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New York Times, Monday, October 12, 2015

Author: Patrick Merrell
Editor: Will Shortz
Patrick Merrell
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867/10/20017/12/20171
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20105123252
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1.60553
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 54 Missing: {Q} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 82 for Mr. Merrell. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: We asked some favorite Times crossword contributors, "What would you like to do in a daily Times crossword that has never been done before?" This week's puzzles, Monday to Saturday, are the result.
Patrick Merrell notes: When Will approached me with his 'never been done' scheme, it seemed the perfect opportunity to do something I've long wanted to do ... more
Patrick Merrell notes:

When Will approached me with his "never been done" scheme, it seemed the perfect opportunity to do something I've long wanted to do — create a daily NYT puzzle with illustrated clues. (I created an illustrated Sunday puzzle in 2004.)

I latched onto a spoonerism angle to bring something a bit different to the mix, but I didn't want to regurgitate someone else's creation. So I started mulling phrases. At some point I turned to two-syllable words that might be spoonerizable, beginning randomly with bucket and ticket … then pocket. A theme ensued. Googling "rocket full of pie" afterward, I found only a few unique hits, one being a children's short story by Joan Aiken in 1955.

Will originally asked me for a Mon-Wed. When I ran the basics by him, he asked if it could be done up as a Monday. Since I'd set up the grid to allow a fair amount of flexibility, and Monday seemed like just the place for a puzzle with cartoons, I quickly said yes.

The central answer could have been done Schrödinger-like, so that the crossing answers would fit their clues no matter which phrase was entered. But Will felt that wouldn't be Monday-worthy, and I agree. Better to keep it simple. Plus, it would have made for more constrained fill (I know because I tried).

Jeff Chen notes: What a great start to this 'breaking the mold' theme week! I'm a sucker for puzzles with visual elements, and I love Patrick's unique style of ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

What a great start to this "breaking the mold" theme week! I'm a sucker for puzzles with visual elements, and I love Patrick's unique style of art, so this one worked very well for me. A snippet from Patrick's "Zep" bookThe theme — spoonerizing A POCKET FULL OF RYE into "a rocket full of pie" — is simple enough for a Monday and it made me laugh. Plus, Patrick's drawings are just nice to look at.

I liked how NURSERY RHYME and SPACE STATION apply to the two drawings, too — great to get some bonus theme material to flesh out the puzzle.

What with effectively five theme answers (including the big spaces for the two drawings), it's great that Patrick works in some colorful fill. There's not a lot of long stuff, just LIME TREE and STARGATE, but a dose of geography in BOGOTA, WARSAW, and LIBYA zest things up. Even the six-letter entries like EUREKA! and YES YOU serve their purpose well.

I personally dislike partials more than any other sort of glue (except random Roman numerals), so I didn't care for IF AT or AS BIG, but otherwise the puzzle is so smooth. Very well executed.

It stinks to be an Across Lite solver today (which I usually am). The puzzle makes absolutely no sense what with giant chunks of 3x3 black squares; no way to display those comic strip panels. Might have been better to just do away with the .puz file completely. Get into the 21st century already, crossword software!

Great idea to work cartoon panels into a crossword grid, something I can't remember seeing before. BTW, there's another puzzle this week that I also loved, so there'll be two POWs! this week.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1012 ( 24,079 )
Across Down
1. Front of a ship : PROW
5. Smart-alecky : SASSY
10. ___ Ben-Hur : JUDAH
15. Volcano's output : LAVA
16. Give 10% to the church : TITHE
17. Layer in global warming discussions : OZONE
18. Antiquing substance : AGER
19. Operatic solos : ARIAS
20. Word repeated when calling a cat : KITTY
21. Where Picture A might be found : NURSERYRHYME
24. Preceder of Sept. : AUG
25. Rower : OARSMAN
30. Rolled sandwich : WRAP
32. Baby dog : PUP
33. Coin of France or Spain : EURO
34. Online commerce : ETAIL
36. Goodyear craft : BLIMP
37. Picture A ... or, after switching the circled letters and reading the result phonetically, Picture B : APOCKETFULLOFRYE
43. Benghazi's land : LIBYA
44. Of equal size : ASBIG
45. "Guilty" or "not guilty" : PLEA
46. Fitting : APT
48. City haze : SMOG
50. Fox's trait : SLYNESS
52. Due-in info : ETA
53. Where Picture B might be found : SPACESTATION
60. Madison, Monroe or any of four other presidents : JAMES
64. Put-down from Donald Trump : LOSER
65. Norway's capital : OSLO
66. Wise saying : ADAGE
67. Kind of leaf on Canada's flag : MAPLE
68. Give a face-lift : REDO
69. Wrinkle-reducing injection : BOTOX
70. Tudor or Art Deco : STYLE
71. Look for : SEEK
1. Blueprint : PLAN
2. Pasta sauce brand : RAGU
3. "Your turn," on a walkie-talkie : OVER
4. Poland's capital : WARSAW
5. 1994 sci-fi film turned into a series on Showtime : STARGATE
6. Light and open : AIRY
7. Blend using a spoon : STIR
8. Former Iranian ruler : SHAH
9. "Who, me?" reply : YESYOU
10. Wild card in a deck : JOKER
11. Gun in many an action flick : UZI
12. Part of an "i" or "j" : DOT
13. Kitchen pest : ANT
14. "Psst!" : HEY
22. Exultant cry of discovery : EUREKA
23. Page in an atlas : MAP
26. ___-portrait : SELF
27. California's ___ Woods : MUIR
28. Navy's gridiron rival : ARMY
29. Yep's opposite : NOPE
31. Small butter portion : PAT
32. + : PLUS
35. "___ first you don't succeed ..." : IFAT
36. Colombia's capital : BOGOTA
37. Tour de France mountains : ALPS
38. Capsule alternative : PILL
39. Do as one's told : OBEY
40. Blue used by a printer : CYAN
41. Abbr. on a gym weight : LBS
42. Bearer of green fruit : LIMETREE
46. Dangerous snake : ASP
47. Biblical book of poems : PSALMS
49. Florida bigmouths? : GATORS
51. English or New Jersey county : ESSEX
54. Layer of paint : COAT
55. Cable sports award : ESPY
56. Bear market order : SELL
57. "Ah, that's what you mean" : ISEE
58. Ye ___ Shoppe : OLDE
59. Cozy corner : NOOK
60. Quick punch : JAB
61. Hubbub : ADO
62. Doorstep "welcomer" : MAT
63. A politician might have a big one : EGO

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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