NYT Crossword Answers: – The New York Times

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PUZZLE MONDAY – Stick with us for a few days Solvers, like Rachel Fabi pedals through a healthy part of New York State. And kudos to Phoebe Gordon, who makes her New York Times crossword puzzle debut with a lighthearted and charming theme in a clear Monday grid.

As usual, don’t be intimidated by tricky early clues, or by entries that span the entire puzzle! I needed several cross letters from the entries down in the top third to get the first of three staff theme entries, which happens to be a puzzle start.

There’s neat interaction in today’s filler, several clever puns, and a nice variety of trivia that’s deductible, but no instant recall (for this solver, anyway).

10A. It’s a perfect clue for his entry, “To make fun of in a playful way”. I ran through a whole range of words in my head – “simulacrum”, “joke”, “jeer” – but they were all meaner than RAZZ, as in the type of “raspberry” you blow while delivering a Well done Bronx. (At 13D, I had “peel” instead of ZEST at first, which slowed me down and briefly made me consider “carp” for that spot.)

36A. One would hope that, of all the possible answers for “You might hit them near the traffic lights”, the only thing one of us hit on was BRAKES.

51A. This “Muse of History” is also a crossword mainstay – those two vowels at the end of CLIO are useful for builders. You will see her sisters Erato and Thalia quite often; Melpomene, tragically, has only been in one puzzle so far.

69A. It’s a cooking pun that Deb Amlen would make know immediately (She almost – almost – allayed my fears of botulism.) “Pot heads?” are US Marinesidiomatically, but in simpler terms, they are just LIDS.

8D. This clue is so specific – “2017 coming-of-age movie that received Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress nominations” – but 2017 seems oddly past and I needed a few crosses to remember the solution. The movie itself, LADYBIRD, is set in 2002 – let’s talk about ancient history!

37D. Because they are living fossils that were fresh before the evolution of chlorophyll, pollination, and seeds, a “fungus reproductive cell” is a SPORE.

39D. I love the “modern” component of this index, “Modern convenience in many movie theaters”. The fourth dimension? Screens on size of skyscrapers? No, the humble CUPHOLDER (I remember seats with unsupported armrests in the movies, but I don’t know what century it was.) This entry combines with 4D, SPIT TAKES, to make me think of the dentist.

There are three thematic entries today, all idiomatic associated with a relevant profession. Although they are all familiar; two are more common, I think, and each made me wonder about their real origins.

The highest theme entry is the least known, in my opinion. 17-Across, “In a state of confusion, like in math class?”, resolves to a numerical saying: AT SIX AND SEVEN. I had heard this expression but had never used it, and I was surprised that it dated to the 1300s (talk about ancient history!). Originally, numbers referred to a risky decision in a high-stakes dice game; over time they have come to mean a more general hesitation between non-numeric options.

The middle theme entry, 40-Across, is accompanied by a dance reference, “Very quickly, like in a ballet studio?” The answer certainly seems to refer to thrown and assembled: GIANT STEP. This idiom also goes back a long way and can refer to any way of surprisingly rapid progress, such as growing corn in the summer or a puppy. An early appearance is in a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Metric feet“, like a description of staccato”anapest(like “assembled”, coincidentally).

The latest thematic entry is at 63-Across, “Outstanding, like in a tailor’s workshop?” which resolves into a beautiful expression. When I read ON PINS AND NEEDLES, I can practically feel the tingling sensation of a limb resuming circulationperhaps after too long a period of immobility filled with suspense.

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