A Warm Welcome

Gary Cee ushers us into a new week with a frothy (but substantial) Monday puzzle.

Comments: 115

  1. I got to see SEATTLE SLEW after the Triple Crown win. It was at Hollywood Park which has since closed. Is there another Southern Cal racetrack on a par with Santa Anita and Del Mar?

  2. Smugly filled in SECRETARIAT after getting the first two, soon realized I was off by 4 years

  3. Definitely more of a Tuesday/Wednesday level. Take heart new solvers!

  4. Hi Deb, I was surprised to read of your Monday near-Natick (the first of the Tricky Clues). I would have thought either ANI from the ubiquitous Star Wars or ALCAN from 106 prior NYT WXP appearances would have seen you through.

  5. @Barry Ancona We seem to have an uncharacteristic Caitlin Monday!

  6. Andrew, Wow! Thanks. Missed that. Sorry Deb. Now, Caitlin...

  7. My thoughts, too. Caitlin, this isn’t your first New York Times crossword is it? How could you not have known the all-too-familiar Darth Vader clue? Cat got your tongue, maybe? 😉 I didn’t find this puzzle particularly hard — slightly faster than average, actually — but the odd glitches in cluing and spelling were annoying.

  8. and Elke A note of levity after a day of serious lessons all around: For 31D- instead of the clue " Detectives , informally " to yield the answer PIS, I would have asked :" Manneken____". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manneken_Pis I will now go and wash my hands (again). And continue my "self isolation".

  9. @Andrew I’m not playing. I’m POOH-POOHing the fact that the link spells out the answer even if you don’t click on it thus taking all the fun out of the Canadian Corner Challenge today.

  10. @Andrew Since (U.S.) Americans are a presumptuous lot, may I add an alternative Canadian Corner clue: At least 50,000,000 (fifty million) — the number of these that Canada would have right now if a SLEW of Democrats (and Greens and Independents) had actually followed through on their stated plans following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Yours is a big TIL!

  11. @Sam Lyons I decided that today’s Canadian Clue be more informative than challenging, but I agree that I could have waited to post the link until after a correct solution had been posted. Oh bother!

  12. AGITA is not anxiety. As someone who uses this term almost daily, for my whole life. It does not mean anxiety. My Italian American immigrant grandparents used thus term when they ate too much. Or when the Yankees were winning but messing up at the end of the game, which my dad called "9th inning agita." It means aggravation or indigestion. It's from the Italian "agitare" -to agitate or Shake. I'm sure someone will post a link to an incorrect dictionary link, showing the 4th definition as anxiety. Someone decided that aggravation and annoyance is the same thing as anxiety in certain sentences, then put that in the dictionary. It's main meaning is acid indigestion. The second meaning is aggravation and annoyance. I just looked up online and says this word has been used since the 1980s. My family used it in the 1960s.

  13. @Santi Bailor I had Angst before I had to change it to AGITA. And when the next across answer was ALOE, I thought if everything in this puzzle was going to remind me of the pandemic, it would be WORRISOME. Fortunately for me, that was it. I feel your AGITA about AGITA, though.

  14. Hand up for ANGST first too.

  15. @vaer I also started with ANGST but wondered whether it was etymologically related to “anxiety.”

  16. Caitlin, The puzzle was a fine Monday puzzle, but the best part of the solving experience was the picture of the TORTE and the video of Why Does Your Cat's Tongue Feel Like Sandpaper.

  17. Super quick. Less than a minute behind my Monday all time best.

  18. In a MMA fight, someone always BESTS or WORSTS their opponent

  19. ALEless, worried we didn’t hoard enough ROLLs of TP, filled with AGITA as the nation hunkers down, the Lyonses sit around and discuss the sociolinguistics of the word for herring in Germanic and Romance languages. No, really. We were. Of course all kinds of things Norse and Nordic came up and then, unrelated but welcome, the realization that it was Monday Puzzle Time! And it has a Scandinavian clue (sort of, but hang on) and Scandinavians are Nordic, and then Finns are Nordic... ... which is why I bring you this bit of Nordic humor, courtesy of Stuart Allt, an Australian expat living in Finland with a site for anglophones for all things Finnish. It’s a text exchange between Stuart and a Finnish friend: “Yesterday marked 21 years since I arrived in Finland." "Did you celebrate with a beer and a sausage?" "No. I've become Finnish. I told no one. I sat in the dark in silence and thought about herring." "That's the spirit." I also want to say that SEA Biscuit MEANS A LOT TO ME because it’s the only racehorse I know, and biscuits, especially in warm SLEWs, are always welcome. Also, SKOL is Minnesota Viking, even Scots and thus somewhat Scandinavian-adjacent, but I have to insist that Scandinavian it is not. We hear SKOL! when Scandinavians are yelling SKaaL! or SKåL! or SKáL! That’s on us, though, and our phonological deficits. When Scandinavians see SKOL, they’re either waiting for the rest of a word their language borrowed from Greek or they’re looking at an NFL T-shirt.

  20. The former (Finnish, by birth) conductor of the LA Phil, Esa-Pekka Salonen, once told this joke in a pre-performance talk: Q: How do you recognize a Finnish extrovert? A: A Finnish introvert looks at his own shoes; a Finnish extrovert looks at other people's shoes.

  21. that was the hardest Monday puzzle I've done in years - felt more like a Tuesday / Wednesday.

  22. After a really hard Sunday, I was looking forward to a nice confidence building Monday. After SKOL/GESSO and a bunch of other places today, I left disappointed

  23. I second vaer’s post about the torte photo and cat video. Both splendid and uplifting! NYT puzzle reasons to be grateful tonight: 1. Caitlin/Deb 2. Wordplayers (who else would dissect the true meaning of Shakespeare’s Caesar’s ET TU? or whether PESCETARIAN is legit?) 3. Chocolate cake 4. Cats 5. The Archives And, of course, constructors like Gary Cee, and editors Will S, Sam E., Joel F., without whom no NYT XWP would exist (at least not at the same high level) As St. Patrick’s Day nears amidst, er, challenging times, Irishman Van Morrison’s “Enlightenment” offers some solace with “See Me Through”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cq-Pu-kNhw * This past Sunday’s Acrostic is pretty doable as Acrostics go, so if you haven’t done one and want to check the form out, now’s the time to try.

  24. @Puzzlemucker Nice Van. He will be on my work from home playlist tomorrow.

  25. @Puzzlemucker Amen to your list of reasons for gratitude. Also, I've become addicted to the Acrostic and agree that this one was indeed a nice place to start.

  26. Agreed on all fronts! This is somewhat embarrassing to ask, but how does one access the Acrostic and the Spelling Bee? I use the iPad app, and can’t seem to find those!

  27. The thread on AGITA was too long, so let me start another one. I first heard it from my Italian-American school mates, where they told me it meant heartburn. They usually pronounced it as if it had a D, not a T. After living in Italy for many years, where you don't hear the word, I came to the conclusion that it was derived from acidita' (pronounced "ah-chee-dee-TAH), which does mean acidity, in the sense of heartburn, in Italian. Agitare does indeed mean to agitate in Italian, but I think 9A comes from the acidity, not the agitation. Like many words I heard as a kid (some of which would not pass the emus), AGITA morphed somewhat when it got to this country.

  28. @Wags It reminded me of the old radio ad (for what?): "Ajita la lata!"

  29. @kilaueabart Shake the can?

  30. @Wags How's Rick doing with the current situation? Might be an interesting basis for a difficult situation for a detective.

  31. So glad others found this hard. Not impossible, but didn’t feel like a Monday to me. And I am NOT complaining! Thanks! Have a good week, all. See you in the puzzle pages.

  32. AGITA?

  33. @lioncitysolver It's a word we borrowed from the Italian. In that language it means to shake/stir/agitate.

  34. Steve, You may want to revisit that...

  35. @lioncitysolver I keep thinking of a Japanese dog ....

  36. The 1st thing that came to mind for what cats clean with was tongue, not PAWS. I’ve never heard of caustic SODA, MYOPES, GESSO, or STENS. I had zits before ACNE, yup before YEP. Still, I finished 1 min. faster average today. That chocolate TORTE photo is mouthwatering!

  37. I don't expect this on a Monday, but was stumped. Once I erased AKC in the NE because it wasn't doing me any good all I had there was GULF and ASKEW and wasn't about to spend an hour on it, so I got AGITA from Caitlin. That made the rest obvious, so why the "at least one" notification? Oh! when I worked my way back to the bottom I found a strange typo, NEOl and ESSEl. Fixed it. No music! I was one of the two best spellers in the 6th grade in 1946 but it didn't last long. TIL that the "y" in "worry" changes to "i" when you add "some." (I wonder why? And why I didn't notice it in Caitlin's comments.)

  38. No one in the Yukon calls it the "Alcan Highway". It is the "Alaska Highway". However, I must have heard it referred to it as such at some point in the dim past, as when I saw that Alaska didn't fit, I came up with Alcan right away. I am inordinately pleased, though, as always, that Yukon is in the puzzle.

  39. KarenW, Likewise, In Manhattan, we call it the Queensboro Bridge; in Queens, they call it the 59th Street Bridge. (And nobody calls it the Ed Koch Bridge.)

  40. @Barry Ancona You got me feelin' groovy!

  41. @Barry -- A slight beg to differ here: the sign painters call it the Ed Koch Bridge.

  42. Where I'm building my new house means a lot to me. (That's just the estate I'm in.)

  43. @Mike You are apparently a Terminator--you cannot be stopped. :-)

  44. @Mike Turning puns into a cottage industry?

  45. I second the commenters who thought this was tough for a Monday. Lots of things I didn't remember ever knowing-SEATTLE SLEW, ALCAN...Feels more like a Tuesday to me. A nice puzzle, though!

  46. **S P E L L I N G B E E H I N T S** 49 words, 164 points, 1 pangram.

  47. I’ve been busy today cancelling my upcoming London trip and the 6 plays and concerts I had planned to attend. Hopefully I can still go to Halifax in June. Y gets a workout today, as it often does here. There's an out of season Christmas drink often spiked with brandy. A few slang or obscure words. No tepoy, which was in the crossword a couple days ago. Hints: Aforementioned drink Adj. describing that drink, or omelets Friendly understanding between states Fencing sword DNA makeup of an organism Melted cheese consistency, adj. Hawaiian goose UK outhouse slang, or adj. for fish trap Group of 9 Architectural term for S curve Bio. term for study of development Hammer head Low-ranking worker Flowering shrub Hallucinogen from cacti Flat Native Amer. cornbread Wood joint paired with a mortise 1,000 KG, UK spelling Small gray shark, NOT its color Burgler or safecracker, NOT what a bird lays Matchmaker or gossip, Yiddish

  48. The pangram is the DNA makeup of an individual organism.

  49. I thought one in a group of YETI was a YETO, no? ;-) @Kevin - Sorry about your trip. I was on the phone for two hours rescheduling mine.

  50. not a Monday puzzle, with vague hints and obscure references. and not a good puzzle because too many names crossing names.

  51. @Susan on the other hand, it's not really a normal Monday...

  52. Pongee not accepted. And yoyo never, no matter how many times I try

  53. SPELLING BEE GRID E G N O P T Y WORDS: 49, POINTS: 164, PANGRAMS: 1, BINGO First character frequency: E x 4 G x 6 N x 7 O x 4 P x 14 T x 12 Y x 2 Word length frequency: 4L: 26 5L: 14 6L: 5 7L: 1 8L: 3 Grid: 4 5 6 7 8 TOT E: 2 - 1 1 - 4 G: 3 1 1 - 1 6 N: 5 2 - - - 7 O: 2 - - - 2 4 P: 7 5 2 - - 14 T: 6 5 1 - - 12 Y: 1 1 - - - 2 TOT: 26 14 5 1 3 49 Two letter list: EG-2 EN-1 EP-1 GE-3 GO-3 NE-3 NO-4 OG-1 ON-1 OP-2 PE-10 PO-4 TE-7 TO-4 TY-1 YE-2

  54. @Doug This is the first time in a while I´ve stared at a Bee and seen almost nothing. And it´s 49 words! Better make more coffee. Thanks!

  55. @Doug, thank you! I'm just missing the two 8 O's. Any hints are welcome!

  56. @Johanna One of the O’s is often used when speaking of teams at play. The other is a scientific word related to origins of organisms.

  57. Is it fair to say ANI was Vader’s *nickname* as a boy, not name? I think so!

  58. Hahahah! I’d never seen this before. Made my day!

  59. Monday puzzles often go by in a blur for me, an experienced solver, and it was a treat to have a few "stop and chats" with this one. Thank you for that, Gary! I think it's a Monday plus for new solvers to come across more difficult words, words that they can't initially get, but then end up filling in because of fair crosses. These tough places end up being confidence builders and points of pride. This puzzle had a good number of these difficult-for-beginner words, in my opinion -- ALCAN, ACCRA, ESSEN, AGITA, TARSI, STENS, GESSO, and ECRU. All were crossed fairly, and thus terrific to have on Monday, I believe, except for one, ALCAN, and I'm guessing its crosses with ANI and TARSI will be naticky for new solvers. On another front, OPEN ARMS -- sigh. Remember those days?

  60. Appalachian TRAIL & cat videos take the sting out of being unoccupied! Well-done.

  61. Can we make a concerted effort to make Barry A.’s “Hand up for ANGST too” the most recommended comment of the day? I mean, it is perhaps the most apt comment of all time.

  62. @Puzzlemucker, amen. New personal rule: after waking in the wee hours and getting up to do a puzzle or SB (long-standing pre-viral habit), *DO NOT* then proceed to read anything in the news! Both angst and agita are the enemy of getting back to sleep...

  63. @Margaret Triple amen back at you! Always searching for a bright side — didn’t notice the “first” in Barry’s comment. I read that as meaning that our present ANGST will subside.

  64. @Margaret I need to follow your advice. Perhaps I will be at least well rested though still ANGSTy.

  65. This Monday feels hard for a Monday - so I guess the puzzle makes sense with that. Waving and smiling at you all from six feet away. These virtual communities will be more important now. Let’s stick together from afar. Love to all, wherever you live.

  66. M-W was a bit late noticing AGITA, but otherwise this looks good to me. And, of course, they record meanings in usage that stray from the very clear original. Judging by its spelling and meaning, you might think that "agita" is simply a shortened version of "agitation," but that's not the case. Both "agitation" and the verb "agitate" derive from Latin agere ("to drive"). "Agita," which first appeared in American English in the early 1980s, comes from a dialectical pronunciation of the Italian word acido, meaning "heartburn" or "acid," from Latin acidus. ("Agita" is also occasionally used in English with the meaning "heartburn.") For a while the word's usage was limited to New York City and surrounding regions, but the word became more widespread in the mid-90s. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agita

  67. @Barry Ancona - I was surprised that nobody seems to have cited the old heartburn remedy ads with the guy saying, "I got agita." But I went looking for it on YouTube and came up dry. Am I crazy or were there ads back in the 70s about "agita"?

  68. David, Many of us are still crazy after all these years, but aside from that, I don't think you are ... but I don't recall such a commercial.

  69. I remember hearing AGITA in the late 60’s, when I lived in Essex County NJ. The neighborhood was overwhelmingly Italian (we were the “Med-i-gahn”). AGITA was heartburn and Brioschi was the remedy. I believe the source of AGITA could be food or an irritating person or situation.

  70. This was a PB for me. The clueing was straightforward, but not overly easy. Virtually no sport, brand names or rap artists made this a joy. I’ll admit that AGITA came from crosses.

  71. I thought that perhaps I’d slept through Monday , but decided that Will had run out of Monday puzzles. My AGITA was eased when I read the comments and realized I was in good company. I did get the theme from HEAP and SLEW, and found ALOT to like in the puzzle, seeing me at 8D for example.

  72. This was a perfect Monday puzzle, IMO--some resistance, with a nicely executed theme that still required a bit of head scratching even with a revealer. It is hard in the current societal environment to take a contrary position to what has become generally accepted without sounding like a conspiracy nut. I am going to try anyway, just for the sake of provoking some thought and perhaps debate. Given the facts, as we have had them presented to us, does it bother you that we have been so accepting of these draconian measures? That any attempt to question the validity of the "facts" or the conclusions and subsequent actions drawn from them is immediately branded as shortsighted, dangerous, and well, flat out wrong? This is an extraordinary social and economic experiment, as it is playing out. A lot of people will take a long time to recover economically, and some may never. Restaurants and small shops will close and a good percentage will not be able to re-open. We seem to have done some background risk/reward analysis and determined that we are OK with that. Are we really? I have a daughter who opened a barber shop in August 2019, built a great clientele, who could now lose everything she has worked so hard to build. She may avoid illness, but at a terrible cost. Circumstances like these are why we as a people have established governments at all levels. Let us hope and pray that our elected leaders are thinking critically and not simply reacting, and do the right thing.

  73. Michael, Do an internet search for Flatten The Curve.

  74. @Michael Brothers This is where we come to get away from this kind of commentary, Michael.

  75. @Scott Yates Amen!

  76. My five favorite clues from last week (in order of appearance): 1. Fix a clog? (6) 2. Refuse to go there! (4) 3. Pat on the back (4) 4. Put down in print (5) 5. They've got talent (6) RESOLE DUMP BURP LIBEL AGENTS

  77. Circa 1963 or 1962 WNDR (Syracuse NY) had a call in contest where one had to name but one of the Beatles to win. Figuring I would never get through I dialed, responded with Ringo STARR and won a pen with the call letters on the clip. Had that pen for a decade or so. Speedy solve this morning. Somehow had stets for STENS. Another tribute to ham handed typing. Also first typed in Acme (aka my dove) for APEX as is my wont. Thanks Gary

  78. Starting off with ALOE vera gel, which our stores are out of, crossing WORRISOME was surely a sign of our times. We can't even make our own hand sanitizer, which the stores are also out of. Then we had ROLL. No toilet paper, either. Sorry to be so glum. I truly hope everybody here stays safe and healthy! Gary, I always enjoy your puzzles, as I did this one. KUDOS to you! To you, Coronavirus, POOH!

  79. Got through most of it ok, but upper right absolutely slaughtered me for a Monday. I had never heard of AGITA, I had WORRY, but then erased it when it didn't work with GULF STATES, then I pretty much had to use the crosses to come up with CLERK. I am glad I am not the only one noticing this is a bit hard for the norm, hell I flew past last Wednesday compared to how long I had to think on the upper right this time.

  80. A smooth, pleasant Monday, with no speed bumps. Which brings me to 2D. If you're of a certain age -- an age long, long before the TV mute button -- you'll know the answer immediately. Here is why. (If the above link hasn't turned blue, and on this site it never does, just type "Alcan Run" into YouTube and watch the commercial.

  81. Nancy—Thanks for the tip about Alcan Run on YouTube. I enjoyed the song.

  82. Good Monday puzzle though I had a lot of erasures and re-starts. Was pretty sure Secretariat was not correct for the time frame so I had to wait for the other letters to realize it was Seattle Slew.

  83. @Joan I was writing in Secretariat until I looked more closely at the clue and thought 1977 doesn't jibe with that Triple Crown.

  84. I've had a number of cats, but never have I seen one clean itself with its paws (1-Across). This is because they didn't have opposable thumbs and couldn't grasp a tiny washcloth and bar of soap. Cats clean themselves with their tongues; this may come as news to Mr. Cee and Mr. Shortz. Further, I've never heard of gesso being used in sculpture. It's a thin slurry of plaster and water and is used to coat a canvas to make a smoother surface for painting. If I'm wrong, someone please enlighten me.

  85. @CKent So all of those time the cat licked its paws and rubbed behind its ears or on its face or other places their tongues won't reach don't count? Also, put "Gesso in sculpture" into your favorite search engine and see what pops out.

  86. @Michael Brothers You're right.

  87. @CKent I apologize if I came across wrong. No excuse...I will be better in future.

  88. GESSO is the undercoat used in painting, not sculpture. If you want to paint your sculpture, you could prime the surface with gesso, but it is a painter’s tool, used for priming canvases.

  89. Clerk = firm hand as in “employee of a company”?

  90. @pmb -- I GESSO.

  91. When I erased ANGST helped me get GULFSTATES, KUDOS ... and I was done. What a perfect Monday joy of a puzzle.

  92. I agree with Deb that this felt more like a Wednesday puzzle, or parts of it did for sure. I was thrown by PAWS though got it eventually (how many options are there with a straightforward clue?). But it felt like there were a lot of obscure words and references: AGITA, AKC, SEATTLESLEW (for me at least), STENS, TARSI. Usually Mondays are a piece of cake, but today it was definitely a TORTE.

  93. As a 78 year old, I hope the supply of archived puzzles is sufficient.

  94. @Millie Regular puzzles are from 1993, Bonus and Mini from 2014, Acrostic from 1999 and Variety from 1997. If you want older, go to xwordinfo.com.

  95. @mg I happened to be at the opthamologists and asked about myopes. Funny!

  96. I had to do a lookup for a Monday! 🤦🏾‍♀️

  97. Agreed! This was by far the hardest Monday I can remember doing.

  98. Enjoyed this one. Smooth, but just enough resistance in a few spots to make it fun.

  99. I'm fairly certain I picked up Seattle Slew from The Simpsons which accounts for much of the trivia I know from before my birth. I've never thought of how to spell his (?) name but the theme gave me the tip off. Solidly tricky Monday which is appropriate because if I finish tomorrow I hit a ONE YEAR STREAK!!!!!!!

  100. @Oswald Yay! on the streak.

  101. How a puzzle can feature GESSO, undercoat, and sculpture and not ruffle any feathers. A day-by-day guide. Monday: a sculpture is the Pietà and an undercoat is what your dog is leaving on the sofa now that it’s springtime. GESSO who? Tuesday: bas relief is a type of sculpture that needs help against gravity so an undercoat seems like a good idea. GESSO’s presence is slowly coming into, er, relief. (Your dog is still shedding.) Wednesday, a sculpture is a Rodin and Rodin modeled in plaster, and GESSO is a plaster of sorts, and the Mona Lisa definitely needed something like that between the oil paint and the canvas. (No idea how it’s all clued but your dog’s undercoat is now a permanent component of your mucous membranes.) Thursday: the stuff you’re taking Benadryl for gets clued and you enter it as DOG[rebus for “yes” in Japanese]R. Friday: a sculpture is Venus de Milo but you know stuff and so you’re aware she would’ve once been (under)coated with stucco to be painted as colorful as the Mona Lisa and stucco and GESSO are both a type of plaster. Your antihistamine is no longer working but you totally know stuff. Saturday: GESSO is clued as a Mona Lisa but you’ve got this because you took your dog to an art supply store and she left part of her undercoat on the display of Mona Lisa Inc. Gesso Boards she bumped into. Share the hair. Sunday: the puzzle appears smaller in the app because of its size and you can’t see GESSO or anything else through your dog-hair-coated eyes.

  102. @Sam Lyons If you were to ask me if all of that was ok .... I might say "I gesso."

  103. Found this to be a very difficult Monday puzzle. Felt more like a Tuesday or even a Wednesday for me. I haven't had to do lookups on Mondays for a while.

  104. @Kyle D It likely is not your fault you probably aren't old enough for this to be easy. I've been doing puzzles for 50 years and some of the answers were common 30 to 40 years ago.

  105. Didn't have too much difficulty, and it was one of my fastest Mondays. If I don't get top acrosses right away, I start working the downs, so AGITA was not a feeling I felt because it filled in easily. Doing that also filled in …SLEW, which made the rest of that answer obvious. Crosses were very helpful throughout the puzzle.

  106. 6 Down Warm welcome -Answer ( in the Corona Virus time) should be "Namaste"

  107. Mmmmmm, cake. And this Monday puzzle was a little harder than usual for me, too.

  108. Wow, this was a tough one. ALCAN, STENS, ECRU, AGITA (which crosses AKC and TORTE) GESSO, ESSEN - I feel like this would've been considered on the tough side even for a Tuesday. That aside, the fill had some freshness to it and the theme was fun. Reminds me of a joke: A man is at a funeral for his buddy, and goes up to the widow and asks "Can I say I word?" "Sure," the widow says. The man goes up to the podium and says "plethora." As he walks back to his seat, the widow stops him and says, "Thanks. It means a lot."

  109. @Ryan Excelkent joke. I love a good play on words.

  110. Tough for a Monday, but enjoyable. KUDOS!