Aug 20, 2023
NYT Crossword Answers for July 28, 2023
Advertisement Supported by wordplay, the crossword column Rafael Musa and Hoang-Kim Vu reach out to us. By Deb Amlen Jump to: Today’s Theme | Tricky Clues FRIDAY PUZZLE — What do you do in the moments
wordplay, the crossword column
Rafael Musa and Hoang-Kim Vu reach out to us.
By Deb Amlen
Jump to: Today’s Theme | Tricky Clues
FRIDAY PUZZLE — What do you do in the moments before you solve a crossword puzzle? Do you say a prayer to the cruciverbal gods, sharpen your pencil or perhaps flex your fingers to warm up before typing away?
I look at the grid design. It’s a Zen moment for me before the chaos that is solving the puzzle, a time when my brain isn’t overheating while trying to remember how many popes had the number VII in their names. (Approximately 10).
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could learn something about constructors by how they design their grids? The grid that Rafael Musa and Hoang-Kim Vu made looks like two cupped hands reaching for each other, which I believe is a positive sign. To me, it’s a symbol of welcome and friendship from the constructors and I carried that good feeling right through the solve.
Until I got to 34A, that is. That’s when I realized that they were out to get me. But, truth be told, I have never been so pleased to have been gotten.
7A. “Emulates a siren?” may mean making fire truck noises, but in this puzzle, a siren is the mythical creature who TEMPTS sailors by singing until the seafarers crash their ships on the rocks of the siren’s island.
15A. I got IN AREA from the crossings rather than from the clue “Approved by one’s insurance carrier, say,” and the term sounded odd to my ears. I am more used to hearing the phrase “in network.”
16A. This one was also a bit of a stretch for me. The “credit” in “Take more credit than is warranted?” is not about accepting accolades for someone else’s work. Since it’s Friday, I went with another possibility, credit cards and banking, but even then, OVERDRAW didn’t quite fit as an answer. If the clue is about credit cards, I’m not sure that charging more than you can pay for in a month is called overdrawing. I suppose you could call the money in a bank account “credit” in the sense that it’s the opposite side of a credit/debit statement.
18A. The “leads” in the clue “What some leads do” are the kind of tips you might receive if you were trying to solve a mystery. Sometimes they GO COLD, which means that the path you were on ended abruptly.
34A. This was the last clue I solved completely and the one that had the best “aha” moment for my money. A “Gathering to show off a new rock band?” sounds like an album-drop party, but that would be too easy for a Friday puzzle. What else can it mean? In this case, “the new rock band” is a ring (or band) with a rock on it, so the celebratory event is an ENGAGEMENT PARTY.
29D. Let’s play “Is It a Verb or Is It a Noun?” The clue “Spread out on a table?” could go either way: To spread out is a verb phrase, and a spread is a noun meaning a variety of dishes that are “out on the table.” There are a few cuisines that are eaten this way — and they’re my favorites, because who wants a single plate holding one type of food when you can pick from a whole spread of little ones? — but in this puzzle, the answer is TAPAS.
34D. I got a real EGO BOOST when I successfully solved the clue “Spirit-raising?” with no other crossings.
Rafael Musa: Last November, I was in the car with some friends who were discussing a 57-Across they knew, and I thought it would be a fun word to debut in a crossword. Soon after, I was working on this grid and saw the opportunity present itself in the bottom right corner … I had to make it work. This grid started with the spanner, though, which felt relevant because it seems like every person I know is getting engaged these days! Looking back, I clearly had relationships in mind while working on this one even though I was, and remain, single as a Pringle. Perhaps there is something to psychoanalyze there … but I will leave it be! Anyhoo, Kim was an absolute pleasure to work with, and my favorite of his fill is 17D.
Hoang-Kim Vu: About eight months ago, I made a joke on Twitter about Rafa’s prolific puzzle output, he DM’d me about collaborating and now, here we are with our second puzzle together. All credit goes to Rafa for the grid shape and the spanner, which let us really tinker with each corner until we got it just right. My favorites of Rafa’s clues are 16A and 2D.
Also, congratulations to my sister, whose own 34-Across was this past weekend. Wishing you and Jon a wonderful future together.
Christina Iverson, a puzzle editor, will send a weekly Friday puzzle with more accessible crossword clues right to your inbox, if you sign up for the Easy Mode newsletter. This extra bit of goodness is for those who would like to try the Friday puzzles but have heard all about how hard they are.
If you solve the early-week puzzles but feel as if you don’t have the experience to go any further, think of the newsletter as a set of cruciverbal training wheels. Use the easy-mode clues until you don’t need them anymore, and then tell your friends who are struggling, the way you were, about how you prevailed over Fridays. Maybe they can benefit from this newsletter, too.
Take a look at the difference between the regular and easy-mode clues below. The links are a small sample of the clue numbers from the Friday puzzle. When you click on them, you will see the version that will run in the puzzle and the easier version.
(Warning: Following are spoilers for the Friday puzzle.)
Friday clue: “Gathering to show off a new rock band?”
Easy-mode clue: “Celebration for a soon-to-be-married couple”
Friday clue: “Camp accoutrements”
Easy-mode clue: “Feathery accessories”
Friday clue: “They may be part of the bigger picture”
Easy-mode clue: “Mini-maps on an atlas page”
Not so tough, right? You can definitely solve Friday puzzles. You may just need some practice before you’re conquering them on your own.
To sign up for the Easy Mode newsletter, click the link here.
The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, and you can submit your puzzles online.For tips on how to get started, read our series “How to Make a Crossword Puzzle.”
Almost finished solving but need a bit more help? We’ve got you covered.
Spoiler alert: Subscribers can take a peek at the answer key.
Trying to get back to the main Gameplay page? You can find it here.
Deb Amlen, the crossword columnist and senior staff editor of Wordplay, believes that everyone can learn to solve the Times crossword. She is the author of the humor book, “It's Not P.M.S., It's You.” More about Deb Amlen