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MORAL THINKING

New York Times, Sunday, August 14, 2016

Author: Ian Livengood
Editor: Will Shortz
Ian Livengood
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
554/12/20109/15/20164
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
617667112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64371

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 68 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 54 for Mr. Livengood. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ian Livengood notes: My first entry in the grid? You guessed it — LATOYA. Once I had a grid that looked fillable, I tried to sniff out any trouble spots. The L???Y? was the only problematic area, so that went in first. ... more
Ian Livengood notes:

My first entry in the grid? You guessed it — LATOYA. Once I had a grid that looked fillable, I tried to sniff out any trouble spots. The L???Y? was the only problematic area, so that went in first.

Is BASTA good fill? Probably not, but I thought Hillary Clinton's mention of it back in March gave it some modern currency. And other than the proper noun pile up in the SW corner, pretty happy how this one turned out.

Oh, and "Moral Thinking" is a much better title than my submitted title, "End Uhl Be Uhl." Haha, I really shouldn't be allowed to name things.

Jeff Chen notes: Sound changes, MORAL THINKING hinting at 'add-an-AL sound to produce kooky results.' I liked that Ian strove for fairly dramatic spelling changes, MARE to MERYL, CARE to CAROL, PEAR to PERIL, etc. And some of the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Sound changes, MORAL THINKING hinting at "add-an-AL sound to produce kooky results." I liked that Ian strove for fairly dramatic spelling changes, MARE to MERYL, CARE to CAROL, PEAR to PERIL, etc. And some of the results gave me a laugh, BARTLETT PERIL making me think about John BARTLETT fretting over some lawsuit surrounding his books of quotations.

Some of the resulting phrases did feel a bit too awkward for my taste though. HANDLE WITH CAROL, for instance, felt like it should be HANDLE (it) WITH CAROL, and BARTLETT PERIL ought to be BARTLETT(‘s) PERIL. And although I do like theme density, ICY STARE to ICY STEROL draws upon some deep chemistry knowledge. Kind of hard to laugh at something even this chemistry lover didn't totally understand.

Sometimes Will, Joel and I discuss what makes good fill. I focus so much of my efforts on getting colorful long stuff like COLD CALL, DR PEPPER, GAG ORDER, that I often use a ton of 3-, 4-, and 5-letter answers in my grids. Will and Joel have both mentioned at times that this can make for an unsatisfying solving experience, since those shorties tend to get filled with the same stuff over and over and over.

I got some sense of that with today's grid, and looking at the stats helped me understand why — with almost 100 of his 140 entries in those short lengths, my solve felt a bit overwhelmed by them. I did like the various J CREW, MURKY, EXECS, PRIGS kind of stuff, but they aren't nearly as fun to me as DR PEPPER.

Still, Ian always takes great care to produce smooth grids, and today was no different. BASTA was the only thing that stood out (sorry Ian!), and ONE NIL felt pretty arbitrary. Otherwise, hardly a hitch in the grid.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0814 ( 24,386 )
Across Down
1. Southwestern cliff dwellers : HOPI
5. Means of going down a 36-Down : RAFT
9. Have a hole in one's heart : ACHE
13. Meatheads : DODOS
18. A Swiss army knife has a lot of them : USES
19. Cream of the crop : ALIST
21. Heads for Britain? : LOOS
22. Thick-skinned grazer : RHINO
23. Actress Streep playing a centenarian? : THEOLDGRAYMERYL
26. News show group : PANEL
27. Soup accompaniers, often : SALTINES
28. Like the settings of typical Grant Wood paintings : RURAL
29. Unruffled : SERENE
30. ___ the top : OVER
31. Risky business for a compiler of quotations? : BARTLETTPERIL
33. Good shot? : SNIPER
36. Counterparts of files : RANKS
37. Smart : HIP
38. Not obvious to most : SLY
39. Evident worrywart : PACER
40. Done quickly : HASTY
41. Protested from the stands : JEERED
44. ___ Kitchen (frozen food brand) : AMYS
45. Not wandering, say : RAPT
46. Attorney general's investigation target : SCAM
47. Like funk, now : RETRO
51. Low-___ : RES
52. Alaskan beer container? : KODIAKBARREL
56. Beat the tar out of : WHUP
57. Honorific for a colleague : ESTEEMED
59. Vetoes : NIXES
60. Lies ahead : AWAITS
62. Co. captains? : EXECS
63. Typographical no-no : WIDOW
64. SiriusXM star : STERN
65. Some fine wool : MERINO
67. Charming group? : COVEN
68. Some True Value purchases : TOOLSETS
71. Bad way to go? : AWOL
72. Promote singer Crow's music? : MARKETSHERYL
75. P pronounced like an R : RHO
76. Pequod's co-owner : PELEG
78. Meets with : SEES
79. James who sang "Good Rockin' Daddy" : ETTA
80. Throat part : CRAW
81. Shade in : DARKEN
83. Layers : PLIES
85. Wilderness Road trailblazer : BOONE
86. Fitness grp. : AMA
89. Nat ___ (channel) : GEO
90. Self-righteous types : PRIGS
91. Hung out : LOLLED
92. Debt for comedian Will? : BILLOFFERRELL
96. Poet : BARD
97. Celsius of the Celsius scale : ANDERS
98. Safe place : VAULT
99. "Hamilton" and "1776" : MUSICALS
103. Beat : TIRED
104. "I can't help you, but the Brady Bunch mom will be happy to assist"? : HANDLEWITHCAROL
106. ___ Durkheim, so-called "father of sociology" : EMILE
107. Nervous people are on it : EDGE
108. Who wrote "A great flame follows a little spark" : DANTE
109. Part of some small buildings : LEGO
110. Gulf cash : DINAR
111. Charges : FEES
112. Monopoly holding : DEED
113. Like a headlining act, typically : LAST
1. Preceder of snaps : HUTS
2. Dept. of Labor branch : OSHA
3. Lose a tan, say : PEEL
4. Uranium 238 and strontium 90 : ISOTOPES
5. Original "S.N.L." cast member : RADNER
6. Rags-to-riches writer : ALGER
7. January detritus : FIRS
8. Body image grp. : TSA
9. Sirens, e.g. : ALERTS
10. Pinkish orange : CORAL
11. According to ___ (by the rules) : HOYLE
12. Subj. for an au pair, maybe : ESL
13. Product possibly named after a real physician : DRPEPPER
14. One stop on Chicago's Blue Line : OHARE
15. Greasy spoons : DINERS
16. Common soccer score : ONENIL
17. 100% : SOLELY
20. Caligula, e.g. : TYRANT
24. Gallbladder neighbor : LIVER
25. Like dirty water : MURKY
29. Ruckus : STIR
31. "Enough!," to a Roman : BASTA
32. ___ park : THEME
33. "___ me!" : SPARE
34. Focus of onomastics : NAMES
35. Frost-covered biochemical solid? : ICYSTEROL
36. See 5-Across : RAPID
40. Hell of a location? : HADES
41. Banana Republic competitor : JCREW
42. Good listeners : EARS
43. Big name in Scotch : DEWARS
45. "Love Actually," e.g. : ROMCOM
46. Battle of Hastings participants : SAXONS
48. Like actor Flynn post-dieting? : THINERROL
49. A good thing to get out of : RUT
50. Black ___ : OPS
52. Gung-ho : KEEN
53. Cutting costs? : KNIVES
54. Bathroom fixture : BIDET
55. One of the Jacksons : LATOYA
58. Banished : EXILED
61. "I'm still waiting ...?" : WELL
63. Roused : WOKEN
64. Gets ready to do a load, say : SORTS
65. Driving aid : MAP
66. 65-Across producer, maybe : EWE
67. Plains dwellers : CREE
68. Arrondissement heads? : TETES
69. Macduff, for one : THANE
70. Disseminated : SOWED
73. Request from : ASKOF
74. Katherine who co-starred in "27 Dresses" : HEIGL
77. It stops talking : GAGORDER
80. Telemarketer's action : COLDCALL
82. Notable whistle blowers : REFS
83. Green shampoo : PRELL
84. Sang gracefully : LILTED
85. ___ acid : BORIC
86. Died down : ABATED
87. Little fingers or toes : MINIMI
88. Buzz in space : ALDRIN
90. Tut-tutters : PRUDES
91. Attacked, with "out" : LASHED
93. One-eyed female on "Futurama" : LEELA
94. Shake : EVADE
95. The Cascades, e.g. : RANGE
96. Monument Valley sighting : BUTTE
99. "Gimme!" : MINE
100. Common calculus calculation : AREA
101. Signs (on) : LOGS
102. Booking time : SLOT
104. Bunny boss : HEF
105. Small lump of tobacco : WAD

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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