NYT Crossword Answers for July 7, 2024

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THURSDAY PUZZLE — Oh, hello. You must be here because you have solved or tried to solve Adam Vincent’s very clever puzzle and you are wondering what just happened to you. Have a seat, the theme explanation will come to you in a moment.

First of all, on behalf of the Wordplay team, I would like to wish our readers a happy Independence Day. This wish is related to the theme of today’s crossword puzzle and is a hint, but not a spoiler.

I would have to go into much more detail to reveal the layered theme in this puzzle. Mr. Vincent’s grid resisted fiercely, but I eventually broke it, and by then I had worked up a sweat, eaten my supply of fear chocolate, and slapped myself on the forehead.

On the other hand, overcoming it gave me a huge boost: there’s evidence that the “aha!” moment we chase when solving a problem is linked to the release of dopamine – the feel-good chemical – in the brain.

So if you’ve tried to solve this puzzle and quit, give it another try. Try talking to yourself. I mean it — say the entries out loud as you type them. It can help. And scientists say it can make you feel great.

To celebrate the holiday, Mr. Vincent wants us to sing along with him to the first bar or two of the United States National Anthem. Luckily, it’s only the first five words, or this might have been the world’s longest crossword puzzle.

How do I know it’s five words, you ask? Well, we have five themed items with groups of shaded squares at the end, and those items are somehow related to the grid-spanning 3D, HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT, pointed out as [“Get ready!” … or what to do upon hearing the ends of the answers to the starred clues?].

If we remove the shaded squares one by one and read from top to bottom, we get the following:


Now put the last piece of fear chocolate in your mouth and say the following sentences out loud with me:

To see

At the break of day we have it! It’s the first five words of the national anthem. But wait, there’s more.

We take off our hat (or hold it) because that is customary when you hear the national anthem.

I agree with the constructor’s comment: the theme in this puzzle looks a bit like a flag waving in the wind. Well done, Mr. Vincent.

31A. The [Six Flags coaster with a Spanish name] is EL TORO (“The Bull”) and with its track record it clearly falls into the “No thanks!” category for me.

38A. I probably haven’t seen enough tractors in my life, but I’m not sure I see how OHIO, [when written in upper- and lowercase]looks like a tractor. I understand that the Ox is the wheels, but what am I missing?

58A. The yoga pose I love the most, the [corpse pose]is performed while I am lying flat on my back and not moving. Pure bliss.

62A. I tried this out on my family at brunch by excitedly saying, “This frittata is the BEST!” They asked me to never do that again. The hint is, [Superlative for a quiche or frittata].

4D. I would like to imagine that the puzzle editors see the occasional comments about the Crossword being too US-centric, and in response encourage Mr. Vincent to add the TIM Tam, [“Australia’s favorite cookie”]instead of the ubiquitous Oreo.

7D. The only experience I have with BALSA wood is watching my father put together model airplanes, but isn’t it a bit delicate to [used in some surfboards]?

25D. The [Two out of 10] are PINKIES. The answer can’t be any of the other fingers because they don’t fit in the boxes here.

36D. What a clever tip. The [Ambient musician whose name is found in white noise”] is ENO, the father of music meant to be played in the background, but not to be listened to attentively.

When your team isn’t in the Super Bowl, you have to make your own fun, and for me that was realizing during the national anthem that the opening words are only one syllable each. My mind immediately went to hiding those sounds in words like CHEERIO and BEYONCÉ.

I was initially enticed by the fact that “The Star Spangled Banner” would nicely occupy a Sunday-sized grid. I initially brainstormed a list of items that hid sounds ranging from MAFIA DONS / SHIRLEY / ACOLYTE, but I was afraid the idea would fizzle out over the course of a Sunday puzzle. I also didn’t like that “early” was a pattern-breaking two-syllable puzzle.

When I decided to make a weekday puzzle, it was a fun challenge to lay out the theme answers in the grid. I wanted the ends of the theme answers to be close together so that solvers could more easily see the sound sequence. That meant getting creative with horizontal symmetry. Of the variations I tried, I liked this layout the best, as it gave the cleanest fill and (to my eye) also looks a bit like a waving flag.

Congratulations on your fourth birthday!

Want to join the conversation about New York Times Games, or maybe get some help with a particularly tricky puzzle? Here are the:

Spelling Bee Forum

Wordle Review

Connections Companion

Work your way through our How to Solve the New York Times Crossword guide, which includes explanations of most of the types of clues you’ll encounter in the puzzles, as well as practice minis at the end of each section.

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For tips on how to get started, read our “How to Make a Crossword Puzzle” series.

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