This Tuesday’s hints and tips are particularly for relatively new solvers. In case you’re new to the NYT puzzles, Mondays are the easiest and build up through to Saturday. Tuesday’s always have a “theme.” This is simply a common idea that runs through (generally) the longest answers in the puzzle, in this case, a serious of plays-on-words (the question mark tells you that a play on words is going on). A very common phrase is found once one solves the literal clue that’s given.
In 17-Across, for example, (“Byproduct of a sad dairy cow?”) the answer is a two word phrase that is (1) a word meaning “sad” follow by (2) a product of a dairy cows. The common two-word phrase is very familiar. 25-Across (“Byproduct of a homely dairy cow?”) follows exactly the same patter (1) a word meaning “homely,” (or at least not strikingly pretty) and (2) an ordinary dairy product. 37-Across is the same, but the word synonymous with “exhausted” is a little slangy. 52-Across and 61-Across likewise.
A couple of other hints and tips:
1-Across “Part of WWW”: Note that it doesn’t say Abbr. (abbreviation), so this has to be one of those famous three letters that is, itself, only three letters long.
28-Across “Oman man”: Or Qatar man, or Egyptian woman, for that matter.
30-Across “Capote, to pals”: “to pals” means it’s a nickname. Do you know Capote’s first name? This is a short version of it. Also the name of a Broadway play about Capote.
6-Down “Attacks”: 2 words. This and variations, e.g. RUNS ___ are very frequently seen in early week NYT puzzles.
8-Down “Start of a Cheer”: A cheer that sometimes ends with “Hit ’em again! hit ’em again! Harder! Harder!” Or it could be what you call a female sibling.
40-Down “Shade of White”: 2 words. Or: Something you may have to throw out after you eat breakfast.
68-Across “Does a fantastic stand-up”: Similar to SLAYS.
67-Across “Band in Road Runner cartoons”: Or: Where you are when you’re at the top.
70-Across: “Film _____ “: Well, these aren’t comedies, not even if they’re “black” comedies.