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MARK MY WORDS

New York Times, Sunday, September 27, 2015

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/14/201310/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
17815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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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B
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H
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H
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Y
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0927 ( 24,064 )
Across
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
Down
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, 7 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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