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New York Times, Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Author:
Evan Mahnken
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
310/4/20177/3/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0003000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55000
Evan Mahnken

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 14 Words: 69, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JKZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Mahnken. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Evan Mahnken notes:
I just had my graduation ceremony for my Master of Arts in Teaching program yesterday, so what better way to celebrate than ... read more

I just had my graduation ceremony for my Master of Arts in Teaching program yesterday, so what better way to celebrate than having my third crossword in the New York Times! FINGERS CROSSED that things go well in my first year as a Chemistry teacher. This one goes out to everyone who helped me make it this far.

Jeff Chen of xwordinfo.com likes to mention Crucivera, the God of Crosswords, who sometimes deigns to smile on a puzzle and grant it perfect symmetry of theme answers. Not this puzzle. For this puzzle, Crucivera beat me up and took my lunch money. Crossing themes are difficult to grid because of all the letters locked into place, and this one was no exception.

It took me a few iterations to get it right — thanks to Will and the team for their patience. While there are a couple of compromises in the fill (especially the SW corner), here's hoping that the bonuses and the theme are enough to make up for it. Here's hoping you enjoy the solve!

Jeff Chen notes:
My favorite part of the crossweek is comparing notes with Jim. Our exchange on today's: JC: What, no THUMB? JH: ... read more

My favorite part of the crossweek is comparing notes with Jim. Our exchange on today's:

JC: What, no THUMB?

JH: Technically, the thumb isn't a finger. It's a digit.

JC: So if I asked you, how many fingers do I have, what would you say?

JH: Eight.

JC: That's probably why almost everyone in the world uses a base 8 counting system, then?

JH: Base 8 is quite logical. Think about computing. Binary operations. 1, 2, 4, 8.

JC: Well, yes, but—

JH: Eight bits in a byte? You use a computer, don't you?

JC: Of course, although—

JH: Would you prefer for your computer to go faster — using base 2 / base 8 — or slower, using base 10?

JC: Slower.

JH: See, I told you … wait, what?

JC: HA HA HA I GOT YOU THERE!

I explored this FINGERS CROSSED theme concept many moons ago, dropping it because I couldn't figure out a way to get every finger crossed into a chain of five (NOT FOUR!) themers. Not within the framework of some form of symmetry, at least.

Interesting to see Evan's execution – I hadn't considered leaving out the THUMB, or throwing caution to the wind and placing themers wherever they'd fit. It's not elegant, but it works. Mostly.

Maybe it works better if you think about people with janky fingers? Rock climbers sometimes break their ring fingers, leaving skewed digits as a result?

Let's go with that.

I did enjoy a lot of the bonuses, fun to encounter LADIES ONLY, LIQUIDATED, PARENTHOOD, the evocative UV EXPOSURE.

So many liabilities, unfortunately. AS FAR and IT'S SO take up so much precious space. ESQS ESTA GEES LEM RETD WEI – none are terrible, but as a whole, it's far from elegant. It's tough — the themer layout dictates the low word count, and there's no simple way to make the construction easier. You can't break up UV EXPOSURE, for instance, since PRICE INDEX would be affected.

I'm 90% positive that a symmetrical layout would be possible if you separate FINGERS / CROSSED into 7 / 7. That would allow for great flexibility in squeezing those two revealer words into whatever symmetrical locations you could find.

Man, Evan made me laugh so hard with his Crucivera joke. She can be a big bully, that she can.

Jim Horne notes:

I don't recall that conversation, but I'm sure Jeff wouldn't lie.

1
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P
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F
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C
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B
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D
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0703 ( 25,439 )
Across
1
Medal of Honor recipient : HERO
5
Leonardo's "The Last Supper," e.g. : MURAL
10
Go ___ (lose it) : APE
13
Sunburn cause : UVEXPOSURE
15
Part of the eye that a fish doesn't have : LID
16
Verse ender in "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" : LETFREEDOMRING
18
"Me too," formally : ASDOI
19
Color of most Solo cups : RED
20
Great Plains tribe : OTOE
21
Magnavox competitor : RCA
23
Strokes in miniature golf : PUTTS
24
Things to keep tabs on : FOLDERS
28
Scottish Highlander : GAEL
29
Old-time actress Le Gallienne : EVA
30
Trapped : INACORNER
33
Firecracker that doesn't go off : DUD
34
Thumbs-down : NOVOTE
35
"That's just ter-r-rible!" : BOO
37
Go-between : MIDDLEMAN
39
Under the weather : ILL
40
Kept a bead on : EYED
41
Give the right : ENTITLE
43
When dinner may be served : ATSIX
45
"Of course!" : AHA
46
"Coming ___" (store sign) : SOON
47
Early Chinese dynasty : WEI
50
Symbol of resistance : OMEGA
54
"Here's hoping" ... or a hint to 16-Across/10-Down and 37-Across/14-Down : FINGERSCROSSED
57
The works : ALL
58
Sold off, as assets : LIQUIDATED
59
Key chess piece, in Spain : REY
60
"True" : ITSSO
61
The "m" in the equation "F = ma" : MASS
Down
1
Dance with a lot of hip movement : HULA
2
Nights when kids have a hard time falling asleep : EVES
3
No longer active: Abbr. : RETD
4
Alma mater for J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis : OXFORD
5
"The Simpsons" bartender : MOE
6
Pusher's customer : USER
7
Inconsiderate : RUDE
8
Half of a celebrity couple with J.Lo starting in 2017 : AROD
9
Moon lander, for short : LEM
10
Somewhat : ALITTLEBIT
11
Cab alternative? : PINOT
12
Beats by a small margin : EDGES
14
Bureau of Labor Statistics statistic : PRICEINDEX
17
City in which Joan of Arc died : ROUEN
22
Matthew ___, English poet who wrote "Dover Beach" : ARNOLD
23
2010s NBC drama that revolved around three generations of a family : PARENTHOOD
24
What banks look to when setting interest rates, with "the" : FED
25
Egg : OVUM
26
"Men not allowed" : LADIESONLY
27
Hold on to : SAVE
28
Did very well on the test : GOTANA
31
Command to Rover : COME
32
Kaiser ___ : ROLL
36
Shout after a score, maybe : OLE
38
Like a phone down to 1% : DYING
42
2001 Sean Penn movie : IAMSAM
43
To the same extent : ASFAR
44
Fabric with a repeated design : TOILE
47
Certiorari, e.g. : WRIT
48
Bar members: Abbr. : ESQS
49
Places for post-op patients : ICUS
51
"Cómo ___?" : ESTA
52
Thousands of dollars, in slang : GEES
53
Throws in : ADDS
55
2010's "The Book of ___" : ELI
56
Where Ipanema Beach is : RIO

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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