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ANCHORS AWAY!

New York Times, Sunday, August 6, 2017

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JX} This is puzzle # 224 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Ship puns, ROCK EM SOCK EM ROWBOATS (robots) giving me a big laugh. Such a funny image, such a ridiculous game concept. AINT SEEN NOTHING YACHT (yet) was also a winner in my eyes. It's not ... read more

Ship puns, ROCK EM SOCK EM ROWBOATS (robots) giving me a big laugh. Such a funny image, such a ridiculous game concept. AINT SEEN NOTHING YACHT (yet) was also a winner in my eyes. It's not often that I enjoy pun themes this much.

Some constructors would try to distinguish a straightforward pun puzzle by going down below 140 words, by crossing themers, by packing way too many themers in, etc. But the Master knows the limits of Sunday puzzles so well, avoiding these traps on his way to delivering his trademark incredibly smooth grid, crafted with so much elegance.

Okay, nine themers is pretty difficult to pull off, especially when some of them are long. I would have actually been fine without SEMI TRAWLER, but since PB worked it in without compromises, it's a nice bonus.

One thing constructors ought to note: look at how many cheater squares PB used ... without making them feel like they were really cheating. There's two on the top row (after AVAST and after BAH), one before RYE, one after ELI. (The one before ROCK EM SOCK EM ROWBOATS doesn't count in my eyes, since it's forced by the 20-letter themer length.) That's eight (!) cheater squares in total, but I barely noticed them, since they're so spread out; none of them clumped up. Cheater squares help SO much, and not enough constructors use them.

Not a ton of bonuses in the grid, but with TAPE DELAY and its fantastic clue — it gives a censor time to remove a curse (word)! — NUMERO UNO, RAT TRAP, HANGS IT UP, these do the trick.

As with every PB puzzle, hard to point out even a single subpar entry. I hadn't known Neal BOORTZ, but learning one thing out of a puzzle is a good thing for me. And all the crosses were easy enough.

Not every Sunday puzzle has to be groundbreaking or even novel, but this is a perfect example of how a tried and true theme type can be executed to such a degree of elegance that it still shines.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0806 ( 24,743 )
Across
1
"Cease!," on the seas : AVAST
6
"What nonsense!" : BAH
9
Walk on the edge? : CURB
13
Luminary : NAME
17
Clubs with strobes : DISCOS
19
Hieroglyphic bird : IBIS
21
___ O's (chocolaty cereal brand) : OREO
22
Asian territory in the game Risk : URAL
23
Roll out : DEPART
24
Sailing vessels that Cap'n Crunch might commandeer? : GALLEONSOFMILK
27
Cuzco builders : INCAS
29
Tetris piece : BLOCK
30
Testing times : ORDEALS
31
Heavily armored vessels getting married? : WARSHIPSATTHEALTAR
35
Smelter input : ORE
36
Whiskey distiller's supply : RYE
37
"The plot thickens!" : OHO
38
Candy in collectible containers : PEZ
39
Mideast monarchy : OMAN
43
Numbers on right-hand pages : ODDS
45
Resells ruthlessly : SCALPS
47
Speaker on a car's dash : GPS
48
Polished : SUAVE
49
Fruit mentioned in the "Odyssey" : LOTUS
51
Equal : ARE
52
Actor Stephen : REA
53
Split, e.g. : SUNDAE
54
Kids' game in which small vessels attack each other? : ROCKEMSOCKEMROWBOATS
59
Rio maker : KIA
60
Flood survivor : NOAH
61
___ Gold, chief of staff on "The Good Wife" : ELI
62
Often-quoted chairman : MAO
63
A large amount : GOBS
66
Fishing vessel that can pull only half a net behind it? : SEMITRAWLER
70
Bruce of "The Hateful Eight" : DERN
71
Messenger ___ : RNA
72
Rare craps roll : TWO
73
Incapacitate, in a way : TASE
74
Growth ring? : LEI
76
Recreational vessel that's never left the harbor? : AINTSEENNOTHINGYACHT
84
1997 action film set on a plane : CONAIR
85
X amount : TEN
86
Isaac Newton, e.g. : SIR
87
Brings up : REARS
89
Bad at one's job : INEPT
90
P, to Pythagoras : RHO
91
Revolver, in Roaring Twenties slang : ROSCOE
94
Use scissors on : SNIP
95
Governess at Thornfield : EYRE
96
Berkeley institution, briefly : CAL
97
In place of : FOR
98
It brings people together : HUG
99
No. of interest to some recruiters : GPA
100
Luxury vessel with a pair of decks, both of which need swabbing? : DIRTYDOUBLECRUISER
106
Malodorous mammal : POLECAT
109
A&M athlete : AGGIE
110
Matisse who painted "La Danse" : HENRI
111
Cargo vessel full of iPads? : APPLEFREIGHTER
114
Mown strips : SWATHS
117
"Game of Thrones," e.g. : SAGA
118
Blackens : TARS
119
Staple of Shinto rituals : SAKE
120
Second story? : SEQUEL
121
Rub out : SLAY
122
Not needing a cane, maybe : SPRY
123
Deadhead's hits? : LSD
124
Foolish : DIPPY
Down
1
Kick in : ADD
2
Struggle : VIE
3
Ambitiously sought : ASPIREDTO
4
Noninvasive medical procedures : SCANS
5
Flashlight : U.S. :: ___ : U.K. : TORCH
6
Consequential : BIG
7
Addis ___ : ABABA
8
Lookout point : HILLTOP
9
"You Send Me" singer, 1957 : COOKE
10
Coffee holder : URN
11
Works on as a cobbler might : RESOLES
12
Libertarian pundit Neal : BOORTZ
13
Head honcho : NUMEROUNO
14
It may end on a high note : ARIA
15
D.C.'s National ___ : MALL
16
Chicago-based fraternal order : ELKS
18
Mezzanine access : STAIRS
20
They hang around the rain forest : SLOTHS
25
Return from a trip to the Alps? : ECHO
26
Pharma watchdog : FDA
28
Surveillance aid : SPYCAM
31
Coat in a cote : WOOL
32
Fire : ARDOR
33
Longtime retailer hurt by Amazon : SEARS
34
Coverage provider? : APPAREL
40
Femme's title : MADAME
41
Choice for an online gamer : AVATAR
42
Star of "Kinsey," 2004 : NEESON
44
Is downright terrible : SUCKS
46
Actress Téa : LEONI
47
Beauty : GEM
48
Under goer? : SUB
50
Biathletes do it : SKI
52
Uncreative creation : REHASH
53
Forming spiral patterns : SWIRLY
55
Holy Week follower : EASTER
56
___ State (Alabama's nickname) : COTTON
57
Measure of purity : KARAT
58
Cheer with an accent : OLE
63
"___: A Love Story" (1998 George Burns book) : GRACIE
64
Like soubise sauce : ONIONY
65
Coat of arms element : BANNER
67
Flock female : EWE
68
Vogue or Elle : MONTHLY
69
Ehrich ___ a.k.a. Houdini : WEISS
70
Chops up : DICES
75
Elephant ___ (pastry) : EAR
77
It may help remove a curse : TAPEDELAY
78
Hold an assembly : SIT
79
Revival movement prefix : NEO
80
Not mainstream : NICHE
81
Bellyacher : GROUCH
82
Quits, informally : HANGSITUP
83
Nonsensical talk : TRIPE
88
Prep for a match : SPAR
90
Dilapidated dwelling : RATTRAP
91
Manhandles, with "up" : ROUGHS
92
Like the Gemini flights : ORBITAL
93
Way out : EGRESS
96
Wares at fairs : CRAFTS
97
"Around the World in 80 Days" protagonist : FOGG
101
Nonpermanent sculpture medium : ICE
102
Flower with rays : DAISY
103
Vichyssoise vegetables : LEEKS
104
Single : UNWED
105
Dialect of Arabic : IRAQI
106
Entry ticket : PASS
107
Iridescent stone : OPAL
108
Women's Open org. : LPGA
112
Go astray : ERR
113
Roulette bet : RED
115
Cool, in the '40s : HEP
116
Roguish : SLY

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

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