“SCARY GOOD” by Alex Eaton-Salners
OooOOooOOOOoooo solve the puzzle if you dare ooooOOooo
Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners
- 17A: GHOSTFACE KILLAH – Wu-Tang Clan member who took his name from the kung fu movie “Mystery of Chessboxing”
- 3D: VOODOO ECONOMICS – Reagan-era supply-side policies, as described by George H.W. Bush
- 11D: ALL SOULS COLLEGE – Part of the University of Oxford that has no undergraduates
- 58A: TRICK OR TREATERS – Source of some annual ding-dongs
- 51A: SKU [LL] – Beginning (and mouth) of the depiction at this puzzle’s center completed at the eyes [both L’s come from 37A: DELILLO]
Ben: Grid art! I like the SKULL in the centre of the grid, though the clue for 51A took me forever to parse.
Michael: My grid had circles. SKU, circled, 1st and 2nd “L”s in DELILLO, circled. I am ambivalent about SKU. It’s not a word, so the gimmick seems awfully forced. And yet … the craziness is oddly admirable. Dunno. This whole puzzle was an ambivalent experience for me.
Ben: They show up on the PDF and in the Across Lite file, but they don’t seem to appear on the website applet where I ended up taking the image from. Huh.
Lena: I want two themelesses next week! I don’t feel like I got my solvings-worth with this one. I did it in five minutes. Halloween does nothing for me in real life, and neither do holiday themed puzzles in general. The “skull” thing was maybe a little cute, but I agree that the revealer clue was awkwardly-phrased.
Michael: Very dismayed by the typo in the VOODOO ECONOMICS clue (3D: Reagane-era [sic!] supply-side policies, as described by George H.W. Bush). Proofreaders. Testers. These are necessary. You just can’t go to press with fuck-ups like this. It’s the one thing plaguing the BZF at the moment. Tiny errors that make the whole endeavor look unprofessional. It’s gotta be fixed, and quick.
Lena: I strongly agree. Huge turnoff. If the sometimes nonsensical, babbly “lol wait what’s math?” nature of the clues gets on peoples’ nerves, the typos are going to push folks over the edge.
Ben: I think we ended up talking about Wu-Tang Clan in the comments for a previous BZF puzzle, didn’t we? At first I thought we were going to get a tighter theme, with a costume at the start of each theme answer, but GHOSTFACE KILLAH is the only one like that. They’re all cool base phrases, so it works for me.
Lena: We did– last Friday, in fact! I was certainly pleased to get my Wu-Tang wish. It was the first answer I filled in, so I thought the puzzle and I were going to be besties… but, yeah, the theme tightness didn’t hold up for me either. We got VOODOO, GHOST, SOULS and… TRICK? And aren’t ghosts and souls basically the same thing? I hope a bunch of paranormal nerds yell at me now.
Michael: Initial misspelling + typo led me to my new Crossword Constructor Name: GHOSTFACE FILLER.
Lena: Right? Wu-Tang and crosswords belong together! In the aforementioned Wu-Tang conversation of yesterweek, Brayden came up with a whole list of Wu-Word Puzzle puns including “Constructah Deck” and “Ghostface Fillah.”
Ben: Have either of you ever heard of ALL SOULS COLLEGE? Is this common knowledge that I’ve just missed somehow? I needed almost every cross before I was sure of that answer.
Michael: Yes. But I’ve been in academia forever, so this isn’t surprising.
Lena: Didn’t understand the clue. I don’t think they call it “the University of Oxford” commonly, either. It’s… Oxford.
Ben: Interesting experience solving this one. I started outside the skull, filled in most of the themers immediately, and then it was a parade of short stuff. Made for a harder solve than I was expecting, but the only places I really got held up were at ACC (39A: Group that includes FSU, BC and Duke) and EROS (56D: Downstairs forces, psychologically). I wanted NCC and EGOS, not that either of those makes sense.
Michael: I don’t know what EROS means here. Really annoying answer for me. All over the place, this puzzle was irking me with its relentless attempts to make Everything new / different. Weird, as I complained about the relentless stodginess of the NYT crossword just today. There has to be some kind of happy medium. Christ, is “forces” supposed to refer to the singular EROS? The same EROS that is the basis of “erotic”? Hard for me to hate that clue more than I do right now. Forced in the extreme. I thought an E.R.O. was something I didn’t know, and it had been pluralized. “Downstairs” = what, the sex organs? Please make this stop.
Ben: I had an easier time here than with the NYT (for the reasons you mention), but yes, it would be nice to find a balance.
Ben: Inside the skull was a different story for me, difficulty-wise — holy cow! Didn’t know DICKIES (33A: Boot, belt, and workwear maker that started out as the U.S. Overall Company) or DELILLO (37A: “The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation” writer in “White Noise” — cool quote, though) and all the tricky Down clues fooled me. Thank god for RST, which is terrible fill but a gimme in that section.
Michael: The “writer” Don DELILLO is not “in” “White Noise,” is he??? He’s the author of the book. Not “in” it. It’s been a while since I read it, but that clue doesn’t make sense as written, IMO.
Lena: I didn’t care for the clue for LIL (38A: It isn’t big in the rap world) because, like, it also means small everywhere else. I get it: LIL Kim, LIL Wayne… but the clue seems off to me.
Ben: Kind of a bonus theme answer with DEAD AIR (4A: Terrible atmosphere after a joke). I debated including it in the theme breakdown, but I think it’s just a happy coincidence.
Ben: Days without a Harry Potter reference: 0 (TRI at 61D: Beginning to a Wizard Tournament). [Michael: YES! We need to hang this sign up front, I think] (I actually like Harry Potter a lot, so these don’t bother me, but they’re still fun to track.) Also liked the sly clue at 52A: Bryan Cranston character who is constantly in tension with his family — I wanted WALT but of course it’s HAL.
Michael: Oh I like HP fine. But I will never not facetiously rail against the ubiquity.
Ben: On the whole I liked this, but between the onslaught of short stuff and the wild difficulty swings, I didn’t quite love it.
Michael: How was weed “once” ASH? If you smoke weed, *then* you get ASH … right? I haven’t smoked pot in a long time, but the chronology on this clue made no sense to me. Also, technically, “THE” is mistyped. Not TEH. On the plus side, really enjoyed the clues on SALADS (31D: Heads cut into bowls), SNIPER (30D: Someone who swoops in at the last minute to win an eBay auction), and AGE (8D: Store with wooden barrels).
Lena: The awkwardness of storing a wine/spirit *with* wooden barrels is off-putting to me– might have been saved by a question mark. I think the ASH thing is that the ash was once weed– again, the awkwardness leads to Michael’s parsing. I’m sorry to be ripping on this puzzle so much, but I definitely had a lot of clue beef with this one.
Ben: On a completely unrelated note, anybody else wearing costumes today? It’s pretty much mandatory if you teach high school. I’ve gone with a nice suit and tie plus a lucha mask — because I’m fun in the classroom, but all business in the ring (ba dum bum).
Lena: Pics or it didn’t happen!