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New York Times, Thursday, July 26, 2018

Author:
Nate Cardin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
17/26/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
RebusCirclePangram
100
Nate Cardin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVWX} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Cardin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Nate Cardin notes:
The inspiration for this puzzle was the too-late-can't-sleep thought that #FOOLISH would be a neat answer for a clue like [Hashtag for ... read more

The inspiration for this puzzle was the too-late-can't-sleep thought that #FOOLISH would be a neat answer for a clue like [Hashtag for an ashamed Pennywise?], with # standing for POUND. I liked the idea of blending what # has meant and means now. I'm a science teacher and, when I've written something like "# of atoms" on the board, some students have quizzically asked what I mean by "hashtag of atoms." How cool that symbols adopt new meanings over time ... and how interesting the misunderstandings that causes!

While the original Twitter angle didn't pan out, I still loved that # has so many distinct meanings and wanted to explore that here. That I was able to fit OCTO / THORPE into the puzzle as an Easter egg made me even more excited about the grid. Fingers crossed that you have a rewarding, aha moment while solving. (I'd be remiss if I didn't pay tribute to Anna Shechtman's related # puzzle from May 29, 2014. I didn't know of her puzzle until after I'd submitted mine, but it's certainly in the same concept family and should be acknowledged!)

Finally, I'll note that my original clue for HANDYMAN was [Gendered term for a fixer upper] — it's important to acknowledge how gendered our society is, even if my clue didn't survive final revisions.

While I have the space, I wanted to promote two fantastic crossword packs to benefit charity: Women of Letters and Queer Qrosswords (which I edited) are both collections of fun, modern puzzles written by and themed around women and LGBTQ+ folks, respectively. Each packet features an array of constructors, including many big names you'll recognize from the New York Times crossword byline! You can get each packet for as little as a $10 donation to a worthy charity. Check out the websites for more information.

Jeff Chen notes:
I have frequent internal debates when it comes to scoring words for our XWI Word List. I usually give an entry the benefit of the ... read more

I have frequent internal debates when it comes to scoring words for our XWI Word List. I usually give an entry the benefit of the doubt, leaving the constructor to make his/her own judgment, but when I ran across OCTOTHORPE a few years ago, I waffled like a politician wearing flip-flops. Downgrade? Or keep it at the "pretty much fine" level?

Ultimately, I left it at the "pretty much fine" score, because if you don't know it, it's an interesting thing to learn. I don't know that I'd go around dropping the word into everyday conversation, but I'm glad to know this curious oddity.

I enjoyed Nate's usage of the pound sign's various alter egos – NUMBER, POUND, SHARP. Spot on! Fantastic themer choices like NUMBER CRUNCHER and RAZOR SHARP, too.

The OCTOTHORPE is also used to note a SPACE in editing? To me, this is much less interesting, at the level of seeing STET or DELE in crosswords. I understand why Nate chose to include it for completion's sake, but to me, it detracts from the overall impact of the puzzle.

Sometimes less is more. There's too much packed into the grid, what with HASH / TAG plus four sets of themers plus OCTO / THORPE. I love the audacity, but I don't love the grid result. I stopped counting dabs of crossword glue at five, but it still kept coming (the NW corner alone with EDUC AMTS SMEE, yikes!).

Not a great trade-off. I think the puzzle would have had stronger impact without the SPACE themers and/or the OCTO / THORPE revealer — especially since the latter had to be broken into two parts.

I love Nate's efforts to push for more diversity and inclusion within crosswords. Thus, it was a little odd to see him use the gendered HANDYMAN, no matter how it was clued. But then again, sometimes a certain piece of fill generates the best result in a crossword, and you have to go with it.

But overall, some fun plays on the different usages of the OCTO / THORPE, and some great themers.

1
P
2
E
3
N
4
A
5
M
6
T
7
S
8
J
9
U
10
M
11
B
12
L
13
E
14
I
D
O
15
M
A
A
M
16
A
S
A
N
A
S
17
N
U
I
18
S
A
N
C
E
19
R
E
D
A
C
T
20
#
C
R
U
N
C
H
E
21
R
22
L
I
K
E
23
P
D
A
S
24
A
25
U
26
D
I
27
D
28
E
29
N
I
A
L
30
A
C
R
O
B
31
A
32
T
33
S
34
E
T
O
N
35
A
36
R
M
I
N
G
37
D
O
T
38
E
A
T
E
39
R
40
A
G
E
41
#
42
C
A
K
E
43
P
T
A
44
S
45
I
Z
E
R
46
S
47
O
M
E
N
48
#
S
T
49
A
T
I
O
N
50
I
51
D
U
N
N
O
52
M
U
I
R
53
C
M
O
N
54
O
55
C
56
T
O
57
#
58
S
H
O
O
T
59
E
60
R
61
S
62
T
H
O
R
63
P
64
E
65
H
A
N
D
Y
M
A
N
66
R
E
F
A
R
M
67
I
K
E
A
68
I
T
O
69
A
M
U
L
E
T
70
H
A
S
H
71
T
A
G
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0726 ( 25,097 )
Across
1
Write : PEN
4
Recipe details: Abbr. : AMTS
8
Popular newspaper puzzle : JUMBLE
14
Words of promise : IDO
15
Respectful term of address : MAAM
16
Yoga poses : ASANAS
17
Bother : NUISANCE
19
Black out, in a way : REDACT
20
Accountant : NUMBERCRUNCHER
22
Much-overused filler word : LIKE
23
Smartphones replaced them, for short : PDAS
24
German wheels : AUDI
27
"It wasn't me," for one : DENIAL
30
Cirque du Soleil performers : ACROBATS
34
Rival school of Winchester : ETON
35
Activating, as a security system : ARMING
37
Feature of two lowercase letters of the alphabet : DOT
38
Consumer : EATER
40
Yellow or gray : AGE
41
Dessert made primarily of flour, butter, eggs and sugar : POUNDCAKE
43
K-12 school org. : PTA
44
Ring-measuring devices : SIZERS
47
Sign : OMEN
48
Astronauts' workplace : SPACESTATION
50
Comment accompanying a shrug : IDUNNO
52
Sierra Club founder John : MUIR
53
"Let's go!" : CMON
54
Numerical prefix ... or, with 62-Across, another name for this puzzle's key symbol : OCTO
57
Deadeyes : SHARPSHOOTERS
62
Olympian Jim or Ian : THORPE
65
Jack-of-all-trades : HANDYMAN
66
Plow and plant again : REFARM
67
"Make room for life" sloganeer : IKEA
68
"Am ___ understand ...?" : ITO
69
Charm : AMULET
70
With 71-Across, symbol used four times in this puzzle with four different meanings : HASH
71
See 70-Across : TAG
Down
1
A.T.M. necessity : PINNUMBER
2
Cabinet dept. : EDUC
3
Gritty genre : NOIR
4
Mystery novelist Cross : AMANDA
5
Stone-capturing board game : MANCALA
6
Instruments on dashes : TACHS
7
Hook's henchman : SMEE
8
Unsettle : JAR
9
Zoning concern : USE
10
Fill-in-the-blanks story : MADLIB
11
___ B'rith : BNAI
12
Absence : LACK
13
Where the sun rises, in Mexico : ESTE
18
Not prone : SUPINE
21
More spicy : RACIER
25
Where to find an average joe? : URN
26
Place to get a rescue animal : DOGPOUND
27
Far parts of the universe : DEEPSPACE
28
Les ___-Unis : ETATS
29
Absent from : NOTAT
30
Major biotech company : AMGEN
31
What Rhett Butler didn't give : ADAMN
32
Arcade item : TOKEN
33
Transcriber : STENO
36
Finely honed : RAZORSHARP
39
Alphabet quartet : RSTU
42
Sheriff's domain, typically : COUNTY
45
Article of the Constitution that provides for the Supreme Court : III
46
Mother-and-daughter singers Nina and Lisa : SIMONES
49
Ethically unprincipled : AMORAL
51
Repeated part of the "Camptown Races" refrain : DOODAH
53
R&B singer Khan : CHAKA
54
"Por ___ parte" (Spanish for "on the other hand") : OTRA
55
Nobel Prize category: Abbr. : CHEM
56
Meat substitute : TOFU
58
___ Tzu : SHIH
59
Let out : EMIT
60
Pro ___ : RATA
61
Make out, in Manchester : SNOG
63
Lead-in to K : PRE
64
Certain fire dept. employee : EMT

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?