Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: October 31, 2018

My time: 6:00 even.


It's Wednesdie, Shocktober Thirty-cursed!  Halloween!  And what a spooky puzzle Bruce Haight has constructed for us today.   Under a cross made of black squares, a single word, untouched by the rest of the grid, lies on the last Across row underneath an H-shaped "bed" of black squares.  This word is, appropriately enough, CRYPT.

But helkpfukl soul that he is, Bruce literally spells out the theme for us in Down answers.  In order, we have SEA SERPENT, ARE WE GOOD, WHY ME, PEA GRAVEL, and TEA BISCUIT.  The first words of these five answers, as any fool can plainly see, spell out C-R-Y-P-T.  And that's the THEME!

AGASP!  That's some clever crosswording.

There's also some nice fill here, too: ARAMAIC, ROTARY CLUBS, KGB MOLE, NEST EGG, TAX LAWS, E.R. DOC, VIDEOCAM, and others.  That's an impressive grid!

St. OLAF College, founded in 1874 in Northfield, Minnesota, boasts, "we don't turn out typical college grads. We turn out Oles.  Oles are the people companies want.  Oles are the people the planet needs.  Are you an Ole?"  Well, are you?

"Rival of Cassio, in Shakespeare" is IAGO.  This villain is known for his tormenting of Othello, but it's not as widely known that IAGO resents the Florentine Michael Cassio for being promoted to Othello's second-in-command instead of him.

ORB as an image on the king of clubs gave me pause.

"___ Affair" is a terrible clue for the XYZ Affair, an intrigue-filled period in American history which almost led to war.  The letters in question represent coded identities of French intermediaries who demanded bribes from US representatives before they would be allowed to meet with the minister, Talleyrand, to discuss making relations between the two nations cordial.

RIGA, Latvia was clued on August 16 as "largest city in the Baltic states."

Clever clues: "It's not a good look" is OGLE.  "Story of a lifetime, for short?" is OBIT.

This puzzle was terrific!  It was an appropriate and challenging theme, with some very clever wordplay.  It did not GO FLAT at any point.

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