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Throwing Good Money After Bad

Jump to: Tricky Clues

FRIDAY PUZZLE — When constructors mention seed entries for their themeless puzzles, they are referring to words or phrases that enchant them so much that they choose to build entire crosswords around them.

These entries are usually placed in the grid first, just as a gardener plants a seed in the ground. The rest of the fill is entered into the grid around that seed, the clues are written and then the entry is watered in well. With diligence, a dose of well-timed fertilizer in the spring and a bit of luck with regard to the weather, a constructor can look forward to a decent crop at harvest time.

I’m sorry, I drifted. What I meant to say was that these seed entries can sometimes be the most interesting answers in the grid. While today’s puzzle by Ryan Judge is no different, he also includes a lot of other lively fill and clues for us to enjoy.

1A. This “Sky-high” is an emotion rather than a location. The answer is IN ECSTASY.

15A. My brain has been trained to look for any misdirection in the clues, to the extent that I sometimes overthink them. I thought that “Solo act?” might have something to do with Solo cups, the ubiquitous party fixtures. In this puzzle, it’s an actor’s solo, and the answer is MONOLOGUE.

17A. I knew that the “Footwear with distinctive yellow stitching” was made by the Doc Martens brand, but I had never seen it referred to as DR. MARTENS. A visit to its website showed me that’s actually the official name.

Oh, while I’m here, constructors, please remember that if you include the Doctors from “Doctor Who” in your puzzles, they are never, ever “Dr. Who,” even if you have a five-letter slot that can’t be filled with anything else. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

20A/9D. You have to love a crossed cross-referenced pair of clues. The answer to 9D, “Nods,” is YESES, and the answer to 20A, “Gave 9-Down,” is OKED.

38A. This “Thrifty competitor” is not a frugal one. It’s ALAMO, a competitor to the Thrifty car rental company. This is called a veiled capital clue, where a proper noun is placed at the beginning of the phrase to take advantage of the fact that the first letter needs to be capitalized.

56A. Seattle Slew (with a capital S) was a champion American Thoroughbred racehorse who was the 10th winner of the American Triple Crown. “Seattle slew?,” with a question mark and a lowercase s, is hinting at a slew of something you would find in Seattle: RAINY DAYS.

4D. The “Things to keep in check?” in Mr. Judge’s puzzle are COATS, which can be stored in a restaurant’s coat-check room.

5D. “Some Olympus offerings, in brief,” is not referring to treats for the Greek gods; it’s hinting at cameras that the Olympus company sells, and those are SLRS.

8D. The SUNK COST FALLACY is “a psychological barrier that ties people to unsuccessful endeavors simply because they’ve committed resources to it,” according to Investopedia.

12D. It took me a moment to fully appreciate this one, but “Some Instagram statistics, fittingly?” is a very clever clue. The answer is METADATA. Instagram is owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s company, Meta.

33D. This was another great clue. The “dough” in “One way to make cookie dough?” is slang for money, and the answer is BAKE SALE.

Hi all, I’m thrilled to be making my New York Times debut today! I’m currently a junior at Carnegie Mellon University, where I study music and math.

I made and submitted this puzzle in July, and it was accepted at the end of September. This was the first fully themeless puzzle I ever made, so I’m delighted that it’s being published. My seeds were 33-Across, which was the main seed, and 8-Down, which I chose after I decided that I wanted to cross two spanners down the middle.

I’m a big fan of having stacked entries in corners, as I did in each section of this puzzle, and I am happy that I could fit in so many strong entries. My favorite clues that I wrote are 12D and 30D; my favorites from the editors are 56A and 33D.

Big thank you to Frisco and to my mom for test-solving this puzzle, as well as to my dad for helping out with some of the clues! I hope everyone enjoyed it. Here’s to the next one!

Want to be part of the conversation about New York Times Games, or maybe get some help with a particularly thorny puzzle? Here are the:

Spelling Bee Forum

Wordle Review

Connections Companion

Work your way through our guide, “How to Solve the New York Times Crossword.” It contains an explanation of most of the types of clues you will see in the puzzles and a practice Mini at the end of each section.

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.

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