Revolutionary patriot Silas / SUN 1-18-15 / 1970s-80s TV sheriff / Arrangement of hosing / Early 1900s gold rush locale / California city where first Apple computer was built / Quaint contraction / 1960s chess champion Mikhail / Tick-borne affliction

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Changelings" — five-word sentences that are also word ladders of a sort (i.e. each successive word has but a single changed letter):

Theme answers:
  • HUGE LUGE LUGS LOGS LOTS (27A: Gigantic sled hauls firewood quite a bit)
  • MAID SAID SAND SANK SINK (34A: Domestic worker claimed shifting beach engulfed basin)
  • PALE PALS PASS LASS LESS (60A: Friends who have never been to the beach don't walk by the girl so often)
  • KIDS KISS MISS MOSS MOST (67A: Children show their affection for model Kate able all others)
  • LOUD LOUT LOST LAST CAST (92A: Boisterous oaf confused the previous set of actors)
  • WILT WILL FILL FULL FUEL (100A: Mr. Chamberlain intends to top off his gas tank)
Word of the Day: DSCS (58D: Mil. decorations) —
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army (and previously, the United States Army Air Forces), for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not meet the criteria for the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps), the Air Force Cross (Air Force), and the Coast Guard Cross (Coast Guard).
The Distinguished Service Cross was first awarded during World War I. In addition, a number of awards were made for actions before World War I. In many cases, these were to soldiers who had received a Certificate of Merit for gallantry which, at the time, was the only other honor for gallantry the Army could award, or recommend a Medal of Honor. Others were belated recognition of actions in the Philippineson the Mexican Border and during the Boxer Rebellion.
The Distinguished Service Cross is distinct from the Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded to persons in recognition of exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility. (wikipedia)
• • •

Sunday! Bloody Sunday, in that I finished with an error. But otherwise a lovely Sunday, as I have occasion to thank all the readers who responded to my fund-raising pitch this week. Your generosity was really quite touching, and your messages (by computer and by pony express) … well, they range from the earnest to the cranky to the warm-hearted to the downright loopy. So much fun opening the mail this week! I have a diverse and hilarious readership, which, you know, I knew, but it was nice to get so many concrete reminders this week. You all are a really supportive community, and I'm genuinely, non-snarkily grateful for your continued readership. Thanks for all the kind words and commiseration. Now I gotta find someone to share this swag with:

Same dude also sent me three $1 bills. I've been having fun "making it rain" all afternoon. The dogs don't really get it, but they know better than to judge me by now.

Anyone who has yet to contribute and would like to can always find the Paypal button as well as a snail mail address in the sidebar. All contributions acknowledged with email (Paypal) or thank-you postcard (snail mail).


"Why is the luge lugging log sluts?" I sincerely thought for a nanosecond while solving this puzzle. This theme is an exercise in word manipulation, which, I guess, any theme is, but here, the meaning (or plausibility) is virtually irrelevant. It's just that the phrases aren't so much wacky (which would imply humor) as they are absurd. Contrived, more like. And not just the phrases, but the clues. Words are reduced to their parts, their mere physicality, meaning (for the most part) be damned. I can't even picture the SAND SANK SINK one, and the syntax on the FILL FULL FUEL just seems clunky to me, at best. I sort of like KIDS KISS MISS MOSS MOST—that one sings. And the PALE PALS and the LOUD LOUT are passable. But overall, once you get the gimmick here, there's not much to smile at. Theme is easy to pick up, and once picked up, easy to knock down.

[Kids miss KISS most]

As with recent "easy" theme puzzles, this one has somewhat amped up cluing. Difficulty is mostly achieved through vagueness / ambiguity (e.g. multiple answers with same clue, e.g. [This and that] [Comics canine]). Looking back on the puzzle, I'm not sure why my time didn't come out "Easy" or even below average. I think I just stared too long at what ended up being my error: DSES / SEAM (instead of DSCS / SCAM). Now I *knew* (or felt deeply anyway) that DSES wasn't a thing. But I tried DSO (which I know) and it didn't work, and after that, well I'm at a total loss when it comes to keeping straight all the damn mil. award abbrevs. (UK, US, or otherwise). They're just noise. Clutter. Crosswordese. A nuisance. "C" should've been something I could pick up from the cross, but ugh, look at that clue on SCAM (66A: Arrangement of hosing?). What is that? What is it going for? Is there a play on words. Why would you write such a torturous clue? I mean, it wouldn't have been more clear, but [Hosing arrangement?] would've at least made more sense. It sounds like "housing arrangement," which is almost a thing. But the main problem, my problem, was that I watch / read too much '40s-era material (noir and otherwise), and so I figured SEAM was the answer. I have actually seen women arrange the SEAMs on their hose, so that it's straight up the back of the leg. And if you say "but nobody calls stockings 'hosing,'" I say "a. it's a '?' clue and b. nobody calls a SCAM an 'arrangement of hosing' either but here we are."

Nothing much else to say here. LOUISCK is always welcome fill (88D: Comedian who said "Every day starts my eyes open and I reload the program of misery"). I just got an email from him earlier in the day. OK, so it was a mass email, but still. It felt like he knew me. Were there other points of interest in this one. I can't see them. Gonna go back to watching "True Detective" and writing thank-you cards. Seriously, you guys (and gals) are the best.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Whirred Whacks 12:16 AM  

    Fun -- and easy! Thanks Mr. Krozel,

    Well, Captain Rex, I've received two emails from Louis CK this week, both telling me that he's adding NY shows at Madison Square Garden in ten days. I recommend that you take some of your tip jar moola and buy a couple of tickets (at only $45 per) so that you and the missus can go have some fun!

    Steve J 12:17 AM  

    Very similar solving experience as Rex on this one, down to the DSeS/SeAM crossing. And I thought that was plausible for the same reasons: I can't keep military award abbreviations in my head, and arranging stocking seams seemed entirely plausible. My last girlfriend was fond of vintage clothing and often wore seamed hose, and I was often called upon to validate that the seams were in a straight line.

    I never find word ladders terribly exciting, so I'm not really sure what I make of this high a dosage of them. It's definitely best to look at them in an absurdist fashion. Even then, the best they got out of me was a half-hearted chuckle.

    Definitely on the easy side for me. Figure out the word-ladder trick, and the themers fill in quickly. Things were filled pretty cleanly, but nothing much stood out.

    tracey 12:23 AM  

    Add me to the list of those who had trouble with SEAM/SCAM. I think that makes it officially A Bad Clue.

    retired_chemist 12:45 AM  

    Did briefly consider SeAM but SCAM fit the clue better. Nice ambiguity, which I enjoy.

    Easy-medium here too. Meh to the word ladders. Don't enjoy them but they made for easy theme fill. These seemed pretty strsined.

    67D was cOle first, with 85A egad. A speed bump but easily foxed.115A OAsts, ditto.

    Overall more to like than dislike, so thumbs up from here. Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

    retired_chemist 12:46 AM  

    fixed not foxed. Nighty-night all.

    paulsfo 1:00 AM  

    I had the same SeAM error, which stopped it from being my fastest correct solve ever. I thought it was a bad clue for seam, so I only have myself to blame for not seeing that it was, instead, a tough but fair clue for SCAM.

    I liked the word ladders, also the clues for HULL and VAN.

    John Child 1:08 AM  

    To hose someone is borderline breakfast fare, IMO. The fill was really clean but not very sparkly. Once I figured out why the partially filled-in theme answers looked like gibberish (because they are), It wend down pretty easily. I finished at SCAM, and I assume that will have been a sticking point for many people.

    Adam J 1:08 AM  

    Oh, I got the wordplay on SCAM quickly—you know, you're getting hosed, etc. I think it's a really clever clue and not a bad one. The one problem with it is just that SHAM works better than SCAM there, which is why I was left wondering what the heck "DSHs" are.

    jae 1:10 AM  

    Easy-medium for me too.  No real erasures (just stuff like DSm to DSC) and no WOEs.   @Rex I did think of DSe but I was sure it was nothing.  Ironic (? never sure I use that appropriately) that you thought "C" was something you could pick up from the cross as the "C" stands for Cross.

    This was just fine for a Sun.  Clever and at times amusing with no a ton of dreck (PEATS was the worst for me).   Liked it.

    jae 1:14 AM  

    That should be "not a ton..."

    chefwen 2:17 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Anonymous 2:24 AM  

    Seam for me, too.

    Andy 2:57 AM  

    I too was hung up on the scam dscs cross, but that was the only snag. It was for me an easy puzzle as was shown by the new app feature that said I did this puzzle 7:43 faster than my average time.

    I liked knowing that I was better than average today, but how I will feel when I am slower than average is another question. Not sure if I'm going to like that or not

    'mericans in Paris 4:01 AM  

    Agree with Rex's "easy-medium" rating.

    Started off badly with 1A. Why "Hirer/firer", Mr. Shortz, and not "Hirer-firer"? The NYT should CHOP out all the slashes and use standard punctuation.

    Otherwise, we got the theme answers quickly, but like a lot of the others got stuck at the DS_S, S_AM crossing. Thought it could be about stockings, and therefore SeAM. Imagined the SCAM angle, but thought it could equally plausibly be SpAM or ShAM. Finally had to look up what the Distinguished Service medal was, and saw "Cross".

    Fave answers: TUNG OIL, MODULATE, DEPOSIT (in the geological sense), RIBALD and FOXY (which follows SEAT TEASE!)

    Didn't like PEATS. SeAMs, I mean, seems, to me that the plural of peat should be simply "peat.


    Oscar 4:04 AM  

    But the theme is so *innovative* ... at least, the author thinks so.

    What a tool.

    Charles Flaster 6:04 AM  

    Easy as theme makes it so.
    I seem to not have been "hosed' by SeAM.
    Enjoyed word ladder idea and got it with WILT as I usually work themers south to north.
    Saw WILT score 53 in his debut in old MSG against Celtics as first game of a doubleheader(yes).
    Liked cluing for SCOTCH, CLEATS, DEPOSIT and LAMA.
    Three crosswordEASE proper names-- OLIN,
    Thanks JK

    Danp 6:37 AM  

    I found this incredibly easy, since 6 entire horizontal lines were filled with 1) 4-letter words 2) Monday-level cluing 3) 3-letter hints once you get one word. Only LOUDLOUTS and PALEPALS required you to look at two clues together at the beginning.

    I never heard BUNGLE used as anything but a verb, or SNAFU used as anything other than a noun/adjective (sorry Paris). Dictionaries suggest I'm too inflexible, though.

    Tungoil? Let's all agree not to use that word in casual conversation.

    GILL I. 6:39 AM  

    This puzzle reminded me of when I was about 14 and living in Sarasota. I'm supposing it was because nobody had anything better to do and word ladders could be passed around during class. You could always count on the one person who would repeat a word already written at the top of the ladder and thereby screwing it up for the rest of us.
    I guess I'm the only one who had SLAM for SCAM?
    How many this and that's do we need to make a MISC?
    I always want to ooh and aah on a Sunday. Didn't feel the DYNAMO.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:40 AM  

    Two explicable write-overs: 75 D, Works, TOMES before TOILS; 76 A, Comics canine, OTTO before ODIE. One inexplicable write-over, 55 A, Word in many California city names, VAN (as in VAN Nuys, which it turns out isn't even a city, just a neighborhood!) before SAN!

    Maybe Will was planning to run a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote puzzle but couldn't afford the licensing fee?

    Susierah 6:45 AM  

    Would somebody please explain the clue "was ist Los". I guessed at lol, which made the maid laid, held me up for a long time. Thx!

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:50 AM  

    "Was ist los?" is German for "What's the matter?" or "What's wrong?".

    chefbea 7:52 AM  

    Couldn't get it!!! Tough puzzle!! DNF

    And @Rex...the check is in the mail!!

    Dorothy Biggs 8:45 AM  

    I got hung up on the DSCS/SCAM crossing for a different reason. I had coBALt for 56A. I don't know RATSO, though I think now in retrospect we just had it in a recent puzzle, and I (like Rex) can't keep my military awards straight so that T in 58D didn't bother me. When I finally saw VISES, then RIBALD opened up and since I already had SCAM, that was done.

    I can never keep ONEALs straight either...O'Neil/O'Neal. Seriously, that's worse than a -sen/-son name ending: Anderson/Andersen. Get your name spellings together, people!

    I laughed a little at ISL as an abbreviation. Is isle that much harder to spell that you need to abbreviate it? Yeah, I get that island really needs to be abbreviated because it is such a long word, but still.

    And in the FWIW department, word ladders rank right up there with puns for me in lowly forms of wacky humor. These particular ones were good, I guess. The clues not so much, but to craft 5 of them and incorporate them into a grid seems like it would be a tour de force of word ladder crafting, or HULLing, if you will. So, good on you there.

    TUNGOIL is not something I've heard of. I'm also not familiar with the word SCOTCH used in the sense of putting an end to something.

    NYer 8:46 AM  

    Got hosed at SCAM, like many commenters here. Had never heard that slang term before. You learn something new (however vulgar) every day.

    Unknown 9:03 AM  

    I used to enjoy Sunday puzzles! And learn something. Now too cutesy for me. I enjoy Rex's comments more!

    Glimmerglass 9:18 AM  

    One more solver who got hosed by the arrangement. Like Rex I had DSoS, but I just left SoAM with a puzzled shrug. Is this a partial, SO AM . . . .? SeAM actually makes more sense than what I had. Otherwise, an easy (i.e. disappointing) bSunday.G

    Unknown 9:22 AM  

    I'll cop to visiting and perusing the some 500 offerings before guessung DSCS, but SeAMS sure looked good on the cross, eh, gang? ShAM, SlAM also in the range of the possible

    ILeNa Massey/SCeTCH was my BADDIE today. Easy. A stress-free 1:20 with one head fine by me.

    My goal when I started solving 20 months ago was a 2 hr Sunday. Now it is a 45 minute Sunday. That's progress?

    Teedmn 9:36 AM  

    Smiled when I saw the red square in @Rex's grid - same error, same reason here. Besides that, this was easy though I tried to bollix up the far SE. CObweb for COFFIN made for some head-scratching but the theme and LYME SCOTCHed that. Also, HULk for HULL and VIcES for VISES at first, also saved by the theme.

    No oohs and ahas on this puzzle but it was an enjoyable exercise in ladders. Thanks, Mr. Krozel, for a fine Sunday.

    John V 9:40 AM  

    Very easy, lottsa fun. LOUISCK and that block was a sticker. Liking Krozel Sundays!

    joho 9:44 AM  

    Joe Krozel takes the word ladder to new heights!

    I really enjoyed figuring out each ridiculous phrase: FUN!

    I used to work with a guy named Jose who we affectionately nicknamed "Hoseman," so that meaning popped into my head first. However, the SeAM angle is a good one.

    @Rex, for MAIDSAIDSANDSANKSINK I saw a huge SINK hole. LOL.

    Thanks for a very pleasant and fast Sunday morning solve, Mr. Krozel!

    joho 9:48 AM  

    @retired_chemist, I forgot to add that I liked your used of "foxed" instead of fixed. I think I'm going to started foxing things myself.

    Questinia 9:50 AM  

    Hands up for SeAM. So I believe the clue fails some sort of reliability test?

    Love the picture of the stems.

    mathguy 9:53 AM  

    Distinguished Service Cross is a very familiar term. And I've never heard of a military decoration abbreviated DSE. So why the SEAM confusion?

    I liked this one a lot. All but one or two of the horizontal word ladders made good sense and were cleverly clued. The fill was bright. The cluing was smart. There were several fresh entries.

    Bravo, Mr. Krozel!

    Horace S. Patoot 9:56 AM  

    I don't have a military background, but I got DSC from the D. It is one step below Medal of Honor so it's not obscure, though DSO seems to show up much more in crosswords. Maybe people need an "O" more often than they need a "C"?

    Bird 10:01 AM  

    Good morning all. Today's puzzle was a good one IMO. Didn't get the theme right away, but enjoyed it when I did.

    Only correction was ONER before LULU. Only nit is for the clue on 55D as I think it should be "Flippant".

    BTW the variety puzzle is a nice diagramless by Fred Piscop.

    RooMonster 10:03 AM  

    Hey All !
    Clue for above: Roo doing puzzle

    Liked this puz, but unlike mosr here, I happen to like word ladders! Was easy- slighty medium here. Only real holdup was the SCOTCH area, last to fall, and after staring at it for quite some time, broke down and had to Goog Actress Massey. Still a DNF, as I had SCOrCH. Also had SeAM for hose, sounded correct. And LOSALtOS/tEASE. Only 3 mistakes. Not too shabby!

    Explanations on a couple answers, though. RAFT for Whole Bunch (had Alot) and SCOTCH . Anyone, Bueller?

    Hands up for coBALt before RIBALD, also BADguy before BADDIE. Wanted los for SAN, but unded up finding the other LOS.

    (Make up own clue on that!:-D)

    Unknown 10:16 AM  

    Super easy. The word ladders don't bother me. I find them kinda fun. DSo/DSC tripped me up, but only briefly once I caught the 'hosing' reference. Only came up with TUNGOIL because I used it to refinish the wide-plank pine flooring in my old house. Lucky me.

    Anonymous 10:21 AM  

    Hmm. "Mungo" yesterday, and "Mongo portrayer" in today's Merl Reagle. Coincidence? I think not. It's an obscure word progression of its own. Look for "mango" in tomorrow's WP puzzle as an answer, not a clue.

    Does anyone know what "Brownie in motion" means in Merl's puzzle today?

    BillyC 10:22 AM  

    First, my guess would be that @Rex meant that the clue on "scam" was "tortuous" (not straightforward), rather than the "torturous" (very painful) that he actually used ... but what do I know.

    Second, to Charles Flaster: I saw the Celts play the old Minneapolis Lakers in 1959 on the parquet at the old Boston Garden in what was the highest-scoring game at that time (173-139, Celts).

    More exciting to me was that my Jr. HS team played a 16-minute running-clock game there at halftime, my team winning 14-8. Yet more exciting was the fact that I scored 8 points, including a fall-away jumper buzzer-beater, to the roar of the crown.

    MOST exciting, though was that we got to go into the Celts locker room just before they came out for the second half, and I met Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn, and "Jungle" Jim Luskatoff (but not Bob Cousy, to my dismay).

    Ah-h-h ... Memories of youth...

    Mohair Sam 10:26 AM  

    After a few minutes we got the theme and filled the theme answers quickly. After that it was smooth sailing and we finished in record time. Rate this one as easy, too easy to be a lot of fun.

    The SCAM that was trouble for many here was almost a gimme for us. Surprised (and a bit saddened) that so few know the DSC, our Army's second highest military award. The words "For Valor" appear on the award, and they have literal meaning in this case.

    Z 10:33 AM  

    Watching that Kiss video made me wonder if Nickelback would inspire less hate if they performed in face paint with their manly chest hair showing.

    In the world of Crossnames we get Lena OLIN, Silas DEANE, ODIE and SNERT, Ernie ELS disguised as a train, KHAN, ALFA Romeo, NOME, OAHU, ERTE, ABEL and ENOS, SAKI, Camille Saint-SAENS, SAAB, Mila KUNIS, the TALESEs, King KONG, Ryan O'NEAL, LOUIS CK, NED, INCA, LEAH Rabin, Fendi UOMO, and even IDEAL becomes a brand name. This degree of proper nouns is unremarkable in a 21x21 puzzle, which is why Sundays feel like a slog so often. Names you don't see often, like STAUBACH, are fine by me. But when was the last time we saw Button Gwinnett in a puzzle instead of Silas DEANE? Munch instead of ERTE? Kahoʻolawe instead of OAHU?

    I prefer my word ladders on Mondays. This reminds me of a saying that is oft repeated on the Ultimate pitch, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

    Anonymous 10:36 AM  

    How does "Darn, e.g." (19-a) work out to be "oath" ? Easy to get from crosses, but I don't get the meaning. Thx

    Anonymous 10:39 AM  

    Ahh. Brownian motion.

    quilter1 10:41 AM  

    Thanks, @Rex for the picture reminding us how sexy hosiery used to be. The down side was having to wear (and sit on) garters. I used to tell my college students I was older than frozen pizza and panty hose. They thought I was kidding.
    This puzzle played a little long for me, if easy. I used a lot of TUNGOIL remodeling the house. Biggest write over was wily for FOXY, but easily fixed.

    BillyC 10:42 AM  

    @Anon10:36 --

    An oath can be swearing or cursing. "Darn" is a mild curse. I guess the Gray Lady doesn't like to use the more common "Damn" in its clues.

    Nancy 10:44 AM  

    Always interesting to see how much great minds think alike. I also had SEAM/DSES -- along with Rex, et al, ad infinitum. Other than that, a really easy puzzle. I amused myself by trying to fill in the theme answers with as few crosses as possible. Made it more fun and a bit more challenging.
    BTW, Should you want a Sunday challenge, try today's Variety diagramless. A diagramless is ALWAYS harder than a regular crossword. I can finish only about 35%--50% of them in a given year. But today's is one of the easier ones I've come across (still hard, but do-able). Should any of you want to test the waters for the 1st time, start out with this one. It might lead you to a whole 'nother puzzle-solving experience.

    F.O.G. 10:48 AM  

    At first thought "model Kate" referred to Upton (she's currently on the Game of War commercials). Figured out MOSS when I got MOST.

    Didn't realize "Darn" is an OATH.

    Got the DSCS and SCAM crossing and finished in just under an hour, but the last 20 minutes was spent struggling with LOUISCK, LEAH, CAMI and KHAN.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:14 AM  

    @Mathguy is right on the DSC'S; do I detect a sense of contempt for the military when so many dismiss such a high honor? Yet there is a defense for knowing the impossible-to-infer-from-spelling rapper's names. @Kerfuffle has cleverly hinted at the rapacious greed of the MLK family. @NCA Pres: "We have scotched the snake, not killed it," Lady Macbeth. Word ladders are fun, and these were clever. My only downfall was not being adept at women's fashions and contemporary comedians: CAMIsole and LOUIS CK. Once again: ILONA Massey was one gorgeous gal, often in crosswords.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:20 AM  

    In the 1930's "Hosing" was quite unacceptable as a term in polite society.

    RAD2626 11:22 AM  

    @mathguy and @Mohair Sam are both right. Distinguished Service Cross is readily recognizable, I knew it, I had SCAM written in and I changed it to SeAM. A real Roberto DeVicenzo.

    MAYNT aynt quaynt. It should have been contracted out of the puzzle.

    Otherwise a fun solve.

    Maruchka 11:29 AM  

    Perfect for a warm(er), rainy Sunday morn. Like buttah.. Also like that the answers tongue-twist when repeated aLOUD.

    Fav of the day - CAMI. My daughter turned me on to mini-camis. Very useful when worn with shear tops.

    Re: Hosing. Can any of you Canadians remind me what 'hose' means? I seem to recall it from a SCTV skit, Great White North.

    @Bob K - LOL for the MLK license!

    Fred Romagnolo 11:35 AM  

    Here I go again; during wwii, nylons were unavailable to civilians, so they came up with a tan leg paint girls could use instead; but, of course, no seam; so the ingenious ladies added their own with an eyebrow pencil!

    Charles Flaster 11:40 AM  

    I remember that game well.
    Also Heinsohn (ack-ack) was my favorite non- Knick of all time because of his penchant for shooting a low arcing jumper!!
    Thanks for the memories.

    demit 11:48 AM  

    Fred Romagnolo, maybe it's a contempt for war, rather than war medals. I think it is a happy thing, to be not so intimately familiar with the accoutrements of war.

    Z 11:50 AM  

    @Fred Romagnolo - I don't know if you noted @Casco Kid's comment, but he gets at the gist of the problem, so many different awards. In a more perfect world more people would know more than just the Medal of Honor. But the world is only as perfect as it is and there just isn't a lot of generalized knowledge of matters military. For a puzzle solver the clue "Mil. decorations" might as well be "three random letters with an S on the end." If ignorance is contempt, then you have a point. I see the level of respect afforded our veterans at ball games and on shows like Racheal Maddow on MSNBC*, though, and have a hard time saying there is much "contempt" in our society for our military. Every Tiger game features active service personnel bringing out the game ball. They always get a standing ovation. We tend to save our contempt for politicians who get our military into untenable situations and misadventures and then don't provide adequately for our veterans when they return home.

    *Maddow frequently does segments featuring spokespeople from veteran groups speaking on veteran issues. She constantly works to shame Congress into doing right by our veterans.

    Jim Hendler 11:59 AM  

    I thought the DSE thing was an obscure clue - but recently the defense security enterprise (DSE) has given out awards - with all the fuss about cyber and the SONY breakin I thought maybe that was meant, and i liked seam for hose ...

    SenorLynn 12:03 PM  

    STAUBACH was a gimme here in Dallas, where he's royalty for football, & a big player in commercial real estate. Plus his daughter has been on City Council.
    @Maruchka TAKE.OFF.YOU.HOSER--Bob & Doug McKenzie
    @Sheila Bell & @Z --I agree Sundays are for getting stretched-out, linguistically. The easy ladders belong on a Tue or Wed.
    @Billy C-- "DAM" is how it's pronounced, but that spelling is 1)what beavers make or 2) a female parent.
    36 min, better than Fri or Sat

    Tita 12:03 PM  

    I always get my TUNGOIL confused with my Neatsfoot oil.
    @OldCarFudd should be able to verify the use of the latter as critical for the turn signal indicator on British cars (and possibly others?) of a certain vintage - my '60 MGA had the "innovative" pneumatic turn signal indicator that turned off automatically - helping drivers avoid the ignominy of driving endlessly with it on.
    (That car was super-charged - as is my current Mini - no TURBOs for me.)

    My bryophytologist cousin visited over the holidays...
    Among the many delightful things I learned from her was that PEAT is the most efficient CO2 SINK on the planet. And why it is a very un-green fuel source.
    Look up "bog bodies" if you want some creepy-but-fascinating lore.

    Waking NED Devine is one of my favorite movies. Watch it if you can.

    I loved the whole process of applying DECALs to my brother's models. He built a Big Bertha tank, and would attack my sister's Betsy-Wetsy with it.

    Kinda gross that the word "grub" is synonymous with EATS.

    ONION is a green paint answer, no? There is not much for which ONION is not an ingredient. It is certainly not a defining one for stuffing. Maybe "Ubiquitous ingredient" would be apter.

    The puzzle was fun, even if, as @Danp points out, the ladders made it really easy.
    Didn't know I DNF'd till I got here - ended with ILeNA/SCeTCH. Never heard of SCOTCH that way. Never heard of SCeTCH either, but it was about 3am when I finished...

    Thanks Mr. Krozel. So many evocative words, but I've overstayed my welcome...

    Steve J 12:05 PM  

    @Z: Well said. Inability to remember the many awards is not a commentary on the value of such awards. It's simply reflective of the fact that different people are able to keep different things near the front of their recall. Especially since that DS_ sequence has at least two frequently used answers in crosswords, it wasn't at all inconceivable that there could be another that I - and others - wasn't familiar with.

    Andrew Heinegg 12:06 PM  

    I have followed your solving experiences via this blog and, when I first saw your assessments, I concluded that this is a very smart man who just needs to learn crosswordese. Now, I note from your entries that you often do better than me in solving. Make no mistake, you have become very good and your observations are always interesting and I look forward to them.

    mathguy 12:06 PM  

    Billy C: What a great memory! And you sank a buzzer-beater. Wow!

    I was on the freshman team at USF with Bill Russell. He's distanced himself from the University. He was a few units short of a degree when he finished his four years. Bill, his daughter, and USF were unsuccessful in finding a mutually agreeable path toward awarding him a degree.

    That Celtic team was unparalleled. Eight of them are in the Hall of Fame.

    mac 12:16 PM  

    Another hand up for seam; I was so convinced it had something to do with tights.

    I thought the clue for 52A was odd.

    We saw Leah Rabin at a Chinese restaurant in NY not long after her husband died.

    AliasZ 12:27 PM  

    Two JK's in a row! I wonder if JK Rowling and JK Simmons construct puzzles. And a KH in the puzzle too. (Hi @Leapy).

    What's wrong with word ladders? Not an OATH thing. Especially when we have six in one puzzle. It is an ingenious way for Joe Krozel to thumb his nose at all those who dislike word ladders. It would be similar to making a six-pun puzzle in honor of those who hate puns. Loved it!

    I caught on at KIDS KISS MISS MOSS MOST and the rest fell soon thereafter. Chamberlain was the easiest. With WILT in place the choices become quite obvious.

    DEPOSIT and its symmetrical pair, PULL OUT, evoked all sorts of images in my mind. The obvious one originates from the organ. Pipe organ. As in PULL OUT all the stops. The organ console has the knobs, or stops, that block the airflow to the rows of pipes. Pulling out all the stops allows air to flow freely to all the pipes, giving the maximum volume the organ is capable of producing.

    I never heard PEATS in the plural, except in Jeez-ooh-PEATS!

    I learned TUNG OIL today, and am proud to announce that I still remember ERYTHROCYTE and INTERROBANG.

    The one-L Lama links
    "Rama" to the "Ding Dong",
    The two-L LLama llinks
    Not at all to King KONG,
    But I'll bet my MISC FAKE ERTEs,
    They still play Donkey KONG
    On the ISL of Hong KONG.

    How about a macabre dance by M. Camille Saint-SAËNS? Enjoy!

    'mericans in Paris 12:30 PM  

    @Fred Romagnolo

    I agree with the others: not all of the military medals are household names anymore.

    In my case, I knew that the DS stood for Distinguished Service, but all that would come to my mind was the
    Distinguished Service Medal, which for some reason I've heard referred to more often (perhaps from listening to the BBC -- the British version also dates from WW1) than the DS Cross.


    Ludyjynn 12:30 PM  

    Freaking non-legible captcha ate my comments. Round Two:

    Very easy Sunday. I got the first theme ladder at the 67A clue and still like my initial response better than the write-over, so here it is: KIDSKISSMISSMOSSsass.

    The comments about gym floors brings to mind my most vivid memory of my first prof. basketball game at the old Madison Square Garden where the Knicks were playing the Celtics. I can still see, hear and smell the place, from the rickety wooden escalators, squeaky flooring, high top sneakers, smoky air, emerald green satin Boston jerseys and shorts against the bright white home NY uniforms. So many years and games later, this still stands out.

    Betsy Wetsy was my first doll, but IDEAL's Shirley Temple doll was my favorite. Still have her and she is worth $$$. RIP, Shirley Temple Black. The NYT did a nice tribute to her in "The Lives They Lived" magazine issue 2 weeks ago.

    Thanks, JK and WS, for easing me into the week.

    Anonymous 12:34 PM  

    i was scammed too,....otherwise easy-peasy once i had the theme.

    NSA Agent X 12:41 PM  

    @BillyC, loved your comments today. But who is watching George Barany while you are busy actually commenting on the puzzle? We can't allow such dereliction of duty. If we are not careful, he may sneak in a few nasty links to some clever crossword puzzles.

    Maruchka 12:53 PM  

    Oops, that's 'sheer'. No cutting of the CAMI, please. Should also have written, "Answers are TUNG-twisters". REFS @Leapy.

    Thanks, @SenorLynn. Also agree re: Sundays and language fun.

    @Mac - Camper VAN and VAN Camp's pork and beans. Many a can of same was opened, while camping.

    MDMA 1:08 PM  

    Today, EATS was clued with "Grub". On New Year's Day it was the opposite.

    Hands up for BADguy. Knew DSC so no trip up there. Got TUNG OIL only from crosses.

    This was easy because all the long themes mostly fell into place after a few crosses.

    jburgs 1:20 PM  

    I was a little surprised at those who complained about the SCAM clue. DSC is seen almost weekly in NYT XWD it seems to me and it is in my memory as crosswordese. Perhaps someone can give its frequency of appearance.

    I also caught on to the theme early. That usually bothers me as then continued solving is to easy. but this puzzle had enough tough cluing for my level to still provide some challenges and it was a fun solve.

    Z 1:21 PM  

    @Maruchka - Ignorance was bliss. CAMo CAMI anyone? OLDNF.

    Carola 1:28 PM  

    Completed only out of a sense of duty. Looking at the filled-in grid, the letters SLOG under 10-13 Down popped out at me.

    Webb 1:46 PM  

    Wasn't hosed by scam, but did miss "misc"-- maid me most mad! :)

    Fred Romagnolo 1:52 PM  

    To all you anti-war, but not anti-warrior people, I apologize if my words offended, didn't know about Maddow - good for her! I guess I'm still sensitive to how the "Nam" vets were treated, people are a lot more civil now. My brother served in WWII, Korea, and Nam; guess I'm a little too thin-skinned.

    Benko 1:52 PM  

    Add me to those who think that ignorance of a particular medal does not imply contempt or dismissal of the military. I am from a family with many military members over the past 3 generations, many of them highly decorated, and yet I know DSC and DSO only from crosswords. And the military men in my family don't talk about their medals--my grandfather kept his Bronze Star and Silver Star from WWII hidden in his closet and never even told my grandmother about them. We only discovered them after he passed away.

    Z 2:16 PM  

    @Fred Romagnolo - I think 'Nam afforded us a chance to learn many lessons, one of which is to hold in respect those who serve our country. No offense taken here, I was more concerned that none was felt. Anyone who served in Vietnam and anyone close to them has earned the right to have a thin skin as far as I'm concerned.

    Unknown 2:23 PM  

    @Maruchka - regarding the Canadian origins of the hoser term - the story goes that after playing hockey on an outdoor rink, the losing team would be required to apply a layer of water to resurface the ice. Hence hoser = loser. Where I live, the neighborhood association owns a zamboni and hires crews to maintain the ice. No hosers here!

    Sandy 2:39 PM  

    Maybe it's because I have the flu, but the long acrosses gave me the kind of headache that a repeating noise can. Blech. I couldn't wait to finish the damn thing and go back to bed.

    BillyC 2:57 PM  

    -- NSA Agent X --

    Heh, heh ...

    Don't worry, I'm here every day to chastise the good Professor if he uses this blog for self-promotion. Anyone else, also. Actually, he seems to have mended his ways -- he's only posted constructive comments lately. Thanks, George!

    -- Billy

    old timer 3:01 PM  

    Je MACUSE! Isn't that a famous French editorial? Anyhow, MACUSER was my last entry.

    But it turns out I would have had a red square too. I put down "Das" to follow "was ist". When it turned out I needed an L instead of a D, I left in "Las". I figured there could the a Sheriff Labo out there somehow.

    But I had no trouble with SCAM. "Seam" did not come to mind, because the seam on a stocking is not an arrangement. It's just a seam. Not that SCAM came easy: I assumed the military decoration was the DSO. Only when I decided there is no such word as "soam" did I come up with the right arrangement of hose (or hosing).

    MDMA 3:14 PM  


    Neither DSCS nor DSC have been particularly common in NYT puzzles. Maybe once a year or less.

    BillyC 3:20 PM  


    Actually, "J'Accuse" was the headline of a letter in a prominent French newspaper in the late 1800s, addressed to the President, in which the writer Emile Zola accused him of anti-Semitic motives in falsely jailing the army officer Alfred Dreyfus without due process. Dreyfus was released and later exonerated a few years later.

    It's interesting that France is now in the news for being, in part, a tool of the Jews in ridiculing Mohammed. Sadly, a new wave of French Jews are now emigrating to Israel as a result.

    GILL I. 3:34 PM  

    @Billy C. I don't believe anybody on this blog appointed you the Nazi censor nor, I believe, has the Rexmeister.
    @George B has provided some terrific puzzles. Had he not mentioned them, I would have missed some really good stuff. A REALLY fun one to solve is a Marcia Brott/Barany that was published in the WSJ. Go to They did the Saturday's and I only wish it had appeared in the NYT.

    Elaine2 3:44 PM  

    Puzzle was ok -- I also have trouble with those service awards....

    Thanks, Rex, for including one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs in today's blog!

    BillyC 4:07 PM  

    @Gill --

    Thanks for your temperate characterization of me as a Nazi.

    I've tried to be civil in my interactions with Professor Barany, and I'm sure that he's a fine gentleman. However, @Rex lists several Xword blog sites of other constructors, on the right side of his page, and suggested that this would be an appropriate place to publicize his good work.

    I'd hate to see the public blog populated with a lot of promotional content (except for that of Rex, of course, who deserves it but uses it only occasionally). Some worthwhile sites have been ruined by this.

    Thanks again for your kind words, Gill.

    -- Billy

    Maruchka 4:24 PM  

    @Kris ABCA - Ah, now I get it. Love a working Zamboni...

    GILL I. 4:30 PM  

    @---Billy...Just using some Seindfeldesque kostlicher sinn fur humor.
    You don't want to see the blog taken over by anything promotional? - fine, skip over it.

    BillyC 5:12 PM  

    Gill --

    Back atcha with your "just skip over it" advice.

    John Child 5:48 PM  

    Rex's sidebar of puzzle sites has lots of dead links and doesn't appear to have been updated for years.

    I don't mind an occasional promo post. It's easy to look at the author of any comment and decide whether to read that one or not.

    evil doug 5:54 PM  

    As the consistent voice of calm reason and polite intercourse on this forum, I must say I'm quite disappointed with the tense tenor that Mr. C. has introduced since he first appeared here. I ask you, sir, have you no shame? No sense of common decency? No better use of your time than to nettle us with your thoughtless comments? I beseech you, Mr. C., please go hose yourself sideways.

    Sincerely yours,

    BillyC 6:07 PM  

    Oh, hi, Doug. Goog to see that ole trash-haulin' C-130 pilot here on the site. Not to mention a proud graduate of Drake U (is that a duck?) and a professor at a fine Kain-tuck institution.

    And you shoor can talk pretty fancy, suh!

    Yours, Bill

    LaneB 6:28 PM  

    Relatively easy Sunday but for the NE where ADREP stumped mr and made the rest tough. Otherwise a smooth solve

    Random Onservation 6:29 PM  

    Ever notice that when the three post limit is violated the quality of the puzzle related discourse suffers?

    Z 6:58 PM  

    @Not So Random Observation - Yes.

    Benko 7:21 PM  

    I think it was the phrase "a tool of the Jews" which made people think of Nazis and not the George Barany criticism, @Billy,

    Tita 7:24 PM  

    Oh dear, and here me and the Mister was just thinkin' how nice it was that the comments had settled back down.

    @Gill - I knew just what you meant, and wholeheartedly agree!

    George B is not hawking Veg-o-matics, penile enhancers, or asking for bank account info.
    He's providing access to FREE crossword puzzles!!

    What's the problem[insert interrobang here]

    Lawdy, lawdy - you have me agreeing with ED!!!

    Anonymous 9:35 PM  

    I'm so glad to see that promotion of fun, free crossword puzzles has been replaced by rambling personal stories of junior high basketball exploits and a half-assed mansplaining of the Dreyfus Affair that nobody asked for.


    Teedmn 9:48 PM  

    Thanks, @Tita, for your hope of civility.

    If I hadn't followed a couple of links here, I would have missed some wonderful puzzles (which is why I'm here), some amazing classical music, and Haley Gold's over-the-top cartoon depictions of the crossworld world.

    I can understand objections to self-promotion; we are all subjected to so many advertisements and cookie-induced pop-ups that one becomes cynical towards links to nearly anything. But I can say that with the exception of the weird spell caster trolls that appear here, I've never found anything objectionable that fellow commenters offered.

    End of the weekend, a new start for all. Let's hope for great puzzles.

    Anonymous 10:21 PM  

    Finally (I hope), George B also asked, and received, permission from Rex to provide his links. I don't know by what narcissistic presumption Bill C decided he could counteract Rex's choice, but I wish he would stop.

    Unknown 10:25 PM  

    徵信協會 ,合法徵信社,免費法律諮詢,外遇徵兆,

    Rhino 10:40 PM  

    Thought it was fine, easy in the south, harder up top.

    But I was busy all day and didn't get to it until after nine pm in Minnesota, so it becomes an existential dilemma: if one posts and there is no one left to read it, have I done anything at all?

    jae 11:46 PM  

    @Rhino - Yes, yes you have.

    Hartley70 11:54 PM  

    I've just read it @Rhino and got a chuckle.

    I worked on this in 5 minute drips and drabs today and finished with the seam-SCAM error just like a lemming.
    I enjoyed the word ladders on a Sunday because they haven't been over-used and the novelty was welcome.

    RIBALD Soprano 1:38 AM  

    My oh my! I think Benko is right, Tita is right, Gill is right. And Gawd help me, I think EvilD is right!

    'Polite intercourse', ED? Is 'polite intercourse' what Magnum, P.I. stands for!?!? May I henceforth address you as EvilD, P.I.?

    spacecraft 11:07 AM  

    Got the ladder thing right away; in fact I went down the list of 20's and FILLed them in FULL...but isn't that redundant? However, I did have trouble reconciling that varnish ingredient. What is "TUNG?" It's not a word at all, according to my Scrabble dictionary, so its OIL is a mystery as well. And who was Sheriff LOBO? I forget.

    Part of the charm of word ladders is that the end word is supposed to have some kind of relationship to the starter, even if it's an opposite. HUGE to LOTS sorta works--although I have a big problem with ALOT crossing LOTS, especially when they both mean "A whole bunch."

    This LOUISCK guy (whoever heard of somebody naming himself with a full first name followed by two initials? W*E*I*R*D. But reading the clue is even more deeply disturbing. This guy is supposed to be a comedian??? Talk about your dark humor! LOUIS, you should get counseling. No joking context can hide that cry for help.

    On further thought, I guess LOUD to CAST has a connection: every day I hear radio noise blasting from cars--and even motorcycles! You're right, Joe: there oughta be a LAW! Surest tip ever: buy stock in hearing aid companies!

    rondo 12:22 PM  

    Might Shortz wish inheritance intent? = WILLWILLWILLWILLWILL
    What's with the goofy word ladders?
    I guess if I can't say anything good . . .


    rain forest 3:55 PM  

    Really enjoyed this easy Sunday and found he word ladders appropriately 'wacky'. Mr. Krozel has an impressive ability to construct grueling Sat. puzzles with only 20 black squares as well as fun, perky Sundays like this one.

    Hey, @Spacey, have a listen to Louis CK on youtube. Funny, sardonic guy. I don't think he is deeply disturbed.

    No robot I.

    Bananafish 6:04 PM  

    Hated ADREP. Yuck. But Mila KUNIS? Yummy.

    rondo 6:07 PM  

    @bananafish - you are correct re: Mila KUNIS, I usually don't miss commenting on yeah babies.

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