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CHANGELINGS

New York Times, Sunday, January 18, 2015

Author: Joe Krozel
Editor: Will Shortz
Joe Krozel
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1.48056
Puzzle of the Week

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 the fill with a few ... more
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 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 hit that sweet spot for me, ... more
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 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 Down
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
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
68. 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: 8 unique to this puzzle.

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