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New York Times, Monday, October 30, 2017

Author: Jay Kaskel
Editor: Will Shortz
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104/9/200810/30/20175
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0243010
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1.58030
Jay Kaskel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Kaskel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jay Kaskel notes: I originally set out to create a Halloween-themed puzzle that incorporated all the familiar characters associated with Halloween: ... more
Jay Kaskel notes:

I originally set out to create a Halloween-themed puzzle that incorporated all the familiar characters associated with Halloween: witches, ghosts, skeletons, vampires, and zombies. But the theme never felt tight enough. After a while, I settled on a witch/BROOM HILDA-themed puzzle and sent it off.

While Will liked the idea, he felt young solvers might not be familiar with the character. So not only did I have to replace BROOM HILDA at 58-Across, I had to do some serious re-cluing, (CHARM SCHOOL, for example, was clued as "Educational institution attended by 58-Across?")

Here's where things got tricky. One of the original theme fills was WITCH HUNT, which meant I couldn't use the word "witch" in the clues. "Educational institution attended by a Halloween broom-rider" just didn't do the trick. It felt too forced. In the end, I dropped WITCH HUNT as an answer, and thankfully Will was okay with the puzzle having just four main fills.

As always, I can't tell you how much of a treat it is to see one of my puzzles in the NYT.

Jeff Chen notes: Happy Halloween! Er, day before Halloween. All Hallow's Eve eve? Anyhoo, phrases repurposed for a witchy good time, SPELL CHECK a ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Happy Halloween! Er, day before Halloween. All Hallow's Eve eve? Anyhoo, phrases repurposed for a witchy good time, SPELL CHECK a witch's tech tool, CHARM SCHOOL where witches go to study charms (under (HARRY POTTER NERD ALERT!) Professor Flitwick of course), etc. Amusing stuff.

Man oh man did I dig Witch Hazel from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Not sure what that says about me ...

Seems like this would have worked better tomorrow. Not only would it have been the actual eve, not the eve eve, but there's a good amount of tough vocab in the grid. I think it's all fair — CAPONS (chickens for good eatin'), SACCO (and Vanzetti), the INCUS ear bone, and Max SCHELL — but that's a lot of potentially head-scratching material for a newb solver.

Given the early-week nature of the theme, I would have preferred only one or two of them in the grid. Even if it had run on a Tuesday, experiencing all four entries could make for an unsatisfying solving experience.

Some fun Halloweeny touches in the grid, a bit of EERIE, "The Ghost and Mrs. MUIR," HAGS, EVIL. I usually don't like when the fill potentially muddies up what is theme and what is not, but these are all such shorties that they more provided additional black and orange color.

Some OBE, PARA, REL, nothing major. Well, OBE could be very rough on newer solvers — tough to keep the Order of the British Empire straight from the other British medals. This is an American crossword, by gum!

Overall, I would have liked a little more kookiness out of the themers, as I had heard some of these before. Perhaps if I weren't such an HP nerd, able to rattle off at least ten charms Hermione Granger can do …

1
O
2
N
3
U
4
S
5
I
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C
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A
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R
9
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P
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C
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P
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1030 ( 24,828 )
Across Down
1. Burden of proof : ONUS
5. "Like ___" (remark dismissing concern) : ICARE
10. Tried to steal second, maybe : SLID
14. Impudent : PERT
15. Things called in roll call : NAMES
16. French film : CINE
17. "Look how great I did!" : TADA
18. Computer help for a witch? : SPELLCHECK
20. Fish that's a source of caviar : STURGEON
22. Smooth transition from one topic to the next : SEGUE
23. Gradually withdraw, as from the bottle : WEAN
24. Wearing only a bottom : TOPLESS
26. Educational institution for witches? : CHARMSCHOOL
29. Clock sound at 6 a.m., maybe : ALARM
30. Engrossed : RAPT
31. Centerpiece of a beer bash : KEG
34. Canines : DOGS
35. Aches and ___ : PAINS
37. Possess : HAVE
38. Takes too much, briefly : ODS
39. Tempo : PACE
40. Like a haunted house : EERIE
41. How one might be forced to accept a witch? : WARTSANDALL
44. Japanese warrior : SAMURAI
47. "The Ghost and Mrs. ___" (1947 movie) : MUIR
48. Super tennis servers : ACERS
49. July 4, for the United States : BIRTHDAY
53. Utterances from witches? : CURSEWORDS
56. Dublin's land : EIRE
57. Lit ___ (coll. course) : CRIT
58. Seriously overweight : OBESE
59. Similar (to) : AKIN
60. Grains used in Cheerios : OATS
61. "Hyperion" poet John : KEATS
62. Wines like Beaujolais and Chianti : REDS
1. Chooses (to) : OPTS
2. Tidy : NEAT
3. Language of Pakistan : URDU
4. Sci-fi movie that's inspired many a Halloween costume : STARWARS
5. Line down a pant leg : INSEAM
6. Chickens for roasting : CAPONS
7. "I'll second that!" : AMEN
8. Seminary subj. : REL
9. Immigrant's subj. : ESL
10. Actor Maximilian : SCHELL
11. Feudal lord : LIEGE
12. Ear bone : INCUS
13. Hockey feints : DEKES
19. Bill worth 100 smackers : CSPOT
21. Target for a disinfectant wipe : GERM
24. Hotter ___ hell : THAN
25. "My bad!" : OOPS
26. Dirt clump : CLOD
27. Witches : HAGS
28. Moans and groans, e.g. : CRIES
29. "Much ___ About Nothing" : ADO
31. Marx who co-wrote "The Communist Manifesto" : KARL
32. Like Michael Myers of "Halloween" : EVIL
33. "Huh, fancy that!" : GEE
35. Prefix with legal or trooper : PARA
36. Start of a play : ACTI
37. "I'll second that!" : HEARHEAR
39. Analyze grammatically : PARSE
40. Rearrange, as text : EDIT
41. German sausages : WURSTS
42. In the thick of : AMIDST
43. Ones patient with patients : NURSES
44. Vanzetti's partner in 1920s crime : SACCO
45. Honda luxury brand : ACURA
46. Kind of badge for a boy scout : MERIT
49. La ___ Tar Pits : BREA
50. Construction on the coast of Holland : DIKE
51. Lacking rainfall : ARID
52. Hankerings : YENS
54. Stir-fry vessel : WOK
55. U.K. award : OBE

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

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