NYT Crossword Answers: “Only Joking!” to a Texter

You’ve probably noticed that some of the clues are nothing but dashes, and the entries for those clues are not numbered. Those are not production errors. The dashes represent the end of the entry after we’ve added the SUN back to the entry on the other side of it.

Let’s take a look at 20A. The clue for that supposed three-letter entry is “Annual pageant winner.” I can’t think of a title that is only three letters long. Can you? There has to be more to it.

On the other side of the black square, after that three-letter slot, is an unnumbered entry with a dash for a clue. I was able to get IVERSE from the crossings, but that’s not a thing unless Apple has started writing poetry.

What if that SOLAR ECLIPSE has hidden the SUN in the entry? If we add it back in, we get MISYES AIVERSE, which makes a lot more sense.

I’m excited for my New York Times Crossword Thursday debut! First, I’d like to give a big shout out to Tracy Gray and Loren Muse Smith’s 2017 puzzle, from which I heavily drew inspiration (standing on the shoulders of giants).

I enjoy puzzles that take advantage of the online solving experience (like this past Sunday’s Easter egg hunt puzzle on The New York Times’s crossword app that transformed EGG rebuses into images of colorful eggs). So when I thought of this theme, I imagined how cool it’d be for certain black squares to eclipse the SUN and then disappear to reveal the SUN rebuses. I’m not an astronomy buff, so I had to constantly look at this image to remember how a solar eclipse actually worked.

I created a list of probably 50 or more theme answers, many of which didn’t make the cut, including: SAMSUNG GALAXY, EASTER SUNDAY, E PLURIBUYES AUm, manYES ADERWEAR, LETYES APACK THAT and COMEYES ADER FIRE. The grid constraints were pretty difficult. I spent days trying to create a grid where the SUN rebuses were scattered randomly — I even created 16×15 and 16×16 versions, too — but ultimately found that a 15×15 grid with symmetrical rebus squares yielded much cleaner results.

Even though this is your typical weekday rebus puzzle, I hope solvers still have a pleasant “aha” moment. Thanks to Will Shortz and the editing team for their thorough—and I mean thorough—suggestions that helped improve this puzzle.

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.

Warning: There will be spoilers ahead, but subscribers can take a peek at the answer key.

Trying to get back to the puzzle page? Right here.

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