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New York Times, Thursday, July 26, 2018

Author: Nate Cardin
Editor: Will Shortz
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17/26/20180
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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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
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L
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E
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I
D
O
15
M
A
A
M
16
A
S
A
N
A
S
17
N
U
I
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S
A
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C
E
19
R
E
D
A
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#
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H
E
21
R
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L
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P
D
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S
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A
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U
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D
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N
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A
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A
C
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A
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T
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S
34
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N
35
A
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R
M
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N
G
37
D
O
T
38
E
A
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E
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R
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A
G
E
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#
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C
A
K
E
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P
T
A
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S
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I
Z
E
R
46
S
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O
M
E
N
48
#
S
T
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A
T
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I
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D
U
N
N
O
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M
U
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M
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O
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C
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T
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57
#
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S
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59
E
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R
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P
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E
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H
A
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M
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M
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70
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71
T
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G
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0726 ( 25,097 )
Across Down
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
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, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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