NYT Crossword Answers: Food Network’s Chef De Laurentiis

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MONDAY PUZZLE — It’s Monday! It’s April! Spring is in the air and the flowers are blooming (at least they are and they’re where I am), and I’m feeling especially hot today! This puzzle, from builder Carl Larson, only served to heighten my feeling that today is going to be a good day, and I hope you, dear Wordplay reader, feel the same way.

Inspired by the clue at 61A (“Wildly absurd, colloquially”), I want to take a quick look at one of my favorite types of clues: the familiar clue. I’m going to spoil two of today’s clues here, so if you normally read this section of the column before solving, I’d suggest coming back to the puzzle now, just to be sure.

* Look around* — Are they gone? These funny ducks who read part of the chronicle before do they solve? Phew! Alright then, let’s take a look at the two familiar clues in this puzzle:

First, at 37D, we have the “I don’t think so” clue, with the entire clue in quotes. Familiar cues like this are phrases that one might say aloud, and the input will be an equivalent phrase that is also conversational. In this case, “I don’t think so” means the same as the NAH entry in informal speech, such as in a conversation where “Are you going to the party this weekend?” could be answered with NAH. This conversation might even continue at 61A, with the first speaker saying “Gotcha,” which is the clue to I SEE.

Because this is a Monday puzzle, which is usually the easiest of the week, none of these familiar clues are particularly difficult. Fridays and Saturdays, however, can be downright hilarious, requiring the solver to identify equivalent sentences for more complicated expressions. See, for example, last Saturday’s first Across hint “I wish I could live like this…” for the MUST BE KIND entry.

There’s nothing too difficult about this Monday puzzle, probably because its theme is a little trickier than a typical Monday, so the clues might be a little easier to balance. That said, here are some new solvers (and especially Young solvers) may not know:

38A. “Legacy ISP” is another way of saying “legacy ISP”. The acronym ISP is a hint that the answer will also be shortened, so the answer here is AOL, originally short for America Online.

2D. A word seen much more often in crossword puzzles than in the real world is ABACI (“Early Calculators”), probably because of the high number of vowels compared to consonants. ABACI is the plural of abacus, the counting device that uses the movement of beads on wires or strings to add and subtract.

40D. I’m not much of a photographer (although you can see my first New York Times photo credit in this American Crossword Tournament article!), so camera types tend to be outside of my wheelhouse. That said, new solvers will want to memorize the letters SLR (“type of 35mm camera, for short”), as they appear often. Enough, in fact, for the Gameplay Team to have an entire article about them!

This puzzle features five themed entries with sets of circles at each end and the revealing LOOSE ENDS (“Unsolved Details…and a clue to the circled letters in this puzzle”). The words spelled out by the circled letters at the END of each topic entry are all things that might follow the word “LOOSE” in common sentences.

For example, the first theme entry is ATKE A WALK (17A, “Go for a walk”). Within the circles at each end of the entrance are the letters TALK, which follow the word “loose” in the phrase “loose talk”, signifying careless or reckless speech. The second theme entry is BANDSHELL (25A, “Outdoor Concert Stage”), where the circled letters (BALL) might follow “loose” in the phrase “loose ball”, a term that describes a football after a fumble.

The other three theme entries work the same way (and one, LIWHO IS THATPS, works almost exactly the same as the first theme entry, since “loose lips” and “loose talk” mean roughly the same thing). Despite this minor inelegance, however, the theme is fun – LIQUICAPS and, perhaps more surprisingly, TOLLBOOTH both make their first appearances in The New York Times crossword.

Read on for the inside scoop on the creation of this puzzle, which features a fabulous construction geek-out:

What I enjoyed most about building this puzzle was creating a grid with six themed answers, which I had never tried before.

When I was looking for topic answers, there weren’t too many pattern matching options for TA*LK and CHA*NGE. Since TAKE A WALK and CHALLENGE were both nine letters long, like LOOSE ENDS, I figured all topic answers would be nine letters long. Five nine-letter thematic answers seemed like too little thematic content for the puzzle, so I wondered if I could squeeze in six.

I was able to find a working grid by closing the middle and finding an arrangement of themes where I could find a few words that crossed three of the theme answers. The resulting grid, to my delight, still had room for six Down answers of seven or more letters. The grid worked so well that I used variations of it when building other puzzles.

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 “How to Make a Crossword Puzzle” series.

Resolution almost done but need a bit more help? We have what you need.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead, but subscribers can take a look at the answer key.

Trying to return to the puzzle page? Right here.

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