Listen With Others

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Listener No. 4651, That’s Your Lot!: A Setter’s Blog by Ploy

Posted by Listen With Others on 11 Apr 2021

Quite often, I find that the possible themes and treatments for crosswords that spring to mind are, after some initial exploration, put to one side to “mature”. This was definitely not the case for this one, the time between initial idea and the writing of the last clue being unusually short. And from the start, I had a pretty good idea where I’d submit it. It had been some years since I’d made a (solo) Listener appearance, with “Right and Left” in September 2016, also based on a Flanders and Swann song. For those with long memories, this new puzzle would perhaps be seen as a delayed follow-up!

Some of the lyrics in “First and Second Law” lend themselves well to use in a thematic puzzle, and I could see at least three stages for possible changes in the grid: the interchange of HEAT and WORK, the movement of HEAT from HOTTER to COOLER, and the replacement of WORK with PERFECT PEACE. The song’s reference to CONDUCTION, CONVECTION, and RADIATION also looked tempting. But I didn’t know if I could (or indeed should) exploit them all. The presence of pairs of 4- and 6-letter words was certainly a promising indication. And I hoped to include the throwaway line “Yeah – that’s entropy man!” somehow.

In trying out various grid layouts, I found that left-right symmetry worked the best, which coincidentally my previous F&S puzzle had called for. Having decided on the grid “mechanics” for the selected thematic elements, I was faced with the challenge of arranging for two real-word replacements, and eight double real-word replacements. They were mostly for short words, and fortunately the letters cooperated! But I did wonder how solvers might feel about replacing a replacement they’d already made.

“Lot” in the title had the further meaning of “destiny” and, perhaps at a stretch, could also stand for Laws Of Thermodynamics – at least, I hoped so!

Test-solving and subsequent editor vetting produced worthwhile changes in clueing and preamble, and those who helped have my gratitude. All solvers who commented on the puzzle, via whatever channel, also have my sincere thanks.

If you’d like a reminder of the song, with it’s witty spoken introduction, try this link:

Phil Lloyd (Ploy)


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