Element suggested phonetically by NOPQ STUV / MON 6-6-22 / Famed Roman censor / Indigenous people for whom a Great Lake is named / Juice brand with hyphenated name / Measuring instrument that may have a needle

Monday, June 6, 2022

Constructor: Michael Schlossberg

Relative difficulty: Easy side of normal

THEME: "HONEY, I'M HOME!" (63A: Cry after navigating the last parts of the answers to this puzzle's starred clues?) — last words of themers tell a story of a very specific kind of return home through a sequence of locations that form the path the returnee takes:

Theme answers:
  • DELLA STREET (17A: *Secretary of Perry Mason)
  • TWELVE STEPS (23A: *Alcoholics Anonymous program)
  • STICK THE LANDING (39A: *Finish a gymnastics routine perfectly)
  • BOY NEXT DOOR (52A: *Description of a wholesome, clean-cut guy)
Word of the Day: DELLA STREET (17A) —
Della Street is the fictional secretary of Perry Mason in the long-running series of novels, short stories, films, and radio and television programs featuring the fictional defense attorney created by Erle Stanley Gardner. [...] In the first Perry Mason novel, The Case of the Velvet Claws, written in the early days of the Great Depression, Della Street is revealed to have come from a wealthy, or at least well-to-do, family that was wiped out by the stock market crash of 1929. Della was forced to get a job as a secretary. By the time of the TV series in the 1950s and 1960s, this would not have fitted well with the age of the characters as then portrayed. According to The Case of The Caretaker's Cat, she is about 15 years younger than Perry Mason. // Several instances of sexual tension are seen between Mason and Street in the Gardner novels, multiple glances, kisses, and so on, and several proposals of marriage, all of which Della turned down because, at the time, wives of professional men did not work. Thus, she could not have continued as his secretary (and effective partner) and she did not want to give up this aspect of her life. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's something creepily "wholesome" about this puzzle. Like ... I dunno, it wants me to think of a hygienic, sober mid-century nuclear family that watches DELLA STREET on the TV and hopes their daughter will grow up to that nice BOY NEXT DOOR and what not, but my brain really wants to fight this premise, so all I'm imagining is Perry Mason stumbling home drunk to an empty house, calling out "HONEY, I'M HOME" to Della, who is not there and will never be there because Perry has screwed up too many times, so now Della is off somewhere with the BOY NEXT DOOR and Perry's all alone, forever and ever. My version is dark, but I'll still take it over whatever central casting has imagined for us here. Seriously, though, the puzzle has an overall very old vibe, not just in the theme answers and theme concept, but in the quality of the fill as well (STENOS and IDES and VIDI and NENE and APSO and etc. etc.). Also, I don't think BOY NEXT DOOR repurposes the last word enough. That is, the other homecoming locations (STREET, STEPS, LANDING) are strongly reimagined by the theme answer phrases, whereas the BOY NEXT DOOR is just ... there ... next door ... watching you come home ... plotting god knows what, what's wrong with that kid anyway!? Anyway, that DOOR is just a DOOR on the STREET where you live; it hasn't been sufficiently un-DOORed by the theme answer. 

["Amiable handmaiden"!? The disrespect!]

I finished up at O'NEAL and didn't get a "Congrats, you're done!" message from my software, so I checked the cross and corrected that final answer to O'NEIL (53D: Baseball great Buck), but that still didn't get me the all clear, so I scanned the grid for my mistake and it looks like I never fully corrected my very very early and completely inexplicable hiccup on 1D: "Veni, ___, vici":

Caught that one early when I was like "uh, her name is *not* NELLA STREET!?" but apparently forgot to change EDOL to IDOL, blargh. Otherwise, not much happened between start and finish for me. Oh, I wrote in ELENA instead of SONIA (43A: Justice Sotomayor)—got my five-letter Supreme Court first names ending in "A" wires crossed. Thankfully no ALITO today. Had a brief feeling of drawing a blank at PLASMA, since I honestly thought solid & gas & liquid were it (5A: Alternative to solid, liquid or gas). Did they used to teach that to kids in science? Anyway, per wikipedia: "Like a gas, plasma does not have definite shape or volume. Unlike gases, plasmas are electrically conductive, produce magnetic fields and electric currents, and respond strongly to electromagnetic forces" (wikipedia). Weirdly (for someone as scientifically semi-literate as I am), I got ISOMER no problem (67A: Similar chemical compound). Even more weirdly, for someone who does as many puzzles as I do, CIPHER did not come quickly (15A: Coded message). But overall, it's a Monday, there's so much easy stuff floating around the grid that any slight hold-ups were quickly taken care of. 

The only truly remarkable thing happening in the puzzle today is the weird "B" run that the Down clues go on toward the bottom of the grid. Check out the alliteration in 50- through 53-Down: [Baby buggy to Brits / Beauty and the Beast heroine / Baseball great Buck]. I feel like this alliterative indulgence is a sneaky little whim, like someone is trying to see if we'll notice. Well, I noticed, and all I have to say is: respect. Fly your freak flag, you ... Fill Folks. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. here are my ERLE Stanley Gardner shelves (each shelf two rows deep);

[A.A. FAIR = Gardner pseudonym for his Cool & Lam mysteries, which 
I actually prefer to the Perry Mason ones]

P.P.S. LOL I just got this (57A: Element suggested phonetically by NOPQ STUV ...). It's just a segment of the alphabet with the "R" missing, or "gone," thus ... ARGON :/

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

If Monday puzzles are supposed to be for novice solvers and meant to engage new solvers, then how could one not be hooked on crosswords after solving this puzzle. A perfect Monday for newbies and fun for veterans, too. A win/win.

jae 12:19 AM  

Medium. Smooth grid, slightly odd theme, a cleverly clued long down, liked it.

I had some of the same issues as @Rex...CIPHER and PLASMA not coming quickly.

@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #715 was a medium Croce i.e. in the circa two hour completion range. I did need to walk away and come back to it more than once. The NE was the tough part for me as one of the long downs was a WOE and the other two were Croce clued. Good luck!

okanaganer 1:02 AM  

@Rex: "the BOY NEXT DOOR is just ... there ... next door ... watching you come home ... plotting god knows what, what's wrong with that kid anyway!?" That's too funny. Coincidence: I just used that phrase on Friday in a Facebook post about my mom's 100th birthday. Her first husband was, literally, the boy next door.

Did this puzzle by looking at only the down clues; eventually got there but with one error: BELLA crossing ALS. But I got held up a while by putting in BATHES NUDE instead of SKINNY DIPS.

Years ago, Howie MEEKER was a famous hockey commentator here in Canada. He was quite hilarious, kinda a goofball. Short video.

[Spelling Bee: Sun 22 min to get "g" but missing 2 pangrams; much much later finally got QB simultaneously with my last word which was a 12er and a pangram (!!) Holy hannah what a beast; I can't believe I got all 74 words!!]

libellula 1:53 AM  

Came here to see if you explained 57A. Got it from the vertical clues but no lightbulbs went on...was bummed until I saw your P.P.S. Duh! :)

SharonAK 2:23 AM  

It did seem extra easy. And now that Rex mentions it, it did have sort of an old vibe - which may be why it was easier than typical for me.
Kept reading the letter string aloud trying to make it sound like some element. Got a smile when crosses filled it in and I saw the R gone from the letters. Don't quite see how that works with the clue saying "phonetically"
Was hoping to have some SB fans here to ask if they got the nine letter MO word that is my last ???
Guess I'll have to wait until I wake up tomorrow. G'night.

Anonymoose 5:53 AM  

ARGON (R Gone) is so bad it's good.

Some laptops/PCS. Some are the emordnilap of 22A, SCAM

You can drink HI-C or the emordnilap of 37D, GNAT

Zed 6:50 AM  

@Joaquin - Only if the newbie uses a walker and an oxygen tank. DELLA STREET, ISAAC Asimov, ELLA Fitzgerald, ANNE Frank, Buck O’NEIL, I.M. PEI, KATE Spade, even Mr Veni VIDI Vici assassinated on the IDES of March, this is another puzzle that goes beyond skewing old to skewing dead. THE BOY NEXT DOOR is probably Norman Bates in all his black and white gory glory.

bocamp 6:58 AM  

Thx, Michael; fine Mon. puz! :)


Had to wait for the crosses to get PLASMA & CIPHER.

Was welcomed into a TWELVE STEP group as part of my alcohol studies minor at college.

Wanted 'nail' before STICK.

Fun early-week adventure! :)


Thx; on it. Got primed yd w/ a tough BEQ, so Croce will follow nicely td. :)

@okanaganer πŸ‘ for QB yd (quite a feat)! :)
pg -2 (missing 2 for 16 pts) / W: 3* / WH: 3 / Duo: 34

#Worldle #135 1/6 (100%)

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

kitshef 7:15 AM  

Easier than easy.

We talk here sometimes about verbs being turned into nouns and vice versa. ITEM was originally an adverb meaning "in addition". So you might write: "This silverware set has one fork; item, one spoon; item, one knife". Then someone in ignorance interpreted that word 'item' as a noun and here we are.

Lewis 7:16 AM  

I’m a sucker for stories, they draw me right in. Today’s theme presented a sweet short one, which predisposed me to embrace the puzzle and like many parts of it.

I like that the last words of the theme answers give meanings other than their infrastructure sense, with STREET being a last name rather than a roadway, and so on. I like seeing LIT, which echoed yesterday’s literature-based puzzle, and I like the PEI / PEE / PET beginning of a word ladder.

Three of the four theme answers, as well as the reveal, have pop, and I’m going to count that as a win, rather than focus on the one answer that was, to me, neutral, rather than lively. Why? Because the theme has put me in a positive frame of mind, and besides, I’m like Bob Dylan, who said, “Even if you don’t have all the things you want, be grateful for the things that you don’t have that you don’t want.”

Michael, you charmed me with your coming-home scenario today, and you’ve thrust me into my day in a most lovely frame of mind. Thank you for this!

JD 7:20 AM  

@Zed, 🀣. Your greatest post ever.

Son Volt 7:36 AM  

Seems like Rex missed the location specific nuance of the theme - the sequence of parking the car and walking up the steps and into the house - it’s not a path home. The reactionary feel though is overwhelming - easy and smooth if it’s your thing but I could see this turning some off. @Z - even SPACE SUITS evoke 60s nostalgia.

I liked PLASMA over CIPHER - not sure on the ARGON clue.

Let me be a little MEEKER to my brother who is weaker. My dad loved the Coal Miners version but my mom always liked Wanda better.

Enjoyable enough Monday - but it does trend slightly old.

SouthsideJohnny 7:50 AM  

Nice clue for SKINNY DIPPING and an even better one for ARGON to welcome the noobs to the wonderful wacky world of cruciverbalism (oh, no - did I make up a word? I learned how to from the NYT). I imagine that DELLA STREET may be tough for those not well versed in the source fiction along with quite a bit of the rest that skews old-timey, but as OFL mentioned, on Monday the low-hanging fruit is usually nearby to help cobble together an O'NEIL here and an I.M PEI there, so probably an acceptable mix this early in the week.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Amy: agree laughingly at Rex's take on the puzzle as old timey, but not the nefarious nature of it. Got more of a Dick Van Dyke Show vibe. A cut above the usual Monday.

pabloinnh 8:04 AM  

Age-appropriate for me, so on the pre-Monday side.

I was liking the progression as I got the themers but was still surprised when I hit the revealer, which was where it belonged, so a double plus there.

Patting self on back for getting PLASMA and ISOMER with few nanoseconds wasted.

Nary a glitch until I got to RITA PERLMAN, instant fix there, and the end.

Solid Monday, MS. Merrily Sailed through, and thanks for all the fun.

Rug Crazy 8:12 AM  

HI-C has a tiny amount of juice in it. IT IS NOT JUICE!

Paul Drake 8:16 AM  

The Perry Mason TV program from the 60's airs weekdays on ME TV. Memorable Entertainment Television. So, old and current at the same time. People still read Isaac Asimov and listen to Ella Fitzgerald.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

I don’t think the New York Times crossword should celebrate PCP/Angel Dust.

Peter P 8:35 AM  

@kitschef - Interesting note on "item." That sounds like something I was vaguely familiar with, but had forgotten. I looked it up, and it seems like it was c. 1570 that the word was first noted with the noun meaning of general "thing."

ARGON was a bit of a groaner, but I figured it out pretty quickly. It helps if you're in an accent region with the cot/caught merger (where the vowels in both are pronounced identically, which is for about half of the US). I'm not from a merger area, so "are gone" and "argon" take a little imagination to sound similar enough. I also think traditional New York City area pronunciation of "gone" is often more towards the short-o or "ah" sound than the "aw" sound. (/Ι’/ vs /Ι‘/ or /Ι”/ for those of you who know IPA.)

@SouthsideJohnny. Unfortunately, "cruciverbalism" is not your neologism. There's even a book with that title from 2009. From a little research, I could find that word in print going back to at least 1979. (And that's for "cruciverbalism," not "cruciverbalist." The latter dates to 1977, according to online etymology resources.)

Very fast puzzle for me with little resistance, near fastest Monday times. I.M. Pei actually came up in conversation for me at a Cubs game last night, of all places, precisely for the reasons of that clue. I always have to look up the pronunciation of his name. It's "PAY" if anyone else is curious, not "PIE" or "PEE."

OffTheGrid 8:45 AM  

@PeterP. ARGON anagrams to GROAN. (but you probably saw that)

Wm. C. 9:05 AM  

Should've clued 63A as "what Desi says to Lucy when he comes in the door in the evening." ;-)

Nancy 9:07 AM  

Cute. Once I hit the LANDING, I knew more or less what the revealer would be before getting there. And I had some hiccups along the way:

*hoT before LIT for "on fire" gave me some sort of baffling CoP kind of code and also PhASMA. Why, in school, did no one ever tell me about PLASMA. All I've ever heard about are solid, liquid, gas.

And for "non-human member of the family" I had APE before PET -- which screwed up that section too, if only momentarily.

A word about STREET, STEPS, LANDING. HONEY, that may be your HOME, but it's sure not mine. Why, I was telling someone just yesterday-- who was telling me how much she would love to own a NYC townhouse--that I wouldn't accept one for free unless I was permitted to sell it. All those STEPS. I hate STEPS!!!! I have always hated STEPS-- even when I was much, much, much younger. And nothing is ever on the floor you're on at the moment. Your eyeglasses are on the 2nd floor and your sweater is on the 4th floor and your Kleenex is on the ground floor and your glass of water is on the 3rd floor. You need four or five of everything so your stuff will always be within easy reach. It's sort of like owning two or three houses, I imagine.

This was a nice, breezy Monday that I enjoyed.

Lewis 9:17 AM  

By the way, I want to say that NENE is pronounced “nay nay”, because until a few years ago I confidently heard it in my head as “neen”, and I’m grateful it never came up in a conversation.

Peter P 9:22 AM  

@OffTheGrid -- I'd like to pretend I was clever enough to have noticed that, but I actually didn't. :) Nice!

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

The Perry Mason of the 50s and 60s probably would have been considered unsuitable fare for kids by many parents at the time. Nearly every Mason episode dealt with at least one murder.

While cleaning out his mother's house after she had passed, one of my colleagues found a letter issued by his kindergarten, which was affiliated with their Presbyterian church. It was written in 1964. We'll never know why this bit of ephemera was kept, but it entertained us at work for a while, scanning over the musty old shows, most of which haven't been seen since they originally aired. It grouped that season's television programs by suitability for young kids, with categories such as "Acceptable", "Mostly Acceptable", "Objectionable", and "Unacceptable." Perry Mason was categorized as unacceptable for children's viewing, along with The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, and all westerns.

Nearly every show had some type of objectionable content in part, including many sitcoms we think of as innocuous fluff these days, like Petticoat Junction or The Lucy Show. Even Disney's Wonderful World of Color was a "maybe," depending on the particular episode. About the only programs that rose to the level of acceptability to the kindergarten were panel shows and game shows, some music shows, like Lawrence Welk, and Lassie.

HBO also recently aired a Perry Mason reboot, which was much darker in tone than the old CBS series, set in the 1930s, and closer to the Perry Mason of Gardner's novels. That one is definitely not for the kindergarten set.

Whatsername 9:35 AM  

I loved this clever and entertaining Monday! Beginner level difficulty and yet appealing enough to hold the interest of an experienced solver. Yes it does definitely have an “old” (if that’s what everyone insists on calling it) vibe, but I’ll take good clean-cut old-fashioned fun any day over video games, vampires, rap music, and Game of Thrones clues. The answers can be as dead as a doornail for all I care. (Hi @Zed.) So Michael, thank you very much for this. It made my day.

RooMonster 9:40 AM  

Hey All !
Odd ITEMs to base a theme around. I can imagine one of Will's famous rejection questions, "Why this idea? Anything particular it relates to?" (Or somesuch. I had a Schrodinger Chess puz rejection once with "Why chess?") Just seems arbitrary. Maybe I'm cranky this morning. 😁

Wondering how many Della Streets there are in the US as actual Street names.

ARGON *whoosh* over the head. Gets a Har now that it was explained.

SB Yesterday, Holy Moly, I got to 429 points after working on it off and on all day. Left 10 words not found, a bunch of E words, and that ridiculous Pangram!

TWELVE is an odd word if you look at it long enough. Fun fact (which this crowd probably already knows) TWELVE PLUS ONE anagrams to ELEVEN PLUS TWO.

PLASMA is still liquid, no? Granted it's thick, but who decided it needed its own catagory? Kids these days...

I thought it was pronounced "knee-knee".

yd -20, should'ves (only) 4
Duo 34, missed 1-12 (shouldn't have missed 12! Jipped myself out of a 33!)

No F's (EFGON, har)

Nancy 9:42 AM  

A Quiz:

Can you figure out what there was about my 9:07 comment when I tried to post it on the Wordplay Blog that caused the algorithm to zap me? I re-read it here and knew immediately what the problem was. Scroll way down for the answer:
It was the phrase "screwed up". I changed it to "futzed up" and my comment sailed right through.

A big, hearty, deeply-felt "thank you" to Rex for using real human people to monitor this blog rather than the truly stupid, beyond idiotic bots that the NYT uses on its blog.

RooMonster 9:54 AM  

@Me 9:40
Fat finger alert! Should've been
yd -10
Posting to boost my morale! 😁

jberg 10:04 AM  

About six months ago I started shouting "HONEY, I'M HOME!" whenever I got home (although most days I don't go anyplace, being retired and all). I consider it an amusing irony, but I don't think my wife likes it. She seldom answers and NEVER greets me at the door with a martini.

Fun puzzle, although in my lingo the LANDING is inside the house, on the stairs, while that thing in front of the door is a porch or stoop. But close enough!

I liked the ELLA/DELLA crossing. I didn't like the clues for ITEM (ridiculously specific examples; I suppose you could consider it synecdoche, but too misleading for a Monday) and EGGY -- eggs are integral to being a nog, not a kind of nog. But OK.

@Nancy, @Roo -- it's not PLASMA like blood plasma; it's the hot stuff the sun is made of (at least the part we can see); we didn't learn about it in school because at that time the physicists hadn't figured out that it was different from a hot gas.

@Rex, I'll match your Gardner set with my collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs -- but I've got them in a box so they don't corrupt my grandchildren. I can't bring myself to destroy a book, but I feel that these are too racist to give away. ESG is fine, though, mostly.

Nancy 10:06 AM  

I've also heard NENE in my head as "neen" my whole life, @Lewis -- and like you, I've luckily never used it out loud in a sentence (why, after all, would I?).

It was our @Hartley who awakened me to my error. Evidently, her grandkids took it upon themselves to dub her NENE recently rather than Grandma or Nana -- she has no idea why. But I think she pronounced it over the phone to me as "knee-knee". It's "nay-nay", Lewis? I should probably let her know in case she skips the blog today.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

hated this puzzle. crosswordese was completely out of control. felt like the only original thought was the perry mason clue, which was a natick to me.

Carola 10:15 AM  

Cute theme, fun to solve. I called out (in my head) HONEY I"M HOME from the LANDING; my problem was getting to the DOOR - I'd gotten the other three phrases with no crosses, but needed crossing assistance here to come up with it. Otherwise, I liked the full-body covering of SPACE SUITS parallel to the full-body nudity of SKINNY DIPS.

@Son Volt from Saturday - Thank you for mentioning the Stumper. Tough! My first session ended with an almost empty grid and a very bleak outlook. Went at it again last night and managed to get it all. An excellent workout.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Yeah Rex, wholesomeness is creepy.
Homes with a father and a mother are really the problem. Amazing how almost all of those whack job shooters come from broken homes. You know, the non-creepy kind with no father to announce " honey I'm home"

Joe Dipinto 10:31 AM  

Perry Mason climbs stairs, says "Honey, I'm home."

GILL I. 10:37 AM  

Well...I did want to shout HONEY I'M HOME to my little green babies wanting to be watered. Actually, the BOY (man) NEXT DOOR did all the watering as well as helping himself to a bunch of chocolates I had scattered around.
Fun puzzle to come home to after a couple weeks of lolling in the sun in the beautiful hills of Auburn. Hiking with the pups and running into a mamma skunk with her babies in tow. She didn't lift her pretty tail but boy did we skedaddle down A STREET.... UP some TWELVE STEPS to the house....LANDING (almost) on my bum..and shutting the DOOR. Phew. No oder... thank the god of enchiladas.
I did miss doing the crosswords and you people because it's a delightful habit to task my brain and to write nonsense. But, I was too busy having too much fun and I knew that life would go on without me.
Cute puzzle.

CDilly52 10:53 AM  

This took me into the Wayback Machine with Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman!! No kidding, I felt like my very young self sitting next to Gran and chuckling at the ARGON answer. She would have loved that one. She appreciated anything to make a Monday puzzle for her super expert self more enjoyable, and sixty years ago, this would have tickled her and given me a bunch of answers to fill in right away. So, on my pleasant nostalgia meter, this is a winner.

Peter P 10:54 AM  

@Anonymous 10:26 - Nah, that's just you. When you're solving an NYTimes crossword at around three minutes like Rex is, you just go on reflex and sometimes the synapses fire the wrong way. But keep digging! You'll eventually find that nugget of gold.

egsforbreakfast 11:03 AM  

Pretty weird for Rex to find an ominous, dark side to this enchanting journey HOME. I feel like I’m being stalked by a creepy clown.

I have always chuckled about “of the STREET” (I know it has an extra “L”) as a somewhat prim woman’s name. ELLA (she) crossing DELLA was wonderful.

ELLA took a CESSNA to the PLASMA center in NOLA to set up an IRA for SONIA. That’s the end of my RECAP.

Thanks for a swell Puzzle, Michael Schlossberg.

TJS 11:13 AM  

Hey,I agree with Rex ! Always thought the A.A.Fair books were more enjoyable than the ESGs. But, of course, the Rex Stout Nero Wolfe mysteries are of a completely superior class. Wonder if Rex has a collection of those. I do.

Unlike Rex, I had no problem with the theme progression : First you're on the right street, climbing the steps up to the landing, opening the door, and announcing your entry.

Anyone else notice the name of the psychiatrist in the Cast of Characters list ? "Logbert P. Denair". What the hell ???

Joseph Michael 11:26 AM  

I tend to like story puzzles, so this was for me a charmer. Seemed a little harder than the usual Monday and had some nifty answers like SCIONS and PLASMA and TWELVE STEPS.

The one part of the setting that didn’t quite fit for me was the LANDING. In places I have lived, you reach either a porch or a hallway after you come up the STEPS from the STREET. And if there are a lot of STEPS with a LANDING in the middle, there are more STEPS before you get to the DOOR. And, yes, I’ve been reading Rex for too long.

Excuse me, but I have to find a phone booth so I can call my STENO and ask her to find that floppy disk with the annual report on it. I really wish she would spend a little more time at the typewriter and a little less time listening to Sonny and Cher on her Walkman and watching who knows what on those damn VHS tapes she brings to the office.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

why does my brain insist on CyPHER??? ah, because my forebares came here in 1638 from Britland, and that's the spelling on that side of The Pond.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

there's PLASMA then there's PLASMA

first - blood component that's mostly not blood
second - 'fourth' state of matter, most often (in past days) best known as most best and expensive TV display. also the stuff that's in most inter-stellar death rays from pulsars and such.

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

STREET, STEPS, LANDING, DOOR, PEE. yep. Seems like a regular home-comin sequence, to m&e. [@Nancy: I reckon M&A might not get to post his stuff very often, at that there NYT blogsite.]

staff weeject pick: PEE. Nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW. Nice, safe place to emanate the puz's longball SPACESUITS & SKINNYDIPS from, constructioneerin-wise.

Luved that ARGON clue. Almost gotta be a @Lewis Clue of the Week candidate.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {"A" card in the deck} = ACE.

Only no-know: KATE {or almost any other fashion designer -- other than Levi].

fave stuff: ISAAC Asimov dude. ARGON clue. SHELVE. CIPHER. ANNE/NENE.

Thanx for the HOME run, Mr. Schlossberg dude.

Masked & Anonymo1U


A 11:44 AM  

Couldn’t decide if the constructor is a teenage BOY, with entries like PEE and clues like the one for ARGON, or someone in their 70s. Do younger folks really know Perry Mason?

Had to keep averting my eyes so I wouldn’t get the revealer too soon, but the theme was good enough and I especially liked that if you add the beginning of 63d to 63a you get the full phrase, “HI HONEY, I’M HOME.”

Fun crosses TWELVE/SHELVE and STAG/GNAT. With the latter, if they'd added the unshared S and N to the other word, we'd have gotten STAnG by GNATs.

Not a fan of ERIES and STEADS, both awful POCs. Can’t decide about NOTES/STENOS. At least they reference Miss STREET.

Lots of ladies with double ELS - STELLA, ELLA, BELLE. (Most likely influenced by elle, the French word for girl.) Still seems popular with girls names - I have a student named Camille, and our neighbor's daughter is a real live STELLA. Plenty of girls, and pets, named ELLA.

Speaking of jazz greats, I noticed @Joe Dipinto’s new avatar last night. Had to use three pairs of glasses to see what it was, but what a payoff! Herbie Hancock’s “Inventions and Dimensions,” a mostly improvisational album from 1963. Amazing stuff - thanks, @Joe!

Anonymous 11:50 AM  


Just what we need... a Prosperity Gospel White Evangelical Theocracy run by a philandering, multipli-divorced, lunatic. I, for one, can't wait.

Son Volt 11:52 AM  

@Carola 10:15a - I’m partial to Stan Newman’s approach to crossword editing - he actually focuses on the words - but it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a Saturday NYTXW more than a Stumper.

A 12:19 PM  

oops - turned DELLA into a stELLA, probably because of my neighbors always calling their daughter Stella - can't say I know any other DELLAs.

Unknown 12:57 PM  

Agree with the old timey vibe...When I saw the reveal I pictured BOYNEXTDOOR looking Dick Van Dyke tripping over the ottoman yelling HONEYIMHOME to Mary Tyler Moore in their early 60s era home with a man in a SPACESUIT on the TV.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

I rolled my eyes at DELLA STREET, anticipating the "skews old" description that would come from Rex. My mother had a number of Perry Mason books, thought nothing like Rex's collection; I don't remember the sexual tension in the books that Rex describes so I guess I read them at too young an age. I was just interested in the courtroom drama.

@M&A, your addition of PEE to the theme had me LMAO. Very much the scenario at my house. Though I get greeted at the door by my retired husband almost every day (sometimes I have to go looking for him in the yard) who says, "You're home!", so I don't have to. He was waiting on the front steps for me last Friday, very sweet. I usually go through the door before I hit the landing because I go through the tuck-under garage into the basement and then have to go up the stairs. The shoes and coats go off at the closet on the landing.

Was Belle named thusly in the original fairy tale? I certainly don't remember that, must be from a Disney movie or something.

Thanks, Michael Schlossberg, nice puzzle.

Sharon Ak 1:30 PM  

@ Masked etc. 11:38Yeh, that sound like my homecoming, too.

@ Zed 6:50 How can you include Anne Frank in the Old/dead list - she is as ubiquitous as Oreos
And IMPei's Pyramids seem fairly recent to me. Is Katie Spade from so far back that I should have known of her? Got her completely from crosses.

tea73 1:33 PM  

Fascinating tidbit about ITEM. Which reminded me of my favorite Shakespeare play Twelfth Night where Olivia describes herself thusly: "O, sir, I will not be so hard-hearted! I will give out divers schedules of my beauty. It shall be inventoried, and every particle and utensil labeled to my will: as, item, two lips indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth."

I guess I'm old because I, too, learned about plasma later in life.

My grandfather was a lover of mysteries. My favorite were ones that had plans of the house where the murder took place on the back cover.

@Joseph Michael in single family houses around here where there is no front porch there is nearly always a landing (or platform) at the top of the stairs so that you have a comfortable place to stand while you fumble with your keys and get the mail out of the mailbox.

Gary Jugert 3:48 PM  

Loved the theme here.

Anoa Bob 5:08 PM  

As regards the cruciverbalism discussion, there is the web site cruciverb.com that, among other things, has a list of publishers accepting crossword puzzle submission and what the standards and requirements are for each publisher.

I knew DELLA STREET because my mother was a big "Perry Mason" fan and we would watch episodes when I visited. That was a long, long time AGO. Another, more contemporary non-street STREET occurs in some poker games like Texas Hold'em. The first round of three community cards put face up on the table is called the "flop". After a round of betting, the fourth community card is put on the table. It is called the "turn" or sometimes FOURTH STREET. (The fifth and last community card is called the "river".)

I always notice, and not in a good way, when some of the marquee non-theme entries are not quite up to the task of filling their respective slots and need help from the oh so convenient letter S to get the job done. This happens today with SKINNY DIP and SPACE SUIT. POC to the rescue.

I think it's a Pavlovian thing but frequently when I'M HOME, as soon as I walk through the DOOR I get an urgent need to PEE. I usually have ITEMS that need to be put away and so have to do the bladder sphincter squeeze prancey dance, thinking that this time I'm not going to make it. When I finally do get to the facilities the urge is usually gone. That's what makes me think it is a conditioned response rather than a genuine physiological one. If that interpretation is correct then I bet I not alone in having this kind of experience.

Hartley70 5:33 PM  

I loved the super cute theme, although I found the puzzle’s cluing very uneven in terms of Monday difficulty. SET had a ridiculously easy clue and ISOMER and PLASMA were tough. ARGON was just plain weird. I had a good time, but this wasn’t a usual Monday.

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

for what it's worth: one of the Discovery stable of 'channels' runs 'Perry Mason' episodes for the last year or so. dialed into one a while back. a good 10 minutes are cut and used for adverts. not worth the time, but Perry and Della do have a contemporary presence.

JamieP 8:45 PM  

I've know how nene was pronounced since I visited my Mom in Hawaii 25 years ago. There were signs everywhere we hiked saying, "Please don't feed the nene. Keep them wild." After my stepfather told us the pronunciation, the Blue Oyster Cult song immediately leapt into my head:

C'mon baby, don't feed the nene
Keep them wild.

We sang it for the rest of the trip.

Zed 8:55 PM  

@SharonAK - First, individually all those dead people are fine. It is the cumulative effect, with very little balance from modern entries, that is problematic. I love science fiction and ISAAC Asimov, but when you have DELLA STREET as a theme why not go with Oscar ISAAC instead. And maybe an Anne Hathaway clue for ELLA and a take your pick for KATE and O’NEIL. To be clear, I feel the same way about some indies that skew excessively hip. I don’t what the challenge in a puzzle to come from not knowing someone from Euphoria or Stranger Things. Conversely, my 25, 29, and 31 year old offspring would not have found this puzzle “easy” (despite all being familiar with ISAAC Asimov and Oscar ISAAC). As with many things, modernizing even just 1 or 2 more of the dead to a living person makes the entire puzzle feel more alive. As it is, the “youthiest” answer is 51 year old EWAN McGregor.

albatross shell 10:57 PM  

DELLASTREET was in the recent HBO Perry Mason.
Anne Frank has been in the news of late. 60 Minutes on CBS. ONEIL has been honored by MLB of late.

ISAAC has not exactly been gathering dust on some library shelf.

I get the idea that skewing dead is not necessarily good. Nor is it necessarily bad. Some dead are more dusty than others.

A brief moment of did Ralph MEEKER play Hamilton Burger?

I got AR GONe pretty quickly with a nice aha after a brief WTF.

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