NYT Crossword Puzzle Answers for July 7, 2024

Jump to: Today’s Topic | Tricky Clues

Thursday’s Riddle: Hello. You must be here because you solved or tried to solve Adam Vincent’s clever riddle and you’re wondering what just happened to you. Sit down, the topic explainer will be with you shortly.

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 topic of today’s crossword puzzle and is a clue, but not a spoiler.

I’d have to go into a lot more detail to spoil the multi-layered theme of this puzzle. Mr. Vincent’s grid was a strong objection, but I eventually cracked it; by then, I’d worked up a sweat, eaten my entire supply of anxiety-fighting chocolate, and slapped myself on the forehead.

On the other hand, conquering it gave me a tremendous boost: there is evidence that the “aha!” moment we chase when solving a problem is connected to the release of dopamine (the feel-good chemical) in the brain.

So if you’ve tried to solve this puzzle and given up, give it another shot. Try talking to yourself. I mean it: Say the words out loud as you write them down. It might help. And scientists say it can make you feel pretty good.

To celebrate the holiday, Mr. Vincent wants us to join him in singing the first bar or two of the United States national anthem. Good thing it’s only the first five words, otherwise this might have been the world’s longest crossword puzzle.

How do I know that’s five words? you might ask. Well, we have five topic entries that have groups of shaded squares at the end, and those entries are related in some way to the three-dimensional grid, HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT, which is indicated 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 group at a time and read from top to bottom, we get the following:


Now, put that last piece of anxiety-fighting chocolate in your mouth and say this out loud with me:


With the first light of dawn, we have it! Those are the first five words of the national anthem. But wait, there’s more.

We take off our hats (or hold them up) because it is common practice when the anthem is heard.

I agree with the builder’s note: the theme of this puzzle is a bit like a flag fluttering in the breeze. Well done, Mr. Vincent.

31A. The [Six Flags coaster with a Spanish name] It’s THE BULL and, with its track record, for me it clearly falls into the category of “No, thanks!”

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

58A. The yoga posture that I like the most, the [corpse pose]I do it when I lie on my back and don’t move. Pure happiness.

62A. I tried this with my family at lunch and they raved, “This frittata is the best!” They asked me to never make it again. The key, though, is in [Superlative for a quiche or frittata].

4D. I’d like to imagine that the crossword editors saw the occasional comments about the puzzle being too US-centric and, in response, encouraged 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 build model airplanes, but isn’t it a bit delicate for a… [used in some surfboards]?

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

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

If your team isn’t playing in the Super Bowl, you have to create your own fun, and for me that involved realizing during the national anthem that its opening words are only one syllable long. I immediately thought of hiding those sounds in words like CHEERIO and BEYONCÉ.

I was initially tempted by the fact that “The Star Spangled Banner” would perfectly fill a grid the size of a Sunday. I initially brainstormed a list of entries that hid sounds all the way up to MAFIA DONS/SHIRLEY/ACOLYTE, but I was worried that the idea would fade away over the course of a Sunday puzzle. I also didn’t like that “early” was a pattern-breaking syllable.

Once I decided to make a puzzle for a weekday, arranging the themed answers on the grid presented a fun challenge. I wanted the ends of the themed answers to be close together so that solvers could see the series of sounds more easily, which meant I needed to be inventive with horizontal symmetry. Of the variations I tried, this layout was the one I liked best because it resulted in the cleanest fill and also (to my eyes) evokes a waving flag.

Happy Fourth of July!

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