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New York Times, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Author:
Melinda Gates and Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
19/26/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.77000
Melinda Gates
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6210/22/200911/18/20186
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
15811810325
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 35 Missing: {HQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Gates. This is puzzle # 61 for Mr. Fagliano. See all the celebrity crosswords. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: CELEBRITY CROSSWORD
This puzzle is a collaboration by the philanthropist Melinda Gates, of Medina, Wash., working together with Joel Fagliano, the digital puzzles editor of The New York Times. This is Joel's 61st crossword for the paper. More information about the making of today's puzzle appears in the Times's daily crossword column (nytimes.com/column/wordplay).
Constructor notes:
MELINDA: To understand how much of a thrill it is for me to co-author the New York Times crossword today, you should also know I'm a ... read more

MELINDA: To understand how much of a thrill it is for me to co-author the New York Times crossword today, you should also know I'm a lifelong lover of puzzles. That's one of the things that first brought Bill and me together. When we were dating, I brought a more than 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of the Eiffel Tower to his house. I thought we'd do what my family used to do and leave it on the table for the next few months, occasionally adding a few pieces here and there. It turns out I overestimated our ability to walk away from a challenge. Bill and I finished that puzzle in a single weekend.

Over the years, I've come to realize that our shared love of puzzles is more than just a hobby. You might even say it's part of our worldview. I think there's a lot of value in throwing yourself into problems that seem daunting and reminding yourself that with time and effort, they, too, become doable. Find that one edge piece, and the whole bottom corner begins to arrange itself. Get that 1-Across hint, and the name of that Eagles song comes rushing back. You simply begin applying what you know until you wear away at the edges of the things you don't. In other words, you just start. And the more puzzles you solve, the more confidence you have to tackle the next one.

This crossword is full of answers that mean something to me: a former president who is also one of my heroes, the mascot of my alma mater, and, most important, a reminder of the dividends we reap when we invest in women and girls.

I hope it does what puzzles do best and gets you to look at challenges—even tough ones—not with resignation but with determination."

JOEL: The genesis of this puzzle is a Melinda Gates tweet in which she stated that "anyone who knows me knows I love puzzles". Naturally, that piqued our interest in including her in our celebrity crossword series. I jumped at the chance to be the one who got to collaborate with her, as I'm a huge admirer of the selfless work she does for the world.

We started by brainstorming themes based off of her various initiatives, which included one on women's empowerment titled "The XX Factor." Well, that got my constructor wordplay brain whirring, and I was able to generate some other puns in a similar vein, and we had our theme. For constructing the grid, I gave Melinda three or four options for potential fills in each corner, allowing her to pick and choose the words she connected with most. BLUE ROAN was an example of an entry I didn't know much about that Melinda loved, as equestrian is a big deal in her family. Finally, Melinda wrote most of the clues — and came up with some real gems, I should add. "Hoppy mediums" for ALES was my favorite of hers.

One final shoutout to Melinda's indispensable aide Beth Giudicessi, who helped immensely with putting this together. Hope solvers enjoy the final product!

Jeff Chen notes:
Melinda Gates! I'm a big fan of what she and the Mr. have done with their wealth – hard to think of other individuals who've ... read more

Melinda Gates! I'm a big fan of what she and the Mr. have done with their wealth – hard to think of other individuals who've done more for the world. Not all of the Gates Foundation's projects have been successful, but I like that they learn through their experimentation and failures. And several have hit it big, making a huge difference in the developing world. Inspiring!

Makes me think about getting back into biotech/pharma development sometime in the future. Why am I wasting my time writing crosswords?!

Nice concept, phrases starting with a single letter, having that letter doubled for kooky results. EE READER was my favorite, as ee cummings is a fascinating figure. And I love me some JJ Abrams – his reboot of the "Star Trek" movie franchise was amazing!

I felt like some of the themers were a stretch, though. JJ CREW should be JJ's CREW, yeah? BB COMPLEX felt similarly strained.

XX FACTOR made me a little uncomfortable. Several people pointed out a problem in one of my puzzles, that chromosomes don't necessarily define gender. I felt terrible that my assumption hurt some solvers' feelings, and I worry about the same happening today, given that the clue only mentioned women and girls.

Super solid grid, not a surprise given Joel's involvement. I love how he pushes the envelope, taking out black squares in the NW and SE in order to give us OIL GAUGE and RADAR GUN; same in the remaining corners, with JM BARRIE and BLUE ROAN. Given that this is a Wednesday puzzle, having a more (BB) complex grid feels fitting.

BOOOOOO on the clue for BRIDGE! BOOOOOO to the NYT for eliminating the awesome BRIDGE column, says this BRIDGE fanatic!

Grumble grumble. Fine, it's mostly for old people, grumble.

Nice concept, excellent gridwork. I wish the theme had tied to Melinda's work at the Gates Foundation, though. It's always neat when the puzzle is intertwined to the celeb.

Jim Horne notes:

Melinda French was my boss's boss at Microsoft, until she married an exec, changed her name, and left the company to go save the world. I'm a fan.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0926 ( 25,159 )
Across
1. Deg. for a museum worker : BFA
4. Loll : LOAF
8. Elapse : PASSBY
14. Dashboard part : OILGAUGE
16. Musical run with four sharps : ESCALE
17. Part played by women and girls? : XXFACTOR
18. Have hot cocoa on a winter day, say : WARMUP
19. U.S. president with a Nobel Peace Prize : CARTER
20. Take a breath : RESPIRE
22. Had for dinner : ATE
23. Blue ___ (Duke mascot) : DEVIL
25. Use a lot? : PARK
27. Overhaul : REDO
29. Area below "To:" in an email? : CCSECTION
32. Land in a Beatles song : USSR
35. Tide alternative : ALL
36. "Ghost" psychic Oda ___ Brown : MAE
37. Ones on set with 2009's "Star Trek" director? : JJCREW
40. Any one of the 12 steps? : AALINE
42. Grant with the 1991 #1 hit "Baby Baby" : AMY
43. Battery size : AAA
45. "This round's ___" : ONME
46. Group of buildings housing a King? : BBCOMPLEX
49. Recedes : EBBS
53. What Lot's wife became : SALT
54. Common bacterium : ECOLI
57. Go bad : ROT
58. Group in the original "Ocean's 11" movie : RATPACK
61. "Sure, that works" : OKFINE
63. Harrowing experience : ORDEAL
64. Lover of Cummings's poetry? : EEREADER
66. Sasha ___, Beyoncé's alter ego : FIERCE
67. Speedster's undoing : RADARGUN
68. Owns (up to) : FESSES
69. Money to belong : DUES
70. Green-minded org. : EPA
Down
1. Freight train part : BOXCAR
2. Dwell (on) : FIXATE
3. Bruce Wayne's butler : ALFRED
4. Intertwined : LACED
5. Eccentric : OUTRE
6. "Million Years ___" (Adele song) : AGO
7. Irony? : FERRIC
8. Places for parishioners : PEWS
9. "Now!" : ASAP
10. Libretto, for example : SCRIPT
11. "Spider-Man" director, 2002 : SAMRAIMI
12. Horse with evenly mixed black-and-white hairs : BLUEROAN
13. "Indeedy" : YEP
15. Gang pistol, in old slang : GAT
21. Jewelry designer Peretti : ELSA
24. Obsolescent TV attachment : VCR
26. Place to bounce a baby : KNEE
28. "___ House," 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young hit : OUR
30. Panache : ELAN
31. Quahog or geoduck : CLAM
33. Where clothes often rip : SEAM
34. Trade : SWAP
37. Nasty comments : JABS
38. Pan creator : JMBARRIE
39. Island group in the Aegean Sea : CYCLADES
41. Spike who directed "BlacKkKlansman" : LEE
44. Smart fellow? : ALEC
45. Tic-tac-toe loser : OXO
47. Bewhiskered mammals : OTTERS
48. ___ College, liberal arts school in St. Petersburg, Fla. : ECKERD
50. Subject of a New York Times column until 2015 : BRIDGE
51. Study, informally : BONEUP
52. Chest bones : STERNA
55. Feminist writer Audre : LORDE
56. Giant furniture stores : IKEAS
59. Tempo : PACE
60. Hoppy mediums? : ALES
62. With 63-Down, distant : FAR
63. See 62-Down : OFF
65. What's found in the French rivière? : EAU

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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