Winged Godzilla nemesis of Japanese film / MON 1-16-23 / Old Norse character / Bird that has calf muscles / It's bandaged in a classic van Gogh self-portrait / Only weapon in clue that isn't metallic / Till namesake of a landmark hate-crime law / Dab as spilled ink

Monday, January 16, 2023

Constructor: Michael Paleos

Relative difficulty: Easy 

THEME: You've got mail ... — theme answers all end with words relating to a piece of (snail) mail:

[ADDENDUM: the actual "title" of the theme is MAIL / ITIN (35A: With 37-Across, perform perfunctorily ... or a hint to the ends of 16-, 25-, 41- and 55-Across). I missed it completely because I was solving Downs-only. This revealer makes the puzzle somewhat stronger than my initial assessment of it below ... but only somewhat. Thanks to the commenter who pointed out I missed the revealer! My bad, for sure]

Theme answers:
  • LOWERCASE LETTER (16A: The "e," but not the "B," of eBay)
  • PASSPORT STAMP (25A: Traveler's proof of entry)
  • TERM OF ADDRESS (41A: "Madam President" or "Your Honor")
  • PUSH THE ENVELOPE (55A: Test boundaries)
Word of the Day: MOTHRA (9D: Winged Godzilla nemesis of Japanese film) —

Mothra (Japanese: モスラHepburn: Mosura) is a fictional monster, or kaiju, that first appeared in the 1961 film Mothra, produced and distributed by Toho Studios. Mothra has appeared in several Toho tokusatsu films, most often as a recurring character in the Godzilla franchise. She is typically portrayed as a colossal sentient larva (caterpillar) or imago, accompanied by two miniature fairies speaking on her behalf. Unlike other Toho monsters, Mothra is a largely heroic character, having been variously portrayed as a protector of her own island culture, the Earth and Japan. Mothra's design is influenced by silk worms, their imagos, and those of giant silk moths in the family Saturniidae. The character is often depicted hatching offspring (in some cases, twins) when approaching death, a nod to the Saṃsāra doctrine of numerous Indian religions.

Mothra is one of Toho's most popular monsters and second only to Godzillain her total number of film appearances. Polls taken during the early 1990s indicated that Mothra was particularly popular among women who were, at the time, the largest demographic among Japan's movie-going audience, a fact that prompted the filming of 1992's Godzilla vs. Mothra, which was the best-attended Toho film since King Kong vs. GodzillaIGN listed Mothra as #3 on their "Top 10 Japanese Movie Monsters" list, while Complex listed the character as #7 on its "The 15 Most Badass Kaiju Monsters of All Time" list. (emph. mine)

• • •

Wow, ladies like MOTHRA, who knew!? I learn something every day doing this blog, whether I like it or not. I solved this one mostly Downs-only (I started normal then remembered I preferred to do Mondays Downs-only, and anyway, I don't remember actually looking at an Across clue ever). It was so easy to do Downs-only that I can only imagine it was even easier to do the regular way, though that may not be true at all, since by solving Downs-only you avoid half the clues, which means you avoid half the opportunities for drawing a blank! Looking this one over, I'm kinda glad I went Downs-only as I missed at having to guess at anything over 6 letters long, and I also missed both of the ugly-looking partials—answers that my Downs-only brain had to rationalize as valid, i.e. if you end up with ITIN as one of the crosses, you have to decide, "Do I have an error, or is the Across a partial?" Today, the Downs were so solid that I just decided that the partial must be right, and it was. See also OUTA (!?). These are really rough partials, and there are two of them, in a non-demanding grid, which I don't really get. The grid is already almost completely devoid of longer non-theme answers (nothing longer than 7, and only two of those (!?). Seems like it shouldn't have been too hard to steer clear of partials completely, but instead we get two, as well as the usual slew of common short stuff (APOP OENO TSPS AMAT ARTE ARTIE STET and on and on, etc etc etc). This would've been dreary to solve the regular way; at least Downs-only gave my brain something extra to do as I was assessing the validity of my answers (that "something extra": make sure the Acrosses I was making made sense). 

The theme itself is so basic, it feels like it could've appeared 30-40 years ago, no problem. Ultra-simple. Plain to the point of blandness. I guess all the mail-related words are clued in non-mail-related contexts, but it's not like that distinction is every terribly remarkable. The "envelope" in PUSH THE ENVELOPE is still ... an "envelope," even if it is only a metaphorical one. I just don't see what was NYTXW-worthy about this one. If you're rejecting 19 of every 20 puzzles you receive (or whatever it is now), I don't quite get how this one makes it. Also, this makes six puzzles in a row now by solo male constructors, which feels like backsliding. More guys named "Michael" have had puzzles published in the last week than have women. Michaels: 2, Women: 1 (and you gotta go back to Tuesday for her). Hopefully the NYTXW gets back to something close to gender parity soon. They were (finally) doing OK for a bit there.

I can't remember a single Down answer I struggled with. Once you get a bunch of Downs, you can start to infer some of the Across letters that you're missing, which then makes other Down answers easier to get. I think RUNE is the only one I really balked at (47D: Old Norse character). I put ODIN in there ... but then immediately realized that "character" was being used in the sense of "letter," and so changed ODIN to RUNE. Oh, I absolutely balked at REDHOT, but eventually the "D" and "H" went in from the longer Acrosses, and REDHOT became obvious. Did I learn anything new (besides how much MOTHRA appeals to women)? Oh, EMUs have calf muscles! I wonder how much you could learn about EMUs just from reading NYTXW clues. In just the past week I've learned not only about their musculature, but also that they were the subject of "wars" in the early 20th century. What else (glances over recent clues) ... extinct in the Tasman since the 19th c. .. can sprint up to 30 mph ... lays big green eggs ... second-tallest bird on earth ... source of Kalaya oil (whatever that is ... I'm afraid to look it up for fear of learning what cruel things you have to do to the EMU to get it) (looks like it's derived from the fat of the EMU). Next week, we'll do all-OREO facts. See you then?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 12:08 AM  

I think I usually use the phrase phone it in, but MAIL IT IN is certainly in the language. Too bad You’ve Got Mail wouldn’t work in any kind of symmetrically elegant way. No matter; this is a perfectly serviceable Monday.

Rex – your description of the theme could be repurposed to describe how I dress: “. . . so basic, it feels like it could've appeared 30-40 years ago, no problem. Ultra-simple. Plain to the point of blandness.” Yup. That would be me. I’m currently looking for some kind of new outfit for the ACPT and invariably end up adding “vintage” or “classic” in the search bar. I have no idea what’s TRENDY or RED HOT nowadays. I’m too old to wear one of those shirts with cut-out shoulders, and leggings. . . fuggetaboutit. If you’re there, I’ll be the one who blends in with the lobby décor.

TIKTOK – Mom recently went to some senior event whose speaker talked to the about various ways to stay safe. It was mainly how to avoid scams, I think, but she did come home telling me that TIKTOK was dangerous and to be avoided. Maybe so, but I tell you – seeing all the teacher TIKTOKS across the country complaining about the exact things I’m facing has helped me realize that my plight is not limited to only my school. Most of my colleagues are scrambling to jump ship and secure other teaching jobs, but I’m afraid the grass is not greener anywhere else.

ALLOT: Picture this headline (work with me here) TOTO, OTTO TO TOOT, TOO.

The whole EMU calf dealie almost upstages everything else. What a fantastic little tidbit. My daughter recently texted to ask me to provide some kind of fun fact. She wouldn’t say why, and I didn’t press. (Wonder if I’m suddenly gonna have a Bumble profile?) I told her that wombat poop is cube shaped, and she seemed happy with this. Now I want to ask her if I can change it to the EMU factoid.

Can’t help but notice the consecutive clues, “Raise aggressively, as prices” followed by “Eggs.” Sheesh. Mom and I got three dozen eggs yesterday to the tune of around 18 dollars. We get the jumbo, but still. Oh, and I forgot to get mayonnaise, so I thought I’d grab a jar while I was at CVS. Ten dollars. No, really. Has to be the eggs, right?

Speaking of JACK UP - it crosses LOWER CASE LETTER. Wanna understand how critical the upper/lower case difference can be? Just take the phrase Help your Uncle Jack off a horse and lower case the U and the J. I’ll just see myself out.

okanaganer 1:02 AM  

Rex I would like to officially welcome you to the Monday Downs Only Club! Well not really official, since I just invented it 5 seconds ago and I have no idea who the other members are. You said "I can't remember a single Down answer I struggled with", well not me. MOTHRA was a blank, and LOCK UP before JACK UP but that's just a brain error. ACME before APEX (I always do that, thanks Andrea Carla Michaels!).

And hands up for ODIN before RUNE.

[Spelling Bee: Sun 0; my last 3 words were a trifecta. Sat I missed this variant duo. Last week my 9 day QB streak ended on Fri, so Fri-Sat-Sun: -1, -2, 0.]

Joe Dipinto 1:04 AM  

I like how the story wraps up in the bottom right corner: the ENVELOPE gets SENT (54d), after which the recipient will OPEN (60a) it and then read the TEXT (63A) of the LETTER.

____-Space, 1972 instrumental Top 10 hit

Anonymous 2:00 AM  

I'm quite surprised that Rex didn't point out ARTE (10 Down, Spanish paintings and such) and ART DECO (46 Across, Style of New York City's Chrysler Building). Do the rules about not duplicating answers no longer apply?

jae 2:15 AM  

Easy. GAPe before GAWK was my only erasure. Not too bad for a Monday, but @Rex has a point about bland, plus the theme seems vaguely familiar? Liked it.

@Croce solvers - Croce’s Freestyle #777 was the easiest Croce I’ve done so far. I finished it before the end of my morning walk. You may not need good luck with this one thanks to all those sevens.

Conrad 5:57 AM  

My New Years Resolution: I will try to remember to solve Mondays downs-only. So far I'm Oh-for-three Mondays :(

@Rex: was downs-only the reason you didn't list the revealer at 35A/37A?

Lewis 6:05 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week
(in order of appearance):

1. What one might use to lash out? (7)
2. Dated TV star? (3)(12)
3. Sign of enforced boundaries (2)(11)
4. Words to remember, for short (5)
5. Mercury and Mars, for two (6)


Anonymoose 6:09 AM  

@LMS closing remark brought Yellowstone to mind (the TV show, not the park). If you've watched, you'll know what I mean.

Rex Parker 7:11 AM  

@Conrad, yes and thank you for pointing that out. I have added a mea culpa of sorts to the beginning of the write-up. ~RP

SouthsideJohnny 7:19 AM  

Nice of the editors to go with the AMAT crossing AMOI - in the upper NW section, no less. At least all of the noobs on a Monday will get a taste of what is in play for them if they decide to stick around for a while.

I absolutely loved the Godzilla vs. MOTHRA movies when I was circa 11 yrs old and going through my Midnight Creature Feature stage. The Blob (with Steve McQueen) was a classic as well.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Loved and laughed throughout your comments!

Phillyrad1999 7:36 AM  

This was a very Monday puzzle and so fine in that regard. Gotta agree with Rex, Put OUTA fire is pretty weak. This would be way to local of a reference but the Phillies had an iconic radio and tv announcer, Harry Kalas, who some might recognize from NFL films and college football games. His signature home run call was “That Ball is Outta Here.” And even though it is not a word, OUTTA is spelled with 2 Ts.

Word of caution on Oreo themes. There are only 3 kinds of Oreos. The original, the double stuffed and the thins. TBH I am on the fence about Thins. I’d rather have one or two less real Oreos. The rest of it are counterfeit Oreo like sandwich cookie products. Ersatz Oreos. A cookie masquerading as an Oreo. A poor excuse of an Oreo. A sham Oreo. Not that I care.

Barbara S. 7:36 AM  

I didn’t find this overly sparkly but I thought it was a solid and serviceable Monday. The themers were all on point and, yup, those four things are part of a piece of traditional mail. I found myself interested in the expression PUSH THE ENVELOPE and found this (so I don’t think Rex is quite right in what he says):

“The phrase was popularized in 1979 by Tom Wolfe in his book about astronauts, The Right Stuff. The phrase-sensitive reporter wrote: ‘The "envelope" was a flight-test term referring to the limits of a particular aircraft's performance, how tight a turn it could make at such-and-such a speed, and so on. "Pushing the outside," probing the outer limits, of the envelope seemed to be the great challenge and satisfaction of flight test.’

“I called Tom Wolfe, whose current novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, pushes the envelope of urban high life, to find out where he picked it up. ‘I first heard it in 1972, among test pilots who later became astronauts. They were speaking of the performance capabilities of an airplane as an envelope, as if there were a boundary. Why they chose envelope, I don't know, but if you get outside the envelope, you're in trouble.’ He estimated that its test-pilot use may have begun at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland in the 1940's.” (William Safire. “On Language; Pushing the Envelope.” NYT, 15 May 1988)

I’m not much of a traveler any more, but in the days when I did travel a lot, I used to regret the fact that often when you entered or left a country, the customs/immigration people did not STAMP your PASSPORT. I loved those stamps and enjoyed collecting them as a record of my wanderings. In these days of ever-heightened security, I wonder if passport-stamping is more universally practiced than it used to be. I hope so.

I knew MOTHRA thanks to my husband’s fondness for most sci-fi movies, even schlocky ones. I, too, noticed ARTE and ART (hi, @Anon 2:00) and we even had ARTIE for good measure; I’m never particularly bothered by duplication, though. Hand up for ACME before APEX. According to the National Audubon Society, in a race involving an ostrich, an EMU and Usain Bolt, that’s the order in which they would finish, so our well-muscled EMU would take the silver. (Does that mean that ostriches have calf muscles, too? -- seems likely.) If I remember, I’m going to try the downs-only Monday method next week. It sounds like a recipe for potential disaster but I like a challenge, so try anything once.

[SB: yd, 0. Pretty straightforward. I knew it was a small list, but after a few minutes I found the word search going slowly and myself grumbling “why doesn’t this perfectly ordinary set of letters spell more words?”
@okanaganer (1:02) I couldn't get your "variant duo" link to work.]

Lewis 7:42 AM  

This puzzle awoke some thoughts and memories. How I loved Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying”. How I adored REDHOTs as a kid. SOBER reminded me of one of my children who has been just that for almost 20 years, who I am so proud of. The puzzle also reminded me how lovely the intimacy of hand-written exchanges is.

So, while the puzzle, for me, wasn’t an outing marked by hurdles, it brought some lovely thoughts. I also liked the parade of schwa-opening answers: AVER / ALLOT / ARENA / ARABIAN / APOP. In addition, there were a couple of very nice pairs: GO AHEAD and PUSH THE ENVELOPE for one, and ON POT and LOOSER for the other. And I enjoyed the renegade vibe of having LOWER toward the top and APEX toward the bottom.

Even on the easiest puzzle of the week, in NYT puzzles, to me, there are riches to be mined. Even after all these years of solving, when I sit down to solve a new puzzle, I’m excited, facing a treat. Thank you for this one, Michael!

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

Hand up for down-only Mondays (and Tuesdays). And for Acme. And for GApe.

Son Volt 7:53 AM  

Theme was fine - overall fill not so much. Rex’s amendment was cool - the split revealer was the neatest part of the puzzle. PUSH THE ENVELOPE was a solid themer.

ON POT basically ruins the entire grid - cross it with A POP and TSPS and that entire SW screams for revision. SOBER -> clearheaded? Liked ROOST and MOTHRA.

It is Monday so I’ll give it a pass.


Barbara S. 8:06 AM  

@Nancy (last night)
I think I get what you’re saying about “The Rain in Spain” and why it’s more necessary exactly as written than “Why Can’t the English?” For the scene in which Eliza finally nails “correct” pronunciation, you need a song which features a particular set of sounds that are pronounced one way in a Cockney accent and another way in upper-class speech, so the audience can easily hear the difference. Lerner hit on the long A sound of rain, Spain, stays, mainly and plain, which makes it unmistakeable that Eliza has changed her pronunciation from Cockney to plummy. And, of course, he throws in a bunch of H-words as well, to highlight another telling change in Eliza’s speech. The euphoria comes to a large extent from the performance, over and above what’s written in the score, but “By George, she’s got it!” does a great job of conveying enthusiasm.

Wanderlust 8:10 AM  

I also solved downs-only (after forgetting and looking at the 1-across clue), but I didn’t find it as easy as Rex did. Had to look at acrosses to finish. I can’t imagine not going back to read the across clues after finishing, though (as Rex apparently didn’t). I am a fan of fun clues, so I want to see if there were any.

After running the Brady kids’ names and seeing that GREG was the only four-letter one, I put in CINDY for the “braid-y bunch” clue. I thought it was cute that she was next to ALICE. But alas, sad trombone sound, it was PLAIT.

I thought the puzzle was fine for a Monday. I am always disappointed to wake up on a Monday, both for the obvious reason (except today is a holiday!) and because the puzzle will be comparatively boring.

@Barbara S, I traveled a LOT for work pre-pandemic (it’s starting to pick up again now), and my PASSPORT is full of STAMPS from suspicious places (Egypt, Pakistan, Syria, Russia, China) so I always used to get questions when I came back to the US. Now I have Global Entry, so no one looks at it anymore. If you travel mostly to Europe, you won’t get many stamps because you don’t usually get checked traveling from one EU country to another.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

My first thought for Bird that has calf muscles was Larry. That wouldn’t fit so I went with Sue. I, like Rex, had no idea that emus had calf muscles but my mistake, and the right answer, became obvious very quickly. Puzzle constructors should feel free to use this clue for either Larry or Sue.

pabloinnh 8:11 AM  

A Monday, fer sure. Mostly easy but boy did I need every cross to get GREG. Fortunately every cross was easier than the other one.

Revealer in the middle again. At lest it was one of those "Drink more Ovaltine" revealers.

ARTIE Shaw may look familiar to some of us from yesterday. Just saying. Also, it's nice to see ARTDECO in toto, usually we get DECO without it's Christian name.

@LMS-At our summer resort we had a message board where my wife would leave me jobs that needed doing or what staff were available and so on. One year when we had a nice English boy named Jack working for us I got up and had my coffee and went to check the board, which said "Jack off all day." I didn't know if this was a description of our employee's status or a task to be performed. This happened quite a long time ago, but I still tell people this story when I want to embarrass her.

It's MLK Day so at tonight's hootenanny I'm going to save My Girl Is REDHOT for another day and do my best to do justice to "Abraham, Martin, and John", which is a fine song.

Solid Monday, MP. Muchas Palabras faciles, but thanks for a fair amount of fun.

mmorgan 8:12 AM  

I tried doing the downs only today, for the first time, inspired by Rex and others who do that, especially on Mondays. I didn’t realize you are “allowed” to look at the across answers — now I understand that only the across *clues* are taboo. That would have helped. Even so, I got about 80% of it that way, which was kinda fun. Is there any reason to try to do only the across clues, or is that somehow easier?

As for the puzzle… I thought the theme answers were on the weak side, but overall I thought it was a very nice and appropriate puzzle for beginners. Rex found much to object to (shocking!), and yes, it could have appeared 30 or 40 years ago, but I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing. (Though I can’t disagree with the complaint about the plethora of male constructors, named Michael or otherwise, but it’s not the constructor’s fault that the puzzle was selected.)

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

It was fine for a Monday but ARTIE/ARTE/ARTDECO should’ve been edited better

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Amy: am a fan of snail mail; maintain a few relationships in that manner. Fine Monday puzzle. And a lovely sunny morning it is here for MLK Jr Day. ☮❤🌄

Bob Mills 8:36 AM  

Easy, yes, but a nice puzzle. I had "FORMOFADDRESS" briefly, but TERMOFADDRESS is a more accurate answer.

Whatsername 8:39 AM  

An enjoyable Monday which I did the traditional way with downs and crosses and which of course made it extremely easy. Interesting that two of the themers span the entire grid but the revealer is only for a little letters, twice. Looking at that center line, I couldn’t help but wonder if the word SOBER had any significance - I.e., mail it in sober as opposed to mailing it in drunk.

Hoping this might be a day when the constructor is reading comments, I wanted to thank Michael Paleos for the 39D reference to EMMETT Till in a subtle nod to Martin Luther King Day. In his constructor notes at, Michael thoughtfully provided a link to the Wikipedia story of this young man who, along with his mother, was just recently nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal. And further, whose legacy is still with us to this very day, namely in the March 2022 approval of The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, an American law which makes lynching a federal hate crime . . . 67 years after his death.

Glen Laker 8:57 AM  

Dear LMS, please provide a heads up before laying a line like that on us. My wife does not appreciate me spitting my coffee on her. 🤣

egsforbreakfast 8:58 AM  

I tried the DOH! Method (Downs Only Heuristic) and found it easy enough. It roughly doubled my typical Monday time, but it was nice to add some challenge. Now that the hoi polloi are discovering it, perhaps Monday constructors will find ways to trip us up on the long acrosses. Like using former Oakland Raider Otis Sistrunk’s alma matter, which was purportedly the University of Mars.

I would have reworked 43D from DELVES to DELVEy in deference to Anna Delvey and the Netflix show Inventing Anna. The show was a gas, but the best part has been listening to my 32 year old daughter and her cousin talk endlessly in the unique and totally unidentifiable accent of Anna.

I was on an Indian island full of hippies for a while in the 60s, so, believe me, I’ve known ALLOT of GOAHEADs ONPOT. Some of the LOOSER women would take their TOPOFF, oblivious to any SAGS. Those were the days, my friend.

Thanks for a fun Monday, Michael Paleos.

RooMonster 8:59 AM  

Hey All !
Liked the swath of sixes from NE to SW (9D to 42D) (with a 7 thrown in for good measure.) Grid seemed more open than the Blocker count would indicate. There's 40 Blockers, but six are Cheater Squares, (we'll, OK, the four that surround the Central 13's are necessary to get said 13's in.) OK, so two Cheater Squares. 😁

Speaking of STAMPs, on January 22, they go up, from 60¢ each to 63¢ each, so go grab some forever stamps before the rate hike.

Old hat by now, but, I have a co-worker whose name is Jack, and he used to write on the calendar for when he wanted days off, Jack off. I pointed it out once, afterward he started writing, Jack gone.

Would a bird who is chillin' be a LOOSER ROOST?

Anyone have nAcl before SALT? No? OK then.

Two F's

Smith 9:15 AM  

Easy. Member of Team Downs Only (on Mon & Tue) for someone who asked. GApe before GAWK only type over, when it clearly had to be LOWERCASELETTER and the p was out of place.

I think of the ENVELOPE in that phrase as a set of parameters outside of which you'd be in trouble, astronauts or test pilots being waaay too macho. The visual of PUSHing an actual ENVELOPE is not meaningful!

I worked for years in the 70s, 80s, 90s in a public place where the only way to reach us was by calling one of the pay phones on the wall. We, who all worked for different organizations or for ourselves, cooperated by yelling out the name of the person/organization being called (which was surprising to say the least to members of the public). A crank caller would ask for Jack Meoff, resulting in some unsuspecting person yelling it out...

TaylorSlow 9:16 AM  

I've also joined the Monday Downs Only Club, and it's made Mondays more challenging and therefore more fun. That was especially true for this one, which was loaded with Typical Fill (EMU, EAU, AMP, RNA, ORR, etc., etc., etc.) in support of the themers. I know Nintendo, but did not know NES and needed the acrosses to get it. That was my only pause in the solve. Well, that and a few typos.

Very happy to see MASCARA in Lewis's list of last week's best.

@pabloinnh: "...DECO without its Christian name..." Made me laugh out loud. Thank you!

@LMS: Do you live in New York City or LA? It's hard to imagine spending $18 for three dozen eggs. I get organic free-rangers for $4.50 a dozen, and the plain old eggs from tortured and abused hens are under two bucks. As for the mayo, here's a tip, for free, from me: Do not buy your condiments in drugstores. Or even the snooty grocery stores. Hellman's is on sale at least four times a year at my Kroger. Stock up!

Gary Jugert 9:25 AM  

A perfectly serviceable puzzle. Even a hint of humor. I've never seen a Godzilla movie.

I last wrote a letter in the '90s (probably). I don't miss them. So much unspoken obligation and paperwork. If you could just receive them, but not feel like you need return them, then they'd be okay.


1 Spring forward.
2 How I do my job, and life.
3 Hilarious thing to do to a beverage you hand to your brother.
4 Sit straight.
5 How I research my term paper vis-à-vis the professor's expectations.
6 The most intense realizations you'll have nothing meaningful to add to the current conversation.


GILL I. 9:30 AM  

Erica Droops owned the TRENDY TIK TOK inn in the PORT town of JONG. You needed a PASS or a LETTER from MOTHRA, the town LOOSER, to get the GO AHEAD STAMP to get IN.

Once IN, you'd look for the LOWER MAIN Street PORT ADDRESS - which was listed as a RED HOT BLOT on the map - and PUSH yourself through the HORDE of PESTS.

Erica Droops was the SALT of JONG. She was certainly no SLOUCH. At her TIK TOK inn she was known to TOP OFF your Cuba LIBRAS and POP some JACK into your glass as long as you remained SOBER. If you were ON POT, the bartended PAIRS, ARTE and ARTIE, would ROPE you IN and take PAINS to get you OUTA the PIC.

Although you always needed a PASS to get into this RED HOT ADDRESS, there were always SOBER NERDS who would GO AHEAD and yell NYET when TSPS of POT were on the OPEN ARENA. Their IRE was a PLAIT that PAINS the EAR. People would GAWK...the ELFIN ARABIAN sitting with ALICE who wore a TRENDY DRESS, would write a LETTER to LOOSER MOTHRA and hope he would RUNE the day. A TEXT was also SENT to Ms. Droops...she opened it and the SAGS in her NAPE felt ALLOT like a BLOT on her HEART.

To plainly AVER, OURS is a town that DELVES into a HOT ROOST....We GO AHEAD and PUSH THE ENVELOPE to the max. Our sign (held by a ROPE) says: "We SALT the POTS and drink Cuba LIBRAS and add A POP of JACK." The IDEA is OPEN to all TRENDY NERDS as long as they have some AMAT in their AMOI. Everyone is welcome...NES-ce pas?

Whatsername 9:42 AM  

@Taylor (9:16) Free range eggs at my Apple Market, a local chain grocery, are currently around six bucks. Last week I snagged an 18 pack for $6.50 and felt like I’d gotten a bargain. This is in the Midwest mind you. Now I’m really worried because I just noticed yesterday that I’m running low on mayo. Better start saving up.

@chefwen has been MIA more often than not lately but Facebook tells me it’s her birthday. So happy birthday to you Ms. Wendy!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:44 AM  

Is EMMETT Till really a namesake? Isn't eponym the word they wanted?

Havana Man 10:03 AM  

Got a laugh at ON POT--isn't that something Ward Cleaver would say? But Rex, thanks much for the Richard Thompson link---such an underrated musician-reminds me I should listen to him more. (and Linda)

TTrimble 10:07 AM  

Your remembering MOTHRA and The Blob sent me straight back to my own childhood, or tweenhood, staying up late on Saturday night to hunker down to an hour of Soul Train (I loooved that show; it was the era of the Boogie and dancing prowess was on full display, dudes leaping in the air to land on a split, like the Nicholas Brothers or something), followed by an hour of tame "horror" movies with the Bowman Body, as the host called himself. ABC, WXEX-TV, Richmond, Virgina.

Lots of positivity coming from the commentary section. Much appreciated. Less positivity from Rex. Why the sour puss, Rex? I thought it was quite all right for a Monday. I'm not sure why he's "balking" at RUNE and REDHOT. What's wrong with those? (Or maybe he intends "balk" to mean something other than "protest"?)

GAWK and gawp and gape are all of a piece to me, all connected with an open-mouthed gaze (cf. "gap").

An irresistible wriggle of a smile at the dated ON POT. "What's he on?" "He's ON POT, man." "Far OUT." I think the preferred term these days is "weed". (Or is that also on its way out?)

Thanks to @Barbara S. for those nuggets of info. Any self-respecting NERD could tell you that Usain Bolt would be left in the dust by an EMU or ostrich. Check out this ostrich acting like it's nothing. Beep-beep! And very interesting about Tom Wolfe and PUSH THE ENVELOPE. (I like Wolfe for his craftsmanship, but much less for being such a know-it-all [linguistics, evolution, the Big Bang -- there is just no topic he won't snarkily weigh in on like he knows better] and his gawking admiration of big, manly alpha men. When does this worship of bully-bosses end?)

But I'm afraid cube-shaped poopies takes top prize as factoid of the day, by a mile. @LMS: that's amazing, and we simply must get to the bottom of this. (Heh.) So, here's what I found.

SB: 0 for yd (last word) and dbyd (last words). A 3-day streak if I get one more today.

TTrimble 10:10 AM  

Oh, welcome back, Gill! Really good to see you again. Hope you are well.

Although EMMETT Till was from before my time, I can't shake knowing of his story. Really haunting stuff. I'll see the new movie when I can.

Beezer 10:25 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle! Only real groaner was ONPOT which to me sounds like a chronic condition.

@TaylorSlow…there is definitely something going on with eggs and maybe it is the bird flu? My daughter in Anchorage AK sent me a photo from the Anchorage Daily News that showed the entire “egg case” at the super market totally empty.

Barbara S. 10:27 AM  

@Gary Jugert
I wrote these uniclues last night and forgot to post them till I saw yours. Two overlaps!

1. Shipping notice from Amazon concerning your order of self-geeking gunk.
2. Encouragement to post that video of yourself dancing naked in the snow while shout-singing “A Horse with No Name.”
3. Giant imago gets mad and sullies her reputation.
4. Sloppier archaeological digs.
5. Like the Boston Bruins, the day after Number 4 went to Chicago.
6. People born in October who wear Bakelite jewelry and sleek, geometrically patterned suits.


Nancy 10:31 AM  

As soon as I had the LETTER and the STAMP, I was not only waiting for the envelope, but I was waiting specifically for PUSH THE ENVELOPE. I assumed it was a grid-spanner, even though I hadn't counted the number of letters.

But I didn't guess the revealer. I love the phrase "MAIL IT IN" for a perfunctory performance and I love the way it works here with the theme answers. A cute theme. Maybe SENT at 56D could have been worked into it somehow?

GApe before GAWK slowed me down a bit, but other than that it was very smooth sailing.

@Barbara S from last night -- that's it!! That's it exactly!!!!!

pabloinnh 10:33 AM  

Oye @GILL I-Dichosos los ojos que te ven!

Jim mcdougall 10:45 AM  

Did you know the French invented Mayonaise in about 1780 in celebrationc of taking Ft Mahon ..another emu calf fact!!

Nancy 10:54 AM  

Welcome back, @GILL!! We've missed you. And this also means that your power is back on, right?

Joseph Michael 10:55 AM  

Maybe now that the postal system has had a NYT crossword dedicated to it, Mr. DeJoy can figure out how to deliver the mail on time.

Enjoyed the puzzle as well as @LMS’s tribute to her Uncle Jack.

Also appreciated the new entry for the Oxford Emu Dictionary (O.E.D.)

bocamp 11:04 AM  

Thx, Michael; fun Mon.! :)


GApe before GAWK.

Good ol' AVER / AVow kea/loa.

Always have to think: HORDE / HOard.

Thot 'rocket' before JACK UP. lol

Wanted 'spAdeS' before HEARTS. Played lots of both in days of yore.

Loved the clue for PLAIT; pleased to have dropped it right in. :)

Big NPR fan here!

Had ARTIE Shaw in one of my xwords yd.

Recommended reading: 'The Blood of Emmett Till' by Timothy B. Tyson.

Only unknown: MOTHRA.

A most enjoyable way to start the solving week! :)

@pablo, Son Volt: finally got the Sat. Stumper (2 1/2 hrs of intense fun! lol)! :)

@pablo; agree with your assessment of the Acrostic. Pretty easy, but it also blew me away! :)

Thx @jae; looking forward to an 'easy' (lol) Croce later td! 😉
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

JonB3 11:15 AM  

@Phillyrad1999 (7:36) - A fourth Oreo variety: Take one cookie off of two Double Stuf Oreos. Meld them stuf to stuf and, voila - Quadruple Stuf. Very satisfying.

JC66 11:25 AM  


Welcome bacK! You were missed.

J.W. 11:26 AM  

A little lukewarm on the theme. I feel like themes that can be too easily u sed as criticism against themselves should be avoided.

I might have clued OUTA as "___-Space (Billy Preston instrumental)", but that's probably too obscure for a Monday.

I doubt you'll ever see me doing downs only. I never saw the sense in adding arbitrary challenge to things, especially when, as evinced, it makes one miss things in plain sight.

TTrimble 11:33 AM  

Maybe the easiest acrostic I've ever seen. I'm certain I achieved a PR yesterday.

I'm still marveling at @LMS's illustration of LOWER CASE LETTER, and trying to gauge how long it might have taken me to assemble the words, just so, to achieve the desired startling effect. Although it sounds like she's seen one too many Tom Green movies. Article courtesy of "ew".

Michael Paleos 11:49 AM  

Thank you!

Terra Schaller 11:55 AM  

The bird brought Elvie back! Ermine.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

What a nice Monday puzzle! Enjoyed it very much. Thought it a bit tougher than “Easy.”

Am all in favour of gender parity and against discrimination based on sex but is anything really achieved if a solo male puzzle by a guy named Michael is rejected in favour of a solo female puzzle ? Of course the NYT editor may be rejecting submissions based on sex. Is there some good evidence of this? Certainly estimating that 19 of 20 are rejected says nothing about gender, does it?

Son Volt 12:31 PM  

Ahh - our wonderful Monday grid story returns - hope all is well @Gill.

@bocamp - well done. I’m having similar struggles with Liz Gorski’s New Yorker today - looking for the toe-hold.

Masked and Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Letter-perfect MonPuz. Well, almost.
Reminded m&e -- Most of the mailboxes in my part of town just recently disappeared. Super extra spooky creepy.

M&A solved with Acrosses & Downs only. Unlike @RP's blurry runtpuz, which I solved from right-length-words-that-cross-ok only.
Fairly friendly solvequest. Only a coupla ?-marker clues. Noteworthy one was: {One of the braid-y bunch?} = PLAIT. It neatly echoed the {One of the Brady Bunch} = GREG clue, from earlier on. Gave the puz a little needed humor.

staff weeject pic: PIC.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Wonderland girl} = ALICE. Very friendly, for the Downs-only solver, I'd reckon.

Ah, yes … MOTHRA. Nice gimme answer. Remember that schlock flick, quite well. Was a FriNite Schlockfest hit, not too long ago, at our house. Cool followup flick woulda been ROACHRA, or somesuch.

Thanx, Mr. Paleos dude. Let us all GOHEAD and OUTA ITIN.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


jae 1:03 PM  

Hi @Gill - nice to see you back and in fine form!

Smith 1:24 PM  

@Gill 9:30 welcome back, and so well done!!

sharonAK 1:25 PM  

I enjoy seeing similar sounds repeat as in ARTIE, ARTE, ART DECO. The words are not repeats at all so do't understand why some commenters are trying to outlaw them

bocamp 1:34 PM  


Good to have you back! 😊


I don't keep track of my time on the Acrostic, but it was likely a PR for me, too! :)

@Son Volt

Thx! joining you on the New Yorker. I'm on a hot winning streak of 2. lol🤞
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Anoa Bob 1:42 PM  

Since solving in unorthodox ways seems to be TRENDY, I've decided to PUSH THE ENVELOPE and start solving bottom-up, right-to-left only with all clues scrambled into nonsense phrases. I'll report back on how that goes.

This one got off to an inauspicious start, what with a POC (SAGS), STET, AMAT and AMOI in the opening frame. And LOWER CASE LETTER is about as uninteresting as a 15 letter grid spanner can be (although having all the LETTERs in upper CASE did add a nice twist). Things definitely picked up after that with PUSH THE ENVELOPE being a nice counter point to the mundane LetTeR cASe entry.

For much of the 70s and early 80s, I scheduled my daily routine so that I could listen to 57D NPR's "All Things Considered". I don't know if it's changes in me or in the world (or some of both) but these days I don't listen or watch news programs. I check online headlines to see if any asteroids are headed our way but that's about it. The rest, mostly news of humans behaving badly, is too depressing.

I play a lot of poker. I'm probably one of only three or four solvers who knew it was STU for yesterday's 5D "Poker great Ungar". My favorite card game, however, is 15D HEARTS. All card games depend to some degree on the luck of the draw but I think that HEARTS has the best ratio of skill vs luck of all card games. Plus it has a unique spin; the player who scores the fewest points wins.

CDilly52 1:56 PM  

So, as I came to the end of this one, I became absolutely enamored with PUSH THE ENVELOPE as a theme. The reveal: “Encourage snail mail, or a hint to blah blah blah.” But alas, I am no constructor. All of you out there, please feel free; I’d love to see it! I often ponder my 60+ years of daily solving and wonder why the constructing bug never bit.

@Rex had the right idea with the downs only. I started up at 1A and whooshed along through the entire top third. As I tend to do, I glanced at the downs for that part and decided those answers were more interesting (liked seeing Erica JONG whom we used to see regularly) and switched to the downs.

Generally, I am not a fan of the split answer (MAIL IT IN) or the fill in the blanks (we had 6). At least it’s Monday and they were easy. I briefly had hurtS for PAINS at 30D, but changed before I even looked for crosses. Just a very short electrical miscommunication with my grey matter “Librarian.” I usually give her Sundays off and it is Martin Day so she need not be disturbed.

I am still thinking about possible theme content for PUSH THE ENVELOPE. Maybe I will take a crack at creating a puzzle.

jberg 2:02 PM  

My heart sank when I got LOWER CASE LETTER, about as green-painty as you can get. But I forgave it when I saw the theme, which is pretty neat once you accept the legitimacy of MAIL IT IN. Phone it in is so much more in the language, at least the language I hear.

Latin, French, Spanish, and Russian, we're really getting an education here.

I picked up another PASSPORT STAMP last week, and since I renewed said passport relatively recently, I decided to check and see what other stamps were in it. One of them said "CH," a country I didn't think I'd ever been in, but I guess I changed planes in Zurich once. Usually you don't get a stamp for that, but there it was.

One of the advantages of not doing downs-clues-only is that I didn't have to try to remember the name of a Brady Bunch member, I just needed Erica JONG.

But to get down to the real question -- are there birds that do not have calf muscles? If so, how do they move their legs? Somebody here must know.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

I had GAWP before GAWK, but otherwise, easy-peasy

okanaganer 2:15 PM  

@Barbara S... sorry, I had a code error:
[Spelling Bee: Sat I missed this variant duo.]
Those 2 words have really spiked in usage since the millenium!

egsforbreakfast 2:46 PM  

@jberg 2:02 pm. I was just pondering that same question as I sat here eating a bucket of The Colonel’s Extra Spicy Chicken Calves.

albatross shell 2:47 PM  

@Barbara S
Thanks for the Safire.

What is the ideal ratio of skill to luck in a game? 1 to 1, 2 to 1, 3 to 1, ...,1000 to 1?

One back at you.
Clue: Uplifting coverage for one hundred and two boobs?*

I had more fun than Rex with this one. But he did upgrade it with the somewhat essential revealer.

All sorts of ways to combine those ingredients with half reversals.

I think AMOI AMAT STET might be a bit difficult for many new solvers but I guess they have to learn sometime.

*Answer in today's puzzle.

albatross shell 3:30 PM  

Birds half leg muscles but the EMU is the only bird with a muscle on the back of the lower leg.

Carola 3:32 PM  

Interesting for me to read about how many of you solve Downs-only on Mondays. On Mondays I like to see how far I can get solving Acrosses-only and how soon I can pick up the theme (which on Mondays is almost always in the Acrosses). I never get very far before my eye strays to a Down clue. Today, LETTER and STAMP made the theme idea clear, but I couldn't come up with the reveal - partly because I only know the concept as "phone it in" (see: Ian Bostrich, Idomeneo, Edinburgh Festival, 2001, which I obviously never have gotten over).

Anyway. Cute theme idea with a very nice repurposing of the MAIL-related words; agree about ENVELOPE being a cut above the rest. Also enjoyed SLOUCH + SAGS, HORDE, DELVES, HEARTS as clued (I'm right with you, @Anoa Bob, 1:42).

@Southside Johnny 7:19 - My son and 13-year-old grandson are also big MOTHRA fans. I told them that they should also watch TH BLOB. I'm old enough to have seen the original release in a theater, along with many other science-fiction and horror movies of the 1950s - unforgettable, whether terrifying or ridiculous (The Tingler).

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Envelope has been a mathematical term for a long time, having a meaning very similar to that used by the test pilots.



Beezer 3:59 PM  

@jberg (and btw lol @egs!). My “exhaustive” Google search seems to indicate they ARE the only bird with calf muscles! However apropos of @egs comment, we meat-a-tarians eat chicken thighs and chicken legs. Um…the know the “nasty” part of birds that attach to their feet? I think emus must actually have “muscles” in there. So. What does this mean? Heck I don’t know. (A 3 part leg?) Other birds have SOMETHING in that “nasty” part that is “disposed of” that allow them to hop and cling onto perches.

Anoa Bob 4:04 PM  

@albatross, I think the ideal skill to luck ratio for any game would be 100% skill vs 0% luck. Chess is about as close as it comes to that but since the choice of White or Black pieces is determined by chance/luck and since White wins slightly more games than Black in the long run, it's not perfect. In contrast HEARTS has a 34.82% skill vs 65.82% luck ratio compared to 16.24% skill vs 83.76% luck ratio for poker. (Percentages have been rounded off to the nearest two decimal places.)

Joe Dipinto 4:49 PM  

Looks like @AnoaBob, @Carola and @me need to organize a Hearts game. Fourth, anyone?

JC66 5:03 PM  

@Joe D

Deal men in. I'm not very good, but I am lucky. 😂

Lewis 6:12 PM  

@gill -- Hello! And that was one terrific post!

Son Volt 6:34 PM  

I’m down @Joe D - although last summer I played marathon games with some visitors from Scotland who used the ace and king of spades as additional point cards. It was interesting - but let’s just stick with the queen.

dgd 6:44 PM  

I am an avid bridge player ( yes I am old!). Avid players tend to play at clubs ( or online these days) what is called "duplicate bridge" where hands are predealt and all players get to to play the same deals. That eliminates almost all the luck. Duplicate bridge would definitely have less luck than hearts.
Duplicate bridge is not at all the same as bridge played at home.

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

Y’all. ONPOT?! No.

Barbara S. 7:27 PM  

@Gill I.
" long as they have some AMAT in their AMOI" -- !!

Welcome back. I don't know what we did without you.

TaylorSlow 7:57 PM  

@Beezer: Avian flu seems to be at the root of the current higher prices for eggs. But I still haven't seen any eggs in the six-dollar-a-dozen range! Just lucky, I guess.

Joe Dipinto 9:12 PM  

@Son Volt – there's also a version where the Jack of Diamonds is worth —10 (i.e. you want to pick it up if possible) but I've never played that version.

Carola 10:11 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - My daughter's partner grew up in a home where the Jack of Diamonds version ruled (anathema!). To avoid a family rift, I've had to compromise. Hearts is serious business!

Grandma Lib 6:59 AM  

The video of the Richard Thompson "Tear-Stained Letter" made my day. Thanks for that!

kitshef 8:54 AM  

MAIL IT IN is what the editorial staff did with the cluing today - almost every answer could be filled in without crosses.

kitshef 3:18 PM  

@jae - For a while, I thought we must live on different planets as Croce 777 was impossible to get anywhere with. However, once a little bit here and there came in things did get easier. I'd still call it 'easy side of medium' overall, but far from easiest ever (for me). Last week's was about 20% faster.

spacecraft 10:52 AM  

Q: What did Mr. Paleos do with today's puzzle?

He didn't PUSHTHEENVELOPE until...well, that. You got your letter, your stamp, your address and your envelope. Did you remember to sign your check? Make sure the ADDRESS shows thru the window? Yeah, you're good to go.

Look up MEH in the dictionary and there's this grid. Par.

Wordle par.

Burma Shave 1:06 PM  


ORR have their HEARTS ON quite ALLOT,
with OUT ADDRESS she rules TIKTOK,


Anonymous 4:06 PM  

@Phillyrad1999 7:36am:
The Hydrox was the original. The Oreo is the Thomas Edison of cookies!

rondo 5:02 PM  

MAIL ITIN, huh? Not that much to write home about here. Even for Monday this seems tepid, surely not REDHOT.
Odd wordle birdie: YBYBB, YYYYY, GGGGG.

Diana, LIW 7:48 PM  

Sounds like @Spacey and @Rondo are suggesting this should have a SASE enclosed for return to editing.

Moi? I thought it fine. For Monday. Lambo liked it too. Well...he purred.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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