Comprehend

Evan Kalish designs the first puzzle of our solving week.

Comments: 147

  1. The Natick (snicker doodles Erma Bombeck) in the NW corner slowed me but still...

  2. @Patrick Jordan Erma has been a crossword puzzle stalwart for many, many years. Less often, Bombeck -- it's usually just Erma. She was very funny and very apt.

  3. Classic Monday puzzle! Thanks!

  4. This puzzle really tickled me. Between gag reels, snickerdoodles and comedy sketches, I was certain that something funny was up with the theme! Then it wasn't - yet it was much more interesting to me when I got it. There is hardly a better bunch of words to cite for a justification of reading - really reading - the dictionary, than "draw/drawer(s)/drawing", "picture", "sketch/skit", and "doodle" as we have today! Go to any real-live dictionary, online or in print, and drink in the rich variety that comes with draw (etc.) - it is a deep well, and a great study in how words have ripples in the realm of meaning. Then look at picture, and its relation to painting (at the start), then every different imaginative and creative aspect over time. Sketch, literally an ancient Greek imagining of "hey, give me a napkin, I need to write this idea down..." And then doodle (I see Deb and I have something in common here)! - which is formed from the German word for "playing the bagpipes", literally "doodling." I love this theme set simply for driving me back to reading the dictionary: great characters, interesting plot, a real page-turner!

  5. @David Connell You can read the dictionary or read one person's odyssey doing such. An interesting read: Reading the Oxford English Dictionary: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. If encyclopedias are more your cup of tea, the "Know-it-All" is one man's journey through every volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica (44,000,000 words). Or you can just read through the Wordplay column and comments for enlightenment

  6. @coloradoz - I know there are some who resent or object to my little discursions here - but all of the word-related ones are born directly of the simple fact that I read the whole dictionary front-to-back for the first time in fourth grade (50 years ago), and have done so in English several times since, and in a few other languages at least once. Dictionaries are _awesome_ - and I do mean _print_ dictionaries! (Part of my meaning: I don't post these things to say: look at me knowing this. I post these things to say: look at how ultra cool this stuff is. Some people can't see the difference.) (The end of my initial post was a reference to the Bookworm character, Etaoin Shrdlu, in the old Pogo cartoons, who also read dictionaries. I wish I could find a link [he appeared in March 1950], but in the past week google made a horrible, very terrible, nasty step toward Bingification and it is no longer useful unless you're looking for popular music and tiktoks. Sigh. The future is dim.)

  7. DC, I'd like to know more about this "broad core update" if you want to elaborate.

  8. Nice puzzle! My kids have never been allowed to bring PBJ to school though because of allergies.

  9. @Greg humphreys One of my kids was extremely picky and the other was easy-going about their lunches, so I fixed PB&J (or often PB&banana) sandwiches for them for nine years :) I felt a bit guilty about it so every couple of years I asked if they wanted something else, but thankfully Mr. Picky always wanted to stick with the tried-n-true. I felt like I was getting away with something because it was so easy to do. (Then we moved and they got to eat school cafeteria food for the first time.) That was decades ago, of course.

  10. @Greg humphreys I’m surprised this clue passes muster as just about every school now bans peanuts.

  11. In a recent reversal, our school system now allows PBJ, but sequesters the allergic. I had mixed feelings about this, but apparently many of the parents (and probably some attorneys) feel it’s safer for the kids to not place all of their trust into the lunch packing skills of nine-year-olds.

  12. Who wouldn't love a puzzle with SNICKERDOODLES, the very first thing I learned to bake? Very lively, enjoyable puzzle. Also, a shout out to the Mini clue, Hamlet's relative.

  13. @vaer Hamlet’s relative right after Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant was a classic misdirect.

  14. First time commenting here (just discovered there were comments on the puzzle section..), but could someone please explain why/how "relative of Hamlet" is TOWN??

  15. @Charentaise A hamlet is a small village.

  16. 3:17, I think my best Monday ever :D

  17. I thought you were quoting John.

  18. I don’t think I could type that fast.

  19. @BaldBrady I know I couldn’t.

  20. This is just what I needed after settling for a dnf on Sunday's puzzle. Sweet as a snickerdoodle, and smooth as PB.

  21. Mooiiiiiiiiiiiiiikoiiiiiik ok k I

  22. Quick and fun Monday. Loved it! :-)

  23. Easy. Great theme!

  24. Not sure about the spelling og gingko as ginkgo - that threw me for a loop initially

  25. @Stephen GINKGO is correct. “Og” course, so is OF.

  26. @Stephen I wasn't sure and I entered GINGKO at first. It was quickly apparent that that was wrong. I was ashamed. Then I read Jeff's column at xwordinfo and saw that he made the same error. I feel better now.

  27. @Deadline - funny, Jeff's misspelling made me sad... Ginkgo biloba is the only species in its genus, the only genus in its family, the only family in its order, the only order in its class, and the only class in its division - one of the loneliest species in the world, very much a survival of the ancient earth. And a beauty.

  28. My fastest Monday ever. At 8:30 certainly not fast for some but was for me.

  29. I was well under 10 minutes for my first time ever. So yea us! *highfive*

  30. @BruceG Here's a tip to speed things up a bit: coffee! A caffeine buzz, I believe, might impact my solving time on Mondays and Tuesdays even more than puzzle difficulty does. Point in case, I was just barely under my average time on this one, which I started as I sat down at the cafe and well before the caffeine sunk its claws into me.

  31. @BruceG I try to remember I'm only competing against myself and, actually, most of the time I don't really care about the time as that's a feature of online solving so is relatively new.

  32. Very nicely done -- smooth and easy Monday. It took me a while to remember DEKE, which i know only from XWPs and Wordplay commenters who (sorta) explained it to me way back when. Good start to the week. Thanks all.

  33. It was a terrific trio of weekend puzzles: a big-plus Friday, a stunning diagonal Saturday, and a cleverly spliced-together Sunday 22x21, proving that eschewing the orthodoxy of convention can produce beautiful benefits. Back to mundane Monday. SNICKERDOODLE was fun.

  34. With my wife in the hospital/rehab for seven weeks, rediscovered the delights of PB&J...JIF Smooth, Smuckers Red Raspberry Preserves and a glass of cold, whole milk....looked for, but couldn't find, my Bambi lunch box....

  35. @BK - good luck with rehab and stay strong, both of you. Meanwhile, if you are using toasted bread for those sandwiches, sneak a little dab of plain butter onto the bread before the peanut butter and see if you don't love it more!

  36. @David Connell Butter *and* Peanut Butter? {Swoon} 😅

  37. @BK To be clear, nut allergies have banned PBJs from many school cafeterias, so this clue should probably be filed with the one that calls a skein a ball of yarn. I know—killjoy.

  38. Whew! I needed that one after the last few doozies the past week. Thank you, Monday!

  39. Can anyone help me? I solved the Saturday puzzle at the Dallas airport on the app and was given credit for a 605 day streak. Got back to Indianapolis after midnight, and it was gone. Have worked really hard to get this far.

  40. @Marcia Fidler - the help desk is really helpful with these situations. Go to the Wordplay main page, click Help...or Contact or whatever it is, and send a note to them - even if it takes a day or two, they will do their best for you. They don't read the comments here, you have to get in touch with them yourself. Good luck!

  41. Hi @Marcia Fidler, Click on the Frequently Asked Questions at the top of Wordplay. The email address for customer care is in there.

  42. @Marcia Fidler [email protected]. Should be included at bottom of each Wordplay column, imo.

  43. I’m both a doodler and a snickerdoodler. Fun Monday with AEIOU following yesterday’s EIEIO. Started to look up whether those entries had ever appeared back-to-back before, but stopped when I asked myself Y. Famous people’s doodles are on display in a book called “Scrawl, An A-Z of Famous Doodles”: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/scrawl-picture-view-1515202

  44. @Puzzlemucker I actually have no idea what a SNICKER DOODLE is. And EIEIO is one of the main reasons I “refrain from nursery singing”. Wondering if AEIOU has ever been clued as “Wheel of Fortune purchases”.

  45. @Andrew Haha about EIEIO. Yes, that clue has been used. I only asked myself Y after first looking up AEIOU’s clue history. Then I realized I’d have to note the date of each of its 60 appearances to determine whether EIEIO ever appeared the preceding, same, or next day, and went no further. My favorite clue for AEIOU was “Facetious group.” (A Saturday clue).

  46. @Andrew I finally had to put "snickerdo" into DuckDuckGo. Never saw one of those. Would like to try one, but not if I have to bake it myself.

  47. I don’t know if this is just coincidence, but the photo for both Saturday’s and today’s puzzle was of sidewalk art. What is clear is that there is a huge range of what exactly sidewalk art can be!

  48. Does your average OMANI like the taste of UMAMI, or does he prefer to eat a SNICKERDOODLE?

  49. Consider this as a public service announcement for solvers. Elsewhere in the NYT today there is an article dealing with dance that mentions "contemporary street genres like KRUMP and FLEX". I fear that one of our edgier constructers will use those words in that context in a forthcoming puzzle. Beware.

  50. @Al in Pittsburgh They will now... LOL

  51. @Al in Pittsburgh Thanks for the warning.

  52. and Elke Am trying to write this comment without splitting infinitives... While I don't remember ever seeing or eating SNICKERDOODLES. I've been guilty of DOODLing . Nice to see GINKGOs. Am a BIG FAN of their delicate fan shaped leaves and their most civilized Fall behaviour. The leaves turn a uniform bright yellow-golden (or golden-yellow) and then seem to drop virtually overnight in one fell swoop. Easy cleanup. Did not look carefully and had at first NACHaS and thought how appropriate that it was close to PURIM. Then I cleaned my glasses... It is ONION, not aNION. Will NACHOS be on the new school menu?

  53. @Robert Love GINKGOs as well. But the berries. Oy!

  54. and Elke TabbyCat- only the female trees have the smelly berries. Stick to a male -i.e. tree.

  55. I never thought I would ever have to research a Monday. But in the end I had to look up "beats by dr."

  56. Showing your age there, bub. 😉

  57. @kilaueabart It's a good one to remember as it shows up fairly often.

  58. I started to expect a "G" theme: GobiG, Gre, Gild, GinkGo, GaGreels all in the upper NW corner! But it turned into something else. . . fun for a Mon.

  59. Thank you- go big was holding me up

  60. I thought hear, hear was oyez but it’s AMEN. I misread poker or snooker and said pool, but they’re both a GAME. I also spelled EEYORE and UMAMI incorrectly. The gem is ONYX, not opal. I read college senior hurdle too quickly and put SAT, but that comes later. It was GRE. My first thought for televised ping pongs was lottery drawing, but that doesn’t fit. The answer is LOTTO. Other than those, I either knew the answers or filled them in with the other direction.

  61. SPELLING BEE Jan. 20, 2020 N C I V B L E 43 words 178 points, 2 pangrams, neither perfect

  62. SPELLING BEE GRID Jan 20th 2020 E B C I L N V WORDS: 43, POINTS: 178, PANGRAMS: 2, BINGO Starting Letters-Frequencies: B x 9 C x 3 E x 5 I x 3 L x 11 N x 5 V x 7 Word Lengths -Frequencies: 4L x 19 5L x 12 6L x 4 7L x 5 8L x 2 10L x 1 Grid: 4 5 6 7 8 10 Tot B 3 4 - 2 - - 9 C 1 2 - - - - 3 E 2 - 2 1 - - 5 I - - 1 1 - 1 3 L 4 5 - 1 1 - 11 N 3 1 1 - - - 5 V 6 - - - 1 - 7 Tot 19 12 4 5 2 1 43 (Y-Axis: Starting Letters, X-Axis: Word Lengths, X/Y Co-ordinates: Frequency/Number of Words for that letter and length)

  63. @Mari 2 pangrams are opposites of each other, but the shorter one is rarely (never?) used. The longer one means too powerful to be defeated.

  64. @Mari tricky words: a straight path, includes the name of this game. Also, to accept something as true; the word contains its opposite. A beautiful (Southern) woman, an angled edge or a tool, first printed book, liver secretion, slang word for a famous person, plural we’ve previously had (the only reason I know it) of a stringed instrument between a viola and bass in size, to make something more exciting (2 forms of this word), to reveal the presence of, a sharp piece of frozen liquid, the quality of being more merciful, a river embankment to prevent flooding, written slander and its target, Hawaiian goose, a couple numbers, a female younger relative, a small bite.

  65. @Mari Thanks for the grid Starting 2: BE - 7, BI - 2 CE - 3 EL - 1, EN - 1, EV - 3 IC - 1, IN - 2 LE - 3, LI - 8 NE - 1, NI - 4 VE - 2, VI - 5

  66. LETTER BOXED THREAD Jan 20th 2020 P - C (9), C - S (5) YESTERDAY: UNBLOCKED DRAW BLACKER RUNDOWN

  67. @Mari Same as you, except my P-C is 10.

  68. @Andrew Same here. Letter Box solution yesterday was: BREAKDOWN NUCLEAR

  69. @Lou I had BREAKDOWN and, as often happens couldn't make the second word. I really wanted CLUB, but it didn't work. Well at least it wasn't NUCLEAR BREAKDOWN...

  70. My wonderful son told me how to get to wordplay on my iPhone I am a very poor typist so always type my comment in notes, then copy and paste, so this will be short. Loved the puzzle. I knew SNICKERDOODLE because they were served at our last book group meeting, I’m more of an UMAMI person.

  71. @Susan Doyle Welcome, Susan! We have a longtime regular commenter from Harrogate, named @suejean. Unfortunately, she hasn’t been able to get on the Wordplay comments site for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully she will be able to soon. I think she will be happy to know that a neighbor has joined us.

  72. @Puzzlemucker Oy vey! Suejean, it’s you! Welcome back!!!!

  73. @Susan Doyle So happy to see you back, suejean. This made my day.

  74. The cross of two ever-recurring crossword buddies ERIE and ARIA jumped out at me. I found out on XwordInfo that among four-letter answers in the Shortz-era NYT, these are the second and third most popular. Can you veteran solvers guess what number one and number four are? (Answer in a reply.) Re Evan's puzzle, I liked that the drawing words in the theme answers were used in a non-drawing context, and there were a number of answers that I would like any day of the week -- GUSSY, GINKGO, ACRID, EDIT WAR, NEWSPEAK, and GILD. This added to the loveliness of my solve, and thank you for that, Evan!

  75. Number four is ALOE, and number one is AREA. I'm curious as to what some other guesses were.

  76. @Lewis I knew AREA was #1, but would not have guessed ALOE. Black and white cookie (at least in Shortz era), place where some say it all began, and sheltered side of ship round out my top 7.

  77. I got 1 out of 3 right. Close on another and relatively far off on the third (that one is not even in top ten).

  78. That was a picture-perfect way to start my week. (There's still life in these puns.)

  79. On the slow side for me for a Monday and I had to work the crosses almost everywhere. Was unfamiliar with EDITWAR and a couple of other things. Didn't have any idea about the theme until I had all the themers and the reveal filled in - that's always a nice touch. Wondered afterwords if Evan considered YANKEEDOODLE as a theme answer. It wouldn't have fit as a replacement for SNICKERDOODLE (one letter shorter) but would have fit at 29a or 47a. Then I wondered how often YANKEEDOODLE has been in puzzles: Four times, and never in the Shortz era. However, YANKEEDOODLEDANDY was in a Sunday puzzle last year.

  80. I was somewhat surprised at how many folks had not heard of SNICKERDOODLEs. That was my first theme "Gimme" (Deb... does that qualify me for entry into Dante's third circle of literary hell?). They are my second favorite cookie, right behind the number one Oatmeal Raisin. Unfortunately now that I've got The Sugar, cookies are a rare treat for me... :-(

  81. @Deb, A Division President to whom I used to report held a full staff meeting EVERY Monday - whether there was anything to “meet” about or not. Eventually, I expressed my sentiments by leaving my official “engineering” notebook (with the numbered pages, etc.) in my desk and taking with me a small box of Crayolas and a book with quarter-inch-spaced lines on the paper and Dudley Dooright on the cover - - - or, maybe, it was Bullwinkle. It took HIM about six weeks to notice. (My fellow VP’s caught on much sooner.) This was - to net it out - a first step in a “short-range career plan”. Happily, it produced a good outcome. In about 18 months, I had a successful consulting business going - and have never looked back at “Corporate America”. OH! The puzzle - - - a very solid “Solve” - capital `S’ and all. A very suitable offering for a Monday. Just one correction: Ms. Ross did not consider herself to be one OF “The Supremes”. They were billed as “Diana Ross AND The Supremes”. (I think there was a little “ego problem” there.)

  82. They were ‘The Supremes’ before they were ‘Diana Ross AND The Supremes.’ Before that, they were ‘The Primettes.’

  83. PeterW, Funny business story. Correction to your correction: The group was called "The Supremes" from 1960 to 1967, when Berry Gordy, not Diana Ross, changed the name to "DR&..." When she went solo in 1970, the name reverted. (I have the 45s to cite.)

  84. @PeterW No correction needed. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true!), the group, including Ross, was billed as The Supremes from 1960-67. Then Berry Gordy renamed them Diana Ross & the Supremes in 1967. In 1970, Ross left the group for a solo career. At that point, they became The Supremes again (minus Ross) until they disbanded in 1977. Ego problem or not, it's certain that Diana Ross was nominally one of The Supremes longer than she was billed separately as their headliner.

  85. Really had to GUSSY up for this one. Never seizes to amaze me how different one Monday can be from another - my usual Monday average of about 16 minutes was - to put it mildly - a long shot with words like CONESTOGA. Never knew a check was „ENDORSEd“ - probably due to the fact that checks didn’t really exist in Germany in my lifetime. But please, can somebody tell me that PBJ is *not* a common school lunch sandwich? Seriously. Fumbled forever down SE because I thought it had to be something like a BLT or such. Anything that’s not sweet. Anywho, good fun, but more of a challenge than usual (for me).

  86. @Toby P. Depends on your generation and what grade level you're talking about. I'm in my sixties, and in the lower grades, PBJs were a common lunch sandwich. Of course now, with all the allergies going around, it's not that common at all. At least at school.

  87. @Toby P. - I distinctly remember opening my Felix-The-Cat lunchbox, with its Lebanon bologna and cheese sandwich, and being the only kid in the whole cafeteria who wasn't eating peanut-butter-and-jelly!

  88. Sorry, but I’m afraid PB&J sandwiches are very common, especially for children. Also for people who camp out and for day hikers, etc. I’m not a fan, and even as a kid, they weren’t a favorite. But when you’re hungry and in the great outdoors long enough, they do the job, and you don’t have to worry about them spoiling.

  89. I just love this, and love all Monday puzzles. I know that doesn't make me a purist, but after Wednesday, well, I could solve them, but I just don't enjoy spending that much effort on a puzzle. "I'm here for a good time, not a long time." Can I somehow officially request that the Times offers a Monday-level puzzle online every day for subscribers? I've now gone back in the archive and done all the Monday and Tuesday puzzles for years, but they are starting to feel dated. Sorry, sounds like a complaint, really just want to say how much I love the Monday puzzles.

  90. @Scott Yates I was going to say there aren't that many early-week puzzles floating around, but that would be wrong. They're just on other papers' websites. All of them are free. I'd suggest the LA Times (go through the WaPo website; the online interface is better), WSJ, Newsday, USA Today (big improvement lately with Erik Agard as editor) and Universal. Atlantic magazine also has a good daily mini. I'd bet that after some practice, the rest of the week's puzzles won't take nearly as long. As to your quote above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl3lcTZN7fI

  91. @Steve L Those suggestions are all good, but I like the NYTimes interface, etc. It's cozy in here. I just want to come here every day and do a puzzle that I can get done in 6 to 10 minutes and then move on so I can spend my time misremembering country lyrics. ;-)

  92. @Scott Yates If you're a subscriber just click on archives and you'll see that you can go several back years and do only Monday-Wednesday puzzles. I would encourage you to go to the other days. Do a couple of passes through and see if maybe, like me, you start to see that your ability to solve puzzles has improved without much effort.

  93. Nice puzzle. Great palate cleanser after the bitter theme puzzle yesterday. EEYORE was a bit tricky, I wasn’t sure how it was spelled. AIRACE is also not really a thing, but pretty obvious with some crosses. One last thing: 17A would have fit TRUMP. Or OBAMA, I suppose. I’ll just leave that here...

  94. @Mike You got one right w/ 17A. And he would agree with you about the other, but would be wrong.

  95. What a fun, challenging but doable puzzle! Perfect for Monday, especially following the Sunday we had. TIL EDITWAR.

  96. I thought the theme was weak, but the fill was better than the usual Monday fare. And yet, despite answers like CONESTOGA, NEWSPEAK and EDIT WAR, the puzzle as a whole didn't have much personality. Speaking of EDIT WAR, who knew? I thought that editing Wikipedia was a cooperative affair. It's a WAR? Maybe we should get our info elsewhere. It sounds like a real mess. I can't find anything really wrong with the puzzle, but I didn't have a whole lot of fun solving it.

  97. @Nancy Wikipedia is an enormous asset. It’s not the last word but it doesn’t pretend to be, just as encyclopedias weren’t meant to be in their day. It is a springboard for laypeople in a field to read and then find reference sources. And although people love to moan about its inaccuracies, I find it’s not bad at all. But I’m not usually reading pages that are contentious.

  98. @Nancy - If my post ever gets free of the emus, they will have helped prove my point! All I did was name a few subjects on which edit wars might arise, and presto! It's held in quarantine.

  99. Nancy, usually editing Wikipedia is fun and cooperative. Once in a while two "editors" disagree strongly and tend to replace the other's edits with their own. Fortunately this doesn't happen very often. In general Wikipedia is only a bit less accurate than the Brittanica, according to studies.

  100. Not super sold on the theme - I thought it was really a bit 'meh', - and I thought overall it was a little trickier than other Mondays - though that might just be because of gaps in my knowledge. Never heard of ERMA Bombeck, no idea what a GRE is and my knowledge of Spanish doesn't extend much past the Taco Bell slogan. CONESTOGA is also Greek to me (curiously, THETA fell quite quickly). Other slips: I originally had BLT for the sandwich.

  101. @Chris Finlay Graduate Record Exam

  102. ...no idea what a GRE is... Chris, Fair enough. FWIW, eleven-plus has never appeared in this puzzle.

  103. @Barry Ancona Graduate Record Exam taken by seniors before graduation. A waste of time, really. Too easy to fail or make any difference. Like college itself.

  104. Fresh and fun. 7A "Retail giant with a famous catalog, once" took me back to high school and my first job, as a stock boy at SEARS.

  105. Yes! Thank goodness for Monday. (Never said that before I retired.) I felt like the weekend really beat me up, and I needed this puzzle, like a warm, soothing bath.

  106. Ah SEARS.... A moribund merchant mewled Tom, maliciously. Although, circa 1920 Sears sold the Lustron a steel sided home. Sears is a sad tale of a company that believed in everything they did, even when it was clear they needed to change. Then when they embraced change their effort was not to change themselves but change everyone else. Cue “The Softer Side of Sears.” Next they employed a team of data scientists (cue The Emperor.s New Clothes) to predict what people would buy based on past buying behavior at Sears.... where few were buying. Watch future data science (sic) results, particularly in healthcare, for more examples. Whoops, rambling. One more. Ran a few intellectual property ideation meetings at a certain Seattle based tech behemoth where I had everyone leave their various electronic devices at the door. It was pathetic. Mid level managers complained that I was degrading their productivity and refused to attend.... it was like watching opiate withdrawal or tantruming tots. Doodling is often a resource one may use in the creative process. We called it going on a treasure hunt where you may return with a fresh take on a new idea. Anyway, fun and speedy solve. Can no longer doodle beside the puzzle as NYT no longer delivers a real paper where I live... but I have moved on... Thanks Evan

  107. @dk I once bet my 20 year old grand daughter she couldn't go 5 minutes without looking at her cell phone. She lost

  108. coloradoz, At dinner today, I mentioned your comment to my 20 year old daughter, who promptly set five minutes on her phone's timer and hid the phone under a napkin. It stayed hidden until the timer went off. She was not compensated for the time ... or for this message.

  109. My five favorite clues from last week (in order of appearance): 1. Routine activity? (7) 2. Bud's place (3) 3. "Emergency calls" may save you from them (3)(5) 4. Things that get overlooked? (6) 5. Insurance for the crash-prone (8) STANDUP EAR BAD DATES VISTAS AUTOSAVE

  110. This is a debut for SNICKERDOODLE? Well past its time, in my opinion! A stellar cookie.

  111. Fun + cute. Anyone else grow up with a copy of Betty Crocker's Cooky Book in the house? The bottom of each page has a row of photos of a perfect example of each recipe. SNICKERDOODLES didn't look like much, but they sure were yummy. The only reason to keep cream of tartar in the house.

  112. Can't say I've ever heard of umami. Any insights? Thanks. FM

  113. It appears in the crossword pretty frequently. It’s from the Japanese, and refers to a savory taste, as opposed to sweet, salty, sour, or bitter.

  114. @Shari Coats - yep: think of beef with mushrooms and scallions in soy sauce. Umami: savory. The antique English word is "toothsome." When you walk into a home where there's beef and onion stew on the stove and fresh rosemary bread in the oven, and the smell makes you hungry. Ooh, mommy!

  115. Fontaine, umami is the kind of taste sensation that tends to be enhanced by MSG (though I certainly don't recommend using MSG). It's a kind of yummy savory sensation. I'm not sure if we have special taste buds for it or not.

  116. 20a. Never knew exactly what a snickerdoodle was. Doubt if I’ll ever try one. I don’t eat things that take longer to pronounce than to swallow.

  117. @Queenie I'll have yours!

  118. After hours of posts about the snickerdoodle, none to mark its peculiar place: Of all the cookies where there is a difference between store-bought and home-made, there's none to match snickerdoodles. Store-bought (I shudder to think of Barry A's gluten-free, sugar-free version) is always disappointing for snickerdoodles. and Of all the cookies to make at home, there's hardly an easier one to ace than snickerdoodles. Make it yourself, and it will disappear from the pan, the rack, the tin, the plate before you blink an eye. There's a ratio in there somewhere: easy to make and worth making yourself. Snickerdoodles top that list. I speak as a lifelong cookie specialist.

  119. David, The site I found for our no-bake colleague offered sugar-free *or* gluten-free versions, as well as regular (not that I would buy any of them). All baking in my home is now gluten-free, but that has not slowed the creation of delicious cookies and cakes.

  120. @David Connell - PS - to anyone who wants to try baking snickerdoodles after today's business: Listen to them: that's how to know when they're done. If they are noisy, they aren't done yet. If they are silent, too late! They have to be quietly fizzing when you put them to your ear, that's when to put them on racks. This applies to most drop cookies: you can hear when they're done properly. Looking is fine, but you have to listen to get it just right. https://youtu.be/Ri_4dDvcZeM?t=18

  121. @Barry Ancona I can recommend the best gluten free cookbooks: Gluten-free Wish List, and Gluten- Free Baking, by Jeanne Sauvage. And Gluten-Free Flour Power, by Aki Kamowawa and Alexander Talbot, page 307-308 is a SNICKERDOODLE recipe!

  122. What’s not to like about this Monday puzzle? Snickerdoodles, gag reels, not one but TWO Great Lakes, peanut butter and jelly, Eeyore, Tiki torches, and the Sears catalog!😊 Most of those trigger fond memories of my youth. After a hot and dry summer in the Sacramento valley, I looked forward to the Fall edition of the Sears catalog, where I could choose a new plaid wool skirt, perhaps, with a matching sweater, to wear to school when things cooled off. Snickerdoodles were the first cookie I learned to make, probably from a Betty Crocker cookbook, as someone else mentioned. I think A.A. Milne’s stories and poems were my first literary favorites as a child, and I still occasionally quote Eeyore the donkey. (Clever of Evan Kalish to slip a “Female donkey” in as well.) Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Evan! Also, TIL that onyx has bands. I knew a black gemstone had to be onyx, but I guess I’ve never seen it with bands. Good to know, if only for doing crosswords.

  123. Nice puzzle, but diamonds don’t have carats, they weigh carats (or fractions thereof). Perhaps “a diamond of one is moderately expensive.”

  124. Since there's nowhere to comment on the Spelling Bee, I came here to vent about the reappearance of philhellene: come on!! That's just ludicrous.

  125. @Maria Cate Especially when you consider all the perfectly ordinary words and contemporary terms that aren’t on their list for some unknown reason. Grrrr!

  126. @Linda Kirwan & Maria Cate - next time you visit, click on "Reader Picks" and the top comment will almost always be a thread devoted 100% to the Spelling Bee. Try it, you might like it!

  127. I can’t seem to reply so will thank everyone here for the welcome back reccos and kind words.

  128. suejean, Can you see more than three replies on a thread? Two of your own replies appeared on your first thread. In any case, welcome back!

  129. Interesting, I can’t see them.

  130. Very interesting! The replies on that thread, from first to last, are from: 1. Puzzlemucker 2. Puzzlemucker 3. Rich in Atlanta 4. Deb Amlen! 5. Liz B 6. You! 7. Me 8. Deadline 9. You 10.You again

  131. Speaking of EDIT WARS Raheem Mostert's Wikipedia page was edited to remove the notation that he owned the Green Bay Packers....

  132. Suejean, I hope one of the "only see three replies" experts will see your fourth reply here and advise you!

  133. @Barry Ancona, others have said, and I can confirm: if you use the NYT app to read Wordplay, it only displays 3 replies to any post, but if you use your browser instead, you can see all replies. Suejean, is it as simple as that??

  134. I wish I knew.

  135. I just recently discovered the comments and am enjoying them, reading in the NYT app. It shows me only 3 replies in each thread but then there's a "view all replies" button that reveals the rest. I have an android phone, if that matters.

  136. I did most of the puzzle early, left it and loved coming back. The last fills were GAG... leading to GAME, GILD and AMEN. The puzzle was an enjoyable GAME, GILDED the day, and AMEN to that, Evan Kalish. It was a perfect start to the week. Thanks.

  137. Long time reader. First time commenter. Nice puzzle. Anything with Snickerdoodles gets my approval. I always have trouble spelling ginkgo. There ought to be an H in there somewhere. Also testing ability to comment for my mom, who has had some difficulty lately. She’s 5197 miles away, so not so easy to coordinate.

  138. @SonOfSJ Welcome to you and your mom!

  139. SonOfSJ, Welcome to the comments. We're big fans of your mom!

  140. @SonOfSJ , see my reply to Barry’s post, below. Apparently the NYT app doesn’t work so well to see all comments.

  141. In one week I have learned SNICKERDOODLE and LABRADOODLE! Waiting for KIT AND KABOODLE along with COLD SESAME NOODLE. OODLES of fun!

  142. Spelling Bee Oh curse you, Queen Bees! I have been a Spelling Bee fan for a few months. I’d get to Genius and, unless there were some obvious ones after that, would call it a day. I recently read here of Queen Bee status and had to find out if this was a true thing or just a mythological beast. It took me most of the day (and careful perusal of the grid notes) but I did it. Probably both my first and last time so I took a screen shot. If only I could find a way to make a living at it.

  143. @Michele - don't be discouraged if you made QB today; be proud! Make sure to click on "Reader Picks" and find the thread where the Beehive confers in order to encourage QB status when possible. There's a careful effort to dole out information bit by bit - so you get only as much help as you desire, or require. It is addictive, isn't it? Start the day with a mental workout...

  144. Perfect Monday solve. I like to challenge myself a bit more on Mondays by trying to do the clues as close to “in order” as I can; I had to come back to a few of the long ones like CONESTOGA...delightful. Wish I had some SNICKERDOODLEs to munch while solving! & a column from ERMA Bombeck to peruse.... lovely memories. I certainly enjoyed the GAG REEL on word play. I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t spell EEYORE right on the first try!

  145. Tough for a Monday, mostly for spelling. Multiple words with multiple vowel options gingko/gengko and ummai/umame cross kept me from immediate music.

  146. How did you hide your doodles from your co-workers sitting next to you? I wrote music for a lot of those 1980s ad people and I found them so unoriginal that I could see them eagerly trying to copy what was on your scratchpad.