pig out onetime on this puppy:

Carola 12:09 PM  

Impressive debut, with such a nice array of different PICK-UP possibilities in solid, natural phrases. I'm also in the "try to guess the reveal" crowd, but after the first two theme answers, I decided to do a reverse: solve the reveal and then try to guess the two remaining phrases. Got CLEAN YOUR ROOM with no crosses but couldn't figure out what was going to precede RIDE without some crosses, as "Can I give you a" was too long and "I need a" too short.

Help from previous puzzles: AEON. Do-overs: UhNO, ITguy,. No idea: MR ROBOTO, LEE, ELAINE, RYAN, HAO.

On the plagiarism front: teaching German lit to undergrads, I knew that any paper written at native-speaker level was written by someone else. I wonder if ChatGPT can be instructed to write a paper at 5th-semester level? My "favorite" example of "Busted!": a student turned in a paper that referred to "the author's self-portrait, which appears on page xx of this book."

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

For the most part, I agree. Fun puzzle. Certainly easy for a Wednesday.

No comments on 15 across? "Plaza resident of fiction"? I have no idea what that is. I consider myself fairly well read, but "eloise" doesn't mean anything to me outside of the name.

Googling also didn't give me anything. I genuinely am stumped on this clue

Lewis 12:32 PM  

@carola -- Hah! on what that busted student turned in!

retired guy 12:57 PM  

Is this the first time the NYT puzzle has included a Chinese word not used in English? (Tao sometimes appears in English, as in The Tao of Pooh.)

Whatsername 1:01 PM  

@Joseph Michael (11:02) I could picture someone standing there at the register, impatiently tapping foot, edging toward the door. Thanks for the LOL moment.

Nancy 1:04 PM  

Since I doubt everyone here saw yesterday's depressing NYT article about students using AI to have school essays written for them, it's a coincidence that this is a topic of discussion today. Here's the article for those who missed it.

I guess we've always had cheats, but somehow it seems worse now. Now, no one seems to feel guilty. Now, no one seems to have shame. I guess when your culture is riddled with the likes of Donald Trump and George Santos, or whatever his real name is...

I'm really glad I'm not a teacher or a professor. But if I were, I would certainly get the AI detection software and hope that it worked dependably. Even if it didn't, here's what I'd say to the class at the beginning of the semester:

"I have purchased the best, the latest incarnation of AI-detecting software and I will use it religiously. If I catch anyone who has employed AI software to write an essay for them, they will get an automatic "F". Consider yourselves duly warned."

Aren't you glad I'm not a teacher or professsor? But, really, that is what I would do.

Smith 1:18 PM  

@Gill et al from yd
There was a guy FoghornLeghorn or something who was a dj out west; I only remember because my brother styled himself FoghornLeghorn when *he* was a dj in high-school (70s)

okanaganer 1:25 PM  

Rex said "the themer clues are basically begging you to go down and start at the bottom, with the revealer, so that's what I did". I resisted that temptation, and vowed to figure it out before I got down there, but failed. (What on earth is the theme?) But it was more fun that way!

Me too for initially IT GUY crossing GIPSY.

An all star lineup of crosswordese names: ONO, ENO, ELI, ALI! I'm not including LEE cuz it's a name you actually see all the time.

[Spelling Bee: Tues 0, my last word was this 6er that always causes me problems. 3 day streak; hi @Ttrimble!]

Lewis 1:41 PM  

@okanager -- Your first paragraph, I agree completely.

SharonAk 1:59 PM  

Big Aha moment when I got the revealer.
Also liked how nicely symmetrical the homers and revealer were

Good puzzle.

@ Lydian blues LOL, well maybe just a muffled chuckle, but thanks for the fun

Bob Mills 2:02 PM  

Muhammad Ali was "the greatest" primarily because he himself said he was the greatest, and sportswriters fell in love with him. Joe Louis never lost to Leon Spinks. Rocky Marciano never got knocked down by Henry Cooper.

Anoa Bob 3:14 PM  

I'm genuinely glad that most of yous (youse, you all, y'all) like this one, seeing as how this was a debut and, as I know from experience, getting bad reviews early on can be a real bummer. And with all that theme material, I can see how this must have been a bear to construct, so props for that.

The theme and reveal were very consistent but I can't say I'm a LOYAL FAN because I thought the themers were, uh, erm, dull. ITS MY TREAT was the best of the lot but ANSWER THE PHONE, CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM and DO YOU NEED A RIDE strike me as being mundane, ho-hum and uninteresting. Since the theme took up so much grid space there wasn't much room left for interesting fill. (Full disclosure: I'm rarely thrilled by themes and much prefer lots of interesting words cross one another in the fill.)

@Roo, these come up quite frequently where a Down and an Across share a final S but one of the words (or phrases) is in its base form, here ENEWS, and would be nonsensical without that final S. That S is necessary rather than just convenient so The Committee always votes "No POC (plural of convenience) in these cases.

The grid is commendably restrained in using POCs to make the fill easier to complete. Only a single two for one POC at 55D/66A OFFS/BINS and that's about it. MAGS (18D) is there by necessity rather than convenience because of the S in the crossing theme. Again, high marks for a well crafted, if not exactly DIVINE, grid fill.

Photomatte 4:01 PM  

This was pretty hard for a Wednesday. Perhaps my brain was thrown off by the GOAT clue: I was dismayed to find Twitter automatically inserts a goat emoji whenever someone types in Tom Brady. This is absurd. Brady has been caught cheating multiple times. The team he played for most of his career, the Cheatriots, has been caught cheating multiple times. If Tom Brady is the goat, so is Lance Armstrong.

Joe Dipinto 4:05 PM  

Did nobody play this? One of my 80s faves.

Made in Japan 4:24 PM  

I'm not much of a sports fan, so I agree with Rex that they shouldn't have clued two answers as Olympic athletes. Nevertheless, since she's a local girl who trained only a few miles from where I live, I have to put in a word for Suni Lee. She was not only the first Hmong-American to even compete in the Olympics, but she was the all-around women's gymnastics champion, so she not only set a precedent, she smashed it.

Realist 5:12 PM  

@Photomatte. GOAT concept is a myth, anyway. They all cheat, anyway.

GILL I. 5:14 PM  

@M and A 11:53...Ah yess...the runtpuz....of course!
@Smith 1:18. Well I don't really recall a FoghornLeghorn...Sounds like fun!. Are you perhaps thinking of @Mohair Sam? He still pops in on the occasional Sat. - especially if it's a good puzzle.

For anyone interested in "The Green Paint Mystery" little tome....@Joe D put a clever idea out there because people wanted to know what the fuss was about "Green Paint" that @Rex used in his write-ups.....Anyway, @Nancy started is on May 2, 2019 with this: "Long before anyone saw it or touched it, Jonathan smelled it."
It took off with lots of fun. @Mo-T added some bodaciousness as did @Joe D, @Nancy, @Aketi and @JC66 with his Martini and Rossi....I added my two cents as well. It's a fund read and you have to scroll down towards the end of the day to read what additions were added. I think it ended June 01?'s a fun read....Wondering if it made it into publication...@Joe D?...@Nancy? HAH...I'd pay for it!
KEALOA now seems to be the next useful word floating about. New book? Will Jonathan be back sipping a drink under a palapa in Hawaii? Will Gorp be there?

Joe Dipinto 5:42 PM  

I will never be able to think of GOAT as meaning "Greatest Of All Time". To me as an epithet it means "scapegoat" or someone who's generally disliked or thought badly of. It was a poor choice to turn into an acronym.

BOAT = The Blondest Of All Time
COAT = The Clumsiest Of All Time
MOAT = The Milquetoastiest Of All Time

GILL I. 5:53 PM  

Wrong date: Green Paint story was started on May 26, 2019...Enjoy!

egsforbreakfast 7:25 PM  

@Joe DiPinto. Don’t forget:

BLOAT. Blusteriest of all time.
FLOAT. Flooziest of all time.
STOAT. Strangest of all time.

And that’s all she wroat, folks.

JC66 8:11 PM  

@Joe D & @egs

Your examples work TOAT.

J.W. 8:59 PM  

This is one of those days where this website's commentariat truly baffles me. On Monday everyone runs around doing just the downs to make it mOrE cHaLLeNgInG, then on Wednesday we're whiffing on a 40-year-old song that was a massive hit, with the line offered in the clue being one that basically everyone on earth has droned in a robotic monotone at least once in their lives? The inconsistency makes my head hurt.

Interesting to see JEFF for Bridges instead of the crossword-friendlier Beau.

Also briefly had turnIN before HANDIN, the latter of which is so quaint as to be nauseating, not to mention—given that every school in even my neck of the semi-rural Texas woods issues Chromebooks or Macbooks to every student these days—not even technically accurate anymore. Otherwise, I found this one far from medium-challenging—closer to my PB than my average.

Nancy 9:15 PM  

Never sang it, never even droned it -- not even once, @J.W. (8:59) It may have been a massive hit, but it wasn't a massive hit at a time when I was paying any attention at all.

TTrimble 9:46 PM  

I don't think it's so hard to understand. I would take @mathgent or @Carola at their word if they say they don't know the Styx song. Maybe they weren't listening to commercial top-40 music at the time?

Also, I would find it even more "nauseating" if Texan schoolchildren were no longer accustomed to handwriting and handing in (= turning in) their handwritten work. But I somehow doubt it's true. "Please hand in your tests" says the teacher at the end of the period.

Obviously, mileages will vary as to perception of difficulty. Rex can only report his subjective impression, and that's all he can do.

albatross shell 9:56 PM  

A slightly more difficult call is the EDs of convenience at REAPED and and NESTED. REAPED for sure. NESTED, as clued, might be judged more leniently.

Shecky Wormwood 10:02 PM  

It's so funny how the solving experience can vary so much based on how you approach a puzzle. Some of the answers you mentioned I never even noticed and probably didn't even read the clue. I generally find most themes annoying (when there's several answers with a revealer, mostly because I don't like looking back and forth between clues/answers), so unless something really lands with me I generally just try to plow straight through it, and if there's a clever theme at the end, I go "Oh, that's neat..." but this one didn't register for me at all. I did like the "Frond" clue and got it straightaway with no crosses, but I am an oppressive dad-joke pun fan, so....

tea73 10:16 PM  

@bocamp this is probably too late for you to see it, but there's no point in only listening to the Eloise books, the pictures are half the charm.

Teedmn 10:28 PM  

Cross-referenced clues, ugh. Saw the first one and said to myself, “Aw, geez, no.” I continued solving with no idea what tied the theme answers together but at least they were all interesting. And then hit the revealer, lovely! Left a very nice taste in my brain. Lindsay, congratulations on the wonderful debut!

Sunni LEE, fellow Minnesotan, was a no-brainer today. ELAINE, sorry, I needed crosses.

J.W. 11:58 PM  

Well sure, everyone has things they missed during the zeitgeist ... but then not even once in the intervening four decades? Everyone takes different paths through life, for sure. For people urbane enough to be engaging with crosswords, however, it still sort of beggars disbelief to me, though. Shrug.

Personally, I'd reserve the romanticization of handwriting for something a little grander in scope than homework. The computers are a nuisance when my kid needs to show his work in math, however.

CDilly52 2:46 AM  

Weird day. Here it is Thursday morning and I al just finishing Wednesday! Thankfully I started a minute or two before midnight (and then got distracted by some cat retching - hairball season) so my streak remains in tact.

I disagree with @Rex on the theme. I really enjoy themes that beg you to go down and find the revealer because the answers make no sense. I try to figure it out before I get there and couldn’t do it today. That makes the solve all the more enjoyable. The fact that the reveal, PICKUP LINE was so easy to get just tipped the puzzle into the very enjoyable realm for me. It seemed as if the constructor, after giving the solver’s brain a workout throughout, did a “Ta-da!” right at the end as if saying “See, did too tie them together!” I really got a kick out of it.

TTrimble 8:11 AM  

No usage of the word "homework". No "romanticization", just doubt that it's gone by the wayside. I agree with you about the math (I teach the subject).

kitshef 10:36 AM  

All exams and assignments should be in-class, no electronics, thus avoiding the AI issue.

Nice puzzle.

spacecraft 11:08 AM  

Cool enough theme, repurposing "PICKUP" different ways. The fill was less than stellar, though. UMNO and ERS are awkward, and we have the always annoying RMK, EMINOR. Add unnecessarily obscure clues for LEE and ELAINE--geez, it's only Wednesday!--and we have a theme birdie/fill bogey: par.

?Oldie that repeats 4-down three times at the start?*

A "Phew!" six at Wordle; there are just too many _I_ER combos, and the answer was not on my top ten. Lucky to get it when I tried RIVER and got 4 G's.

*Finger Poppin' Time

Burma Shave 2:32 PM  




rondo 2:54 PM  

A couple of slowish spots but not bad.
Fourth shot at BGGGG for a wordle 5.

Diana, LIW 4:37 PM  

"yakety yak" "don't talk back"

Well that's what it made me think of. I thought there would be more "surprise" answers. Straightforward and fun for Wednesday.

Lady Di

Brett Alan 3:57 PM  

The anonymous comment near the beginning (6:36AM) makes a great point about NOW and HEYNOW both being in the grid. Especially because it would be super-easy to fix. Just change the N at the bottom to a D. "Divide" and "Dow" (as in Jones, or the chemical company) are both perfectly fine.

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