Today we get a message from Will Shortz saying "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 through Saturday, are the result." And lo and behold, we see pictures in the grid! The first image shows APOCKETFULLOFRYE (37A: Picture A … or, after switching the circled letters and reading the result phonetically, Picture B) (We'll get to all that in a minute), from the NURSERYRHYME "Sing a Song of Sixpence." Straightforward enough, and a happy thought indeed. I'd travel more often that way myself if it weren't illegal in Massachusetts to carry open containers of alcohol in public… but nevermind all that, onward we go to the next image, of a rocket with "Joe's Bakery" on it, perhaps heading to a SPACESTATION. And so what do we get when we switch the circled letters and read it phonetically? "A rocket full of pie." Very nice. And who wouldn't love to be hit by such a rocket?
So there's the "never done before" part. Not bad. As we've said many times, everyone loves a rebus. Even the old-school, original kind. What about the other part, the mundane crossing of words? Well, as you can maybe tell from my time, I didn't have much trouble getting through this one. Perhaps the hardest clue to get was 44A: Of equal size (ASBIG), but, obviously, it came easily enough with a couple crosses. Oh, and you may or may not believe this, but I didn't know 43A: Benghazi's land (LIBYA) immediately either. I don't watch much news.
EUREKA (22D: Exultant cry of discovery) is lovely, and I liked the pair of capitals - WARSAW and BOGOTA, and ALPS (37D: Tour de France mountains) reminds me of our vacation last year. Do we have a clip? Ahh yes… there it is. It's Frannie and our friends enjoying a glass of wine out on the front patio…
Good start to this wildcard week. Already looking forward to the next "never been done" puzzle.