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MARK MY WORDS

New York Times, Sunday, September 27, 2015

Author: Tom McCoy
Editor: Will Shortz
Tom McCoy
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2511/14/20133/27/20170
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13515100
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1.62341

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 132, Blocks: 72 Missing: {JXZ} Scrabble average: 1.83 This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: When this puzzle is completed, 12 squares will be filled with a certain keyboard symbol - which will have a different signification in the Across answers than it does in the Downs
Tom McCoy notes: Like most Sundays I've made, this puzzle started as two ideas that merged together. I really liked the idea of having the same squares serve as quotation marks and ditto marks, but I thought it needed something ... more
Tom McCoy notes:

Like most Sundays I've made, this puzzle started as two ideas that merged together. I really liked the idea of having the same squares serve as quotation marks and ditto marks, but I thought it needed something else to tie it together. The "something else" came along when my professor Ryan Bennett mentioned the adjacent pairs of double letters in "bookkeeper" as an aside in an intro linguistics class.

At first I considered having the theme entries be types of titles that require quotation marks rather than underlining — e.g., the set of themers could include a poem, a song, a speech, a book chapter, an episode of a TV show, and a short story. I ended up picking the quotation approach instead because quotations seemed more fun than titles.

I've been experimenting lately with getting the word count down on Sundays. I still can't decide if I prefer low-word-count grids with more fill that is interesting but also more fill that is questionable, or if I prefer very clean but not as interesting 140-worders. I'll probably settle somewhere between the two extremes.

Jeff Chen notes: The quote mark is the same as an editor's ditto mark, which means to 'repeat what's seen above.' So Tom interprets these symbols as quote marks in the across direction, and ditto marks in the down, indicating that ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

The quote mark is the same as an editor's ditto mark, which means to "repeat what's seen above." So Tom interprets these symbols as quote marks in the across direction, and ditto marks in the down, indicating that the letter above should be repeated.

The follow-up to "I Am Not Spock"

An example: "OPEN SESAME" sits at 29-Across, including the open and close quotes. The crossing answer at 4-Down looks bizarre as CHED"AR, but the ditto mark tells you to repeat the D above. Thus, the double-D completes CHEDDAR.

Whew!

Took me a long time to catch on, and even then, I didn't recall how a ditto mark worked. I bet this puzzle will play super-strongly to the editing crowd, less so to those of us whose last experience with ditto marks came in high school.

I really enjoyed some of the Tom-ness we've come to see in his body of work. Kicking it off with (I AM NOT) SPOCK and OH CRUD is great. HULK SMASH! and MY PRECIOUS in the themers also made me smile. And the crazy word SUBBOOKKEEPER with its quadruple set of double-letters right down the middle — I wasn't familiar with the word, and it looks a bit made-up, but what a cool find.

I read Tom's comments about low word-count experimentation with great interest. Going down to 132 words is an incredibly difficult task, and Tom is one of the few people I think are equipped to handle it. Such a low word count does make for a tough-to-solve, wide-open puzzle filled with a lot of mid-length (6 or 7 letters) entries. Some of them I loved: KARAOKE, AMSCRAY, I SWEAR, PTOLEMY, NO MERCY. Along with longer entries like FIG LEAVES and CUE STICKS, that's a lot of solving goodness.

But it comes with trade-offs. Some of the ones I didn't care for: REROSE, INCANT, TRYERS, IN A BAR, SOWER, CHEMIC, UNMEET, not to mention the fine but not super interesting GAIN ON, NEARER TO, RUSH AT entries made longer just by prepositions.

I personally prefer just a few great entries with fewer gluey bits, much more commonly seen in 140 word puzzles. But the variety from week to week is a good change of pace.

1
S
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P
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A
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F
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QUOTE
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QUOTE
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QUOTE
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K
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QUOTE
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QUOTE
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M
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QUOTE
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Y
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H
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L
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N
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H
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0927 ( 24,064 )
Across Down
1. "I Am Not ___" (1975 show business autobiography) : SPOCK
6. "Shoot, shoot, shoot" : OHCRUD
12. Cassio's jealous lover in "Othello" : BIANCA
18. Charge : RUSHAT
20. Got up again : REROSE
21. Comes to fruition : PANSOUT
22. "Psst! Come hide with me!" : INHERE
23. Come closer to catching : GAINON
24. Takes out, as some beer bottles : UNCASES
25. First in a race? : ADAM
26. Colt, e.g. : ARM
27. Ones doing a decent job in the Bible? : FIGLEAVES
29. Magical phrase in an old tale : "OPENSESAME"
32. "Shoot!" : NERTS
34. Takes apart : UNMAKES
37. Drink at un café : EAU
38. Amt. often measured in ozs. : NTWT
40. Drink at un café : VIN
41. Not as far from : NEARERTO
43. LeBron James or Kevin Durant : NBASTAR
46. One trillionth: Prefix : PICO
47. Welcome site? : MAT
48. When some tasks must be done : ASAP
50. Schwarzenegger film catchphrase : "ILLBEBACK"
52. Amazon's industry : ETAIL
55. Person of the hour : HONOREE
57. Still : ATREST
58. Comment after a betrayal : "ETTUBRUTE"
61. Pen : WRITE
63. Go on foot : TRAIPSE
64. Link between two names : AKA
66. Large goblet : CHALICE
71. Where batters eventually make their way to plates? : IHOPS
74. Catchphrase for one of the Avengers : "HULKSMASH"
77. Gap in a manuscript : LACUNA
81. Like some storefronts : TOLEASE
83. Farmer, in the spring : SOWER
84. Repeated bird call? : "NEVERMORE"
86. Is unable to : CANT
89. Bygone record co. : EMI
90. Site of the "crown of palaces" : AGRA
91. Multicar accidents : PILEUPS
93. Travel over seas? : PARASAIL
96. N.Y.C. museum, with "the" : MET
97. Honeymooners' site : ISLE
98. GPS calculation : ETA
100. What the ruthless show : NOMERCY
101. Author ___-René Lesage : ALAIN
103. What the ring in "The Lord of the Rings" is called : "MYPRECIOUS"
107. Nepalis live in them : HIMALAYAS
109. Hebrew letter before samekh : NUN
110. 75- and 80-Down, e.g.: Abbr. : SCHS
112. Tote : HANDBAG
113. Google browser : CHROME
115. Steamy : EROTIC
118. Place : SITUATE
119. Wrinkle preventer, of sorts : HANGER
120. Beezus's sister, in children's literature : RAMONA
121. Ones making an effort : TRYERS
122. Contraction with two apostrophes : TWASNT
123. Something matzo lacks : YEAST
1. ___ Lanka : SRI
2. "Let us spray," e.g. : PUN
3. It works for workers, in brief : OSHA
4. Money, in modern slang : CHEDDAR
5. Something that may have bad keys : KARAOKE
6. Church keys? : ORGAN
7. Leader of a procession : HEARSE
8. ___ War, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" event : CRIMEAN
9. Swanson on "Parks and Recreation" : RON
10. Ol' red, white and blue's land : USOFA
11. Material sometimes sold ripped : DENIM
12. Scourge : BANE
13. Recite : INCANT
14. "What ___!" (cry after some spectacular goalie play) : ASAVE
15. What zero bars means on a cellphone : NOSERVICE
16. Tools for people picking pockets? : CUESTICKS
17. @@@ : ATS
19. Paint type : TEMPERA
21. Soda can feature : PULLTAB
28. Like a softball interview vis-à-vis a grilling : GENTLER
30. Guessed nos. : ESTS
31. Assistant number cruncher : SUBBOOKKEEPER
33. Art critic, stereotypically : SNOOT
34. Not seemly : UNMEET
35. More nifty : NEATER
36. "Hakuna ___" ("The Lion King" song) : MATATA
39. Rings on doors : WREATHS
42. Site of the U.S.'s only royal palace : OAHU
44. Go on : AIR
45. Host : SLEW
46. Course standard : PAR
49. Kettle's accuser : POT
51. Groups that never get started : BTEAMS
53. "Lord, is ___?" : ITI
54. Wolfish : LUPINE
56. Teachers' grp. : NEA
59. C equivalents : BSHARPS
60. Royale carmaker of old : REO
62. "Gross" : ICK
65. "So you admit it!" : AHA
67. Language in Southeast Asia : LAO
68. "Cross my heart and hope to die" : ISWEAR
69. One seeking the philosopher's stone : CHEMIC
70. How one person might resemble another : EERILY
72. Revolutionary thinker? : PTOLEMY
73. Feeling the effects of a workout : SORE
75. L.A. institution : USC
76. Bound : LEAP
77. Wool source : LLAMA
78. Pasta variety : ANGELHAIR
79. Conviction ... or what's almost required for a conviction : CERTAINTY
80. The Wahoos of the A.C.C. : UVA
82. Romanian currency : LEU
85. ___ rate (tax amount per $1,000) : MILLAGE
87. iPod model : NANO
88. Kind of leg : TROUSER
92. Dictation takers : STENOGS
94. "Git!" : AMSCRAY
95. Be a gentleman to at the end of a date, say : SEEHOME
97. Where many shots are taken : INABAR
99. Shrewdness : ACUMEN
102. "Things are bound to go my way soon" : IMDUE
104. Presidential perk until 1977 : YACHT
105. "That's nothing" : PSHAW
106. Not reacting : INERT
108. Muscles worked by pull-ups, briefly : LATS
111. Greek portico : STOA
112. 1940s prez : HST
114. Genetic stuff : RNA
116. Stand-___ : INS
117. Monopoly token that replaced the iron in 2013 : CAT

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 9 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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