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New York Times, Thursday, August 30, 2018

Author:
Grant Thackray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
23/19/20178/30/20180
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1000100
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1.49000
Grant Thackray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Thackray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Grant Thackray notes:
I don't remember where the idea for today's theme came from. Possibly from my frustration with a few other gimmicky themes I'd been working on ... read more

I don't remember where the idea for today's theme came from. Possibly from my frustration with a few other gimmicky themes I'd been working on that had constraining requirements for theme answers. All that I had to do for this one was find phrases that contained "AD," which is a far from uncommon combo, and made it possible to include some interesting answers. I've wanted to put "ADULTING" into a crossword for ages, because it's a modern slang-y word not much used outside millennial subculture, but that I think we can all relate to (it's pretty hard to do!).

As a huge nerd, I'm always excited to sneak a video game reference into a crossword (a true classic with great music--MEGAMAN!). If you want a great workout song, look up "Mega Man 2 - Dr. Wily's Castle"--which is one of the best video game songs of all time in my mind.

This is my second puzzle in the NYT with a third on the way, and I'm just realizing that each one has a gaming clue, so maybe that's my lucky charm. Video games aren't the most easy-to-access knowledge base for many crossword puzzlers, but I also see crosswords as a sort of educational collection of human culture and knowledge, so the chance to educate anybody a little bit about something I care about is exciting. That alongside including an answer that's never been in the Times puzzles before (NERDS ROPE, a candy I sold to kids all summer in the snack shack at camp) is pretty cool, too.

I also wonder if POPUP will confuse anybody. It seems like it would be related to the theme, but it isn't. Hopefully, some people will appreciate the little red herring.

Jeff Chen notes:
Talk about fresh grid entries! I'd expect nothing more from the young Grant, who's well outside my own generation. It made me feel ... read more

Talk about fresh grid entries! I'd expect nothing more from the young Grant, who's well outside my own generation. It made me feel young(er)(ish)(kindasorta) to encounter ADORKABLE, ADULTING, and the MANSPREAD.

Don't understand that last one? Think about when you were on a plane last, when the annoying dude next to you let his legs flop all over, invading your personal space so much that you had to secretly poke him with a sharp mechanical pencil when he wasn't looking and then you flinched as well, looking around, pretending that whatever jabbed him just jabbed you too?

I blamed elves.

I wondered if the puzzle was TOO fresh-feeling overall. I must admit I guessed SEGAMAN — bzzt! NERDS ROPE is a thing? And I couldn't imagine that the NYT would use BUTTLOAD. That last one did amuse me, but overall, the puzzle didn't have the usual stately, higherly edumacated feel the NYT puzzle is known for.

Is that bad? I don't necessarily think so. But I did get the feel that Grant's voice in the puzzle was more targeted to the solving audience of the American Values crossword.

I would have liked the AD theme answers in the corners to be more interesting – HOT HEAD is fun, but ADDRESS and SALAD and ADAMS are more workmanlike. But that's the price you pay for having so much colorful theme material in the middle of the puzzle – a BUTTLOAD of it!

Overall, a solid puzzle with a fun idea, several memorable entries, and nice gridwork. You're bound to need some long fill in puzzles like these, and LESS IS MORE and AT ONE'S PEAK were much appreciated.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0830 ( 25,132 )
Across
1. Classic video game hero a.k.a. the Blue Bomber : MEGAMAN
8. Word after "be" or "end" : ALL
11. Light lunch choice : SALAD
14. Seeing someone, say : ONADATE
15. Like the services of many financial planners : FEEBASED
18. Class that doesn't require in-person attendance : WEBINAR
19. Place in 1861 news, for short : FTSUMTER
20. Abbr. on a college entrance sign : ESTD
21. Neighbor of N.Z. : AUST
22. 'Fore : ERE
23. Temporary, as a store : POPUP
26. "Let's go to the next one" : SKIPIT
28. Dorm V.I.P.s : RAS
29. Genre for Panic! at the Disco : EMO
30. Pinker, say : RARER
32. Biases : SLANTS
34. Place for pilots : RANGETOP
36. Dorm V.I.P. : BMOC
37. Like zombies : UNDEAD
38. Program for reducing litter on highways : ADOPTAROAD
40. Lines screenwriters didn't write : ADLIBS
44. Ignore, with "out" : TUNE
46. Ride taken for a spin? : CAROUSEL
48. Bother : HASSLE
51. Real stunner : TASER
52. It borders B.C. : IDA
53. Magic, on scoreboards : ORL
54. Movie camera settings : TSTOPS
56. Casey who voiced Shaggy : KASEM
58. Pot leaves? : TEA
59. Some brewery offerings, in brief : IPAS
60. Regain hit points, in video games : HEAL
62. Part of a pope's title : HOLINESS
64. Popular browser extension ... or a literal description of four black squares in this puzzle : ADBLOCK
68. Stretch : ELONGATE
69. Common fish in aquaculture : TILAPIA
70. Number 2 or 6 : ADAMS
71. Playwright Thomas who predated Shakespeare : KYD
72. Educational toy with a spinning arrow : SEENSAY
Down
1. Trim, in a way : MOW
2. Phoenix-to-Albuquerque dir. : ENE
3. Yak : GAB
4. Word akin to sayonara : ADIEU
5. Annoyance from a subway seatmate : MANSPREAD
6. Rat-___ : ATAT
7. Crunchy candy with a gummy string center : NERDSROPE
8. Dalliance : AFFAIR
9. Go easier : LETUP
10. Philosophy of simplicity : LESSISMORE
11. Yosemite ___ : SAM
12. Rudderward : ASTERN
13. Watch wolfishly : LEERAT
16. Whole lot, slangily : BUTTLOAD
17. Speak to : ADDRESS
23. Home of the oldest university in the Western Hemisphere (founded in 1551) : PERU
24. Home of a sultan : OMAN
25. Polliwog's place : POND
27. Held on to : KEPT
31. Performing flawlessly : ATONESPEAK
33. Nonprofit org. since 1920 : ACLU
35. Understands : GETS
36. High-ranking officers : BRASSHATS
39. Put ___ on (limit) : ACAP
41. Ancient mother goddess : ISIS
42. Sainted English historian : BEDE
43. Roast : SLAM
45. Doing grown-up things, in modern lingo : ADULTING
47. Endearingly awkward, in slang : ADORKABLE
48. Easily angered sort : HOTHEAD
49. Colored body part : AREOLA
50. Event that looks like its first letter? : SLALOM
51. Put in the trash : TOSSED
55. Lip-smacking : TASTY
57. Bloom who wrote "The Closing of the American Mind" : ALLAN
61. Actress Falco : EDIE
63. People whom it's helpful to know : INS
65. Black ___ : OPS
66. Secretive org. : CIA
67. King Arthur's foster brother : KAY

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?