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CHANGELINGS

New York Times, Sunday, January 18, 2015

Author:
Joe Krozel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4147242621
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48057
Joe Krozel

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 80 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 73 for Mr. Krozel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joe Krozel notes:
The six 20-letter theme entries in this puzzle contain roughly two thirds consonants ... with letters like H, G, K, W and F among them restricting fill choices. I normally like to infuse ... read more

The six 20-letter theme entries in this puzzle contain roughly two thirds consonants ... with letters like H, G, K, W and F among them restricting fill choices. I normally like to infuse the fill with a few entries exceeding nine letters, but early attempts conjured up too many clunkers alongside the lively long entries. So, the grid was scaled back to the current design: one dominated by 4- and 5-letter entries. As such virtually no fresh fill could be introduced, but at least this short fill would be free of weak content.

In the end, the success of the puzzle rides mainly on the innovative theme concept.

Jeff Chen notes:
Loved this concept. Word ladders got overdone a while back, so Will doesn't run them very frequently. And when he does, they usually require an additional layer of clevereness. This one ... read more

Loved this concept. Word ladders got overdone a while back, so Will doesn't run them very frequently. And when he does, they usually require an additional layer of clevereness. This one hit that sweet spot for me, kooky sentences formed by word ladder chains. LOUD LOUT LOST LAST CAST? Yes, please! The ideas I generally like best and remember are those I would have never dreamed up, and this is one.

Not all of them read so smoothly. HUGE LUGE LUGS LOGS is amusing. But tacking on the LOTS at the end makes it feel wonky. And WILT WILL FILL FUEL FULL is gold, but it doesn't adhere to the tight word ladder constraint. Switching those last two words to make WILT WILL FILL FULL FUEL wrenches it in my ear. Still, the difficulty of making any reasonable-sounding word ladder sentence is so high that I reveled in uncovering each one.

Turns out TUNG OIL is very real and very useful!

And what a smooth solving experience. My solve was assisted by the fact that I could piece together the word ladders by comparing four-letter chunks, but the general cleanliness also helped. I really only hitched around the TUNG OIL section, and that was mostly because of the very difficult cluing. ["Was ist ___?"] is admirable in its attempt to do something new in cluing LOS, but hotchy-motchy! that made that area tough. I'd much more appreciate it if it hadn't been next door to that TUNG OIL oddball.

The cleanliness is especially impressive considering Joe made this a 136-word puzzle, giving us a whole lot of 5 and 6s, which often make for sections tough to fill (and crack into). I wouldn't have minded if Joe had gone up to 138 or 140 words, making that TUNG OIL section more interesting, but I do like working my mental muscle.

I also would have liked more clever clues, as many of them felt misdirectional in a not super fun method. [Darn, e.g.] for OATH felt too tricksy to me. (["Darn," e.g.] is what it was going for.) [Arrangement of hosing?] gets points for effort, but it didn't stick the landing, as the clue sounds pretty forced. A final clue I'll point out is [Majority group], which made no sense to me. I was all set to deride it when Jim pointed out the "Age of Majority" is a very real thing. Darn! (The oath, not the mending.)

Overall though, absolutely loved the theme. Great stuff.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0118 ( 23,812 )
Across
1
Hirer/firer : BOSS
5
Iron setting : STEAM
10
Food processor setting : CHOP
14
One with accounts, for short : ADREP
19
Darn, e.g. : OATH
20
Jets or chargers starter : TURBO
21
Doozy : LULU
22
Revolutionary patriot Silas : DEANE
23
Asian cuisine : THAI
24
Put in the minimum stake : ANTED
25
Actress Lena : OLIN
26
Willing to do : UPFOR
27
Gigantic sled hauls firewood quite a bit : HUGELUGELUGSLOGSLOTS
31
1970s-'80s TV sheriff : LOBO
32
Tell a story : LIE
33
Grub : EATS
34
Domestic worker claimed shifting beach engulfed basin : MAIDSAIDSANDSANKSINK
43
Hong Kong, e.g.: Abbr. : ISL
44
No-no on gym floors : CLEATS
45
Voting no : ANTI
46
Band news : TOUR
48
Put an end to : SCOTCH
51
Catastrophic start or end? : CEE
52
Word after camper or before Camp's : VAN
53
Fused : ONE
54
It may go from sea to shining sea : CANAL
55
Word in many California city names : SAN
56
Blue : RIBALD
59
"You wish!" : ASIF
60
Friends who have never been to the beach don't walk by the girl so often : PALEPALSPASSLASSLESS
64
Characteristic times : ERAS
65
Driver's assignment: Abbr. : RTE
66
Arrangement of hosing? : SCAM
67
Children show their affection for model Kate above all others : KIDSKISSMISSMOSSMOST
76
Comics canine : ODIE
77
Energetic sort : DYNAMO
78
"That's ___-brainer" : ANO
79
Stuffing ingredient : ONION
81
"Waking ___ Devine" (1998 movie) : NED
82
Hubbub : ADO
83
Solution for some housework : LYE
84
Villain : BADDIE
85
[I am shocked!] : GASP
87
___ Romeo : ALFA
89
Generic : NONAME
91
Lines around Chicago : ELS
92
Boisterous oaf confused the previous set of actors : LOUDLOUTLOSTLASTCAST
97
Outdoor party : LUAU
98
Info for a limo driver : ETA
99
"Ta-ta" : CIAO
100
Mr. Chamberlain intends to top off his gas tank : WILTWILLFILLFULLFUEL
109
Capital where snail noodle soup is popular : HANOI
110
Pew, for one : SEAT
111
Coquette : TEASE
112
Sly : FOXY
113
When prompted : ONCUE
114
Sleeveless item, for short : CAMI
115
Like some brewing containers : OAKEN
116
Mosque leader : IMAM
117
Bog accumulations : PEATS
118
Head of a Tatar group : KHAN
119
Comics canine : SNERT
120
Early 1900s gold rush locale : NOME
Down
1
This and that : BOTH
2
Home of Hanauma Bay : OAHU
3
Solo, in a way : STAG
4
BP logo shape until 2000 : SHIELD
5
QB who led the Cowboys to victories in Super Bowls VI and XII : STAUBACH
6
Varnish ingredient : TUNGOIL
7
Art Deco artist : ERTE
8
First person to die in the Bible : ABEL
9
Adjust, as pitch : MODULATE
10
Shut : CLOSED
11
Oceanic body : HULL
12
This and that : OLIO
13
Strong and sharp : PUNGENT
14
Majority group : ADULTS
15
Silt, e.g. : DEPOSIT
16
Whole bunch : RAFT
17
Nephew of 8-Down : ENOS
18
As stated in : PER
28
"Was ist ___?" : LOS
29
Bombay and Boodles : GINS
30
H. H. Munro pseudonym : SAKI
34
This and that: Abbr. : MISC
35
Music grp. : ASCAP
36
Actress Massey : ILONA
37
Model add-on : DECAL
38
Composer Camille Saint-___ : SAENS
39
Cars once advertised with the slogan "Find your own road" : SAABS
40
Record of the year : ANNAL
41
"Necktie" : NOOSE
42
Mila of "That '70s Show" : KUNIS
47
Court V.I.P.'s : REFS
49
Literature's Nan or Gay : TALESE
50
Supply room worker : CLERK
52
Metaphors for serious headaches : VISES
55
Flip : SASSY
56
"Midnight Cowboy" role : RATSO
57
Loop around the West? : LASSO
58
Mil. decorations : DSCS
59
"Sometimes you feel like a nut" nut : ALMOND
61
Not free : PAID
62
Super : PRIMO
63
Pago Pago locale : SAMOA
67
"King ___" : KONG
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Toy company that made Betsy Wetsy : IDEAL
69
Playground comeback : DIDSO
70
Bungle : SNAFU
71
Upset with : MADAT
72
Quaint contraction : MAYNT
73
"Love Story" co-star : ONEAL
74
The Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl" vis-à-vis "Little Deuce Coupe" : SIDEA
75
Works : TOILS
80
Egg holder : NEST
83
California city where the first Apple computer was built : LOSALTOS
84
"Hush!" : BESILENT
86
Retreat : PULLOUT
87
"There oughta be ___" : ALAW
88
Comedian who said "Every day starts, my eyes open and I reload the program of misery" : LOUISCK
89
Cry of innocence : NOTI
90
Non-PC person : MACUSER
93
Border payments : DUTIES
94
Kept : LEFTIN
95
1960s chess champion Mikhail : TAL
96
Halloween prop : COFFIN
100
Die down : WANE
101
Early cultivator of potatoes : INCA
102
Mrs. Rabin of Israel : LEAH
103
"Rama ___ Ding Dong" (1961 hit) : LAMA
104
Show bias : LEAN
105
Like some lashes and tans : FAKE
106
Fendi ___ (men's cologne) : UOMO
107
Activity at a doctor's office : EXAM
108
Tick-borne affliction : LYME
109
Leapfrog : HOP

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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