MOVING PARTS

New York Times, Sunday, July 20, 2014

Author: Eric Berlin
Editor: Will Shortz
Eric Berlin
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376/23/20027/20/20142
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111242152
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52161

This puzzle:

Rows: 23, Columns: 20 Words: 151, Blocks: 78 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Berlin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: The answer to each starred clue must have two consecutive letters removed before it is written into the grid. These letters will move to a pair of circles elsewhere in the puzzle. (In all cases, new words will be formed.) The nine letter pairs, when properly arranged, will spell an appropriate answer at 72-Across.
Jeff Chen notes: A big welcome back to Eric! After a three-year hiatus from constructing, he comes back with a brain bender of a Sunday. Eric is the author of the Winston Breen series, a neat trilogy ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A big welcome back to Eric! After a three-year hiatus from constructing, he comes back with a brain bender of a Sunday. Eric is the author of the Winston Breen series, a neat trilogy about a kid obsessed with puzzles. A fourth grade teacher friend of mine recently sent me a list of her district's "Best Books List" and asked if I could recommend any of them for read-alouds in her class. I chose maybe ten great ones for her… including "The Puzzling World of Winston Breen"!

Back to the puzzle. How to explain this one? If you look at the grid below, you'll see the central entry, A LITTLE GIVE AND TAKE, parsed into two-letter chunks. Each of these chunks are "removed" from one word and then "added" to another, in every case forming valid words or phrases. As an example, the first two letters, AL, can be taken out of FALLOUT to form FLOUT. They then can be added to HERD to form HERALD.

It was pretty hard for me to figure out and remember where each bigram was added. Jim and I discussed "fixing up" the database so that the answers accurately reflected the clues, but that seemed like it would take away the cleverness of the concept. For instance, if you were perusing this puzzle a few years down the road and hit the clue [*Royal messenger] and saw HERALD, you wouldn't think twice. In one sense that's great, as it's not confusing at all. On the other hand, if the answer reads HERD (as it does), it'd make you scratch your head. I personally like it when people scratch their heads. So instead of the fix-ups, here's a listing of the answers where the bigram was added:

  • AL: HER(AL)D (53-Across: [Royal messenger])
  • IT: GRAV(IT)Y (115-Down: [Newton subject]):
  • TL: GEN(TL)E (90-Down: [Gentle])
  • EG: L(EG)ION (14-Down: [Great in number])
  • IV: TR(IV)IAL (88-Across: [Piddling])
  • EA: PA(EA)N (43-Across: [Words of praise])
  • ND: BA(ND)IT (86-Down: [Old West robber])
  • TA: RO(TA)TE (8-Across: [Turn, as a wheel])
  • KE: REBU(KE)S (8-Down: [Upbraids])

Considering that just took me 15 minutes to search out and piece together, I can only imagine how rough it's going to be on some solvers. REBU(KE)S and L(EG)ION in particular had wicked clues. I like a challenge, and really enjoyed figuring out several of the "added-on" words. Those two… whoo! "Upbraids" apparently means "rebukes" (not "does one's hair up"?), who knew? And LEGION felt like a noun to me, but the dictionary says by golly it's an adjective, too. Learn something new every day.

It would have been nice to have the bigrams in order somehow, since all the jumping around broke up the flow of my solve a bit. And it might have even been nicer to not have the central revealer; instead, asking the reader to read across the bigrams in order to read the final reveal (something akin to Patrick Berry's recent puzzle). But overall, it's an innovative idea, one I haven't seen before. I always appreciate the creativity.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,630
Across Down
1. Swaddles, e.g. : ENWRAPS
8. *Turn, as a wheel : ROTE
12. Edible plant extract : PALMOIL
19. Be too fearful to : DARENOT
20. Former Nebraska senator James : EXON
21. Burger go-with : FRIENDS
22. Yolk surrounder : WHITTLE
23. Bit of sweat : BEAD
24. Most hip : COOLEST
25. Low numero : TRE
26. Cowboys' activity : ROUNDUP
29. Cologne conjunction : UND
30. Slushy drink : ICEE
32. Kitten sounds : MEWS
33. Detailed plans : SPECS
35. Use a straw : SUCK
39. Idea : NOTATION
41. Hides away : STASHES
43. *Words of praise : PAN
44. Thingamajig : DOODAD
45. Strangle : GAROTTE
47. Cartoon dog : ASTRO
49. Italian dish that needs much stirring : RISOTTO
51. Openly defy : FALLOUT
53. *Royal messenger : HERD
57. Tony-winning musical with the song "Find Your Grail" : SPAMALOT
60. Long March participant : MAOIST
61. Not ___ (none) : ALICK
63. Raised transports : ELS
64. Unchanged : SAME
66. Classic muscle cars : GTOS
67. Not just slow : GLACIAL
69. Theater supporters : PATRONS
72. See instructions : ALITTLEGIVEANDTAKE
78. Wise men : THEMAGI
79. Is on the brink : TEETERS
81. Get rid of : SHED
85. ___ menu : EDIT
86. Eagle's org. : BSA
88. *Piddling : TRIAL
89. Smear : MALIGN
91. Locks up again : RECHAINS
95. Painterish : ARTY
96. Plain to see : OVEREAT
98. Stir up : AGITATE
100. Trickster of American Indian mythology : RAVEN
101. Close overlap of fugue voices : STRETTO
104. Attack : ASSAIL
109. K.C.-to-Detroit dir. : ENE
110. She rules : EMPRESS
112. Indigenous : NEGATIVE
114. Caroled : SANG
116. "___ deal?" : ISITA
117. Prix ___ : FIXE
118. Sci-fi's Hubbard : LRON
119. Appeared in print : RAN
121. Beast of burden : BURRITO
123. Young seal : PUP
124. Many ski lodges : AFRAMES
128. Legitimate : REAL
129. Formed from a mold : DIECAST
133. Babble on : PRIVATE
134. Cathedral area : NAVE
135. Stay-at-home workers? : UMPIRES
136. Tot-watched : BABYSAT
137. Peevish state : SNIT
138. Asparagus unit : SPEAKER
1. One of eight Eng. kings : EDW
2. Informal turndown : NAH
3. Email, say : WRITETO
4. Used tire : RETREAD
5. Pay to play : ANTE
6. Glad-handing sort : POL
7. Two-channel : STEREO
8. *Upbraids : REBUS
9. Field team : OXEN
10. Mushroom : TOADSTOOL
11. Reach, eventually : ENDUPAT
12. Cpl.'s inferior : PFC
13. Stir up : AROUSE
14. *Great in number : LION
15. Card combinations : MELDS
16. Low number : ONE
17. Checks at the door, say : IDS
18. W.W. II craft : LST
27. Soccer blooper : OWNGOAL
28. Bother : PEST
30. Neither blue nor red?: Abbr. : IND
31. Say sweet words : COO
32. Some dresses : MIDIS
34. Saucier's boss : CHEF
36. In the mood : UPTOIT
37. Tenor from Naples : CARUSO
38. Don of "The Andy Griffith Show" : KNOTTS
40. Sticky stuff : TAR
41. Mex. miss : SRTA
42. 41-Down's room : SALA
46. Convenience store sights : ATMS
48. Slow, hard progress : SLOG
50. Stepped in for : SPELLED
52. French fine : AMENDE
53. Witch : HAG
54. "___ Enchanted" : ELLA
55. Mideast currency : RIAL
56. 701, once : DCCI
58. Bone: Prefix : OSTE
59. Fictional estate : TARA
62. Chanteuse Eartha : KITT
65. State with the motto "Oro y plata" : MONTANA
68. Half sister of Ares : ATHENA
69. Greedy sort : PIG
70. Bird: Prefix : AVI
71. "Undo" mark : STET
73. Overseas prince : EMIR
74. Box office : GATE
75. ___ Plus : ATRA
76. Actor Dullea : KEIR
77. Latin "was to be" : ERAT
80. Underhanded : SLY
81. Three-ingredient treats : SMORES
82. World capital where Monopoly is banned : HAVANA
83. Football team : ELEVEN
84. Terrible : DIRE
86. *Old West robber : BAIT
87. "Shaddup!" : SITONIT
90. *Not rough : GENE
92. Like the cry "Veni, vidi, vici" : CAESAREAN
93. Abbr. in some city names : HGTS
94. Old West transport : STAGE
97. Shortening in recipes? : TSPS
99. Spanish "that" : ESA
102. Windy City paper, with "the" : TRIB
103. Election night data : RETURNS
105. One of the Windward Islands : STLUCIA
106. Facility for small planes : AIRPARK
107. Nobel-winning writer Andric : IVO
108. N.F.L. Hall-of-Famer Dawson : LEN
111. Former transportation secretary Norman : MINETA
113. Large-scale evacuation : EXODUS
115. *Newton subject : GRAVY
117. Choice cut : FILET
120. Latin "you love" : AMAS
122. Sitarist Shankar : RAVI
123. Nickname for José : PEPE
124. P.D. alert : APB
125. Brother's title : FRA
126. Poke fun at : RIB
127. Collection : SET
130. Prankster : IMP
131. Bishop's domain : SEE
132. Classic fantasy game co. : TSR

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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