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New York Times, Monday, October 10, 2016

Author: Patrick Merrell
Editor: Will Shortz
Patrick Merrell
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857/10/200110/10/20160
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20105113252
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1.60553
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {Z} This is puzzle # 85 for Mr. Merrell. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: Easy-breezy, smooth puzzle with a fun theme — creatures with a monster in their names — everything I think a Monday ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Easy-breezy, smooth puzzle with a fun theme — creatures with a monster in their names — everything I think a Monday should be. At first I didn't get why GIANT of GIANT SQUID fit into the concept, but a quick headslap came after recalling the GIANTs in fairy tales, Harry Potter, etc.

Did you notice Patrick's elegant touch, two airborne animals in the top half of the grid, and two undersea ones in the bottom half? Love that! And I can imagine an ordered sequence, with a VAMPIRE BAT flying high, a DRAGONFLY closer to the ground, a DEVILFISH swimming not too deep, and a GIANT SQUID lurking in the depths. Absolutely perfect.

Nice bonus entries, too. Patrick uses the "long downs" approach with RUTABAGA (I'm not sure why, but it's such a funny-sounding word) and OFF NIGHT, a typical way to incorporate longer fill. Working long bonus fill into the across direction can be trickier, since those answers tend to have a lot of overlap with themers. Some very good choices in STALLION and BEATNIKS, and both are integrated so smoothly. Throw in a little NOONDAY, ITS TIME, and BAROQUE, and this solver got a lot more than he expected out of a Monday puzzle.

Such a smooth solve. I didn't care for ORONO, since it's a pretty small town and constructors tend to lean on it due to its vowel / consonant alternation, but all the crossings are fair. I debated whether ARIEL should be known by NYT solvers, but what else could that R be?

Normally I don't care for fill that's related to the theme, but it was fun to get a little STINE in the grid. For those in the know, he's been called the "Stephen King of children's literature." Perfect for this puzzle!

Although I'm a total wuss when it comes to anything remotely scary, I really enjoyed this puzzle.

1
D
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O
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R
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A
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J
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N
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L
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W
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1010 ( 24,443 )
Across Down
1. Numbered things in a hotel hallway : DOORS
6. Not fully closed, as 1-Across : AJAR
10. Sicilian volcano : ETNA
14. Cry to a battlefield medic : IMHIT
15. Pasta sauce "trusted since 1937" : RAGU
16. "Um, pardon me" : AHEM
17. Airborne animal with a monstrous name : VAMPIREBAT
19. Not medium or well done : RARE
20. "Who knows the answer?" : ANYONE
21. Mare's mate : STALLION
23. Pod fillers : PEAS
25. Site with the option "Shop by category" : EBAY
26. Top choice, informally : FAVE
29. Anonymous John : DOE
31. Exclamation when raising one's champagne glass : ATOAST
35. University of Maine town : ORONO
37. Airborne animal with a monstrous name : DRAGONFLY
39. Zilch : NIL
40. 12:00 : NOONDAY
42. Spot for a cat : LAP
43. Undersea animal with a monstrous name : DEVILFISH
45. Lessen : ABATE
47. Much : ALOTOF
48. Remove from a no-parking zone, say : TOW
50. High/low cards : ACES
51. ___-serif font : SANS
53. Singer who starred in "Moonstruck" : CHER
55. Beret-wearing individualists of the 1950s-'60s : BEATNIKS
59. U.S. moon-landing program : APOLLO
63. Play's start : ACTI
64. Undersea animal with a monstrous name : GIANTSQUID
66. "For ___ the Bell Tolls" : WHOM
67. Half: Prefix : HEMI
68. No longer in the closet, and not by choice : OUTED
69. Brain or ear part : LOBE
70. Fearsome dino : TREX
71. Must-haves : NEEDS
1. Performer inclined to throw tantrums : DIVA
2. Muscat is its capital : OMAN
3. "Goodness gracious!" : OHMY
4. Tear the wrapping off : RIPOPEN
5. Children's writer R. L. ___ : STINE
6. "___ you kidding me?!" : ARE
7. Quick punches : JABS
8. Banded rock : AGATE
9. Relative of a turnip : RUTABAGA
10. In the beginning stages : EARLYON
11. Bangkok resident : THAI
12. Emperor accused of starting the Great Fire of Rome : NERO
13. "I'll second that, brother!" : AMEN
18. Enjoy a book : READ
22. One of the Jacksons : LATOYA
24. "Ditto" : SODOI
26. Hollywood's Henry or Jane : FONDA
27. "The Little Mermaid" mermaid : ARIEL
28. Swedish car whose name is Latin for "I roll" : VOLVO
30. German artist Max : ERNST
32. Insurer with a duck in its commercials : AFLAC
33. Something to write on with chalk : SLATE
34. Uses a computer keyboard : TYPES
36. Borrowed, as artwork between museums : ONLOAN
38. For one particular purpose, as a committee : ADHOC
41. Subpar performance for a team or musician, say : OFFNIGHT
44. "We've waited long enough" : ITSTIME
46. Ornate architectural style : BAROQUE
49. "___ the heck" : WHAT
52. One going down a slippery slope : SKIER
54. Printer brand : EPSON
55. Cry like a baby : BAWL
56. Canyon rebound : ECHO
57. Very limited range : ATOB
58. "Ditto" : SAME
60. Troubadour's stringed instrument : LUTE
61. Told untruths : LIED
62. 10:1 at a racetrack, e.g. : ODDS
65. Veto : NIX

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

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