NYT Crossword Answers: “Silence of the Lambs” Actress Foster

PUZZLE MONDAY — Congratulations to Natalie Murphy, who makes her construction debut in the New York Times Crossword! Ms Murphy is the 14th builder to debut in 2022. I did the math, and we average a builder debut every 3.7 days – that’s a pretty stellar start to the year.

Mrs. Murphy’s puzzle played a little difficult for me, despite its relatively simple (and timely!) theme. There aren’t a ton of “tricky clues” today, it’s a Monday puzzle and all, but the number of proper nouns was a little higher than on your typical Monday, including three in the first three answers Across! I find having a higher clean count often slows me down, but I don’t mind — these types of entries always tell me something new (like, say, the name of the lead singer of the Wallflowers, who, as I know, is the son of another famous singer who shares his surname).

The grid is also very large, measuring 16 squares instead of the traditional 15, which may have added a little to my solving time as well. I leave Googling various proper names as an exercise in the solver, but let’s take a look at some of the more difficult (non-trivial) clues.

33A. When a clue is in quotes, as we see here with “I like your job!”, you need to identify another conversational phrase that means the same thing. In this case, “I’M A FAN!” is an equivalent phrase you might say when you recognize a celebrity on the street.

46A. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the entry A TESTS (“Nuclear experiments, for short”) outside of a crossword puzzle – I think “n tests” may be a bit more common in the real life – so I would recommend filing this one for future resolution!

4D. A “maximum suffix” is -EST, a suffix that is added to indicate a superlative.

7D. Another term I learned in crosswords is OBI, the name for the wide “kimono sash” worn around the waist. Unlike “A TESTS”, this one, I to have later encountered outside of the crossword!

36D. When a clue contains a question mark, as we see in “Tag line? you know there must be a pun. The pun here is that instead of a comical tagline, you’re looking for a line that you might find on a tag, which is the COST of the tagged item.

40D. Today I learned! I’ve never come across the word YEGG before, and even Merriam-Webster isn’t entirely clear about the origins of the term meaning “Safecracker”, although some internet research leads me to believe it may derive- be from the last name of a famous safecracker.

Happy Presidents Day everyone! Although this puzzle has no revealer, the theme is indicated by circled letters in the five long cross-sectional entries of the grid. The first theme entry is JUST FWHERE KICKS (“On a whim [#35]”), which contains circles around the first letter of each word indicating the initials JFK You’re on the right track if you’re wondering: Hmm, where have I seen that letter combination before? If the next thing you think of is, Aha! ‘Tis Presidents’ Day, and these are the initials of the 35th US President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, so you’ve already identified the theme, just a theme entry. Well done, you!

But if you need a little more time to get going, that’s okay – we all have days off. So let’s take a look at the next theme entry: IEVIS BREAD JEANS (“Denim pants with a red tab label [#36]”). As with JFK above, you may recognize these circled letters as a set of presidential initials. In this case, we are looking at the 36th President, Iydon Bgroins Johnson, who, like JFK before him, is often referred to by his three initials, LBJ

This puzzle contains three more sets of presidential initials embedded in long Across entries, all at the beginning of words in each three-word phrase. I think FDR is also most often referred to by his initials (found in the phrase FAMILY DINING ROOM), but the latter two are, in my opinion, a little less likely to be referred to by their initials alone. That said, they’re still completely recognizable from their initials, and including their presidency number in the clues makes it clear who they’re referring to.

Congratulations, Mrs. Murphy, on this festive debut — I love your work!

Good morning ! First I’d like to thank the editors – I’m thrilled to have my first publication in The New York Times! I also thank my father and grandmother for their inspiration and support.

Besides being confusing, I enjoy being a wife and mother of two, and looking for sea glass pieces to add to my collection.

The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, and you can submit your puzzles online.

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